'Verily the believers are brethren.'
IN the East religion is sown in the heart of the child
from birth, no matter to what religion he may belong. The
invocation of the name of God becomes a daily custom, which
he consciously or unconsciously repeats in sorrow as well
as in joy. 'bismillah' – In the name of Allah, or 'al-hamdulillah'
– Praise be to Allah, or 'Allahu akbar' – God is great,
and 'ya Allah' – O God; such expressions as these are used
at the beginning and the end, as well as in the midst of
every ordinary conversation. This attunes the believer and
even attracts the unbeliever to the thought of God, which
in the end leads the seeker to self-realization and the
peace of God.
In good homes morality is taught to every child in unity
with religion; by checking all its egoistic leanings it
teaches the child to become humble, modest and respectful.
There is a little story told of the grandson of the Holy
Prophet. The child, on addressing a slave by name, was corrected
by his grandfather who exclaimed, 'Nay, those are not good
manners; although he is a slave he is older that you, so
you must call him 'uncle'.'
If this courtesy were practiced in modern civilized countries
such as America, where a strong prejudice against color
exists, how much better it would be for the nation! Courtesy
to strangers is taught as a virtue in the East, while the
selfishness of modern civilization prevents strangers from
entering Western countries without fear. This is quite an
inhuman tendency, and reminds one of dogs who bark and drive
away a stranger from their own habitation.
Overlooking the faults of others with politeness, tolerance,
forgiveness, and resignation is regarded as a moral virtue
in the East. Man's heart is visualized as the shrine of
God, and even a small injury in thought, word, and deed
against it is considered as a great sin against God, the
Indwelling One. Gratitude is shown by the loyalty of the
Orient and by being true to the salt; the hospitality of
a day is remembered throughout all the years of life, while
the benefactor never forgets humility even in the midst
of his good deeds. There is an Eastern saying, 'Forget thy
virtues and remember thy sins.'
'Chained with gold chains about the feet of God.'
Thus the heart, developed by religion and morality, becomes
first capable of choosing and then of retaining the object
of devotion without wavering for a moment. Yet in the absence
of these qualities it remains incapable of either choice
There have been innumerable devotees in the East, Bhakta
or Ashiq, whose devotional powers are absolutely indescribable
and ineffable. To the ignorant the story of their lives
may appear exaggerated, but the joy of self-negation is
greater than that of either spiritual or material joy.
Devotion sweetens the personality, and is the light on
the path of the disciple. Those who study mysticism and
philosophy while omitting self-sacrifice and resignation
grow egoistic and self-centered. Such persons are apt to
call themselves either God or a part of God, and thus make
an excuse for committing any sins they like. Regardless
of sin or virtue they misuse and malign others, being utterly
fearless of the hereafter. Yet they forget that 'strait
is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life',
as the Bible says.
The fire of devotion purifies the heart of the devotee
and leads to spiritual freedom. Mysticism without devotion
is like uncooked food and can never be assimilated. 'I am
the heart of my devotees,' says Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
And Hafiz says, 'O joyous day when I depart from this abode
of desolation, seeking the repose of my soul and setting
out in search of my Beloved.'
Philosophy, which is the forth stage of development,
has five aspects: physical, intellectual, mental, moral
and spiritual, These cannot be learned by the mere perusal
of books, and by listening to the discussions of philosophers.
For philosophy is not a study which is taught in the universities
alone; it contains quite an opposite path to knowledge,
and it can only be truly studied under the guidance of a
Murshid. In him the mureed has perfect trust and confidence,
as complete discipline even to the sacrifice of free will
is required. At first this appears to be a loss of individuality,
while the ego rebels at being thus crushed and submerged
beneath the stronger laws of will and reason. But the battle
against self gives a mastery over self in the end, which
in other words is a mastery over the whole universe.
But it is well to remember that such utter trust should
never be reposed in a Murshid until the self has gained
entire confidence in him, and every doubt has been subdued.
When once this confidence is given, there should be nothing
on earth, which could break or cast it down for the whole
gamut of eternity. There are some who consider it most humiliating
to be guided by another, but they are greatly mistaken,
for in the light of truth there is but One. The intercourse
between Murshid and mureed is preferable to any other fellowship
in the world, when one considers that a friendship in God
is the only true friendship, which endures forever. 'Sprinkle
with wine thy prayer-rug if thy Pir-o-Murshid says so. The
guide is not unmindful of the customs and ways of the Path,'
A Murshid is a gateway unto the unseen Master and a portal
unto God, the Unknown. But yet in the end neither God, Master
nor Murshid appears in the most dazzling light of divine
wisdom, which alone is 'I Am.'
'Everything shall perish except the face of Allah.'
Mysticism is the last grade of knowledge, which can only
be rightfully achieved by passing through all these preceding
stages, and it is only then that it is a mystery no more.
Once it is known one realizes by one's past delusions how
far and remote has been the goal, and how long the journey
unto its distant shores. One beholds for the last time the
mountains of virtue one was forced to scale in order to
seek its rose-crowned heights, and then they vanish away
like a dream in the morning.
'Everywhere Thou art, nearest of all Thou art,
and yet nowhere Thou art, O all-pervading Self.'
It is degrading the name of mysticism when people claim
to be Christian or Jewish mystics, for mysticism is pure
from distinctions and differences. My Pir-o-Murshid once
gave me a goblet of wine during a trance, and said, 'Be
thou intoxicated and come out of the name and shame! Be
thou the disciple of love and give up the distinctions of
life! Because to a Sufi, 'I am this or that' mean nothing.'
All mystical powers such as clairvoyance, clairaudience,
thought reading and prognostication, psychometry, telepathy,
ecstasy, and various other spiritual manifestations from
the world beyond, are disclosed in one glorious state of
The life of the mystic, both the inner and the outer,
is shown as a wondrous phenomenon within itself. He becomes
independent of all earthly sources of life and lives in
the Being of God, realizing His presence by the denial of
his individual self; and he thus merges into that highest
bliss wherein he finds his salvation.