In the Name of God, the Clement, the Merciful.
Praise be to God Who hath made being to come forth from nothingness; graven
upon the tablet of man the secrets of preexistence; taught him from the
mysteries of divine utterance that which he knew not; made him a Luminous Book
unto those who believed and surrendered themselves; caused him to witness the
creation of all things (Kullu
And I praise and glorify the first sea which hath branched from the ocean of
the Divine Essence, and the first morn which hath glowed from the Horizon of
Oneness, and the first sun which hath risen in the Heaven of Eternity, and the
first fire which was lit from the Lamp of Preexistence in the lantern of
singleness: He who was
Further, we have harkened to what the nightingale of knowledge sang on the boughs of the tree of thy being, and learned what the dove of certitude cried on the branches of the bower of thy heart. Methinks I verily inhaled the pure fragrances of the garment of thy love, and attained thy very meeting from perusing thy letter. And since I noted thy mention of thy death in God, and thy life through Him, and thy love for the beloved of God and the Manifestations of His Names and the Dawning-Points of His Attributes--I therefore reveal unto thee sacred and resplendent tokens from the planes of glory, to attract thee into the court of holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw thee to a station wherein thou shalt see nothing in creation save the Face of thy Beloved One, the Honored, and behold all created things only as in the day wherein none hath a mention.
Of this hath the nightingale of oneness sung in the garden of
By My life, O friend, wert thou to taste of these fruits, from the green garden of these blossoms which grow in the lands of knowledge, beside the orient lights of the Essence in the mirrors of names and attributes--yearning would seize the reins of patience and reserve from out thy hand, and make thy soul to shake with the flashing light, and draw thee from the earthly homeland to the first, heavenly abode in the Center of Realities, and lift thee to a plane wherein thou wouldst soar in the air even as thou walkest upon the earth, and move over the water as thou runnest on the land. Wherefore, may it rejoice Me, and thee, and whosoever mounteth into the heaven of knowledge, and whose heart is refreshed by this, that the wind of certitude hath blown over the garden of his being, from the Sheba of the All-Merciful.
Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
And further: The stages that mark the wayfarer's journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities. And they say that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine. The first is
The steed of this Valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer
on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. Nor should
he ever be downhearted; if he strive for a hundred thousand years
and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter.
For those who seek the
It is incumbent on these servants that they cleanse the heart--which is the wellspring of divine treasures--from every marking, and that they turn away from imitation, which is following the traces of their forefathers and sires, and shut the door of friendliness and enmity upon all the people of the earth.
In this journey the seeker reacheth a stage wherein he seeth all created
things wandering distracted in search of the Friend. How many a Jacob will he
see, hunting after his Joseph; he will behold many a lover, hasting to seek the
Beloved, he will witness a world of desiring ones searching after the One
Desired. At every moment he findeth a weighty matter, in every hour he becometh
aware of a mystery; for he hath taken his heart away from both worlds, and set
out for the
One must judge of search by the standard of the
Yea, although to the wise it be shameful to seek the Lord of Lords in the dust, yet this betokeneth intense ardor in searching. "Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it." [Arabian proverb.]
The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God. Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world.
On this journey the traveler abideth in every land and dwelleth in every region. In every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every country he looketh for the Beloved. He joineth every company, and seeketh fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind he may uncover the secret of the Friend, or in some face he may behold the beauty of the Loved One.
And if, by the help of God, he findeth on this journey a trace of the
traceless Friend, and inhaleth the fragrance of the long-lost Joseph from the
heavenly messenger, [Refer to the story of Joesph in the
and be dissolved in the fire of love. In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to ashes the harvest of reason.
Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He
seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth
not the morn of guidance from the night of error. He fleeth both from unbelief
and faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore
The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offereth a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.
For the infidel, error--for the faithful, faith;
Attár's heart, an atom of Thy pain.
O My Brother! Until thou enter the Egypt of love, thou shalt never come to the Joseph of the Beauty of the Friend; and until, like Jacob, thou forsake thine outward eyes, thou shalt never open the eye of thine inward being; and until thou burn with the fire of love, thou shalt never commune with the Lover of Longing.
A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea.
A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea. [Persian mystic poem.]
Love accepteth no existence and wisheth no life: He seeth life in death, and in shame seeketh glory. To merit the madness of love, man must abound in sanity; to merit the bonds of the Friend, he must be full of spirit. Blessed the neck that is caught in His noose, happy the head that falleth on the dust in the pathway of His love. Wherefore, O friend, give up thy self that thou mayest find the Peerless One, pass by this mortal earth that thou mayest seek a home in the nest of heaven. Be as naught, if thou wouldst kindle the fire of being and be fit for the pathway of love.
Love seizeth not upon a living soul,
The falcon preyeth not on a dead mouse. [Persian mystic poem. Cf. The Hidden Words, No. 7, Arabic.]
Love setteth a world aflame at every turn, and he wasteth every
land where he carrieth his banner. Being hath no existence in his
kingdom; the wise wield no command within his realm. The leviathan
of love swalloweth the master of reason and destroyeth the lord
of knowledge. He drinketh the seven seas, but his heart's thirst
is still unquenched, and he saith, "Is there yet any more?"
Love's a stranger to earth and heaven too;
In him are lunacies seventy-and-two. [
Jalálu'd-Dín Rúmí(1207-1273 A.D.); The Mathnaví. Jalálu'd-Dín, called Mawláná< / NOBR> ("our Master"), is the greatest of all Persian Súfípoets, and founder of the Mawlaví"whirling" dervish order.]
He hath bound a myriad victims in his fetters, wounded a myriad wise men with his arrow. Know that every redness in the world is from his anger, and every paleness in men's cheeks is from his poison. He yieldeth no remedy but death, he walketh not save in the valley of the shadow; yet sweeter than honey is his venom on the lover's lips, and fairer his destruction in the seeker's eyes than a hundred thousand lives.
Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds.
Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things,
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers. [From an ode by
And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter
and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.
Split the atom's heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.
[Persian Mystic Poem]
The wayfarer in this Valley seeth in the fashionings of the True
One nothing save clear providence, and at every moment saith: "No
defect canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy: Repeat
the gaze: Seest thou a single flaw?" [
There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.
At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire
of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out
of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed
after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen
came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one
cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: "Surely
this watchman is
And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring
she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he
drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: "O God! Give Thou
glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel,
guiding this poor one; or he was
Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil. Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in love's desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart's physician.
Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.
Such is the state of the wayfarers in this Valley; but the people of the
Valleys above this see the end and the beginning as one; nay, they see neither
beginning nor end, and witness neither "first" nor "last." [
Wherefore, relevant to this,
Nay, these even mount above this station, wherefore it is said:
Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the loved one;
More than this I am not permitted to tell.
At this hour the morn of knowledge hath arisen and the lamps of
wayfaring and wandering are quenched. [This refers to the mystic
wandering and search for truth guided by "Lights" or
Veiled from this was Moses
Though all strength and light;
Then thou who hast no wings at all,
Attempt not flight.
If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings
of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou mayest behold the mysteries
of the Friend and attain to the lights of the Beloved, "Verily,
we are from God and to Him shall we return." [
After passing through the Valley of knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to
and drinketh from the cup of the Absolute, and gazeth on the Manifestations
of Oneness. In this station he pierceth the veils of plurality,
fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth into the heaven
of singleness. With the ear of God he heareth, with the eye of God
he beholdeth the mysteries of divine creation. He steppeth into
the sanctuary of the Friend, and shareth as an intimate the pavilion
of the Loved One. He stretcheth out the hand of truth from the sleeve
of the Absolute; he revealeth the secrets of power. He seeth in
himself neither name nor fame nor rank, but findeth his own praise
in praising God. He beholdeth in his own name the name of God; to
him, "all songs are from the King," [Jalálu`d-Dín Rúmí]
and every melody from Him. He sitteth on the throne of "Say,
all is from God," [
It is clear to thine Eminence that all the variations which the wayfarer in the stages of his journey beholdeth in the realms of being, proceed from his own vision. We shall give an example of this, that its meaning may become fully clear: Consider the visible sun; although it shineth with one radiance upon all things, and at the behest of the King of Manifestation bestoweth light on all creation, yet in each place it becometh manifest and sheddeth its bounty according to the potentialities of that place. For instance, in a mirror it reflecteth its own disk and shape, and this is due to the sensitivity of the mirror; in a crystal it maketh fire to appear, and in other things it showeth only the effect of its shining, but not its full disk. And yet, through that effect, by the command of the Creator, it traineth each thing according to the quality of that thing, as thou observest.
In like manner, colors become visible in every object according to the nature of that object. For instance, in a yellow globe, the rays shine yellow; in a white the rays are white; and in a red, the red rays are manifest. Then these variations are from the object, not from the shining light. And if a place be shut away from the light, as by walls or a roof, it will be entirely bereft of the splendor of the light, nor will the sun shine thereon.
Thus it is that certain invalid souls have confined the lands of
knowledge within the wall of self and passion, and clouded them
with ignorance and blindness, and have been veiled from the light
of the mystic sun and the mysteries of the Eternal Beloved; they
have strayed afar from the jewelled wisdom of the lucid Faith of
the Lord of Messengers, have been shut out of the sanctuary of the
All-Beauteous One, and banished from the
And if a nightingale [This refers to
Yea, to the beetle a sweet fragrance seemeth foul, and to the man sick of a rheum a pleasant perfume is as naught. Wherefore, it hath been said for the guidance of the ignorant:
Cleanse thou the rheum from out thine head
And breathe the breath of God instead. [Jalálu`d-Dín Rúmí]
In sum, the differences in objects have now been made plain. Thus when the wayfarer gazeth only upon the place of appearance--that is, when he seeth only the many-colored globes --he beholdeth yellow and red and white; hence it is that conflict hath prevailed among the creatures, and a darksome dust from limited souls hath hid the world. And some do gaze upon the effulgence of the light; and some have drunk of the wine of oneness and these see nothing but the sun itself.
Thus, for that they move on these three differing planes, the understanding
and the words of the wayfarers have differed; and hence the sign
of conflict doth continually appear on earth. For some there are
who dwell upon the plane of oneness and speak of that world, and
some inhabit the realms of limitation, and some the grades of self,
while others are completely veiled. Thus do the ignorant people
of the day, who have no portion of the radiance of Divine Beauty,
make certain claims, and in every age and cycle inflict on the people
of the sea of oneness what they themselves deserve. "Should
God punish men for their perverse doings, He would not leave on
earth a moving thing! But to an appointed term doth He respite them...."
O My Brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the
burnish of love and severance from all save God, that the true sun
may shine within it and the eternal morning dawn. Then wilt thou
clearly see the meaning of "Neither doth My earth nor My heaven
contain Me, but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me."
Whensoever the light of Manifestation of the King of Oneness settleth
upon the throne of the heart and soul, His shining becometh visible
in every limb and member. At that time the mystery of the famed
tradition gleameth out of the darkness: "A servant is drawn
unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him,
I become the ear wherewith he heareth...." For thus the Master
of the house hath appeared within His home, and all the pillars
of the dwelling are ashine with His light. And the action and effect
of the light are from the Light-Giver; so it is that all move through
Him and arise by His will. And this is that spring whereof the near
ones drink, as it is said: "A fount whereof the near unto God
shall drink...." [
However, let none construe these utterances to be anthropomorphism, nor see in them the descent of the worlds of God into the grades of the creatures; nor should they lead thine Eminence to such assumptions. For God is, in His Essence, holy above ascent and descent, entrance and exit; He hath through all eternity been free of the attributes of human creatures, and ever will remain so. No man hath ever known Him; no soul hath ever found the pathway to His Being. Every mystic knower hath wandered far astray in the valley of the knowledge of Him; every saint hath lost his way in seeking to comprehend His Essence. Sanctified is He above the understanding of the wise; exalted is He above the knowledge of the knowing! The way is barred and to seek it is impiety; His proof is His signs; His being is His evidence. [Sermon by `Alí]
Wherefore, the lovers of the face of the Beloved have said: "O
Thou, the One Whose Essence alone showeth the way to His Essence,
and Who is sanctified above any likeness to His creatures."
[Hadíth] How can utter nothingness gallop its steed in the field
of preexistence, or a fleeting shadow reach to the everlasting sun?
The Friend [The Prophet
Yea, these mentionings that have been made of the grades of knowledge relate to the knowledge of the Manifestations of that Sun of Reality, which casteth Its light upon the Mirrors. And the splendor of that light is in the hearts, yet it is hidden under the veilings of sense and the conditions of this earth, even as a candle within a lantern of iron, and only when the lantern is removed doth the light of the candle shine out.
In like manner, when thou strippest the wrappings of illusion from off thine heart, the lights of oneness will be made manifest.
Then it is clear that even for the rays there is neither entrance nor exit--how much less for that Essence of Being and that longed-for Mystery. O My Brother, journey upon these planes in the spirit of search, not in blind imitation. A true wayfarer will not be kept back by the bludgeon of words nor debarred by the warning of allusions.
How shall a curtain part the lover and the loved one?
Not Alexander's wall can separate them! [
Háfiz: Shamsu'd-Dín Muhammad, of Shíráz, died ca. 1389 A.D. One of the greatest of Persian poets.]
Secrets are many, but strangers are myriad. Volumes will not suffice to hold the mystery of the Beloved One, nor can it be exhausted in these pages, although it be no more than a word, no more than a sign. "Knowledge is a single point, but the ignorant have multiplied it." [Hadíth]
On this same basis, ponder likewise the differences among the worlds.
Although the divine worlds be never ending, yet some refer to them
as four: The world of time (
The journeys in the pathway of love are reckoned as four: From the creatures to the True One; from the True One to the creatures; from the creatures to the creatures; from the True One to the True One.
There is many an utterance of the mystic seers and doctors of former times which I have not mentioned here, since I mislike the copious citation from sayings of the past; for quotation from the words of others proveth acquired learning, not the divine bestowal. Even so much as We have quoted here is out of deference to the wont of men and after the manner of the friends. Further, such matters are beyond the scope of this epistle. Our unwillingness to recount their sayings is not from pride, rather is it a manifestation of wisdom and a demonstration of grace.
Khidrdid wreck the vessel on the sea,
Yet in this wrong there are a thousand rights.
Otherwise, this Servant regardeth Himself as utterly lost and as nothing, even beside one of the beloved of God, how much less in the presence of His holy ones. Exalted be My Lord, the Supreme! Moreover, our aim is to recount the stages of the wayfarer's journey, not to set forth the conflicting utterances of the mystics.
Although a brief example hath been given concerning the beginning
and ending of the relative world, the world of attributes, yet a
second illustration is now added, that the full meaning may be manifest.
For instance, let thine Eminence consider his own self; thou art
first in relation to thy son, last in relation to thy father. In
thine outward appearance, thou tellest of the appearance of power
in the realms of divine creation; in thine inward being thou revealest
the hidden mysteries which are the divine trust deposited within
thee. And thus firstness and lastness, outwardness and inwardness
are, in the sense referred to, true of thyself, that in these four
states conferred upon thee thou shouldst comprehend the four divine
states, and that the nightingale of thine heart on all the branches
of the rosetree of existence, whether visible or concealed, should
cry out: "He is the first and the last, the Seen and the Hidden...."
These statements are made in the sphere of that which is relative, because of the limitations of men. Otherwise, those personages who in a single step have passed over the world of the relative and the limited, and dwelt on the fair plane of the Absolute, and pitched their tent in the worlds of authority and command--have burned away these relativities with a single spark, and blotted out these words with a drop of dew. And they swim in the sea of the spirit, and soar in the holy air of light. Then what life have words, on such a plane, that "first" and "last" or other than these be seen or mentioned! In this realm, the first is the last itself, and the last is but the first.
In thy soul of love build thou a fire
And burn all thoughts and words entire.
O my friend, look upon thyself: Hadst thou not become a father
nor begotten a son, neither wouldst thou have heard these sayings.
Now forget them all, that thou mayest learn from the Master of Love
in the schoolhouse of oneness, and return unto God, and forsake
the inner land of unreality [This refers to the
O thou dear one! Impoverish thyself, that thou mayest enter the high court of riches; and humble thy body, that thou mayest drink from the river of glory, and attain to the full meaning of the poems whereof thou hadst asked.
Thus it hath been made clear that these stages depend on the vision of the wayfarer. In every city he will behold a world, in every Valley reach a spring, in every meadow hear a song. But the falcon of the mystic heaven hath many a wondrous carol of the spirit in His breast, and the Persian bird keepeth in His soul many a sweet Arab melody; yet these are hidden, and hidden shall remain.
If I speak forth, many a mind will shatter,
And if I write, many a pen will break.
[Jalálu`d-Dín Rúmí], [This refers to
Bahá'u'lláhHimself, Who had not yet declared His mission.]
Peace be upon him who concludeth this exalted journey and followeth the True One by the lights of guidance.
And the wayfarer, after traversing the high planes of this supernal journey, entereth