Presented by Murshida Vera Corda, Palm Sunday Weekend Retreat, Pescadero, California, April 11, 1987.
(Moments of silence as we listen to the ocean waves rolling into shore.)
The Cosmic Sea is such a challenging concept. Years ago when I was an artist I was always intrigued by that title, the Cosmic Sea, and wondered how can there be a sea above us, out through the planes, out through the five envelopes of the earth, out there in space? How can that be, that there is a sea out there? Are they referring to the clouds and the fog that surround our planet? What is the inner teaching that refers to the cosmic sea? Years later, when I became a Sufi and started on the path, whenever I would hear that title I would think, ah yes, that has something to do with cosmic consciousness. I asked my teachers, who were all sheikhs and murshids or murshidas, about this and they would smile and say, you will know, you will know. It took a good many years before I knew what the Cosmic Sea was all about. Now I feel it is time to give that teaching.
We are so blessed to be able to be on a wonderful beach today and to have the living waters before us, which will enable us to study about the waters of life and to further understand the wazaif of life. We will also be able to understand the greater depth of the water practices in the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. We have been doing the wahabo practices: wahabo is the element of water, which is the second element of the four elemental breaths. We are thinking about water and its different aspects. We are thinking about the waters now that are the waters of life. We do this by turning our heads and doing the ya wahabo practice from the left shoulder following it towards and past our heart and over the right shoulder, and we come back on a zephyr cloud over the river of life to its source; we leave it there and we start again. The Cosmic Sea is the source of the river of life. When we do this practice we are going back to that source, back to the Cosmic Sea, and coming back down towards ourselves and past ourselves.
Now we can focus on the attribute of water that is bringing it out into life. When the waterfall gathers up the power of the rivers of life and plunges off a cliff, always there is an obstacle before it starts down. Those of you who have stood in the high mountains and have climbed to the top of a waterfall know that when you stand up there and watch that curve of water smoothly flowing over that ledge, it has a hesitancy. It is much like we do when we inhale and hold our breath for a few seconds before we let it out. Even if we did not try to hold it, it would flow out in the same way, seeming to hesitate on the full inhalation before it exhales. The water does that as it flows to that ledge before it starts over and then comes down, so silky smooth as it turns that corner and plunges with all of that power and force to the pond, or the lake, or the base of that cliff, sending up that great spray of fine rain. If you are fortunate enough to be able stand under it—as you can at the Golden Silver Falls in Oregon, where you can walk into a little cave under the falls and stand there and have that sheet of fine mist falling before you, and that power going out in front of it—you find that it has two aspects to it: It has behind the power of the waterfall the fine mist, as though it is transmuting it into the air element, which indeed it is. Whereas when you walk around and see the waterfall from the front, it is a roaring, banging, terribly powerful plunge when it hits the base of the cliff and falls into the pond or into the lake. Then the rings begin: the one little ring comes out, then the second ring, the third ring, then the fourth ring, spreading out ever larger and larger, seeming to run quieter and quieter as it moves out into the pond.
Where has the power gone? The power is not physical anymore after you see the vibration of the last ring. The power has gone down into that pond and goes through the outlet into little streams or into a large river where it flows out into the sea. When it reaches the sea it goes out further, seeming to hesitate as the one power meets the greater power, seeming again to hesitate as the river meets the sea, and then plunging into a powerful river, which we call the great currents. The great currents of power run through the great oceans of the world. They are out there in the sea, maintaining the river within the river, the power within the power.
We learn in the Old Testament that in the beginning, the whole earth was covered with waters, and God breathed upon them, and as he breathed upon them the first tides began. As we watch those tides change today, watch the waves coming in and breaking and count them to find out where is that eleventh one that makes that change of power and that change of sound that pulls out again to do its rhythm. Be aware that there is a power, a current out there, and if you swam out there and got caught in it you would remember it. I remember as a young woman doing that simply because I was with a boyfriend who was very adventurous, and anything he tried I would try too. On San Francisco beach, near the Cliff House, he decided that he was going to plunge in and swim straight out and go around the rocks to get a good look at the seals. I thought it was a great idea and I plunged in after him and swam out there, and I was soon caught in the river within the sea, the current within the sea, and that great power pulled me. There was no sense in trying to swim in, I just kept afloat on top of the water. It pulled me with power all around those rocks and into the Golden Gate straits and I could not get in until I was near Lands End, and that was where the Coast Guard came out and picked us up. We were not in danger of sinking, we simply could not get out. You are in that current, which is tremendously strong, and I recognized then and understood fully that there are rivers within seas and those rivers have tremendous power. To fight them is to be annihilated; to go with them is to be able to ride them. If you look in atlases and maps of the currents of the sea, you will see how they inhale and exhale and travel; they do not go a straight path, but twirl and turn and have their own pathways. Those currents also have positive and negative energy, both warm and cold. If you have traveled in certain parts of the world, you will know how they change so radically that if you are within one foot of that change of the current the temperature can shift from very cold to very warm water. You are aware of a totally different power striking your skin, and probably registering on our bio-magnetic field. That is what we are really feeling, that current, that electricity, that magnetism that arises when one power meets another, and our registering that thinking is our skin picking it up for us. That is what you are observing today, the currents and the tides.
When the waters of the rivers and the rivers within rivers, the currents within the vaster current, travel and meet, they are impinged upon by ledges of land. On the beaches where we are today, there is a great ledge that goes out. The gradual decline in the sandy surface that we stand upon is an illusion, because if you go out far enough there is a direct drop off, which changes those currents, impinges upon them, and brings in what we call whiplash tides, those tides you can get caught in and cannot get yourself out of. That is one of the reasons why there are so many drownings on the Pacific Coast where kids are digging trying to get the abalone—or even the very experienced fishermen who don!t become familiar enough with the power of the sea and don!t respect it. They pull their lines and lose their footing, and even if they may be only five to ten feet from that ledge of rock, and regardless of their strength as a swimmer, the tide will suck them under and twirl them back up again. Respect for the power of the sea on our planet must be there.
Shall we leave this for a few minutes and work on the waters above us? The power of the sun is the channel for those waters, because it is always absorbing and pulling up to the spheres the different layers that surround the earth, the bands we have to go through to go out into space. They are causing the mists that we see. When you are flying in an airplane at 37,000 feet and you are above the lower cloud level, you are not seeing the clouds that you see when you look at the photographs which the astronauts made of this lovely blue ball floating out in space with its cloud-like patterns surrounding it entirely, not that at all. This is the lower layer that looks as though it was thick packed cotton that will become misty when you are coming down in elevation. That!s when you see it and realize more than ever the illusion we have of the cloud. For those of us who have studied the sylphs as elementals, we know that is where the sylphs appear, in that white puffy cotton at that level. When you fly high at 37,000 feet you really see the clouds where the sylphs live, although we can also see them from the earth. Cloud reading was developed in all the early temples that existed in Greece and the islands around there, like Crete, and it still intrigues people. All of the temple attendants, priests and maidens were educated in looking up and seeing the forms and symbolism in the clouds, much like the Hebrews developed in the Zohar. It is one of the nice things we can do with children and that we do when we are on retreat in the great open spaces where there are foothills or valleys in the interior of our land, where we can look out at the infinity of space and experience the great clouds drifting over the valleys or over a mountain and see their changing forms. Each person sees his own symbol.
Many of us have been on retreats where we sit and look across a valley and see the dome of heaven, great cloud formations. We gaze at the clouds and talk softly about it and someone will say, “Did you see that simurgh, isn!t that beautiful?” and someone else says, “Oh yes, but I see a swan.” We see through different eyes. Symbolism is a language that may vary, depending upon environment, culture, and the situation that we are in at any moment. So the artist and the craftsperson, the farmer, the water person, air person, fire person—all have to look through that screen at their inner being, so the symbolism differs very greatly from individual to individual. As long as we can agree on a common denominator in the translation of that which we see in the heavens and that which we see in the sea, sharing how we are directing our gaze and our insight and why we interpret it the way we do, we have communication. When any one of us in the group cannot communicate that to another!s experience we are lost. That is probably why psychologists become good listeners, because they have learned that the eyes of the beholder can really have very different filters regarding what one considers beauty. It is true that one person's beauty is another person's commonness. One person!s ugliness may be a revelation to another. So we filter through the inner eye. We filter through the clarity of the heart.
Returning to how we see the sky, and the recognition of the power of light that resides above the clouds, and above the sky that we are seeing today, we can perceive yet another power behind that. For Pir Vilayat teaches us about this great being of the sun called Prince Huraj who exists behind the sun. Before there was a Trinity, before there was the power of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Prince Huraj existed out there, that great Being of Light, Prince of the Sun. That is what he is referring to behind the sun, that is what lies behind that light breaking down in those millions and millions of thin light rays that we gaze at when we do sun practices at sunrise. If you look off in the great distance when the light is just breaking, and if there are not clouds, you will see the five great fingers of light striking up into the sky just at dawn!s breaking; before the sun, before the dawn of color breaks in the distance, the five great fingers appear there in the sky, and then they break down into the individual rays of light as they come from the sun. And in the Sufi tradition and in the teaching of angelology, we learn that from the jinn plane came down the angelic, and the spirit and the power that forced the soul into the body into which it incarnated was the power of the ray, and that ray had a color, a vibration all of its own. That is your color and that is the vibration that is in your aura, and it remains there regardless of all the emotional travail that you put yourself through. For every emotional condition that you go through stands in the way of reaching the transformation we are seeking today. This travail comes from the mind world and stands as a veil before our realization of our true self; that we are a part of this light, that we are light. we were light in the beginning: we will be light in the end.
That light and its source are marvelous because when we see Jacob!s ladders coming down from the clouds, those great ladders of light come from the cosmic sea and reach down to our sea. This has a powerful radiation, especially on the outgoing tide. If we are fortunate enough to get a low tide, for those few moments, the sea is glassy and quiet and still, and the Jacob!s ladders come down and hit that sea, then you perceive the true mirroring of the cosmic sea within the soul of humanity. For it is traveling from the lights above, through the filters of clouds, and down to meet the sea that we know here as the ocean.
There is a difference in the way people see light. Recently, on a National Geographic television program there was a short section that had to do with the latest discoveries of Voyager II. They showed the sun!s magnetic field and it absolutely blew my mind because there before my eyes was the same magnetic field I have seen all of my life in human beings' auras, and it was in the aura around the sun. When I saw that I decided to look for it out in my yard and followed up with my sun practices. And lo and behold I could see the little motes of light circling around with their turquoise blue and magenta pink magnetic fields. Just darting like dots and dashes going around there so fast to the right and to the left of the sun, not changing the aura surrounding the orb, but this magnetic field twirling on the right and left side. It is a marvelous thing to see that because it really gives credence to what the Sufis have taught for thousands of years in regards to the aura and the magnetic field of human beings, animals, and creation itself. When you really want to learn to see auras and have guidance in learning it, your first lesson is to always see it on the earth. Marin County is perfect for this because Mount Tamapais, in the evening, always shows an aura of at least a half inch to our eyes, a half inch of magnetic field radiating from the silhouette of the mountain. This is an excellent way to set the focus and accept the fact that even the earth has its aura.
Then, one can go into the vegetable kingdom, and it is best to work in the winter because then the tree is asleep—lo and behold, the colors are the same colors we see around the sun, the same magnetic field of colors, that turquoise blue and that lovely magenta pink when the hydrogen and the oxygen are emanating. Every little child at the Seed Center who we took out to see the orchards in winter when the trees were asleep, came back and went to their easels and painted those auras. True, we put the right colors out, but also true they knew them when they saw them among the other colors, selected and mixed them to that exact shade. They all picked up their paint brushes and painted their tree and immediately put the two auras in the order in which they exist on trees in the winter, the order in which they exist in the biomagnetic field of the sun.
This is a fine way of knowing that we have that insight when we come to this plane. But the systems of teaching and the brainwashing by adults finally make you believe that trees and earth have to be drawn a certain way. If all the adults you meet say it is that way then it's got to be so. As soon as mind and reason step in and tell you this is the way grownups, the people you are taking lessons from, say it is, then you must accept that. The minute you have accepted that, you have cut off all lines to the visualization of light. You, today, have to unlearn what you may have been brainwashed half of your lives to do. When you look at the light of that ocean and you look at the light of that sky, do not reason what you are supposed to see because it has been told to you for so many years. The spiritual artist has denied that. A spiritual artist is one who sees the inner and reads the light of color and puts it down through the medium of water color, because it cannot be put down by opaques or oil based paints, which can never capture the fluidity and transparency of the water color medium. Spiritual artists know and see that, they are not just painting a blue green, blue grey ocean. They are seeing all those colors that exist in the biomagnetic field, that exist in the particles of light, in the protons and the neutrons that make up that energy field and that vibration. This is what they are seeing and what they are interpreting and what they are feeling, because a lot of this is intuitive as it flows through the screening of the heart. It is not a mentalization of how many drops of blue and green are going to make that shade, or the violets or the pinks or all those fire colors that exist in the sky and in the sea—that!s the difference.
Another way that you can envision the cosmic sea reflecting down into the sea we have here is to scoop up the sea water in a container, set it before you, and look at it. Really accept the color that it is. Then pour it back into the ocean and look out at the ocean horizon, bringing the eyes forward slowly as you do so, and see the difference in that color. Now look up above, and know that we know from science that the reason that water looks the ways it looks is because it reflects the sky. The condition of the sky reflects the condition of the sea. If it is grey, or grey-green, or purple, or if it has that fine turquoise blue that we see in the Bay of Naples, Italy and in Monterey Bay, Carmel, California—those are the reflections of the dome of heaven and the clarity of the oxygen content in the air. The illusion to the eye is such a commonality that we can give it a color, and in painting we can refer to it as a watercolor, which is very different from what really exists out there.
The Sufis set their glance at the infinity of the sea or the infinity of the sky beyond the horizon in order to surrender the ego. In surrendering the ego, we have to give in to a transforming action of the overall consciousness of the vastness of the sky. The eye has to sweep that whole sky and see the great vastness which comes into your consciousness to make you understand that you are such a tiny filter.
During the first five months of the year that I spent healing the split bones in my left arm from an the accident not too long ago, I was using electric coils and the magnetic field to bring those bones together. You see in a green break the split bones cannot be wired or screwed together, they have to come in by themselves. But for close to five months there was no sign of a real healing cloud between those open bones. It was driving me up a wall. All these years of Sufism, all this discipline of breath, all of the healing science which I knew from four different Healing Orders, and I could not heal my own bones. Believe me, it was distracting, until I realized I just needed to hit the right vibration, and by realize I mean the inner answer to prayers and concentrations and meditations by which our guides and guardian angels send us directives when we are up against the wall. I believe and I teach the angels because I know their power in my own life. I found that was what I was doing wrong and I did not know I was doing wrong. But when I saw this scientific program with Dr.Guildago, who had spent so many years investigating the biomagnetic field, and what its effect was on the healing of the physical body, I could understand it. In that program he said we have found that when that vibration is a little too great or a little less than that point where it affects that bio-magnetic field and its trail to the physical organ within, it would not work.
So that must be what was happening to me. All the work with the quills, all the calcium, all the magnesium, all the diets, all the prayers, concentrations and meditations, you name it, and all of the wonderful nursing care and the loving care that I had from mureeds, did not work for so long, and finally it took hold in one day. It took hold. Neither the doctor, nor I could give any idea at that time as to why this was. Why is it that you can take an x-ray one day and come back three days later and take an x-ray in the same office under the same controlled conditions and show that the healing has taken place? It happened that suddenly. The fantastic amount of pain and time and effort that went into that, yet never really knowing, how did that happen? Now at least I know, and that inner knowing makes the realization and acceptance of the spiritual path a reality and not some fantasy that you are escaping into. It is the difference between the awakened soul seeking to be enlightened and the unawakened, who you could not even talk to about it because he wouldn!t even listen, he would not be focused into it at all.
So awakening is an individual process, and asking someone to go through the process of transformation is not easy. There were people on this retreat who simply could not get through the second day. It was too much. It was too painful, too probing, too lacking in intimacy, in privacy, in keeping the walls that we have lived so comfortably inside of for so many years, secure. The fear of breaking that wall down, and not being secure in that larger universe and larger concept, stops us from transforming our minds and our consciousness into higher realms. This you have weathered, you have shown that you could come through, and it will be a day of great joy and great illumination for you. Each on your own vibration, not comparing with your neighbor, for you are individual universes unto yourselves. As you contemplate the beauty of God manifesting in the sky and the sea, and as your gaze lowers to the sea, bow your head to the sand. You will do it automatically because the wonder of creation when you realize that reflection as above so below between sky and sea, that simply touches you at the very core of your body and makes you feel like one of those sun motes that you see out there coming down the great beams of light—just a speck on the ocean of time. So humbling in one way, and so illuminating in another way, because it puts us in the right perspective in the universe. It takes away the feeling of power that enables us to crush with our feet, as someone did on the tennis courts this morning, those ancient plants we call the horse tail that have survived for millions of years since the days of the dinosaurs, and gives you strength and courage and knowledge that you can make it through. If that little plant growing through a crack on that tennis court could exist for a million years, you can, through courage and determination, reach that point of breaking through your present walls of consciousness and reach out into the great wonder of creation. Then, set your gaze, and lift it to the source of that reflected light from the heavens. Lower the gaze on the reflection, then lift it from the reflection to the source in the heavens. Continue in this way until the next stage.
Another aspect of this teaching is called dhikr. The practice of dhikr has two phases to it. The first phase is surrender; the second phase is transfiguration. It is an action of your will to perceive the insight of what we see in the ocean and the sky. What we apperceive is putting the knowledge that we have, the knowledge that I have taught you of the latest research, and the knowledge that you have from your own professional and own creative life, behind that impulse so that it becomes a new truth within your being. That impulse can help you reach divine consciousness. When you reach divine consciousness two things happen: you are just overwhelmed with the glory of it, and it will crumble your knees in the sand and bow your head to the earth; and your mind will be left behind as you rise in ecstasy to meet the tremendous infinity of space and all that resides out there.
Then we go on to the next step, which is reversing the gaze. If you have been gazing at that infinity, then you have to reverse the gaze so that it comes down to the sea. You set the gaze only at the sea in perspective to the horizon, then come forward toward your own body as you move gradually forward on the gaze. You reach upward again letting yourself be overwhelmed, as Pir Vilayat says, by the cosmic view of what is happening in the universe at that particular point, that moment in time. Hazrat Inayat Khan said, and it applies so well, "When I see thy glorious vision I am moved to ecstasy Beloved, waves rise within my heart, and my heart turns into the sea.” You will have that experience of the heart turning into the sea. This experience can help you to reach divine consciousness, which means true freedom from the lower self, because it makes you affirm the freedom that observation, perception, and apperception within yourself bring. That is the true freedom. Not to be harnessed by what seems to be, but to be free to perceive, to apperceive, to discover your own truth and maintain your own freedom. Yet maintaining the human touch is extremely important to us all. If we get there and we become inhumanely superior or inhumanely separated from those who are our beloved companions or relatives in life, we lose a great grace of God, for that is not where it is at. We have to use our will to take this view and to free the consciousness, to have this understanding, to reach that state, yet at the same time, we have to be aware that for awakening to come we must quiet our will, still our will.
The ways of other religious teaching differ from ours. Pir Vilayat notes this with the Hindu teaching, for those who have taken the path of Yoga know it is a path of transcending view. That is not where the Sufis are at, that is not our way. We believe in shattering consciousness, shattering it by action. Not our own action, beyond the point of willing ourselves to really put our minds and our gaze to it, but the action of God upon it. This is quite different from transcending. The Yogi ways are active, and I would say Tai Chi and those other sciences also are active ways of transcending the limitation of the physical body, of the physical organs, of the nervous system, of the muscles, transcending the feeling that the body will not allow you to reach awakening. It has its place and it works, but it is not the shattering way of the Sufi. This means that first of all we have to shatter the vantage point that we have always held, which is what we could call the lower ego. Our vantage point, our pet theories, pet observations of our view of the environment and the walls within which we live have to be shattered in the Sufi discipline. Then, we have to integrate our higher consciousness with the physical reality.
We can be lacking in sensory awareness in one sense, we can be lacking orthopedically you could say, nerve and muscle action can be lacking. We can have many disabilities that limit us and yet in the practice of meditation we will get to that point which we call samadhi with eyes open. I hope that all of you will study Pir Vilayat's book, Samadhi with Open Eyes, when you get home because it will help you understand where we are going on the inner. When you meditate and you walk beyond samadhi, which I call going through the window, and some people call going through the mouth of the cave into the light, you may discover that this whole different world exists out there, different light, different colors. Perhaps it is that part of the color band that we see when we are flying at high elevations and we are so fortunate to see the round circular rainbow. It is such a shock the first time you see it because all of our lives in this limited place that we live on this little planet we always see the arc of the rainbow, and when we get up there and see that it is a complete circle, it is a shock. Beyond the outer rims of that rainbow, and beyond the inner rims of that rainbow, exists a land, a whole world of vibration, which is what color is, beyond what we call primary and secondary and analogous colors. We have no names for them. We say ultraviolet is on one rim and infrared is on the other, but between those two on the circle of vibratory light, which we call color, there exists another world. When you pass beyond Samadhi and walk through that window or door, you realize this other world. You may say, how beautiful, isn!t that a wonderful color, for you are already conditioned to see it and speak of it as color, but you have no name for it and you know it is not on the red band, nor on the ultraviolet. What is this, where is this? It's really a whole new universe that you look into, and that is why it is worth striving for.
That is why it is worth doing the discipline of daily meditation. It’s not a matter of how long you do it but the dedication and thorough giving up of self will that has expectancy of arriving somewhere because someone has told you that is the step it “should” be. There is no right step, there is no destination that you are aiming for, it is letting go totally. It is getting into the state that the Buddha discovered after his many years of self-sacrifice of giving up his life, of giving up his child, of giving up the palace and the beautiful grounds and all the princely attributes that he had. It is trying to find the way to relieve ourselves from the suffering of our own mind, since all of the body suffering begins in attitudes of mind. Beyond that, it is getting into that field which we had no name for until recent years, the bio-magnetic field, the auric field, by which we live in another dimension of light than the one we think we live in here. This field controls and demonstrates to us the condition of the part of the universe which we call individual bodies. Then we might feel overwhelmed, seeing how glorious life is, what a blessing it is to be held within this little orb, this beautiful little planet in space. We might see within its life and its elements and its kingdoms all the glory and the beauty that we have to enjoy, which we never have to pay for. It is not dependent upon success in life, it is not dependent upon our professionalism, it is dependent wholly and solely upon lifting the consciousness to that point where we can go beyond our will of what we think ought to be into that sphere of infinity. That is the beauty of life coming through, and we glorify in it and prostrate ourselves before it. We know we have experienced the Cosmic Sea.
(Listen to the waves of the sea.)