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Less Is More

By Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri and Muneera Haeri, from the book "Sufi Links – Illumined Encounters"

The accomplished Master will help the seeker to focus on their goal and give up attachment to everything. It is important to see the teachings of the Prophets and Spiritual Masters in their full context. Ibn al-‘Arabi writes about the virtues of generosity and asceticism, but equally emphasizes the importance of giving up identification and the image of being generous. Role-playing, irrespective of how good the role may be, is a spiritual hindrance.

One other important piece of advice to sincere seekers is not to dwell on descriptions of the path to enlightenment in old Sufi literature, early on along their spiritual journey. Once you have a better understanding of these maps of reality you can learn the various aspects of your experiences. Sufi treaties can be helpful in confirming to you that others have traversed the same terrain and a few describe well the state of awakening. Embrace the path with trust until you experience intimate interaction with Reality. The mind registers whether something is familiar or not. When you are in a new land you must personally imbibe all its atmosphere and energy, otherwise you may be regurgitating someone else’s views or feelings. No two people are the same as humans. Everyone is the same in spirit.

I benefited from Ibn al-‘Arabi when I had experienced the states and stations he described. "The Meaning of Man" by Sidi Ali al-Jamal is a good example of a book that can confuse novices because it addresses people at different levels of spiritual evolvement. I have worked with Shaykh Hosam Raouf on an abridged version to render it more accessible. You talk to a youngster in a different way to a mature seeker. Specialist treaties, like this, need to be used by qualified teachers, rather than for general consumption. This is the original reason why the Brahmans and Rabbis claimed an exclusive right for the dissemination of their scriptures to avoid the danger of confusion and misinterpretation purposefully or due to lack of truly living them.

Before reaching spiritual maturity Sufi literature can encourage fantasy or act as a placebo with uncertain outcome. It is best, for this reason, to avoid specific spiritual terms and discussion of spiritual hierarchies. In the material realm more is sought, in the spiritual realm the reverse is true. Many spiritual seekers see the path as a process of getting something. The soul within has it all but needs a pure heart to allow the light to shine through.