Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Make Silence Obligatory

From the blog Red-Sulphur.org

Take recourse to self-imposed silence (mulāzimat al-şamt). Keeping quiet will kindle the light of joy in your heart and immerse you in happy tranquility, just as Shaykh Abu Madyan points out.

Make silence obligatory
Unless you are questioned, then say:
'No knowledge have I'
And conceal yourself with ignorance.

Sufis who take to the spiritual way consider that there are great benefits to be gained by those who make silence obligatory upon themselves. Doing so raises their foundations high and plants firmly their roots. Silence is of two types. There is silence of the tongue (şamt bi'l-lisān) and then there is silence of the heart (şamt bi'l-janān). Both of there are necessary on the path. Whoever is silent in the heart yet speaks with the tongue speaks with wisdom. Whoever is silent with the tongue and silent in the heart perceives the manifestation (tajallī) of the inner conscience (sirr) and is addressed by the Lord.

This is the ultimate goal of silence, as made comprehensible through the discourse of the Shaykh [Abu Madyan]. So make silence obligatory upon yourself, my dear seeker, unless you are questioned. If you are questioned, return to your roots and reach your goal and answer simply, 'No knowledge have I.' Conceal yourself with ignorance, so that you might be enlightened by the rays of intimate knowledge that comes directly from the divine source ('ilm ladunī). Whenever you acknowledge your ignorance and return to your roots [weakness and incapacity], the glimmers of intimate knowledge of your true self dawn to your sight. And if you know your true self you know your Lord, as it is recorded in a saying of the Prophet [hadīth]: "He who knows himself knows his Lord" (man 'arifa nafsahu 'arifa rabba-hu).

All of this knowledge is the fruit of silence and observing its proper bounds with respect. So keep silent, bear yourself respectfully and stand humbly at the doorway so that you might be recognized as a beloved friend of the master of the house. How beautifully this has been said by a poet:

I won't leave the doorway
till they set right my deficiency
Lest they greet me while I'm bent
with my shameful incapacity

If you are satisfied with me
imagine my honor and my nobility!
Yet if you reject me, is there any hope
for my impertinent rigidity?

From the book "Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path" (Unwan al Tawfiq fi Adab al Tariq) by Sidi Ibn 'Ata'Illah al-Iskandari

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