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Volume I - The Way of Illumination

Section IV - The Purpose of Life

Chapter IV

It is the desire for all one wishes to achieve that gives one the desire for power. One desires power in order to hold something, to make something, to attain something, to work out something, to attract something, to use something, to rule something, to assimilate something. If it is a natural desire, there is an answer to this. For there cannot be a desire to which there is no answer. The answer to the desire is in knowing that desire fully. Whatever power is gained by outside efforts in life, however great it may seem for the moment, it proves fatal when it comes to be examined. Even such great powers as the nations which existed just before the war, took no time to fall to pieces. There was an army, there was a navy, there was property, and a state. An empire such as the Empire of Russia, how long it took to build it! But it did not take one moment for it to break up. If the outer power, in spite of its great appearance for the moment, proves fatal in the end, then there must be some power hidden somewhere, a power that may be called worthwhile. And that power is hidden in man.

A person in the intoxication of outer power that he possesses overlooks the cultivation or the development of inner power, and, depending upon the power that does not belong to him, one day becomes the victim of the very power that he holds. Because, when the outer power becomes greater, and the inner power smaller, the greater power eats up the inner power. So it is that the heroes, the kings, the emperors, the persons with great power of arms, wealth or outer influence, have become victims to the very power upon which they always depended. So one thinks, 'If the outer power is not to be depended upon, then where is that power to be found upon which one can depend?' And that power is to be found in oneself. What power is it? In the terms of the Sufis, that power is called, Iman, conviction. And how is that power built? That power is built by what the Sufis call Yaqin, which means belief. It is belief that culminates in conviction. The one who has no inclination to believe, will never arrive at a conviction.

But now there is a question. Is even a power developed in one's personality not a limited power? True, it is a limited power. But by following that teaching which Christ has given in the words, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you,' that power is gained which is unlimited power. If not, there is no meaning in calling God 'Almighty.' The benefit of this word, 'Almighty' is in its realization. This teaches us in the first place that all might is one might. Although outwardly we see different powers, one greater than the other, either in harmony or in conflict, limited powers working for or against one another, yet by inward realization one finds that there is but one power. In support of this the Quran says, that nothing is powerful except it shows the same one power, the power of the All-powerful. In other words, in the limited aspect which we see, and in its absolute being, there is only one power. It is, therefore, that there is no might to stand against that power we call Almighty Power, that there is no power to work against it; that all aspects of strength and power are from it, and in it, and will be assimilated by it in the end.

As long as man is striving for power, as everyone is striving in some way or other, without the knowledge of that all-sufficient power, there will always be disappointment. For he will always find limitation. His ideal will always go forward and he will find himself short of power. It is only by getting in touch with the Almighty Power that he will begin to realize the All-powerful and the phenomena of the Almighty.

Now the question is, 'How can one get in touch with that Almighty Power?' As long as one's little personality stands before one, as long as one cannot get rid of it, as long as one's own person and all that is connected with it interests one, one will always find limitations. That Power is touched only by one way, and that is the way of self-effacement, which in the Bible is called self-denial. People interpret it otherwise. Self-denial, they say, means to deny oneself all the happiness and pleasures of this earth. If it were to deny the happiness and pleasures of this earth, then why was this earth made? Only to deny? If it was made to deny, it was very cruel. For the continual seeking of man is for happiness. Self-denying is to deny this little personality that creeps into everything, to efface this false ego, which prompts one to feel one's little power in this thing or that thing. To deny the idea of one's own being, the being which one knows to be oneself, and to affirm God in that place, to deny self and affirm God. That is the perfect humility. When a person shows politeness by saying, 'I am only a humble little creature,' perhaps he is hiding in his words. It is his vanity, and therefore, that humility is of no use. When one completely denies oneself, there are no words to speak. What can one say? Praise and blame are the same to one; there is nothing to be said. And how is this to be attained? It is to be attained, not only by prayer or by worship or by believing in God. It is to be attained by forgetting oneself in God. The belief in God is the first step. By the belief in God, is attained the losing oneself in God. If one is able to do it, one has attained a power which is beyond human comprehension. The process of attaining this is called Fana by the Sufis. Fana is not necessarily a destruction in God. Fana results in what may be called a resurrection in God, which is symbolized by the picture of Christ. The Christ on the cross is narrative of Fana; it means 'I am not.' And the idea of resurrection explains the next stage, which is Baqa, which means 'Thou art.' and this means rising towards All-might. The divine spirit is to be recognized in that rising towards All-might. Fana is not attained by torturing oneself, by tormenting oneself, by giving oneself a great many troubles, as many ascetics do. For even after torturing themselves, they will not come to that realization if they were not meant to. It is by denying one's little self, the false self, which covers one's real self, in which the essence of divine Being is to be found.

checked 18-Oct-2005