A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty
By Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, London, 1914.
Beloved ones of God, you may belong to any race, cast, creed, or nation, still you are all impartially beloved by God. You may be a believer or an unbeliever in the supreme Being, but He cares not. His mercy and grace flow through all His powers, without distinction of friend or foe.
‘Every leaf of tree, Allah’s praise displays,
Only the pious mind can hear their sacred lays.’
The sun, moon, and stars give light; the timely change of seasons promotes health and cheerfulness; the rain grows corn, fruits, and flowers; and the alternation of day and night provides the opportunity for work and rest.
‘Earth, water, fire and air,
All work harmoniously.
For thee they always food prepare,
Thou shouldst not eat unthankfully.
For how each day the sun shines and serves,
All praise from thee Allah deserves.’
If you study your own body, you will find its mechanism to be the original model of the artificial mechanism of the world. Art and science fail if compared with that of His nature. The ear, eyes, and all other organs, how perfectly they are adapted in shape and mechanism to the purpose which they must serve! How liberally the needs of life, water, air, and food, are supplied; even milk is prepared in the mother’s breast for the unborn infant. Should we not appreciate the liberality of the Creator, and thank him each moment with all humility and gratitude? ‘Praise be to Allah, the worship of whom is the means of drawing closer to Him, and the giving of thanks to whom involves an increase of benefits. Every breath which is inhaled prolongs life, and when exhaled it quickens the frame. In every breath, therefore, two blessings are contained, and for every blessing a separate thanksgiving is due’.
He has fashioned and molded you after His own image, and made you Ashrá f al-Makhluá t, the highest of all beings and the pride of the universe, having given you command over all other beings of both worlds. As is said in the Qur’an, ‘Do you not see that Allah has subjected all things on earth to you?’ And at the same time He has given you, by His grace, the attributes of humanity: kindness, gratitude, faithfulness, justice, modesty, piety, sympathy, reverence, bravery, patience, love, knowledge, and wisdom. This is an open proof of your being the real object of creation and the most beloved of God.
The argument has been raised that all manifestation is due to the interaction of natural elements, working by their own force; every cause has its effect, and the effect again becomes a cause for the reaction; thus nature works unaided. The answer is, that every cause must have some preceding cause, or first cause, to produce it; and logically one cause may produce many effects, which effects again become second causes, producing new reactions, ‘While intellectual minds are seeking second causes, the wise man only perceives the first cause. Air, earth, water, being second causes, the precedent cause, which makes them act and pause, is hidden.’
THE PERSONAL BEING
Granting that we see nature, and also admitting its original cause, upon what grounds do we consider the cause to be a personal God, meriting worship? The answer is that nature itself consists of different personalities, and each of them has its peculiar attributes. The sum total of all these personalities is One, the only real personality. In relation to that One all other personalities are merely an illusion. Just as, in a limited form, a nation or a community is the sum of many personalities. Just as nature manifested in numerous names and forms is still called nature, singular not plural, just as the individual combines within himself the different parts of his body, arms, limbs, eyes, ears, and is possessed of different qualities yet is one person, so the sum total of all personalities is called God.
He is the possessor of all the visible and invisible attributes of the Absolute, and has different names in different languages for the understanding of man. It may be said that the personality of a man is quite comprehensible, since his actions exhibit him as a single individual, whereas God’s personality has no clear identification of its own. The answer is, that variety covers unity. ‘Hidden things are manifested by their opposites, but as God has no opposite He remains hidden. God’s light has no opposite in the range of creation whereby it may be manifested to view’.
The wise man by studying nature enters into the unity through its variety, and realizes the personality of God by sacrificing his own. ‘He who knows himself knows Allah’. ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’. ‘Self-knowledge is the real wisdom’.
God’s relation to nature may be understood by analysing the idea expressed in the words, ‘I myself’. This affirmation means the one individual; at the same time it identifies the dual aspect of the One. In this phrase ‘I’ is the possessor, and ‘myself’ is the possessed. So also God, the unmanifested, is the possessor; and nature, the manifestation, is the possessed, which has its source hidden within itself.
The possessed could not have been created from anything other than the possessor’s own self, as there existed none but the possessor. Although the possessor and the possessed are considered to be two separate identities, in reality they are one. The possessor realizes the possessed through the medium of his own consciousness, which forms three aspects, the Trinity, of the one Being. The German philosopher Hegel says, ‘If you say God is one, it is true; if you say He is two, that is also true; and if you say He is three, that is true too, because it is the nature of the world.’
God is regarded from three points of view: personality, morality, and reality. According to the first view, God is the most high; man is dependent upon Him and is His most obedient servant. According to the second view, God is the all-merciful and all-good Master of the Day of Judgement, while all evil is from Satan. The third is the philosophic view that God is the beginning and end of all, having Himself no beginning nor end. As a Sufi mystic has said, ‘The universe is the manifestation of Allah, where from His own unity He created, by involution, variety — the state of various names and forms — , thereby distinguished as Allah, worthy of all praise and worship.’
According to Sufi tenets the two aspects of the supreme Being are termed Zá t and Sifat, the Knower and the Known. The former is Allah and the latter Mohammed. Zát being only one in its existence, cannot be called by more than one name, which is Allah; and Sifat, being manifold in four different involutions, has numerous names, the sum of them all being termed Mohammed. The ascending and descending forms of Zát and Sifat form the circle of the Absolute. These two forces are called Nuzul and Uruj, which means involution and evolution. Nuzul begins from Zát and ends in Sifat; Uruj starts from Sifat and ends in Zát, Zát being the negative and Sifat the positive force.
Zát projects Sifat from its own self and absorbs it within itself. It is a rule of philosophy that the negative cannot lose its negativeness by projecting the positive from itself, though the positive covers the negative within itself, as the flame covers the fire. The positive has no independent existence, yet it is real because projected from the real, and it may not be regarded as an illusion. Human ignorance persists in considering Zát to be separate from Sifat, and Sifat independent of Zát.
We may ask: why we should worship God, and whether the theoretical knowledge of His law in nature is not sufficient For the highest realization. The answer is: no. Theoretical knowledge of a subject can never take the place of experience, which is necessary for realization. Written music cannot entertain us unless it is played, nor the description of perfume delight our senses unless we smell it, no recipes of the most delicious dishes satisfy our hunger. Nor can the theory of God give complete joy and peace; we must actually realize God or attain that state of realization which gives eternal happiness through the admiration and worship of nature’s beauty and its source. ‘The Beloved is all in all, the lover only veils him; the Beloved is all that lives, the lover a dead thing’.
Different methods called religions and philosophies have been adopted by different nations at various periods. Though the form and teachings of the several religions appear so unlike, their source is one and the same. But from the very beginning the differences have created prejudice, envy, and antagonism between man. Such dissensions occupy a large portion of the histories of the world and have become the most important subject in life.
‘So many castes and so many creeds,
So many faiths, and so many beliefs,
All have arisen from ignorance of man,
Wise is he who only truth conceives.’
A wise man realizes that the fundamental basis of all religions and beliefs is one: Haq, or truth. The truth has always been covered by two garments: a turban on the head, and a robe upon the body. The turban is made of mystery known as mysticism, and the robe is made of morality, which is called religion. Truth has been covered thus by most of the prophets and saints, in order to hide it from ignorant eyes, as yet too undeveloped to bear it in its naked form. Those who see the truth uncovered, abandon reason and logic, good and bad, high and low, new and old; differences and distinctions of names and forms fade away, and the whole universe is realized as nothing other than Haq. Truth in its realization is one; in its representation it is many, since its revelations are made under varying conditions of time and space.
As water in a fountain flows in one stream but falls in many drops, divided by time and space, so are the revelations of the one stream of truth. Not everyone can comprehend the idea of different truths being derived from the one truth. Common sense has been so narrowly trained in this world of variety, that it naturally fails to realize the breadth and subtlety of a spiritual fact so far beyond the reach of its limited reasoning.
The word Sufi is derived from Safa meaning pure, purified of ignorance, superstition, dogmatism, egotism, and fanaticism, as well as free from limitations of caste, creed, race, and nation. The Sufis believe in God as the Absolute, the only Being; and that all creation is the manifestation of His nature.
There have been Sufis at all periods of human history. Though they have lived in different parts of the world, speaking different languages and born into different faiths and beliefs, they have recognized and sympathized with each other, through the oneness of their understanding. Yet with their deep knowledge of the world and of spiritual mysteries, they have concealed their beliefs from the multitude, and have pursued in secret their way of attainment to the highest bliss.
Nature has been involved through spirit into matter, and evolves through different stages. Man is the result of the involution of spirit and the evolution of matter; the final effect of this cause is ‘self-realization’, which means that the Knower arrives at that stage of perfection where He can know Himself…
‘Thou art a mortal being,
And thou art the Eternal One;
Know thyself, through light of wisdom,
Except Thee there exists none.’
The human being is inherently capable of self-knowledge; but to know oneself means not only to know that one is John, Jacob, or Henry, or short, tail, or of normal height, or to know that one is good, bad, and so forth, but also to know the mystery of one’s existence, theoretically as well as practically: to know what one is within oneself, from whence and for what purpose one was born on earth; whether one will live here for ever, or if one’s stay is short; of what one is composed, and which attributes one possesses; whether one belongs to angels, contemplating the beauties of God’s nature, or if one belongs to the animals, who know nothing other than to eat, drink, and be merry; or whether one belongs to the devils. It requires perfection in humanity to attain self-knowledge. To know that I am God, or we are gods, or to know that everything is a part of God, is not sufficient. Perfect realization can only be gained by passing through all the stages between man, the manifestation, and God, the only Being; knowing and realizing ourselves from the lowest to the highest point of existence, and so accomplishing the heavenly journey.
The greatest principle of Sufism is, ‘Ishq Allah, Ma’bud Allah’; God is love, lover, and beloved.
When Ahad, the only Being, became conscious of his Wahdat, only existence, through His own consciousness, then’ His predisposition of love made Him project Himself to establish His dual aspect, that He might be able to love someone. This made God the lover, and manifestation the beloved; the next inversion makes manifestation the lover, and God the beloved. This force of love has been working through several evolutions and involutions, which end in man who is the ultimate aim of God. The dual aspect of God is significant in Zát and Sifat, in spirit and matter, and in the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, wherein the two sexes, male and female, are clearly represented. The dual aspect of God is symbolized by each form of this wonderful world. This whole universe, internally and externally, is governed by the source of love, which is sometimes the cause and sometimes the effect. The producer and the product are one, and that One is nothing but love.
‘A church, a temple or a Ka’ba stone,
Qur’an or Bible or a martyr’s bone,
All these and more my heart can tolerate,
Since my religion now is Love alone’.
Sufis take the course of love and devotion to accomplish their highest aim, because it is love which has brought man from the world of unity to the world of variety, and the same force can take him back again to the world of unity from that of variety.
‘Love is the reduction of the universe to the single being, and the expansion of a single being, even to God’.
Love is that state of mind in which the consciousness of the lover is merged in that of the object of his love; it produces in the lover all the attributes of humanity, such as resignation, renunciation, humility, kindness, contentment, patience, virtue, calmness, gentleness, charity, faithfulness, bravery, by which the devotee becomes harmonized with the Absolute. As one of God’s beloved, a path is opened for his heavenly journey: at the end he arrives at oneness with God, and his whole individuality is dissolved in the ocean of eternal bliss where even the conception of God and man disappears.
‘Although love is a sweet madness,
Yet all infirmities it heals.
Saints and sages have passed through it,
Love both to God and man appeals.’
The ideal perfection, called Baqa by Sufis, is termed ‘Najat’ in Islam, ‘Nirvana’ in Buddhism, ‘Salvation’ in Christianity, and ‘Mukhti’ in Hinduism. This is the highest condition attainable, and all ancient prophets and sages experienced it, and taught it to the world.
Baqa is the original state of God. At this state every being must arrive some day, consciously or unconsciously, before or after death. The beginning and end of all beings is the same, difference only existing during the journey.
There are three ways in man’s journey towards God. The first is the way of ignorance, through which each must travel. It is like a person walking for miles in the sun while carrying a heavy load on his shoulder, who, when fatigued, throws away the load and falls asleep under the shade of a tree. Such is the condition of the average person, who spends his life blindly under the influence of his senses and gathers the load of his evil actions; the agonies of his earthly longings creating a hell through which he must pass to reach the destination of his journey. With regard to him the Qur’an says, ‘He who is blind in life, shall also be blind in the hereafter.’
The next way is that of devotion, which is for true lovers. Rumi says, ‘Man may be the lover of man or the lover of God; after his perfection in either he is taken before the King of love.’ Devotion is the heavenly wine, which intoxicates the devotee until his heart becomes purified from all infirmities and there remains the happy vision of the Beloved, which lasts to the end of the journey. ‘Death is a bridge, which unites friend to friend’.
The third is the way of wisdom, accomplished only by the few. The disciple disregards life’s momentary comforts, unties himself from all earthly bondages and turns his eyes toward God, inspired with divine wisdom. He gains command over his body, his thoughts and feelings, and is thereby enabled to create his own heaven within himself, that he may rejoice until merged into the eternal goal. ‘We have stripped the veil from thine eyes, and thy sight today is keen’, says the Qur’an. All must journey along one of these three paths, but in the end they arrive at one and the same goal. As it is said in the Qur’an, ‘It is He who multiplied you on the earth, and to Him you shall be gathered.’
It is hard for intellect alone to believe in the possibility of prophetic inspiration. Intellect is the consciousness reflected in the knowledge of names and forms; wisdom is consciousness in its pure essence, which is not necessarily dependent upon the knowledge of names and forms.
The gift of wisdom gives vision in. to the real nature of things as the X-ray penetrates material bodies. Wisdom has been specially bestowed upon certain persons, and in these rare cases the receivers of it are more than merely wise, and may be regarded as the very manifestation of wisdom. They are the prophets, who have foresight, inspiration, intuition, clairvoyance, and clairaudience as their inborn attributes.
A Sufi considers all prophets and sages, not as many individuals, but as the one embodiment of God’s pure consciousness, or the manifestation of divine wisdom, appearing on earth for the awakening of man from his sleep of ignorance, in different names and forms. Just as one’s own sub-consciousness would awaken one at a certain time, if previously warned, in the same way the consciousness of God is the agency for awakening His manifestation, projecting itself through different names and forms to accomplish His desire of being known. All these causes of wisdom are the manifestation of the one cause, Haq.
The prophetic mission was intended to train the world gradually in divine wisdom according to its mental evolution, and to impart it to man, according to his understanding, in forms suitable to various lands at different periods. This is why numerous different religions are still in existence, although the moral principles of all are the same.
Each prophet had a mission to prepare the world for the teaching of the next; each one prophesied the coming of the next, and the work was thus continued by all the prophets until Mohammed, the Khatim al Mursalin, the last messenger of divine wisdom and the seal of the prophets, came on his mission, and in his turn gave the final statement of divine wisdom: ‘None exists but Allah.’ This message fulfilled the aim of prophetic mission. This final definition is a clear interpretation of all religions and philosophies in the most apparent form. There was no necessity left for any more prophets after this divine message, which created the spirit of democracy in religion by recognizing God in every being. By this message man received the knowledge that he may attain the highest perfection under the guidance of a perfect murshid or spiritual teacher.
Sufis have no prejudice regarding any prophets and masters. They look upon all as divine wisdom itself, the highest attribute of God, appearing under different names and forms; and they love them with all adoration, as the lover loves his beloved in all her different garments, and throughout all the stages of her life. Sufis also respectfully recognize and offer devotion to their Beloved, the divine wisdom in all her garments, at all times, and under such different names and forms as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Mohammed teachings are studied and followed by the orthodox as religion, and by the deep thinkers as a philosophy.
Sufis, who had received spiritual training from all previous prophets and leaders, likewise received training from Mohammed. The openness of Mohammed’s essential teachings paved the way for them to come forward into the world without the interference they had previously experienced, and a mystic order called the Saheba-e-Safa, Knights of Purity, was inaugurated by the Prophet, and afterwards was carried on by Ali and Siddiq. The lives of these knights were extraordinary in their wisdom, piety, bravery, spirituality, and great charity of heart. This order was carried on by their successors, who were called Pir-o-Murshid, Shaikh, etc., one after another, duly connected as links in a chain.
The spiritual bond between them is a miraculous force of divine illumination, and is experienced by worthy initiates of the Sufi Order; just as the electric current runs through all connected lamps and lights them. By this means the higher development is attained without great efforts. Sufism was unostentatiously practiced in Arabia during the period of Sahabis, Taba’in, and Taba’-i-taba’in. Charity, piety, spirituality, and bravery are the real proofs of Sufi advancement.
The sensational Sufi movements which took place in Persia in the later periods, have won all the credit of Sufism for the Persians, and Sufism came to be regarded as a Persian philosophy. Imam al-Ghazali, Juneyd-e Baghdadi, Farid-ud-Din ‘Attar had taken the lead in advancing Sufism in the world at large. Shams-e-Tabré z, Sa’di, Khagani, Firdausi, Omar Khayyá m, Abdul Ala and other great Sufi poets, have very substantially established the reputation of Sufism by their inspired poetical works on divine wisdom. Sa’adi’s works illuminate the intellect; the Divan of Hafiz expands the heart with divine love; Jelal-ud-Din Rumi’s poems, the Masnavi e Ma’navi inspire the soul.
These works were originally composed in Persian, but are now translated into many other languages. They have been a most important source of education for humanity, and are studied as the most popular treatises on the divine wisdom of the East.
The spiritual part of Sufism was most miraculously realized by Abdul Qadir Jilani, Moin-ud-Din Chishti, Bahaud-Din Naqshband, Shihab-ud-Din Sohrawardi, and others.
India, being greatly addicted to philosophy, was well suited for Sufism, where, in ancient and modern records, a great many Sufis with miraculous careers are to be found. The tombs of Moin-ud-Din Chishti, Nizam-ud-Din, Sharif-ud-Din, Bandeh Navaz, Mohammed Gauth, are visited with much reverence and devotion by people of various nations and many beliefs, in thankful remembrance of their great careers.
Sufism, as a religious philosophy of love, harmony, and beauty, aims at expanding the soul of man until the realization of the beauty of all creation enables him to become as perfect an expression of divine harmony as possible. It is therefore natural that the Sufi Order should stand foremost as a spiritual power in the East, and that it is rapidly becoming recognized in the West.
Many Sufi saints have attained what is known as Godconsciousness, which is the most all-inclusive realization of the meaning of the word ‘good’ attainable by man. Strictly speaking, Sufism is neither a religion nor a philosophy; it is neither theism nor atheism, but stands between the two and fills the gap. Among the religious, Sufis are considered to be free-thinkers; while among intellectual philosophers they are considered religious, because they make use of subtler principles in life to elevate the soul than can readily be followed by material logic.
Sufis have in many cases realized and shown the greatest perfection in humanity. And among the lives of the Sufi saints may be found some of the most divine models of human perfection in all capacities, from a king to a laborer. The idea that Sufism sprang from Islam or from any other religion, is not necessarily true; yet it may rightly be called the spirit of Islam, as well as the pure essence of all religions and philosophies.
A true Sufi remains in the thought of truth continually, sees the truth in all things and never becomes prejudiced, but cultivates affection for all beings. A Sufi accomplishes the divine journey and reaches the highest grade of Baqa during this life, but people of all beliefs arrive, eventually, at the same level of understanding and realization which Sufism represents.
Sufism contains all branches of mysticism, such as psychology, occultism, spiritualism, clairvoyance, clairaudience, intuition, inspiration, etc., but that which a Sufi particularly wishes to acquire is not necessarily any of the above-named powers; because the object of all these powers is towards greater individuality, and individuality itself is only a hindrance on the Sufi’s path towards the accomplishment of his highest perfection. Therefore the main object of initiation in the Sufi Order is to cultivate the heart through renunciation and resignation, that it may be pure enough to sow the seed of divine love and realize the highest truth and wisdom, both theoretically and practically, thereby attaining the highest attributes of humanity.
Divine perfection is perfection in all powers and mysteries. All mysteries, powers, and realizations gradually manifest themselves to the Sufi through his natural development, without his specially striving for them.
Self-realization is the highest and most difficult attainment of all; it is impossible to acquire it in the manner of sciences and arts, nor is it possible to attain it as health, wealth, honor, and power can be obtained by certain means. For the sake of self-realization, thousands have renounced family and all worldly possessions, and kings their kingdoms, and they have retired to desert, jungle, or mountain fastness, striving to find in asceticism the secret of this bliss.
The murshid prefers a mureed whose mind is unembarrassed by other methods of training; who is free from worldly considerations, and is possessed of whole-hearted perseverance; who is capable of committing himself with perfect faith and devotion to the guidance of his murshid.
The practice of harmony and temperance is essential, but the murshid never prescribes for his mureeds the ascetic life; rather it is a peculiarity of the Sufi training that the mureed is quickened to appreciate and enjoy the world more than others. The murshid at first creates divine love in the mureed, which, in the course of time, develops and purifies his heart so much that it permits the virtues of humanity to develop freely of themselves. He then receives more and more divine wisdom from the appointed channel, and at last arrives at complete self-realization.
There is no common course of study for mureeds; each receives the special training best adapted to his requirements. In other words, the murshid, as a spiritual physician, prescribes a suitable remedy for curing every mureed. There is no limit of time for the advancement to a certain degree. To one, realization may come the moment after initiation; to another it may not be vouchsafed during his whole life. Among the Sayings of Mohammed one finds: ‘It depends upon nothing but the mercy of Allah whomever He may kindly choose for it.’
Still, there is hope of success: ‘Whoever walks one step towards the grace of Allah, the Divine mercy walks forward ten steps to receive him’.
The only Being has manifested Himself through seven different planes of existence, to accomplish His desire of being recognized:
1. Zát — the unmanifested
2. Ahadiat — plane of Eternal Consciousness
- Wahdat — plane of consciousness
- Wahdaniat — plane of abstract ideas
5. Arwah — the spiritual plane
6. Ajsam — the astral plane
7. Insan — the physical plane
There are, again, seven aspects of manifestation:
1. Sitara — planetary
2. Mahtab — lunar
3. Aftab — solar
4. Madeniat — mineral kingdom
5. Nabitat — vegetable kingdom
6. Haywanat — animal kingdom
7. Insan — human kingdom
Insan, being the ideal manifestation, recognizes God by the knowledge of his own self. Man reaches this perfection by development through five grades of evolution:
1. Nasut — material plane
2. Malakut — mental plane
3. Jabarut — astral plane
4. Lahut — spiritual plane
5. Hahut — plane of consciousness
Each grade of development prepares a person for a higher one, and perfects him in five different grades of humanity:
1. Adam — the ordinary man
2. Insan — the wise man
3. Wali — the holy man
4. Qutb — the saint
5. Nabi — the prophet
The five natures corresponding to these five grades are:
1. Ammara — who acts under the influence of his senses;
2. Lauwama — one who repents of his follies;
3. Mutmaina — one who considers before taking action;
4. Alima — one who thinks, speaks and acts aright;
5. Salima — one who sacrifices himself for the benefit of others.
The following is a diagram illustrating the planes of Nuzul and Uruj:
All planes of existence consist of vibrations, from the finest to the grossest kind; the vibrations of each plane have come from a higher one, and have become grosser. Whoever knows the mystery of vibrations, he indeed knows all things. Vibrations are of five different aspects, appearing as the five elements:
1. Nur — ether
2. Baad — air
3. Atesh — fire
4. Aab — water
5. Khaak — earth
In relation to these elements, mankind has five senses:
Basarat — sense of sight the eyes
Samat — sense of hearing the ears
Naghat — sense of smell the nose
Lazzat — sense of taste the tongue
Muss — sense of touch the skin
Through these senses and different organs of the mental and physical existence the Ruh, the soul, experiences life; and when the Ruh receives the highest experience of all phases of existence by the favor of the murshid, then it will have that peace and bliss, the attainment of which is the only object of manifestation.
INTEREST AND INDIFFERENCE
Interest results from ignorance and indifference results from wisdom; still it is not wise to avoid interest as long as we are in the world of illusion. It is the interest of God which has been the cause of all creation and which keeps the whole universe in harmony; nevertheless one should not be completely immersed in phenomena, but should realize oneself as being independent of interests.
The dual aspect of the only Being, in the form of love and beauty, has glorified the universe and produced harmony.
He who arrives at the state of indifference without experiencing interest in life is incomplete, and apt to be tempted by interest at any moment; but he who arrives at the state of indifference by going through interest, really attains the blessed state. Perfection is reached not through interest alone, nor through indifference alone, but through the right experience and understanding of both.
SPIRIT AND MATTER
From the scientific standpoint, spirit and matter are quite different from each other, but according to the philosophical point of view they are one.
Spirit and matter are different, just as water is different from snow; yet again they are not different, for snow is nothing other than water. When spiritual vibrations become more dense they turn into matter, and when material vibrations become finer they develop into spirit.
For a Sufi at the beginning of his training the spiritual life is desirable, but after mastering it, material and spiritual lives become the same to him, and he is master of both.
THE HEART AND SOUL
Man’s heart is the throne of God. The heart is not only a physical organ but is also the function of feeling, placed in the midst of the body and soul. The heart of flesh is the instrument which first receives the feeling of the soul, and transmits its effect through the whole body. There are four aspects of the heart:
1. ‘Arsh — the exaltation of the will
2. Kursi — the seat of justice and distinction
3. Lawh — the fount of inspiration
4. Kalam — the source of intuition
Breath keeps body, heart, and soul connected. It consists of astral vibrations, and has much influence upon the physical and spiritual existence. The first thing a Sufi undertakes in order to harmonize the entire existence, is the purification of the heart; since there is no possibility of the heart’s development without devotion, so the faithful mureed becomes a Sahib-e Dil, as the easiest and most ideal way of development.
INTELLECT AND WISDOM
Intellect is the knowledge obtained by experience of names and forms; wisdom is the knowledge which manifests only from the inner being; to acquire intellect one must delve into studies, but to obtain wisdom, nothing but the flow of divine mercy is needed; it is as natural as the instinct of swimming to the fish, or of flying to the bird. Intellect is the sight which enables one to see through the external world, but the light of wisdom enables one to see through the external into the internal world.
Wisdom is greater and more difficult to attain than intellect, piety, or spirituality.
DREAMS AND INSPIRATIONS
Dreams and inspirations are open proofs of the higher world. The past, present, and future are frequently seen in a dream, and may also be revealed through inspiration. The righteous person sees more clearly than the unrighteous. There are five kinds of dreams:
1. Khayali — in which the actions and thoughts of the day are reproduced in sleep.
2. Qalbi — in which the dream is opposite to the real happening.
3. Naqshi — in which the real meaning is disguised by as symbolic representation which only the wise can understand.
4. Ruhi — in which the real happening is literally shown.
5. Elhami — in which divine messages are given in letters or by an angelic voice.
Dreams give, sometimes clearly, sometimes in a veiled form, warnings of coming dangers and assurance of success. The ability to be conscious of dreams and their meaning varies with the degree of development attained.
Dreams have their effect sooner or later, according to the stars under which they take place. The dream seen at midnight is realized within one year, and the dream of the latter part of night within six months; the dream of the early morning is realized soon after. At the same time the manifestation of dreams is subject to qualification according to the good or bad actions of the dreamer.
Inspirations are more easily reflected upon spiritual persons than upon material ones. Inspiration is the inner light which reflects itself upon the heart of man; the purer the heart is from rust, like a clean mirror, the more clearly inspiration can be reflected in it. To receive inspirations clearly the heart should be prepared by proper training. A heart soiled with rust is never capable of receiving them. There are five kinds of inspiration:
1. Elham-e-‘Ilm — inspiration of an artist and scientist
2. Elham-e-Husn — inspiration of a musician and poet
3. Elham-e-‘Ishq — inspiration of a devotee
4. Elbam-e-Ruh — inspiration of a mystic
5. Elham-e-Ghayb — inspiration of a prophet
Inspirations are reflected upon mankind in five ways:
1. Kushad der Khyal — in the wave of thought
2. Kushad der Hal — in emotions and feelings
3. Kushad der Jemal — in the sufferings of the heart
4. Kushad der Jelal — in the flow of wisdom
5. Kushad der Kemal — in the divine voice and vision
Some are born with an inspirational gift, and to some it appears after their development. The higher the development in spirituality, the greater the capacity for inspiration, yet the gift of inspiration is not constant; as the saying of Mohammed declares, ‘Inspirations are enclosed as well as disclosed at times; they appear according to the will of Allah, the only Knower of the unknown.”
LAW OF ACTION
The law of cause and effect is as definite in its results in the realm of speech and thought as in the physical world.
Evil done, when it is considered evil, is a sin; and good done, when it is considered good, is a virtue, but one who does good or bad without understanding, has no responsibility for his sins nor credit for his virtues; but he is liable to punishment or reward just the same.
Man forms his future by his actions. His every good or bad action spreads its vibrations and becomes known throughout the universe. The more spiritual a man is, the stronger and clearer are the vibrations of his actions, which spread over the world and weave his future.
The universe is like a dome: it vibrates to that which you say in it, and echoes the same back to you. So also is the law of action: we reap what we sow.
It is impossible to differentiate between good and bad, because the thing seen is colored by the personality of the seer; to the bad view, all good is bad, and to the good view, even the bad seems good in a certain sense; so the wise keep silence in distinguishing good from bad. The most essential rule is not to do to others that which you would not have done to you. That action is desirable which results from kindness, and that action is undesirable which is unkind. Doubtless also, might is often right, but in the end, right is the only might.
There are different principles for life in different religions, but a Sufi’s will is the principle for himself. He is the servant, who surrenders himself to principles; and he is the master, who prescribes principles for himself. One who has never been commanded in life, never knows how to command; in the same way, to be the master, one must first be the servant.
The murshid as a physician of the soul prescribes necessary principles to the mureed, who after accomplishing the training, arrives at that blessed state where he overcomes virtues and sins, and stands beyond good and bad. To him happiness no longer differs from sorrow, for his thought, speech, and action become the thought, speech, and action of God.
MUSIC AMONG SUFIS
Music is called Ghiza-i-ruh, the food of the soul, by Sufis. Music being the most divine art elevates the soul to the higher spirit; music itself being unseen soon reaches the unseen; just as only the diamond can break the diamond, so musical vibrations are used to make the physical and mental vibrations inactive, in order that the Sufi may be elevated to the spiritual spheres.
Music consists of vibrations which have involved from the top to the bottom, and if they would only be systematically used, they could be evolved from the bottom to the top. Real music is known only to the most gifted ones. Music has five aspects:
1. Tarab — music which induces motion of the body
2. Raga — music which appeals to the intellect
3. Qul — music which creates feelings
4. Nida — music heard in vision
5. Saut — music in the abstract
Music has always been the favorite Sufi means of spiritual development. Rumi, the author of the Masnavi, introduced music into his Maulvi Order, and enjoyed the memory of his blessed murshid’s association while listening to it. Since that time music has become the second subject of Sufi practices. They declare that it creates harmony in both worlds and brings eternal peace.
The great mystic of India, Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti, introduced music into his Chishtia Order. Even today musical entertainments for the elevation of the soul, called Suma, are held among Sufis.
Ecstasy is called Wajad by Sufis: it is especially cultivated among the Chishtis. This bliss is the sign of spiritual development and also the opening for all inspirations and powers. This is the state of eternal peace, which purifies from all sins. Only the most advanced Sufis can experience Wajad. Although it is the most blissful and fascinating state, those who give themselves entirely to it become unbalanced, for too much of anything is undesirable; as the day’s labor is a necessary precursor of the night’s rest, so it is better to enjoy this spiritual bliss only after the due performance of worldly duties.
Sufis generally enjoy Wajad while listening to music called Qawwali, special music producing emotions of love, fear, desire, repentance, etc.
There are five aspects of Wajad: Wajad of dervishes, which produces a rhythmic motion of the body; Wajad of idealists, expressed by a thrilling sensation of the body, tears and sighs; Wajad of devotees, which creates an exalted state in the physical and mental body; Wajad of saints, which creates perfect calm and peace; and Wajad of prophets, the realization of the highest consciousness called Sadrat al Manteha. One who by the favor of the murshid arrives at the state of Wajad is undoubtedly the most blessed soul and deserves all adoration.
The entire universe in all its activity has been created through the concentration of God. Every being in the world is occupied consciously or unconsciously in some act of concentration. Good and evil are alike the result of concentration. The stronger the concentration, the greater the result; lack of concentration is the cause of failure in all things. For this world and the other, for material as well as spiritual progress, concentration is most essential.
The power of will is much greater than the power of action, but action is the final necessity for the fulfillment of the will. Perfection is reached by the regular practice of concentration, passing through three grades of development: Faná -fi-Shaikh, annihilation in the astral plane, Faná-fi-Rasul, annihilation in the spiritual plane, and Faná-fi-Allah, annihilation in the abstract.
After passing through these three grades, the highest state is attained of Bá qi-bi-Allah, annihilation in the eternal consciousness, which is the destination of all who travel by this path.
Breath is the first thing to be well studied. This is the very life, and also the chain which connects material existence with the spiritual. Its right control is a ladder leading from the lowest to the highest stage of development. Its science is to be mastered by the favor of the murshid, the guiding light of God.
MALE AND FEMALE ASPECTS OF GOD
The only Being is manifested throughout all planes of existence in two aspects, male and female, representing nature’s positive and negative forces. In the plane of consciousness there are two aspects: Wahdat, consciousness, and Ahadiat, eternal consciousness, and thus also spirit and matter, night and day, signify the dual aspect on lower planes. In the mineral and vegetable kingdoms sex is in a state of evolution, but the highest manifestation of male and female is man and woman.
Man being the first aspect of manifestation, is the more spiritual and nearer to God; woman being the next manifestation, is finer and more capable of divine knowledge. Man’s natural tendency is towards God, while woman’s tendency is towards the world. These contrary tendencies result in balance. Therefore man needs woman to direct his life, and woman needs man for her guidance and protection, both being incomplete in themselves.
The problem of the emancipation of woman may be studied by a comparison of her position in the East and in the West.
The Oriental woman, whose freedom is restricted, is the better wife from the individual point of view, but the enforced inactivity of half the population is not beneficial to the nation. The Occidental woman who is given entire freedom is less anxious for and less capable of home life, but being out in the world her influence promotes the advancement of the nation.
At first sight it would appear that woman is more respected by man in the West, but in reality the East gives her the greater reverence.
Man has more freedom than woman throughout the entire world because he has more strength and power; and the fineness of woman needs protection, just as the eye, being the finest organ of the body, has been protected by nature with eyelids. Both excel in their own characteristics.
A virgin is idolized by man because she is the model of high manifestation; woman’s virtue is a greater ideal than her physical and intellectual beauty. Nature has placed her under the protection of man, but what is most desirable is that man gives her freedom and that she appreciates it by making the best use of it.
There are three kinds of virgins. One, commonly considered a virgin, who has never had association with a man; another is the virgin in heart, whose love is centered in one beloved only; and the third is the virgin in soul, who considers man as God. She alone can give birth to a divine child.
A woman may become a doctor, solicitor, or minister, but it is incomparably greater if she can become a good wife and a kind mother.
Monogamy and polygamy are inborn human attributes. They also exist among birds and beasts. Each individual is born with one of these tendencies, but sometimes one rather than the other is developed by the effect of the atmosphere and surroundings. These tendencies also depend upon the climatic and physical conditions of different countries and races. Polygamy may be natural to man, and monogamy to woman, as the former helps manifestation while the latter destroys it. Illegal polygamy is worse than legal, because it creates deceit and falsehood. Monogamy is the ideal life which is a comfort in this world and the next, and perfects one in love.
Absolute renunciation is as undesirable as is the blind attachment to the world. The ideal life is detached interest in the world, which is best accomplished by man and woman together.
Woman is a mystery within herself, owing to her subtle nature. Sages who made the mistake of considering woman to be of lesser spiritual importance forgot that they themselves were the product of woman.
The majority of prophets and masters have been men because man is the higher manifestation, as is signified by the myth of Adam and Eve, in which Eve was born from the rib of Adam, meaning that woman is the later manifestation; the fruit means that woman directed man’s thoughts towards procreation. The interpretation of Adam and Eve’s exile from heaven is the fail of mankind from the state of innocence to the state of youth. The separation and unhappiness of Adam and Eve show the object of God to manifest in the dual aspect, that He may accomplish his real desire of love. According to the Vedanta half of the divine body, Ardhangi, is womanhood, proving that unity of both is the complete life.
Sufis consider a life of complete unity the most balanced, if it is true and harmonious. Love and wisdom create harmony between man and woman; but these being absent, harmony ceases to exist.
A child inherits more attributes from its mother than from its father, therefore the mother is more responsible for its merits and defects and if she has knowledge she can train the soul of her child even before its birth by the power of her concentration, molding the child’s future according to her own will.
Harmony between truer persons is more lasting than the affections of average mankind. People of angelic qualities have everlasting harmony between them, in which God Himself accomplishes His object of manifestation.
Mankind is born with a worshipful attitude, and as all attitudes demand satisfaction by expression, so the attitude of worship finds its object of adoration. The ancient Greeks and Shiva Bhaktas of India worshipped both aspects of manifestation in the names of gods and goddesses. Sufism, being the essence of all religions and philosophies, looks upon both the opposite aspects of nature as one in reality, and calls it Safat Allah. Sufis reach realization of God by adoring His nature, calling on Him saying, ‘Kull-i shayin Há l-i kull’, which means, ‘Everything will perish except His own Face.’ They look upon all names and forms as the means of realizing the One, the only Being.