Sufism And Love : One And The Same
"When I come to Love, I am ashamed of all,
That I have ever said about Love."
Sufism : An Overview
The substance of Sufism is the Truth and the definition of Sufism is the selfless experiencing and actualization of the Truth. The practice of Sufism is the intention to go towards the Truth, by means of love and devotion. This is called the Tariqat, the Spiritual Path or way towards God. The sufi is one who is a lover of Truth, who by means of love and devotion moves towards the Truth, towards the Perfection which all are truly seeking. As necessitated by Love's jealousy, the sufi is taken away from all except the Truth-Reality. For this reason, in Sufism it is said that, "Those who are inclined towards the hereafter can not pay attention to the material world. Likewise, those who are involved in the material world can not concern themselves with the hereafter. But the sufi (because of Love' s jealousy) is unable to attend to either of these worlds."
Concerning this same idea, Maulana Shebli Nomani has said, "One who dies for the love of the material world, dies a hypocrite. One who dies for the love of the hereafter, dies an ascetic. But one who dies for the love of the Truth, dies a sufi."
Sufism : A Way Of Being
Sufism is a school for the actualization of divine ethics. It involves an enlightened inner being, not intellectual proof; revelation and witnessing, not logic. By divine ethics, we are referring to ethics which transcend mere social convention; a way of being which is the actualization of the attributes of God. To explain the Truth is indeed a difficult task. Words, being limited, can never really express the Perfection of the Absolute, the Unbound. Thus, for those who are imperfect, words create doubt and misunderstanding. Yet:
"If one cannot drink up the entire ocean,
One can drink to one's limit."
Philosophers have written volumes and spoken endlessly of the Truth, but somehow their efforts have always fallen short. For the sufi, philosophers are those who view the Perfection of the Absolute from a limited perspective; so all they see is part of the Absolute, not the Infinite in its entirety. It is indeed true that what philosophers see is correct; nevertheless, it is only a part of the whole.
One is reminded of Rumi's well-known story of a group of men in India who had never seen an elephant. One day they came to a place where an elephant was. In complete darkness they approached the animal, each man feeling it. Afterwards, they described what they thought they had perceived. Of course their descriptions were different. He who had felt a leg, imagined the elephant to be a pillar. The man who felt the animal's ear, described the elephant as a fan, and so on. Each one of their descriptions with respect to the various parts they had experienced was true. However, as far as accurately describing the whole, their conceptions had all fallen short. If they had had a candle, the difference of opinions would not have come about. The candle's light would have revealed the elephant as a whole.
Only by the light of the Spiritual Path and the mystic way can the Truth really be actualized. In order for one to truly witness the Perfection of the Absolute, one must see with one's inner being, which perceives the whole of Reality. This witnessing happens when one becomes perfect, losing one's (partial) existence in the Whole. If the Whole is likened to the Ocean, and the part to a drop, the sufi says that witnessing the Ocean with the eye of a drop is impossible. However, when the drop becomes one with the Ocean, it sees the Ocean with the eye of the Ocean.
Sufism : Towards Realization Of Perfection
Man is dominated by his self's desires and fears. Those who are ensnared in these habitual impulses are out of harmony with the Divine Nature, and thus ill. As a result of this illness, feelings become disturbed and accordingly, thoughts and perceptions become unsound. Thus, one's faith as well as one's knowledge of the Truth strays from what is real.
In order to follow the way to Perfection, one must first rectify these incorrect thought processes and transmute one's desires and fears. This is accomplished by coming into harmony with the Divine Nature. This way of harmony (the Spiritual Path) consists of spiritual poverty, devotion, and the continuous, selfless remembrance of God. In this way, one comes to perceive the Truth as it really is.
Sufism : Annihilation of Self
In order to travel the path, the sufi needs strength supplied by proper bodily nourishment. It has been said that whatever the sufi eats is transformed into spiritual qualities and light. However, the food of others, since it but serves their own desires and fears, only strengthens their selfish attachments and takes them further away from the Truth.
"This one eats and only,
Stinginess and envy result.
While that one eats and there is but,
The light of the One.
This one eats and only,
Impurity comes about.
While that one eats and all becomes,
the Light of God."
It is clear then, that Sufism is not based upon ascetic practices such as abstinence from food. In Sufism, the traveler on God's Way is only instructed to abstain from food when he is sick or entangled in excessive desire or fear. In this case, the Master or Spiritual Guide permits one to refrain from eating for a brief period of time, and instead directs one to concentrate on spiritual practices. In this way, the excess is transmuted and the seeker's inner being becomes harmonious. Then, the dervish will be enabled to continue on the dangerous ascent to the Infinite.
Some have thought that by fasting the strength necessary for purification is attained. On the contrary, in Sufism abstinence alone is not enough to purify the self. It is true that asceticism and abstinence give one a certain spiritual state, and in this state one's perception may be clarified. But if the self is likened to a dragon that by fasting becomes powerless, it is certain that when the fast is broken and enough food is eaten, the dragon will revive, and stronger than ever will go about attempting to fulfill its desires.
In Sufism, it is by the Tariqat (Spiritual Path) that the self is gradually purified and transformed into Divine Attributes, until there is nothing left of one's compulsive self. Then all that remains is the Perfect, Divine Self. In such extensive and precise work, asceticism and abstinence are virtually worthless.
Sufism : Purification of Self
In Sufism the stages of purification are:
1. self becoming emptied
2. self becoming illuminated
3. self becoming adorned
4. self-having-passed-away (fana)
These stages occur in the course of the selfless remembrance of God (zekr). The first stage, becoming emptied, entails letting go of negative qualities, the desires which originate from the self. The second stage of becoming illuminated involves polishing the heart and soul of the tarnish of belief in and attachment to the self. In the third stage, one's inner being becomes adorned by Divine Attributes. Ultimately, the being of the disciple becomes completely filled by the Attributes of the Truth-Reality, to the extent that there is no sign of his own limited existence. This fourth stage is called "self-having passed-away" (fana).
"I thought of You so often,
That I completely became You.
Little by little You drew near,
And slowly but slowly I passed away."
The Sufi, through these stages of purification, travels the inner way, the Spiritual Path (Tariqat). But he or she can do so only by following the duties and obligations of Islam (Shariat). Having traveled this path, the disciple becomes a perfect being and arrives at the threshold of the Truth (Haqiqat). Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said, "The Shariat is my speech, the Tariqat my actions (way of being), and Haqiqat my states."
One could liken the journey within the Haqiqat, within the Truth, to training in a divine university, the "Tavern of Ruin" (kharabat). In this true center for higher education there are no professors, one's only guide being Absolute Love. Here one's only teacher is Love, one's books are Love, and one's being is Love.
Before a perfect being enters this university, he or she can be defined. However, upon entering the Truth, one is indefinable, beyond the realm of words.
"Footprints but come to the Ocean's shore;
Therein, no trace remains."
If you ask his name, like Bayazid, he answers, "I lost him years ago. The more I seek him, the less I find." If you ask of his religion, like Rumi, he answers:
"The way of a lover is not among the religions;
The church and state of lovers is God."
If you ask how he is, like Bayazid he answers, "There is nothing under my cloak but Allah." If he speaks, like Hallaj, you may hear him sing, "I am the Truth." Such words can truly come only from perfect beings who have lost their 'selves' and become the manifestation of the Divine Nature and Divine Mysteries. Their selves have departed and only God remains.
"Hot-u tuhinji hanj-a mein puchin kuh-u paryan-a,
"We nuhnu aqrab ileh min hablul wareed" tuhnjo tohin san-u,
Pahnjo aahey pan-u aado ajiban kh-e."
"Beloved within you and you seek him here and there
He is "closer to you than your vein jugular,"
Yourself is the hurdle, between your love and you."
Source : Makhdoom's Quality Quest