“I was raised Christian, disciples of Christ. And I always asked a million questions. Things like, where’s heaven? How far is forever? Things like that. Until I got them all pretty disgusted with me at the Church that we went to. And I never could really figure out as a child, like “What’s going on? Where is the love? I don’t understand.” And so I ended up spending most of my childhood in the top of an apple tree. Just looking at the clouds, reading books.” -Habiba Kabir
“I was sitting in a room, I’d been sitting with Osho for a few days. And I was sitting in a room and all those previous days my mind had been rattling on how I wasn’t going to do this initiation. Everybody’s saying what a great thing this was. And my mind was completely rattling on how I couldn’t do this, there’s no way. I was too busy doing my music, my advanced degrees, whatever. And as I sat there he looked at me and said ‘You, are you ready to be initiated?’ And some voice that I’m not quite sure how it came out was like ‘Yes.’ So I went up and got initiated. He gave me the name Chaitanya Kabir. Kabir means vast, it’s one of the 99 names of Allah in Arabic and then Chaitanya is Sanskrit for consciousness. So together the name means Vast Consciousness.” -Chaitanya Kabir
I used to hang out in Boulder, Colorado as much as I could. One of the teachers I am blessed to have in my life, Mukara Meredith, lives there. Through her workshops I became friendly with Mona El-Hebawy, an Egyptian Sufi who introduced me to Boulder’s best finds for the seeker: Tuesday night international folk dancing next to the tea house, Wednesday night meditation at the Unitarian church, and Sufi Zeker ceremonies. All very Boulder!
It was through the Sufi community that I was introduced to Sheikha Habiba Kabir and her husband, Chaitanya Kabir. Their stories pointed out to me so vividly that our spiritual journeys are punctuated by people we are supposed to meet—or at least with whom great meaning can be made because they have come into our lives. And among those who come into our lives, people we regard as our teachers hold a special place in our hearts.
Habiba had one version of this experience when she met her teacher, Nur al-Anwar al-Jerrahi (known as Sheikh Nur) and, without knowing who he was, had an instantaneous resonance with him. And Habiba’s husband, Chaitanya, had the other experience I hear about often, which is to resist one’s teacher (or in this case initiation with one’s teacher). Chaitanya describes sitting with the very famous Osho and trying to resist the group pressure to do initiation but when the time came, an unknown voice came from within that said, “Yes.”
For me the spiritual lesson is actually that everyone is a teacher in our lives. People who have brought great meaning and happiness into my life as well as people with whom I have experienced difficulty are all my teachers and I am their teacher. If I realized this more readily, I would no doubt love more and judge less.