The Zephyr October 2021

The Zephyr

20 October 2021

Dear Companions on the Path,

Outside my window, the leaves are yellowing and beginning to tumble serenely from their branches. Autumn’s golden touch is here.

On my screen, the news is of a different kind. BBC News reports, “Facebook has just announced it’s going to hire 10,000 people in Europe to build the ‘metaverse.’” No one seems to know exactly what the metaverse will look like, but the general expectation is of a virtual-reality annex to the internet where we will all interact via avatars in a simulated world landscaped to promote social engagement, entertainment, and commerce.

A metaverse already exists. It’s called the barzakh, the isthmus between matter and spirit. This is where, in Henry Corbin’s memorable phrase, “bodies are spiritualized and spirits are corporealized.” All of us have a presence there, though the time-and-space-bound dimension of our mind is largely unaware of it. When we connect with beings whom we cannot see with our eyes — a djinn, for instance, or a friend on the other side of the world — we do so in the barzakh. When we die we will live on in the barzakh.

Facebook’s metaverse cannot possibly replicate the barzakh, because the barzakh is the naturally-occuring interior life of all beings. Like its precursor the internet, the metaverse will be a shadow of the barzakh rather than the real thing — useful in various ways, no doubt, but not ontologically solid. Whereas the barzakh is direct creation, the metaverse will be the handiwork of for-profit corporations.

Marshall McLuhan said that every extension is an amputation. The barzakh is already mostly forgotten in our rationalist culture. It’s fortunate that certain spiritual traditions still preserve the ancient knowledge that leads seekers into the interworld and beyond. In the Inayatiyya, we treasure this knowledge and seek to consistently actualize it. While we need not take a fixed stance pro or contra virtual reality, our inner experience tells us that the shadow is not the substance.

Last week, William Shatner wept when he looked down at the Earth from space. It turns out technology’s greatest discovery is the resplendence of what is already here.

Outside my window, the leaves are yellowing and beginning to tumble serenely from their branches. Autumn’s golden touch is here.

Yours ever,
Pir Zia

Love, Human & Divine
An Online-Retreat w/ Pir Zia Inayat Khan
November 20th – 21st, 2021

Murshid at Surenes
Portrait on Sale Fall 2021

Last year we commissioned limited-edition, fine art reproduction prints of Murshid at Suresnes: A Portrait by Nan Majida Hill. We are now offering our few remaining prints for 30% off in time for the holiday season. If you have yet to reserve a print, this is the last time they will be made available. We encourage you to order today! Read more…

The Zephyr is a monthly newsletter of Inayatiyya, an interfaith mystical fellowship with branches worldwide. Please visit our Inayatiyya Digital Programs Calendar for upcoming events and to learn more.