Following a full and healthy Kundalini Awakening in 1976, I recognized a need for further spiritual development. I found an appropriate path in 1980, when I was introduced to the teachings of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order in the West in 1910. His teachings deeply resonated with me. I attended a meditation retreat the following year with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, son of Hazrat Inayat Khan, and accepted initiation. Before describing the Sufi dhikr (or zikr) practice which greatly assisted me in fulfilling my life's purpose, I will briefly explain Awakening from the Sufi perspective. Pir Vilayat's book "Awakening: A Sufi Experience" provides an excellent discourse on the principles of Sufism and practices for inner transformation. In this book, he writes "Thus the central challenge in Sufism is that of awakening God - not just in us but as us." The possibility of cultivating aspects of the divine personality within myself is what first attracted me to Sufism. As Pir Vilayat further explains: "As transcendently blissful and peaceful as the state of samadhi may be, however, awakening beyond life can never be the final goal of spiritual practice. It has to be followed by awakening in life." The Sufi path, says Pir Vilayat, is one of merging our individual existence with the divine reality. This is also expressed in Hazrat Inayat Khan's phrase: "Make God a reality."
The winged heart is symbol of the Sufi Order in the West. It was chosen by Hazrat Inayat Khan. A heart with wings symbolizes ascension, the five-pointed star symbolizes divine light, and the moon is a representation of responsiveness to light. "Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of mankind."
So, in looking back and reflecting on what Sufi teachings or practices were most helpful to me, there is one that stands out far above all others - the dhikr, which, as described by Pir Vilayat, is "a ritual of remembrance for inviting the Divine Presence into the chamber of the heart. Based on the repetition of the Arabic phase 'La ilaha illa llah hu' - 'There is no Divinity except God' - this practice includes circular movements of the head and body." Pir Vilayat devotes almost an entire chapter in his Awakening book to explaining how to perform the practice and how the dhikr transports the practitioner through the various planes of consciousness, resulting in awakening beyond life, followed by awakening in life. "Thus, in conclusion, one could say that the practice of the dhikr incorporates within it the whole mystery of the Divine Being manifesting in both the transcendent and immanent dimensions." The words transcendent and immanent often are seen together in theological language. The transcendence of God means that God is outside of humanity's experience, perception or grasp. The immanence of God means that he is knowable, perceivable or graspable.
My kundalini awakening resulted in my "awakening beyond life. The practice of the dhikr resulted in my "awakening in life", although that phase is still a work in progress.
In conclusion, I would like to share one of my last stage appearances. It is a freestyle, jazz dance improvisation. It was performed at the University of Pittsburgh in the mid 1980s. I've often said my personality is best reflected in my dancing.
Peace and Blessings.