The police are always in search of thieves to capture, and thieves are always running away. It is rare indeed to find a thief that searches for the police to be captured and thrown in jail. That’s not a natural desire for thieves.
God said to Abu Yazid, “What do you desire, Abu Yazid?” He answered, “I desire not to desire.”
To be wholly without desire – that is not a natural desire, since a person must empty themself and cease to be. But God wanted to perfect Abu Yazid and to make him a complete Sheikh, so that within him there would be no room for duality or separation, and only complete union and unity would prevail.
There are various classes and different ranks on the spiritual path. Through effort and struggle, some have attained the station that can refuse every desire. That is within the scope of some. But to allow not even an itch of desire to enter the heart – that is not within the scope of anyone. Only God’s love can take that out.
It is stated that after Mohammed and the Prophets revelation will not be sent down upon anyone else, but this is not true. This is why Mohammed said, “The believer sees with the Light of God.” When someone sees with God’s Light, they see all things, the first and last, the visible and invisible, for how can anything be hidden from God’s Light? If anything is hidden, then that is not God’s Light. Therefore this is revelation, whether they call it revelation or not.
When Uthman became caliph, he stepped up into the pulpit. The people waited to see what he would say. He was silent and said nothing. He looked steadily at the people, and a state of ecstasy descended upon them so that they were unable to move, and could not tell where they were. Not by a hundred preachings and sermons could such an excellent state have been shown to them. Precious lessons were imparted and secrets revealed. Until the very end, he only looked at them like this, not saying a word. Then, just before leaving the pulpit, he said, “It is better for you to have a working Imam than a speaking Imam.”
What he said was the truth. If the purpose of speaking is to communicate instruction delicately to uplift the people, that had been accomplished many times better without words. So what Uthman said was perfectly correct. During the time he was in the pulpit he did no external work visible to the people; he did not pray, he did not go on the pilgrimage, he did not give alms, he did not commemorate God, he did not even speak the caliph’s address. Therefore, know that work and action are not limited to the outer form only, rather these visible forms of work are merely a shadow of that true work of Soul.
The Prophet said, “My Companions are like stars; Whichever of them you follow, you will be guided right.” When someone follows a star and finds their way by it, the star does not speak. Merely by looking at the star, they discover that invisible road and reach their goal. In the same way, it is possible by merely gazing at God’s saints to find the spiritual path. Without words, without questioning, without speech, the purpose is achieved.
In all the world there is nothing more difficult than enduring the ridiculous. Suppose for instance that you have studied a certain book, corrected, amended, and fully recited it. Then someone sitting beside you reads the book all wrong. Can you endure that? No, it is impossible. However, if you never read the book, it makes no difference to you whether anyone reads it wrong or right – you cannot tell the difference. So, enduring the ridiculous is a great discipline.
The prophets and saints do not shirk discipline. Their first discipline is to slay this self that is controlled by desires and lusts. That is the “Greater Holy War.” When they achieve this, and establish themselves in the station of security, then wrong and right become revealed to them. Yet they are still engaged in a great struggle, for these mortals do everything wrong. The saints see this and must endure it. If they do not, and speak out declaring those mortals wrong, not one person in Heaven or on Earth will stand beside them. But God bestows on the saints a great and mighty capacity to endure. Out of a hundred wrong acts, they mention one, so that it will not become difficult to overcome. The other mistakes they hide and even praise, saying, “That wrong of yours is right,” so that little by little they can overcome this ignorance.
It is the same when a teacher is teaching a child how to write. When the child writes their first whole line, the child runs to show it to the teacher. In the teacher’s eyes it is filled with mistakes, but the teacher speaks to the child kindly and encourages them, “That is excellent. You have written well. Bravo, bravo! Only this letter is not quite right, this is how it should be. And this other letter looks like this.” The teacher calls a few letters wrong out of that line, and shows the child how they ought to be written. The rest is praised, so the child will not lose heart. The child’s weakness gathers strength from that approval, and so gradually they are taught and assisted on their way.
We hope that God will grant the Amir all the designs of his heart. We hope God will also grant the Amir those good fortunes that he does not even know of, so that when his heart sees those true gifts of God, he will be ashamed of his former wishes and desires.
That is called a true gift when we find what is beyond our own imagination. For whatever enters a person’s imagination is a measure of their ambition and capacity. But God’s gift is a measure of God’s capacity.
“What the eye has not seen,
Nor the ear heard,
Nor has entered into the heart of anyone.”
Whatever you conceive of God’s bounty, God transcends all that.