Teacher in the Path of Love

Let there arise out of you, a band of people, who invite to goodness (khayr) and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong. Such are they who are successful (muflihoon).

Chapter of The Family of Imran, The Quran, 3:104

..We Who have raised some of them above others in degrees, and that they may help one another in service..

- Chapter of Ornaments, The Quran, 43:32

No reward do I ask of you for it but this: that each one whoso will, may take a Path to his Lord.

- Chapter of Criterion, The Quran, 25:57

The Suf Path is a mystical path of love. (The) “Wayfarers on the Mystical Path” in their deep passion and longing for God, realized Truth as “The Beloved,” and therefore also became known as “The Lovers of God.” Later they were called Sufis, possibly referring to their white woolen garments (Sûf ), or as an indication of their purity of heart (Safâ’).

The Sufi path has as its goal the state of union with God. For each traveller the journey to this goal is unique; it is the journey “of the alone to the Alone.” Yet there are also stages which all seekers pass through, trials, processes of purification and transformation. It is these stages that the Sufi masters, or sheikhs, have attempted to describe. As guides they have mapped out the path of the heart and the mystical states that are experienced along the way.

The teachings and writings of the Sufis describe the soul’s journey from separation to union with God. With the passion and depth of feeling that belong to lovers they outline the stages of this journey and give advice to other travellers. Sufi literature offers us the richest and most detailed understanding of the relationship of lover and Beloved, a relationship that is at the core of every mystical path.

Drawing on their own experiences, the Sufi masters describe the inner workings of the path of love. They tell how longing for God burns away our impurities.

They remind us that by remembering God we come closer to our eternal essence and that in our moments of utmost despair the Beloved reveals Himself: He who had seemed so distant is discovered “closer to you than yourself to yourself.” They share their glimpses of the essential oneness of all life and, with simplicity, directness, and humor, describe the paradoxical nature of this mystical journey.

The Sufis say that you need a teacher as a guide on the mystical path. The teacher is someone who is surrendered to God and is able to help the wayfarer make the transition from the ego to the Self. In surrendering to the teacher, fanâ fî’l Sheikh, the disciple learns to surrender to God, fanâ fî’llâh.

Abû Sa‘îd was asked, “If someone wishes, is it possible to travel the mystic path without a teacher?” The Sheikh replied, “It is impossible because someone is required to guide him along the way, someone who has already reached the goal travelling that path, who will tell him what are faults and what are virtues on this path. At each stage he will say this is the such-and-such stage, here one must remain a little longer. And if there is a dangerous place somewhere, he will tell him to be on his guard, and will give him kindly encouragement, so that travelling that path with a strengthened heart, he may reach the goal.

“When he has reached the goal he will find peace.” - ABÛ SA‘ÎD IBN ABÎ-L-KHAYR

The moment you are united with the master, it becomes effortless. - BHAI SAHIB

Then there arises the question of how to find the real guru. Very often people are in doubt, they do not know whether the guru they see is a true or false guru. Frequently a person comes in contact with a false guru in a world where there is so much falsehood. But at the same time a real seeker, one who is not false to himself, will always meet with the truth, with the real, because it is his own real faith, his own sincerity in earnest seeking that will become his torch. The real teacher is within, the lover of reality is one’s own sincere self, and if one is really seeking truth, sooner or later one will certainly find a true teacher. And supposing one came into contact with a false teacher, what then? Then the real One will turn the false teacher into a real teacher, because Reality is greater than falsehood. - INAYAT KHAN

People think that a Sheikh should show miracles and manifest illumination. The requirement of a teacher, however, is only that he should possess all that the disciple needs. - IBN ‘ARABÎ

Abû Sa‘îd was asked, “Who is the spiritual guide who has attained to Truth, and who is the sincere disciple?”

The Sheikh replied, “The spiritual guide who attained to Truth is he in whom at least ten characteristics are found, as proof of his authenticity:
First, he must have become a goal, to be able to have a disciple.
Second, he must have travelled the mystic path himself, to be able to show the way.
Third, he must have become refined and educated, to be able to be an educator.
Fourth, he must be generous and devoid of self-importance, so that he can sacrifice wealth on behalf of the disciple.
Fifth, he must have no hand in the disciple’s wealth, so that he is not tempted to use it for himself.
Sixth, whenever he can give advice through a sign, he will not use direct expression.
Seventh, whenever he can educate through kindness, he will not use violence and harshness.
Eighth, whatever he orders, he has first accomplished himself.
Ninth, whatever he forbids the disciple, he has abstained from himself.
Tenth, he will not abandon for the world’s sake the disciple he accepts for the sake of God.

If the spiritual guide is like this and is adorned with these character traits, the disciple is bound to be sincere and a good traveller, for what appears in the disciple is the quality of the spiritual guide made manifest in the disciple.”

As for the sincere disciple, the Sheikh has said, “No less than the ten characteristics which I mention must be present in the sincere disciple, if he is to be worthy of discipleship:
First, he must be intelligent enough to understand the spiritual guide’s indications.
Second, he must be obedient in order to carry out the spiritual guide’s command.
Third, he must be sharp of hearing to perceive what the spiritual guide says.
Fourth, he must have an enlightened heart in order to see the spiritual guide’s greatness.
Fifth, he must be truthful, so that whatever he reports, he reports truthfully.
Sixth, he must be true to his word, so that whatever he says, he keeps his promise.
Seventh, he must be generous, so that whatever he has, he is able to give away.
Eighth, he must be discreet, so that he can keep a secret.
Ninth, he must be receptive to advice, so that he will accept the guide’s admonition.
Tenth, he must be chivalrous in order to sacrifice his own dear life on the mystic path.

Having these character traits, the disciple will more easily accomplish his journey and more quickly reach the goal set for him on the mystic path by the spiritual guide.” - ABÛ SA‘ÎD IBN ABÎ-L-KHAYR

We are the means of reaching the goal. It is necessary that seekers (finally) should cut themselves away from us and think only of the goal. - BAHÂ AD-DÎN NAQSHBAND

- Sayings of Sufi Masters from Travelling the Path of LoveLlewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Editor

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Technology of the Heart: Teacher in the Path of Love
Teacher in the Path of Love
Technology of the Heart
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