Your dervish Pir Khan concludes his book Awakening by offering several mottos that consistently run through his book and his teaching. They are worthy of further mediation and discussion so over the next few days, I thought I might use our correspondence as a means to think about his premises and how they may relate to our lives. The mottos remind me of the three distinctive gifts offered by the Magi to the Christ child, each gift is valuable; but also, says as much about the giver as the recipient.
Pir Kahn’s first motto comes from his father, but could easily come from one of my coaches as well. His father said, “defeat can aver itself to be a victory, and a victory can aver itself to a defeat.” I have often written about the lessons of defeat, although very painful at times, stay with you much longer than the lessons disguised by victory. A momentary victory can be your worst enemy. How often have you murmured about someone that in time they will have their comeuppance? In so murmuring, we are acknowledging that someone has not learned what only defeat or a broken heart can teach.
Speaking of a broken heart, your Sufi friends speaks of never being so strong as where we are broken. That the great musical instruments of our time have fissures and breaks that make them better than the new instruments manufactured today. The great violins in history are said to have a “wound in their soul” that causes them to play with and emotion that is known only to those who are flawed. That is what it is meant to take a defeat and make it into a victory. Similarly we learn that if we experience a handicap in some fashion our body and senses develop a new quality to compensate for the flaw and would not have been developed but for the flaw. We become stronger because of our weakness.
Finally, your Sufi friend talks about what we all are destined to face that “dark night of the soul.” He reminds me of those times when we wrestle with our failed expectations and dreams. Then he reminds me that I suffer those nights only because I was not aware of my own God given light. My own illumination is there to show me the way.
There is a lot to think about here my friend. I look forward to hearing from you and discussing these different gifts placed at our feet. Your friend, Webb.
Thank you for sharing your insights on Pir Kahn’s book Awakening and for the invitation to offer my thoughts. The first motto you reference is huge for me. I would add to your thoughts that he is also saying don’t take yourself so seriously. Neither be inflated by your successes nor destroyed by your failures. Those are measurements of the ego, the false self. Most important are the lessons we take from both the achievements and the defeats we experience. Life is a journey, and we are supposed to experience it in its fullness. For me, my failures are among the most important experiences I have, both for learning more about that which I failed, and how I dealt with the experience (especially after the sting has passed). Yes, I still have the initial ego response that “I blew it” or “I’m not smart enough,” etc. But then (usually) I remember that In the context of the “flawed instrument”, we are each designed by God to be “perfectly imperfect.” The imperfections we each have give us our unique character, that singular tone or note that the symphony of life depends upon.
In the work that we are doing, we take on what is called “The Shadow,” that part of us that says we aren’t good enough, smart enough, good looking enough, whatever… and use THAT as our trainer… to challenge those spaces by citing 2 or 3 specific examples from our daily life that demonstrate that falseness of the shadow’s message. Our imperfections are divine, in that they were created by God. Without imperfections, we would not have the capacity for growth and learning. Our shadow interpretations of those imperfections, however – not good enough, etc. – are what tear us down… but they simply aren’t true. That’s where the illumination you refer to is so critically important to be aware of and hold on to!