In Two Parts: Part I, Texts; Part II, Symbols.
The spirit of Sufism is best expressed in the couplet of Katebi:
"Last night a nightingale sung his song, perched on a high cypress, when the rose, on hearing his plaintive warbling, shed tears in the garden, soft as the dews of heaven."
MOTTO: "Highest nature wills the capture; "Light to light!" the instinct cries;ABULFAZL (A.D. 1595):
And in agonizing rapture falls the moth, and bravely dies.
Think not what thou art, Believer; think but what thou mayest become
For the World is thy deceiver, and the Light thy only home." (Palm Leaves.)
O Lord, whose secrets are for ever veiled,SHEMS TEBREEZ:
And whose perfection knows not a beginning!
End and beginning both are lost in thee;
No trace of them is found in thy eternal realm.
My words are lame; my tongue, a stony tract;
Slow wings my foot, and wide is the expanse.
Confused are my thoughts; but this is thy best praise —
In ecstasy alone I see thee face to face!
What advice, O Musselmans? I don't know myself; I (1) am neither Christian nor Jew, nor am I a fire-worshipper nor Musselman.ECSTASY: THE HEART AS MEDIUM.
I am not from the East or West, nor am I of land or fire.
I am not from the country of Iran, nor am I from the land of Khoorassan.
I am neither of water nor air, nor am I of fire or earth.
I am not of Adam or Eve, nor am I of the inhabitants of paradise.
My place is no place, my sign is without sign:
I have neither body nor soul, — what is there then? I am the soul of my Beloved. (2)
When I took out my heart, the two worlds I saw as one. He is the first, he is the last, he is the manifest, He is the secret.
Except Him, and that I am Him, I do not know anything else.
O thou, Shems Tebreez, why this rapture in this world?
Except with rapture, and enthusiastic ardour, this work cannot be effected."
All the earth I'd wandered over, seeking still the beacon light.
Never tarried in the day time, never sought repose at night;
Till I heard a reverend preacher all the mystery declare,
Then I looked within my bosom, and 'twas shinning brightly there.
(E. H. Palmer, Orient. Myst.)
Who so knoweth himself, knoweth the Godhead. — Thy soul is the sufficient proof of the existence of the Godhead: When by reflection thou hast penetrated to that deep within, thou shalt discover there the Universal Worker of his work. (D'Herbelot — Persian Paraphrases.
Wouldst know where I found the Supreme? One step beyond self. — Behind the veil of self shines unseen the beauty of the Beloved. — (Aphorisms.)
Soul of the soul! Neither thought nor reason comprehend thy essence, and no one knows thy attributes. Souls have no idea of thy being. The prophets themselves sink into the dust before thee. Although intellect exists by thee, has it ever found the path of thy existence? Thou art the interior and the exterior of the soul. — (Attar.)
They who see God are ever rapt in ecstacy. * * * (The Mesnevi.)
ECSTASY: NATURE AS MEDIUM
The varied pictures I have drawn on space,
Behold what fair and goodly sights they seem;
One glimpse I gave them of my glorious face,
And lo! 'tis now the universal theme.
(E. H. Palmer, Orient. Myst.)
Recognize the mark of Deity in every place, and never place the foot without its own limit. The world is the image of the Godhead. — (Buslami.)
— The widow Rabia (3) is reported having said "an interior wound consumes my heart; it can only be cured by communion with a friend. (4) I shall remain sick till the day of judgment when I shall reach my end. —
— It is told of Rabia that once when requested to marry, she answered: My being has for a long time been in marital communion; hence I say that my ego is long ago lost in itself and arisen again in Him (in God); since then I am entirely in His power, yea, I am He. He, who would ask me for a bride, would ask me, not from myself, but from Him (God). Hassan Basri (a famous Mohamedan Theologian) asked her how she had reached this state. She answered: In this way, everything which I had found I lost again in Him (God). When questioned as to by which mode she knew Him, she made answer: O, Hassan, you know Him by certain methods and means, I know Him without modes and means. —
— Ibn Chali Kan tells about Rabia that she often in the middle of the night went up upon the roof and in her loneness cried out: O, my God! Now is silenced the noise of the day, and the lover enjoys the night with the beloved, but I enjoy myself in my loneness with Thee; Thou art my true lover. —
— It is told of her that once while journeying to Mecca on seeing the Kaaba she exclaimed: What is the Kaaba to me? I need the Lord of the Kaaba! I am so near God that I apply to myself his words: He who approaches me by an inch, him I approach by a yard. What is the Kaaba to me? —
— Feri'd Eddin Attar tells about her, that she, once while crossing the fields, cried out: Deep longing after God has taken posession of me! True, Thou art both earth and stone, but I yearn to behold Thee, Thyself. The high God spoke to her in her heart, without a medium: O, Rabia! Do you not know that once when Muses requested to see God, only a grain fell from the sun and he collapsed: Be satisfied with my name! —
— Once asked if she beheld God while worshipping Him. "Assuredly," said she, "I behold Him, for Whom I cannot see, I cannot worship." —
— Once when Rabia was sick three famous Theologians called upon her, namely Hassan Basri, Malik Dinar, and Schakik Balchi. Hassan said: The prayers of that man are not sincere who refuses to bear the Lord's chastisements. Schakik added to that: He is not sincere who does not rejoice in the Lord's chastisements. But Rabia, who detected selfish joy even in those words, replied: He is not sincere in his prayers, who does not, when he beholds his Lord, forget entirely that he is being chastised. —
— On one occasion Rabia was questioned concerning the cause of an illness and replied: I allowed myself to think on the delights of paradise, therefore my Lord has punished me. —
ACTS OF ADEPTS (5)
Munsoor Halaj attained victory of the body, by incessant prayer and contemplation. He used to say "I am the Truth."
The following story is told of him. He observed his sister go out frequently at night, and wondering what it meant, he resolved to watch her and see where she went. He did so and found that she went to a company of celestial spirits, who gave her of their nectar or immortal beverage. Thinking that a drop might be left in the cup after his sister had drank from it, he took hold of it and did, much against her warning, get a drop of the divine fluid. Ever afterwards he went about exclaiming "I am the Truth!" This was too much for the observers of the canonical law and they sentenced him to be impaled alive. When they came to take him, he told them, that he did not fear them, they could do him no harm, and when they were putting him on the stake, he disappeared from them and appeared in a sitting posture in the air at a small distance over the stake. This was repeated several times. His spirit ascended to heaven and asked the Prophet if it be right that he should suffer. The Prophet advised him to suffer, otherwise there would be an end to formal religion. On this Munsoor Halaj's spirit descended and permitted the body to take the course of nature. When about to be impaled, he called a disciple of his, told him the secret and that his voice, "I am the Truth" would be heard, when they after burning him, should throw his ashes into the sea; and that the sea would rise and overflow all the land, if they did not take his godhra (6) and place it on the rising-waves. It so all happened. —
A Sufi poet has explained the cause of Munsoor's death, to lie in the fact, that he revealed a mystery.
Of Shems Tebreez the following story is told. He raised a King's only son from death by throwing his mantle over him and ordering him "Rise by my order." For this he was summoned before the ecclesiastical court and sentenced to be flayed alive. When the sentence came to be executed, no knives could cut him, his body was invulnerable. It is related, that he ascended in spirit to heaven and the Prophet directed him to undergo his punishment, which he subsequently did. He directed the doctors of Law, himself, how to begin to cut the skin from his feet, or rather made the incision himself. When they had thus flayed him, he requested his own skin, be given to him as the letter of the law was fulfilled, and they gave it to him. Of this he made his Khirqeh or derwish's habit, threw it over his shoulders, and went away.
After that the doctors of law ordered everybody to give him nothing to eat, drink, etc. He thus remained for some days without food, etc. At last he found a dead ox and cut out a piece, but as no one dared give him fire, he ordered the sun to descend from the firmament and come nearer to broil his meat. The sun obeyed — but the prince and people fearing the consequences implored him to relieve their sufferings by ordering the sun to return to its station. He granted their request.
TEXTS FROM REPRESENTATIVE SUFIS
Al-Ghazzali (Abu Hamid Muhammed ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al Ghazzali.) surnamed Hajjatu 'l-Islam ("the proof of Islam"). He was born at Tus A.D. 1058 and died A.D. 1111. —
The following are his own words: "I said to myself: the aim of my life is simply to know the truth of things; therefore I must ascertain what knowledge is. * * I then said to myself the only hope of acquiring incontestable convictions is by the perceptions of the senses and by necessary truths. Their evidence seemed to me to be indubitable. I soon began to examine the objects of sensation and speculation to see if they were beyond doubt and doubts crowded in upon me, that my incertitude became complete. * * I abandoned the senses, therefore, having seen all my confidence in their truth shaken. * * * Perhaps, said I, there is no assurance but in the notions of reason, viz., in first principles. * * * Upon this the senses replied: "What assurance have you that your confidence in reason is not of the same nature as your confidence in us? May there not be some other judge superior to reason? The non-appearance of such a judge is no proof of his non-existence. * * * I came to reflect on sleep, how during sleep we give to visions, reality and consistence, and have no suspicion of their untruth. On awaking we see they were nothing but visions. What assurance have we that all we feel and see and know when we are awake does actually exist?"
Al Gazzali had now come to disbelief and distrust of the world of sense. He gave his wealth away, left Bagdad and retired into Syria, to the desert, where he spent two years in solitary struggle, combating his passions, purified his heart and prepared for another world. He attained freedom. Afterwards he said: "The life of man passes through three degrees. The first or infantile state is that of pure sensation; the second is that of understanding, and the third that of reason, where the intellect perceives the necessary truths, etc. But there is a fourth state, beyond these three, in which man perceives the hidden things, that have been, and that will be and the things that escape both the senses and reason. This state is Freedom."
AL GAZZALI: ALCHEMY OF HAPPINESS
CHAP I. ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL, AND HOW KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL IS THE KEY TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
O seeker after the divine mysteries! Know thou that the door to the knowledge of God will be opened to a man first of all, when he knows his own soul, and understands the truth about his own spirit, according as it has been revealed, "he who knows himself knows his Lord also."
If you wish, O seeker of the way! to know your own soul, know that the blessed and glorious Cod created you of two things: the one is a visible body, and the other is a something internal, that is called spirit and heart, which can only be perceived by the mind. But when we speak of the heart, we do not mean the piece of flesh which is in the left side of the breast of man, for that is found in a dead body and in animals: it may be seen with the eyes, and belongs to the visible world. That heart, which is emphatically called spirit, does not belong to this world, and although it has come to this world, it has only come to leave it. It is the sovereign of the body, which is its vehicle, and all the external and internal organs of the body are its subjects. Its special attribute is to know God and to enjoy the vision of the Beauty of the Ford God. — They will ask you about the spirit. Answer, "The spirit is a creation by decree of the Ford. The spirit belongs to the world of decrees. All existence is of two kinds, one is of the world of decrees, and the other is of the world of creation. To Him belong creation and decree."
— That spirit, which has the property of knowing God is called the heart; it is not found in beasts, nor is it matter or an accident. The heart has been created with angelic qualities. It is a substance of which it is difficult to apprehend the essence. The law does not permit it to be explained, but there is no occasion for the student being acquainted with it at the outset of his journey.
— Know, O seeker after the divine mysteries! that the body is the kingdom of the heart, and that in the body there are many forces in contrariety with the heart, as God speaks in his Holy Word.
— Know, O student of wisdom! that the body, which is the kingdom of the heart, resembles a great city. The hand, the foot, the mouth and the other members resemble the people of the various trades. Desire is a standard bearer; anger is a superintendent of the city, the heart is its sovereign, and reason is the vizier. The sovereign needs the service of all the inhabitants. But desire, the standard bearer, is a liar, vain and ambitious. He is always ready to do the contrary of what reason, the vizier, commands. He strives to appropriate to himself whatever he sees in the city, which is the body. Anger, the superintendent, is rebellious and corrupt, quick and passionate. He is always ready to be enraged, to spill blood, and to blast one's reputation. If the sovereign the heart, should invariably consult with reason, his vizier, and when desire was transgressing, should give to wrath to have power over him (yet, without giving him full liberty, should make him angry in subjection to reason, the vizier, so that passing all bounds he should not stretch out his hand upon the kingdom), there would then be an equilibrium in the condition of the kingdom, and all the members would perform the functions for which they were created, their service would be accepted at the mercy seat, and they would obtain eternal felicity.
The dignity of the heart is of two kinds; one is by means of knowledge, and the other through the exertion of divine power. Its dignity by means of knowledge is also of two kinds. The first is external knowledge, which everyone understands: the second kind is veiled and cannot be understood by all, and is extremely precious.
— In the second, by the power of thought, the soul passes from the abyss to the highest heaven, and from the East to the West.
The most wonderful thing of all is, that there is a window in the heart from whence it surveys the world. This is called the invisible world, the world of intelligence, or the spiritual world.
— The heart resembles a pure mirror, you must know, in this particular, that when a man falls asleep, when his senses are closed, and when the heart, free and pure from blamable affections, is confronted with the preserved tablet, then the tablet reflects upon the heart the real states and hidden forms inscribed upon it. In that state the heart sees most wonderful forms and combinations. But when the heart is not free from impurity, or when, on waking, it busies itself with things of sense, the side towards the tablet will be obscured, and it can view nothing. For, although in sleep the senses are blunted, the image-making faculty is not, but preserves the forms reflected upon the mirror of the heart.
— In death, the senses are completely separated and the veil of the body is removed, the heart can contemplate the invisible world and its hidden mysteries, without a veil, just as lightning or the celestial rays impress the external eye.
— If a person calls into exercise, in perfection, holy zeal and austerities, and purifies his heart from the defilement of blamable affections, and then sits down in a retired spot, abandons the use of his external senses, and occupies himself with calling out "O God! O God!" his heart will come into harmony with the visible world, he will no longer receive notices from the material world, and nothing will be present in his heart but the exalted God. In this revelation of the invisible world, the windows of the heart are opened, and what others may have seen in a dream, he in this slate sees in reality. The spirits of angels and prophets are manifested to him and he holds intercourse with them. The hidden things of the earth and heaven are uncovered to him. * * * Probably the knowledge of all the prophets was obtained in this way, for it was not obtained by learning.
— When the heart is free from worldly lusts, from the animosities of society and from distractions by the senses, the vision of God is possible. And this course is adopted by the Mystics. It is also the path followed by the prophets.
— The heart of man while in the spiritual world knows its Maker and Creator; it had mingled with the angels and knows for what service it was created.
— To whomsoever this revelation has been vouchsafed, if it directs him to reform the world, to invite the nations to turn to God, and to a peculiar way of life, that person is called a prophet, and his way of life is called a law; and that influence which proceeds from him, which transcends what is ordinary, is called a miracle. If he has not been appointed to invite nations, but worships in accordance with the law of another, he is called a saint, and that which proceeds from him, which transcends what is ordinary, is called a manifestation of grace.
— The knowledge of God, which is the occasion of the revelation of truth, cannot be acquired without self-denial and effort. Unless a man has reached perfection and the rank of a Superior, nothing will be revealed to him, except in cases of special divine grace and merciful providence, and this occurs very rarely.
— You have now learned, O student of the divine mysteries, the dignity of the heart through knowledge.
— Now listen to the heart's dignity through divine power and the greatness of which it is capable.
— When God wills it, the angels send forth the winds, cause the rain to fall, bring forth the embryo in animals, shape their forms, cause seeds to sprout in the earth and plants to grow, many legions of angels being appointed to this service. The heart of man, being created with angelic properties must also have influence and power over the material world; * * * and if the animal and ferocious qualities should not be dominant, if it should look upon a lion or tiger with "majesty" they would become weak and submissive. If it should look with kindness upon one who is sick, his infirmity might be changed to health. If it should look upon the vigorous with majesty, they might become infirm. The reality of the existence of these influences is known both by reason and experience.
— In whomsover these influences are shown to have power, if he occasions misery in the exercise of this power, he is designated a sorcerer.
— The heart has dominion and control through three channels. One is through visions; — the second is through the dominion which the heart exercises over its own body; — the third source of dominion of the heart is through knowledge. — Some persons have all things opened up to them by the will of God. This kind of knowledge is called "infused and illuminated" as God says in his Word: "we have illuminated him with our knowledge." These three specialities are all of them found in certain measure in some men, in others two of them are found, and in others, only one is found: but whenever the three are found in the same person, he belongs to the rank of prophets or of the greatest of the saints. Man cannot comprehend states of being which transcend his own nature. No person can understand any individual who belongs to a scale of rank above him.
— The path of mysticism is sought for by all men, and longed for by all classes of society, yet those who attain to the end are exceedingly rare.
— The body is but an animal to be ridden by the heart, which is it rider, while the heart's chief end is to acquire a knowledge of God.
CHAP. II. ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
— In the books of former prophets it is written, "Know thine own soul, and thou shalt know thy Lord," and we have received it in a tradition, that "He who knows himself, already knows his Lord."
— Everyone in the sphere to which he attains, is still veiled with a veil. The light of some is as of a twinkling star. Others see as by the light of the moon. Others are illuminated as if by the world-effulgent sun. To some the invisible world is even perfectly revealed, as we hear in the holy word of God: "And thus we caused Abraham to see the heaven and the earth." And hence it is that the prophet says: "There are before God seventy veils of light; if he should unveil them, the light of His countenance would burn everything that came into His presence."
CHAP. III. ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD.
— Know, that this world is one stage of our life for eternity. For those who are journeying in the right way, it is the road of religion. It is a market opened in the wilderness, where those who are travelling on their way to God, may collect and prepare provisions for their journey, and depart thence to God, without sorrow or despondency.
— The world is delusive, enchanting and treacherous.
— The world will be brought to the great assembly at the last day, in the form of a woman with livid eyes, pendent lips, and deformed shape, and all the people will look upon her, and will exclaim, "what deformed and horrible person is that, whose aspect alone is severe torture to the soul." And they will be answered, "It was on her account that you were envying and hating one another, and were ready to slay one another. It was on her account that you rebelled against God, and debased yourselves to every sort of corruption." And then God will order her to be driven off to hell with her followers and her lovers. (7)
The Lord Jesus (upon whom be peace!) declares that the world is like the man who drinks sea water. The more he drinks, the more his internal heat increases, and unless he stops, he will destroy himself by drinking.
CHAP. IV. ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FUTURE WORLD.
— Know, beloved, that we cannot understand the future world, until we know what death is: and we cannot know what death is, until we know what life is: nor can we understand what life is, until we know what spirit is.
— The following is an illustration of the duration of eternity, so far as the human mind can comprehend it. If the space between the empyreal heaven to the regions below the earth, embracing the whole universe, should be filled up with grains of mustard seed, and if a crow should make use of them as food and come but once in a thousand years and take but a single grain away, so that with the lapse of time there should not remain a single grain, still at the end of that time not the amount of a grain of mustard seed would have been diminished from the duration of eternity.
AL GAZZALI ON PRAYER
— Prayers are of three degrees, of which the first are those that are simply spoken with the lips. Prayers are of the second kind, when with difficulty, and only by a most resolute effort, the soul is able to fix its thoughts on Divine things without being disturbed by evil imaginations: of the third kind, when one finds it difficult to turn away the mind from dwelling on Divine things. But it is the very marrow of prayer, when He who is invoked takes possession of the soul of the suppliant, and the soul of him who prays is absorbed into God to whom he prays, and his prayer ceasing, all consciousness of self has departed, and to such a degree, that all thought whatsoever of the praying is felt as a veil betwixt the soul and God. This state is called by the Mystics "absorption," for the reason that the man is so absorbed, that he takes no thought of his body, or of anything that happens externally, none of what occurs in his own soul, but, absent as it were from all such matter whatsoever, is first engaged in going towards his Lord, and finally is wholly in his Lord. If only the thought occurs that he is absorbed into the Absolute, it is a blemish: for that absorption only is worthy of the name which is unconscious of itself. And these words of mine, although they will be called, as I well know, but foolish babbling by raw theologians, are yet by no means without significance. For consider, the condition of which I speak, resembles that of a person who loves any other object, as wealth, honor, or pleasure. We see such persons so carried away with their love, and others with anger, that they do not hear one who speaks to them, nor see those passing before their eyes; nay, so absorbed are they in their passion, that they do not perceive their absorption. Just so far as you turn your mind upon your absorption, you necessarily turn it away from that which is the object of it."
Again he says: "The commencement of this is the going to God, then follows the finding Him, when the "absorption" takes place. This is, at first, momentary, as the lightening swiftly glancing upon the eye. But afterwards confirmed by use, it introduces the soul into a higher world, where the most pure, essential essence meeting it, tills the soul with the image of the spiritual world, while the majesty of deity evolves and discovers itself."
Omar Khayyam (Ghias uddin Abul Fath Omar ibn Ibrahim Al Khayyam) was born in Khorassan "the focus of Persian culture" and is supposed to have died A. D. 11 23.
He was not affiliated with any Sufi order, but large parts of his works are full of true Sufi philosophy and are recognized as such.
The first part of the following quotations are taken from the translation by E. H. Whinfield in Trubner's Oriental Series. The second part is extracted from B. Quarritch's ed. 1879.
MOTTO: There is a mystery I know full well,
Which to all, good and bail, I cannot tell;
My worlds are dark, but I cannot unfold
The secrets of the "station" where I dwell.
(66) — to attain unconsciousness of self
Is the sole cause I drink me drank with wine. —
(108) They preach how sweet those Houri brides will be,
But I say wine is sweeter — taste and see! —
(120) Ten powers, and nine spheres, eight heavens made He,
And planets seven, of six sides, as we see,
Five senses, and four elements, three souls,
Two worlds, but only one, O man, like thee. —
(124) What lord is fit to rule but "Truth?" not one.
What beings disobey His rule? not one. —
(131) Thy being is the being of Another,
Thy passion is the passion of Another.
Cover thy head, and think, and then wilt see,
Thy hand is but the cover of Another. —
(148) Allah hath promised wine in Paradise,
Why then should wine on earth be deemed a vice? —
(225) When the fair soul this mansion doth vacate,
Each element assumes its principal state, —
(266) They go away, and none is seen returning,
To teach that oilier world's recondite learning:
'Twill not be shown for dull mechanic prayers,
For prayer is naught without true heartfelt yearning.—
(285)Life's fount is wine, Khizer (8) its guardian
I, like Elias, (9) find it where I can;
'Tis sustenance for heart and spirit too,
Allah himself calls wine "a boon to man." —
(340) Man is the whole creation's summary,
The precious apple of great wisdom's eye;
The circle of existence is a ring,
Whereof the signet is humanity. —
(351) The more I die to self, I live the more,
The more abase myself, the higher soar;
And, strange! the more I drink of Being's wine,
More sane I grow, and sober than before! —
(369) This world a body is, and God its soul,
And angels are its senses, who control
Its limbs — the creatures, elements, and spheres;
The One is the sole basis of the whole. —
(376) Some look for truth in creeds, and forms, and rules;
Some grope for doubts or dogmas in the schools;
But from behind the veil a voice proclaims,
"Your road lies neither here nor there, O fools." —
(400) My body's life and strength proceed from Thee!
My soul within and spirit are of Thee!
My being is of Thee, and Thou art mine,
And I am Thine, since 1 am lost in Thee! —
(31) Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn (10) sate,
And many a Knot unravel'd by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate. —
(32) There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see:
Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was — and then no more of Thee and Me. (11) —
(33)Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn[lb]
In flowing Purple, of their Lord forlorn;
Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs reveal'd
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.
(34)Then of the Thee in Me who works behind[lb]
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A Lamp amid the Darkness; and I heard,
As from Without — "The Me Within Thee Blind!" —
(35) Then to the Lip of this poor earthern Urn
I lean'd, the Secret of my Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd "While you live,
Drink! — for once dead, you never shall return." —
(36) I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answered, once did live,
And drink; and Ah! the passive lip I kiss'd.
How many kisses might it take — and give! — (12)
(44) Why, if the Soul can fling the dust aside.
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride.
Wer't not a Shame — wer't not a Shame for him
In this clay carcase crippled to abide?
(50-52) A Hair perhaps divides the False and True;
Yes; and a single Alif were the clue —
Could you but find it — to the Treasure-house.
And peradventure to The Master too.
Whose secret Presence * * *
* * * * eludes your pains;
Taking all shapes * * * ; and
They change and perish all — but He remains.[lb]
A moment guess'd — then back behind the Fold
Immerst of darkness* * *
(55-56) You know, my Friends, * * *
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to spouse.
For "Is" and "Is-not" though with Rule and line,
And "Up-and-Down" by Logic I define,
Of all that one should care to fathom, I
Was never deep in anything but — Wine.
(66-67)I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul returned to me,
And answer'd: "I myself am Heav'n and Hell;"
Heav'n but the Vision of fulfill'd Desire
And Hell the shadow from a Soul on fire
Cast on the Darkness info which Ourselves,
So late emerg'd from, shall so soon expire.
* * * the Banquet is ended!
FARIDU 'D-DIN SHAKRGUNJ (about A. D 1200).
Man, what thou art is hidden from thyself.
Kwnw'st not that morning, mid-day, and the eve
Are all within Thee? The ninth heaven art Thou,
And from the sphere into the roar of time
Didst fall ere-while, Thou art the brush that painted
The hues of all the world — the light of life
That ranged its glory in the nothingness.
Joy! Joy! I triumph now; no more I know
Myself as simply me. I burn with love.
The centre is within me, and its wonder
Lies as a circle everywhere about me.
Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.
I am the merchant and the pearl at once.
Lo! time and space lay crouching at my feet.
Joy! Joy! When I would revel in a rapture,
I plunge into myself, and all things know.
Saadi (Shaikh-Muslah-ud-Din Saadi) was born at Shiraz, the capital of Persia. A.D. 1176.
He thus characterizes his life and his studies: "I have wandered to various regions of the world, and everywhere have I mixed freely with the inhabitants; I have gathered something in each corner; I have gleaned an ear from every harvest." The divan of Saadi is by his countrymen reckoned to be the true Salt mine of poets. Jami calls him "the nightingale of the groves of Shiraz."
We would call him the moral philosopher of Sufism. His writings do not contain much metaphysics.
SAADIS' GULISTAN (or ROSE GARDEN):
MOTTO: The Rose may continue to bloom five or six days;
But my Rose garden is fragrant for ever.
Who, when the drum soundeth for departure, hath not made up his burden;
— Shame on the man * *
Who, on the morning of his journey, is still indulging in sweet sleep.
— They asked Lockman, the wise, from whence he learnt wisdom. He answered: "From the blind; for till they have tried the ground, they plant not the foot."
— The world, O my brother, abideth with no one.
— Ask the inhabitants of Hell, they will tell you it is Paradise.
— The sons of Adam are limbs of one another, for in their creation they are formed of one substance.
When Fortune bringeth affliction to a single member, not one of the rest remaineth without disturbance.
— Know that from God is the difference of enemy and friend, for the hearts of both are alike in His keeping.
— So long as thou art able, crush not a single heart, for a sigh has power to overturn a world.
— Not a word can be said, even in child's play, from which an intelligent person may not gather instruction; but if a hundred chapters of wisdom were read in the hearing of a fool, to his ears it would sound as nothing but child's play.
— Yesternight, towards morning', a warbling bird stole away my reason, my patience, my strength, and my understanding. My exclamations, by chance, reached the ear of a most intimate friend. "Never," he said "could I believe that the voice of a bird should have such a power to disturb thy intellect!" — "It is not," I replied, "befitting the condition of man, that a bird should be reciting its hymn of praise, and that I should be silent."
— One day the Prophet said to Abu Huraizah: "Do not come every day, that our friendship may increase."
A holy man has said: "With all the beauty which attends the sun, I have never heard that anyone has taken him for a friend, except in winter, when he is veiled, and therefore is loved.
— The treasure chosen by Lokman was patience: without patience there is no such thing as wisdom.
— Were every night a night of power, the Night of Power, would lose its worth. Were every pebble a ruby, the ruby and the pebble would be of equal value.
[Quran, Chap, xcvii: Verily we sent down the Quran in the night of al Kadr. — Therein do the angels descend, and the spirit of Gabriel also, by the permission of their Lord with his decrees concerning every matter. It is peace until morning. Comp. footnote to Lane's transl. of the Quran and our Part II: Symbols].
— How should the multitude find its way to their secret chambers, for, like the waters of life, they are hidden in darkness?
They kindle themselves the flame, which, as a moth, consumeth them; not wrapping themselves up like the silk-worm in its own web.
Seeking for the Soul's repose on the bosom which only can give repose, their lips are still dry with thirst on the very margin of the stream:
Not that they have no power to drink the water, but that their thirst could not be quenched, even on the banks of the Nile.
"The bird of the morning only knoweth the worth of the book of the rose; for not every one who readeth the page understandeth the meaning."
SAADIS' BOOSTAN [FRUIT GARDEN OR GARDEN OF PLEASURE]
His nature's true state all are helpless to read.
The extent of His glory, no mortal has found;
His exquisite beauty, no vision can bound.
* * * * * *
To the skirt of His praise Reason's hand comes not nigh.
* * * * * *
The mind can't this world by reflection embrace.
But the Lord of the sky and the earth's rutted skin.
On none shuts the door of subsistence for sin.
Like a drop in the ocean of knowledge are seen
Both His worlds, and the faults, Me sees, kindly, He'll screen.
* * * * * *
The Creator is mercy-diffusing and kind,
For He helps all His creatures and knows ev'ry mind.
In Him, self-reliance and grandeur you see,
For His kingdom is old and His nature is free. —
* * * * * *
He is tardy in seizing on those who rebel,
And does not excuse-bringers rudely repel.
* * * * * *
When you've penitent turned "It is past," He will write.
* * * * * *
The extent of God's mercies, no mortal can guess;
The need of His praises, what tongue can express?
Who knows that communion with God you don't share,
When without an absolution you stand to say pray'r?
* * * * * *
That pray'r is the key of the portal of hell,
Over which in men's presence a long time you dwell.
If your path does not lead to the Maker alone,
Your carpet for pray'r into Hell will be thrown!
He ordered, and something from nothing arose;
Who something from nothing but He could disclose?
Again to nonentity's hiding He flings us. —
And thence to the plain of the judgment He brings us.
Let the robes of deceit, name and fame be dispersed!
For a man becomes weak if in garments immersed.
Wordly love is a veil by which nothing is gained;
When you snap the attachments the Lord is obtained.
* * * * * *
Know, that the people in ecstasy drown'd,
In the eyes of the Lord special favour have found!
He watches the "friend," in the fierce burning pile?
* * * * * *
You've no road in yourself while to self you are wed;
The enraptured alone are informed on this head. —
Some one said to a Moth "Oh, contemptible mite!
Go! love one who will your affection requite.
* * * * * *
Between you and the candle no friendship can be!
* * * * * *
No one tells you your conduct is perfectly right
In destroying your life for the love of the light!
Observe what the moth, full of hot anguish, said:
"If I burn, oh astonishing! What is the dread?
* * * * * *
* * *I fancy the flame is a beautiful rose!
* * * * * *
Won't you helplessly, one day, your life give away?
For the sake of space and death, better give it to-day
A wild beast is not likely to change into man;
Instruction is lost on it, strive as you can.
* * * * * *
Effort makes not a rose from a willow to grow;
A warm bath will not whiten a negro like snow.
Since naught can the arrow of destiny brave.
Resignation's the shield that is left to God's slave.
1. The soul soliloquizing. (return to text)
2. The Deity. (return to text)
3. Second century. (return to text)
4. The Deity. (return to text)
5. The Work entitled "The Acts of the Adepts," by Shemsu — D — Din Ahmad, EI Eflaki Las been reserved for our second part: Symbols. (return to text)
6. A godhra is the counterpane of shreds the Fakirs use to lie down upon, and throw over their shoulders. (return to text)
7. Comp. the mediaeval conception "Lady World." (return to text)
8. Khizer, the "Green Old Man" is the guardian of "the fountain of life" and the type of the self sustaining power of Deity. (return to text)
9. Quran II. 216, Elias discovered the water of life. (return to text)
10. Saturn is lord of the seventh heaven. (return to text)
11. No more individual existence. (return to text)
12. The following is told, and attributed to Attar; A thirsty traveller dips his hand into a spring of water to drink from. Another comes likewise to drink and loaves his earthen howl behind him. The first traveller takes it up for another draught and is surprised to find the same water bitter when drank from the earthen cup. But a voice from heaven tells him the clay from which the bowl is made was once Man; and, into whatever shape renewed, can never lose the bitter flavour of mortality. (return to text)
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