By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Q: How to shut off the ramblings of the everyday mind and hear the whisperings of the heart?
Several weeks ago, independent of each other, 2 people mentioned they wished they could learn how to go inward; they were having a difficult time of it. Since much of the spiritual journey involves going inward- listening to inner perceptions- they wondered how this inner learning/awareness might be facilitated. They wanted to be instructed/shown how to do this.
For well over 3 weeks, I have been thinking about their request. During this period several thoughts occurred to me.
- Part of Everyone’s Education. At first I was surprised by this request since both of these people had spent much time traveling on spiritual paths and tried many different exercises. For both, I have supplied exercises and books with different instruction. Still they were having a difficult time. I wondered why this wasn’t part pf everyone’s basic education. Weren’t they taught in school, how to sit still, and turn-off the noise in their head and use their own basic capacity to create?
- Going Inward Part of Being Human. I remember Idris Shah talking about prayer. I am paraphrasing here, but basically he said, people can be given certain prayers to say, but cannot be taught how to pray. Prayer is basic communication between the seeker and that which is Most High. It is a natural expression of the seeker’s need in relation to the Source.
- Going Inward Can’t be Taught. In my view, going inward is much the same. People can be given spiritual exercises, told to go on long walks in the quite forest, meditate for hours and be told to simply sit quietly and listen to their thoughts. These are all devices to begin to the listen to the different streams of consciousness which arise in our head, heart and soul. And the quietest voice, hidden beneath all the others, is that of spiritual intuition- it is very much like a whisper. It comes forward when the rest of the consciousness is relatively still; and the listener must bravely go inward, pushing the other voices aside- often using a focus word- and wait until this inner knowing comes forward.
- Natural Ability. Also it seems to me some people may be better at this than others. What might come more easily to some might be a long, long slow tedious labor to others.
- Expectation Blocks The Door. One of the major road blocks in this inner journey is expectation. ‘Look I have been following this exercise, doing everything right, when is this thing going to happen?’ Usually it doesn’t happen under this circumstance. The consciousness must be in a neutral position where you are merely observing what is taking place and pushing aside thoughts which are not the goal, while another part of the consciousness is focused on the goal – using a device like a focus word. The seeker must be able to hold both sets of consciousness in their mind at the same time and await the emergence of this third stream.
- Diversity of Experience. To further complicate matters, there is any number of inner spiritual experiences and they manifest under different conditions. However, all of these generally occur when the everyday consciousness is in a neutral position and the seeker is listening to their own inner awareness.
- Everyone is Different. Seekers have many different spiritual capacities which they bring with them; these can be enhanced through training and spiritual work. They cannot be learned.
About the author:
by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Q: Why is it important to give to others? Some religions request a percent of your wage as regular donation.
The universe as we know it could not exist without giving. Giving is natural and is another aspect of the Divine. Just as a mother gives life to her child, freely offers milk and guidance through the years, so, we must learn to give of ourselves. In giving to others, without expectation, we are living our higher destiny.
On the spiritual level, when the higher comes forward, we are in tune with Truth. This occurs so we can be of service and give whatever is needed. For an example, look at the lives of the Servants of God. Each had a vocation and their life involved helping others reach higher. Some helped with sickness, others with guidance, or providing spiritual light to those who were in darkness.
Give to others, without expectation or indebtedness and you will discover who you are.
In my own case, I acted as if godliness was next to idleness. Most often I sought time away by myself to contemplate how spiritual I was. I truly believed salvation was to be found, away from others, meditating upon profound thoughts.
And when I traveled a little further, I realized ‘contemplating my navel’ was the antithesis of what the Path was about. As Saadi taught, so many years ago, “the Path is in human service. It is none other than this.” This is still true today.
When a hand is extended to help another, the human soul reaches toward the heavens. Service that is free of personal interest is one of the highest forms of human existence.
Grasshopper was sad and feeling sorry for himself. He thought no one liked him and when it came to picking grasses, he didn’t think he was as good as the other hoppers. All he ever got were the leftovers.
Grasshopper spent half the morning, sitting beside the road worrying about what a terrible life he had. Then along came Turtle. Turtle could tell in an instant what Grasshopper’s problem was and how to solve it.
Turtle called out, “If you’re tired of feeling blue, follow me and I’ll show you what to do!”
Grasshopper thought to himself, “Here’s Turtle sticking his shell into my business again. But what have I to loose? I just can’t shake these blues.”
At Turtle’s direction, the two friends began walking toward the meadow. Grasshopper had promised to do whatever Turtle said and not complain.
The meadow was alive with all kinds of creatures. Butterflies were flying. Bees were buzzing. Ants were crawling. What a wondrous sight to behold!
But these things just made Grasshopper sadder. Everyone was enjoying themselves and had something important to do except him.
After a time, Turtle and Grasshopper came upon a young hopper who was having a difficult time chewing through grasses and stacking them in a pack. One of the first lessons a young hopper learns is to identify six meadow grasses, stack them and bring them to his teacher.
As Turtle and Grasshopper continued to observe, the young fellow realized he was being watched. Without hesitation, he turned to Grasshopper and asked, “Will you help me?” Turtle nodded and in an instant Grasshopper was showing the young one how to identify, quickly chew through and stack grass.
In five minutes time, the young one had stacked his pack, thanked Grasshopper and was on his way to see his teacher.
As Turtle and Grasshopper continued walking, Grasshopper felt a little better. Somehow, by helping another, his blues were turned into smiles. Turtle saw this and said, “We are not done yet.”
So the two friends continued on. Rounding a bend in the road, Turtle and Grasshopper came upon some ants who were struggling to free one of their brothers. A branch had fallen and trapped him beneath a small limb. The branch was heavy and the ants were having a terrible time with it.
Without hesitation, Turtle and Grasshopper helped the ants lift. Quickly, the injured fellow was pulled from beneath the limb. While he was being nursed and carried off by the others, the leader thanked Turtle and Grasshopper for their help.
By this time, Grasshopper was hopping. He never felt better. He even began to sing. His sadness was completely gone.
Turtle looked at Grasshopper and said, “We are not done yet.”
Grasshopper wondered what Turtle was up to next. Grasshopper was happy, what else was there?
Turtle and Grasshopper continued walking for about an hour. Turtle walked very slowly and this got on Grasshopper’s nerves. Grasshopper felt like hopping, and if he knew were they were going, he could get there lickety-split. But no, Turtle wouldn’t tell Grasshopper anything. Everything with Turtle was always a mystery and Grasshopper had promised to do whatever Turtle said without complaining.
Then they came to a stream. Turtle told Grasshopper to lift some stones and make a path into the water with them. Every few inches or so Turtle and Grasshopper placed another stone. They must have laid out a dozen or so.
In the hot sun, this work took about two hours. Grasshopper saw no point in what they were doing. Who would benefit from this path, which seemed to go nowhere? It only went part of the way across the stream.
At one point, Grasshopper was very frustrated and about to ask Turtle what was the reason for this work, when Turtle remarked, “No questions until tonight.”
Finally they finished. As the two walked back toward Pond, Grasshopper was hot, tired and angry. He didn’t know why they worked so hard and couldn’t wait to give Turtle a piece of his mind.
That evening after dinner, as Turtle and Grasshopper sat outside Turtle’s burrow, he started to explain.
- “Often when we are feeling sorry for ourselves, it is best to find something to do. Activity is a cure for sadness. The best activity is to help another. This takes us out of ourselves and the helping energy is curative.
- Helping others, like the young hopper, is part of our social duty and is part of life in the Pond. Yet it is better to help before help is requested. This is the higher activity. Less indebtedness is created. Hence we helped the ants before they could ask.
- Finally a higher form of helping is when the one receiving help is unaware of the source. We placed those stones, so, young turtles could stand on them and catch silver minnows. They will think they are lucky to find this spot; never knowing what we did. Yet our energy is connected to this work and we benefit from it.”
As Grasshopper watched the night sky, he was at peace. He was not sad. In fact he never felt better. He realized, when we help others, we help ourselves.
Slowly he was beginning to understand.
About the author:
If you enjoyed this piece, check-out my new book Light on the Mountain; available on Amazon in paper back and Kindle. Go to www.bit.ly/bitkofflight.
By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
God will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others.
The Sufis assert that the highest form of service is self-less, anonymous service that is in alignment with the Truth.
Ordinary charity, or giving to others, is part of being a human being. It is something which is expected in everyday life; it is part of the basic requirement of responsibility towards others. Further, in order for the helping to be most effective, it should be done in secret.
In our society, most often, we make a display of generosity. Pictures which are donated to hospitals have a plaque with the donor’s name on it. Or, lists of donors to a charity are published in newspapers.
This is a beginning and important, however, other levels of charity and giving exist. When the recipient knows the giver’s identity, there is a risk of obligation. Giving, which is free of obligation, or a feeling of reward, should be the goal. Giving must be out of the necessity of the situation.
Recent research has begun to affirm the relationship between giving to others and good health. This is something which mothers of children could have told any of the scientists and saved them a great deal of time and energy. I remember my own mother saying, she never felt more alive, than when she was raising her own children. The role of a mother is to give and give.
Also, we hear the same thing from volunteers. They feel good when they are helping others. These good feelings, now, are suspected of carrying with them positive biochemical properties which reduce risk of infection, improve emotional health, and reduce stress.
When we are helping others, we focus on their problems, not our own. In the alchemy of the situation, both parties benefit.
Heaven lies under the feet of mothers.
About the author:
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff’s new book is Light on the Mountain. Available on Amazon in paper back and Kindle. Go to www.bit.ly/bitkofflight.
By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
This is the legend of the Ancient One, a spiritual being that has been asleep for 1000 years. According to prophecy he awakens to lead the people of the city plain out of despair and oppression. Offering a message of hope and renewal, he sets in motion universal forces, which restore the balance.
This captivating tale parallels the challenges of modern society where wars rage with elusive terrorists, millions are homeless without shelter or nourishment and the rich continue to amass fortune. We are in need of a permanent solution to these age-old problems.
So come join the Ancient One as he brings Light to the mountain and reveals the inherent power of our collective human potential, working together and reaching higher.
People treat others badly
Because they do not know
How to treat themselves well.
The ills of the world
Are correctable only
By raising better people.
One of the ways
Better people are produced
Is through human development systems
That offer higher knowledge.
Higher knowledge is available
If you search for it
And are fitted to receive it.
That is the quandary.
The task of the rightly Guided Ones
Is to tend the flame of knowledge
And under the proper conditions share it.
These conditions include:
Right time, right place and right people.
So you think I am talking in riddles?
Perhaps I am or maybe
You need to change your way of thinking.
Among the people of the city plain and mountains
There is an ancient tale
About a magical, glowing Light.
This wonderful Light appears
From time to time
To help people in need
Or those who are frightened
And have lost hope.
In the darkest hour
When all is thought to be lost
This Light appears
And turns problems into solutions.
Over the years countless people have been helped.
The pure of heart, the broken and the lost
Have been rescued
From seemingly impossible situations.
Tradition has it
By focusing inward on the Light
And saying the prayer of submission
Further it is believed
That when this Light is about to go out
Another will come to take its place.
Herein is the origin of this Legend.
Ancient One: Eternal being and Guardian of the Light.
Escobar: Mountain guide and cousin to Loopi.
Rosa: Wife to Escobar.
Loopi: Young girl of 12 years and cousin to Escobar.
Rado: Youngest member of Council of Governors; former friend of Escobar who is sent to search out second Sun.
The Guard: Company of soldiers joining Rado in his search for second Sun.
King: Distant ruler who demands taxes for War Fund; grandson of former King who banished Priests of Unity.
Fortuun: High Priest (Priests of Unity) leader of the people who prayed for the Ancient One’s return.
Mylan, Wylmar: Senior members of the Council of Twelve (People of Unity) working with Fortuun.
The People Of Unity: Group of 200 believers lead by Fortuun, High Priest who helped pray The Ancient One into existence.
For millennia the Ancient One slept. Beneath the earth in the subterranean caves of the Oreen Mountains his body waited for the hour of rebirth. Here the temperature preserved the flesh until it was needed again.
During this time of sleep the Ancient One served in other capacities. His soul was of the Anointed and there was work to be done in other forms and worlds. The Light was the binding force which held all things together; he served the Light as few could.
The hour of rebirth was at hand.
* * * *
The people were weary from the wars. Long ago tears dried like morning dew on a hot summer’s day. Most had forgotten why the wars were fought and lost faith in the Governors. It was the Governors who maintained the wars were necessary.
For the people of the city?plain, it was a time of despair. Elected officials lined their pockets with the peoples’ gold and many went hungry. Most of what the people worked to create went to sustain the wars or was lost in graft among the many layers of government.
The people needed change and hope.
* * * *
As the morning sun burned away the mountain mist, the Ancient One took his place outside the caves. The mountains were his friends. Until the hour of service they protected and housed him. As he entered into his meditation, and began to reflect the Light across the hills, a wondrous thing happened. Light began to flow from the Ancient One and the mist evaporated. And as this holy man went deeper into his meditation, the Light began to intensify. Slowly he became a sun unto himself.
And as the people of the city?plain looked into the mountains, they saw not one, but two suns. This morning, the eastern sky had two orbs of brilliance to greet the day; one from the heavens and one from the hills beckoning them onward.
And as neighbors called to neighbors to see the miracle in the mountains, their despair began to lift. This day was greeted by a sun of hope.
* * * *
Escobar beheld the second sun and wondered at its origin. He knew the mountains around the city?plain as well as any. At this point in the eastern slope there was no structure of any kind that might serve as a mirror to reflect the morning sun. All that existed in that location was the entrance to the caves.
Could the caves be leaking a gas that illuminated the slope? That was possible but highly unusual. Escobar continued to stare at the Light. Something seemed to be going on within its energy pattern. Whatever it was, it was calling to Escobar. The energy was pulsating and calling his name.
Escobar the renowned mountain guide stared in amazement. He had never seen anything on the mountains like this and needed to discover its origin.
* * * *
Loopi, a young girl of 12, awoke and looked out her bedroom window. This morning the eastern sky was aglow with two suns. She stared at the horizon transfixed wondering what it meant.
Was the world ending? Or was the world beginning? She was unsure and grew increasingly excited.
* * * *
As the Ancient One continued his meditation, he could feel the Light reaching the people of the city?plain and knew it had begun.
Like a beacon in the night, the Light was calling to those who were in despair. It was his mission to replace sorrow with joy and anger with love.
And as he continued lighting the morning sky, he lost track of time. He was one with the moment and lost in the glory of the Light.
* * * *
The Council of Governors arrived. This morning they were to discuss the tax shortfall. Without taxes, they could not meet their portion of the War Fund and the King expected the Governors, personally, to make up the difference. The King allowed the Governors to rule only if the War Fund was maintained. None wished to anger the King or pay with their own gold. The only option was to get the people to work harder. This was the morning agenda.
The four Governors’ took their seats and instead of talking of revenues, they discussed the second sun. Everyone including the Governors was bewildered by its origin and significance.
Was this Light permanent? Where did it come from? Should it be investigated? Was it a threat to the city?plain? Did it have economic value?
Throughout the session these questions took precedence over the shortfall in taxes.
* * * *
Then just as unexpectedly as the second sun lit up the morning sky it was gone. One moment, an orb of brilliance and warmth calling to the people of the city?plain, and then it disappeared.
The Ancient One ended his morning meditation. The message was sent. As the Light willed people would respond.
* * * *
For those minutes, when the mountain celebrated its own sun, all the city-plain stopped. Every eye gazed upward toward the mountain. Work halted. People stopped in the fields and factories and began to talk to each other. The despair of the long war years was replaced with a song of hope.
Now the Light was gone and for the people the absence of Light signaled a return to work. For most the second sun was a momentary interlude in a dreary day. As they walked to the factories and fields, the people continued to speak to each other about this wonder. Some claimed it was the result of luminescent cave gas; others said the sun reflected off the coats of a herd of mountain goats. These herds were plentiful and the sun’s glare created the brilliant orb. Still others said it was the mountain facing and the sunlight reflected off of the cliffs.
Throughout the day people talked to each other and were caught up in the excitement of the message of hope emitted by the second sun.
* * * *
Since early youth Escobar was a mountain guide. He listened to the others discuss their explanations for the appearance of the second sun. While these were possible, Escobar knew none of them were probable. Something else was going on.
And as Escobar looked around and saw the people excited by the promise raised by this event, he had to see for himself what caused these phenomena. Was this a permanent source of Light and energy? Or was it transitory? Escobar knew the answer was on the mountain and he would find it.
Today the people of the city?plain were filled with hope and anticipation. Temporarily forgotten were the years of war and oppression by the Governors. Again the people were expectant and joyous. If Escobar could find the source of this new Light, might he be able to bring back news that helped people? Intuitively he knew this Light was something good.
If the Light appeared again, in the same location, Escobar wanted to be there. He wanted to examine and learn from it. Escobar asked his wife to quickly prepare food; he had work in the mountains.
For nearly ten years Rosa and Escobar had been married. Rosa was used to her husband leading travelers across the mountains. After all he was a mountain guide. However this morning things were different and Rosa suspected Escobar was going to find the source of the second sun. Although worried she knew none were more qualified.
As Rosa prepared food and got ready to work in the factory, she did not speak of this to Escobar. Rosa realized, that whatever the reason for the appearance of the second sun, their lives would never be the same.
* * * *
Loopi decided she was not going to school. She did not tell this to her parents and went looking for her cousin, Escobar. He was like an older brother and by nature very curious. Loopi knew that he too would want to know more about the mountain sun.
Escobar was considered the best mountain guide. He knew the mountains and their changing conditions. Whenever wealthy caravans had to cross this range his expertise was sought. He studied the weather conditions and the movement of rocks. Escobar had been taught mountain trails and the relationship between plants and animals by his father and grandfather. Over the years Escobar developed an inner feel for the mountains. Loopi was certain Escobar would be able to find the true meaning of the second sun.
* * * *
The Governors were relieved. The people went back to their daily routine. Once the second sun receded people realized there was work to be done and returned to their normal activity. Only minutes were lost from the morning productivity schedule.
Yet as the morning progressed, reports came into the Governors’ Chamber that although people were working they were distracted by this morning’s event. The second sun was being discussed by everyone and affected the workers’ productivity. The morning’s quotas for agriculture and manufacturing were not being met.
As the day continued people remained distracted. The Governors realized something must be done. It was decided Rado the youngest Governor would travel to the mountain to discover the phenomena’s source. The Governors were worried should it persist, that tax quotas would not be met. If the King’s quotas were not met by the people, the money would come out of the Governors’ pockets. The King accepted no excuse; money was needed to keep the War Fund going.
Without hesitation Rado accepted the assignment. He viewed this as a sign of recognition by the older, longer tenured Governors. Rado had some knowledge of the mountains, but to insure success a guide and accompaniment of soldiers was needed.
Rado was to lead five of the Governors’ Guard. This was to assure, if necessary, the new sun’s destruction. These troops were known for their determination and ferocity.
Then Rado summoned Escobar.
* * * *
Escobar was nearly packed and as he loaded his gear, he heard his cousin Loopi approaching. Escobar turned to greet her. “Loopi it is good to see you, but shouldn’t you be in school?” Loopi replied, “Yes, but I have something more important to do.” “What is that?” inquired Escobar. “I have to find out about the second sun,” said Loopi. “Isn’t that what you are preparing to do?”
Escobar smiled and gently replied, “Loopi if your parents allow, I will take you with me.” So Escobar kissed Rosa goodbye and they began walking toward Loopi’s house.
As the two cousins talked, Escobar was encouraged by Loopi’s enthusiasm. It was good to see he was not the only one excited by this morning’s event. If others were similarly affected, the second sun might signal an awakening and positive change for the people of the city-plain.
* * * *
Escobar was surprised how easily Loopi’s parents agreed to the trip into the mountains. They wished they could leave their work in the fields and also join the adventure. When they saw both suns that morning, they realized anything was possible. A glimmer of hope awoke in their hearts.
Both agreed it had been a long time since there was something to be hopeful about. Also Loopi’s going made them feel as if they were going. They could live and experience through her adventure.
So the two cousins began their climb. When next the second sun dawned they wanted to be there.
* * * *
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler is an advocate of Sufi mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.