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Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals

Part I


If anybody asks what Sufism is, what kind of religion is it, the answer is that Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the thing of primary importance is to seek God in the heart of mankind.

There are three ways of seeking God in the human heart. The first way is to recognize the divine in everyone and to be considerate towards every person with whom we come in contact, in our thought, speech, and action. Human personality is very delicate. The more living the heart, the more sensitive it is; but that which causes sensitiveness is the love-element in the heart, and love is God. The person whose heart is not sensitive is without feeling; his heart is not living, it is dead. In that case the divine Spirit is buried in his heart. A person, who is always concerned with his own feelings, is so absorbed in himself that he has no time to think of another. His whole attention is taken up with his own feelings. He pities himself, he worries about his own pain, and is never open to sympathize with others. He who takes notice of the feelings of another person with whom he comes in contact, practices the first essential moral of Sufism.

The next way of practicing this religion is to think of the feelings of someone who is not with one at the moment. One may feel for those who are present, but one often neglects to feel for someone who is out of sight. One speaks well of someone to his face, but it is better to speak well of him when he is absent. One sympathizes with the trouble of someone who is with one at the moment, but it is more praiseworthy to sympathize with one who is far away.

The third way of realizing the Sufi principle is to recognize in one's own feeling the feeling of God, to realize every impulse of love that rises in one's heart as a direction from God, to realize that love is a divine spark in one's heart, to blow that spark until a flame may rise to illuminate the path of one's life.

The symbol of the Sufi movement, which is a heart with wings, denotes its ideal. The heart is both earthly and heavenly. The heart is a receptacle on earth of the divine Spirit, and when it holds the divine Spirit, it soars heavenward; the wings picture its rising. The crescent in the heart symbolizes responsiveness. It is the heart that responds to the spirit of God, which rises. The crescent is a symbol of responsiveness because it grows fuller as the moon grows fuller by responding more and more to the sun as it progresses. The light one sees in the crescent is the light of the sun. As it gets more light with its increasing response, so it becomes fuller of the light of the sun. The star in the heart of the crescent represents the divine spark which is reflected in the human heart as love, and which helps the crescent towards its fullness.

The Sufi message is the message of the day. It does not bring theories or doctrines to add to those already existing and which puzzle the human mind. What the world needs today is the message of love, harmony, and beauty, the absence of which is the only tragedy of life. The Sufi message does not give a new law; it awakens in humanity the spirit of brotherhood, with tolerance on the part of each for the religion of the other, with forgiveness from each for the fault of the other. It teaches thoughtfulness and consideration, so as to create and maintain harmony in life; it teaches service and usefulness, which alone can make life in the world fruitful, and in this lies the satisfaction of every soul.

checked 18-Oct-2005