Seek a Friend of God


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(MVI: 4503) - O Lord, appoint a spiritually endowed company to redeem us from the chest of of the body. (MVI: 4514) - There is no way for you to pass beyond the sky save by (Divine) authority and by inspiration from Heaven. Go, seek a friend of God quickly. When you have done that God is your friend.

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Seek a Friend of God

  1. 1. Seek a Friend of God (Part 2) (Rumi, Mathnawi II: Verses 23 – 55)23 Go, (and) seek a friend of God quickly. When you have done that, God is your friend.24 The one who has fastened (his) sight on solitude has, in the end, learned (to do) that from the Friend. [The Friend: "He who has fixed his gaze upon seclusion (and made it his) object), after all tis from the friend (of God) that he has learned that (lesson)."]25 Solitude from "strangers" is necessary, (but) not from a (spiritual) friend. A fur cloak is (necessary) for Winter, not Spring. [Solitude from "strangers" is necessary: means from non-mystics who might distract the spiritual seeker from the Path. (But) not from a (spiritual) friend: "The object of spiritual retreat is to be alone with God; but.... The murid (spiritual disciple) who would guard himself against thinking of his spiritual master and guide; resembles a man who in warm spring weather puts on the fur-coat that he wore as a protection against the winter cold."]26 When the (discerning) intellect becomes combined with another intellect, the (total amount of) light become increased and the road becomes clear.27 (However, when) the base ego laughs (happily) with another ego, the (total amount of) darkness becomes increased and the road becomes hidden. [The base ego laughs (happily) with another ego: "(But if) the fleshly soul makes merry with another fleshly soul, it is putting more covers on the already heavily covered light of its soul and there is utter darkness; as a result the Reality cannot be known." The "base ego" (nafs) is the "bodily self," which pressures ones mind, emotions, and strives after bodily and worldly cravings for various pleasures and satisfactions. This often conflicts with the inclinations of the spirit and the intellect (using this word in its best sense of wise discernment).]28 O man of the hunt! A (spiritual) friend is (like) your (own) eye, (so) keep it clean of (bits of) twigs and straw. [A (spiritual) friend is (like) your (own) eye: "Since the saint endowed with knowledge of God is the means whereby the seeker attains to spiritual perception, care must be taken to avoid anything that is not to his liking.” "It means, A guide
  2. 2. (murshid) who directs spiritual guidance is like your (own) eye..." (So) keep it clean of (bits of) twigs and straw.] [“33.23: If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him; 33.24: and he is gracious to him, and says, “Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom; 33.25: let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigour”; 33.26: then man prays to God, and he accepts him, he comes into his presence with joy. 33.27: He recounts to men his salvation, and he sings before men, and says: “I sinned, and perverted what was right, and it was not requited to me. 33.28: He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit, and my life shall see the light.” The Bible, Old Testament, the Book of Job. Spiritual friend is the ‘fully realized and duly authorized teacher’ who declares to man what is right for him and when man conducts himself as instructed by his murshid, only then he is accepted by God.]29 Take care! Dont make any dust (rise) with the broom of (your) tongue. (And) dont give (your) eye a traveling present of (bits of) straw (from the road).30 Since the (true) believer is the mirror for (another true) believer, his face is protected from impurity. [The (true) believer is the mirror for (another true) believer: Mathnawi I: 1327-28, “O you who see the bad reflexion on the face of your uncle, it is not your uncle that is bad, it is you: do not run away from yourself! The Faithful are mirrors to one another: this saying is related from the Prophet.”] [His face is protected from impurity: "i.e. he, being entirely pure, reflects thy spiritual state and shows thee what thou really art."]31 A (spiritual) friend is (like) a mirror for the soul in (a state of) sadness. O (you who are as dear as the) soul, dont breathe upon the face of the mirror! [Dont breathe upon the face of the mirror: "It means, Dont act with bold rudeness toward the spiritual guide (murshid) and dont give signs of stubbornness toward him."]32 Its necessary to swallow (your) breath (in) every moment, so that it doesnt hide its face in the presence of your breath.
  3. 3. [So that it doesnt hide its face in the presence of your breath: "(It means), So that the spiritual guide wont suddenly turn (his) face away from you." "The seeker of God, who is absorbed in servant-ship, must be silent in order that the adept (Sufi master), who proclaims Lordship, may speak and by his utterances may captivate the hearts of his disciples. The rule in speaking is not to speak unless bidden, and then only of the thing that is bidden; and the rule in silence is not to be ignorant or satisfied with ignorance and forgetful. The disciple must not interrupt the speech of spiritual directors, or let his personal judgment intrude therein, or use far-fetched expressions in answering them."]33 You are not less (valuable) than the earth: when a piece of earth finds a friend from (among the qualities of) Spring, it obtains a hundred thousand (white) flowers. [A friend from (among the qualities of) Spring (az bahârî): "Bahari stands for rain of Spring. Mathnawi I: 2035-39, “The Unseen World has other clouds and water (than ours), it has another sky and sun. That is not discerned save by the elect; the rest are in doubt as to a new creation. There is rain for the sake of nurture; there is (also) rain for the sake of decay. Marvelous is the benefit of the rain of springtime, (but) to the garden the autumnal rain is like a (consuming) fever. That vernal (rain) makes it tenderly nurtured (flourishing), while this autumnal (rain) makes it sickly and wan.” Mathnawi I: 2043-44, “This breath of the Abdál (saints) is from that (spiritual) springtide: from it there grows a green garden in heart and soul. From their breaths there comes (is produced) in him who is fortunate the (same) effect (as that) of the spring rain on the tree.”]34 A tree which becomes joined with a friend from (among the qualities of) the sweet air (of Spring) blossoms from head to foot.35 (But) in the Fall, when it sees a contrary and opposing companion, it draws in (its) face and head beneath (its) outer garment. [In the Fall, when it sees a contrary and opposing companion: "i.e. the autumn rain, which is like a consuming fever to the garden (Mathnawi I: 2038)."] [It draws in (its) face and head beneath (its) outer garment: "As applied literally to the tree, the second hemistich means that in autumn the tree makes no display of leaves and fruit, while its allegorical sense is that no spiritual development can be derived from a bad friend, and what one has in ones soul is best concealed
  4. 4. from him. Therefore, murid withdraws himself from bad company, i.e. people not seeking God.]36 It says, "(Having) a foul companion is to disturb (one) with affliction. Since he has come, sleep is the best way for me.37 "So I will sleep, (and) I will be (like) one of the Companions of the Cave -- (since being) a lamenting prisoner is better than (suffering the tyranny of) Daqyanoos. [The Companions of the Cave: refers to the story in the 18th chapter (sûrah) of the Quran, according to which some pious young men fled religious persecution and hid in a cave, fell asleep, and (by the Will of God) woke up to find that many years had passed. This story was revealed to the Prophet to enable him to answer the questions which the Jewish doctors of Yathrib had instructed the idolaters to ask him, as a test of Prophet-hood. The questions were three: “Ask him,” said the Rabbis, “of some youth who were of old, what was their fate, for they have a strange story; and ask him of a much traveled man who reached the sunrise regions of the earth and the sun-set regions thereof, what was his history; and ask him of the Spirit, what it is.” The tormentors of the Prophet, who had been to Yathrib to get hints from the Jews, on their return to Mecca put these questions to the Prophet, after having told the people that it was to be a crucial test. The Prophet said that he would surely answer them upon the morrow, without adding “if God will,” as though he could command God’s revelation. As a reproof for that omission, the wished-for revelation was withheld from him for some days, and when it came included the rebuke in verses 24-25, “And say not of anything: Lo! I shall do that tomorrow, except if God will. And remember thy Lord when thou forget, and say: It may be that my Lord guideth me unto a nearer way of truth than this.” Quran 18: 17, “He whom God guideth, he indeed is led aright, and he whom He sendeth astray, for him thou wilt not find a guiding friend.” The tyranny of) Daqyanoos: "Decius (A.D. 249-251) is the name of the pagan emperor who persecuted them." This emperor persecuted the Christians within his realm.]38 Their waking (hours) were spent by (the tyranny of) Daqyanoos, (but) their sleep was the (preserved) stock of (their) fame.
  5. 5. [Their sleep was the (preserved) stock: means that their value was preserved while they were asleep, but was spent and wasted while they were awake and forced to serve an idol-worshiping tyrant.]39 Sleep is wakefulness when it is (combined) with wisdom. (But) what sorrow (there is) for any wakeful one who sits with the ignorant! [Sleep is wakefulness when it is (combined) with wisdom: Mathnawi VI: 4463, Put thyself to sleep (and escape) from this (vain) thinking: (then) lift up thy head from sleep into (spiritual) wakefulness. The sleep of the mystic is really a higher state of consciousness, and has nothing in common with the sleep of ignorance in which most people pass their conscious lives.] [Mathnawi VI: 4503-04, “O Lord, appoint a spiritually endowed company to redeem us from the chest of the body! Who but the prophets and apostles can redeem the people from confinement in the chest of guile?” Mathnawi VI: 4505-09, “Among thousands there is (only) one person of comely aspect, who knows that he is inside the chest. He must formerly have beheld the (spiritual) world, so that by means of that contrary this contrary should be made evident to him. Because “knowledge is the true believers lost camel,” he recognizes his own lost camel and feels certain (that it is his). (But) he that has never seen good fortune, how will he be perturbed in this calamity? Either he fell into captivity in childhood, or was born a slave at first from his mothers womb.” Mathnawi VI: 4510-14, “His soul has never known the delight of (spiritual) freedom: the chest of (phenomenal) forms is his arena. His mind is forever imprisoned in forms: he (only) passes from cage into cage. He has no means of passing beyond the cage (and going) aloft: he goes to and fro into (successive) cages. In the Qur’an (is the text), “If ye have the power, pass beyond”: these words came from Him (God) to the Jinn and mankind. He said, “There is no way for you to pass beyond the sky saves by (Divine) authority and by inspiration from Heaven.”] [Mathnawi I: 388-94, “Every night Thou freest the spirits from the bodys snare, and dost erase (the impressions on) the tablets (of the mind). The spirits are set free every night from this cage, (they are) done with ordinance and talk and tale. At night prisoners are unconscious of their prison, at night governors are unconscious of their power. There is no sorrow, no thought of gain or loss, no fancy of this person or that person. This is the state of the ‘árif (gnostic), even without sleep: God said, (Thou wouldst deem them awake) whilst they slept. Shy not at this. He is asleep, day and night, to the
  6. 6. affairs of the world, like a pen in the hand of the Lords control. One who sees not the hand in the writing thinks (that) the act (of writing proceeds) from the pen by means of movement.”]40 When the crows set-up (their) tents in the middle of Winter, the nightingales become hidden, and are silent. [When the crows set-up (their) tents in the middle of Winter: "The crow represents the seeker of worldly goods."] The nightingales become hidden, and are silent: "The saints hold aloof from any association with worldliness and conceal themselves from the worldly."]41 (This is) because the nightingale is silent without the (presence of) the rose garden. (And) the hidden-ness of the sun is the killer of (the nightingales) wakefulness. [The hidden-ness of the sun: refers to the fewer daylight hours during Winter, as well as the frequent over-cast and stormy days. "The absence of the sun refers to the dark days of winter, not to the darkness of night."]42 O sun! You leave this rose garden so that you may radiate light under the earth.43 (But) the sun of mystical knowledge has no movement, (and) its rising-place is none other than the spirit and the discriminating intellect.44 Especially, a Sun of Perfection which is (active) in that (transcendent) direction. Its occupation is (in radiating) an illumination, day and night. [Which is (active) in that (transcendent) direction: "which is of yonder (world of Reality)?" Mathnawi I: 111, "Whether love be from this (earthly) side or from that (heavenly) side, in the end it leads us yonder."]45 If you are an Alexander (the Great), come to the rising-place of (this) Sun. After that, anywhere you travel, you are well illumined. [If you are an Alexander (the Great), come to the rising-place of (this) Sun: "According to Qur’an 18: verses 87, 91 where it is related that Dhul-Qarneyn (Alexander the Great) journeyed to the place of sunset and the place of sunrise, then he followed a road until, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had made no shelter from its beams, are explained mystically:
  7. 7. After having marched to the setting-place of the sun (i.e. the darkness of the carnal soul), he pursued his way to its rising-place (i.e. the illumined heart and spirit) and found there a people who were not veiled from the sun (of Reality) by anything but the excess of its light and the perfection of its manifestation. "The rising-place of (this) Sun" signifies the Perfect Man who, as a murshid (spiritual master and guide), sheds spiritual radiance on his disciples."] [“The rising-place of (this) Sun” is also the ‘Third Eye’ a point between two eyebrows and Rumi is asking seekers that if they are real fighters like Alexander (the Great) then they should have the courage to come to this point by withdrawing their attention from the outside world and hold it there.] [You are well-illumined: "thou art possessed of godly splendour."]46 After that, anywhere you travel is the rising-place (of this Sun), (and all) rising- places will be in love with your place of sunset. [After that, anywhere you travel is the rising-place (of this Sun): "When you reach the goal, you will see that God reveals Himself everywhere and that everything displays some attribute of Him." Quran 2: 115, "Whichever way you turn, there is the Face of God." (And all) rising-places will be in love with your place of sunset: "i.e. your place of sunset (state of occultation, spiritual darkness) will become a focus for the sunbeams of the Divine manifestation.”]47 Your (bodily) senses (resembling those) of the bat are running toward the place of sunset, (but) your pearl-scattering senses are traveling toward the place of sunrise.48 O mounted rider! The way of the (physical) senses is the road for donkeys. O you (who are) bothering donkeys, have (some) shame!49 Besides these five (bodily) senses, there are five (spiritual) senses, (and) those (are) like red (colored) gold. But these (physical) senses (are) like copper. [There are five (spiritual) senses: Mathnawi II: 3236-39, "The five (spiritual) senses are linked with one another, because all these five have grown from one root. The strength of one becomes the strength of the rest: each one becomes a cupbearer to the rest. Seeing with the eye increases speech; speech increases penetration in the eye. Penetration (of sight) becomes the (means of) awakening (stimulating) every sense, (so that) perception (of the spiritual) becomes familiar to (all) the senses."
  8. 8. Through five senses of perception (ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose), we experience the outside world but the same senses when turned inward can open for us the door of Reality. Mathnawi II: 3240-44, “When one sense in (the course of it’s) progress has loosed (its) bonds, all the rest of the senses become changed. When one sense has perceived things that are not objects of sense-perception, that which is of the invisible world becomes apparent to all the senses. When one sheep of the flock has jumped over a stream, then they all jump across on each others heels. Drive the sheep, thy senses, to pasture: let them browse on (the pasture indicated in the text)—He who hath brought forth the herbage, that there they may browse on hyacinth and wild-rose; that they may make their way to the verdant meadows of the Realities.” Mathnawi II: 3249, “When (all) senses have become subject to thy sense, the heavenly spheres cannot avoid (obedience to) thee.”]50 In the market, where the people at the place of gathering (for the Day of Judgment) will never buy the copper (-like) sense as (if it had the worth of) gold.51 The (physical) senses of bodies are eating the food of darkness, (but) the senses of the soul are grazing from a (spiritual) Sun.52 O you (who) have carried the belongings of (your) senses to the Unperceived (World), bring (your) hand from (your) chest, like Moses. [Bring (your) hand from (your) chest, like Moses: refers to the Quranic account of a miracle manifested (by the permission of God) by Moses, in which "he drew forth his hand (from the folds of his garments) and it was (radiantly) white to those who observed." (Quran 7:108; 26:33, and 27:12 and the account in The Bible, Old Testament, Exodus 4:6).]53 O you whose qualities (are those of) the Sun of spiritual knowledge -- yet the revolving sun is bound to one attribute. [O you whose qualities (are those of) the Sun of spiritual knowledge: "These verses are addressed to the Perfect Man (a Sufi saint who reflects all the attributes of God.”] [The revolving sun is bound to one attribute: "i.e. the production of sensible light."]54 Sometimes you are a Sun, and then you become an Ocean; sometimes (you are) the mountain of Qaf, and then you become the Phoenix (bird).
  9. 9. [Sometimes you are a Sun, and then you become an Ocean: "The Perfect Man illumines the world by the light of gnosis (mystical-intuitive knowledge); his oceanic nature comprehends all realities.” The mountain of Qaf: the legendary habitation of the phoenix bird, said to surround the world. The Phoenix (bird): a legendary bird, the only one of its kind, fabled to burn itself and rise renewed from its ashes; a unique thing, a singular beauty.]55 O you (who are) greater than (what can be conceived by) imaginations, and much more than that, within your essence, you are not this or that.