Ecstasy of Beings


For those intoxicated by life’s seeming meaningfulness, there is only utter shattering of the false self, without compromise. The ego is annihilated in love for the divine beloved, so that one becomes egoless, the beloved all. Ecstasy is the greatest force, breaking the prison of selfhood to merge with the ever-present mystery. In solitude’s wilderness within, one experiences God manifesting through all beings as oneself. Dogma is abandoned for pure knowing—the divine perfection working through human limitation.



—this kind of compromise, for those who are intoxicated by the sense of meaningfulness of life, there is no compromise. There is only an utter shattering—without bargaining. That is: whatever happens after that, we don’t know. We just can’t stand the untruthfulness of the self. That’s what it is. Because the only truth there is, is the one and only self. It’s like one sees oneself as an untruth, like a lie, like a treason of truth. It’s not like just being a little bit dissatisfied with certain aspects of oneself. It’s like the whole thing seems to be based upon such a hoax. How can I continue letting myself be caught in this hoax? How can I say, “La, la, ilaha, illa, la, hu?” There’s only one being, and I’m the one who says it. That doesn’t make sense.


Al-Ḥallāj says, “The divine eye circulates in all those false eyes.” You see that this is a very, very complete, very thorough, uncompromising experience. It’s more than an experience. It is, as I say, a complete transformation of one’s being. Niffarī. Niffarī—he was one of those dervishes who you never saw. He used to go in the desert for weeks and weeks and weeks, and then would come home to his family for a few hours, perhaps, and say the most incredible things. And his daughter would write it down on parchment and leaves and things like that. What he said didn’t seem to make sense. They rank now amongst the greatest things that any human being has ever uttered. For example, he was the one who said, “You think that God created you in order to experience through you?” He created you. Rather, he condescended to descend out of the solitude of his unity out of love for you. The mystery of love.


You see, it is love that is conducted so far that the self is completely annihilated in the one one loves. So that many of the Sufis say, “The beloved is all, the lover is nothing. He is a cover, he is a dead being.” You know what it means to love, even humanly, to love to such an extent that the beloved means everything. One just isn’t important. That’s the way to be shattered in the sense of yourself: by love. Understanding, yes. For the one to whom understanding is important, it’s a very traumatic experience when his understanding is shattered. It’s part of the shattering of the being. But the shattering of love is still greater. When, I don’t know, one goes through such agony of heart, because it is the ego that is the most involved in love. That’s the thing that is attacked by love.


So to become egoless—imagine that you were walking about without a self, and you just didn’t know where your self was. Your self is in orbit somewhere. You can’t find it anymore. And you can just—just the thought of the beloved is so, so overwhelming that there’s nothing else that is important except the beauty or the wonder or the glory of the beloved. Think what it does to you.


Well, according to the Sufis, according to Niffarī, this is the way in which God becomes you. Because when you think that you are loving, you’re in love, it is his love that is creating you and that you experience as though it were annihilating you. And, in fact, it is creating you by annihilating you. And you can’t be created without being annihilated. Hazrat Inayat Khan once said, “Christ cannot be without a cross. Life cannot be without death. Love cannot be without fanāʾ,” which means annihilation. And don’t think that Sufism, then, is the science of annihilation. No. It is the way of resurrection. But resurrection passes through annihilation.


And then we think that, well, this is the stage, then. This is the final stage, and that is the self. The whole problem is to finally overcome the illusion of the self and let the one and only self act. Maybe there’s another stage beyond the self that sees and experiences, and that’s the presence. We use this word so much. “I want to be in this person’s presence.” The person who loves wants to be in the presence of the loved one or the beloved. What does it mean to be in the presence?


You’re still in duality. You want to be in the presence of a Rishi. You want to be in the presence of a Dervish. You want to be in the presence of the person you love. Duality. You’re still in duality. But imagine the time when you can say, like Al-Ḥallāj, “There is only thee, Thou. Thou art present in the chairs between my eyelids and in the blood in the walls of my heart. There is nothing but thee everywhere.” The sense of the presence. So first of all, there’s a longing—the nostalgia, ishq—for God, for the model, for the eternal being, for the presence. And then, finally, the realization of being the presence.


Now, the key to this is that you look upon your human—how does your human self look to you when you have lost the sense of yourself? It’s a completely reversed way of looking, isn’t it? So it appears as another yourself. It’s the only way to—of course, our grammar is completely wrong. Of course it just won’t express what we’re trying to express, so we have to use paradoxical terms. “Another yourself.” It’s like seeing part of yourself in another. Like I suppose, well, one certainly experiences it in one’s children. It’s like another yourself. One way of doing it, one way of experiencing it.


Of course Al-Ḥallāj speaks about that original state in which God was experiencing Himself in other Himselfs—first of all in another Himself, and then in many other Himselfs—in which He is being manifested in some way; the different aspects of His being manifested in some way. So imagine that you go about in the world, and wherever you look you see another yourself, manifesting some aspect of yourself. This is an experience which is mentioned in the Isha Upanishad, as a matter of fact. This is the way of the Sufis. You see, it’s so completely a different way of seeing and experiencing. It just doesn’t seem to have any common bearing with the ordinary way of experiencing.


Well, what does it do to you? If we could only enter into the being of those great Sufis and realize what they are—I’m not saying what they were, because actually there’s no such thing as death—well, the one thing that strikes one first is the ecstasy. The ecstasy of their beings. It is the greatest power there is in the world, ecstasy. If you have ecstasy and you communicate ecstasy to another being, and then that being communicates it to another being, it’s the greatest force there is. What are people looking for everywhere? To be high. Finally America has reached the concept of being high. Hm? It’s been there all the time, but we found a word, now, to say what people have been looking for all this time: to be high.


That means to be carried beyond the prison of the self because it’s unbearable. It’s finally to merge into that mystery that one feels is always above one’s head—like it’s always present, it’s always tangent within a few meters, within a few inches. And yet it seems, of course, it isn’t possible to hold it. It is elusive, it’s the mystery of God.


We want to ascend the steps of the castle. We want to take the walls of the castle by storm, like Abū Yazīd Bisṭāmī. Abū Yazīd Bisṭāmī, you will come across him this afternoon, unless we have already. Well, he is one of those very austere ascetics of the northern mountains of Iran. He was a very strong being. He could not stand anything but the truth. He couldn’t stand the veil on the face of God. This is the veil. Everything that appears is the veil. It’s the manifestation, right, and on the other hand, it’s the veil. “Glory to the one,” said Farīd ud-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, “who veils himself by manifesting himself, and who manifests himself by veiling himself.”


Abū Yazīd Bisṭāmī could not stand just the appearance he wanted, the experience of God. And because of that, he was prepared to go into the loneliness, into the solitude—not just the solitude of the mountains, but the solitude of the soul. I think many of you feel that need to get away from all the sham into that great wilderness within, where everything is a little bit like the hard rocks in the high mountains—you will experience that in [???] who come. Beyond the greenery, there’s a place that there’s only just hard rocks and water. Everything is desolate, but there’s such purity there, because it’s away from the profusion of life.


He speaks about the denial of the denial, and the lack of the lack, and the want of the want, and the, well, depravity of depravity. That’s the via negativa that the Latin church fathers used to talk about: the way into the abnegation of all that is life, the way of the ascetic. And he was hoping to find the total experience of union with God by this very solitary path. And yet, it was his will that was standing in the way of his experience.


And so we are faced with a great dilemma, because we feel that we must do something about it. And, on the other hand, we realize that we have to let the operation of God take place within us. We mustn’t hinder the operation, but we cannot do it by our will. And this is what a lot of you will come across in meditation. And you’ll come to a point when you think—I’ve often said, as a matter of fact, “Shake yourself! Awaken!” Well, that’s an act of will, isn’t it?


You have to start by doing something yourself. There comes a time when you have to let the divine action take place through you. And that is where you have to become like a blind man led by one who loves you. You have to be able to trust that when the fragments of your heart have been shattered into pieces and you can’t find yourself again, some being of compassion will draw the pieces of your heart together again. That when you have succumbed into nothingness, a compassionate being will revive you into life again. When you have gone beyond life, a compassionate being will bring you back into life again. When you have experienced the purity beyond existence, you will be able to bring that purity back and show forth something of the divine purity in your being.


Well, this is the way of the Sufi. I’m sorry, we do not give you any clutches. We don’t give you any theories. We don’t give you any systems. We don’t even give you any dogmas. We don’t even give you a belief. What’s the use of a belief if it isn’t something that you know? We don’t ask you to say, “I believe in this” or “I believe in that” until you actually know. And when you know, you don’t have to believe. You know. And you only know when you’re not there to know it anymore. You only know it when you experienced God experiencing himself through every being.


And this is what Hazrat Inayat Khan calls the divine perfection working within human limitation. And so great is that sense of divine perfection that the limitation in which you are functioning will take nothing away from the divine perfection in you. And that’s where you can give life and joy and peace to all people around you.

Vilayat Inayat Khan

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