April 14, 2004

Broken Mirrors

I've been reading Essential Sufism by Frager and Fadiman.

I thought this quote in the "Teachers and Students" was particularly interesting:

On all paths of spiritual training, the teacher is of central importance. He or she embodies the teaching as a living representation of the tradition. He or she helps the student to grow beyond the boundaries of self. Because each person can only, by definition, operate inside his or her current limits, outside intervention is indispensable to make the "breakthrough." My Teacher depicted this state of things with the following analogy: "You can give yourself first aid, putting a bandage on a wound. But you can't operate on yourself."

The fundamental changes that the path requires in the student's worldview and behavior resemble a major operation. The very personality features that the student holds tightest to, with which he or she most strongly identifies on this level, are also the ones that prevent the student from fully becoming what he or she potentially is. [Rumi has written:] "It is necessary to make so great an effort that you are not left standing, in order that you may recognize what it is that will remain."


There have been a few times when I have done kumite with senior instructors and experienced something like this. After attacking them repeatedly and being lead into hikari I felt like my being was a mirror that was just shattered upon the floor. Often times, this has left me feeling angry, sad, hurt, happy...all at the same time, just to add to the confusion.

I've often felt during the tears, like I was groping around on the floor trying to put the pieces of the mirror back together in order to reconstruct myself.

I've always wondered why we do this and I had a vague notion that it might be good for me without understanding how or why. This quote gave me some context to put the experience in.

Posted by rob at April 14, 2004 08:15 PM

Still reading the same book and came across another related quote from Annemarie Schimmel:

"On the long hard road that faces the disciple he needs a guide, the sheikh, for it is dangerous to wander alone. The prophets and saints are the soul doctors who can successfully diagnose the sicknesses and weaknesses of the soul, and if a person entrusts himself to them with no questions, they can heal these as well. However, their healing methods are sometimes quite severe. They show the wanderers that they must "die before their death," that they must completely lose their own being."

Posted by: rob at April 17, 2004 07:29 AM
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