The secret of the cook is not to lose your self when you search for yourself. Shaykh Yahya Suhrawardî wrote a quatrain about the right kind of orientation:
Hân tâ sar rishta-yi-khud gum nakunî
Kud râ barâ-yi nîk wa bad gum nakunî
Rah-raw tuî wa râ tuî manzil tu
Hushdâr ki râh-i-khud be khud gum nakuni
Take care not to lose sight of the origin of your self,
Lest, for the sake of good and bad, you lose your self.
The traveller, the road and the destination, you are yourself.
Take care not to lose the road to your self!
There is another version of the first line, mentioning rishta-yi-khirad [instead of rishta-yi-khud], and this can be translated as ‘the thread of wisdom’ or ‘the thread of the intellect’. What causes us to lose self-mastery? Before quoting the beautiful answers of Mawlânâ Rûmi, let’s see what Pessoa has to say:
“All we have to do is quit having ambitions, passions, desires, hopes, whims or nervous disquiet. The key is to remember that we’re always in our own presence – we’re never so alone that we can feel at ease. With this in mind, we will overcome having passions and ambitions, for they make us vulnerable; we won’t have desires or hopes, since desires and hopes are plebeian and inelegant; and we won’t have whims or be disquieted, because rash behavior is unpleasant for others to witness, and agitated behavior is always a vulgarity”.
Extreme anger, overheated sexuality, Musawi heat, passionate longings….
Taking a political stand, priests have used the heat of passion to educate and support the downtrodden in South America. By isolating the positive elements of a drive that could turn into an abuse, others have used that energy to work on their selves.
Pessoa is truly warming up when apparently presenting us with a cold, not very characteristic Portuguese, almost Stoic view:
“For each separate thing, the dreamer should strive to feel the complete indifference which it, as a thing, arouses in him”.
“The ability to spontaneously abstract whatever is dreamable from each object or event, leaving all of its reality as dead matter in the Exterior World – that is what the wise man should strive for”.
“Never to feel his own feelings sincerely, and to raise his pallid triumph to the point of regarding his own ambitions, longings and desires with indifference, to pass alongside his joys and anxieties as if passing by someone who doesn’t interest him…”.
“The greatest self-mastery is to be indifferent towards ourselves […]”.
Mawânâ Rûmî in his Dîwân says:
I threw duality away from my self, seeing the two worlds as one..One I seek, One I utter, One I know, One I call.
How to transform your lower self? Love is the most powerful transformator. Attributes of the lower soul include ignorance, avarice, envy, greed, arrogance, anger and lust.
Imâm al-Ghazzâlî makes it clear that there are beneficial reasons why you have sexual desires. Sexual desires also contain evils if they are beyond your control. He states that these desires wield more power than any other over human beings and they are the most disobedient to reason. The method of spiritual discipline varies from one person to the next, in accordance to their circumstances.
When a restive horse gets out of the stable, it becomes harder to control it. When you are permanently back in control in regard to excessive lusts, then you have made real spiritual progress.
A murîd came to his pîr and asked him: “Help me, please, for my passions are too powerful. I can’t resist them!” His spiritual guide and teacher said to him: “After going, return to me! So, come and go!”
The disciple left his shaykh as he was asked. On his way he passed a house, and a woman stood at the door and asked him to enter, saying: “I will cause you to experience pleasures, beyond your dreams”. The murîd entered, stayed with her and enjoyed himself, but when he departed sorrow fell upon him. He returned to his shaykh and sat outside his door, weeping bitterly.
The disciple sincerely stated what he had done, exclaiming: “Master, teach me how to overcome my passions!”
The shaykh asked for a white cloak, put it around his disciple, saying: “Go! Pass again through the town and return to me!”
The disciple left his shaykh. As he passed by a beautiful garden, he saw a lovely woman sitting in the shade of sweet-smelling trees near a cool fountain. She called him: “Come! I will be your Sâqî! She recited to him a line in Arabic and one in Persian:
Allâ yâ ayyuhas-sâqî adir kâsân wanaawilhâ
Ki ‘ishq âsân namûd walî oftâd mushkilhâ
O Sâqî, pass round and be offering the cup,
At first, love seemed easy, but problems came up.
“This woman truly understands me,” and thinking like that the disciple exclaimed while accepting the cup: “I am experiencing the joy of joys; there is no greater bliss beyond this”.
Sometime later he fell asleep. When he awoke the sun had set and the pleasant shade of the trees had turned into the gloom of night. The beauty of the garden appeared to him to have vanished. The lovely woman was no longer by his side.
Then he rose and dragged himself wearily to the house of the shaykh. The disciple sat down on the doorstep and wept bitterly.
When the shaykh heard the sobbing of his disciple at the gate, he sent his khâdim to fetch him. The murîd approached, threw himself upon his knees, confessed what he had done, asking: “Shaykhî, what can I do that I may learn to overcome my desires?’
The shaykh took him in his arms, comforted him, giving him to eat and drink and clothed him in a white mantle. He told him this: “Go! Pass again through the town and return to me!”
The disciple went out as he was asked. He met on his way a young and beautiful woman: her eyes were more limpid than gems and of the tresses of her hair you’d have desired to make strings for the Harp of Heavens. The disciple looked at her beauty. The fascination of it was such that from his inward struggle sweat drops fell from his brow. In his agony, he plucked away from himself the root of all passions and cast it away..
Then a calm fell upon him, pride entered his heart, because he thought that he had conquered all his desires and he arose and with head erect and a joyful face he returned to the house of his shaykh. He knocked loudly at the gate and claimed admittance. The door was opened to him, he entered and told the shaykh what he had done.
The shaykh responded by saying sadly to the disciple: “What have you done! Do you think the Path is this easy that you already have conquered all your desires? Do you think that you can experience the Light without sufficient knowledge of the darkness in your own self? Do you think that the struggle along the Sufi path is this easy? You have committed the mistake of mistakes. Pride has entered your heart, while you have attained to nothing. I want you to go away immediately!”
The disciple left the house of his shaykh agitated and confused. For a long time, anger and shame dominated his mood. He also experienced that his sexual desires returned to him stronger than ever. He once again turned to women, but was still experiencing the shock of his dismissal.
The first woman he felt attracted to, turned him away saying: “I am not the teacher of your heart”. He thought this to be a peculiar answer, but when he approached a second young woman she said: “I am a teacher of the heart, but not for you!”
He then met a young woman, who made it clear that she was an architect. They started to talk and she then described some beautiful buildings in that very city. She then described a house he knew very well, because it was the house of his own master. She said that the one thing she loved very much of that house were the words written in Persian above its gate.
Tears flooded his eyes in deep frustration, because the disciple could not read the Persian poem. There was no English translation available. When looking around he saw an oriental man approaching. “Please, tell me what these lines say!”
“They say something beautiful, even if I’d translate them into my language”:
Gel gel, her ne olursan ol, yine gel
Kafir, purperest ve mecusi olsanda yine gel…
Bizim dergahimiz ümitsizlik dergahi degildir
Yüz kere tõvbeni bozmus, olsan da yine gel.
“That doesn’t help me, because I don’t know Persian”, said the disciple. “I have recited it in Turkish, my own language, and not in the original Persian. You also may like to know,” the man with the oriental outlook said, “that these lines are often wrongly attributed to Mevlânâ, the man you call Rûmî, but in fact they are originally from shaykh Abû Sa’îd Abi’l-Khayr”.
“I only wish to know what this Persian poem above the gate means. Stop giving me lessons! I am done with lessons!”
The Turkish man then in a soft and very kind voice remarked: “Are your lessons done? Are your lessons done?”
He continued and translated the Persian text in English:
Come, come, whoever you are!
If you are an unbeliever, an idolater or a fire worshipper: it matters not.
Our dargah is not a place of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a hundred times!
Come, come again!
The disciple immediately entered the gate of the house of his pîr. What happened then? We’ll never know, because this tale is the menu for wine, but the tavern is everywhere.