A Sufi Saying about Virtue and Sin: By Dr. Mourad Rashad

There is only one virtue and one sin for a soul on the path:  virtue when he is conscious of God and sin when he is not.

Abu Hashim Madani (Sufi Master)

God is lost to Man when he becomes conscious of himself. Conscious of my own actions, of my own achievements, of my own position in the society, of my own physical body and so forth.

Consciousness of these entire things is only an interpretation, a particular interpretation to what is actually taking place in his experience of  living. Strictly speaking, the objects of Man’s consciousness are his thoughts, concepts and views. Man’s being is linked, colored and affected by these interpretations. So Man is always conscious of the thoughts, concepts and views that establish his separate position, making his being subject to all these interpretations. When this Man realizes that all these are interpretations just to establish his identity among others, he assumes the responsibility of his own happiness and misery. If this Man is keen and sincere to take his search a few steps further, Divine intervention will provide him with the means to continue. Divine intervention will send him a fellow, a companion, or a Master.

Divine intervention -in whatever form it takes- will guide this Man to the true significance  and the actual meaning to the experience of his life. When this Man glimpses what is the actual significance of what is occuring in his life’s experience, he will formulate another set of interpretations, concepts and views that are entirely based on the true significance of what is actually taking place. For example, this Man will discover and then say “No one does anything, but God does everything”. This is another interpretation, but based on a true seeing of what is actually taking place. Now, this Man will replace the old interpretation that used to say “I do“, with new interpretation saying “God Does“.

As a result of this change in interpretation, Man’s consciousness now witnesses the interpretation -concepts, thoughts, view- that establish God as a central reality in his own life, instead of establishing himself as this central reality.

A further step in the path of this Man will come up.

When this Man becomes fully and totally convinced that God does it all. Then this Man comes to see that it is a burden to continue on keeping this new interpretation that has replaced the old one. The new interpretation also will drop away, leaving a pure witnessing of this Consciousness to what is actually taking place, without any interpretation from his part. This Consciousness will become extremely silent but highly cognizant of its actual content. The actual content is the phenomenal appearances and what they truly signify. The true significance of the content of this virgin Consciousness is the Kingdom of God or Paradise or the Reality of Being or the Garden of Eden or Nirvana or Sat Chit Ananda….etc.

This transformed Man’s consciousness only witnesses the Presence of God.

This is the virtue  Abu Hashim Madani is talking about, and it goes without saying that to be conscious of yourself -as described above- is a sin.

Surrender: By Mourad Rashad

SURRENDER. What are you going to  surrender? What are you going to let go of? What is in your grip that you are going to drop?

I remember Rinzai (Lin Chai) said “Just rid your mind of the principle from which action springs”.

The Principle of Action, your own inner conviction that you can act and do something to change anything or to reach anything. I do not mean action, in the material and physical sense, NO; action is Intention, action is having a Purpose, what is your Intention? What is your Purpose? That is why the Prophet Mohamed said “Actions are based on intentions, and each man will reap what he intends”. Intention, manifests as planning, scheming, devising, calculating and controlling, all these are expressions of intention. What makes you see the world as world, not as a Divine Manifestation, a Divine Existence, God’s Face, and the Kingdom of Heaven or the Garden of Eden?  It is to have a purpose, to have an object in mind.  Without your intention, without your purpose, you are THERE. Without intention the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Surrender your intention to Him, to the Lord, to God. Have no intention, simply be as a child. A child does not know. Intention means that you know what to do and you imagine that this is for your own good. The question is how am I going to live and function without this planning, scheming, controlling…etc.? Start with simple things; say to yourself, I am not going to plan -about any simple item in your life. Then observe carefully how this item will turn out. You experiment with life; you experiment with your world. It will be seen, that what you had left without any planning, scheming, controlling, turns up beautiful, better than what you have hoped for, if you planned it yourself. It cannot be better. That is how you start, cultivating your faith; from small things, going up to larger things, more important issues in life and so forth. Faith – in not having an intention, in not having a purpose, faith in abstinence from planning – will increase, till one day; you will say to yourself “What a burden to plan and scheme”. The Lord plans for me, devises for me and schemes for me. All I have to do is to stop planning and be attentive; Guidance will come, doors will open and opportunities will offer themselves to you.

Lao Tzu said:

As to the roaming of the sages,
They move in utter emptiness,
Let their minds meander in the great nothingness;
They run beyond convention
And go through where there is no gateway.
They listen to the soundless
And look at the formless,
They are not constrained by society
And not bound to its customs.

The sages roam; they have no self generated purposeful activities. Purpose for their actions is imposed on them from without, from the Kingdom of Heaven. Their rein is not in their own hands.

There is a great Sufi Master called Ibn Atta Allah the Alexanderian. This Sufi master composed a book called ” Become Enlightened; Just Stop Planning”. Another great Sufi Master called Ahmed Al Refaaie said:” When I was in Mecca during pilgrimage, I took an oath that I will have no purpose again as long as I live”

Planning for man constitutes his whole life, his whole existence; without planning, there is no man. Without a purpose, you do not exist.  You become egoless. You drop your ego. You drop any purpose. Planning is what makes you an ego, an individual and a mortal. Stop planning, stop having a purpose and re-discover what you used to call your life, re-examine your world without  planning.  Secrets will become no secrets; the world will be transformed into the Kingdom of Heaven, into the Garden of Eden.

Guard Your Mind: By Dr. Mourad Rashad

Chuang Tzu said: The beggar who guards his mind and fears the waywardness of his thoughts, burns through every bond with the fire of his vigilance. The beggar who guards his mind and fears his own confusion cannot fall. He has found the way to peace”.

In the above saying, a beggar is a man who has not considered himself rich in anything. Therefore he never thinks nor behaves as if he is superior to anyone. A beggar is a man who never claims anything to himself. A beggar is a man who receives everything that life offers and never considers that he is either the owner of what he receives, or that he deserves what he receives. With such a manner, with such a way of seeing and experiencing his earthly and worldly existence he transforms this earthly and worldly existence into Divine Graces. Divine Graces are by definition undeserved favors and unmerited assistance. That is why Jesus Christ said “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mathew 5:3)

The man who lives in such a manner is ego-less or nothing or a big fat zero or is no longer the center of life experiences. This man experiences genuine peace. A genuine peace, because he has experienced the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now on this earth.

This man has come to understand that there is no need of him to be at the center of any experience, he is always in the background, happy by just contemplating and watching. Even when he takes a role -either for himself or for others- he attributes nothing to himself, but only contemplates and watches the Majesty and Magnificence of the overall panorama of the experience. He is always submerged in the Divine Graces of the Kingdom of Heaven. This overall panorama will guide his actions. The Lord will guide his steps.

He has known that it is his own way of thinking -agreed upon by everyone- that convinces him that he is needed to live and function and all the rest of his “worldly” activities in a fixed particular way.

This beggar has discovered the simple truth that says “there is no Need of me, I am out of the way, I am no longer at the center in any way whatsoever and therefore the experience is Majestic, Magnificent and Peaceful”.

He needs nothing and he desires nothing and everything is fulfilled on its own accord. Perfection surrounds him, because he is in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whenever a need is created in the experience either for him or anyone else, he never worries or feels burdened, because he knows it will be fulfilled without anyone’s help -but does not know how. The Lord will fulfill it.

Nevertheless, he is not always in this state. Unless he guards his mind it might stray again in the old habitual way where it convinces him that he needs to do something. That is how he falls back again on his knees and is delivered into confusion once more as it was before, and returns to the center of the experience due to his old worldly mode of thinking.

Abu Bakr Al Shibly -the Sufi master- said:” I guarded my mind for twenty years, then my mind guarded me for another twenty, then a state came where my mind and I were guarded forever”.

Continuously guarding his mind and whenever he comes in contact with a worldly incident that might trigger the old habit, the beggar  immediately reminds himself of the fact that he is not needed and how Majestic, Magnificent and Peaceful the Experience is, for he is in the Kingdom of Heaven, where Perfection reigns.

When this happens, he takes a step or two back and leaves the panorama once more empty of him and become contented by just contemplating again the whole scene. Accordingly, everything takes care of everything, The Lord takes care.  Majesty, Magnificence and Peace are re-established once more. The Divine Graces shower again. That is how by being vigilant he faces life.

Therefore, he starts appreciating and cultivating Faith in the fact of not being needed, together with the concomitant Experience of the Majesty, Magnificence and Peace .Until one day he will cultivate enough Faith in the fact of not being needed for anything, then this Majestic, Magnificent and Peaceful experience will be Permanent as it was before he has created his ego and its world. Even the disappearance of his body by death will not touch this Majestic Experience. Why death will not affect this Experience? Because nothing of him is needed for this Magnificent Experience, not even his physical body. Hence Ramana Maharshi’s  last words: I am not going away. Where could I go? I am here.”

Blessings of Simplicity: By Dr. Mourad Rashad

Have you ever asked yourself, “do I understand life”? Is life what I think it to be?

To start asking yourself about what you take for granted is the beginning of true understanding. This is the first step taken by any prophet, wise man, or a sage.

What triggered these questions in the hearts and minds of these great men? Life itself forced these questions. Worldly living and suffering brought these questions about. The simplicity and humility of these men in response to life allowed these questions to emerge.

Simplicity means that you are not sophisticated. Being sophisticated shows that one is worldly wise; one is well versed in the ways and methods of the world. Sophisticated shares the same root with the word sophistry, signifying something very plausible, but fallacious and misleading.

No one is born sophisticated. Sophistication is something that we learn. Children are born light and natural.

The prophets remain like children. They do not wish to become clever. Instead, they want to widen and deepen their understanding of life.

For the prophets and sages of old, the ways of the world, did not appeal to them and did not satisfy their hunger for a truer meaning to life. These great men were of this type, they were simple, they were direct in their understanding, and they did not allow sophistication and clever ways of the world to mislead them.

I finish with a quote from the Bible where Jesus makes the same point.

“Truly I say to you, Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one that is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.”

From the Author: My name is Mourad Rashad. I am 57 years old and live in Cairo, Egypt where I was born. I hold a PhD in Pathology from the Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, where I am a Professor. I have a private practice as an internist specializing in geriatric medicine.

I am a Muslim, and have read all of the Quran as well as the Bible. I became exposed to Mysticism early in life, through my father who was an avid reader of the mystic masters, and who took me with him to attend spiritual gatherings in Cairo. I have read extensively in Zen, Sufism, Advita, Gnosticism, Taoism. I was a disciple of the late Padamanabhamenon (Gurudev), who is the son and successor of the late Atmananda (Gurunathn), who was a contemporary sage to Sri Ramana Maharishi.

I have written a book in collaboration with a fellow Egyptian mystic entitled “The Mysticism of Jesus Christ”, where we discussed and interpreted the sayings of Jesus Christ in the four canonical Gospels, and as well as in the Gospel of Thomas.

The Only True Love: By Dr. Mourad Rashad

If you love a person, you start seeing things which are not there. No woman is as beautiful as you think when you love her, because you project. You have a dream girl in the mind and that dream girl is projected. Some how the real girl functions only as a screen on which you project your dream girl.

That is why every love comes to a frustrating point sooner or later, because how can the girl go on playing the screen? She is a real person; she will assert, she will say, “I am not a screen!” How long can she go on fitting in with your projection? Eventually, you feel things do not fit. In the beginning, she yielded, in the beginning you yielded. You were a projection screen for her; she was a projection screen for you.

Nobody can play a screen for you forever and nothing can remain a screen for you forever, because it is uncomfortable and not natural. How can somebody adjust to your dream? How can anything adjust to your dream? Everything has his own reality, and the reality asserts and shows itself.

If you love a person, you project things, which are not there. If you hate a person, again you project things, which are not there. In love, the person becomes a god. In hate, the person becomes a devil — and the person is neither god nor devil. The person is simply himself or herself. These devils and gods are projections.

Similarly, you love your world; the real world is a screen for you, a screen for the beautiful world in your own mind, which you project. You see things in your loved world, which are not there; you imagine that they are there. That is why your loved world frustrates you, betrays you, annoys you and finally you die, your loved world kills you.

The real world cannot remain a screen for you. It has to show you what it is made of, and it has to show you its truth. You cannot see its truth unless you stop projecting your dream world, you stop loving the world in your mind, and you stop loving your ego, which is the world, stored up as mind.

If you love, you cannot see clearly. If you hate, you cannot see clearly.  When there is no liking, no disliking, your eyes are clear, you have clarity. Then you see the other as he is or as she is, you see the world stored up in your mind, which is projected, or you see your ego as it is.

Moreover, when you have clarity of consciousness, I say clarity of consciousness not clarity of mind. The mind or ego can never be clear. The mind or ego are only consciousness transformed through our preferences, desires and conditioning. I say when you have clarity of consciousness, which means you are no longer an ego, you are no longer a mind, but you are the clarity, the light, and the purity of consciousness. Then, the whole existence reveals its reality to you. The whole world unravels its identity to you.

That reality and that identity is God, that identity is the Divine, that reality is the Sublime Truth. You come to discover that your ego, your mind, your projected world was hiding and transforming the Original Divine Existence.

One can say, when man’s consciousness regains its liberty from the influence of the ego or mind, it returns to the original unity. Unity of man’s consciousness and this Divine Existence. Where man’s consciousness mirrors faithfully the immediate experience and functions as an integral part of this Divine Existence, and follows it without any separation, any division or any cleavage.

This is the state of Love, this is The Divinity, this is the Ultimate and this is the Sahaja-Samadhi. This is seeing, experiencing and living without your mind, without your projections, without your ego, this is the state of Egolessness, this is Sahaja-Samadhi.

Editor’s note: Dr. Mourad Rashad is an insightful and brilliant writer on love, life, and the nature of reality. Mourad is a long time member of HarshaSatsangh.