The Purity of the Heart
A talk given by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen on March 9, 1985 from The Triple Flame – The Inner Secrets of Sufism.
The One without sorrow is the One who can ease our sorrow, who can eliminate our sorrow, the One without sorrow is the One who has the capacity to end our sorrow. This purity has the capacity to ease our sorrow and suffering. A’üdhu billähi minash-shaitänir-rajïm, I seek refuge in God from the evils of satan, the rejected. Bismillähir-rahmänir-rahïm, in the name of God, the most merciful, most compassionate, the creator, sustainer and nourisher.
May all praise and praising be given to Allah alone, the one mighty God. Since He alone is aware of that state He does not put great value on praise or praising, nor does He put less value on ridicule or debasement. He puts the same value on praise and ridicule, taking to His heart, as the same, those who praise Him and those who ridicule Him, accepting to His heart, as the same, those who are charitable and those who are not. This is His state, His intention, He is without fault. Later, on the last day, on Judgment Day when good and bad are investigated, when He reckons what must be meted out to each person, only then a person is told, “Because of the things you have done this is your place, because of what you did this is yours. Very well, is this what you were working for, is this what you have chosen? You certainly are My child. Very well My son, if this is what you want you may go there.” Then God turns to the next one saying, “Now is that what you wanted? Very well My son, have that because you wanted it.” This is the way He decides, but only at the end.
And similarly for ourselves, we who are God’s devotees, how should we deal with the responses we receive, whether they happen to be praise or blame? No matter if people elevate or slight us, we must treat them equally in our hearts. We should not find happiness in praise or sorrow from something which is not praise, because if we do we have to accept whatever is being given out: if it is praise and we accept it, we must also accept blame. We have to be equally happy with both because God does the same thing, He treats both sides equally. He does not have the qualities of anger, hate, bitterness or enmity. He does not feel hostility nor does He hold one person in higher esteem than any other. He behaves the same way with everyone, He treats everyone with equality. The One who creates, the One who provides nourishment, the One who protects us without divisiveness does not treat anyone differently from anyone else. He makes every life, exalted or debased, as precious as His own, He trusts every life as He trusts His own and He offers love equally to all living things.
This is the kind of compassionate heart we must have, and for that reason we must rid ourselves of the dirt lying within ourselves. My precious children, jeweled lights of my eyes, suppose you wear a very clean, very white piece of cloth and one tiny particle of dirt or a tiny drop of ink falls on it. This stands out quite clearly, the dirt or the black dot of ink is very visible, very evident. Now suppose there is a black cow, any mark which is darker black, or even a tiny dot of white is not very noticeable, you don’t talk or wonder about it much, but you can’t make the cow white. And so in our hearts, in hearts that are perfectly pure, if there is even an atomic particle of envy or doubt, an atomic particle of divisiveness or a sense of differences, an atomic particle of anger, even if it is so tiny, just as small as an atom, it is readily seen, as a tiny black dot is clearly evident on a white cow. In the same way, this tiny stain on the heart is very evident to God and His justice, it is readily seen there, even though you have to look intently at other people to detect what is there. This is the reason why God immediately notices the slightest thing that happens to any of His devotees and says, “That is not good for you, get rid of it at once, there is a tiny thing in you, throw it away.” This is the way God cautions them. He warns them, telling them to wash it away and rid themselves of even such a tiny stain, bringing them to a good, clear point. We have to think about this and make every point in our heart perfectly pure, we must always keep it clean.
Precious jeweled lights of my eyes, consider the ocean. Many, many gales and storms push silt to the shore along with the water, and sand is also washed up there. Now people go to the seashore for the air and sit on the beach saying it’s healthy, this salt water, the salt air and sand are good for rheumatism and several illnesses. Although there is so much dust, there is so much dirt in the ocean, once all that is pushed ashore the dust disappears, the sand on the beach is very clear. Although all that dirt was in the sand we can still sit there and come away without any of it sticking to our clothes. No matter how much dirt we sit on or lie around in, we should be like the sand at the seashore and make sure none of the dirt sticks to our hearts. Whether we live among sinners, among those who do good or those who do evil, no dirt will stick to us provided we keep our hearts clean. This is a way to make our lives perfectly pure.
As the sand at the seashore is so clean and free of dirt, we must make the hearts of our children perfectly pure. No matter where they go to play, no matter what they sit around in we must make sure they grow up with perfectly clear hearts. The lessons we teach them, the way we bring them up depends on what we do because they emulate our actions. They try to imitate the words we use like parrots, they try to do what they see us do. If we become angry a child will demonstrate anger in his or her own way; if we swear, no matter what we do, a child will repeat this. A child learns what we teach him or her and then teaches that to his or her own children this is what follows. We are teachers, we are teachers for the life of our child from the time he is born right until the end. Whatever we teach a child is what he teaches others, a child copies what he sees. If we can present good words, dignified words, beautiful words, words filled with love, with wisdom to a child, he will grow on the path of truth. And if we want to do this, we ourselves must be transformed this is the greatest teaching for a child.
A cow or a goat grazes and eats grass, then if it yawns the smell we have is the smell of the grass or leaves it ate. If a dog eats fecal matter the smell which comes from its mouth is the smell of excrement. The odor which comes from our mouth when we open it is the smell of something we ate before. A poisonous snake lies in its hole and it yawns too, when it does we identify the stench easily and say, “O, it’s a snake!” We know immediately there is a snake close by when we notice the smell. In the same way, as any animal opens its mouth revealing an inner quality, human beings also reveal what is in their hearts and their intentions when they open their mouths, what is inside emerges. Now if the heart is in a good state there is a good fragrance, there are good words, we find words of love, compassion and mercy coming out. For others, for those who are filled with aggression, filled with anger, very harsh words might come out. What is in a person’s heart comes out in many different ways. Coming from some hearts we find sabür, inner patience, from some shakür, absolute contentment, from some tawakkul, surrender to God, from some al-hamdu lilläh, offering all praise to God, and from some hearts we find peace. This means whatever we think inwardly is seen by others outwardly. We have to think about this.
My very precious children, jeweled lights of my eyes, our life is no better than the glowworm we occasionally find glittering along the way, an insect with a tiny light on its backside. That light has a kind of phosphorescent material, a point which glows brightly when light shines on it. There is a similar point in man’s life which shines without his knowledge, the soul shining between the points of birth and death is also like that, one aspect of the seven levels of consciousness or wisdom. Now there are certain birds, a kind of oriole, which catch these glowworms for the nests they build, nests with one room for the husband, a bedroom for the husband and wife, a restroom, some space to store food and other rooms for their children. They collect paddy and grains in the nest, then when the eggs they lay are hatched and the little fledgelings emerge, the husband is sent to his own room while the mother bird comes to the nursery to feed the babies with bits of grain. The male catches a glowworm and brings it to the nest, sticking the head of the insect to the wall with a little clay as the tail keeps flickering, giving off a greenish light. And so the insect is a lamp for the fledgelings.
When wisdom grows in a human being God’s power increases in him, when a man grows from infancy his wisdom increases until he reaches the state of son-God, that is, when the soul merges with the radiance of Allah. His wisdom reaches the resplendence of the sun as he is transformed into light, a state in which he is not to be seen because he is transformed into light, God’s resplendence. This is the goal of man’s life which we cannot say is ordinary or insignificant. Just as a child grows from infancy to a greater size, wisdom also grows that way in us, starting off like a small child, growing within us. Truth grows in us the same way. God, devotion to God and trust in God grow the same way too. There are children of gnänam, children of divine wisdom growing inside man; wisdom is one child, truth is another, God is also a child. Similarly, there are three flames, three lights growing within us this way, three Arabic letters, alif, läm and mïm that become the triple flame within ourselves when we make these three children grow. Then we can see them speaking to us inwardly, offering comfort. In addition to that, a state which is serenity and tranquility emerges within ourselves giving us peace, giving peace offered with compassion and love to everyone around. This is the state of celestial beings, of God, of heavenly beings and those with wisdom, this is the state of the prophets.
When earth was gathered from the four directions to create Adam (RAL.), God made this one fistful of earth, and as Adam (RAL.) was created He pressed the light of Nür Muhammad on his forehead. The Nür is plenitude, completeness, that light. All the prophets are just one fistful of earth, the whole world is just one fistful of earth, all this is only one fistful of earth to God. For us, of course, it has become a thousand fistfull, for us it is countless fistfuls, but for God it is only a single handful. Within the scope of God’s vision, each prophet is only a tiny ray, atomic in size. He split the prophets into millions and millions of tiny atoms which He has nurtured. When our wisdom, our abilities, our qualities and actions grow inwardly, our actions, qualities and our beauty flourish proportionately.
Precious jeweled lights, think about this, if a man is destroyed or ruined by his own actions, what can the annävi do? Annävi means teacher, a teacher of wisdom, of mantras, of good qualities, a teacher who shows his student how to make medicines and herbal remedies while teaching him different things about his life. But if a student chooses to push all this aside, if he decides to say, “All right then teacher, I’ve done everything you told me to,” he is foolish.
When a guru or a sheikh tells us something or when a physician gives us medicines we have to try them out, at any rate, to a certain extent. But if a student says, “I am right, I know,” he is like a man who ruins himself with his own actions. What can a man of wisdom do, what can God or a physician do? No one can do anything, the teacher can’t do anything. And so before we do something, first we have to reflect inwardly, we have to think somewhat about our own life, and also about living our life for the sake of others, for the sake of bringing peace to others. We must show compassion, we must try hard to wipe away the tears of someone who is crying, we must try to pour at least a little water into the mouth of someone who is hungry. We must try to give someone whose heart is suffering at least a little love, soothe that heart and comfort it. If a man is weeping lull him to sleep, comfort him until he sleeps, until he rests. This is the way we should try to uncover the difficulty of every brother and sister. Try to give them the right kind of comfort and peace, this is the way we too, will have peace.
But if we are obstinate, if we are stubborn saying, “I can do it, he must come to me,” this is not a good idea. God sets out to give nourishment to everyone equally whether they ask Him for it or not. He does this, after all, by Himself, providing everything with His compassion because that is His duty. That is the duty of the One who performs this duty, but a man who is arrogant and claims, “I am capable, I am the one doing it,” is not doing that duty.
Suppose there are stones on a road, stones which make holes in the tires of thousands of cars, or hurt the feet of those who are on foot, or even cause accidents. Now suppose a bullock pulling a steamroller flattens stones on the road awhile, then leaves it there to lie down in the shade of a tree. Because it’s dangerous to leave a steamroller sitting there on the road, whoever takes care of the bullock must come now to comfort it, soothe it, feed it, give it some water, bring it back, harness it and make it pull the roller once again to smooth out the stones for everyone’s sake. God goes on His own to the people who are stone-hearted, makes them yield and do what they have to do. This does not mean that God is diminished when He entices them, makes them do their work this is, in fact, a great achievement. A man who makes the bullock work gives comfort to a few people who can walk now with ease. And then suppose we say, “Do we need a person, do we need a bullock to do such things? Can’t God do all this?” He can do this Himself, He certainly can. In less than the blink of an eye He can create and destroy, He has all that power to create, to protect and take everything back. He certainly has that power.
Sometimes God might see a blazing re, He might just look on and let it burn: if there is evil before Him, He keeps looking at it and the evil burns by itself. God created everything, He created each thing for a particular reason, to do a certain thing. It was not His intention to do everything Himself, but He has the ability to control it all, to make things happen that cannot otherwise occur. He shows us anything is possible, He is the master because He demonstrates that what is impossible is possible. He is a Father who says, “You do the work.” This is the way God teaches everything and protects us all. It is impossible to describe the splendor, the majesty of the One who is alone, the One who is omnipresent, omnipotent, illallähu, the One who gives peace and tranquility to everyone, the One who rules alone. We must try to foster these very exalted qualities, peace, tranquility and unity, and through this blessed achievement He will know our worth, we will be among the fortunate.
My brothers and sisters, God has no form yet He has spoken to all these prophets, to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, David, Jesus, Idris, Isaac, Job and Jacob, peace be upon them all, giving them His admonitions and the commandments which have led us to accept God. We are the children of Adam (RAL.), all of us, and for faith in God we are the tribe of Abraham (RAL.) because true faith in God is exemplified by Abraham (RAL.). For the unity of our birth Adam and Eve (RAL.) are our primal father and mother, we are all the children of Adam (RAL.). For faith, for true faith in God, we are the tribe of Abraham (RAL.). Ishmael (RAL.) is the example of dedicating ourselves, cutting our attachments completely by offering ourselves in qurbän, in sacrifice, to God. Moses (RAL.) came to release us from slavery, Moses (RAL.) came to release people from Pharaoh’s slavery. Now what was this slavery? Do you think the Banü Isrä‘ïl, the tribe of Israel, were only Pharaoh’s slaves? No, every child of Adam (RAL.) is a slave, slaves to everything, slaves to wealth, slaves to woman, some are slaves to gold, to property and land, slaves to satan, slaves to desire, slaves to everything. This is the slavery Moses (RAL.) came to free people from. The Ten Commandments were given to release people from the slavery to all these things, not just Pharaoh’s slavery, because man was enslaved by the earth and everything all around.
David (RAL.) came for unity. There are the four religions, Zabür, Hinduism, Jabrät, re worship, Injïl, Christianity and Furqän, Islam. Now three of these religions existed before the time of Mummad (SAL.), and he united these religions by putting them together on one lap, in unity. Jesus (RAL.) is the soul. God is One, He has neither form nor shape, He is the One who creates and nourishes everyone. Lä iläha illallähu ‘Ïsä rühulläh, there is no god but God and Jesus is the soul. The soul exists as light. Lä iläha illallähu Muhammadur-Rasülulläh , there is no god but God and Muhammad (RAL.) is His messenger. As five fingers are united to make a hand, Muhammad (SAL.) brought unity, all religions became one, we all became the brothers of one family. Muhammad (SAL.) came to say there is one God, one father, one mother and one prayer. He brought everyone together praying only to that One in unity, a prayer which brings all living things into a single brotherhood and treats the hunger of everyone as our own, treats every brother and sister as our own. And there is only one truth, one love for everyone, there is one kind of justice we must all have. This is the way Muhammad (SAL.) created a brotherhood of unity.
God has neither form nor shape, but He has ninety-nine wiläyats or powers which are His qualities, His actions and the conduct He resonates with, revealing the way He created. Who is God? He is the ninety-nine qualities, He is only to be known through His ninety-nine qualities. His qualities are what we can know as God. The qualities of God, His actions, His conduct, His duty and that truth must be alive in a human being. If they are alive in a human being, if a man puts those qualities into action within himself, this is God. When God’s qualities operate in man those duties and qualities are the form of God, He has no other. The three thousand gracious attributes of His ninety-nine qualities are the gracious attributes protecting every living thing, helping every living thing with that compassionate grace, God’s grace which soothes every life, which protects and comforts every life.
The action emanating from those qualities which are the light of God, the beauty of God and His majesty, this is the form of God who is without form or shape, this is the quality that gives God form. We must cultivate those qualities in ourselves, and if we do, we can perceive that value, we can recognize God within ourselves, we can see the light, we can see the beauty and color within the light, we can perceive joy. This is certain. We must make God’s qualities grow within ourselves, we must foster that truth and make it grow because this is unity, this is the highest ideal for mankind, an ideal which will bring us peace.
My precious jeweled lights, each of us must think about this. May God help us all, may He guide us on a straight, true path. May He protect us here, both here and hereafter, may He reform our hearts, transform our hearts in every way. Make my children live in unity, O God, and take me to You, make them live with the highest ideals, make their good hearts shine like crystal. My precious jeweled lights, O God, may You unite them and accept all my precious children as Yours, may You accept all responsibility for my children, O God, and protect them. Ämin, ämin. Bless them with a life free of illness and free of want. May these prayers be heard, may they be fulfilled.
Ämïn, ämïn, as-salämu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullähi, may the peace and blessings of God be with all of you.