The parable of the stream and the desert

desert creek“ There was once a stream that flowed through many lands until it came to a desert. It could go no further. There was no way for it to cross the desert. Its waters just disappeared into the sand. Yet the stream felt in the depths of its being that it was to cross the desert. Faced with what seemed an impossible situation the stream was on the point of despair, when a still, small voice whispered in its ear: ‘in your present form you will never cross the desert. But although to you it seems an impassable barrier, the wind crosses the desert, and so can you. If you surrender into the arms of the wind, and lose yourself within it, you will be lifted over the sands. Then you will fall as rain, and become a stream again.’

 But the stream did not like this idea. It had never lost its own identity before. And once this was lost, could it ever be found again? Would the stream not simply disappear forever? Again the voice spoke to the stream: ‘I know that you have doubts, but do you have any alternative? If you remain in your present form you can go no further. You may think of yourself as a stream, but that is not your true essence. If you surrender to the wind your essence will not be lost’.

 These words echoed within the stream, and awoke distant memories that long, long ago, some essential part of itself had been borne in the arms of the wind. With this memory came the realization that surrender to the wind was the only thing to do. Its true self would not be lost. It could never be lost.

 And so the stream surrendered into the welcoming arms of the wind, which lovingly absorbed it, and carried it over the desert and far away, until it reached some distant mountains, where it fell as rain. And because it had had its doubts, the stream was able to remember this whole experience, and in doing so it realized its true identity.”

Am I fit to follow the Sufi path?

(Notes from listening to Hazrat Asad Rasool ( circa 1996)

Mosque ceiling, Uzbekistan1. Do not believe Shaitan (or your doubts) when he says, “you are not fit for this”. Use will power to sit regularly in meditation.

2. We are separated from Nature and from Truth and therefore from God.

3. What are the needs of people? They wish to be relieved from mental tension (suffering).

4. There are two kinds of cure (as in medicine), symptomatic and causal.

5. The cause of our suffering is estrangement from God.

6. Overcoming this estrangement requires the development of true spirituality. This is not the same as “spiritualism” or the cultivation of “cultic” practices or beliefs.

7. True spirituality is hard to define. In this Sufi path it is attainable via transmission from the teacher. The teacher is able to transmit the means of receiving blessings from the Almighty just as the transmitter enables the broadcast of TV programs.

8. Just as the TV receiver needs to be “tuned in”, in the same way the student of the Sufi teacher needs to be able to receive the blessings.

9. The aim of this is not the gaining of spiritual “powers”. The aim is only to achieve closeness to God.

10. God is merciful, and if we take one step towards him he takes 10 steps towards us.

11. This closeness can also be achieved by the love of the student for the teacher.

12. The teacher “offers up” the love received from the student towards God. In this way the teacher acts as a sort of channel by which the student can get closer to the Almighty, or the Holy Essence.

13. At the first step of the meditation the student turns their attention to the “heart”.

14. The heart then itself turns towards the Divine Essence (the Centre of the universe, the life spring of the universe, the essential energy of the universe).

15. There is something in the heart, which knows how to turn towards the Centre, just as a flower turns to the sun.

16. But we have first to turn towards the heart for this second stage to happen.

17. There is then a softening and an expansion of the heart which takes place.

18. This is both literally and metaphorically true.

19. The softening and expansion generates what we call “light”. The light imparts a lightness of being, and it can also enlighten.

20. The softening enables greater sympathy and empathy for others.

21. The softening also involves a vulnerability to others. This vulnerability can open a point of weakness, which relates to humility, when we consider ourselves “unfit” for this path, because we become aware of our failings and inconsistencies.

22. We need at these points to remind ourselves that we are “fit enough”, and capable of overcoming obstacles in our path. Because as we desire closeness with God, God responds by moving closer to us.