Saturday, November 11, 2017

All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent (Part 4.)



“Then I desired the station of passionate love until I saw myself in the abode of majesty. I saw the Truth—glory be to him—arrayed in the form of divinity, and I remained in the station of intimacy for an hour, hidden from all that is other than him. Many ecstasies overwhelmed me, with agitation and weeping for the station of intimacy, and applause for witnessing with the eye.”The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst

In the state that Ruzbihan described, only he, arrayed in the form of divinity, existed and Ruzbihan was hidden from all that is other than him. But what is it that is other than him? The answer is that in Reality nothing is other than him—that nothing was other than him—that nothing ever will be anything other than him. The key word here is nothing, for this nothing was, is, and always will be latent in the everything!

EVERYTHING by virtue of being everything embodies even ‘NOTHING’ or else Everything can never mean everything. This Nothing is latent in the Everything. But Nothing, being literally nothing, the very being of being nothing is nothing at all.” God Speaks, by Meher Baba, 2nd edition, page 81.

Or, as Hafez said; “There is no barrier between the lover and the Beloved; Hafez, lift yourself aside, you are yourself the covering over Self.”                      

Oh what a game it is that the all merciful and eternally benevolent one plays in which the greatest tender—perhaps the only tender—is love!

He called me repeatedly and I prostrated myself then and saw on my back the weights of the lights of magnificence. I said, ‘God, what is this?’ He said, ‘The lights of the sitting.’” – Ibid.

 What is God’s magnificence? Ibn al’ Arabi, the great Sufi saint, quotes God as saying, “Magnificence is my cloak!”  

Why does God even need a cloak? Because if God ever manifested His radiance un-cloaked, all of creation would be extinguished in that light. God manifests His magnificence out of compassion for His creation; it is an expression of His mercy and benevolence.

“I said, ‘God, what is this?’ He said, ‘The lights of the sitting.’”

There is not much commentary to be found on this expression in the usual traditional sources for Sufism, but I offer these points given by Meher Baba to Bhau Kalchuri for his book, The Nothing and the Everything, regarding the state of consciousness that is represented as a celestial throne called Ars-e-Maula:

Bhau Kalchuri writes:

The Seventh Heaven is Ars-e-Maula, the Seat of God or the Throne of God…

“In the beginning of time Infinite Consciousness Itself was established as the divine state or Seat of Impersonal God Who had no consciousness of illusion…

“In the beginning of time this throne remained to be filled until Infinite Consciousness was gained through the medium of Infinite Unconsciousness…
“The first to occupy that throne, who eternally remains enthroned, is none else but the Nameless Ancient One…

“By occupying that vacant seat filled by Infinite Unconsciousness, He established the eternal aspect of Personal God when His Infinite Consciousness filled the Vacuum of Impersonal God’s Infinite Unconsciousness…

“Ars-e-Maula represents the vacuum that was filled by the First Soul when He realized God, and when He realized Himself to be Infinite Consciousness.”

This helps me to understand the statement, “the lights of the sitting,” though as Kabir once said, “Until you experience it, it is not true!” Ruzbihan experienced the lights emanating from the state of God sitting upon the throne called Ars-e-Maula which is located in the vastness of consciousness at the divine junction between reality and illusion. To occupy this throne eternally is the responsibility of the Avatar—the Christ—that Nameless Ancient One. It is His responsibility, but it is also His joy—and our joy as well—the joy of man’s desiring!

“He took on the responsibility for each creature in creation. He became responsible for each drop-soul that was pouring out of the ocean of Infinite Unconsciousness to help make them merge with the Ocean of Infinite Consciousness through the very processes that He Himself had to pass through—that are evolution and involution.

“Thus He became, and is, the only One who is responsible for each soul from its beginning in evolution to its end in involution; and though He is eternally free as the Infinite Consciousness, He is also bound eternally as the Infinite Unconsciousness by this responsibility.” – Bhau Kalchuri, Ahmednagar, 1982

He is indeed, “All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent!

  



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Friday, October 20, 2017

All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent (Part 3.)



Then he bestowed upon me his attributes, and he made me assume his essence. Then I saw myself as though I were he, and I remembered nothing but myself. I halted at that point and descended from lordship to servanthood. Then I desired the station of passionate love until I saw myself in the abode of majesty. I saw the Truth (glory be to him) arrayed in the form of divinity, and I remained in the station of intimacy for an hour, hidden from all that is other than him.”The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst

Every line of this description is worthy of meditation and contemplation. The Lord bestowed upon Ruzbihan his attributes. God has infinite attributes—“You are the Soul of souls, the one with infinite attributes,” – The Parvardigar Prayer of Meher Baba and God is also without attributes—“You are without color, without expression, without form and without attributes.” – Ibid.

Attributes are qualities and characteristics; we all have attributes and characteristics, but God’s attributes are infinite. What was it like for Ruzbihan to be clothed in his Lord’s infinite attributes—was there any Ruzbihan even there?

And then, the second part of this sentence, “and he made me assume his essence.” To Ruzbihan, a Sufi, essence is related to self, but when speaking about God, essence related to Self. So, when he was made to assume God’s essence, Ruzbihan’s self must have been effaced.

Though this gross sphere, with all of its beings, planets, stars, universes and alter universes seems so vast—so endless—yet on an angel’s tongue is infinitely less than a single mustard seed that could be swallowed without even noticing. And do all embodied souls not sense this at some deep unfathomable level? Are not all strivings for good not an attempt to reach for something beyond? 

When Gurdjieff’s father gazed quietly at the stars at night, was not something real inside of him longing to remember? And are not all of the teachings and messages of the Avatar and the Perfect Masters not constantly reminding us that the brightest light of the world is merely a dark shadow of the subtle and mental worlds beyond, and that these worlds themselves are totally effaced by the effulgence of God?

“Then I saw myself as though I were he, and I remembered nothing but myself. I halted at that point and descended from lordship to servanthood. Then I desired the station of passionate love until I saw myself in the abode of majesty. I saw the Truth—glory be to him—arrayed in the form of divinity, and I remained in the station of intimacy for an hour, hidden from all that is other than him. Many ecstasies overwhelmed me, with agitation and weeping for the station of intimacy, and applause for witnessing with the eye.” The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst

The average person regards the question of slavery from the perspective of the practices of historic periods of slavery in the east and later  in the west when men and women were bartered and bought as commodities. But the idea of slave and master also has an esoteric meaning; Eruch Jessawala put it so well when he said that he chose of his own accord to be the slave of the Master who is free in order to be free himself. He explained that for the average person of the world there is no question of freedom, only a question of to be the slave of.  In fact, all humanity, rich, poor, power possessing and powerless, are slaves—slaves to their own desires, slaves to their own minds, and slaves to the illusion that sustains reality.

Eruch recognized that he wasn’t free and came to the realization that his only real choice was to choose the master to which he would a be a slave and he choose to be the slave of the One who is eternally free—for who else but the One who is eternally free can bestow upon the fortunate slave the gift of eternal freedom?

I am the slave of the Master who has released me from ignorance; whatever the Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.”—Hafiz

Ruzbihan was given the experience of both Lord and then servant.  In the spiritual realm, the states of Master and slave are both divine attributes which are demonstrated so perfectly in the divine incarnations of the Lord as Rasool, Christ, Avatar, Messiah, or Buddha. Over the threshold of Meher Baba’s tomb/shrine in India is inscribed these words; Mastery in Servitude.

Ruzbihan then went on to reveal that during his experience he began desire the station of passionate love. Again, this term should not be confused with worldly passionate love which is inspired by lust. The word Ruzbihan used that is translated as passionate love is the Arabic word ishq. Like all Arabic words ishq has multiple and subtle meanings. Ishq is closely associated the word ʿašaqah which is the word for a kind of ivy. Ivy climbs on things; it cannot support itself, nor climb or rise by itself! In the station of passionate love, the lover is totally dependent on the Beloved—even for his very breath…

(To be continued.)

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent (Part 2.)



“Then I went to the fields of pre-eternity intoxicated and raving, and he clothed me in the clothes of his loveliness and his beauty. Here I was the beloved of God most high, and he (glory be to him) loved me and was kind to me with kindness that none of the creatures of God most high could bear to hear of if I mentioned it to them, except as God wills” – The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst
I am drawn to this word, pre-eternity. Eternal means without beginning and without end—we tend to look at it through the lens of time, for our consciousness is of creation, but the eternal is really beyond time altogether. Time only exists for the creation and the creation is only a dream. Dreams begin and dreams end, but God is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word…” – John 1:1 this is a reference to the beginning of creation.
And what to make of pre-eternity? Pre-eternity must refer to something other than eternity. We use the prefix pre to suggest the state of before, but Ruzbihan means something quite different. Here, pre-eternity is a state—a station—a consciousness—in which all of time; past, present, and future, is experienced as being in the same moment, what can be described as the eternal now. What would that experience be like? No doubt, it is a great theme for meditation and contemplation!
Intoxicated and raving, Ruzbihan said that God clothed him in his loveliness and beauty. The three bubbles that connect the soul to creation are the gross physical body, the subtle body of energy, and the mental body of mind. Ruzbihan’s God intoxication was so powerful—so complete—that he had no consciousness at all of his gross, subtle, and mental bodies. He way naked and raving and God clothed him in his loveliness and beauty.
And in that state Ruzbihan was the beloved of God. Ruzbihan was the beloved of God! I remember, many years ago, Eruch Jessawala told us this story about a close disciple of Krishna who was troubled by the fact that Krishna said prayers. “To whom does God pray?” he wondered and found himself in Krishna’s prayer room where he saw little models of Krishna’s disciples. It is impossible to fathom the love of the Lord! To even hear of it, let alone to witness it unveiled would be unbearable—unbearable in the sense that all the illusion and delusion—all of the Nothing—that the un-realized soul associates with and identifies with, would be annihilated!

(To be continued.)
    



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Saturday, September 16, 2017

All Merciful and Eternally Benevolent (Part 1.)



You are all merciful and eternally benevolent!” – From the Parvardigar Prayer by Meher Baba
Call them words, teachings, messages, etc. Meher Baba gave us so much that I sometimes find myself taking these precious gifts far too lightly—not really hearing them—not really taking them in—and so, from time to time, I choose something, some word or words or a short phrase and make efforts to remember it, to ponder it, to feel it, to appreciate it…

Addressing God in the state of Parvardigar—the preserver and protector of all—Meher Baba says, “You are all merciful and eternally benevolent!”

All merciful and eternally benevolent—what does that mean when considered against what appears to be the cruelty, injustice, and destruction in the world from its ancient past to its passing present?
The two words and the heart of this assertion are mercy and benevolence. Mercy responds to need, not to merit, and benevolence is a state of impartiality that is denied to no one. Neither sinner nor saint has a corner on the market of mercy and benevolence. Benevolence does not take sides because it knows that duality in any of its manifestations is the unnecessary necessity of the evolution and involution of consciousness. Listening to the joys and sorrows of those who approached him, King Solomon used to turn a ring around and around on His finger. Inside the ring was engraved the words, “this too shall pass!

In the book, The Unveiling of Secrets, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst, under the heading, “The Merciful One is Sitting on the Throne” the great Sufi master Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209) revealed;

Then I saw the Most High in the form of greatness and eternity and divine presence, repeatedly, then I saw him in the majesty of intimacy in the form of holiness where no station remains. I dived into the oceans of eternity and pre-eternity and post-eternity. Then I was annihilated of all my attributes and I descended to the world of the angelic realm. I saw all existing things, compared to his power, smaller than a mustard seed. 

Then I went to the fields of pre-eternity intoxicated and raving, and he clothed me in the clothes of his loveliness and his beauty. Here I was the beloved of God most high, and he (glory be to him) loved me and was kind to me with kindness that none of the creatures of God most high could bear to hear of if I mentioned it to them, except as God wills” – The Unveiling of Secrets, Ruzbihan Baqli, translated by Dr. Carl W. Ernst

What to make of this quote?  It speaks of experience far beyond our ordinary human experience. Ruzbihan sees God clothed in His attributes of greatness and eternity and divine presence. Pondering this statement in light of Meher Baba’s words I am aware that God has infinite attributes and God is free of all attributes. “You are without color, without expression, without form and without attributes.” – Parvardigar Prayer by Meher Baba, sentence 3, and then later in sentence 13, “You are the Soul of souls, the One with infinite attributes.”  

The greatness of God is beyond all and any boundaries and limitations, let alone understanding! There is nothing greater than the greatness of God—this greatness does not have any opposite counterpart—it is beyond all duality—all conception!

What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of greatness?  What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of eternity? What did Ruzbihan see when he saw the Most High in the form of divine presence? And, what does it mean to see? Again, in the Parvardigar Prayer, are the words, “…and none can see you but with eyes divine!” Eyes divine is more about consciousness than vision as we understand it. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gave Arjuna the eyes to see His Infinite form. What did Arjuna see?

Oh Almighty God! I see in You the powers of Nature, the various Creatures of the world, the Progenitor on his lotus throne, the Sages, and the shining angels. 

I see You, infinite in form, with, as it were, faces, eyes, and limbs everywhere; no beginning, no middle, no end; O Lord of the Universe, whose Form is universal!

I see You with the crown, the scepter, and the discus, a blaze of splendor. Scarce can I gaze on You, so radiant You are, glowing like the blazing fire, brilliant as the sun, immeasurable.
Imperishable are You, the Sole One worthy to be known, the priceless Treasure-house of the universe, the immortal Guardian of the Life Eternal, the Spirit Everlasting.

Without beginning, without middle, and without end, infinite in power. Your arms all—embracing, the sun and moon Your eyes, Your face beaming with the fire of sacrifice, flooding the whole universe with light.

Alone you fill all the quarters of the sky, earth, and heaven, and the regions between. O Almighty Lord! Seeing Your marvelous and awe-inspiring Form, the spheres tremble with fear.
The troops of celestial Beings enter into You, some invoking You in fear, with folded palms; the Great Seers and Adepts sing hymns to Your Glory, saying "All Hail."

The Vital Forces, the Major Stars, Fire, Earth, Air, Sky, Sun, Heaven, Moon, and Planets; the Angels, the Guardians of the Universe, the divine Healers, the Winds, the Fathers, the Heavenly Singers; and hosts of Mammon-worshippers, demons as well as saints, are amazed.

Seeing Your stupendous Form, O Most Mighty! With its myriad faces, its innumerable eyes and limbs and terrible jaws, I myself and all the worlds are overwhelmed with awe.
When I see You, touching the Heavens, glowing with color, with open mouth and wide-open fiery eyes, I am terrified. O my Lord! My courage and my peace of mind desert me.

When I see Your mouths with their fearful jaws like glowing fires at the dissolution of creation, I lose all sense of place; I find no rest. Be merciful, O Lord in whom this universe abides!
All these sons of Dhritarashtra, with the hosts of princes, Bhisma, Drona, and Karna, as well as the other warrior chiefs belonging to our side;

I see them all rushing headlong into Your mouths, with terrible tusks, horrible to behold. Some are mangled between Your jaws, with their heads crushed to atoms.

As rivers in flood surge furiously to the ocean, so these heroes, the greatest among men, fling themselves into Your flaming mouths.

As moths fly impetuously to the flame, only to be killed, so these men rush into Your mouths to court their own destruction.

You seem to swallow up the worlds, to lap them in flame. Your glory fills the universe. Your fierce rays beat down upon it irresistibly.

Tell me then who You are that wear this dreadful Form. I bow before You, O Mighty One! Have mercy, I pray, and let me see You as You were at first. I do not know what You intend.

Lord Shri Krishna replied:
I have shown Myself to you as the Destroyer who lays waste the world, and whose purpose now is destruction. In spite of your efforts, all these warriors gathered for battle shall not escape death.
Then gird up your loins, and conquer. Subdue your foes and enjoy the kingdom in prosperity. I have already doomed them. Be My instrument, Arjuna!

Drona and Bhishma, Jayadratha, and Karna, and other brave warriors — I have condemned them all. Destroy them; fight and fear not. Your foes shall be crushed.

Sanjaya continued:
Having heard these words from the Lord Shri Krishna, the Prince Arjuna, with folded hands trembling, prostrated himself and with choking voice, bowing down again and again, and overwhelmed with awe, once more addressed the Lord.

Arjuna said.
My Lord! It is natural that the world revels and rejoices when it sings the praises of Your glory; the demons fly in fear and the saints offer You their salutations.

How should they do otherwise? O Supremest Self, greater than the Powers of creation, the First Cause, Infinite, the Lord of Lords, the Home of the universe, Imperishable, Being and Not-Being, yet transcending both.

You are the Primal God, the Ancient, the Supreme Abode of this universe, the Knower, the Knowledge, and the Final Home. You fill everything. Your form is infinite.

You are the Wind, You are Death, You are the Fire, the Water, the Moon, the Father and the Grandfather. Honor and glory to You a thousand and a thousand times! Again and again, salutation be to You, O my Lord!

Salutations to You in front and on every side, You who encompass me round about. Your power is infinite; Your majesty immeasurable; You uphold all things; yea, You Yourself are all.

Whatever I have said unto You in rashness, taking You only for a friend and addressing you as "O Krishna! O Yadava! O Friend!" in thoughtless familiarity, not understanding Your greatness;

Whatever insult I have offered to You in jest, in sport, or in repose, in conversation or at the banquet, alone or in a multitude, I ask Your forgiveness for them all, O You who are without an equal!

For You are the Father of all things movable and immovable, the Worshipful, the Master of Masters! In all the worlds there is none equal to You; how then superior; O You who stand alone, Supreme.

Therefore I prostrate myself before you, O Lord! Most Adorable! I salute You, I ask Your blessing. Only You can be trusted to bear with me, as father to son, as friend to friend, as lover to his beloved.

I rejoice that I have seen what never man saw before; yet, O Lord! I am overwhelmed with fear. Please take again the Form I know. Be merciful. O Lord! You who are the Home of the whole universe. 

I long to see You as You were before, with the crown, the scepter, and the discus in Your hands; in Your other Form, with your four hands, O You whose arms are countless and whose forms are infinite.

Lord Shri Krishna replied:
My beloved friend! It is only through My grace and power that you have been able to see this vision of splendor, the Universal, the Infinite, the Original. Never has it been seen by any but you.

Not by study of the scriptures, not by sacrifice or gift, not by ritual or rigorous austerity, is it possible for man on earth to see what you have see, O foremost hero of the Kuru clan!

Be not afraid or bewildered by the terrible vision. Put away your fear and, with joyful mind, see Me once again in my usual Form.” Bhagavad Gita, Chap. 11

And this was only the beginning of Ruzbihan’s experience! Then he saw God “in the majesty of intimacy in the form of holiness where no station remains.” Usually, majesty implies something beyond—something to be gazed upon from afar—distance is implied when we say, the majesty of God; and yet intimacy implies just the opposite—closeness, connection, personal relationship… 

Both majesty and intimacy can be found in ordinary human experience, but the majesty of intimacy is of the miraculous. Ruzbihan experienced both, simultaneously, truly by the grace of his beloved God.

And he saw his beloved God in the form of holiness where no station remains. Station is much like a train station. People go to a station to get to somewhere else, but once they get to where they want to get, they have no more need of stations. The form of holiness in which Ruzbihan saw God was beyond all stations—was the final stateless state of perfectly conscious God—the state to which all souls aspire and ultimately all souls attain!

(To be continued.)

  

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