Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rule of Love is quite different


1.
If you can’t smell the fragrance
Don’t come into the garden of Love.
If you’re unwilling to undress
Don’t enter into the stream of Truth.
Stay where you are.
Don’t come our way.
- Rumi


In the previous post titled: The Necessity of Keeping Company with Spiritual Seekers, the verse quoted from the Quran, the 2nd part reads:


And follow not him whose heart We have made unmindful of Our Remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case exceeds due bounds.


In it there are precise hints for the seekers as how to distinguish false Teacher / Guide of the Path from the true ones.

2.
Spiritual guidance is one of the most delicate matter as it involves complex human psyche and it risks what is the most precious, soul. In everyday life when we go to a doctor, we place our trust in him or her because of his or her qualification, degree and practicing experiences. In the process we allow ourselves unveil to the doctor our health condition, how we are feeling, where our pains are, what symptoms we are experiencing. That all has to do with our physical body. What about even serious illness of our psyche, our spirit which may cause ruin to even more precious part of our being, that is our soul? The ancient wisdom texts tell us that when we start to recognize our own shortcomings, our own mistakes in life, our vulnerabilities - that is when our enlightenment begins, only then we can expect to progress.

Do you know what the music is saying?
“Come follow me and you will find the way.
Your mistakes can also lead you to the Truth.
When you ask, the answer will be given.”
- Rumi

So first is to recognize that we are not perfect, but the Ideal (which we call God, the Divine) is perfect and our human birth is to journey towards that Perfection of Love, Compassion, Wisdom, Creativity and Truth. Kabbalah calls this "becoming like God", Sufis call it "God becoming us" - both speak the same truth, the second is more polite and more surrendered to the grace than the first.

After recognizing our need to progress towards that Perfection, we need to recognize how to find someone who embodies that perfection in higher degree (loftier maqam, higher spiritual station) than us; to find him or her and to be close to that person and to sit near his presence. Who are the physician of the heart and soul?


They have no knowledge about reality and only follow their own guesswork, and a guesswork is worth nothing against the Truth. So turn away from the one who turns away from Our Remembrance and desires (nothing) but the worldly life. Such is the sum total of their knowledge. Surely your Lord knows well those who have strayed from His Way and He knows well those who follow His Guidance.

And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth that He may reward those who do evil for what they have done, and that He may reward those who do good with the very best.

Those who avoid the truly grave sins and shameful deeds - except for (their) inadvertent shortcomings, surely the Forgiveness of your Lord is Vast.

He is aware of you from (the time) He brought you out of the earth and you were hidden in your mother's womb. Therefore do not consider yourselves pure. Allah knows well those who guard themselves (for Him). - The Quran 53:28-32



Ishavasya Upanishad has a profound verse that reads:
Those who follow
the path of ignorance
enter darkness;
and those who are self-absorbed in knowledge
enter a greater darkness.

In it is declared that those who tread on the path of ignorance lose their way and wander here and there in this world; but those who walk on the path of self-boasting knowledge - that is, the path of "I know" - lose themselves in greater darkness. The ignorant grope about in darkness, but those who claim, "I know," grope about in greater darkness.

Osho offers us good insight:

Ego leads man into great darkness, and an interesting paradox emerges in man's world; the wise see themselves as ignorant - not knowing - and the ignorant assert their claim, "We know!"

Two things are to be remembered. We need always to go on enhancing our awareness of our ignorance. Remembrance of ignorance is the destruction of ignorance. To become aware of our ignorance is to dissolve our ignorance. If you wish to enter the world of light, of wisdom, of true knowledge, you must be fully aware of your ignorance and remain constantly in search of where your ignorance lies. Wherever you find it, admit it at once, don't linger even for a moment. And bow down at the feet of anyone who shows you your ignorance - he is your teacher, your master. And don't try to prove that your ignorance is knowledge, as your mind will goad you to do. Your ego will say, "Don't believe in him." Your ego will coax you to say, "What are you talking about? I an ignorant person? Impossible!" This is how we are all perpetuating our ignorance. We all persist in protecting our own opinions and attitudes.

- from Osho The Heartbeat of the Absolute - Ishavasya Upanishad


"Enter majestic Awe of Allah and accompany Trustworthy people" [9:119].

While we are less than perfect and living in drowned conditions amidst the dark sea of ignorance, we are told to look for those who knows, those who remembers, those who are truthful, those who are advanced seekers and have been touched by the Truth, who live and die for the Truth. Now in our search for such guide, spiritual teacher - we need higher wisdom that lead us to such true ones. And one thing is essential in this world of illusion is the ability to distinguish what is unreal from what is real. Even that applies for spiritual guide as well.

Else we might end up into going to a false doctor, a doctor who have no medical knowledge that he claims. We may end up giving ourselves to be led by someone who himself is a blind.

In Matthew's Gospel, the Guide of the Heart, Jesus Christ says:

"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides [of the blind]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Many years later Lalon, a mystic from Bengal have sung:
Ek kanae koe arek kanare,
'Cholo ebar Vobo pare.'
Nije kana path chenena
porere dake barongbar.
eshob dekhi kanar haat bazaar.

'Let me take you to the shore
of divine ocean.' - One blind calls out
to another blind.
He himself is blind, knows not the way
yet calls other to follow.
Such foolishness is found at the supermarket of blinds.

On a different context again Christ reminds, as quoted in the Gospel of Luke:

"Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."


In the above two saying of our Beloved Master, Jesus son of Mary, may God's peace and blessings be with them both and may we love them with a perfected love - the master himself was speaking to us about the need to distinguish between the blind guide and the guide with perfect vision, as he was one of such. And he affirmed the transmission which happen from the teacher to the student, to the disciple. As the guidance didn't end with him, because he also prepared his own disciples to guide the next generation of people far and near. This is the way of Truth. The Guide prepares his successors (khalifa) to carry out the work of enlightening others, to help them reach the path of Peace and Harmony. "Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."

Human being any can only learn from another human being. The knowledge of the heart must be transmitted from another living heart, not from dried inks of a page. But can anyone give peace who doesn't have peace? Can anyone be a teacher of Truth if he does not embody Truth? Can anyone give true happiness if one never realized happiness for real?

3.
This brings us again to the earlier Quranic verse that we quoted in the previous post as well as repeated earlier.


And follow not him whose heart We have made unmindful of Our Remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case exceeds due bounds.

In this verse, God, Glorious is He beyond all limitations, speaks in Royal Pronoun, addressing His Majestic Authority as "We". Here the criterion for identifying "blind guide" is given.

- whose heart is unmindful of Divine Remembrance,
- who follow his low desire
- and thus exceeds due bounds.

4.
This world which is full of metaphors and Signs for those who seek understanding. When a lover in this world falls in love, all he does is to remember the Beloved. Thus Remembrance is a sure quality of lover, whether we are talking about human lovers or Divine Lord. By default if a person loves someone or something, that certainty of that love can be found by looking whether the heart is occupied with that person or object of love. The heart is made by the Maker of All Things in such a way that it remembers the one whom or which it loves.

That is why those whose heart is unmindful of the Remembrance of the Divine - if such a person claim Godly station, such person is not who stands at the station of a guide, a Murshid. There are many false teacher, pretenders who claim to be a teacher but their heart is with money, attraction to unlawful relation, wealth, position and power. Such people have not only given rise to abuse to many individuals, destroying their human dignity, misled them by mixing false with truth but also contributed to the destruction of sacred structures of spirituality.

The other important factor in distinguishing true teacher from the pretenders is that they must NOT follow their own desire. This point is probably difficult to understand for us who otherwise take our own self and its desire at king and follow it with or without qualifications. We who live in an increasingly secular world environment where sacred teachings of humanity are no longer taught in the school, during the early development periods of a human being, no longer embodied by our society - for them the only idol we worship is our own self and its desire.

But those who sought realization of Love and have reached that stage, they knows truly of what it means of "Thy Will be Done."

The greater the love for the Beloved is, even on human lover, the higher he or she sacrifices his or her will for that of the beloved. If one loves someone, then slowly but surely the "i" dissolves for the sake of the beloved. This is universal and has nothing to do with this spiritual path or that religion. That is the secret of Fana, the annihilation into the Beloved by annihilating the desire of the false self, for the sake of the "Thy Will be Done."

That is also the secret of spiritual poverty, reaching which the ecstatic lover cries out, "I have nothing, and I want nothing (but the Beloved)."

After ascension is descent. So lets return now about those who follow their own desire, and hence they are disqualified to be the true guide and spiritual teacher. Then one may ask, who's desire are they suppose to follow and how would they know that its authentic?

The Divine Law revivifies me,
and the Truth annihilates me.
- Abu al-Hasan al-Shushtari

Mankind have been revealed the Will of God in various ways in various point in human history. But the model has been the same all throughout. There will be guide (teacher) and there will be revealed sacred tablet or Book where revelation of guidance will be revealed.

The last cycle of divine revelation in its esoteric as well as exoteric aspect have been preserved in the message of Muhammad, and from whom transmitted to the Sufi Masters and also in the sacred message as preserved in the Holy Quran, the Last Testament. Those who seek to follow the will of God in loving surrender, it is recommended to read the Book in full, from cover to cover, to receive that guidance. The wisdom is well preserved in every word and in every dot.

"Do they not ponder over the Qur'an in order to understand its deep meaning, or is it that their hearts are locked up from within?"(Qur'an 47:24)

Most of us begin our day by reading the newspaper, stuff ourselves with information which have no use or benefit to us, absorbing garbage after garbage in the television - read many novels, many books of huge volume yet when it comes to pristine Message of God to mankind, we go about living a life of utter carelessness. Those who can its recommended to read all three revealed book, the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Last Testament (Quran). But those who can not, should atleast read the Last Testament. This is because, Old Testament was revealed to confirm Monotheism and unity, New Testament came to renew it. Moses came to renew the Law of Abraham and Divine Will. Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to renew it and to make it wholesome. Again through the Final Messenger, Muhammad all of the previous message was renewed, reaffirmed and made to further evolve. Thus through the Last Testament, the previous messages are sanctified and completed.

And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper. - Quran 2:5-6

Thus the reality of revelation is a seamless whole and believe in the earlier revelation and the last revelation is part of one reality.

The universality and unity of all divine revelation is echoed as:

Say: We believe in One God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. - The Quran 2:136


5.
Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur'an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batini - the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.

- from the teachings of Shams e Tabriz, Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak


There are many who stumble at reading the Quran because it loses much of its magnificence in translation (lost in translation effect) because nothing could really translate the grandeur that is conveyed in the original, eloquent language in which it was revealed. Even then, if someone is sincere in their seeking and with that sincerity picks up the Quran and read it cover to cover with reverence, one is bound to know the will of God as manifest and to remain until the end of times. To a western reader the message of the Quran will be a surprise because it accepts all previous Messengers, because it accepts all truth coming from God and it provides in minute detail about the reality of hereafter, unlike any other divinely revealed book.

The other day a friend of mine said, she tried reading the Quran's translation in English, but didn't find much inspiration in it. For those who feel the same, here are two points of advice:
1. It's said that the Quran is like a shy bride and must be approached with care, patience and much tenderness. It reveals its beauty only to those who come to love it. The great sufi masters obtained their esoteric and exoteric knowledge both from the Quran, yet for those who approach it carelessly gain nothing.
2. One must be careful in picking up the right translation of the Quran (there are few standard translation, but not all of them are well done). Also please read it from a printed book (not from Internet), and preferred time to read is early in the morning.

Rumi says:

This Love is a King
But his banner is hidden.
The Quran speaks the Truth
But its miracle is concealed.
Love has pierced with its arrow
The heart of every lover.
Blood flows but the wound is invisible.

More on this point in another post perhaps.

But the main point being made here is that those who follow their own desire, but not the Will of God in their embodiment, have not tasted what it means to Love. The rule of Love is quite different. One forsakes everything for the sake of the Beloved, including one's own desire. May we learn that loving surrender.

6.
The House of Love

Why is there always music in this house?
Ask the owner.

Here is a treasure this world could not contain.
The house and its landlord
are all pretext and play.

Hands off this house, this talisman.
Don't argue with the landlord;
he's drunk every night.

A house of love with no limits,
a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,
a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

Come in. The Beloved is here. We are all drunk.
No one notices who enters or leaves.
Don't sit outside the door in the dark, wondering.

Those drunk with God,
even if they are a thousand, live as One.
But drunk with lust, even one is double.

Enter the thicket of lions unafraid of any wounds.
The shadows you fear are just a child's fantasy.

There is no wound and nothing to be wounded;
all is mercy and love.

- Rumi, version by Kabir Helminski
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