Friday, March 25, 2005

False Teachers, True Teachers and Truth

All of us have within us the capacity to recognize
the truth. When one encounters truth in the writings
of someone, like is attracted to like -- that is, the
truth within one is drawn to the truth within that
which one is reading.

But, let me pose several problems. Let us assume
someone is reading a book and there is truth in the
book and something within the individual recognizes
that truth as truth.

Is the truth which is recognized as true, true because
of who said it, or because of something in the nature
of what is being said, as well as recognized as being
true because of something inherent in the individual
doing the reading, and, therefore, the truth in what
is being read would be true independently of who said
it?

False teachers are experts -- some more so than others
-- at being able to write things which contain, to
varying degrees, elements of the truth. Yet, such people
do not participate in, or have any gnosis of, such truths,
even though their books may contain such truths. Unfortunately,
we all, sometimes, have a tendency to confuse the message
and the one through whom the message may come. When we do
this, we tend to assume that the one conveying the message
is capable of conveying the message because the message
reflects what is within these people, but this need not
be so.

Some people abuse the capacity within them for recognizing
the truth and prostitute that ability for the purposes of
ego -- namely, the wish to be considered by, and treated by,
others as a spiritual guide and teacher ... as someone who
knows the truth in an intimate manneer. Such people may speak
the truth -- within certain limits -- because they are adept
at picking up on the truth spoken by others who are, unlike
themselves, one with the truth, so, that for a truly realized
individual, message and messenger are but different sides of
the same coin.

False teachers are parasites on the truth conveyed by true
teachers. As such, when a seeker after the truth consumes
any truth which may be transmitted by means of a false teacher,
then, like consuming any food infested with parasites, there
may be problematic consequences for those who swollow such
foods, even though the intentions of the one who is hungry
for the truth may have been quite innocent and sincere.

Recognizing the truth and conveying the truth are not
sufficient conditions to establish that someone is an
authentic teacher. The mystical path is not about ideas,
concepts, theories, or the like, nor is it an intellectual
exercise, and consequently, one can only get extremely
linited flashes of the reality of things through written
works ... even though these limited flashes may, within
limits, give expression to certain dimensions of the
truth.

Someone can write nice, uplifting, informative,
interesting, amusing, thought-provoking, and even
true books. However, this does not mean that such
people are capable of being the venue through whom
barakah or grace is transmitted to others, and this
latter facet of being a locus of manifestation for
the radiation of grace is the key to helping seekers
make spiritual progress through the lifting of
various kinds of spiritual veil.

In being drawn to the truth of something, one has
to understand Who is doing the drawing and who it
is that is being drawn. Moreover, one has to come
to have insight into just what it is that one is
being drawn to, and the means of one's being
drawn.

Although we all have within us the capacity to
recognize the truth, we all also have within us
the capacity for veiling, distorting, turning
away from, and corrupting the truth. If the matter
were simply a matter of being able to recognize
the truth when we came into contact with it, then,
no one would need a teacher or spiritual guide, and
everyone would be a realized mystic.

Since this is not the case, the answer to the
mystery of Self-realization must lie elsewhere.
The answer must be more complex and subtle than
merely having a capacity for recognizing the
truth.

Truth/Reality is infinite. There are many forces
within us and without us which are dedicated to
ensuring that we never realize the full extent of
the truth for which we have been given the capacity
to do so by Divinity.

Consequently, sometimes what we feel or believe
or think to be the truth (e.g., because it seems
to resonate with something within us)is nothing
other than the ego looking at a mirror. So, one
of the problems with which a seeker is confronted
is this: how does one distinguish within oneself
that dimension of one's being which is capable of
recognizing the truth from that dimension of one's
being which is capable of veiling and distorting
the truth for its own non-spiritual purposes?

We read something in a book. It resonates with
something within us. Because of the experience of
resonance, or familiarity, or attraction which we
have concerning what is said, we may say: "Ah, this
is the truth."

But, is it? How do we know? How can we be sure? How
do we test it? What are the criteria of evaluation
which are to be used? What instruments are to be
used in this process? How are these instruments to be
calibrated so that we can trust the readings which
they give? Who will confirm our findings, and how
do we know that we can rely on such confirmation?

Who is doing the recognizing in any given case of
calling something the truth? Is it the true self,
or the false self?

None of the foregoing questions can be answered on
one's own -- at least, not without considerable help.
One cannot discern the truth of these matters merely
through effort, concentration and diligence. Much,
much more is needed, and this something "more" only
can be found by associating (spiritually) with an
authentic guide of the mystical path.

There are people who can speak and write volumes
about the mystical path. Much of this may even be
true (up to a point), but such individuals may not
have the least taste of the reality of Being to
which the mystical path invites each of us. The
process of realizing the truth of one's essential
spiritual identity and one's unique spiritual
capacity goes beyond what can be recognized as
true on the surface of things.

In fact, when one fully realizes the truth, all
of the authentic guides of the mystical path,
across spiritual traditions, have indicated
that the 'surface' of experience becomes completely
transformed in the process. What one recognized as
true, previously, is still true, but it becomes
something much more in the process -- so much so,
that one realizes that what one recognized as true
previously was itself really a tremendous distortion
of the Truth, even though it was true within its
own framework of understanding.

I can remember each time my shaykh, Dr. M. Qadeer
Baig (may God be pleased with him), used to come
out of doing a 40 day seclusion (and during my
association with him,he did more than 15 of these),
Dr. Baig would talk about revising the thesis he
had written as part his doctoral requirements ...
a thesis which A. J. Arberry, who was his external
examiner, described as being the best thing ever
written on the Sufi path in the English language.

The reason Dr. Baig wanted to revise his thesis
was because his understanding had changed as
a result of what he had experienced during his
seclusion. Furthermore, the desire to change
what had been written wasn't because what had
been said previously was incorrect, but because
his new understanding was more correct than
what he had said in the thesis.

So, with respect to the problem of recognizing
the truth, the answer depends on: what one means
by recognizing the truth of something: who is
doing the recognizing; on what level is the
truth being engaged; how did the truth come to
one, and what degree of noise-to-signal ratio,
so to speak, is involved in that which has been
received or recognized?

Moreover, the significance of such answers depends
on whether one has been opened up to the aforementioned
possibilities through an authentic spiritual guide
or through a spiritual charlatan. In the latter case,
the truth is like a Trojan horse which contains, hidden
within the external form, a virulent set of forces
which attacks our spiritual immunity system and
induces a variety of diseases of the soul ... some of
which are quite lethal.

...by the way, Dr. Baig never actually got around to
revising his book. If he had, he would have re-written
the book more than 15 times ... instead, Dr. Baig
lived the truth, and as such, he was an amazing
reference work through which to engage the truth,
according to my own capacity to do so.

Anab Whitehouse

5 comments:

drstrangelove1 said...

"As such, when a seeker after the truth consumes
any truth which may be transmitted by means of a false teacher,
then, like consuming any food infested with parasites, there
may be problematic consequences for those who swollow such
foods, even though the intentions of the one who is hungry
for the truth may have been quite innocent and sincere."


This seems to be a crucial point, but I feel it needs to be clarified.

First, I would assume (and my perspective may be incorrect) that the actualization of the potentially transmitted harm depends on the nature of the relationship between the seeker and the false sheikh. I would be curious Anab, if you find any harm in say - picking up doctrinal/conceptual understandings from the discourse/translations/writings of expositors of the Sufi tradition - who through whatever delusionary psychic suggestions (auto-or otherwise) presume that their ability to exposite/orate, equates with some sort of ability to guide others on true sulook. Is this the same as "consuming truth" as you stated above?

The second point to realize is that the toxicity may, in your words, you say - MAY come across through whatever interaction there is between a sincere seeker and false shaikh. May is may - it is not definite?

I have come to realize that what I once thought was sulook - was in fact not, at least from the strict and proper definition of the term, which you insist (rightfully so) on using. Yet from my perspective (and God knows best), there seem to have been some positive developments, but now that I closely examine it, perhaps some handicaps have developed as well.

It's really hard to make any definitive statements, because there is no such thing as a control case, (if we want to stick to the empirical method to draw our conclusions) - that is a version of me, who did not go through the same route I did. I wonder how I would've turned out if I stayed away from my explorations.

It is neccesary for false sheikhs to change the nature of the terms, before they can convince those who are moderately doctrinally well versed in Sufism.

So I wonder what indeed i was, or was not engaged in when I was under the impression that I was under the guidance of a person, or persons, who had the "idhn" (permission) which flows down the "spiritual Stream" that starts with Allah, through Gabriel (AS) through Muhammad(AS) through Ali (RA) and so forth.

Because of my experiences, I have on more than one ocassion wondered if there even is such a thing as a stream of barakah that is particular to tasawwuf. I still believe there is, not because I see any examples of it, but becasue I read the narratives and chronicles of those who lived and affirmed such.

Anonymous said...

"False teachers are parasites on the truth conveyed by true
teachers. As such, when a seeker after the truth consumes
any truth which may be transmitted by means of a false teacher,
then, like consuming any food infested with parasites, there
may be problematic consequences for those who swollow such
foods, even though the intentions of the one who is hungry
for the truth may have been quite innocent and sincere."

This applies as well to false students. Those who never attempt to discern anything of value in their live, but are intent on living the truth as expounded by others: the training of any teaching organization. The most useful of mentors, not teachers, are those who can point out to us what we have and suggest to us how to use it and make use of it for our own advancement, not "tell us what we have and tell us how to use it." Parroting what the masters have done, and "teaching" how to repeat it, is of no use to anyone excepting in giving the impression of being a master for after all "can't you see that I am doing what they did in the past"?
Imitation is one of the earlier phases in "learning", one must needs go beyond it and live according to their own "Inner Resonance with the Truth and Reality or Propensity and Inclination to be in Harmony with it." Harmony is a very peculiar term as are peace, truth, balance, ... They all depend on the "reference frame of the observer or actor".
Right Guidance may lead to peculiar manifestations and activities unknown and misunderstood by others as one lives one's life for the sake of the One (One's Own Sake).
May you fulfill your life's completion as you cross the threshold into what lies ahead ...

Anonymous said...

"False teachers are parasites on the truth conveyed by true
teachers. As such, when a seeker after the truth consumes
any truth which may be transmitted by means of a false teacher,
then, like consuming any food infested with parasites, there
may be problematic consequences for those who swollow such
foods, even though the intentions of the one who is hungry
for the truth may have been quite innocent and sincere."

As THERE IS ONLY ONE TEACHER, where does that leave everyone else? There is much to be said about "being absent" so thet the TEACHER may do HIS WORK.

As everyone is doing HIS WORK, by being present in some form, or absent as it were, why must we go on and on telling others about the truth when THE TRUTH EXPRESSES HIM[HER]SELF WITHOUT BIAS, OBJECTIVELY IN EVERY WAY AND IN EVERY MOMENT IN TIME AND NO TIME.

Anonymous said...

"...by the way, Dr. Baig never actually got around to
revising his book. If he had, he would have re-written
the book more than 15 times ... instead, Dr. Baig
lived the truth, and as such, he was an amazing
reference work through which to engage the truth,
according to my own capacity to do so."

There are many exemplars in this world who offer their life to God and are our role models. Often it is to help us understand that when one surrenders everything to God, they are treated by others in certain ways. They are unmindful of the treatment and require no one to come to their succour exepting God. Some of their students, not having yet learned the "Way of Submission or Surrender", think themselves capable of coming to the aid of their tutor and begin a crusade to rectify the apparent wrongs committed against their favorite master whom they loved very dearly. Those who go beyond such thoughts, leave everything to God as He is the Only Actor of His Plan.

We are here to see it unfold and learn the Way of surrender to Him and His Will and Being. All else is illusion and presents obstacles in the Way to Him and in Him and Beyond Him: The Way of Truth and Reality.

Anonymous said...

"Because of my experiences, I have on more than one ocassion wondered if there even is such a thing as a stream of barakah that is particular to tasawwuf. I still believe there is, not because I see any examples of it, but becasue I read the narratives and chronicles of those who lived and affirmed such."

The andalusian is purported to have said that God's Mercy rains equally on his creatures good or evil.

Does the air and water not feed all the humans, animals, vegetables and minerals throughout creation? We are give eyes to observe the process and to discern something about it and relate it to God ...