Out of the Way

From Heart Dweller © 1973 A-Hameed Ali – All rights reserved

Drunk in the ocean of love
I tell myself
“I want to give!”
“Get out of the way,”
A voice says.
And I melt into the ocean
There to remain
No traces of an I,
Only two open eyes
Revealing all
Hiding nothing
Intending nothing
Wanting nothing
Only looking,
And an overflowing spring
Of sweet nectar
That flows unhindered
Up the channel
And through the eyes
Sweetening the air
And blessing what is there.
Giving is not a desire
For it is in surrender.

Yes, get out of the way, vanish, evaporate, just disappear, and the glory of the sun will fill the universe with its splendor. You are in the way, all of the time, and you say: “I want to reach the Sun, I want to see the face of God.” But you are the veil, you are the curtain that is hiding the precious pearl. And what you need to do is to get smaller and smaller, thinner and thinner, until there is nothing left but the radiance, the brilliance, the majesty, the glory of Him, the sun of Reality.

I work, I remember, I pray, I chant, I meditate, I observe, I disidentify, I analyze, I process my negativity, I suppress expression of my negative emotions, I do this and that. But it doesn’t work. I become clear, I lose my negativities, I become warmer, more loving, pleasant to be with, happy, free, whatever. But still, I am still the same, on the same level, estranged, alienated, cast out from the palace of the High King. And I keep working, getting clearer and more loving. I see my illusions and my emotional patterns. I have insights into this and that. But still I feel this discontent, this divine affliction, this longing for the Beloved, the only Friend, the only Remedy. For:

The Beloved has been seen
And the lover will never go to sleep.
His heart burns incessantly
Longing for the river of Kauther.

No amount of psychological or spiritual work will take me to His presence. I get so frustrated, so discontented, so angry with myself. I feel I don’t know what to do. There is nothing that I know that does any good. I am still discontented, estranged, alienated from Reality. I give up. I let go of my efforts, of my high aspirations. It’s hopeless.

At this very point, at this moment of despondency, something happens. The doors of my heart are flung open and I am showered with grace. My heart dances with joy, full of sweet gratitude. My tears run like streaming rivers. I remember. I see what I have been doing, going the wrong way. I feel great sorrow for myself and others that we always go the wrong way.

To Him
The most bountiful
I turn
To renew
My covenant
And expand my efforts,
But I can do only so much.
Only His grace,
The most merciful
Brings me closer
To his velvety light.
And the merciful light
Into soothing water turns
Washing my grateful heart
And purifying my thankful body.
All of creation melts
And becomes equally satisfying
Washed by rose water,
The fluid contentment
With which He fills my heart.
Everything becomes part of the sky
Washed with gentle rain
And cooled with loving breeze
When He allows me to bathe
In the fountain of Salsabil.

It happens only when ‘I’ don’t do anything, when ‘I’ does not want anymore, not even the presence of the prince of Reality, for the son of Reality can exist only by Himself. “He is one, absolute, eternal. He begat not nor was he begotten. And no one is equal to Him,” says the Koran. It’s so absurd, and it’s of the utmost vanity for ‘I’, my ego-self, to want to be in the presence of this illustrious Truth. For the ego, the ‘I’ is what is blocking the light of the Sun from shining. ‘I’ says, “I am God,” all the time. ‘I’ says, “I want to be enlightened,” all the time. But assertions of ego serve only to block the divine energy, to veil the radiance of the Sun of Reality. God means absence of ego, nothing more and nothing less. It’s either God or the devil. The presence of God, by its very nature, blots out the existence of the devil, the deceiver. And Shaitan, the deceiver-deceived, wants you to believe him, to follow his way.

I fall in love with Sweet Honey, a beautiful woman. Her golden energy reminds me of the golden energy of the Sun of Reality at the center of my Heart. I am beyond myself with joy, love, ecstasy. She is luminous, precious, and so is everything and everyone. My heart opens and breathes the breath of God. But only for a short while. Then I start wanting her body, her love, her attention. And not having her feels like the coming of the dark. I am torn by attachment and craving. I forget that she is only an expression of the divine presence, that her body is only the form for the formless one. I forget the only Reality, and I start running after the illusion, the satisfaction of my desires, the gratification of my neediness and craving. And in the midst of all this emotional excitement, the preciousness of the present is lost; the reality of her as a human being embodying the truth is gone.

Hallowed Thy name
All gratitude is to You,
The most generous.
Once again
You shower me with Thy Grace
And give me a blessed opportunity
To get nearer to You.
You show me Your luminous countenance
In Your beautiful creation
In her
Sweeter than honey.
Forgetful of gratitude
And thankfulness for Your Grace
I desire to possess the container
And crave for the form.
Now that You appear to me in her
Now that the form is holy,
I begin to forget Thy radiance
And instead worship the golden calf.
My heart’s eye is more open
And sees more than before,
How I choose to follow the evil one,
Believing his promises
Of the succulent fruits.
You have given me the chance
Many times before
And I always believed the evil one
And sought to follow his counsels
And his messengers
Of desire and passion.
I always turned my face away
From You
From the light
From love.
And chose to believe in Shaitan
The deceiver,
And chose to defile love
And turn it into blind passion
Of a hungry ghost,
Forgive me my sins
Have pity on me
Make me see only Your luminosity
Make me oblivious to the form
Consume me with Your fire
Extinguish me with Your nectar
Annihilate me with Your light,
Oh Lord
The most merciful

And this is sin. Sin is not an evil deed. Sin is not going against the commandments of a judging and punishing God. It is just ignorance, forgetfulness. It is forgetting God, our true nature, and not listening to the divine call, because we are deceived and tricked by the devil, our ego. But ego is not a reality; the devil does not really exist. The devil is ignorance, is not knowing, is conditioning, is preconceptions. Sin is siding with the devil, because we are deceived by his promises and temptations. And siding with the devil is the same as turning our back on God. The two actions are identical; there is no cause and effect here. God does not punish us; it is the devil who does that, for the devil is really a state of deficiency, disguised as a promise of paradise on earth.

But still, even the devil, the personal ego, is part of the universal plan. Ego does not know for whom he is working. It’s true, by believing the devil we go astray, we go the wrong way, the opposite way, away from the light. But still, even that is in the law, and one is bound to arrive home, to the abode of Truth. All desires are really reflections of the one desire, this truest aspiration; to fly back to where we belong, just as the falcon will always go back to perch on the arm of the King. The heart of each desire, the very center of craving, is really the desire for union, the longing for the return to our natural state that we sense. Since it is a reflection, it is upside down, inverted. Yet it reminds us, and beckons to the higher desire, to the virtue of the love of Truth. We always feel this lack, this discontent, this suffering. It’s true we interpret it in many ways, attributing it to all sorts of emotional and physical sources, but nothing will quench this thirst except the real water, the water of life.

We go about fumbling in the dark, for we do not know. We have lost the knowledge of the way back to the origin, but we are always looking for our way back, regardless of what we are doing. We don’t even have to know this. We might be seeking riches, we might be seeking pleasure, we might be seeking power and fame, but the devil is not aware that he is in reality the servant of God, that ego is the stepping stone to the Throne of Reality. This is the natural way, it is in the law.

“Oh Lord, everything I do is to get closer to You. I might do right, I might do wrong, but I only want You, to be with You, close to Your presence. Everything I want to know is to get me closer to Your mercy. Everyone I love is to remind me of You, a reflection of Your countenance. I only want Your fire, Your light, Your love, Your mercy, Your pity. I hurt myself, I hurt others. I argue and pretend, all for You, all out of my frustration of not being with You. How can a lover feel when the Beloved is far away? There is nothing in the world that I want, only You, the rose of truth. You are my heart’s desire, You are my only goal, my one aim, my only wish. All other desires, all other aims, are only pale reflections of the only one, real, true desire and wish; to be with You, to see Your face, to burn in Your fire, to vanish in Your light, to drown in Your water, to be buried in Your earth; to be close to You, to be accepted as Your lover, as your servant, as Your slave, as Your worshipper, as the dust You walk on.

Oh Lord
I don’t know,
I don’t know how I sinned
And what I did
To be separate from You.
Oh Lord
Have pity on your servant,
Only Your mercy I want
Only to be with You
Oh Lord
Have pity
Remember me
Your grieving servant.

I am ignorant. I don’t know Your ways. Oh Lord, guide me to Your abode, show me the way to Your feet. My knowledge is limited, my ways are finite. I can burn, I can suffer, I can love; but only Your mercy can cool my heart, only Your gaze can give contentment.

Oh Lord
I only ask for Your peace
Oh Lord
I only beg You for Your forgiveness.”

So real Work is not psychological processings, is not spiritual exercises, is nothing that the “I”, the personal ego knows or can do. The ego has to only stop, quit the game; not act, not want, not grasp, not strive; just stop, vanish from the picture. And this is a very different level of action than what we call Work. The real Work is surrender, and it happens when I stop what I usually call working; for working is still ego trying to get something, trying to go somewhere; which is an expression of greed and deficiency. And ego’s actions can only fill the emptiness we feel as a consequence of being estranged from the Garden of Reality. And God, the true essence of what is, is like a jealous person. He will show Himself only when the house is totally empty, totally purified, totally vulnerable. Then, and only then, will the garden of Reality bloom and fill the emptiness. So you have your choice. Do you want to fill your emptiness with whatever garbage you have been accumulating, or do you want to get out of the way, and allow space for God to fill you with the gold of Truth?

Chapter 4 - Essence>>

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