The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said,
‘There is no better companion
on this way than what you do. Your actions will be
your best friend, or if you’re cruel and selfish,
your actions will be a poisonous snake
that lives in your grave.’
But tell me,
Can you do the good work without a teacher?
Can you even know what it is without the presence
of a Master? Notice how the lowest livelihood
requires some instruction.
First comes knowledge,
Then the doing of the job, And much later,
perhaps after you’re dead, something grows
from what you’ve done.
Look for help and guidance
in whatever craft you’re learning. Look for a generous
teacher, one who has absorbed the tradition he’s in.
Look for pearls in oyster shells.
Learn technical skill from a craftsman.
Whenever you meet genuine spiritual teachers,
Be gentle and polite and fair with them.
Ask them questions, and be eager
for answers. Never condescend.
If a master tanner wears an old, threadbare smock,
That doesn’t diminish his mastery.
If a fine blacksmith works at the bellows
in a patched apron, it doesn’t affect
how he bends the iron.
Strip away your pride,
And put on humble clothes.
If you want to learn theory,
Talk with theoreticians. That way is oral.
When you learn a craft, practice it.
That learning comes through the hands.
If you want Dervishhood, spiritual poverty,
and emptiness, you must be friends with a sheikh.
Talking about it; reading books, and doing practices
don’t help. Soul receives from soul that knowing.
The mystery of spiritual emptiness
may be living in a pilgrim’s heart, and yet
the knowing of it may not yet be his.
Wait for the illuminating openness,
As though your chest were filling with light,
As when God said:
‘Did We not expand you?’ … (Quran 94:1)
Don’t look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don’t milk others!
There is a milk fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around with an empty bucket.
You have a channel into the ocean, and yet
You ask for water from a little pool.
Beg for that love expansion. Meditate only
On THAT. The Quran says:
‘And He is with you’ …. (57:4).
There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
And yet you go door to door asking for crusts.
Knock on your inner door. No other.
Sloshing knee-deep in fresh riverwater, yet
You keep wanting a drink from other people’s waterbags.
Water is everywhere around you, but you see only
barriers that keep you from water.
The horse is beneath the rider’s thighs, and still
he asks: ‘Where’s my horse?’
Right there, under you!
Yes, this is a horse, but where’s the horse?’
‘Can’t you see?’
‘Yes, I can see, but whoever saw such a horse?’
Mad with thirst, he can’t drink from the stream
running so close by his face. He’s like a pearl
on the deep bottom, wondering, inside his shell,
Where’s the ocean?
His mental questionings
form the barrier. His physical eyesight
bandages his knowing. Self-consciousness
plugs his ears.
Stay bewildered in God,
And only that.
Those of you who are scattered,
Simplify your worrying lives. There is ONE
Righteousness: Water the fruit trees,
and don’t water the thorns. Be generous
to what nurtures the spirit and God’s luminous
reason-light. Don’t honour what causes
dysentery and knotted-up tumors.
Don’t feed both sides of yourself equally.
The spirit and the body carry different loads
And require different attentions.
we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey
run loose in the pasture.
Don’t make the body do
what the spirit does best, and don’t put a big load
on the spirit that the body could carry easily.