There can be
many teachers; anything or anyone can be a teacher—someone or something you
love, or admire, or fear, or despise. A teacher can be a disease, or an enemy,
or a friend. A teacher can be the body, or the mind, or an idea. One learns
from a teacher, but one surrenders to a master. Surrenders to a master takes
many forms, but in the end, what is surrendered is always the same—always the illusory
self—nothing real is ever lost—how could it be otherwise?
years ago (09/02/12 – http://imbedded.blogspot.com/2012/09/letters-of-sufi-master-part1.html) I published excerpts from the
letters of the most highly esteemed Sufi Master, Shaikh Al- Arabi Ad-Darqawi. I
feel that it is a good time to revisit the Master’s letters and bathe again in
the effulgent light of his gnosis. We begin with Al- Arabi’s own description of
his meeting with his Master, Ali- al-Jamal at Fez in 1797.
“That night I asked God to confirm my
intention and I spent the whole night, unable to sleep, picturing him to myself
and wondering what he was like and how my meeting with him would be. When
morning came, I went to find him at his Zawiyah in the Rumaylah quarter,
located between the two cites of (of Fez), on the river bank, in the direction
of the Qiblah, on the very spot where his tomb lies today.
“I knocked on the gate and there he
was before me, sweeping out the Zawiyah, as was his custom, for he never gave
up sweeping it every day with his own blessed hand, in spite of his great age
and high spiritual function. ‘What do you want?’ he said. ‘Oh my Lord,’ I
replied, ‘I want you to take me by the hand for God.’
“Then he began to reprove me
furiously, hiding his true state from my eyes, with words such as these: ‘And
who told you that I take anyone at all by the hand and why ever should I do so
for you?’ And he drove me away—all to test my sincerity. So I went away.
“But when night came I questioned God
once more (by means of the Holy Book). Then after performing the morning
prayer, I went back again to the Zawiyah. I found the master again sweeping as
before and knocked at the gate. He opened it and let me in and I said, ‘Take me
by the hand, for God’s sake!’ Then he took me by the hand and said, ‘Welcome!’
He led me into his dwelling place in the inner part of the Zawiyah and
manifested great joy. ‘Oh my Lord,’ I said to him, ‘I have been looking for a
master for so long!’ ‘And I,’ he replied,’ was looking for a sincere disciple.”
– As related by his
disciple, Ibn al Khayyat, in the printed edition of the collected letters.
in this case, what was said to the master and how it was said, was very
important; “…take me by the hand for God,” as opposed to, “take me by the hand
for God’s sake!” rendered very different responses.
had been in the Gurdjieff Work for nearly a decade and was quite satisfied with
it. The thought of ever leaving the Work never crossed my mind. But my fate led
me to India and the tomb-shrine of Avatar Meher Baba. Of course, I already knew
about Meher Baba and had no doubt that He was who He said He was—the Avatar—the
Ancient One—the Highest of the High, but as I said, I was already following a spiritual
teaching and had no intention of leaving it. My thinking was that given whom
Meher Baba was, His tomb-shrine would have to be the holiest place on the
planet—why could I not go and drink the wine of that experience? What could be
more important than that?
And so I went, but things changed quickly for
me once I arrived. I began to feel that I was being given an opportunity to
follow Meher Baba—but how could I believe my own mind? So, I asked Him, “Meher
Baba, how can I believe my own mind?” and He answered through experiences that
left me no doubts. Then, I said to Him, “Your path is the Path of Love, I am
not even a beggar on the floor under that table. If following You is about
love, then it must be up to You alone, to teach me that love.” Later I heard
“Love is a
gift from God to man.
Obedience is a gift from Master to man. Surrender is a gift from man to Master.
“One who loves desires the will of the
One who obeys does the will of the Beloved.
One who surrenders knows nothing but the will of the Beloved.
“Love seeks union with the Beloved.
Obedience seeks the pleasure of the Beloved.
Surrender seeks nothing.
“One who loves is the lover of the
One who obeys is the beloved of the Beloved.
One who surrenders has no existence other than the Beloved.
“Greater than love is obedience.
Greater than obedience is surrender.
All three arise out of, and remain contained in, the Ocean of divine Love.”
goes on to quote sayings of his Master ‘Ali al-Jamal:
“While others are busy with worship,
do you pay heed to Him who is worshipped?”
Pay heed to
the wine and not the wine glass.
“When they are busy with love, do you remain
busy with the Beloved?”
brings the glass to your table, is it the wine or the Cupbearer who steals your
“While they are seeking to perform
miracles, do you look for the delights of prayer?”
company more than His manifestations.
“While they multiply their devotions,
attend to your most generous Lord.”
about you, attention to your Lord is about Him.
“Were you to contemplate Him in
everything, contemplation of Him would veil all things from your sight.”
the One in the many veils one to the many in the One. Jalal al-Din Rumi tells
the story of a man who journeys to the King. Along the way many people ask him
to deliver their various messages to the King. He takes the messages and stuffs
them in his pockets. When he arrives at the court of the King he sees Him
sitting on a throne in all His resplendent effulgence and the man loses
consciousness in the sight of Him. The King asks those around Him, “Who is this
man who has fallen unconscious in My presence? Let us go see.” He then steps
down from His throne and approaches the man. Kneeling next to him He says, “And
what are all these various scraps of paper in his pockets?” The King then reads
each message and attends to it. Rumi then comments, that because the man had
forgotten himself so completely in the presence of the King, the King Himself
attended to all of the man’s affairs in a manner far better than the man could
ever have attended to them himself.
Al-‘Arabi quotes of his Master ‘Ali al-Jamal:
“For He is the only thing outside of
which there is no thing.”
For what can
there be that is beyond Everything? Nothing is within Everything—how could it
be the other way around?
“If you bring together the ephemeral
and the eternal, the ephemeral is extinguished and the eternal alone subsists.”
If we were
to speak about the ephemeral and the eternal in terms of subsistence, the
ephemeral would take effort to sustain while the eternal is self-sustaining.
How does the eternal self-sustain? By creating, preserving, and destroying the
“If the qualities of the Well-Beloved
were to be manifested, both the veil and he whose sight is veiled would be as
Jessawalla once explained regarding the line, “…Truth and Truth’s body—Divine Avatar,” from Francis Brabazon’s
arti to Meher Baba, were Truth to descend directly into illusion, illusion
would be destroyed, and so when God—Truth—is moved to descend into illusion, He
takes on a suitable human form in order to veil His light from the darkness of
creation so that the darkness of creation is not destroyed by His light. What a
game it is that He creates, to come again and again as the Messiah—the
Avatar—the Ancient One—to quicken the journey of all souls in creation to
experience their own Divine light, without destroying the darkness of creation
which sustains the Divine light itself!
“To abstain from things is to
over-estimate their power and this is due to the veil that hides God from you;
“For if you contemplated Him in
things, or before or after, they would not hide Him from you.
“It is because you
are preoccupied with things that God is hidden from you by them;
“If you saw their existence as
flowing from Him, their existence would not hide Him from you.”
from things is to over-estimate their power and this is due to the veil that
hides God from you;” What an incredible statement is that! Shams-e Tabriz said, “Ours is not a caravan of despair.”
walk through a darkened movie theater do you follow the lights that mark your
way or do you concentrate on the darkness that surrounds you? Ours is not a
caravan of despair. Focus on illusion empowers illusion; in fact, were we to
withhold our attention from illusion, illusion would cease to exist.
There is the
Sufi story about the teacher who searches for his key under the light of a
streetlamp. A student asks him if that is where he lost it. The teacher replies
that he lost the key in the yard in the dark. “Then why are you looking for it
here?” the student asks. “Because the light is better here,” replies the
teacher. What is it that is lost in the dark and found in the light? The key.
The key to what? The key that unlocks the riddle; what is it that which when
found is realized to never have been lost at all?
things I have heard said by Meher Baba, some I have heard before and some I
have never heard, but whether I have heard them before or not, when they come
from Him, they have a clarity and simplicity and ring of Truth I have heard
nowhere else and from no one else.
“Age after age the Avatar comes
amidst mankind to maintain his own creation of illusion, thereby also awakening
humanity to awareness of it.
“The framework of illusion is always
one and the same, but the designs in illusion are innumerable and
“My advent is not to destroy illusion
because illusion, as it is, is absolutely nothing. I come to make you become aware of the nothingness
“Through you I automatically maintain
illusion which is nothing but the shadow of my infinite Self, and through me
you automatically discard illusion when you experience its falseness.”
– Life at its Best, by Avatar Meher Baba; P 73 Edited
by Ivy O. Duce Copyright 1957 by Sufism Reoriented
Continuing with excerpts
from the letters of the Sufi Master, Shaikh Al-‘Arabi ad-Darqawi:
“The Venerable Master Qasim al-Khasasi said (may God be well pleased
with him): ‘Pay no attention to him who slanders you, but pay attention to God.
He will remove the slanderer from you, for it is He who incites him against you
in order to test your sincerity—but many men are mistaken on this question.’ If
you pay attention to him who slanders you, the slander will continue, together
with your sin of distraction from God.”
How long does it take to
first be able to hear the truth in all of these messages, let alone be able to
live accordingly? Meher Baba said that it takes on the average eight million
four hundred thousand lifetimes in the human form to achieve Realization.
Upon reaching the first
human form consciousness is full and complete, but it is not perfect, there
still remains the dust of the journey gathered through all of the pre-human
forms that remains to be shaken off.
But before the dust can
be removed it has to be loosened. Loosening is the job of reincarnation,
removing is the job of involution. It takes many lifetimes to begin to hear the
truth in the teachings of the Masters, many more lifetimes to be able to live
them. But, “ours is not a caravan of despair,”
and so Shams-e-Tabriz reminds us, “though
you may have broken your vow a thousand times, come, come yet again, come!”
Despair means to lose
hope, remorse means deep regret. Remorse is natural to the path to Truth
consciousness, it motivates one’s work; despair is not natural to the path to
Truth consciousness, it is part of the problem and not the solution. Gurdjieff
used to say that God loves an idiot, because idiots don’t take things very
seriously. Fools, on the other hand, take everything seriously and, therefore,
cannot be very serious.
“Oh you who goes astray in the understanding of your own secret,
Look, for you shall find in yourself the
whole of existence;
You are the Infinite, seen as the Way and
seen as the Truth,
Oh you, synthesis of the Divine Mystery in
Its Totality.” – Saint al-Mursi
letters, Shaikh Al- ‘Arabi Ad-Darqawi tells this story:
“I was in a state which was a very
intense combination of spiritual intoxication and sobriety as, one evening; I
entered the mosque which contains the tomb of Husayni Sharif. It was just the
hour of sunset and the muezzin was calling to prayer form the roof of the
sanctuary. I was wearing an old cloak made of pieces of cloth patched together
and on my head was three caps, equally old; one on top of the other, for such
was my inclination at the time.
“Now into the depths of my
consciousness there came the idea that I needed a forth cap and at that very
moment the muezzin came down with from the roof, running and laughing. A stork,
carrying this cap off to her nest, had let it fall on him. As he came towards
me laughing with the cap in his hand, I said to him, ‘Give it to me, for God’s
sake, it is meant for me!’ And seeing that I was already wearing three caps
just like it, he gave it to me.
“For men in a state of spiritual sincerity
it is always like that; everything which is manifested in their hearts
immediately makes its appearance in the sensory world. God’s curse be on those
beautiful story has such great depth; to begin with, Al- ‘Arabi’s reference to
his state of spiritual intoxication and sobriety. Meher Baba clarifies the
distinction between the Majzoob state
and the Salik state by saying that
the Majzoob is absorbed in the experience while the Salik absorbs the
experience. The God-intoxicated ones are absorbed in the experience and that is
why they externally appear to be drunk, while the Salik appears more ‘normal’
on the outside. The actions of both the Majzoob and the Salik are not an
act—their actions reflect the state they are in.
There is a
story about how Gurdjieff showed up drunk to a talk he was to give to a
spiritual group. He staggered to the podium and then teetering and slurring his
words said, “There is a difference between the wine and the wine glass.” Then,
suddenly, he became totally sober and in the clearest speech he said, “Never
mistake the one for the other.” He then walked off the stage leaving the
audience in stunned silence. It is my opinion that Gurdjieff was not
acting—either sober or intoxicated. He was intoxicated when he appeared
intoxicated and was sober when he was appeared sober. The ability to change
one’s state at will is a mark of the Elect—as is the ability to be in two
states simultaneously—as was Al- ‘Arabi when he was at the mosque.
that the Elect do is highly significant and has meaning on many different
levels. With regard to the clothing that Al- ‘Arabi was wearing, the patchwork
cloak and the three caps; it is said that whatever teaching, in whatever form,
is laid before a Sufi, he will find the truth therein. Whether it is the Bible
or the Koran, Buddhist scripture or Veda, the Sufi will not mistake the wine
glass for the wine. The patched cloak represents the Sufi’s ability to find the
essential truth in all things apparently different.
And what of
the three caps and the forth that he desired? Perhaps the three caps that he
was wearing when he entered the mosques represented the three domains of
illusory consciousness—the gross, the subtle, and the mental. Was the fourth
cap the cap of Reality representing God-Realization?
what of the statement; “For men in a
state of spiritual sincerity it is always like that; everything which is
manifested in their hearts immediately makes its appearance in the sensory
once spoke about buffers. He said
that the average person has buffers, like the buffers between railroad trains,
that absorb the shock of contradictory I’s
that make up the inner world—identity—of a man. Without these buffers,
Gurdjieff said, the average person would go mad seeing the raging
contradictions that he is.
sincerity is a very high state indeed. In spiritual sincerity there are no
buffers—a man sees what he is—and for a man in this state, “everything which is manifested in their
hearts immediately makes its appearance in the sensory world.” How can that
be so? Perhaps it is because the sensory world does not exist at all
independently of the consciousness of person who perceives that world. How can
it be otherwise?
A fool takes
everything seriously but an idiot takes nothing seriously—except God! Praise be
to the wisdom of the idiots!
the last page of the letters of Al-‘Arabi reads:
“Know, and may God be merciful to
you, that I was expecting one of my faqir friends to ask me where I found this
saying; ‘Every single man has many needs, but in reality all men need only one
thing which is truly to remember God—if they acquire that, they will not want
for anything, whether they possess it or do not possess it.’
“Now if I had been asked, I would
have replied that in my youth, about ten months after I reached maturity, all
in one moment I pierced through to the presence of my Lord and lo and behold, I
was no longer as I had been until then, for God put His power in the place of
my powerlessness, His strength in the place of my weakness, His wealth in the
place of my poverty, His knowledge in the place of my ignorance, and His glory
in the place of my lowliness. In other words, He covered over my quality with
His, in such a way that I was no longer myself.
“In the words of God brought to us by
the Prophet (may God bless him and give him peace), ‘My servant never ceases to
come closer to me through voluntary devotions until I love him, and as soon as
I love him, I am He.’”
And does it
not always only come down to that? Read any of my blogs, any sacred text, any of
the teachings of any Perfect Master, or Avatar, and does it not always come
down to the one great Truth: God alone is Real; God alone is the Goal; and God
is the Way to the Goal of union with Him.
neither friend nor enemy; in creation one experiences pleasure and pain and
ultimately death followed by birth. Creation is merely the dream that creates
the illusion of separation between the states of sleeping God and awake God.
Death is the servant of God, for through the death of all the internal and
external dream worlds of life, when the dream of life is itself finally
extinguished forever, what remains is what always was, is and will
be—Eternal—Infinite— Beloved God.
“There is no barrier between the lover and the
Hafiz, lift yourself aside, you are yourself the
covering over Self.” – Hafez as
quoted by Meher Baba, God Speaks, page 74
Labels: Al arabi ad-Darquawi, Ali-al Jamal, Eruch Jessawala, faqir, Francis Brabazon, Gurdjieff, Hafez, Ibn al Khayyat, majzoob, Meher Baba, Qiblah, Rumaylah, Rumi, Saint al-Mursi, salik, Shams-e-Tabriz, Sufism, The Prophet