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“His words were always directed to the soul” – remembering Ostad Elahi

By - Sep 11, 2013 - Category Articles - Print Print

Ostad Elahi

What better way to honour Ostad Elahi’s memory, than through the account of those who have met him in person? The following testimonial, among others, was made available by ostadelahi.com. The Editorial Board would like to thank ostadelahi.com for sharing it with us.

I first met Ostad Elahi on an autumn day in 1963 in Tehran (I am French and at the time had been living in Tehran for 5 years). It was in the spring of 1964 that I really became his student. At first, the gatherings did not take place on fixed dates or at regular intervals. Gradually, a group formed that would convene once, sometimes twice a week; occasionally larger gatherings were also held in which many people participated. These larger gatherings would usually form to commemorate religious celebrations. In addition to these gatherings, some people used to visit him on certain evenings. I prefer to mostly talk about those informal gatherings, for it was during those sessions that Ostad Elahi would convey the majority of his teachings.

At first, everything seemed very simple. His perspective was general: it was sufficient for us to understand the origin of our existence, which according to him was celestial in nature, and to discover our ultimate goal, which was to return to the Source. Only then would our earthly destiny situated between these two mysteries become clear, mysteries that he would help us to lucidly understand. In doing so, he used a method that one could call Socratic: he constantly reminded us that everything exists within ourselves and all that was needed was to search within to become aware of the knowledge that our soul had accumulated over time, for we had not just been born and it has been a long time that we have been going back and forth between the earth and the heavens. During this time, Ostad repeatedly encouraged us to be attentive to the Source. He also familiarized us with the concept of respecting the rights of others and the harmful consequences that arise from violating these rights.

Until that time, I used to think of myself as a responsible person, but in reality I didn’t know how to assess my behaviour. . . . The points that I would discover during each visit, together with each layer that he would unveil of the infallible cohesion of the divine order, would completely exhilarate me. At the same time, the awakening of my conscience and the understanding that Ostad Elahi had given us of the workings of the other world had induced within me both a sense of heightened awareness and a fear of God. I would ask myself, ‘What if I don’t succeed?’ Sometimes, I would become entangled in spiritual traps and feel a sense of anxiety. Unlike the past, I was no longer unaware and could not live as I used to. Then, at the next gathering I would find Ostad speaking, perhaps in jest, about the benefits of being blissfully unaware. For example, he would allude to the fact that when we are ignorant about something we are truly carefree. . . . He would always remind us that divine tests are in proportion to a person’s capacity, and that the key to success in passing these tests is sincere faith. Needless to say, the impact of his words and presence would stir up such a sense of elation and euphoria in the soul that all obstacles would disappear.

It was in this manner that I took my first steps in learning spirituality, at the outset through observation and then through experience. I could see that he was awakening within me an enormous sense of enthusiasm and nostalgia for the advancement of my soul as well as the desire to improve my behaviour and myself. The truth is that the pull of his attractive and penetrating personality induced a powerful sense of spiritual motivation within me. However, this exalted personality was not apparent to everyone: he would reveal his spiritual power only to those whom he wanted, and the key to this was having a pure faith. One would have to acquire faith to realize certainty.

I would try to visit him on a regular basis, and neither the cold of winter nor the warmth of summer would stop me. During these visits, the students would sometimes recount the significant events that had occurred that day and he would offer advice and guidance. At other times, someone would pose a question, and he would always reply with great benevolence. From time to time he would make recommendations, praise a person’s strengths and good actions, or allude to a person’s weak points or mistakes with the utmost kindness and tenderness. In short, without being overbearing, he was constantly seeking to rectify our actions, behaviors, and intentions so that we could acquire self-knowledge and become cognizant of the extent of our abilities.

Ostad Elahi would mostly illustrate the points he sought us to understand either through anecdotes and events relating to the lives of prominent spiritual personalities, or through his own personal experiences and dreams. These illustrations were used to set the stage for teaching us about the structure and purpose of creation, or about some specific points relating to lessons that we needed to learn.

The atmosphere of the gatherings was at once intimate, profound, and reassuring. It was reassuring in the sense that we always found an answer to our questions and a solution to our problems. Ostad Elahi wouldn’t allow any confusion to remain, and that which he said was very easy for me to understand. At first, I was unaware of the complexity of the subjects that Ostad was teaching us about in such simple language. Later I realized that he was simplifying these subjects to such an extent that they would become accessible to my level of understanding.

His penetrating and compassionate eyes, his radiating and benevolent smile, and his open and cordial laughter would inwardly move our souls. Ostad had an interesting sense of humor. His words were always directed to the soul, and he was thoroughly familiar with its language and rationale. In short, he was the gateway through which I established a connection with the Source.

Through Ostad’s teachings, I understood the workings of the universe. He brought together all the scattered pieces and incongruous elements and put them in their proper place. At the same time, he responded to the myriad whys that emerged in relation to my life and the world and explained them all. He replaced confusion and chaos with internal clarity. Above all, in doing so he used terms and concepts that I had deliberately excluded from my thought and vocabulary prior to meeting him, terms such as God, good, evil, reward, and resignation. He took all those notions that were loaded with religious and antiquated meanings and breathed new life into them, making them tangible and relevant to today’s world. He made it such that we could concretely realize how inseparable these concepts were from our inner work. For us, these notions had turned into empty shells devoid of any substance. Ostad Elahi provided us with the opportunity to rediscover their true meaning and to place each piece in its correct place in the immense puzzle of the cosmos.

In conclusion, I should also say that the important qualities that distinguish these teachings are their coherence and directness. The coherence of these teachings becomes clear when we consider them in their entirety; not only are there no contradictions, but we also find that no element can be isolated from the others as they are all interrelated. As for the lack of an intermediary to receive these teachings, it was miraculous, for Ostad Elahi himself would directly influence the hearts and minds of those whom he instructed.


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13 comments

  1. Nm Sep 12, 2013 2:44 pm 1

    This story and experience was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. A. Sep 13, 2013 2:43 am 2

    “he constantly reminded us that everything exists within ourselves and all that was needed was to search within to become aware of the knowledge that our soul had accumulated over time”

    I feel it is so true that there are many things we already know and that we just need to delve within to help them emerge. Recently for instance, I was trying hard to find a new exercise for my daily practice and I had been struggling for a while to identify something that could address one of my flaws. I was also looking for a practical exercise that would stimulate me, make me more active and interest me… when suddenly, after delving within and focusing my attention on the Source, the answer “appeared” in my mind: since I am not very affectionate, an excellent practice would have been to organize a surprise birthday party for my wife’s 40th birthday. Interestingly enough, I felt as though some part of me had known that for some time but that this idea had somehow gotten lost in the flow of daily thoughts

  3. NLT Sep 13, 2013 10:26 pm 3

    Thank you for this piece. Although I had read this piece before on OstadElahi.com, it still touched my heart. His effect is strong, that simply reading about someone else’s experience creates spiritual warmth and motivation. Thank you again.

  4. Photon Sep 15, 2013 4:04 am 4

    That was very inspiring. The coherence of Ostad’s teaching is remarkable; and I do not even want to know what life for me would be like if I had not come across them. I was indeed a lost soul before these teachings and I hope I can put them into practice so that I may not be lost again. I just hope that I can use his teaching optimally and accelerate in the path of perfection.

  5. linda Sep 15, 2013 4:53 pm 5

    I wasn’t lucky enough to have the privilege of meeting Ostad Elahi in person but I can relate to what the author expresses when s/he says “…Needless to say, the impact of his words and presence would stir up such a sense of elation and euphoria in the soul that all obstacles would disappear.” Occasionally when I pray I feel a strong presence and it just takes me to a place where nothing can bother me, no pain no sorrow nothing really matters, everything material around me and how I feel about them become unreal, meaningless, cartoonish… at that moment, anything is possible. I am capable of doing anything even the most difficult things from apologizing to someone I dislike to confronting my deepest fears. I experience a flash of euphoria and utmost happiness. But it doesn’t last long.

  6. pzlz Sep 15, 2013 5:13 pm 6

    For those of us who haven’t met Ostad Elahi it is very refreshing to hear the testimonial of those who were around him. It helps me get out of my shell and look at it from a different angle. It is one thing to read his sayings, it is another to hear about the impact on a listener. The same goes with his writings like “Knowing the Spirit”: it gives me another perspective when I hear Dr. James Morris describe his writings as “…it is like a mirror: everyone sees their own form in it” or when SUNY Press says “Ostad Elahi’s Knowing the Spirit provides a concise and remarkably illuminating philosophic account of our unique place in the universe: of the creative expressions of the divine Spirit throughout nature, and of the process of the soul’s deepening perfection through all the challenges and lessons of our existence in this world and beyond.”

  7. juneone Sep 17, 2013 2:52 pm 7

    Thank you for sharing this piece. I have also read this on OstadElahi.com, and something always amazes me: when I am reading the description of the intimate meetings – i feel transposed, as if for a moment I am experiencing the same “intimate, profound, reassuring” environment. It’s so unique, and it is obvious the impact these sessions had on the author, to the extent that his written record can actually inspire someone so far away from the experience in place, culture and time the same feelings. I also appreciate that he shares with us the generosity and caring that Ostad showed to everyone around him.

  8. kbld Sep 18, 2013 12:33 am 8

    @A.

    I have remarked that it is useful to keep a logbook. One day, I wrote an experience and the correlative teaching I had during the day (all the reflection was made after the moment, during the day). I realized that if I hadn’t written it down, it would have been lost in the flow of my (material) daily thoughts and would have disappeared in my unconscious. Writing it down helped me keep it more conscious.
    It is a pity to have lessons, understand them, but… just forget it all! I think Ostad Elahi wrote that “oversight is the sharpest weapon of the Imperious Self”…

  9. pzlz Sep 19, 2013 2:58 pm 9

    And indeed he has made it all too simple for us. You look at the sky and you think it is easy to see the sky is blue, so it should be easy to explain it too. A kid asked a physicist why is the sky blue, the physicist paused and thought if I can’t explain the reason why the sky is blue in simple terms, it means I don’t know enough about it. Ostad Elahi was able to do just that and for the most complex concepts. That always puzzles me! For example even to date, scientists struggle to define life. How magnificent and mesmerizing it is to read Ostad Elahi talk about life and spirit in Knowing the Spirit Chapter two “…to put it simply, it is the life-giving flow of the Creator’s supporting and sustaining Breath.” Pair it up with Prof. Bahram Elahi’s account of life in the Path of Perfection Chapter one: “Every particle in the universe has “life” for it is in constant motion and evolution.” And it enlightens every man!

  10. A. Sep 20, 2013 6:20 am 10

    @kbld

    <I think Ostad Elahi wrote that “oversight is the sharpest weapon of the Imperious Self”…>
    Thank you for your comment, it is indeed subtle how easily we tend to forget things

  11. yocto Sep 30, 2013 5:55 am 11

    Reading this valuable passage took me down memory lane. I replayed my life before and after knowing Ostad Elahi’s teachings and would like to share my thoughts here. I was raised in a dysfunctional home, like many others perhaps, but I like to believe mine was worse! Except for food, shelter and school, my parents had no sense of responsibility to teach me the life skills necessary to face the challenges of my life then, let alone for the future. I had no support and no caring person to turn to in times of difficulty. Naturally I failed in most if not all aspects of my life, school, marriage, work…. For many years I intentionally and successfully blocked out most of the memories of my past, but I lucidly remember the events that led me to Ostad Elahi’s teachings. It was a hot summer night in a foreign country, I was very depressed and lost. I needed to make an important decision and I didn’t know what to do. At first I tried to weigh all my option to no avail, all roads were dead ends. I was not raised in a religious home but I did what any vulnerable and inherently flawed and weak human being in need of help would do, turn to something/someone powerful for protection, help and directions. So I turned to what I then vaguely knew as God. I implored and pleaded for help for hours until dawn with no resolution until I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up, got out of bed, reached the door of my bedroom, and by the time I stepped into the hallway I realized that a decision had been made for me: I moved back to my home country where one month later I met an old friend who introduced me to Ostad’s teachings. How I got to know these teachings though is not my point, what happened after is where I’d like to go. I wish I could say that from that point on my life changed and I became this wonderful strong amazing person who led a successful life! But I am afraid the picture of my material life doesn’t look all that great! Spiritually speaking, I don’t know. I can list numerous opportunities that could have resulted in a breakthrough, a leap across dimensions, a metamorphosis, had I used those opportunities wisely, but I didn’t. And maybe there really aren’t any breakthroughs or radical transformations to be expected. Maybe I just have to walk the walk everyday without expectation of seeing any tangible results. Am I more mature? Yes, but probably due to age. Did I rise up to my parents so that I won’t make the same mistakes? maybe, but that’s generational growth. I have faith now, but true faith is a gift – I didn’t earn it. So what can point to and say for sure, 100% without a doubt is mine and will stay with me wherever I go? There is no question about the clarity and knowledge his teachings have given me, but do they really belong to me? The knowledge belongs to him, he is the one who spent his entire life experiencing it all, putting the missing pieces together. He discovered, innovated, and fully realized the truth, then started this unique path, and shared with others for free. I read his teachings, hear them, enjoy them and like to think that I understand them, but all this knowledge, clarity, coherence, all those answers to fundamental questions, are they ingrained in me? Will I take them with me? I don’t know. But there is one thing I know his teachings brought me. Something that belongs to me. Something that I can use, cherish, cling to, and never let go of. Something that no one can take away from me. Something that I am certain will eventually save me. And that is hope. Everyday I wake up with the hope that today is the day, today I can make it work, I can do better, I can change, I will change. Every time I fail, I pick myself up, dust myself off and give it another try. Andy Dufresne in the movie Shawshank Redemption said: “Hope is a good thing maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” On this path, everyday is a new day, a new pact, a new possibility.

  12. photon Oct 27, 2013 5:31 pm 12

    @yocto

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It was wonderful to read it. Spiritual progression is step by step, so we might not feel it day by day. But if you compare yourself to how you were years before, you can see that indeed there was a big metamorphosis.

  13. hightide Nov 26, 2013 7:33 am 13

    @yocto

    What a beautiful experience. It reminds me that to hope in His satisfaction and Mercy is the greatest gift we have…thank you.

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