How to not-know

We are in Antalya, Turkey, at a hotel close to a mosque where we hear the Muslim call to prayer five times a day.

The Muslim call to prayer repeats phrases, with the repetition having ornamental, tonal range of over an octave. The human voice becomes like a musical instrument.

“God is greatest! God is greatest!
I bear witness that there is no god but God.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
Come to worship.
Hasten to success.”

There are additional phrases and variations between Sunni and Shi’ite calls to prayer.

The regularity of the call to prayer is useful for those following the inner path. It calls for focusing on the Oneness of God.

I had a dream that I was camping with readers of this blog. You were there. We watch a camp fire and one of us, a wise woman, turns to me and says, “Tell them about Moses and the Guide.”

Come with us and I will tell this story as related in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Hadith) and in the Qur’an (18:60-82).

You should realize that Muhammad received the Qur’an as visionary messages in the 7th century. The messages were a powerful form of poetry that no one afterward has been able to duplicate. This is a kind of miracle since Muhammad was not literate.

We look at Hadrian’s Gate, built for Roman Emperor Hadrian around 130 CE. This place is connected to a story that illustrates the overlapping characteristics of Christianity and Islam. The Queen of Sheba is said to have passed this way to visit King Solomon 3000 years ago — as described in the Bible (1 Kings 10) and Qur’an (Surah 27).


Did the Queen of Sheba actually visit King Soloman? Did they have a child together?

Scientists find evidence for genetic contact between Israel/Syria and Ethiopia 3000 years ago. But, of course, the queen may have merely visited on a trade mission — the scriptures describe two people from different cultures getting along!

But I’m off topic — let me tell you about Moses and the Guide.

We look at a beach.

Long ago, someone asked Moses if there was anyone more learned than he.

“No,” Moses said.

Allah revealed to Moses that this was not the case and Moses asked to meet this wise person.

We watch some cats during the call to prayer — people feed feral cats in Turkey.

Allah told Moses to carry a vessel with a fish in it and said that at the place the fish disappeared, he could find the man he sought. Moses set forth with a young man, carrying the vessel, but Moses went to sleep at a river junction. The fish wiggled out of the vessel and into the river. After journeying a ways, Moses discovered the loss and returned to the junction.

We walk down a street, on the way to the museum.

When Moses and the young man arrived at the river junction, they met Al-khidr, the Guide.

“May I follow you?” Moses asked.

“Do not ask me anything until I explain it to you,” the Guide said. “You will not be patient enough to do this.”

Moses agreed not to ask questions.

We take a boat ride and look at a ship like the one we are on.

Moses, the young msn, and Al-khidr embarked on a boat but Al-khidr made a hole in it.

“Why did you do that?” Moses asked.

“Did not I tell you that you did not have enough patience?” Al-khidr, the Guide, said.

Then they met a boy who Al-khidr killed!

“Why have you done this evil thing?” Moses asked.

“Didn’t I tell you that you did not have enough patience?” Al-khidr said.

We took a bus to Konya but after three hours of driving and three hours of waiting, the bus turned around due to snow. We returned to Antalya.

We stayed for two more days, waiting for the road to open. We boarded the bus again. The bus has a TV screen allowing travelers to watch TV programs, movies, and the road, as seen by the bus driver.

Let’s get back to the story:
Moses, the young man, and Al-khidr arrive at a town where the people refuse to help them. Al-khidr spends time repairing a wall.

“Why do you work for free?” Moses asks. “You should ask for wages.”

“This is where we part because you do not have enough patience,” Al-khidr, the Guide, said. “I will explain my actions. I damaged the boat because an evil king would have taken it by force. I killed the boy to prevent him from harming his virtuous parents. I repaired the wall because a treasure is under it. If it has fallen down, the evil people in the town would have gotten the treasure. Now the treasure will be discovered by two orphan boys who deserve it.”

We watch a movie about the life of Muhammad (The Message, 1976 film) seeing a view from the cave where he received his first message. The movie, starring Anthony Quinn, contains no images of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be unto Him). The movie tells of the Prophet Muhammad’s visit by the Angel Gabriel, the first of a series of messages that, when assembled, became the Qur’an. Muhammad and his followers were forced to leave Mecca. They escaped to Medina but later returned to liberate Mecca, in the name of God.

Although each religion has unique traditions, all contain road signs that provide guidance for followers of the Inner Way, a path of not-knowing.

Lao tsu writes (chapter 65):

“The ancient Masters didn’t try to educate the people,
but kindly taught them to not-know.
When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don’t know,
people can find their own way.
If you want to learn how to govern,
avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people
the way back to their own true nature.”

We cannot see the full picture or understand why things are the way that they are in this world.

When following the Inner Way, you accept the Oneness of all things without seeking explanations.

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