Irina Tweedie is one of the most respected women realizers and woman Spiritual teachers of the 20th century. She was the first woman to ever be trained in the yogic Sufi lineage. She moved from England to study and live with her Teacher, a traditional Naqshbandi Sufi Master, in India for five years, until his death in 1966. Her book The Daughter of Fire is written in the form of a spiritual diary of her training. It is a most profound, remarkable, and timeless classic in the field of journal literature and especially of spiritual training. This is from the foreword to that book.
Suffering has a redeeming quality. Pain and repetition are fixative agents.
The reader will find it [her diary, Daughter of Fire] very repetitive. Naturally so. For it is the story of a teaching. And teaching is constant repetition. The pupil has to learn the lesson again and again in order to be able to master it, and the teacher must repeat the lesson, present it in a different light, sometimes in a different form, so that the pupil should understand and remember. Each situation is repeated many a time, but each time it triggers off a slightly different psychological reaction leading to the next experience, and so forth.
I hoped to get instructions in Yoga, expected wonderful teachings, but what the Teacher did was mainly to force me to face the darkness within myself, and it almost killed me.
In other words he made me "descend into hell," the cosmic drama enacted in every soul as soon as it dares to lift its face to the Light.
It was done very simply, by using violent reproof and even aggression. My mind was kept in a state of confusion to the extent of being "switched off." I was beaten down in every sense till I had to come to terms with that in me which I kept rejecting all my life. It is surprising how the classical method of training, devised perhaps thousands of years ago, is similar to the modern psychological techniques; even dream analysis has a place in it.
Somewhere in one of The Upanishads — I don't remember which one — there is a sentence which puts our quest for spirituality in a nutshell: "If you want Truth as badly as a drowning man wants air, you will realize it in a split-second."
But who wants Truth as badly as that? It is the task of the Teacher to set the heart aflame with the unquenchable flame of longing, and it is his duty to keep it burning till it is reduced to ashes. For only a heart which has burned itself empty is capable of love. Only a heart which has become non-existent can resurrect, pulsate to the rhythm of a new life.