Friday, August 06, 2004
States: The Heart
… the heart has been so created that when an inclination or desire appears in it, when the body rises in agreement with that, that quality becomes more firmly and strongly established in the heart. For example, when mercy for the orphan appears in the heart, if the hand is placed upon (the orphan's) head, that mercy grows stronger and the awareness of the heart increases. When the import of humility appears, one acts humbly with the head too and it approaches the ground. The intention of all acts of worship and the desire for the good is not that one turn to the world, but to the Hereafter. (Alchemy, p 909)
… God Most High is the nourishment of the heart, just as food is the nourishment of the body. A body from which the craving for food has departed or in which it has grown weak is sick. A heart from which the love for God Most High has departed or in which it has grown weak is sick. It is for this that God Most High said: Say: If your fathers and your sons… () (Alchemy, p 525)
Al-Ghazzali says that the defects of the heart can be recognized in four ways:
One is that one resort to an experienced and mature spiritual guide so that that guide may examine him and disclose the person's defects to him. In this era, this is unusual and rare.
The second is that one have a sympathetic friend watch over oneself, one who will not conceal one's defects out of flattery nor magnify them out of envy. This too is rare, Dawud Tayi, may God have mercy upon him, was asked: "Why do you not associate and mix with people?" He replied: "What is the point of associating with a people who see my faults and conceal them from me?"
The third is that one listen to the talk of one's enemies about oneself, for the eye of the enemy always falls upon faults. Even if he exaggerates out of his enmity, his words are still not devoid of truth.
The forth is that one should study people. One should constantly be on the watch for any defect in oneself that one sees in someone else. One should suspect one's self, for it may be the same. (Alchemy, p 526)
Thus, the aim of all acts is to turn to the heart. The aim of prostration is not that the forehead move from the air to touch the ground; rather, it is that the heart turn from desires and arrogance to humility. The purpose of (uttering) God is greater is not that the tongue twist and flick about; rather, it is that the heart turn from glorification of the ego (animal soul) to the glorification of God Most High. The purpose of casting stones during the greater pilgrimage is not to increase the number of stones at a particular spot or to exercise the arm; rather, is that the heart stand firm upon its servitude (of God) and abandon the pursuit of carnal desires and the control of one's own reason, and becomes obedient to (God's) command. One removes the reins from his hand and surrenders them to the hand of (God) command. As he says: "At Thy service, in proof of Truth, in worship and as a slave." The purpose of the sacrifice is not that a sheep be killed; rather, it is that the foulness of miserliness depart from your breast; you do not have compassion for animals because of your nature, but you have it because of the command (of God). When it is said: "Slaughter this sheep!" you do not say: "What has this wretch done? Why should I punish it?" Rather you abandon yourself and in truth become non-existent; for the servant (of God) is non-existent with respect to God and he is truly intoxicated with God. All acts of worship are like this… (Alchemy, p 909)
Acts (performed) with that intention become established and confirmed. Consequently, the act is for the confirmation of the desire and the intention, even if it also comes from the intention. When it is so, it is obvious that intention is superior to the act; for the intention itself is in the heart itself whilst the act will flow from another place to the heart. If (the act) does (this), it is useful; but if it does not, and it is done heedlessly, it is futile. The intention without the act is this, that it not be futile. This is just as if there were a pain in the stomach. When one takes medicine and it reaches (the belly), the object is attained. If one smears it one the chest so that its effect reaches it, it is also beneficial; but it would be better if it reached the stomach directly. The object of that ointment which touches the chest is not the chest but the stomach. It will necessarily be futile if it does not spread to the stomach. That which reaches the stomach, even though it does not reach the chest, will not be futile… (Alchemy, p 910)
One is to constantly repeat "God! God!" (Allah! Allah!), with the heart, not with the tongue. Indeed, one should not (even) say it with the heart, for this uttering is like talking to oneself. Rather, one must continually in a state of witnessing so as never to be inattentive. However, this is very impracticable and difficult: not everyone has the strength for this, that one's heart have a single quality and a single state, for people become bored with doing this. For this reason many different private devotions have been posited. Some have a fixed form, such as formal prayer, and some are oral such as reciting/reading the Qur'an and the glorification; others are with the heart such as meditation and reflection lest one become bored. So, at each moment there is something different to do and in the change from one state to another there is a rest… (Alchemy, p 234)
Know that God Most High has a mystery in the human heart. It is hidden in it just as fire in iron; when a stone is struck on iron the mystery (fire) is made manifest and plain. In the same way listening to fine music (sama-i khush) and rhythmic song (awaz-i mawzun) excites that essence in the heart. Something appears in it without a person's having any choice about it. The reason for this is the relationship that the essence of every human being has with the World of the Sublime: that which is called the world of spirits. The Sublime World is the world of excellence and beauty; the basis of excellence and beauty is proportion; whatever is in proportion gives proof of the beauty of that world. For, every beauty, excellence, and proportionality that is perceived in this world is all the fruit of the beauty, excellence and proportionality of that world.
Therefore, a sweet, rhythmic, proportioned song also has a resemblance to the marvels of that world. Because of this, an awareness is awakened in the heart. A movement, a yearning or longing is born that the (listener) himself may not understand what it is. This is in a heart which is simple and devoid of being affected by passion and yearning. However, if it is not empty and is occupied with something, that with which it is occupied starts to move and brighten as does a flame when it is breathed upon.
For the person whose heart has been conquered by the fire of the love of God Most High, music is important, for it makes that fire burn hotter. However, for anyone whose heart harbors love for the false, music is fatal poison for him and is forbidden to him. (Alchemy, p 425)
-Laleh Bakhtiar, Al-Ghazzali His Psychology of the Greater Struggle
posted by Abubak'r | 8/06/2004 02:41:00 AM |
FastCounter by bCentral