We approached the Giver of States in awe and reverence seeking a glimpse of that burning and annihilating ecstasy. Hearing our footsteps a voice came from the Throne of the Void, infinitely near and infinitely far from our ears, “In my perfect justice no state is dispensed in vain.”
“Tell us our Lord, what constitutes your perfect justice?”
From behind Its psychedelic veil our Shaykh spoke thus: “In my perfect justice that which persists in existence subsists in non-existence and that which persists in non-existence subsists in existence.”
“Seek annihilation by not seeking at all, for I am not found by seeking but by seeing, a seeing stripped of all looking, by pure witnessing. The seeing that finds my face annihilates the seeing that finds my trace.”
“Who art thou who dwells in the heart of the Void?”
“My essence is my face and my names are my trace. On whosoever I cast my piercing glance, whosoever has witnessed my Jamaal and blinding brilliance, is at once annihilated in its temporality and reintegrated in my eternity. That is Fanaa, the state I bestow upon my dearest folks.”
The whole is always infinitely greater than the sum total of its parts. Thus, the content of the whole, God, becomes both immanent and transcendent with regard to the manifested content.
One such example is the real line in mathematics. We know from Real Analysis that the interval between numbers 0 and 1 has the same size as the interval between 0 and 1000 or the interval between 0 and infinity! For our purpose we can pick the interval from 0 to 1. Every number between 0 and 1 is a finite number; in fact they are all smaller than 1. But as the length of the interval is infinite, any amount of addition among the numbers within the interval is always infinitely smaller than the length of the interval. Still fascinating is that despite the essential inadequacy of the parts in reconstructing the whole, the size of the interval between any two numbers within a larger interval is always the same size as the larger interval itself. For instance, there are the same amount of numbers existing between 0 and 0.00001 as there are between 1 and 10000.
In number theory we see that the distance between any two infinitely close numbers is always infinitely large, no matter how close the numbers become to one another. Number being itself something finite can never fill the gap between itself and another number. In light of this, every atom is essentially infinitely big as every universe is infinitely small. In terms of size, an atom and the universe are of the same size. Yes then, size matters; but it is either zero or infinite. But we also know that zero and infinity are the two sides of the same coin; one doesn’t exist without the other. Nothingness is God’s back. The choice is ours: Live in His face or die behind His back.
We must remind ourselves, those of us practicing religion as a means of salvation rather than welfare, that the spiritual life, the life of God, is about God and not us. That we complain so often of our imperfections and the subsequent suffering is a misunderstanding of religion. Perhaps we think that spiritual life is about having a good time, that a good spiritual life is a life of mental and emotional security and perfect devotion. In the face of the slightest suffering we blame ourselves of spiritual failure as if perfection, spiritual or otherwise, was a human possibility!
It is a bad habit of our times, more so in the western hemisphere, that we should think everything is about us and how we feel, that anything that disturbs the emotions has an evil origin unless one sees the visible hand of God. We have a hard time accepting, let alone trusting, that whether we are in suffering or not God is working within and without. We feel that we must know his every move or else we lose faith and find ourselves in despair, as if He owes us an explanation on top of the possibility of salvation offered by grace, as if God has a “Buy one get one for free” business!
We cannot trust in the invisible, thanks to our faulty culture and education; so instead of raising ourselves to God we bring Him down to our own mundane level which is no more Him but a projection of our own desires in one form or another. Our complaint over lack of spiritual perfection is the most destructive of all spiritual imperfections, for it indicates that we pursue the path so to feel good about ourselves; above all it indicates our lack of faith and trust in Him.
The best violins in the world were at once a seemingly useless pieces of wood. That wood has become the masterpiece that it is because it gave itself totally to the hands of a master who chopped and hammered it for thousands of hours. The best architect chooses the material that shows the highest degree of conformity to both the means and the final end of perfection.
Whenever we come to such moments of suffering, the dark nights of the soul, we must think ourselves, if we seek God rather than the self, as deformed souls under the hammer of God who is cutting away our imperfections. And by no means should we think or expect that we are on the way of becoming perfect beings in the face of God, for our perfection is in our non-being before Him: Our salvation is nothing but our annihilation in God.
We must ask of God nothing for ourselves except more consciousness of Himself. And we must remember that each blow of His hammer is a chance of becoming more conscious of Him. God’s hammer is the grace to embrace.
Many a times I thought how can one explain to the critics of religion that what lies at the heart of religion, the inward truth of which religion is only an outward expression, has nothing to do with the heinous acts done under a cloak of religious zeal, that such acts are of men oblivious to the principle and not of the principle itself. Never I found a response better than one offered by William Law:
“Would you know whence it is that so many false spirits have appeared in the world, who have deceived themselves and others with false fire and false light, laying claim to information, illumination, and openings of the divine Life, particularly to do wonders under extraordinary calls from God? It is this: They have turned to God without turning from themselves; would be alive to God before they are dead to their own nature. Now religion in the hands of self, or corrupt nature, serves only to discover vices of a worse kind than in nature left to itself. Hence are all the disorderly passions of religious men, which burn in a worse flame than passions only employed about worldly matters; pride, self-exaltation, hatred and persecution, under a cloak of religious zeal, will sanctify actions which nature, left to itself, would be ashamed to own.”
One must first seduce the world into that notorious journey. One must have already offered the world all that one has and all that one is, to have treated the world like one’s own child, with unconditional love, for the idea of the journey doesn’t even cross the mind of the one who cannot love without being himself loved. The path is infinitely short but the journey takes forever; after all, thorn is the mark of the path and faith is its light.
Journey ends at the hills of the holy mountain where the holy sword awaits the coming of the brave hearted. It is here, at the crossing between hell and heaven, the place of unbearable fear and trembling, that one must sacrifice the world in order to see the Face.
The world must go if It is to come.
This post was deleted due to complaints from the Middle East who had no role whatsoever in the post.