Being on the way
A bouquet of thoughts on the path to the Divine
The most vibrant lights that reflect on the hills of the heart of a deep soul make themselves more perceptible during moments of contemplation and introspection; during moments of deep thought about one's journey. Having been created according to the standards of this world, the human being is in need of the utmost caution, self-assurance, meticulousness, and determination in order to be able to turn toward his Creator, to constantly grow closer to Him despite great distances. Though nearly every single person may have a basic and simple opinion about such an important journey, it is still necessary to have faith in the tracking of those individuals whose only consideration is the guidance of humankind. It is important to follow in their footsteps, and to always run towards the ultimate goal by attaching one’s self to the incentives behind one’s actions that are so pivotal to be able to complete this journey without any trouble, for the journey is most advantageous for those who reach their goal and disastrous for those who break down along the way.
If these guides happen to be the experienced, knowledgeable, and conscientious masters of that field, then, without any hesitation, one should follow along on their path, for they always travel on the shortcuts that lead directly to their Lord. They know well the peaks that give way and those that do not. They search for those horizons in case they need to retreat. They frequent the coves of reunion and are always attentive to the echoes of their goal; without any distortion or breakage, they pass on these voices to those following. They stand firm against any waves or tremors that may hit both themselves and their followers during this long journey.
This journey moves between light and darkness. Along the way, one might come across small packages of epiphanies coming from the ultimate goal; but it is also possible that all destined rewards be put off until the completion of the journey, when one receives a special accolade.
During the trip, every traveler is sometimes filled with awe by an indistinct ray of light that flashes in the distance. Sometimes, as if being tested on the strength of their loyalty, one does not come across even a single ray of light their whole life; other times, one witnesses that the roads they pass have been illuminated with light all around. Sometimes, one is inspired as though they are being watched through unseen blinds, and with awe they grow attentive in all their senses. Considering this surveillance which has been opened to them by their faith as a sign of growing closer to the Divine Presence, one’s excitement and zeal grows even stronger, as in the case of a runner who has come close to the finish line. In fact, with the feeling of having joined the angels, their excitement grows to such heights that the harmony of the skies can be heard in the rhythm of their hearts.
During this journey, the manifestations that come to those who have understanding and insight are sometimes in the form of sprinkles and dew; other times, they are showers. They do not always arrive with the same degree, same quality, same color, same dialect, or even the same wavelength. Every rise and manifestation throughout the journey is a special gift to every traveler and giver of service.
The gifts are determined, first of all, by the extent of one's faith and sincerity, then by the purity of one's horizon, the clearness of one's heart, the vastness of one's understanding, and the depth of one's metaphysical aspect. Some of these gifts are obvious through their outer packages and the instant they meet with one’s senses they transform into gratitude; others are packaged with certain motifs and symbols and can only be deciphered through the light of attention and insight. Still others crash into the limits of the body and physical world and clothe themselves in a black veil; they expect us to renew our relationship with God and open the doorways to positive interpretations. And while some others make it all the way down to one’s hopes – by virtue of the vastness of the Divine mercy – more often than not, they end up being imbued by one’s despair and sorrow, and flow as tar into one’s thoughts. This is in a way dependent on the victory of either “fear” (khawf) or “hope” (raja) over the other, the result of which may change the picture of the journey significantly.
No matter the wavelength of these gifts, this attitude shapes one’s behavior into a certain framework. These warnings and instructions happen to come through, and individuals consider the victory of traveling down such a road a kind of invitation to reunion. They will certainly wake up one day, even if they are in the deepest of sleep. They will hear the call of the Eternal that their souls have forever been acquainted with, and will, to the end of their lives, run towards this complimentary call. Like trained athletes ready for action, if every hero of the heart sees those nights, where the breeze of Divine manifestation blows gently as a pier, a harbor, a kind of launching platform for the journey leading to The Ultimate Truth and Ever-Constant, then there should be no doubt that the Divine throne of mercy will pour down its compliments upon them.
Is it ever possible that the Eternally Merciful One, who grants compliments to every individual many times above their merit, would remain indifferent to those faithful travelers who ardently run towards Him? Would He not treat with a particular favor and kindness those who turn towards His most special intimacy with their utmost sincerity?
Actually, even if there were not such a grant of Divine compliments, and no one was promised such a blessing, every individual should accept their connection with the Eternal Sovereign as an advance given beforehand, and, with each new breath of air should, like a hero of faith and loyalty, breathe Him in. One shouldn't resort to childlike sulking, saying "Things didn't go as planned; blessings and compliments didn't rain down from the sky." One shouldn't grow sad or disappointed in a manner fit for characterless and ungrateful individuals. One shouldn't be defeated by distances by thinking too much about the hardships and length of the journey.
Instead, one should "overflow like the waters, shed tears like Job," setting one's heart on Him and only Him in every place one wanders. One should live every moment with the thought of seeing, hearing, and knowing Him so that they do not waste their credits worthy of the Eternal on attaining certain childlike ambitions; so that they do not narrow through their own senses and fancies the vastness that God has bestowed upon them; so that by responding to the all-exceeding mercy with an all-embracing favor and zeal they are able to fulfill the requirements of the implicit treaty made with the Divine. All of this is done in accordance with His greatness and one’s smallness.
Every individual on this long journey leading to Him may sometimes change position due to the elements that give shape to their character. In fact, because they may be subject to certain slips during this change of position, one may not always be able to maintain their situation and may sometimes stray so far off center that they may crash into the most outward part of the circle. It’s possible that, while a world full of people are delighting in the showers of Divine compliment, they may regard the continuous developments as congestion, the conquests as retractions, the ceremonies of victory as a kind of show, and the chants of joy as the consolation of the defeated.
In almost every period of time, there have been, and there will always be, such bewildered individuals who have temporarily wandered away from the rest of the caravan. However, most have jumped back into their positions near the center, and, with the warmth that comes after a separation and longing, they have achieved a brand-new integration and maturity.
Yet, in order to attain such a spiritual awakening and alertness, one cannot approve a willful separation from the group, for every separation is a kind of slipping and can, in fact, result in one being caught in an irreversible current. Therefore, it is certainly not permissible for one to take up such an uncertain adventure by trusting in the thought of being able to horizontally overcome the abyss of distance that forms between them and the rest of the people. Though there is an aspect in every involuntary lapse and turnover that holds the promise of "revival after death," as we have pointed out above, it may not always be possible to achieve the desired outcome. I believe that one's conscience cannot say "yes" to such a seemingly certain disaster, only for the sake of a possible feeling of enlightenment and spiritual maturity.
Even if a person is sometimes shaken in their connection with the center, by staying within the community, maintaining the path, and following the signs and guides, they may come across certain enlightened souls whose gravity pulls them in. They may always stay alive, refreshed, and strong by sharpening their consciousness along the road. By virtue of moving together with a society that is always advancing, one may feel a new joy of revival effervescing in their souls every day, every hour, and every moment. They feel it as they jump from one peak to the other, and are filled with the desire to move towards the source of light that the sign and signals along the road point to.
Such a heroic traveler will never leave oneself to the wavering flow of coincidences. They reach out to those who utilize the innermost consciousness that will not lead to a troublesome path. They follow behind the ever serious, dignified, cautious leaders whose depths of their souls are visible in the smiling features of their faces, line by line. They line up behind the altruistic souls, the heroes of fidelity, responsibility, and duty. They strive hard in all their work with full sincerity as their hearts beat in palpitations of going forward. As they battle with both vertical and horizontal distances to the best of their skills, they are in full consciousness of the honors they are entitled. They experience multiple dimensions of time as their actions and thoughts are intertwined, and they feel they rotate around themselves like the North Star.
In short, one must have the patience to endure along the path. If thoughts of the journey can fulfill the hope of reaching the ultimate goal and the role of guidance, the whole group and the individuals acting as its molecules will, tomorrow if not today, reach the ocean that the river of these conscious and non-conscious groups all flow into. The drops of sweat and perseverance on their foreheads will turn into the fountain of Paradise which they will drink in. There have been many times where the collective advancing of the crowds who outwardly seemed as though they were being dragged on by the incentives of the masses rather than their own free will have won many victories and reunions they could not have achieved by any individual act, owing to the effect of a consciously conducted central plan of action.
These actions, which may seem still on the outside, are constantly repeated along the journey and thus are only able to be distinguished by conscious looks: these little motions squeezed into narrow spaces; light and quiet progress; these efforts that are appealing to people…
All of these feature in their apparent shallowness the chilling depths of the oceans; in their silence, the movements and vastness of the sky; and in their simplicity, the heavenliness of spiritual beings. They will no doubt eventually pay off to these heroes at an expected place with surprises that are beyond one’s expectations. All of these efforts, struggles, and sacrifices will flow and boil, and will come to the right consistency when the time comes. The truth for whose sake lives are given will rise like a full moon behind the hills in the distance, carrying hundreds of cheerful tidings of dawns that will break, slowly rising like the sun that we have awaited. It will smile into our eyes and will whisper the prosperity of our lives. It will flow into our beings with its beams of light and imbue our features with its own color. It will take and blend us into its world.
Fethullah Gulen's lead article has been published on Fountain Magazine, #116, Mar-Apr 2017
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