This ‘school’ has two phases, fanã’ (‘annihilation’) and baqã’ (‘subsistence’), the reaching of fanã’ being equivalent to entering the kharãbãt. We have already seen that when the disciple reaches the end of the Tariqa, he arrives first at the contemplation of Divinity. This is the stage of fanã’, or death to self, of which there are two kinds, outward and inward.
Outward fanã’ is the annihilation of the acts of the disciple by the manifestation of the Divine Will. The disciple reaches a stage in which he is drowned in the sea of the Divine Acts, to the extent that he sees the Divine Will in everything that happens and not his own will or that of others. At this stage he is deprived completely of free-will.
Inward fanã’ is the annihilation of the attributes and the being of the Sufi. At this stage at times he contemplates the Divine Attributes, in which his own attributes have become annihilated, and at times he contemplates the Being of the Divinity, thus annihilating his own being. At the beginning of inward fanã’, the disciple is deprived of all sensation; but gradually, according to his capacities, he becomes aware of the outer world, even though his being has ceased to exist. His inward state is annihilation in God, while outwardly he is present in the external environment and completely aware of what is happening around him.
Baqã’ consists of subsistence in God and is realized when God gives a new will to the disciple directly from himself, in order to replace that which had become annihilated in the course of the path. This subsistence, or ‘permanence’, is obtained in exchange for inward annihilation, which consists of the disappearance of the being and the mortal attributes of the disciple, which are like a veil separating him from the Real. At this very advanced stage God does not veil the world from the Sufi nor does the world veil God; no sort of separation exists any longer and duality is transformed into Unity.
— Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh
Today I visited the Japanese maple that is in my front yard. I stood alongside it for a good ten minutes. I wanted the tree to sense how much I appreciated its radiance, the incendiary tinge of the red and orange leaves. And with a clear sky, like today’s, the backdrop set the tree’s beauty into high relief.
Earlier I’d been with sheeny black creatures. Coming home from a walk I spied on a gathering of crows, about eight of them, swooping from their spot on a pine branch to take prime pickings from the neighbor’s recycling pile. One of the birds was so huge it resembled an infant, in a way — pitch black and hopping on all fours — with wings. Very disconcerting.
The crow’s coloring is so deep, it’s slightly metallic black and hypnotic. The blackness is as deep as their persistence. And I thought of a poem by the Hindi poet Mirabai that talks about her love for the Beloved’s black hair. She’s always writing about his hair. The vivid blackness — the sheen of it, and her getting lost in it.
The birds would argue about who got the choice bits from the bin, with the victor flying off to stash the picking in her nest. Eventually they got angry at my staring and started cawing aggressively. I laughed and walked down to see my maple and snapped the photo above. I hadn’t dressed warm enough so I finally went back into the house.
Perhaps because Pluto sits near my ascendant and with the moon and Saturn in Scorpio in my natal chart, I become vitalized as the season shifts towards the death space that typifies mid-Autumn. The Sun’s ingress into Scorpio.
Summer for me was like fathoms of void. Was there sun? And when the equinox came in September I hardly took notice. My heart was burgled and cut in June — and when the heart’s sore and shuttered there can be such an eerie disconnect from beauty. Dry. I could lean towards beauty, but beauty didn’t, wouldn’t, lean towards me. I think beauty could sense the veil and felt unwelcome. Or so the mind says — in reality when the heart, the eye of beauty is shut, beauty simply is not. Is asleep.
There’s a great Leonard Cohen song that tells about the frustration of trying to contrive one’s way towards beauty. Making beauty an object rather than seeing it as an essential expression of the Self.
I came so far for beauty.
I left so much behind.
My patience and my family.
My masterpiece unsigned.
I thought I’d be rewarded.
For such a lonely choice.
And surely she would answer
To such a very hopeless voice.
I practiced all my sainthood.
I gave to one and all.
But the rumours of my virtue
They moved her not at all.
The Sufis talk about reaching a place, after long pining and making efforts toward the Beloved, where the Beloved actually makes a turning — and suddenly the seeker becomes the sought. The notion is lovely except this process, where the Beloved comes after the seeker, is painful. Barren. Disorienting. One is dropped into a wasteland. The Sufis’ term for this phase, this displacement is called: constraint. Read more
Abu Sa’i was speaking before an assembly and
“Today I am going to speak to you about
All the people listened to the Sheikh with
keen interest, wondering what he would say.
The Sheikh said, “Oh people, this year what-
ever God wishes shall happen, just as last year
everything that happened was what God, He is
“A certain man believed that the ordinary waking life, as people knew it could not possibly be complete.
He sought the real Teacher of the Age. He read many books and joined many circles, and he heard the words and witnessed the deeds of one master after another. He carried out the commands and spiritual exercises which seemed to him to be most attractive.
He became elated with some experiences. At other times he was confused; and he had no idea at all of what his stage was, or where and when his search might end.
This man was reviewing his behavior one day when he suddenly found himself near the house of a certain sage of high repute. In the garden of that house he encountered Khidr, the secret guide who shows the way to Truth.
Khidr took him to a place where he saw people in great distress and woe, and he asked who they were. “We are those who did not follow real teachings, who were not true to our undertakings, who revered self-appointed teachers,” they said. Read more