There is one moral; the love that springs forth from
self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.
The orthodox say, 'This is good, that is bad. This is
right, that is wrong,' but to a Sufi the source of all good
deeds is love. Someone may say that this is the source of
bad deeds also, but that is not so; it is lack of love.
Our virtues are made of love, and our sins are caused
by lack of it. Love turns sins into virtues, and its lack
makes virtues meaningless. Christ said when a woman was
brought before Him accused of sin, 'Her sins are forgiven,
for she loved much.' Heaven is made so beautiful with love,
and life becomes a hell through the lack of it. Love in
reality creates harmony in one's life on earth and peace
A nautch girl was once watching two funerals from her
window, and she said to her lover, 'The first of those two
is a soul that has gone to heaven, the second is a soul
that has gone to hell, I am sure.' He said, 'How can you,
a nautch girl, pretend to know a thing only a saint could
know?' She said, 'I know it by the simple fact that all
the people who followed the first funeral had sad faces,
and many had tears in their eyes. And all those who followed
the second funeral had dry eyes and their faces were cheerful.
The first proved that he loved and won the affection of
so many, and therefore surely he was entitled to enter the
heavens, and the next cannot have loved anybody, for no
one grieved at his departure.'
Therefore, as this world is a hell to the loveless, the
same hell will become distinct in the next world. If the
soul and heart are incapable of love even a man's relations
and nearest friends are strangers. He is indifferent to
them, and dislikes their company.
It is easy to begin to love, and this everybody, more
or less, does. But it is difficult to continue to love,
because love opens the eyes of the lover to see through
the beloved, though it closes the eyes of the lover to all
else. First, the more the lover knows the beloved, the more
he begins to see the defects as well as the merits, which
naturally in the beginning of love casts the beloved down
from the high pedestal on which the lover had put her.
Another thing is that besides the attributes that attract
the lovers to one another, there are inclinations in each
which draw them asunder. The ego always plays a trick in
bringing two hearts together and then separating them. Therefore
in the world nearly everyone says, 'I love,' or 'I have
loved,' but there are rare cases where love has been ever
on the increase since it began. To a real lover it is an
absurd thing to hear anyone say, 'I have loved her, but
now I love her no more.'
Love must be absolutely free from selfishness, otherwise
it does not produce proper illumination. If the fire has
no flame it cannot give light, and smoke comes out of it,
which is troublesome. Such is selfish love. Whether it be
for man or for God it is fruitless, for though it appears
to be love for another or love for God, it is in fact love
for the self. Ideas that come to the mind of a lover such
as, 'If you will love me I will love you, but if you do
not love me I will not love you either,' or 'I love you
as much as you love me,' and all such declarations are false
pretensions of love.
The part that a lover performs in life is much more difficult
than that of the beloved. Tyranny on the part of the beloved
is taken tolerantly and patiently by the lover as a natural
thing in the path of love. There is a verse of Hafiz on
resignation to the will of the beloved: 'I have broken my
bowl of desire against the rock of the beloved's will. What
may be done when my heart is won by the obstinate beloved,
who does her own will and casts aside the desire of the
lover?' This is the study of the lover and of the beloved's
nature, that the beloved will do what she desires, while
the lover lives in love. The breaking of it is the lover's
death. Then the only way is resignation, either in the case
of an earthly or of the divine Beloved.
The lover never can grudge or grumble about any injustice
done to him, and every fault of the beloved he hides under
his mantle, as a man in poverty would hide the patch on
his garment. The lover takes care not to hurt the feelings
of the beloved in anything he does. But as delicate as is
the sense of precaution in him, even more delicate is the
sensitiveness of the one who is beloved in vain.
Though love is light it becomes darkness when its law
is not understood. Just as water, which cleans all things,
becomes mud when mixed with earth, so love, when not understood
rightly and when directed wrongly, becomes a curse instead
There are five chief sins against love, which turn nectar
into poison. The first is when the lover deprives the beloved
of freedom and happiness against her desire, because of
his love. The next is when the lover gives way to a spirit
of rivalry and jealousy or bitterness in love. Thirdly,
if the lover doubts, distrusts, and suspects the one whom
he loves. Fourthly, if he shrinks from enduring all the
sorrows, pains, troubles, difficulties, and sufferings that
come in the path of love. And finally, when the lover pursues
his own will instead of complete resignation to the beloved's
wish. These are the natural failings of a loving heart,
as maladies are natural to the physical body. As lack of
health makes life miserable, so lack of love makes the heart
wretched. Only the lover who avoids these faults benefits
by love, and arrives safely at his destination.
Love lies in service. Only that which is done, not for
fame or name, nor for the appreciation or thanks of those
for whom it is done, is love's service.
The lover shows kindness and beneficence to the beloved.
He does whatever he can for the beloved in the way of help,
service, sacrifice, kindness, or rescue, and hides it from
the world and even from the beloved. If the beloved does
anything for him he exaggerates it, idealizes it, makes
it into a mountain from a molehill. He takes poison from
the hands of the beloved as sugar, and love's pain in the
wound of his heart is his only joy. By magnifying and idealizing
whatever the beloved does for him and by diminishing and
forgetting whatever he himself does for the beloved, he
first develops his own gratitude, which creates all goodness
in his life.
Patience, sacrifice, resignation, strength, and steadfastness
are needed in love, and ultimately nothing but hope, until
one is united with the beloved. Sacrifice is needed in love
to give all there is, wealth, possessions, body, heart,
and soul. There remains no 'I', only 'you', until the 'you'
becomes the 'I'. Where there is love there is patience,
where there is no patience there is no love. The lover takes
hope as the extract of love's religion, for hope is the
only thing that keeps the flame of life alight. Hope to
the lover is the rope of safety in the sea. 'Brahma collected
honey from all things in life, and it was hope.'
Separation is needed according to nature's law, although
it is most painful. Where there are two hearts that are
united in love, separation awaits them. Separation must
be accepted. A Persian poet says, 'If I had known what pain
separation gives in love I would never have allowed the
light of love to be kindled in my heart.' God is jealous,
as the Japanese say, of any other besides Himself. Whoever
it may be that you love, it is this spirit of God in nature
that separates sooner or later.
This idea is symbolically expressed in an Indian story
called Indra Sabha.
A fairy, Sabzpari, who was one of the dancers of the
court of Indra, the King of Heaven, was attracted by Prince
Gulfam, a man on earth, while she was flying over his palace.
Her servant, the black Deva, carried Gulfam at her desire
from earth to heaven. Gulfam was at first most unhappy in
the strange place, but then the love of Sabzpari attracted
him so much that he lived in her love. Sabzpari had to be
at the court of Indra every night to dance and entertain
him, and as, in the love of Gulfam, she was absent a few
times, everyone at the court wondered why she was not there.
But her going every night to the court of Indra made Gulfam
suspect that perhaps there might be someone else who was
entertained by Sabzpari's charms. He asked her about this
many times, and every time she refused to tell him, until
he became vexed and Sabzpari thought she could not hide
it from him any longer. On hearing her explanation Gulfam
requested her to take him to the court of Indra. She said,
'No man has ever been there, no man can ever go there, and
if Indra should see thee it will at once end our sweet days
of love and happiness. We shall surely be separated, and
I know not what he will not do to thee.'
Gulfam said, 'No. It is a woman's tale. Thou art perhaps
in love with some Deva, and wishest to hide it by telling
me a story.' She was most unhappy, finding herself in a
helpless situation. Under the spell of the agony that his
arrowlike words had produced in her heart she consented,
without thinking, to take Gulfam to the court of Indra,
saying to herself, 'What will be, will be.'
Sabzpari took him to the court, hiding him behind the
folds of her garment and wings which spread about her. The
red Deva sensed the presence of a man in the court, and,
looking all around, he found that Sabzpari was dancing most
skillfully before Indra, hiding Gulfam behind her. He humbly
brought him before Indra, the Lord of the Heavens, who was
sitting on a throne with a glass of wine in his hand, his
eyes red with the wine and his high being full of glory
and grandeur. When Indra saw that a man had been brought
into the apex of the heavens he rose in great wrath and
said to Sabzpari, 'O shameless one, how darest thou bring
a man into the summit of the heavens, where no earthly creature
has ever been allowed to come?' The red Deva said, 'It is
her love for this earthly creature, my Lord, that has turned
her faithless to the heavenly crown and made her fail in
her duty at the supreme court of your Majesty.'
Sabzpari said to Gulfam, 'Seest thou, my darling beloved,
what has befallen us through thy insistence?' Indra said,
'Separate them at once, that they may no more speak a word
to one another. Throw him back into the depths of the earth,
and tear her wings off and keep her captive until the love
of Gulfam is wiped from her heart. Then purify the polluted
one from the five elements. Then only can she come again,
if she be allowed by our favor, forgiveness, and mercy.'
The symbolism of this story tells us of the jealous God.
Indra has its origin in the word Andar or Antar,
which means inner, the innermost spirit, which man idealizes
as God the Almighty. The Paris are the souls that He created
out of His own being, whose dance in His praise, in His
knowledge, in His presence, is the only thing He wants of
them. The black Deva is the symbol of darkness, which in
Sanskrit is called Tamas, under which the soul has
built for itself a house of earthly elements, the physical
body. God has created the world out of darkness.
Sabz means green, which is symbolical of water, the
first element that formed substance, matter in other words.
Sabzpari means a soul drawn to the material body.
When the soul involves itself in the earthly body, which
Gulfam signifies, then the soul involved in the body becomes
absorbed in earthly experiences, its love on earth, its
joy on earth, and its comfort on earth. As the duty of the
soul is forgotten by it, it being in the earthly pursuit,
the red Deva, the power of destruction, who is constantly
busy causing all change in nature by his power of destruction,
then causes separation, death being the separation of body
and soul. Still the soul, the dweller of the heavens, becomes
wingless by the curse of the supreme Spirit and inclines
earthward until it is purified from the five elements that
constitute the lower world. 'Unless a man be born again
of water and of the spirit, he shall in no wise enter into
the kingdom of God,' one reads in the Bible. It is only
then that the soul rises above all earthly influences and
dances forever before the most high Indra, the Lord of lords.
The effect of love is pain. The love that has no pain
is no love. The lover who has not gone through the agonies
of love is not a lover, he claims love falsely. 'What love
is it that gives no pain? Even if one were crazy in love
it is nothing.' The pain of love is the lover's pleasure,
his very life. The lack of pain is his death. Amir, the
Hindustani poet, says, 'Thou wilt remember me after I am
dead, O my pain in love, for I have given thee place all
through life in my tender heart, and have fed thee with
my flesh and blood.' Everybody can speak of love and claim
to love, but to stand the test of love and to bear the pain
in love is the achievement of some rare hero. The mere sight
of love's pain makes the coward run away from it. No soul
would have taken this poison if it had not the taste of
He who loves because he cannot help it is the slave of
love, but he who loves because it is his only joy is the
king of love. He who, for the sake of love, loves someone
who falls short of his ideal is the ruler of love. And he
who can seal his heart full of love in spite of all attraction
on the part of the beloved is the conqueror of love.
Those who have avoided love in life from fear of its
pain have lost more than the lover, who by losing himself
gains all. The loveless first lose all, until at last their
self is also snatched away from their hands. The warmth
of the lover's atmosphere, the piercing effect of his voice,
the appeal of his words, all come from the pain of his heart.
The heart is not living until it has experienced pain. Man
has not lived if he has lived and worked with his body and
mind without heart. The soul is all light, but all darkness
is caused by the death of the heart. Pain makes it alive.
The same heart that was once full of bitterness, when purified
by love becomes the source of all goodness. All deeds of
kindness spring from it.
Rumi describes six signs of the lover: deep sigh, mild
expression, moist eyes, eating little, speaking little,
sleeping little, which all show the sign of pain in love.
Hafiz says, 'All bliss in my life has been the outcome of
unceasing tears and continual sighs through the heart of
The sorrow of the lover is continual, in the presence
and in the absence of the beloved: in the presence for fear
of the absence, and in absence in longing for the presence.
According to the mystical view the pain of love is the dynamite
that breaks up the heart, even if it be as hard as a rock.
When this hardness that covers the light within is broken
through, the streams of all bliss come forth as springs
from the mountains.
The pain of love becomes in time the life of the lover.
The soreness of the wound of his heart affords him a joy
that nothing else can give. The heart aflame becomes the
torch on the path of the lover, which lightens his way that
leads him to his destination. The pleasures of life are
blinding, it is love alone that clears the rust from the
heart, the mirror of the soul.
Once a slave-girl, making the bed of a Padishah, felt
a wish to experience how it would feel to rest in this royal
bed. The great heat of the sun, the breeze coming through
the windows in this regal bedroom, the flowers and perfumes
sprinkled on the ground, the beautiful fragrance of the
incense burning, made her so comfortable that she fell asleep
as soon as she leaned against a cushion on this bed. She
fell as fast asleep as if she were in the embrace of death.
But presently the king and queen came, and they were astonished
at the boldness and impudence of this slave-girl. The Padishah
woke her with a stroke of a whip, and one or two more strokes
followed after, in order to free the queen from all suspicions.
The slave-girl got up in terror, and cried aloud, but it
all ended in a smile. Her smile created more curiosity in
the minds of the king and queen than her fault had done.
They asked what made her smile. She said, 'I smiled at the
thought that the comfort and joy of this bed gave me an
inclination to experience its pleasure for a moment, the
penalty of which is given me as these blows, and I wonder,
as you have experienced the pleasure of this comfortable
bed all your life, what penalty you will have to pay for
this to God, the King of all kings.'
The nature of life is such that every little pleasure
costs incomparably greater pain. The lover, therefore, has
collected all pain that is the current coin, and his path
will be smoother through life's journey from earth to heaven.
There he will be rich when all others will be found poor.
The imagery of the Sufi poets portrays the nature of
love, lover, and beloved with such a delicacy of metaphor,
complexity, and convention in its expression that their
poetry makes a true picture of human nature.
The lover is always imagined to be the victim of the
tyranny of the cold-hearted and vain beloved, who gives
no heed, revels with his rivals, pays no attention to his
sufferings, gives no hearing to his appeal, and when she
responds, responds so little that instead of being cured
the malady is increased. The lover holds his unruly heart
for mercy before the beloved, taking it on his palms. He
places his heart at the feet of the beloved, who coldly
treads upon it, while he is crying, 'Gently, beloved, gently!
It is my heart, it is my heart.' The heart of the lover
sheds tears of blood. The lover presses his heart, keeping
it from running away to where the beloved is. The lover
complains of his heart being so faithless as to have left
him and gone to the beloved. The love begs of the beloved
to give his heart back if it be of no use. The abode of
the heart is in the curls of the beloved.
The lover is restless, uneasy, and unhappy in the agonies
of separation. Nights pass, days pass, all things change
but the pain of the lover. The pain of love is his only
companion through the nights of separation. The lover asks
the weary night of separation, 'Where wilt thou be when
I am dead?' The lover expects the coming of death before
the coming of the beloved. He begs of the beloved to show
herself to him once before he dies. He prays the beloved
to visit his tomb, if not for love, at least for appearances'
The lover only wishes the beloved to understand him,
to know how much he loves and what sufferings he is going
through. The lover wishes constantly that either the beloved
would come to him or he might be called to the beloved.
Even the sight of the messenger of love makes the beloved
cross. The good and ill of the world is naught to the lover.
The lover complains of being robbed of ease, patience, and
peace, and of having lost his religion, morals, and God.
The lover is seen without hat and shoes, and regarded as
crazy by his friends. He tears his garment in the agony
of pain. He is tied in chains for his madness. He has lost
honor before all.
The wound in his heart is as a rose to the lover, the
soreness in it is its bloom. He weeps in order to sprinkle
salt water upon it to make it smart, that he may fully enjoy
the sweet agony. The lover is jealous of the attentions
his rivals bestow on his beloved. When the lover tells the
story of love to his companions of love they all begin to
weep with him. The lover kisses the ground where the beloved
walks. He envies the privilege of the beloved's shoes. The
lover spreads his carpet at the gate of the beloved. The
eyebrows of the beloved are the Mihrab, the archway
in the mosque. The patch on the cheeks of the beloved is
the magic spot that reveals to him the secrets of heaven
and earth. The dust under the feet of the beloved is to
him as the sacred earth of Kaba. The face of the
beloved is the open Quran, and he reads Alif,
the first and symbolical letter of Allah's name, in the
straight features of the beloved. The lover drinks Kauthar,
wine, out of the eyes of the beloved. Her overflowing glance
intoxicates him. The sound of the beloved's anklets makes
him alive. The lover is satisfied to see the beloved even
in the dream, if not in the waking state.
When the lover speaks of dying the beloved disbelieves
him. The lover is so wasted that even Munkir and
Nakir, the recording angels, cannot trace him in his grave.
Fear of the lover's approach makes the beloved gather up
the train of her garment and lift it when walking past his
grave, lest the lover's hand may reach it.
With the deep sigh of the lover heaven and earth shake.
His tears in the thought of the fair one turn into flowers
as they touch the ground. Pain is his comrade in the heart
of the night, and death is his companion through the journey
of life. He plans and imagines a thousand things
to tell to the beloved, of his longing, his pain, praise,
and love. But when he sees the beloved he is spellbound,
his tongue motionless and his lips sealed, his eyes engaged
in the vision of the desired one.
Joy in the real sense of the word is known to the lover
alone. The loveless know it by name, not in reality. It
is like the difference between a rock and man. Man, with
all life's struggles and difficulties, would rather live
as a man than become a rock, which no struggle or difficulty
can ever touch. For even with struggles and difficulties
the joy of living is immense. With all the pains and sorrows
that the lover has to meet within love, his joy in love
is unimaginable, for love is life, and its lack is death.
'Angels would give up their free dwelling in the heavens
if they knew the joy when love springs up in youth.'
There are two worthy objects of love: on the lower plane
man, and on the higher God. Every person in the world first
learns to love on the lower plane. As soon as the infant
opens its eyes it loves whatever its eyes see, whatever
seems to it beautiful. Later there comes the love for what
is permanent, for what is unchanging, which leads to the
ideal of God. But then the man is already fixed in such
a difficult position in life that there is a struggle between
the one and the other. The idol pulls from one side and
the ideal draws from the other side, and it is only the
rare one who rises above this difficulty.
This is explained in the life of Surdas, a very great
musician and poet of India. He was deeply in love with a
singer and took delight in seeing her. His fondness so increased
that he could not live a single day without her. Once there
was a heavy rainfall which continued for weeks and the country
towns were all flooded. There was no means of getting about,
the roads were impassable, but nothing would prevent Surdas
from seeing his beloved at the promised time. He set out
through the heavy rain, but on the way there was a river
which was in flood and unfordable. There was no boat in
sight. Surdas therefore jumped into the river and tried
to swim. The rough waves of the river buffeted him, raised
him up and threw him down as if from mountains to the abyss.
Fortunately he was thrown against a corpse, of which, taking
it to be a log of wood, he seized hold, and he clung to
it and arrived in the end, after a great struggle, at the
cottage of his beloved.
He found the doors locked. It was late at night and any
noise would have roused the whole neighborhood. Therefore
he tried to climb up the house and enter through the upper
window. He took hold of a cobra, which seemed like a rope
hanging, thinking that it had perhaps been put there on
purpose for him by his beloved.
When she saw him she was amazed. She could not understand
how he had managed to come, and the impression that his
love made on her was greater than ever. She was as if inspired
by his love. He was raised in her ideal from a man to an
angel, especially when she discovered that he had taken
a corpse for a log of wood and the cobra, the enemy of man,
for a rope of safety. She saw how death is slain by the
lover. She said to him, 'O man, thy love is higher than
the average man's love, and if only it could be for God,
the supreme Deity, how great a bliss it would be! Rise,
then, above the love of form and matter, and direct thy
love to the spirit of God.' He took her advice like a simple
child, and left her with heavy heart and wandered from that
time onward in the forests of India.
For many years he roamed in the forests, repeating the
name of the divine Beloved and seeking refuge in His arms.
He visited the sacred places, the places of pilgrimage,
and by chance reached the bank of a sacred river where the
women of the city came every morning at sunrise to fill
their pitchers with the sacred water. Surdas, sitting there
in the thought of God, was struck by the beauty and charm
of one among them. His heart, being a torch, did not take
long to light. He followed this woman. When she entered
her house she told her husband, 'Some sage saw me at the
river and has followed me to the house and he is still standing
outside.' The thoughtful husband went out immediately and
saw this man with the face of a sage and spiritual dignity
shed around him. He said, 'O Maharaj, what has made thee
tarry here? Is there anything that I can do for thee?' Surdas
said, 'Who was the woman who entered this house?' He said,
'She is my wife, and she and I are both at the service of
sages.' Surdas said, 'Pray ask her to come, O blessed one,
that I may see her once more.' And when she came out he
looked at her once and said, 'O Mother, pray bring me two
pins.' And when she brought them to him he bowed to her
charm and beauty once more and thrust the pins into his
eyes, saying, 'O my eyes, ye will nevermore see and be tempted
by earthly beauty and cast me down from heaven to earth.'
Then he was blind for the rest of his life, and his songs
of the divine ideal are still alive and are sung by the
God-loving people in India, and if any Hindu is blind, people
call him Surdas, which he takes as a term of honor and respect.
'Though I have loved only one, yet it is eternal,' says
Mohi. There can be love only where there is one object before
us, not many. Where there are many there can be no devotion.
'When in the place of one there are two, the peculiarity
of the one is lost. It is for this reason that I did not
allow the portrait of my beloved to be made.' That one is
God, the formless and even nameless, the eternal, who is
with us and will remain for ever.
Love for one person, to whatever depth it may have reached,
is limited. Perfection of love lies in its vastness. 'The
tendency of love is to expand, even from one atom to the
whole universe, from a single earthly beloved to God.'
When love is for the human being it is primitive and
incomplete, and yet it is needed to begin with. He can never
say, 'I love God,' who has no love for his fellow man. But
when love attains its culmination in God, it reaches its
Love creates love in man and even more with God. It is
the nature of love. If you love God, God sends His love
evermore upon you. If you seek Him by night, He will follow
you by day. Wherever you are, in your affairs, in your business
transactions, the help, the protection and the presence
of the Divine will follow you.
The expression of love lies in silent admiration, contemplation,
service, attention to please the beloved, and precaution
to avoid the beloved's displeasure. These expressions of
love on the part of the lover win the favor of the beloved,
whose vanity otherwise cannot easily be satisfied. And the
favor of the beloved is the only aim of the lover, nor is
any cost too great a price for it.
The nature of beauty is that it is unconscious of the
value of its being. It is the idealization of the lover
which makes beauty precious, and it is the attention of
the lover which produces indifference in the beautiful,
a realization of being superior, and the idea, 'I am even
more wonderful than I am thought to be.' When the vanity
of an earthly beauty is thus satisfied by admiration, how
much more should the vanity of the beauty of the heavens
be satisfied by His glorification, who is the real beauty
and alone deserves all praise. It is the absence of realization
on man's part that makes him forget His beauty in all and
recognize each beauty separately, liking one and disliking
another. To the sight of the seer, from the least fraction
of beauty to the absolute beauty of nature, all becomes
as one single immanence of the divine Beloved.
It is told that God said to the Prophet, 'O Muhammad,
if We had not created thee We would not have created the
whole universe.' What, in reality, does it mean? It means
that the heavenly beauty, the beauty of the whole Being,
loved, recognized and glorified by the divine lover, moved
to a perfect satisfaction, says from within, 'Well done,
thou hast loved Me completely. If it were not for thee,
O admirer of my whole Being, I would not have made this
universe, where my creatures love and admire one part of
my Being on the surface, and my whole beauty is veiled from
their sight.' In other words, the divine Beloved says, 'I
have no admirer, though I am standing adorned. Some admire
my bracelets, others admire my earrings, some admire my
necklace, some admire my anklets, but I would give my hand
to him and consider that for him I have adorned myself,
who would understand and glorify my Being to the fullest
extent, wherein lies my satisfaction.'