First, something takes place in the imagination. From that seed thought, something can take root and turn into a manifestation. So, when it is said that we are created in God’s image, perhaps it’s better to say we are created in God’s imagination. And that’s a reciprocal process, also, as God is created in our imagination.
Let’s consider the quality of beauty, of Jamil, for example. As we witness a fantastic sunset, which is a representation of beauty, our imagination can expand to an Ideal of Beauty. When sitting in such a setting, our experience informs us of the Reality of Beauty. We can see that beauty in complete fullness is a divine quality, an aspect, a facet, of God, one of many divine qualities – such as compassion, insight, love, forgiveness – which together in our imagination forms a divine unifying reality we call God.
In certain situations, we may choose to focus on one or another of these qualities (such as Jamil) through their names. With attunement and concentration practices, these names can be used as spiritual medicine to further align to the quality inherent in the name. These qualities, fully awakened to their Divine Ideal in our imagination, make up the reality we call God. Through attunement and grace, these are the divine qualities that we seek not to believe in, but to integrate and incorporate further into our own lives.
So, God begins in our imagination as an Ideal. Then, beyond belief and ideology, begins a process of being and becoming, of moving toward that which we have made as an Ideal. As these qualities that are of the divine are integrated in us, we cultivate an inner understanding of Divine Unity.
Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah!
A person says to me “Why take a teacher – the true teacher is within, is that not so?” And, of course, it is so. There is but one teacher, perhaps more accurately termed a guide, which ultimately can be found within. But the inner guide is most often hidden behind a doorway guarded sentry by our ego, our personality. The ego knows that the more we awaken to the understanding of the true teacher within, its stranglehold on our behavior, our thoughts and actions, lessens. Our personality and ego structure does not want to let go, thereby losing control. It’s very difficult, with our patterns and within our limitation of who we are and have been our entire lives, to access the inner teacher on our own. And so we take a teacher to help us with our blind spots, to tell us the truth of what they see in us. True guidance takes us past our own limitations, whereas our clinging ego must operate within the limitations of our current understanding. Our challenge and opportunity is to see clearly what amounts to true guidance on the one hand, and philosophical and spiritual ideas mixed with our desires on the other.
A guide isn’t necessarily an avatar or master, simply someone who takes on the intention of helping us move forward toward our own greater awakening. Someone with tools and skillful means who either sweet talks or tricks or keeps busy or knocks about our ego so the doorway to our new understanding is opened. A true guide will be as a Cupid, awakening in us the love interest. A true guide has keys to open the door, but we have to enter the palace. A true guide acts as a quickening agent that helps in the process of accessing the inner teacher. A teacher who is a true guide leads us to the True Guide.
So, yes, on the one hand, the only teacher is within. However, on the other, how do we gain access to that true teacher without the ego getting in the way, spinning the teachings so they are heard the way our ego personality wants them to be heard? Our experience has shown that a living teacher helps quicken the process of awakening, understanding, and accessing the true inner teacher. So we feel fortunate to be among those who have the opportunity to have a teacher/student relationship.
I’m sure there are other points of view. May we all find that which will best aid us in our awakening. Much Love to All.
A young woman is a new dervish on the path; and also has a new romance, a new beloved. She hasn’t seen her sweetheart in almost 2 weeks, and yet, at least on this day, she has a meeting with her Teacher. Arriving for her meeting, her Teacher sets in front of her a large crate filled with strawberries (ripe, fragrant, beautiful) with instructions to take them to a certain meadow that she is familiar with. Now, instead of her anticipated meeting, she has a chore to take care of. Great. This isn’t what she wants or expects, but wanting to be a good dervish, she heads out on her way. The meadow is 3 or 4 kilometers away, mostly uphill, and it’s already getting hot. She figures this must be some kind of test, and the strawberries must have been weighed or counted, so she doesn’t eat even one.
She plods along uphill, bitching and moaning about the dust and the heat. About the time she has had it and is thinking nothing is working out, she finally crests the trail, and comes to the edge of the meadow. As she looks across the meadow, she can’t believe her eyes. It’s her beloved, who she hasn’t seen in 2 weeks, resting on a blanket in the shade. At that moment, she realizes that the strawberries are for her and her sweetheart. She rushes across the meadow and drops the crate of strawberries onto the blanket under them and says “if I would have known that my beloved was waiting for me at the end of the trail, how different my journey would have been”.