Thursday, April 29, 2010

postscript to the post, yearning to serve others

in his small living room where we gather near out master, where we sit with him, listen to his words and his silence - we are sitting on this thursday. unlike other days, there is no tea served today as we all fast on thursdays from the birth of the dawn to the arrival of night, we fast from water, food and more importantly we practice the fasting of the heart, a practice with which the inner heart blossoms, as our guide has instructed us. i pray that God accept all our inward and outward fasts.

our guide, our father and our beloved starts his shobet while we gaze at his regal face, our heart absorb the nur as he speaks.

"bismillah! there is a great hadith of our Habib, whom we long to love with a perfect love, Allah bless him and our salaams to him" (the master puts his right hand over his heart as he pause for a moment, lost in absorption, fana fi Rasul and for a moment the room appear to grow in light). "the hadith which inshallah i wish to remind you, merely dont listen to it but try to penetrate its mystery. dont pride yourself thinking you already know it or that you will penetrate its mystery just like that - it takes many moons, many years to enter into it fully, for some a life time – and even they are very fortunate. the mystery only your heart must teach you, none other should, none other can.

understanding is not enough. you have spent almost all your life reading so many wonderful books and so many different teachings, scriptures, endless pages - but what you did with it? look at yourself at the mirror of truth and realize your spiritual bankruptcy, you would be utterly ashamed if you only knew them who were siddiq, the true sincere ones of God.", his voice grow forceful. (at this Firoz, an elderly in our group begins to weep, the master tenderly looks at him; someone in the circle begins to sob uncontrollably).

as we leave ‘ourselves’ and come back and leave and come back again, the master resumes... 

“yes what you do with the truth transmitted by luminous beings is the question you will have to answer if your heart desire to claim any drop of spiritual sincerity. your delusion that you continue to feed onto yourself whenever you read or hear something spiritually uplifting, they alone doesnt make you any better than a donkey carrying loads of books. the knowledge between the covers of those many books doesnt make the donkey better, nor does it benefit the donkey. act upon what you already know; what you don't know, the boundless precious jeweled mysteries will flood your heart. and thats a truth and God is our witness."

master grows quiet. my eyes follow the window behind his back of his apartment on fifth floor. great many branches of an ancient tree almost touching his window and  mysteriously they never cease dancing even when there is hardly any breeze and when other trees are still!

master resumes in a very different tone of his voice, not quite sure how to describe, its as if he is transported somewhere and he is telling from what he is witnessing inside the moment. "in this hadith that i tell you, our habib transmitted to us a conversation from the post-eternity, on the Day of Reckoning when we shall all face our Lord, every single  individual of us, without exception, to be accountable for every gift we were given, from our life-breath to our wealth to our family and loved ones and to every responsibility we bore in this field of human existence.

Our Prophet transmitted to the humanity, "Verily, Allah will say to his slave when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, 'O sons of Adam, I was hungry, I was thirsty and you did not feed Me, you did not quench My thirst.' He will answer: 'How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!'

The Voice will say: 'Didn’t you know that a servant of Mine asked you food, and you did not feed him. Alas! had you fed him you would have found Me.'

'O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.' Man will  again exclaim: 'How can I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!' Allah will say: 'Did you not know that a slave of Mine was sick and you did not visit him. Alas! had you visited him, you would have found Me with him.'

'Allah' - cries out our master in a higher voice. "understand also that this sacred tradition was also transmitted by our Habib’s brother, Isa ibn Maryam, the perfected servant of the Most High. Matthew’s Gospel records the same conversation from post-eternity where the seal of perfect sainthood, Isa, whom we have grown habituated to know by his latinized name Jesus. After transferring this same conversation, Jesus transmitted the word of God in isawi hadith qudsi, saying,

The Presence will declare on that day, I assure you: "Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either."

"how plainly could the secret be told than this?! The Friend is here, always been hidden within  His own creation. the Gardener is to be found in His Garden only. yet the world choose to remain blind and asleep." sound of deep sigh rise from the chest of our guide.

“be aware of the trickery of the time you live in”, master’s voice has changed again. "save yourself from the deceptions of the age that makes you forget what is real". even in the name of spirituality, in this age of selling and buying, many will come and sell you spirituality, package enlightenment and give you doses borrowed from the past, but empty of any value, barren of any real fruit that your soul can benefit from. they are empty because they are coming from head, from memorization without real work and they are cheap reproduction and you shall know them because they are always talking about spirituality and truth, not entering anywhere near it. if they did, they would be doing something else, to be precise, they would be serving others at a much higher priority than anything else. and they would assuredly call themselves nothing but servant. but do you see them?

you must act. you must act. you must be selfless, you must grow out of your comfort zone which keep you in delusion by telling you that if you only read the scripture, if you only bowed on the prayer mat at the corner of your room, if you only went to meditation retreats once in a while at a nice place or just continued reading from borrowed knowledge of others and read tons of spiritual books - it will make you feel spiritual. it tells you that you dont need to go to a physician of the soul, it prevent you to be in the company of the fuqara, it fills you with pride by feeding you that you are already enough knowledgeable and your arrogance keeps growing.

feeling spiritual, acting spiritual - is not the point. its less than the start. vanity of vanities! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?"

"ALLAAAH!" master’s voice roar like a lion! i can feel many of us tremble inside, some layers of veils fall off.

"where is your service? where is your sacrifice? where is your selflessness? where is your true empathy? where is your feeling one with another? is talking about oneness give you oneness if you dont embrace the other as yourself? when was the last time you felt true compassion and loving kindness for any sentient being in this vast creation of Allah? when was the last time, you gazed upon a creation with complete loving surrender?

you will know that you have really grown wise the day you will completely identify the suffering of another as if it were yours. and you will not attain that way station until you get rid of the sickness of pride, selfishness and arrogance, specially - pride of knowledge and further more, pride of spiritual knowledge. we pray that may God separate spiritual pride from us as He has separated east from the west, Glorious is He!

only by reading books, and pages with blank ink marks you wish to cross the bridge in this great pilgrimage, how arrogantly ignorant attitude is that?!"

the master suddenly come to a complete silence. from one silence we enter into another great silence.

after how long none of us could keep track of, he reached his pocket and with twinkle in his eyes he forwards one of us a folded paper saying, "last night i read this poem by Daniel Ladinsky which he wrote by one of our great sage, Hafiz's name and i so loved it, go ahead Karima, read it for us please." the beautiful voiced Karima read us this poem,

This
Path to God
Made me such 

an old sweet beggar.

I was starving until one night
My love tricked God Himself
To fall into my bowl.

Now Hafiz is infinitely rich,
But all I ever want to do
Is keep emptying out
My emerald filled
Pockets

Upon
This tear stained
World.


after Karima finished reading it slowly twice as the master gestured, he then raise his hands towards the heaven and recites al-fatiha, the key from the divine recital.

By the Most Tender, the Most Merciful
All thanksgiving and praise to the Lord of the worlds
Source of infinite love, Source of chosen grace
Master of the reality of our return and reckoning.
Only You we serve, only You we turn to.
Guide us on this great pilgrimage to You,
May we walk upon the luminous path traced by your beloved ones,
neither straying, nor separating from Your grace!
Ameen.




# Some of the terms used:
* sohbet, conversation, enlightened companionship
* nur, light.
* adab, proper conduct, etiquette, spiritual courtesy
* Habib is arabic word to mean friend or beloved, when sufis use it, its a short form of habib-Allah, beloved of God, referring to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him
* Hadith are sayings, teachings, doings of the Prophet as transmitted and recorded by his intimate companions, may God be pleased with them all
* siddiq, sincere, truthful, righteous. hebrew word tzadik carry the same meaning
* fuqara, literally means poor ones, but in sufi terminology they are the ones who are empty of the world, so that they can be rich in godliness

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