Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Sufism: Ibn Arabi - What the Seeker Needs 1

Extracts from a classic text: Book of the Quintessence Concerning What Is Indispensable For the Spiritual Seeker (transl. - Tosun Bayrak)

Muhiyy ad-Din Ibn 'Arabi

Basic Life Style
1- Be accepting, approving, forgiving, serving, and loving to everyone and everything.
Look upon the whole creation, and above all, humankind, with good will - accepting, approving, forgiving, serving, and loving. Make that your nature in your dealings with the world. Listen to your conscience. Cleanse your heart. In that clean heart, keep up prayer for your faithful brothers. Help and serve, as much as you can, the people who hide their misery, who are content with their poverty, the travelers on the path to truth. Do not attribute to yourself virtue, goodness, and graciousness because of your service to the creation. Consider that you owe other people thanks for having humbly accepted your help. It is incumbent upon you to lighten the load of those who are burdened. If people whose pain you have helped to alleviate cause you pain in return - if their responses, their ways, their habits are dark and cast shadows upon you - show patience and forbearance. Do not forget that Allah says:
...surely Allah is with the patient. (Baqara, 153)
2- Do not waste time; try to be as helpful as possible.
Do not spend your life in empty endeavors and your time in idle talk. Instead, reflect and remember Allah, read the Qur'an, guide the misguided to the enlightened path. Help others leave evil and turn to doing good. Mend broken friendships. Help others to help others.
3- Find good friends of like mind.
Find the right friend, who will be a support for you, a good traveling companion on the path of truth. Faith is a seed. It grows into a tree with the beneficent watering and sunshine of faithful friends. […]
4- Look for a good teacher
Look for a perfect teacher who will lead you on the straight path. In your search for a guide, be sincere, because sincerity distinguishes the true seeker. It is certain that if you cling to sincerity and truthfulness, the Lord will manifest His attribute of the Ultimate Guide upon you and will guide you to a perfect teacher.
5- Be sincere
Sincerity in the seeker is such a blessing that when it is present, Allah will even turn the accursed devil himself and the seeker's personal devil, his ego, into angels of inspiration serving him. Sincerity is such a catalyst that it turns lead into gold and purifies everything it touches. […]
6- Be light-hearted and low maintenance
To advance in this path, in the footsteps of the prophets (peace and blessings be upon them), you have to be light - light in worldly goods, light in your concerns about this world. An unmistakable sign of the heaviness that will prevent you from advancing is to be a burden on people. Neither be a freeloader nor let others carry your load. Particularly, do not accept goods and favors, either for yourself or for others, from people whose hearts are dead, submerged in the sleep of heedlessness.
7- Don’t be overly materialistic; earn your living modestly.
In what Allah permits you to gain as your sustenance - in all your actions, behavior and words - fear Allah. Do not seek comfort and luxury, especially when you have not worked hard for it. Lawful sustenance is obtained by working harder than is demanded of you. A clear sign of the lawfulness of one's gain is that it will not permit you to be either stingy or a spendthrift.
8- Be detached from worldly things.
Take care, since if the love of this world takes root firmly in your heart, it constricts your heart, and it becomes exceedingly hard to pull it out and throw it away. This world is a trial ground; do not seek comfort and riches in it.
9- Have meditation periods to review your actions.
Cleanse and beautify your days and nights with worship. […] It is to be hoped that only good deeds and actions befitting a Muslim are done between the times of prayer.
10- Do your work with devotion.
Most people complain that this world, their work to secure their sustenance, and their work as householders for their families, take time away from their worship. Know that work done heedfully, with consideration for others, in accordance with proper behavior, for the pleasure of Allah, is also worship. [...]
11- Organize your life to give maximum time for spiritual efforts.
Use these to gather as much of your sustenance as possible in the minimum of time. If possible, secure in one day your week's sustenance. […]
12- Sunrise and sunset are strong spiritual moments.
After you perform your morning prayer, stay with your Lord until sunrise, and after your afternoon prayer stay in His presence until sunset. These are two periods of time when spiritual powers and enlightenment flow in abundance. Keep your heart tied to Allah in humility and in peace. […]
13- Eat, sleep and dress sparingly.
Do not sleep until you are unable to stay awake. Do not eat until you are hungry. Dress only to cover your body and to protect it from cold and from heat. […]
14- Read slowly and conscientiously.
Read without haste, slowly thinking of the meaning of each word. 
Part 2 

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