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Past Contemplation Themes
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Past Contemplation Themes

Sufi Circle 1 December 2015

O comrade, do not refrain from invoking God: what business have you with His acceptance or rejection of your prayer?
Since bread (worldliness) was the barrier and obstacle to this water (tears), you must quickly wash your hands of that bread.
Make yourself harmonious and congruous and balanced*: let your bread be baked well with (burning) tears.

*i.e. in full accord with the Divine will

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.2344-2346

Sufi Circle 20 October 2015

The gnostic is the soul of religion and the soul of piety: gnosis is the result of past asceticism.
Asceticism is the labour of sowing; gnosis is the growth of the seed.
Therefore the (ascetic’s) hard struggle and his firm religious conviction are like the body, while the soul of this sowing is the growth of the seed and its harvesting.
The gnostic is both the command to do right and the right (itself); he is both the revealer of mysteries and that which is revealed.
He is our king today and tomorrow: the husk* is forever a slave to his goodly kernel.

*the phenomenal world

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.2090-2094


“This much, indeed, is only the lesson learned by my disciples; but unto what place attains the forward and backward movement of my battle!
Unto what place? Unto the place where Place itself finds no admittance, and where nothing exists save the lightning-flash of the Moon of Allah.
’Tis far beyond all conceptions and imaginations, ’tis the Light of light of light of light of light of light.”

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.2144-2146

Sufi Circle 6 October 2015

Though the desert be filled with gold and silver coin, not a single mite can be taken away without God’s approval;
And though you read a hundred volumes without pause, you will not remember a single point (of argument) without the Divine decree;
But if you serve God and do not read a single book, you will learn rare sciences from your own bosom.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1930-1932

’Tis the Sea of Unity: there is no fellow or consort: its pearls and fishes are not other than its waves.
Oh, absurd, absurd to make aught its partner. Far be it from that Sea and its pure waves!
In the Sea there is no partnership or perplexity; but what can I say to him that sees double? Nothing, nothing.
Since we are the mates of those who see double, O idolater, ’tis necessary to speak in the fashion of him who attributes a partner (to God).
That Unity is beyond description and condition: nothing comes into the domain of speech except duality.
Either, like the double-seeing man, drink in this duality, or close your mouth and be very silent;
Or do both in turns, now silence, now speech: in the company of the uninitiated beat the drum like him who sees double, and peace be with you!
When you see a confidant, declare the mystery of the Spirit: if you see the rose, sing loud like nightingales.
But when you see one who resembles a water-skin full of deceit and falsehood, shut your lips and make yourself like a dry-lipped jar;
For he is an enemy to the water of spiritual life: in his presence do not move your lips, else the stone of his ignorance breaks the jar.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.2030-2039

Sufi Circle 22 September 2015

The Ka’ba of Gabriel and the celestial spirits is a Lotus-tree; the qibla of the belly-slave is a table-cloth covered with dishes of food.
The qibla of the gnostic is the light of union with God; the qibla of the philosopher’s intellect is fantasy.
The qibla of the ascetic is the Gracious God; the qibla of the flatterer is a purse of gold.
The qibla of the spiritual is patience and long-suffering; the qibla of form-worshippers is the image of stone.
The qibla of those who dwell on the inward is the Bounteous One; the qibla of those who worship the outward is a woman’s face.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1896-1900

Sufi Circle 8 September 2015

The Tailor, who is Worldly Vanity, takes away the satin of your life, bit by bit, with his scissors, which are the months.
Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1720
Do not regard the anxious husbanding of one’s daily bread and livelihood and this dearth (of food) and fear and trembling,
But consider that in spite of all the World’s bitternesses you are mortally enamoured of it and recklessly devoted to it.
Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1734-5
The cruelty of Time (Fortune) and every affliction that exists are lighter than farness from God and forgetfulness of Him,
Because these afflictions will pass, but that forgetfulness will not. Only he that brings his spirit to God awake and mindful of Him is possessed of felicity.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1756-7

Sufi Circle 1 September 2015

The Friend is the support and refuge on the Way: when you consider well, you will see that the Friend is the Way.
When you come into a company of friends, sit silent: do not make yourself the bezel in that ring.
At the Friday prayer-service look well and attentively: you will see that all are concentrated and possessed by a single thought and silent.
Direct your course towards silence: when you see the marks of the Way, do not make yourself a mark for attention.
The Prophet said, ‘Know that amidst a sea of cares my Companions are as stars in respect of guidance.’
Fix your eye on the stars, seek the Way; speech is a cause of confusion to the sight: do not speak.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1591-1596

………………Hark, O Sufi, open your spiritual ear very wide.
Whatever blow may come to you from Heaven, always be expecting to receive a gift of honour after it;
For He is not the king to slap you and then not give you a crown and a throne on which to recline.
The whole world has but the value of a gnat’s wing; but for one slap there is an infinite reward.
Nimbly slip your neck out of this golden collar, which is the world, and take the slaps that come from God.
Since the prophets suffered those blows on the nape, in consequence of that affliction they have lifted their heads high.
But always be present (attentive and ready) in yourself, O youth, in order that He may find you at home.
Else He may take back His gift of honour, saying, ‘I found nobody in the house.’

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1637-1644

Sufi Circle 18 August 2015

We have said so much: think of the remainder, or if thought be frozen, practise recollection of God.
Recollection of God brings thought into movement: make recollection to be the sun for this congealed thought.
God’s pulling is, indeed, the original source; but, O fellow-servant, exert yourself, do not be dependent on that pulling;
For to renounce exertion is like an act of disdain: how should disdain be seemly for a devoted lover of God?
O youth, think neither of acceptance or refusal: regard always the Divine command and prohibition.
Then suddenly the bird, namely the Divine attraction, will fly from its nest towards you: put out the candle as soon as you see the dawn.
When the eyes have become piercing, ’tis the dawn’s light that illumines them: in the very husk the illumined eye beholds the kernels.
In the mote it beholds the everlasting Sun, in the drop of water it beholds the entire Sea.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1475-1482

Every shop has a different kind of merchandise: the Mathnawi is the shop for spiritual poverty, O son.
In the shoemaker’s shop there is fine leather: if you see wood there, it is only the mould for the shoe.
The drapers have in their shops silk and dun-coloured cloth: if iron be there, it is only to serve for a yard-measure.
Our Mathnawi is the shop for Unity: anything that you see there except the One (God) is only an idol*.

*i.e. a means of attraction

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1525-1528

Sufi Circle 16 June 2015

“O you who believe! Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may deserve God’s protection (against the temptations of your carnal soul) and attain piety.”
Holy Qur’an Sura 2, v. 183

The fasting month (roza) has been a test for the powerful and the lowly,
Don’t ask, ‘How?’ (chun) For it has come from the Incomparable (be-chun).
It is a day (roze) that has come from beyond the heavens,
Blessing (roz-behi) comes from it that is increasing day by day (roz-afzun).
Hz Mevlana –from his Ruba‘iyat (Quatrains)*

The Islamic fast is like a sieve that sifts the soul,
For it brings hidden particles (of gold) into view.
It is a ‘goblet’ that darkens the shining moon,
And when it is unveiled, it gives light to the seventh heaven.
Hz Mevlana –from his Ruba‘iyat (Quatrains)*

What hidden sweetness is found in this empty stomach! Man is like a lute, neither more nor less:
When the lute’s stomach is full, it cannot lament, whether high or low.
If your brain and stomach burn from fasting, their fire will draw constant lamentation from your breast.
Through that fire you will burn a thousand veils at every instant – you will ascend a thousand degrees on the Way and in your aspiration.
Keep your stomach empty! Lament like a flute and tell your need to God! Keep your stomach empty and speak of the mysteries like a reed!
If you keep your stomach full, it will bring Satan to you at the Resurrection instead of your spiritual intelligence, an idol instead of the Kaaba.
When you fast, good character traits gather round you like servants, slaves, and retinue.

Hz Mevlana - Divan-i Kebir**
*from The Quatrains of Rumi by Ibrahim Gamard and Rawan Farhadi
**from The Sufi Path Of Love by William C. Chittick

Sufi Circle 19 May 2015

How long will you steal portions of the lore of the Book, in order that your face may be coloured like an apple? (i.e. that you may honoured and venerated)
How long will you steal the words of the men of God, that you may sell them and obtain applause from the crowd?
The daubed-on colour never really made you rosy: the tied-on branch never performed the function of the fruit bearing stump (from which the dates are gathered).
At last, when the veil of death comes over you, these bits of the Book drop away from your face.
When the call comes to arise and depart, thereafter all the arts of disputation vanish.
The world of silence comes into view. Stop (talking)! Alas for him that has not a familiarity with silence within him!
Polish your heart for a day or two: make that mirror your book of meditation.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1281-1287

Sufi Circle 5 May 2015

Let the cooking-pot boil gradually, as a skilful cook does: the stew boiled in a mad hurry is of no use.
Was not God able to create heaven in one moment by the word “Be”? Without any doubt, He was.
Why, then, O seeker of instruction, did He extend the time for it to six days, every day being as long as a thousand years?
Wherefore is the creation of a child completed in 9 months? Because gradualness is a characteristic of the action of that King.
Why was the time for the creation of Adam forty mornings? Because He was adding perfections to that clay little by little,
Not like you, O foolish one, who have rushed forward just now: you are a child, and you have made yourself out to be an Elder.
You have run up, like a creeping gourd plant, to the top of all, but where is the spiritual warfare and combat to sustain you?
You have rested on trees and walls for support: you have climbed up like a pumpkin, O little baldhead.
If at first you mounted on a tall cypress, yet in the end you are dry and pulpless and empty.
Your green (fresh) colour soon turned yellow (faded), O pumpkin, for it was derived from rouge, it was not original (authentic).

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1212-1221

Sufi Circle 21 April 2015

O lovers, new fortune has arrived from the old World* that makes all things new,
From the World that is seeking a remedy for them that have no remedy: hundreds and thousands of wonders of the (present) world are contained in it.
Rejoice, O people, since the relief has come; be glad, O people: the distress is removed.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1095-1097
*i.e. the World of Reality

The announcer of glad news (the muezzin) is shouting in the ear of every sorrowful one, “Arise, O unlucky man, and take the road to fortune.
O you that are in this prison and amidst this stench and these lice, beware lest any one hear! You have escaped (from prison): be silent!”
How should you keep silence now, O my beloved, when a drummer has appeared from the root of every hair (in your body)?
The jealous foe has become so deaf that he says, “Where is the sound of all these drums?”
The fresh sweet basil is touching his face, but in his blindness he says, “What is this annoyance?”
The houri is nipping his hand and drawing him towards her: the blind man is distraught and says, “Wherefore is someone hurting me?
What is this painful sense of having my hand pulled hither and thither? I am asleep, let me sleep awhile.”
He, whom you seek in your slumbers, this is He! Open your eye, you will see ’tis that auspicious Moon.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.1100-1107

Sufi Circle 7 April 2015

Love is the All-subduer, and I am subdued by Love: by Love’s bitterness (agitation) I have been made sweet as sugar.
O fierce Wind, before Thee I am but a straw: how can I know where I shall fall?

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.902-3

In the hand of Love I am like a cat in a bag, now lifted high and now flung low by Love.
He is whirling me round His head: I have no rest either below or aloft.
The lovers (of God) have fallen into a fierce torrent: they have set their hearts on (resigned themselves to) the ordinance of Love.
They are like the millstone turning, day and night, in continual revolution and moaning incessantly.
Its turning is evidence for those who seek the River, lest anyone should say that the River is motionless.
If you see not the hidden River*, see the perpetual turning of the celestial water-wheel.
Since the heavens have no rest from (being moved by) Him (Love), be you, O heart, like a star, and seek no rest.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.908-914
*i.e. the action of the Divine Beloved


Sufi Circle 24 March 2015

The capital required for the market of this world is gold; there in the next world the capital is love and two eyes wet with tears.
Whoever went to market without any capital, his life passed and he speedily returned in disappointment.
“Oh, where have you been, brother?” “Nowhere.” “Oh, what have you cooked to eat?” “No (good) soup.”
Become a buyer, that my hand may move to sell to you, and that my pregnant mine may bring forth a ruby.

Mathnawi Book 6, v.839-842

If you want a customer from whom you will get gold, how should there be a better customer than God, O heart?
He buys a dirty bag from your stock of goods, and gives you in return an inner light that borrows its splendour from Himself.
He receives the dissolving ice of this mortal body, and gives a kingdom beyond imagination.
He receives a few tear-drops, and gives a Kawthar so delicious that sugar shows jealousy of its sweetness.
He receives sighs full of melancholy and vaporous gloom, and gives for every sigh a hundred gainful dignities.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.879-883

Sufi Circle 17 March 2015

O you who possess sincerity, if you want that Reality unveiled, choose death and tear off the veil –
Not such a death that you will go into a grave, but a death consisting of spiritual transformation, so that you will go into a Light.

Mathnawi Book 6, v.738-739

Hence the Messenger of good tidings said, speaking symbolically, “Die before you die, O nobles,
Even as I have died before death and brought from Yonder this fame and renown.”
Do you, then, become the spiritual resurrection and thereby experience the resurrection: this becoming is the necessary condition for seeing (knowing and experiencing the real nature of) anything.
Until you become it, you will not know it completely, whether it be light or darkness.
If you become Reason, you will know Reason perfectly; if you become Love, you will know Love’s flaming wick.
I would declare plainly the proof of this assertion, if there were an understanding fit to receive it.
Figs are very cheap in this vicinity*, if a fig-eating bird should arrive as a guest.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.754-760
i.e. “my store of mystic knowledge is abundant and easily accessible”

Sufi Circle 3 March 2015

Reason’s jealousy of the beauty of the Spirit is the cause of this sincere admonition (i.e. the Mathnawi) being full of similitudes and allegories.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv. 688

Since you have such a mighty jealousy, O my soul and heart, close your mouth and leave off speaking.
Reason says, “If I keep silence, I fear that the Sun will rend the veil and display Himself from another quarter.”
In keeping silence our inward speaking of Him is only made more evident, since the desire for manifestation is increased by suppression.
If the Sea roar, its roaring turns to foam and becomes the surge of “I desired to be known”.
To utter words concerning Him is to shut the window (through which He reveals Himself): the very act of expression is the concealment of Him.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.695-699

Note: According to Nicholson’s Commentary, the interpretation provided by Hz. Ismail Anqaravi in his Commentary on the Mathnawi (in 6 volumes):
“When the lisan-i qal (the tongue of inward rapture) is reduced to silence, it speaks with an eloquence more revealing than any words.”

Sufi Circle 17 February 2015

In the end the seeker is a finder, for from patience joy is born.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv. 595

Bodies are like pots with the lids on: look and see what is in each pot.
The pot of that body is filled with the Water of Life; the pot of this body is filled with the poison of death.
If you keep your eye fixed on its contents, you are a spiritual king; but if you regard its vessel, you are misguided.
Know that words resemble this body and that their inward meaning resembles the soul.
The bodily eye is always seeing the body; the spiritual eye sees the elusive soul.
Therefore the man of appearance is misled by the form of the expressions used in the Mathnawi, while they guide the man of reality to the Truth.
He (God) has said in the Qur’an, “This Qur’an with all its heart leads some aright and others astray.”
God, God! When the gnostic speaks of “wine”, how in the gnostic’s eyes should the (materially) non-existent be a (material) thing?
Since your understanding is only of the Devil’s wine, how should you have any conception of the wine of the Merciful?

Mathnawi Book 6, vv.650-668

Sufi Circle 3 February 2015

Have you not heard the Verse the present life is only a play? You have squandered your goods and have become afraid.
Look for your clothes ere night comes on: do not waste the day in idle talk.
I have chosen a place of seclusion in the desert: I have perceived that mankind are stealers of clothes.
Half of life is lost in desire for a charming friend: the other half of life is lost in anxieties caused by foes.
That desire has carried off our cloak, this anxiety has carried off our cap, while we have become absorbed in play, like a little child.
Lo, the night-time of death is near. Leave this play: you have played enough, do not return to it.
Hark, mount the steed of repentance, overtake the thief, and recover your clothes from him.

Mathnawi Book 6, vv. 457-463