Addresses, by Bulent Rauf

From Chapter 2, Humilty

No one is completely devoid of pride if pride in learning is not changed into dignity through humility.

The purpose of all your study is to bring you to a realisation of your ‘essential’ oneness with the One and Only Absolute Existence. Here remember that the word ‘essential’ mainly means ‘in your essence’ as well as your origin and your reality.

This realisation of ‘your essential oneness’ can only be consequent to the complete humility of your ego to accept this knowledge and make it its own belief; because this knowledge is not the mere acceptance of a ‘concept’ or ‘theory’, etc. which may be received by an adjustment of the ego to tolerate, or even to consider this theory or concept or what you will, and still continue unaffected in its (the ego’s) separate and illusory self-existence as something apart from the basic reality of your ‘essential oneness’.

As you can see when you make of this reality your realisation, you implicitly admit the non-existence of a relationship of the ego to the One, or through the One or with the One or in the One or together with the One, etc., except that this ego itself is no longer the ego you have known up to now, but the extension of the ‘ego’ of the One in a single determination, and which is His individuation as you. This is what prompted Rumi to write the Mathnawi, and again this is what constitutes the subject of the story told about Rumi’s conversation with Yunus Emre. The story goes like this: One day Rumi and Yunus Emre met. They had an intimate and very pleasant conversation where Rumi told Yunus of all he had done, reciting to both their delight some of his sublime verse. Yunus Emre was very grateful and highly pleased, but a doubt of personal ability to achieve the same came over him in his utter humility. He remarked aloud: “How true, how lovely; but what a lot of words you have used to say such a simple thing. I could never have done it.” Rumi asked him: “How would you have said it?” Yunus Emre, who was what may be called a ‘Folk Poet’, replied in a couplet:

I wrapped myself in flesh and bones
And appeared as Yunus.
(Ete kemige burundum
Yunus deyu gorundum

What is meant then, is that you as a separate reality do not realise, understand or know anything, or, to tell the truth, exist as such. Can your ego, your nafs, allow you to admit such a premise? Is it humble enough to admit, in all humility, that it does not exist as a separate entity, or apart from being an extension of His ego, exist as such? If your ego does admit this, it has died to itself or in fact has come to life in reality. This then is also Fana and Baqa. Again, this is death in life. However, this realisation should not remain a mere intellectual and reasonable consideration, easily acceptable in consequence to the original premise of the Unity of Existence. If it is only just this, a reasonable deduction and intellectual comprehension of a logical sequence, then a kind of schizoid existence ensues and what is known as ‘realisation’ is never attained.

In fact one does arrive at the truth through a logical and intellectual premise which makes one ‘know’ that one’s own existence is nothing but a determination in a differentiation which is His individuation as oneself; but that which is accepting and admitting this truth is always you in a subjective appreciation of an intellectual argument as the truth. It can go even further if pushed and admit it of itself as a logical consequence. But if the nafs or ego is to apply this reasonable argument to itself as an intellectual premise, it will still retain full autonomy of its separate existence as the judge of the validity of this argument. The ego will appreciate the validity of this reality as an object applicable even to itself but will not allow it to become its own reality, maintaining thereby an individuality of its own which at the same time will intellectually admit that it is an individuation of the One. Two so-called ‘realities’ conflict in the person, one this intellectual acceptance of the truth, and the other the egocentric, emotional individuality of the person denying to itself the natural consequence of its own logical acceptance. And wherever there is an overtone of emotion, there is a cloudy situation, lacking in clarity.

However, when this emotional self-preservation of the ego arrives through the action of humility to an acceptance of sentiment, of a feeling that the truth of the matter is inescapable, the ego finds itself obliged to give way before the clarity of the reason which now fully admits the reality of the matter. This feeling of and for the truth of the matter then takes over the position up to now occupied by the emotion and there is no more room for the continuation of the separate individuality.

The ‘loss’ of individuality is, however, illusory. The realisation of oneself being a differentiation and individuation of the One Absolute Being re-creates in one an individuality which is beyond comparison; unique; since none of His individuations or manifestation are ever alike, nor ever repeated. Therefore the newly realised ‘individuality’ is by all means and considerations more than ever distinctive, gratifying and acceptable to the pride of the ego.

In fact nothing has really happened yet. The ego by effacing itself in humility before the clarity of the reality, has now gained – by admitting the inescapable – further satistaction and further importance, consequently the admitted truth has only intensified the ego.

Yet the admitted truth also includes a premise which relates this newly acquired ‘individuality’ which is His individuation, to the One Absolute Being. Consequently the newly intensified ego now has to see itself, not centrally – i.e. egocentrically – but as an extension or an individuation of the Ego or the Nafs of the One and Only Reality.

On the other hand we know that the Ipseity has imposed on Itself the Nafs er-Rahman, sometimes referred to as the ‘Compassionate Ipseity’, and the consequence of this adjunction and collusion of the Ipseity as the Nafs er-Rahman (the Breath of Compassion). This self-imposition can best be described by the fact that the Ipseity makes of Rahma – the root of compassion and mercy – a qualification of Itself, and assumes for Itself the nafs, the essential quality of the breath of Rahma. It is therefore the individuation or the extension of this very same Nafs er-Rahman which, in its ideal state should be the constitution of the nafs or the ego of the individuated self. Now the person, itself, of the individual, has not only found itself not annihilated by its humility, but on the contrary, has gained in intensity, satisfaction and importance to such a degree that it thinks of itself in the realm of the Divine and assumes pride and grandeur qualified as it essentially is, by the qualification of the Ipseity and the Ipseity of Compassion. But “Grandeur belongs only to Him in the heavens and the earth” (Wa lahul Kibriya fi-samawati wal ardh), we are told. Now the nafs, the ego, must adjust to the correlation of this new factor of which we are reminded. The only way that an adjustment can be brought about is by recalling to mind the two factors, each of which without the other is conducive to shirk, or polytheism. These two factors, which like inseparable twins, have to be taken into consideration always together, are immanence and transcendence.

In transcendence there is all the satisfaction the individual, in his ego, can possibly desire: here it finds grandeur, compassion and the eternity of the Ipseity out of which the ego has extended into his individuation; so long as it keeps in mind its essential unity; its unity in the essence with the One. And this ‘keeping in mind’ of the essential unity is the one and only condition, but also equally a sine qua non, for the self identification of the ego with the Nafs of the Ipseity. This ‘keeping in mind’, then, is no other than our pre-requisite on this esoteric way we are engaged upon – i.e. our ‘awareness’. The moment we lose this ‘awareness’ we can no longer be conscious of our transcendence. In fact that is why one is often reminded of this by the saying: “The degree of evolution of a person is measurable by the constancy of his awareness”.