by Milo Clark
(Swans - March 13, 2006) Sufism is often said to be the mysticism of Islam. Naqshbandi is a brand of Sufism. Few grok Sufism.
Leopold Kohr, a socio-economist philosopher, expounded the size theory of history. Smaller is better. Larger eventually implodes. Kohr may be described as a mystic of economics. Few grok Kohr.
Islam and Sufism incorporate strong requirements for belief. Naqshbandi (don't try to pronounce it, just accept a visualization based in the letters as given) is a belief system with a near thousand-year core.
A Naqshbandi Murshid will start you with simple instructions: With a broken shovel, empty the earth. With a leaky bucket, drain the oceans. With a direction, walk.
These essential instructions in faith are somewhat akin to grokking Zen's one hand clapping: you get it or you don't. Zen is a Japanese mysticism that sprung from the Chan Buddhisms of China. From small beginnings may come clarity.
My point here is to back quietly into the actuality that there are many mysticisms, many Islams, many Sufisms, just as there are many economics. All share degrees of arcane esoterica. The sauce is in the details. All open in small ways.
Certain Buddhist mysticisms evolved within the ancient Bon practices of the Tibetan plateau. The introduced Buddhisms came to overlay the indigenous Bon and thus Bon gave form to Tibetan Buddhisms. There are now several Bon/Buddhisms rampant within the Tibetan communities.
Sufisms, Buddhisms, and mysticisms have affinities for stark landscapes, rugged mountains, sere deserts. Wildness and winds create conditions testing human endurance as well as tending to keep people inside, separated, and alone for extended periods. Meditative, mindful, or mad by measures.
Disciplines virtually unknowable and unknown outside such regions evolve very strong people.
Outside Tibet, mystical whirlwinds affecting mind, body, and spirit have been unleashed by events since the 1959 invasion by the ChiComs of PRChina.
The Tibetans are upon us and personalized by the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate, et al. Rinpoches, Tulkus, and Lamas abound along with courses, retreats, seminars, workshops and immersions. Translations of texts and copies of thankas, mandalas, sutras, and mantras sprout like mushrooms in a fecund forest.
Bon/Buddhist practices involve elaborate visualizations of immensely complex details slammed into memories until integrated. Very unWestern in many ways. Their integration also provides definition for grok.
Similarly, yet very quietly by comparison, Sufi schools have come west. Given that Islam, per se, is a relatively recent monotheism, Sufi principles branching from Islam are also little more than seven to eight hundred years upon the spiritual landscape. Naqshbandi is one school that has expanded and enlisted Westerners.
All mysticisms appear to cover their core beliefs with elaborate processes that remain occult to the uninitiated, yet open up like a beautiful rose for those who will see.
As Ram Das famously advocated, "Be Here Now!"
All mysticisms have a focus on breath as gateway to awareness of the moment. For Naqshbandi, awareness of breath in this moment is a first principle.
Leopold Kohr wrote a marvelous little book called The City of Man (The Duke of Buen Consejo). In its 70 pages, all that can be needed to plan vital communities is compacted in singing prose.
A city must breathe and exist now for those who choose it. Walking rather than riding opens the best of human processes and being. Shopkeepers with a personal investment in their premises and products are an inherent guide to quality. Human scale accommodations keep us close imbuing separations with inclusion. Fewer people lead to better acquaintance.
Kohr noted that a way to confront crisis was simply to step back, to regain perspective. Mysticisms lead us to confront through meditation. To see otherwise.
Pythagoras, in Kohr's view, found the measure of all things in man as did Leonardo in his famous circle centered on the outreach of a man.
Kirkpatrick Sale, a small world protagonist, devotee of Kohr and Fritz Schumacher, wrote a wonderful volume on Human Scale.
Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, of cats fame, wrote a small volume, What is Life? Which shows why things must be small. The bigger they are, the more they collide and impair freedom. By moving freely, new patterns and possibilities are always possible. Overcrowding, as proven by too many rats in a cage, leads to fighting, destruction, and implosion.
Taking Newton a step, Kohr says that everything, say potency, diminishes with the square of distance. The farther from seat of government, the less the authority and ability to compel much less administer, to follow rule of law. Thus, empires historically disintegrate at the fringes. To maintain control, bureaucracies flourish and military abounds, eventually imploding from lack of core. Feel like now, maybe?
Harbors, he says, provide shelter from uncontrollable oceans. Build harbors, create refuges, covet communities, give space to breathe, time to know awareness.
In smallness lies survival.
Breathe. And know that you are god.
Pleaseus debunk the make-believe reality