Fourth Allusion: It explains that sainthood is easy but also difficult, short but also long and valuable but also dangerous.

FOURTH ALLUSION

Together with being very easy, the way of sainthood is very difficult. And together with being very short, it is very long. And in addition to being most valuable, it is very dangerous. And together with being very broad, it is very narrow. It is because of this that some of those who journey on the path sometimes drown, sometimes become harmful, and sometimes return and lead others away from the path.

I n S h o r t : There are two ways on the Sufi path, known by the terms of ‘inner journeying’ and ‘outer journeying.’

The Inner Way starts from the self, and drawing the eyes away from the outer world, it looks at the heart. It pierces egotism, opens up a way from the heart, and finds reality. Then it enters the outer world. The outer world now looks luminous. It completes the journey quickly. The reality it sees in the inner world, it sees on a large scale in the outer world. Most of the paths which practise silent recollection take this way. The most important basis of this is to break the ego, give up desires of the flesh, and kill the evil-commanding soul.

The Second Way starts from the outer world; it gazes on the reflections of the Divine Names and attributes in their places of manifestation in that greater sphere, then it enters the inner world. It observes those lights on a small scale in the sphere of the heart and opens up the closest way in them. It sees that the heart is the mirror of the Eternally Besoughted One, and becomes united with the goal it was seeking.

Thus, if people who travel on the first way are not successful in killing the evil-commanding soul, and if they cannot give up desires of the flesh, and break the ego, they fall from the rank of thanks to that of pride, then from pride to conceit. If such a person experiences a captivation arising from love, and a sort of intoxication arising from the captivation, he will pour forth high-flown claims far exceeding his mark, called ecstatic utterances (shatahat). This is harmful both for himself and for others.

For example, if a lieutenant becomes conceited out of pleasure at his position of command, he will suppose himself to be a field marshal, and confuse his small sphere with the universal one. He will become the cause of a sun which appears in a small mirror being confused with the sun whose manifestation is seen in all its splendour on the surface of the sea, due to their similarity in one respect.

In just the same way, as with the degree of difference between a fly and a peacock, there are many people of sainthood who see themselves greater than those who in reality are greater than them to the same degree; they observe it thus, and consider themselves to be right. I myself even saw someone whose heart had just been awakened and had faintly perceived in himself the mystery of sainthood; he supposed himself to be the supreme spiritual pole and assumed airs accordingly. I said to him: “My brother, just as the law of sovereignty has particular and universal manifestations from the office of Prime Minister to that of District Officer, so sainthood and the rank of spiritual pole have varying spheres and manifestations. Each station has many shades and shadows. You have evidently seen the manifestation of the rank of supreme spiritual pole, the equivalent of Prime Minister, in your own sphere, which is like that of a District Officer, and you have been deceived. What you saw was right, but your judgement of it was wrong. To a fly, a cup of water is a small sea.” The person came to his senses, God willing, as a result of this answer of mine, and was saved from that abyss.

I have also seen many people who thought themselves to be a sort of Mahdi, and they said that they were going to be the Mahdi. These people are not liars and deceivers, they are deceived. They suppose what they see to be reality. As the Divine Names have manifestations from the sphere of the Sublime Throne down to an atom, and the places of manifestation differ in that relation, so the degrees of sainthood, which consist of manifesting the Names, differ in the same way. The most important reason for the confusion is this:

In some of the stations of the saints, the characteristics of the Mahdi’s function are found, or there is a special relation with the Supreme Spiritual Pole, or with Khidr; there are certain stations which are connected with certain famous persons. In fact, the stations are called ‘the station of Khidr,’ ‘the station of Uvays,’ or ‘the station of the Mahdi.’ As a consequence of this, those who attain to these stations, or to minor samples or shadows of them, suppose themselves to be the famous persons related with the station. They suppose themselves to be Khidr, or the Mahdi, or the Supreme Spiritual Pole. If such a person has no ego which seeks rank or position, then he is not condemned to that state. His excessive high-flown claims are considered to be ecstatic utterances; he is probably not responsible for them. But if his ego is secretly set on acquiring rank and position, and if he defeated by his ego, and leaves off thanks and becomes proud, from there he will gradually fall into conceit, or else fall to the depths of madness, or deviate from the path of truth. For he reckons the great saints to be like himself and his good opinion of them is destroyed. Because however arrogant a soul is, it still perceives its own faults. Comparing those great saints with himself, he imagines them to be at fault. His respect towards the prophets even lessens.

It is necessary for those afflicted with this state to hold fast to the balance of the Shari‘a, and take for themselves the rules of the scholars of the principles of religion, and to take as their guides the instructions of the authoritative scholars from among the saints like Imam Ghazali and Imam-i Rabbani. They should constantly accuse their own souls, and attribute nothing to their souls other than fault, impotence, and want. The ecstatic utterances in this way arise from love of self, because the eye of love sees no faults. Since such a person loves his self, he supposes that faulty, unworthy fragment of glass to be a brilliant or a diamond. The most dangerous fault among these is this, that he imagines the partial meanings which occur to his heart in the form of inspiration to be “Allah’s Word,” and his calling them “verses.” This is disrespect towards Revelation and its most holy and exalted degree. Yes, all the inspirations from the inspirations of bees and animals to those of ordinary people and the elite among men, and from the inspirations of ordinary angels to those of the sublime cherubim, are Divine words of a sort. But they are dominical speech in accordance with the capacity of the places of manifestation and their stations; they are the varying manifestations of dominical address shining through seventy thousand veils.

However, to signify such inspirations with the proper nouns, “Revelation” and “Allah’s Word,” and the word “verse,” which is a noun proper to the stars of the Qur’an -the most evident exemplification of Allah’s Word- is absolutely wrong. As is explained and proved in the Twelfth, Twenty-Fifth, and Thirty-First Words, whatever relation the tiny, dim, and obscure image of the sun which appears in the coloured mirror in your hand has with the sun in the sky, it is similar to the relation between the inspiration in the hearts of those making the above claims and the verses of the sun of the Qur’an, which is directly the Divine Word. Yes, if it said that the sun’s images appearing in all mirrors are of the sun and are related to it, it would be right. But the globe of the earth cannot be attached to the mirrors of those tiny suns, and cannot be bound through their attraction!

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