Saturday, October 24, 2009

those who are invited will find the way


But where is this gathering?
- I don't know, my little angel.
But do the others know?
- No, they don't know either.
How can you go to a gathering without knowing where it is?
- It suffices to walk, just walk. Those who are invited will find the way. - quoted from Bab 'Aziz


Like many other dialogues, the above one in the movie Bab 'Aziz: the Prince who Contemplated his Soul is infused with secret wisdom of spiritual journey, specially using the beautiful metaphor of the sufis.

The above quote is part of dialogue between the grandfather - the blind dervish and his granddaughter Ishtar (which is an interesting name having its origin in ancient Sumerian / Chaldean age, and represent the lofty beings of love and war, embodiment of two extreme horizons, an inherent potential within all human beings to ascend).

The imagery that the old dervish is blind (yet he is on an remarkable difficult journey which even those with eyes feel afraid to take) is an interesting signpost that a truly God realized person don't necessarily depend on external senses but sees through the heart which is the real perceptive faculty of reality. The Prophet said, "be aware of the vision of God's sainty servants as they see by the Light of God." In spiritual kingdom, the true blindness is not of the eyes but of the inner heart. Its worth remembering the Quranic admonition,
".. and do they not have hearts with which to understand, or ears with which to hear? For surely eyes do not become blind, but it is the hearts in the breasts that grow blind." - The Quran 22:46

Similarly Rumi beckons, "Drain passion's cup and be not ashamed. Close off the head's gaze and see instead with the hidden eyes."

According to the story the grandfather is on his way to an illusive gathering of dervishes, of sufi mystics which only occurs every 30 years. On the question of the where about of this gathering, the old dervish replies that he doesn't know, neither do the others who are in quest of this destination know about its exact location. But those who seek certainly know that there will be sure Signs along the way.

'The gathering' of dervishes represents the meeting circle of mystics. 'The gathering' here symbolizes the group of seekers who come together through their common vocation of seeking. They are spiritual companions who come to love each other for Truth's sake.

There is an unwritten tradition among sufis that their gatherings (of divine remembrance) are not publicly declared or publicized in the manner other events are (except special circumstances and permission by Shaykh). This is because of the spiritual rule that those who are truly thirsty will find water (and also water finds them).

About this spiritual rule, a certain sufi master once gave an analogy saying, if a thief goes to a large city he will be the first to find thieves, at the same time if a saintly person goes into the city, he or she will bump into saintly souls. Another person who is perhaps ten years in a large city will not find one thief, but it would not be surprising if the first man the other person met was a thief. Like attracts like, every impression gathers with that same impression. This is the law of attraction which is universal. The sufis call special invitation as jadhb (divine attraction).

The same is expressed by the reply of the blind dervish when he says, "Those who are invited will find the way". The invisible invitation to such gathering is by Lord Himself Who is the Turner of hearts. He turns the heart and attracts (jadhb) it when seeker's thirst for truth reaches a threshold. By this thirst the seeker embarks on his quest to find the right path and also a true murshid, a kamil pir, a holy teacher or even a spiritual companion or friend who can guide or assist him bi-iznillah, or by permission of God. Indeed just as God teaches transmitted knowledge to man by Pen (symbolizing intellect, means), also God guides men by more perfected men.

Ishtar asks an interesting question, "How can you go to a gathering without knowing where it is?" which represent the question of intellect as the worldly logic doesn't find its footing there. Really, 'how can you go to a place of no address, which mind doesn't have a form to go after'? The reply of the blind dervish is the reply from the wisdom of the sufis, "It suffices to walk, just walk. Those who are invited will find the way."

In many sufi tariqa, the necessary spiritual discipline and struggle and also the journey itself is simply called "walking." 'It suffices to walk, just walk' says the blind dervish. In another place to the question, "But what if we get lost?" its said "He who has faith will never get lost."

Ihdina als-sirata al mustaqeem, "guide us on the straight path." is the universal cry of the faithful ones. Rumi has a beautiful line that goes: "like parched lips searching for water, never let go of your quest. the quest itself is the key to all of your desires. The quest itself is your victorious army."

And further to give hints the dervish explains to a fellow traveler, "Everyone uses his most precious gift to find his way." This is a truly remarkable statement which often time is not understood. Each human being has unique gifts, and that unique gift become their guidepost to find their spiritual destination. It complements the wisdom of the Quran which says, "Everyone has a direction to which one turns to." (Quran 2:148) and the saying of the Prophet, "There are as many path to God as there are human souls" (at turuqu ila 'Llahi ka-nufusi bani Adam). The sufis give an analogy of the circumference of a circle whereas there is only One center. Just as in geometry there are infinite radii possible to be drawn to reach the Center, so are the turuq (plural of arabic word Tariqa, meaning paths) to God.

Ishtar: Baba Aziz, let him come to the gathering with us!
Bab 'Aziz: He's already with us, little angel.
Ishtar: But he's no dervish, Baba Aziz.
Bab 'Aziz: Who knows... Everyone in this great world has a task to fulfill. The rest is not so important, as long as you don't forget that. But if you remember everything except that, it's as if you didn't know anything.

The last lines are valuable reminder for those who can be so engrossed in their spiritual seeking that they underestimate those who are apparently not. And this often become a serious minefield of arrogance for a spiritual seeker who can be awfully self-righteous and judgmental to others. The wise have noted that the arrogance and vain pride of two kinds of people are the most dangerous, they are those of religious doctors or pharisees ('alim) and ascetic spiritualists (zahid).

So to save from that its an important reminder that God gave everyone special role to fulfill, such is the Divine Will. A mother to take care of her child, a teacher to impart knowledge, and even a doorkeeper to attend the door or putting the shoes in order - every role has its special place, and all such tasks when done with sincerity are no less than worship and glorification of the One Who creates a diverse creation and loves diversity.

Once a young man came to seek permission to the Prophet Muhammad (s) to join the defending force which was protecting the small and poor muslim community. The Prophet asked whom he left at home, while the young man replied his old mother. The Prophet sent him back to serve her instead of fighting. For that young man, the role as a caring son was his most precious gift and is the key to his ascension. Whatever opportunity we are offered in life, whatever special capacity we are blessed with, there are tremendous blessings hidden inside that opportunity and capacity. This is what Bab 'Aziz meant when he told the young traveler, "Everyone uses his most precious gift to find his way. Sing, my son, and the way will be shown to you." Be it the gift of beautiful voice or natural talent for something, when we use our most precious gift, hidden doorways are opened.

'Those who are invited will find the way'- sometime we are invited in many wondrous ways. With such invitation even a thief can transform into a saint by the marvelous divine possibility. An example of such episode can be traced in the life of a sufi saint. One cold winter night a thief broke into the house of a saint. Little did he know about the alchemy of heart that happens when ordinary beings come in the presence of extra-ordinary ones. Little did he know that an invitation to the gathering of saintly souls is an invitation to become permanent guest of the Presence.

After searching everywhere the thief couldn't find any valuable things in the house of the saint who belonged to the station of those 'who have nothing and who want nothing (except God). So after vain search, the thief hid himself in a corner of the dark room; and due to lack of warm clothing, he was shivering from cold. The saint while immersed in his night prayer and meditation was informed by the Unseen about the thief and his miserable condition. Out of compassion he asked one of his disciple to call the man so that he can be given the only blanket the saint had. The generous heart saint felt ashamed in front of his Lord that this poor fellow who came to take something from him be allowed to go empty handed. When the thief was brought in front of the saint and was given the blanket without a trace of reprimanding, he became so ashamed of his action that his heart transformed and eventually the thief became one of great disciples of the saint. Within short period of time this man was admitted among the ranks of abdals (true servant of God) of his time.

Such wondrous are His mysterious way of invitation!

'Those who are invited will find the way', may we pray for such a grace filled invitation from One Who when gives there is none who can withheld and When He withholds none has the power to give.


# Related:
. Jadhb and Intidhab (attraction and being attracted toward God)
. Bab 'Aziz: The Prince who Contemplated his Soul
Pin It Now!

LinkWithin