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.”
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.
One of my favourite passages from the book. Answers about God, heaven, hell, religion feel complicated? Read on:
Instead of searching for the essence of the Qur’an and embracing it as a whole, however, the bigots single out a specific verse or two, giving priority to the diving commands that they deem to be in tune with their fearful minds. They keep reminding everyone that on the Day of Judgement all human beings will be forced to walk the Bridge of Sirat, thinner than hair, sharper than razor. Unable to cross the bridge, the sinful will tumble into the pits of hell underneath, where they will suffer forever. Those who have led a virtuous life will make it to the other end of the bridge, where they will be rewarded with exotic fruits, sweet waters, and virgins. This, in a nutshell, is their notion of afterlife. So great is their obsession with horrors and rewards, flames and fruits, angels and demons, that in their itch to reach a future that will justify who they are today they forget about God.
“Hell is in here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.”
Why worry so much about the aftermath, an imaginary future, when this very moment is the only time we can truly and fully experience both the presence and the absence of God in our lives? Motivated by neither the fear of punishment in hell nor the desire to be rewarded in heaven, Sufis love God simply because they love Him, pure and easy, untainted and non-negotiable.
Love is the reason. Love is the goal.
“The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit, ” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.”
Instead of losing themselves in the love of God and waging a war against their ego, religious zealots fight other people, generating wave after wave of fear. Looking at the whole universe with fear-tinted eyes, it is no wonder that they see a plethora of things to be afraid of. Wherever there is an earthquake, drought, or any other calamity, they take it as a sign of divine wrath – as if God does not openly say, My compassion outweighs My wrath. Always resentful of somebody for this or that, they expect God the Almighty to step in on their behalf and take their pitiful revenges. Their life is a state of uninterrupted bitterness and hostility, a discontentment so vast it follows them wherever they go, like a black cloud, darkening both their past and their future.
There is such a thing in faith as not being able to see the forest for the trees. The totality of religion is far greater and deeper than the sum of its component parts. Individual rules need to be read in the light of the whole. And the whole is concealed in the essence.