THE DESIRE FOR
It is the want of all one desires to achieve that gives one the desire for power. One desires power to hold something, to make something, to attain something, to work something, to attract something, to use something, to rule something, to assimilate something. If it is a natural desire, there is an answer to it, for there cannot be a desire to which there is no answer. The answer to the desire is in knowing that desire fully. Whatever power is gained by outside efforts in life, however great it might seem for the moment, it proves fatal when it comes to be examined. Even such great powers as the nations which existed just before the war (Before the First World War) took no time to fall to pieces. There was an army, there was a navy, there was money, there was property, a state, an empire such as the Empire of Russia. To build it, how long it took, but for it to break up did not take one moment. If the outer power, in spite of its great appearance for the moment, proves fatal in the end, then there must be some power hidden somewhere, a power which may be called worthwhile, and that power is hidden in the person.
A person in the intoxication of outer powers that he possesses overlooks the cultivation or the development of inner power and, depending upon the power that does not belong to him, one day becomes victim to the power that he holds. For when the outer power becomes greater and the inner power becomes smaller, the greater power eats up the personal power. So it is that the heroes, the kings, the emperors, the personalities with great power in their hands - army power or power of wealth or outer influence - have become victim to the same power upon which they always depended. And one thinks, "If the outer power is not to be depended upon, then where is that power to be found upon which one can depend ?" That power is to be found within oneself. And what power is it ? In the terms of the Sufis that power is called iman, conviction. And how is that power built ? That power is built by what the Sufis call yaqeen, which means belief; it is the belief that culminates in conviction. The one who has no inclination to believe will never arrive at a conviction.
But now there is a question. Is even a power developed in one's personality not a limited power ? True, it is a limited power, but by following that teaching which Christ has given in the words, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things shall be added unto you", that power is gained which is unlimited power. If not, there was no meaning in calling God Almighty; the benefit of this word almighty is in its realization. This teaches us in the first place that all might is one might. Although outwardly we see different powers - one greater than the other, either in harmony or in conflict, limited powers working for or against one another - yet by the inward realization we find that there is but one power. In support of this the Qur'an says that nothing is powerful except it shows the same one power, the power of the All-powerful. In other words, in the limited aspects which we see and in its absolute being there is the one and only power. That is why we call that power almighty power: there is no might to stand against it, there is no power to work against it, all aspects of strength and power are of it, from it, in it, and will be assimilated by it in the end.
As long as man is striving for power - as everyone is striving in some way or other - without the knowledge of that power which is all-sufficient, there will always be disappointment, for he will always find limitedness. His ideal will always go forward and he will find himself short of power. It is only by getting in touch with the almighty power that he will begin to realize the All-powerful and the phenomena of the Almighty.
Now the question is, "How should one get in touch with that almighty power ?" As long as before one stands one's little personality, as long as one cannot get rid of it, as long as one's own person and all that is related and connected with it interests one, one will always find limitations. That power is touched only by one way, and that is the way of self-effacement, which in the Bible is called self-denial. People interpret it otherwise. Self-denial, they say, means to deny oneself all the happiness and pleasure of this earth. If it were to deny the happiness and pleasure of this earth, then why was this earth made ? Only to deny ? If it were made to deny, it would be very cruel, for the continual seeking of man is for happiness. Self-denying is to deny this little personality that creeps up with everything, to efface this false ego which prompts one to feel its little power in this thing or that thing.
How is this to be attained ? It is to be attained not only by prayer or by worship or by believing in God. It is to be attained by forgetting oneself in God. The belief in God is the first step. What is to be attained by the belief in God is losing oneself in God. If one is able to do it, one has attained a power which is beyond human comprehension. The process of attaining this is called fana by the Sufis. Fana is not necessarily a destruction in God, fana results in what may be called a resurrection in God, which is symbolized by the picture of Christ: the Christ on the cross is a narrative of fana. It means, "I am not". And the idea of resurrection explains the next stage, which is baqa and which means, "Thou art" - which means perfection, which means rising towards Almight. The divine Spirit is to be recognized in that rising towards Almight.
Fana is not attained by torturing oneself, by tormenting oneself, by giving oneself a great many troubles, as many ascetics do; for even after torturing themselves they will not come to that realization if they were not meant to. It is by denying one's little self, the false self which covers one's real self in which the essence of divine Being is to be found.
Question : What attributes should one place in the realm of self-denial ?
Answer : Only to deny that idea of one's own being, the being which one knows to be oneself, and to affirm God in that place. Deny oneself and affirm God, that is the perfect humility. When a person shows politeness by saying, "I am a humble little creature", he says he is something. Perhaps he thinks that he is much greater than that; he is hiding in his words. He has his vanity in that; and so that humility is of no use. When one completely denies oneself there are no words to say. What can one say ? Praise and blame become the same. There is nothing to be said.
Question : Has God a consciousness of the whole creation apart from and above the consciousness He has of separate beings ?
Answer : This may explained by saying that every part of one's body is conscious of the pain it has. If it suffers from a pain, a sting, that particular part is conscious of it, but at the same time it is not that particular part which alone is conscious of it. There is all the consciousness in man which partakes of that sense. This means that all the consciousness in man also experiences the same pain which a part of the body experiences. Sometimes an illness in a part of the body has an effect upon the whole body. No doubt the part of the body that is affected by the illness may show the sign of the illness ; the other part of the body may not show the sign of illness, yet in some measure it is affected and it suffers from it. If God is all and in all, then He does not only experience life through all forms and through all entities separately but also collectively, just as the whole body experiences the pain of one organ.
Question : Should one always try to heal by prayer, or can it be that by doing so one works against the will of God ? How can one recognize this ?
Answer : Prayer is an invocation and invocation has an effect: such as waking someone from sleep or calling someone's attention when he is absorbed in something else. Prayer therefore makes one focused to the divine ideal and thereby it helps one. The case of Shams Tabriz was different. Shams Tabriz, had arrived at that stage which was beyond prayers. He had become prayer himself and not only prayer, but he had become the culmination of prayer.
For us who live in this world, amidst this continual turmoil of worldly life, our condition is such that no sooner we open our eyes to the light than dust is thrown in them; we cannot help but close them. And so it goes on. Some from fear of the dust never open their eyes. Others open them and then, when the dust is there, they close them to keep them from the dust. And throughout this we have to go on and continue in our spiritual strife. There is so much in our lives to bring us illusion, rising just like water drowning every little impulse we have to realize truth. Unless we have a great power to fight against it and a great eagerness to continue through it, this is a most difficult task. How many seeking souls have been disappointed for the same reason ! Hardly one reaches there because the life that we live is creative of illusion from morning till evening.