Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, Contributor
Nasrudin was now an old man looking back on his life. He sat with his friends in the tea shop telling his story.
“When I was young I was firey-I wanted to awaken everyone. I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change the world.
In mid-life I awoke one day and realized my life was half over and I had changed no one so I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change those around me who so much needed it.
Alas, now I am old and my prayer is simpler. ‘Allah,’ I ask, ‘please give me the strength to at least change myself.”**
According to Sufi tradition, man/woman is the meeting point between heaven and earth and is created with a spiritual destiny. Within each person there is the capacity to create, make decisions and destroy. These aspects or abilities reflect Higher attributes and man/woman’s birth right is to rule a vast, personal spiritual kingdom.
Humanity is evolving to a higher state of consciousness. This is both individual and collective- as a race of people. This evolution is purposeful and guided so it may be attained. To help safeguard this Plan there is a hierarchy of servants and teachers who work on many levels. Collectively, humanity has a potential and destiny. Many of the holy books speak about this potential. These references are part allegorical and part literal.
In the Plan, each person or soul has a distinctive role. In part, that is what this life is about. To figure out how you fit into the world, using your physical, mental, and spiritual potential. The world needs good people who are doing what they can to make things work for themselves and others.
In each day, there are many opportunities to reach higher and fulfill your individual destiny or plan. Simply ask yourself before doing something that you are uncertain about, if this action will bring you closer or further you from your own higher destiny and the Source. Learn to wait for an answer. You can do this. Slowly you will begin to hear your own inner capacity. Follow this inner voice. This inner voice and its wisdom are aligned with the higher destiny of the universe.
This piece is written for those who come later and those who might wonder how to make this world a little better. This formula has long existed; it is relatively easy to describe, but more complex to in act.
First, work on yourself to become the best version of yourself. Second, join hands with others and contribute to making your family, community and world better. In each thought/action reach higher; seek to take the high road: expressing the highest part of self.
The Inner Journey
The inner journey begins by realizing the potential within and the potential within us all, collectively. Within each there is an empty space that we seek to fill with all kinds of things, people and pursuits. This primal emptiness is part of the reason we came to this planet/realm. We came here to fully express ourselves both as spiritual and physical beings; this emptiness serves as a friction which pushes us forward always searching for that missing piece; wanting more and pushing ourselves to go further. Without it, we would be more or less content with our circumstance and rarely seek to travel further. It is the fire in our belly to go and do, seek and become.
Filling the Empty Place
Ultimately, this empty place is to be filled with The Light of Eternity; once this missing piece has been identified and added to the mix: higher learning and more purposeful living might begin. You see, in a sense, we were born incomplete so the Light might fill this empty place with spiritual energy and more fully incorporate our other talents; and we have what is termed – The Completed Person.
One of the characteristics of this individual, who has reached spiritual completion, is that they are equally concerned about themselves as they are about others. Realizing that if people are to reach their full potential they must be given opportunity to go and become; also realizing that if their brother is hungry, they in a sense are hungry as well. For you see, having experienced the interconnectedness of all living things through the Light, they realize the Higher Potential can only be accomplished if people focus and work together.
The world is a mess right now, because people are not working together to help each other. There are too many takers; key individuals are overly concerned for themselves and are not considering their brothers/sisters at the level necessary. This is the situation where some self-interest is necessary to healthy living but over concern leads to selfishness: which is harmful to self and others.
The first step in making the world better: is to work on yourself; to become the best person that you are capable of becoming. Find out who you are, what talents you have and how they might be incorporated into the world. Each of us has come here with a skill set that will help us fulfill our life plan. This life plan is designed so that you can reach personal excellence and in the process make the world a better place. Better individuals working together help create better outcomes.
Each of us has an individual spiritual destiny and humanity has a collective destiny as well. Through the Light, the entire universe is evolving upward, returning to the place of Origin. When the souls were created they were sent out into the universe with a cosmic mission; to go and create, returning one day more complete in understanding and increased capacity to be One with The Creative Element.
In the earth phase, because of the contrast between the spiritual and physical, greater opportunity exists to create and join with the Creative Element. Within each soul there is an aspect that is most like this Creative Element; it is this aspect which will lead us home through the many worlds and is our compass through the dark night.
Compromise & the Lower Soul
One of the characteristics of the lower self is that it wants what it wants and reluctantly compromises. Yet, compromise is an essential aspect to living in a family and community; yet it is something which is difficult for the lower soul to learn and accept. Hence, for most there is an ongoing friction between what we want and what the situation may demand.
We see this trait in young children particularly when they are focused on doing something: they will scream and shout – yell and cry, ‘I want it now.’ While the response from an adult may be a little more subtle; still the intent is often the same: wanting things their way. The desire to control is a very ancient part of us, and talks to our need for survival and directing our destiny.
Sometimes, this need to have our own way stands in the way of our living harmoniously with others; also it can be an impediment to accepting solutions to complex problems. Sometimes, we have to give-in a little and accept outcomes that we don’t want to accept. A compromise is a way of settling differences, by everyone making some concession and often meeting halfway. It implies giving in a little and this is something which is very, very difficult for the untrained lower soul to do; the lower soul wants to be in charge, dictating outcomes.
One of the biggest learning experiences for me was the advent of having children. I had to learn to give – up my time and help care for them. While I personally wanted to sleep, my wife and I took turns doing the middle of the night feeding. The lower soul in me was yelling stay in bed, and higher soul was saying, get-up and care for your young one. What made this easier was the love in my heart and it pushed me forward and helped get me out of bed.
Until all people see this dynamic working in themselves and rise above it; the need to get what we want (stay in bed) as opposed to what the situation requires (feed the babe); there will be friction and lack of harmony.
Caring For My Neighbor
Why should I care about my neighbor?
There are many reasons to do so. First nobody lives in isolation; we are social creatures who depend upon each other for our survival and quality of life. Second, if my neighbor is hungry and sick; at some point, these troubling conditions will affect me directly. I may catch whatever disease is affecting my neighbor and eventually no matter his restraint, one day if he continues to stay hungry, he will knock on my door demanding food.
We see this throughout history; eventually, oppressed people turn against their oppressors and take back whatever is rightfully theirs. This is a vicious cycle and our best chance for co-existence is mutual sharing of resources.
The Sufi Call offers, within our universe, there is a primal energy that is life giving, loving and all knowing. This energy is the enabling factor and in time, through a guided course of study, the individual learns to embrace and use this primordial element. Having a part of this element within, slowly the individual recognizes this energy as the Source of their inner burning.
In the journey to completion, each is the prodigal son/daughter who returns, with spiritual capacity and is embraced by their Father/Mother to share in the kingdom and their birth right.
Then, gradually as intended, the world becomes a better place: one person at a time.
About the Author
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler, poet, is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.
Stewart is also the author of Sufism for the Western Seeker, published in 2011, was nominated by ‘Foreword Magazine’ for Adult Non Fiction Religious Book of Year Book of the Year Award, placing 4th (honorable mention) and is a must read, as well as The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
For more information about the author, please visit www.stewartbitkoff.com, and if you are interested in learning more about universal mysticism and Sufism contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read my new book: Beyond The River’s Gate. Book is available on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle format or local bookstore. To Order Your Copy Visit Amazon: http://bit.ly/bitkoffriver
This article (Make the World a Better Place by Completing the Inner Journey) was originally created and published by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, and author bio.
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