Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Friendship

The hardest thing for the one who has taken this path is to keep old friendships. The student aims to leave behind all his old habits and all that his ego desires. Friendship, though, is connection and closesness. Of all things, to leave one’s friend behind is the hardest and saddest. The one who wishes to come close to God must indeed distance himself from mankind. Yet when he does that, he is not necessarily with God – but he is necessarily alone. Worse, he may imagine himself to be with God. The best course is to distance oneself from one’s habitual friends and tie oneself to one’s master. One shouldn’t even become too close to the other students of the master, or be with them against the wish of the master. Like a beast in the jungle, a student should stay together with his own species. Those who wish to be with God and come close to Him should be independent of other people. They should remember, tie themselves to, and count upon God alone. When he is together with the other students, a seeker should feel that he is not with them, but with his master, and if he feels the absence of his master in the company of his friends, he should leave. If he feels no trace of the presence of his master in the conversation, and the conversation is totally secular and flippant, although it may be pleasant, he should escape from there. The same applies to the clothes you wear. If you like your clothes and feel that they suit you well, sell them or give them away and buy yourself clothes toward which you are neutral. If you like your room or your house, change it. Keep giving things away and changing your place until you have nothing that pleases you, that preoccupies you, that captures your heart – until you feel that you are left by yourself in this world without anything belonging to you. Know that God will not enter a heart where anything else resides. P 27 A heart devoid of God is sick; if the student did not have his master as a doctor, that sickness would cause his spiritual death. Though the sick at heart cannot be with the doctor always, one must live very close to him, and when in need, seek his help. Still the doctor knows best when to see the patient, and the master, when to see his student. His purpose is to see the student’s heart cured and renewed with the medication of remembrance of God and the diet of peace contained in trust in God. If you get involved in something without telling your master and he knows what you are doing from your behavior, it is a sign that your heart has opened to him and you are truly attached to him – for he can read your heart. Your relations with people should be gentle, generous and sincere. You should ask nothing from them, knowing that you have no rights over them and that everyone is better than you. The best thing is to have as little as possible to do with people. In any relationship people have rights over each other. If you have relationships with too many people and if you follow the right course in your relationships by giving them their due, you will not have much left with which to give God His due. If you are bankrupt like this, it is better to run away from the world and its demands. When you separate yourself from the friendship of this world, if your friends complain about it, admit that you deserve their reproach. If they praise you for it, do not accept their praise; think that they see their own good qualities in you. If you do this, God will hide your real state from them. Woe to the one whose real state becomes visible to others! Remember that he who praises you is your enemy, because he is the friend of your enemy, and he who condemns you is your friend, because he is the enemy of your enemy. Do not move around much. If you do, let your trips be of short duration. Too much moevement is disruptive. It prevents you from advancing toward your real goal. If you have to go somewhere, do not get distracted by what is on your right and what is on your left. Look where you are going; lower your eyes; watch your steps. Keep your mind on God and remember Him always. Do not stop to talk with this person or that, asking “How are you?” or “What are you doing?” Idle talk! But if someone gives you salutations. If you see a believing servant of God, offer God’s peace and blessingsto him as if to all the believers in heaven and earth. If you come across something that hinders your path, take it and remove it so that it does not hinder others. If you see something good that someone has lost, pick it up so that it is not trampled and put it somewhere visible on the side of the road. Show the right way to anyone who is lost. Help the weak. Share the load of the one who is havily burdened. Walk at a fast and steady pace. If you get tired, draw to the side and rest, being careful no to be in anyone’s way. Do not visit other teachers or participate in their meetings without the approval of your master. If your master permits you, you may go there to sit quietly and respectfully. Do not participate in their activities and ceremonies of remembrance, but do your own remembrance inwardly. This is better for you than to get involved in things you do not know. You may be affected by the hymns, the music, and the movements, and you may find yourself swaying. You may hear a hymn about death that casts fear into your heart, saddens you, and brings tears to your eyes so that you feel that life is passing, that the terror of death is near, and that there is a Day of Reckoning and punishment in Hell. All this excitement may seem like an invitation to get up and enter the circle of dhikr. Think twice! What is being said? What is being done? Who is saying it, what are his intentions? Is he sincere? If what you feel is a separation from your senses, and from this world, then get up and participate. That is not a voluntary decision. You are not doing it for yourself; what makes you participate is something else. As soon as you return to your senses, stop and sit, and assume your previous state. Moving in the ceremony of the Remembrance of God is a break from one’s usual temperance and sobriety. Then one either soars above the norm or sinks under it. When you feel your movements and your physical body, you are in descent. If you descent continues, you end up under seven layers of the material world and sink into the condition of Hell. If you lose your sense of yourself, of your movements, and of what is around you, then you leave yourself. Your heart ascends, filled with the might of Truth, to lofty celestial levels. One is either in Paradise or Hell. Those who see you may think you are in a state of rapture, in communion with God, but that may not be the case at all. So it is best to abstain from participation in the religious services of dervishes of other circles. If your need for friendship is too pressing, seek out friends who are sincere and righteous. Perchance you will find your master among them or through them. If you do not find such friends in the well-traveled quarters of cities and towns, seek them in lonely places, in ruined little mosques. What such people seek is in these lonely ruins, in deep valleys, or on top of inaccessible mountains. If you find them, try to be with them at the times of prayer. The most inept seekers are those who miss the times of prayer and come to the congregation late. If you are late, even though you came, you did not come together with the ones who are there. Those who are delayed have been rejected by their guides. When you participate in congregational prayers, do not stand at the same place, or in the same rank, each time, even change mosques from time to time. Ask forgiveness from God for each moment of your life. Befriend and be close to the poor. Serve them, help them, remember them, and think about them and their needs. Your consideration of them, your thoughts about their needs, are like honorable messengers coming from the One who protects them. How can you refuse to honor such messengers? So do what they need to have done; cook for them, clean for them, be a part of the good that comes to them. Then you will be part of what enters into their heart. Only good inspiration enter the hearts of the sincere and faithful who are needy, for their continuous battle with the desires of the flesh prevents them from having unclean thoughts. God Most High rewards them with both worlds for their trust in Him, and when you are with them, He will make you remember what they remember. If you remember and satisfy their needs, they will receive the rewards of their efforts from your hands, and you will be proving your own Trust in Him. Is that going to be counted as a good deed? Are you to expect a reward? No! Yet do not belittle your action either. Your reward is that you have been brought to this path of truth, while the ones who negate Him are damned. Whoever has these four attributes will be saved: 1. Service to the needy 2. Purity and peace of heart 3. Good will to the believers 4. Thinking well of everybody and everything Keep these principles with you at all times. At the beginning, your efforts may not bear fruit. Your good deed may be thrown back in your face, some by the people involved, some by your Lord. If you try to do good with an eye toward people’s opinion of you, you will consider yourself farsighted, trustworthy, experienced, well respected, and you will end up thinking that others are inferior to you. Then know that the Devil has turned all your good deeds into evil. The devil’s aim is to tire you, to trip you, to make you fall. He tells you that your lies are truth and that the truth is lies. He rewards you with unexpected gifts for your sins. Repent, take refuge in God, tie your heart to Him and remember Him always. He is the only one who can save you from the accursed Devil. As long as you are sincere and constant on the path of truth you will keep the Devil at bay. God knows best. May He keeps you safe from evils of this world and of your own self, and may He guide you on the straight path to truth. Aamin, bi hurmati, Sayyid al mursalin.[] (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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