Thursday, June 02, 2011

In Praise of the Grace | from Bostan of Saadi Shirazi

In the Name of the Lord of the worlds and the Creator of life who is the Bestower of the power of speech and articulation, the Judge, the Supreme Knower, the Forgiver, the Helper, the Acceptor of petition, the Absolver of wrongdoings. He is such a Unique honorer and the Bestower of honor that whosoever in disobedience turned away from His court, has only received dishonor - for true honor and grace flows from the Supreme Source alone. Even the heads of the most mighty earthly rulers and emperors must bow down in front of His awesome court.

But such is His grace and clemency that He does not capture and punish the disobedient and the arrogant immediately. He never oppress in driving away those who surrender to Him, for He is the Acceptor of repentance. If you’ve earned His displeasure in your turning away from Him through wrong doings, even then re-turn to Him again and again through repentance, for He is the Ever Merciful. He will then dismiss your case and show you His boundless mercy and compassion.

According to the way of this world: when a son shows disobedience and dishonor his father, the father becomes displeased and angry with the son. If one relative is displeased with another who may be related by the bond of blood, still he might drive that relative away from his house like strangers. If employee does not perform according to instructions, the employer naturally gets annoyed and irritated and loves not the employee. If a friend is not friendly and affectionate to one another, the tie of friendship becomes loose and relationship fall apart. If a solider desert the service by not obeying the command of his leader, surely his commander will be displeased and give punishment according to military rule.

Yet the Lord of the entire cosmos is so Merciful that He never stops providing sustenance due to the wrongdoing of His creatures. He endlessly covers the mistakes, disobedience, ignorance and forgetfulness of His servants by His infinite patience. The whole expanse of the earth is His, yet when human beings plunder the earth, destroying its resources through greed He is ever Merciful through His Mercy and discriminate none in providing their share of bounty. If He were to take account every oppressor and wrongdoers, who would get respite from His awesome divine fury?

His Holy Essence is forever free from associate, consort or any otherness (ghairullah). He in His Essence is Incomparable (la sharika laHu), His Kingdom is independent from the obedience or disobedience of mankind and any other creature. The carpet of His generosity is so vast that even the tiniest of tiny and the largest of the large get their provision without ceasing. The Real Doer of all Actions, the expander of Mercy, Infinitely Gracious and the fully Aware of every secret. Only He is worthy of Self-Glory and Pride, for His Kingdom is ever-lasting and His Great Being is Independent. He makes whomsoever rich and kings and He takes away wealth, health and resource in an instant. To some He may bestow temporal authority and power and to others he may try with harsh hardship.

He transforms a pit of fire into a bed of flower for Abraham and for another group He takes them from the water of red sea to fire (Pharaoh and his soldiers who pursued Moses and Children of Israel). The first of this is the command of His Mercy and the second informs of His Might.

He observes every single misdeeds and wrongdoings, yet with His own veil of mercy He veils them. If He were to unveil His wrath, even the angels near His Presence would become deaf, mute and dumb in fear. If He were to announce His reward, even the devil would cry out for his share. In His magnanimous court of greatness and majesty, even the greatest of the saints put down their turban of sainthood, for in His Glory no other glory is worthy of existence.

Those who are gentle, He draws them near to His presence through His mercy. He grants the petition of those who cry out to Him. He is the Wholly Aware of all events; the most hidden secrets are manifest to His infinite knowledge. In His infinite power and might, He is the preserver of the heaven and the hearth, the Accountant on the Day of Accounting. No one is free from His all encompassing command and none can interfere to His will. He is forever the Doer of Good and loves those who do good. He is the Artist who draws the fate of every child while they are still in mother’s womb. He has floated the celestial bodies into the cosmos in their destined path and has spread the carpet of earth on the planet making it a place of dwelling.

He has stabilized the earth through mountains and has suspended it without support in the empty space. Such Incomparable Fashioner is He that He brings out beautiful faced human being from a drop of rejected fluid. Is there any other artist like Him?

He hides precious jewels inside hardened rock, He makes infinite colors to bloom on branches of countless trees that draw their nutrients from the colorless earth. He sends rain drop from rain clouds into the ocean, making beautiful pearl out of it and He guide a drop of liquid from the father’s loin into the mother’s womb to Fashion beautifully shaped human child. Every kind of science and knowledge is His and nothing is hidden from His knowing. To Him the zahir and the batin (the manifest and the hidden) is not two but one.

He is the Provider of food even for the creatures who is without hand and without feet (the snakes) and He is also the Provider even for the most tiny and weak (microbes, ants). According to His divine command, existence came into being from non-existence, which again will return to non-existence from this very existence as we know it. From there on He will take them into another existence on the expansive court on the Day of Final Resurrection. The whole of creation are not in denial of His Lordship, but humanity has failed to grasp His Unique Countenance.

Humanity has grasped nothing beyond His Jalal and vision have failed to reach the furthest end of His Jamal. Neither the bird of intellect can fly high enough in the sky of His Unfathomable Being (Jaat), nor can the hand that searches endlessly through mazes of countless human minds can touch His Never exhausting Attributes (Sifat). In this maze of divine paradox many thousands of boats have capsized, not even a single plank has reached the shore.

The author of this writing has spent many countless nights sitting and contemplating and suddenly this indescribable awe has come and overwhelmed me. The Pure Knowledge of Allah is encompassing the entire cosmos, human conception based on temporal reality can never grasp that Reality. Intellect can never reach the root of His Being, your seeking will ever fall short of His infinite attributes. The Holiest of Holy Who has no comparisons, His Haqiqat (Reality) is unreachable.

Many distinguished beings of humanity have run their horses in this path and even the highest Messengers and Avatars and Prophets have become speechless in their attempt to describe what is indescribable. Every course and field is not suitable to run the horse upon. Those who have drunk from this cup of pure gnosis have lost consciousness. A single glance at that Pure Light is enough to blind you for the rest of your existence.

The phoenix who has began this journey, begin with its eyes closed and has not witnessed the Tajalli (Divine Manifestation) yet, while the phoenix who has advanced has its wings clipped, for there is no return to the same place for one who has roamed in the placeness.

If you wish to become a traveler and cross over to the other side of the ocean of ma’arifa (gnosis) then destroy and put ablaze the ship of return. Contemplate upon the mirror of your heart and layer by layer embark upon the grand act of purification, only praiseworthy action to return to the original Face that was your Face before you were born. Perhaps the fragrance of divine love will arrive and capture you and would aspire you to fulfill your promise (from the Day of promise in the pre-eternity when all of humanity answered when God asked, “Am I not your Lord?” by saying, “Yes! We testify that You are our Lord”).

First you shall walk upon this path of purification. From there on you shall fly on the wings of love. After that you shall penetrate the veils of concepts, beliefs and certainty. There shall remain no other veil but the Jalal of the Most High. After this your spaceship of conscience shall come to a halt. Bewilderment will seize it by commanding, “Stop! Here is your limit.”

None has dived in this ocean of gnosis more perfectly reaching its furthest depth except the Seal (s). Any one who has failed to follow this path might have traveled great distance but have only gained exhaustion and confusion. Those who have disobeyed the Master of Mystic, the Praised one, have not reached the station of praise. O friend, never ever allow this imagination that you may arrive at the door of ma’arifa devoid of obedience to the Praised Master, may peace and blessings be upon his soul.

- Non-literal translation from the Bostan of Shaykh Sa’adi Shirazi, one of the most gifted sufi poet and writer and disciple of the Sufi master and gnostic Sheikh Shahabud-Din Sahrawardi, may Allah be pleased with them both.

How could I ever thank my Friend?

How could I ever thank my Friend?
No thanks could ever begin to be worthy.
Every hair of my body is a gift from Him;
How could I thank Him for each hair?
Praise that lavish Lord forever
Who from nothing conjures all living beings!

Who could ever describe His goodness?
His infinite glory lays all praise waste.
Look, He has graced you a robe of splendor
From childhood's first cries to old age!

He made you pure in His own image; stay pure.
It is horrible to die blackened by sin.
Never let dust settle on your mirror's shining;
Let it once grow dull and it will never polish.
When you work in the world to earn your living
Do not, for one moment, rely on your own strength.
Self-worshiper, don't you understand anything yet?

It is God alone that gives your arms their power.
If, by your striving, you achieve something good,
Don't claim the credit all for yourself;
It is fate that decides who wins and who loses
And all success streams only from the grace of God.

In this world you never stand by your own strength;
It is the Invisible that sustains you every moment.

- by Saadi (1207 - 1291), English version by Andrew Harvey


> Dowload Bostan (the Garden) of Shaykh Saadi
* You may download the English translation Garden of Fragrance via Scribd
* Persian Version and other translations are available here.
* Poem and Biography of Saadi Pin It Now!

LinkWithin