One seeks out and submits to a master for any number of reasons. Let us cite a few of them:
The disciple is motivated to submit to a master to gain knowledge. After a while, he or she realizes that there is no knowledge to be gained. On the contrary, one embarks on the path in order to be free of knowledge. One who is looking for knowledge is sure to find that there is none to be gained, having undertaken the path for the wrong reasons, failing to understand that
Once I lost knowledge of myself,
I enjoyed all sorts of knowledge;
Lose knowledge, for there are all sorts
of knowledge in this loss of knowledge.
The disciple is motivated to submit to a master because the master fits the preconception of the disciple of what a master should be. Through study one may come to know of the states of masters or become acquainted with active disciples, and thus gain an impression of what a master must be. One submits to the master only to discover, after a few years, that this individual does not fit the preconception one had of a maser. As a result, one ends up leaving the master, and going one’s way. One even comes to rebuke and consequently, deny the master. Such a disciple looks at the master’s domain through the eyes of his own domain, which results in criticizing and ultimately rejecting the master. In reality such a person wanted a master that he or she had concocted in his imagination. As Rumi puts it:
They eat and sleep
in their imaginations
They desire and deny
through their imaginations.
One becomes a disciple in the sole pursuit of Reality. One finds a master without the aid of one’s mind, through the help of God’s guidance, love and attraction, and submitting to the master in complete sincerity. One accepts the master as the master is. One does not impose one’s own expectations on the master, loving the master with all one’s being, so that whatever the master does is acceptable to one.
One is not concerned with the master’s faith or unbelief. Indeed, it has been said that the master’s unbelief is the disciple’s faith. This means to say that whenever the master behaves in such a way that the disciple finds hard to accept, he should still trust the master, not letting it affect his devotion to him.
On this path the disciple’s main capital is God’s grace, where the latter affirms the disciple’s fidelity. As Hafiz says:
I’m devoted to the Magus master,
who frees me from ignorance;
Whatever our master does is in harmony
with the Transcendent.
Disciples like this can be counted on the fingers of one hand in any age, hurtling their beings at the candle flame of absolute Reality, in which they are consumed.
Article taken from Sufi Journal, Issue 54, 2002
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