Our universe is undergoing continuous transformations, which we term as evolution. However, our perception of this evolution is often focused on its physical or material appearance, even if it is in regard to life itself. Therefore, scientists often focus on the evolution of life, or the universe through observing purely physical changes within it.
However, spiritual seekers don’t confine their observations of this evolution to purely physical means, as they realise that existence in the universe is not merely physical existence. For it has many dimensions, one of which is beyond material existence.
Consequently, through their multidimensional observations, seekers realise that evolution in the universe, occurs within all its dimensions. Nevertheless, for such multidimensional observations, each person must undertake their own multidimensional evolution. That is, they must grow the attributes of their soul, which is their true essence, and has an immaterial existence through which they can make multidimensional observations.
Subsequently, every seeker realises that to see all changes that are occurring within the universe they must start their own inner transformation. Such metamorphoses within the context of spirituality, is often termed as the evolution of body, mind and soul. As it is through this type of evolution a person becomes a seeker of their own essence and is able to unleash their soul’s immense potentials. Moreover, from this type of evolution each seeker realises that all forms of evolution within the universe are deeply interlinked, and in effect, each of us is also part of this evolution.
Thus, all seekers will soon come to understand from their inner experiences that all of us are part of a multidimensional universe and not separate from it, and the only way to fully understand our universe’s evolution, is for each of us to undertake an inner evolutionary journey. A journey that will lead us to see that within all of us, there is a microcosm that is part of a greater macrocosm.
Therefore, just as one is able to analyse the sea and its make-up from a single drop of the sea, we as humans have the capacity to understand the wider existence, from the discovery of the source of our own existence, our soul! Through which we will then be able to understand and appreciate its splendour and its true reality. As our essence is also a drop from the ocean of Absolute existence!
The aforementioned points are part of the teachings of all true spiritual masters to all humanity, no matter what labels we give to their paths. As these are the underlying teachings of Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi and other spiritual masters. Furthermore, the method of inner transformation used by these masters also have great teachings for all humanity, in terms of how we should walk the path of our lives and unleash the potentials of our souls.
Moreover, what we can observe from these spiritual paths is that the journey begins and ends within oneself, and this inner journey begins when the seeker is able to quieten and free their mind from thoughts. Thus, the journey requires one to create a type of inner emptiness within their mind. Yet, this inner emptiness is not like a vacuum. It’s more like an empty canvas waiting for the universal consciousness to show itself via vibrational imprints, that it sends to our own consciousness through the connection that is formed, once we quieten our mind. This connection has a beginning, but no defined end, as in later stages the drop and the ocean become one, and its then that the infinite ocean flows freely within the drop.
The following short story is centred on the above teachings:
Long ago in ancient Persia, the young son of a sage on his birthday, in anticipation of his gift, rushes towards his father. On seeing his father, the boy eagerly asks him in an excited tone for his birthday present. The sage on seeing his son’s beaming face, with a twinkle in his eyes, hands him a beautifully wrapped box. The boy in response with a look of exhilaration starts to shake the box for clues for its contents. But on shaking the box, he doesn’t hear anything from inside, so becomes even more curious about its content.
Hence, the boy impatiently unwraps the box. However, in doing so he discovers the box is locked. Henceforth, he gives the box a few more shakes to see if he can shake it open; but after a few futile attempts to forcefully open the box, he turns to his father for the key to the box, with a sense of frustration and disappointment.
In response the sage gives a mischievous smile, and shaking his head says to his son: “One present at a time my boy. As the box you see before you is your birthday present for this year. But the means to open it, will be your birthday present for next year!”
The boy, with a sense of anguish and exacerbation retorts, “But father what good is a birthday present, when I can’t see it or use it on my actual birthday?”
The sage, with a playful smile, replies, “Have patience my son; don’t you know good things come to those who wait!” After which he turns his back and returns to his study.
The boy, who was infuriated by his father’s antics, simply kept shaking the box for clues about its secrets. However, after many unsuccessful attempts, and as he didn’t want to risk breaking the box and damaging its contents, he decided he had no choice, but to wait. So, with a sense of frustration, he finally placed the box on his bookshelf, and went on to play with his friends.
Next year on his birthday the boy once again rushed to his father in anticipation of his birthday present. This time the sage, once again with a gentle teasing smile, gave his son a much smaller wrapped box as a present. The boy once again shook the box for clues to its contents, but again heard no noise emanating from it. So, he keenly unwrapped the box, only to find a smaller box, which to his annoyance was once again locked.
The boy, on facing the same dilemma as last year cried out, “Father, you promised me I will have the means of opening the box you gave me last year, today! But all I find is another locked box!”
The sage with a lively smile retorted, “So I did. And I am true to my word. As within this smaller box, you will have the means to open the box I gave you last year.”
“But father this box is also locked, and I can’t see how a locked box will help me to open last year’s box. Did you not promise me I can open last year’s box today?” responded the boy in an angry and confused tone.
The sage with cheeky smile answered, “No my son! Last year, if you recall I promised I will give you the means to open the box today, but not that you will open it today! For that privilege you need to wait for another year!” The boy who was now crushed by his sense of frustration started to cry.
The sage in a gentle calming tone responded, “My son your emotional outbursts will not help you open the box and gain access to its secrets. In fact, they may even destroy the secrets contained in the box. So, I suggest you simply put away your emotions, as they will only hamper the eventual enjoyment you will gain from the secrets contained in the box. Therefore, I suggest you put this new box next to last year’s one and wait. For as I said, good things come to those who wait!”
The boy, on seeing there was no way to compel his father to open either of the boxes, in an irritated sulking manner walked off, and put his new box next to the old one and busied himself with playing with his friends.
On his next birthday, the boy now with a sense of apprehension, due to his previous unsatisfactory birthday presents, walked sheepishly towards his father, and once again asked for his present. This time the boy received an even smaller wrapped box. On seeing the box, he once again shook it for clues. However, again he heard no noise from within the box. Therefore, he slowly unwrapped the box, with a sense of foreboding as he was half-heartedly expecting even more disappointment. But to his surprise he found the smaller box was not locked, so he promptly opened it. Inside he discovered a small key taped to the side of the box, which he surmised was the key to the box he had received last year. So with a sense of excitement, he ran to his bedroom and opened the box he had received a year earlier. It was then he discovered a slightly larger key taped to the side of the box, which he assumed was the key to the larger box he had received two years earlier. It was then with an increased sense of anticipation he started to open the larger box. But once opened to his disappointment he found it contained only a note, which was taped to the base of the empty box.
On seeing the note, he opened it and read out its contents. Which read, “In order to discover the secrets contained in this empty box, and your birthday present, you need to solve the following riddle.”
Then he read aloud the riddle: “What am I…? In my proper use I am the harbinger of emptiness more profound than the emptiness you see in the box before you. For even though you can find a certain type of me within your body, the sensations I am able to create through my use within you, will put my namesake in your body to shame. For even though I contain chains, only through me can you free yourself from your inner chains. For even though I am made from earthy material, through me you will find many sacred doors to heaven. For even though through me you can create many noises, and vibrations, it’s only through silence induced by my use, you can open a bridge to the doors of heaven. For even though I am made from lamb skin, only by acquiring the nature of my origin, you will gain entry to heaven. For even though I am circular in shape like a full moon, only by becoming as bright as a full moon, you will be able to interact with those who occupy heaven. For when you discover what I am and use me in a disciplined and timely manner you will also discover your true birthday present…!”
The boy, who was confused by the riddle, ran to his father and eagerly asked, “Father I opened the boxes, and I discovered this riddle, which it says is the key to my present. So please can you tell me where I can find my present?”
The sage gave a mischievous smile and retorted, “By now you should know my answer. As the riddle indeed describes your present; but for the present itself you need to solve the riddle. And for that you need to be patient and reflect deeply on the clues within the riddle. For as I have said to you many times before, good things come to those who wait…!”
There are many hidden symbolic teachings in the above story, and the answer to the riddle is in the footnotes of this article. But the secrets in the story regarding the mysteries contained in the empty box relate to the secret of emptiness itself. Emptiness that frees the seeker from the bonds of emotion, egoistic behaviour and tames the ego of the person into a lamb. Just as Jesus is often described as the Lamb of God, for he had evolved to a level where he had complete rein of his ego, and thus his ego was as tame as a lamb. The story also holds clues to the nature of how Sufis create their inner emptiness. For the answer to the riddle refers to the means of achieving their inner emptiness.
For Sufis, as well as using many methods used by other paths to create their inner emptiness, also use another powerful method to create deeper and deeper levels of inner emptiness, which is the use of rhythms. These rhythms, because of the nature of the connection and emptiness they create within a seeker, are often referred to as sacred rhythms. In fact, these rhythms are embedded in nature, and in the original language of many sacred texts, and also in mystical poetries. Thus, Sufi masters with extensive knowledge of these rhythms, have often, through their majestic poetry, passed these sacred rhythms to their students, and to the generations to come.
It is these rhythms that are used to create a whirlpool of ever deeper emptiness in Sufi Sama ceremonies (mystical musical ceremonies), which slowly, after years of rendition, bring the seeker to a state of inner ecstasy and love for Unity. It is through their inner experiences, that they discover the essence that underpins the whole universe and is the basis of creation itself. Thus, through these experiences they slowly achieve union with this Unity, which is often termed as rebirth, or the seeker’s true birthday. From these experiences the seekers perspective changes, as they now act out of love for Unity in their every action, and see serving all manifestations of this Unity, as a means of expressing their love for Unity. Consequently, their service to humanity becomes simply their act of worship, and love for Unity itself. For they are no longer fixated on form, as they have passed the illusion represented by form, and seek only the essence behind form. Therefore, their every act is in service to unity, and also their means of bringing others closer to their essence, so they too can share in this love, and become whole again, by allowing the ocean of Universal Consciousness or Unity to flow within their own drop.
Therefore, for Sufis, inner transformation occurs due to their inner emptiness, as emptiness is fertile ground for the development of their soul’s aptitudes. Consequently, each seeker via their use of emptiness, and their discipline, undergoes a metamorphosis similar to how a silkworm becomes a butterfly. As the life of a silkworm is a life dedicated to multistage metamorphosis. The final stage of which occurs within the silence and darkness they create by wrapping themselves into a cocoon of their own making. As a result of which, after a certain period of time the worm is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. This transformation has many commonalities regarding the inner transformation a seeker undergoes, as a result of their evolution. As a seeker also becomes a new type of being from their evolution, a being who has fulfilled their inner potentials. The similarity between the metamorphosis of a seeker and a silkworm continue even down to their final stage. For as a result of their evolution, a seeker also gains their ‘astral wings’, as slowly they learn, through deep meditation, to free their souls from their bodily confines, and travel to the doors of heaven mentioned in the story. As through their personal experiences they gain access to heavenly realms, as a result of their soul’s connection to those realms. At this stage, their service to humanity transforms to a heavenly service, as now they are a pure conduit of heaven on Earth. Which is the ultimate goal of each seeker’s earthly evolution.
The riddle in the story is describing an ancient Persian circular hand drum known as Daf, with a wooden rim and rings or chains on its rim and a playing surface made from lamb skin. Sufis use Daf to play their sacred rhythms, as part of their heart meditation exercise in order to create deep levels of inner emptiness.