7 Words - A Personal Development System
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Sufi Story

April 12, 2011    Leave a comment
The Salt Puppet


Once upon a time there was a puppet made of salt who had travelled a long time through dry and desert places until one evening he came upon a sea which he had never before seen and didn't know what it was...
 The puppet asked the sea:
'What are you?'
'I am the sea' it replied.
'But' the puppet insisted, 'What is the sea?'.
'I am'.
'I don't understand' said the puppet made of salt. 'I want very much to understand what I can do to know you!'
The sea replied 
'That's easy, touch me!'
The salt puppet timidly touched the sea with the tip of his toes. At that moment he realized that the sea began to make itself perceptible, but at the same time he noticed the tips of his toes had disappeared.
'What have you done to me?' he cried to the sea.
'You have given a little yourself to understand me' the sea replied.
Slowly the salt puppet began to walk into the sea with great solemnity as though he were about to perform the most important act of his life. The further he moved along, the more he dissolved but at the same time he had the impression that he knew more and more about the sea.
Again and again the puppet asked
'What is the sea?' until the wave covered him completely. 
Just before he was entirely dissolved by the sea he exclaimed:
'I exist!' 
Anon (through Rabia)

The story can be seen as a teaching about 7 Planes of Existence

The first of the 7 Planes of Consciousness unfolds as the Earth plane. This is the lowest grade of light, the slowest. It is perceived through the 5 normal senses as the physical universe. The word No is used to represent the fundamental reality here on Earth-that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Things are necessarily defined-and what defines their identity is a physical boundary. Every aspect of all realities is mirrored on Earth, so there is tremendous richness in form, each type realizing an idea and examining the truth of that idea. Everything is one thing or another-so choice has to develop and so do patience, perseverance and steadiness. Out of these qualities, the personality grows more beautiful and develops mastery as it attempts to find balance and rules for living that help to provide for nourishment and protection.

Once upon a time there was a puppet made of salt who had travelled a long time through dry and desert places...

The realm of time necessarily refers to the Earth plane because it is the only one where time is experienced as sequential and historical. The puppet image is of an unreal caricature whose movements are rigid and dependent upon external forces for motivation-the metaphor of an ordinary person. The salt indicates that the person is dry and can only survive in this form by staying in the desert, with its lifeless imagery.

The 2nd plane is called the Astral and is described as the psychic realm. It relates to our thoughts and emotions. Here the waves of vibration (of light) are experienced in the mind as thought and imagination, dreams and intuition. It is very creative and playful realm where freedom, mischief and fun are more the norm. When we are more in tune with this level of vibration, we delight in making up new ways to do things, especially to solve problems or be artistic. It is here that we experience resourcefulness, genius, intuition, talents, clarity, the understanding of others' emotions and views. Our subconscious desires sometimes surprise us by popping out willy-nilly. People like Peter Sellers and Mozart are typical of this plane-'djinn spirits' for whom routines and committed relationships are difficult and whose genius offsets their social ineptitude.

...until one evening he came upon a sea which he had never before seen and didn't know what it was. The puppet asked the sea: 'What are you?'

The astral realm contains the sense of following intuition just for the sake of curiosity and without minding whether it's right or wrong-because the djinn spirit is careless and carefree. Our salt puppet-at evening time, just before night befalls him-has followed his intuition and found something entirely new to play with. He's curious and asks 'what are you?' (not 'wh o are you?'). This is the Hello stage.

The 3rd plane is known as the Angelic Realm, the plane of Love, Harmony and Beauty. Love is beyond mind; it obeys its own laws and is not constrained by logic or ideas. It feels in the heart. To access this vibrational level we look for joyful beauty, subtle gentleness-which we see in flowers, trees and landscapes, artistic expression of harmony, the watery sensitivity of relationship and the practice of compassion. We appreciate the value of things and give of the heart in response to these feelings. It equates to Thank You.

'I am the sea' it replied 'But' the puppet insisted 'What is the sea.' 'I am.' 'I don't understand' said the puppet made of salt 'I want very much to understand what I can do to know you!' The sea replied 'That's easy, touch me!' the salt puppet timidly touched the sea with the tip of his toes.

The sea was identified at first only verbally-appearing therefore only to the mind of the salt puppet, who persistently attempts to engage in a shallow relationship-and yet felt frustrated by his inadequate level of knowledge. He asks for guidance and receives an instruction that is new to him-he has never been asked to touch water before. He feels timid now because he's on unfamiliar territory-as we all do when we are overtaken by the heart of love. He touches another-with an exquisite sensitivity and sense of crossing a line that may not later be re-crossed.

The 4th plane has a lot to do with crossing the line. It's called the Heroic plane and is associated with masters, saints and prophets-types like Jeanne d'Arc, Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King and a thousand others who had no wi llingness to compromise. It is accessed through the practice of truth-no bargaining with your soul. Christ certainly had a 4th plane aspect-turning over the moneylenders' tables in the temple. Qualities associated here are fiery conviction, missions, strength of character, power, faith, will, transformation, struggle, mastery, confronting injustice-and eventually surrender to divine will, wisdom and the ability to balance forces. It is the Goodbye vibration-realization, decision, completion and moving on.

At that moment he realized that the sea began to make itself perceptible, but at the same time he noticed the tips of his toes had disappeared. 'What have you done to me? he cried to the sea. 'You have given a little yourself to understand me' the sea replied

A real moment of truth-the instant of realization, the arising of an inner force-that could easily have been expressed as anger or violent rejection-but which is confronted within oneself instead. The need for instantaneous decision and the movement into the unknown. There's a profound sense of the release of childishness as adult wisdom unfolds with a depth of personal responsibility. Rites of passage are 4th plane.

The 5th Plane is called the Plane of Splendour. It has associations with knowledge of perfection, sacredness, excellence, praise, prayer, cathedrals, glorification, peacefulness, Goddess in Nature, self-respect, dignity, chanting, rituals, majesty, bringing God into life-the priestly vibration. The word Please is enacted within this atmosphere of wanting to bring a sacred vision to Earth.

Slowly the salt puppet began to walk into the sea with great solemnity as though he were about to perform the most important act of his life. The further he moved along, the more he dissolved but at the same time he had the impression that he knew more and more about the sea.

The solemnity of his gestures, the walk of dignity, the sense of fulfilling the soul's act-the most important ever-are clues of his inner state of great reverence. The salt puppet has come to know that, for him at least, the sea is God, here on Earth. He wants this now, like never before. Having touched God, nothing else will do, the world begins to disappear, the self begins to disappear.

The 6th plane is known as the Immaculate State. Its access is through forgiveness. 'Life is lived fully only when one feels free to die.' Purification, purity, hope, rebirth after the despair of despoilment, soul's innocence, pure light of consciousness, desire for perfection, indifference to other desires, no interests, detachment. Holy Spirit. The word Sorry is truly said to engender a state of forgiveness and brings about refinement of the individual, a sense of egolessness. (That is why it's so difficult for so many of us to say it sincerely).

Again and again the puppet asked 'What is the sea?' until the wave covered him completely. 

Even though the sea is salty, its essential nature is not salt; similarly the puppet's essential nature is not lifeless salt, in isolation. There is a deeper truth within the ocean of God. Drawn by a something in the briny sea that it senses is akin to itself, yet infinitely greater, it has to lose all of its imperfections-those unyielding aspects that he had come to love passionately as self-and unite with a greater being to lose itself in the ocean of spirit in order to go forward into God. Sufis call this fana (effacement).

The 7th Plane is transcendental-beyond all phenomena and beyond description.

Just before he was entirely dissolved by the sea he exclaimed: 'I exist!'

The story of the Salt Puppet ends with the two words 'I exist'. In the beginning, his identity was established and appeared incorruptible because the dry desert-a place lifeless and without the greening of water-was safe. He knew nothing of water, and was curious to find out-so he risked his toe. He then knew of surrender, and equally he knew of the sea. Choosing the mystic life, he undertook an act of great sacredness and gave up his primary attachment, his physicality, in order to gain knowledge of God, which the sea here symbolizes. Quite by surprise and without any previous expectation or hope he discovers existence is not what he had thought before-and now he has it! I exist!

Are we willing to risk a toe in order to discover for ourselves whether existence is not quite how we thought it to be? The journey from No to Yes begins and ends with identity: 'I exist!' Perhaps the emphasis has changed now, whereas in No we were proudly proclaiming 'I', with surrender we are more humbly acknowledging 'exist'.

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