By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
The Sufi is absent from self and present with God.
For the spiritual traveler, one of the most intriguing spiritual practices, through the use of focused prayer, turns free will choice into submission to the higher. In some paths, submission to the higher is the goal and accompanying this level of service is greater responsibility. In this transmutation, love is the catalyst. As the traveler loves, they are brought closer to their goal, becoming an extension of the divine.
Following a spiritual path, early on, travelers are taught that life is up to them: we come into the earth phase with a multitude of talents, free will, a destiny or life plan and a wondrous world to express the many aspects of self.
Similarly, spiritual travelers are taught that higher levels of spiritual expression are achieved through submission; turning personal intention over to that which is highest both in themselves and the universe. Further in submission or giving up of self, which is not passive but active, the spiritual traveler finds completion and service. According to Hujwiri, the great master or Sufi exists as an extension of the higher will; with each breath and action taken for the Beloved.
At first glance, personal action based upon free will choice and submission to that which is highest appear opposed, and directly opposite to each other. Yet for the spiritual traveler, there is a point at which these seemingly contradictory states merge; this coming together of personal will and submission to the higher is achieved through the alchemy of love.
Bending of Will
Because we are in love, we wish to do what our Beloved wants. This fire of love, or burning, described by the mystic alters the consciousness: turning personal need into submission or bending of will; by practicing this bending of will, like the willow in the wind, the traveler becomes a stage upon which the Divine enters.
As the willow bends to the wind
And the leaf curls to the rain,
O Lord, I surrender myself to You.
In spiritual submission, outcome is tied to intention: is the action taken for self or for something higher. For example, does one get-up in the morning: shower, shave, eat and dress for self or as a servant? Daily entering into the commerce of the world to make the world better, as a representative of the most high, or as a ‘player’ in the game of life- amassing as much personal wealth as possible?
As in any organization, or chain of command, individual action is delegated. In order to be a good worker, parent, or servant we use all talents, including free will, to make the situation and world better. Spiritual travelers are not automatons that assume God wants this or that; they take action based upon an evaluation of what is happening in front of them and through personal intention, turn this action over to God, i.e., submit to the situation.
From ordinary life, here is an example to illustrate the point at which free will bends, submitting to the situation, and love enters.
Let us assume that I am tired, but I need to get-up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for my children; that is my job as a parent. However, as a spiritual traveler, because I do not have time for my morning meditation- I must make breakfast- I wish to turn this duty of making breakfast into a prayer. Remember, I am tired with a poor attitude from staying-up late the night before and really wish that I didn’t have to do this ‘chore.’ Question: How do I get past personal friction and resistance, turning breakfast into a cheerful activity and spiritual practice?
Answer: By slowly repeating, feeling and embracing the Light in each word, a version of the prayer of submission: this practice turns breakfast into a prayer; a reverent opportunity to make the world a little better. “O Lord, help me prepare breakfast for my children with joy and gratitude, so, that they might grow and be healthy, fulfilling their role as your servant. In this duty, help me be cheerful and serve your will. O Lord, I surrender myself to You.”
Potentially, the energy of these words, in the form of a prayer of intention, alters my consciousness. A little happier, I serve breakfast to my children. By slowly repeating these words through the grace of the Path, a ‘chore’ turns into spiritual practice. For those moments, I have aligned my thought and action with the higher destiny.
According to the Koran, each traveler can serve as God’s vicegerent or representative on earth. This is our birth right and higher destiny. Through repeating the prayer of submission, we can turn daily activity into a form of spiritual practice. Each traveler is born with many talents and free will choice; each is destined to rise higher and participate as co-creator in the Divine Plan. And because God Loves us; God has created a Way or Path for us to reach higher. This is the path of submission; the path of love and service to humanity. We love, serve and help, because it is our higher nature and the nature of God.
God said, “I loved to be known, so I created creation.” This is reflected in the ones whom God loves. The qualities of loving, knowing, hearing, seeing, will, power, talking are all God’s gifts to humanity. But God’s greatest gift is love, the manifestation of His love of knowing Himself. Love is the primary sustenance for human beings. They cannot live without it, and mankind learned to love from God.
Listen to Dr. Bitkoff’s weekly show on internet radio: Practical Wisdom, Tuesday 1-2 pm, go to www.pibco1.com.
Also by Dr. Bitkoff, A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment (Llewellyn, 2008) and Journey of Light: Trilogy (Authorhouse, 2004); these books are available on Amazon.com or from the publisher. To contact author go to www.stewartbitkoff.com.