The Way of the Sufi – Patience: By Aparna Sharma
From cane reeds, sugar.
From a worm’s cocoon, silk.
Be patient if you can, and from sour
grapes will come something sweet.
The Sufi says don’t just look at a single motif on the fabric of life, or dwell on the mesh of the warp and weft; take life as a whole and see the sky behind every star. This is getting into tune with the whole plan, the comprehensive action of life- so essential to enlightenment. Every step is a step towards Him. No single step is in vain. Even the one through marsh and mud……..is yet, a step towards The Beloved.
The Master poet, Jallaluddin Rumi said:
Someone sits wakeful through the dark night, thinking of some way to find the day. Though they do not know how to get there, still, in waiting for daylight, the day approaches.
A man traveling through the darkness is yet traveling.
A person is traveling by caravan upon a dark night in a storming rain. They do not know where they have gone, which way they are passing, or what distance they have covered, but when day comes they see the results of that traveling and go on from there.
Whoever labors for the glory of God, though both their eyes are sealed, their labor is not lost. Even an atom’s weight of good is not lost. Though all within is dark and veiled, and they do not see how far they have progressed, still in the end they will know.
The disciple is learning even when he does not know that he is learning, and as a result he may well chafe. In winter, Rumi reminds him, a tree is collecting nutriment. If in winter time the trees do not put forth leaves and fruit, people should not think they are not working. They are continually at work. Winter is the season of gathering; summer is the season of spending. Everyone sees the spending, but they do not see the gathering in. No one sees any of that. Yet the in gathering is the root of the matter.
There is a time for collecting, and a time for releasing. That is why the Sufi teaches: “Enlightenment must come little by little- otherwise it would overwhelm.”
This is the art of patient seeking….. which not only, in time, Reveals, but also leads the seeker to fathom the true meanings behind the inexplicable worldly happenings. There is a dimension that veils the Truth, giving us this limited, superficial view of life. But this key brings us to experience the TRUTH behind all appearances.
To know that whoever we are in unison with, we communicate with them every moment, even in silence, in absence and presence alike. To know that within the coldest, hardest rock lies the essence of eternal light.
Rumi thus illustrates this ‘seeing through the veil’.
Two beggars, he says, came to the door of a house. One was immediately satisfied, and given a piece of bread. He went away. The second was kept waiting for his morsel. Why? The first beggar was not greatly liked; he was given stale bread. The second was made to wait until a fresh loaf was baked for him.
This story illustrates a theme which recurs frequently in Sufi teaching—that there is often one element in a happening which we do not know. Yet we base our opinions upon material which is incomplete. Small wonder that the uninitiated develops and passes on a “squint” which is self-perpetuating.
“You belong,” sings Rumi in one verse, “to the world of dimension. But you come from nondimension. Close the first ‘shop,’ open the second.”
But how often does the seeker seem to forget the initial spark? How often does he want to give up in despair? Especially when the night is dark and long.
But then whoever said the path would be easy?? Whoever told you it would come quick and straight? Nobody promised you that you wouldn’t ever fall, they only promised a hand of grace to lift you up every time you did.
As the promise goes:
“Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it”