Tonight Phoebe’s face, argent and fulgent, looks pensive. The nearest satellite to Earth is also night’s regnant candelabrum. Recumbent next to a small fire among this nomad tribe, who thoroughly has done everything to make me feel at home, I have every right to feel content and joyful celebrating the hospitality of my host. What brings me here will, I believe, be answered in the course of this narrative. Since early childhood I have been fascinated with different cultures, ethos, religious beliefs and humanity at large.
Tonight is my soulagement. The star-filled dome takes on semblance of one vast array of night-lamps (veillueses). Now deep in contemplation, my mind vacillates between different different cultures and regions of the earth. It can be postulated that Night is very much time for recuperation after a long day of work. Quietism is the way of life of the dervishes-these desert dwellers who are latter-day anchorites.
The Sufis came to prominence two-hundred years after Hegira and, one-hundred and seventy-five years after the transition of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him). This is in contradistinction to the worldliness of the Umayyad dynasty that ruled the empire of the Caliphate.
The code of chivalry practiced by these saintly beings is worthy of admiration. Indeed it has become inculcated in every one who aspires to be a lover of God. The Gnostics, Mystics and Yogis pride themselves as custodians of wisdom passed down from time immemorial. The Sufis, on the other hand, hold this conviction that evolution and time must not be disregarded when it comes to passing on spiritual wisdom. The teachings of all the spiritual precursors of humankind were well adapted to the spiritual receptivity and ethos of the various peoples. This would then have culminated in the knowledge of one Truth uniting all humanity: The Knowledge of God and His Holy Will!
In my revelry and contentment I again seek out to reach for the luminous stars whose quiet and ominous presence I dare not ignore. I marvel the sheer magnitude of our Universe. The cosmic harmony existing in all that my eyes can see is, in fact, the confirmation of a Power pre-existing before creation came to be…
The sight of far-flung constellations might perhaps have moved the Psalmist to reverential awe of God’s All-Encompassing wisdom, writing these lofty words:
Lord, our God,
How majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
In the heavens.
Through the praise of children and
You have established a stronghold against your enemies
To silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
The work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
Which you have set in place…
Now my reminiscing seems to reach the zenith. I may very well have tapped into the alveary of knowledge…my favourite writer is obviously the Great German writer and polymath Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832). I, in my mind, feel compelled to create a scene where the last renaissance man is writing a soliloquy for one of his numerous characters…
I know deep down there lives
My god-engendered self
Who, above all, yearns to be set free
From corporeality, and rise above
Space-time continuum towards
Vast Orb of aureate light!
To once again imbibe this Arcadian
Holy Spirit’s life-breathing power
I have found…
Attar the Chemist
Before butterflies emerged from their cocoon
They set their collective gaze on the nectar.
After their nocturnal dalliance lie in swoon,
With dreams of everlasting bliss high as a star.
Then benightedness sets in with the moon
To keep darkness at bay, and the starry sky
Becomes a far-shimmering golden festoon
Of light, and all hopes remain without a cry,
Or doubt in Eternal God’s bountiful boon…
Hafiz and Attar, alongside Rumi and Saadi of Shiraz, are Persia’s most illustrious poets, who also have attained universal acclaim. My love and admiration for Islamic golden age is without a doubt. The preterists would have us believe that the prophecies in the Bible about the End Times have already been fulfilled, and the pejorists berate the current state of our world. We are the World! We are microcosm of the Universal Spirit albeit a very small part! The Unity of Being has within Him the Spark of the Eternal Godhead as well as pure-spiritual part. It is this spiritual part that is integral to our spark of Divinity! We are spiritual beings whose core is Spirit, but that intrinsic essence is neither divine nor does it have possess a spark of the boundless Godhead.
I again focus my gaze at the sky now coruscating with stars. I can make out Hesperus and Ophiuchus. Isn’t man so inconsequential against the backdrop of this vast universe? The nebulous stars, impressive in size and luminosity, are surrounded by a milky chevelure. Jupiter, our solar system largest planet, is still in continuous occultation.
The Eternal Feminism that in the end redeems the Faustian Spirit best illustrate the power of women. I think of those times when the Ottoman Empire was at its apex of pre-eminence. What horror women had to face. The many seraglios where women, often against their will, were kept as helots and harlots.
Where was that deep-felt love from which all actions of a noble-minded person is anchored? The very agapeistic world-view of the Knights Templar has indeed influenced and inspired many generations to the idea of Chivalry and Conscientiousness.
A glimpse of the Marigold-hued dawn is beginning to assert its ascendancy, and my already heavy eyelids are on the very threshold of hypnagogic state. My mind is still alert and ready to muse over many topics that assail it. Rumi’s masnavi-i-manavi is said to be the locus classicus of all Sufi-related transcendental states. The Dervish that has sworn oath of allegiance to the Master of the Path less travelled, must, step-by-step climb the rungs of self-illumination till he at last reaches the pinnacle of the most exalted state there is-the state of the ego being effaced in the Vast Sun of Truth…
There is, in my view, an overarching overlap between the way of the Christian Mystics and the Dervishes of Islam classical period. Asceticism and the usual supererogatory prayers practiced by the anchorites and hermits of the past are of relevance in modern times.
Jakob Böhme (1475-1524), Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) and Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), laid the foundation that later became school of pietism…