Master Series Background: Over about a 12 month period back in 2013-14 Shahabuddin shared his commentary on four Past Masters with Ibn Arabi being the first. The other three in the series are Al Hallaj, Jelal-ud-Din Rumi and Farid-ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds. His commentaries are framed by Pir Vilayat’s 1970 paper of these Masters. They were filmed at the Sarasota retreat center, usually in the late morning after he had met with the retreatants. Transcription Notes: Most of Shahabuddin’s words from the video appear in the order he spoke them in his video commentary. Also Pir Vilayat original paper in its entirety is interspersed as half pages among that text
Shahabuddin: Al Hallaj means ‘the tailor’. But Mansur means ‘the victorious’. So here we have Mansur, ‘the victorious’, and we have Al Hallaj, the tailor. This humble guy sewing material. What was his realization like and why did they find it so necessary, so powerful, that the Muslim hierarchy had to react by executing him. Mansur was a great defender of the law. One that understood the principles of the law laid out by Mohammed, and yet he was killed in a very painful way because they said he went outside the law — such an annomilty.
Eternality of God: What Mansur gave to us, such a powerful gift that it still resounds today, what he gave was ‘the eternality of God‘ and the ability of the human being to go on ‘beyond the limitation of death‘. In a way it was fitting Al Hallaj it was fitting he would be put to executed because he couldn’t be executed for he had gone beyond death. And the only way to prove it to those who could see was to die. Which he did. The body died. And his presence became even that much stronger. Here is the guy, that everybody looked to, that knew the law and they were executing him for going around the law but actually he had risen above the law . . . HIK has this beautiful statement, “Above law is Love.”
That State of Oneness: This line of Pir Vilayat’s is so clear, so powerful. “Thus this law of the cosmos demands of the initiate, to the one who says I am on the path now, I am seeking awakening. That this initiate, thus the ‘i’ consciousness, the ego ‘should be penetrated’ by the God Consciousness / the super-ego of God. So when I am in my ‘i’ consciousness and I say I am one with God, I am really am a blasphemer. I should be executed, in the sense that life will begin to ostracize me form its core, from its source. And I will be an exile. But if I wait and wait and wait . . . until it is the infinite speaking through me and there is no place for me to be exiled to, for I am in that One State. So right now in sitting here even though I am very high and full of love, would I say God and I are One? No, I would not. Because I am still very conscious of the me’ness, the small ‘i’ . . . I might be so daring and say, a little piece of me might want to go on record as saying that this little piece is infinite.
Page One: Pir Vilayat’s original paper from 1970
God Alone Testifies: The words Mansur said as he was being crucified, as he was dying he said these words, “It is sufficient for the lover of God; for the knower of God ; for the friend of God — That God alone testifies to the unity with the Friend, with the Lover, with the mystic. So Mansur was saying, “All of you who are still in duality it means nothing to me, even if you agree with me . . . it means nothing. The only thing that has power is when God alone testifies and says, Ana al-Haq — I am Truth — through the lips of the real friend, the real believer.
The Zikr: In a sense when the sufis say zikr, this affirmation of unity, nothing exists but God, the very fact of them, of us saying it, is affirmation of our duality. Yet it is leading us on the path to unity. It is when we are not there and it is said by every cell of our being. When it is not even our own breath repeating the zikr but the breath of God that’s when we are really capable of saying it. up until then we are in contradiction. And it is a very odd thing, its like the one who gets into a spiritual state by taking a drug or substance of some kind. They are in this state of ‘highness’ of one kind or another but somewhere in their being, there is the voice that says, “Yes, but you got there by taking a substance. You got there by being a dualistic mode.” When we do zikr, not that zikr is a drug but there is something saying to us, “Yes, but ‘You’ said the zikr, you, ego consciousness, you are still dualistic. But there is an opportunity here to go beyond that. When you are not saying it then you are in the state of unity.
Pir Vilayat Remembrance: And I remember Pir saying he met this dervish, when he was a young, young man, and he was about to give seminars. And the dervish said to him, “Only speak that which you cannot say. Only say that which you cannot say, if you can say it. Don’t say it. It is not worth saying.“ It means, only say that which is begin said by God through you — That’s worth saying. “Only when we are entirely extinguished can God testify to God’s unity through us.” Only when we are not there.
Wahid and Ahad: Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t live life. We should really live life but we should understand the life we are living. That is not just a school but an interplay between forces that are moving — Towards Unity. Me sitting in this chair I am not at unity. I am moving towards the one, towards unity. That is the great gift of life. God wished to experience itself. And to experience itself, it separates itself from itself. So we learn to move towards unity. To die before death as the sufis say. So we are here as the living dead. We are here fully alive but not being pulled by all the forces of duality but by having our consciousness being aware that ideally we are the force that is bringing all of these dualities into a state of unity. This for the sufis is the difference between Wahid and Ahad. Wahid means unique in that all of manifestation is one. And we are moving it towards oneness. Ahad is just the absolute one — no duality at all.
Dark Night of the Soul: Now I want to end this session with this very interesting moment Mansur Al Hallaj had when he was being crucified. As he was dying he screamed out, “Deceit. Deceit. There is Deceit here.” And it was in that moment that the dualistic Mansur had to confront the Unity. And the resolution cannot exist within the confines of the human mind. This is what the mystic call, ‘the dark night of the soul’. When the pain produces an insight into the dance, the real relationship between the absolute and the relative. And we would believe in our rational way that the relative disappears so that the absolute just is but — No the relative stays with all of its complexity, absurdities and questions. And doubt. And Fear. In the presence of The Absolute. It doesn’t make sense and that throws the mystic into the dark night when they have to reconcile that which cannot be reconciled. There is no answer. Those that seek for answers end up going insane. There is no answer. The pain and the suffering — there is no answer that can satisfy just the relative. It is the acceptance of this paradox that brings one out of the dark night otherwise one dwells on these questions — How could a God of love and compassion create such pain and suffering? Why is it always the innocent? Why is it always the children? Why is it the simple ones who are often the cause of disasters/wars? Why is it the civilians that are the casualties of war? Why are there famine where there are those who have die of hunger, famine. These questions that go on and on. These questions cannot be answered by the relationship of the relative and absolute. Only by the inner reconciliation that comes about at the end of the dark night. When the light begins to dawn. And it is not an answer that can be expressed. It is only an answer that can be experienced.