Spiritual Traveler: Form to Essence

By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff At the beginning I was mistaken in four ways. I sought to remember God, to know Him, and to seek Him. When I had come to the end, I saw that He had remembered me before I remembered Him, that His knowledge of me had preceded my knowledge of Him, His love toward me had existed before my love to Him, and He had sought me before I sought Him. !aya"id !istami Introduction This striking quote by the Sufi Bayazid indicates that the spiritual search is comprised of 2 actions or journeys the first journey being the tra!eler"s action toward the goal and the second that action of the goal or teaching upon the tra!eler# this second action being the sa!ing $race. Today many western spiritual tra!elers are unaware that their journey is comprised of this multi%dimensional aspect. &istakenly some equate success only with personal effort' belie!ing the harder he(she tries the greater their chance of enlightenment. )andomly sampling paths and e*ercises' going from the outer world inward' seeking to connect with their own inner' spiritual center often this first part of the journey takes a physical form# e*ercises' prayers' reading books' personal discipline and doing good works. +s Bayazid indicates' after a period of preparation' this second action % the mo!ement of the goal toward the tra!eler% is bestowed' coming forward naturally' enriching daily life. ,or this to happen' it is most producti!e when there is contact with a teacher and school' who through the $race of the -ath' facilitate energy release and connection to the higher element. .n our western culture' many are still unfamiliar with the subtleties of eastern spiritual training. The tra!eler wishing to make the journey from form to essence' in addition to o!ercoming personal and societal obstacles must also come to terms with this dimensional factor# e!entually realizing success is based upon a combination of organized effort and Di!ine /o!e and /o!e is bestowed not earned. .n this writing we will discuss some key elements of the spiritual journey and further prepare the ground work for personal realization of the Belo!ed"s timeless caress. Proliferation of Guides 0owadays when the tra!eler goes into any large bookstore one of the things which becomes apparent is that there is a surplus of people writing about their own spiritual e*perience' and how to tra!el inward. .t seems just about e!eryone has a book' personal method and set of e*ercises to complete the journey for the most part' in good faith' these authors wish to share a blueprint that has worked for them.

1

This abundance of paths and methods' for the a!erage tra!eler is confusing. . can remember my first e*perience entering the largest spiritual bookstore in 0ew 2ork 3ity and being completely o!erwhelmed by the number of paths and books which were a!ailable. . didn"t know where to begin. So much written material occurs as a result of the following reasons. 4ften these books fall into the category of preparatory material or action of tra!eler toward the goal.  A #pecial Age. This is one of those times in history' when tra!elers can freely e*plore what it means to be spiritual without fear of physical harm or death. 5e li!e in an open age and through the use of the computer and the internet' information about religions and spirituality is a!ailable in unprecedented amount. +lso as a writer' the computer has made the physical task of writing accessible to many the publishing industry with self%publishing has completely re!olutionized how easily books can be published' and !enues like e%magazines' blogs and e% mail ha!e turned just about e!eryone into a 6published" author.  $veryone is a %eacher. 4ne of the characteristics of the spiritual journey' after the tra!eler has had some initial success connecting with their own inner current' is that the tra!eler wants to share this wonderful e*perience. Because it has enriched their life' they wish to share and teach others. 7!ery tra!eler is different' and there are hundreds of paths' with countless techniques consequently in our open society we ha!e a proliferation of material with many descriptions of what has inspired and worked. &ost often this material ser!es as way to get started' takes you part of the way and is not connected to a larger' comprehensi!e system to complete the full journey. 8ence we hear an often repeated remark' 6."m tired of all these self%help books that really don"t help anyone. . want e*perience that works. The Great Hunger 5ithin e!ery one there is an empty space which often manifests as a hunger or unease. 4n some le!el' each of us feels there is a missing piece and we all go about our li!es trying to fill it.  %he Great Hunger. This inner emptiness and $reat 8unger temporarily can be eased with just about anything. The world is a giant bazaar and the tra!eler can stock their basket with fine food' colorful garments' different types of work' se*ual positions' drink' drugs and a !ariety of other pursuits and hobbies. 2et this inner spiritual restlessness can only be quieted on a lasting basis through connecting with your own inner spark' or the sacred within. This is the first journey from form to essence. +s a preparation' many of the books' !ideos and new age systems take you part of the way. ,rom the outer to the inner.

2

 &oss of the #acred ' (ythical. To further heighten this need for the spiritual journey' many of our more traditional connections with the sacred are no longer a!ailable. Today we are a scientific culture and daily' science challenges many of our old myths and traditional spiritual teachings. ,or e*ample' the Bible offers that humanity has e*isted on earth for something like 19'999 years whereas science suggests that we ha!e been on this planet' in human form' for millions of years. Similarly science suggests there were multiple locations where humanity began not just one location or $arden of 7den. 7ach ci!ilization requires practical wisdom' a mythos or set of rules to help the tra!eler grow and guide their life rites of passage which traditionally helped connect the tra!eler with the :ni!ersal Di!ine through their own sacred center' in our culture ha!e been replaced with consumerism. ,or western tra!elers' science' money' need for power' credit cards and indi!idual personal e*pression ha!e become the center of life. 5hile these aspects to life are important' they do not fill the empty place and the inner hunger continues. Some tra!elers quickly recognize the malaise as a spiritual hunger. These tra!elers read the books' follow the e*ercises and prepare for the inner e*perience which connects with the Di!ine. Books' lectures' !ideos' articles' are part of the answer howe!er the inner fire must be tended by something else as well. Remembering +ll of us are spiritual beings who ha!e taken on a physical body' with a spiritual center that knows the way home. This spiritual center' or heart' is always connected to the sacred. The tra!eler must learn to still that part which is tied to the world and listen to that which is tuned to the 8igher. This is termed 6remembering." This connection is enhanced as the tra!eler learns in the presence of a teaching &aster. 4ften this learning facilitates the second dimension to the journey.  )reparation for #tudy. 3onnecting with your own inner current is part of being human. .t is as natural as breathing or drinking a glass of water' yet' most often we are blocked from this e*perience by daily cares. +lso it is natural to fill the empty space with concerns' ideas and worry' yet we must also set aside time to allow what is inside to naturally come forward. To reach our sacred place and allow this energy to manifest on a conscious le!el' we must prepare' de!elop the skills necessary and be in contact with a teacher. This second journey' connecting with your own inner current and allowing it to come forward' daily' is a matter of right time' right place' and right people working together.  *inding the %eacher. .n order for the tra!eler to be taught how to efficiently go inward' as well as allow what is inward to come forward and manifest' they must be part of a mystical school or path that specializes in this preparation. The

;

tra!eler must be in an en!ironment where this type of e*perience is offered and when ready' bestowed by the Di!ine upon the tra!eler. By connecting with their own inner current and the higher energy of the uni!erse' the tra!eler is changed the tra!eler is alchemized through this set of e*periences and recognizes the object of the search. This type of learning can be termed more ad!anced spiritual learning. .t goes beyond introductory material and preparation found in books' !ideos' or learning systems taught !ia the internet' D<D or tele!ision. Typically' in this age of communication' all modern teachers ha!e de!eloped preparatory material that the spiritual tra!eler can read and study. +nd if a teacher appeals to you' study their material and when ready' present yourself for further instruction. It is necessary to have a guide for the spiritual +ourney. ,hoose a master, for without one this +ourney is full of trials, fears and dangers. With no escort, you will be lost on a road you have already taken. -o not travel alone on the path. .umi  %raveling the )ath. 7ach of the great religions has an inner current or mystical tradition yet this type of e*perience is not for e!eryone all the time. +s indicated abo!e' it requires preparation and a teacher or en!ironment which specializes in this learning. To stimulate spiritual e*perience before the tra!eler is ready' can cause more harm than good many ha!e become casualties of the spiritual path by opening their spiritual centers prematurely. All wisdom can be stated in two lines/ What is done for you0 allow it to be done. What you must do yourself0 make sure you do it. 1hawwas Conclusion .n our western culture' we are at the frontier of spiritual learning' just becoming aware of eastern paths and traditions that ha!e long connected tra!elers with the Di!ine. Similarly we are witnessing an e*plosion of new age teaching and interest in the spiritual. +s well' science has joined in this search for the underlying unity or life energy in the uni!erse. ,or the mystic' this quest has long been a journey from form to essence where e!erything is connected in the primordial energy of 4neness and with proper training e*perienced through daily life. +nd in this journey' the operati!e or sa!ing $race has always been = the mo!ement of the Belo!ed toward the tra!eler. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

?

@Bistami' )umi and Ahawwas quote taken from# Bames ,adiman C )obert ,rager' 7ssential Sufism' 8arper3ollins -ublisher' 1DDE. >>>>>>>>>>>>> Register for m upcoming retreat !ee"end atop #angor $ountain% in the beautiful -ocono &ountains' Airkridge )etreat 3enter on #ufism ' $nlightenment' &ay ;9% Bune .' 291?. ,or information scroll down to program listing# http#((kirkridge.org(programs(upcoming%programs(. Then click on &etailed Information for full program highlights. Read my 2 books: Sufism for 5estern Seekers# )ath of the #piritual %raveler in $veryday &ife and The ,erryman"s Dream. Both books are also in Aindle format and a!ailable on +mazon.com or local bookstore. To contact author go to# www.stewartbitkoff.com.

F

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful