Saturday, November 10, 2012

Face that is both Personal and Impersonal

My Lord is such a wonderful Lord

That if you call Him, if you remember Him,

If you drown yourself in Him - with Him

Then a day will come,

Yes a momentous day shall dawn

When every where you go

Every place you sit,

Every person you meet

You shall remind them of the wonderful Lord

In you, by you, through you.

For the Face of the Impersonal Lord is closer to us than who we are

And the Face of the Personal Lord is never absent or far

from where or what our beautiful faces are.

~ Sadiq M. Alam

7th November, 2012 

A quick note on the Personal and Impersonal Aspect of the Divine

God, Ishwar, Allah, Brahma, Heavenly Father, Amitabha - no matter what name we call Him, the Divine - the Real - is beyond all names and forms remains "I Am Who I Am." While God is Transcendent beyond the idea of beyond - this transcendence of God is the Impersonal Face, the Creator Lord and the Destroyer Lord, the Giver of both Life and Death. This is the Impersonal Lord Whose Glory fills the Heaven and Earth to such extent that we weak human being with our weaker yet mind can never even grasp His Being. 

This Impersonal aspect of the Divine can be so overwhelming that illuminated beings like Gautama Buddha became silent when he was asked about God, for what words can really explain that Reality? My Buddhist friends still have not recovered from the shock and thus Buddhism very carefully avoid the subject all together because for them the personal aspect of God which other faith tradition holds very central, sounds alien and confusing.

On the other hand the Personal aspect of the Divine can be painfully beautiful, so beautiful that God become the Beloved, Mahbub - to such intense extent that the Sufis would chant, La Mahbuba illa Allah - there is no other beloved but Allah. This is most sublime aspect of the Personal Face of God. 

While Buddha's response in falling silence is the inevitable and highest possible expression for someone who realizes God's ultimate transcendence that no words can do justice to; Muhammad's ascension to the Divine Throne where the habib and the Mahbub create a complete circle, (at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer. the Qur'an 53:9), symbolizing the ultimate nearness.

The phrase Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim - can also be seen as carrying two Great Names and hence reality aspect namely, Rahman and Rahim. While Rahman is translated as Universally Merciful - which is the Impersonal aspect and Rahim is translated as Singularly Compassionate or Exclusively Merciful - which is the Personal aspect of the Divine. Towards the end of the poem shared above, God's intimate closeness to our being, God being the very fabric and the provider and sustainer is the Impersonal aspect because even though it is communicated, yet it is extremely subtle, al-Latif. The Impersonal aspect operates through His Command and His justice does not discriminate but like sun which shines on all, like physical laws that is true both in the farthest galaxy and here on earth and within each atom. On the other hand God's love, mercy and exclusive attention to each of us, where God is the Answerer to every petition (al-Mujib), God is the Sole Guide (al-Hadi)  is from the Personal Face of God.

The both aspect of the Divine, both Impersonal and Personal become beautifully sketched in one of the passage of Bhagavat Gita which I quote here partially:

Those who realize true wisdom rapt within this clear awareness see Me as the universe's origin Imperishable. All their words and all their actions issue from the depths of worship, held in my embrace they know Me as a woman knows her lover.

Creatures rise and creatures vanish;  I alone Am Real, Arjuna, looking out, amused, from deep within the eyes of every creature. I Am the object of all knowledge, Father of the world, its Mother, Source of all things, of impure and pure, of holiness and horror.

I am the goal, the root, the witness, home and refuge, dearest friend, creation and annihilation, everlasting seed and treasure.

I am the radiance of the sun, I open or withhold the rainclouds, I am immortality and death, am being and non-being.

I am the Self, Arjuna, seated in the heart of every creature. I am the origin, the middle,  and the end that all must come to.  I am justice: clear, impartial, favoring no one, hating no one, but in those who have cured themselves of selfishness, I shine with brilliance.

Even murderers and rapists, tyrants, the most cruel fanatics, ultimately know redemption through My love, if they surrender to My harsh but healing graces. Passing through excruciating transformations, they find freedom and their hearts find peace within them.

I am always with all beings; I abandon no one. And however great your inner darkness, you are never separate from Me.

Let your thoughts flow past you, calmly; keep Me near, at every moment; trust Me with your life, because I Am you, more than you yourself are.”

We pray that Allah opens our heart and increase our capacity to know Him as He deserves to be know. Rabbi zidni ilman - O Lord, please increase our knowledge
Rabbi zidni hikmah - O Lord, please increase our wisdom
Rabbi zidni marifah - O Lord, please increase our gnosis.


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