The long entreating prayer-song of seekers and travelers tells a story of lives occupied in labor and devotion with each effort assigned to its special time. It is as though an overseer of habit draws them to their specific task. For example, when first rising in the morning, they give themselves to contemplation and worship while the mind is quiet and clear. Thus, each performs the service that is suitable to them and comes within the scope of their noble Soul.
There are a hundred thousand ranks. The purer someone becomes, the higher up they are raised. This story of spiritual growth is a long one. Whoever tries to shorten it would shorten their own life and Soul, but for the grace of God. As for the prayer-songs of those who have attained union with God, I must speak within the limits of understanding – for their love and the purity of their voices attract holy spirits, pure angels, and those visitors whom none know but God – the Silent Ones whose names are hidden from the world out of exceeding jealousy.
You are seated beside them now, but you do not see them. Neither do you hear their speech, their greetings or laughter. Yet what is so marvelous about this? When someone is sick, they see apparitions that others cannot see. Yet these spiritual beings are a thousand times subtler than those apparitions, for while the average person does not see or hear such visions until they are sick, they will not see these spiritual beings before they die. Such spiritual visitors know the refined states and majesty of the saints. They watch from earliest morn, while a thousand other angels and pure spirits wait upon the saints. For this reason the Silent Ones hesitate infinitely – not wanting to intervene in the midst of such a chorus, or disturb the ones they wish to honor.
Slaves are present every morning at the door of the king’s palace. Each has a fixed station, a fixed service, and a fixed devotion. Some serve from afar, and the king does not see them nor notice them. All the slaves know which one amongst them has the honor of the king’s presence. When the king leaves, the servants attend to that one from every gate, for there is no greater way to serve the king. That one has taken on the characteristics of the king, and becomes the hearing and sight of the king for all the others.
This is an extremely majestic station, ineffable indeed. The majesty of it cannot be comprehended by spelling out M-a-j-e-s-t-y. If even a small trace of this majesty penetrated the world, the letter “M” would be unwritable, the sound “M” would be unpronounceable, nor could any hint or symbol remain. The whole city would be devastated by the hosts of Light.
“Kings, when they enter a city, disorder it.”
A camel enters a house, and the house is devastated, but in that ruin there are a thousand treasures.
Only in ruins may a treasure be found.
In thriving cities a hound is still a hound.
If I have described at length the station of the seekers, how can I explain the states of those who have attained? They have no end – only seekers have an end. The end of all seekers is attainment. What could be the end for those who have attained union, a union with no separation? No ripe grape returns to an unripe grape. No mature fruit ever becomes raw again.
Yes, it is unlawful to speak
Of these things to men and women.
But once Thy Name is mentioned, O God,
These words pour out for them.
By Allah, I will not make it long. I will make it short.
My life is consumed, but You turn
That life to wine.
You say that all is given, but take
This Soul as Thine.
Whoever cuts this story short, it is as if they are abandoning the right road and taking a road into the life-destroying wilderness, where they say, “These trees look like the right way home.”