Sunday, December 30, 2012

If you want God to work within you

If you want God to work within you,
the truth must work within you.
If you want the truth to work,
God's qualities must work within you.
For those qualities to work,
compassion must work within you.

If you want compassion to work,
justice must work.
If you want justice to work,
conscience must work.
If you want conscience to work,
love must work.

If you want love to work,
God's qualities, speech, actions
and all that is true must work.
When those actions come into being,
God's Power will work.

When that Power works,
this is what is called wisdom:
Duty without selfishness.
Prayer without self.
Regarding the live of others
as one regards one's own life.

(M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen)

Lovers of God

You are a Sufi when your heart is as soft and as warm as wool.
- Traditional

Sufism is a path of love. The Sufi is a traveler on the path of love, a wayfarer journeying back to God through the mysteries of the heart.
The point within the point within the point that is capable of understanding His creation is what connects man and God; that is what is called a human being.
He is human. He is called man.
Not every creation is human. Only one who has this connection is human.

(M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Right Attitude of the Mind

When speaking of the question of the mental development of humanity, I should like to say that what is mostly needed in these critical times in the world is the right mentality. Every kind of the generation follows the wrong mentality means the attitude of mind. Wrong mentality is the wrong attitude of mind.

It is upon attitude of mind that the life of men depends - his rise, his fall, his success, his failure, his happiness, or unhappiness, all are mostly caused by the mentality. In these times when commercialism is reigning over the world and when competition has become the central theme, when one is desirous of getting the best of another, then man sees nothing else but his own benefit for which he struggles along through life.

Now the question is what causes the wrong mentality? The wrong mentality is like an obsession, which is caused by a certain absorption in certain direction of this dense earth. If one is entirely absorbed in collecting wealth, he does not think for one moment of anything else in life. His whole mind is concentrated upon it, his every effort is directed to it. Then he knows nothing else but this object which blinds him, making him regardless of all virtues of love and beauty to his fellowmen, of righteousness, of his obligation to his dear ones, those who are near him, and his relation and duty to God.

Not only one thing, there are many such things - love of power, of rank, of position, fighting for all things of this world. When a man is fully absorbed he loses his balance. But by this it does not mean that earthly comfort, convenience or advantage is not for a man. It is all for man if he does not lose his poise over it, if he does not allow himself to be wholly absorbed in it. To have a right mentality, does not mean that a person should leave the life of this world. If he left it, it would not be the right mentality. Right mentality is to have a direction through life which leads to the object of one's mind, of one's heart, of one's soul.

(Hazrat Inayat Khan)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Attaining the love of God

The man who realises God as a friend is never lonely in the world, neither in this world nor in the hereafter. There is always a friend, a friend in the crowd, a friend in the solitude, or while he is asleep unconscious of this outer world, and when he is awake and conscious of it; in both cases the friend is there in his thought, in his imagination, in his heart, in his soul.

And the man who makes God his Beloved, what more does he want? His heart becomes awakened to all the beauty there is within and without. To him all things appeal, everything unfolds itself, and it is beauty to his eyes, because God is all-pervading, in all Names and all Forms, therefore his Beloved is never absent, because the whole tragedy of life is the absence of the Beloved. And one whose beloved is always there, when he has closed his eyes the Beloved is within, when he has opened his eyes the Beloved is without. His every sense perceives the Beloved. When a person arrives at this realisation then he, so to speak, lives in the presence of God.

This shows that the inner life does not consist in closing the eyes and looking inward. The inner life is to look outwardly and inwardly and to find one's belief everywhere. But God cannot be made a Beloved unless the love element is awakened sufficiently. The one who hates his enemy and loves his friend, he cannot call God his Beloved, for he does not know God. When love comes to its fullness, then one looks at the friend with affection, on the enemy with forgiveness, on the stranger with sympathy. There is love in all its aspects expressed when love rises to its fullness, and it is the fullness of love which is worth offering to God.

The whole imagery of the Sufi literature in the Persian language, written by great poets, such as Rumi, Hafiz and Jami, is the relation between man as the lover and God as Beloved. It is not easy to develop in the heart the love of God, because when one does not see or realise the object of love one cannot love. God must become tangible in order that one may love Him, but once a person has attained to love God he has really entered the journey of the spiritual path.

(Hazrat Inayat Khan)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

To Make God a Reality

The first and principal thing in the inner life is to establish a relation with God, making God the object with which we relate ourselves, such as Creator, Sustainer, Forgiver and Beloved. In every relation we must place God before us and become conscious of that relation so that it will no more remain an imagination; because the first thing a believer does is to imagine. He imagines that God is the Creator and tries to believe that God is the Sustainer, and he makes an effort to think that God is a Friend, and an attempt to feel that he loves God. But when this imagination would become a reality then exactly as one feels for one's earthly beloved sympathy, love and attachment, so one must feel the same with God. However greatly a person may be pious, good or righteous, yet without this his piety or goodness are not a reality to him.

The work of the inner life is to make God a reality, so that He is no more an imagination, that this relation that man has with God may seem to him more real than any other relation in this world, and when this happens then all relations, however near and dear, become less binding. But at the same time by that a person does not become cold, he becomes more loving. It is the godless man who is cold, impressed by the selfishness and lovelessness of this world, because he partakes of those conditions in which he lives. But the one who is in love with God, the one who has established his relation with God, his love becomes living, he is no more cold, he fulfills his duties to those related to him in this world much more than does the godless man.

(Hazrat Inayat Khan, Katwijk, The Netherlands, 1922)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Why do people have short lives?

Why do people have short lives?
In the ancient times people lived longer because they lived a natural life. Now they live for a short time because their lives are divided by man-made laws.

The birds and animals in the forests do not know physicians and doctors and do not know prescriptions. Why? They eat when they are hungry, sleep when they desire to sleep, and they drink when they feel thirsty. They do not eat when they do not like to eat.

When a person is not eating when the hour has come, then everybody in the family will ask, "Why do you not eat, what is the matter with you, what has gone wrong?"
From all sides they will come and ask you, "Do you not want to eat, it is not good for you not to eat."
And then there is grandmother coaxing that you must eat when you are not feeling it.
Or you must eat this or that, and the doctor tells you that you must not eat much of this, and that you must eat much of that.

The only thing to consider is that what you like, that it is the best  thing for you to eat, your love for it, your liking for it makes it a medicine for you.

(Hazrat Inayat Khan)

Life is a Journey

We are all on the journey, life itself is a journey.
No one is settled here, we are all passing onward, and therefore it is not true to say that if we are taking a spiritual journey we have to break our settled life, there is no one living a settled life here, all are unsettled, all are on their way.

By taking the spiritual journey you are taking another way, one which is easier, better and more pleasant. Those who do not take this way, they will also come in the end, the difference is in the way. One way is easier, smoother, better; the other way is full of difficulties, and as life has no end of difficulties from the time one has opened one's eyes on this earth, so one may just as well choose the smoother way to arrive at the destination at which all souls will some time arrive.

(Hazrat Inayat Khan)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Meaning of Islam

My love you my grandchildren. You are young children who have yet to grow up, and there are certain things you must do in order to progress correctly. you must live like human beings, you must acquire the qualities of God, and you must put those qualities into action. Therefore, I am going to tell you  a little story to explain the meaning of Islam. This is just a very short explanation.

Islam is the word God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad Mustafar-Rasul, the last prophet. Islam means brotherhood. Islam means unity. Islam is the state in which there is no enmity, no fighting, and no opposition. That state is called Islam.

Iman is a state of perfect faith, certitude and love of God. Iman is the state in which the heart has completely surrender to God and all trust has been placed in Allah, both for what has already happened and for what is still to come. You must think about this.

Islam does not mean war or fighting; it is a state of brotherhood in which all lives are equal. To establish and build a state of equality is Islam. Islam means a state of peace and equality in which all living creatures live as one family. In Islam the king and beggar are equal, the rich and poor are equal. It is a community in which there is neither color nor racial prejudice. That state of equality and peacefulness is Islam.

God created six kind of lives, countless numbers of them, and they are all free. God made His kingdom to be shared by all. Paradise, firdaus, the world of the soul and the kingdom of God are for everyone equally. Everyone can take whatever they like from His kingdom. Everyone has a right to live in this world. The sun, the moon, the stars, jinns, fairies, angels, heavenly beings, creatures of the sky, and creatures of the earth - everyone has the right to live peacefully in this world. That complete plenitude is called Islam.

There is no revenge in Islam, no falsehood, no sin, no stealing, no murder, no selfishness, no jealousy, no separation of 'you' and 'I', and no pride. All praise and praising must be given to Allah alone, exalted be His name. Islam means giving all trust to God, the Creature of everything, He created the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the soul, and the kingdom of the world as common property for all. Everyone can live there in peace and be treated equally. This is what is called Islam. To maintain this state of common, rightful ownership of the world is Islam. Islam does not claim the earth as its own, it does not claim fire as its own, it does not claim the sun, it does not claim the moon, it does not claim the sky, it does not claim land, nor it claim riches. That is not Islam.

God declares, "To be vengeful is not Islam. Whoever realizes that this wealth is held in common in Islam. And whoever takes this wealth for selfish reasons lives in hell. Whatever man holds onto himself in this world will torture him in hell; whatever he cherishes for himself will take him to hell. If a person wants Me, he must bring Me compassion, love, good intentions, good thoughts, and love for all living creatures. Whoever searches for these qualities, develops them, and brings them to Me will be free in this world and in My kingdom.

To accept all lives is Islam, Islam does not hate or seek revenge or hold grudges. Islam is forgiveness. What is past is past. If some fault was committed, you should forgive, offer salams, embrace, and praise God. That is Islam. If a person does something wrong, that is that, it is forgiven. That is Islam - not to keep a grudge or to be angry or take revenge. That is how Muslims flourished during the time of Muhammad saw, not through vengeance. They grew in a state of unity.

(Bawa Muhaiyaddeen)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everything is Shared in Love

We must reflect on the love we give each and everything.
Let us look at the condition of human race today. If a man marries a beautiful woman or a woman marries a handsome man, if they have a beautiful child and do many things together lovingly, that certainly is looked upon as love by most people. Their two bodies joined and their two hearts merged and became one for awhile. But what is that love? It is physical love. It is selfish love and illusion. After a while, if the wife should fall ill, her husband will not take care of her. That same husband who promised so much love, saying they had one heart even though they had two bodies, now asks for a divorce. He does not want to look after her when she is ill, and his wife would probably also want a divorce in a similar situation. Is that love? No it is not. In tru love, life must be shared. Illness, wealth, bodily suffering, happiness, joy and sorrow must all be shared. Whenever there is love in which the husband and wife do not share everything equally, that love is born of selfishness. Only when everything is shared can it be called true love.

- M.R.Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mullah Nasrudin and the Key

Mullah Nasrudin is one night looking for something next to a lamp post in the street.
A friend is going by and asks what he’s doing. The Mullah says, “I’m looking for my key which lost.”
The friend decides to help and searches the ground under the lamp post. Half an hour later the friend asks,”Are you sure you dropped your key here?”
Nasrudin replies, “Oh no I lost it inside my house in my bedroom.”
The friend screams, “Why in hell’s name, are we searching here?”
Nasrudin smiles and says, “There much more light here.” 


Nasrudin an The Coffin

Mullah Nasrudin was walking with his son when a funeral procession came by.
The mullah’s son pointed to the coffin and asked him, “What is in that box?” Nasrudin replied, “A man, my son.” The son continued, “Where are they taking him, father, and why are they so sad?” “They are sad because they take him to a place where there is no food, no drink, no bread, no water, no fire, no gold, no carpet, not even a small rug,” said Nasrudin. The son answered, “They must be taking him to our house.”



Tawhid comes to mean the recognition of plurality as no other than the fact that what seemingly appears as many or varied is in reality One and Only in Essence.

The meaning of the word Tawhid or Union as used by many like Ibn 'Arabi (and many that followed him) does not, however, end with its admitted esoteric vocabulary meaning. For Ibn 'Arabi and many that think like him, Tawhid or Union is not a matter of knowing what it means but the act of progression towards the fulfilment of that action and knowledge, to feel an irresistible desire to reach, consciously, that state of being where one is in Union or in Tawhid - i.e. in the state of having formed a concept whereby there exists no other than the One and Only, the Unique Existent, Absolute, not like a monarch, but absolute in the sense that since it is all-inclusive it is not comparable or relatable to anything outside itself and therefore Complete and thereby Perfect. Yet the knowledge of all this is not per se enough to allow one to be in the State of Union or Tawhid.

An example borrowed from Ibn 'Arabi clarifies what is meant by knowing about it and being it. He says one might know what heroism is but that does not make one into a hero until one actually performs an act of Heroism. Then only is one a Hero. So Tawhid or Union is a deliberate act of progression to being One. Not only is it an act which is deliberate, like any other deliberate action, but that action deliberately and consciously undertaken must, by its nature, be all exclusive, irresistible in its attraction, a passion induced by the supreme and all pervading Love of the State of Union or Tawhid. Ismail Hakki Bursevi, who was one of the great teachers of the Jelveti order, now closed, and who translated and commented upon the Fusûs al-Hikam of Ibn 'Arabi in what may be called the definitive commentary on the Fusûs up to now, has an inscription on his modest tomb in Bursa which proclaims that only he who has the Love of Tawhid branded upon his heart brings light to the tomb of Ismail Hakki Bursevi.

As we can gather, Union or Tawhid is both an act of progression and a State of Being to which the action of progression leads but does not stop in its action when once it is in Being.

That Tawhid is both a state of Being and an act of progression without end is due to at least four aspects of the Being Itself:

First because the Being is Complete, Non-relative, therefore beyond relativity defined by time, space, distance. It is infinite. As Einstein says, everything is relative one to another ad infinitum, looking at it from one end of the telescope so to speak. Then that which is not defined by the requisite of the relative is infinite; and the Infinite is limitless, without boundaries in time. Consequently the ever progressive Union is ever, non-stop Continuous Being.

The second aspect derives from this very same non-conditional. That Being is, at all instants, in a different configuration, and different "business" or State of Being, (kulli anin fi she'nin = at every instant in a different state or "business", or at a "thing that is its private thing", which are of the shu'un-i dhatiye or "to do with 'things' of its own Ipseity"). Hence the Progression mentioned and the State of the Union is constantly varied at every instant to suit and conform to the State of the Configuration in which the Being happens to reveal Itself.

The third aspect of the non-stop progression and the State of Being is that it is irremediably and exclusively a matter of Love. Now, according to Ibn 'Arabi, Love is a sentiment with an aim to come into Tawhid or Union with Beauty. Hence it is the vehicle which transports the sentiment for Beauty to Beauty.

When Ibn 'Arabi speaks of sentiment he makes it very clearly understood that he is not talking of an emotion. Emotions are murky at best and Ibn 'Arabi's sentiment is crystal clear and definite, even to the degree of exclusivity. This sentiment is an active feeling which is only translatable with expressive Love which is equally its vehicle. Hence Love is the Love of Beauty to which it transports the Lover. The sentiment and its vehicle coinciding in action, in purpose, in reaching to, and, in the State of Being that which it reaches out towards, Beauty.

One has to be extremely careful in understanding this Beauty, not as something qualified by Beauty, even though we have no other means of expressing it except by a qualifying adjective. Yet we must come to know that Beauty not as qualified by the adjective of Beauty but as sheer Beauty, as Beauty Itself, far beyond anything by which it can be qualified - a Total Beauty, therefore a perfection which can never be qualified except by Its own Being such as It is. A qualifying statement comes as a Hadith in the words of the Prophet Mohammed: in-Allahu Jamilun wa yuhibb-ul Jamal - "In that God is extremely Beautiful and Loves Beauty".

The fourth aspect of the continuous act of progression and the State of Being is that it is Alive, Hayy. Ibn 'Arabi makes us definitely understand that Life is movement. Water which is not in the motion of flowing, therefore not in movement, is stagnant. Stagnant water is "dead" water. Life being the quality of the Being, the State of Its Being is active and in movement. Consequently all action towards Union or Tawhid with that Being and the State of Being of that Being are in constant movement. This consideration takes us back to the third aspect mentioned above. If the Being is in constant movement then Beauty is equally in a state of constant movement. As the movement of Beauty is Love, then the Beauty is in constant Love and it is because of this Sentiment that the Love of Union or Tawhid is a constant progression towards Beauty, as at the same time being in the state of that Being is Beauty.

We have seen the constant movement of Beauty and that the movement of Beauty is Love. Yet Beauty is also in constant expression, as Beauty without expression is inconceivable when there is no one to appreciate that expression or to witness its presence. So the expression of Beauty is Love as well as it being vehicled by Love.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Ibn Arabi On Retreat

Retreat refers to a withdrawal to a place of seclusion or safety: a place of refuge. It may refer to the spiritual practice of retreat as seclusion in a cell or to the general principle of withdrawing or fleeing to God.

Fleeing to God, in the context of Ibn 'Arabi's doctrine on the unity of existence, is not a flight away from one thing towards another, since there is nothing in existence but God; fleeing to God is merely a way of expressing the flight from ignorance to knowledge - a theme which runs through all of Ibn 'Arabi's writings. However, Ibn 'Arabi also wrote specifically about the spiritual practice of retreat in the Futuhat al-Makkiyya, in the Risalat al-anwar which Rabia Terri Harris has translated into English under the title Journey to the Lord of Power and in at least one other treatise which he devotes to the subject, the Kitab al-khalwa.

The practice of physically withdrawing from the world to a cell or some other isolated place is inevitably associated with asceticism. Ibn 'Arabi mentions some of the methods associated with retreat as a practice of withdrawing from the world in the Hilyat al-abdal, which refers specifically to seclusion or solitude, 'uzla. This kind of seclusion is characterised by abstinence, in particular refraining from speech, refraining from the company of people and refraining from food and sleep, described here by Ibn 'Arabi as silence, solitude, hunger and wakefulness. Ascetic elements of the retreat are described not as something in which to remain for their own sake, thereby conditioning what might be given freely, but as a means to an end, for they loosen the grip that the animal self exercises by curbing the natural appetites and they help in the cutting of worldly ties in order to bring the realisation of one's dependence on God Alone: that in silence and solitude conversation may take place with the Real One, for His is the Company, and through hunger and wakefulness it is known that God is the Nourisher and God is the One who gives repose.

Ibn Sawdakîn reports that Ibn 'Arabi told him, "Retreat and seclusion is all for the preparation of the place by cutting the ties. It is agreed that the one who finds intimacy with God the Most High in retreat has really [only] become intimate with retreat, not with God (Allâh), and He is the Truth (al-haqq)." The physical cutting away from wordly attachments and severing from dependence on secondary causes may be helpful as a means of approaching God. However, Ibn 'Arabi seems to indicate that the means should not be taken as important in themselves, lest the seekers familiarize themselves with a method instead of finding closeness to God, and limit Him by trying to approach Him through something other than Himself. Much of what Ibn 'Arabi writes in his letters, treatises and books address a particular individual or group of people, at a certain stage and for a specific reason, all of which is incidental to its purpose of helping others to withdraw from their belief in the existence of anything besides the One and Unique existence. The physical practice of retreat needs to be undertaken within careful guidelines and Ibn 'Arabi makes it clear, in the Risalat al-anwar, which is addressed to someone who is already advanced in spiritual disciplines, that caution needs to be exercised. He says, " not enter your cell until you are aware of your station and of the extent to which you are able to oppose the power of the imagination. If your imagination has power over you, you must go into retreat only under the guidance of a teacher who is trained in discerning spirits and familiar with the Way. If, on the other hand, your imagination is under your control, do not fear to go into retreat."


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Children, Be Good

My love you, my grandchildren, my sisters and brothers, my daughters and sons.
Come close and sit down. Each one of you should look at me and listen carefully to what I am about to say.

You must learn how to conduct yourself properly. Your life is very subtle, and so you must conduct it with subtle wisdom. First you must think about what is good and what is bad, then you must throw away all that is bad and do only what is good. See how those good things taste. And if someone does something good for you, you should do good in return. But if someone does something bad to you, just forget about it. Never do anything bad in return.

Also, my grandchildren, you must always respect your mother and father. Not only must you respect them, you must also obey them. If someone is slightly older than you, then he should be treated like your older brother. If someone is older than that, you should respect him like a father. If someone is younger than you, you should show him love and compassion and take him under your wing like a younger brother or son. You must respect him, too. Even to the cows, goats, and other animals, you must show love and compassion. Throughout your life you must show God’s three thousand gracious qualities to all people. You must do your duty and respect those who are lowly as well as those who are great. You must do this without any discrimination and regardless of their station life. Whatever duty you do for others, you should perform that duty with love, compassion, truth, and with an open heart. Do not do it with selfishness or attachment, and do not do expect a reward. Whether you help young child or an adult, do not expect any help in return. Show them love, and when your work is done, go happily on your way.

You must never have the thought, “I did this for you, so now what will you do for me?” Never harbor such thoughts. If you help someone and expect something in return, then you are a selfish person performing a self-business, and any help, love, or truth you give will come back to harm you. It will gather karma for you. If you give help in that way, it is evil, not good. You should never be in that state. Your reward comes from the help you give, not from the one you help. It is his responsibility, not yours, to remember the help he receives. You should simply be of assistance and then go on your way. It is wrong to expect something in return.

However, if you serve any life with your heart full of love, such love is even greater than the ocean. It will become a limitless treasure in the heart of each person. If you perform your duty in the right way, finish it, and then move on, this will give peace to the hearts of others. Such duty will be treasure of God’s grace. My grandchildren, you should never be angry. Anger is the guru of sin. It will lead you on the path of sin and take you straight to hell. Hastiness will consume your good, true wisdom. Impatience is an enemy to your wisdom. All that glitters is not gold. Do not think that whatever you see is truth. A golden pot needs no decoration, nor does a heart of truth. Truth does not have to be adorned. If you have true wisdom, you do not have to put on any acts. Every word you speak will be beautiful, loving, and compassionate. There will be sweetness and dignity in those words. If your wisdom has come from truth, that in itself will be beautiful. It will need no make up. So do not speak words you pick up here and there or read in books. Your word should come in an automatic way from within your heart and reveal the truth. Simply speak that truth. There is no need to embellish it and make it eloquent.

 My grandchildren, do not steal. Do not lie to your parents because you are afraid of them. Tell them the truth with love. Say, “I made a mistake. Please forgive me for what I have done.” First ask God to forgive you, then ask you parents to forgive you. Next ask forgiveness from anyone else you have wronged. If you realize your mistake and repent, your sin will be erased. But if you do not realize your mistake, if you do not ask for forgiveness, that sin will stay with you. Never say anything to hurt anyone, always speak with love. Show others a look of love and compassion, do not stare at them like tigers do. Do not pick fights with others; try to live with them with love, affection, trust and peace. You must not keep hostility in your heart toward others. Discard that hostility and all the evil qualities within you. Do not hold onto doubt, it is a huge cancerous disease. Get rid of it. Get rid of whatever suspicions you have toward others. They are your brothers and sisters. Live without any doubt. That will make you happy. It will be heaven you. Do not hurt, torment, or cause suffering to any being. Even the bull that pulls carts should be used in a loving way. Do not overload it with more weight that it can bear. After all, when you are given a load too heavy for you, can you carry it? Isn’t it difficult for you? Then think of the suffering you cause a bull when you give it more weight that it can carry. My grandchildren, you must know the capacity of each one’s body and know each one’s state. Only then can you give him the correct work, treat him with respect, and protect him. My love you, my grandchildren. Whenever you give someone food, know the capacity of his stomach and give him the correct amount needed to fill it. If you give too much, he will not be able to eat it, if you give too little, he will suffer because he will still be hungry. Know the qualities in each one’s heart and then serve him. But first, try to know your own heart. Only then can you understand the hearts of others. If you have that understanding, then whatever words you speak and whatever duty you perform will be true duty, each one will be God’s complete love. In every situation, perform your duty with this understanding. Precious jeweled lights of my eyes, my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, when you go to school, pay attention to what you are learning. Do not pay attention to what others are doing. Do not spend time looking around at other things. Concentrate on whatever you are doing at the moment. That is the only thing you should be thinking about until it is finished. If you go to prayers, concentrate on prayer. If you read a book, concentrate on that book. If you have some other work, focus on that. Concentrate deeply with your wisdom. Intend to do each thing in this way, and do everything in the name of God. My grandchildren, do not listen to what other people are saying. Do not listen to find out if they are talking about you or me. In the world there is so much talk and so much ignorance. Do not give your ears to the sound of the world, to words of ignorance. Give your ears to the sound of God. Have love for the duty you must perform and give your ears to that duty. Precious jeweled lights of my eyes, perform each of your duties in a good way, without paying any attention to the world within you. In this way, perform all the countless actions that you do everyday. Ignorance, illusion, and satan are always playing there within. Dispel the playing that is going on inside, and forget about playing in the outside world. My love you, my grandchildren. Each of you should think about this. Always discard what is bad, keep what is good, and act according to the good. Acquire God’s qualities, actions, and behavior and discard all other qualities. My grandchildren, if you grow up in this state of goodness, you will be the children of God. You will live as good children in this world, and you will be needed in both this world and the next. God will accept you as children of faith and truth. You will receive His goodness, and from that goodness you will attain everlasting benefits. Live as good children to all and as good children to God. Be good to your own heart and good to your wisdom. My love you my grandchildren. Think about this and conduct your lives in this subtle way. Amin. May God help you []

 (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. “Come to the Secret Garden”. Fellowship Press, Philadelphia. 1985.)

The Patient Fisherman Catches the Fish

My love you, my grandsons and granddaughters.
Somewhere nearby there is a good clear pond filled with beautiful lotus flowers. Let’s walk a bit and see if we can find it. Ah, there it is, just beyond the main intersection. All kinds of people come to this pond for all kinds of reasons. Look, some people are fishing. Shall we watch them?

Do you see that fisherman over there casting his line into the clear water? He has already caught two or three fish and is trying to catch some more. The man next to him has snagged his line on a lotus plant. See how he yanks and yanks at the line, trying to free it. Finally he tugs so hard that it breaks. “What the devil!” he shouts. “This lotus plant broke my hook and line!” And he stomps off in anger. He came to catch some fish, but all he caught was a lotus plant. Look, that man over there is casting his line again and again but isn’t catching anything. He too is getting angrier and angrier. The fish are swimming by in every in every direction but they jus aren’t biting. “Oh, you satanic fish!” he yells. “Why won’t you take the bait? Why can’t I catch you? I can’t wait here forever!” He’s making so much noise that he’s scaring the fish. They are swimming off in all directions, and that makes him even angrier. Once again, he casts his line but still the fish won’t come near it. Finally he breaks the rod and throws it in the water, shouting, “You satan! I’ve been wasting my time with you!” And he stomps off in anger, just like the first man.

But look, three other people are still here, trying their luck. Listen to them complaining. “This pond is no good! There aren’t enough fish here and they’re not the right kind. Maybe we should go to the river.” So they also leave, blaming the pond. Now here comes a traveler to fetch some water. But instead of filling his clay pot, he stands on the bank and watches what all the others are doing. “This is terrible!” he complains, “Look at these people! Some are washing their backsides in the pond and others are washing their feet. The water is no good now!” So he stands on the bank, urinates, and leaves with his water pot empty. But look, a man in a carriage has stopped him on the road and asked for some water. “Don’t drink the water in that pond!” the travelers warns, “It’s filthy!” “That may be so,” the man in the carriage argues, “but this is the only water available for the next fifteen miles. People may do all sorts of things that dirty this pond, but somewhere a clear stream must feed into it. Please fetch me some of that water or I will day of thirst.” “No, no!” protest the traveler. “You must not drink that dirty water!” But the man keeps insisting, “Don’t pay attention to what the other do. Just find some clear water and bring it here, or I will die.” Oh no! They’ve started fighting. Look, the water pot has been shattered, and they’re practically killing each other! Finally, beaten and half dead, they both stumble off. Now everyone has gone, except for the first fisherman we saw. He has been sitting there very patiently all this time, casting his line and catching a fish now and then. It looks as if he has caught about twenty fish, while everyone else left empty-handed and angry.

My grandchildren, every day many people come to this pond for different purposes. One comes to pick flowers. Another comes to clean his backside. A few come to fetch water. A cow come and urinates. But do you see how the pond always remains the same, no matter what the people do? The beautiful lotus flowers continue to lie on the clear water, while the fish and other cratures swim about below the surface. Even though each person comes here and acts out the disturbances of his mind, nothing affects the pond. People come to the pond to fulfill some desire, and when they fail, they blame anyone or anything but themselves.

The fisherman whose hook caught on the lotus plant blamed the plant, but it might not have happened if he had been more careful. The traveler who criticized what everyone else was doing, found fault with the pond and left without any water. The man who couldn’t catch anything became furious and blamed the fish. But the one who sat there patiently caught so many fish. Did you watch everything carefully? Was the pond at fault? Were the fish or the lotus plant to blame? No, it was not their fault. Those who were unsuccessful placed the blame elsewhere, but it was really their own carelessness or anger or impatience that kept them from getting what they wanted. Each persons sees his own faults in others. His own ignorant thoughts cause him to attack others. Whatever state or quality he himself possesses, he sees that same state or quality in others and then blames them.

This is the way of the world. But God is not like that, my grandchildren. Just as the pond remains the same no matter what people do, God is unchanging and eternal. For Him there are no separations of color, race, or religion. He is beyond all philosophies and dogmas. He treats all lives alike. His power is perfectly pure. His state is perfectly pure. His qualities, grace, and wisdom, His unity, peace, justice, and equality are all perfectly pure. He is the All-Perfect Purity. He is plenitude and completeness. That is God. Such is His state. If people with religious differences were to come into God’s presence, one would say, “Oh, this is a Hindu god,” and leave. Another would say, “This is a Zoroastrian god,” while another would say, “This is the Christian god,” and still another would say, “This is the God of Islam.” They would all complain, “This person’s devotion is not right, that person’s god is false, and that person is not one of us.” Thus, when each one comes before God, he brings his own qualities and then finds fault with that One Truth. He murders the qualities of love and finds fault with the compassion, unity, peace, justice, and power of God. And even though it is his own actions that are at fault, he scolds God and finds fault with His kingdom. Such people are like the fishermen who blamed the pond.

The difference between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of the world can be seen in the qualities and actions of man. Man cannot understand the kingdom of God unless he acquires the qualities, actions, and unity of God. But instead, man exhibits his own qualities and his own differences in this world. God is not in that state. Even though He dwells within all lives, you will only see Him reflected in one who has purity and good conduct, one who has God’s qualities and compassion and patience. God shines in the heart of such a person. The image of God can be seen in him, even though he remains in the form of man. This is how God does His work and conducts His kingdom. My grandchildren, did you understand everything that happened at the pond? There were eight or ten people who spent their time finding fault and criticizing. Only one man had patience and did his work with care and one-pointedness. Because of these qualities, he was able to catch many fish. The world will always find fault, but the patient man will catch the fish.

My grandchildren, my daughters and sons, my brothers and sisters, it is like this in the world. The one who has patience and contentment will receive whatever he needs in life. The one who surrenders to God and gives praise to God, who acquires wisdom and a loving way, and who has the virtuous qualities of shyness, modesty, reserve, and fear of wrongdoing; the one who has absolute faith, certitude, determination and trust in God – such a one will receive the wealth of God’s grace, His love, His qualities, and His awakened wisdom, His gnanam. He will receive all the wealth of God and live peacefully in both this world and the next. But those who are always impatient and find fault will lose everything. You must think about this.

My grandchildren, do you remember the two men who were fighting? Remember the man in the carriage and the traveler who refused water because he found fault with the pond? Let’s see what has happened to them. Look, their bodies are lying by the side of the road. It looks like they both died of thirst. A third man is lying next to them. He seems to be dying too. His lack of wisdom is destroying him, his arrogance is making him suffer, and his ignorance is killing him. He is crying out for water. Children, the pond cannot come to him, so you must run and get him some water in this piece of broken pot. Ah, look, after drinking just this little bit of water, he is beginning to gather strength. “Who brought this water? Where did you get it? If you brought it from that pond, then it is no good!” he shouts, throwing away both the broken pot and the water. People without wisdom act just like this. As soon as they gain a little strength, their arrogance and ignorance come to life again. Whatever help we give such people will be like poison to them. So we must be very careful. If someone threw a pot at us we could be hurt.

You must understand this and only teach God’s qualities to those who have God’s qualities. Only talk about wisdom to those who can understand it. Remember, my children, all man’s faults are due to his own ignorant actions, to his lack of wisdom. Nothing is God’s fault. Think about this. God is within man and man is within God. He is our Father, the only One worthy of worship. Whoever understands this and performs God’s duty with His qualities and grace will rule in God’s kingdom. May God help you. Amin.

(Come to the Secret Garden. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. The Fellowship Press)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Arrogance of the Puffed-Up Frogs

My love you, my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters.
It is twilight now, and the sun is low in the sky. Shall we go out for some fresh air? Come with me. This park is a very nice place. Everybody comes here to breathe in the fresh air and feel healthy. Do you see the well over there? People can draw water from it when they are thirsty.

Let’s go closer and look inside the well. Oh, look at all the frogs down there! They eat germs and bacteria in the water, making it cleaner for drinking. Look at them jumping up and down, leaping here and there, and pulling on each other. They seem to be fighting. But why? Are they fighting over food? Are they competing for insects? Let’s watch some more and see if we can discover why they are fighting. Ah, there is the cause! It’s not food they are fighting over. The two biggest frogs are both claiming that they are the greatest. Each one thinks he should be the leader. All the other frogs are frightened by their size and are diving deeper into the well to escape. But the two big frogs are challenging each other. They are full of pride and the qualities of the I.

Look, my grandchildren, they are trying to swallow each other! But both of them are the same size. What do you think will happen? Let’s watch and see. Don’t chase them away. If we break up the fight now, they will only start another fight later. Let them finish their quarrel, or they will never have any peace. Look, the first one has a good hold on his opponent and has swallowed his front legs. Do you see how his stomach is beginning to swell? But the second one has also swallowed the hind legs of the first and he too is puffing himself up. Now both of them have lost all the strength in their free legs, which are tiny and useless in comparison to their inflated bodies. Neither of them can jump anymore. Each frog has swallowed half of the other, and they can’t breathe. Oh, no! Both frogs have died! They tried to swallow each other, and as a result both have suffocated and are floating belly up in the water.

My grandchildren, sometimes men also try to swallow each other, like these puffed-up frogs. And just like the little frogs who dove deeper into the well, good people become afraid and try to escape when they meet a man who is puffed-up with pride and the arrogance of the I. It does not take long, however, until another arrogant man comes along to challenge him. They each boast, “I am the greatest!” Then, just like the big frogs, each man catches hold of the other and swallows half of him. They torture each other, and in the end they both die. Frogs challenge each other out in the open, one on one. But men torment each other in a devious, vengeful, and jealous way. One person kills another, then a third person attacks the winner, and soon they all die, just like frogs.

My grandchildren, a female frog lays so many millions of eggs, and hundreds of thousands of them hatch. They all live together, but then, because of their arrogance, they fight with each other and die. Like this, animals and human beings have been slaughtering each other for two hundred million years. And this destruction has been growing worse all the time. You have seen this fighting, haven’t you? You must be very careful not to catch this disease.

Do not be arrogant or conceited. Don’t be jealous of others. Do not let doubt creep into you. Do not become vengeful. Do not plot against others. Do not lie. All these qualities are destructive, deadly diseases. Each man causes his own death by letting them grow inside himself. Eventually, someone else with the same disease will come looking for him, and soon both will die from their arrogance. When you see arrogance, do not confront it. Why should you point out people’s arrogence to them? Their time will come, and they will destroy themselves. Those with wisdom who are devoted to God and trust Him must hide from the karma, arrogance, illusion, and pride of the world. Like the little frog who dove deep into the well to escape from the big frogs, you have to hide. People with wisdom must dive into God, truth and wisdom. They must escape by disappearing into love, peace, and tranquility. This is what you must do in you lives, my grandchildren. Become human beings and search for the qualities of peace.

Arrogance will always take on new forms, so you must be alert and do your best to escape. Hide in the truth. Hide yourselves in the quality of the One who is unfathomable grace. Take on the natural and beautiful light form which is God’s compassionate, just, and loving form. Reflect wisely and try to fil yourselves with good thoughts. You and I must try to live in God’s protection. My love you, my grandchildren. God is sufficient for us. He will protect us. Amin. Amin.

 (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. “Come to the Secret Garden”. Fellowship Press, Philadelphia. 1985.)

The King Who Wanted to Make Gold

My love you, my grandchildren, my sons and daughters, my brothers and sisters.
Come with me and we will visit what was once a great kingdom. A century ago it was ruled by a mighty king. Look over there. That is where the king’s palace once stood. And here on this spot where we stand today, he built an ashram for wandering gnanis, swamis, gurus, yogis, and men of wisdom to rest and refresh themselves. See how crumbling and desolate the ashram is now. The foundation still stands, but the wall have fallen to ruin.

My grandchildren, I will tell you a story about this king and why he built a special resting place for wandering wise men. This is a story you should know. Once upon time before he ruled this kingdom, the king was just a common man, living in the mountains to the east. How do you suppose he became king? In olden days, rogues would band together, choose a leader, and plunder the countryside in all directions. If the leader was clever, his power would grow. That is how this man came to be king. He was appointed the leader of a band which grew in size and power, capturing more and more land, until he had acquired a whole kingdom. And as he and his men conquered the adjoining kingdoms one by one, he became mighty in wealth and power. One day the king thought, “This is how things happen in the world. If someone more clever than I comes along, he will capture my kingdom just as I captured the kingdoms of so many others. Even if I escaped with my life, where would I go? If someone seized my wealth, how do I earn a livelihood? What would I do?”

Then one day, the king read in the Puranas about the wise alchemists who knew how to make gold. “If I could learn how to make gold from metals such as copper and iron, I’d be safe,” he thought. “Even if someone seized my kingdom and all my wealth, it wouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t need a kingdom. I could make gold anywhere. I must find such an alchemist.”

And so the king built an ashram for wandering wise men. The roof and pillars were made of copper. There were two doors, one in front and one in back. Over the entrance was a sign which read: “Welcome all gnanis, swamis, yogis, miracle workers, and gurus! Come and eat three free meals a day for three days.” And over the exit there was a sign which read: “O great miracle workers, both holy and wise! You have eaten well. Now help us if you can. If you know how, change this copper house into gold. Then we will be able to continue our charitable work for a long, long time.” The king posted guards all around the ashram, instructing them, “If anyone turns this ashram to gold, stop him and bring him to me. Don’t let him leave!” 

Millions of people stopped to eat and went on their way, but not one knew how to turn copper into gold. Then one day, at long last, a guru arrived with ten or eleven disciples. The guru read the first sign. He knew his disciple were hungry, so he led them inside. Although the guru took only a little, his disciple ate well. As they were leaving, the guru saw the second sign. Telling his disciple to wait, he went outside and returned with a special herb. He stood in the middle of the room, between the entrance and the exit, crushed the herb between his hands, and blew on it. The bits of crushed herb scattered through the air, and the whole ashram turned to gold. As the guru walked toward the exit, the guards immediately surrounded him. “Swami, please do not leave The king wants to see you. You have given us so much wealth. Please, you must come to the palace.” And so the guru was carried on a palanquin to the palace. The king had no sooner paid hid respects, then he began to plead, “You are my god. I built the ashram and invited people of wisdom to come so that I could learn how to make gold. I have waited so long for someone as wise as you. You must teach me this secret art.” “Is that so, O King?” th guru asked. “Very well, you can learn to make gold, but do you really want something that changes and diappears? Gold will not remain with you. Neither wealth nor poverty are permanent. Both will leave you, just as you too will have to leave this world one day. So what is the use of learning to make gold? O King, do you understand?” “But Swami, learning to make gold is my life’s desire! Please teach me how. Please!” he begged. “Well, if this is what you want, you must come and stay with me for twelve years. Then I will teach you. But first you must make yourself look like my other disciples. You must leave behind your jewels, your luxurious clothing, and even your sandals. You can bring only two sets of clothes, one to wear and one for a change.” The king’s desire to learn how to make gold was so strong that he agreed to sacrifice all his comforts and go with the guru.

After handling over the entire kingdom to the care of his ministries, he walked out of the palace, leaving behind all of his wealth and finery. Barefooted, he presented himself to the guru and began his journey. They walked and walked. How the king suffered! He hobbled along painfully, his tender feet burning from the hot sand and stones. Finally, the group stopped to rest in a small cave deep in the jungle. Everyday, the guru sent the king and another disciple deep into the jungle to pick fruit, dig for wild yams, and fetch water. Thorns stabbed the king’s feet and tore at his face and body. Because he was accustomed to great comfort and cleanliness, the king found it extremely difficult to live in the jungle. Within a few weeks his whole body was covered with sores, and he became feverish. “O God!” he thought to himself. “Why do I have to suffer? I don’t need gold. How comfortable I would be if I had stayed in my palace! Even without knowing how to make gold, I could have enjoyed my daily food. As it is, I haven’t learned any wisdom, and I haven’t learned the art of alchemy. I am just suffering.” Day by day, year after year, his suffering increased. From head to toe he was covered with oozing, bloody sores that would not heal, and he itched all over. He could barely walk, yet he and another disciple were sent out to do every chore that needed to be done. The other disciples took turns, but the king had to go out everyday for eleven years. Often he cried, and there were many nights when he could not sleep. Many times he wanted to give up and run away. But then he would think, “No, I have come here to learn, and I must see it through.”

Finally, one day the guru said, “Bring the king here.” When the king came before him, the guru asked, “Are you a king or a disciple?” “I am a disciple,” he replied. “I am no longer a king. Soon I will die.” “You have not yet learned what you came here to learn.” “More than eleven years have passed, Swami.” “Come with me,” the guru said, and he led the king to the foot of a mountain rocks. “Pick that herb,” commanded the guru. “Crush it between your hands, blow on it, then rub it on those rocks. You will see them change. Then make a pile of all the ones that changed.” The king did as the guru instructed, and the rocks changed into chunks of iron. That was on the first day. On the next day, told him to take a different herb, crush it, and blow on it. This time the rocks he rubbed tirned to lead, and the king piled them up on one side. On the following day, the guru instructed him to use another herb, and this time the rocks changed into copper. The king made another pile. The next day the guru said, “Take these two herbs, crush them together, blow on them, and spread them over the rocks.” These rocks turned to silver, and the king made yet another pile. On the next day, the guru told the king to pluck and crush still another combination of herbs. This time the rocks changed into a gold alloy.

On the following day, the king was told to gather yet another combination. He crushed the herbs, blew on them, and the rocks were transformed into ingots of pure gold. The king piled them up. He now had six huge piles. Then on the final day, the guru instructed the king to pick nine different kind of herbs. The guru said, “After crushing these, blow them onto nine different sections of the remaining rock,” When the king had finished, the rest of the mountain had been transformed into nine huge mounds of sparkling gems. There were emeralds, diamonds, rubies, lapis lazuli, cinnamon stones, pearls, sapphires, coral, and topaz. “King, you may leave now, if you wish. But first look carefully at the wealth before you, and then tell me what your final decision is.” The king stared at the mounds upon mounds of gems and gold. He picked up handfuls of gems, tossed them into the air, and let them shower down upon himself. Then he rolled around in the glittering riches. But after a while he thought, “What am I doing? This is not what I need.” And he returned to his guru. “You have finished the work that you came for,” the guru told the king. “All this is yours. You can take it with you.” “O Swami,” the king answered, “I have been with you for twelve years, and I have finally come to realize that what you told me is true. I see now that I do not need this wealth. Wealth is something that comes and goes. You have the ability to make a mountain rock into a mountain of gold, yet you have chosen to give up this worldly wealth and live in a simple cave. The wealth you have is different. You have chosen the wealth of God’s kingdom, the wealth of God’s grace, which will never change or diminish. Nothing can be compared to the wealth of wisdom, love, justice, equality, peace and compassion. It has no equal. “I have seen everything my mind wanted to see, eveything my desire searched for. Gold is not true wealth, it is only earth. Once I desired and enjoyed the things of the earth, but not anymore. Although I was a king, I did not have the peace that you have.” Looking at the gold and precious gems heaped up around him, he said, “I will not benefit from all this. Someone might try to kill me for it. It is a disease that could destroy me and also destroy the wealth of grace. “Swami, please accept me as your disciple. I need the wealth that is undiminishing and indestructible. Please give me that. I want to learn how to gain the wealth of God’s grace from you.” “Now, you are indeed my disciple,” replied the guru. “You are God’s child, and you are a child of my love. Come.”

And so the man who had been king was cured of all his sores, and his body was transformed into a beautiful form. The guru taught him about God’s wisdom and grace, and he became a light to the kingdom of God. Having received undiminishing wealth of grace, he lived as a child in the kingdom of God, able to serve all lives and see them as his own. He served the soul, he served God and his guru, and he served the world and all of mankind. He never returned to reclaim his kingdom, for he no longer wanted it.

My grandchildren, little did the king know that shortly after he had followed his guru into the jungle, enemies invaded his kingdom and killed all his ministries. Kings from far and near came to fight over the gold roof and pillars of the ashram. They grabbed whatever they could and carried it back to their kingdoms. This broken-down building you see in front of you, my grandchildren, is the ashram the king built for the wandering wisemen. Now it has crumbled and mingled with the earth, along with those who died fighting for the gold and gems of the world. And look over there at the king’s palace. It is also in ruins, nothing but dust and ashes, a haven for birds and bats. Think about this, my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, my daughters and sons. Like the king who wanted to make gold, people think they need to search for worldly wealth. It would be better if they would search for the wealth of grace and divine knowledge, for the wealth of God’s qualities and love.

Those who understand God’s love and show it to others, considering every person’s life as their own, will know real freedom. Those who serve others with God’s love will become peaceful and serene. They will receive God’s everlasting wealth in the world of the soul, in this world, and in the hereafter. But the lives of those who do not search for the permanent wealth of God will crumble into ruin, just as this palace crumbled. Think about this and make te effort to search for God’s wealth. The effort you put into gathering worldly wealth is wasted. The things of the world wil not turn into gold. They are billboards for hell. Surrender to God and prepare your heart to accept whatever He gives with patience and praise, both in this world and in the next. Have the contentment to believe that whatever Allah gives you is enough. To attain this contentment, you need wisdom, the divine knowledge of ‘ilm, and the faith, certitude, and determination known as iman.

You do not have to suffer, my grandchildren. Your Creator will give you the necessary food at the correct time, but you must do your part. Look at the animals. See how chickens find their food in the earth, and the birds find their food in the trees and grass. Allah has provided for them all. But they must make the effort to find what He has given them. And through your own efforts, you too must find the permissible food that God has created for you.

My children, as you search for Allah, try to become peaceful and attain a state where you can share your peace with others. Always be as thoughtful of others as you are of yourself and share what you receive with your neighbors and those who are hungry. Prepare your heart to do this work. Make your love for Allah clear, and when wisdom and His qualities come within you, you can transform yourself as the king did. If you strengthen your iman, you can receive Allah’s wealth of grace and rule in the three worlds. That is certain. Good qualities, actions, conduct, and love rule Allah’s kingdom. God has one hundred powerful qualities which are His duties. Of these He has kept for Himself the one duty of creating, protecting, and sustaining His creations. But the other ninety-nine are there for you to share.

Therefore, perform your duties and try to find wisdom. You can never find lasting peace by collecting gold and gems. They are not permanent. Instead, fill your heart with God’s qualities and with peace and tranquility. They are the greatest wealth, the wealth of grace, wisdom and justice. My love you, my grandchildren. May you think about this. God is all we need for our lives. Strengthen your faith, your iman. Be patient and be content. Surrender to Allah and praise Him. Pray to God, bow to Him, and pay your respects to Him. Make this firm and definite in your lives. That will be very good. When you reach this state, it is certain that you will receive the beauty of youth and the light of His rahmat, which is the wealth of His benevolent grace. My love you, my grandchildren. May you have the faith to make your lives complete and to receive wealth of peace that never changes and never ends. May Allah bring the perfect fulfillment of His qualities, His beauty, and His light to shine in your hearts and in your faces. Amin. May He give you the divine knowledge called ‘ilm. Amin. Amin. Ya Rabbal ‘aalamiin. Assalaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuhu. So be it. So be it. O Ruler of the universes. May the peace of God and His beneficience be upon all of you.[]

 (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. Come to the Secret Garden. Fellowship Press. 1985)

It Hurts to Be Washed

My love you, my grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters.
Look at your clothes. See how dirty they are? They have changed so much since you first bought them! The colors have faded, and the cloth is full of sweat. Smell them, they stink! Now smell your body. The odor of everything you eat is present in your sweat. If you eat beef you can smell the cow, if you eat goat meat you can smell the goat, is you eat fish you can smell fish, and if you eat chicken then you will stink like a chicken. Even if you take medicine, you will smell it when you burp. Where do all these odors come from? They are from inside of your body. They come from the things you have eaten and put into your body. That is why you smell and why your shirt smells, from the sweat of all that you have accumulated inside. The stench and dirt that collects on your clothes can be washed, but what can be done for the smell inside the body?

My love you, my grandchildren, try to think about this. You wash your clothes, don’t you? You think, “I must look good, I have to look important,” and so you keep your clothes nice and clean. In olden days, people have to beat their clothes on stones by the riverside to clean them, but now science has given us the washing machine and all we have to do is add a little soap. But the clothes really suffer in the machine. Someday, watch how a washing machine works and you will see how the clothes suffer. They are tossed about, tangled, rubbed, and scrubbed. Even if you wash them by hand you have to soap them, scrub them and rinse them. That’s the only way dirt can be removed. Clothes go through much, just for you to dress up and look attractive, like a new bride or a bridgegroom.

My children, in the same way, you have to wash away the smell coming from each pore of your skin. This smelly, karmic illness, this illusion, pride, jealousy, doubt, arrogance, hatred, lust, anger, miserliness, greed, fanaticism, envy, the base desires of the nafs, the differences of I and you, mine and yours, my possessions and your possessions, my religion and your religion, my language and your language, my child and your child – how they all stink! They reek every second, from every pore of your body. It is very difficult to wash away this stench which comes from the things you have searched for and accumulated within yourself. And because it is so difficult, it might hurt a little when you try to remove this stench.

If you have an infected sore and the doctor cuts it open with his scalpel, you might cry from the pain. If you step on a thorn and the doctor removes it, it may hurt so much that you might try to hit him or even bite him. It is hard enough for the doctor to do his job without you resenting him and calling him a terrible man. You may react the same way when you come to a man of wisdom and good qualities and he tries to help you rid yourself your karmic illnesses. It will certainly be difficult. You will suffer when someone you knows reveals your illnesses to you. Your mind and desire, your hunger, disease, old age, and death will suffer. The four hundred trillion, ten thousand illnesses you harbor within yourself will experience sorrow. If someone tells you to discard the things you have nourished so carefully, it will make you unhappy. You will yell at him and be full of doubts, resentment, and envy, and you will run away.

 It would definitely be easier to go to someone who has the same qualities as you, someone who would just say, “Oh, nothing’s wrong. There’s no problem. You smell fine, just apply a little deodorant. I love you. Eat whatever you want and recite whatever mantra you choose. Then you’ll be happy.” You will like him. You will say that he is a fine doctor, a good guru, and a good sheikh. But think about it. Since he smells just like you, he will not mind your karmic smell. His stench and your stench go together very nicely, but even animals will run away from it, the stink is so foul. Consider the skunk. Everyone thinks a skunk smells dreadful, except another skunk. So, when two skunks get together, they are happy. But human beings will do everything possible to get rid of that terrible odor.

My grandchildren, just as one skunk does not know that another skunk is smelly, karma does not know the smell of karma. But a man of wisdom will know. He will try to get rid of the stench. A false guru will only enjoy the smell of karma. He will not try to help you get rid of yours, and so it will continue to grow in you. He will ask for money and say, “Do this, do that, give me two hundred dollars, and everything will turn out well.” A false guru asks for money, but a true wiseman says, “I want nothing. It is enough if you become well.” A true healer who tries to cure your illness might cause you pain. It is hard to wash away that condition, because the sickness is part of your flesh, your blood and your mind. It sticks to you like paint. Trying to peel or scrape it off is very difficult. It must be done with sabur and shukur, with inner patience and absolute contentment.

My grandchildren, you need that iman of faith, determination and certitude. You need all the qualities of Allah. Then the paint can be scraped off with wisdom and love, and you can be clean. My love you. It is difficult to get rid of the karma of this birth. It is difficult to wash and scrape away arrogance, karma, and illusion, and tarahani, singhan, and suran, the three sons of illusion. It is difficult to get rid of lust, hatred, miserliness, greed, fanaticism, and envy. It is difficult to eliminate intoxicants, theft, murder, falsehood, anger, haste, impatience, selfishness, pride, doubt, suspicion, and the separations the ind creates between religions and colors. Only if you have patience, contentment, faith, determination, and all the qualities of God, will the wise man be able to make you as beautiful and clean as he possibly can. He keeps trying to do his duty always. He does not seek anything from you.

My love you, my grandchildren. Think about this and strengthen your faith. We must get rid of this karma, this stench. It destroys the life and freedom of the soul. It cuts away our entire life and our connection to God. The skunk’s smell is in its skin, but man’s smell is in his mind. It is easy enough to skin a skunk, but to get rid of the mind’s smell is very difficult. Reflect upon this deeply. Get rid of your pride, your resentment, and your anger. Acquire humility, peace, and serenity. You must have these qualities. That would be good. My love you, my grandchildren. My this karma be gone and that fragrance be ours. May we believe in our Father, and may we have absolute faith, determination, and certitude. Cherish those qualities. Be patient. Then that good doctor can use his wisdom on your behalf. May God help you. Amin.

(Bawa Muhaiyaddeen . Come to A Secret Garden. The Fellowship Press. Philadelphia)

Twelve Years with the Sheikh

My love you, my grandchildren, my sons and daughters, my brothers and sisters. Bismillahir-Rahmaanis-Rahiim. All praise and glory belong only to Allah.

We need His protection in the world of the souls, in this world, and in the hereafter. We need His help every second of our lives. We must search for Him with every breath and never let go of Him. He is always ready to help. If you look for Him, He will look for you. If you think of Him, He will think of you. If you intend Him, He will intend you. If you call Him, He will come. He is expecting you to call upon Him, and He is ready at all times.

My love you, my grandchildren. Please think about this. I am telling the truth. No one but God can help us. No other god has that power, for that grace and that point are in His hands alone. If you search for God’s qualities, His wisdom, and His truth, you will understand what I have said. If you trust in Him without a single doubt or suspicion, your intentions will be fulfilled, and you will attain freedom both in this life and in the kingdom of the soul. To do this, you need to find a true human being, a man who has God’s qualities, a man of wisdom.

Once you find such a man, you must carefully observe his qualities and his wisdom. You have to see that ideal beauty. If you can exist in such a state, if you can acquire qualities and wisdom like his, then you will be able to understand everything. But you must not harbor a single doubt or suspicion, you must have absolute certitude. That will bring you peace, tranquility, and serenity in your lfe and in all three worlds. This man of wisdom will be a map for your life. All you need to do is follow the map with understanding. He has not come here to show you any miracles or rub his hands together and magically produce something for you. He will not teach you to recite mantras or do tricks. Does the truth of God’s grace need magic or miracles? No, truth performs no miracles. Does the wisdom of truth need makeup? No, good qualities, truth, and wisdom need no embellishment. If you are beautiful, you don’t need any artificial decoration. Your light and your beauty will be seen in you, as a free, open and natural beauty. You will know it and others will see it and enjoy it.

What is natural never changes, but when you cover it with makeup, its beauty is diminished. Don’t hide that original beauty. If you can return to your original state of good qualities and wisdom, that state itself will become the map which will show you the way from this world to God. At that point, everything will occur automatically, and as each thing happens, you will understand it. Children, only a true human being can show you how to achieve that state. You have to follow him, step by step. Watch what he does, and then do it. Look at the way he acts, and then act in the same way. He will show you each step and tell you what it means. He will teach you about your birth and about those who have been born with you. He will explain all of creation to you, and you, in turn, must look at each creation as he speaks of it. Listen and reflect with your experience and understanding. See what path he takes, and then follow him. To walk with him in this way is the learning. After a while your understanding will be the map and you can go forward, knowing your path. 

Children, until you can proceed on your own, you must be with your sheikh. Hold on the truth he teaches you with your faith and with your innermost heart. Focus on his words and his actions. Watch very carefully. Do not drift away for even a second, or you will miss the point. He will have left that place, talked about something else, and gone on. If you look to one side or the other, or fall even one step behind, it will not be good. Focus only upon him. Follow exactly in his footsteps, and then he will take you on the path he travels. He can take you from the very creation of your soul to your merging with the resplendent state of your Father. Until you reach that state, you have to travel with him.

My love you, my children. Books cannot take you where you want to go. It is quick and easy to study and memorize the scriptures, the Bible, the Qur’an, and the Puranas, but it is long and difficult to learn about the soul, the freedom of life, and the secret of the kingdom of God. It’s true that there is a time for you to wander around with books. And at that time they will have a meaning for you. But once you come on this path, you cannot gain anymore from books. What you really have to understand now is your life, who you are, and who your Father is, what the soul is, and what wisdom is. You must understand the actions, the goodness, and the qualities of God, your Father. You can learn all these by following an insan, a man of wisdom. That will give you the understanding you need.

People say that to learn this properly you must surrender to the sheikh and stay with him for twelve years. But they say these things without understanding. What do does twelve years really mean? And what does surrender mean? What do you have to surrender to? You have seen how a flashlight works. The bulb is connected to a battery by a small piece of metal, and when you push the switch, the current flows to the bulb and the light goes on. Each thing has to touch the next connection in exactly the right way, or it will not work. The same process holds true for your body. Your food has to taste good, be the proper temperature, be suitable for your blood, and provide you with the necessary vitamins, or you will be ill. Even the water you drink must agree with you. Your body has certain needs, doesn’t it? Everything has to be just right for it to function well. In the same way, my grandchildren, your thoughts, your intentions, and your gaze have to be just right to connect with those of the sheikh. They have to follow him just as the shadow of a man follows him wherever he walks. Where does this shadow come from? It comes from the man doesn’t it? Everything has a shadow, even a tree. You have to be connected to the sheikh like a shadow, following his innermost heart and turning wherever he turns. This is the way it is at first.

You must remember that during this time the sheikh will be the one who is doing everything, and you will be merely his shadow. You will be separate from him, yet following him. And just as shadow come closer and closer as the sun rises higher and higher, your qualities, your body, your soul, and your possessions must draw closer and closer to the sheikh. Finally they will be hidden within him. At noon, when the sun reaches its zenith, no shadow can be seen. The shadow has merged with the man. Like this, when you are fully mature you can disappear into the sheikh. You will walk as one and go on the journey as one. Until then, you have to follow him and cling to him, drawing closer and closer. This is what surrendering to the sheikh means. Once you attain a mature state, you will merge with him and will no longer be in the world. You must think about this. My love you, my grandchildren, my sons and my daughters. Until you fully understand, you will become tired and depressed when you see sorrow and suffering. Religion, race, color, and the languages of the world will keep you separate from your sheikh. These things might even cause you to look back and turn away.

My grandchildren, the world that we see on the outside does not belong to us. We have only the worlds inside, the worlds of heaven and hell. We have the happiness and sadness of heaven as well as the happiness and sadness of hell. We have the vast worlds of ignorance and lack of wisdom within us. There are eighteen thousand universes within us. Do you know what it means to be with the sheikh for twelve years? It means that we have to stay with the sheikh until we understand the twelve worlds within us. What are these twelve worlds? In the lower part of your body there are two worlds, two openings: the place from which you were born and the place of fecal arrogance. Then there are seven worlds in your head: the mouth which is the opening of hunger and hellfire from which you drank and shouted and howled, the two nostrils that carry the two breaths in and out, the eyes that you see with, and the ears that you hear with. The tenth opening, the navel, was cut and sealed at birth. The navel is the opening through which the jealousy and pride and vanity of satan entered. The other nine openings are called the nine planets, which keep whirling us about and tormenting us. These nine worlds are also represented in the zodiac by the forms of crabs, scorpions, and other animals. We must use our iman to cut away these animal qualities. We need to understand all ten openings. We must learn about the cause of fecal arrogance and the source of our birth, as well as the source of our speech and hunger and taste, of our breath, and of our vision and hearing. To understand those ten openings, or worlds, and to overcome and control them, you need ten years. In the tenth year you must learn who you are. You must understand yourself and close that self off, just as the navel is closed. Then, in the eleventh year, you look at the world with the eye in the center of the forehead, the kursi. As you are looking at others, trying to help them and to satisfy their needs, the kursi is opened. In the twelfth year, after you have understood yourself and controlled the worlds within you, and after you have understood everything in the world, you then give yourself up to God. You merge with your Father and both of you live together in the ‘arsh.

You do need a sheikh, and you need to be with him for twelve years to understand these twelve worlds. Whether you are far away or in his presence you must keep him in front of you, within you, behind you – everywhere. You must look at each of these worlds, one by one. Do not turn to mantras, saying, “Om, ahm, eem” hoping those sounds will produce miracles. They will not help you. Instead, try to know and understand what must be thrown away and then throw it away. If you can do that, it will be enough of a miracle. This is why you have to find a true human being, an insan. You have to follow his qualities and his wisdom like a shadow in order to overcome these twelve worlds and merge with God. Only if you proceed in this state can you reach the kingdom of your Father. Otherwise, you will experience nothing but the world. You will live in the world, die in the world, and be reborn in the world. You will have nothing else. Your pleasure and sorrow, your laughter and tears, your happiness and sadness will come from the world. All that you praise or blame and all the miracles that you perform will be of the world. Even the path you take to hell will be the path of the world. Hell is all you will find on the path.

My grandchildren, search for a man who has the qualities of God and follow him. What you need to learn is very difficult, and therefore you need a true man of wisdom. It is easy to read religious scriptures. Many people have done that. Once you have memorized them you are finished, but you can never finish studying God and His qualities and the truth. The more you progress, the deeper it will be, until finally you merge with your Father. But even when you attain that state, there is still more to be learned. You have to stay within God and learn for so many ages.

My love you, my grandchildren. As long as you are not in this realized state, you will have difficulty understanding what you need to know. This is why you must stay with the sheikh for twelve years. You must understand. You have to become like him and learn with him, so that one day you can reach the kingdom of your Father. Don’t talk about your horoscope. Don’t turn to the zodiac for your understanding. Avoid those things. My love you, my grandchildren. Understand yourselves and correct yourselves. This is the point. This is what you have to know in your life. You have to understand the real qualities of God. They are your map. As you grow in your understanding, the truth and wisdom that come to you will bring you so much beauty. And the resplendent light within you will become brighter and brighter.

My grandchildren, the right path is truth, the wisdom of truth. This is not something that we can just talk about, we must bring it into our actions. Talking about something is one thing, but doing it is another. You have to act upon the truth. Nothing will happen just from talking, whether the words come from you or from a man of wisdom. In the same way that the ink from your pen sticks to a piece of paper, your actions must stick to your words. It is easy to talk about wisdom, but you have to hold on and stick to it. Learn only that which can never be erased. Do not bother to learn anything that can be erased. That kind of learning is like writing on water. You write, but a second later,it disappears, and there is no way of knowing what was written. You will never be able to benefit from that kind of learning, and neither will anyone else. Think about this. What you learn must be firmly established and printed in a way that will stick. Only if you stay with the sheikh will you be able to do this. Allah is sufficient unto all of us. Mey He give us the wisdom of truth. May He makes us go on the straight path and take us to that point. Amin. May Allah protect us and keep us from making mistakes. May He give us His grace. Amin. Amin.

(Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. "Come to the Secret Garden". The Fellowship Press. 1985.)

The Secret Meaning of the Word 'KUN' (2)

When our father Adam, the first human being Allah created, opened his eyes – when Allah blew into him his soul from His own soul – he looked at the rest of existence. And he saw it as a circle. Everything was evolving around the circle of Becoming and Being. Actually there are two circles, one of fire and one of wet earth. And he saw that the evolution of the whole universe is a manifestation of the divine order kun – the cause, the power, the order of consequent becomings, without fail and forever coming from it. As no one and nothing can fall out of these revolving circles, nor any can be excluded, it is what they see that counts.

Some will see the K as Perfection and strive to be perfect, and some will see it as Unbelief and become disbelievers. Some will find enlightenment in the meaning of the letter N and become wise, and others will find comfort in their heedlessness and think of the letter N as their preference for ignorance over awareness. None can save themselves from the effect of their faith in what they see as truth. This is determined by One who created them and what they see, and what they understand from what they see. Everyone is bound to stay within the circumference of the circles on which they revolve. None can be other than what is willed by the One who said Be! And all became. Everything faces the center of the circle kun and depends on it all its being.

Then you too look at that Tree of Being, whose branches cover the whole universe. Although every branch, every leaf, every fruit is different, they have all shot up from a single seed, the seed of love named kun. When our father Adam was brought by his Creator to school to learn, to become the human being destined to be the deputy of Allah in the universe, he was first taught all the names of things in existence. Then in awe he faced the word kun, the divine order Be, the cause of all being. What did it mean? He sought the intention of the One who brought all this into being and saw the the first letter K related to the word kanziyyah (the Hidden Treasure), when Allah said: I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known, and I created the creation so that I would be known.  And in the last letter N he saw the identity of the Creator, when He said ana Allah (I am Allah) Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I, so serve Me… (Surah Ta Ha, 14)

Then one after another it was revealed to him that the K of the kanziyyah indicated the gifts of Allah upon him and his progeny in the word karam (generosity) of his Lord, as promised in His words: And surely We have honored the children of Adam and We carry them on land and sea, and We provide them with good things, and We have made them to excel highly above most of those whom We have created (Surah Bani Isra’il, 70) And again, the K meant to Adam kuntiyyah (becoming, from “I become”) in Allah’s promise, which He said: When my faithful servant comes close to Me with extra devotions, he loves Me and I love him: and when I love him, I become his eyes with which he sees, I become his ears with which he hears, I become his hands with which he holds… And he understood that the letter N at ana Allah was meant to shed the nur, the divine light, upon him and those like him, as Allah said: Is he who was lifeless, then We raised him to life and made him a light by which he walks among people, like him whose likeness is that of one in darkness whence he cannot come forth? (Surah An’am, 122) And the N of kun pointed to the N on the word ni’mah, bounties of Allah, in Allah’s words: He gives you of all you ask of Him. And if you try to coun Allah’s bounties, you will not be able to count them (Surah Ibrahim, 34)

These are some of the things that our father Adam learned about the divine word kun in Allah’s school in Paradise – not all. We have only mentioned less than the least. More will be told later. Now the accursed Devil went to the same school of instruction in Paradise, and for fourty thousand years he studied, examining the secrets in the letters of the word kun. But the Divine Teacher willed that he should depend on his own powers and feel confident and able to do things by himself. So when he examined the meaning of the letter K he associated it with the dependence only upon himself and on his unbelief (kufr) in any other power but his own, as told by his Lord: He disdainfully refused to obey Allah and bacame proud… (Surah Baqarah, 34) And he saw in the letter N his own fiery nature in the word naar (fire), and said: I am better than Adam: You have created me of fire, while You created him of earth (Surah A’raf, 12) So the kufr which the Devil identified with in the letter K pushed him into the naar which he saw in the letter N, and his destiny and the destiny of the likes of him was set: So they were hurled into Hellfire (Surah Shura, 94)

When our father Adam looked at the Tree of Being, in the splendor of the many kinds of flowers and fruits on its many lofty branches, he left them all but held onto the branch of Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I… (Surah Ta Ha, 14) He knew that it is the only thing that is sure and unalterable. So he took refuge in the security of solutide in the oneness of his Lord. While in that state of unison a soundless and wordless message came, both to him and to our mother Eve: O Adam, dwell you and your wife in the garden and eat from whence you desire, but go not near this tree (Surah A’raf, 19)

But the accursed Devil would not leave them be. He was holding onto the branch of false imagination, and he willed to fool them. Indeed he succeeded, and made Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden tree. And they disobeyed their Lord’s order: …go not near this tree. Yes they were aware of what they did wrong. So when they slipped down from their peace of unison with their Lord, they caught onto the branch of repentance and said: Our Lord we have wronged ourselves; and if You forgive us not nor have mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers (Surah A’raf, 23) And holding onto that branch, which saved them, they received words in the form of sweet fruits growing on it: Then Adam received words from his Lord and He turned to him mercifully; surely He is oft-returning to mercy, Most Merciful (Surah Baqarah, 37)

There is the day that is called the Day of Witnessing and on that day under the eyes of the whole, witnessing every soul will hear its Lord ask: Am I not your Lord? (Surah A’raf, 172) And they will all say: Yes, we bear witness (Surah A’raf, 172) But they will bear witness to the extent of what they saw and knew, although they all answered in agreement, saying yes; verily. Those who have seen the divine beauty of their Lord’s Essence will say: Nothing is like Him (Surah Shura, 11)

Those who have seen the beauty of His divine attributes will say: He is Allah, beside whom there is no god – the Owner of All, the All-holy, the Granter of Peace, Protector of All, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of All Greatness, Glory be to Allah over the partners they ascribe. He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Fashioner of Everything. His are the most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the Heavens and the Earth declares His glory, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Surah Hashr, 23-24)

Those who have only thought of Allah in relation to the beauty of things He has created will all imagine their Lord differently, in accordance with their impressions of the things they see. Some will put God within a limited frame of space and time. Some will even think that He does not exist. And some will make a shape out of stone and think it to be He. Woe to those whose destiny is this! And they say: …nothing will afflict us save that which Allah has ordained for us (Surah Tawbah, 51) Indeed their lot is also included among everything that happened when the Creator pronounced the word kun and that word became the center of the whole created universe, revolving around it; and when from that center grew the Tree of Being, the word kun being the seed from which it grew. If one wanted to visualize all there is as a whole – everything that came into existence and what caused them all to be, and their doings and their sayings, and their lives, and their states, and their interactions – what better similitude is there for seeing this than a tree, the Tree of Being? A tree that contains all that happens in the universe, generating from a single divine seed, made out of the voice of our Lord, who said kun!

The Secret Meaning of the Word 'KUN'

All that exists was born from the hidden depths of the secret meaning of this word KUN. Even all that is hidden from the eye and the mind is but a result of this mysterious sound. As Allah Most High says:
For to anything We have willed, We but say kun (be!) and it becomes (Surah Nahl, 40) His word is in itself the deed. Now I look upon the universe that surrounds us and think how each and everything came to be and try to solve its coded mysteries, and lo! I see that the whole universe is but a Tree. A tree whose light of life came out of a seed shed when Allah said kun! The seed of the letter K fertilized with the letter N of Nahnu (We), created when Allah said: We it is who have created you (Surah Waqi’ah, 57) Then from these two joined seeds grew two shoots in accordance with Allah’s promise: Verily We have created all things in the way they are determined to be (Surah Qamar, 49)

But the root of these two shoots was only a single root. That root is the will of the Creator, and what is grew into is His power. Then from the essence letter of K of the divine word kun, two opposing meanings came to be: kamaliyyah, perfection, as mentioned by Allah in This day I have perfected your religion and completed My favor to you and chosen for you Islam as your religion (Surah Ma’idah, 3) And kufriyyah, unbelief, as Allah mentioned in So some among them believed and some among them disbelieved (Surah Baqarah, 253)

Likewise from the essence of the letter N emanated the opposing meanings of nur al-ma’rifah (the light of knowledge) and nakirah (the darkness of ignorance). Thus when Allah took the creation out of the Hidden Treasure of nonexistence into being, in accordance with its predetermined shape and form, He shed His divine light upon it. Whomever that light fell upon was able to see the Tree of Being that grew from the seed of the divine order kun covering the whole universe. And these enlightened ones knew the secret of the K in the word kuntum (you are), when Allah said: You are the best community raised up for humanity, you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah (Surah ali Imran, 109)

They also penetrated the hidden meaning of the final letter N of kun as nur (light). As Allah said: Is he whose heart Allah has opened to Islam so that he follows a light from his Lord (no better than one hard-hearted)? (Surah Zumar, 22) But the ones who hid themselves from the divine light when Allah shed it upon His creation are also obliged to know the hidden meaning of the letters of the word kun as Allah pronounced it. Those who kept themselves in the dark will fail to recognize the truth and imagine that the letter K stands for kufr, which means the darkness in which they stand, hiding everything from the eye. They will imagine that the letter N stands for nakirah, which means ignorance. They become hopeless, and in their hopelessness cannot believe in the existence of their Creator. So the lot of everything created depends on its share of understanding of the mystery in these two letters, which are the cause of each existence. The proof is in the words of our Prophet, who said: Verily Allah created the creation in a realm in total darkness, then shone His divine light upon it. Whoever was lit by that light was enlightened and well guided. And whoever was hidden from that light and was not touched by it was led astray and was lost. (Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

(The Tree of Being:Shajarat al-kawn. An Ode to the Perfect Man. Interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti. Archetype Pub. London, 2005)


The fifth principle of Islam is, once in a lifetime, to perform a pilgrimage to the Ka’bah in the city of Mecca. This is an enactment of the Day of Judgment. One removes all signs of identity and wraps oneself in a shroud: the king and the beggar are made equal. During this stage, one pretends to be dead, selfless. We are forbidden to step on a blade of living green grass, to kill a biting flea, to pull a scab, or even to comb our hair. Symbolic acts performed during this pilgrimage include circumambulation of the Ka’bah; gathering in millions upon the plains of ‘Arafat; and sacrifice of a ram in remembrance of the Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice for his son.

Ibn ‘Arabi says that the literal meaning of Hajj in Arabic is the conscious intention to do something at a specific time. When God addressed the Prophet Abraham Sanctify My house for those who compass it round or use it for a place of retreat or bow or prostate themselves [in prayer] (Surah Baqarah, 125) He related that house on this planet to Himself. And when He said The first house appointed for humanity was that at Bakka (Surah al-Imran, 96) He established it as the first house of worship and assigned it as a symbol of His Throne upon earth. He asked humankind to proceed around it, likening this act to that of the angels who circumambulate His Throne. But the circling of the Ka’bah by people whose words are the sincere confirmation of what is in their hearts, who have cleansed their hearts from the temptation of life on this earth, is a worthier worship than the devotion of the angels circumambulating God’s Throne in Heaven.

God built His temple upon three columns, though today it appears to us in the shape of a cube. These three columns are symbolic of the three remembrances of the heart. The one on the corner where the Black Stone is placed represents the divine inspirations. The column in the direction of Yemen represents the angelic characteristics. The third column represents the carnal prompting of human passions. These three supporting columns are guardians; they forbid evil suggestions from entering the house of the Lord. Supported by these three columns, the four sides of the house of God manifest love – although the fourth side of the cube, which faces iraq, represents the possibility of evil in human beings. The heart of the believer is the real Ka’bah. It also has the four sides of divine inspirations, angelic attributes, material influences, and diabolic temptations. But the ones who know their Lord have three sides to their hearts. The seductions of evil are absent. As the daily prayer starts with the declaration “God is greater,” so the pilgrimage begins with the declaration of presence: “O Lord. I am present! I am here now in obedience, ready to receive Your orders! There is none other than You, all praise is due to You, all belongs to You. You have no partners.”

When prophet Abraham was ordered to build the Ka’bah, God told him to cry out these words – and in the spiritual realm, the Lord made the souls of all believers hear them. In remembrance, the pilgrims recite this cry. Male pilgrims wear two pieces of white cloth – one wrapped around the waist, reaching to under the knees, and one to be thrown over the shoulder to cover the torso. Female pilgrims, also dressed in white, may not cover the face. These practices erases all difference of rank and social status, and is a symbol of the shroud. The white pilgrimage cloth is not sewn – it is as if not fashioned by human hands. It belongs to God, hiding what is reprehensible or lacking in a human being, protecting from everything that God forbids and from the temptations of the flesh. Like Adam, we carry our sins with us upon the Pilgrimage. But if he had not erred, he would not have descended to our world, where he is honored with being the Deputy of God. 

The Black Stone embedded in one corner of the Ka’bah is like the prophet Adam. It also left the Garden pristine and white. It turned black when it entered the earth’s atmosphere. Yet the believers kiss it during the Pilgrimage. At the end of Pilgrimage, in a place called Mina, each day for three days the pilgrims throw seven stones at the Devil. Humanity knows its Lord through His three aspects: His actions, His attributes, and His existence. The three days represent these three manifestations. The seven stones represent the seven greater sins: pride in one’s spiritual state; common arrogance; hypocrisy; envy; anger and negativity; love of property; love of position. Thus the first day one casts these sins out of one’s actions, and the second day, out of one’s character. On the third day, with the awe of the mystery of God’s essence, one casts them from one’s being. Finally cleansed, in the place called Mina, which means “Hope” and “Goal”, one finishes the Pilgrimage and returns to the world. And then we try to do what is right, and to be what we are meant to be.[]

(The Tree of Being:Shajarat al-kawn. An Ode to the Perfect Man. Interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti. Archetype Pub. London, 2005)