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Principles of the Path

The fundamental principle of the sufi path is founded on the experience of Reality, which from the sufi point of view may be described as Absolute Being, Absolute Light, Absolute Beauty or Absolute Love.

The God of the sufis transcends anything others have said or we have heard or read. The sufi tries to direct his or her love to the Real God, Who is Absolute Being. The truth is that in the beginning we belonged to God's Unity. Then we came into existence, acquiring an ego, and it was this very self-centeredness that separated us from God. It is also this ego which creates the veil between the sufi and Reality. For this veil to be lifted and the sufi to attain Reality and Unity, programs have been prepared for the purpose of delivering us from the sickness of expressing existence.

To start with, the sufi claims to be a lover. Thus, the program for a lover is based on this assumption. Of course, if someone comes and tries to comprehend the path with the intellect or applies reason to understand what he sufis say, such a person will not get anywhere. This medicine will have no effect on him or her.

The master of the Path prescribes the following two programs for the lover of God:

The sufi is taught to be like the lover who is constantly conscious of the beloved, that is, constantly conscious of God, so that little by little through remembering Him one may become distanced from the ego. In the words of the poet:

I thought of ‘You’ so much
that I turned into You from head to toe;
Bit by bit ‘You’ came,
as little by little ‘I’ went away.

We said that everything in existence is a manifestation of Absolute Being. Given that the sufi is the lover of God, he or she loves the manifestations of God as well. To put it another way, the sufi loves God inwardly, while outwardly loving and serving all created beings. This love and service to the creation distances the sufi from self-love and preoccupation with self.

Thus, the program to convey the sufi to Absolute Unity involves, first, remembrance of God (dhikr), and second, service, loving-kindness, and compassion towards others without expectation of reward from God or the creation.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that the purpose of the remembrance (dhikr) of God is to aid the human spirit’s advancement to a higher plane, for God Himself has no need of being remembered. On the other hand, service to others has a double virtue; Not only does it distance one from self-centeredness, but it also disposes one to strive to make God content with one. In reality, what is done for the sake of God is service to the creation.

As Abu l-Hasan Kharaqani put it: “One who is wise rises early in the quest to increase one’s knowledge, while one who is ascetic is concerned with increasing one’s asceticism. Hopefully Abu l-Hasan is involved in bringing joy to the heart of a brother” (From ‘Attar’s Memoirs of the Saints).

Article taken from Sufi Journal, Issue 49, 2001

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