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Excerpted from Awakening: A Sufi Experience by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Copyright 1999 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Excerpted by permission of Tarcher/Putnam, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Like the rediscovery of a precious relic hidden beneath layers of dirt, you rediscovered your true self, you real identity, which had been buried and forgotten in the depths of your unconscious."

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, 
Awakening: A Sufi Experience
, Part 1

Imagine for a moment that you are a visitor from the far reaches of the Universe who has just landed on earth. If you revive the memory of the worlds you left behind, you will possess a rare knowledge that is not shared by most of the inhabitants of this small planet: a wide perspective and broad overview of the mystery of existence. In fact, you are a citizen of the Universe -- not just the physical world, but all levels and spheres of reality. Perhaps you decided to come to earth because you wanted to experience its unique environment. Or maybe your motivation was to make a mark, or to improve humankind's circumstances. In order to achieve these tasks, however, it was necessary to assume a body molded out of the fabric of your parents and ancestors; you chose them for the purposes of incarnation. As time passes, you became more adapted to your new physical and social environment -- you worked hard, fell in love, developed friendships, started a family, and traveled the world. Gradually, the memory of your original home began to recede from consciousness, until finally it disappeared altogether.

For a while, your life on earth went smoothly; you were happy. Then you were affected by a major crisis, a personal upheaval, and life no longer seemed to certain. You began to feel restless and uneasy. The circumstances of your life felt frustrating, and you yearned for freedom. Stirred by nostalgia for something you couldn't even put a name on, you began looking up at the stars. Likewise, you started to feel an affinity with the trees, the butterflies, the sun, the animals, and the birds. In the vast reaches of the sky and the sweetness of nature, you rediscovered something of yourself that had been forgotten. Swept by feelings of awe and wonder, you began to have a dialogue within yourself about the nature of reality, and to question the source of all the beauty, suffering, and mystery of creation. Something incredible seemed to lie just behind the surface of things -- yet the answer eluded you, slipping beyond the grasp of your realization.

Then suddenly, after years of searching, all the memories of your previous existence came back to you in a flash of awakening. Like the rediscovery of a precious relic hidden beneath layers of dirt, you rediscovered your true self, you real identity, which had been buried and forgotten in the depths of your unconscious. Once again, you could se through the vastly expanded perspective of this cosmic self, rather than the narrow vantage point of your earthly identity. It was as if the scales had fallen from your eyes; you possessed an x-ray like intelligence that penetrated the truth concealed by the veil of creation -- the revelation of the glory of the Universe -- the One Being people called God. The miracle was that as you awakened, so, too, did the whole Universe.

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