Spiritual Insight 06
“The Spiritual Child,
And Becoming the Prayer Mat of the Shaikh”
Go To “About Spiritual Insights”
Written by: Shaikh Muhaiyaddeen (Louie Beutler)
on March 24, 2000
Wisdom Point: The Value Of God Is In The Use Of God,
As “One With” Us, Rather Than In The Use of Us,
As “Separate From” God
Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim. In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. Al-salam 'alaykum. May all the peace, the beneficence, and the blessings of God be upon all of us.
My love you (anbu), my dearest brothers and sisters - Shaikh Muhaiyaddeen
of “Spiritual Insight 06”
of “Spiritual Insight 06”
Let us spend some time together again talking about the Spiritual Child that needs to be born and raised within each of us, if we are ever to see God again, and this child's third encounter with the Spiritual Child that has awakened within him, and that continues on the path to maturity.
Please click HERE to read about my first encounter with the Spiritual Child within me, and HERE to read about my second encounter.
The outline for this story of my third encounter with my Spiritual Child is as follows:
1. The Necessary Background - becoming ready to let go
2. Praying Without Praying - becoming the Prayer Mat of the Shaikh
3. Ramifications - letting the Shaikh cure Himself of you
My love you (anbu) - Shaikh Muhaiyaddeen (Louie Beutler)
02. The Necessary Background - becoming ready to let go
One evening this child was sitting in the room with Bawa at the Philadelphia branch of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship sometime in the fall of 1984, right around the time the children had finished building a new Mosque behind the main fellowship building where Bawa lived.
During the construction of the Mosque I had spent most of my time praying while most of the other children helped in the construction of the Mosque. When I asked Bawa about this in my heart, He said that this was my duty and what the other children were doing was their duty, and that I shouldn't get into it, that we were all doing what was appropriate for each of us.
Bawa had initiated the Salat, the traditional Islamic prayer that is performed five times a day in 1983, which was about twelve years after He came to America in 1971. Bawa told us that the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon Him) had also waited for twelve years before initiating Salat with His followers.
During the year prior to building and opening the Mosque of Shaikh Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him) some of us had performed Salat
within the Fellowship building - a row of chairs in the meeting room had been taken out to accommodate these prayers.
In 1976 Bawa initiated morning prayers which include the recitation of the names of God and other traditional Islamic prayers (i.e., the Zikr). At that time Bawa told us that what we were doing before was no longer correct - that we were wrong and He was wrong - and the morning prayers were now what God had instructed Him to give us to do. So each morning Bawa would lead us in prayer, with Bawa giving beautiful explanations of each of the prayers that we were doing.
This was especially intense for the two weeks prior to Bawa returning to Ceylon in 1976, and these two weeks of “Bawa Led Prayers” becomes the foundation of prayer at the Fellowship, prior to the building of the Mosque. These prayers were all recorded on audio tapes and became known as the Zikr Tapes. Most of us got copies of these Zikr Tapes and started playing them every morning at the Fellowship and in our homes when Bawa went back to Ceylon in 1976.
This child felt very comfortable with the morning prayers that Bawa started in 1976. Probably because Bawa started them less than a year after I met Him in 1975. However some of the children were quite surprised by the introduction of the prayers, especially the children who met Bawa when He first came to America in 1971 and 1972. Some of them seemed to view the prayers, both the Zikr and the Salat, as a real shift in Bawa's teaching. In retrospect I can now understand that, but at the time I saw no shift in what Bawa was doing, and I quickly embraced the morning prayers as a wonderful opportunity to express the love and gratitude that I was experiencing for having met and accepted Bawa into my life, and for being accepted into Bawa's spiritual family.
So when Bawa introduced Salat in 1983, the formal Islamic five times prayers, I equally embraced them with a lot of love and enthusiasm. However, I did begin to notice that over the years from 1976 to 1984 something was growing within me that did not feel quite right, but I did not know what it was or what to call it, or how to deal with it. It was just there under the surface, it was mainly just a vague feeling that seemed to be growing stronger with each year, and had not really materialized.
When I first met Bawa in 1975 He told me that He was not an old man sitting on a bed, that my mind is what put Him there for me, that He was not on the outside of me, that He was within me, that in truth He was the Master of my good thoughts, my good qualities, and my good actions, that He was the Guide for my conscience and the One who would teach we justice and truth, compassion and unity, that He was the Leader of wisdom and divine knowledge within me, and it was only through His peace that I would ever obtain peace and tranquility. That He was the Guardian for my life provided by God.
He went on to tell me that I didn't either believe or understand this, and that was natural, but that this was my work, to come to believe and understand that this was who in truth He was.
Then He said that To do this work, to come to this belief and understanding, to discover that He was really within me, that He was really the reality of me that God had placed within me, and not someone outside of me, as I was perceiving Him, that to do this work, I needed to take Him with me when I left His room, that I needed to make Him my constant companion, who I relied upon explicitly for everything.
He said that If I had a question about anything I needed to ask Him for the answer to my question, if I didn't know what to do in any situation, I needed to ask Him what I should do in that situation, and that I should ask Him in my heart, not on the outside, because that is where He really is, in my heart not on a bed.
And He closed by saying, that If I did this in the way He had just told me, that I would discover to my surprise that He in truth was within my heart, that He in truth did know everything about me and about everything else, and that He was in truth what God had placed within me to guide me back to God, from which I had come, that He was in truth the Guardian in charge of me, and within Him was God.
For some reason, perhaps my age, I was 36, perhaps my experiences in life, I had lived a very full life in the world by that time, perhaps my destitution, I had tried everything else that was available to me to find meaning and peace in my life, and it all came up short, or perhaps it was something within me that I was not aware of at that time, like my soul and the wisdom surrounding my soul who had been searching for a man of wisdom for a very long time, but I immediately accepted what Bawa said to me, and set about living my life in the manner that He had prescribed.
And everything He said was true. I quickly discovered that He would answer any question that I asked, that He would tell me what to do in every situation, that He did know everything about me and about everything else, and in truth He was the Guardian in charge of me, and He would lead me back to God. What a wonder!
This is how I lived my life from the summer of 1975 until the time of the telling of this story, which was in the fall of 1984, when we had just finished building the Mosque of Shaikh
Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him). And this is how I have lived my life up to the time of the telling of this story, which is now March 2000, which comes out to over 24 years. And this is how I imagine I will live my life until He turns me over to God, so God can finish the reason for having created me.
In a nut shell, during this time, I had learned how to let go.
03. Praying Without Praying - becoming the Prayer Mat of the Shaikh
With all this said as a necessary background, lets get back to the story of the Spiritual Child and becoming the Prayer Mat of the Shaikh.
As was said at the beginning of this story, one evening this child was sitting in the room with Bawa at the Philadelphia branch of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship sometime in the fall of 1984, right around the time when the children had completed building a new Mosque behind the main fellowship building where Bawa lived.
Bawa looked at me and said,
"Lou Tambi, go do prayers in the Mosque"
(Tambi in Tamil, the language spoken by Bawa, means little brother).
I immediately said,
Gave Bawa my salaams (the traditional Islamic greeting) and left His room and walked to the Mosque, which was in a new building right behind the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship where Bawa lived.
Now it was not unusual for Bawa to instruct some of His children to go to the Mosque to pray, in fact it was gradually becoming a regular part of the Fellowship culture, so I did not view it as anything special. It was just nice whenever Bawa took an active part in your life in the world, whenever He paid attention to you on the outside.
That is how I viewed the request. I was very happy to go to the Mosque, especially at the request of Bawa. It was something I could do, and there lay the seed of why He had told me to go to the Mosque. Remember in the introduction I said that from the time Bawa had initiated the Zikr prayers and then the Salat prayers something had been growing within me that needed to be looked at and resolved, and tonight was the night for that resolution.
As I walked to the Mosque the whole issue of prayers at the Fellowship started to rear its head. For example, what was the purpose of the prayers, what was our role in them, how do they fit into the rest of the life and teaching of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him) which seemed to be pointing at times in another direction - a direct relationship with God without any formal structure or practices?
As I prepared to do Salat I realize that something was wrong, and I began to realize something of the nature of the problem. Before Bawa had established prayers all I had was My Bawa. He was and is my whole life, in a way that is beyond explaining to anyone else. But after Bawa had established the prayers, and I had done them religiously for up to eight years and embraced them so completely, I had both My Bawa and My Prayers, but now My Prayers seemed in a very strange way to be threatening my relationship with Bawa.
Yet Bawa had sent me to do the prayers, and He had initiated both the Zikr and the Salat at the Fellowship. I was confused and could not resolve this apparent contradiction, which I have learned since then is one of the harbinger of real spiritual growth.
For if it can be resolved successfully, if one can go beyond the apparent contradiction to a new way of thinking and acting that truly transcends the apparent contradiction, then one has moved forward in his spiritual life. If one can transcend the way of thinking and believing that actually produces the apparent contradiction in the first place, if the apparent contradiction can actually be transcended not resolved, then one has moved forward in his spiritual life.
If one can understand that in truth there is no resolving an apparent contradiction, because in truth it doesn't really exist, it is but an artifact of a way of thinking that has to be transcended, a way of thinking that is characteristic of the mind, of selfishness, of a life separate from God, a life that is non-spiritual.
And it is only transcended by becoming more spiritual, becoming more like God, by moving closer to God, by joining in partnership with God, by turning to God, not yourself, by expanding the definition of "Who you are" to include God, to include the stuff of God, to include the Wisdom and qualities of God, to include the realms of God. The apparent contradictions of our life are only transcended by joining with God to get past them, because our separation from God is what is causing them.
So the only One who can really resolve it is God, and that is the learning within the learning, that is the Great Learning in our Life. But let us look at the mechanics of this as experienced by this child in the Mosque of Shaikh Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him).
There I am ready to do Salat, like I was taught, like I had done a thousand times, like I was ready to do again, and this time ready to do it at the command of Bawa. And yet I couldn't do it, and it seemed that I couldn't do it also at the command of Bawa. What am I to do?
Well thank God, as shared in the Necessary Background to this story, by this time Bawa had established Himself solidly within me, within my very own heart, and even though Bawa was physically right in the building next to the Mosque, in the very room that I had only moments before been sitting in, that fact did not help me through this situation, but what did help me was the fact, the very real fact, that Bawa was within my very own heart, and He could help me through any situation.
He had proven that to me, over and over again, He had helped me a countless number of times through very difficult situations, seemingly impossible situations, ever since I had taken Him at His word, and had accepted Him into my heart, and used Him every day and night as the Guardian of my life that was personally given to me by God.
Now I started to understand what He had been getting me ready for all these years, He was getting me ready for all the situations that I could not handle, for all of the apparent contradictions that would come up in my life that I could not resolve.
That is the real gift of the Shaikh, the Shaikh Himself, as the real gift of God is God Himself. We must realize this, my dear brothers and sisters, if we are every to move forward in our life. We can only use God to find God. We must search for God in the presence of God.
Standing all alone in the Mosque I simply said in a very soft voice,
"Bawa help me! Bawa, what is the matter!"
At that moment I turned to God like I had never before turned to God, because my life was on the line like it had never before been on the line, because my life now was Bawa and that very life was now being threatened by Bawa, at least that is how I was starting to perceive it. What a set up. A problem only God could create, and a solution only God could provide.
And then Bawa said to me in my heart, in a very crisp voice,
"Lou Tambi, there is a flaw in your logic."
And I said,
"Bawa, what is the flaw?"
And Bawa said to me,
"You think you can pray. You can't pray. Only one in the state of Oneness with God can pray to God. Prayer is the One praying to the One who Is. That is prayer. You must become One before you can pray to the One. You are not in the state of Oneness. So you cannot pray. You are in the state of the many, the state of separation and differences, the state of mind and desire, the state of 'mine' and 'yours'. You are living in your mind and in your desires. In that state you cannot pray to God."
Then Bawa went on to say,
"I am in that state, the state of the One, I can pray to God as the One praying to the One who Is, and since you have accepted Me as your Shaikh, you can invite me to come and pray, and I will stand on you as My Prayer Mat and perform My Prayer, the prayer of the One to the One who Is, and you will experience My Prayer."
When Bawa said all of this to me in the Mosque of Shaikh Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him) I was so very happy. All of the conflict, the apparent contradiction was instantly resolved, and even better, was instantly transcended, and once again all I had was My Bawa. I no longer had My Prayer, because My Bawa was My Prayer. And I no longer had "me" as separate from Bawa, because I was now Bawa's Prayer Mat. And in this way, He had become my soul, and I had become His form.
Oh Glory to God. We are all so very blessed, my dear brothers and sisters, to have such a wonderful Guardian such as Bawa, to have such a wonderful God such as God.
Al-hamdu lillah. All praise and praising belong only to God.
Allahu Akbar. Only God is Great.
But the story is far from over - the best part is still to come.
Now I am very happy and content, but I am no longer all I am. Remember the Spiritual Child that is growing within me, that I had encountered twice before, and wrote about in two previous Spiritual Insights. We have yet to hear from Him.
Well, the Spiritual Child within me was not yet content. He wanted more of an answer. And as I have gradually learned, Bawa is also His Guardian, and the Spiritual Child within me is much more demanding of Bawa than me. It is all such a wonder. Only God understands who we truly are.
(Please click HERE if you want to read about my first encounter with my Spiritual Child, and HERE to read about my second encounter with my Spiritual Child).
Then from deep within me, the Spiritual Child said,
"Bawa, if we can't pray, then why did you send us to pray?"
A good question. One that I never would have asked. And Bawa's answer to that question changed my life forever, changed how I looked and thought about everything forever, and changed how I did everything forever.
And Bawa said,
"To affirm that fact, to affirm the fact that you can't pray, but that prayer can occur. That is the purpose of prayer - I cannot but You can. That is the purpose of everything that you do - to affirm that you can't do it, but that God can. That is the living Zikr in everything that you do. I cannot, God can."
"The first thing that you must do when you pray is to affirm that you cannot pray (La ilaha - I am not). The second thing that you must do when you pray is to affirm that prayer can occur, that God can pray to God (IIl Allahu - You are God). And the third thing you must do when you pray is to invite God to come and pray, invite God to come and stand on you as His Prayer Mat, and pray (Muhammadar Rasulullah - Muhammad is the Messenger of God)."
"You must offer yourself to God as His Prayer Mat. That is why He has created you. That is your work, to know His work, and to join in partnership with Him to complete His work, to complete His intention, to complete the work that only God can do. That is prayer. And if you do this in everything that you do, then everything becomes prayer. That is why I asked you to come here and pray, to do that."
And standing that day in the Mosque of Shaikh Muhammad Rahim Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
(may God be pleased with Him) we did just that. First, we affirmed that we in truth could not pray. Then we affirmed that in truth only God can pray to God, that only One in the state of Oneness with God, only One who has become One with God, can pray to God. And finally, we invited Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may God be pleased with Him), as the One within us who could do the work of prayer within us, as the One we had accepted to do that work, to come and stand on us as His Prayer Mat and pray to God, and do that work. And He did that work, and we experienced His prayer, and each day He does that work within us, and we benefit from it, In truth all life benefits from it.
Al-hamdu lillah. All praise and praising belongs to God alone.
Allahu Akbar - only God is great.
This is what we did that day in the Mosque, when this child, the Spiritual Child within me, and Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (Ral.) within us, joined together and prayed to God correctly for the first time, and this is what we have been doing every day since.
Al-hamdu lillah. All praise and praising belongs to God alone.
Allahu Akbar - only God is great.
04. Ramifications - letting the Shaikh cure Himself of you
Now the ramifications of this experience are incredible, it leads one to the wonderful place were God is doing everything, it takes one from the perspective of the selfish self to the perspective of the selfless self, to the true self. But more about that later.
05. Closing Prayer
Amen, Amen, Ya Rabil Alameen -
So be it, So be it, Oh Ruler of all the Universes.
Amen, Amen, Ya Rahman Alameen -
So be it, So be it, Oh The Mercy of all the Universes.
Amen, Amen, Ya Rahim Alameen -
So be it, So be it, Oh The Compassion of all the Universes.
Al-hamdu lillah - all praise and praising belong to God alone.
Allahu Akbar - only God is great.
Al-salam 'alaykum wa-rahmat Allah wa-barakatuhu kulluh -
May all the peace, the beneficence, and the blessings of God be upon you.
My love you (anbu) - Shaikh Muhaiyaddeen (Louie Beutler).
of “Page 09” - Spiritual Insight 06,
of “The Spiritual Child,
And Becoming the Prayer Mat of the Shaikh”
Go To “Spiritual Insights/Analysis”:
“The List” of “Spiritual Insights/Analysis” - Page 01