the-path-to-spiritualityEvery human soul is in the process of acquiring experience. Does it matter that we acquire experience? Does it serve any purpose? Yes, the Divine has sent souls into the world in order to share in its ecstasy and love. If we go through life relatively unconscious, numb, unappreciative, ungrateful, and absorbed with our petty desires, we are forfeiting our chance to share in God’s ecstasy and love.

There is a way of meeting experience that allows our soul-essence to be inscribed, imprinted with the impressions received by life. If the soul-essence can simultaneously receive sensory impressions, while being aware of its own being, a bridge, a connection, a communion is possible, a meeting between the Divine and the existential, between different levels of existence, and out of this a meaningfulness is experienced, and more and more experience is imbued with the quality of ecstasy.

Poets and artists cultivate this quality of experience. Others may live only at the level of thing-ness in a relatively lifeless world, driven by their egos’ desires to somehow satisfy an unsatisfiable desire that material existence in and of itself cannot satisfy. Poets, artists, mystics, and lovers consciously experience the momentousness of the moment, the existence of eternity within time, the radiance of love behind all phenomena.

The soul that begins to live in a state of remembrance, that is in conscious relationship with the Divine radiance, with the holy presence, that soul-essence is impressed and inscribed by its experiences, gradually acquiring something like flavor and fragrance, overtones, hues. In other words, it changes qualitatively.

It learns from every experience, not only the so-called good experiences. It will learn from “mistakes” as much as from doing things “right.” It will learn as much from its sorrows as from its joys. This is the real meaning of Mercy. Every condition of life teaches us about life, when the soul is conscious, humble, and grateful. Such a soul is continually aware that all of life is emanating from a Divine Source. The eye of the heart sees that Source as the master truth, the essential reality that unifies all experience.

The more experiences of this kind that the Heart has the more magnetic and powerful it becomes. It is not a power to dominate or control, but rather a power that brings coherence within ourselves. This coherence is the power of the soul functioning in harmony with the Divine Presence. Yes, it is powerful, but it is not the power of self-will apart from Divine will.

Self-will is the negative aspect of our free will. We are free to turn away from the Real, to disconnect from the Divine Presence, but the one who takes the path of self-will gets ambushed by negative (Shaytanic) forces.

In contrast the soul-essence that lives with humbleness, gratitude, and love is enveloped by the Mercy and Ecstasy of Divine Being and develops into a coherent radiant body of light that can survive the dissolution of the physical being that has been its vehicle. Whoever does not attain this coherence and radiance will, at best, cling like a hungry ghost in the regions of its fleeting desires and attachment and eventually disintegrate, though nothing is ever completely lost in the universe, everything serves some purpose. Everything is food or compost for something else, and that is an aspect of Mercy, too.

The Sufi Path is designed by a Higher Intelligence to help the soul-essence develop its coherence and participate in the ecstasy of the Divine. It is a joyous process because every detail of life is understood to be a gift of the Divine Mercy. No suffering goes to waste; no joy is taken for granted. The illusion of the separate ego is gradually dismantled and the soul realizes it’s essential nature through opening to a network of interdependent loving relationships which help the false self to be more and more erased and the real self, as previously described, is cooked, made flavorful, qualitatively transformed.

But the foremost shall be the foremost (sabiqun), those who were brought near, who will be in a garden of delight (naim). Qur’an 56:9-10.

Truly the hours of the night impress the mind most strongly and speak with the clearest voice, whereas during the day a long chain of events is your portion, but remember (i.e. dhikr) the name of your Sustainer and devote yourself with utter devotion. Qur’an 73:6-8.