Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nature, Garden and the Reflection of the Great Paradise Here

DESCENDING to the earth,
That strange intoxicating beauty of the unseen world
Lurks in the elements of Nature.

And the soul of man,
Who has attained the rightful balance,
Becoming aware of this hidden joy,
Straightway is enamored and bewildered.

And from this mystic marriage are born
The poets' songs, inner knowledge,
The language of the heart, virtuous living,
And the fair child's Beauty.

And the Great Soul gives to man as marriage gift
The hidden glory of the Final Abode.


- The Secret Rose Garden of Mahmud Shabistari
Translation by Florence Lederer with slight modification




A faqir (one who is poor and in need of God's grace) was sitting on the veranda that opens to a green field in front of the house. The late monsoon rain is pouring in making every blade of glass on the field and every leaf on trees become even more green. The cool breeze makes the tree branches dance.

Looking at the green the faqir contemplates with amazement at the never ending beauty of the nature. Are there any color more beautiful than green? Green is the color of life (hayy), revival, vitality, the color of the chosen servant Khidr, green is the color of the Chosen Messenger and his nation. Green is the very color that made the earth a special place in the cosmos.

The faqir was thinking how fast the world is changing and in large cities where less and less nature is visible, people are becoming more and more selfish in proportion to the decrease in nature, the green, the trees and the open sky. The lifestyle of people in large cities around the world are becoming such a pathetic artificial life filled with greed, money making pursuit and devoid of vision. Man is fast losing his appreciation for nature and as he does, he is also forgetting what it means to live happily. The more man replace green, the trees and all the bounties of nature with artificial concrete jungle, walls that veils the open sky - the more he loses his touch with oneness of the world.

If men caged in large cities do not actively make effort to be in touch with the nature, if he forgets to nurture the nature, plant more trees and relax within greens his spiritual nature is greatly endangered. All that will be left is making everything profane through greed, pursuit of materialism and consumerism.


Speaking of appreciation, the most sublime attitude of the heart of man is the sense of deep appreciation. Whether we look at the opening and central prayer of Islam that is al-Fatiha or the Lord's prayer as taught by Christ or the Gayatri Mantra of ancient India, everywhere there is this adoration of the Highest and the fruit of adoration is appreciation and gratitude. Al-Hamdulillah! All praise and thanksgiving is to God.

The way science has evolved it has taken a wrong attitude towards the nature. While science could easily be the tool to help appreciate the beauty and glory of the nature, it has become a tool to turn everything sacred into profane. 'Profane' in the sense that it removes the awe, the mystery and glorification into mere theories, formula and dry analysis. Where science had the opportunity to glorify the Creator, it has increasingly become a tool to deny the Magnificent Artists behind the masterpiece universe.

If our children with the help of science could appreciate everything in the nature, it would in return could promise many individuals who would endeavor to transform the earth into heaven. Instead we are busy destroying the nature and replacing them with everything artificial because we no longer have the sense of sacredness in anything.

Every garden on earth is a reflection of the Final Abode in the Kingdom of God which is always pictured (at least in human language) as Garden, Garden of Eden or Paradise. Garden here on earth is representative of the beauty of nature.

The faqir while sitting and watching the nature in front of him was reminded of the Quranic description of the Paradise, the eternal abode which is described as, "Garden beneath which rivers flow."

And those who when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls remember God and ask forgiveness for their faults- and who else can forgive the faults but God? - and who do not persist in the actions they have done while they know. For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (wa Jannatun tajree min tahtihaal-anharu), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers of beautiful actions! - The Quran 3:135-136

In an article written by Emma Clark for Islamic Magazine, the author expressed more clearly what the faqir was contemplating in that evening. The title of the article is, "Underneath which rivers flow: The Symbolism of the Islamic Garden," where the author writes:

There are over one hundred and twenty references to the “Gardens” in the Qur’an, the phrase most commonly used being jannat al firdaws, meaning gardens (jannat) of paradise. The range of epithets used with jannat indicates a place not only blissful and eternal, but also a refuge, a sheltered and secure retreat (khalwa). The term “Gardens of Eden” suggests the spiritual peace and harmony of man’s primordial state. Gardens of Eternity, Delight Bliss, Refuge, as well as Eden all recur several times, but the phrase most often used (over thirty times) is Jannat tajri min tahtiha al-anhar, “Gardens underneath which rivers flow”.

On one level this evokes the literal image of water flowing under the pathways in order to irrigate the flowerbeds, but on a more profound level it suggests the nurturing of the ‘garden within’ by the ever-flowing waters of the spirit which purify the soul. Indeed, water is symbolic of the soul in many sacred traditions, reflecting the soul’s ability to renew itself while remaining true to its source...

The most detailed account of the Gardens of Paradise in the Qur’an is in Sura al-Rahman (Sura LV, “The All-Merciful”). Four gardens are described, divided into two pairs. The lowest pair are the Garden of the Soul and the Garden of the Heart (reserved for the Righteous) and the higher pair are the Garden of the Spirit and the Garden of the Essence (reserved for the “Foremost”).
Integral to the Muslim idea of a paradise garden on earth is that it is a private place, hidden away from the world and from people, a place for prayer and contemplation... The garden in Islam also serves as a reminder of both the immanence and the transcendence of God. The great love and knowledge of plants, flowers and trees in, for instance, Islamic Spain and Mughal India, was a love born of the deep belief that the beauty of nature was a reflection of a transcendent truth; these plants and flowers are the shadow of their heavenly archetypes, their beauty a radiation of God’s glory on earth.


Towards the end of his reflection the faqir decides to plant more trees in the courtyard which extends to the field. Planting tree is one of those rare self-less acts which done by the one but the fruit and result is enjoyed by other people, the next generations. By the time a tree grows really large, start to give shelter and shades to many lifes, generally it takes ten, fifteen or even fifty years. So it is for the sake of others, not for the person who plants it. This rainy season is the perfect time for planting tree, he contemplates.

Also what comes to his mind is that in order to taste the Paradise of the Eternal Abode in the Kingdom of God, one can and need to create small little paradise on earth by cultivating beautiful gardens. Perhaps those gardens of the Zen monks where there is also water fountains, sound of the flowing water percolating through rocks and pebbles and create an atmosphere of purity.

Perhaps those who are fortunate to create such garden with their own hands and can sit and enjoy in such a garden have already become a Person of Paradise. They are like those who are given the glad tidings of their secured place in the Garden in this very life, in this very here.




Perchance we see in this, as in a cloudy mirror,
The far faint reflect of the Perfect Face.
And these deep feelings of delight and wonder
Can only issue from the One True Beauty,
For in Divine Perfection there is no other partner.

- The Secret Rose Garden






# Related:
* The Sufi Garden | Place of Many Meanings
* Being a Person of Paradise | from the Teachings of Shams Tabrizi 
* Dream of Secret Garden and of Unfathomable Recognition
* You are a flower in His Garden
* The Garden of Self-healing | cure for sins

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