A transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr.

Jeffrey Mishlove. SPIRITUAL TRAINING with IRINA TWEEDIE JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. With me today is Mrs. Irina Tweedie, the author of a marvelous book called Daughter of Fire, which is a diary of five intensive years of spiritual training in India with a Sufi master. Welcome, Mrs. Tweedie. IRINA TWEEDIE: Thank you. MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here. You know, in your book one gets the sense that perhaps thirty years or so ago, at the age of fifty, you would have had a hard time imagining what you've gone through and where you are today. You've really gone through a very profound type of transformation in this spiritual training. TWEEDIE: The problem with the spiritual path is you know how you begin, but you never know how you end. It is like putting your foot in a wasp's nest. All sorts of things can happen to you, usually quite unexpected, and really one doesn't know where one will be finishing. MISHLOVE: One of the things that you mention, in the very beginning of your training you made a reference to what the Sufis call the glance -the look of your guru that affected you so profoundly, and in a way was unexpected, something you weren't anticipating. And at that moment, I suppose, you realized you were on the path, you were with that teacher. TWEEDIE: According to the Sufi tradition, the moment the teacher looks at you for the first time, you are born again. That is the very important moment; this is the second birth, so the Sufis say. So really I am not very old as yet -- not eighty, but very, very much less. I was born in '61, on the second of October, when my teacher looked at me. MISHLOVE: And one of the very first things that he told you, as part of your training, was to keep this diary, day by day, of the experience. And it's a marvelous document. It's quite a large book, and one of the things that you mention in the Introduction is that the lessons keep getting repeated, again and again, with different nuances, in different ways, until you finally arrive at an understanding, ultimately, of the process of letting go of your little self, to awaken to a larger sense of things.

to a certain way of thinking. on a different plane of thinking. that were very much used in the past. You see. So you contact the human being in a different space. to a certain way of realizing the potential within yourself. any spiritual path. Everybody loves attention. You see. They are all teaching stories. what is done is programming of the whole of the human being -. very important function. MISHLOVE: These stories are designed somehow to open something inside of us. And also it leads to a complete change of values. or rapport. many people can identify with this -. that's right.TWEEDIE: This is quite right. and the human being gets attention. Then the dream is interpreted. Your guru asked you to tell him your dreams on a regular basis. and mind -. what happens when the human being comes before you -. according to modern psychology. can be compared to a computer.was the doubts that you experienced -. is exactly like a programming of the computer. So really. dream interpretation is of utmost importance. because the dream has been interpreted. And also each lesson triggers off a slightly different psychological reaction.and I think many. A lot of repetition is needed. so that the student should learn. . the famous Mulla Nasrudin. if I may put it that way. MISHLOVE: What really struck me the most about reading about your process -. The Wisdom of the Idiots. it is exactly like in school. it's always teaching stories. Our mind. I personally feel that dream interpretation is the modern equivalent of the ancient Sufi teaching stories. and is usually very meaningful. So I think it's a very.body. And the whole group which participates in it benefits from it. TWEEDIE: Well. and also their own dreams. If you read Idries Shah.there is a kind of communication.not just doubts. emotions. MISHLOVE: One of the aspects of your training involved dream interpretation. our brain. but the process seemed to alternate between moments of great peace and great ecstasy. Then the interpretation itself gives satisfaction. Also I would say spiritual life. The lessons are repeated and repeated again. TWEEDIE: Yes.learn how to interpret other people's dreams. And dream interpretation is the modern way. It can be programmed to a certain path. a different space. because they all learn -.

if we're faced with something absolutely unknown to us? And here I was alone. or rather higher and higher frequencies. all is wonderful." And he seemed to know my thoughts. because the heat was 120 degrees in the shade. and he treated me in a terrible way. absolutely anything. TWEEDIE: I think it is natural. John of the Cross calls the dark night of the soul. at Kampur. He saved me from it. and I was so . there was a big long bridge on the Ganges. I got thinner and thinner. moments of pain. MISHLOVE: In the Christian tradition they refer to the dark night of the soul as being an essential part of the mystical path. and the Ganges is deep.the meditation is easy.up and down. So I thought. with very simple words. I think it was less than eight stones. And that provokes a kind of loneliness. "You are absolutely hopeless. It was on the Ganges. Don't we all experience lots of doubts. and a kind of frustration. You are nowhere. I decided to throw myself from the bridge. it won't hurt very much. moments of great hatred. because suddenly he turned to me. We call God or That. You will never reach spiritual life. He died in the meantime. I reached. really in the hands of a man who would. I can't find the Beloved. in a country which I didn't know. but not quite at the beginning. moments of agony. which St. It's all wonderful.and moments of the most profound inner torture. I had very little to eat. The Beloved is near. The dark night of the soul gets deeper and deeper and deeper. I wouldn't respect myself. do anything. The dark night of the soul is really the inner moments of utter dejection. and this is very. It was a very frightening experience. God doesn't exist. the Beloved. the experiences repeat themselves in a higher and higher spiral. So I said." He treated me so badly that I really thought I was wasting my time. "Well. I'll just go out of this world. and up and down. of course.I can't go further. because I wouldn't be here. because I couldn't eat in this heat. We call it the yo-yo syndrome -.I don't know how much it is in pounds. I knew. First he told me. You must have gone through something corresponding to that. the city where my teacher lived. It is awful. the physical body at a certain time just reaches a kind of "ring pass not" -. endlessly. You know. very little -. I didn't. "Well." I was in a terrible desperation. TWEEDIE: Yes. Because what happens on the mystical path -. And as you can compare spiritual life to a spiral. The next day I am alone. and up and down. I remember at the end I was practically suicidal. He was sitting in the garden. And I knew I couldn't go back to London without having achieved at least a little bit. I wanted to commit suicide twice. meditation is easy. for the sake of training.

disgusted I didn't want to look at him. "Mrs.it is in all the scriptures. You can call it illumination in the Christian sense. So while deep down.you know. You can pray.aahhh! He was full of blinding light. the law of nature is everywhere. and you're desperate. or great clarity. TWEEDIE: Correct. the mind is thrown into confusion. And this mind has to be stilled somehow. Actually the idea is. It is as if the Great Beloved. I sort of just looked. And it is in this moment that so-called illumination can come. it's going this way and then going back." So I just looked at him. MISHLOVE: Moments of great clarity. then the more desire you developed to finally break through. in the Hindu Upanishads. and also in Christianity -. in order that spiritual experiences can come through. they say -. by always behaving in inconsistent ways. "Mrs. And he said. does the same thing to you. constantly churning memories and desires and thoughts of the future and so on and so forth. You see. and also in this life.one through meditation. the constant automatic thinking of the mind.to get you outside of your intellect by throwing curve balls at you.it is the mind which is the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path. I could rather compare it -. And he said. TWEEDIE: Moments of great clarity. It's one of the laws of nature. or God. yes. Do you think I would waste my powers if you really were hopeless?" And perhaps half a day before he had told me that I was utterly hopeless. everywhere it is said.on the spiritual plane. utterly helpless. when the mind is completely desperate. at one moment it sort of stops in the middle. It's "As above. as you say. Thank you. So it is kept artificially between the desperation and the nearness. look at me. Tweedie. Absolutely. look at me. to stop your mind -. so below" -. You put it very beautifully. the more desperate you got. and . but your state of mind is like that. MISHLOVE: He seemed to be doing these things. MISHLOVE: It's as if the further away. MISHLOVE: Your teacher referred to two different paths. And not only the teacher does it. TWEEDIE: That's probably correct. speechless. or two different methods of attaining enlightenment -. you put it just right. Tweedie. I sort of -. It is the pendulum going backward and forward. so to speak. and then you can't.

And the other one is the path of dhyana.the most wonderful experiences. One surrenders to the light within oneself. MISHLOVE: And you refer often in your book to the fact that many times he would just have you come to his house.all the worldly possessions. if you are on the mystical path -. TWEEDIE: Yes.and you refer yourself to the many false gurus there are -. The mind knows very little about it. That was the more direct. which is what we practice in London. But here is an interesting point. He did emphasize again and again. there does seem to be a paradox here." Now that.one needs this little tool we have. for us Europeans. which is the shortcut. when you were contemplating suicide. TWEEDIE: Well.the idea of burning away the dross of the spirit or the soul. The one is called in Sanskrit the path of tyaga. In the path of tyaga you have to give up everything -. One doesn't surrender to the guru. I don't know what to say to that. the better it is. the light of the soul -that part in us which belongs to eternity. so to say. The less you understand the better. But he would be working on the inner planes -. And he said one day to us. to find a good one. Do you mean to recognize which one is a good one and which one is a bad one? . because for people who are trying to find a spiritual teacher -. which I had to do. This is rather a slower path.apparently to the guru. "What you can understand with the mind is not a high state. the intense path. not really -. which is the one that you were on. but it's not. TWEEDIE: Yes.another one which I guess has to do with the title of the fire in your book -. especially for those people who live in academic circles. anyone can go through. affecting your soul in ways you couldn't even know. We go through -. The more you understand. you saw this radiance from him. was absolute nonsense. MISHLOVE: You mentioned that when you looked at your guru.doing things. whatever intellect or ways of discerning or discriminating. TWEEDIE: That's correct. and he would be asleep. And you have to give yourself away in utter surrender. and you would sit. you have to surrender to the guru.you can go through. MISHLOVE: Well. Most things on the path of the mystics are not known to the mind. It is not so on the spiritual path. but it's not so painful.

what one is intended for it to learn -. You gave up all of your financial security. I wanted to know the truth. I knew that this man can help me. or karma. like they say in Sanskrit. If it is your destiny to fall into the hands of a pseudo guru. If it is your destiny to recognize your teacher. that rather than try and use our intellect to discriminate -. and is the greatest miracle. then you will.MISHLOVE: Well. You just put it beautifully. Everything. And yet you were willing to give up what is so important to people at that phase of life. Maybe one day you will know.I must correct myself. to live intensely. You became totally devoted to this guru. I believe that everything is full of good. MISHLOVE: Well.I can only call it a burning desire to get at truth. You know. I'm glad. somewhere. but there is no guiding line. that's it. even though he seemed to do things that were insulting and contradictory to you. regardless of the consequences. Perhaps you are a Sufi in another life. and they don't know it. And somehow. maybe you can go through it quicker. but I think this is a question of destiny. as you just mentioned. Life is the greatest guru itself.to learn a certain lesson. I think I am an incorrigible optimist. Well. MISHLOVE: I was very impressed in your autobiography that you really started on this path when you were into what we would normally say a little bit past middle age. So I really don't know how to answer to that. Everything can teach one in life. I feel that even a dead guru can teach you something. That's all I . The personality doesn't know what lesson one intends to learn -. isn't that important? TWEEDIE: It is terribly important. TWEEDIE: Oh. This is quite correct.which is really a way of separating ourselves from whatever life has to bring us -. I recognized my teacher.I gather your message is more to drink deeply of the cup of life. You got the essence of that. TWEEDIE: I wanted to realize the truth. But the intention is that one should learn in one's life whatever one can learn. MISHLOVE: You seem to be saying. well. regardless of the pain. then. And so if it's the wrong guru. perhaps I am and don't know it. That is actually the desire of the soul coming into incarnation -. many people are. It took a certain -. your security. at least initially. TWEEDIE: That's right. in your fifties. and it is a real teacher.

People should get it themselves. Now. absolute everything. I wanted even to commit suicide. And to uncover that truth within -. Now. There. MISHLOVE: You know. the veils.to undress the inner truth. if I may say so. But for this it takes years. This is the problem of the mystic. You see. there's been so much abuse -. There will be you. . I am the knowledge. to take away the covering.there. in Western circles -. which would seem so unorthodox. and such a beautiful face. It's a plane of absolute light. You know. like in the level of the language I have to learn. you won't find God there. They're gamblers.these were effective methods for you. There is no doubt. I wonder. So I gambled. because there are many books. There is no me in the knowledge. you find yourself on the plane of consciousness where you really know. like it is said in Sanskrit. I hope it has stabilized now. how can there be doubt? In the states of deep meditation. I have to lecture. Arieses put everything on one card. which I would like to call superhuman state -. absolute divinity. because. MISHLOVE: And the purpose of the teaching is not so much to instruct people about it. is it fair to say that that intense period. I know. But somehow I'm still here. but it's to lead people to it. of absolute omnipotence. TWEEDIE: Yes. MISHLOVE: And the methods of your teacher.needed. there are no words to express it. MISHLOVE: For fifteen? Did you at some point reach a phase where things have stabilized. in infinity. I'm Aries. you went through for five years with your teacher -TWEEDIE: Oh no. you see. one cannot even express it. And that's why when I thought that I didn't get anywhere. and nothing else. My greatest frustration is that the best and the loveliest things which one experiences. it's not even a belief. But the fantastic and the most disconcerting thing is. For instance.I don't like the word samadhi. when you have direct knowledge. I think. that yo-yo phase. which would represent duality. it's conviction. for fifteen. where you began to enjoy the fruits? TWEEDIE: Well. One has to experience it to understand it. which I very often do. you have such a serene quality. as you describe it. that for the mind is double Dutch. You see.

The novice had to be the last and the least and the shabbiest dog. so foreign to our way of thinking.that is the only evil. you think you are thinking here. one of the great medieval mystics and sages -.and I presume practicing as well. only with the heart. Everyone is an individual. the most important thing on the spiritual path. You see. TWEEDIE: I think absolutely. had to serve all the other monks or nuns or whatever it was. say the Sufi." This is Plato. for three years you were not allowed to ask. great writings that he left behind.I forgot the name of the chief. I remember Carl Jung in one of his writings says that he went to see some red Indians here in America." [Points to head and heart. later you were allowed to ask. and you're not allowed to ask a question. is really to get rid of the ego. you know. that you must be full of doubts." Why? Who wants to get rid of the self? You know. TWEEDIE: I think it was the same in England.not only a mystic. "We are never intended to be many. MISHLOVE: So what you're saying -. You see. I was brought up in Vienna. imagine. All these doubts. in the heart of a human being. MISHLOVE: I suppose especially to Americans. respectively. And the great truths -. Because spiritual life is so different.TWEEDIE: Well. here again we're saying something which is very deceptive. the sine qua non. since you live in London. That's why the Sufis and all the sages call this world an illusion. And in the time of Socrates. And the Sufi says. But not for everybody. "You in Europe. that's what we prize above all else. that is not . It was the same for me. our teacher used to say. I suppose.] And so it's the same with the Sufis. since we are the ones who cultivate rugged individuality so much. You don't get rid of anything. I'm not so sure it's unorthodox. There is no such thing as you and me.Plato said. We always will be the few. you have students there -. But you see. which separates me from you -. I think we in the West live on the level of the mind. But it is the me. never mind -.is that this method of instruction is a viable method for Westerners. and one of the great chiefs told him -. You were a listener. he's a great sage.the great chief told him." That's what they say. "The great truths can never be apprehended with the mind. the training in the ancient monasteries was exactly the same. It is only absolute oneness. We are thinking here. But the ego. the I. "Take a hammer and hammer your head into the heart and think in the heart.

perhaps the next life. TWEEDIE: Yes. MISHLOVE: Well.a little bit of spirituality Sunday mornings. The human being is a very magnetic. very electrical thing. I don't know. You see. And what we are trying to do is to reach this level of the soul -. archaeology. can be compared to electricity. you have to control it. And one can get a short circuit when one gets mad. If the human being has got the longing. most people don't have this sense. or the next after. it is not -. . Mrs. We have free will. we call it a pluralistic society. You see. it is not transcended. I find all the mystical states. Let's use simple words. or medicine. We're pulled in this direction and in that direction -. destroyed. One can give a lecture using only the jargon of electrical technicians. they will do anything. you are certainly a master of that subject. And it is not easy. the positive and the negative pole. spiritual life is just -it's a subject. It is not the master. and it's been a pleasure to have you with me. MISHLOVE: It's still there. which is the soul. It may be this path will be for someone. I mean. and the yogic states. Irina Tweedie.the light within you and me and everybody else. MISHLOVE: Well. . The master is something else. because all of the molecules are aligned in one direction. TWEEDIE: Well. . to arrive at the level that you do. or not at all. Well. But I guess in many of us. this yearning. and then we go to work. love. in a way. when we live in our world. has a positive and negative aspect. which is very powerful. but you must have a different attitude towards it. say. Nothing says that negative is bad. So we don't have the same burning desire. and then we have the family. Everything within us works on this level.how shall I say? It's not . That's Sufism. really. MISHLOVE: I see. it's a specialized subject like. and then we have our recreation. like everything else in the world. but in the sense of electricity. in a sense I suppose you can have a magnet. when the desire is strong. it seems like such a special path.killed. this tremendous longing which is the famine inside of love. and also our physical body. TWEEDIE: Then the spiritual life must wait -. and it will be understood.

END Index of Transcripts Top of this Web Page Intuition Network Home Page Thinking Allowed Productions Home Page . MISHLOVE: Thank you very much. TWEEDIE: Thank you very much.TWEEDIE: Thank you.