Volume XII - The Divinity of the Human Soul
Part I: The Vision of God and Man and other Lectures
MYSTICISM is a means to an end. Mysticism is not the goal, but through it one arrives at the goal. If you ask me, what is Sufism, it is a philosophy or it is mysticism, the answer is that it is both; and here I would like to explain something of the mystic side of Sufism.
The mystic side of Sufism may be recognized as seeing and hearing. To see further than one sees, to hear more keenly than one hears; in other words to see that which the eyes cannot see, to hear that which the ears cannot hear. This experience brings one to realization: to see without eyes, to hear without ears. No doubt to the mystic seeing and hearing, these two words, have a different meaning. When we say 'seeing' we mean seeing through the eyes, when we say 'hearing' we mean hearing through the ears; but to the mystic seeing is not only through the eyes, nor is hearing only through the ears. It is seeing even without eyes and hearing even without ears. The English word 'seer' means someone who can see equally well with or without eyes.
Now the question arises, if there is such a seeing and hearing would not every soul be most happy to attain this, for it would be just like having wings to fly? Who would not? Everyone. And if there is this possibility of hearing and seeing why is not everybody seeking after it? The reason is that not everyone believes it, although it can only be attained by belief and never without it. Therefore it is something that every soul seeks after, yet about which every soul has doubts. Even if a soul believes, the question is whether he has enough patience to go through with it, and patience is required because a certain preparation is necessary in order to hear and see. For everyone would like to see and hear, but if a person were capable of it, would he be strong enough to endure the disadvantages? For instance what would happen if mankind, ready as it is to criticize its fellow men, could see still more faults in them? Or if a man who is absorbed in life's interests sees a disaster coming upon him, upon his dear ones, will he be able to endure this? If a person who cannot keep his own counsel were to know, through this power, the secrets of his fellow men, what terrible things could he not do! Moreover, should an affectionate person, always afraid of any harm or hurt touching his dear ones, see it coming, his nerves would be shattered to pieces?
Thus we realize that in every soul there is a possibility of seeing and hearing, and that every soul would be most delighted to attain to this power, but at the same time that not every soul is ready to have it, nor would it be good for every soul to possess it. Food is for the hungry. If one is hungry one must seek food. If one wishes, one will naturally see more, but if one does not wish it, it does not matter. It is according to one's appetite; if there is appetite there should be food. If it is a sin to see more, then it is also a sin to see with the eyes. The eyes are given to see with, the soul to see further. Nevertheless to seek for extraordinary powers, for phenomena, is going backward instead of forward. If one proceeds along the path of beneficence all that can be will be given.
If there is any secret in mysticism this is the only one. Before a person has developed his outlook he must not hear, he must not see. Therefore it is not in order to make one see and hear but to change one's outlook that the teacher gives initiation. But when the pupil says, 'I come to see and hear' the teacher says, 'Wait!'
I will tell you my own experience. Before I started looking for my teacher the faculty of seeing was being developed in me. It is this, which awakes the desire to seek a teacher, for the teacher can give the explanation of life. I did not tell my teacher about this faculty, for I was too impressed, too respectful, to speak of what I could see and hear. But one day, after having been with my teacher for some time, I ventured to speak about it. And what was his answer? 'I'm sorry.' I was expecting a word of encouragement! But he added, 'It is not seeing or hearing, it is acknowledging it that hinders one's progress.'
When this seeing occurs it is called clairvoyance, and this hearing is called clairaudience. How wrongly these words are used today! Anyone who is troubled in his mind, who wants to know the future and speak about it, is called a clairvoyant. In reality this gift of seeing and hearing is a gift from the divine Being. The one who has this power is entrusted with the secret of life. The more he claims and the more he attracts people, the more he sins against the law of divine nature. It should be understood that at the time when this seeing and hearing begin an initiation is given, and man becomes responsible for the secrets revealed to him. Besides, if a man was not prepared, if he had not reached a certain point, what would be the benefit of it? On one occasion I was amused to hear a man say, 'The condition of our country? We have so much freedom that we do not know what to do with it!' It is the same with a person who can see and hear; he finds so much to see that he does not know what to do. The Sufi, therefore, is grateful for what he sees and hears, and also grateful for what he does not see and hear. He learns resignation on the path of the divine voyage.
Now one might ask, what kind of preparation is needed? The answer is: a moral preparation; but not in the sense that we understand the word 'moral' in everyday life. What we understand is selfish, because we judge another according to our law instead of considering him according to his law. According to the Sufi idea moral is a different thing, especially in regard to this preparation; it is consideration of the law of friendship of the relationship with one's elders or superiors or those who are younger or inferior. Although friendship is a simple thing to consider, it is most difficult to practice it. If we live a life of friendliness there is nothing better we can live for, and if we know the principle of friendship we do not need the moral of the world. If instead of his own advantage and rules of conduct a man considers the advantage and rules of another person, then he begins to see that person's soul, but as long as he sees the other as a separate being different from himself he will see him wrongly.
Therefore, what Sufism offers are facilities for becoming acquainted with these ideas. After this acquaintance naturally the soul unfolds, and as a natural consequence of the soul's unfoldment it gradually hears more and more.