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A Parable
Stick To Your Source

How can you imagine the person who has broken through self-preoccupation to be connected to God while still earning a living in the world? That person is like a man sitting directly under a roof gutter’s drain pipe.[After a long dry spell] it begins to rain.

He doesn’t think of running from the spot where he sits, in vain hope of catching twice as much water to store up for the future. No, he gives thanks to God from the spot where he is. Such a man knows that, even if he were sitting somewhere else, he would never have such a steady stream of water for his use!

In this way, intermediate means of getting material benefit in this world are like drain pipes that channel God’s gifts of provision right to you. If you engage these means of earning while keeping your spiritual aspiration focused on God alone, this engagement will not harm you and there is no fear that what comes to you through it will never run dry.

But people who engage intermediate means shallowly, neglecting what is beyond them and thinking them to be primary causes of wellbeing, are like dumb cattle. Consider how cattle stand there as their owner passes right before their noses. They pay no attention and just keep chewing!

The one who passes before them is their owner; he is the one who gives their caretaker all the means to provide for them without exhausting his supplies. Despite this, the cattle don’t recognize him. However, if the mere caretaker walks by, the cattle cast loving glances his way and look expectantly at him, for they are used to sensing him as the one who gives them food and water.

People are no different from cattle! If some good things come to them by means of others, they perceive that the good actually comes from others and they fall entangled into this snare. Such people are no better than cattle. No! The cattle are in a better state, aren’t they?

Just listen to Divine Speech as it describes them: Those people are like dumb cattle – no, they are more misled. Those are the heedless and forgetul ones.

Now listen clearly, you true believer. God has given you sandals to wear on your journey: one sandal of faith and one sandal of intuitive knowledge, one of obedience and one of example. Do not get this sandals dirty with the grim of greed for what is in the hands of others  or with the murk of depending on any other than the Lord of all worlds.

Shaykh al-Shadhili has said, “I once saw the prophet Muhammad in a dream vision. He said to me, ‘O ‘Ali, cleanse your raiment of defilement and you will obtain the help of God with every breath!’ I asked, what is my raiment, O Prophet of God?’ He replied, ‘God has clothed you with the vestments of intuitive knowledge, then with the vestment of love, then with the vestment of belief in divine oneness, and then with the vestment of faith, and then with the vestment of submission.’ In that very moment, i understood fully Divine Speech when it says And your clothing keep pure.”

Whoever really knows God considers everything else entirely insignificant. Whoever loves God considers all else despicable. Whoever makes divinity absolutely One considers nothing else equivalent or in partnership. Whoever believes  wholeheardtedly in God is kept safe from everything else. Whoever submits totally to God will not rebel against Divine will–and with any instance of rebellion  will immediately seek pardon while God embraces the offer of apology.

Realize, my dear sisters and brothers, that those sojourning on the path to the next world need aspiration high above desiring anything from others in the world. Such an aspiration is more beautiful for them than a groom’s weeding jewels. It is more valuable to them than the water of life.

Those who remove from their feet the shoes of possession are protected and preserved in their journey. They are worthy of abiding in the divine presence. They can never be robbed on the way. Their achievement can never be stolen from them. But the one who has soiled the sandals of divine gracious gifts does not deserve to be left free to abide in that presence.

So dear brothers and sisters, keep your faith clean of grime of greed for created things and created beings! Lean on nothing other than the Lord of all Worlds! If you draw intimate to God, you are raised to heights of power. You will abide there without fear of falling, as long you abide in God’s intimacy.

But should you incline to anything else and hope to be empowered by anything else, your worth will pass away. That from which you seek power and support is itself passing away. Some sufi sang for me this poem:

As long as you’re empowered
by your Lord;s intimacy
Your status will remain
firm from lapse

But if you draw power from
what fades in contingency
Then your status is nothing
but that of a corpse

Once a man entered the company of a saint, weeping profusely. The saint asked, “Whats wrong with you?” He said, “My guide (ustadh) has died!” The saint said “Why did you chose as a guide one who dies? Haven’t you heard that if you draw power from anyone other than God or rely on anything except God then you have missed God!”

So look to your God under  whose shadow you crowd so zealously! I have burned it and scattered its ashes in the Nile! No, you have no god but God, in competition with whom there is no other divinity, who encompasses all in knowledge.

Taken from: The Book of Illumination (Kitab al-Tanwair fi Isqat al-Tadbir)

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