The Maximum Learning About Yourself

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The Maximum Learning About Yourself

How can anyone on two legs understand his situation unless he is intelligent, unless he takes time off to reflect, unless he catches himself in a real situation? Not only once in a while, when there may be a spiritual gathering or some social event. The maximum learning about yourself takes place when you are at what you think are the most difficult times in your life, because it is precisely at those times that all of what is inside comes out. All the froth is maximally visible at that time. It is then that you can improve most by recognition. You cannot progress along the path of recognizing the various aspects of desire unless you are actually in trouble. If you have eaten a reasonable meal and nobody is bothering you, then you are not in trouble. So nothing happens. Is that not so?

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “Man in Qur’ān and the Meaning of Furqān – Surat ul-Baqarah”

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The Basis of All Religions

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The Basis of All Religions

Quietening the mind is achieved only by discipline and proper behaviour, by living according to proper laws that govern all interactions. This is what is called shari’ah. So far, what we have been talking about is haqiqah, the inner reality: the individual and the secret of beingness and unity. In order to contain and conserve energy, the individual must move within certain boundaries, be governed by certain basic laws. The source of this knowledge is imprinted in the chromosomes of the individual. ‘Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself.’ This is the basic of all moral conduct – the basis of all religions before they became tarnished and adapted, and all sorts of superimpositions were put onto them. It is the absolute code of behaviour. Unless we have correct outward behaviour, we cannot change inwardly.

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “The Sufi Way to Self-Unfoldment”

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Origin of prophets

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Origin of prophets



Before agriculture, groups of human beings wandered along different paths of the earth where food and shelter were adequate. A few thousand years ago within early settlements as well as amongst nomads and hunter gatherers a few people experienced higher zones of consciousness and the inner spiritual reference and guidance. Some four thousand years ago the Abrahamic model of Reality and the human position in existence began to spread in west of Asia.

Several other great historical beings emerged from this stream of revelations. Numerous prophets and sages, for centuries, expounded the truth or the reality of Oneness. This Oneness leads to the duality that we experience on earth. The ultimate drive for every being is connectedness, continuity and life. Cosmic life and Supreme consciousness gives rise to the experience of personal life and animal consciousness. The human soul within the heart radiates all the divine qualities and attributes that we desire.

Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

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Be Present

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Be Present

You have to be present all the time, visibly, physically, mentally. If you are not, rectify it. You must catch yourself instantly. Do not delay. If you delay you will become fossilized and it will be more difficult. It is all about being available to any situation as a full-grown human being, with faith and good opinion and optimism, with inner realization that you have come from that total ocean of infinity and to that ocean of infinity you are returning. In between is a tiny little flicker!

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the booklet “A Sufi Manual of Conduct”

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Pleasure and Happiness

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Pleasure and Happiness

A pleasure is something one can share, one can buy. It is related to attachment and is a worldly thing while surur, joy, is for its own sake. The bird sings because its nature is to sing, irrespective of whether the hunter is hunting it or the neighborhood is giving it extra food. A pleasure is a result of something that has occurred. A person is lonely, then he meets a companion who echoes much of what he believes in – that is a pleasure. Someone was hungry, there was emptiness in his stomach and it was filled with food – that is a pleasure. Pleasure is like neutralization: the negative and the positive meet and are neutralized.

Joy is something else; it is the negation of the negative. Joy occurs when what was considered to be desirable has been recognized as being ‘wahm’, illusion. Negation of the negative is positive and that is the normal state of man. It is for this reason that man inherently seeks joy. He knows pleasure, he knows it is purchasable, but he does not readily know the way to joy. Man seeks happiness because it is his real nature. He is unhappy because he has been telling himself that he needs a certain something to be happy. He constantly runs after it, but as soon as he gets it, he desires something else.

The door to the abode of joy is the recognition of how to unknot what one has knotted. That is why it is said that the source is a secret within a secret. A desirable thing is in itself a wahm. The recognition of the wahm is the negation of it. And if the negation is genuine, then the root of joy is being nourished from within. That is the soil in which the tree of contentment will grow. Contentment is a tree that nobody can transplant into anybody else. One has to, through one’s own labor, nurture it and make it grow.

Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book ‘The Mercy of Qur’an and The Advent of Zaman – Tafsir of Surat Ankabut, Rahman, Waqiá, Mulk’

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The Journey

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The Journey

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had taught: ‘Die before you die.’ The Suf sage retold this teaching to his disciple as: ‘Lose your (lower) self and there will remain only the (higher) soul – Allah’s light within your heart.’ This is the purpose of human life.

Authentic religious teachings and spiritual practices lead the seeker past ordinary states of consciousness and experiences towards a new state of infinitude that is the source of the universe. In this state there is no duality or otherness – an indescribable Oneness, perfect, sacred and constant. When personal and conditioned consciousness yields to its root and essence – supreme consciousness – spiritual evolution is complete. This book is essentially about people who have disciplined their minds and conduct and have attained a high degree of awareness of inner light and pure consciousness.

The Prophet Muhammad taught that while you would never get to know the Truth through men, you would understand men through the light of Truth. After many encounters with acknowledged spiritual masters and sages, I realized the wisdom of this teaching. No one could give me the Truth or take it away. However, I knew that others may help me overcome my self-acquired barriers, false values and other mental veils. The fact is that there is nothing that is durable or eternal other than Truth itself. To experience this state you need to switch off all thoughts and emotions and touch higher consciousness. Pure and boundless consciousness begins at the boundaries between self and soul, or falsehood and truth. This ocean of Reality is beyond all notions of space and time.

The enlightened ones link the seen with the unseen; living in full awareness and self-accountability, whilst illumined by the presence of the perfect light of the One Reality – perfect integration.

“Were it not for the ability of souls to wander in different arenas, progress for the seekers would not be realized. There is no distance between you and Him to be traversed, nor is there any severance between you and Him that you need to overcome in order to arrive.”

~ Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah

Human souls wander in the world of activities like horses being trained. Allah, Who is closer to us than closeness itself, has decreed that His Mercy and Light permeate all existence. We cannot improve on His Constant Presence and Mercy. The journey you imagine you are taking is simply to do with exploring the self and transcending it towards its source and origin – the soul. We are stimulated to increase in consciousness of Him by His Grace.

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri and Muneera Haeri from the book “Sufi Links – Illumined Encounters”

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The Perpetual Now

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The Perpetual Now

What was there before the beginning of creation? The beginning implies movement and change within space and time. The start of the universe is what is popularly referred to as the big bang. Most human endeavours occur along the path of increasing consciousness and awareness, growing knowledge of wider and deeper connections, and more profound relationships in existence.

We want to move faster than time, or stop and freeze time. The fear of death and the desirability of experiencing eternity now are major forces in the human quest. If we stop all thoughts and self-awareness, we may be at the door of the eternal moment – at the beginning of it all! Beginnings and end are merged together.

Once the taste buds of experiencing timelessness are awakened, with spiritual evolvement we may come to realize the presence of eternity within our own heart: the perpetual now – a consciousness that is beyond time and space.

Our aims for longevity, stability, power, ability and other desirable attributes have their source in our own heart, for these are qualities radiating from the soul. Foreverness is the divine nature, and our soul reflects that. We desire continuity for what is considered attractive and helpful in well-beingness and this limited attempt at continuity is a prelude to the energy field of perpetual presence and timelessness. Our mind cannot realize this extraordinary state because it works within the framework of space and time. Continuity is the source, which encompasses our humanity and divinity. Continuity is the nature of our own soul. It is our essential nature.

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “Spectrum of Reality – Sufi Insights”

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Personal Illusions

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Personal Illusions

Life’s numerous paradoxes, enigmas and apparent contradictions can be resolved when we consider the human being as a balanced composition between the self (conditioned basic consciousness) and a soul (pure consciousness). We may feel secure and content regarding an aspect of our life and yet at the same time apprehensive or insecure regarding something else. Even when one feels upbeat and happy there lurks a shade of sadness, due to the temporariness of this state. There is a subconscious fear of loss of the pleasurable moment as we have already experienced previous mood swings. No ‘mental’ state or feelings is ever lost. The swing between contentment and the desires continue.

Normal day-to-day human life contains countless illusions partly sensed and partly imagined or anticipated. The so-called ‘real’ life experiences are a result of a combination of subjective and objective factors, which in fact include fears, fantasies and wishful thinking. The ever-changing state of personal consciousness is dependent upon pure consciousness that permeates all existence. This sphere of constancy and wholeness engulfs and energises all lesser levels of consciousness.

Conditioned consciousness drives us to pursue whatever ensures survival, strength and growth and a host of other earthly needs. We naturally delude ourselves into pursuing extra desires and ideas superfluous to survival and basic stability. For example, love for wealth or power may relate to satisfying needs for physical survival and social status up to a point. Similarly body chemistry drives us towards sexual gratification and procreation but it often becomes a means to stimulate mental ‘reward’ chemistry. Through the power of hunger we are driven to act and know how and where to discover food and shelter. Ultimately, the drive to satisfy worldly needs leads to higher and subtler states of harmony and wellbeing at the levels of body, mind and heart.

Spiritual wisdom is the realization that on its own the self/ego can never attain perfection or happiness. It is by transcending all illusions and so-called realities that we awaken to the ever-present Real. When the outer challenges lead to inner transformation, the joys of unity overflow beyond all that is seen and unseen.

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “101 Helpful Illusions”

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Dhikr, Fikr and Himmah – Remembrance, Discrimination and Yearning

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Dhikr, Fikr and Himmah – Remembrance, Discrimination and Yearning

The Path lies in dhikr, fikr and himmah. Dhikr is the remembrance of God, from whom I am separated by my self. It is this illusion that is caused by me that is the cause of this barrier, separation. So it is a process of elimination. If I overcome the self, if I remove all of these images, all of these goggles that I have erroneously put on, then I am bound to be less separated from that which is the source of all beingness.

So remembrance is necessary for us to begin to dissolve the self. If I remember God at the moment of agitation and disappointment, if I remember the Creator of the entire cosmos, from Whom this life is allotted for a few years, then my own little misery, my own problem, put in the large perspective, is bound to gain a measure of relief. It is bound to be a remedy for whatever situation I am in.

Remembrance begins as an outside activity. Then it belongs to the heart. How can I remember God when I am full of me? When the bucket is full of me, there is no room for anything else. It is a displacement process. A bucket of pure water with mud particles in suspension can be purified again if we place it under a tap which drips into it fresh clear water. In time, this bucket of mud begins to get cleaner and cleaner and begins to reflect more of its real nature of pure water. Our nature is that of purity. That is why we like purity – we are basically pure at source. So there is no room for personal guilt. Our heritage is purity and the simplicity of beingness. But, because of the activities which we undertake in the world, we begin to solidify the roles and images into a personality with apparently conflicting and often irreconcilable aspects.

It is by remembrance of God that I can begin to melt down the layers that I have created which are the source of my agitation, problems, and expectations. It is the most vital activity. A muslim prays five times a day, five formal and definable times for dhikr and salat (prayer). Five times to remember and submit to Allah, outwardly and inwardly.

Fikr is that light which is shed on a scene in order to discriminate: what is good and what is bad, what is lasting and what is not, right and wrong, black and white. If we are in a state of real remembrance, then discrimination will operate spontaneously.

Suppose we stop the moving film of our actions and freeze a frame. Dhikr freezes the ‘frame’ of action and fikr shines the torch of discrimination on it. Subsequent correct action will result from this. The film shows that I disliked your presence here to such an extent that I proceeded to punch you, and all of a sudden I see myself in this childish act, in the frozen shot of this film. If I catch myself in that instant, I am bound to discriminate and immediately correct the course. But we are often slow, and leave it too late. After I have done it I plead for forgiveness and say, ‘It wasn’t me!’ What this means is that, after the event, I have had a replay of the act, because it was fresh in my memory, and in the light of discrimination.

Neither remembrance nor discrimination will occur unless there is himmah – energy, yearning to be true, full, alive. The more we have this energy, the more it becomes available. It is like tapping a source: the more you clean the head of the spring, the more clear water will flow. But because we are accustomed to living in a manner that is totally incorrect and harmful, and which we try to persevere, we are scared of change and shut ourselves up in our private rooms. It is because we want to persevere habits. We are afraid of opening our hands to drop the thorns which we have clasped and made ours. But, when the pain is deep and real, then great yearning will enable us to act, drop the thorns and find the freedom that was there to begin with anyway. You may ask, ‘if it is so easy, then what are all these methods for?’ In a way, it is like picking up new thorns at will in order to get rid of the thorn that has been aching in you all these years – the old self.

So there must be a beginning. The extent of new speed of the raft, floating on the stream of the past, depends entirely on the extent of the new energy in you. The greater the yearning and burning, the greater the energy. The greater is your suffering, the more you are qualified to free yourself from it. When fear is mild, one can brush it aside. When it is vast, new basic treatment is necessary and final cure is more probable.

So the three basic requirements of the Path are entirely interrelated. Each of them reinforces the others, both in quantity and quality. If I have greater awareness, then more discrimination will constantly illuminate my actions. Therefore, more of my new actions will be such that they are not likely to enhance the self in me. Slowly, one observes the vanishing ‘I’-ness: arrogance, vanity, personality. So the outcome of the path towards self-knowledge is getting rid of the impermanent. Get rid of the ‘I’ and you will see the real self. It is a process of elimination. The embryonic seed of real knowledge is in everyone. But, in most cases, it has been tarnished or covered by the layers of the personality.

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “The Sufi Way to Self-Unfoldment”

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Decree, Destiny and Enlightenment

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Decree, Destiny and Enlightenment

Decrees are the rules which define life’s experiences on earth. Most of these rules are describable or measurable, especially those dealing with the visible realities. The rules that govern all aspects of physical (visible and experiential) existence combine with those that control the unseen forces to form a network that will result in, for example, the laws of physics. We can describe the phenomenon of light, for instance, as both waveband and particle called a photon. The rules somehow emerge from an unknown domain into describable, measurable, physical laws. So the decrees can be seen as a series of multitudinous models by means of which the creation, seen and unseen, is held together.

Destiny is the final occurrence that is experienced by the individual through the passage of time, when these laws are enacted. It is when a describable event has already passed through time.

The concept of destiny is also parallel in Arabic to another term ‘’ajal’, which signifies ‘appointed time, date, deadline, instant of death, respite, delay’. If we say a business partnership has an ‘ajal’ of five years, it means that at the end of this period it will have reached its full destiny, which is dissolution.

The final destiny of every man is his awakening o his permanent, non-time reality, from which he has emerged. We are given the experience of this life, with all its decrees, for us to know them, accept them and become one with them so that we can see our destiny within them, and our destiny beyond them, when time stops at the point of death.

Through the discipline of meditative practices, time can be experienced as coming to a stop. Whilst we fear death we love and are dependent on deep sleep, which is the nearest experience to death. If we are able to experience the mini-death of inner contemplation, we stand a good chance of realizing that our true reality, the Source of the cause behind existence, is eternal and ever present. It is only the body that dies, while the soul or spirit continues into perpetuity.

As we are all programmed to dislike fear, the universal fear of death betrays the true meaning of death. It is only an experiential barrier that demarcates a natural discrimination by returning the body to where it belongs, and by returning the soul to whence it originally emanated from in the zone of eternal consciousness. So the fact that we do not like death reveals a certain measure of its falsehood as a termination of life. It is in fact a process of segregation. The confusion is due to identifying with the body and mind rather than the soul within. It is only the body that dies; for it has been the vehicle for the development of the self, whose proper schooling lies in the melting pot of the world of duality, whilst yearning for the knowledge of the One from whom it emanated in the first place.

The human destiny is potentially the highest of known creations – as was our beginning. We start life with a basic level of existence and are driven to reach the highest levels of consciousness and experiences.

Enlightenment is to know the perfection and reliability of God’s plan; with reflection and wisdom we realize that human will is a very small factor in contentment and sustained happiness. Spiritual wisdom leads to witnessing the utter perfection of the instant and abandonment to the moment. Then we come to understand the truth that abundance is available at all times to everyone. This is the final awakening to the state of Oneness. We are brought into time in order that we may face the incredible, unfathomable, never-ending non-time. So we are already predestined to face eternity. This is the intended perfect destiny and anything else is incomplete.

Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri from the book “Decree & Destiny – Free Will and Determinism”

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