Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part V: PEARLS FROM THE OCEAN UNSEEN
Sufism is not a religion, for it is beyond the limitations of faiths, and beliefs, which make the diversity of religions in the world. Sufism, in short, is a change of outlook on life. It is like viewing from an airplane a town, the streets of which one has known and walked through, and yet one has never before seen the whole town at a glance.
The Sufi's idea is to view life by raising himself above it. If a man is in pain, how can he relieve the pain of another? If a person is already burdened with a load, how can he take on another person's burden? If a person is quarrelsome himself, how can he bring peace between others who are fighting? Therefore, a Sufi considers it necessary to live in the world and at the same time to be not of the world. Where the Yogi lives the life of an adept in the forest or in a mountain cave, the Sufi lives it in the world. For he considers that to awaken one's heart to human sympathy, one must experience oneself, the struggles and responsibilities of life in the world. And realize that man lives not for himself alone, but that his greatest joy must be to share every benefit and bliss he has in life with others.
This process of viewing life both from below and from above makes his sight keen. He not only knows the law of nature, known to all, but he understands the inner law which is working behind everything, which gives him an insight into things and awakens his sympathy for others.
The Sufi's God is the only Being that exists. His teacher is the spirit of inner guidance; his holy book is the manuscript of nature, his community is the whole of humanity. His religion is love. There is no god of any people who is not his God, no spiritual teacher of any creed who is not his teacher. There is no sacred scripture that he does not accept, since he is the worshipper of light and the follower of love, and yet he is free from all the world's distinctions and differences.
The diversity of names in the universe to him is a veil of illusion, which covers unity, the one life. Only One lives, and all manifestations are to him the phenomenon of that one life. All things, which are born, made, and formed, are as bubbles in life's ocean. Instead of looking at their limitations, he sees in them the unlimited life.
The Sufi's God is his divine ideal to whom he attributes all that is good and beautiful in its perfection; and he himself stands before Him in humility realizing his imperfection, being a soul, free to roam the heavens, now captive on earth in the physical body. His aim in life is to release the captive soul from the bondage of limitations, which he accomplishes by the repetition of the sacred names of God, and by constant thought of his divine ideal, and an ever-increasing love for the divine Beloved until the beloved God with His perfection becomes manifest to his vision, and his imperfect self vanishes from his sight.
This he calls Fana, the merging in the ideal. In order to attain the final goal he gradually raises his ideal, first to Fana-fi-Shaikh, the ideal seen in a mortal walking on the earth, and he drills himself as a soldier before battle in devotion to his ideal.
Then comes Fana-fi-Rasul, when he sees his ideal in spirit, and pictures Him in all sublimity, and fashions Him with beautiful qualities, which he wishes to obtain himself. And after this he raises it to Fana-fi-Allah, the love and devotion for that ideal which is beyond qualities and in which is the perfection of all qualities.
The Sufi knows that progress in every direction in life depends upon the ideal. As high as is the ideal of a person, so high he rises in life. Then in the end he sees that each ideal was made by himself; he is the creator of every ideal that he desired for his high attainment. But the ideal itself is a limitation of the perfect Being, because there is you and me in it. Then the breaking of the ideal comes as the final attainment when the ego realizes hama man am, 'I am All.'