There is a time for everything:
“God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order than everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.”
Nothing happens out of God’s will. It is one of the rules:
“This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He’s the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs out of God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.”
Even jealousy can be used in a constructive way and serve a higher purpose. Even disbelief can be positive:
“In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insan-i-Kâmil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.”
Under a clear blue sky, I was playing chess with a Christian Hermit named Francis. He was a man whose inner balance did not tilt easily, a man who knew the meaning of submission. And since Islam means the inner peace that comes from submission, to me Francis was more Muslim than many who claim to be so:
“Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission – a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.”
I wonder if this works for people in the age of competition. I think what this rule could also mean is that one should strive for what one wants to achieve, but should compete only with oneself. And not forget, in the process, that the ultimate aim is being one with God.
“While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.”
Spiritual growth is about the totality of our consciousness, not about obsessing over particular aspects.
“Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your faith.”
Tough one, this rule. Though, notice how Shams talks about the difficult concept of idolatry. So, not only idols made of stone come under idolatry, but also the people we might end up idolizing: the imams, priests, or rabbis. There’s no harm is talking to them, or listening to them. But idolizing them is a the problem, I guess.
Which among these idols are more harmful in a person’s quest for spirituality? Can such things be compared? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I can’t help wondering.
Let the problems in life be a step towards knowing yourself better:
“If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgmental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.”
Children playing – a beautiful series of pictures by Steve McCurry
As hurtful as it is, being slandered is ultimately good for one on the path:
“The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?”