I sometimes feel that the difference between a conscious life and and unconscious one is simply a matter of willing intention. I have been raised in my culture to participate in a spiritual life only if it is convenient or tied to some kind of consuming activity - at Easter a new bonnet and a ham; at Christmas and exchange of presents and figgy pudding. Sometimes, though not so much anymore, a fragrant and musical if slightly inconvenient event at a church for a midnight or dawn mass. As I've aged I've come to recognize that these "rituals" or "traditions" have much more to do with a sense of belonging than to an actual cultivation of a personal spiritual nature. Belonging is a commitment to others where a spiritual life takes place within a person giving birth to living a more fulfilling life.
In wanting to live a fully conscious life, one needs to commit to it in some way. One way to commit is to practice ritual and take responsibility for ones actions. To be honest, it took me a long time to understand that ritual was something I did for myself. I had always understood it growing up as what was done to honor things outside of myself. It was a should. I should do it to show I was a good person and I belonged. This implied, of course, that if I didn't do it, I was bad and unworthy in someway. Eventually I took a cold, hard look at what I was tring to belong to. Have you witnessed humanity lately? In designed clumps, humanity is a bad scene.
In this poem, Hafiz talks about the consequence of losing touch with daily spiritual practice. Here it is referred to as Zikr (the Sufi practice of invoking the Names of Allah in a state of surrender and concentration). It is a repetitive mantra that brings a person into an alignment with the self in important ways like staying balanced and present. He talks about the impossibility of knowing the true nature of spirit/god. Anyone who has stepped outside of this current dimensional reality can tell you that there is no way our puny, organic beings can hold that radiance and deliver it anymore than one could - or would want to - catch a bolt of lightning. Yet there is deep and abiding power cultivated in honoring this kindred vibrational link with source within us through devotion to the self and to our claim that our life is sacred - that our lives matter.
Thank you for listening.
Music: I think that when I was young it was dancing to a repetitive beat in music that gave me this realignment that I needed. Often it was rather tasteless disco music but it kept me going through a very trying time in my life. It is certainly evident in its power when one allows oneself to fall under the spell of aboriginal music. To say that our ancestors knew what they were doing in regards to keeping themselves present is a bit of an understatement. We need consciousness and we need ritual to keep ourselves centered in this beautiful world.
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.
My book can be purchased HERE. E-book HERE. The Season Two blogcasts with audio excerpts from my book begin HERE: in Behind The Lines. This reading of the book excerpts in a mixed media format is Season Two of this blog. These recorded excerpts are outside the chronological order in which the book was written. Podcasts with audio only beginning with episode 22 can be found HERE.