Retreat with Relics
Any ordinary family house in the city suburbs that it is presided over by a Spiritual Master takes on a new quietness, a holy stillness, a synthetic sacredness. It must become an exclusive and open channel for Her or His Holiness.
It is no longer a domestic niche for family and status: door lentils for measuring growth, carpets for wearing out, furniture for rearranging, beds to replace cots or wallpaper to be replaced to match recent trends. And it is not for her or his disciples to put down roots there as was intended, for their roots are already set in the Beloved who resides in paradise. They are pilgrims you see, and their residence, wherever it is, is a tent. They barely graze its structure.
It is not safe now for precious Masters to be outside the crowded tower blocks and urban sprawl. Gone are the days when they could retreat for years into dark caves or dusty desert palaces with their exquisite mosaics and cool inner courtyards. In fact, recently the drought has been so severe that they might combust at any time if they did! It is the Beloved’s will that we respond to his anger expressed in the world with only a deepening of our prayers and a cherishing of our Master here in the broken city.
Sunrise among the cement and glass towers and the spaces between them takes some getting used to after such baked palaces and gädam, shrines. The Beloved One is testing us more and more radically so that the severity of our environment becomes irrelevant to our devotion to Him. The storms and hurricanes, the torrential rain and flooding, the fierce forest fires and earthquakes, the drought and air pollution are staged exactly to make us stronger in our trust in Him.
We must retreat from this daily declining world in order to purify and to climb higher and higher to make the perfect union with Him possible. But after our morning prayers and drawing of the first water before dawn, we cannot resist running to peep round the lace at his His exquisite light pouring between the tower blocks so that it may shine on us and He will notice us.
It was sad when the present cataclysmic conditions of this human world forced us to leave our own desert shrine built around all Almu’s, our Master’s, ancestors’ graves for the last time. The pilgrim caravan at the height of Ramadan was the perfect test! Ah, how wise our Almu is and how wide open is her channel to The Beloved One.
I must continue forever to vividly see the white minarets and flat roofs of that small community shimmering on the swaying horizon. It was like a beautiful date confectionary carefully wrapped in trembling palm arms above the oasis. This vision is and should always be an important part of my devotions: going back again and again to such miraculous luminous moments in my mind which surely can only be brought about by the King, the absolute perfection of the Beloved One. Such a paradise could only be made possible from His goodness!
The complex procedures and rituals for de-enshrining the relics and ancient treasures took time and the entire dedication of all our small isolated community there. Then packing them on the camel troop needed expert and ancient desert techniques. But when we were all ready, swathed in our black hijab revealing only our eyes to the sky, then came the real test. How could we equally swathe our tiny Master, Almu, extract her and lift her inside the tented seat available only to those who are already in a paradise capsule here in this low existence? But she was so strong, bidding a prophet’s farewell to her family and devotees.
‘arak fi aljana! See you in paradise!’
It would be the last time in this suffering life to see them because of His anger at the proliferation of evil in the world.
Then thanks be to God, we completed the 3-day crossing to the city boundary, eating little except figs and palm nuts and sipping at perfumed leather water flasks after sunset. We dared not stop, the swaying creatures below us somehow knowing the great significance of their mission. And we……..well, we moved between the slit-mirages of heaven and earth with a longing to be held in Your strong arms again and again, O Beloved.
Now, there is no more time to spare for these devotions of a lowly mortal! The Master must be fed and I must go on typing her sacred words into letters and scriptures to leave behind to guide all remaining beings to paradise.
Today, I have given instructions for everyone to cover their noses and mouths with white masks even inside our rooms because of the dust driven into the city by violent sandstorms from the east. But this is no real hardship as our mouths are covered anyway, covered for You Beloved. And in these troubled days, the monastic rules are bent exceptionally to allow us to use a little money to buy cheap sunglasses to shield our eyes. So, we must work even harder to keep His Divine light bright! Ingenious tests, if we pass them, are surely leading us closer and closer to Heaven.
This is an expert from my latest novel ‘180 Degree Turn’ (working version).
The story concerns the plight of developed peoples as the Earth rapidly approaches death. In order to survive, there is no option but to accept the advice of tribal peoples, the original custodians of the Earth. This requires that all inhabitants make a choice to undergo training as custodians of the Earth or to follow their own reality and beliefs in gods and buddhas, in substances and other fictional deities. The whole of humanity must be turned to look inwards instead of outwards, where they will find their True Nature. 180 Degree Turn