Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
The misfortune of any inner tradition is that it succeeds, because at its essence what an inner tradition is trying to do is something very seditious. It’s trying to create the conditions where people can escape the persona which society has given to them. Any inner tradition seeks to do that. The problem is that when an inner tradition succeeds at doing that very well, it attracts people and then those people eventually sit around a teacher and they become an orthodoxy and they then establish a tradition which then has something else that some people have to escape from. So there’s a piece to our growth as beings which suggests that success is not very good for us and failure is magnificent!
..if you want to understand the usefulness of a teacher look at how few people are around him.
Shaykh Fakhir from Pakistan says that if you want to understand the usefulness of a teacher look at how few people are around him. And that sort-of touches on the same issue because in order to become dyed-in and pickled-in these divine attributes we have to cease operating with the shields of men. All human beings have shields that we operate in. Literally they are like walls, both externally and internally. They protect us from magnificent universe that we are walking through and those walls serve to anaesthetize us. They deaden our experience. So in a sense we are walking half sensed and stupefied through this universe, kept like that, kept in this semi-drugged state so that we can be useful. How can somebody who is completely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the universe be useful? They can’t be useful because they are overwhelmed.
The problem with that constriction is that over a period of time it gains the weight of legitimacy.
So to keep us useful Allah has created the conditions where society has to cauterize our experience. They have to constrict us. The problem with that constriction is that over a period of time it gains the weight of legitimacy. In other words it isn’t just seen to be part of the story. It’s seen to be the point! Your being a productive member of society is only part of the story. It’s not the point of your life. The point of your life is to be constantly overwhelmed and ecstatically enchanted with the magnificence of this incredible display that your Rabb is putting in front of you, moment after moment after moment. That’s why you have been made. He has made you not to be useful. He has made you to be enawed, to be amazed, to be astonished! Now it’s very difficult to be astonished and amazed and enawed while you’re busy being useful, while you’re busy putting your mind to the grindstone, getting through the day, earning a living. I’m not suggesting your shouldn’t earn your keep. I suddenly had this image of the zawia overflowing!
This exploration was solicited by the last Sura which Sidi Kamardine recited which tells us the story of Abu Lahab who was an uncle of the Rasul (SallAllahu alaihi wasalam) and as we know from his name he’s the father of fire. And this is a man who was of the aristocracy of the Quraish, a man who represented the orthodoxy of the day. And what did the Rasul (SallAllahu alaihi wasalam) represent? He represented exactly the opposite. He represented the party of the miskin, the downtrodden, this crazy that was coming-in from left filed that was reminding people that this isn’t just about the ascendency of the Quraish. It’s about Allah, and he said to them you can give me the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand and I still won’t make you a deal! To have the divine encounter means you have to overthrow in your mind the orthodoxy. You have to overthrow in your mind the ascendency of the intelligentsia, of authority. Now this is not about becoming wild anarchists. This is just about saying that while you are busy being a good and useful human being you are living with an anaesthetic.
The most significant realm to succeed in is not in the outward.
Sidi Qasim in his du’a before the dhikr started asked for success in all realms. The most significant realm to succeed in is not in the outward. It’s in the inward, because when you die only what is behind your eyes goes with you, it’s what’s in the inner realm that goes with you. Everything that you endeavoured for outwardly stays behind and is destroyed in the fullness of time. So if you consider what you are currently endeavouring for, well, in the first instance I don’t think there’s a person in this room that doesn’t endeavour to pursue security. Understand that the only security you have is in the grave! There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t endeavour to have happiness. Understand that if you hook your happiness on anything out there, your children, your career, this thing is going to go. We have this peculiar assumption that our children should not predecease us. Who said? You didn’t come into the world with that guarantee. Your Rabb didn’t say to you I guarantee that your children will die after you. Who says? So be careful what you put onto them.
Don’t make your children carry the weight of your aspirations.
This discourse was given by Shaykh Ebrahim after a dhikr session on the 11th of August, 2012.