Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Is Sufism Islam?


I was heartbroken to come across this question a top query in Google trends----Has the demonisation of sufism by wahhabi/salafi petrodollar-funded preachers reached such dangerous levels that Muslims are asking Google if Islamic mysticism indeed originated from Islam and believing that Sufism is NOT Islam!!!

Nothing could be more tragic!

To look at Islam without acknowledging the Sufis is to be ignorant of a crucial clash of civilizations in today’s world: not the conflict between Islam and the West, but an epochal struggle within Islam itself.It all the more ironic because Sufis were the evangelists of the message that has made Islam the world’s second-largest religion, with perhaps 1.2 billion adherents.Sufi Tradition was the way entire populations expressed their Muslim identity as Sufism was their initial introduction to Islam.


Over the centuries, the territories where Sufi orders seeded Islam have evolved from the faith’s frontiers to its demographic heartlands. These regions now encompass Islam’s largest and fastest-growing populations. Of the eight nations with the world’s largest Muslim communities, only one (Egypt) is Arab. A fifth of the world’s Muslims today identify with Sufism, and for many millions more, Sufism is simply part of the air they breathe.
 BUT For the Islamists — for hard-line fundamentalists like the Saudi Wahhabis and the Taliban — the Sufis are deadly enemies, who draw on practices alien to the Quran.

As Wahabism spreads around the world-- Sufism has become its targets--even in such strongholds as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nigeria. 

Often this comes in the form of ideological struggle but open violence has broken out as well. Sudan’s Islamist government attacks the black Sufi population of Darfur; in Iraq, suicide bombers target Sufi shrines in Pakistan.

Sufis have literally everything to lose from the continued advance of the Islamist extremists.  They want to deprive us of the faith of our fathers, our sheikhs and ustadhs. 
They want to cut us off from 1400 years of sufi culture and they have to audacity to bomb the shrines of the saints who spread Islam in this region. They want to rob us of our customs and traditions and arabise us.
Hostility between Sufis and Wahhabis dates back to the very founding of Wahhabism itself in the 18th century when it emerged as the most famous and militant anti-Sufi movement in the Arabian peninsula. Wahhabi's considered Sufism a degenerate form of Islam and urged a return to the 'fundamentals' of Islam, as opposed to the 'traditions' that had accrued over the centuries.
In many countries, Saudi embassies also act as centers to promote or outsource Wahhabism, funding local Wahhabi institutions, publications, and propagandists. (Read Wikileaks for more information)

Where Islamists rise to power, Sufis are persecuted or driven underground; but where Sufis remain in the ascendant, it is the radical Islamist groups who must fight to survive. There are reasons for this enmity.

From their beginnings, too, Sufi tradition has been religiously inclusive and assimilates local traditions from music to dance, which of course makes them more attractive to local population.
Wherever the orders flourish, popular Islamic religion focuses on the tombs of saints and sheikhs, who believers venerate with song and ritual dance. People organize processions, they seek healing miracles, and women are welcome among the crowds.

The Islamic Mysticism has little of the uncompromising intolerance that characterizes the fundamentalists. They have no fear of music, poetry, and other artistic forms — these are central to their sense of the faith’s beauty — and the brotherhoods cherish intellectual exploration. Progressive Sufi thinkers are quite open to modern knowledge and science.



This Sufi open-mindedness contrasts with the much harsher views of the fundamentalists, who we know by various names. Sufis also appreciate the fact of religious pluralism as the will of God, which is why they had such a powerful appeal even for many non-Muslims. This is also why it was the Sufis who were the principal 

Wahhabism is hostile to the esoteric elements of Islam, preferring to focus on orthopraxy. 
Wahabbis believe in a more temporal form of Islam, which no doubt has been to a degree politically influenced by Saudi political affairs.The Wahhabis prohibit other Muslims from praying the way they want to in Mecca and Medina. In these two cities, they have destroyed numerous monuments associated with the Prophet, his family, and his companions, as if they are the owners of these places. They want to destroy the whole 1400-year-old Muslim tradition itself. 

The whole trajectory of Wahhabism is rooted in hatred and violence
The alliance between the mullahs of the Wahhabi Al-e Shaikh and the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Al-e Saud, is like the oppressive nexus between the Christian Church and the monarchy in medieval Europe. It is proving to be a curse for Muslims. Wahabi’s say that only they are Allah's chosen ones that only they are walking along the true path. And everyone else is their enemy. The worst thing about Talibanisation is the fact that it seeks to divide us according to our faith. 

And this happens in every place that Islamism wins over. They divide us according to faith, which subsequently leads to civil war.There are good Muslims and then there are bad Muslims and descendants of Jews(Shiites) Or secret Christians( sufi’s) and then there is Syria and Iraq! ISIS is the bastard child of Wahhabi ideology; founded and patronized by wahhabi masters. 

So, this is why the Wahhabi version of Islam appears so publicly visible today. Yet, it is crucial to note that the silent majority of Muslims are not Wahhabi at all. Most Muslims are still associated with Sufi traditions in some way or the other, which I regard as authentic Islam

Unlike the Wahhabis, Sufis are not well-organised: Which is a tragedy because Sufis, better than anyone, can tell disaffected young Muslims joining ISIS that the quest for peace is not a surrender to Western oppression, still less a betrayal of Islam, but rather a return to the faith’s deepest roots. We can provide the alternative narrative to ISIS death cults and suicide belts.
Yet Sufism is branded hearsay and delegitimised! 
The philosophy and rituals which can heal sectarian fault lines within Islam are now considered kabbalist propaganda and a Jewish conspiracy to corrupt Islam. 
In contrast to the Wahhabism, We are not combative.
We don't go out and preach and demand that other Muslims accept our way of understanding Islam, which is what the Wahhabis do. 
We are moderate and believe in moderation, not in aggressively converting others to their way of thinking. 
We don't brand other Muslims as apostates and condemn them as wrong. 
We just let you be the way you are. 
This is because they believe that it is for God to guide people if He wills. 

At the Core of Sufism lies an embrace of modernity rather than a rejection of it; a connection to something more than Tribe and even religion.
It is the connection to humanity and a chance to belong to something far greater than yourself. 

Islamic State version can never match that!





m.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Both worlds within my compass come, but this world cannot compass me by Imadeddin Nasimi



Both worlds within my compass come, but this world cannot compass me.
An omnipresent pearl I am and both worlds cannot compass me.

When I first read this stanza, I thought I woud have it written on my rave when I would die because nothing could describe me better than this; The poet who wrote it was flayed on cross with his skin hanging because he couldnot fit into this world.

In reality, we are all like that — too vast to be corralled into some safe, limited notion of what we are. Whatever we think we are, we are greater still.


Because in me both earth and heaven and Creation’s “BE!” were found,
Be silent! For there is no commentary can encompass me.

Through doubt and surmise no one came to be a friend of God and Truth.
The man who honours God knows doubt and surmise cannot compass me.

Pay due regard to form, acknowledge content in the form, because
Body and soul I am, but soul and body cannot compass me.

I am both shell and pearl, the Doomsday scales, the bridge to Paradise.
With such a wealth of wares, this worldly counter cannot compass me.

I am “the hidden treasure” that is God. I am open eyes.
I am the jewel of the mine. No sea or mine can compass me.

Although I am the boundless sea, my name is Adam, I am man.
I am Mount Sinai and both worlds. This dwelling cannot compass me.


I am both soul and word as well. I am both world and epoch, too.
Mark this particular: this world and epoch cannot compass me.

I am the stars, the sky the angel, revelation come from God.
So hold your tongue and silent be! There is no tongue can compass me.

I am the atom, sun, four elements, five saints, dimensions six.
Go seek my attributes! But explanations cannot compass me.

I am the core and attribute, the flower, sugar and sweetmeat.
I am Assignment Night, the Eve. No tight-shut lips can compass me.

I am the burning bush. I am the rock that rose into the sky.
Observe this tongue of flame. There is no tongue of flame can compass me.




This selection reminds me of Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

What a wonderful, swirling, kaleidoscopic sense of the self as being all things until it ultimately resolves into a vision of unified totality. 

Nasimi gathers everything into his sense of self until he is beyond definition, beyond form. For Nasimi, all things are recognized as being within until all descriptions fail:

The limited mind cannot conceive of something so limitless as one’s full being. In our deepest self, we are too big to be a ‘thing’, too big to be anything. Instead, there is something of all things in us. Realizing this, we settle into a state of pure witnessing (“I am open eyes”), free from the faulty effort of endless self-definition.



Silent be! There is no tongue can compass me.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Conference of Birds



Abū Hamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (: ابو حمید ابن ابوبکر ابراهیم) (born 1145-46 in Iran – died c. 1221), much better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn (فریدالدین) and ‘Attār (عطار - the pharmacist), was a the greatest sufi persian poet, who influenced Rumi and the whole of persian poetry and Sufism. 

One day, it is related, an unsightly fakir visited the shop. The way he marveled at the opulence of the store made 'Attar uneasy; he ordered the fakir to leave. Looking the owner and the well-stocked shop over, the fakir said, "I have no difficulty with this, pointing to his ragged cloak, to leave; but you, how are you, with all this,


The fakir's response affected 'Attar deeply. He pondered the fakir's reply for many days and, eventually, decided to give up his shop and join the circle of Shaykh Rukn al-Din Akkaf of the Kubraviyyah order. His new life was one of travel and exploration, very much like the fakir who had inspired him. For a long time, he traveled to Ray, Kufa, Mecca, Damascus, Turkistan, and India, meeting with Sufi shaykhs, learning about the tariqah, and experiencing life in the khaniqahs.

When finally he felt he had achieved what he had been seeking in travel, 'Attar returned to Nishapur, settled, and reopened his pharmacy. He also began to contribute to the promotion of Sufi thought. Called Tadhkirat al-Auliya (Memorial of the Saints), '. is a 72-chapter book about the life of famous sufi's-- It starts with a biography of Imam Jafar Sadiq , the Sixth Imam of Shia and ends with one of Mansur Al-Hallaj's , the Sufi Martyr



Attar's initial contribution to his new world contains all the verses and sayings of Sufi saints who, up to that time, had not penned a biography of their own. 

Attar was a magus of his time, he was well versed in the alchemical treatise of his time and the mysteries of ascension.

Attar is renowned as a Sufi thinker and writer, on the other hand, his exact relationship with any Sufi teacher or order is vague. It is not known for certain which Sufi master instructed him. Possibly, his teacher was Majd ad-Din al-Baghdadi (d. 1219). Rumi wrote that he "had no teacher and was instructed in the Way by the spirit of Mansur al-Hallaj, the Sufi martyr who had been executed in Baghdad in 922 and who appeared to him in a dream.


It can, though, be taken for granted that from childhood onward `Attar, encouraged by his father, was interested in the Sufis and their sayings and way of life, and regarded their saints as his spiritual guides. `Attar "boasted that he had never sought a king's favor or stooped to writing a panegyric" which "alone would make him worthy of note among Persian poets." He appears to have regarded rulers as "capricious and cruel" suggesting that "it is best to have nothing to do with them."

This attitude may have been due to an ascetic tendency; love of wealth, power and fame have no place in his worldview. He narrates many stories suggesting that material wealth is often irreconcilable with spiritual health. "If all the world is yours" he wrote, "it will pass by as swiftly as the blinking of an eye."

His most famous work, The Conference of the Birds, rejoices in the loss of egotism and the realization that all people are equally loved by God. This work has been compared with Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and with his Parliament of Fowls. Attar challenges humans to abandon all "us and them polarities," such as those of race, religion, and social class. He affirms human solidarity. 
His poetry expounds the teachings of Islamic mysticism in a universal language, inviting one to live for the sake of others, to prize what has eternal, not ephemeral values.

Attar's Seven Valleys of Love in the Manteq al-Tayr( Conference of Birds)

In the poem, Led by the hoopoe, the birds of the world set forth in search of their king, Simurgh. Their quest takes them through seven valleys in the first of which a hundred difficulties assail them. They undergo many trials as they try to free themselves of what is precious to them and change their state. Once successful and filled with longing, they ask for wine to dull the effects of dogma, belief, and unbelief on their lives.


Birds!
Look at the troubles happening in our world!
Anarchy — discontent — upheaval!
Desperate fights over territory, water, and food!
Poisoned air! Unhappiness!
I fear we are lost. We must do something!
I've seen the world. I know many secrets.
Listen to me: I know of a king who has all the answers.
We must go and find him

Yea, my friends, we have a king, whose name is Simurg, and whose residence is behind Mount Caucasus. He is close by, but we are far away from Him. The road to His throne is bestrewn with obstructions; more than a hundred thousand veils of light and darkness screen the throne. Hundreds of thousands of souls burn with an ardent passion to see Him, but no one is able to find his way to Him. Yet none can afford to do without Him. Supreme manliness, absolute fearlessness, and complete self-effacement are needed to overcome those obstacles. If we succeed in getting a glimpse of His face, it will be an achievement indeed. If we do not attempt it, and if we fail to greet the Beloved, this life is not worth living.

It's an allegorical tale, the birds are of course seekers and the seven valleys are the seven stations in Sufism before Nirvana or ego death. It's a beautiful poem to read for any spiritual seeker but especially a Sufi; I am giving brief excerpts of the poem below but it should be read in its entirety to be really appreciated and fully understood. 


The Valley of the Quest

"When you enter the first valley, the Valley of the Quest, a hundred difficulties will assail you; you will undergo a hundred trials. 
There, the Parrot of heaven is no more than a fly. You will have to spend several years there, you will have to make great efforts, and to change your state. 

You will have to give up all that has seemed precious to you and regard as nothing all that you possess. 

When you are sure that you possess nothing, you still will have to detach yourself from all that exists. 

I am alone; make me your single goal --
My presence is sufficient for your soul;
I am your God, your one necessity --
With every breath you breathe, remember Me.

Your heart will then be saved from perdition and you will see the pure light of Divine Majesty and your real wishes will be multiplied to infinity. 





One who enters here will be filled with such longing that he will give himself up completely to the quest symbolized by this valley.

The hoopoe said: 'Your heart's congealed like ice;
When will you free yourself from cowardice?
Since you have such a short time to live here, 

What difference does it make? 

What should you fear?  
The world is filth and sin, and homeless men
Must enter it and homeless leave again.
They die, as worms, in squalid pain; if we
Must perish in this quest, that, certainly,
Is better than a life of filth and grief.  
If this great search is vain, if my belief     

Is groundless, it is right that I should die.
So many errors throng the world - then why
Should we not risk this quest? To suffer blame 

For love is better than a life of shame.

No one has reached this goal, so why appeal
To those whose blindness claims it is unreal? 

I'd rather die deceived by dreams than give
My heart to home and trade and never live.
We've been and heard so much - what have we learned?
Not for one moment has the self been spurned;
Fools gather round and hinder our release.
When will their stale, insistent whining cease?
We have no freedom to achieve our goal
Until from Self and fools we free the soul.
To be admitted past the veil you must
Be dead to all the crowd considers just.
Once past the veil you understand the Way
From which the crowd's glib courtiers blindly stray.
If you have any will, leave women's stories,
And even if this search for hidden glories
Proves blasphemy at last, be sure our quest
Is not mere talk but an exacting test.
The fruit of love's great tree is poverty;
Whoever knows this knows humility.
When love has pitched his tent in someone's breast,
That man despairs of life and knows no rest.
Love's pain will murder him and blandly ask
A surgeon's fee for managing the task -
The water that he drinks brings pain, his bread
Is turned to blood immediately shed;
Though he is weak, faint, feebler than an ant,
Love forces him to be her combatant;
He cannot take one mouthful unaware
That he is floundering in a sea of care.” 



He will ask of his cup-bearer a draught of wine, and he has drunk it nothing will matter except the pursuit of his true aim. 

Then he will no longer fear the dragons, the guardians of the door, which seek to devour him. When the door is opened and he enters, then dogma, belief and unbelief--all cease to exist.

                                 **********

The Valley of Love


"In this valley, love is represented by fire, and reason by smoke. When love comes reason disappears. Reason cannot live with the folly of love; love has nothing to do with human reason.If you possessed inner sight, the atoms of the visible world would be manifested to you. But if you look at things with the eye of the ordinary reason you will never understand how necessary it is to love. Only a man who has been tested and is free can feel this. He who undertakes this journey should have a thousand hearts so that he can sacrifice one at every moment."



Two themes, in particular, are diffused throughout almost the entire poem -- the necessity for destroying the Self, and the importance of passionate love. 

Both are mentioned in every conceivable context and not only at the “appropriate” moments within the scheme. The two are connected: the Self is seen as an entity dependent on pride and reputation; there can be no progress until the pilgrim is indifferent to both, and the commonest way of making him indifferent is the experience of overwhelming love. 

Now the love Attar chooses to celebrate (and the stories that deal with love are easily the most detailed and the longest of the poem) is of a particular kind; it is always love that flies in the face of either social or sexual or religious convention. 

It may be love between a social superior and inferior (e.g. between a princess and a slave); it is very commonly homosexual love; or, as in the longest story of the poem (about Sheikh Sam’an), it may be love between people of different religions. 

First buffeted by joy and then by sighs; 
If you desire this quest, give up your soul
And make our sovereign’s court your only goal
First wash your hands of life if you would say: 
‘I am a pilgrim of our sovereign’s Way’;
Renounce your soul for love;
He you pursue Will sacrifice His inmost soul for you
.



In each case the love celebrated is seen by the people of the world as scandalous.The mention of scandal reminds us of the “scandalous”, i.e. blasphemous, aspects of the Khorasanian tradition of sufism to which Attar belonged; the “scandalous” loves which Attar celebrates, their flouting of convention, are the allegorical counterpart of this spiritually “scandalous” abandonment. Love is a catalyst of transformation. 


What do they whisper to each other? Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.

In Love no longer 'thou' and 'I' exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.   

Now will I draw aside the veil from Love
And in the temple of mine inmost soul,
Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds,
Will find the secret of them both, is love.


Heart’s blood and bitter pain belong to love,
And tales of problems no one can remove;
Cupbearer, fill the bowl with blood, not wine -
And if you lack the heart’s rich blood take mine.
Love thrives on inextinguishable pain,
Which tears the soul, then knits the threads again.

A mote of love exceeds all bounds; it gives
The vital essence to whatever lives.
But where love thrives, there pain is always found;
Angels alone escape this weary round -
They love without that savage agony
Which is reserved for vexed humanit
y


                                    *******

The Valley of Understanding 


"After the valley of which I have spoken, there comes another--the Valley Understanding, which has neither beginning nor end. No way is equal to this way, and the distance to be traveled to cross it is beyond reckoning.

"Understanding, for each traveler, is enduring; but knowledge is temporary.
 

The soul, like the body, is in a state of progress or decline; and the Spiritual Way reveals itself only in the degree to which the traveler has overcome his faults and weaknesses, his sleep and his inertia, and each will approach nearer to his aim according to his effort. 

Even if a gnat were to fly with all its might could it equal the speed of the wind? 

There are different ways of crossing this Valley, and all birds do not fly alike. Understanding can be arrived at variously--some have found the Mihrab, others the idol. When the sun of understanding



brightens this road each receives light according to his merit and he finds the degree assigned to him in the understanding of truth. 

When the mystery of the essence of beings reveals itself clearly to him the furnace of this world becomes a garden of flowers. He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell. 

He will no longer be pre-occupied with himself but will look up at the face of his friend. In each atom he will see the whole; he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets.

"But, how many have lost their way in this search for one who has found the mysteries! 
It is necessary to have a deep and lasting wish to become as we ought to be in order to cross this difficult valley. 
Once you have tasted the secrets you will have a real wish to understand them. But, whatever you may attain, never forget the words of the Koran, "Is there anything more?"
"As for you who are asleep (and I cannot commend you for this), why not put on mourning? 
You, who have not seen the beauty of your friend, get up and search! How long will you stay as you are, like a donkey without a halter!"

                                     *********


The Valley of Independence and Detachment 

"The there comes the valley where there is neither the desire to possess nor the wish to discover. 

In this state of the soul, a cold wind blows, so violent that in a moment it devastates an immense space; the seven oceans are no more than a pool, the seven planets a mere sparkle, the seven heavens a corpse,
the seven hells broken ice. 

Then, an astonishing thing, beyond reason! 

An ant has the strength of a hundred elephants, and a hundred caravans perish while a rook is filling his crop.

"In order that Adam might receive the celestial light, hosts of green-clad angels were consumed by sorrow. So that Noah might become a carpenter of God and build the ark, thousands of creatures perished in the waters. 
Myriads of gnats fell on the army of Abrahah so that that king would be overthrown. Thousands of the first-born died so that Moses might see God. Thousands of people took to the Christian girdles so that Christ could possess the secret of God. 


Thousands of hearts and souls were pillaged so that Muhammad might ascend for one night to heaven. 
In this Valley nothing old or new has value; you can act or not act. 

If you saw a whole world burning until hearts were only shish kabab, it would be only a dream compared to reality. 

If myriads of souls were to fall into this boundless ocean it would be as a drop of dew. 

If heaven and earth were to burst into minute particles it would be no more than a leaf falling from a tree; and if everything were to be annihilated, from the fish to the moon, would there be found in the depths of a pit the leg of a lame ant? 

If there remain no trace of either of men or jinn, the secret of a drop of water from which all has been formed is still to be pondered over."


In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, "This world is like a closed coffin, in which
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,

We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
 
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,

Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers.
"



                                                  ************

The Valley of Unity 


"You will next have to cross the Valley of unity. 
In this valley, everything is broken in pieces and then unified.

 All who raise their heads here raise them from the same collar. 

Although you seem to see many beings, in reality there is only one--all make one which is complete in its unity.
Again, that which you see as a unity is not different from that which appears in numbers. 

And as the Being of whom I speak is beyond unity and numbering, cease to think of eternity as before and after, and since these two eternities have vanished, cease to speak of them. 

When all that is visible is reduced to nothing, what is there left to contemplate?"



                                                    ************

The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment 

"After the Valley of Unity comes the Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment, where one is a prey to sadness and dejection. 

Their sighs are like swords, and each breath a bitter sight; there, is sorrow and lamentation, and a burning eagerness.

It is at once day and night.

 There, is fire, yet a man is depressed and despondent.

 How, in his bewilderment, shall he continue his way?

But he who has achieved unity forgets all and forgets himself.

 If he is asked: "Are you, or are you not? 
Have you or have you not the feeling of existence? 

Are you in the middle or on the border?

 Are you mortal or immortal?"----- he will reply with certainty: "I know nothing, I understand nothing, I am unaware of myself. I am in love, but with whom I do not know. 

My heart is at the same time both full and empty of love."

                               ***********

The Valley of Deprivation and Death

"Last of all comes the Valley of Deprivation and Death, which is almost impossible to describe. 

The essence of the Valley is forgetfulness, dumbness and distraction; the thousand shadows which surround you disappear in a single ray of the celestial sun.


When the ocean of immensity begins to heave, the pattern on its surface loses its form; and this pattern is no other than the world present and the world to come. 

To seek death is death's only cure.

Whoever declares that he does not exist acquires great merit. 

The drop that becomes part of this great ocean abides there for ever and in peace. 

In this calm sea, a man, at first, experiences only humiliation and overthrow; but when he emerges from this state he will understand it as creation, and many secrets will be revealed to him.


Joy! Joy! I triumph! Now no more I know
Myself as simply me. I burn with lov
Unto myself, and bury me in love.
The centre is within me and its wonder
Lies as a circle everywhere about me.
Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.
I am the merchant and the pearl at once.
Lo, Time and Space lie crouching at my feet.
Joy! Joy! When I would reveal in a rapture.
I plunge into myself and all things know.


"Many beings have missed taking the first step and so have not been able to take the second--they can only be compared to minerals. When aloe wood and thorns are reduced to ashes they both look alike--but their quality is different.

 An impure object dropped into rose-water remains impure because of its innate qualities, but a pure object dropped into the ocean will lose its specific existence and will participate in the ocean and in its movement. 

In ceasing to exist separately it retains its beauty. It exists and non-exists. How can this be? 

The mind cannot conceive it."

Now the Sun celestial began to shine forth in front of them, and lo! how great was their surprise! 
In the reflection of their faces these thirty birds of the earth beheld the face of the Celestial Simurg. 

When they cast furtive glances towards the Simurg, they perceived that the Simurg was no other than those self-same thirty birds.

 In utter bewilderment, they lost their wits and wondered whether they were their own selves or whether they had been transformed into the Simurg. 

Then, to themselves, they turned their eyes, and wonder of wonders, those self-same birds seemed to be one Simurg! 

Again, when they gazed at both in a single glance, they were convinced that they and the Simurg formed in reality only one Being.

 This single Being was the Simurg and the Simurg this Being. 

That one was this and this one was that.

 Look where they would, in whatever direction, it was only the Simurg they saw. No one has heard of such a story in the world. 

Drowned in perplexity, they began to think of this mystery without the faculty of thinking, but finding no solution to the riddle, they besought the Simurg, though no words passed their lips, to explain this mystery and to solve this enigma of I and Thou. 
The Simurg thereupon deigned to vouchsafe this reply to them: “The Sun of my Majesty is a mirror.” 


All existence is an illusion!


One night in Baghdad, the king heard somebody walking on the roof of his palace. He shouted, “Who is there? And what are you doing there?”
The man was not a thief. Without any fear he said, “Don’t shout, that may disturb other people’s sleep. It is none of your business. I am looking for my camel. My camel is lost and it is time for you to go to sleep.” 

The king could not believe what kind of madman could be on the roof of a palace searching for his camel. He called the guards and they searched all over the place but could not find the man. And the next day when he was sitting in his court he heard the same voice again; he recognized it. 
The king immediately said, “Bring that man in,” because he was arguing with the guard in front of the gate that he wanted to stay in the caravanserai.
And the guard said, “You will be getting into problems unnecessarily. This is the palace of the king; this is not a caravanserai.”
The man said, “I know it is a caravanserai and you are just a guard. Don’t bother me. Just let me go in. I want to discuss the matter with the king himself. If I can convince him that this is a caravanserai then I will stay. If he can convince me it is not a caravanserai, then of course I will leave. But I won’t listen to you; you are just a guard.”
And just at that moment the message came from inside, “Don’t stop that man. We are in search of him; bring him in.”
The Sufi mystic was called in and the king said, “You seem to be a very strange fellow. I recognize your voice. You were the man on the roof searching for your camel and now you are calling my place, my home, a caravanserai.”
The man laughed and said, “You seem to be a man of some understanding. It is possible to talk with you. Yes, it was me who was looking for the camel on the roof of the palace. Don’t think that I’m insane. If you can look for blissfulness sitting on a golden throne, if you can look for God while continuously conquering and butchering and burning living human beings, what is wrong in searching for a camel on the roof of the palace? You tell me!
“If I am inconsistent you are also not consistent. And what right have you got to call this place your home, because I have been here before and on the same golden throne I have seen another man sitting. He looked just like you — a little older.”
The king said, “He was my father. Now he’s dead.” And the mystic said, “I was here even before that and I found another man. He also looked a little bit like you but very old.” The king said, “You are right, he was my grandfather.” And the mystic said, “What happened to him?” The king said, “He is dead.”
And the mystic said, “When are you going to die? They also believed that this is their home. I have argued with your grandfather. Now the poor fellow is in the grave. I have argued with your father; that poor fellow is also in the grave. Now I am arguing with you and someday I will come back again and I will be arguing with your son and you will be in a grave. So what kind of home is this where people go on changing? It is a caravanserai. It is just an overnight stay, and then one has to go.”  
The king was shocked but was silent. The whole court was silent. The man was right. And the mystic finally said, “If you really want to know where your home is, go to the graveyard where finally you will have to settle, where your grandfather is, where your father is. That is the real place that you can call your home, but not this palace. Here I am going to stay as if it is a caravanserai.”
The king was certainly not an ordinary man. He stood up and told the mystic, “Forgive me, I was wrong. You are right. You can stay as long as you want. I am going in search of my real home. This is not my real home.” This world is only a caravanserai.