Saturday, March 01, 2008

Kashf (Unveiling) - A Sufi Perspective

There are two kinds of unveiling (kashf) which occur on the Sufi path. One of these is potentially detrimental to the mystical wayfarer. The other can be a source of great blessings for, and help to, the individual.

The first mode of kashf or unveiling concerns the nature and events of the world. The second form of unveiling gives expression to spiritual realities which transcend the realm of the world.

When, by God's command, an individual is provided with a method for: accessing foreknowledge of worldly events; or, being a witness to events going on elsewhere in the world, without leaving one's residence and without any modern technological assistance; or, becoming privy to the details of the past, present and future of whomever one likes, then such a mystical wayfarer is confronted with a very substantial trial and risk.

There are two options for dealing with this situation. The individual can use her or his discretion for determining whether or not to utilize the abilities which God has made available. The person can wait for instructions from Divinity concerning the use of those abilities.

Whenever the mystical wayfarer uses his or her discretion with respect to whether or not to access hidden knowledge concerning the world, two contingencies come into play. First, this individual will have to answer to God on the Day of Judgement for each and every discretionary use of worldly kashf. Secondly, every time one makes discretionary use of worldly kashf, one runs a risk that one's spiritual progress will come to a standstill.

An individual may believe she or he is using worldly kashf only to help others. This may or may not be so. However, one thing is certain. The intentions, motivations, attitudes, understandings, goals, and purposes of a person who makes discretionary use of worldly kashf will come under the closest of Divine scrutiny and cross-examination.

The individual cannot presume she or he will come through the rigors of this investigation in unscathed fashion. The ordeal of being subjected to the intensity of the aforementioned scrutiny is, in and of itself, likely to raise the question of just how necessary was such discretionary use of worldly kashf.

Nevertheless, on the Day of Judgement, second thoughts don't count. One must be prepared to accept the consequences of the choices one makes in the present life. So, as is sometimes said in the military: "Be advised!".

Having access to hidden knowledge concerning the world and its people, can be very seductive and tempting. One may start out in a seemingly innocuous manner, only to discover, if one is fortunate, one is getting caught up in the world in, yet, another way.

Whether one is entangled in the world through "normal" means or through non-ordinary channels, is a moot point. In either case, entanglement means one has lost one's spiritual purpose.

If one loses one's spiritual way on a "lower" level or on a "higher" level, one remains lost in both cases. In fact, one's predicament may be much worse in the latter case since more is expected of the individual. This individual should have known better than to get seduced by the allurements of hidden knowledge concerning the world.

The foregoing comments notwithstanding, there are occasions when use of worldly kashf or unveiling may be required in the service of others. This especially may be true with respect to the kinds of thing a shaykh may do, from time to time, to help an initiate at certain stages of the mystical journey.

Nevertheless, one is better off when directives in these matters come from Divinity. Waiting, with patience, for Divine assistance is, spiritually, far superior to trying, with impatience, to take matters into one's own hands. The former approach is the best form of spiritual etiquette in these matters.

Some people may wonder why individuals should be given access to hidden knowledge while, simultaneously, being told to refrain from taking advantage of this kind of knowledge. One reason for juxtaposing such extraordinary possibilities next to the challenge of restraint is to test the individual concerning whether he or she prefers lordship over servanthood.

Ultimately, the Sufi path is a journey toward perfect servanthood. Those who become attracted to, if not addicted by, the discretionary use of worldly kashf, are indicating a preference for lordship. This inclination or preference becomes an obstacle to making further progress on the Sufi path.

In a sense, one becomes all dressed up with the powers of worldly kashf but with no spiritual place to go. At best, wherever one may be spiritually, on whatever level, one becomes stuck there and unable to fully realize the spiritual purpose of one's life.

At worst, things begin to deteriorate spiritually. One falls further and further away from the mystical path. Yet, the tragedy of this is one may not be aware this is happening because one still has use of the "toys" of worldly kashf.

The other kind of kashf, mentioned previously, concerns spiritual unveilings. These are transcendent to the sort of hidden knowledge about the affairs of the world which is the focus of the worldly mode of kashf.

Spiritual kashf involves unveilings in the form of experiences involving states and stations of the mystical path. Through Divine "flashes", intuitions, visions and so on, one receives knowledge, wisdom and insights about various spiritual realities.

The understanding gained from this form of kashf can be extremely useful to wayfarers of the Sufi path. Such understanding serves to guide, support, strengthen, protect, purify, perfect and illumine the individual's mystical travels.

Worldly kashf, for the most part, cannot assist the individual in any of the above mentioned ways. In other words, with certain exceptions, worldly kashf really has no useful role to play on the mystical journey.

There is only one cautionary proviso which needs to be stated in relation to spiritual kashf. This mode of mystical unveiling is not the goal of the Sufi path. Spiritual kashf is a means, not an end.

The goal of the Sufi path is to become a perfect servant of God through realizing one's essential identity and capacity. Spiritual kashf assists one in the pursuit of this primary objective of the mystical journey.

If one should become preoccupied with spiritual kashf, in and of itself, and, therefore, somewhat divorced from the proper focus of the Sufi path, one becomes spiritually at risk. These risks may not be quite the same as those which are associated with discretionary use of worldly kashf, but the risks to further spiritual progress are, nonetheless, still there.

More specifically, if one wishes to reach a particular destination, one cannot permit the beauty and majesty of the landscape to distract one from the original goal. This is especially the case if one is under a time constraint concerning how long one has to complete the journey to the intended destination.

If one spends too much time by the roadside smelling the flowers, one may never reach one's destination in time. As with everything else in life, one must keep things in a balance of proper moderation.

6 comments:

cyclewala said...

this is really good....God bless.

desert rose said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Average Joe Body Builder said...

Hello,

I have been listening to your podcasts for some time. Some I listen to three or four times. I would like to know if you have entertained another possibility about 911, and that is that 911 was never done by those who claim Islam, but was actually done by the US government itself in collusion with some other government as a way to wage war against Muslims and their resources.

Anab Whitehouse said...

Dear Average Joe,

I am happy that have been listening to the Sufi Reflections Podcast, and I hope you find them of value. As far as your query about 9/11 is concerned, if you have listened to the latest edition of the podcast (i.e., #24), you will know that I do not accept the so-called "official theory" concerning the events leading up to, on, and following September 11th, 2001, and, within the latest podcast, there is a brief commentary on this issue as a lead-in to a song by Martin Noakes concerning Building 7 and other facets of 9/11.

In addition, on almost every podcast for the last year, or so, I have included a reference to my book: The Essence of September 11th -- a book which discusses, in considerable detail, some of the problems surrounding the "official" account of 9/11. In addition, I have several web sites which contain material on these issues -- one of these being: http://theessenceofseptember11th.org and the other is: http://spiritual-health.org .

WIth respect to the latter web site, all one has to do is look on the left hand side of the home web page, and one can see a variety of links to 9/11 material. If you haven't looked at these, you may find them of interest.

There are many theories which have been put forth concerning the 'who' and the 'why' of 9/11. At this point, I am less interested in getting caught up in particular theories about who is responsible and why they did what they did, and, instead, I would like to concentrate on the basic fact that the 'official' story concerning 9/11 which is being spun by the U.S. government is both a conspiracy theory and, and, more importantly, it is an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory -- that is, the facts do not support it. Consequently, the citizens of both the United States, as well as the citizens of the world have been done a great disservice by the continued perpetuation of falsehoods concerning 9/11. There needs to be a further, rigorous, impartial, non-governmental and non-media controlled investigation into the events surrounding 9/11 ... and this may have to be in the form of an international war crimes trial for the people who are responsible.

Anab Whitehouse

Average Joe Body Builder said...

Dear Mr. Anab

I have not been able to get the latest podcast, I am not sure if your xml file is updated. From where I am siting it does not look like it is. If you could please double check that would be greatly appreciated.

Anab Whitehouse said...

Dear Average Joe,

As far as I can determine, everything is in order with respect to the xml coding. People have been downloading the latest podcast, and other than your problems, there doesn't seem to be anyone else who is having trouble accessing the podcast.

However, if you continue to have problems, you can try the streaming version of the same podcast by going to:

http://spiritual-health.org/podcasting.htm

and, then, clicking on to the purple audio box a short way down the page. Depending on your form of internet service, you may have to let the streaming audio buffer a bit before you can listen to the audio.

Good Luck!

Anab Whitehouse