The mystic insight into death.

I summon you to the Mansion of Love, where minds are united and where sorrow is unknown.

The society of Mystics, as you know, is a voluntary association, composed of those persons, who have chosen to follow its aims and objects. It cannot bring any coercion. It is incapable of any legal sanction. It is for the members to exhibit the underlining idea of the Society in their everyday life and in their day-to-day conduct.

Sands of time

We try to glorify God by our prayers and supplications. It is a good way, no doubt. I do not deny it. But, the best way to glorify God, is by offering Him our Thanksgiving. This requires stable mind, sublime thoughts, good actions, and above all, the spirit of cheerfulness.

Cheerfulness should be distinguished from mirth. Mirth is a passing phase. It comes and goes. It does not last long, whereas cheerfulness is lasting. It is a way of looking at things and happenings.

Mirth is an act, whereas cheerfulness is a habit of mind. Troubles come to every man. To suffer is the lot of man. Troubles, tribulations and trials, if received cheerfully and borne patiently, lose half their intensity, vigour and force.

Cheerfulness is born of optimism. It is foolish to worry about the future, which is unborn. You do not know what is in the womb of time. Why feel worried about it? Hope for the best. It is just possible, that the Future may bring for you something, which you were looking for. Why have morbid imagination? Why have pessimistic outlook?

It is neither wisdom nor foresight, to take a telescope to see things which are dimly at a distance. It is enough, if you see things, which lie close at hand.

Dr Samuel Johnson, whose biography, written by Boswell, I often read, has very aptly observed:

“The habit of looking on the best side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a year.”


Mournful Chants

I went through a period of some bereavements in my family which cast me in gloom. It was the first case of anguishing separation, which I experienced in my life. I felt myself helpless to prevent this catastrophe. A strange feeling overtook me. It was a mixed one.It was feeling of helplessness, combined with sorrow which knew no bounds. Death does not grant time.Once it comes, it does not go empty-handed.When I was thus plunged in sorrow, my cheerful disposition did not desert me. I implored for peace and patience. And I was given serenity of mind and calmness of thoughts.

Sorrow taught me a new lesson, that in the face of helplessness, patience was best. Sorrow gave me a new experience, and it was that we should live in this world,as if it is an inn, or a hotel, or a waiting room at some railway station. We should be ever prepared to move on, and on, to our destined goal, which is no other than the grave, where we are buried, or the crematorium, where a dead person is burnt.

Sorrow, also, gave me a new knowledge of this short lived life, And it was, that life was fleeting and nothing was lasting. We should be a little careful. We should not hope too much, and neither we should pitch our hopes too high.

Too many, and too high hopes, end in frustration, leading to loss of faith.

Sorrow took me to explore the mystery of life and death. I pondered over the helplessness of man, his ignorance of himself, his lack of self-knowledge and his wanderings in the labyrinth of time.

The truth dawn upon me that, in life we should be ever prepared for surprises.

Death does not come by appointment.

Everyone of us is an actor. We have to play our assigned part on the stage of the world, and, then, retire into oblivion

People are afraid of death because it is shrouded in mystery.

Like time and tide, death waits for no man. It may come at any moment, at any time and at any place. So, it is better to be ever prepared for death. The knock of death is not heard.

We see flowers blossoming, giving fragrance and then withering. Withering implies the death of a flower. But, for flowers there is a time, when they become withered.

Leaves of trees fall in Autumn. The sun sets in one direction and at a time fixed.

The moon appears and disappears at a time fixed.

The twinkling starts have their settings regulated and fixed. but, man, the vicegerent of God on earth, has no time fixed, when he will have to leave the stage of the world, where he has been acting for a long or a short time, where he had been playing different roles, and where he had been assuming different professional names and different vocational nomenclatures.

Statement of truth

People are afraid of death, as children are afraid of going into a dark room. The mystics are not afraid of death. The love of their Friend has made them unmindful of death. Every lover wants to be united with his beloved.

The mystics are so much engrossed and absorbed in the Absolute Beauty, that the attractions of the world has ceased to attract them.

What counts to a mystic is his Friend, the vision of the Friend, and the nearness of Friend leading to the ultimate union with the Friend.

A mystic has his Friend as the object of his veneration and adoration. His joy lies in meeting the Friend.

Death, to the mystic, furnishes an occasion for being united with the Friend. The day of death, thus, is a day of rejoicing for a mystic. It is, as if, it is a day of wedding for the mystic.

A mystic is always prepared to welcome death. He keeps himself in readiness to meet his Friend.

It is said of a certain illuminated person, that when he fell ill and all hope of recovery was lost, he was told of the approaching death. The man promptly replied:

“O, no I am not the least afraid of death. Why should I fear it? How nice it is to meet death. Death will take me to the one, who always stood by me through thick and thin, and who has been bestowing His favours upon me irrespective of my transgressions.”

The Sufi saint Hazrat Ahmed Bin Khizaria (R.A) was asked some questions when he was bout to die. He apologized by saying:

“I crave your indulgence. Please, leave me to myself. You cannot imagine my mood of expectancy. For the last ninety-five years, I have been knocking, and now, that door will open soon. I can ill afford any disturbance now. I do not know what is in store for me.

I do not know what it will bring. Whether it will bring the glad tidings of heaven, or the bad news of hell. I have no time left. I have no leisure. I cannot now answer your questions.”


Of another Sufi saint, named Abu Wasi, it is said, that seeing him sinking his wife began to shed tears. The saint seeing this, said to his wife,

“Listen to me. Do not weep for my sake. Weep for thy sake. So far as I am concerned, I tell you frankly, that I have been weeping for the last thirty years for this day to come.”


According to the mystics, man is living in darkness. The world thrives on his foolishness and lack of wisdom. Had he been wise, he would not have given his heart to the world.

Love of the world prompts fear of death.

The mystics hold, that the world is a dream. So long as we are in this world, we are said to be in a dream. We will wake up from the dream in the world Hereafter. This period of sleeping in dream and awakening in the world Hereafter , is a transitory period. Death likes in-between this period.

Death, thus, is a bridge. taking us from the world of dream to the world of Reality. Friends, power, prestige, wealth, treasure and influence are helpless before death. They are incapable of saving an individual from death.

Death takes its own course, when it wills.

The glamour and gaiety of the world, derive charm and attraction, from the people who are unmindful of death.

Death is forgotten when world is worshipped.

What are those things, which make one forget death. They are, undoubtedly, wealth, material possessions, lust, and family.

The one who loves Mammon, loves the world. And the one who loves God, death is dear to him.

A mystic keeps the idea of death uppermost in his mind.

To a mystic, the thought of death frees him from the attachment of the world. When he finds that attachment of the world is trying to take him in its grip, he concentrates this thought and attention upon death, and thus, escapes from the approaching spiritual suicide.

The mystic code of life lays down certain guidelines. Life is a bubble. It is short. It is not wise to be attached to it. It is not good to be proud of this short life. It is better to provide for life Hereafter.

If one forgets death, he cannot provide for life Hereafter.

The question arises, how to remember death. The mystics suggest, that constant remembrance of death is possible, when one does not love the world.

For this, one has to wipe out the carnal self.

One has to learn a great deal from the death of relations and friends. Those who were enjoying honour and fame, are now lying in grave.

It is not wise to fix worldly hopes on wealth and treasure.

Graveyards should be visited, so that one may learn that the silent city is the work of death.

A visit to the hospital to see the ailing patients, is also rewarding. Not only does it evoke sympathy for those in trouble, but it also minimizes the attachment of the world, and gives a fillip, though it be temporary, to the remembrance of death.

The holy Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon them) has enjoined us to think of death. Tradition runs thus:

“Think oftener of death since it saves thee and purifies thee from sins.”

So long as the world looks better, death appears dreadful. To think of death is to lose the love of the world. To fix attention on God is to be detached from the world.

The reality

A certain person went to see a saint. The man expressed his desire to meet another saint, who was living at some distance. The saint said to the man:

“I am sorry to inform you that the saint whom you want to see, is dead.”

The man was sorry to hear it. He said, then, he would like to go to the house of the saint to offer his condolences. Taking leave of the saint, with whom he was talking, he reached the house of the saint, who was pronounced dead.

He was greatly surprised to see the saint hail and hearty.

The man had his eyes fixed on the saint. He was dumbfounded. The feelings of doubt and diffidence, combined with surprise, had landed him in strange situation.

The saint, seeing him in a state of amazement, thus asked him, “Why are you so amazed? What has surprised you? Tell me. Let me see whether I can solve your difficulty.”

The man narrated what he had heard from the saint, whom he had visited first, and said that he had come there with the intention of offering condolences, and was surprised to find him [the saint] alive. He paused and then in a low subdued tone said:

“How is it that, that saint gave me wrong information? I have been reposing my confidence in him, and believing always what he said. How can he tell a lie? I cannot reconcile myself with this idea.”

Hearing this, the saint consoled him and said to him in a soft voice and gentle tone thus:

“You need not be confused. Seeing your emotional agitation, I am constrained to say, that the saint who told you that I was dead, was correct. Inf fact, at that time when he told you that I was dead, I was engrossed in worldly ideas, forgetting the remembrance of God. What will you call a man, who has forgotten the remembrance of God? Is he dead or alive? He cannot be alive. He is dead, of course.”

According to a Tradition, when the Angel of Death came to prophet Abraham to take his life, he thus said to him:

” Have you ever seen a friend, who takes the life of his friend?”

The Angel of Death was ordered by God to say:

” Have you ever seen a friend who hesitates to meet his friend?”

Hearing what the Angel of Death said, Prophet Abraham said to the angel,

“Now take my life.”

Death, being an occasion of meeting the Friend, is fervently greeted by the mystics.

To them, to be truthful means to express a desire for death. Those who die for Truth, occupy a different position.

The martyrs,as they are called, enjoy a higher position than the ordinary people.

Suicide is condemned as cowardice. It is treated as against the spirit of religion. It is not only immoral, but also antisocial.

LAST WORDS

The first word that Lord Jesus Christ uttered on the cross was:

“Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. “

The second world was:

“To-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

The third word was

“Woman behold thy son.”

The fourth word was:

“My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me.”

The fifth word was:

“I thirst.”

The sixth word was :

“It is finished.”

The seventh and the last word was:

“Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

The historic words, which the famous Sufi saint Mansur Hallaj uttered before being crucified are:

“And these Thy servants who are gathered to slay me,in zeal for Thy religion and in desire to win They favour, forgive them O Lord, and have mercy upon them…”

Implications

Death is not a monster nor something dreadful. It is a bridge leading into the Beloved.

The Sufi saints emphasize that it is better to die before physical death. A seeker should be like a dead body. The dead body is looked after by those living. The dead body is given a bath by the living person. It is shrouded in a coffin by those living. It is laid in the grave again by living persons. A dead body has nothing to do.

A seeker should be dead to the world before he meets his physical death.

This requires self-control, spirit of self-surrender and self-discipline.

The inevitable hours

The day may come soon or late, when the grate Landlord will terminate our tenancy, and ask us to quit what we have been occupying, and shift to a country from which nobody returns.

The Angel of Death will come to us some day. We should be prepared for that day to receive him. Let us receive him cheerfully.

The moment cannot be averted, when the Angel of Death will come and demand back the loan of life. We should repay it with added interest, of good actions and noble deeds, and give it back with cheerfulness characterized by grace and manifested by perspiration on the forehead and smile on the lips.


The smile of the flower this one thing shows;

That its life is short and now it goes;

Man comes and departs with all the woes;

But when and where this no one knows.

..Unknown

This is a series of postings to come, on the subject of Sufi Mysticism. The postings will give in-depth knowledge in the complete world & ultimate sphere of Sufi spirituality. The postings are enlisted in Categories : ‘Sufi’s Spirituality’ (Tasawwuf )  & in ‘Tasawwuf ‘(Path  of Mysticism). Alternatively you can subscribe to our blog for updates.

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