Discourse 45

Discourse 45

Rumi asked: What is the name of that youth?

Someone said: “Saif al-Din (“Sword of the Faith”).

Rumi said: No one can judge a sword while it is still in its scabbard. Truly, the Sword of the Faith is one who defends the way, dedicates their efforts wholly to God, who reveals rightness from error and distinguishes truth from falsehood. But first they correct themselves and improve their own character: “Begin with yourself,” said the Prophet.

So they direct all discipline first to themselves, saying, “After all, I too am human. I have hands and feet, ears and understanding, eyes and a mouth. The prophets and saints – who attained God’s favor and reached their goal – they were human like me with reason, a tongue, hands and feet. Why were they shown the way? Why is this door that was opened to them, closed to me?” Such a person corrects themselves night and day, and struggles, saying, “What did I do, that I have not been accepted?” They continue until they become the Sword of God and the Tongue of Truth.

For example, ten people want to enter a house. Nine find the way, but one remains outside and is not allowed in. Certainly this person reflects inwardly and laments, saying, “What did I do that they would keep me out? What bad manners am I guilty of?” That person attributes the fault to themself and recognizes their own errors and lack of manners. They should never say, “God has done this to me, what can I do? It is God’s will. If God willed it, I would be shown the way.” Such words are tantamount to abusing God and drawing the sword against God. Such a person would be a Sword Against God, not the Sword of God.

God is far beyond having family or friends. “He has not begotten, and has not been begotten,” says the Koran. You cannot say that those who have found the way to God were more God’s kin, more His friends or more closely connected to Him. No one has ever approached God except from below.

“God is all sufficient,

You are the needy ones.”

Nearness to God is never attained, except through devotion and submission. He is the Giver of givers. He fills the skirt of the sea with pearls, He clothes the thorn in the raiment of the rose, He bestows life and spirit upon a handful of dust, all without precedent, all without favorites. All the world receives their share from Him.

When people hear about a generous person who bestows valuable gifts and favors, naturally they want to visit such a giver of wealth, in hopes of receiving a share of that bounty. Since God’s Grace is so well known to the entire world, why don’t you beg of Him? Why don’t you ask Him for robes of honor, or a rich gift? Instead, you sit in indolence saying, “If He wants to He will give to me.” So you never ask Him for anything.

A dog, without reason or comprehension, when hungry, comes up to you and wags its tail as if to say, “Give me food. I am hungry by the sight of that food you have. Please give me some.” A dog knows that much. Are you less than a dog? The dog is not content to sleep in ashes and say, “If he wants to he will throw me some food,” but begs and wags its tail. So should you wag your tail and beg of God, for in the presence of such a Giver, to ask is the expression of a wonderful desire. If you lack good fortune, ask from One who is not stingy, and a commander of great wealth.

God is always near to you. Every thought and idea you conceive, there is God – for God gave being to that idea and thought. Yet God is so close you cannot see It. What is so strange in that? In every act you perform, reason guides you and initiates your action, but you cannot see your reason. You see its effect, but you cannot see its essence. For instance someone goes to the baths. Wherever they go within the baths, they feel the heat of the fire, even though they do not see the fire itself. When they leave the baths, then they see the actual fire and flames. From this they know that the heat of the baths comes from a fire.

The human being is also a huge bath, and within itself dwells the heat of reason, spirit and the lower self. But once you leave this bath and enter the other world, you see the actual essences. Then you know that intelligence comes through the glow of reason, that fallacies and pretenses radiate from the lower self, and the impulse of life itself is the result of spirit. You can clearly see the essences of all three, but as long as you are in the bath they are invisible. You can only experience their effect.

When we were in Samarkand, the Khvarizmshah laid siege to Samarkand and attacked with his army. Not far from us lived an exceedingly beautiful girl, so lovely that none could match her in all the city. I heard her saying, “O God, I know You would never allow me to be delivered into the hands of evildoers. I know You would never permit that. I rely on You, O God.”

When the city was sacked and all its inhabitants were taken into captivity, even the maidservants of that woman were captured. But she was left unharmed. For all her extreme beauty, no man even cast eyes on her. From this, know that whoever commits themselves to God is secure from harm and remains in safety. No petition of man in God’s presence is ever ignored. Therefore beg of God, and demand what you need of God, for your petition will not be in vain.

“Call upon Me and I will answer you.”

A certain dervish taught his son that no matter what he needed, “Ask it of God.” The years passed. Then one day, while the child was alone in the house, he became hungry. In his usual way he said, “I want some food, I am hungry.” Suddenly a bowl of pottage materialized, and the child ate until he was full. When his father and mother returned, they said, “Aren’t you hungry?” The child answered, “I just asked for food and ate.” His father said, “Praise be to God, that your confidence and reliance upon God has grown so strong!”

When Mary was born, her mother vowed to dedicate Mary to the House of God and not to support her. She left Mary in the Temple. Zachariah demanded to care for the child, but everyone wanted to do so, as well. A dispute sprang up amongst them. Now in that time the custom was that each party in a dispute must throw a stick into water – the one whose stick floated longest was deemed to prevail. It so happened that Zachariah’s stick was the right one. They all agreed that he had the right to care for Mary. So every day Zachariah brought food to the child, but he always found an exact match of that food already at her side. He said, “Mary, I am in charge of you. Where is this food coming from?” Mary said, “Whenever I feel the need for food, I ask God and He sends it to me. His bounty and compassion are infinite. Whoever relies on Him, their trust is not in vain.”

Now, after Zachariah saw this he prayed, “O God, since You allow the need of this child, please grant me my desire. Give me a son who will be Your friend, who, without my prompting, will walk with You and be occupied in obedience to You.” God brought John into being, even though his father was bent and feeble, and his mother was very old and had not borne a single child while she was young. Still, she became pregnant and gave birth.

Don’t you see that all these things are but an occasion for the display of God’s omnipotence? Everything came from Him, and His will must always come to pass. The believer knows that behind this wall there is Someone who is aware of every circumstance in our lives, one by one, and who sees us though we do not see Him. But those who say, “No, this is all a tale,” they cannot believe. The day will come when they will realize their error.

For instance, you are playing the rebec. Even if you can not see anyone, if you know people are behind this wall listening, you will continue playing, for you are a rebec player. After all, the purpose of prayer is not standing, bowing and prostrating all day, for those moments of spiritual union that possess you in prayer should always be with you. Whether asleep or awake, writing or reading, in any moment, you should not be far from the remembrance of God.

Speaking and keeping silent, sleeping and eating, being enraged and forgiving – all these attributes should be like the turning of a water mill. Surely the mill revolves because of water, and it knows this, since it has tried to move without water. Any mill that believes it is the source of its own turning is the epitome of foolishness and ignorance.

Now this revolving occurs within a narrow space, for that is the nature of this material world. Therefore, say to God, “O God, grant me another turning that is spiritual, since all needs are fulfilled by You.” Therefore bring your needs to Him constantly, and never be without His remembrance, for the remembrance of God is strength, feathers and wings to a bird of spirit.

Through remembrance of God, little by little the inward heart becomes illumined and detached from the outward world. Just as a bird that tries flying to heaven, even though it never reaches that goal, yet every moment it rises farther from the earth and outsoars the other birds. Or for instance, some musk is in a jar, but the mouth of that jar is too small, and when you reach in you cannot remove the musk. Still, your hand is perfumed and your nostrils are fulfilled. So it is with the remembrance of God: although in this moment you do not attain the Essence of God, still it leaves its mark on you, and you gain the great benefits that go with that mark.