Monday, 28 November 2016

Where is the Master?

To seek or not to Seek Pir
Do we need to seek a Master? Shah Waliullah, one of the greatest Sufis of the subcontinent, in his last testament, surprisingly and shockingly, advised against seeking Shaykhs and advised to read Awariful Maarif  by Suharwardi as that is a safer guide. He grants the possibility that one may get to meet some Shaykh and says that we shouldn’t worry as God arranges for it. Anyway it is working an implication of the logic of grace. Grace comes – “The Spirit bloweth where it listeh.”  We can’t invite grace by our effort; Grace finds us and drops us in the lap of God. Even against our will which would otherwise resist baptism by fire – the gift of suffering. Who doesn’t suffer in some way? And that could well be, unknown to us, gift from the Master. The best wazeefa could well be the “curse” – “Khoda tchinney doad” (May God send you some problem, some pain, some calamity).  How thankful we should be to those who send us such curses. Perhaps most of our mothers and daughters- in-law  are instruments for perfection through such exchange of curses. God arranges our return, willy nilly, to Him as the Quran  asserts. And if grace doesn’t seem to be coming, it is another form of grace as it means our path requires us to wait. During one’s spiritual journey one may encounter what is called qabz (contraction). One doesn’t enjoy prayers or illuminations or smooth sailing when in qabz. That has to be patiently endured. Great progress occurs in qabz. Nihilon of seeming absence of God and the state of apparent rejection of our prayers is descent into hell that purges us. Bast (expansion) may make us complacent. And that waiting prepares us for the Kingdom of Heaven. The Master would seek us, anyway. God the Great Devourer can’t miss the prey we are. We don’t know of a physical Master of Shaykh Nuruddin and many great saints. Iqbal met Rumi in another realm and was accepted as a worthy disciple. Khizr, the Green Master of Sufi lore, who personifies an aspect of the Spirit of Guidance keeps roaming and keeps our track. All experiences are Khizr because God the Guide expresses in every event for the seeing eyes. Even if we chose not to see, Khizr catches us somehow. God the Educator reaches us through a conversation with a friend or a god piece of writing or visit to a hospital or some calamity that doesn’t befall us but has been really invited by Spirit for facilitating its detachment from the world of impermanence. Who writes taqdeer? Isn’t our consent sought? How come we are not justified in blaming Providence for our misfortunes or being born in conflict area or with some disability? Our consent is indeed sought; the Spirit projects a map to further its odyssey. Before every taqdeer a perfect man’s consent is sought and as Spirits we participate in that divine prerogative. And this map surely has a place for meeting the Master. Ultimately it is God the Hadi, the Rasheed who is the Master. God’s designs can’t be foiled. The school of life is a jabri school; we are summoned and that is it. The trial has already started before we opened eyes at birth. Our coming hither and our leaving are both prefixed. All the details of life we live are prefigured. Love of fate is the key to the path that delivers us. That is what masters of all hues including such “masters” as Nietzsche taught.
      One of the most shocking (for all Utopian minds) insights given to mystics is understanding absolute perfection of everything as it is (and this includes drive to change the world or seek perfection and eternal restlessness in us for greener pastures of Spirit and call for realizing Justice). Karl Barth in concluding pages of his masterpiece The Word of God and the Word of Man also states this and then, with great insight, accommodates all the iconoclast and reformers from socialists to Nietscheans who complain about injustice and rottenness of the state of affairs we find around. To see how everything is perfect demands transcendence of passions and ego and  attachment  to samsara. For a nirvanic consciousness  all  things  are  bathed  in transcendental gory. Buddha saw everything smiling when he attained nirvana. There is nothing  to  be  explained,  no need  to explain  anything  for  the  twice  born. There is everything to be contemplated, loved and enjoyed. This constitutes the crux of traditional view of things and this view is available to all and sundry. Religions, commandments, mystical disciplines all are ultimately meant to achieve this vision. Mystics have no real  interest in pretensions of any occult or secret knowledge. Their chief claim consists in perfecting the  virtue of openness to real or experience or letting things be, of waiting and seeing, waiting for no object or end but for the joy of waiting. For them experience is the Master. What is to be sought? Nothing but what is as Augustine would say. There is no problem of finding a meaning in life. It disappears when we formulate the issue as one of the art of encountering life. The question is not that the universe appears indifferent and cold and silent but whether we can master the art of love, of selflessly seeing phenomena, of transcending thought or  mind  that divides the unitary experience. The onus lies on man. The moment one is capable of amor fati, of unconditional love, of affirming even eternal recurrence one is delivered and the universe loses its indifference or density and appears a perpetual miracle, an object of endless wonder that delights the soul, a gift for which one needs to be eternally thankful, a festival of lights and a celestial musical recital.

      Such traditionally treasured declarations as “Piri chum doun achen gash.”(Pir is the light of two eyes), “Zu jan wandyo ha piri myano.”(May I sacrifice my life for You, the Master)“ And he who has no Pir has Satan as his guide” may be translated into the proposition – or better attitude/direction –  that states that Life as impersonal reality that grounds all expressions of life should be more valuable to us. That will imply one is not mean or egoistic and puts the Other before oneself. Joy flows from any experience in which ego is put aside.
      The Master liberates you from himself and the source of all bondage one’s self. He is like that great beauty which doesn’t attract but liberates us from ourselves and from the object that embodies it. He is only a medium giving voice to the Spirit of Guidance and his function is help you travel within. He has no magic wand or special secrets to sell but guides one to the inner riches. One must travel the path oneself and find the “Answer” oneself. “Be light unto yourself” as the Buddha said.
      The Master is a friend and ultimately dispensable for all who care to travel on the path. In Owaisi path of Sufism one is guided by life itself – this vale of soul making as Keats correctly called it – and doesn’t necessarily need external masters. The question is only of finding some support if needed to maneuver admittedly difficult terrain in the wilderness of spirit. It needs foes to point out what faults we harbor in our personality. Our Master is that foe if one can put it that way. Our critics whom we despise may also perform part of this function admirably. Thank you critics. You are the messengers of our Master.

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