The search for reason ends at the shore of the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide.
It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding.
Neither is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore,
and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh…….
Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance:
we sense the ineffable in one realm; we name and exploit reality in another.
Between the two we set up a system of references, but can never fill the gap.
They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody,as life and what lies beyond the last breath.
The tangible phenomena we scrutinize with our reason, the sacred and indemonstrable we overhear with the sense of the ineffable.
Heschel A. J. (1971), Man is Not Alone, New York: Octagon Books p.8
The First Valley
If the travelers seek after the goal of the Intended One (maqsúd), this station appertaineth to the self—but that self which is “The Self of God standing within Him with laws.” 1
On this plane, the self is not rejected but beloved; it is well-pleasing and not to be shunned. Although at the beginning, this plane is the realm of conflict, yet it endeth in attainment to the throne of splendor. As they have said: “O Abraham of this day, O Friend Abraham of the Spirit! Kill these four birds of prey,” 2 that after death the riddle of life may be unraveled.
This is the plane of the soul who is pleasing unto God. Refer to the verse:
O thou soul who art well assured,
Return to thy Lord, well-pleased, and pleasing unto Him. 3
Enter thou among My servants,
And enter thou My paradise. 4 51
This station hath many signs, unnumbered proofs. Hence it is said: “Hereafter We will show them Our signs in the regions of the earth, and in themselves, until it become manifest unto them that it is the truth,” 5 and that there is no God save Him.
One must, then, read the book of his own self, rather than some treatise on rhetoric. Wherefore He hath said, “Read thy Book: There needeth none but thyself to make out an account against thee this day.” 6
The story is told of a mystic knower, who went on a journey with a learned grammarian as his companion. They came to the shore of the Sea of Grandeur. The knower straightway flung himself into the waves, but the grammarian stood lost in his reasonings, which were as words that are written on water. The knower called out to him, “Why dost thou not follow?” The grammarian answered, “O Brother, I dare not advance. I must needs go back again.” Then the knower cried, “Forget what thou didst read in the books of Síbávayh and Qawlavayh, of Ibn-i-Hajíb and Ibn-i-Málik, 7 and cross the water.” 52
The death of self is needed here, not rhetoric:
Be nothing, then, and walk upon the waves. 8
Likewise is it written, “And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves. These are the wicked doers.” 9
1. Hadíth. [ Back To Reference]
2. The Mathnaví. Here Rúmí tells a story of four evil birds which, when put to death, changed into four birds of goodness. The allegory refers to subduing evil qualities and replacing them with good. [Back To Reference]
3. Qur’án 89:27–30. [ Back To Reference]
4. Qur’án 89:27–30. [ Back To Reference]
5. Qur’án 41:53. [ Back To Reference]
6. Qur’án 17:15. [ Back To Reference]
7. Famed writers on grammar and rhetoric. [ Back To Reference]
8. The Mathnaví. [ Back To Reference]
9. Qur’án 59:19. [ Back To Reference]