Rumi's Father, Bahauddin Walad's Sufi Teachings

"Bahauddin Walad - the father of the greatest mystic poet in the Persian language, Jalaluddin Rumi - 
himself was a noted Sufi mystic, author and teacher. Fleeing the invasion of Mongols into Balkh (northern Afghanistan), his family finally settled in Anatolia (historic Rum Province in central Turkey). He then moved to Konya in 1228 and became a religious teacher. One of his famous disciples was Burhanuddin Muhaqqiq who arrived in Konya in 1232 and helped considerably his son, Jalaluddin Rumi's spiritual formation and acquainted him with new mystical theories. His book , “Maarif” is a collection of ecstatic and earthly reflections translated into English by Coleman Barks and John Moyne in the US. "

The following excerpts are from Professor William C. Chittick's par excellence book, Sufism: A Beginner's GuideThe chapter below on Rumi's father, Bahauddin Walad, gives us an extraordinary insight into his Sufi inspired thoughts and dept of mystical knowledge. Anyone interested in Sufism or seeking to grasp the thoughts and poetic teachings of Rumi, must first start by reading his father's authoritative theological prose works.

Images of beatitude

"Although the Sufis sing of God’s presence most often in their poetry, many of them employed prose for the same ends. Among these, few have succeeded as well as Baha Walad (d.1230), whose name has been seen, if not remembered, by everyone who has read an account of the life of Rumi, his illustrious son. We are told that Baha Walad was a preacher and scholar in Balkh. Hearing of the approaching Mongol invasion, he set out with his family for Mecca and eventually ended up in Konya as “sultan of the learned.” He wrote a book called Ma’arif (“Gnostic Sciences”), but few have paid much attention to it. Among Orientalists, A. J. Arberry called it a “precious record” of “mystical experiences . . . described in remarkably fine and eloquent Persian,” and he translated the first twenty chapters into English, about five percent of the text.1 What is especially unusual about Ma’arif is the manner in which Baha Walad speaks of the spiritual life in intimate, first-person terms. The only work I know that might be compared to it is the Arabic Kashif al-asrar (“The Unveiler of the Mysteries”) by his contemporary Ruzbihan Baqli, a relatively short treatise that is now available in English translation.

However, Ruzbihan couches his book in a more literary language, and he describes a visionary realm of extraordinary apparitions. The reader is left with a strong sense of God’s otherness and inaccessibility, and few would feel called to follow Ruzbihan in his path. He constantly lets readers know that he has been granted truly remarkable privileges. In contrast, Baha Walad invites his readers to share in his vision of the holiness and luminosity of all creation. Baha Walad’s book is certainly not a systematic study of Sufi learning, despite what the title might suggest. It is rather a series of meditations, each beginning with a phrase or verse from the Koran, a hadith, a saying, or a recollection. But more than anything else, it is a record of encounters with God in the little details of everyday life. Perhaps it can best be compared to Rumi’s prose work, Fihi ma fthi (“In it is what is in it”), which is also a compilation of scattered thoughts about a variety of topics. But Fihi ma fihi takes the form of conversations that were collected by Rumi’s disciples. Ma’arif is a record of thoughts that Baha Walad himself put down on paper. In his introduction to the critical edition of the text, the incomparable scholar of Rumi Badi’uz-Zaman Furuzanfar describes in some detail the parallels between Baha Walad’s prose and Rumi’s poetry. A thorough study of these could easily fill a book. There is little doubt that Ma’arif is the single most important literary influence on Rumi after the Koran and the Hadith. The hagiographical accounts tell us that Rumi used to read the book constantly before the coming of Shams-i Tabrizi, and it was only after Shams’s disappearance that Rumi began to compose poetry. It was as if separation from Shams threw the ocean of imagery, much of it already given form by Baha Walad’s Ma’arif, into tumult, rhythm, and meter.

The Vision of God

The Kalam experts say that people will not be given the vision (ru’ya) of God until they reach paradise, but Baha Walad tells us that those who have faith are already seeing Him, whether they recognize Him or not. In one passage, he explains that the formula “Glory be to God,” usually taken as the assertion of God’s transcendence and the impossibility of seeing Him, means in fact that God is seen everywhere. I was saying, Glory be to Thee [2:32]. This means: You are pure and far from defect – the defect that the creatures imagine, that my parts imagine, and that all the parts of the world imagine. [They imagine that] You are not powerful, You are not knowing, and You do not exercise control over them. They say that these parts do not see You, for they do not see how You give being to these parts, make them low, and make them high. They say that You create the parts of the eyes’ light, but these do not see You. You give being to the parts of the intellect, awareness, and perception, but these do not see You. No, no. Glory be to Thee means that You are pure of and far above the defect of words like this that they say – that each part does not see You. How can they know You if they have not seen You? Without seeing, knowing You is impossible. Those who deny the seeing of You have not known You. How can anyone incline to service if the seeing of You is not before him? This is the “withness” of And He is with you wherever you are [57:4]. O parts, unless there is seeing, withness is impossible! It seems that unbelief is not to see You, and Islam is to see You.

Baha Walad constantly tells us that every sweet and desirable thing in both worlds rises up from the experience of God’s presence, though people are confused by the multiplicity of the names and think that the things are the realities. He questions the well-known proposition that paradise is the prison of the Sufi, who desires only God himself. I was describing the houris and talking about the gardens and the paradises. A shaykh from among the Folk of Gnosis said, “Those who are busy with these things in this world will be busy with them in that world too. When will they go back to God? When will they see God?” I answered, “It is proper that the ‘houris, palaces, gardens, fountains, and ginger’ [mentioned in the Koran] consist of the states of seeing God. Each time you see, you find a different taste. So, look upon the meanings – how God constantly keeps you in the palm of His hand and His breast. Belong to your Lord and be His companion! Be a stranger to other things and other states. Keep your gaze upon your Sovereign. Whatever you want, ask it from Him. Rub yourself against Him. Mix with Him like milk and honey. Then you will find all the houris, palaces, and sweetnesses of paradise in ready coin. You will find God. Your felicity is for this door to be opened to you – for you to know that He is with you wherever you are. For Baha Walad, as for Rumi, the vision of God in all creation takes place in infinite variety and never-ending joy. Both attempt to describe the diversity of forms within which they perceive the divine self-disclosure, and it is here that poetical imagery is born. The vision of God takes place at the level of “thought” (andisha) – which as Rumi makes clear, is identical with “imagination” (khayal ) – so the mind of the visionary becomes a fountain of fresh and ever-renewed images overflow- ing into language. Baha Walad describes how his thoughts take on imaginal form in many passages. One soon reaches the conclusion that everything he says fits into a radiant tapestry woven of the ceaseless images of God’s self-showing. Thought is like a wellspring that God causes to bubble up. If sweet water bubbles up, I see that green herbs, bounties, and flowers spring up in the body’s sanctuary, and water goes in every direction in the body’s earth. But if salty water bubbles up, the body’s earth becomes salty and without profit. I keep on looking at God to see which sort of water He will give to the body’s earth.

I was thinking that these parts of mine have found several thousand neighbors. These words of my thoughts, like green herbs and saffron – from which breast have they sprung up? Or like ants – on whose colored cheeks have they scrambled out, tripping over one another in my breast? Then I saw that God is working alone behind this curtain of the Unseen. He keeps everyone according to His desire. He gives no one a path to Him, whether angel, prophet, saint, wrongdoer, or wronged. No one becomes cognizant of how He works. From there He sends out commands to everyone. He judges and determines. He does not let anyone work according to his own desire. He has made impossibility and howness into Alexander’s wall, so that no one may pass beyond it. He has tied a knot at the end of everyone’s conceptualizing and imagining so that no one may come out of it. Everyone who takes a step outside that boundary is plundered such that he ceases to be. A cold strikes against him and freezes him, or a hot wind blows over him and burns him up Then I saw that the world is like a house and a pavilion that God has brought out. He has sent out my meanings on its inside, like aware individuals, as if the servants of a king are sitting and standing in the pavilions and porches. My substances are like the walls of the houses, within which the meanings walk. The world is sweet for those who find it like Eden. After all, how should I not be happy? God does all my acts. He by Himself makes and gives being to my earth, my air, and all my atoms. I see that all my parts are happily leaning on God’s act, their bodies at ease. I gazed on my own state. I saw that the parts of my thoughts, my courses of action, and my perceptions are like birds and sparrows and gnats standing up straight before God. It is as if He has placed a chain around the neck of each, or He has tied each of them down with a rope so that they all remain under His control. He Himself bestows upon them life and He bestows upon them taste, so that each of these birds might open up its wings to ease. These birds are standing and looking to see what God will command and over which one He will exercise His control. I looked again and saw that God was opening up my parts. He showed me a hundred thousand many-colored flowers. Then He opened up the parts of the flowers and showed me a hundred thousand green herbs and flowing waters and blowing winds, and He opened up the winds and showed me a hundred thousand freshnesses.

Remembering God

The reader may have noticed how often Baha Walad uses the name God. In contrast to normal Persian usage, he is employing the Arabic word allah rather than Persian khuda. He is probably doing so because his meditations and visions are occurring in the context of remembering God’s name. Some of the passages of the book make this especially clear, like the following, which is the whole of Chapter 98. It begins as a meditation on the two divine names All-merciful (rahman) and Compassionate (rahim), both of which are derived from the word rahma, mercy. Baha Walad translates the two into Persian as Bestowing (bakhshayanda) and Kind (mihrban). Then he turns to the formula, “God is greater,” and he focuses on the remembrance of the name Allah. I said, “God is All-merciful, Compassionate.” I conceived of God’s bestowal in the form of a whiteness and in the shape of an essence compounded of white pearls. I gazed at the essence of bestowal. My spirit came to rest in it and rubbed itself against it. “What a sweet thing is this bestowal, for I have found every ease within it!” I found every release from grief and every healing from pain. I slithered along in it and found no concep- tion of weariness. I gazed upon compassion and the essence of kindness. I found in it everything to warm the heart, everything sweet, and all loves. The more I slithered into it, the happier I became and the more beloved I found the essence of kindness. Bestowal is that you have fallen, and a noble, knowledgeable man arrives and prepares your cure. Or, you are broken and hard up. You go to a benefactor and patron and he bestows and provides the cure for your work. The kind person is he who searches out the helpless and pulls him, willingly or unwillingly, to himself so as to take care of his work. He protects him from affliction and wants to keep him always next to himself. He keeps on adding to the intimacy. Now I say, “God is greater.” If I look at beauty, I say, “God is greater.” If I look at any sort of power, I say, “God is greater.” If I look at all sorts of knowledge, I say, “God is greater.” I keep on entering into the remembrance of God and the meaning of God, for the meaning of God is better than all. The tongue is the key to the heart. The more the tongue moves in uttering the remembrance of God, the more the heart opens up and the more that precious things appear within it. It is as if the remembrance of God is the east wind bringing news of the Beloved. It delights the earth of the dead body by filling it with gardens and orchards. Water flows before the door of every house of the body, and blossoms pour down in the meadow of each organ and part. An intelligent, experienced man may become sated and tired from the remembrance of God and then wilt. When he sees these wonders, and when that wondrous thing appears to him, his parts become quick and sprightly and they enter into the remembrance of God. It is as if that was a wondrous life that harmed his parts, then brought them to life. Or, it was a wondrous blast of Seraphiel’s trumpet that brought the sleeping parts of his earth to life. The meaning is that this is the explication, by allusion, of how God brings to life the wilted parts and takes them to the paradise of happiness. By the Mount! [52:1]. In other words, when the inward self of Mount Sinai became aware of love, it fell to pieces. If your inward self also looks cleanly and clearly, it will become aware and distracted and find that very joy. Now, utter the remembrance of God so much that you see God. Just as the veil was lifted from the Mount, so also, when your veils are torn by the remembrance of God, you will see. Baha Walad here is referring to the Koranic account of Moses’ request to see God. “And when his Lord disclosed Himself to the mountain. He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down thunderstruck” (7:143). This verse is the source of the term self- disclosure (tajalli), which plays an important role in Sufi teachings about the nature of God’s presence in creation. Many Sufis read it to mean that creation has already crumbled to dust, because only God is truly real, and his attributes alone are present in the universe. Like Moses, all of us have fallen down thunderstruck, because we have no awareness of our own. In truth God is “our ears with which we hear, our eyes with which we see.” Baha Walad frequently discusses the verse of mutual love. In the following, he begins by referring to a saying of the Prophet, “This world is the prison of the believer.” They asked, “The believer is in prison. How can he be happy- hearted?” I said: When he is sincere, he will be happy-hearted, just like Joseph the Sincere in prison. Sometimes a believer does an act of disobedience and his mouth becomes bitter – “With such a disobedient act, how can I crave forgiveness from God? How can I speak to God with need, how can I address Him?” You must be happy with this bitterness and this brokenness of the body. You must be content with this apportioning that God has given – that you are bitter-mouthed in fear of separation from Him. Unless there is some faith, why would you fear punishment? If, despite boldness and bravery in sins, you are happy in remembering paradise and His bounty, generosity, and forgiveness, that is a faith, a love, and a belief, of whatever sort it may be. In this way, heartache and gladness, brokenness from sins and from bravery in sins, are all proof of your love and proof of your belief in God. Your love for God is proof of God’s love for you, for He loves them, and they love Him. Wherever there is weeping and laughing, the laughter is because of union with God’s bounties, and the weeping is because of separation from God’s bounties.

When a human child grows up from littleness, he is happy in God’s bounties. In old age, he is sad and weeping because of separation from God’s bounties. He laughs in Him and weeps in separation from Him. Now, if you want your happiness to be everlasting, serve the Everlasting. I mean that if you come to the remembrance of God, the orchard of your parts will blossom, the garden of your soul will begin to laugh, and the east wind of your state will begin to blow. Look and see how God blows with His own blessed breath, bringing your parts to laughter. If people love the things of this world, this is because God has made the world lovable by filling it with His beauty. But the world in itself is nonexistent, even if it appears to our eyes as a collection of self-existing things. Loving God demands seeing His face in all things without mistaking the gold plating for the gold. One must throw oneself into annihilation, which in fact is the fullness of Being. As Rumi reminds us, “We and our existences are all nonexistences, / but You are absolute Existence, appearing as annihilation.” In Chapter 88 Baha Walad explains how God makes nonexistence lovable: My spirit became busy with my body – “My head hurts” and things like this. It was slithering out from under the body while I looked on. I watched the flowers of intellect and perception, and at every moment the spirit kept banging against the tree. The flowers scattered, and they were stamped underfoot like ears of grain. Once I came out of the body’s skin, no matter what form came over me, I pulled myself out of it. I was going into the world of God and howlessness. I was going into God’s attributes. I lifted myself up – “I have been freed from all suffering.” Suddenly I saw God, standing behind nonexistence and making nonexistence encompass all things. He was bringing the things out from nonexistence, and I was seeing the result. I returned to God’s attributes and the traces – the green herbs, the flowing water, the beautiful houris. I said, “Let me open up all these sweet, sweet things to each other. I will smash and throw aside everything that is form and grab the taste of the unqualified meanings. Such is the reality of the spirit, and such is God, for He has no howness.” God has made this infinite nonexistence into a beloved. A hundred thousand beauties, appetites, passions, loves, views, courses of action, choices, fallings in love, caressings of lovers, sorts of faculties, kinds of life, stratagems, ruses, embraces, kisses, sweet meetings – God has pulled all of these over the face of nonexistence.Someone is needed who can gaze upon nonexistence, with tears running down his cheeks in his love for it. Such a nonexistence contains and surrounds my parts from all six directions. In the end, how will my parts be without an intimate friend and alone?

Disclosures of God

The experts in Kalam stressed God’s transcendence so much that they often went as far as to deny that human beings can love God. The Sufis agreed, because God is certainly transcendent, and a transcendent God cannot be known or loved. But, they added, He is also immanent. It is the immanent God disclosing Himself endlessly who is forever the object of love. Love for anything at all can only be love for Him. This is the theme of Chapter 89. Baha Walad begins by discussing the existence that is truly ascribed to God and metaphorically to His creatures. In the second half, he meditates on the beginning of the Koran’s famous “Footstool Verse” – “God, there is no god but He, the Living, the Self-abiding. Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep. To Him belongs everything that is in the heavens and the earth” (2:255). I was thinking – since created things have no congeneity with God, how can they come to be intimate, happy, and at rest with God? God inspired me: “Since the created thing derives from a Giver of existence, which is I, how should I not be its intimate? After all, if existence is not at rest with existence- giving, how does it come into existence? How should the one harm the other? If existence is not at rest with the giving of existence, with what will it be at rest? Since My desire, My act, My attribute, My creating, and My mercy are connected to the creatures, if they are not intimate with Me, with whom will they be intimate? After all, are not all these appetites, loves, and intimacies from Me? Are they not My creation? How should there be no intimacy with Me? Intimacy is My act. All the words between lovers, their whispered secrets, their touching, their intercourse – I bring all this into existence. How can the existent thing not be at ease with the Giver of existence? With whom does it want intimacy to last if not with Me?” So, utter the remembrance, and be intimate with God and His attributes. Read the Koran and witness the reality of intimacy: God, there is no god but He. Since no one’s will has any effect but God’s, and since I am what is wanted by that will, how should the wanted not have intimacy with the Wanter? The Living. Since He lives perpetually, how should He not be intimate with living things?

The Self-abiding. He makes all your days, and He puts straight all your controlling activities. How should you have no words and secrets and intimacy with Him? Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep. At no time is He unaware, so how can you not be able to present your state to Him? Let lovers be awake! Are you then the beloved that you should now be sleeping? Your existence is like a sprig of sweet basil in God’s hand – all the blossoms of your appetites and all the leaves of your secrets must be with God! In order for the seekers’ leaves and blossoms to be with God, they must remember Him constantly by mentioning His name. The image of God must return to that which casts it, the ray of light must go back to the sun. The path of return is that of awareness and consciousness of the nature of things, of the reality of the world, of the selfhood of the self, of the presence of God in all things and all thoughts. Dhikr is an alchemy that transmutes perception and awareness into utter joy. In the following chapter, Baha Walad begins with a Koranic verse. Then he turns to meditating on the two divine names, Life- giver (muhyi) and Death-giver (mumit), and he suggests how they are connected to the “increase” that the Koran promises in the verse, “God calls to the Abode of Peace, and He guides whomsoever He will to a straight path. For the beautiful-doers will be the most beautiful, and increase” (10:26). Then he reflects on the verse, “Praise belongs to God” (1:2), a formula of remembrance that asserts the presence of God’s blessings and bounties in everything good and everything praiseworthy. I said: God, You have promised – Nothing is there crawling on the earth but that its provision rests upon God [11:6]. You have brought me up by way of the manifest doors, so give me my daily bread from Yourself. Since You have not let me do without the secondary causes, I want beauties, I want blessings, I want Audition, I want esteem, I want power, I want will. God inspired into me: “God and He is God consist of the happinesses, the objects of desire, and the wills of all creatures. And increase – drink from Me without end, like a bee from flowers, so that all your parts may become honey. For We are the Life-giver, and ‘life-giving’ takes place only through happi- ness and objects of desire. We are the Death-giver, and ‘death- giving’ takes place only through separation from happiness and objects of desire. As much as happiness comes, existence appears. As much as happiness goes, annihilation appears.

“All the forms of paradise, like the houris and wide-eyed maidens, pasture on Us. The souls are the drops of Our sweat. The causes of all happiness and all objects of desire are like ladles before Us. As much as you can, drink from Us with the cup of remembering God. Once Our wine makes you drunk and loose, We will give you the sweetness of sleep, like the Seven Sleepers [18:9ff.]. Drink from Us and give thanks for Our intoxication – give news of Our happiness to the creatures that We may give you increase.” I said: Praise belongs to God. In other words, this eminence is not yet complete for me, since God’s exercise of control and God’s act are in my parts. He pulled me out of nonexistence and gave me existence. He exercises control over my parts, and I know that He is exercising control over me. This state is the most exalted of states in my eyes, for with this attribute I go to God. Now I am voicing praise. With each breath I fill myself with this state. I become unaware of creatures and other states. I cut myself off from all familiarity. It is as if I voice praise for the tastes of God, because people voice all these love-letters and all these laudations for the bits of God’s tastes. Now, like brides in love I weep: “O God, deprive me not of Your tastes! For I have no one but You. Leave me not solitary, while You are the best of inheritors” [21:89]. When anything’s companionship with God decreases, the perfection of its state is transformed into imperfection. So also, when a bridegroom turns his face away from a lovely bride, she wilts.God has a companionship with the intellect, and the taste of the intelligibles derives from that. So also is sense perception. God’s exercise of control over me in all my parts, and God’s act, do not take place without His attributes, like mercy and generosity. These attributes are all light and leave traces of light in the colors that I see. Streams of light flow in every one of my parts, like molten gold. They flow out from God’s attributes. Since God works in my every part and since all thoughts and all tastes come into being from God, all have turned their faces toward God, who is like a handsome bridegroom sitting among new brides. One nibbles on his back, another kisses his shoul- der, and still another rubs herself against him. Or like children – so many pearls, who gather around their young father and play with him. Or like pigeons and sparrows – they come down around him who feeds them and land upon him wherever they can. Just as all the dustmotes of the universe circle round about God’s Beauty, so all my courses of action and thoughts circle round about God, uttering glorification and praise. If “Praise belongs to God” is the formula of asserting God’s nearness and similarity, “Glory be to God” is typically taken as the formula of asserting His distance and transcendence. For Baha Walad, it means that nothing is real but the Real, nothing is beautiful but the Beautiful, and joy is found only in God. He sees the same significance in the famous hadith, “God has seventy veils of light and darkness; were He to lift them, the glories of His face would burn away everything that the eyesight of His creatures perceives.”15 Joseph, mentioned at the end of the following passage, is considered the most beautiful of all human beings and the perfect mirror of the divine beauty. Rumi often speaks of him in this sort of context, as when he tells how love for Joseph so overcame Zulaykha that everything she said was in fact remembrance of him. I was saying, Glory be to Thee. I said: The meaning of Glory be to Thee is this: If your heart goes to beauty, He is saying, “Beauty without defect is here.” If it goes to property, He is saying, “Riches without defect is here.” If it goes to position, He is saying, “Position without defect is here.” If it goes to Audition and other people’s speech, “Speech without defect is here.” “Mercy and kindness without defect are here.” And so on with all the attributes, down to where He says, “I am the Guardian [59:23] – A hen does not watch over her chicks like I keep My friends under My wing.”All of this is lest you lose hope and say, “God is not of my kind. He will not give me intimacy with the sweetness of His beauty.” You will not find from any kind whatsoever the sweetness that comes from God. Glory be to Thee. God says, “Whatsoever you love and seek is not without defect. Since I am pure and without defect, bring love here!”
“The glories of His face would burn away [. . .].” This is what the “glories of the face” are all about. I said: O God, the defect is my own being. My imagination and gaze are the veil over You while I am seeing You. O God, the shirt of my existence and senses has been pulled over my head, but the glories of Your face are beyond the shirt of existence. I want to strike off the cloak of self-existence that has come over my face and head, for seeing You is all delight and revelry. To be veiled from this love and deprived of this gaze are the descending degrees of hell given sensory shape. I was shown the attribute of having no defects and the mark of purity so that I might become quick in love. “Worship” is to offer love. The goal is to be restless in that Beauty and to seek It, nothing more. So, O God, when I become weary of seeking You in the clothing of my existence, which is Your veil, and when I become slow in seeking, I hold my parts before You like cups – “O God, within these cups bring into being the power and taste of seeking You, for I live through the taste of this seeking. If not for the taste of seeking I would be dead.” Love for the various kinds of beauty, for Audition, and for green herbs is like the morning breeze giving news of Joseph’s beauty: “O Jacob, be satisfied with God’s Presence in the morning breeze. Come to your own Joseph, and see what will be.”17 Baha Walad frequently mentions people by name, but most often their identity is unknown. His book is more a diary than a formal disquisition, so he saw no need to explain to readers whom he was referring to. In the following chapter, he mentions two people. The first is Bibi Alawi, a woman who is perhaps his wife, though the sexual appetite she awakes in him sets him thinking how often people are misled by it. The second is Hajji Siddiq. The context hints that he is a pious and Sharia- minded man who has not tasted God’s presence in things. The chapter covers a good deal of ground, summarizing the Sufi view of love’s transforming power, the difference between formal learning and true knowledge, and the role of the prophets in human existence. I reached a place where there were ovens for baking bricks. I saw that the inside face was white, the middle was red and bright, and the outside was black. It came to my heart that whatever reaches fire first becomes black, then red, and then it stays white, without changing into another color. The fire of love for God is the same. At first Adam’s child is full of heartache and black in face. Then he comes to states and ecstasy, so he is red and brightened. Then he stays bright and white – like the light of Moses, the light of Muhammad, and others among the prophets. Images of beatitude Someone said, “I want to study knowledge.” I replied: “Knowledge is of two sorts. One is formal and halfway. The other is the knowledge of the realities. The formal is like theory, rhetoric, and the rules of being a judge and a preacher. All these are cut off halfway down the road. The knowledge of reality is that you look to the end of the work, you strive for that, and you make it flourish. When God gives someone this knowledge and theory, he is chosen, and he enjoys the sweet taste. Whenever this theory is cut off from him, he loses the sweet taste. It is as if the spirits of people like this are uncon- scious in the World of the Unseen, or they are drunkards, or they imbibe its strength in their own measure. They have other states as well, but None knows them but God [6:59]. They become aware of this world only when God makes them aware of it and gives them news of it.” I was talking about this when suddenly the dog barked and disturbed me. Bibi Alawi woke up, and she came to me at the break of dawn. Appetite appeared in me. It came into my heart that this also is God’s bringing into movement. Why should it be the cause of punishment and dispersion? God inspired into me: “When I bring into movement, it is by downletting and uplift- ing.18 With one movement I exalt, with another I make lowly. Now, when any perception reaches your spirit, first remember God. Remember that God has brought it into movement. Think about it. If this bringing into movement is the cause of punishment, lowliness, and suffering, then ask help from God so that He will not move you like that. If it is the cause of exaltation and good fortune, praise God so that He will keep you in that with every breath. Whenever He gives something of these two states to your spirit, know that you have been chosen for the light of prophecy.” I was standing next to Hajji Siddiq during the prayer, and these perceptions were overcoming my spirit. I was saying: I am amazed that people do not recognize God, since He exercises control over the spirit and these sensory perceptions. These perceptions that wander around the spirits come from God. So, God can be seen as sensory with the eye of the spirit. How can anyone deny God? Then I was thinking that if everyone had this constitution and this awareness, they would all be prophets. How could this be?

The constitution of the prophets has turned away from edibles, clothing, enjoyments, and meat-eating, and their gaze is only upon God. God has given these states to the spirit of the prophets, but He has not given others these states. It is as if God maintains the prophets, one by one, in this constitution. He gives them kingship and makes paradise their empire. As for those who do not have this constitution, who exercise their caprice and appetite, and who find flavor from the foods of this world, when they love the Prophet and follow him, God places them, because of the Prophet’s blessing, among the folk of tawhid and gnosis and the folk of paradise.19 One final chapter can sum up Baha Walad’s vision of a universe transfigured by the divine presence. Notice his use of the unusual term “Thou-ness” (tu’i). Although the Sufis remember God’s name in the third person as if He were absent (gha’ib), in fact they are striving to find Him present. The “I” that remem- bers God meets Him face to face in His name, and, like Baha Walad, it sees the universe as a never-ending array of names voicing God’s reality. When I wake up from sleep, I see the whole world as God’s Thou-ness. When I begin to move, I take God’s Thou-ness in my embrace to see what will come to hand and what will enter into my senses from it. In the same way, a bridegroom moves, awakens from his sleep, and imagines that he is alone. But when the touch of the bride’s locks, the bride’s face, and the bride’s parts strikes against him, he knows that the bride is with him and that she is his intimate. He rests and begins to speak to her. Images of beatitude I too begin speaking with God’s Thou-ness about whatever may be at hand. I enter into the sweet, good, and beautiful things of God. Each instant I mix with God’s Thou-ness and gaze upon its nonmanifest wonders. I see its wonders and drink the wine of each one’s taste such that I remain senseless until late, just as the sweetest state of Moses was He disclosed Himself and Show me [that I may see Thee] [7:143]. Each moment I embrace God’s Thou-ness, for When My servants ask you about Me, surely I am near [2:186]. At each moment I have the ardent running of Jesus, the ecstasy of Moses, the undoubtingness of Muhammad (upon them all be peace!), the unveilings and the stability of the saints, and the beauty of the beloveds along with the state and sweet prosperity of their lovers. I was given two feet to run to those sweet things of theirs. I gaze upon those wonders and say, “O God, give me of these, for You have brought them into being from the Unseen, and they have come to be like this through Your giving. Give also to me! Be!, so it comes to be [16:40], and so that it may also come to be for me. O God, You have given ardent running and happiness to the prophets, the spheres, and the planets. Give me the stability, sleep, and ease of happiness.” The happinesses of the manifest realm take replenishment from the happinesses of the nonmanifest realm, the nonmani- fest realm takes replenishment from God’s exercise of control, and God’s exercise of control takes replenishment from God’s attributes. Therefore, the doors to the everlasting garden whose name is “paradise” are God’s attributes, and, in each kind of happiness in the world, one door – God’s attribute – is opened, so that He may breathe into it and increase it. Now come, let me offer myself to these doors of God’s attributes, and let me go into that paradise, so that I may no longer remember the world but remember God and belong to God. I was remembering God. I said: As long as God does not love me, how can I love God? Love from one side is impossible.One hand will never clap. In the same way the inclination of the houris of paradise toward its inhabitants is God’s love. It is as if God does the embracing, just as, when two forms embrace each other, that is the love of two spirits. But at the level of the spirit’s reality and the form’s meaning, there can be no embrace."

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Thank you for visiting Maulana Rumi Online, a blog dedicated entirely to the life, works and teachings of Maulana Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi better known simply as Rumi here in our beloved America. Just as a memory refresher, all articles, e-books, images, links and reading materials listed in this Blog are solely for Educational purposes. This Blog is designed and maintained by yours truly, your comments, critiques or suggestions are quite welcome and greatly appreciated. As for my own Rumi Translations, you are welcome to copy and use them as long as it's not for commercial purposes. For best viewing, please try this Blog on Google Chrome Browser. This is a very long Blog though, so please make sure to use the Scroll To Top or Bottom Buttons at the left side, or Back To Top Button at the bottom right corner of your screen for smooth navigation. If you have any question, comment, critique or suggestion, please contact me by clicking the Contact Box embedded at the right middle corner. As Rumi would say, "Come, come, whoever you are, come back again.."!

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