Friday, 27 January 2017

Decoding Wisdom Traditions of the World

Here is the basis for ethics on which all traditions are united; transcendence of lower self to subsist in the divine self.

Why are prophets sent? To perfect ethics: "I was sent to perfect your ethics," the Prophet (SAW) said. As has been remarked “Not other things, only morality. He doesn't say 'your education, your medicine, your technology.’” Ethics is said to be the First Philosophy by philosophers from Socrates to Levinas. Hikmah may be understood as philosophy if this moral dimension link is kept in view. The end of art also converges with that of ethics.
      How are sacred scriptures, wisdom traditions and ethics linked? How many books and commentaries on sacred texts should be read for right knowledge? What is the right path? Can’t we state it in clear terms and stop wrangling over niceties of doctrine? How to know the most important kernel of the Quran and Sunnah or of other traditions? Iqbal says that “Qalandar juz do harfi la illa kuch nahi rakhta/Tu qaroon huwa hae lugat haayi hijazi ka.” The kalima of Islam, like Upanisadic Great sayings (Mahvakyas) is simple and short. The Prophet (S.A.W) used to answer in one or two sentences the Companions who asked what will ensure their salvation. So what is that kernel, the heart of religion, the essence of wisdom traditions of the world? This is disciplining the desiring self. This is the sum and substance of Sufism as of Plato or other traditional philosophers from China to India to Muslim world. It is the commandment of religion. The following passage sums up essential Ibn ‘Arabî and the central message of all integral traditions as Isa Nuruddin and Abdul Wahid Yaha and other masters of Tradition formulate it. Here is the basis for ethics on which all traditions are united i.e., transcendence of lower self to subsist in the divine self. Here is his formulation of the theory and objective of mystical discipline. Here is also a manifesto for coexistence of traditions or plurality of modes of experiencing or relating to the divine.
,     Now you must know that if a human being (al-insān) renounces their (own personal) aims, takes a loathing to  their animal self (nafs) and instead prefers their Sustainer/Teacher (Rabb), then the Real will give (that human being) a form of divine guidance in exchange for the form of their carnal self... so that they walk in garments of Light. And (this form) is the sharī‘a of their prophet and the Message of their messenger. Thus that (human being) receives from their Lord what contains their happiness – and some people see (this divine guidance) in the form of their prophet, while some see it in the form of their (spiritual) state.
      Ibn ‘Arabî says in The Kernel of the Kernel: “You will be all when you make nothing of yourself.” This is the golden rule that allows to know all truths and achieve all perfections and absolute certainty. Sheikh Nuruddin has stated this succinctly: “Desire is like the knotted wood of the forest/It cannot be made into planks, beams or into cradles;/He who cut and felled it, /Will burn it into ashes.” The desiring self or soul is worthless hard twisted piece of wood which needs to be burnt by self discipline of sha’riah. It is a dog which doesn’t leave oneself. It is like unchained mad elephant. It is hell.  It deserves sword. “Nothing is burnt in the hell except the self will” as mystics say and that explains the Prophetic tradition that if an iota of pride is in one’s heart he can’t enter paradise.
      Ibn Arabi’s or Sheikh Nuruddin’s advocacy of sha’riah is often perplexing for those who are committed to syncretism and attribute the same to the Masters. However this rests on a mistaken view of the object of sha’riah. Law is all for disciplining the self which is the royal road to God. What law condemns as sin is essentially an assertion of self will and thus creation of an obstruction in the Path. As Underhill explains in her masterpiece Practical Mysticism:
"Seven Deadly Sins of Pride, Anger, Envy, Avarice, Sloth, Gluttony, and Lust. Perhaps you would rather call them–as indeed they are– the seven common forms of egotism. They represent the natural reactions to life of the self centred human consciousness, enslaved by the "world of multiplicity"; and constitute absolute barriers to its attainment of Reality. So long as these dispositions govern character we can never see or feel things as they are; but only as they affect ourselves, our family, our party, our business, our church, our empire–the I, the Me, the Mine, in its narrower or wider manifestations."
      Underhill further explains why self must be killed:
"Only the detached and purified heart can view all things–the irrational cruelty of circumstance, the tortures of war, the apparent injustice of life, the acts and beliefs of enemy and friend–in true proportion; and reckon with calm mind the sum of evil and good. Therefore the mystics tell us perpetually that ”selfhood must be killed” before Reality can be attained. When the I, the Me, and the Mine are dead, the work of the Lord is done,” says Kabir. The substance of that wrongness of act and relation which constitutes ”sin” is the separation of the individual spirit from the whole; the ridiculous megalomania which makes each man the centre of his universe.
      So it is disinterestedness, the saint’s and poet’s love of things for their own sakes, the vision of the charitable heart, which is the secret of union with Reality and the condition of all real knowledge.
      Mysticism is nothing but self discovery and there is no mystery mongering in this arduous journey that demands strict discipline and going within. Neither ritual nor mere mindless repetitions of certain formulae or mental gymnastics can do the trick for the seeker. God is not sold in the market places, in shrines or in music parties.
      Remembrance of God is the royal road to mystical heaven or beatitude Zikri haq par zev dith tales/Dev raz henz yi zales kun. (Remember God by joining tongue and palate/Perhaps the King would unveil Himself). Finding God needs perfection of ethical discipline and this is what is lacking in most of the would be travelers on the path. For finding God nothing is needed except attending to the basics, purifying heart, watching breath and keeping watchful eye over the desiring self. The Sheikh denies, in his reply to Bum Sad, that he had any formal guru and says that he only read kalima and took care of five prayers – a point that modern and Salafi critics of Sufism would be delighted to note. He realized the meaning of the fundamental doctrine of faith after sacrificing the self for the Existence, the non-self. “La illah ill llah sahee korum/wahee korum panun pan/wujood travith mojood sorum/hrmokh wuchum panun pan.” (I practized the shahadah/ Burnt myself/Abandoned the self (subject) to realize the Existent/ And everywhere I saw myself.)

       We can thus sum up essential or highest common denominator of teachings of prophets, artists or poets, sage-philosophers and saints: Perfect your ethics. The rest – ecstasy, illumination, heaven, beatific vision, God’s rule on earth or Sacred centric world order – would follow. And here we all fall short. And the paradox is that one must never cease to cultivate humility to be true the demands of ethics and who claims to be holier than thou only betrays his/her ethical self.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Is Modern Man Religious?

Beshara Movement: Responding to the Mess in Responses to Religion Today.
The West has its own way of engaging with religion and spirituality, and a lot of New Religious Movements find their home there. Neo-Sufism, in its New Age dress, has especially making new converts amongst the intellectual elite. Beshara, a New Age Religious movement, seeking to express the most universal and modern aspects of Sufism, has been a presence to contend with. It has made use of Sufism without Sha’riah or religious framework. It has irritated traditionalists, mainstream Sufis and advocates of those who have been suspicious of Sufism for its vulnerability to such a reading. However, there are other ways of approaching Beshara, learning from it and critically engaging with it. Isn’t it puzzling that people, often speaking, fail – and have failed - to follow Sha’riah, as usually understood? If we go by the sermons in the mosque, over 95% Muslims can be tried in Sha’riah courts or by morality police of a strict Islamic State. How come we find, on mass scale, in almost all Muslim regions (to take a specific instance of religion on which the book focuses), missing obligatory five prayers, missing fasts, passion for smoking and recourse to mood altering substances, violating norms for interaction with the other sex or violating norms in sexual ethic, at least in dreams or day dreams if not in practice (whose eye/mind is strictly chaste?). And this applies to traditional Kashmir as well before modernity impacted. Everywhere we find weak sinning creatures and can’t claim to be virtuous, especially in the sense demanded by religious scholars. And in modern times there have occurred, for a host of reasons, further and almost irreversible change in sensibility that makes one less and less strict in observing Sha’riah as usually understood. And there are all kinds of what might be called excuses and less restrictive new interpretations offered for non-compliance. However, non-compliance in the sphere of belief is much greater. In the heart of hearts, most of us aren’t ready to grant that over 6 billion people who follow other religions than Islam are going to be used as fuel for hamam called hell. Accusations of compromising strict Tawhid are widely heard. Sufis, artists, actors and dozen other professions invite censoring. Modern science and some currents of rational thought have sowed the seeds of doubt and if you scratch slightly deeper we find confusion, suppressed doubt, and even unacknowledged heresy or atheism. Apostasy of various orders (if we go by fiqh manuals and see the list of things or notions that imply one’s virtual expulsion from definition of proper Muslim) is too common to raise eyebrows now. Thanks to mobiles and internet, we are bombarded – and wish to be bombarded – by all kinds of sinful transgressive stuff. Much of what we surf, what we read, what we think or imagine are all objectionable. It is not uncommon to find deadly guilt (both warranted and unwarranted), depression, violent calls for reform and protest for suppression of perceived deviations.
      Explaining – to be distinguished from accommodating – these “standard deviations” from the mean of Norm is a test for one’s theology and philosophy of religion. How can one maintain that angelic skepticism regarding Adam’s project has been discredited if we see disappointing moral record of man? How can we “exonerate” God for creating a world whose jewel Man fails, in most cases, in his spiritual test to win salvation and prove worthy of his human state? How do we posit coming of the Mahdi and Jesus who heal the wounds in life for a very short period and after a long long waiting and much suffering? How do we propose to understand this situation considering the received understand of unfolding of aakher zamani (end times)? Given our reportedly bad record, is there a scope for mercy? Isn’t it the case that during end times one is only required to follow one tenth of religion for qualifying for salvation? Why is it that the world’s major religions continue to live and conversion into one religion earnestly desired by many isn’t happening on a scale that we can imagine any religion dying? People sin, suffer, invoke mercy, sin again and the cycle goes on. Our fight against Satan seems to exhaust us and who wins, in most cases, we all know. Why are prophets generally not heeded and laughed away?
      To all these questions New Religious Movements including Beshara attempt to respond. These NRMs have been significantly impacting the scenario of religion. Religious establishments have resisted them but it seems they had a point even though they had their own limitations. Somehow they are here to stay. And our job is to try to understand them first. The book of the week Beshara and Ibn Arabi: A Movement for Sufi Spirituality (Kitab Mahal, Srinagar reprint) asks difficult questions and suggests more difficult answers. The question is not if we can take these answers seriously but how do we propose to address these issues if we aren’t merely content with fatwas of dismissal or the policy of indifference.
      The book rigourously defends a position upheld by many poets and some mystics and a few philosophers (and seeks to show that mainstream mystics like Rumi and Ibn Arabi who upheld both the inner and the outer aspects of Religion can be read for this cause – a daring hermeneutic move that fails to convince at times and implies a lot that needs detailed critical discussion at some other time) that the real thing is love and knowledge and the rest is a means – dispensable one – to these ends. Since God can’t allow destruction of souls on such a large scale on which we witness transgression against what is perceived/accepted to be the Norm (a limited stay in hell is not destruction of souls but is, for believers, as great Mawlana Thanwi puts it, like a bath in rather excessively hot water that does cause some distress but not too much and its heat is required for purification), we can’t dismiss the ultimate motivation of Mercy/Love centric ontology that Beshara extrapolates from. Piety complex and legalism get a thrashing from the best minds in all ages and Beshara – echoing many new theologies that developed in the twentieth century as theology itself became less credible – seeks to construct a theology underlying this critique.
      This book gives voice to all those people who invoke either Sufism or libertine thought currents  in the modern world for their lax views that they advocate both in theory and practice and most of ordinary mortals denounce in theory but not in practice. It speaks for those who have been nonconformists in secret and struggling with what can be called a hypocritical ethic in public. It gives sympathetic account of those like Ghalib who feel, despite best attempts on their part, unable to follow stricter received understanding of religion (Jaanta houn sawaab e taa'at o zahud/Par tabiyat idhar nahi aati). It is a treat for our hearts that are attracted to the best or essence though are tempted by comforts even at the cost of higher things. We are in a fix, caught between fear and hope, and our minds  - and the policing self  - and hearts – and the carefree Spirit – and our actions often belie our convictions or beliefs. And God, let us not forget, has taken a rather lenient view of our weaknesses and  warns us not to boost of our moral uprightness.
      The central argument of the book is that in these last days God wants more of the inner or esoteric religion and less of the outer or exoteric or formal codified religion that Shariah ordinarily represents. It interprets certain traditional religious views to this effect and selectively reads both Ibn Arabi and Rumi to buttress its viewpoint.  The central issues in defense of Law that Ibn Arabi raised by claiming Sha’riah is Haqiqah and discrediting esotericism contradicting exoteric Law and by his acknowledged status as the Master of secrets of Sha’riah can’t be explained away as marginal or of temporal significance. However, his thrust against rigid legalism and against privileging of theological viewpoint compared to metaphysical one, is to be given due weight that mainstream Sufi scholarship hasn’t given so far. Beshara school has given us great scholarly works and it has decisively impacted on Ibn Arabi reception. However  its position regarding the role of Sha’riah in the wake of modernity and postmodernity calls for more debate. I am inclined to apply salvation/falah centric theology and Wittgenstein’s caution to examine language closely and seek to show, in upcoming articles, that the disagreement with mainstream Muslim and Sufi scholarship extends to only a very few issues in practice and we need to extend conceptual resources and revisit standardized terminology for the debate on the supposed (in)dispensability of Sha’riah issue. And we wouldn’t find much to wrangle about.
      I wish to conclude on the note that the book calls for a response and not a reaction as it presents what  is the case for majority in practice in these trying times when the sacred has been largely exiled from our lives. God can’t be absent but how He chooses to reveal Himself when He is denied normal channels of communication by Promethean-Faustian sensibility of the moderns remains a difficult question that may have diverse answers, all equally orthodox.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Mourning our culture illiteracy

Do we have a culture now?

What is culture and what is civilization, and the difference between the two? Even our better educated class is conscious of the difference between the two and what this means for quality of life we live. Broadly speaking we have been pursuing a march to civilization at the cost of culture and don’t know the middle point that marries both of them – this is the mandate Islam has proposed for itself. This thesis has been brilliantly argued in a classic work Islam between East and West by former Bosnian President Alija Izatbegovic, one of the really great scholar-intellectual-statesmen of the Muslim world.
      Culture signifies everything that relates to man as something more than merely biological or material entity. It is poles apart from what is called civilization and is an expression of religious or spiritual self of man. Everything cultural ultimately has its grounding in man’s yearning for what transcends man as biological creature or individual ego – non-self, Divine, Spirit. Culture illiteracy is a sin that costs us impoverished living here (we must surround ourselves with beauty and pursue whatever we do with perfection as far as possible) and exile from the Paradise reserved for the cultured people conscious of human dignity embodied in pursuit of perfection. In this sense and in the more popular sense of language, arts, crafts and other refined expressions of human imagination, culture literacy is waning fast in Jammu and Kashmir. It has been inversely proportional to what is called rise of literacy rate.
      We are not aware of what our heritage is and thus the question of preserving it doesn’t arise. Our educational system has been a huge failure. We have yet to evolve, as a community, a sense and sensitivity towards the vital question of our heritage that define, sustain and ennoble any living culture. We are already passing through severe moral-spiritual and socio-economic crises and are at the brink of a disaster. The key is addressing overall orientation of our education that has so far lacked philosophical basis. Our cultural heritage can’t be understood without a sound understanding of its philosophical basis in different religious-mystical systems prevalent in Kashmir.
      What is our literary, philosophical and religious heritage? To whom should we approach to enlighten us regarding the question of logic and transcendence in Nagarguna’s Mahayana system, or symbolism of Saivist-Buiddhist architecture, or ancient art, or arguments for affirmative transcendence in Tantraloka or aesthetic route to moksha in Abhinavbhrati, or unraveling the little explored religion of beauty that our tradition has sustained? Who will authoritatively speak on the doctrine of apocatastasis in Buddhist, Saivist or Islamic tradition? Who can speak on Ibn Arabi’s Fusus which once upon a time made great impact on our local Sufi thought and found able expounders? How many of us have read Gani Kashmiri and can talk about the mystical symbolism of even very familiar verses of Hubbi or Rusul Mir?
      How many, amongst the newer generation, know that we have the greatest literary critic and aesthetician and exponent and synthesizer of a great tradition in Indian history, if not world history, in the form of Abhinavgupta? How many of us can really appreciate the fact that Kashmir Saivism and Sufism have conceptual resources to postmortem and appropriate the most influential philosophical or literary movements of the modern world and why studies on Abhinavgupta and Ibn Arabi – the great thinkers who have greatly impacted on our tradition and have been appropriated in Sufi poetry – have become such a craze in the Western academia?
      We are teaching criticism in Kashmiri, Urdu, English and other disciplines but keep students largely ignorant of the great treasury of insight into literature and its relationship to other aspects of culture and religion that was bequeathed to us by Abhinavgupta. How conscious we are regarding our traditional heritage can be gauged from the fact that our greatest literary, religious, philosophical masterpieces are either in Sanskrit or Persian or complex ill-comprehended Kashmiri such as that of Sheikh Nurudddin or Lalla. Thus we are, generally speaking, quite ignorant and incapable of overcoming this ignorance as well. There has been no campaign for introducing Persian or Sanskrit at primary or secondary level to the extent that all students attain working knowledge of these languages. We have the optional languages but in practices it means no option or unattractive option for most of students.

Comparing competition for Persian and Sanskrit courses in University entrance examination speaks volumes about death of a great culture brought about by the callous indifference of policy makers towards such a vital question of language learning. We have no language policy and tragically enough most of our students fail to excel in English as well alienating them from the cultural mainstream globally.
      How Islam has been such a great cultural force and in fact has “conquered” the world – Rumi, Hafiz, Ghalib, Ibn Sina, Ibn Arabi, Khayam are world phenomena – needs to be understood at a time when the question of Muslimness has been more ideologically or politically framed. Culture literacy will counter fundamentalism on the one hand and nihilism that lurks in secularization project on the other. Here in Kashmir mainstream and resistant leadership is united in ignoring the question of culture illiteracy. But why should they bother? Culture isn’t a political capital so may be left alone to its fate. The question is do we bother and if yes how?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Invitation to Hearts Journey

Most of us have travelled far from our houses or towns but who can claim that he or she has journeyed within?
I once imagined an angel in charge of Heart’s Embassy complaining God that he be retired as he has no or only very occasional applicants to attend to. The answer from God  was “Don’t be impatient; every person is your client. I have directed another angel to make them restless for visiting the farthest though nearest placeless spaces through trackless paths.” And that has indeed been the case. We are all restless, hankering after love or love’s celestial mansions that are innumerable. Cupid has struck us all and fortunate are those who have been struck so hard that they have dropped dead like moths. All education that the school of life offers us unasked is variation on the theme of perfecting the art and science of love. Learning to love unconditionally, love everything as the Friend in disguise, transcend the lust that wants to possess and not give away everything one has claim to, is what we are supposed to learn through weal and woe, through humiliations suffered, through betrayals and through ingratitude of those we love. How love conquers us all and how our supreme achievement is to be sold as slaves of the Beloved is what wisdom traditions teach us. And it is to this journey of the heart to which prophets, saints , sages, poets and even philosophers and scientists as great human being invite us. And our book of the week talks about this journey in a compelling manner by arranging our conversation with the great Masters. On our return journey to the King we find some signposts that are manned by Lalla, Lao Tzu and Mulla Nasruddin and we can spot most of the great names in the history of  religion and spirituality hovering around in the background lighting up the path. Rumi,of course, is an old companion in the tavern. And the host for us is Gabriel Iqbal who has distilled some choicest wines from the mystic wine shop for us to sip. One recalls lines sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan “Chal meray dil khula hae maikhana...”
      Most of us have travelled far from our houses or towns but who can claim that he or she has journeyed within? Who has valid passport to the city of the heart? And without this document we are stranded for life, caught up in Kaafkasque nightmarish world, summoned before the Law of Love and we have no option but to keep knocking at the door of the King. This is the advice from the Masters and we read from one of them:

A life without love is of no account
Don’t ask yourself what kind
of love you should seek,
spiritual or material, divine or mundane…
Love has no labels, no definitions
It is what it is, pure and simple.
Try to find a lover who knows only love and you have found the Master.
      As Syed Abdullah has noted, here on this side of the universe, it is all dark. There is, however, one exit from this cave and that is, for want of a better term and somewhat misleadingly called mysticism. It is to mystic element at their core or what is called illuminative experience that religions owes their fire, philosophy its promise and attraction and poetry its grand claim as an opening up or vision of the essence of life. And if you want to have, in a slim volume, by a Kashmiri writer, an illuminating encounter with this greatest of adventures that man is capable of, a lucid and provocative and forceful summary of what Sufi and other mystics essentially are upto, read Gabriel Iqbal’s Heart Journey. And if you are in a hurry read its first chapter at least, that, in the form of imaginative dialogue between man and God, takes care of almost all the important questions that you would ever ask regarding God, heaven and hell, ethics and metaethical transcendence and meaning of life and suffering. Here our author is at his best in giving voice to the wisdom traditions of the world. And never forget it is Rumi who is the presiding genius in this work. How Rumi speaks to a modern Kashmiri professional and helps him devise novel ways to engage with the problems of “management of life.”
      The author has not given us a well written fictional piece or tightly argued non-fictional philosophical work but something that still speaks and succeeds in winning us to the point Love makes through its great spokespersons. Love’s constituency is all the 7.5 billion people of this earth. We should in vain look for the magic and beauty of such well known works The Prophet, The Book of Mirdad, Siddartha and Alchemist and Forty Rules of Love in these reflections loosely structured around its central character Alpha’s frantic fanaticism ending up, thanks to alchemy of love, in the secret chambers of his heart and finding  there the King. And the journey requires surrender, equanimity, waiting and holy confusion and the ecstasy of wonder. It isn’t clear how the author invokes Lalla and Lao Tzu and Nasruddin as three central figures and how distinctively they contribute to transformation of Alpha, the hero of the book whose spiritual and intellectual journey is the subject of it.  In the chapter on Lalla, it is mystic fraternity of the world that speaks and in the chapter on Lao Tzu it is zen mystics rather than the Taoist Masters that speak. However it is Rumi who is indeed the presence one encounters almost throughout. However, what is important to note is that the author invokes, generally speaking, traditionally revered names in spiritual firmament and hits on target. His hero is transformed and we can’t resist the impact of encounter with those who indeed were touched by the Holy Spirit. The book succeeds in anthologizing some of the best treasures from wisdom traditions.
      Let us read snippets of Gabriel’s own rendering of timeless wisdom:

  • “God, what is greatness?” “Greatness is an incremental value of how small you are.”
  • “God, what is that you want of me?” “Nothing you don’t want for yourself.”
  • “God, what do you want  me to be?” “Yourself.”
  • “God, why is there a heaven and a hell?” “This isn’t my doing; You guys create your own heaven or hell.”
  • “God, if you ask us not to judge/then why do you judge us? “I don’t, you will be judged by/your own conscience/Please leave me out of it.”
  • “God,I want to love you, but I don’t know how?” “Love yourself, your neighbours,/ that tree, this dog/ Love especially your enemies/And this way you shall learn to love me.”
  • “God, who is in charge?” “Nobody and everybody!”
      Gabriel makes some statements that most Muslims would make only in silence for fear of being charged with heresy. For instance, “Idol worshippers essentially pray towards the spirit not the idol and on the contrary, some monotheists might have created a conceptual idol in spirit and not in stone.”
      Gabriel invites us all – sinners, nonconformists, believers and “nonbelievers” – to the Heart’s journey that passes through the valley of holy confusion or wonder that is the end of philosophy and fruit of science as well. Fundamentalist fanatic that Alpha is at the beginning who wants clear cut divisions and answers and behaves as if PA of God and is full of hatred and all kinds of simplistic judgments against the other, is transformed into a lover, a witness and a mirror who reflects without exclusion or distortion what is. And learn the lesson that God is “What is.”  What gives him eternal youth is ecstatic awe and a keen eye for beauty: “Confusion is a joyful and mystical state, it is enchanting like the freshness we feel when we first fall in love. The pontiffs of this world will make you feel otherwise with their rules and regulations.”
      The author has not chosen to focus on the narrative technique and ends up giving us more a beautiful mosaic of great quotations and not an organic work. He makes Buddha a believer in Creator on the basis of one of his sayings while as the Buddhist tradition and many great modern scholars of religions have made it amply clear that he is silent about God the Creator though affirms the absolute or the non-self. Institutional religion is given no marks although the Masters he quotes have mostly been nurtured in institutional frameworks that they have experienced as channels of grace. Exoteric frameworks of religions are shells required for soul’s transformation though they need to be transcended – and not negated – in the end. Some parables, especially those of the author’s own, are not written in the classic style in which we know parables to be written. However content wise they make their points admirably well. Some discretion in choosing and quoting different traditional teachers  whose hierarchy is granted by respective spiritual and faith communities would have further added to the book’s appeal. Authorial voice impresses at certain points but at other places, one wishes it too had been consumed in the voice of the Masters. An occasional misquotation could have been avoided.
      Thank you Gabriel for your invitation to heart journey. We thank you, along with your father Dr Javid Iqbal who has invested so much in his wide ranging writings and in you, for giving us, in capsule form, a wonderful selection of teachings of mystics. Today let me thank Gulshan Publishers also for a book that  has very few typographical or other errors and introduces an author who doesn’t repeat or merely quote, but has something to say or share.