by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh
The capital of the Path is, in truth, nothing other than sincerity. Sincerity has been defined as 'showing yourself as you really are' and 'being inwardly what you show yourself to be'.
One may speak of three stages of sincerity: sincerity with oneself, sincerity with the master, and sincerity with God.
Sincerity with oneself
If we say that Sufism means 'attaining unity', then 'sincerity with oneself' signifies 'unifying one's outward being with one's inward being' and thereby establishing unity in oneself.
If there is no unity of the outward with the inward, there can be no unity of character. This disharmony between one's outward and inward being generates anxiety and depression. Only through the power of sincerity can one bring about psychophysical unity in oneself, can one enjoy psychological health. Hence, the results of 'sincerity with oneself' are liberation from the anxiety that stems from disharmony of character and the establishment of psychological health.
Sincerity with the master
At this stage of sincerity, through the attraction of the sincerity and love of the master, the sufi in whom psychophysical unity has been established, becomes unified with the master. This is known on the Path as 'annihilation in the master' which in itself, is a form of' identification', a term current in contemporary psychology: In this case, the sufis call it 'transcendental identification'. At this stage, the sufi's ego, or self-identity, is annihilated in the master, and the sufi totally forgets himself. An example of this form of unity was the annihilation of Rumi's ego in his master, Shams-e Tabrizi.
This sincerity frees the sufi from the anxieties of life and the anxiety that arises from fear of dying and being obliterated, such that he feels as Rumi did when he exclaimed:
I was dead; I have come alive!
I was weeping; now I am laughing!
The fortune of love has arrived,
and I have become everlasting fortune!
Most sufi masters equate annihilation in the master with annihilation in God.
Sincerity with God
Sincerity with God is the highest level of sincerity. At this stage of sincerity, which is the result of 'sincerity with oneself' and 'sincerity with the master', unity between the sufi and God becomes established through the power of sincerity and gnosis. This is known as 'annihilation in God', which refers to the identification of the part with the Whole.
At this stage, the sufi loses his ego, or self-identity, and becomes the Whole, brought into eternal life, for the Truth exists forever.
Article taken from Discourses on The Sufi Path
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