by Navid Zaidi
How can man be liberated from the bondage of mind and matter? The only way to break these chains is to have a more powerful attachment. That is love of God. A true lover of God becomes oblivious of his surroundings. He/She is not concerned with orthodox and dogmatic religion. He/She is indifferent to faith or lack of it. Says Fariduddin Attar the Sufi:
Paganism is for the pagans and faith for the faithful,
A bit of heartache is enough for Attar !
Sufi mystics have revealed in their works and teachings that attachment to this world and its goods makes man a prey to his appetites and desires. The satisfaction of every desire entails hardships, pain and suffering. These desires deprive man of all peace of mind and man is ever in a state of agitation.
The path of the Sufis is the path of love. Their love is one-pointed, fixed on God or their Master. Their meditation is not meant to earn paradise or avoid hell. Once Shibli was seen running with a burning coal in his hand. He was asked where he was going. He said, ‘ I’m running to set fire to the Kaaba so that men may care only for the Lord of the Kaaba’.
The Lord is present in everything and everyone. He is the essence behind all appearance. He exists behind every element and force of nature.
God is within. God is not to be found anywhere outside. Neither in mosque, nor church or temple or holy places. He abides within man and there alone He is realized.
Since God resides within man, human body is the temple of God. And God Himself has created this temple. The Bible says, ‘Kingdom of God is within you.’ And, ‘The Lord of heaven and earth dwells not in temples made with hands; neither is He worshiped with men’s hands.’
The soul is pining in separation from her Lord. The two are not distant from each other but there is a veil between them which does not let them unite. This veil is the ego which gives a false sense of independence to the soul. Unless the veil of ego is removed the soul can never be in peace. So long as the senses are not tamed, the mind is not killed and the duality is not removed, union with the Lord is not possible. Says Shams Tabriz, master of Rumi:
Look not downwards to the ground like beasts. You are, after all, a man: Look upwards. When you recover from the swoon of this body, becoming a new being, you will attain a new world.
So long as man does not rise above the senses he remains deprived of a vision of the Hidden Face.
How can love of God be born within us? Sufis tell us that the answer to this problem is with the Master. The master is the concrete form of the Lord because he/she has realized God and has absorbed God within him/her. Therefore, the only entity worthy of our contemplation is the master. When the soul and the mind are completely collected the door is automatically opened. Jesus says:
Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Many thanks for your introduction to Sufi spirituality. Blessings upon you. I had always thought it had much in common with Advaita Vedanta, Qaballah, Zen and Christian mysticism. But I do not know much about it. It does sadden, that most religions have their dualists, those who mantain the Us/them mindframe and have mastered the dogma and fear to keep it established. It seems for many there is a refusal to relinquish sovereignty of the ego, for whatever reasons. And so many lock themselves out of any realization of unity. Of course it is an ongoing journey for all of us.
Thanks, Pete. Mystic current flows through all world religions and if we realized the spiritual basis of faith then the world would be a better place. It is the spirituality that unites all the faiths whereas the rituals and practices are simply instruments for the achievement of those spiritual ends. I agree with you that, unfortunately, the dogma and rituals have become ends in themselves.
And the diversity of rituals and practices can be very a beautiful thing when kept as instruments.
I hope to learn a great deal from these essays. Thank you.