Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fear and the Sufi Path - Part 2

All aspects of created existence are governed by
laws, rules and principles. There are consequences
for violating these laws, rules and principles on
every level of existence -- from the physical, to
the social, to the spiritual.

If we befoul ourselves by transgressing various
aspects of the ordered character of the universe,
then, our own wretched spiritual condition which
becomes the consequence with which we must live
for having transgressed in such ways. Indeed, we
become our own self-created and self-imposed

God knows how the universe works. Divinity is the
One Who has set it up with the nature that it has.

God knows how human beings work. Divinity is the
One Who has given us our constructive spiritual
possibilities, as well as our potential for

If, by God's grace, we are able to realize our
spiritual potential - which alone is at the heart
of why we have been given existence at all -- then,
all praise for this is due to God. On the other hand,
if, by the grace of our own nafs, we are not able to
realize our spiritual potential, then we ourselves
seal and determine our fate.

God will not have to lift a finger against us on
the Day of Judgement. We will have done it all
to ourselves.

We will have inflicted grievous spiritual harm upon
ourselves, and God merely has to leave us to our
own choices and devices. In effect, we will be
told: 'Alright, if this is what you want, then, this
is what you will get -- in spades'.

People who have spent time in sensory deprivation
tanks, or similar situations, speak about a variety
of stages that an individual goes through during this
process. At some juncture, a stage may come in which
the individual is thrown back on to themselves and
they began to hallucinate, and their internal life
of fantasy and imagination becomes the woof and warp
of experience at that point.

We conveniently forget that everything which is
positive and interesting in our interior lives is
a grace from God. This includes fantasy, memory and

What would be the condition of our interior lives,
if everything positive were removed, and we only
had emptiness, darkness, worthlessness, loneliness,
and boredom for our eternal companions? In the
sensory deprivation tanks, people at least have
fantasy or imagination to fall back on, but what
if we were brought face to face with what we
actually have to offer independently of God's
grace -- namely, our own nothingness?

Furthermore, what if these "companions" were
bathed in an intense, unrelenting awareness both
of what the truth about ourselves is, as well as
in a realization of what might have been but, now,
is eternally lost? All of this, compliments of our
nafs and our free-will offering of allowing ourselves
to give in to the incessant whining and nagging of
the unending desires of the nafs.

While in this condition of deprivation, we will
not be able to go sleep as we can now when we get
too tired of ourselves. Moreover, while in this state,
we will not be able to distract ourselves, as we can
now, with various diversionary tactics in which -- in
addition to the participation of our own nafs -- the
world, Iblis and the unbelievers also are quite active.

Instead, all we will be able to do is experience the
full horror of our own being, devoid of all spirituality
and all of the positive supports, capacities, and
endowments which God has generously bestowed upon us
in this life.

We will not be able to idle away the time using our
intelligence and creative imagination to amuse ourselves.
Intelligence and creative imagination are gifts of God,
and these do not belong to us. They will be summarily
stripped from us, like the signs and marks of honor are
stripped from a disgraced officer who has been found
guilty of traitorous activities in a court-martial.

All we will have is our awareness of the wretched,
pitiful, foul, sickening, and agonizingly painful nature
of our spiritually and ontologically empty condition --
the one we have spent a life time on Earth in creating.
And, we will have the deep, abiding awareness that we
have brought ourselves to this lowly condition.

Our fear of God is the realization we have, however
dim this realization may be, that when we meet God,
then, God will let us know, in no uncertain terms,
what we have done to ourselves and just how we have
ruined all the good things which God had planned for
us. Divinity wanted to shower us with blessings, and
we said: "Thanks, but no thanks."

And, God may say to us: "Then, no thanks it is, and
in you go to the mother of all sensory/intellectual/
spiritual deprivation tanks: Hell. I hope you will
enjoy what you have wrought and bought with your
life." But, of course, we won't -- not even a little.

God has said of Divinity: "My mercy doth take
precedence over My wrath." Yet, God also has warned
us of what the consequences are for those who treat
the purpose of this Earthly life with contempt.

We should fear our meeting with God for the unwelcome
situation in which we have placed Divinity. Now, the
difficult decision must be made as to whether, or not,
God should permit the human being's capacity as a
free agent (as one who has been given the discretionary
power to make decisions in life) to take precedence
over God's mercy.

Should God honor our status as creatures who have
been entrusted with a free will? Or, should Divinity
save us from ourselves one last time?

Human beings are very quick in this life to take
exception with the possibility that God might be
interfering with our precious free choice. In
effect, many human beings are saying, if the
choice is really mine, then let me do what I
want, and I don't want any interference.

If this is how we want it in life, then, why
should God change the arrangement in the next
life just because we no longer wish to accept
responsibility for the consequences which go
with the territory of free choice? If God does
not change the arrangement, then Divinity permits
our freedom to take precedence over Divine mercy
-- but, remember, this has been our wish all

God loves us and doesn't want this for us. At
the same time, Divinity respects our individuality
and the way we exercise the free choice which is
at the heart of that individuality.

If we go to the mother of all deprivation tanks,
it is because we have chosen to do so and God is
merely honoring our wish. We did not want Divinity
to interfere on Earth, so now Divinity may stay out
of the matter in the next life as well.

We are alive now. Sooner or later, we will not be.

When our time is up, so are our opportunities. If
an individual will not do things for Allah's sake,
then, the individual might think about doing them
for her or his own sake.

Know that whatever transgression one commits, one
commits them, first and foremost, against oneself.
If one, for example, does not say prayers or does
not fast, then it is the soul of the one who is
abstaining from these things which suffers and no
one else - certainly not God. It is such a person's
soul which is condemning itself and bringing itself
one step closer to possible spiritual ruination.

Doing things as Allah wishes is the best way because
these methods serve as the spiritual protocalls or
algorithms, so to speak, which God has made available
to us for helping us to generate solutions concerning
what it is that God wants us to realize about our true
spiritual identity and essential spiritual capacity.
These Divine protocalls or algorithms are known by
Divinity to be effective in bringing about the
spiritual transformation of the individual -- as
opposed to our own philosophical and scientific
inventions which have no capacity for a spiritually
transforming efficacy whatsoever.

God has given us all a secret potential. This
potential is a partial manifestation, reflection
or expression of the hidden treasure alluded to
in a well-known hadith qudsi (a non-revelatory
saying which comes from the mouth of the Prophet
but conveys the communication of Divinity).

This treasure is the intention behind, as well
as the purpose of, existence. If one turns one's
back on this, then one is working in opposition
to the whole fabric and character of being.

God is longing for us with an unfathomable
longing. This longing is not for the sake of
Divinity since Divinity already has all that
can be had. God's longing is for us to come
and know and share in what Divinity already
knows and is.

This Divine longing is God's wish for us. If
we work in accordance with that wish, then,
we will find, God willing, that Divinity is
happy and overjoyed for our sake. If we work
in opposition to that Divine wish, then we
may find, God forbid, that Divinity is angry
with us for our sake - at what we have denied

As a Sufi once said, the real faqir (one who
practices austerities and denies himself or
herself) is not one who chooses God over the
world. The real faqir is one who chooses the
world over God.

A person must decide which kind of faqir he
or she wants to be.

Anab Whitehouse

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