Updated: Apr 7, 2018
Every tradition offers us maps to enter the Mystery. Ramadan begins on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar with the sighting of the initial rays of light emanating from the crescent moon – and I would like to draw attention to the significance of these codes: the ninth month and the illumination of the crescent moon. The nine months can be metaphorically interpreted as the fullness of a divine pregnancy, the “cocooning into the cave of the heart” described by Shunyamurti. The meaning of the rays of light emanating from the moon can be taken as the breaking of light through the darkness, a rebirth. The crescent moon has a rich range of symbolism in Islam, but for this specific moment of Ramadan, I would like to suggest we see the crescent moon as symbolizing consciousness turning inward and upward, receptive to the Source, as it is in the equator where Arunachala is located.
Ramadan is an event of the quantum wave function that transcends Chronos time, as in Mahashivaratri, the Holy Night of Shiva, where the I is one with Truth, the embodiment of Gyana. Ramadan is then a portal into the Kairos dimension, leading us towards the hidden Aion, the Zero Point. The spiritual goal of transcendence of the dimension of Chronos time was always an aim of Islam. Hamza Yusuf notes that this is recognized by the Nusayri Alawites: “The month of Ramadan goes away and comes back but Ramadan never goes nor comes back.”
However, exploring the significance of this celebration throughout the period of time we call history, one discovers that most of the Ramadan celebrations in postmodern culture are based on the practice of fasting during the day in remembrance of the illumination of Muhammad, or “the great yogi Muhammad”, as Shunyamurti has called him. The symbolic meaning and parallel between the Night of Revelation and the Nectar Hour (or Amrit Vela, the hour of meditation before the sun rises) is of utmost significance to Sat Yogis. This precious moment of enlightenment that is commemorated in Ramadan is, to put it in the paradigm of Gilles Deleuze, the Event – the event for those who awaken to receive the Amrita at the breaking of a new dawn. The glory given in Ramadan at the moment of the Night of Destiny is in the register of imperience, equivalent to the glory descending at the time of the descent of the nectar of immortality into our Being.
One encounters the discipline of fasting in all esoteric paths as practiced by mystics, as one-pointedly expressed by Richard Foster in the Celebration of Discipline: “More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us”. It is through fasting that many of the egoic defense mechanisms come to the surface to be purified—defenses such as the tamasic bonds that keep our will dormant, our intelligence crippled in the narcissistic trap of partial fetishes in the ultimate defense, the ego’s inability to love.
This homeostatic perversion of the mind choosing to turn towards itself and its petty jouissances rather than turning to God, as a crescent moon, keeps one a slave to the inner Censor in an inherent double bind: the ego cannot accept the love it demands in its need for validation – it is a hungry ghost. It requires one’s empirical observation to understand what our hunger is really for, and we all have the potential capacity to recognize that the ego is the very obstacle to what it is starving for, Real Love.
The Itlak tradition of Sufism has mapped the way to Divine Love through a path of annihilation of the ego by the threefold practice of fasting, contrition, and remorse. But, as Shunyamurti reminds us, the real fasting is the abstaining from indulging in the egoic chattering mind, fight or flight modes of behavior, and patchworks of hysteria – this fasting from thought allows the role of the symbolic father to be accepted, represented by the laws given to Muhammad. Through Viveka, our spiritual discernment, we are freed from the chains of the collective Inertia drive and can bring ourselves into alignment by recalibrating our desire – that is, to recognize that our only true desire and hunger is for God.
The divine nectar is given at the moment of silence, and through our not giving way to instant gratification. We can overthrow the tyranny of the ego and establish consciousness in the royal service of Rama. It is in this Holy Night of Ramadan when the crescent moon turns toward the Source of Pure Awareness, that we can turn our heart-mind to the Hajj – which is recognized as the whole-hearted Ha Ji of the Sat Yogi, through which we are transfigured into the superhuman modes of consciousness through which divine intelligence is manifested.
In the realization of this Real Love, which is understood by Sat Yogis as Love for the ungraspable yet paradoxically all-encompassing and pervasive register of the Supreme Real, we recognize the Truth – that only love can resonate with love. There thus comes a sense of peaceful re-encounter with reality. At the moment of conscious acceptance that we will never be able to satiate our hunger at the egoic level, we can abide free of the anxious lust for the illusion of power, and uphold with integrity the dharma that requires surrender to Allah. And with the practice of self-exquiry, we are taught moment by moment how to take full responsibility for the redemption of our world.
It is only our divine desire that can achieve this. Our irada becomes the self-activating principle to kill the ego and the willingness to enter structural lack, the full blossoming of our humble surrender to God in this Holy Night of Destiny. We yearn to be burnt, scorched, which is, by the way, the etymological origin of the word Ramadan. This is the epistemo-phoenix drive to die and be reborn in Golden Love.