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Monthly Musing: The Path to Truth

A good friend of mine and fellow nonprofit Board Member, Peter Evans, organized my full-day presentation to the Seattle YPO Gold retreat in beautiful Sun Valley recently. To acknowledge the success of the presentation and the overall retreat, he gifted me the book titled, The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.
I eagerly packed it as my companion for my October vacation to Maui and thoroughly enjoyed it along with the mighty azure ocean, the island’s heavenly beauty, and the palpable mana of the Hawaiian Islands. Thank you, Peter, as it is one of the best books I have ever read!
I was so moved by the spirit of the book that I am inspired to share the seven steps of spiritual development with you and invite you to walk the path of truth alongside me in this musing — and perhaps in this week’s masterclass online.
This brilliant novel about Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, both dear to my heart, exudes the “strength of spirit” of these two enlightened 13th-century poets whose legacies are still widely admired to this day. The book resonated with me deeply as I prepare to host my upcoming 4-day online masterclass titled “Strong in Spirit” starting on 11/11 because the focus of all of our efforts is innately aligned with spiritual development.
We, humans, need the support of one another and gentle reminders from the Universe about our inherent strength and purpose for being here. Beyond learning the practical steps of self-forgiveness and how to forgive others, in “Strong in Spirit” we cover lessons on ego, empathy, meditation, discovering your purpose, mission statements, intuition, and karma.
The Path to Truth
The Forty Rules of Love is brilliantly packed with spiritual wisdom and the rich discussion between these two souls on “The Path to Truth.” This section of the book is so profoundly insightful that I have read it several times and as I preach in my masterclass, the best way to personally embody a lesson is to teach it to others. So, I hope this musing stirs curiosity in your soul and opens pathways toward your spiritual purpose.
The Path to Truth posits that every ego must go through these seven maqamat (stages of development) in order to attain Oneness. The stages along the path are easy to summarize and difficult to experience. Adding to the obstacles that appear along the way, is the fact that there is no guarantee of continuous progress.
The route from the first to the last stage is by no means linear. There is always the danger of tumbling back into earlier stages, sometimes even from a superior stage all the way down to the first one. Given the many traps along the way, it is no wonder that in every century, only a few people manage to reach the final stages.
This is also a reason why people benefit from having coaches, mentors, and support groups to lean on as it can be daunting to revisit a lesson/stage that one had already mastered at another time. It is for this reason that I structure my masterclasses in an intimate group setting, as the shared experience, vulnerability, and confidentiality inspire many to do the deep work that they cannot access on their own. I witness this same pattern in my workshops when former graduates return to relearn the power of forgiveness and the various steps I teach to move from an egoic victim mentality toward a soulular union with one’s purpose and higher path.
Though the steps I teach in my 4-day intensive are not as complex as the stages these sages explain in the book, there are many parallels such as diminishing the egoic hold by pursuing a path of purpose and service to others. It is important to understand that we will all have ups and downs—restarting the process of healing and evolving many times throughout our lives. For this reason, it is great to know what is possible and to have patience and compassion as you walk your own path.
Here are the stages, summarized for your convenience:
1.  The first stage is the “Depraved Nafs” (false ego), which is the most primitive and common state of being when the soul is entrapped in worldly pursuits. Most human beings (unlike the awakened readers of my monthly musings!) are stuck in this first stage, struggling, and suffering in the service of their ego, always holding others responsible for their continued unhappiness.
2.  When a person becomes aware of the ego’s abased situation (by starting to work on themselves) they can move to the next stage, which, in a way, is the opposite of the previous one. Instead of blaming other people all the time, the person who has reached this stage blames themselves, sometimes to the point of self-effacement. Herein the ego becomes the “Accusing Nafs” and thus starts the journey towards inner perfection.
3.  In the third stage, the person is more mature, and the ego has evolved into the “Inspired Nafs.” It is only at this level, and not any time before, that one can experience the true meaning of the word “surrender” and roam what the poets call the “Valley of Knowledge.” Anyone who has made it this far will possess and display patience, perseverance, wisdom, and humility. The world feels new and full of inspiration. Nevertheless, many of the people who reach the third level feel the urge to dwell there, losing the will or the courage to go further. That is why, as beautiful and blessed as it is, the third stage is a trap for the one who aims higher.
4.  Those who manage to go further reach the Valley of Wisdom and come to know the “Serene Nafs.” Here, the ego is not what it used to be, having now altered into a higher level of consciousness. Generosity, gratitude, and an unwavering sense of contentment regardless of the hardships in life are the main characteristics accompanying anyone who has arrived here.
5.  Beyond that, lies the “Valley of Unity.” Those who arrive here will be pleased with whatever situation God places them in. Mundane matters make no difference to them, as they have achieved the “Pleased Nafs.”
6.  In the next stage (with a very similar name), the “Pleasing Nafs,” one becomes a lantern to humanity, radiating energy to everyone who asks for it, teaching and illuminating like a true master. Sometimes, the poets go as far as to portray that such a person can also have healing powers. Wherever they go, they will make a big difference in other people’s lives. In everything they do and aspire to do, their main goal is to serve God through serving others.
7.  Finally, in the seventh stage, one attains the “Purified Nafs” and becomes Insan—I Kamil, the perfect human being according to Sufism. This stage is genderless and thus reachable for all genders. But no one knows much about that state, and even if a few ever did, they wouldn’t speak of it for it is beyond comprehension to most and slightly outside of suitable language to describe it; it is an experiential state.
In conclusion, while this journey is beguiling, one experiences immense growth and spiritual evolution in attempting the “Path to Truth.” I personally have been on this journey for most of my adult life—more so after the tragedy of losing Tariq 28 years ago.
While I am not at the last stage yet, I have grown exponentially doing this work, and have spent periods of my life occupying some of the later stages—at least in part—through my commitment to saving the lives of youth and being of service to souls like yours as you walk the path as well.
My upcoming masterclass “Strong in Spirit” will not instantly catapult you to the final or superior stages, but it will most surely move you forward and plant the seeds of continuous and never-ending improvement. We practice various exercises and move through stages of emotions that are akin to stages 3, 4, 5, and 6 as it is part of the program’s foundation to inspire your faith, contentment, acceptance, and evolution through the process.
You will surely see glimpses of the various stages toward Oneness, and you will forever have the tools to continue your journey. If you can, please join us – we will learn together on the inevitable journey to Oneness!
Peace and many blessings!
Azim Khamisa
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