THE HEART, THE MIRROR OF DIVINITY.
Desire, then, being so strong, and the spirit so daring, the hero of our story sets out on his quest, runs to “bare crags and moors undiscovered of man,” seeks Him and Him alone, seeks Him and finds Him. How and where? Let us hear.
“Cross and Christians, from end to end,
I surveyed; He was not on the Cross.
I went to the idol-temple, to the ancient pagoda;
No trace was visible there.
I went to the mountains of Herat and Candahar;
I looked, He was not in that hill and dale.
With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Qaf* In that place was only the Anqa’s habitation.
I bent the reins of search to the Ka’ba;
He was not in that resort of old and young.
I questioned Ibn Sina of His state;
He was not within Ibn Sina’s range, * I fared towards the scene of two bow-lengths’ distance,* He was not in that exalted court.
I gazed into my heart;
There I saw Him: He was nowhere else.”
“Your Self”, says the author of Gulshan i Rāz, “is a copy made in the image of God. Seek in yourself all that you desire to know.” By self is meant one’s real self after one has died to his phenomenal self and abides eternally in the Lord.
This simple doctrine of immanence, or the indwelling of God in the soul, the Sufi delights to embrace. As, however, it savours somewhat of blasphemy, he apologizes for it in these touching words:
“O heart, we have searched from end to end: I saw in Thee nought save the Beloved.
Call me not infidel, O heart, if I say, Thou Thyself art He.”
These words, “thou thyself art He,” recall the aphorism of Hindu theosophy tat tvam, “Thou art it.” The highest knowledge, says Max Müller in his Hibbert Lectures, was expressed in these words. “Thou thyself, thy own true self, that which can never be taken from thee; when everything else that seemed to be thine for a time disappears, when all that was created vanishes again like a dream, thy own true Self belongs to the Eternal Self; the Atman or Self within thee is the true Brahman, from whom thou wast estranged for a time through birth and death, but who receives thee back again as soon as thou returnest to Him or to It.”
The object of one’s desire being thus with one’s self and within one’s self, the Sufi says,
“Ye, who are in search of God, are yourselves God. Wherefore any search, when God is you, is you?”
With one’s self. Within one’s self. There is, however, still a veil that divides the lover and the beloved. The Path from Me to God is yet the farthest, even though His seat is not further away than the heart. This barrier is the Ego.
The consciousness of one’s own personality makes the desired union impracticable. But what is a mystic good for, if he cannot think his personality away? He can withdraw the soul within itself, and denude himself of everything sensuous — reason, imagination, motion and passion.
He can cleanse the doors of perception, over which hang cobwebs of vain imagination, preconceived notions and illusions, and can discern in his inmost sanctuary his true self. This attainment of self-knowledge is the beginning of the pathway to reality. Now the truth dawns on him that there is no hell but selfhood, no paradise but selflessness. He sees that his “deeper self,” or what Plotinus called “Higher Life,” is always tending towards union with reality, towards the gathering of itself up into one, while the surface-self, or lower life, designed for intercourse with the outward world, always tends to fall downwards. Thus does he find himself pulled two ways at once and fluctuates between their counter-attractions and claims. He can have no peace until the conflict is quelled; and the struggle can only be ended by self-simplification or purgation which demands supreme manliness, singleness of purpose and self-control.