Volume 6 - Issue 09
SEPTEMBER - 2008
After all is said, the practical question which many sincere seekers would ask is how one can remember God while standing, which refers to the waking consciousness where both the body and the mind are standing (that is active); while sitting, which alludes to the dreaming consciousness where only the mind is active and while lying down, which is the state of deep sleep consciousness where both the body and the mind are inactive.
Remembering Allah while Standing
How do we fill the whole day with the remembrance of God? There is a very practical and easy way of unifying the ‘I’ consciousness with the Name of God during the waking state when the body and the mind are both active. In order to integrate the whole of the waking consciousness with the Name of God, there are a number of steps which we must follow systematically.
Step one: Discover the Primal Sound of Silence in Every Sound and Scene
In the earlier parts of this cover story, we have elaborated on how everything in this entire Universe is a vibration of the Primal Sound of Silence, which we call ‘The Name of God’.
Again, the sounds which all the objects in the cosmos (animate and inanimate) produce are only a variation or modification of the Primal sound of God.
Our body-mind complex is made up of sound, and they produce sound continuously – the sound of the heart beat, the breath of life, the noise produced while eating, bathing, walking, brushing the teeth, or for that matter while sweeping the house or doing other house chores like washing clothes, cutting vegetables, cooking, gardening, and so on; the list is endless.
We must discover and realise that all these sounds are but modifications of the primordial Sound of God; they are actually a resound of the Name of God.
In fact, every sound which our body produces and receives is a call to prayer: a call to remember Allah. But Alas! Do we listen? Do we pay heed?
Step two: Harmonize and Integrate the Name of God with Every Sound Produced in Daily Activity
The second step is when we harmonise and integrate the Name of God with every sound which our body-mind complex produces during the waking state. First, we must form the habit of waking up with the Name of Allah. The first thought of the day must be “Allah” or any Name which one chooses to call the Primal Sound of Silence.
It should be any Name which evokes a strong feeling of Love and emotion in our heart; When we call It, our heart should melt in tears. Our passion for this Name should be irresistible. This is our direct line to Divinity. For, Allah says to His Prophet, (Peace be upon him); “I am just as my devotee thinks I am”. The Name is the line, the Love is the connection. The call is the switch. When we go to bed with this Name and we will always wake up with the Name of God in our heart and on our lips.
Once we wake up, an action which almost everyone must perform every morning is brushing of the teeth. What do we normally think when we are brushing our teeth in the morning? Are we present to the simple action of cleaning our mouth? Most of us are not ‘present’ because our minds are far away engaged in other affairs. And we are unconscious to the call of God in the sound of the brush. Man is never at home even when he is at home because his mind is always at some other place.
The mind is rarely in the body which is his true home. Man can only experience the Power of the Present when his mind and his body are in the same place at the same time. And the best and most practical way to achieve this is to attune to the sound produced by every action, and harmonise this sound with the Name of God.
Then, we come to the action which no human being can ever miss and remain alive – eating. This is the most sacred of all human acts. In the Hindu religion, food is regarded as God - “ Annam Brahma” In the Christian tradition, when Jesus was eating with his disciples during the Last Supper, He took bread and after giving thanks, He gave the bread to His disciples saying: “Take and eat. This is My body”. He then commanded His disciples to always do this in Remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). In this way, Jesus was teaching that the food we eat is His body, and that whenever we eat, we should remember God. Every meal is a Holy Communion in the body of Christ.
We must therefore harmonise and integrate the Name of God with the sounds which are produced while engaged in this most sacred obligation. And what are these sounds? They are the clashing and grindings of the molars and premolars, and the tearing and biting of the canines and incisors. Let us listen to the crunches and the chomps, the mastication and the swallowing, and merge the Sound with the Sound of God’s Name.
This means that we have to endeavor to eat our food in Silence. After saying the blessings, the actual eating of the food must be an act in remembrance of the Name of God. And every bite will take us beyond the beat of the sound to the One Who digests the food within us in the form of fire.
Could you imagine what will happen when the entire sound-producing activities of the body-mind complex during the waking consciousness are harmonised and integrated with the Name of God! The bath will cease to be an ordinary bath but a shower of Divine drizzles of the Primordial Sound! The walk will no longer be a mere exercise in transporting the body from one place to another, but a rhythm in the dance of Allah’s Name. The very act of breathing is attuned to the Primal Sound of God’s Name and one’s daily duty is converted into a japa (rosary) of God’s Name. It will be ecstasy when every association is spent in the remembrance of Allah and every action is sweetened by the immortal honey of God’s Name.
When we enter the bathroom, we will automatically remember God. Our Bedroom will become a Mosque of prayer and our dinning room a table of Divine communion. A Living Presence of God’s Holy Name will surround us like a heavenly fragrance welling up from the depth of nothingness. An unseen Power will anchor our soul making us feel as if we can fly with the wings of an eagle. Our Heart will be filled with a Divine music which is hidden to the ears of mortal man. In short, our soul will get so suffused with the ethereal Sound of Silence that people will think we have gone out of our minds! And this is true because at this point, the mind is about to drop.
Step Three: Awaken the Soul Resonance Within
The third stage is reached when the devotee has awakened the resonance of God’s Name in his heart. At the beginning, the remembrance of God’s name will have to be mechanical. In other words, one has to make constant and consistent effort to harmonise and integrate the Name of God in all the actions he or she performs during the day. But a time will come, depending on the intensity of one’s constancy, when the Name of God will begin to repeat Itself within the heart of the Devotee. This is called the Power of Soul Resonance.
The heart will literally reverberate with the Sound of God’s Name. One hears in his inner self the echo of the Divine Name arising from the core of Silence. It is like a song which you like so much. You sing this song often and then after a time, without any conscious effort, you ‘hear’ the song singing itself within you. This is the Power of Soul Resonance. This is the Power of Lord Hanuman who has so much unified His Consciousness with the Name of Rama that every hair in His body vibrated with the Sound of “Ram”.
When the Heart is awakened to the Sound of Silence, just like the physical heart would pump blood to every cell and organ in the physical body, the waves of the Divine Name from the Spiritual Heart will invigorate the vital life force of the devotee. And every cell will tingle with the sound of the Name of Allah; every hair will stand like violin strings tuned to the frequency of God’s Name. At this stage, the Heart of the devotee will connect to the Heart of God and to the soul of the soil. Everything will speak to him. The trees, the mountains, the ocean and the sky will converse with him. Beast and birds, fish and reptiles and all the creeping and crawling creatures will talk to him, and he will understand their language. It is the language of the Heart. And every sound will draw him nearer and nearer into the womb of Silence.
This is the stage where the devotee has to develop and deepen the art of inner listening. To listen is to be silent. To be silent is to be aware. This Awareness is the “Living Presence of Allah”.
And how do we remember Allah while sitting - that is, when the body is at rest and the mind is awake in the world of dreams? Before we get into this, let’s first wet our spiritual appetite a bit. Let’s stop for a moment and have a little glimpse, nay, a peep into eternity, of someone whose heart has been awakened by the call of Silence, someone whose ego has been burnt by the flames of Love, and someone who embodies in His Soul, the Essence of Islam.
How can one gauge the depth of the Heart of he whom Allah has expanded his heart into Islam? Or how can one understand that which has no stand, or fathom that which has no top or bottom! Who can measure the Heart of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi? He was the perfect Muslim.
His life was so completely transformed into prayer, that everyone who saw him wanted a prayer from him. One night, he spent the whole dark hours in prayer in the mosque. It was the dead of winter, and in the course of praying, he wept so profusely that his beard, wet by his tears, froze and clung to the ground. His disciples had to rescue him in the morning.
And how did Rumi’s awakening happen?
This seer was the great Shams-i Trabriz. And the first lesson he gave to Rumi was: unlearn all that you have learnt. Rumi realised that it is not learning, but living the knowledge that counts. For, he had read much and had thought much, but he suddenly saw that what was important was not saying, but being.
Rumi had to give up his position as professor at the University of Konya, Turkey, and wandered from place to place with Shams-i Tabriz. After he had followed Shams-i Tabriz for several months with everyone blaming him for this action, one day the Master disappeared. This left Rumi in very great sorrow. On the one hand, he had given up his position and work, and on the other hand, the teacher whom he followed had left him. However, this was his initiation. For Rumi, this was the birth of the soul.
From that moment on, Rumi was set ablaze with the Flames of Divine Love and his soul poured forth this Love in streams of poetry (Contained in his massive spiritual epic called the Masnavi). His poems are so deep, perfect and touching that when one man repeats them, hundreds and thousands of people are moved to tears. They cannot help penetrating the heart. This shows how much Rumi himself was moved to have been able to pour out such living words.
When Rumi passed away in 1273 in the full radiance of enlightenment, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Arabs, Persians, Turks and Romans honored him at his funeral, and men of five faiths followed his bier. That night was named Sheb-ul Arus (The Night of Union with the Divine). Ever since, the Mevlevi dervishes have kept that date as a festival.
Remembering Allah While Sitting
One would wonder how on earth one could remember God while dreaming. But this aspect of our life is so important and so vast that when utilised properly, the amount of progress one makes on the spiritual path is like making a two hundred years’ journey just in two days.
The reason is evident. The world which we experience in the dreaming consciousness is the storage house of our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is the record of all our past deeds, thoughts, words and emotions. It holds the imprint of all our impulses and tendencies, our past desires and future determinations. It is the seed of Adam’s regeneration and preservation and the driving urge of Eve’s passive and active tastes.
When we gain access into the subconscious mind, a lot of things happen very fast. This is because the world of the dreaming state has an entirely different time scale. Just two minutes spent in the dream world may be equivalent to forty years on the ordinary waking consciousness.
One may fall asleep and start dreaming. Within what looks like two minutes he goes to America, settles down there, marries a wife, builds a house and bears three children. Then, he experiences a bomb blast and wakes up sweating. Hence, the dreaming state is characterized by the absence of time.
Divinize your Dreams
What happens when our dreams are divinised? A whole vast of the subconscious mind is erased with God’s Name! It is like we have a cassette with junk music which we want to replace with spiritual music. What do we do? We simply tape over the spiritual song on it. Then, the old song is not only wiped out but it becomes irretraceable. This is what happens when we divinise our dreams. A large chunk of the storage of our past tendencies, etc, just get wiped out! And one may not achieve this feat in many life times of ordinary waking consciousness. Hence, we must sleep with the Name of God by injecting the Primal Sound of Silence into our subconscious mind.
The Power of Auto Suggestion
This is very simple to do. There is a little gap which separates the waking and the sleeping consciousness. This interval is called the door to the subconscious mind. This is that moment when we are neither awake nor asleep. If we auto suggest the Name of God into this opening, then this Sound of Silence will weave its miracle even when we slumber. The Name will clean and purify. It will scrub and wash. It will churn and remove all the dirt from the inner recesses of our subconscious mind.
How do we auto suggest the Name of God into the door of our subconscious mind? First, we must not fall asleep any how. We must practice the art of falling asleep with the Name of God. After night prayers, there are a number of methods one could employ. For those who fall asleep facing up, harmonising and integrating the Name of God with the breath of life until one falls asleep would be the best. And this does not require any effort. It means that one should relax thoroughly and simply watch the breath as it repeats the Primal Sound of Silence. In a short time, one is carried away in the bosom of sleep. But as he sleeps, the Lord will be working for him even as the mother would clean and feed the baby while the baby sleeps.
Another method which will be appropriate for those who sleep lying by the sides would be to hug the Name of Allah in the cavity of the heart. This is like the hug of Silence. It is a living closeness which one feels with the Reality of one’s chosen Name. “I am as My devotee thinks I am. If he remembers Me in himself, I will remember him in Myself”.
Instead of hugging the teddy bear, we can hug the Name of Allah and sleep in the bosom of His Heart. Even though we cannot see or touch Him, we can feel His Presence, and embrace this Presence in our sleep.
With practice, this Presence will grow and become more concrete than the mattress on which our body rests. It is better to hug Allah without images, so that, we experience God from the Heart and not with the head. The Heart is Silence. The head is only a reflection, an image of what is in the Heart. No matter how much we play with a toy elephant, we can never experience the live elephant. This is the difference between the head and the Heart.
A third method would be general. Just as the mother would sing a lovely lullaby to lull the baby to sleep, sleep with a soft and cool background music replaying the holy Names of God. Let this music be a repetition of our chosen and adored Name. We will have to empty our head of all thoughts and connect our heart with the Sound of Silence in the music until we fall asleep.
Once we have been careful to choose an appropriate music, we should not change it when the mind tells us: ‘I am getting bored with the same music all the time’. The mind gets bored, so it wants change. But, the Heart is Eternal; it is changeless. It is full of fun. We have to maintain consistency and constancy with our chosen Name until our mind seeks into our Heart. Then, we will know what it means to laugh without a reason.
Remembering Allah While Lying Down
How do we remember Allah why lying down, that is in the deep sleep state?
In deep sleep (that is dreamless sleep) there is no feeling of “I” ness. There is total ignorance or complete darkness. In deep sleep, the self is unaware of itself. We come to know that we enjoyed a deep sleep only when we wake up from it. And after a deep sleep we feel a profound sense of refreshment and peace because during this state the Self remained in itself as itself. This is true Rest. We can attain the rest of the soul only when the body and the mind are totally withdrawn from activity. This happens to us unconsciously when we fall into deep sleep. In other words, in deep sleep we contact Silence in ignorance. But this experience is not lasting because, first, it is experienced in ignorance. And secondly, even though there is no feeling of “I” ness, the “I” still remains alive as a seed impulse waiting to germinate immediately we wake up. But to contact Silence in full awareness is the goal of Islam. To consciously enter into deep sleep is the very essence of spirituality. This means to consciously bring the body-mind activity to a complete stop. In this state one is awake while asleep.
In meditation, we consciously enter into deep sleep. When this state is sustained, the seed “I” impulse is annihilated. Just like any seed subjected to a certain temperature would cease to germinate when it is planted, the seed “I” impulse when subjected to the heat of Silence for an uninterrupted period of time becomes dead.
And those whose seed “I” impulse is dead are perpetually asleep. That is, they are perpetually in the state of rest. But because they entered into this state of rest consciously, they are awake in their rest. We can say they are asleep because for them, they do not see the world; but they are awake because there is no other but Allah. They see nothing but Allah; hear nothing but Allah; do nothing but Allah. In this state, “ La ilaha illa allah” becomes a living realisation.
For those who have attained Islam, (total surrender) the “I” seed impulse is dead, that is, annihilated. So that the three levels of consciousness: waking, dreaming and sleeping are unified into one. These are the Holy Ones who have attained the Unity of Allah.
They are eternally at rest because the seed “I” impulse, which is the very cause of man’s unrest is gone. They do not experience suffering or sorrow because it is the “I” that suffers and it is the “I” that gets hurt. They do not experience birth and death, because it is the “I” that is born and it is the “I’ that comes again. To them there is no up or down, no inside or outside, no male or female, no young or old, because the “I” that divides and joins is deceased.
This is the symbol of Christianity and its essence. When the “I” is cut across, one cannot suffer or die. Jesus never suffered; He never died; because Jesus had no “I”. Jesus went through the way of the cross to teach humanity how not to suffer in suffering, and how not to die in death, by simply destroying the root of suffering and death – which is the ego.
We do not experience pain or suffering in deep sleep because in deep sleep there is no “I’ feeling. We might go to bed with a severe tooth ache. But this pain disappears immediately we enter into deep sleep. Why is the pain not experienced? This is because the “I” is temporally withdrawn. But the moment the “I” wakes up again, the pain returns in full force. But when the “I” is permanently and consciously dissolved in Silence, there can be no experience of pain although one is fully conscious of the pain. They know the pain because they are conscious, but they do not suffer the pain because there is no “I” feeling.
As long as this “I” dominates in one’s life, one will continue to experience the dualities of suffering and release, pain and pleasure, depression and elation, good and bad, birth and death. In fact, one’s happiness is indirectly proportional to the predominance of this “I” in one’s life. When the “I” is replaced by “Allah”, one begins a return journey into Paradise.
Author: Father Charles Ogada, a Catholic Priest of the Order of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers and an ardent devotee of Sai.
End of Part 3
Dear reader, how did you like this article? Did it inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories on other pillars of Islam or any other religion? Please write to us at [email protected] We look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions to help us serve you better.
- Heart2Heart Team
Vol 6 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2008
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