From earliest memories I have sensed a universal interconnectivity between all things. Although I can look back onto this in the context of spirituality, I am not sure I would have articulated it as such, and while that and subsequent labeling may not seem to matter so much, intellectual exercises surrounding belief has had a great influence on my journey.
I grew up in a culturally Jewish—though atheistic—household where high-holy days were casually but consistently observed and liberal obligatory rights duly performed. The attitude imparted fell in line with the prevalent contemporary cynicism towards belief in the Divine in general and the apparent modernist assumption of associations with God relegated to the ignorant and archaic.
Throughout my youth I frequently chased intense experiences allowing entry into the subtle material realms. These forays, often brought about by art or the psychotropic, extended knowledge of hidden complexities lying tantalisingly beneath quotidian consciousness. The experiences were both incredibly informative and motivating, yet were unfailingly dissatisfying in the long-term, for the path pursued in such a manner always carried with it the dualistic reckoning of material temporality. For every vista opened would be a subsequent covering and repercussive effects to each step taken.
In my early twenties I was blessed with an opportunity to challenge my belief system. Reading a book on creativity that stated an acceptance of God as a requisite for performing the exercises, I was struck by quotes in the margins such as, “When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the world of time.” Such a premise piqued my interest sufficiently to earnestly try reaching out to something that was able to comprehend my aspirational intention. In the inspiration I subsequently received from the feedback, I knew from other aspects of my life that to properly understand something it must be decidedly and dedicatedly practiced. Within the act of faith I was able, from the tangle of mind, to tune myself into a reciprocal relationship that has consistently required me to aspire for greater and greater connection.
The desire of this pursuit could be translated into something of a prayer, the answer of which was an introduction to Vedic philosophy, namely the Hare Krishnas, devotional practices which focus on fostering a loving relationship with God—the work of which I applied myself to for several years. While evolving in realisation with each increased effort, I was carried far and learnt much but remained unable to find a teacher I fully connected with, nor ever felt entirely at home in what felt a religion tied to a particular culture. The remaining disconnect greatly inhibited the incorporation of the practices into daily life, a situation that eventually led to a drop-off in my commitment. The directionless situation I found myself in rapidly became untenable and led to a stage where I was able to make an earnest prayer to continue my pursuit.
In answer to this request I had the great fortune of being introduced to the representative of the School of Sufi Teaching in Melbourne who gave me the initial practices and introduced me to our Shaykh, Hazrat Hamid Hasan. Following from my previous work, I immediately experienced the insight and transformative aspect of the practices. What I have found in faith, and the subsequent practices it has provided me, is an imperative towards the distinguishing between right and wrong on an ever-refining scale. Here rightness energetically aligns with the Divine, strengthening a connective relationship that brings light to further insight while anything else deviates from the path leading to an obscured and darkening realm. Pursuing this conduit of servitude has led to ever more understanding, as well as to those already developed in discernment on the most profound of levels, something clearly evident in Shaykh Hamid.
The Islamic foundation to the order initially held something of the unknown, yet also felt wholly familiar as a logical extension of my roots. Assuring insight that developed through the experiential nature of the practices gave me confidence to accept the path in its entirety and the day I gave ba’yt and took Islam with the Shaykh was akin to a complete refreshment of my whole being. This ostensibly simple ritual, where the Shaykh and I sat opposite each other on the floor, each holding a corner of the same small time-worn piece of fabric as I professed my faith, remains one of the most profound and memorable moments in my life. Through the order there is a great feeling of drawing upon a powerful lineage, that while ancient, is decidedly alive, being supported by a wellspring of successive enlightened personalities that reach back to the Holy Prophet Muhammed (SAWS), and beyond. The associative paradigm is ineffable, though with heeding inner-guidance and adherence to the Shaykh’s instruction, I have been able to follow a life that offers a certain freedom from destructive influences, allowing a strengthening of intuitive faculties and thus also cultivation of my relationship with Allah.