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August 4, 2010
Eastern Sources of The Heart Doctrine
5c. From Islam & Sufism
to Bhagavan Sri Ramana, Gibran & Baha'u'llah
"I who cannot be fit into universes upon universes,
“Everything needs a kind of polish to cleanse
"The heart is the treasury
Sufi poet, Lahiji
"God placed a divine spark into
(Robert Frager/Sheikh Ragip, psychologist
and Sufi Master
In Islam, it is most important to have a benevolent heart—rather than a harsh heart. The heart holds either your belief or kufr (disbelief); dedication or indolence and hypocrisy; your praise of Allah or your forgetfulness of Him; your happiness or misery; purity or insolence and sin; mercy or inhumanity and heartlessness; knowledge/wisdom or ignorance; courage or cowardice; love or hate; decency or impropriety; chivalry or discourtesy; envy or jealousy and enmity; courage or cowardice; and decency or impropriety. There is a whole psychology to the heart and it determines the quality of a human being. The greatest of gifts of Allah is the possibilities of a loving and enlightened heart, and the Islamic religion teaches practical ways to cure a heart’s harshness. Especially this involves baring or uncovering one’s heart, and the experience of remorse for one’s wickedness and selfishness. To work on your heart requires inner struggle and learning to remember Allah and live by His moral teachings. Upon death, a individual is judged and punished according to the qualities of the heart.
The celebrated Sufi poet, Rumi, was born in Afghanistan in 1207 and died in 1273 in Turkey. Rumi is associated with the Whirling Dervishes, a mystical order, which pursues spiritual realization through experiences of ecstasy and divine love. Sufism is a form of esoteric or mystical Islam. Rumi depicts the plight of the lost souls searching for God and Self, seeking in the outer world for what really lies within:
The Self within the heart is the subtlest of
hidden treasures, the
source of that consciousness and life which turn outwards in search of
“There is a Soul inside of your Soul,
Search that Soul.
There is a jewel in the mountain of body.
Look for the mine of that jewel.
Oh, Sufi, passing,
Search inside if you can, not outside.”
Jalal al-Din Rumi
the Masnavi, Rumi’s great work composed over a forty-year
often refers to those “men of heart,” who glimpse the hidden
mysteries. Rumi explains:
The knowledge of men of heart bears them up,
The knowledge of men of the body weighs them down.
When ‘tis knowledge of the heart, it is a friend;
When knowledge of the body, it is a burden. ...
Yea, see in your heart the knowledge of the Prophet.
(In Whinfield, 1979, pp. 52-3)
In Sufism: The Alchemy of the Heart, Muhammad, Isa Waley explains that the Sufi’s goal is to attain Divine Grace, a love and a certainty which spring from direct knowledge and experience of God. The Sufi thus attempts to invoke and remember the Name of the Lord. “Recline on the throne of the heart, and with purity in manner be a sufi.” (Sa’di) It is through the remembrance of God that the inner being becomes increasingly illumined and achieves detachment from the world of illusion. With the selfless remembrance of God, attention to the egoistic self falls away and the heart and soul are transformed by the divine attributes. The Sufi master is described as a “physician and trainer of hearts and souls” –the alchemist who brings about the inner transformation and illumination of the heart.
What is false is that which veiled by the veil of the ego and what is true by the veil of the Heart. The veil of the ego is a dark, earthly veil, while the veil of the Heart is a radiant, heavenly veil. (Umar al-Suhrawardi, in Waley, 1993, p. 33)
The power of love and of invocation and remembrance can open the heart to direct experiencing of the unseen–the world beyond or within. The prophet Muhammad explained: “Everything needs a kind of polish to cleanse it, and the polish for the Heart is the remembrance of God.” (Waley, p. 48) The heart is a mirror created by God and capable of reflecting the light and attributes of God.
The exact meaning of the inner life is not only to live in the body, but to live in the heart, to live in the soul. Why, then, does not the average man live an inner life when he too has a heart and a soul? It is because he has a heart, and yet is not conscious of it; he has a soul, and knows not what it is. ... All this experience obtained by the outer senses is limited. When man lives in this limitation he does not know that another part of his being exists, which is much higher, more wonderful, more living, and more exalted. Once he begins to know this, then the body becomes his tool, for he lives in his heart. And then later he passes on and lives in his soul. ... When once he begins to realize life in his heart and in his soul, then he looks upon his body as a coat. (1960, pp. 79-80)
Robert Frager, by his Sufi name—Sheikh Ragip, is an American psychologist and Sufi teacher. Frager provides lucid descriptions of essential Sufi practices and teachings:"The secret of secrets is the divine spark within each of us.
Rememberence is remembering
Ragip, psychologist and Sufi Master
A divine spark is a zero point source emanating out the infinite realm within. This spark is beyond the level of physical differentiation in terms of the Planckian units of physics, beyond which we cannot measure. A divine spark does not ‘have extension,’ as judged from the external viewpoint. Recall Blavatsky described “material points without extension’ as the basis upon which the God’s and other invisible powers clothe themselves in bodies. The divine spark then ensouls the body through the breath, spreading life and vitality from the heart and lungs. Human consciousness is due to such a metaphysical process, which brings the light of consciousness and the life principle into the heart. The divine spark exists always at the centre of our being at zero point levels, and through the breath and blood, consciousness and life are infused into a living, breathing human being. Remembrance is recalling and living in this inner experience, which had strangely been forgotten, as the light has been so veiled.
variety of eastern teachings elaborate the heart doctrine in some
manner. In Revelation, Bhagavan Sri Ramana writes:
Unto that transcendental Being, the unborn (Self) shining in the Heart, in every creature, as the limitless I, the Guru of all gurus, my real Self and Lord ... The Sun of Pure Consciousness ... is most excellent. Verse 1 & 3
Since that (Reality) dwells, thought-free, in the Heart; how can It, - Itself named the Heart, - be meditated on? And who is there, distinct from It, to meditate on It, the Self whose nature is Reality Consciousness? Know that to meditate on It is just to be at one with It within the Heart. Verse 4
When the mind, introverted by being engaged in the Quest of ‘Who am I,’ is lost in the Heart, and the ego bows his head in shame, there shines by Its own light a Pure Consciousness as the limitless Light; that (Consciousness) is not the spurious ego; It is the Transcendental, Infinite Reality: It is the blissful Real Self. Verse 35 (Sarma, 1980)
In these beautiful verses, Bhagavan depicts the subtlest of ideas so simply. To meditate on the Self “is to just be at one with It within the Heart”!
Elsewhere, in Kahil Gibran’s classic work, The Prophet, a man from the village approaches the Prophet and asks him to:
“Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.”
And he (the prophet) answered, saying: “Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge. You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.... the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes. But let there be no scales to weight your unknown treasure; ... For self is a sea boundless and measureless. ... The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless pearls.” (1968, pp. 54-55)
How often hath the human heart, which is the recipient of the light of God and the seat of the revelation of the All-Merciful, erred from Him Who is the Source of that light and the Wellspring of that revelation. It is the waywardness of the heart that removeth it far from God, and condemneth it to remoteness from Him.
He hath most excellent names in the hearts of those who know. ... there shall appear upon the tablet of thine heart a writing of the subtle mysteries ... and the bird of thy soul shall recall the holy sanctuaries of preexistence ... cleanse the heart–which is the wellspring of divine treasures ... . (pp. 2-5)
With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea. Split the atom’s heart, and lo! Within it thou wilt find a sun. (p.12)
... the grades of knowledge relate to the knowledge of the Manifestations of that Sun of Reality, which casteth Its light upon the Mirrors. And the splendor of that light is in the hearts, yet it is hidden under the veilings of sense and the conditions of this earth, even as a candle within a lantern of iron, and only when the lantern is removed doth the light of the candle shine out. In like manner, when thou strippest the wrappings of illusion from off thine heart, the lights of oneness will be made manifest. (pp. 23-4)
“Split the atom’s heart, and lo! Within it thou will find a sun.” These mystical verses suggest the deep origins of consciousness and life within inner dimensions of the heart, the mirror of the Sun of Reality. The wisdom of the heart reveals and illuminates the mysteries of self and God. The hidden self within the mystical dimensions of the heart is the source of light and life within the material body and originates from deep metaphysical realms. The same themes are found throughout numerous Eastern and middle Eastern religious and mystical/spiritual teachings--from Islam and the Koran, to the Upanishads and Vedas of India, to the Sufi poets, prophets and seers of the wisdom teachings.
Eastern and mid-eastern spiritual teachings provide profound poetic and lyrical descriptions of the Self. Mystics repeatedly identify the Self with the heart and relate it to the Supreme Self, or God. Like the sun, the Self is self-luminous, a light emerging out of infinite light, a point source of consciousness reflecting a Supreme Consciousness. The Self is also described as having a zero point source of origin—as a ‘divine spark,’ or ‘the secret of secrets.’ The Self and the Heart are mysteriously related to the larger universe, to the unity of life, to the experience of higher love and ultimate realities. To gain the understanding and wisdom of the Heart and of Self is the primary goal of spiritual realization.
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