By Anuradha Azeemi
I have looked for God everywhere, in forms, objects, scriptures, stories, sermons, people, philosophies, rituals, structures, nature and drawn a dead end each time. Everything and everyone I encountered with seemed to have a perspective of God but somehow did not match my knowing of HIM. However, this knowing was very faint at the back of my mind, clarity about God had never set in. I did not know what I knew of HIM. I did not even know what I was trying to find out about God. I just knew I wanted to know HIM, meet HIM. Why? There was no reason for that too. This wanting seemed to be driven by something invisible that I had no control over.
Firstly, I for sure knew, God is not the one to be afraid of. HE was not ruthless and focused on crucifying HIS beloved children. Secondly I associated no emotion except love with God. I could not imagine God had anything but supreme love for all of us. Thirdly, I always found that when I was imparted with knowledge on the why and how, my faith grew stronger. I just could not see myself partake in spiritual routines and rituals that I did not understand or was forced upon. If I could not question the spiritual theories and rituals presented before me and get satisfactory answers, I would be skeptical and discard them altogether. As the trial and error of these mystical theories and rituals to find God continued, I began to notice that there were very few people who resonated with me and lived without the fear of wrath of God. Most of those around me seemed to be busy in pleasing God with sacraments, bargaining with HIM for what they thought was best for them, transacting with HIM, bribing HIM with offerings and prayers. I did not understand this relationship. Was it not a business transaction if it was all about give and take? Was this not self-centered if one would only offer submission in return for their granting of prayers? Was God to be treated like a clearance department for our desires? Was this not audacity towards HE who created everything for us?
Questions kept mounting with no answers coming in. Who was out there who could quench my thirst? Who would come to me with the truth of the ONE I have been seeking since a child? I thought looking for a Spiritual Master amongst 7 billion people was the toughest task. I was wrong! The harder task was to find the right Spiritual Master amongst the renowned Masters. How would I know which one amongst them was assigned for me by my beloved God? It is then that I chanced upon an old saying, “You do not seek a Guru (Spiritual Master); the Guru seeks you.”
From then on there was only one bickering, I kept asking my Spiritual Master each day, “Where are you? Why are you not finding me?” Some days were bright when I would wake up and think, “I am sure He will find me today.” And then there were those dark days when I would think, “What if God has not assigned a Spiritual Master for me?” The yoyo between faith and doubt continued for a few decades.
I could not believe that finally after a full circle of ordeal, I was sitting before my Guru, my Master, my Murshid! I am not sure I will ever be able to define my first sight of Him in words. But it was like the happiness a little drop of rain felt upon its union with the mighty ocean. I had seen His picture before meeting Him; however nothing prepared me for the experience of the surge of energy that emanated through the Master. I was finally with Him! That’s all that mattered.
His teachings had resonated with me. He did not want me to be afraid of my Creator. He constantly talked about how everything in this world is God’s love for us. He explained the why and the how of everything. He shared His wisdom. Nothing was dictated and forced upon His students; it was a journey of knowledge and deeper understanding of everything. He did not want any of us to commit or embrace anything without full awareness. He constantly encouraged questions.
He posed His first question to me “How does one convert a wall of mud into a wall of gold?” I opened my mouth too soon when I said, “We could demolish the wall and build it new with gold may be?” He smiled. “That would destroy the whole structure and bring the roof down would it not? You cannot simply break a wall of a home, can you? How do we bring in change without breaking or causing permanent damage to the existing structure? Think!”
That was the first time I had experienced the blank space in my head. I wonder what had happened to my brain, I felt it was unresponsive. I wasn’t even sure I had a thinking capacity. The constantly over thinking mind had been shut down by the very first question from the Master. I could think of nothing. For the materialistic mind, destruction is an easy choice, however a man of God makes restoration as his only choice. He never thinks of destroying anything or anyone and only focuses on how to transform and make them worthy of being in the service of God.
Continuing to smile through my silence He said, “First we apply a very strong thick layer of gold on the back of the mud wall. And begin to wash the mud of the wall from the front, all the way till we touch the layer of gold at the back of the wall. Even with the mud wall gone the roof is still supported by the thick strong layer of gold we had applied first. Then we begin to fill the space of the wall with gold and bring it all the way to the front. That’s when we have a wall of gold without abolishing the structure.”
I do not know how long I sat there as if struck by a boulder. In literary terms one could say, I was ‘Awestruck’. Education I thought had taught me how to simplify complex things. But that day, while in conversation with my Master, I realized my education had actually made my head complex and confused. Nothing about my thinking was simple and straightforward. It had learned to roam around in circles of theories and forgotten to walk in a simple straight line to conclusion.
I sat wondering what is my Master hinting as the wall of mud and what was this wall of gold?
I remembered that God said HE created man from clay and breathed life into him. So was the Master referring to this clay or rather our physical body as the mud wall? It could not be. As this path was not about physical transformation. It had to be something that was within our physical existence that needed cleansing.
I asked myself, what was it that made me a rigid wall?
I realized that the rigidity within me was in my thinking pattern! The opinions, stories, beliefs, value systems and interpretations that I stored within me had made me inflexible, unwilling to change and I had no easy acceptance of things. My thinking pattern surely needed transformation. It had to be rebuilt to accept things as they are without a filter.
What then was the wall of gold?
Indeed, it had to be the Master’s pattern of thinking. His thinking was the Prophetic way of thinking, and the Prophetic way of thinking is that, ‘everything is will of God and HE is all there is.’
In this case, the process of replacing the mud wall to the wall of gold was cleansing my filthy negative pattern of thoughts into a pattern of thinking that was aligned to God and HIS beloved Prophets.
As I sat listening to a recorded spiritual discourse by the Master, clarity began to set in. His words reverberated in the air, “The Absaq (daily spiritual practices) prescribed does not initiate transfer of spiritual knowledge in a person, it is recommended so that one does not undo the work done by a Master upon them. It only assists in the creation of a pattern of thinking that supports the easy transfer of spiritual knowledge from a Master to a spiritual student. If one does not comply with the requirements of performing the daily Asbaq, then the student keeps undoing the work of the Master on him. Every single day, the Master engages Himself in cleansing the internal filth that the student accumulates and yet the student continues to refill himself with filth.”
The Master continued, “Let us consider that you have with you a beautiful bowl and deep inside at the bottom of it is an excellent fragrance. And inside this fragrant bowl you have out of your own choice piled up debris and filth. You cannot say that there is no fragrance inside the bowl, it is surely there but you have contaminated it by covering it with decay and filth. If you wish you can scrape and scrub the filth and bring out the underlying fragrance. This process of bringing out the fragrance after cleansing the filth is spirituality.”
“When a student enrolls under a Spiritual Master, from the very first day, He takes over the responsibility of the student’s purification. The student keeps dirtying the bowl, and the Master keeps cleaning it. The Spiritual Master becomes a janitor for his student as He continuously cleanses the student’s internal decay and filth.”
I was feeling shy and shameful knowing how committed I was at self-destruction and how committed my Master was at reconstructing and saving me from disaster. I focused on what the Master had to say further, “Once Hazoor Qalandar Baba Auliya said to me that it so happens that a Master keeps cleansing the student all His life and the student keeps dirtying himself over and over again and finally there comes a time that after the repeated process, the Master passes away from this physical world and yet again the student dirties himself.”
“The meaning of this is obvious. You have enrolled yourself into a spiritual school and you now have a Master who starts your training. He teaches you that God created this world for you; however you have not been created for this world. But the student never seems to understand this. The attachment and greed of this world, keeps dominating over him. This helps us conclude that the luxury and greed of this world is nothing but decay and debris.”
This talk created a huge impact on me. Yes, all of my thinking processes were aligned to this material world. Desires, expectations, wants, goals –were guided to assist my comfortable material existence. I was not aware that I had an existence other than this. Indeed my Master was asking me to dig for the gold within me, the fragrance at the bottom of the bowl. The gold and fragrance within me was behind my greed and attachment to this material world. And until I find it, my Master would keep scrubbing me off my filth and debris. My task was to not undo it.
I began noting down my learning.
What was the wall of mud?
My thinking pattern.
What assisted the creation of the wall of mud?
My greed and attachment to this material world.
What would assist in breaking the old structures?
Daily spiritual practices (Asbaq).
What is the wall of gold?
Patter of thinking of my Spiritual Master.
What would this transformation bring me to?
Alignment to God & HIS teachings through the Prophets of God. It would finally bring me to my beloved God.