Posted by: samandal | November 28, 2010

Zikr’u’lláh, IX: A Single Pin

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Shaykh al-‘Arabi ad-Darqáwí (1760–1823) is reported to have said: “The systematic pursuit of meritorious acts and the multiplication of supererogatory practices are habits amongst others; they pull the heart in all directions. Let the disciple therefore hold fast to a single dhikr, to a single action, each according to what corresponds to him.”

Or, as Eknath Easwaran (1910–99), one of the foremost modern exponents of global spirituality and mysticism, has written, “once you have chosen your mantram, do not change it … once you have made the mantram an integral part of your consciousness, it will bear a rich harvest in joy, security, and a sense of unity with all life.”

Srí Rámkrsna (1836–86) once said that if a man wishes to conquer an army he needs thousands of weapons and tons of equipment, but if he wishes to just commit suicide a single pin will do. In the same way, if you wish to convert and teach others you need to know thousands of books, but if you truly wish to proceed with your own spiritual practice a single mantra is sufficient.

In the practice of the zikr, as you feel your heart open and expand (when you release your resistance on the outward breath), it is important to balance both the inhalation and the exhalation; it helps to have a phrase for the inward breath that has the same number of syllables as the phrase for the outward breath. In yoga, this is referred to as sama-vritti pránáyáma (equal breath ratio); syllables of equal length and stress work the balance between the breaths until both aspects are equal. This is why we recite “Alláh’u’Alláh” on the inward breath. In practice, simplification is preferable to an abundance of techniques; ideally, the technique should be very spare.