Comparisons Between Sufism and Buddhism
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Inspired by the vision of
Hazrat Inayat Khan
How Does the World Look When Consciousness is Carried Beyond the Point
Where it is Operating as a Personal Vantage Point?
Assessing situations and people from our personal vantage point, which is limited, is flawed and misleading, and results in afflicting people with pain that could have been avoided. It is this kind of mis-assessment that triggers off wars. However, if adumbrated by our transpersonal perspective, the insight of the personal view adds a further dimension to our transpersonal perspective.
Buddha cautions against the personal view, which is conditioned. Hazrat Inayat Khan validates the psychological multidimensional insight gained when both the personal and transpersonal perspectives are extrapolated. These views will affect our way of handling problems in the perturbed world in which we are involved.
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
|When the light from within is thrown upon this knowledge, then the knowledge from outer life and the light coming from within make a perfect wisdom.
Our purpose is to explore in what way we may enhance our insight in order to deal with not just our own problems but world situations in which we are inevitably involved. For this we are studying methods of meditation according to:
(i) the Rupa Jhanas of Buddhism and
(ii) Sufism, as updated by Hazrat Inayat Khan to correspond with the thinking of our time.
How does the world appear when you contemplate it from:
(i) a personal vantage point?
(ii) a transpersonal vantage point?
In the Satipathanas, the first step in Buddhist practices, we observed our self (our body, mind, emotion, personality) from a vantage point carried beyond the personal perspective.
Now in the Jhanas, the second step in Buddhist practices, we observe other than ourself: the world, matter, the thinking, the emotions and the personality of others.
(i) Ascertain that indeed you are convinced that the physical world is as it appears: events or occurrences are as they seem; your assessment of what the world conveys to your understanding from your personal vantage point is correct; your image is what you are. Furthermore, you believe that an occurrence is the cause of another occurrence - its consequence by dint of the law of causality.
Note that that viewpoint of the world that is knowable to you is constrained within the framework of three-dimensional space and one-dimensional time. We grasp the world through a window that is relentlessly moving like that of a train.
(ii) In contradistinction thereto, expand your consciousness. If you expand the outreach of your consciousness while envisioning your being as extending beyond your skin you will be discovering your magnetic field. You will now see occurrences that you had envisioned within the limits of the frame of time and space in their context rather than in their content.
This means that you will not limit your assessment of your problems to the effects of a cause in the past, but you will envision what you thought were your problems as the manifestations of a condition of the whole universe experienced in the occurrences in your personal life situations.
(iii) If you turn within, plunging into subliminal levels of your mind, you will find that the world appears as the unfurling of infinite potentialities that are only known when actualized in the existential universe.
|God knows Himself through us. God becomes in us the object of His knowledge. God describes Himself through ourselves.
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
|The purpose of life is that God discovers Himself through us.
(iv) Now hoist your consciousness into its transcendent vantage point—the consciousness of your consciousness (advocated by Buddha). You will we see that there is a disparity, an incoherence, between the real world and your representation of it.
Seeing things from a transpersonal point of view throws new light on what may be crucial issues. It is seeing things from the antipodal standpoint to one's personal viewpoint: the divine point of view.
For example, physicists try to describe what one logically infers from experiments to be atoms or sub-atomic particles. To explain to the public their views on matter based upon their experiments, physicists are trying to project models that make sense as a physical reality to our commonplace minds. But the pictures or representations which they use cannot in any way fit into what we represent as physical reality. Rather, they are clues luring our minds beyond their commonplace thinking as, indeed, scientists have so trained their minds to do.
Karl Pribham, for example, shows that what we think is the real world is mediated by sounds and ocular electrical impulses that we interpret as the real world.
Our ordinary assessment of the world is illusory, precisely what yogis call maya.
Granted that the world and events and our beings are not what we think they are accounts for a perfunctory rendering of the Yogic theory of maya that posits that our representation of the world is illusory and hence deceptive. Of what use saying, "Neti, neti (it is not)," thus abdicating from sustaining a sliver of hope of making some sense of life.
There must be clues to the programming enacted by physical and psychological events. Reconnoitering these is what both meditation and science are about.
|If thou once happenest to be here thou wilt enjoy the lifting of the veil from thy illusionary prison so much, that thou shalt never more desire to return to the same illusion.
Outwitting the hoax of maya, the Qur'an declares:
|God reveals Himself through signs (ayat) in the physical world and in your psyche.
|The world is an illusion but eternally reality manifests through it.
But let us not jump to conclusions when passing judgement about maya.
Actually, in contradistinction to popular understanding, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras proceed in showing how one can reverse illusion owing to mis-assessment from the perspective of our commonplace mental constructs.
In our previous studies, we have already worked with these steps: Sarvitarka, Nirvitarka, Savicara, Nirvecara, Ananda Nugata, Asmita, Sarbija, Nirbija, Asamprajnata Samad.
|According to a Hadith, found on the basis of unveiling, but not by way of transmission, God said something like this: I was a treasure but was not known, so I loved to be known and I created the creatures and made Myself known to them. Then they came to know Me. So He knew Himself through witnessing in the manifest. But He knows that He could not be known in respect of His transcendence (Huwiyyah)—in respect that He knows Himself in the principle of His Being.
However one does have access to a direct appraisal of meaningfulness not mediated by clues.
|At an advanced stage, one learns to grasp God as He is in Himself rather than by the knowledge gleaned of Him.
Knowledge based on experience is a concretization in the real world of an inherent sense of meaningfulness (in philosophy called protocritic). This is realization rather than cognizance. It is what is meant in Yoga and Buddhism as Bodhi. For example, how do we know that a table is round? Or that 2 plus 2 is 4, or a rose is a flower? Roundness or arithmetic is in the cosmic code. It follows that that inherent cognizance is based upon what Newton says, "We think as God thinks," but less well, just as a fraction of a crystal behaves like the whole crystal, but less well.
|All our thoughts and concepts are called by sense experience and have meaning only in reference to these sense experiences. On the other hand, however, they are products of the spontaneous activity of our minds. They are thus in no wise logical consequences of the content of these sense-experiences. We must therefore investigate how they are related to the experience.
|There is a way of looking upon the earth rather than perceiving it through the senses. One contemplates its eternal model in one's soul.
|The theorist cannot rationally deduce the absolute postulate from experience, since it transcends experience. "For the creation of a theory the mere collection of recorded phenomena never suffices—there must always be added a free invention of the human mind that attacks the heart of the matter."
|The only real voyage or discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Actually we are not conscious of what we know.
|The unconscious is really the largest realm in our minds. And just on account of this unconscious, its unknown boundaries may extend far away, why should everything come to consciousness that lies in the mind, since for example that of which it has already been aware, the whole great realm of memory, only appears in it in small areas, while the entire remaining world stays invisible in the shadow? And may there not be a second half world of our mental moon which never turns towards consciousness?
As we noted before, what Richter is saying is that we store cognizance in the unconscious of which we are not aware, but it is acquired unbeknown to us. This includes, in addition, protocritic knowledge that we have acquired in our experience of the existential world.
This is understandable because our consciousness is picking up information from the existential world, whereas intelligence throws light on that which is perceived or assessed from experience.
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
|When consciousness is not conscious of anything it is pure intelligence. It is intelligence when there is nothing before it to be conscious of. When there is something intelligible before it the same intelligence becomes consciousness. Intelligence confined to knowledge becomes limited, but when it is free from all knowledge then it experiences its own essence.
|Yogic meditation is penetrating into the essence of the object perceived.
Hazrat Inayat Khan:
|One touches upon the essence of things and beings by reaching outside from inside.
In the Arupa Jhanas, Buddha calls this the state "beyond consciousness".
|Where there is duality one sees the otherâ€¦but where all is one, of what kind of knowledge are we speaking?
One cross-examines the interpretation of experience which mediates between experience and its assessment. Instead of operating in the dualistic mode, subject/object, opposing the observer and the observed, one arrives step by step at a communion or conjunction between subject and object reaching into unity. These practices aim at discovering a super-rational state of our being that is not limited by the act of cognizance and awakens without the mediation of mental constructs.
The Role of Creative Imagination
You will notice that the clues so named in the Qur'an are not only forms in the physical world, that is the forms configuring substances, but include our idiosyncrasies, which the Sufis consider as non-substantial forms.
If you observe the world from the transpersonal vantage point, the world appears as the way the thought or emotion of a person, or the thinking of the cosmic code becomes known to us through a form. For example a musical composition is a form through which the composer conveys his/her thought to the listener. This is the act of imagination: projecting an image.
|As imagination bodies forth, the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them into shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.
|Imagination embodies meanings and subtilizes the sensory object. Thoughts shift from the perception of the senses to the creative imagination; then the intelligible thoughts will descend upon you in the form of perceptions.
|Knowledge is a veil on the known.
|We shall lift the veil from thine eyes and thy sight shall be keen.
|Why seek the known if you could know the Knower!