When self is expressed, we have a clearly manifested, unburdened soul. When self is ex-pressed, soul is unburdened. Unburdened soul manifests. The self obscures and burdens the soul, and the soul burdens and confuses the self. The self is also a reflection (mirror/reverse image) of the soul. In much the same way as the soul is created in the image of God.
Self-expression is the unburdening of the soul, which is a manifestation of soul intent. Self-expression in any way is soul-manifestation, the intent of the soul being to unburden itself, to manifest, to emerge.
So we are souls, learning how to express ourselves. And everything, in a sense, is soul manifestation. Or all manifestation is manifestation of soul.
Initial manifestation is with the intention of completion. An initial manifestation is always an intent to complete something. This is why, in healing, all offers, all manifestations, no matter how 'negatively' perceived, must be accepted, and equally. Because often it is that the perceived positive is as veiling as the perceived negative, but even the veiling is a manifestation of intent to be seen, and must be seen and accepted as such.
Completion is different from initiation. Initiation can take place without completion, but completion cannot occur without initiation. Without experience, initiation may be fumbling in the beginning, but if allowed to follow its own course of events, the point and final product will be achieved. This is why it is often said that we must surrender to ourselves - the good, bad and ugly, because we will achieve our goal, if we are not deterred, distracted or discouraged. And even then, we will, for the most part, figure out some other way. And that's where straightforwardness is lost and things get devious and confusing.
In the absence of security, we will look for means to create it, because from security, our confidence manifests and it is then OK for us to feel good about ourselves without criticism, and that's the beginning of what we are looking for. In order to feel good, we must feel good about ourselves.
Acting on impulse is the creation of opportunity to challenge validity through the exploration of consequences. It is a search for confidence and a part of the soul intent to have self be all-knowing. Soul is inviting self to know itself perfectly, as perfect self-knowing is a divine, and therefore soul, quality. Valuable lessons are often learned through trial and error, and it is fortunate if we can learn them in the company of forgiving friends. For this I am thankful for the presence of forgiving friends.
The point and purpose of the religion of Islam (surrender) is to support and facilitate the clarity of the soul's manifestation. Coming from the truth and leading to the truth, Islam (surrender) is purifying. Accepting the religion of Islam (even that it exists) is soul purifying. Self-purification in Arabic is called Tasawwuf. Tasawwuf is the Arabic word from which derives the English word Sufism.
So true Muslims (Surrendered as the little children are Surrendered) are Sufis. They are the Divine children of God, and they are taking responsibility for it.
It is this quality of soul-purification, inherent within Islam, that is observed when it is accepted and practiced with a pure intention. Purity of intention is discovered and manifested more easily when under the guidance of a realized master, for that is the way that true prophetic transmission is received.
In Islam, the truth of one's Surrender to Al-llah! is confirmed at the hand of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be Al-llah!'s peace and blessings. And, in the Sufi way, this confirmation is extended through an unending chain of realized masters, who have completed their education in mystic (esoteric) realizations and religious (exoteric) studies, and have received acknowledgment for such in the form of a confirmation, or a "permission" to teach. This permission is from Al-llah! and therefore inherently within all of us.
This inherent capacity has also been recognized by the prophet himself. But its outward confirmation, its proof, activation, fulfillment of potential and maximum effect, is to be found only in the seeking, finding and learning from a living master or authorized representative. For how can you have your surrender and self-realization activated, recognized or confirmed by one who is not?
True surrender is more than self-realization, even though self-realization is the beginning and the goal. Self-realization is the process of healing the mental, emotional and spiritual difficulties inherent in life, and is prerequisite to gratitude and a soulfully motivated willingness to continue by acceptance of further studies.
After self-realization there is self-manifestation, which results from motivation, so there are choices to be made. Awareness of the field of possibilities and the processes by which choices are made will be expanded and the wisdom must be acquired in the process of learning to make better and more informed choices.
Without self-realization there cannot be love and gratitude, and love and gratitude (either the expression of or quest for) are the only true motivations for accepting Islam (surrender) and walking in the way of the Sufis. Fear and obligation will simply not last.
So without healing there cannot be self-realization, and without self-realization there cannot be true responsibility, and without true responsibility there cannot be gratitude, and without gratitude there cannot be love, and without love there is no true motivation. And until all those truths are realized in one, one is not truly of whole mind and sound body, and is therefore neither required nor able to completely understand and accept the responsibilities of Islam.
So the healing - self-realization - is first. Then we are at least able to join the ranks of the rijal-ullah, the whole men and women of Al-llah! And willingness (himmah) comes from the soul.
So it is the duty of Muslims (surrendered and enlightened people) to enlighten (lighten the burden of) others, to help them unburden their souls and set themselves free. It is not, as is often assumed, to burden them by insisting that they share in some form of slavery to religion. A freed people will always come to the aid of their liberators.
Tasawwuf (Sufism) is the soul purifying power of accepting Surrender. Surrender, and the life in surrender, is the purpose, manifestation and result of the true prophetic revelation. Tasawwuf is the power of Islam (Surrender) to purify and to cleanse the soul of the dross and residues of mortal life.
In effect, what one is doing when making the prayers, is self-expressing (gratitude), and further cleansing and purifying one's soul by surrendering the heart, body and mind into divine light, until it becomes so saturated with truth that there is nowhere left for falsehood, the driving illusions, to hide. But this is only for the people who want that.
How can one be truly surrendered and still be all alone? Must it not be realized that there are others gone before and still more to come? It must be realized that surrender and mastery are a chain, and have a source.
Will a truly surrendered person allow fear of authority to keep her from discovering the loving benefit to be had from a master? I think not.
One may discover the love of Surrender on one's own, and many do. But the understanding of mastery - the permission to manifest it and the ability to transmit it - which is the fully fulfilled and manifested power of self-realization, comes only from having received it by such means.
So the search continues for a perfect master from whom to receive the transforming reality of "shaktipat", or "the master's touch". Such is the Sufi way and the way of the true Islam, the way of the truth and the Surrender to Al-llah!, the One who is always true.