A Letter in the Sufi Style
I woke up this morning thinking about our conversation yesterday and remembering the words of al-Ghazali’s (May God bless him and give him peace) On the Duties of Brotherhood. The fourth duty of brotherhood is to speak out and so, I thought that I would write to you and pick up the conversation from yesterday.
It so happened, that one day a great saint was discoursing to his followers about remembering the Lord. At that moment a group of woman carrying large vessels of water on their heads were walking down the road. Walking and balancing the water, they talked and laughed. The Saint commented. “They talk and laugh but are ever mindful of the water they carry. That is how we must carry the Lord with us through life.”
May I suggest (and may God have mercy upon me) that our business with the Lord is not so much a matter of doing as it is of remembering (since there can be no doing without remembrance) and remembrance takes no time. The poet Kabir once said, “When the Friend is forgotten, then everything we do has the taste of strange failure.”
The external holy mosques (may God bless them and keep them safe) are just reflections of the internal holy mosque of the heart. We must go into the mosque of our hearts and practice remembrance of our Lord. That mosque, the mosque of our hearts, like the Lord Himself, does not stand in time or space. It is eternal like the Lord, beyond time and space, and is not dependent on the world, in fact the world is totally dependent on Him.
The Sheikh Al-Arabi Ad-Darqawi said that the world and all its affairs are so small compared to our Lord that were He to tell His Angel to, he would take it (the world and its affairs) upon his tongue and swallow and never even notice its passing.
From this you may see (may God’s compassion be on us both) the error of your thinking when you suggested that it was the world and all its affairs that keep you from and distract you from the sublime practice of His remembrance. Remembrance is an affair of the heart and in the heart there is no time or space.
Every morning, take one Holy Hadith revealed by the Prophet, or a saying of one of the great masters like Al-Arabi, or Al Ghazali, or Hafiz, or Rumi, (the list of Holy Heroes is long indeed!) and keep it in your mind and heart all day. Reflect on it when you have a moment. Go to sleep with it on your lips. Acquire discipline of the heart and mind. Do not sleep while awake and always take refuge in the words of Shams I Tabriz,
"Come Come Come,
whoever you are,
wanderer,worshipper,lover of leaving;
It does not matter,
ours is not a caravan of dispair.
Though you may have broken your vow
a thousand times;
Come, Come yet again,
/May God be the warrant for what we say,
(c) Kovitz 2004