Real and Ostensible Self-Improvement
Q: Does the Sufi school do anything about the automatism of man?
A: Ostensibly, and as far as they understand, people may be trying to improve themselves.
In fact (as can be determined by studying what they are actually doing and what they really mean by what they say) they are often automatising or diverting themselves.
This is only because they are working with a shallow use of the mind, an area which becomes conditioned comparatively easily.
Ironically, many who have heard of this process, and see it in others, think that they are immune from it by the very act of repeating that ‘man becomes moribund, conditioned’. Yet this very repetition will automatise, condition him. Liberation, for such theoreticians, is farther than it is from the ‘non-initiate’, who has never heard of the argument.
It is possible to turn away from automatism by using techniques devised to outmanoeuvre it. But first we must register sufficiently deeply, not just frequently or excitedly, that such a process is needed. Second, we must discover whether the individual involved has the capacity to be deautomatised. Third, we must prescribe the treatment for that particular individual. Fourth, we must assess whether he will abide by the treatment.
These are among the reasons for the techniques and specialised studies of the real Sufi school.
Some people are inwardly determined to retain their automatism, while trying to profit from a Sufi school’s work. I think that that is the real problem. ‘You are in the bonds of attending to the beard and turban,’ says the Diwan of Shams-i-Tabriz, ‘how will you gain the quaffer of the great goblet?’
The automatism of man is overcome, in the words of Dhun’Nun, by aiming for ‘being as you were, where you were, before you were’.
Learning How to Learn
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