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Barakat Carolynn Bryan — Sufism: It's All About Love


This is the transcript of a talk given at Center for Spiritual Living Prescott on July 9, 2023 by Dr. Jon Haass, RScP, a Science of Mind practitioner at CSL Prescott.

You can also experience this talk by watching the video or listening to it on our podcast, Love Spoken Here.


Good morning. So let's all begin with sighing aloud, Ah, three times. Ah…Ah…Ah…And from that relaxed open spaciousness let's begin our exploration of love, which is the bedrock of Sufism. So due through exploring the name Allah. And I will use Allah and God interchangeably when we all know they're just shorthand for the formless reality for the all-pervading Absolute. I'll also use the pronoun he, even though again, we know that certainly the formless, absolute is genderless. And Allah in Arabic comes from the root word, walia. And walia means to be madly, passionately crazy, head over heels in love and dissolved in yearning.

Allah is love.

It also means your dearest friend. So for Sufis, this passionate, unconditional love is the gateway into everything. That it's the doorway into mystical union with the divine, and with all of creation. And for centuries, Sufis have said God is your lover, not your jailer. So the two syllables, Allah, contain both affirmation and negation. A is the affirmative, and la is the negative. It means no. You put them together and you might say they kind of cancel one another out.

They lead to a still point. And the still point is an entryway into the divine. Because nothing is left out. So we'll put Allah in the context of Sufi cosmology, if you will. The Koran tells us that Allah said I was a hidden treasure who longed to be known. And we know who we are through having other, through having a mirror. So Allah, in longing to be known, breathed the breath of compassion and all of Creation was breathed into existence. And Creation was made from that divine essence, so that Allah might have a mirror of himself. To be known, to know and be known.

So we as creation, we're the answer to that divine wish to be known, to be known and loved. And as humans, we are called upon to bear witness to the fact that it is divine essence that forms absolutely every atom of creation. Every atom is made from divine essence. We were born from love, as love, to love and be loved, and to offer tenderness and compassion to all that is because we know that each thing is a unique manifestation of the One, of the divine.

The intensity of the love of Allah for creation, for us, is reflected in the verse from the Koran that says we take one step towards God and God takes 10 steps toward us. Another translation says we take one step toward God and God comes running to us. There are 99 beautiful names of Allah and 99 is simply a code for an infinite number. And these 99 names are attributes or qualities that form a picture of the multiple facets of Allah. I was right. So the opening quality, in those 99, the quality that is said to be written on God's heart, the quality that is the essence of God's nature is of course nothing but love, and this particular word for love, for there are many different words for love in Arabic. This one, Rachman, comes from a root meaning womb. So here's this embracing container that is filled with the essence of Allah, that is nothing but unconditional love and compassion. And it is from there that new life is born.

Sufism is based on experience, not premises, so we're going to experiment a little with sound vibrations for a while. So sound preceded language so it can point to a vaster reality than what words can denote. And it stirs the experiential part of us that bypasses analysis. It creates an energy field all on its own that is separate from whatever meaning might be attached to those sounds. When we chant we're enlisting all of the molecules around us and within us to tune to a certain vibration. So we're going to chant Allah together several times, tuning ourselves to that vibration of unconditional love and compassion.

Allah Allah Allah…

It says we're creating sound refuges that we can call upon and return to. So we will breakdown Allah into the different sounds of each letter. So we start with the Ah, which I think all of us have experienced. And it's that Ah is an opening. It's a softening. It's a receptivity. And then we have the L sound, which is, LL, so say that with me a few times. LL … LL That's said to be a shimmering of the heart. It's setting up a vibration in the heart we’ve been open, we've been receptive to whatever is poured in, and that energy builds. And then we have, Ah again, which is the release for the heart’s expression. And finally, we have the H which is Ha. And that, we might say, is just a complete letting go into the mystery. So we will chat these letters in a prolonged fashion. I'll demonstrate, but we'll chant them together four times and see what that effect is. So we will do it like this.A..ll..A…H.

Then, with my cat toy in hand. Thank you, Clay. The shape of each letter in the Arabic has its own mystical meaning, and Arabic, as in Hebrew and other languages, is read from right to left. So we're going to have to go back to the beginning again. In pre eternity we have the great stillness. And in that stillness, awareness arose. And it's often depicted as a dot, and a dot is a symbol for her divine essence. So the first letter here is called an olive. It's the A, olive. And an ancient Sufi wrote “It is said that the first thing Allah created was a single drop. And he looked upon it with his awesome presence until it melted and began to flow.” Its flow was the olive. And that was planted in the solar plexus of humanity. It is the Covenant of Oneness.

And then we have the first L. The L is shaped like a hook or a J, if you will. And it is said to denote possessiveness or possession. So we belong to Allah because he created us. Then we have a second L. Again, another hook to hook us. When a letter is repeated in Arabic, it intensifies the meaning of those letters and it means it's happening continuously, without end, without a breadth of a break, always happening. This means we belong to Allah according to this lamb. The L is lamb because of love.

And this little symbol here that looks like a W double s the intensity of the letter that it's over. So we have not only “don't forget you belong to me”, but we have “you really belong to me because I love you. Because I love you with more compassion and passion than you can imagine.”

And finally, in calligraphy, as I'm sure you know, certain liberties are taken, but the final H is actually a circle. So kind of more like that and it's, a Ha, it's the letter H. And that high is code for Hu? And Hu is pure beingness? No attributes, no adjectives. Pure essence. You might say it's the great mystery. We're going to be singing those two great names of pure essence and unconditional love. Hu and Allah? But first I want to share a poem by an 8th century Sufi female saint, Rabia of Basra. She lived in what is now Iraq.

It acts like love, music. It reaches towards the face, touches it and tries to let you know his promise that all will be OK. It acts like love, music. And tells the feet you do not have to be so burdened. My body is covered with wounds this world made. But I still long to kiss him. Even when God said “could you also kiss the hand that caused each scar? For you will not find me until you do.” It does that, music; helps us to forgive.

So once we know that the guitar has stayed tuned. Please join us as you. As you get it, Hu Allah?

Once more.

Thank you.

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