In the Arabic language before the word Sultan was used in the context of an Islamic title in the Ottoman Empire, it had meanings amongst which the quality denoting strength is but one definition. It is the quality of strength in this usage of the word Sultan that intrigues me most...much more so than the other historical meanings of power and authority. I've always felt that power and authority used justly had their basis in strength, anyway.
Not in might but in light as I might put it, were you to ask me what I think of when I imagine a Sultan. The kind of strength that derives its authority from an enduring stillness within and applies the reasoning of moral force is strength with power. And yes, I often imagine Sultans in my midst, don't you know?
I like the sound of the word Sultan. I like the way my tongue softly touches the roof of my mouth when I say the word. Then when I add the word soul as in Sultan of Soul, I feel as if I've completed a whole thought that within it contains a world in which I see men and women tread with grace, powered by inner strength. I am very interested in the company of men and women who are Sultans with soul.
In streamlining my intentions for 2009, I want to make room for those I think of as Sultans of Soul. If I want every moment, every word and every action to count, carrying with me the power and authority of ruling in or out, this or that...then I need to be the Sultan I seek. How can I see my reflection in your mirror, if you cannot see yourself in mine?
The dictionary description of soul:
The animating and vital principle in man, credited with the faculties of thought, action and emotion, and often conceived as an immaterial entity....A strong, deeply-felt emotion conveyed by a performer or artist....A person considered as the perfect embodiment of an intangible quality.
Yes, an intangible quality indeed. First there was light, then came the word. I think of soul as that wordless place filled with light.
A few synonyms for soul:
Spirit; breath of life; consciousness; intellect; intelligence; understanding; inner core; member of the human race; center of emotion; seat of feelings; true being; heart of the matter and heart.
Soul is one of my favourite words in the English language and if listened to with the ears of our hearts can show us the way forward. Yes, I know...to hear the soul one needs to listen quietly. Soul speak, when heard, is always authentic and true in its guidance. Why not choose to dwell in the soul's wisdom for a spell?
When we can't hear the soul speak it is because we're too busy speaking in tongues that babble, as if babbling could ever evolve beyond its own noise. How well can we remember yesterday's chatter if we're busy today greeting a new din? The soul can't be heard in the clattering chatter of our chops.
The 14th-century Persian poet, Hafiz understood our true longing and wrote of the beauty I seek:
"I am a hole in a flute that the Christ's breath moves through -- listen to this music." And this:
"Look at the smile on the earth's lips this morning, she laid again with me last night." And this:
"Build a house for men and birds, sit with them and play music. For one day, for just one day talk about that which disturbs no one and bring some peace into your beautiful eyes."
In my world -- that place of soft landings for Sultans of Soul in my midst -- I'll host a perpetual Salon, promising a celebration of a return to our glorious senses as we hear the music of our souls. Inshallah.
(Inshallah: Arabic for "God willing" when referring to the future.)
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