The Eternal Lover
Dissertation by Sahinde Elif Zapsu
University of Edinburgh
Counselling and Psychotherapy
Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue)
To: Ahmed Hulusi. I am eternally grateful for everything; it cannot be expressed with words.
To: My grandfather Nihat Boytuzun, who passed away while writing this dissertation. Your laughter never leaves my ears. May you continue with your humour lighting your way to peace.
To: My sisters and father, thank you for everything, I love you. My mother Beyza Zapsu who introduced me to the world of Sufism, for your support with this paper and everything we have been through together, thank you, I love you.
To: Sura Al-Muscati and Sarah Morehouse thank you for everything you have given these past two years, I love you.
To: My supervisor Bob Goupillot in particular for your patience, understanding and support and to all my teachers of psychotherapy that have helped in different ways through these two years.
To: Being Human
This work is merely my own interpretation and attempt at understanding a way of being.
I would like to clarify that it cannot be used to represent any religion, spiritual path, theory or person.
It may only be defined as Elif
GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE
Welcome, reader let me be your guide!
Allow me to offer you my existence; what is mine is yours take from me what you will. Allow me to build you a bridge to my heart, how much you wish to walk if at all, I leave you my friend.
Have you heard of the Sufi?
The Sufi, technically one belonging to branch of Islamic Mysticism,
But have you truly heard, of the Sufi?
It is one who falls madly in love and annihilates the self in that which is everything!
Have you ever felt such love?
It is to die while living and become reborn as “one.”
It is the journey into yourself, finding all you need within…
There is no “good” or “bad” in such love.
There is no separation.
There is no YOU.
There just “is.”
An infinite vast existence that Sufi’s call ‘HU,’ in which you were created to observe yourself through itself….
Written as a series of letters addressed to the Universe and my reader, I will begin by introducing myself to you and the world of Sufism. We shall then take a journey through the galaxy and our Universe, exploring various views of existence along the way, with the aim of discovering what prominent Sufi Scholar Ahmed Hulusi defines as self-love, for love is hidden in the mystery of life! After which, we shall return to a series of thought experiments on how our findings regarding love and thus spiritual actualization might fit in with core concepts in the person-centred approach to psychotherapy. Rather than a quest for a conclusion, it is one for an experience, where we will be left with the question, ‘what is the true self?’
My friend, do not let labels block your mind from joining me throughout this journey for this was written for all, as love is all!
Welcome, to the Universe in my mind….
Key Words: Sufism, Self-love, Spiritual actualization, Person-centred psychotherapy
Letter One: The Consolations of Philosophy by Max Richter
Letter Two: Superfly by Curtis Mayfield
Letter Three: Vivaldi Girl by AIDA
Letter Four: Whirling by Sufi Music Ensemble
Letter Five: Somebody to love by Queen
Letter Six: Vivaldi Four Seasons- Spring Recomposed by Max Richter
Letter Seven: Get up and drive your funky soul by James Brown
COLLECTED QUOTES BY SUFI MASTERS
Letter One: “If you’re unwilling to undress, don’t enter into the stream of Truth” (Mevlana Rumi in Mafi and Kolin 1999, 21).
Letter Two: “If I told you about a land of love...would you swallow it as a remedy?” (Yunus Emre in Emre 2000, 18).
Letter Three: “I came from eternity, clothed myself with skin and bones and called myself ‘Yunus’” (Yunus Emre in Emre 2000, 9).
Letter Four: “The essence of existence is consciousness emanating from non-existence” (Hulusi 2011, 24).
Letter Five: “People are asleep, with death they will awaken” (Muhammad (saw), The Quran 70:10-15).
Letter Six: “Beyond a hundred steps of wisdom, I will be free from good and bad. Behind the veils, I will find such Splendour, such Beauty that I will fall in love with Myself” (Rumi 1999, 73).
Letter Seven: “My heart can take on any form: A meadow for gazelles, a cloister for monks, for the idols, sacred ground, Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim, the tables of the Torah, the scrolls of the Quran. My creed is Love; Wherever its caravan turns along the way, that is my belief, my faith” (Ibn Arabi 2004).
The Eternal Lover
The Consolations of Philosophy by Max Richter
If you’re unwilling to undress, don’t enter into the stream of Truth” (Mevlana Rumi in Mafi and Kolin 1999, 21)
June 4th 2017
Can you hear me? Can you see me?
I will write these letters to you, about you, for you.
I will ask my readers, all different reflections of you, to follow me as I explore you, wonder about you and long for you…
With you, I am a bird,
I fly across the sky, feel you on my skin; see you underneath me, above me and within.
We are flying!
Can you feel the breeze?
The sun is rising; you can feel the wind on your face.
There is nothing but endless ocean,
Nothing but stillness within,
You are flying!
You are flying
My heart beats faster and
Begins to whirl when I think of you.
I yearn for you,
You are mine.
I am yours.
Possess me and let me possess you,
Let us merge and become one,
Lovers with no separation.
You are so
You are my
How shall we begin?
Have we begun?
I suppose it began all those years ago,
As a child on a mountain in Istanbul,
I sat hugging a tree,
I am so lonely and sad; will you heal me with your love?
I suppose it began all those years ago when
As a child on the ‘Yellow Mountain,’
Feeling like a princess locked in a Tower,
I heard a whisper,
‘Open your mind.’
I suppose it began years ago,
As I hid in my closet,
Crying in darkness,
When I hid in the bathroom,
Crying on the floor,
Longing for you,
Asking to come ‘home’ to you,
To be ‘one’ with you….
The years went by and the darkness slowly overtook me.
With terrible voices in my head…
Those voices were not mine,
But they sounded like me.
A Shaman from Mongolia,
Nothing was enough to make it okay.
So my friend,
I decided I would wander the Earth until I found a way to be…
I wrote you many letters those days,
Asking for you to save me.
Years passed and a day came,
When suddenly you shattered me.
You tore away my illusions- the unveiling began…
I saw clearly that nothing was what it seemed.
You captured my heart…
In my grave, I heard you
My heart started to flutter
And I came alive again!
You are my miracle.
You are my only cure.
So in this paper I will explore you,
What ‘self-love’ means to me as you are nothing but ‘Love’
And are the greatest expression of ‘self-love’.
For you are everything and I am nothing.
There is only you.
I am merely one of an infinite expression of you.
You that is Love.
My eternal Lover.
To Being Human, Love Elif
Superfly by Curtis Mayfield
“If I told you about a land of love...would you swallow it as a remedy?” (Yunus Emre in Emre 2000, 18)
June 19th 2017
This is nothing other than a love story, our love story.
You madly in love with me, you whisper, “You are my love,” while I completely unaware wonder, “Please love me.”
You watch me with adoration while I completely unaware cry,
“Why have you left me?”
You tell me that I am yours. I wait for you to make you mine.
So I write to you, to my readers, all different versions of you…
Do you know what love is?
This strange and elusive feeling debated and contemplated across time.
Authors state that love is a combination of seven different possible types of configurations, based on ancient philosophy and modern literature (Burton 2016):
Eros (sexual passion),
Ludus (playful and ‘youthful’),
Agape (self-less love for all),
Pragma (a love matured over time),
and Philautia (self-love), one version is associated with narcissism and the other positive self-enhancement.
Rousseau had termed the distinction of self-love akin to that in Philautia as ‘l’amour-propre’ and ‘’l’amour de soi,’ one being the natural preservation of self and the other what may arise when one compares the self to others, a more destructive feeding of the Ego (Neuhouser 2009). The love I will speak of in this thesis is a different version of l’amour-propre and I suppose would best fit the depiction of Agape. I will hope to show that Agape comes from Philautia, that selfless love is in essence, self-love.
To clarify this further, I will be depicting the very epitome of Narcissus, a passionate self-love forever content to observe its own reflection, be its own lover, with one key difference, this narcissus has no ‘Ego’; the perceived existence of the self as ‘other’ from all (this term will be discussed in further in later letters).
A prominent physicist and writer stated that love is a permanent neurological condition that involves the release of chemicals as well as attachment and bonding (Al-Khalili et al. 2012). I would argue that Kahlili speaks of a biological ego-based love, which does not depict the spiritual love that I seek which requires ‘secure attachment’ to others to release ‘all attachments’!
But how will I write about this if I am not 'ego' free?
Theoretically and passionately. I seek answers with questions of the answer relying on experiences of the answer, knowing all along, that I AM the answer.
As I write I seek myself while knowing it is myself that is seeking me.
I am both the questions and the answers.
I am the known, the “unthought known” (Bollas 1987, 230) and the unknown.
Fromm (1957, 25) stated, “The ultimate consequence of psychology is love, (which is) the overcoming of human separateness…the fulfilment of longing for union”. If humanity is lived through psychology and the essence of psychology is love, then humanity is love. We are “Ashk”!
(Aşk is phonetically written as Ashk and is a Turkish word used to describe a passionate, romantic Love, in this instance, an infinite love).
I believe the answer to the questions: What is the self? Who are we? What are we?
We ARE what we are looking for,
our ultimate longing for union is not with another but with ourselves and through our selves, others-
We are Ashk.
Do you love yourself?
Greenberg (2013) suggests that love is increased with a feeling of connection and interconnection, a trait associated with secure attachment tendencies. The person-centred approach depicts therapy as a process of clients becoming ‘one’ with who they truly are, re-writing ‘conditions of worth’ (Rogers 2003, 485) that we may have adopted along the way. Can we not argue that self-love and acceptance has a crucial role in healing within therapeutic relationships?
An over 75 year-long study by Harvard researchers has shown that love is the key to a happy life; joy coming from feeling connected (Valliant in Gregoire 2013). Faul and D’ambrosio (Frassica 2014) have created extensive research on what they term as ‘compassionate love,’ where “it starts with yourself and circles out into the world,” showing how people who are more compassionate lead healthier lives.
Brené Brown (2010) has produced extensive research on the human connection (thousands of interviews over the years) and concluded that stories lead to those of disconnection with themes of shame versus self-love. There are a few sources depicting Sufism (which can be described as love) in psychotherapy (Granick 2004), yet spirituality remains to be controversial in the field of therapy, and while self-love and self-compassion are integral to counselling, I wonder if it has enough focus.
Sufism, or Tasawwuf as it is known in the Muslim world, technically is Islamic mysticism (Cook 2015, 2). It depicts a path of actualization (aided by various means such as meditation, fasting, and prayer), for one to discover the truth of their essence through ‘love’ (Hulusi 2016). It cannot be defined. It is a place where religion does not exist, only love, hence it should be available and accessed by all who desire regardless of one's spiritual orientation as “ in the religion of Love, there are no believers or unbelievers, Love embraces All” (Rumi 1999, 71).
I will be depicting a unique interpretation of Sufism by Scholar Ahmed Hulusi, who utilizes science to help further an understanding of a way of being for “science and Sufism lead to the same ‘one’”, and describes Sufism to be “the practice of freeing the brain from its limitations and enabling one to contemplate and turn to the essence of existence, to the very core of their being” (Hulusi 2013, 1). It is the attempt to live the understanding that we are all units of one single consciousness, of “an ocean of pure energy compromising of infinite universes projected from one single point “(Hulusi 2006) and thus our separation is an illusion. Where all is one and one is all.
I will implement the method of writing as a form of enquiry to explore what self-love is within this interpretation of Sufism and how it and the person-centred way of being can become ‘one,' and will be using Ahmed Hulusi's materials available online as well as other scientific articles. This will be possible through writing series of letters, in the form of a ‘reflexive’ literature-based research allowing for theoretical ‘play,' in the hopes of taking you on a journey along with me, allowing you not only into my thoughts but also my feelings.
As this topic is too ‘big’ to be confined to this dissertation, or one might even say to this authors lifetime however long that may be, it is hoped that it can be used as the bases of merely introducing a subject within the periphery of this field, by attempting to generally explicate two questions:
What is Self-Love and thus spiritual actualization in Hulusi’s interpretation of Sufism?
How can it fit in with the person-centred way of being?
With this goal and with the hope that through more love there will be more healing,
I commence my letters.
In letter three we will look at relevant literature to create the context for this research,
In letter four, we shall explore the chosen method for this paper and address ethical concerns,
In letter five we shall explore the Universe and consequently discuss what Hulusi’s interpretation of self-love might be.
In letter six we will attempt to merge our findings with core person-centred concepts that relate to spiritual actualization.
Finally in letter seven we shall end our journey together by reaching no clear conclusions but many suggestions and questions for further research…
Do you remember my favourite story as a child?
Alice in Wonderland.
As I grew into my teens, Alice was replaced by romance novels. Starting with Jude Deveraux, one grew to two, two into three and before I realized I had read over a hundred. What I understand now as an adult is that writing and going on a journey of self-love requires both Alice and Jude; Falling deeply into a world of infinite possibilities, wonder and contrasts with the bravery of Alice is the road to finding romantic and eternal Jude. I have also come to see that the Knight in Shinning armour I had been longing for was not in someone else but within me.
This is ultimately a story of love.
Of falling madly in love with yourself!
So come my friend,
Let us fall madly in love, let us get drunk on love and lose our wits, and ways of being so that we can no longer see what is and isn’t, for all is and isn’t and we are separate and yet one!
Let us love ourselves like no other so that we may fall in love with all.
Looking For You
Vivaldi Girl by AIDA
“I came from eternity, clothed myself with skin and bones and called myself ‘Yunus’” (Yunus Emre in Emre 2000, 9).
July 9th 2017
How can I define me that which is you, you that is all? I will attempt to give a sense of you by discussing self-love in the further letters…
I recall a night I had Istanbul. There was a warm summer breeze and I sat with a much respected and loved Sufi scholar watching the lights twinkle around the Bosphorus Strait. I asked, “Can you tell me a story?" She responded, “A man once went to meet a great Sufi Master in his home. He knocked on a door and an elderly man answered. As he shook the elder’s hand and bent to kiss it the man stated, ‘it is not I that is the master, the master is behind me.’ So, he went forward to shake and kiss the other mans hand and received the same response ‘the Master is not I, he is behind me.’ So he went forward to shake and kiss the other mans hand, who behold responded, ‘the master is not I, he is the man at the very front!”
I turned to her, eyes wide with surprise and we both began to laugh, our laughter echoed into the night, in time for the call for prayer….
So my friend, as you can see the ‘Master’ is everywhere and within everyone!
Let us take a moment to create a frame for this picture.
Sufism is most prominent in the Middle East and Islamic countries but can be found throughout the world (Ohtsuka 2017). There are various approaches to Sufism, and there have been many debates concerning its origin. Some looked to Greek philosophy and in particular Platonism, others to Buddhism or Taoism (ibid). However, despite similarities and shared prophets with other religions, it is unique. Its heart belongs to the Qur’an, its initial revelation given to the Prophet Muhammad in year A.D 610, although in a “universal sense Sufism existed before Islam” (Faidman and Frager 1997, 2).
Sufism is a way of being; a way of existence, technically "a centuries-old spiritual psychology” described as ‘living presence,' which is used to explicate the divine (Helminski 1992, VIII). It can perhaps be expressed as ‘living meditation,’ where 'Namaz' the practice of Salavat or prayer in Islam is the practice of being ‘one’ in the present moment through the ‘source’ for you ARE the source. Imagine you are the only thing in existence! It is living that you are ‘nothing’ to understand that you are an expression of everything! Accordingly, I would like to clarify that Hulusi’s understanding of Sufism appears to show that we are not connected to the source but are in essence a configuration of the source (Hulusi 2006).
I believe “psychoneurosis must be understood ultimately as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered it’s meaning,” (Jung 1958, 330). However few counsellor and psychotherapist training programmes include spirituality, despite the fact that therapy itself can be viewed as a spiritual process (West 2000, 1). Research has also found that people reporting religious experiences had a significantly high level of psychological wellbeing than those who do not (Hay and Morisy 1978, 259) although these surveys are culturally specific.
Rogers concept of ‘presence’ portrays a spiritual aspect in the person-centred approach when he describes how when his “inner intuitive self…(is) somehow in touch with the unknown (within)…. then simply (his) presence is releasing and helpful” (Rogers in West 2000, 28). Authors have criticised this for they have stated that they do not know what one must do to facilitate this mystical experience in clients (ibid), but I would agree with Rogers at this point. Presence is not ‘mere’- it has an unarguable impact within therapy. At a fundamental level ‘Presence’ is the bases in which therapeutic relationships are formed, one must be present to receive and connect to the other. Interestingly, scientific evidence suggests that the rhythm of brainwaves between two people conversing begin to match each other (Perez et al. 2017) showing the impact one may have on the other. I will discuss this further in later letters…
Sufism has been assimilated into approaches such as transpersonal therapy and experimented with cognitive behavioural therapy (Nizamie 2013, 216). However research based evidence is sparse and it has yet to be incorporated into psychodynamic and person-centred approaches to the best of this authors knowledge, at least most certainly not this particular interpretation which utilizes science.
The tension between therapy and religion is historically cited between the split of science and religion (West 2000,1), but this is not always the case, in fact many physicists declare they are spiritual in some way, impacted by the nature of their study. Einstein admitted to being humbled by the vastness of God, that he didn’t have the mental resources to understand God fully and was “not interested in this phenomenon or that phenomenon, (only) Gods’ thoughts-for the rest (were) details” (Einstein in Mclendon 2017). Current leading scientist Kaku has also declared that “it is very clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules, that we were created and shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance” (Kaku in Mclendon 2017).
The combination of science and Islam is also most certainly not new to the world. The Islamic Golden Age (Muslim Empire from 7th century to the 13th century), saw major contributions to science, math, technology, art, philosophy- an epicentre for human knowledge it propelled science further and encouraged one not only to value and explore what it means to be human in various ways but also to constantly question what is ‘known’ to be ‘real’ (Taylor 2015).
What does Sufism say is ‘real’?
Aristotle hypothesised that the world was created by the fusion of matter and the “Unmoved Mover” (God), one who forms matter but is never formed (Aristotle in Gehrke 2013). The Sufi path is the understanding that YOU do not exist, only the ‘Unmoved Mover’ that has created you to observe itself in its infinite forms.
Have you heard of the thought experiment of Schrödingers Cat (Schrödinger 1935)? It is the ultimate physics dilemma: if you cannot see the cat in the box how can you know if it is dead or alive? One suggestion to the paradox is that OBSERVATION proves existence; you 'are' due to the one who observes your existence (ibid). For the Sufi, you exist solely to be observed by HU, "Whether via revelation or through consciousness, HU is the inner essence of the reality of everything that is perceived" (Hulusi 2013, 45). You are an attribute of HU, and the ONE loves to be seen, loves to be LOVED, it is the ultimate expression of self-love!
Hence a ‘Sufi’ is merely a label to depict one that is on the path of searching for actualization, for one searching to answer the question, ‘what is the Perfect Human’, the actualized human that can be ‘one’ with all? Think flying in a place where time does not exist and coming back to present day Earth, for as stated by physicists "the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion" (Einstein in Calaprice, 2000, 75). Think of the infinite possibilities, what I am suggesting is that actualized humans have the potential to create what they imagine through their consciousness, everything is within them, within us. As Hulusi (2016, 132) states, ‘the human is beyond the boundaries of time and space!”
It is vital to note here the probabilities that continue to be discovered. Starting from over 100 years ago Einstein has taught us that time travel (to the future) is possible when one gets close to the speed of light or if one were to arrive and stay on the surface of a black hole (Einstein in Green 2015). Now scientists argue that through the means of a wormhole, travel in which space and time do not exist is also possible (Woo 2014). Let me also take a moment to project into the future of the year 2030. Physicists as we speak are creating contact lenses, rooms and wallpaper that will all be ‘intelligent’ (Kaku 2009)...we will be able to access the internet and download the virtual world into all these mediums! For example as we walk through historical ruins, the image of what it might have looked like can be recreated in our lenses, the virtual world will overtake the world as we know it sooner than we realise (ibid).
Accordingly, the infinite possibilities of humankind through the medium of technology (which is the manipulation of subatomic particles), is accepted. Humans, after all, have been preparing for a long time now for a future where machines overtake our way of life, this is apparent not only in our literature, film and general culture but also in the content of what scientists have been and continue to work towards…Professor Stephen Hawking has previously stated that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,'' and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple has warned us that "artificially intelligent computers will take over from humans and the future is scary and very bad for people” (Hawking and Wozniak in Sparkes 2015).
It appears we are creating our extinction while knowing all the while exactly what we are doing. It may be nothing other than humanity that will lead to the day where there are no true humans left. This is partly why, I believe it is more vital than ever for us to understand our true potential…But when it is suggested that humans are beyond a code of subatomic particles, that what we create with machinery we can create with our minds without the attachment of machinery that we (through our conscious body) can fly through timeless-space, it suggested that I have entered the realm of fiction.
But what is fiction? And what is a machine?
If the machine is a human creation then it is an extension and reflection of the brain, think of the potential of the mind!? When we speak of creating artificial intelligence that may be smarter than the human (Withnall 2014), do we forget that we are the creators of that information, is it that we do not understand our potential because we only see it in one form?
Because we do not understand what we are?
Despite the incredible progress made in the mental health field, the true potential and function of the human remains to be a mystery, although “we have accounts of (humans) as animals, (humans) as machines…there remains the greatest difficulty in achieving a human understanding of (the person) in human terms” (Laing 1967,25).
Within this context, I would like to simply do one thing- introduce conversation around Sufi thinking. Authors have previously spoken about Sufism in psychotherapy and written critically about limitations within Western psychotherapy regarding Sufi principles such as the focus on ego objectification instead of liberation (Knabb and Welsh 2009) but the sources I have found so far have been limited and nothing of Hulusi’s unique interpretation. Hence I would like to make an offering, ‘this is me, take of me what you like.' I will not profess to ‘know’ anything; I am not an expert on anything, I do not represent a culture, religion or person only my own experiences and thoughts. All I will be depicting is my passion for humanity for “I cannot give anyone anything in life except my love” (Hulusi 2017).
What do you think my friend?
How do you feel?
Shall we discuss how we can and are searching for love?
Finding a way to reach you
Whirling by Sufi Music Ensemble
“The essence of existence is consciousness emanating from non-existence” (Hulusi 2011,24).
August 20th 2017
I recall a conversation I had with my therapist, he ended our last session on this note:
“I am reminded of Dante’s Inferno…I hope you find your Virgil to help guide you on your way so that you may finally awaken.”
I am in hell, going through its various doors trying to find my way to you, my heaven…
I am attempting to reach you through these letters. The aim of this paper is to be able to define self-love (to the extent which it is possible), in scholar Ahmed Hulusi’s interpretation of Sufism. To do this the concept of the self will be explored in a way that is more relatable to others, through various scientific, psychological and philosophical contemplations. Findings will be studied briefly through thought experiments and theoretical play, comparing it to already existing Rogerian core concepts regarding the self and spiritual actualization.
I decided to do this literature-based research following the dictum that the “the more knowledgeable you are, the better you will understand your problem” (Leedy 1989, 66). I utilized the method of writing as a form of inquiry; data collection, analysis and creation were written as 'one' in “a seductive and tangled method of discovery” (Richardson and St.Pierre 2005, 962). Various materials had to be used, all of which were found online. These include Hulusi’s videos published on ‘youtube’ as well as his books and articles written on his websites ‘www.ahmedhulusi.org’ and ‘www.okyanusm.com’. I have also compiled various scientific, philosophical and spiritual videos and articles found online by a range of authors as a way of understanding Hulusi's writing.
How meaning can be transferred in language as well as it's definition has been by debated authors (Richardson and St. Pierre 2005, 969). I suppose with these letters I hope to take readers on a journey with me, to experience a state that cannot be comprehended with meaning but with feeling... a place where definitions cease to exist and there just “is.” Reflexivity will be exposed through the process of “writing as thinking”(Kaufman 2012) as I intertwine my thoughts alongside others during my journey exploring Hulusi’s work. By including my feelings, I hope to create a greater sense or experience for the reader.
Tamas (2009) explored how writing is akin to getting undressed, exposed and vulnerable, naked for the viewers to see. Sufi master and poet Rumi (1999, 21) asks that we undress to enter “the stream of Truth.” By choosing this method of enquiry, despite it being a theoretical piece, I will be revealing myself at heart bare for others to see. Consequently questions such as, ‘what am I doing? What am I saying? What will people think?’ floated around my mind like a roller coaster ghost. The person that I am becoming does not worry but the person that I am leaving behind does; I was and am left in the in the space between. The support of my therapist, family, friends and teachers was vital in this respect. Regardless of others perceptions of my way of being I will always continue to strive to understand my existence better. As Hulusi (2016) states, 'When you're inflamed by the fire of love there is no going back… The lover accepts to fall apart, to become isolated and humiliated, to lose everything he owns, to lose his sense of identity! For in love, there is no ‘other’… There is no ‘me’… "
I used to be very closed-minded. As a philosophy, I liked to say anything was possible but when it came to 'reality' everything had to be ‘proven’ with ‘evidence,' ‘facts’ and ‘data,' it needed to be analysed, coded, and organized in my mind. That person no longer exists… I cannot recall why I was this way; perhaps because the alternative was too frightening and I had “a fear of nihilism in the face of departing from what we discern to be “safe positivist science” (Bernstein 1983, 14). We seem to have an infinite fear of uncertainty! For this reason, humans are categorized into gender, race, culture, nation, job, number, disorder-everything and everyone must fit into a box and nothing unproven can be ‘real’! We at times do unspeakable things when faced with the present unknown…we dismiss it and state that only we and what we perceive exists despite seeing the face of infinite creation that is the Universe…despite that we have no ‘real’ understanding of ‘reality.’
Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty posits that the momentum and place of a particle cannot be accurately measured at the same time (Heisenberg in Jha 2013). “Pure science” shows that looking at an atom will change its structure (observation affects reality) and subatomic particles blink in and out of existence (Lincoln 2013). We are the ultimate, beautiful, glorious expression of uncertainty itself! Thereby one could argue “the natural science ideal (of research) can not even be found in natural science” (Flyvbjerg 2001, 28). Pure science is based on uncertainty, just as is our existence. Thus I will be writing with the premise of infinite possibilities; that we are all connected to each other (Hulusi 2006), as “science reveals all life on Earth is one” (Cosmos 2014) and that a collective consciousness exists (Jung 1991, 275).
I debated various ways of approaching this topic, how to make it digestible rather than a full course meal that leaves you breathless! I thought I could explicate only the essence of this topic and not use religious text; only discuss love, which is self-love and relate spiritual actualization to the person-centred concept of the actualising tendency. As I began to write I realized my mistake. There is no way to make this topic ‘bite-size’ because it is by nature infinite and all condensed pieces will contain infinite knowledge. After this introductory thesis, one can write detailed sections on topics within, however to be able to write anything about Sufism, one needs to first get a sense of what it is! Consequently, I did my best to provide a general introduction to Sufism and how spiritual actualization might fit with person-centred concepts. Due to its nature this topic will to a certain extent remain elusive.
I must note that I have chosen Ahmed Hulusi’s interpretation of Sufism for specific reasons. Firstly, I experience him through our interactions to be an actualized, enlightened human being and as such always ethical. Secondly, I think his method of depicting this reality is unique, modern and as he utilizes scientific concepts can reach diverse audiences as shown by the fact that he has many followers throughout the world. I am in concord with postmodernists that state that no one way of knowing is of greater value or authority (Richardson and St. Pierre 2005, 961). My perspective, interpretation and way of being cannot be generalized. Every heart beats to a different rhythm; such is the beauty and diversity of being human. My reality cannot dictate others; it can only help one further understand what their reality may or may not mean.
I only began to train as a counsellor two years ago. I am new within the field of psychotherapy and in Sufism. Consequently while I can experience and philosophise about certain topics, my knowledge is limited. I would hope that despite my limitations as a trainee, I was able to convey my heart, myself enough that should for some reason my clients find their way to my work, they will find that the person here is also the person they experienced in the room with them. I can imagine that should I continue to write and practice in this discipline; I will draw and repel clients that find my way of being comforting or unknown.
Many of the Islamic faith may not agree with what I have written as it is a radically different perspective from mainstream practice. It disagrees with the belief that there is a separate God in heaven... What I mean to say is that I try to understand the Words of Unity ‘La ilahe illalah’ (‘there is no God but Allah’) to mean that there is no concept of ‘Godhood’ (separate being), but ‘one’ infinite existence (Hulusi 2012, 23). Sufism is living the understanding that humanity and all existence are ‘one’. Therefore Sufis at times are frowned upon, attacked, harassed, and in some countries imprisoned, exiled and killed (Schiffman 2017). Generally speaking, I realize that such a topic is bound to trigger various responses positive and negative hence I would like to state here that my intention is never to upset, merely to discuss love. These are merely my thoughts, my way of being- please take it as such. It is a window into my world and should be taken as nothing more or less.
So my friend, it is here I will leave you to commence to the next letter, introducing you to the Universe in my mind…
Exploring the Universe Part One: ‘The Fifth Element’
Somebody to love by Queen
“People are asleep, with death they will awaken” (Muhammad (saw), The Quran 70:10-15).
July 30th 2017
You are my heart.
Without you everything is meaningless,
I miss you.
Here you are in me, but I still miss you.
What longing is this!
“I” am nothing and you my essence are everything,
this is the story I will attempt to tell.
A story of ‘the fifth element’ (The Fifth Element 1997) that which makes us human, that which is true love, depicted as self-love.
To explore Hulusi’s concept of self-love one must define the self, for love and the self is one.
Let us begin.
I stand on a mountain overlooking the Turquoise Bosphorus
I feel like I can stare at you for an eternity and never get bored!
The sun is embracing Istanbul,
The birds whisper hello and the breeze sings 'you must fly!'
My friend, shall we fly?
Through the clouds into space,
Look at how beautiful we are! (Image: NASA in Northon 2015)
Floating and looking down at Earth I have one thought- how we have disappeared and become one with our incredible planet. Curious, we continue through the solar system past other planets until we are looking back at our Milky Way Galaxy… Hundreds of billions of stars with enough gas and dust to make even more billions (NASA 2017).
Do you see that circled dot? (Image: Galaxy 2017)
That’s where we are! How small we are, from this point we don’t even exist! I am curious how much further we can go let's continue.
We past clusters of galaxies (Image: NASA 2016) Look how magnificent you are, my friend!
Finally, we pass the Virgo Super-cluster to reach what is known as the ‘Observable Universe’, all that we can see within our cosmic horizon!
(Image: Lauria and Reuters 2014)
Look at where we are in the vast infinite creation of existence, let us float awhile in Sky and contemplate the significance of our insignificance!
Science has proven that there are at least 400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, 100 billion galaxies detectable by the telescope and space is expanding at an accelerated pace, likely containing an infinite existence (Galaxy 2017). However currently, the dominant scientific theoretical implications are also that the world is a projection of information written in 2D:
Imagine a sheet of 2D paper projecting a 3D world (Moyer 2014).
This is explicated through the process of looking at a black hole, which shows information does not get lost but scrambled and stored in the event-horizon (2D surface). Mathematics principles depict that information on 2D is interchangeable and equivalent with its 3D projection (ibid).
Images: Hologram and Black hole in Moyer 2014
Recent research by the University of Southampton (Southampton 2017) illustrates substantial evidence suggesting that our Universe can be a hologram through investigating cosmic irregularities from the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang. This can be shown by 'inflation theory' (regard image below) where the universe expands at an accelerated rate in a matter of seconds from a single point after the ‘Big Bang’ (ibid).
Image: Southampton 2017
I can’t help but wonder, what if the Earth was created from the frequency stored in the event horizon of the black hole? Studies have found that they play a fundamental role in the evolution of the Cosmos (Dunbar in NASA 2015), but their exact function and role remain to be a mystery, one I believe that holds the key to the material creation of the planet….
While the sequences involved in creation remain a mystery the theoretical implications of the 'Holographic Universe' argue that every part of the Universe contains a semblance of it as a whole (Talbot 2010), that reality is in essence an ocean of energy that is inter-connected. Hence no matter the size, regarding the “absolute Essence... (one) can establish a form of communication and interaction with all of the units of life within the infinite micro and macro realms in the cosmos” (Hulusi 2011, 59). Muhammad (SAW) had also referenced this holographic principle with the statement, “The particle is the same as the whole” (Hulusi 2011, 114).
At this point, I am suddenly reminded of the process of ‘Mitosis’ where cells replicate with same genetic information to replace old cells. If the Universe utilised this principle where each particle with the same essential information duplicated to form various conscious bodies, then every part of the universe would hold a semblance of it as the whole, particularly if the creator of the whole came from one single origin!
Maldacena and Susskind (Ananthaswamy 2017, 29) argue that space-time is quantum entanglement made up of data, where greater entanglement between systems equal more information shared. This is further expounded by Hulusi (2015; 2015b) who states that the essence of the universe is an infinite spectrum of frequencies with other worlds, where beings can perceive each other by converting each other's frequencies and are oblivious to entities in other ranges of frequencies.
Though it is also stated that in nature, everything is entangled, everything happens all at once (Chopra 2011). In other words at our atomic essence, we are all one with no separation not even in the stars, " from the realm of the atoms to the galactic dimensions, the unity of our existence abolishes all concepts of division and emptiness” (Hulusi 2011, 55). This is spoken of beautifully by Chopra (2011) who stated that the human body (which has a hundred trillion cells, more than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy) tracks the movements of the galaxies as our “biological rhythms are the symphonies of the whole universe.”
According to quantum mechanics there can be no such thing as empty space but at the same time the universe is nothing. One form of the uncertainty principles postulates that a system cannot ever have precisely zero energy and since energy and mass are one of the same (Einstein’s equation E=MC^2) this means nothingness is not empty as objects can substitute time for energy (How did the Universe 2016). Physicists now believe the Universe is as close to zero energy as possible in order for it (through the principle of gravity) to exist for a very long time (ibid). Thereby as all existence is zero energy it is nothing and something simultaneously!
The main principle of the physical world is that it’s essentially not material but “an electromagnetic field of virtual photons going on and off” (Chopra 2011). Our senses are interpreted in our consciousness as ‘continuous’ to be able to process existence (ibid). So all matter perceived is in our consciousness needing to be observed to exist! While the Universe is seen as endless numbers of configurations within infinite dimensions, at its essence there is only one configuration, one dimension that loves to express and observe its self through an incomprehensible number of manifestations (Hulusi 2015b; Hulsi 2015c). According to Bohm (Jones 2014) there is evidence to suggest that there may be countless levels of existence within the holographic ‘quantum potential’ which would support this understanding. Existence would technically be within ‘one universe’ where the infinite parallel worlds overlap: think of a Matryoshka doll!
To clarify, as the material and quantum dimension in essence is the same data; there are no parallel or non-parallel universes, only one single existence where dimensions overlap! The ‘quantum potential’, also known in Sufism as ‘The dimension of the Names of Allah”, is the “infinite potential from which infinite manifestations are birthed” (Hulusi 2011, 33). This is referred to as ones ‘true self’ or as Hulusi (2015b) states, ones “essential self.”
Incorporating this into our daily way of being Bohm (Jones 2014) hypothesised that rather than a signal between subatomic particles as a method of communication it is possible that we are accessing information at the holographic level and point of unity, that there is no separation between electrons and between people. Furthermore, Verlinde states that as space-time is made up of information, all ‘tangible’ aspects of reality such as what we perceive to be solid matter like our bodies, is an illusion as in essence we are a projection of information-of codes amongst codes (Verlinde in Ananthaswamy 2017, 32). Consequently it could be said that we do not exist. Or rather we do exist but not in the way we think; in essence this would mean that we are a hologram and the Universe is a Matrix (Hulusi 2017)!
In Sufism information that forms the structure of the Universe is called ‘Wujud’ which means existence (Hulusi 2015b). What is known as the “Unity of Existence” refers to the origin of life, which is ‘one' (ibid). To reiterate the single unit of reality "which contains multiple concepts and information denoted by the names of “HU” is the origin of the Universe” (ibid). If we are all a composition of atoms which is energy, that is a frequency projected from a single source, then what do we really look like?
Image: The Human: particles in particles, light in light in Hulusi 2014
We would all be a fusion of particles (light)! I suppose then humans can be depicted as “luminous stardust beings with self-awareness…(living) in a dream that the soul is having, we are in each other's dreams” (Chopra in Chopra and Rainn 2012). Being "awake" can be interpreted as daydreams and asleep as night dreams, which exist within the same mechanisms as daydreams with the excluded input of our physical surroundings (Hulusi 2017). You are living in the holographic world you create in your brain, whether your eyes are open or closed. That is why Sufi Masters referred to this life as a dream, “we come alone, we live alone and we die alone… some of us are confined in a cocoon (holographic world) resembling a palace while others live in slums” (Hulusi 2011, 39).
My friend, this vast infinite creation, the cosmic web depicted by physicists as all creation is called ‘HU’, Allah, the ‘one’ (or “the source” as I like to say)! The essence in which we are in and which is within us in its incomprehensible entirety (Hulusi 2015). Accordingly, while Bohm (Star 2014) suggested a formula of “M=E=I”: Matter=Energy=Information, I would add CC (Cosmic Consciousness) to depict existence as ‘ONE’ interactive UNIT.
One can conclude then that while the quantum superposition holds that all states are possible within the quantum potential (What is superposition 2017), this reality “asserts that behind all seemingly possible states, there is the plan of only one possible state” (Hulusi 2015c). Consequently one must "look from unity to multiplicity, where existence is a single existence and this single existence has infinite qualities” (ibid).
(Image: Cosmic Beings in Bhudia 2015).
This is the belief that we are in every sense eternal and we have no understanding of the capacity of our potential or the nature of our place in existence.
In a way we can see our Galaxy as a human body and the stars can be likened to the cells or organs in a body (Hulusi 2011, 53). Just as the liver possesses its unique organic consciousness, the stars are like cells or organs within a galactic conscious body, an individual amongst millions of Galaxies! (Hulusi 2011b, 58). Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi, a great Sufi Master, poet and scholar (1165- 1240AD) refers to cosmic beings in our solar system in his Meccan Revelations as the “angels residing in the 12 constellations" (Al-Arabi in Hulusi 2011, 58). Scientists have also begun to explore this concept of galactic consciousness as of late, Greg Matloff, who worked for NASA, now a Physics professor is currently looking at various scientific means of exploring cosmic consciousness in particular through stellar movement (Patel 2016).
As I think of you, I am reminded of a Korean show I watched recently (“W” 2016). Oh Yeon Joo is a daughter of a famous comic book creator. Kang Chul is a self-made millionaire and the main character in the comics her father has written. The leads meet when Yeon Joo is transported into the cartoon world and they fall in love. The character in the cartoon realises that a man in the ‘real’ world has written his existence and that he is a cartoon. He leaves behind his cartoon friends in his world to enter ours.
In a sense we are just like Kang Chul. If the source, the ‘one’, HU or Allah, is the essential all knowing point of creation, we are all characters in a script written by the ‘one’s hand where “each of us plays the role of the “King” or “Queen” in our Universe: everyone else is an actor in our play!" (Hulusi 2011, 36). Just as an author of a cartoon can easily give birth to, destroy and formulate endless stories, so can ‘the source’, for we are characters written by the source; we are infinite expressions of the source. We just need to awaken like Kang Chul and see that nothing is like it seems.
Let us take this further in order to understand how your body, your mind and the world are within you (The Bhagavad Gita in Chopra, 2011).
During the 1500’s when geocentric (Earth-centred) views of Astronomy prevailed philosopher Giordano Bruno had the idea of an infinite version of creation and God where Earth was not the centre of existence (Aquilecchia 2017). As it is in history when one threatens the reality of those in power, he was tortured and burned alive for being a heretic (ibid). After his death, Galileo proved Bruno's view of the solar system correct and wrote about our existence occurring in our minds; ‘that tastes, colours, smells... exist only in the being which feels, which being removed... vanish” (Galileo in Law 2007, 82). Philosophers continued this debate with George Berkely in the 18th-century who argued that the physical world is ideas existing in the mind of observers and that they remain when we are not witnessing them as God is in constant observation of creation (Berkeley in Law 2007, 86). Since then scientists have stated that the physical universe cannot exist unless a conscious unit of being was looking at it (Wheeler in Chopra, 2011).
This brings perspective on Sufi concept of becoming 'the observer' (Hulusi 2011b). Sufism teaches that “Allah observes his knowledge with his knowledge” which means that what we perceive is within a data wave dimension and all of the creation is within Allah's knowledge; hence we haven’t experienced ‘real’ existence (Hulusi 2015b). In other words there is only ‘one’ that is in constant observation of itself in its infinite forms.
Our cognitive process depicts how information we receive from “outside” our brains is various frequencies that enter through our different senses, creating our unique interpretations of that information and the world we live in (Henshaw 2012). Scientifically it is evident that we live in the creation of our mind. This is what Hulusi (2011, 36) referenced as the "multidimensional holographic dimension in which the consciousness resides…(where) we each live in our own uniquely imagined world and will continue to do so indefinitely.” Our "consciousness is space-less, timeless, dimensionless and gives rise to space-time dimensionally…our consciousness is created in consciousness” (Chopra, 2011).
At the quantum level, we don’t have a body and only exist as information. Consequently the material and quantum matter is the same in essence, in origin one single existence, one that we experience with our brains that create the internal world based on received waves (Hulusi 2015b). The essence of the material brain is the quantum brain-non-material, which is how it is eternal: our consciousness continues in its quantum body after death (ibid). This quantum life is referred to as Spirit and its essence as light ("Nur"), which is knowledge, it is immortal and thereby it is said, “we shall taste death” but not “cease to exist” (Hulusi 2011, 36). However, after the point of material death it is believed that we will no longer receive matter data but instead non-material data (ibid), which unless enlightened you would not have previously been able to perceive. As a result we will continue, like all those before us, within the unit of consciousness.
But then one might ask, why do we only perceive our physical body?
The “false self” (Hulusi 2015c) is the assumption of the brain that the self is nothing more than the body. It is said that the creation of the false self-starts within genetic data and is shaped by astrological effects and the development of the needs and desires of the body (ibid ). Hulusi states this self is primarily formed by the “second brain,” now known in the medical world as the "gut brain," where hunger, fatigue, lust and other bodily needs are generated (Hulusi 2015c; Gershon1998). In fact, scientists have found that the second brain, which “consists of (millions of) neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut,” sends ninety percent of information it generates from the gut to the brain! (Gershon 1998) Recent studies have shown that it can influence our health, emotions, behavior and even neurological disorders such as autism (Mudd et al. 2017).
According to Hulusi (2015c) the second brain controls the primary brain (the true self) since the instant of birth. This means that it is your gut brain that is in command, which in Sufism is called “the commanding formed self;” by convincing you that you exist in a physical world, it directs you to pursue material desires as the purpose of your life (ibid). In Sufism the purpose is to become “one” with the potential within and taking the “gut brain” into account, one can further comprehend how fasting, an annual requirement in Islam (Islam 2009), is a tool that can help instigate this process.
This reflection called the ‘True self’ is your brain, a network of frequencies (Hulusi 2015c). It is taught that the ‘False self’ has veiled the ‘True self’ and those who purify their ‘False self’ will attain eternal peace and freedom (ibid). The first step to doing this is by questioning, “who am I?” for even when under the control of the second brain, you will eventually open new dimensions within your mind (Hulusi 2011).
Winnicots (1958) conception of the ‘False’ and ‘True self’ is relevant to note here. The ‘False self’ is depicted as arising in early childhood due to unmet needs as a protective mechanism of the ‘True self’. Ones ’True self’ is depicted as "the experience of aliveness,” where those who have received failure in their early holding environment live in a ‘False’ state and thus are not truly ‘being’ (Winnicott in Adam 2007, 127).
Hulusi’s depiction of the “False” and “True self” takes this further. For in this reality the false self is created with the sense of self as separate and ones ‘true self’ is not only an integrated ego free from “conditions of worth” (Rogers 1957) but also the self-less self.
I would argue that the process of Ego integration can help lead to ones 'true self' within. In reference to this, Winnicott (1971, 128) suggests that through the process of 'mirroring' “the mother’s is giving back to the baby the baby’s self”. Lacan argues the mirror is misleading, giving the child false promises of an impossible union (Lacan in Phillips 1988, 129). I believe that the mirror is potential for the true love of ones self, reflected in ones reflection. It is self-love in its purest most beautiful form. Tasawwuf (Sufism) would call this love of Allah, the essence within us all and it is only attainable if you truly desire it!
According to Rogers (2003) it is the ‘actualizing tendency’ that allows for the freedom of the ‘true self’ to emerge, a congruent human who has been released from many 'conditions of worth' that have been adopted along the way. For Hulusi the ‘actualizing tendency’ is the process of becoming self-less, for which I believe Ego integration and Rogerian actualization is a requirement. What I mean to suggest is that to attain Hulusi’s understanding of the ‘true human,’ the actualized state of being self-less one must first go through a process of ego integration leading to greater congruence. To release the Ego as ones self-concept, one must first save it from its conditions!
Let’s discuss this further.
Hulusi (2015c) believes that from our initial point of creation information accumulates to form the central database in our brains and all following data which enters the brain gets evaluated according to it; it contains all environmental, social religious values that instigate judgmental values of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. All conclusions made are based on this database. I am inclined to depict this as ones ‘unconscious.’
This interplay of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be seen in psychodynamic concepts.
A masochistic relationship with internalised ‘bad object’s' as libidinal manifestations is described by Fairbairn (1943) where the external object is ‘idealized, ’ and the ‘bad’ is removed through introjection, creating an ‘incongruence’ in ones ‘true self.' Taking into account the unconscious movement between the ‘anti’ and ‘exciting’ libidinal ego, one can reason that if one accepts their self-concept as 'bad,' they will be much more likely to see the 'anti-libidinal ego' as 'good.' As it becomes a safe or 'known' way of being, the 'exciting libidinal ego’ becomes an object of fear, hence depicting further, the possibility of masochistic tendencies. Healing occurs when internalized bad objects can be released from the unconscious (Fairbairn 1943, 72). I believe this process of ego integration can be further aided by receiving unconditional love that would make the 'good' object, less fearful, instigate self-acceptance and taken into further development with the understanding that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ don’t exist, only love and acceptance for all in their ‘true nature’.
As unconditional love and acceptance is a natural component in Sufism one can see how following its principles can aid in achieving these states of being. I believe when the real decision is made within to accomplish these states one will eventually over time be able to attain them.
For just as our ‘shadow’ and ‘light’ is a natural alchemy within ego integration in a process depicted as ‘individuation’ (Jung in Wang and Charles 2006, 101) shadow and light occur within the ‘one’. Like the Yin and Yang, two halves complete each other and exist within to form a whole (Wang 2017). Darkness gives life to light and light takes life to darkness. The essence is ‘beyond good and evil’, in the reality of unity all is ‘one’ and there just ‘is’. When “good” and “bad” fall away, we are left with nothing, which is everything. While we interpret contrasts and opposites at the level of essence there is no light or dark or opposing forces, for that would suggest separation and duality. Labels and the perception of duality cease to exist to be replaced with the understanding of the unity of the ‘one’, thereby becoming ‘the observer’ of you. It is when you turn to your ‘true self’ that you realize this essential reality, where ‘bad’ and ‘good’ becomes obsolete (Hulusi 2011,106). When such duality dissipates, one becomes ‘self-less’ and can attain and live ‘true love’ (Hulusi 2011, 77). Interestingly it is love that takes you to “true love.” It is here where I remember the first time I had dinner with Ahmed Fevzi, a prominent Sufi scholar in Turkey, who looked at me and said, “You must fall in love!” For love, you see, breaks all the boundaries of the Ego…
It is important to note how Hulusi explicates the concept of the conscious and unconscious further by including the ‘quantum potential’ traditionally known as the Spirit. Akin to this Hamilton (2017), a scientist and bestselling author, discusses eternal existence through quantum particles, stating that our consciousness exists within the Universe and is channelled into you as a physical being at your birth. Hulusi takes this further and states that though the brain reacts according to the information in one's database, it can evaluate data beyond the material: within it is where “Allah's names become manifest and all other data is received assessed and processed into various functions, making the human a vicegerent (‘Halife’) on Earth” (Hulusi 2015d).
This is possible through the spirit (quantum potential), which is released through the pineal gland in the brain (ibid). The pineal gland is known to be the location where melatonin and serotonin affect human emotions created in the Amygdala, although researchers still don’t really understand it’s function (Duggal 2017). Hulusi (2015d) reveals that the Pineal gland also possesses the ability to decipher high frequencies, data from the ‘origin’ (the cosmic dimension) and project it within the brain.
I am reminded here that Descartes (1596-1650) famous for his statement “I think therefore I am,” (although I believe everything has already happened thus you ‘both’ are and ‘are not’, in a sense) had suggested that our immaterial minds interact with our physical bodies through the Pineal gland (Descartes in Law 2007,127). The depiction of the self as being able to separate from the brain is termed ‘Cartesian dualism’ in contrast to the generally accepted reality based on ‘materialism’ (Dennett 1991, 33). Even though the existence and function of the spirit at present has not been scientifically proven I truly believe that this too will be revealed in time, perhaps sooner than we imagine. One must note that despite “dualism” being frowned upon the concept of a Cartesian theatre (where objects are projected in functional place within the brain) has been accepted even by the greatest critics for many years now (Dennett 1991,127).
Returning to Hulusi’s work, it is specified that the ‘False self’ has veiled the ‘spirit’ or the ‘True self’ and those who can attain the self of the essence attains salvation (Hulusi 2015). Though after death, this process becomes incredibly challenging and elongated as we are without the mechanisms of our material brain. The realisation of our ultimate potential and the inability to reach it is said to result in our suffering (ibid). Breaking free from the conditions of the ‘False self’, the “cocoon world of matter to reach the angelic realm” is depicted as awakening and is an incredibly difficult and painful process (Hulusi 2011, 77). Those who achieve the level of the ‘pure self’ (Nafs-i Safiyya) “live ‘nothingness’ and reach ‘oneness of being’ and become everything “(Hulusi 2011,75).
This process is what I would like to term as the ‘actualizing tendency’ resulting in the final stage of the ‘butterfly leaving its cocoon.’ It would depict how unique expressions of the ‘one’ through “merging and the bonding of the ‘you’ and the ‘me’” (Hulusi 2011, 77), can realise their true potential and expresses it purely. Consequently each person can only voice their given disposition and as such if we can internalise this reality, we will no longer be angered or depressed and will be freed from suffering (Hulusi 2011, 134). What I mean to suggest is that there is no individual free will; as there is no separation there is only the will of the one. There is no you or me just us that belong to HU.
Human beings reflect the qualities of the cosmic consciousness to the degree at which they have the capacity to discover their ‘True’ selves (Hulusi 2011, 62). Such individuals who have reached their essence have existed through out time and depicted in the past in myths as Greek Gods, later introduced as priests, saints and prophets (ibid). I am reminded here of Jung's ‘archetypes ‘(Jung 1991). These traits associated with archetypes or perhaps one might call the personification of attributes might be a way of comprehending various qualities that are expressed when the human is actualized. Yet I believe these concepts run this risk of instigating a dehumanising process. Firstly, when we adopt such ‘personas’ (Jung 1991, 275) or a self-concept that is incongruent to that which we possess, when we suppress all else to be ‘the Saviour” or the “Saint” we suffer the consequences. We also fail to explore all our various wonderful attributes, as the human cannot be confined to a single metaphor. Thus metaphors help us understand the world we live in but they also create labels that then further our suffering. If the archetype of the “perfect, unconditional, loving mother” does not fit the individual that gave birth to you, you are hurt. Whereas if we move beyond labels and see everyone including family members (or others close to us) for who they are rather than who they represent, we might be able to go to the space within that becomes more accepting and peaceful.
At the state of actualization one would fail to see a distinction between individuals as they would be various expressions of ones self, thereby when the self as separate becomes non-existent, so does suffering for everything that happens or does not happen, is done by you to you. When you experience a loss of a loved one, you don’t suffer or miss them for they continue to exist in the same unit of consciousness that you are a part of and they in essence-are you! What I mean to suggest is I can only imagine that we would not miss ourselves, albeit different attributes expressed of ourselves, if we despite portraying a unique composition, are in essence the same being.
This can only be achieved through the guidance of an enlightened mentor already living this reality, as it is impossible to learn reality from one who has not already achieved it (Hulusi 2011, 126). Here one might ask, how does one find a guide and how can we certain they are a ‘true guide’? While I do not know Hulusi’s response to this question, I believe that if you ‘Truly’ desire this path, you and your guide will be naturally united and you will come to ‘know’ this for sure, for that is the desire of the ‘one’ within us all and that which is all! To clarify the ‘one’, who is your true self, wants to actualize within you and brings the path of actualization to you.
To achieve this one must believe and pursue their ‘True self’ and release their conditions and ‘self’ based emotions (Hulusi 2011, 116). This actualized state is where one becomes the ‘observer’, where one obtains the capacity to regard events through the point of ‘the observing eye’ and is free from suffering. This requires ‘true love’ for “to love is to become the beloved” (Hulusi 2011, 82). As such, the Sufi path depicts one akin to awakening to reality and the human potential. It is to ‘die’ while ‘living’ for “life is but a dream and upon death you awaken” (The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam in Hadith 2012).
Although life is one that involves suffering, all will at one point or another be able to reach a state of eternal freedom and peace (Hulusi 2011, 135) and the choice of when that will occur is up to your 'true self’, which is unconditional love. This love is one that is self-less and therefore unconditional in giving; it is a love in which you lose your self and become one with all (Hulusi 2016). When the love has touched your heart, you know that the one within has chosen its time to be born within you.
I want you to know who I am. We change constantly through out our lives, every second of the day we are different from before. In a sense we are always dying and becoming reborn. The person that I am as I write this will be distinct from the individual who finishes it and much different from the one that submits it. Each single sentence can only represent each single moment. This thesis is a collection of moments of the person I am and was. Einstein’s ‘theory of relativity’ dictates that time is relative-in a sense non-existent (Einstein in Khun 2015), its perceived existence is due to our brains engineering, as it needs time to let events unfold it cannot comprehend the timeless dimension (unless enlightened). Evidence of timelessness is everywhere one can just look at the sky and see that the light that reaches you may belong to a star that no longer exists (Cosmos 2014). The person that I am, was and will be has already been written. I am born, I am dead, I am in my grave, I am in space, I am in a timeless wormhole, I am essentially a non-existent form of existence-
I am the thought.
I am a thought of the ‘One’, a manifestation of the source.
I am a character in a novel, an actor in play I belong to HU and HU whispers,
‘You are mine.’
The ‘source’ is my heart, my soul, my very reason for existence and the only thing in existence-I am nothing and the source is everything,
“HU” is the breath and we are all notes within a song, which sings of the unity of existence.
I am the pen that the ‘one’ uses to write.
We have been created to express the ‘source’. The moon, the stars, the galaxy, everything is within us. We are but a speck within creation, a speck that holds creation within itself.
The ‘ones’ love has created the Universe and all that is within.
This is love in its truest form-
A love that can be depicted as no other
Exploring the Universe Part Two: Becoming “The Observer”
Vivaldi Four Seasons Spring Recomposed by Max Richter
“Beyond a hundred steps of wisdom, I will be free from good and bad. Behind the veils, I will find such Splendour, such Beauty that I will fall in love with Myself” (Rumi 1999, 73).
August 15th 2017
True love is eternal. I yearn for it, for you and am unable to return to the person that I was. I listen to Hulusi’s (2015) words in “As(h)k”:
“The lover longs to be with his beloved... He will merge with become one with and live with his beloved, to the extent of his love... when you love, you only want to live for your beloved! The one who likes will want to own... But the one who loves will give up everything, even his own existence and become naught in his beloved!”
Here I will look further at how this love can fit within the person-centred therapeutic conditions for growth. All conditions are intricately intertwined where “'the release into congruence enhances both the quality and the quantity of the counsellor's unconditional positive regard and empathy” (Mearns 1994, 43). Thereby I will specifically look at the three core-conditions of congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard as they are a part of the actualizing tendency. At how I might be able to be with you, forever, as one…
‘Congruence’ is often used interchangeably with terms such as “genuineness”; it is depicted as a way of ‘being’ authentic to one's true self where one's ‘real self’ overlaps with one's ‘ideal self’ (Rogers 1957). I interpret Rogers ‘congruence’ to be a fluctuating state, where those with high levels can be more authentic and present. I believe such authenticity to be the beginning of tasting freedom. Though in regards to this reality, this concept might be best divided into two. Firstly ‘congruence’ (if one is authentic to one's true self) would mean ‘the actualized human.' The human can reach two types of actualized states depending on the state of their ‘Ego’ (which is within the spirit termed ‘Ruh’). Hulusi (2014b) depicts the Ego as the ‘Nefs’, the sense of identity of the self as separate from the ‘one’: the identification of one's self as ‘I’ rather than ‘one’, where its desires are formed due to the needs of the body and the conditions of the mind.
Thus two types of actualization would include one where the Ego remains (one reaches their maximum potential and integration within the Ego) and the other where the Ego is “annihilated in love”(Hulusi 2016). Logic dictates that due to the ‘actualizing tendency’ the greater one progresses within the realm of ‘Ego Congruence’ the closer they get to ‘Ego-less congruence’ (if that is the extent of their actualization).
Empathy is the ability “to perceive the internal frame of reference of another…without ever losing the 'as if' condition,” which together with the principle of non-judgmental understanding can instigate healing within the client (Rogers 1961, 284). This reality dictates that although we are ‘one’ we can never truly know the other's world. You can only know as much as you perceive from the information received (Hulusi 2017). Hence you form relationships with ‘Elif’ or ‘Chris’ but never have relationships with the ‘truest’ versions of those individuals. To clarify, my version of ‘Chris’ may be similar but will be different from your version in your internal world-and everyone's version. One can never be in full contact with individuals but only the constructed versions of them within their brains (ibid). Empathy would have to be interpreted within this understanding, that you will never truly know your client and your clients will mean something different to all their therapists. At the level of our essence, we are the same single unit-there is no separation but despite this every human is a unique expression of the ‘one’ and cannot live as another, no one can live as ‘HU’!
You can never live as ‘Chris’ or ‘Elif.’ However, information exchange can and does naturally occur, where glimpses of the other's world enter one's mind- that information is automatically translated or rather interpreted according to the data within your brain and is explicated as empathy (Hulusi 2017).
Although one cannot have full contact with another, we continue to create our hell (ibid). For example, let us say that Elif and Chris argue after Chris leaves Elif continues to fight with him in her head, getting upset and angry. Meanwhile, Chris is off laughing, dancing, having sex, “enjoying the good life”! Elif’s anger does not reach Chris but continues to create a life of hell within her head.
Lets develop this further.
Imagine you are sitting in a garden. You look around you at the beautiful large magnolia tree, you look at the birds, and the butterfly, the clear sky and you are content. Now think of an alternate version. You are sitting in that same garden; you look at the dried patch where there is no green, the bird excrement on the floor, the uncomfortable chair you are sitting on and frown for you are discontented.
This would be the same principle of seeing and accepting all. If I look and see the butterfly and the smoke, the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’, accept both but choose to focus on the positive, I am content. Having the capacity to see and accept the fruit on the tree for what it is, just as the friend ‘Chris’ for who he is, and choosing to actively focus on the positive and be grateful for it, requires effort and training of our minds but is life changing. It is essentially creating a system in our minds, where what we perceive as negative frequencies filter out leaving more room for the ‘positive.’
These changes are incredibly difficult and although I met and experienced individuals that have achieved them I am striving to do so myself. But I wonder, why do we elongate our suffering when we cannot control the actions of the other? There is freedom and comfort that comes with internalizing the knowledge that every individual is a distinct expression and given roles to play out of their control, and every individual will suffer the consequences of their actions (or lack of). What you produce is what you receive, so let us love my friend! Let go of our need to control others and feelings of revenge, hatred, anger, let us love and be loved so that all that remains is love.
With such love is the ultimate freedom and peace within.
Lets further look at how we it is stated that we can achieve this.
Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) is depicted as the acceptance and validation of clients as they are regardless of personal feelings (Rogers 1961, 283). Such acceptance enables the client to develop their unconditional self-esteem, freeing them from ‘conditions of worth’ and increasing their congruence (Bozarth1993, 153). Here I question, to what extent can you accept those whom you judge as ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ which is based on a condition? Any acceptance of clients will not be pure from its conditions until you are condition-less and to become condition less, one must become self-less!
While you may be able to accept some clients, that acceptance will have some condition attached. The most basic condition might be that it's given within the confines of the therapeutic relationship and counselling hours. Essentially what we are doing in the room with our clients is simulating an environment, which if we had to capacity to replicate in our daily lives would save us from much suffering. Our acceptance is conditioned to our clients but what happens to it when we leave the room? It is temporary and may move in and out within our lives in reference to our family, friends, and clients; we know it exists as a potential within us that can be accessed but as it is not constant it is not free from its conditions. Hence in regards to this understanding, UPR would be necessary with the hope to be able to access it as frequently as possible and the ultimate aim of it being a constant state. In regards to this reality, you cannot truly accept another if you live amongst the perception of ‘duality’ (Hulusi 2013), thereby you would need to actualize and become one with all to reach true acceptance or UPR. While there will be individuals whom you do not resonate with, you will never ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ any, as we all are different expressions of same ‘one.'
Hulusi (2017b) recently discussed this concept of ‘liking’ and ‘loving’ regarding bio magnetic energy released by the brain, describing five different types of resonance between individuals:
1. You miss the person every moment of the day and feel empty without their presence.
2. You search for that individual but don’t feel too disturbed by their absence.
3. You don't long or search for that individual, but when you are together, you enjoy yourself.
4. When you are next to that person you feel uncomfortable, like you can't exactly be yourself, despite perhaps having similar thoughts and ideas.
5. You don't wish to spend time with that person, even if you have similar thoughts and ideas.
Step one can be depicted by words such as “I love you very much,” where there is a longing for that frequency that resonates with yours, step three would express a neutral energy resonance and step five one that does not fit your frequency.
We are composed of electrical currents, which send information up and down our nerves or bodies and generate a magnetic field often termed as ones ‘aura’ (Sutton 2016). Electric fields are everywhere in our environment but invisible to the human eye, although the frequency radiation of human made objects and the effects on one's health have been discussed openly at length (WHO 2017), this is rarely researched in the mainstream western world. In the 1920’s a researcher at the Yale University school of medicine, Harold Burr suggested that diseases could be detected within the energy field of the body before physical symptoms appear, as such ailments can be prevented by altering one's energy field (Burr in Oschman and Oschman 2017). At present biomagnetism is a scientifically proven phenomenon where magnetic fields (produced especially by the human body) can be measured with a sensitive detector called a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID); there are about 160 laboratories around the world where fields from various body parts (particularly the brain) are measured (Cohen 2008). Results in this area are indicating the possibility of the diagnosis of brain abnormalities, and currently, the School of Engineering at Dartmouth is producing extensive research regarding this (ibid). Consequently, I believe as time progresses we might use these concepts in our vocabulary more frequently and discuss them further within the mental health field (in the western world).
For now I will hypothesize that higher frequencies emitted by humans are produced by ‘true love,' which is ‘self-less,’ given freely without the expectation of the self. It would then make sense that a constant state of ‘true love’ enables actualization and brings one into the ‘angelic’ realm (Hulusi 2005). For example, those who murder, slander, rape and partake in various atrocities will be operating at a very low frequency. If you have the capacity for compassion, empathy, and love you would be operating at a much higher frequency. To reach a constant state of UPR one need to be able to access such levels of being and as such would require ‘Self-love,' which is unconditional love for the self and therefore unconditional love for all.
This brings me to the ‘actualizing tendency’.
The ‘organismic valuing process’ (OVP) is the innate ability to recognise self-interests for “it is characteristic of the human organism to prefer the actualizing and socialised goals when it is exposed to a growth-promoting climate” (Rogers 1961, 166). When depicting the actualizing tendency, Rogers (2003, 488-491) suggests that “the organism has one basic tendency and striving, to actualize maintain and enhance the experiencing organism…this process of self-enhancement and growth is not smooth but a struggle and often painful." These concepts fit in with Sufi thought as ‘Ego integration’ achieves growth moving forward continuously through the direction of the organismic valuing process, leading one towards ones ‘truer selves.’
Assuming that the ‘one’ has decided to actualize within the process will take Ego actualisation and integration further into a phase akin to awakening and unveiling, where suddenly you realise nothing is what it seems and can get a sense of what is beyond, has always been beyond our senses perception (ibid). This potential is only triggered when one is ‘awakened’ from 'sleep' (Hulusi 2013). In the absence of terminology, I will call this process, ‘The Observer Awakened.' At this point ‘spiritual actualization’ begins when the lover or observer within (cosmic consciousness) decides to be "born" in the physical body, if and when this will happen within this material life is up to your ‘true self’ (Hulusi 2011).
If one experiences a spiritual actualization, ‘the observer’ is awakened and begins the birthing process within until the individual has reached their final state of ‘self-actualization’ and become ‘Ego-less’ (ibid). When one reaches spiritual actualization 'the observer' moves from the position of watching your thoughts to BEING your thoughts. The observer, your true self, is in a sense born in your physical body. What I mean to depict is the process of one's identity as the Ego (Nefs) shifting to that of the observer. Consequently, in regards to this reality, the statement that the ‘fully functioning’ person accepts all of themselves (Rogers 1959, 270) can only be true when one has reached this state of being. To reach the point of actualization one needs self-love, a love so strong it breaks all boundaries of the Ego.
It is important to remember here that the individual is not seen as separate. Bion (1961) depicts how the group can utilize the OVP and behave as a whole to develop along the lines of the actualizing tendency. As such this reality (and the holographic principle) also depict this notion-not just in regards to group psychology but cosmic psychology. Logic then dictates that when one reaches spiritual actualization, their frequency or knowledge ripples out through the world-in fact, through all existence, as all is one single unit, interacting with and helping other units actualize and progress forward towards their true selves.
My friend, actualization appears to be the most difficult thing to achieve in our existence and confuses me. Thus, to get a basic understanding of this process, based on my understanding Hulusi’s work in letter five, I have simplified this into three steps and illustrated each step with a diagram (the self is described as separate parts to further one's understanding, but in reality, they are all within each-other). Due to a lack of terminology, I created terms based on existing material and modified them according to person-centred concepts.
We are all born in the first step, which is the stage of ‘duality’; ‘Ego integration’ is in constant development but the ‘awakening’ process has not yet been triggered. Here the Ego contains “the conscious and unconscious” material. This is depicted as ones ‘False self’. Ones ‘True Self’ is described as ‘The Observer’. The Observer is our spirit and is expressed through ‘Cosmic Consciousness’. The Observer communicates all thoughts through the Ego and as a result of the perception of duality, ‘SELF-TALK’ emerges. Our ‘True self’ is in constant observation of our ‘False self’ despite the fact that the false self is not aware of the existence of our true self.
In Step Two the ‘awakening’ potential is triggered. At this stage the 'False self' becomes aware of the ‘True self’ and begins to question ‘who am I truly?’ Greater data filters from the unconscious to the consciousness, allowing for greater ‘ego integration.’ Data from the cosmic consciousness also filters through the unconscious and becomes conscious.
In step three the human has become actualized. Duality and the Ego are non-functional, as ‘The Observer’ or the 'True self' is born through the process of “awakening”. As the Ego is non-functional so is the organismic valuing process and the human has become a ‘fully functioning person.’ Everything is conscious and as such there is no unconscious material. One can access the unknown within the cosmic consciousness according to their creation; some will be able to access it more than others depending on the extent that they wish to become ‘one’ with their love and experience ‘nothingness’.
For those who will stay at the level of ego consciousness and are only able to reach the actualized state of the ‘ego’, this process is similar except development stops before the spiritual actualization begins. ‘The observer’ is never ‘awakened’ and always watches the ego from the point that which is veiled from ego ‘self’. I interpret the understanding that every humans suffering eventually ends as such. After physical death, the individual no longer receives material input into their brain and eventually over time and repetition just like it is experienced in therapy, all painful experiences and distressful information is released-in a sense the unconscious is ‘emptied’ until there is nothing left to cause suffering and they have reached ‘ego actualization’. The goal of the Sufi though is to reach spiritual actualization.
To understand these concepts better let us take these symbolic representations of our essence and put it together in a diagram that can represent reality from a holistic perspective. It might make it easier to understand humans as different expressions of one single being in existence- how ‘I’ or ‘you’ does not exist only ‘HU’ (Hulusi 2013).
This diagram would depict the ‘one’ as the only being in existence of which we are multiple projections. Rogers (1961, 108) explicate the process of becoming whole as ‘getting behind the mask.' Let's take this concept further as a thought experiment and think of a human expression or projection of the ‘one’ like a character in a play. Imagine you have a stage performance and you get lost in your character to the extent that you lose your true identity and become your role! Your ‘true self’ exists watching from beneath the mask, but you think you only are the mask. As Satre (1943, 644) suggests in ‘Being and Nothing,' if we can not “adopt a point of view on the totality it is because the Other on principle denies that he is ‘I’ as I deny that I am he.” In Sufism, this is depicted as ones ‘Nefs’ (ego). The Ego has been created to protect its ‘identity’ or role in the performance for it has become the performance!
When knowledge of our ‘true origin’ reaches us, and we believe it, we begin the process of spiritual actualization aided by various recommended practices by their ‘guide’ to find their ‘True self’ (Hulusi 2017). When one becomes the ‘observer’ your real face merges with your mask, and you find yourself both acting in the play as well as watching your performance. You see yourself in the faces of every member of the audience and play! Consequently, you continue to act but this time knowing all along that it is an act.
I am suddenly reminded of the ancient Egyptian symbol of a heavenly circular snake, a dragon biting its tail called the ‘Uroboros’ that “ slays, weds, and impregnates itself. It is man and woman, begetting, conceiving, devouring and giving birth, active and passive, above and below at once” (Goldshmidt in Neumann 1954, 10). It is a symbol of holism, unity, the absence of opposites and contrasts (ibid). I also recall the dervishes, founded by the followers of Sufi master Rumi, who dance into a state of oneness (Sufi Dervishes 2013), whirling in the circular motion of creation that is present in the very essence of life…from the planets to the movement of atoms from which we and all existence is created.
I realize that this is a much-simplified explication of human actualization within my much-limited capacity. To begin with, in Sufism there are various titles for humans according to the extent they have actualized, titled ‘Veli’ (there are many categories within this), ‘Nebi,' and ‘Rasul’ as the terms Prophets and Saints are not used (Hulusi 2005). When a human actualizes they technically become (Meleki) ‘Angels’ (pure consciousness) and like all angels perform various functions. All spiritual actualized states require becoming ego (self) less. Becoming an actualized human, termed ‘Insan-I Kamil’ or the perfect human, is discussed at length by the great Sufi Master, Ibn Arabi (2004).
You are so beautiful if only you can see yourself. If only you could accept and love yourself for all of you, as you are. But can you, can we, can I? How can we if our lives are filled with conditions? Some of us have put in hard work and come to acknowledge our ‘shadow’ with our light. But I believe it is only true acceptance when we can look at our shadow and our light and see that they are both neither bad nor good they just are. That once we can comprehend this, our shadows and lights will naturally configure themselves to formulate our true selves. Jealousy, possessiveness, hatred, and anger all eventually fall away as the Ego merges with the Observer, to leave our true essence of being, which is love.
What a beautiful world we live in if we can only see its beauty. I get the sense that Love works in mysterious ways, and when you fall truly, selflessly madly in love, it warms your heart and opens the door within, you begin to accept and love yourself without conditions.
So my friend,
I believe the main condition of this path is LOVE.
To fall madly in love with yourself so that you can fall madly in love with all!
As a practitioner you would have to practice the way of love and desire to fall in love. How can one practice and be love? That is a question to discover in the future but one thing I have understood is that when you truly desire this love, it will come to you.
Such is my interpretation of self-love in Ahmed Hulusi’s interpretation of the Sufi way of being.
The Master of the Universe
Get up and drive your funky soul by James Brown
“My heart can take any form: A meadow for gazelles, A cloister for monks, for the idols, sacred ground, Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim, The tables of the Torah, The scrolls of the Quran. My creed is Love; Wherever its caravan turns along the way, That is my belief, My faith.” (Ibn Arabi 2004)
August 18th 2017
I had strange dream yesterday.
My therapist said, “Quick we don’t have much time” and pushed me in through a door. There was brilliant light, nothing but white. As I was floating in 'nothingness' the words ‘imagine the only thing in existence is you’ echoed through my mind…
I am left thinking of this…
The Ego fears it’s perceived annihilation. If the ‘I’ does not exist as ‘I’ that is within you is also within others, then there is no ‘I’ that is distinct from another ‘I’ and you are alone, infinitely with yourself. To the Ego, this is frightening but to the observer within, it is the process of becoming born within the human.
You become fearless when you realise the only thing in existence is you.
Let us become one of the fearless!!
Such a person has the potential to be the Master of the Universe, to explore and understand it in a way like no other.
Maslow (1943, 147) argued that human actualization is a basic organismic process where fully actualized individuals dedicate their self to a transcendent goal. Theologian and historian Rudolf Otto suggested that a submission to the numinosum (divine or unconscious) is necessary, where the revelation of the self is experienced as a transpersonal power, which he called the ‘God within’ (Otto in Wang 2006, 309). In the 13th century, the great Sufi Master Mevlana Rumi, after suffering from being separated from his much-loved teacher Sems of Tebriz, found that his 'true love' was within him all along (Rumi 1999, 2). In Orestes, Sartre (1946) depicts a journey of a search for God, only to find the Savior within him. Written in various ways and by different people existence pain is depicted in this path as the pain of separation from the ‘one,’ challenged by anxiety arising from perceived ‘annihilation.’ This is the story I have attempted to tell, although in a much-limited capacity and with my greatly limited ability. The story of self-love, loving that which is within and that which is all, for that which is within is ‘one’ with that which is all.
We explored the universe together!
I interpreted the experience of self-love depicted by Hulusi as living pure consciousness, which is a love that is beyond any one individual, religion, philosophy, place or time. One that is all encompassing and invites all regardless of their orientations. We entered a world where self-love means to love others and saw how the self is a microcosm of the macro-all. You followed my attempt to merge person-centred concepts with this world, where concepts were slightly changed and expanded.
The ‘actualized self’ was stated as an end point that one does reach, whether in this life or the next, at which all suffering ends. The ‘True self’ was portrayed through spiritual actualization; the self that is actualized without the ego. The ‘actualizing tendency’ and Organismic Valuing process were described as ending at the point of actualization.
No concrete conclusions were made other than that commitment to the development of the ‘true self’ is made through the path of ‘self-love’ and would be a requirement in any approach integrating Sufism. Many questions were left that require further research. This dissertation can be expanded further exploring topics introduced in this paper. Research can include interviews with various individuals (scientists and spiritual leaders), further merging what was once seen as two opposing worlds. Autoethnographic research involving art-based methods can be utilised to depict the journey of experiencing and producing research on this topic. Once the foundation of the concept of the 'self' in Sufism has been explored, one can continue by looking specifically at the structure of the Ego, the actualizing process and explore various psychodynamic and person-centred concepts in relation to this reality. After the groundwork has been established practical implications for practice can be discussed. There are endless possibilities!
Towards the end of my psychodynamic and person-centred counselling training I found myself searching for a way to put a vital way of being for me in perspective to what I had learned. I have written it in this manner to give a sense that integration is possible with psychodynamic and person-centred approaches, not in any way to imply that this is how it should be. I wrote this to try to understand myself and the practitioner I want to be for it is only by helping ourselves that we can help others. I have written this because I found that therapy was not enough to save me from my suffering but felt complete with this path and wished to share it for that is what we do at times. We share what we are not in the hope that it fits all, but in the hope that we can be of service.
But I have many limitations my friend and logic can only take you so far,
whereas love has no limits and cannot be reached with only logic!
Hulusi's depiction of love appears to be that it is everything, love is everyone, love knows no division and love knows no labels. As such, I am ‘he’ ‘she’, ‘they’, I am Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, I am colour-less, I am colour-full, I am a woman, I am a man, child, African, Chinese, Arab, European, American! I am one; I am all but also none!
My friend, we do not appear to understand that love is all encompassing and such labels only serve to take us further away from our ‘true selves.’ We are all one, and belong to you, yet we maliciously gossip, fight, and kill. We discriminate based on various orientations such as gender, religion, the state of dress.
We are so consumed by ambition we do not realize that this life is but a dream and we will be faced with an eternity where material possessions become meaningless. We are all ‘one’ in the truest sense of the word and if we can live that all that is left, is non-judgmental, unconditional acceptance and love.
What a beautiful way to live and experience oneself and thus the world!
I wonder if love has become a taboo word akin to hate? Has it become a word that is feared, disbelieved? Does it need to enter our vocabulary again? Perhaps we should stop questioning, ‘but do I really, what does it even mean' and just say it when we feel it.
What is love?
What is true love?
Help me I don’t know! I think I do; I think I don’t, sometimes I do and don’t.
But I look at you, man, woman, child, animal, flower, whatever you are and when I think you are beautiful, I tell you, you are beautiful.
When I see my reflection in you I say I love you. I cannot know 'you' as you truly are. However I can know the 'you' in me, and love 'you' that is me. Or at least I desire to and I believe at times I manage to get a glimpse, a breath a second of my reflection.
But does it matter in the end? If what you feel is the same or different then the other? A flower cannot say I love you but it likes to be caressed and loved, it feels your vibrations, for it is a vibration.
Your friends may not love you but they feel the warmth of your words and that embraces their heart.
This path is one that embraces self-exploration, positivity and love at its very core of its foundation. Respect and care for the self, resonating out to others…as I explore it I consistently ponder this question, is it possible to make therapy easier?
Perhaps it might begin with being brave and allowing love into our hearts so that we can fall madly in love ourselves.
Let us express our love to all in whatever form we can regardless of what we receive my friend, for what a beautiful existence it is to live in such a way, for giving to be our food for growth!
Existence comes with much suffering,
But as much as we are alone-we are not alone,
Together we are ‘one’,
And we have the key to a box of treasure within.
It is the same box within all.
The extent to which we desire and wish to access it,
Along with our choice of jewels, colours, shapes, functions, are unique to every Single one of us.
So my friend,
What will you choose for me that which is you? What do I look like to you? Am I pretty and deformed, am I sharp and smooth? Am I pink and blue, green and white? Diamonds and Sapphires, gold and silver?
So my dear reader,
What about you?
Do you wish to explore the infinite universe that waits for you within,
To see just how beautiful you are?
Every breath I take speaks of you.
I want nothing; need nothing other than you.
You have consumed me,
I think of nothing but you.
Let us be ‘one’ forever,
My Eternal Lover.
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Two examples of Sufi Parables
Identification is Misery (Frager 1999, 2)
Junaid was going through the market-place of the town with his disciples. And it was his way to take any situation and use it. A man was dragging his cow by a rope, and Junaid said ’Wait’ to the man, and told his disciples ’Surround this man and the cow. I am going to teach you something.’
The man stopped – Junaid was a famous mystic – and he was also interested in what he was going to teach these disciples and how he was going to use him and the cow. And Junaid asked his disciples ’I ask you one thing: who is bound to whom? Is the cow bound to this man or is this man bound to this cow?’ Of course, the disciples said ’The cow is bound to the man. The man is the master, he is holding the rope, the cow has to follow him wherever he goes. He is the master and the cow is the slave.’
And Junaid said ’Now, see.’ He took out his scissors and cut the rope – and the cow escaped.
The man ran after the cow, and Junaid said ’Now look what is happening! Now you see who is the master; the cow is not interested at all in this man – in fact, she is escaping.’ And the man was very angry, he said ’What kind of experiment is this?’ But Junaid said to his disciples ’And this is the case with your mind.
All the nonsense that you are carrying inside is not interested in you. You are interested in it, you are keeping it together somehow – you are becoming mad in keeping it together somehow. But you are interested IN it. The moment you lose interest, the moment you understand the futility of it, it will start disappearing; like the cow it will escape.’
The more we learn to love others, the more we are capable of loving the divine (Frager 1999, p.2)
One of the great lovers mentioned in the Torah was Zuleika, the wife of Potiphar. There are many stories of Zuleika and Joseph in the Sufi tradition. Zuleika fell in love with Joseph, who wa her husband’s slave. Eventually, Potiphar divorced Zuleika because of her scandalas love for Jospeh and she had to live among the poorest workers and beggars. Years later, when Jospeh had become the second most powerful man in Egypt, he saw Zuleika one day in the street. She was dressed in rags and looked old and worn from her difficult life. He said to her tenderly, “I could not love you when you were married and I was your husbands slave. But now I am free to marry you and will do so gladly because of your love for me.” With shinning eyes Zuleika replied, ‘No Joseph my love for you was a veil. I have long since come to love the Beloved directly. I need nothing and no one in this world any longer.” Her love for Jospeh had opened her heart.