In recent years “meditation” has joined the list of those unfortunate words whose meaning have been damaged.
When a word is constantly used and is emotively charged by the importance of what is being communicated, it often becomes overcharged, and, paradoxically, its communicative value diminishes. It is weakened, and its meaning loses flavour and intensity. Many words have suffered this fate, above all those which define important existential concepts. Words such as “love”, “happiness”, “consciousness”, “understanding”, “feeling”, “spirit”, and “soul” have such a wide spectrum of interpretations that it is hard to use them without feeling the constant need to redefine them. It is almost as if the emotional charge and the need to express it lead to over-use and to the progressive distortion of the original meaning and values of the most important words.
In recent years “meditation” has joined the list of those unfortunate words whose meaning have been damaged, both because mistaken idealisations, and because of ideological preconceptions that have obscured there meaning and weighed them down 1)↓…
When the word begins to be disorienting and to cause confusion instead of clarifying, it can be useful to look at its etymology. The term “meditation” derives from the Latin meditari which means “reflect to cure”, coming from the same root med from which “mode”, “measure”, and “medicine” derive. It is significant here that in antiquity, the magus, the priest or priestess, and the healer were often the same person. This etymological meaning of meditation reflects well the practice of Sumarah, wherein meditation is considered as way of being, an instrument of life and for life, and not as an end in itself. It is like a means of transport, and, like any means of transport, meditation is there to take us to where we want to go; once we get there, we get off…
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|1.||↑||see about the word “God” – the second Pak Wondo session|
When eternity touches anything temporal, silence deepens
and becomes one zeroed thing
made of both. Dervishes can find a hundred ways to say
how this happens. I’ve
no interest in more poetic images. Mysterious combinations
of Arabic letters stand
at the begining of certain Qur’anic chapters: alif lam
mim ba-mim. They seem
like other letters, but only as biscuits resemble the
moon! A true feeling of
what comes from the presence can free the imprisoned and resurrect the helpless.
Some word combinations, like skin-and-bone arrangements,
have sublime qualities. These
three people talking in the street are ordinary young
men, but Alif, Lam, and
Mim have an exchange more like Larry, Curly, and Moe.
Dżalal ad-Din ar-Rumi “The Three Stooges”
A sufi was on the path of clarity. Every day he walked
the desert, and every night
he walked and slept in the emptiness of God’s custody.
One night he came upon
a merchant’s tent and felt the need for conversation. He
lifted the tent flap
and saw a black slave in chains, unable to move, but shining
with intelligence like
the moon. “Help me”, the slave whispered. “My master will
not refuse the guest. Ask
him to set me free”. The merchant welcomed the sufi
to his tent and brought
food. “I cannot accept your generosity until you release
this poor man”. “I will.
But first listen to what I have suffered because of him!
I used to have many purebred
camels, beautiful animals with humps like mountains, swift
as the wind over steep
and flat, powerful as rhinoceri, tall and dignified as
elephants. Their crossing
and recrossing this desolation were the source of my
existence, their bells my most
wished-for sound. As they traveled, this camel driver sang
songs. The camels heard
and carried their loads with courage and discipline. This time,
though, when we unloaded
them, they fled in every direction, vanished in the desert,
all but the one still
tied outside my tent”. The sufi said. “Let me hear the camel driver’s song”. The master
gestured, and the slave began. The visitor sat politely
watching the tethered animal,
but as longing deepened in the song, the night walker
tore his clothes and fell
on the ground, while the last camel snapped its rope and
escaped into the darkness.
Dżalal ad-Din ar-Rumi “Jami’s the camel driver’s song”