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Selection of Excerpts from Other Books

Compiled by Dr.Vladimir Antonov

 

 

Translated from Russian into English

by Dr.Mikhail Nikolenko

 

 

Contents

SUFI TEACHINGS — Hazrat Inayat Khan

THE PROPHET — Gibran Khalil Gibran

THE SEVEN VALLEYS AND THE FOUR VALLEYS — Bahá'u'lláh

 

SUFI TEACHINGSHazrat Inayat Khan

 

This remarkable book consisting of exact, laconic statements, certainly can be recommended for reading, but with a notice that its author in the years of his preaching activity did not have integral higher knowledge. For example, he did not understand the evolutionary meaning of our residing on the Earth and stated that the reason for our earthly lives is that God is bored in His unmanifested state, that He wants to “feel” Himself and for that purpose He pushes Parts of Himself into human bodies… (Apparently, this is a wonderful meditative image which the author received from his sheikh, but accepted it in a non-critical way: not as one of the methods for work with the consciousness, but as the truth).

Due to the same non-understanding of the mechanism of the Evolution of the Universal Consciousness, the author could not incorporate into his outlook the law of karma and thus interprets it incompetently.

The author, at that time, was also not aware yet of the state of the Creator in His Abode, where He resides in Great Calm and does not manifest Himself as the Divine Flame.

But as for the other parts of the religious knowledge — the author remarkably worked them over, and now we are going to acquaint ourselves with the most essential excerpts from them.

* * *

Sufism has never had a first exponent or a historical origin. It existed from the beginning, because man has always possessed the Light which is his second nature. … Sufism has always been practiced and its messengers have been people of the heart…

At the time of Christ there were Sufis among the first of those who gave heed to Him, and in the time of Muhammad the Sufis on Mount Zafah were the first to respond to Muhammad’s cry. … Muhammad was the first to open the way for them in Arabia, and they had many followers… Sufism then spread to Persia. But whenever the Sufis expressed their free thought, they were attacked by the established religions.

It was in India that the art of Sufism was brought to perfection: India has been a spiritual land for a very long time.

Thus Sufism in the course of time absorbed the influence of many religions; and in its turn also influenced many other religions.

In very ancient times the Safa was founded, the Brotherhood of Purity. Its doctrine was: know yourself and you will know God. These students of the self were Sufis, for Sufism is the study of the self.

In the different schools (of Sufism) the ideal remained the same, although the methods varied. The main ideal of every Sufi school has been to attain that Perfection which Jesus Christ has taught in the Bible, “… Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”.

The method of the Sufis has always been that of self-effacement. But which self? Not the real, but the false self upon which man depends, and upon which he prides himself as being something special; and by effacing this false self he allows that real Self to manifest in the world of appearance. Thus the Sufi method works towards the unfoldment of… that Self which is eternal and to which all power and beauty belong.

Many people have said, “We believe only in Moses, or in Christ.” Some say that they believe only in the Vedas, or in other ancient scriptures. But the Sufi does not care who has said something; he cares only about what has been said.

The Sufi sees the one truth in all forms. (He would never reject particular religion). Yet his true mosque is his heart in which the Beloved lives…

Sufism is a religion if one wants to learn religion from it; it is a philosophy if one wants to learn wisdom from it; it is mysticism if one wishes to be guided by it in the unfoldment of the soul. … It is the Light, it is the Life which is the sustenance of every soul, and which raises a mortal being to immortality. It is the message of Love, Harmony, and Beauty. It is a Divine Message. … The Message, however, is not in its words, but in the Divine Light and Life which heals the souls, bringing to them the calm and peace of God.

The weakness of man has always been that he only considers as truth that to which he is accustomed, and anything he has not been accustomed to hear or to think frightens him. … But the journey towards Perfection means rising above limitations; rising so high that not the horizon of one country or of one continent only is seen, but that of the whole world. The higher we rise the wider becomes the horizon of our view.

In the East, in a place where respect must be shown people wear a hat or a turban, whereas in the West in the same kind of place the hat is taken off. It is simply the opposite principle. In the East, in Hindu temples, mosques, and other holy places, one must take off one’s shoes before entering; in the West one could not be in a church without shoes.

The Sufi’s religion is Love alone; therefore the (other) principles of the different religions are nothing to him.

The task of the Sufi is to remove covers. One’s soul is so covered with different vibrations that it cannot see itself. The Sufi by his meditations, by his practices, first “takes off” the physical body, and observes what he can see without it. Then he rids himself of the astral plane, where man lives in his thoughts and feelings, and he sees what he is conscious of without that plane.

… Mankind can be divided into three principal categories. In one category he is the animal man, in another he can be the devil man, and yet another he can be the human man.

The animal man is the one who concerns himself only with food and drink and whose actions are in no way different from those of an animal, who is content with the satisfaction of his natural appetites.

The man who represents devilish qualities is the one in whom the ego, the self, has become so strong and powerful, and therefore so blind, that it has almost wiped out any sense of gentleness, of kindness, of justice. He is the one who takes pleasure in causing harm or hurt to another person, the one who returns evil for the good done to him, the one whose pleasure is to do wrong. The number of those belonging to this category is large.

Then there is the human man…

The Mahatma is an illuminated soul. He looks at life from another point of view. He thinks about others more than about himself; his life is devoted to actions of beneficence; he expects no appreciation or reward for all that he can do for others; he does not look for praise and he is not afraid of blame. On one side connected with God and on the other side connected with the (material) world, he lives his life as harmoniously as possible.

Why should he struggle? The answer is that there is always a conflict between the person who wishes to go upward and the wind that blows him downward. The wind that blows a person downward is continually felt by anyone who takes a step on the path of progress. This wind is conflict with the self, it is conflict with others, it is conflict with conditions; conflicts that come from all around, till every part of that Mahatma is tested and tried, till his patience is almost exhausted and his ego is crushed. … So is the condition of this warrior who walks on the spiritual path; for everything is against him; his friends though they may not know it, his foes, conditions, the atmosphere, the self.

… (If) a word of insult, an action of revolt or of hatred, creates a response, … that response creates still more inharmony in the world. By giving way to inharmony one allows inharmony to multiply. Where does all the great unrest and discord that one now sees pervading the world come from? It seems that it comes from the ignorance of this fact that inharmony creates inharmony, and that inharmony will multiply. If a person is insulted, his natural tendency is to reply by insulting the other person still more. In this way he gets the momentary satisfaction of having given a good answer. But he has responded to that power which came from the other, and these two powers… create (even) more inharmony.

“Resist not evil”… means: do not return the inharmony that comes to you, as a person playing tennis would send back the ball with his racket.

… Harmony may be likened to a rock in the sea: through wind and storm the rock stands firm; waves come with all their force and yet it still stands bearing it all, letting the waves beat against it. By fighting inharmony one increases it; by not fighting it one refrains from adding fuel to the fire which would otherwise increase and cause destruction.

(If man develops a habit to “parry” evil, then) contradictory tendency in man finally develops into a passion, until he will contradict even his own idea if it happens to be pronounced by another.

The Sufi in order to keep harmony… falls in with another person’s idea by looking at the subject from the speaker’s point of view instead of his own.

He watches his every movement and expression, as well as those of others, trying to form a consonant chord of harmony between himself and another.

Life in the (material) world has a constantly jarring effect, and the finer we become the more trying it will be to us. And the time comes when the more sincere and full of goodwill, the more kind and sympathetic a person is, the worse life becomes for him. If he is discouraged by it he goes under, but if he keeps his courage he will find in the end that it was not disadvantageous, for his power will some day increase to that stage, to that degree, at which his presence, his word, and his action will control the thoughts and feelings and actions of others. Then his rhythm will become powerful and will cause the rhythm of everybody else to follow it.

But in order to stand firm against the inharmony that comes from without, one must first practice standing firm against all that comes from within, from one’s own self.

To be resigned means to find satisfaction in self-denial1.

Self-denial cannot be a virtue when it is the result of helplessness and culminates in dissatisfaction. The nature of… ego is to resent everything that arises in life…; but when a person accepts being resigned in the face of a difficulty, and at the same time feels satisfaction, then even without having accomplished his object he has risen above it. In this way for the truly resigned soul even a defeat is really a success.

Resignation is a quality of the saintly souls.

Whatever a man’s power and position in life may be, he has always to meet with a more powerful will, in whatever form it may manifest. In truth this is the Divine Will. By opposing the Divine Will one may break oneself; but by resigning oneself to the Divine Will one opens up a Way. For resignation has the nature of water: if anything obstructs it, it takes another course; and yet it flows on, making its way so as to meet the ocean in the end. This is what the saintly souls do who tread the path of resignation and yet keep their own will alive. That will has the power to make its Way.

To be troubled by one’s surroundings, to be loaded with responsibilities, and to be exposed to opposition, is much harder and greater than to be an ascetic in the jungle.

The highest and greatest goal that every soul has to reach is God. As everything needs renunciation, that highest goal needs the highest renunciation.

Every thing and every being seem separate from one another on the surface of existence, but beneath the surface on every plane they are nearer to each other, while on the innermost plane they all become One.

Thus every disturbance to the peace of the smallest part of existence on the surface, affects the Whole inwardly. Therefore any thought, speech, or action that disturbs peace is wrong, evil, and a sin; but if it brings about peace it is right, good, and a virtue.

Disturbance of the slightest part of life disturbs the Whole and returns as a curse upon the person who caused it; any peace produced on the surface comforts the Whole, and thence returns as peace to the producer. This is the philosophy underlying the idea of the reward of good deeds and the punishment of bad deeds; … (rewards and punishments are) given by the higher powers.

… The wise in all ages… have tried to learn one thing only, and that was resignation to the Will of God. By doing this, they have reached a stage at which they could see from God’s point of view.

Life is a place where it is necessary to move gently. Whether it be in thought, speech, or action, the rhythm must be controlled; the law of harmony must be observed in all that one does.

If there is anything that will bring satisfaction it is diving deep into Love, and then we shall realize that there is nothing which is not just; we shall never again say that anything is unjust. This is the point the wise reach, and they call it the culmination of wisdom.

… Self-pity is the worst poverty. It overwhelms a man, and he sees nothing but his own troubles and pains; and then it seems to him that he is the most unhappy person, more so than anyone in the world.

Sometimes we find satisfaction in self-pity. The reason is that it is our nature to find satisfaction in love; and when we are confined to ourselves we begin to love ourselves, and then self-pity arises… But the love of self always brings dissatisfaction, for the self is not made to be loved; the self is made to love.

The first condition of love is to forget oneself. One cannot love another and oneself at the same time, and if one says, “If you give me something, I will give you something in return,” that is another kind of love, it is more like business.

Man’s ego is the false ego, God’s Ego is the true Ego. But what is the ego? Ego is part of a line: one end of the line is God’s ego, the other end is man’s ego; and the latter is false, because man has covered it by his illusion, calling it himself. Therefore, when that ego is broken by love or by wisdom or by meditation, then the clouds that cover it are dispersed and the true Ego, the Ego of God, manifests itself.

There is one person who looks only at the circumstances of his own life; there is another who looks at the lives of many other people: it is a difference of horizon.

… We say that this or that makes us unhappy, but it is only the distance (from God) that makes us so; the soul is unhappy in its separation.

The tendency comes to push everything away, and to keep oneself away from everybody else. But the purpose of being born on Earth is not that. It is to find Perfection…

… Death is only releasing the soul from limitation and from a great captivity. Death is nothing but the taking off of one garb and giving it back to that plane from which it was borrowed…

… We may begin to disown our bodies from today, that we may not have the pain of having lost something we thought to be most precious.

The physical body weighs heavily on the soul, and the day when this burden is removed, the soul feels lighter; its faculties, tendencies, inspiration, powers, all manifest more freely. Therefore death is no loss.

What is it that brings about death? Either the body, owing to weakness, is not capable of serving the soul properly; or the soul has finished its mission on that plane and does not want the body any more.

The soul, drawn by the magnetic power of the Divine Spirit, merges into It with a joy inexpressible in words, as a loving heart lays itself down in the arms of its Beloved. The intensity of this joy is so great that nothing the soul has experienced in its life has ever made it so unconscious of the self; yet this unconsciousness of the self becomes in reality the true self-consciousness.

It is then that the soul realizes fully, “I exist”. But (only) the soul which arrives at this stage of realization consciously has this greatest experience.

… God speaks to everyone, not only to the messengers and teachers. He speaks to the ears of every heart, but it is not every heart that hears Him. His voice is louder than the thunder and His Light is clearer than the Sun — if one could only hear it, if one could only see. In order to hear and to see man should remove this wall, this barrier, which he has made of his self.

… The next thing we learn is that in order to attain an object, the love-element is not sufficient; besides love we need wisdom, that wisdom which awakens in harmony and harmonizes with the cosmic forces, helping one to attain one’s object.

One is only proud of one’s experience until one has seen how vast the world is. … The further man goes in experience the more he sees how little he knows.

… There is a poem by the great Persian poet Iraqi, who tells us how he went to the gate of the Beloved and knocked at the door; and a voice answered, “There is no place for anyone else in this abode. Go back to where you came from,” and he went back. Then, after a long time, and after having gone through the process of bearing the cross and being crucified, he came again, this time full of that spirit of selflessness, and he knocked at the door and the word came, “Who art thou?” and he said, “Thyself alone, for no one else exists save Thee”. And God said, “Enter into this abode for now it belongs to thee”.

 

THE PROPHET Gibran Khalil Gibran

 

Like sheaves of corn it gathers you unto itself.

It threshes you to make you naked.

It sifts you to free you from your husks.

It grinds you to whiteness.

It kneads you until you are pliant.

And then it assigns you to its sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s Heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears…

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart!” but rather, “I am in the heart of God”.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you.

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may house their bodies, but not souls.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

… You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

… And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge.

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work.

And all work is empty save when there is love.

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

Like the ocean is your God-self2. It remains for ever undefiled.

Even like the Sun is your God-self;

But the God-self does not dwell alone in your being.

… Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man.

The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder.

If any of you would bring judgment the unfaithful wife, let him also weight the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul with measurements.

And let him who would lash the offender look unto the spirit of the offended.

… And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy, you may find in them a harness and a chain. Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment.

Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean. And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?

And forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

… What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?

And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters law-breakers?

And what is the Sun to them but a caster of shadows?

But you who walk facing the Sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?

You who travel with the wind, what weathervane shall direct your course?

… Who shall command the skylark not to sing?

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

For (true) Self is a sea boundless and measureless.

… If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the Earth.

Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

 

THE SEVEN VALLEYS AND THE FOUR VALLEYS Bahá'u'lláh

 

… I therefore reveal to you sacred and resplendent tokens from the planes of glory, to attract you into the court of holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw you to a station wherein you will see nothing in Creation save the Face of your Beloved One!

Peace be upon him who follows the Straight Path!

The true seeker hunts naught but the object of his quest, and the lover has no desire save union with his Beloved.

Nor shall seekers reach the goal unless they sacrifice all things. That is, whatever they have seen, and heard, and understood (before), all must they set at naught, that they may enter the Realm of the Spirit, which is the City of God!

Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world.

On this journey the traveler abides in every land and dwells in every region. In every face, the traveler seeks the beauty of the Friend and in every country looks for the Beloved. The traveler joins every company and seeks fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind may uncover the secret of the Friend, or in some face may behold the beauty of the Loved One.

And if, by the help of God, the traveler finds on this journey a trace of the traceless Friend and inhales (His) fragrance… — then the traveler steps into the Valley of Love and become dissolved in the Fire of Love.

How strange that while the Beloved is visible as the Sun, yet the heedless still hunt after tinsel and base metal!

Free yourself from that which your (earthly) passion desires; then advance unto your Lord!

Purify yourself from all else except Him — that you may surrender your life in His Love!

Poverty, as here referred to, signifies being poor in the things of the created world, rich in the things of God's world.

For when the true lover and devoted friend reaches the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover's heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all the lover has, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend.

Draw back from the threshold of the True One if you still possess earthly qualities.

Verily we are from God, and to Him shall we return!

Nothing can befall us but that which God has destined for us.

… One of the prophets of God has asked: “O my Lord, how shall we reach You?” And the answer came, “Leave yourself behind — then can you approach Me!”

… Love is a Light that never dwells in a heart possessed by fear.

Peace be upon him who follows the Straight Path!