Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First, You Must Search Out Your Master!

O seeker who wishes to find salvation, the first thing you must do is to search out a master who will see your faults and show them to you. You may travel far and wide trying to escape yourself, but it is a master who will save you from slavery under the tyranny of your ego. Do it now, because whatever one has now is better than the best one imagines one will have tomorrow. When you find him you must behave like a dead body in the hands of the one who gives it its last ablution. You must be ready to accept your master as he is. Never criticize or find any fault in him, even if he acts against religious canons. No man is faultless. All men err and sin and are not safe from wrong. You are not a judge seeking someone guilty; you are someone guilty seeking a judge who is just. Do not hide anything from your teacher, an idea or an intention, be it bad or good. Do not ever sit where he sat. Do not wear anything he wore. Place yourself across from him with dignity and good manners, like a slave in front of his master. When he asks you for something or orders you to do something, open your ears and use your mind to understand exactly what he wants. Don;t do anhything without being absolutely sure that it is what he willed. Don’t seek the reasons why he wills what he wills. If you have to ask something from him, do not expect or insist upon an answer. You must tell him your dreams, but do not insist on an interpretation. Don’t listen to people who talk against him, for it will produce opposition to him within you. If you know people who oppose him, leave them alone: neither fight with them nor keep their company. Leave them to God, who will see to them. Love those who praise your master and serve their needs as you would your own. If your master divorces his wife, don’t ever marry her or have anything to do with her. Even with the best of intentions, never enter his house without his permission. You must stay as close as possible to him without making yourself noticed. If he wishes to consult with you do not ask any questions or enter into discussion with him. Do not wish anything that he does not wish. If something comes to mind, keep it to yourself: do not exteriorize it. Follow the path he has indicated for you. It is thus that you will keep your noble station, the station achieved by the dignity of good behavior. That is the tie between you and him. When you consult him about a matter concerning yourself, do it if he approves, do not do it if he disapproves – but if he told you to do it and gets angry at you for doing it, stop doing it. This change of mind is for your good, yet he will regret it. Remembering later that you bore no fault in it, he will find himself responsible and feel pain. He will try to repair what he did to you and at the same time you will keep your dignity and your good conduct. Beware: bad feelings toward the master are only found in students who are lazy, who do not do what they are supposed to do, and had the wrong intentions to begin with. Don’t oppose any of the master’s actions or ask his reasons. Always be obedient. Be humble towards students whom your master favors above you. Even in his absence, sit properly, stand properly and talk properly in accordance with good behavior, as if he were there and looking at you. Do not walk in front of him unless it is dark. Do not look him in the eye – if you do, it will reduce your respect for him and take the beautiful feeling of shame from your heart. Don’t sit in front of him unless it is necessary, but wait behind the door, so that you can be there immediately when he wants you. Do not go anywhere, even if it is to visit your father, without his permission. When you come into his presence the first time, kiss his hand and remain standing until he asks you to sit. Protect his property. If you bring him something to eat, bring what he likes, in the amount he likes, the way he likes it. Don’t stare at him while he eats. When he finishes, clear the table immediately. If there is anything left on his plate and he asks you to eat it, do so, for there is blessing in it. Don’t be envious of what he eats and don’t count his mouthfuls. Work hard always, that is what will please your master. Always wish good for him and expect good from him. Yet beware that he might trick you, for sometimes masters purposely do this to test their students. Be heedful and very careful when you are with him. If you do something inappropriate in his presence, thinking that he will not see it, know that he sees it very well for he sees everything you do and whatever passes inside you. He merely pretends that he does not, because he does not wish you to be punished. On the other hand, if he chastises you and punishes you and hurts your feelings, accept it without resentment. As long as he is pleased with you and approves of what you do, your love and respect for him will increase. And as long as your humbleness and obedience toward him increase, your presence will grom in his heart and your state will improve. When your master is on a journey, keep the times when you usually meet him, and at the place where he sits, salute him inwardly as if he were there. It is not for you to ask him where or why he travels. When he consults you about a matter, know that he is not asking your opinion because he needs it, but as a sign of appreciation and kindness. Your answer should be, “You know best.” Above all beware of opposing what he wishes to do. Even if you are absolutely sure that what he is doing is wrong, help him to do it and keep your thoughts to yourself. On the Sufi path one advances only as one’s master advances. Your hand is in the hand of your master, and the hand of your master is in the hand of God. Talking, discussing and interpreting are not going to get you anywhere. The path to truth is to follow instructions without interpreting them, for the understanding of secrets belongs to those who know them. If you say, “I think he means this or I suspect he wants that.” Trying to interpret your master’s orders, you are really only trying to escape from doing what you must: best sit and cry over your failure! All disasters that befalls a student comes from interpreting the indications of the master. This all is the play of the ego. The mind, the true Reason, does not accept interpretation, it is not either this or that. There is an origin and a reason for every order; the true intelligence is anxious to fulfill it. Even if you know what should be done next, don’t do it or even think about it until your master so instructs you. Accept your master’s every action, his whole way of living. The way he eats, drinks, sleeps, and behaves is his business, and you should have no opinions or comments on it. For your own sake, enter your master’s life only when invited. Don’t say, “Master, shall we eat together at home?” or “If you are not coming to such and such a place, should i go?” Youa re then trying to make him ask you to eat with him – indeed, to lie down with him! Instead of bringing you together, this will drive you apart, for it will decrease the love and appreciation and respect for you in his heart. If these feelings disappear, the tie is broken and that student will never find salvation or peace. Whoever says otherwise knows neither the path nor himself. O seeker, see to it that your relations with your master are as I have described: may God so will. Know also that the beginning of this path is repentance. You must try to make even your enemies pleased with you. Forget their tyranny and shed tears for the time that you have spent fighting anything but your ego. Be a friend to knowledge: there is no one who is free from fault and sin. To make public accounting of the wrongs you have done in the attempt to show your master that you are repenting is in itself hypocritical and dangerous. The true sign of repentance is to leave what you have been doing, and from there on to be heedful, sincere, industrious, and pure. (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)

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