Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Sufi Path and Why Your Present, Past, and Future State Doesn't Matter, Relatively Speaking: Professor Alan Abdal Haqq Godlas

The Sufi Path and Why Your Present, Past, and Future State Doesn't Matter, Relatively Speaking:
The first few years I was following the Sufi path it would bother me whenever I would run into the statement in traditional Sufi texts that one's state or station was irrelevant. The reason this disturbed me was that, originally, one of the main motivating factors driving me was that I had been feeling miserable, for years, and that basically Sufism had saved my life by enabling my depressed state to become transformed into ecstasy, love, and tranquility; and it had also enabled my decision-making ability to be less obscured by my moods.
After I number of years, however, I came to understand why my state or station was relatively irrelevant. The reason is that what is much more important than how you are is how you respond at this moment to how you are.
In other words, the key to self-transformation (and to actualization of the Divine attributes as well) is to respond to whatever you are feeling, thinking, and perceiving at this moment by making your intention to remember God with even just a drop of unconditional gratitude.
This means that even if you do not feel grateful and are feeling utterly downtrodden or feel simply anxious, angry, worthless, faithless, confused, exhausted, or any feeling, it means that nevertheless you can still attempt to call to mind even the faintest hope in the possibility that God is the All-Inclusive Lord-Sustainer of all worlds (rabb il-'alamin)--including you and your world at this moment--the possibility that beneath the surface (zahir) of your uncomfortable state (whatever it is), is an infinite sea of merciful love (rahma), which (although you are not perceiving it and it is hence ghayb/unmanifest) is closer to you than your jugular vein, a sea that is ready to flood into your heart once you stop closing the door by forgetting to be grateful and by forgetting about this impending blessed flood.
An interesting silver lining of making such a response your most important priority or most important form of effort is that--in contrast to many people's fears that gratitude to God will make you passive in the face of injustice or abuse, insensitive to situations that necessitate caring, or unresponsive to circumstances that demand action--such relatively UNCONDITIONAL gratitude helps to free you from the limited viewfinder of the CONDITIONING of your ego and thus increases the likelihood you will be able to find solutions to real life problems, solutions outside the box of your ego's CONDITIONED habits, solutions to what Sufis refer to as lesser but still extremely important forms of effort.
Furthermore another perk of responding to your own state at each moment with gratitude (even for no good reason except the possibility that God is the All-Merciful rabb il-'alamin/The Lord-Sustainer of all worlds, including you and your world) is that such a grateful response increases the likelihood that you will stop strangling your heart and preventing yourself from being nurtured by the flood of God's Merciful and Loving Presence. Once you have tasted a few drops of this blessed Merciful Love, you will have more energy to carry out the solutions that greater freedom from your ego's habits has enabled you to see (not to mention that you can even use some of that energy to pursue some of your ego's solutions should they be in yours and others best interests).
Three poems, one Turkish (from Yunus Emre), one Persian (from Rumi), and one Arabic (from Sayf al-Din Bukharzi) exemplify this unconditional gratitude:
Yunus Emre:
Cana cefa kıl ya vefa
Kahrın da hoş, lutfun da hoş,
Ya derd gönder ya deva,
Kahrında hoş, lutfun da hoş.
O Beloved, whether you treat me badly or well
I'm happy with your severity or your benevolence
Whether you send pain or the cure
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Hoştur bana senden gelen:
Ya hil'at-ü yahut kefen,
Ya taze gül, yahut diken..
Kahrında hoş lutfun da hoş.
I'm happy with whatever comes to me from you
Whether it's a robe of honor or a burial shroud
Whether it's roses or thorns
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Gelse celalinden cefa
Yahut cemalinden vefa,
İkiside cana safa:
Kahrın da hoş, lutfun da hoş.
Whether difficulty comes from your Grandeur
or ease from your Beauty
both of them are pure goodness for my soul
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Ger bağ-u ger bostan ola.
Ger bendü ger zindan ola,
Ger vasl-ü ger hicran ola,
Kahrın da hoş, lutfun da hoş.
Whether I'm in a garden or an orchard
in chains or in prison
in union or separated
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Ey padişah-ı Lemyezel!
Zat-ı ebed, hayy-ı ezel!
Ey lutfu bol, kahrı güzel!
Kahrında hoş, lutfun da hoş.
O Shah of Reality without cessation
the Essence of eternity-before time, the Life of eternity-after-time
O You, whose kindness is overflowing, whose severity is beautiful
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Ağlatırsın zari zari,
Verirsen cennet-ü huri,
Layık görür isen nari,
Kahrında hoş, lutfun da hoş.
If you make me weep waves of tears
or if you bring me paradise and its beauties
or if you consider me worthy of hell
I'm happy with your severity or benevolence
Gerek ağlat, gerek güldür,
Gerek yaşat gerek öldür,
Aşık Yunus sana kuldur,
Kahrında hoş, lutfun da hoş.
Whether you make me laugh or cry
Or whether you make me live or die
Yunus the lover is your slave
I'm happy with your severity or your benevolence
عاشقم بر قهر و بر لطفش بجد بوالعجب من عاشق این هر دو ضد
والله ار زین خار در بستان شوم همچو بلبل زین سبب نالان شوم
این عجب بلبل که بگشاید دهان تا خورد او خار را با گلستان
این چه بلبل این نهنگ آتشیست جمله ناخوشها ز عشق او را خوشیست
عاشق کلست و خود کلست او عاشق خویشست و عشق خویش‌جو
I'm in love with His severity and benevolence, truly
It's amazing to be in love with these two opposites!
I swear to God, if I flee this garden because of the thorns, like the nightingale, I would be forever wailing.
But this is an astonishing nightingale! It opens its mouth
and swallows up both the rose garden and the thorns!
What kind of nightingale is this?! It's really a firey orca!
On account of its love, every distasteful thing becomes pleasant!
It is a lover of the whole and is the whole
It is a lover of its self and is seeking its self's love.
Sayf al-Din Bukharzi:
My love for Him is obligatory, whether He's affectionate or treats me harshly
His spring is sweet, whether turbid or clear
I've entrusted to the Beloved all of my affairs
if He wants, He will give me life; and if He wants, He'll destroy me
هوائي له فرض تعطف أوجفا
منهله عذب تكدر أو صفا
وكلت إلى محبوبي أمري كلها
إن شاء أحياني وإن شاء أتلفا
HawA'I la-hu farD tamanhaluhu
wakkaltu ilA l-mahbUbi amrI kullahA
in shA'a aHyAnI wa-in shA'a atlafA
Copyright, text as well as tranlstated poetry, by A. Godlas 2016,


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