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Home > Spiritual Blossoms > Cover Story > Part 3  
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Sai in Switzerland

Part 3: Key to the Secret of God’s Name

"My Devotees are those who remember their Lord while standing,sitting and lying on their sides"

- Glorious Qur'an, 3:191

After all is said, the practical question which many sincere seekers would ask is how one can remember God while standing, which refers to the waking consciousness where both the body and the mind are standing (that is active); while sitting, which alludes to the dreaming consciousness where only the mind is active and while lying down, which is the state of deep sleep consciousness where both the body and the mind are inactive.

"All obligations imposed upon man by Allah are clearly marked and one is exempted from them in the presence of a genuine cause. The only exception is the obligation of dhikr. Allah has set no specific limits for it, and under no circumstances is one allowed to be negligent of it. We are commanded to `remember Allah standing, sitting, and reclining on your sides,' in the morning, during the day, and in the night, at sea or on land, on journey or at home, in poverty and in prosperity, in sickness or in health, openly and secretly, and, in fact, at all times throughout one's life and in all circumstances."

- (the saying of Ibn Abbas as related by Ali b. Abi Talha, in the book "Fiqh us-Sunnah", by as-Sayyid Sabiq)

Remembering Allah while Standing

How do we fill the whole day with the remembrance of God? There is a very practical and easy way of unifying the ‘I’ consciousness with the Name of God during the waking state when the body and the mind are both active. In order to integrate the whole of the waking consciousness with the Name of God, there are a number of steps which we must follow systematically.

Step one: Discover the Primal Sound of Silence in Every Sound and Scene

Aisha said, as narrated by Muslim, that the Prophet remembered God at all times of the day and night.

- Hadith, Book 003, Number 0724

In the earlier parts of this cover story, we have elaborated on how everything in this entire Universe is a vibration of the Primal Sound of Silence, which we call ‘The Name of God’.

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Even when we are in deep sleep -
there is sound within us
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Again, the sounds which all the objects in the cosmos (animate and inanimate) produce are only a variation or modification of the Primal sound of God.

Our body-mind complex is made up of sound, and they produce sound continuously – the sound of the heart beat, the breath of life, the noise produced while eating, bathing, walking, brushing the teeth, or for that matter while sweeping the house or doing other house chores like washing clothes, cutting vegetables, cooking, gardening, and so on; the list is endless.

We must discover and realise that all these sounds are but modifications of the primordial Sound of God; they are actually a resound of the Name of God.

In fact, every sound which our body produces and receives is a call to prayer: a call to remember Allah. But Alas! Do we listen? Do we pay heed?

 

Say, O Muhammad, unto mankind: “I warn you only by the Inspiration. But the deaf hear not the call when they are warned”.

- The Glorious Qur'an, 21:45

Step two: Harmonize and Integrate the Name of God with Every Sound Produced in Daily Activity

“In order to attain purity, it is not enough if chanting of the divine name is confined to a limited period. It has to be a continuous spiritual exercise throughout one's life. Only then will the divine name get imprinted on one's heart. You may attend to your daily routine. But, while attending to your duties in your own house or in the outside world, constantly remind yourself of the Name of God."

- Sathya Sai Baba

The second step is when we harmonise and integrate the Name of God with every sound which our body-mind complex produces during the waking state. First, we must form the habit of waking up with the Name of Allah. The first thought of the day must be “Allah” or any Name which one chooses to call the Primal Sound of Silence.

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The opening verse of Sura Maryam (19th chapter)
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It should be any Name which evokes a strong feeling of Love and emotion in our heart; When we call It, our heart should melt in tears. Our passion for this Name should be irresistible. This is our direct line to Divinity. For, Allah says to His Prophet, (Peace be upon him); “I am just as my devotee thinks I am”. The Name is the line, the Love is the connection. The call is the switch. When we go to bed with this Name and we will always wake up with the Name of God in our heart and on our lips.

Allah said in His Book: "And mention the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with a complete devotion"

- The Holy Qur'an, 73:8

Once we wake up, an action which almost everyone must perform every morning is brushing of the teeth. What do we normally think when we are brushing our teeth in the morning? Are we present to the simple action of cleaning our mouth? Most of us are not ‘present’ because our minds are far away engaged in other affairs. And we are unconscious to the call of God in the sound of the brush. Man is never at home even when he is at home because his mind is always at some other place.

The mind is rarely in the body which is his true home. Man can only experience the Power of the Present when his mind and his body are in the same place at the same time. And the best and most practical way to achieve this is to attune to the sound produced by every action, and harmonise this sound with the Name of God.

"O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance; and glorify Him morning and evening."

- The Glorious Qur'an, 41-42

Then, we come to the action which no human being can ever miss and remain alive – eating. This is the most sacred of all human acts. In the Hindu religion, food is regarded as God - “ Annam Brahma” In the Christian tradition, when Jesus was eating with his disciples during the Last Supper, He took bread and after giving thanks, He gave the bread to His disciples saying: “Take and eat. This is My body”. He then commanded His disciples to always do this in Remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). In this way, Jesus was teaching that the food we eat is His body, and that whenever we eat, we should remember God. Every meal is a Holy Communion in the body of Christ.

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Jesus at the Last Supper
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We must therefore harmonise and integrate the Name of God with the sounds which are produced while engaged in this most sacred obligation. And what are these sounds? They are the clashing and grindings of the molars and premolars, and the tearing and biting of the canines and incisors. Let us listen to the crunches and the chomps, the mastication and the swallowing, and merge the Sound with the Sound of God’s Name.

This means that we have to endeavor to eat our food in Silence. After saying the blessings, the actual eating of the food must be an act in remembrance of the Name of God. And every bite will take us beyond the beat of the sound to the One Who digests the food within us in the form of fire.

“If you talk while taking food, the digestive system will be spoiled. Once the digestive system is spoiled, several diseases will confront you… Most of the children do not know this rule. Take your food in silence in a calm atmosphere. Do not howl, talk, and chit chat. Do not laugh or cry while taking food.”

- Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 35, p.283 (2002)

Could you imagine what will happen when the entire sound-producing activities of the body-mind complex during the waking consciousness are harmonised and integrated with the Name of God! The bath will cease to be an ordinary bath but a shower of Divine drizzles of the Primordial Sound! The walk will no longer be a mere exercise in transporting the body from one place to another, but a rhythm in the dance of Allah’s Name. The very act of breathing is attuned to the Primal Sound of God’s Name and one’s daily duty is converted into a japa (rosary) of God’s Name. It will be ecstasy when every association is spent in the remembrance of Allah and every action is sweetened by the immortal honey of God’s Name.

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It is ecstasy when every moment is spent in Allah
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Dome of the Rock Mosque, Jerusalem
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When we enter the bathroom, we will automatically remember God. Our Bedroom will become a Mosque of prayer and our dinning room a table of Divine communion. A Living Presence of God’s Holy Name will surround us like a heavenly fragrance welling up from the depth of nothingness. An unseen Power will anchor our soul making us feel as if we can fly with the wings of an eagle. Our Heart will be filled with a Divine music which is hidden to the ears of mortal man. In short, our soul will get so suffused with the ethereal Sound of Silence that people will think we have gone out of our minds! And this is true because at this point, the mind is about to drop.

“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Remember Allah as much as you want, until people say that you are crazy and foolish."

- As narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih

Step Three: Awaken the Soul Resonance Within

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The Sound of God reverberates in the heart of Hanuman
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The third stage is reached when the devotee has awakened the resonance of God’s Name in his heart. At the beginning, the remembrance of God’s name will have to be mechanical. In other words, one has to make constant and consistent effort to harmonise and integrate the Name of God in all the actions he or she performs during the day. But a time will come, depending on the intensity of one’s constancy, when the Name of God will begin to repeat Itself within the heart of the Devotee. This is called the Power of Soul Resonance.

The heart will literally reverberate with the Sound of God’s Name. One hears in his inner self the echo of the Divine Name arising from the core of Silence. It is like a song which you like so much. You sing this song often and then after a time, without any conscious effort, you ‘hear’ the song singing itself within you. This is the Power of Soul Resonance. This is the Power of Lord Hanuman who has so much unified His Consciousness with the Name of Rama that every hair in His body vibrated with the Sound of “Ram”.

“With the heart remember Allah, secretly from creation, soundlessly and speechlessly. That remembrance is best of all: out of it flowed the sayings of the saints.

- Sheikh Amin al-Kurdi; The Enlightenment of Hearts (Tanwir al-Qulub ), p. 522

When the Heart is awakened to the Sound of Silence, just like the physical heart would pump blood to every cell and organ in the physical body, the waves of the Divine Name from the Spiritual Heart will invigorate the vital life force of the devotee. And every cell will tingle with the sound of the Name of Allah; every hair will stand like violin strings tuned to the frequency of God’s Name. At this stage, the Heart of the devotee will connect to the Heart of God and to the soul of the soil. Everything will speak to him. The trees, the mountains, the ocean and the sky will converse with him. Beast and birds, fish and reptiles and all the creeping and crawling creatures will talk to him, and he will understand their language. It is the language of the Heart. And every sound will draw him nearer and nearer into the womb of Silence.


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David said - peace be upon him: "I shall praise God with a kind of praise that none among his creatures ever used before." Thereupon a frog called out to him: "Do you pride yourself before God for your praise, while for seventy years my tongue has been moist from remembering Him, and I have eaten nothing in the past ten nights because I kept busy uttering two sentences?" David said: "What are these two sentences?" The frog replied: "O Praiser of Thyself with every tongue, O remembered One in every place!"

This is the stage where the devotee has to develop and deepen the art of inner listening. To listen is to be silent. To be silent is to be aware. This Awareness is the “Living Presence of Allah”.

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Jalaluddin Rumi
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And how do we remember Allah while sitting - that is, when the body is at rest and the mind is awake in the world of dreams? Before we get into this, let’s first wet our spiritual appetite a bit. Let’s stop for a moment and have a little glimpse, nay, a peep into eternity, of someone whose heart has been awakened by the call of Silence, someone whose ego has been burnt by the flames of Love, and someone who embodies in His Soul, the Essence of Islam.

How can one gauge the depth of the Heart of he whom Allah has expanded his heart into Islam? Or how can one understand that which has no stand, or fathom that which has no top or bottom! Who can measure the Heart of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi? He was the perfect Muslim.

His life was so completely transformed into prayer, that everyone who saw him wanted a prayer from him. One night, he spent the whole dark hours in prayer in the mosque. It was the dead of winter, and in the course of praying, he wept so profusely that his beard, wet by his tears, froze and clung to the ground. His disciples had to rescue him in the morning.

‘Wherever I put my head, that is my place of worship. No matter where I am, that is where God is. Vineyards, roses, nightingales, the sema and loving... They are all symbols, the reason is always Him.’

- Rumi


"One day Rumi asked one of his young, snotty disciples to give him an enormous amount of rich and delicious food. This young disciple was rather alarmed because he thought Rumi was living an ascetic lifestyle.

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Rumi meeting his teacher Shams
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Rumi used to pray all night and eat hardly anything. The disciple thought, 'Aha, now I've really got the master — what he really wants to do is to go off somewhere secretly and eat all this food!' So he decided to follow Rumi.

He followed him through the streets of Konya, out into the fields, into yet further fields. Then he saw Rumi go into a ruined tomb. 'I'm finally going to unmask his pretensions,' the young disciple thought. But what he found was a totally exhausted bitch with six puppies, and Rumi was feeding the dog with his own hands so that she could survive to feed her children.

Rumi, of course, knew that the disciple was following him, and turned to him smiling and said, 'See?' The disciple, extremely moved, said, 'But how on earth did you know that she was here? How did you know that she was hungry? This is miles away from where you are!' Rumi laughed and said, 'When you have become awake, your ears are so acute that they can hear the cries of a sparrow ten thousand miles away.' "

- Rumi's World, The Life and Work of the Great Sufi poet

And how did Rumi’s awakening happen?

'A friend is needed; travel not the road alone,
Take not thy own way through this desert!
Whoso travels this road alone
Only does so by aid of the might of holy men.'

- Rumi


Rumi used to teach his students with big piles of books stacked up in front of him. One day a man in rags, blew in from the dessert and rather rudely interrupted the class.

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Rumi with Shams
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He was a sage, and he approached Rumi appearing like a savage. The first thing he did was to seize Rumi's manuscripts and throw them into a nearby tank.

Rumi looked at him in wonder and asked him the reason for it. The seeming vagrant said, 'Haven't you had enough of reading and study? Now, study life instead of a book! All things which seem of importance, what are they on the day when you depart?

What is rank, power and position? A far greater problem is, what will go with you, for, the solution of that problem will lead you to eternity. The problems of this world, you may solve them and solve them, yet they are never finished.

What have you understood about God, about man? What relationship have you found between man and God? If you worship God, why do you worship Him? What is limitation, what is perfection? And how can one seek for it?'

After this conversation, Rumi was so won by him that he wrote down in his diary, 'The God whom I have been worshipping all my life has today appeared before me in the form of a man.”

This seer was the great Shams-i Trabriz. And the first lesson he gave to Rumi was: unlearn all that you have learnt. Rumi realised that it is not learning, but living the knowledge that counts. For, he had read much and had thought much, but he suddenly saw that what was important was not saying, but being.

Rumi had to give up his position as professor at the University of Konya, Turkey, and wandered from place to place with Shams-i Tabriz. After he had followed Shams-i Tabriz for several months with everyone blaming him for this action, one day the Master disappeared. This left Rumi in very great sorrow. On the one hand, he had given up his position and work, and on the other hand, the teacher whom he followed had left him. However, this was his initiation. For Rumi, this was the birth of the soul.

Don't search for the water,
 just get thirsty,
so that the water may arrive,
just as the cry of the
 newborn babe
brings the mothers milk.

- Rumi

 

Why are you so afraid of Silence,
Silence is the root of everything.
If you spiral into its void
a hundred voices will thunder messages you long to hear.

- Rumi

From that moment on, Rumi was set ablaze with the Flames of Divine Love and his soul poured forth this Love in streams of poetry (Contained in his massive spiritual epic called the Masnavi). His poems are so deep, perfect and touching that when one man repeats them, hundreds and thousands of people are moved to tears. They cannot help penetrating the heart. This shows how much Rumi himself was moved to have been able to pour out such living words.

'O sleep, in thee I find the divine bliss. Thou makest patients forget their illness; thou makest kings forget for the moment that they are in a palace; thou makest the prisoners forget for a moment that they are in captivity. What bliss, what joy of bliss when the soul is freed from these limitations, from the presence of the different aspects of life that are keeping it captive!'

- Rumi

When Rumi passed away in 1273 in the full radiance of enlightenment, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Arabs, Persians, Turks and Romans honored him at his funeral, and men of five faiths followed his bier. That night was named Sheb-ul Arus (The Night of Union with the Divine). Ever since, the Mevlevi dervishes have kept that date as a festival.

Remembering Allah While Sitting

Allah's Apostle said, "Do not fast continuously day and night and if anyone of you intends to fast continuously day and night, he should continue till the Suhur time." They said, "But you fast continuously day and night O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet said, "I am not similar to you; during my sleep I have One Who makes me eat and drink."

- Hadith, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 188, as narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri

One would wonder how on earth one could remember God while dreaming. But this aspect of our life is so important and so vast that when utilised properly, the amount of progress one makes on the spiritual path is like making a two hundred years’ journey just in two days.

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'Hug the Name of Allah in the cavity of the heart'
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The reason is evident. The world which we experience in the dreaming consciousness is the storage house of our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is the record of all our past deeds, thoughts, words and emotions. It holds the imprint of all our impulses and tendencies, our past desires and future determinations. It is the seed of Adam’s regeneration and preservation and the driving urge of Eve’s passive and active tastes.

When we gain access into the subconscious mind, a lot of things happen very fast. This is because the world of the dreaming state has an entirely different time scale. Just two minutes spent in the dream world may be equivalent to forty years on the ordinary waking consciousness.

One may fall asleep and start dreaming. Within what looks like two minutes he goes to America, settles down there, marries a wife, builds a house and bears three children. Then, he experiences a bomb blast and wakes up sweating. Hence, the dreaming state is characterized by the absence of time.

Divinize your Dreams

What happens when our dreams are divinised? A whole vast of the subconscious mind is erased with God’s Name! It is like we have a cassette with junk music which we want to replace with spiritual music. What do we do? We simply tape over the spiritual song on it. Then, the old song is not only wiped out but it becomes irretraceable. This is what happens when we divinise our dreams. A large chunk of the storage of our past tendencies, etc, just get wiped out! And one may not achieve this feat in many life times of ordinary waking consciousness. Hence, we must sleep with the Name of God by injecting the Primal Sound of Silence into our subconscious mind.

The Power of Auto Suggestion

This is very simple to do. There is a little gap which separates the waking and the sleeping consciousness. This interval is called the door to the subconscious mind. This is that moment when we are neither awake nor asleep. If we auto suggest the Name of God into this opening, then this Sound of Silence will weave its miracle even when we slumber. The Name will clean and purify. It will scrub and wash. It will churn and remove all the dirt from the inner recesses of our subconscious mind.

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “I was near the House (ie. Ka'bah) in a state between sleep and wakefulness when I heard someone say: ‘He is the third among the two persons’. Then he came to me and took me with him. Then a golden basin containing the water of Zamzam was brought to me and my heart was opened up… My heart was extracted and it was washed with the water of Zamzam and then it was restored in its original position, after which it was filled with faith and wisdom”.

- Hadith, Book 001, Number 0314

How do we auto suggest the Name of God into the door of our subconscious mind? First, we must not fall asleep any how. We must practice the art of falling asleep with the Name of God. After night prayers, there are a number of methods one could employ. For those who fall asleep facing up, harmonising and integrating the Name of God with the breath of life until one falls asleep would be the best. And this does not require any effort. It means that one should relax thoroughly and simply watch the breath as it repeats the Primal Sound of Silence. In a short time, one is carried away in the bosom of sleep. But as he sleeps, the Lord will be working for him even as the mother would clean and feed the baby while the baby sleeps.

Another method which will be appropriate for those who sleep lying by the sides would be to hug the Name of Allah in the cavity of the heart. This is like the hug of Silence. It is a living closeness which one feels with the Reality of one’s chosen Name. “I am as My devotee thinks I am. If he remembers Me in himself, I will remember him in Myself”.

“If you seek to know where the Atma is, it is the Chaitanya (Consciousness) between one state of consciousness and another. This is not easily understandable by all. There is a state which is between waking and sleep. Few know what this state is. We seem to be in the waking state and then we close the eyes and fall asleep. Only the yogis have observed this phenomenon. That which is conscious between the waking and sleeping states is the Atmic principle.

- Sathya Sai Baba, Summer Course in Brindavan, on 29-5-1990

Instead of hugging the teddy bear, we can hug the Name of Allah and sleep in the bosom of His Heart. Even though we cannot see or touch Him, we can feel His Presence, and embrace this Presence in our sleep.

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"Allah" - Illuminating and sanctifying
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With practice, this Presence will grow and become more concrete than the mattress on which our body rests. It is better to hug Allah without images, so that, we experience God from the Heart and not with the head. The Heart is Silence. The head is only a reflection, an image of what is in the Heart. No matter how much we play with a toy elephant, we can never experience the live elephant. This is the difference between the head and the Heart.

A third method would be general. Just as the mother would sing a lovely lullaby to lull the baby to sleep, sleep with a soft and cool background music replaying the holy Names of God. Let this music be a repetition of our chosen and adored Name. We will have to empty our head of all thoughts and connect our heart with the Sound of Silence in the music until we fall asleep.

Once we have been careful to choose an appropriate music, we should not change it when the mind tells us: ‘I am getting bored with the same music all the time’. The mind gets bored, so it wants change. But, the Heart is Eternal; it is changeless. It is full of fun. We have to maintain consistency and constancy with our chosen Name until our mind seeks into our Heart. Then, we will know what it means to laugh without a reason.

 

“Our wakeful state represents the state of activity, the deep-sleep state symbolizes the state of inertia; and the transition between the waking and sleeping states represents the state of equilibrium and equipoise, which is of the nature of the Self.”

- Sathya Sai Baba, Summer Showers, 1990

Remembering Allah While Lying Down

“Allah! There is none but Him, - the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep.”

- The Glorious Qur'an, 2-255

How do we remember Allah why lying down, that is in the deep sleep state?

In deep sleep (that is dreamless sleep) there is no feeling of “I” ness. There is total ignorance or complete darkness. In deep sleep, the self is unaware of itself. We come to know that we enjoyed a deep sleep only when we wake up from it. And after a deep sleep we feel a profound sense of refreshment and peace because during this state the Self remained in itself as itself. This is true Rest. We can attain the rest of the soul only when the body and the mind are totally withdrawn from activity. This happens to us unconsciously when we fall into deep sleep. In other words, in deep sleep we contact Silence in ignorance. But this experience is not lasting because, first, it is experienced in ignorance. And secondly, even though there is no feeling of “I” ness, the “I” still remains alive as a seed impulse waiting to germinate immediately we wake up. But to contact Silence in full awareness is the goal of Islam. To consciously enter into deep sleep is the very essence of spirituality. This means to consciously bring the body-mind activity to a complete stop. In this state one is awake while asleep.

'Your thoughts are the bar behind the door! Set the wood on fire! Silence, heart!'

- Jalaluddin Rumi

In meditation, we consciously enter into deep sleep. When this state is sustained, the seed “I” impulse is annihilated. Just like any seed subjected to a certain temperature would cease to germinate when it is planted, the seed “I” impulse when subjected to the heat of Silence for an uninterrupted period of time becomes dead.

And those whose seed “I” impulse is dead are perpetually asleep. That is, they are perpetually in the state of rest. But because they entered into this state of rest consciously, they are awake in their rest. We can say they are asleep because for them, they do not see the world; but they are awake because there is no other but Allah. They see nothing but Allah; hear nothing but Allah; do nothing but Allah. In this state, “ La ilaha illa allah” becomes a living realisation.

“Our souls are restless until they rest in God”

- St Augustine of Hippo

For those who have attained Islam, (total surrender) the “I” seed impulse is dead, that is, annihilated. So that the three levels of consciousness: waking, dreaming and sleeping are unified into one. These are the Holy Ones who have attained the Unity of Allah.

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St. Augustine of Hippo
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"If the 'I' is cut, one cannot suffer"
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They are eternally at rest because the seed “I” impulse, which is the very cause of man’s unrest is gone. They do not experience suffering or sorrow because it is the “I” that suffers and it is the “I” that gets hurt. They do not experience birth and death, because it is the “I” that is born and it is the “I’ that comes again. To them there is no up or down, no inside or outside, no male or female, no young or old, because the “I” that divides and joins is deceased.

“All are One. Be alike to everyone”

- Jesus the Christ

This is the symbol of Christianity and its essence. When the “I” is cut across, one cannot suffer or die. Jesus never suffered; He never died; because Jesus had no “I”. Jesus went through the way of the cross to teach humanity how not to suffer in suffering, and how not to die in death, by simply destroying the root of suffering and death – which is the ego.

We do not experience pain or suffering in deep sleep because in deep sleep there is no “I’ feeling. We might go to bed with a severe tooth ache. But this pain disappears immediately we enter into deep sleep. Why is the pain not experienced? This is because the “I” is temporally withdrawn. But the moment the “I” wakes up again, the pain returns in full force. But when the “I” is permanently and consciously dissolved in Silence, there can be no experience of pain although one is fully conscious of the pain. They know the pain because they are conscious, but they do not suffer the pain because there is no “I” feeling.

As long as this “I” dominates in one’s life, one will continue to experience the dualities of suffering and release, pain and pleasure, depression and elation, good and bad, birth and death. In fact, one’s happiness is indirectly proportional to the predominance of this “I” in one’s life. When the “I” is replaced by “Allah”, one begins a return journey into Paradise.

Author: Father Charles Ogada, a Catholic Priest of the Order of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers and an ardent devotee of Sai.

End of Part 3

Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Dear reader, how did you like this article? Did it inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories on other pillars of Islam or any other religion? Please write to us at [email protected] We look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions to help us serve you better.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 6 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2008
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