Guided simply by the principle of “do no harm,” I will not go into the techniques used to perform these practices here. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to perform any spiritual, let alone mystical, practices on your own without making mistakes, and when you perform them incorrectly the effects can be unpredictable.
There is also a point that isn’t possible to decide for yourself: these practices must be performed in combination with each other, so that they complement one another.
Somebody is not really present in what they’re doing as he doesn’t have the ability to divide his attention. You could put this another way: he is attuned to the thing he is doing, in other words, he becomes so fully immersed in the activity he is performing that he is never present in the “Here and Now.”
For example, this somebody is sitting at his computer working. He is absorbed in his computer, he neither sees nor hears anything around him, in other words he is completely attuned to his work. His boss comes over and asks him to do something, at which point somebody becomes totally absorbed in conversation with his boss.
Somebody else could simultaneously work at their computer and have a conversation with their boss. Meaning he could become attuned to a number of different kinds of activities that he’s performing at the same time.
The most that this “somebody” and “somebody else” can ever do is to be simultaneously attuned to one type of activity and then immediately become attuned to another. In all the clever books they call this “switching over.” Some writer once said that rest is substituting intellectual labor with physical labor.
Somebody wakes up in the morning, brushes his teeth, takes a shower, has breakfast, reads the paper, goes to work, comes home, talks with his friends, goes to the shop, drives his car, has sex and all of it on auto-pilot.
In some literature, in place of the word “auto-pilot” they talk about someone being “asleep,” but this doesn’t change the essence of the thing. Somebody is always sleeping and doesn’t plan on waking up. For instance, if you tell him he’s asleep he’ll be outraged and say he’s wide awake. In other words, he is so soundly asleep he doesn’t even notice.
Practicing muraqaba allows you to divide your attention in two, so that part of your attention is focused on your own presence, and the other part is focused on the activity you are performing at that moment.
When performing this practice, I sense my own presence in the “Here and Now” with my heart, while I sense everything else around me at the top of my head, close to the nape.
These days, I sense my own presence in my everyday activities in the “Here and Now” with my heart, and sense everything around me with my whole body.
Parts of the body
Somebody might spend the whole day sitting in an uncomfortable position and not notice. This practice allows one to experience sensations in the body far more profoundly. You may, for instance, feel the blood circulating in your veins.
Somebody thinks he is the summit of all creation, that he has choice, that he forges his own happiness and takes important decisions, even on the scale of the country or the planet. In actual fact, he is a marionette in God’s hands. His strings are pulled and he dances about exactly as he is required to dance about. If tomorrow, for example, a revolution or a war is needed, somebody will run to defend someone, or protect someone’s interests, and in doing so he is absolutely certain that he decided to do so himself. His strings are pulled via centers, of which there are seven in all. Somebody has no suspicion that the centers are present, but those centers haven’t gone anywhere.
Vital energy comes to us through those centers also.
Practicing Lataif allows you to really sense all seven centers. Furthermore, the centers themselves begin to work more intensively and give off considerably more energy, which is of a far higher quality.
In the first two years of the practice, I either simply sensed the centers or I felt them firing up. Now when I practice Lataif, my attention drops, as it were, at the center on which I am working.
Somebody is stuffed with their own energies, their suppressed fears and desires. He hasn’t even a millimeter of free inner space.
I once read that in Japanese companies they have mannequins of the bosses standing at the exit. Anyone can go up to a mannequin and give it a smack or kick it. This could be considered a partial practice of expression, because after a little while the energies will come back and fill up all that space again.
Somebody might go out to a nightclub, have a good old drink and dance till morning. This is also only a partial practice of expression, because as long as he is not working on himself, his inner space will once again become stuffed up with those same energies after a few days.
There are religions where people sing songs and perform dance moves to music. This could also be considered a partial practice of expression. Only partial, because there are no pivotal moments in it.
Before you begin to perform the practices you must enter an altered state, which may be achieved through special breathing techniques.
As far as I have understood it from the ancient Sufi poems, this altered state was previously achieved through night vigils. The main part of the practice, direct expression, is performed in the altered state. There is a certain kind of music that seems to touch the soul. These are the sorts of melodies I choose for performing this part of the practice. If I’m on vacation, then I turn up the music really loud on the stereo, but if I’m on shift, I listen to the music through headphones.
Small, in-ear headphones do not work in this case. They have to be big headphones to have an impact on the ethereal body, high fidelity, for flawless sound quality, and wireless, so that they don’t inhibit movement.
While performing the practice, I saw the emotions flying out of me, among them fear, tears, sadness, recollections, dreams, elation, and other things like that.
Everything that flew away never came back, but I had so many of these things I thought I’d never be totally satisfied with the results.
To begin with, I practiced every day for a month, then switched to doing it once a week and that is the routine I continue to do now.
It was only after three years of practicing that my emotional core became more or less balanced.
Dhikr has come to us from the Muslims, Allah is believed to have ninety-nine names.
For instance, somebody has a conception of what is “just.” This concept influences his whole life. Everything that happens to him in his life and conforms to his ideas he considers just, and everything else that conflicts with his ideas is totally unjust. After practicing dhikr in the name of God “The Just,” that somebody will see the objective meanings of that concept.
I began practicing dhikr after four months of practicing Muraqaba, “parts of the body,” lataif and “expression.” The first two names were “The Wise” and “The Truth.” I performed each of them for ten minutes.
Then for about a year I performed dhikr every day for ten-fifteen minutes in one name over the course of a month and a half before substituting it for another.
For the last two years I have been reading dhikr every morning in two names for fifteen minutes each and then changing both names every month and a half.
My recent sensations from this have been like something close to orgasm, along with an understanding of several of the objective meanings of the names.
The Goddess came to me for half a year and then simply vanished. She approached from behind, took me by the shoulders and very tenderly embraced me. My physical state was like that before orgasm, but it came from the heart and lasted half an hour.
Now, when I perform dhikr, in my heart my attention drops.
You may read the name loudly, in a whisper, or to yourself. The first two methods put me off, so I switched to “silent dhikr,” which is when you read the name to yourself in your heart.
I don’t work any more than a month and a half with the same two names, because the practice then loses its efficacy, although I suspect that time is subjective and may vary depending on the type (Yin and Yang).
Arguments over which language to read the names in—whether in Arabic or one’s own native language—have always raged, continue raging and may never end. If you want to progress along The Path, you have to read them in your own language or you will not be able to grasp their meanings.
Dhikr can help you not only in your spiritual and mystical development, but in everyday life as well. I was in Moscow on my last vacation and in an hour I would have to get behind the wheel of a car. Physically, I was in no condition to drive—I had a hangover and a breathalyzer test showed 0.350. I got to my chair and performed dhikr to “The Life-Giver” for fifteen minutes. My physical state returned to normal and the breathalyzer showed 0.000.
Working with Fear
There are those fears that do not interfere with our lives particularly, like “We’re all going to die,” or “There’ll be a sudden meteor shower.” And then there are those other fears that do interfere with our lives, like “They’re making redundancies soon, I’ll lose my job and then I’ll have to live in a garbage dump.”
This practice is for working with fears that are currently interfering with our lives.
I saw the mental plane, familiarized myself with the mystic symbol “Om” and took away the fears that were at that moment interfering in my life.
It is believed that everything that happens in our lives begins on the mental plane before later manifesting itself upon ours, the physical plane.
Working with Desire
There are those desires that do not interfere with our lives particularly, like “I want there to be peace on earth.” And then there are those other desires that do interfere with our lives, for example wanting to screw your neighbor while her husband is away on business. She seems to be okay with it, but you might have big problems later on.
This practice is for working with desires that are currently interfering with our lives.
The practice is similar to the last one, the only difference being that you use a different mystic symbol for working with desires.
I saw the mental plane, familiarized myself with the mystic symbol of the brush and swept away the desires that were at that moment interfering in my life.
Somebody is certain he has a strong character, and a strong “core.” His wife is proud of him, while his colleagues and neighbors fear him as he’s so tough.
Somebody else has rather a weak character, and no “core.” His wife is always trying to change him, while his colleagues and neighbors pity him, or otherwise rejoice in his misfortune.
In actual fact, the characteristics of this “somebody” and “somebody else” have no basis in reality, it only seems that way. Neither of them can objectively have such a thing as a “core.” Any vivid life event will induce particular emotions, and these emotions will produce reactions that will knock them both down.
To avoid getting knocked down, you must find your center and feel it.
I have found a point in the middle of my torso that serves as a kind of center through which all axes pass. This point is the center of the physical body and can be distinctly felt.
In the second part of the practice I had to feel my own energy field. I felt it very distinctly, as though I were inside a shell. A part of the shell, on the left-hand side by the shoulder, was heavily bruised, and it took me several days to rectify with energy from that center.
Now, whenever anything happens in my life that might knock me down, I go to that central point and I hold onto it so that I am not knocked down.
There are three big differences in how I present myself to other people, how I thereby perceive myself and what sort of person I really am at that moment.
For example, I decided to tell my boss I was unhappy with the way he was running things. These are the three big differences:
• I want to show other people and the boss himself that for me he’s just a worm in the dirt;
• I have no other choice, he’s always on my back and it’s never going to end—if I say something to him now, I think he just might leave me alone;
• I worry that the boss will write to one of the higher-ups and I’ll be fired.
In the second part of this practice, you have to ask yourself the question—“Me?”—and try to get a feeling for where and what kind of sensations you are experiencing inside. After a couple of weeks of this practice I received a very definite answer: “Leave me alone with your questions, already, I am the spirit that dwells inside you.”
Fear of Physical Pain
Somebody has toothache and says to himself, “It’s fine, it’ll pass,” and he doesn’t go see the dentist. He’ll have to go at some point either way, perhaps in a few months, or years even, but by then the problem with his teeth will be much more serious. In this example, somebody’s decision is being made by his fear of physical pain, although he’s sure he took it himself for the sake of expediency.
I saw that fear of physical pain residing in the first center; it has moved aside now and no longer makes my decisions.
The Sense of Shame
Somebody feels a sense of shame for something in the past, and in the present, for promises he couldn’t keep, for his behavior, for his children’s school grades, for his friend, for the nation as a whole, and so on.
It is a heavy burden to bear. The sense of shame can poison any life that appears successful on the outside, and running to the Himalayas won’t help.
I saw that sense of shame residing in the second center; it has now gone and it has been three years since it last troubled me.
Somebody cannot walk by the garbage on his block because it smells. He tries to avoid bumping into his alcoholic neighbor in case he stretches out his hand to say hello. He won’t eat macaroni because they gave it to them for lunch one day at kindergarten and he found a worm on his plate.
In these examples, somebody’s decision is being made by his disgust, while he is sure he made it himself due to his refined upbringing.
I saw disgust residing in the third center; it wasn’t easy to get rid of it, but it’s gone forever now.
Somebody would kill his wife if he found out she’d been cheating on him. He monitors her every glance when they go to the store. He has a hunch she had a lot of other partners before him, and he grills her about it when he gets drunk:
“Tell me the truth!”
He is jealous of his driver on account of his boss’s secretary, as the driver brings her chocolates, but he tries not to let it show so his colleagues won’t laugh.
I saw jealousy residing in the fourth center; it was hard to get rid of and it took a long time, but it has now gone away.
Somebody takes every opportunity to call his colleague a moron, as he is envious of his higher salary. Somebody’s neighbor is a thief because he recently bought a nice car. Somebody secretly envies his best friend since his friend married a beautiful young woman.
I saw envy residing in the fifth center, and that’s why they say it strangles you; there wasn’t much of it and it was easy to get rid of.
Somebody is hard at work today, since he has to submit a report. A colleague is getting in the way of his work, talking about the news. His cell phone rings, someone asking him to answer some questions. The boss runs in, demanding that he complete the report urgently, before lunch. Somebody falls into a stupor—this is what we call stupefaction.
I saw stupefaction residing in the sixth center; you can learn to let it slip through you, and not fall into any stupor.
The Coiled Spring
The first part of this practice involves working with the fourth center. I saw that in my heart a lot of space was taken up by an enormous spring.
The second part of the practice involves working with the sixth center, the so-called “third eye.” I saw that the space within it was infinite.
Vipassana comes to us from India.
We make ourselves aware of our ordinary breathing. The practice helps us go inside, it calms us and induces an altered state in which we can more effectively perform other practices.
On the Sufi Path, this is employed as a supplementary practice.
Pranayama comes to us from India.
We sit and breathe a set number of times. This increases the physical capacity of the lungs, puts a stop to the murmuring of the mind and induces an altered state in which we can more effectively perform other practices.
I saw these points that gradually flare up like the coals inside a fire. They say that this is the conflagration of prana.
On the Sufi Path, this is employed as a supplementary practice.
While performing this practice, I was surprised at the number of sounds around me, which in my normal state I couldn’t even guess at.
The possibilities of our hearing are much greater than what we use it for in everyday life. Perhaps before, when we lived in the woods and went hunting, we used our hearing more productively.
Kamlanie comes to us from the shamans.
We perform certain circular movements and read a mantra. The practice enables us to receive a very high quality of energy and induces an altered state in which we can more effectively perform other practices. While performing this practice, one may receive the answer to a question very pertinent to them.
On the Sufi Path, this is employed as a supplementary practice.
I once read a parable: God tells his angels to all start worshipping Adam.
The angels ask, “Why would we do that? what’s so special about him?”
God says, “Adam knows the names.”
The angels answer, “Let him show us then.”
Adam begins giving names to everything—this is a giraffe, that’s a lion, that’s an elephant—and so on. The angels realize they do not have this ability and begin to worship Adam. One of the angels says to God, “I will not worship him, because You made me out of fire, and him from clay, which means that I am better.” God gave him the name Iblis and made him general director in Hell.
After practicing kamlanie I sit in the smoking room watching people, and it occurs to me that everyone is living like Iblis.
Everyone is comparing themselves with things they cannot be compared to, believing themselves to be better.
Someone might say, for example, that he’s a third generation Muscovite while all the rest are newcomers so they can’t possibly understand. The doctor believes the engineer cannot know anything about life because he’s just a grease monkey. Someone might think he’s the bomb because he was in charge of a big construction project in soviet times, he sees everyone else as beneath him. Someone who has come first place in their sport despises smokers. The math professor looks down upon the poet. The trucker considers metal workers third-class human beings.
It is a human quality that has been skillfully exploited by politicians of all countries in all ages.
Almost all humans reside in Hell because they think like Iblis.
Visualization (The Chains)
While performing one part of this practice, I saw that I was bound in thick chains to a gray field out in space. My arms, legs, neck and torso were all chained. I could neither get up nor move about in this space.
A stream of bright white light started pouring down from above, the chains began to melt under that light and finally dissolved completely.
Seeing Beyond the Mind
I have seen how my thoughts are like the glowing wires inside a cable. The cable is about a meter in diameter and the thoughts flow gently through it by themselves. If I take one of these thought-wires and focus my attention on it, it begins to flow through me. No one is forcing me to take any of these wires, I can simply ignore them.
I saw how much energy I was squandering. Worrying about all kinds of nonsense, discussing things that don’t affect me at all, regretting what has passed, dreaming of what will never come, and all these different fears.
I was greatly surprised to discover I could get back a part of that energy that I had already wasted.
Acceptance (Opening the Heart)
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Accepting a situation internally doesn’t mean I have to put up with something because I have no other choice. Internal acceptance has quite a different meaning, and it is very profound. I got fired out of the blue that time, I tried with all my strength to accept it but I couldn’t.
In our lives, things will sometimes happen that we cannot accept. If we start by trying to accept them “with all our strength” we won’t get anywhere. Acceptance is simply beyond our strength.
A part of this practice involved reading prayers, and they worked. Afterwards I was surprised—why couldn’t I accept it yesterday? The realization suddenly came to me that yesterday I did not have the strength, while today God had given it to me.
Will Centers (Activating the Seventh Center)
I have seen that five of the seven centers are connected to God not at the front, as I had earlier thought, but from behind, all except the first and seventh. The second through sixth centers have a way out that also serves as a way in, to the side of the spine where the hose attaches, while at the front of the center there is just a nut.
If we take a mannequin as our model, we drill a hole through his chest, coming out through his spine. We drive a tube into that hole, threaded on both sides, so that one end of the tube comes out of the chest and the other out of the spine. We twist a nut onto the tube at each side of the mannequin so that it is firmly held in place, and then at the spine we fix a flexible hose to him. Hey presto!
While we sleep the life force comes to us from God, as our transformed energy in the form of our emotions moves from us to God, to be used for something important that we will never know.
When a person performs the mystical practices, a high-quality energy purer than emotion makes its way along that hose toward God.
Energy of the highest quality then comes back from God, giving that person the ability to grow and give to God an even greater quality of energy.
When a person dies, it is through that hose that the energy of their death leaves them, a very precise energy, highly necessary for something important that we will never know.
Ideas—they’re fantastic! They sit deep inside us, giving us whatever fantasies they want. We think we’re making decisions ourselves, because we’re so individual, so unique, because we’ve had a particular education, a particular upbringing, because of our life experience. This has nothing to do with it.
Our ideas are formed in childhood and we can change them later on, if only something very vivid should happen in our lives. One central idea sticks out like a cane from the ground in your garden, and all around it several smaller canes stick out. If a person knows their own central idea, they might at least be able to work around it or find compromises. If he doesn’t know it, then, as they say, it’s game over. Ideas are designed so as to perfectly mask themselves, they may be primary, secondary, tertiary and so on. It is very difficult to discern which of his ideas a person is guided by right now, and which he was guided by a moment ago. The problem with ideas is that they reside in the mind, and we are also trying to see them with the mind, which is impossible. In order to see your own idea, you must first depart from your mind.
If somebody starts criticizing one of his own ideas because he has decided it is not right, then all that this tells us is that from now on he will be enslaved to one of his other ideas, which he thinks is right. And in both cases he is not free.
Take for example the idea that “my wife should be true to me.” Let’s think about it impartially—should she or shouldn’t she? I won’t answer that!
The first time I was performing this practice, I saw that
“everyone is perverted.” Not in the sexual sense, but in the sense that they say, “everything should be how I want it,” but it isn’t; “everyone should be honorable,” and they’re all dishonorable; “everyone should tell the truth,” yet everyone indulges in lies; “everyone should be qualified to do their job,” and there are some real shmucks around.
What’s it all about? Nothing in my life has anything to do with or even wants to have anything to do with my ideas! It’s a good thing I already spent some time reading dhikr in the name of “The Just” and realized that the problem here was me. What I mean is that first idea, “everyone is perverted,” was the primary idea in this case, and all the others were secondary to it. A person tells the truth, for instance, which means he’s not perverted, then he begins to lie, and clearly he’s perverted.
It’s a good thing I’m working with Ruslan or I would have wasted years not knowing about my central idea. We talked over Skype and I said I doubted I would ever be able to reach God. Ruslan asked why. I said because I’m a piece of shit. Ruslan said go back to working on your ideas.
I went back to my practices and it turned out that cane in my garden, that fundamental idea of mine was that “I’m a piece of shit,” and not that “everyone is perverted.”
Everything else around was bound up in this idea. Once I had worked on this central idea, all the other little ideas evaporated as though they’d never been there at all.
Anyone who has the idea he’s a piece of shit won’t get into a prestigious college, can’t even look in the direction of a beautiful girl, won’t aspire to a high-paying job and so on.
You might have guessed by now why my whole life really was a piece of shit before I found The Path?
The Divine Presence is anywhere and everywhere, it is all around us, but we do not feel it. We know nothing about it, and yet we live within it!
Osho tells a story about a fish living in the ocean who goes around asking everyone, “Where is the ocean and what is it?” No one can give that fish a clear answer.
I dwelt within the Divine Presence the whole time I was performing the practices, and then when I flew to Moscow I stopped feeling it.
Somebody behaves one way with his wife (1); he behaves completely differently with friends (2); with his bosses he’s nothing like how he is with his wife (3); with the people working under him he’s nothing like how he is with his bosses (4); we see a completely different person when he’s with his mother (5); with his dad he drinks vodka, cursing at everyone (6); somebody playing with his kids (7); somebody with his mistress is nothing like somebody at all (8); somebody with a waiter in a restaurant, when he’s there alone (9); somebody with the same waiter at the same restaurant, when he’s there with his mistress (10).
When the subpersonality changes, somebody changes too. Absolutely everything changes—his movements, the way he walks, his tone of voice, his posture, mannerisms, his facial expressions, everything.
Into this mix go his ideas, what country he lives in, what city, his stage of life, kindergarten, school, college, childhood friends, first love, second love, last love, films, books, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, all the different events and the dozens, if not hundreds of other such things.
Do you think when somebody gets home, goes to his room, lies down on his bed entirely alone with himself and turns out the light that he will be himself?
He won’t be himself, because that very concept does not exist.
This is how somebody has always lived, will go on living, and will die.
Meditation on Death
I imagine my wife has died, she is lying in her coffin, beautiful as always. Faceless gravediggers have nailed the coffin shut, lowered it into a grave and buried it.
I imagine my daughter has died, she is tiny and beautiful, like an angel! She could have lived a long and happy life, married, had kids, laughed, danced and worn pretty clothes. She has been buried next to my wife’s grave.
I imagine that my mother has died. How much have we gone through together in this life, mom! The time will come, and there’s nothing you can do about it, we’ll all be there one day.
I imagine that Ruslan has died. How will I go further on The Path without him? We once went to Father Polycarp’s grave together and I put this question to him. Where should I go if you die? He said you must go within, where else? I’d have to get the names of God for reading dhikr from Wikipedia.
I imagine I am dying. Smoking has given me cancer. If I couldn’t prevent the cancer, what can I do now? All I can do now is die. Everything will go on living tomorrow just it does today, only without me. Lao Tzu was right: Heaven and Earth have no love for humankind.
I have died, there’s nothing more of me.