An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

The number 40

In Education, metaphysics & cosmology, Spirit, heart & soul on January 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Today, while having lunch outside a cafe, I felt I had an experience of how the universe is set up to educate us. While eating I was reflecting on where I was a year a go. I was working in Jordan, lived in a bungalow, drove a nice care, had membership to a luxury gym, a maid to help with house chores and  enjoyed a break to the dead sea on most weekends.  Materially, I had it all. A year later, I dont have any of that which I listed and I’ve decided to take a step back from life while I look for meaningful work.  While having my lunch I thought ‘Oh God, You’re in control, You’re will is done – You raise and You lower a person – show me my direction’ At that moment, a person came walking towards me and nodded his head. I nodded back. He wasn’t a tramp neither did he seem like a beggar. He was dressed as though he was some sort of outdoor worker, like a builder. Out of all the people sitting outside the cafe he decided to choose me. He said ‘excuse me mate, can you spare me 40 pence’. Being on autopilot, I said ‘sorry’  and he walked off around the corner – he didn’t go to anybody else sitting there. I looked in my wallet and found I did have some change. I thought may be he needed to buy lunch and having realised what had happened I went looking for him. In that moment, I was the beggar looking for him to take my money to do me a favour. Alas, he had disappeared.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the incident. I’ve been asked for money by lots of people on the street but never has somebody been so precise to have said 40 pence – its normally a pound or ‘could you spare some change’. I feel the event had a teaching on many levels and doesn’t have a single interpretation. One may be a reminder that if you consider yourself to be ‘lowered’ remember there are people who dont have money to buy lunch- be grateful! Another may be be a reminder to how precise the universe is – not a single atom is out of place. Forty has many meanings. The dervishes are traditionally known to have gone into retreat for 40 days. The number also has many significance in the Abrahamic faith traditions. The prophet Muhammed received revelation at age 40, Moses is said to have spent 40 days in mount Sinai during which he received the 10 commandments, Abraham spent 40 days in Nimrod’s fire, Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert by satan… Many of my friends seem 40 plus – I enjoy talking to people who have passed the 40 threshold. They have a maturity, understanding and experience people at 30 just don’t have. The important thing is, I felt my consciousness had been raised by the event and I am now here writing about it as you are there reading it from your screens.

Another interesting point to note is that there seems to be a discerning faculty in me which recognised the significance of that event being different to other events. The signs on the horizons (afaaq) and in ourselves (anfus) are there to be witnessed  and something in us recognises them and understands them almost like a poem; one needn’t scrutinize them to rational analysis. A meaningful event is one in which our consciousness seems to be tuned to a greater awareness, as though there is some sort of opening (fateh), an invitation from the unseen as time and space come together in our sense of ‘I’- like a tap on the shoulder or when we look at the clock and it read 11:11- similar to what happens during a sema (mystical gathering) when the Sheikh signals to the musicians and they suddenly raise the pitch affecting the conscious state of the semazen (whirling dervish) and the listeners. A similar event happened a week ago when I was thinking of a sixth form college I had to email and was wondering if I should or not. Precisely, at the moment, while driving, we passed a street with the same name as the sixth form college. Dreams carry many symbolic meanings and teachings too. That would be a whole post all together. Lovely taking to children about their dreams….

“Although numbers all begin with one,
They never reach a known limit.
Since non-being was in its own essence pure,
from it appeared the ‘Hidden Treasure.’
Read the sentence, “I was a Hidden Treasure” *
And become aware of the elusive secret.
Non-being is a mirror, the world its reflection, and man
Is the eye of this reflection, beholding the hidden Viewer.
You are the reflection’s eye and It the light of the eye.
The light of the eye is seeing itself through your eye!
The universe is human and the human a universe.
It cannot be made any clearer than this!
When you look well into the heart of this matter,
God is the seer, the seen, and sight itself.”
Lines 137-145
From : The Garden of Mystery, Gulshan -I raz of Mahmud Shabistari translated from Persian by Robert Abdul Hayy Darr

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  1. Let me draw together various threads in Saqib’s post – the request for charity, synchronous events, and a dream.

    In 2002, while in Vancouver, my wife Tania and I were approached by a beggar/vagrant(?) asking for money. I refused, as I had heard of the problem of drug addiction in Vancouver, and how a lot of the money given to beggars only finds its way to drug dealers. Tania and I discussed this in depth, reflecting on the problem of making judgements and assumptions in such situations, and how they might prevent us from acting with spontaneity from the heart.

    That night I had a dream that I was in Vancouver and met a young woman outside a residence in the city (it looked like the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London). She asked for money for water for the developing world. I gave her a Canadian dollar and wondered if it was enough.

    The dream resonated with various other dreams and concrete experiences I had had which reflected the symbolism of the number one. The dream seemed to be saying to me that the giving of ‘water’ (symbolizing spiritual sustenance, mercy , etc. – in the Qur’an the revelation is also likened to water sent down from the heavens) for ‘development’ (i.e. spiritual development) depends on the giving of the whole self (the undivided, unified self, the number one). We are called on to give our whole self, to be ‘wholehearted’, and in doing so, we can reflect divine generosity (al-karim) and mercy (ar-rahman) through our own deeds, while realizing always that perfect generosity and mercy is only with God.

    One of Ibn ‘Arabi’s women teachers once said that what distinguished Ibn ‘Arabi as a pupil was that he did everything with hs whole self. “When he sits down,” she said, “he does so with all of himself. When he stands up, he does so with all of himself. Whatever he does, he does so with his whole self.” This is the giving of the one dollar, the undivided self.

  2. Thank-you Saqib & Jeremy for these beautiful posts, leaving us with so much food for thought and reminders to bring our awareness into each moment.

    Recently, I have been feeling very blessed when being with my children (23months & 6months) as nothing brings me into the present moment, the way they do. My son has taught me to see trains, planes, helicopters, taxis and buses in a way I haven’t experienced before. When a train goes past, and I hear Rayaan scream chooo chooo trayyynnnne it is like I am seeing a train for the first time. There is no inner dialogue taking place, just the moment where I am with my son watching that train go past. I observe the colour, the speed, the people on it fully.

    His ability to make a group of people in an underground lift smile and acknowledge each other has left me wondering how much of life seems to escape us when we are not fully present to each moment. It also makes me realise what sacred beings children are, with their purity and innocence allowing them to naturally tune into each passing moment. The extent of the responsibility that we as parents have as their guides almost overwhelms me. I am increasingly beginning to realise that through us, a child can experience hell or heaven so we must tread carefully as we try to nurture these beings into maturity.

    It is only after having my own children, that I have also had to face up to my own childhood and make peace with it (all over again.) For, in order to take on the responsibility of being a positive guide for them, I need to look within and try and heal my own scars to allow my own inner light to shine through and reflect on them.

    With love
    Tazeen

  3. Dear Tazeen,

    Wish you well and may we help each other to know the happiness of being in Love’s universe. Speaking of numbers you mentioned 23 and 6. In the Islamic tradition it is said a true dream is 1/46 of prophecy (hadith i believe). This is because the Prophet pbuh, had true dreams for 6 months before receiving revelation, which lasted 23 years. If we divide 23 years into 6 month periods – we get 46.

    Love to the family,
    S

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