PART I: A SUFI MESSAGE OF SPIRITUAL LIBERTY
The great mystic of India, Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti, introduced music into his Chishtia Order. Even today musical entertainments for the elevation of the soul, called Suma, are held among Sufis.
Ecstasy is called Wajad by Sufis: it is especially cultivated among the Chishtis. This bliss is the sign of spiritual development and also the opening for all inspirations and powers. This is the state of eternal peace, which purifies from all sins. Only the most advanced Sufis can experience Wajad. Although it is the most blissful and fascinating state, those who give themselves entirely to it become unbalanced, for too much of anything is undesirable; as the day’s labor is a necessary precursor of the night’s rest, so it is better to enjoy this spiritual bliss only after the due performance of worldly duties.
Sufis generally enjoy Wajad while listening to music called Qawwali, special music producing emotions of love, fear, desire, repentance, etc.
There are five aspects of Wajad: Wajad of dervishes, which produces a rhythmic motion of the body; Wajad of idealists, expressed by a thrilling sensation of the body, tears and sighs; Wajad of devotees, which creates an exalted state in the physical and mental body; Wajad of saints, which creates perfect calm and peace; and Wajad of prophets, the realization of the highest consciousness called Sadrat al Manteha.
One who by the favor of the murshid arrives at the state of Wajad is undoubtedly the most blessed soul and deserves all adoration.
The entire universe in all its activity has been created through the concentration of God. Every being in the world is occupied consciously or unconsciously in some act of concentration. Good and evil alike are the result of concentration. The stronger the concentration, the greater the result; lack of concentration is the cause of failure in all things. For this world and the other, for material as well as spiritual progress, concentration is most essential.
The power of will is much greater than the power of action, but action is the final necessity for the fulfillment of the will, Perfection is reached by the regular practice of concentration, passing through three grades of development: Fana-fi-Shaikh, annihilation in the astral plane, Fana-fi-Rasul, annihilation in the spiritual plane, and Fana-fi-Allah, annihilation in the abstract. After passing through these three grades, the highest state is attained of Baqi-bi-Allah, annihilation in the eternal consciousness, which is the destination of all who travel by this path. Breath is the first thing to be well studied. This is the very life, and also the chain which connects material existence with the spiritual. Its right control is a ladder leading from the lowest to the highest stages of development. Its science is to be mastered by the favor of the murshid, the guiding light of God.
The only Being is manifested throughout all planes of existence in two aspects, male and female, representing nature’s positive and negative forces. In the plane of consciousness there are two aspects: Wahdat, consciousness, and Ahadiat, eternal consciousness, and thus also spirit and matter, night and day, signify the dual aspect on lower planes. In the mineral and vegetable kingdoms sex is in a state of evolution, but the highest manifestation of male and female is man and woman.
Man being the first aspect of manifestation, is the more spiritual and nearer to God; woman being the next manifestation, is finer and more capable of divine knowledge. Man’s natural tendency is toward God, while woman’s tendency is towards the world. These contrary tendencies result in balance. Therefore man needs woman to direct his life, and woman needs man for her guidance and protection, both being incomplete in themselves.
The problem of the emancipation of woman may be studied by a comparison of her position in the East and in the West.
The Oriental woman, whose freedom is restricted, is the better wife from the individual point of view, but the enforced inactivity of half the population is not beneficial to the nation. The Occidental woman who is given entire freedom is less anxious for and less capable of home life, but being out in the world her influence promotes the advancement of the nation.
At first sight it would appear that woman is more respected by man in the West, but in reality the East gives her the greatest reverence.
Man has more freedom than woman throughout the entire world because he has more strength and power; and the fineness of woman needs protection, just as the eye, being the finest organ of the body, has been protected by nature with eyelids. Both excel at their characteristics.
A virgin is idolized by man because she is the model of high manifestations; woman’s virtue is a greater ideal than her physical and intellectual beauty. Nature has placed her under the protection of man, but what is most desirable is that man gives her freedom and that she appreciates it by making the best use of it.
There are three kinds of virgins. One, commonly considered a virgin, who has never had association with a man; another is the virgin in heart, whose love is centered in one beloved only; and the third is the virgin in soul, who considers man as God. She alone can give birth to a divine child.
A woman may become a doctor, solicitor, or minister, but it is incomparably greater if she can become a good wife and a kind mother.
Monogamy and polygamy are inborn human attributes. They also exist among birds and beasts. Each individual is born with one of these tendencies, but sometimes one rather than the other is developed by the effect of the atmosphere and surroundings. These tendencies also depend upon the climatic and physical conditions of different countries and races. Polygamy may be natural to man, and monogamy to woman, as the former helps manifestation while the latter destroys it. Illegal polygamy is worse than legal, because it creates deceit and falsehood. Monogamy is the ideal life which is a comfort in this world and the next, and perfects one in love.
Absolute renunciation is as undesirable as is the blind attachment to the world. The ideal life is detached interest in the world, which is best accomplished by man and woman together.
Woman is a mystery within herself, owing to her subtle nature. Sages who made the mistake of considering woman to be of lesser spiritual importance forgot that they themselves were the product of women.
The majority of prophets and masters have been men because man is the higher manifestation, as is signaled by the myth of Adam and Eve, in which Eve was born from the rib of Adam, meaning that woman is the later manifestation. The fruit means that woman directed man’s thoughts towards procreation. The interpretation of Adam and Eve’s exile from heaven is the fall of mankind from the state of innocence to the state of youth .The separation and unhappiness of Adam and Eve show the object of God to manifest in the dual aspect, that He may accomplish his real desire of love. According to the Vedanta half of the divine body, Ardhangi, is womanhood, proving that unity of both is the complete life.
Sufis consider a life of complete unity the most balanced, if it is true and harmonious. Love and wisdom create harmony between man and woman; but these being absent, harmony ceases to exist.
A child inherits more attributes more attributes from its mother than from its father, therefore the mother is more responsible for its merits and defects; and if she has knowledge she can train the soul of her child even before its birth by the power of her concentration, molding the child’s future according to her own will.
Harmony between finer persons is more lasting than the affections of average mankind. People of angelic qualities have everlasting harmony between them, in which God Himself accomplishes His object of manifestation.
Mankind is born with a worshipful attitude, and as all attitudes demand satisfaction by expression, so the attitude of worship finds its object of adoration. The ancient Greeks and Shiva Bhaktas of India worshipped both aspects of manifestation in the names of gods and goddesses. Sufism, being the essence of all religions and philosophies, looks upon both the opposite aspects of nature as one in reality, and calls it Sifat Allah. Sufis reach realization of God by adoring His nature, calling on Him saying, ‘Kull-i shayin Hal-i Kull’ which means, ‘Everything will perish except His own Face.’ They look upon all names and forms as the means of realizing the One, the only Being.