Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Book cover for forthcoming book on spiritual abuse by Anab (Cover photograph by Bilquees) Posted by Hello


Bilquees said...

I hope there's a chapter in your book about the charismatic narcissists who call themselves sufi shaykhs and how to recognize them. It is such an important topic, and even more so since there are so many "scholars" of sufism in denial about what people like F. Schuon and "Baba" are all about and the damage they cause to people's spiritual longing. When charisma is what attracts rather than Truth, much damage is done. Scandals of one variety or another are never away from these groups.

Did I mention I love the cover? :)

Peace and blessings,

Anonymous said...

I recently re-visited the Sufi recovery website and was sorry to see that much of the material on discernment and recovering from spiritual abuse had been taken down. So I am delighted to learn that it is going to be published as a book.

Please make sure to give an announcement when the book is released for publication.

Recovery is not a straightforward manner. It is especially heart breaking when those wounded are told, to 'Just get on with life' or worse, 'There are no victims' or 'But there is a lesson here'
..you know the drill.

And very few seem to appreciate that the ability to produce remarkable experiences does not mean that someone has a high level of spiritual attainment.

I happened to fall into a conversation with a man driving a taxicab in L.A. He mentioned that one of his uncles had a reputation for telling fortunes and was often consulted by people.

But this uncle was rather sinister. He had a genuine gift but my friend said that his uncle enjoyed giving bad news, but would accuse people of selfishness and greed if they asked him questions about happy things, such as when to schedule a wedding, or which college or job opening one should apply for.

'So your uncle liked throwing people off balance, liked to scare them?' I asked.


I paused and asked, 'Was your uncle ever a Sufi?'

The other man said, 'This is interesting. Yes, for awhile my uncle practiced. He then went by himself on a Chillah (solitary retreat). During that retreat something must have gone wrong. He emerged with psychic gifts, but also with a will for power.'

Special powers mean nothing, so long as they co-exist with being ego-driven and lusting for power.

Anonymous said...

Recognizing narcissistic spiriutal mal-practitioners is not easy or straightforward.

I was entangled with a teacher who, in retrospect, I recognize to have been narcissistic. And what adds to the complexity is that he appears to have genuinely helped other persons in their spiritual development.

This person was very gentle, very humble, had an aura of sanctity. We wanted to have a saint in our midst and X behaved in a manner that linked his public persona to our deepest yearning for God and our hopes for our own transformation. To doubt X would have felt like doubting Hope itself--too painful a prospect for most of us to deal with.

In retrospect, one subtle sign was that X had a way of pulling attention in his direction. He did the right things, said the right things, quoted the right texts. But when I came away, what lingered in my attention was not God's majesty but the glory of X' personality.

But I was too young to understand this vital distinction.

It is possible for narcissistic persons to cloak themselves in humility and be delightful company. Only those who live with them will know the other side.

Anab said...

Yes, Bilquees, I am planning to say something about the issue of charismatic narcissism. It is one of 3 or 4 chapters which, God willing, are to be added to the forthcoming book on spiritual abuse. I am hoping, with God's support to have this book ready for distribution some time in August of this year ... so, I guess I better get busy.

Anab said...

To the individual who said the following:

"Recovery is not a straightforward manner. It is especially heart breaking when those wounded are told, to 'Just get on with life' or worse, 'There are no victims' or 'But there is a lesson here'
..you know the drill.

And very few seem to appreciate that the ability to produce remarkable experiences does not mean that someone has a high level of spiritual attainment."

I fully agree with what you have said above in both respects -- that is, in relation to: (a) the tendency of people to minimize or marginalize the experience of spiritual abuse, and/or to play blame the victim, as well as (b) the fact that anomalous, extraordinary experiences and spiritual attainment are not necessarily co-extensive. Moreover, there is a tendency of many people to confuse and conflate issues of occult phenomena and spiritual phenomena and the two are mutually exclusive.

The story you tell about your talk with the cabbie in LA is very instructive and valuable. Unfortunately, unless protected by God, many people are destroyed by the manner in which the dictates of the ego become a substitute for spirituality, and this is one of the reasons why the Sufi path begins with repentance and purification of the nafs or carnal soul.

Anab said...

With respect to the individual who posted about narcissistic "guides", I quite agree that recognizing the latter sort of people is neither easy nor straightforward. When someone is an intellectual narcissist or a body narcissist (two of the primary categories of narcissists which are often discussed), then, getting a feeling for the presence of narcissism is fairly easy to do although if the narcissist is truly a gifted intellectual or is exceedingly handsome or beautiful, then, one still can become entangled in that narcissism even as one recognizes what is going on.

On the other hand, detecting the presence of spiritual narcissism is far more difficult to do because the criteria by which one differentiates between narcissism and, possibly, authentic spirituality in the guise of someone who operates out of yaqueen can be difficult because we are being asked to judge something for which we have no reliable point of reference.

The problem becomes even more difficult when, contrary to expectations, the narcissist hides behind a facade of apparent humility, compassion, kindness, sensitivity, and empathy. It takes time and experience to discover that this facade is just a very, very clever way for a narcissist to prime the pump of the sought after narcissistic supply of adulation, glorification, deification, and so on which is really what the narcissist needs, covets and expects from others.