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Attentiveness and Awareness of One's State of Mind and Heart

Shaykh NazimFollowing are are three Principles on Awareness out of the Eleven Principles of the Naqshbandi Sufi Path. These Principles are passed from Qutubs or Spiritual Axis of their time finally through the transmission of two great Naqshbandi (Pattern Maker) Sufi masters: 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani (d. 1220) and Baha ad-din Naqshband (d. 1389), may God sanctify their soul and give us baraka (blessings) with what they carried within.

. Attentiveness ~ Nigah dasht

Struggle with all alien thoughts. Be always mindful of what you are thinking and doing, so that you may put the imprint of your immortality on every passing incident and instance of your daily life.

Be watchful. Be aware of what catches your attention. Learn to withdraw your attention from undesirable objects. This is also expressed as "be vigilant in thought and remember yourself."

Nigah means sight. It means that the seeker must watch his heart and safeguard it by preventing bad thoughts from entering. Bad inclinations keep the heart from joining with the Divine.

It is acknowledged in the Naqshbandiyya that for a seeker to safeguard his heart from bad inclinations for fifteen minutes is a great achievement. For this he would be considered a real Sufi. Sufism is the power to safeguard the heart from bad thoughts and protect it from low inclinations. Whoever accomplishes these two goals will know his heart, and whoever knows his heart will know his Lord. The Holy Prophet, praised is his station, has said, "Whoever knows himself knows His Lord."

Sa'd ud-Din Kashgari said: "The seeker must, for one hour or two or whatever he is capable of, hold onto his mind and prevent thoughts of other [than God] entering." Another description from the Munahej ul-Sair has it that: "[Nigah dasht is the] guarding of the special awareness and presence which have resulted from the noble dhikr, so that remembering of anything other than the Real does not find its way into the heart/mind."

Yet others have written that nigah dasht also applies to the time of the dhikr itself: "Nigah dasht is when the seeker at the time of the dhikr holds his heart/mind upon the meaning of LA ILAHA ILLA 'LLAH so that thoughts do not find entrance into his heart, because if thoughts are in the mind then the result of the dhikr, meaning presence of the heart/mind, will not manifest." It has also been said, "Nigah dasht is an expression meaning the prevention of the occurance of thought at the time one is occupied with [repeating] the fragrant sentence [of LA ILAHA ILLA 'LLAH]."

Abdul Majid Il Khani said that the meaning of preserving the heart/mind from incoming thoughts is that they lose their hold on the mind. In this connection Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar said: "The meaning of preserving the mind [from thoughts] is not that the seeker can avoid thoughts at the beginning [of his attempts], but rather that thoughts do not disturb the attendance and presence [required for the dhikr]. [Thoughts] can be likened to straw which has fallen onto moving water and yet the water is not prevented from its course. 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani said: "It isn't so that thoughts never enter the heart/mind, but rather that at times they do and at times they do not." His statement seems to be supported by Khwaja 'Ala al-Din al-'Attar who reported: "Succeeding with thoughts is difficult or even impossible. I preserved my heart for twenty years from thoughts, after which they would still appear but they then found no hold there."

. Awareness of One's State of Mind / Time ~ Wuquf-i-Zamani

Baha ad-din Naqshband said that this consciousness is the maker and guide of the disciple. It means to be attentive to one's state of mind at any given moment and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting.

It means: To keep account of one's temporal states. To distinguish presence, huzur, from absence, ghaflat. Baha ad-din described this as "self-possession" or "mindfulness." He added that one should always be grateful when one returns to a state of presence.

In wuquf-i-zaman the seeker remains constantly aware of his changing states. Baha ad-din Naqshband explained: "Wuquf-i-zamani is the work of the traveler on the Way: to be attentive of his state, and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting, to give thanks while feeling spiritual elation, and to repent while in spiritual dryness or contraction."

He also stated: "The foundation of the work of the seeker has been established in the awareness of time [exercise] as seeing at each moment whether the perceiver of breaths is [breathing] with presence or with forgetfulness."

Maulana Yaqub Charkhi, in his Explanation of the Names of Allah, said: "Khwaja [Naqshband] instructed that in the state of qabz (contraction) one should seek God's forgiveness, whereas in the state of bast (expansion) one should offer thanks. Close observation of these two states constitutes wuquf-i-zamani." Wuquf-i-zamani of the Naqshbandi path is equivalent to the term "mohasseba" (keeping account of/close observation) used by other Sufis.

Jami, in the Resalah-i-nuria, said:"Wuquf-i-zamani is a term meaning the keeping account of the times one passes in [a state of] dispersal (tafriqah) or collectedness (jam'iyyat)."

. Awareness of the Heart ~ Wuquf-i-Qalbi

The heart becomes aware of God. This marks the awakening of divine love. The individual becomes aware that his existence is an obstacle to his final transformation and he no longer fears to sacrifice it because he sees for himself that he will gain infinitely more than he loses.

Wuquf-i-qalbi has been described as having two meanings. One is that the seeker's heart in the midst of the dhikr is conscious and aware of the Real. On this point Khwaja Ubaydullah Ahrar said: "Wuquf-i-qalbi is an expression meaning an awareness and presence of heart toward the Most High Real felt in such a manner that the heart feels no need of anything except the Real." This meaning is similar to that of yad dasht.

Heart consciousness means heart's resting with the Beloved, as if nothing and no one else existed.

The other meaning is that there is awareness of the heart itself. In other words, the seeker during the time of the dhikr is attentive to the cone-shaped heart which is the "seat of subtlety," and prevents it from becoming unaware during the saying of the dhikr.

Baha ad-din Naqshband, according to the Qodsîyyah, considered "the observance of wuquf-i-qalbi the most important and necessary because it is the summary and essence of the intention of the dhikr."

Like an expecting mother-bird,
sit watchfully on the egg of your heart,
Since from this egg will result
your drunkenness, self-abandoned,
uproarious laughter and your final union.


- Credit: The Eleven Principles of the Naqshbandi Path


Photo on top: Mawlana Sheikh Muhummed Nazim, may Allah be pleased with him, Guide of Naqshbandi-Haqqani sufi lineage who recently announced his eldest Son, Sheikh Sayyid Mehmet to be his chief Khalifa.

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