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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.

"Indeed, the secret of Sufism is to shift from the vantage point of our personal point of view to the divine point of view."

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Awakening: A Sufi Experience, Part 2

From the dance of the atoms and the choreography of the galaxies to the unfurling of a flower and the struggle for self-esteem in those who had been broken by like, the entire Cosmos resounded with the clarion call, "Awaken!" And though you found that you still had the same body, personality, relationships, and responsibilities as before, your experience of these circumstances had shifted dramatically: your awareness had become the lens through which God looked out upon the physical world; you had become "the eyes through which God sees." Your glance was the divine glance.

In this parable is contained the essence of Sufism -- the story of every soul's descent into existence, its experiences of suffering brought about by separation from its original state of being, and the subsequent journey of return and reawakening to its Divine nature. For from the moment the soul assumes a physical form, the memory of the celestial spheres from which it has descended is obscured; we remain conscious only of the things that have occurred to us since our birth. But the lost knowledge of the Universe still resides within our unconscious. Like an archaeologist who picks and tunnels through layers of stone, we can retrieve that knowledge by deepening and expanding our consciousness through meditation, prayer, and glorification. We get a feeling for what the state prior to our birth is like when we see the light in the eyes of a baby and think, as I often have, "I've seen this before. I remember that."

Indeed, the secret of Sufism is to shift from the vantage point of our personal point of view to the divine point of view. Very simply, our being is made up of two poles of consciousness: the individual, personal self and the Divine, higher self. It is at the pole of the personal dimension of consciousness that we experience constraint and limitation. While we may think that our circumstances are the cause of this frustration, the real source lies in not being aware of our higher self. Thus, the goal in meditation is to reconnect our personal self to this transpersonal dimension of our being.

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