Moving to America was something we had always known might happen, although for a long time it was only a vague idea - and a neutral concept, neither desired nor feared. At some point it turned into a possibility, invoking first ambivalence and then, increasingly, attraction. Quite suddenly, it became an opportunity, at which point we had to decide in earnest: did we want to go, or not? Were we ready to make this commitment to totally change our lives?
It was a huge decision, and one we would be making on behalf of our children as well as ourselves. And yet, in the end, it was not a difficult one. Despite our pangs at everything we would leave behind, all those attachments in our old world, there was a strong sense that we just had to go. That this was our destiny; America was where we were meant to be at this point in our lives. It felt right.
A decision that is not a decision
Anyone who has ever made the decision to apply for initiation will understand that feeling. You just know it has to be done; the decision is not even a decision, because as soon as you begin to consider it, you realize it’s already been made. This can happen almost as soon as one first learns about the path, or a long time afterwards. Especially for those who have been close to the path since childhood, initiation can seem for many years a remote, if eventually inevitable choice; even after attaining the necessary age one may be in no hurry to apply. The pull is not there, or not yet powerful enough. But one day, perhaps quite suddenly, it is.
Of course, having applied for and then (with the Master’s grace) gained the gift of initiation, we realize that we have arrived only at the beginning of our journey, not its end. We have much work ahead of us, to prepare our soul for its voyage. And although we understand that each tiny step - each moment of true effort - really is taking us forward, there are times when we may begin to lose heart. Faith can slip away, in the face of the huge distance yet to be travelled.
After many years of meditation, we may feel that we have hardly moved forward from our starting point - or worse, that we seem to have travelled backwards. In such a state, it is hard to believe we will ever reach our destination. Early one morning, not long after having made the commitment to move to America, I was beset by just such despondency. Sitting down cross-legged, pulling my shawl over my head, I was overwhelmed by a desperate sense of how very far there was to go before I could feel even close to approaching that spiritual endpoint at which satsangis all aim.
My whole being seemed so far removed from anything like a state of readiness for salvation; if anything, my faults seemed to be growing rather than shrinking. How is it, I cried inwardly, that we are told by the Master that we are already there, and yet clearly, clearly, I at least am so very far away from being there.
Do what has to be done
And in the next moment I thought of our approaching move to America: how much was yet to be done to implement the relocation, how many lists and lists of things to do - visas to acquire, a home to rent, schools to find for the children, a car to be sold and another bought, a tenant found for our house in England, the shipping of all our furniture - and yet it was already quite beyond doubt that we would go, that in a few months we would, quite simply, be there.
One way or another, the arrangements would be made - not without huge effort on our part, of course, and yet somehow not dependent on that effort. It would happen; it was to all practical purposes impossible now that it could not. On the appointed day, we would find ourselves sitting on that aeroplane, clutching our one-way tickets, soon to land in America, our new home.
The time that separated us from that day was already measured out. All that was needed was for us to do what had to be done, with diligence and faith. That time would pass, and we would be there. And then I saw, suddenly, that this was not quite accurate - it was not in fact that we would be there.
No. We were already there.
Not What We Thought
The way of union is
not what we thought.
The world of soul is
not what we imagined.
The Fountain of Eternal Life
is closer than you think.
The Water of Life
is in this very house -
but still, we need to drink it.
Sadr al-Din Qunawi As rendered by David & Sabrineh Fideler