The stone and the tree

There was once a dervish in Abadan, whose cell was always surrounded by disciples, people who had come from far and near to hear his wisdom and try to achieve knowledge and spiritual fulfilment. Sometimes he spoke to them, sometimes he did not. Sometimes he read from books, and sometimes he made them perform various tasks. The disciples tried, for decades, to understand the purport of his words, to fathom the depth of his signs and symbols, and in every way possible to get closer to his wisdom. Those who understood what he taught, were the ones who did not spend time trying to puzzle out things. They cultivated patience and attention, and refrained from looking for verbal associations from…

Autumn

Are you already singing the Autumn blues? How about melancholy? Melancholy is – according to the Swedish Karin Johannison – the classical example of psychic suffering. Aristotle was already wondering why all prominent people were melancholics. Johannison has studied the history of melancholy and has shown its shapes in different cultures. She has also studied related concepts like depression. Here is a list she has produced connected to acedia (in my own translation): Indifference (tepiditas) Weakness (mollities) Drowsiness (somnolentia) Idleness (otiositas) Slowness (dilatio) Tardiness (tarditas) Negligence (negligentia) Lack of perseverance (inconsummatio) Feebleness (remissio) Being uncurbed (dissolutio) Being untended (incuria) Listlessness (ignavia) Lack of dedication (indevotio) Despondency (tristitia) Despair (desperatio) Fatigue (taedium vitae). The Kashf-ul-Asrar (Unveiling of Mysteries) is a book…

The Greatest Providence (Al-‘Enaayat Al-Kobraa)

Ibn al-‘Arabi writes: “Know, o true listener, that the people of God, when the Real One draws them towards Himself…, He places in their hearts something calling them to seek their happiness. So they seek after that and inquire about it until they find in their hearts a certain tenderness and humility and striving for peace and release from the state of ordinary people with their mutual envy, greed, hostility and opposition. Then when they have completed the perfection of their moral qualities or have nearly done so, they find in their nafs something calling them to solitary retreat and withdrawal from ordinary people. So some take to wandering and frequenting the mountains and plains, while others do their wandering…

The meaning of the number four

In all kinds of cultures the number four is closely connected to the order of the world. Think of the 4 phases of the moon, the four heavenly directions, the four winds, etc In Maya cosmology the 4 is very important. The Maya settlements were ordered according to the divine plan: four ways who lead from the holy tree to the 4 directions with guardians at the 4 ends of the village. Examples of the Chinese, the Celts, the Etruscian civilisation, the Byzantines (think of the four-cornered structure of the old Byzantine church), the Hindus and so many others can be given and all of them stress the importance of the number four. And we have not yet spoken about…

Diwaan-e-Mo’in: Ghazal 4

Here is a ghazal from the Diwaan-e-Mo’in (Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna): Delaa ba-halqa-ye-rendaan-e-bazm-e-‘eshq dar aa Ke jor’a ze sharaab-e-baqaa dehand toraa O my heart, enter the circle of the drunken lovers, So that they may give you a draught of the wine of immortality. Biyaa wa har do jahaan raa beshash-dar andar na Dar in qemaar beyak daaw har che hast dar aa Come and put both worlds at stake in a gambling game. Offer all there is in one move of this game. Agar baqaa’ talabi auwalat fanaa baayad Ke taa fanaa nashawi rah namibari ba baqaa’ If you search for eternal life you need to annihilate your self first, Because you’ll not find the way to…

Chishti stages of love – Part 2

The stage of exclusive attachment to the Beloved also has five phases. 1. The first phase of exclusive attachment to the Beloved is called mu’aanadat (enmity). What happens that when the lover moves in company, she or he feels ill at ease with strangers and is afraid of being laughed at. People become her or his enemies and are prone to ridicule this lover. To explain this the author of Resaala-e-‘eshqia (The Epistle of Love) has quoted the following verse of Qur’an 22:52 We have not sent a messenger or prophet before you but when he recited the devil would intrude into his recitation Yet Allah annuls what the devil has cast. Then Allah establishes his revelations. Allah is All-knowing,…

Baba Farid

Baba Farid (may God sanctify his innermost consciousness) has written these verses in Persian: (1) Ba-qadr ranj yaabi soruri raa Ba-shab bidaar budan mehtari raa You’ll experience bliss to the extent of the pains you undertake. Greatness will come if in the night you keep awake. (2) Khaaham ke hamisha dar hawaaye to ziyam Khaaki shawam o ba-zir paaye to ziyam Maqsud-e-man banda ze kawnayn to’i Az ba-har to miram ze baaraaye to ziyam I wish that I’d always live in love with You. I’d like to live as the dust under the feet of You. You are my goal in both the worlds: I die for You and I live for You. (3) Gar wesaal-e-shaah midaari tam’ Az wesaal-e-khishtan…

Asking for money

An afflicted man presented himself before Alexander, the King of the Universe and asked for a dirhem. Alexander responded in a loud voice to this request: “You ask me, a king like me, so little?” “Well then”, answered the man. “Give me a town and a treasure! That will be enough to satisfy me.” “The emperor of China has received such a gift” – said the king. “Who are you to claim such things?”

Combs

There has been someone who manufactured combs and who had his workshop in the street wherein you could also find his guild. His name was ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (the slave of the Almighty) and he always could be seen in his jallaba, the long dress with the hood and wide sleeves, and a litham, a veil which covered his somewhat severe facial expressions. The material he used for his combs, he derived from the skull of oxes. He bought them from several butchers. He dried the skulls at a rented place, he removed the horns, opened them along their length and straightened them above a fire. The last act, of course, had to be done in a very careful way, as…

My awakening

Your sending, dear Ahmed, of Khwaja Sana’i’s obituary brought it all back. You wrote about this Sufi whom I had met so long ago: Someone said: ‘Khwaja Sana’i is dead’. The death of such a master is no little thing. He was not chaff which flew on the wind, He was not water which froze in winter He was not a comb which was broken with a hair, He was not a seed which the earth crushed. He was a treasure of gold in this dust-pit, For he valued the two world at a barley-corn. The earthly frame he flung to the earth, Soul and intellect he bore to heaven… Ahmed had – so many years ago – for the…