How Long Will It Run Away?

Peace, one and all…

‘The donkey, your fleshly soul, has gone off: tie it to a peg.
How long will it run away from work and burden, how long?’

Masnavi 2.279

God’s beloved friends are, most essentially, physicians of the heart. Their divinely appointed task is to reach out to the world, offering all those who yearn a path home. The path can be long and difficult, and thus a guide is required, someone who has journeyed along the way themselves. Hazret-i Pir Mevlana’s magnum opus, the Masnavi Sherif, is a guide to the stations of the way, and an inner explication of the Quran itself, God’s love-letter to humanity.

Love moves the heart, and the celestial spheres themselves. Ultimately, love is a path of transformation, a path of presence, of attention and of service. In other words, the Divine call is also a question: will you allow Me to transform you? Will you come to Me willingly, now, in this very moment? Will you journey towards Me, for Me, in Me?

These questions reverberate throughout all that we do, and all that we experience. Will we allow them to reshape us, to restore our hearts? Stepping on to the way is to begin the slow, painful work of transformation. Learning to breathe with conscious awareness, and to become present allows us to see within, and to understand our inward strengths and weaknesses honestly and without judgement. Presence allows us to slowly surrender unhelpful attitudes, behaviours and attachments. Remembrance enables us to let go of our negativity in a gradual, gentle fashion.

During the course of our journeying we will encounter difficulties, sorrow, pride, anger and a whole host of other things. As this poor one is discovering, these are all related to our unhealthy attachments to things, and to this passing world itself. The work that Mevlana calls us to here is, in essence, a realignment of ourselves, a rediscovery of our innate wholeness. This is why much of our work is ethically focused. Justice is putting all things in their appropriate places, and so we cannot actualise oneness whilst we hold on to unethical behaviours.

Developing our capacity to love and to be just also help us to see more clearly. The more we are able to attain presence, the more acute our inward vision becomes. This requires hard work and effort, as well as remembrance and learning. It also requires community, of developing presence beyond our individual selves.

Gradually, we begin to learn more about ourselves, and the ways in which we inhibit our own progress. In a real and important sense, we are our own veil. Our sense of self is particularly difficult to overcome. It is something this poor one struggles with, because it so very subtle, and attached to virtually everything else within us. Tests do come our way, and they are important. Our reactions to them reveal precisely where we need to work, just as they reveal that only Divine grace will allow us to overcome them successfully. Tawba is also needed, for failure is also a necessary part of our learning experience. All things belong to God, after all.

All in all, the path is about work, but that doesn’t mean it is without humour. The nafs is, in many respects, a comedian and laughter is a great healer. Nor is the path always about drudgery. There are openings. There are moments of grace. But we need to constantly remember the work that lies before us, which is why spiritual friendships are so vital, and also why we need a living teacher, and a connection to a Pir, a storehouse of spiritual energy such as Mevlana.

May the hearts of the lovers be opened.

Ask olsun! May love increase!

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