Invisible Hierarchy of the Journey Back to God

God Most High hath brought forth creation and said, "Entrust Me with your secrets. If you do not do this, then look toward Me. If you do not do this, then listen to Me. If you do not do this then wait at My door. If you do none of this, at least tell Me your needs." - Sahl

This beautiful saying contains mystic gnosis of highest nature, answer to our heart and also it is a ladder to an invisible hierarchy to the journey back to God.

As for the gnosis and entrusting the secrets, in the saying of Mustafa, the mystic master of Sufis in the sacred tradition of islam we find, God says, "Man is my Secret (Sirr) and I Am his Secret." The greatest secret of human existence is our Soul. And to entrust our soul, the most precious secret of ours is the greatest act of trust and only Beloved is worthy of such sacred trust.

As for looking towards God, Prophet Muhammad, holy benediction towards his noble soul, said, "Excellence is this that you Pray to God as if you see God, if you can not attain that, pray as if God sees you." Thus to be able to pray in that state where one stands in the Holy Presence is part of mystic practice. In the teaching wisdom of sufi mystic Kharraz, "When entering on prayer you should come into the presence of God .., stand before Him with no mediator between." Hafiz and Daniel Ladinsky have spoken beautifully regarding seeing God not only inside prayer but outside and everywhere. And the poems ending reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi and his love affair with animals:

Start seeing everything as God
But keep it a secret
Become like a man who is awestruck
and nourished, listening to a golden nightingale
sing in a beautiful foreign language
while God nests invisibly upon it's tongue.

Hafiz, who can you tell
in this world
That when a dog
runs up to you
wagging it's ecstatic tail,
you bend down
and whisper in it's ear
'Beloved, I am so glad
that you are happy to see me,
Beloved, I am so glad,
so very glad,
that you have come.'

~ Hafiz ~

As for listening to God, one contemporary scholar gives the analogy of divine inspiration by saying that, 'the transmission is always there but our receiving instrument is not in right tune, not in right frequency. Thus most people are unable to tune into the outpouring of message that is always there, that is descending and ascending ceaselessly.' If we learned how to listen we could listen to the divine inspiration always as it happens outside of time. Its happening now as it happened in the past. On a different level, in our meditation, in our silencing the mind chatter we enter into a space where we can hear the divine voice within. Thus it is said, while prayer is our speaking to God, meditation is listening to God - thus the place of meditation is higher than prayer. Listening to God (meditation) is a higher station than our speaking to God (prayer). Prophet Muhammad thus said, "One hour of meditation / contemplation is worth forty years of worship / prayer."

As for waiting at God's Door is the secret of surrender. Wait implies our humility before God, our abject need in front of Him as creation is poor and in need of God while God is Independent of His creation. Waiting also implies patience on our part and trust in the grace of Beloved.

About our waiting at God's Door Hafiz again:

Just sit there right now.
Don't do a thing.
Just rest.

For your separation from God
is the hardest work in the world.

Hafiz calls this doing nothing but waiting as the hardest work because this is surrender and surrender is hardest. To our rational mind doing nothing perhaps doesn't make sense but it is the key to freedom. In the teachings of mystic masters doing nothing is not passive, but an active and dynamic surrender. Turning to the wisdom of Hafiz in his poetry on the freedom (consequently fun) that comes from surrender:

Hafez, if you leave your affair to God's wisdom,
you can have a lot of fun with your destiny.

In the zen teaching we find that as we surrender control over the condition, we allow things to be as they are. We allow the entire world to play itself out in front of our eyes. This profound action implies an immense respect for the intrinsic nature of everything (people and events), for a larger design in the universe, which brings our good to us, and removes that which no longer belongs. This trusting in the intrinsic nature of everything and surrendering to that is a great wisdom teaching of buddhist path.

From Secret to Seeing to Listening to Waiting we come to telling our need to God. This has the answer of an often asked question, "Why should we pray to God and ask for our needs." Some think and ask that if God knows all our need and knows our heart, then what's the need for petition to God.

There are perhaps ten thousand way to share the answer on the wisdom of prayer, but mystics have a certain take on it. I quote here from contemporary sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee's blessed writing The Circle of Love where he talks about the Prayer of the Heart and need of prayer:

The mystic knows that the essence of prayer is the hidden secret, "I am He whom I love, He whom I love is me." In the deepest prayer of the heart there is only oneness, for when the heart is open and looks towards God, He reveals His unity. In this state of prayer there are a merging and melting that transcend the mind and its notion of duality: the heart overwhelms us with His presence which obliterates any sense of our own self. These moments of prayer are moments of union in which the lover is lost. The lover has stepped from the shore of his own being into the limitless ocean of the Beloved.

.. In ways we make known our need to call upon Him and to be with Him, make it known to ourself as well as to our Beloved. He knows we belong to Him, but with the words of our prayer we come to Him and remind ourselves of His eternal presence. our supplications remind us of our need to be nourished by Him alone.

Yet prayer, born of need, does not answer this need - it makes it more potent. We come to know more fully that we are separate, and that only He can help us. But to whom do we pray? To some idea of a distant God, a kind father figure, a nurturing mother? .. We personify our longing, clothe our tears in the image of a deity or lost love. In our weakness we look for strength, in our sorrow a comforting shoulder, in our pain a tormentor. Later, much later, we come to glimpse the closed circle of love, that our need is His need, that our cry to Him is His eternal answer: "Thy calling 'Allah!' was My 'Here I am!', thy yearning pain - My message to thee."

We make an image of God to suit us, to give us comfort and security, to contain the pain of being human. But gradually all images fall away, for they too are veils of separation, denying the truth of union. How can we be separate from Himself? How can He call to Himself, long to return to Himself? ...

In the closed circle of love He calls to Himself within the heart of His lover. Our need is His need, and yet He is complete in every way. We carry the seed of His longing and make it our own. Our very prayer to come close to Him is an unfolding intimacy, a sharing of something so precious that only His trusted servants are awakened to know it. To know that we need Him is to know that He needs us. He shares His longing with us.

Need is the beginning of prayer. Calling His name, crying out to Him, we make known our need to ourself and to Him. Need is the potency of our hidden love, and our prayer makes this love more visible, makes its fire burn stronger. Ibn Arabi prayed, "Oh Lord, nourish me not with love but with the desire for love."

.. We who are so small and alone - look to Him, and so turn our attention from multiplicity back to oneness. Sometimes people think, "Why should I bother Him? How can my difficulties be of concern to Him?" But this is in fact arrogance (of us), because it places the individual against God. In His oneness everything is included, everything is embraced. Nothing is other than He, and we are His eyes and ears in His world. In offering our sorrow, our difficulties, back to Him, we help Him to heal Himself, if it is His Will.

"He loves them and they love Him"
- The Quran 5:59

God, Beloved doesn't need anything from us and we can not bring anything, any gift worthy of Him. How badly a lover wishes to bring gift to beloved, yet we are unable to do so to the Beloved. Thus in 'telling our need' with supplications we bring a gift that is dear to our Beloved, and that is our consciousness, our remembrance of Him in our heart.

Rumi got the secret of this gift paradox and expressed so eloquently,

You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right!
What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine,
or water to the Ocean?
Everything I came up with
was like taking spices to the Orient.
It's no good giving my heart and my soul
because You already have these.
So - I've brought You a mirror.
Look at Yourself and remember me!

In telling our needs to God we bring a mirror to our Beloved as a gift. The holy mirror of our remembering Him, as He remembers us.

. Invisible hierarchy of the journey back to God

Contemplate once again at the quote by Sahl, may God be pleased with him:

God Most High hath brought forth creation and said, "Entrust Me with your secrets. If you do not do this, then look toward Me. If you do not do this, then listen to Me. If you do not do this then wait at My door. If you do none of this, at least tell Me your needs."

If you observe carefully you may see the invisible hierarchy for the journey back to God.

The saying is in the descending order from higher order to lower order and this is:
Entrusting our secrets
Looking toward Him
Listening to Him
Waiting at His Door
Telling our needs to Him

Thus the ascending order to our journey back to God is just the opposite. We begin by practicing of telling our needs to Him, then practicing the waiting at His door, then learning to Listen to Him within and without, then learning to see Him wheresoever we turn,
then trusting our secrets to Him where we live in Him, by Him, for Him, with Him in a holy transparent state of presence (baqa)
and finally we return to Him.

The circle completes.

Innanillahi wa innailaihir rajiun
Indeed we are from God and to God we return.
- The Quran

- Sadiq Alam
Dhaka University Campus, Dhaka, Bangladesh

# Related:
. Secret of Prayer: Love Dogs | Coleman Barks reads Rumi
. Why Muslims pray everyday?



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Technology of the Heart: Invisible Hierarchy of the Journey Back to God
Invisible Hierarchy of the Journey Back to God
Technology of the Heart
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