In the Name of Allah, All Embracing Compassion and Love
Beloved dervishes, Peace to your hearts on this glorious day of Shaykh Nur’s passing into the realm of Beauty! Ali and I have just returned from paying a visit to his wife Sheila in the house where they raised their family, and where they hosted many spiritual guides, among them Muzaffer Effendi and Bawa Muhayideen, and welcomed many spiritual seekers. It is Sheila’s custom, on special occasions like today, to take her guests upstairs to the little Ramakrishna room where Nur would sit daily in deep meditation, dissolving the barriers of the mind within the ocean of Reality. The room consists of a few sitting pillows and a shrine of photos of Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi, his spiritual wife, and some of his main disciples. On these occasions, in this abode of deep peace, Sheila begins by reading a poem from the book of Nur’s called Mother of the Universe, his visionary translations of Ramprasad’s ecstatic poetry that he also called Tantric Hymns of Enlightenment. On this day Sheila is wrapped in a wool shawl because the heat is still off from the storm. She emanates the atmosphere of Sarada Devi, the blessed holy consort. After reading her poem, Sheila passes the book to each one, who in turn opens and reads the poem that falls to them. The teachings that flow from the pages of the book and the lips of the companions come directly from the Source, and return to the Source again in each unique consciousness. For those of you who are unacquainted with the tradition of the Divine Mother, these poems might be surprising in their imagery and names. However, if you look more deeply, you will see the Divine Mother as the sublime manifestation of Rahman and Rahim. The two poems that were given to me were like two hands complementing each other. The first teaching was the cutting away of limited thinking and grasping, and the second was the affirmation of the personal self as the unlimited Self. In the first poem, the author, Ramprasad/Nur, is criticizing narrow-minded devotionalism, and is urging the seeker to let go of rigid conceptions of Reality, or one-sided understandings. He invites the seeker, with quite some force, to embrace the complete truth, beyond all dualities. This poem is called Kali’s Sword and Krishna’s Flute Are One, page 147, for those of you who have the book. The first verse declares, “O partially perceiving mind, your basic error of double vision has not been corrected….Why are you unable to perceive the embracing unity behind every manifestation of divinity?” This is a question that we should all present to our self every day. Shaykh Muzaffer’s story comes to mind. A teacher asked his student to go into the kitchen cabinet and fetch the bottle that was inside. The student went and returned empty handed, asking his teacher which bottle he wanted because there were two. The teacher said, ‘Go back and break one of the bottles and bring the other one.’ The student dutifully followed this order, and when he broke one of the two bottles he saw that there was no bottle left. Perplexed, he returned to his teacher telling him of this strange event. The teacher laughed and said, “You were double visioned! There was only one bottle to begin with!” Shaykh Nur clarifies that it is not about transcending manifestation, but about standing in life rooted in unity being. Daily we should contemplate the oneness of being in La ilahe ilallah – and the never ceasing flow of manifestation in Muhammad Rasulallah.
The second poem is called All Rituals of Religion Have Fallen Away, page 117, for those of you who would like to read it.
My entire life has now become the Goddess, immersed in her own secret contemplation.
I received this all-embracing Mother way from an adept of the open space beyond meditation, one who dwells in a brilliant landscape where there is neither night nor day.
I cannot practice formal concentration at the sacred hours of dawn and twilight, because the sun of her wisdom never rises or sets. All my hours have become her midnight. My once fertile dream-fields are now completely barren of fruit, because dream and dreamless sleep have disappeared into Mother. I feel I have been awake and clear for countless eons. Returning the veils of conventional sleep and conventional waking to the cosmic ignorance from which they spring, I sing the lullaby of Mother Wisdom, so sleeping and waking fall asleep forever.
Mother’s fire has purified all dross from the gold of consciousness. My only desire is to shape your human temple from this golden energy, O blissful Goddess, adorning it with your priceless gems: compassion, beauty, clarity, intensity. How I long to behold this sanctuary, this fully awakened humanity, diamond refuge for all suffering beings!
The singer of this hymn of enlightenment now cries aloud in ecstasy: “On my forehead I bear the treasure of incomparability, the crest-jewel of illumination, the radiance of pure love alone. I have known her final secret. One with Absolute Reality is Mother’s dynamic play. All rituals of religion have fallen away.”
So for the practitioners of the way of Sufism you may substitute Rahman or Rahim for the Mother or Goddess, and you will find that the illumination, the vision and the passion of love are compatible. I leave you with these jewels brought by Shaykh Nur to modern humanity and will insha’allah tomorrow speak more about our beloved guide as a pilgrim within the month of Hajj.
Shaykh Nur recommended that we not mix the sacred traditions. Each one is a distinct river from the Source and needs to be navigated from within its own currents. And yet in us they must mix in some way, especially at the level of Haqiqat, of Truth. No separate borders, no separate religions at this level. One of the most enjoyable and fruitful study practices that we undertake in the Dergah is, on Nur’s Urs, to place all of his books in a pile and invite every dervish in turn to pick one and open it by divine guidance and read a paragraph or more aloud. In this way all of the traditions resonate with each other plucked by the single Hand. Hu!