Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sufi Love



              
In Sufism , love is an alchemical force of enlightenment; the lightning bolt which brings you back to life. 

I was dead, I became alive, I was tears, I became laughter
The sovereignty of love appeared, and I became ever lasting sovereign.


  What is such a love, and why do certain people fall so deeply under its spell that it transforms their entire being? 



  I have been fascinated by such questions for a long time and I found answers only by going into the soul-places where mortal love and immortal love meet. Romeo and Juliet were mortal and even died for love, yet they attained a kind of immortality by being allowed to live on in verse.Love is a doorway to a greater reality.

The human form of love can be, and for the Sufi is, the ladder to Divine Love.In Sufism, the beauty of one’s beloved is considered to be a representation (symbol) of the Perfection of God. No wonder then that it has the power to evoke true love in the heart of a lover!


  Sufism decrees that by learning how to love through the love of a person, the sincere Sufi could – in principle – transform his or her love of a person into the love of Allah. 


In the Hindi Film Anwar (2007), the chosen murshid (guide) advises the young protagonist of the movie Anwar, that he has to fall in love in the earthly realm in order to evolve true love for God in his heart.        


        Poetry has that elusive quality of transcending words and lightly touching upon this secret garden of the human heart.In the book, Rumi, The Persian, The Sufi, Rumi quietly murmurs and speaks from his heart about his personal experience:



Do you know who is alive?

That one who is born in love.
I am not the moon, or the universe, or thunder
Or clouds
I am all love, all love, I am all soul by your
Soul
I am full of love, flaming as a burning tree;
A stranger to everyone except love, like oil and
Water


While Divine Love might appear to some to be completely distinct from human love, for many Sufis such as Ahmad al-Ghazali (d. 520/1126), Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209), Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 638/1240), Rumi, and ‘Iraqi (d. 688/1289), there was a continuum from human love to Divine love.


The contemporary scholars Chittick and Wilson, in the introduction to their translation of ‘Iraqi’s Lama’at, discussed this relationship of human love and Divine love.

          Speaking of ‘Iraqi’s understanding of love, they stated, “There is no irreducible dichotomy between divine and human love…There is a gradation from the love of forms, which is “apparent love” (‘ishq-i majazi) to the love of God, which alone is ‘real love’ (‘ishq-i haqiqi).

Love is the ark appointed for the righteous,
Which annuls the danger and provides a way of escape.
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition. RUMI



 To love so that nothing of you remains, is the way to enlightenment.You no longer exist.Non-being is the way to being, and love is the most adequate method to disappear.Just as nature abhors a vacuum, God also abhors a vacuum. 

You become a vacuum, and God rushes into you.

Rumi's couplet is alluding to this state.

My head is bursting
with the joy of the unknown.
My heart is expanding a thousand fold.
Every cell,
taking wings,
flies about the world.
All seek separately
the many faces of my love.


           That is the meaning when Jesus says, "God is love." I say to you: Love is God -- because it is the purification of love that will bring you to God.Love is the bridge. Love is the process of alchemical change in your consciousness.

        When you fall in love with a person you have seen a glimpse of the divine. It is not really the person that you have fallen in love with; They have been just a window, a beautiful window but still a window. You have seen something beyond, it may have been just a flash; that’s why it is so difficult to explain your love affair to anybody.If somebody asks, ’Why have you fallen in love with this person?’ it is almost inexplicable. And if you try to explain it looks absurd, even to you. But the problem is that you have not fallen in love with this person at all: you have fallen in love with something beyond.


"This woman, who is your beloved, is in fact a ray of His light,
She is not a mere creature. She is like a creator.  RUMI

       Wherever love happens it is always between you and God: sometimes you have glimpsed Him in a flower, sometimes in a star, sometimes in a song, sometimes in the giggle of a child. God comes in so many ways but all these are fragments of God.For Sufis believe that only when a person treads on the path of earthly ‘true romantic love’ and suffers in the pain of separation from one’s beloved, can one get in touch with the rend of separation from God Almighty that is suppressed in the heart of every Individual.


A true Lover doesn't follow any one religion,
be sure of that.
Since in the religion of Love,
there is no irreverence or faith.
When in Love,
body, mind, heart and soul don't even exist.
Become this,
fall in Love,
and you will not be separated again


  We hear the same answer that Ibn Arabi heard in one of his intimate conversations when he asked Allah “How could one get close to You?”And Allah responded, “Through an attribute that I do not possess”, meaning ubudiyyat, which means servant-hood


    So on this Valentine's day,
Love people and allow others to love you. Don’t create barriers. Whenever love knocks at your door, remember it is God who has knocked. Reject love and you have rejected God. 

Welcome love and you have welcomed God. 

God comes as love, flowers as love.

Begin with love so one day you can know God because without Love, we are not really alive! 

You think you are alive

because you breathe air?
Shame on you,
that you are alive in such a limited way.
Don't be without Love,
so you won't feel dead.
Die in Love
and stay alive forever. Rumi





Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ego Death in Sufism



It's grotesque irony of 2017 to write about ego when a few blocks away from me, a man completely ruled by ego is taking oath as leader of the free world, whose self -if scanned by an alien scanner - would only reveal the ruthless pursuit of his ego; riding on the waves of other egotists  with threatened ego’s resolving their identity crisis by hating anyone of different religion or color or language.
Sufism is a war against Ego, its poetry, music and discourses want to lighten the hold ego has on human psyche and ultimately destroy it completely.

Ego is not an anatomical structure. It’s not something that you will see on an X-ray. Ego is an informational structure. That’s what the term ego means: it is a Latinized translation of “das Ich,” which is German for “the I.”
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QQqWgGWuII8/ULeIbu6fd8I/AAAAAAAAAdI/1GvAOvUHS_k/s320/Picasso-3women.jpeg “The I” is “the information” that you have about you. It is a mind made created story. The story is useful but a time comes when the story becomes toxic. “The I” (ego) balances on identification with impermanent information.

So long as we do not die to ourselves,
and so long as we identify with someone or something,
we shall never be free.
The spiritual way is not for those wrapped up in exterior life. 
 Farid ud Din Attar


What Attar refers to as your external cloak is really your ego!

Ego is impermanence of form. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-view are various ego forms, various forms of information that we have about ourselves. Ego is information about our form, not about our essence.
Forms change. “How” you are at any given point isn’t fixed—it’s in constant flux.

The False Mirrors of EGO

When I became a seeker, I started asking people what they wanted in life and their answers always revolved around egoic desires: money; validation from opposite sex; validation from parents; from society------it was all ego noise. They had never gone inside of themselves to ask themselves what they really wanted to do.

Avicenna has listed these false mirrors of ego to dissolve before a seeker can identify his real self;


The Mirror of Reflection
The Mirror of Others’ Minds, 
The Mirror of Possessions 
The Mirror of Body 
The Mirror of Time, Memory
The Mirror of Beloved
The Mirror of Consciousness

We are all captives of these mirrors: we draw our egoic identity from being superior/prettier/richer than other people. Once you study yourself in these mirrors you will see that 9 of these mirrors offer you nothing but distortions - you are not how you look, you are not others’ thoughts about you, you are not your body, you are not even your own thoughts about you, and so on and so
Liberation is a liberation from all boundaries.

There is a deceptively simple tenth century book called the "Creed of Imam al-Tahawi. One of the first lessons is that God is not bound by anything, and is not bound by being not bound by anything. Sufi poets say that true humanity is not bound by anything, that your true essence is locked in a series of cages.

The cage of gender and cast.

The cage is your personal history and the notion of time and memory.
The cage of society, with its institutionalized restrictions (often on appropriate and forbidden relationships).

It’s only the 10th mirror (the Mirror of Consciousness) - the mirror of meditation - the inner mirror - that allows you to catch a true glimpse of your essential self.

Nazism or racism is stuck on the mirror of identity; glorify the one lie you and demonize the one different from you. A racist’s entire identity is defined by the chance of his birth; he is nothing beyond being white or yellow.

To begin with, the mirror gives us only an image, and this is a triviality; A MIRAGE.
You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So- I've brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.  RUMI


The spiritual masters tell us that if we knew the truth and had a glimpse of the divine reality, we would not bother with all the hide and seek of the ego-personality and the unhappy consequences it brings.


Nothing can kill the nafs like the shadow of the master

hold tight to his skirt for he is a good killer of your self
Your lower self is after material affairs
         how long will you trade in unworthy affairs, give them up
Someone who says ‘I am thinking to deny my lower self’
         is still captive to the lower self

And he who says, ‘God is merciful and kind’
         is also being manipulated by that wretched self
                                          
Rumi 


We are being warned that the most important work of the seeker is the difficult task of subduing the authority of the nafs, as it is our most dangerous enemy. One metaphor used to describe how one must deal with the self is:

Imprisoning it - killing it - burning it - and scattering its ashes.

Sufism imprisons the self. Abstaining from materialism kills it. Love of God burns it. 

Gnosis scatters the ashes of the self, eliminating all of its traces.

Until one hair strand of your being you, remains
          the business of vanity and self-praise, remains
You said, ‘I broke the idol of my mind, therefore I am free’
          this idol ‘that you are free from your mind’, still remains
                                                                              Moulana Rumi

The ego  uses everything for its own benefit, including truth, justice, fairness and even God. It even worships God to get something in return. Therefore the self needs to be dismantled.

A true believer and an infidel both say ‘God’
          but there is a difference between the two
The beggar (infidel) says ‘God’ for the sake of bread
          the true believer says ‘God’ in his very soul” 
                                                                              Moulana Rumi


If we can break through the illusion of identifying with our ego as the only reality; we would find our true sole purpose.  

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) says:
“He who knows his self knows his Lord.”


Prophet Jesus (pbuh) says:
“One who knows all, but is lacking in oneself, is utterly lacking.” 

                                                  
I hope that we can start this new year by walking away from our ego and its wars, and trying to find our true essence away from the masks and cages that ego imposes on us.