On Sufism

From time to time a Revelation “flows” like a great tidal wave from the Ocean of Infinitude to the shores of our finite world; and Sufism is the vocation and the discipline and the science of plunging into the ebb of one of these waves and being drawn back with it to its Eternal and Infinite Source.

There is only one water, but no two Revelations are outwardly the same. Each wave has its own characteristics according to its destination, that is, the particular needs of time and place towards which and in response to which it had providentially been made to flow.

The vast majority of believers are concerned with the water which the wave deposits in the cavities and hollows in the path of the wave, which the wave deposits in these receptacles and which constitutes the formal aspect of the religion.

Mystics on the other hand are by definition concerned above all with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and therefore the mystic is the one who is consequently more preoccupied by the ebbing wave than by the water which it has left behind.

The full-grown Sufi is conscious of being, like other men, a prisoner of the world of forms, but unlike them he is also conscious of being free, with a freedom which immeasurably outweighs his imprisonment. He may therefore be said to have two centers of consciousness, one human and one Divine, and he may speak now from one and now from the other, which accounts for certain apparent contradictions.

Different stages

Know that man’s essence, in his original condition, is created in blank simplicity without any information about the world’s of God. Man gets his information about the world’s by means of perception. Man is created with the sense of touch, of sight, of sense, of hearing, of taste, and of intellect.

Beyond the state of intellect there is another stage. In this stage another eye is opened, by which man sees the hidden, and what will take place in the future, and other things, from which the intellect is as far removed as the power of discernment is from the perception of intelligibles and the power of sensation is from things perceived by discernment.

The very essence of ignorance is for a man to have no supporting reason except that it is a stage he himself has not attained and for him it does not exist; so he supposed that it does not exist in itself.

Now if a man born blind did not know about colors and shapes from constant report and hearsay, and were to be told about them abruptly, he would either understand them nor acknowledge their existence. But God has brought the matter within the purview of His creatures by giving them a sample of the special character of the prophetic power: sleeping. For the sleeper perceives the unknown that will take place, either plainly, or in the guise of an image the meaning if which is disclosed by interpretation.

If a man had no personal experience of dreaming and someone were to tell him: “There are some men who fall down unconscious as though they were dead, and their perception, hearing, and sight leave them, and they then perceive what is “hidden,” he would deny it and give apodeictic proof of its impossibility by saying: “The sensory powers are the causes of perception. Therefore one who does not perceive such things when his powers are present and functioning a fortiori will not perceive them when his powers are suspended.”

Just as the intellect is one of man’s stages in which he receives an “eye” by which he “sees” various species of intelligibles from which the senses are far removed, the prophetic power is an expression signifying a stage in which man receives an “eye” possessed of a light, and in its light the unknown and other phenomena not normally perceived by the intellect became visible.

– al Ghazali
In “Al Ghazali’s path to Sufism”

All in one moment, I pierced through to the presence of God, and lo and behold, I was no longer as I had been until then, for God put His power in the place of m powerlessness, His strength in the place of my weakness, His wealth in the place of my poverty, His knowledge in the place of my ignorance, His glory in the place of my loneliness.

He covered my quality with His in such a way that I was He and no longer myself. In the words of of the Prophet: “My servant never ceases to come closer to me through voluntary devotions until I love him; and as soon as I love him, I am He.”

Amongst other things that were given to me, my knowledge deepened so greatly that if a thousand times a thousand questions were put to me, I would know how to answer them rightly, for I have become like a candle giving out a light that would not diminish if all existing candles were to be lighted from it.

– al Darqawi
Letters of a Sufi Master

To abstain from things is to over-estimate their power and this is due to the veil that hides God from you; for if you contemplated Him in things (as they arise), or before or after, they would not hide Him from you.

It is because you are preoccupied with things that God is hidden from you by them; if you saw their existence as flowing from Him, their existence would not hide you from Him.

The only thing that comes between you and Him whom you worship is joy in what you have and regret for what you do not have; the only thing that separates you from bliss is this faulty quality.

– al Darqawi
Letters of a Sufi Master

The universe is inside of you

Understand, for you are a copy of Existence
For God, so that nothing of existence is lacking in you.
The Throne and the Pedestal, are they not in you?
The higher world and also the lower world?
The Cosmos is but a man on a big scale,
The you, you are the Cosmos in miniature.

– Ibn al Banna

Oh you who goes astray in the understanding of your own secret,
Look, for you shall find in you the whole of existence;
You are the Infinite, seen as the Way and seen as the Truth,
Oh you synthesis of the Divine Mystery in Its Totality.

– Al Mursi