Lead Article

  • Issue 116 / March - April 2017



    Being on the Way: A Bouquet of Thoughts on the Path to the Divine

    M. Fethullah Gulen

    If these guides happen to be the experienced, knowledgeable,
    and conscientious masters of that field, then, without any hesitation, one
    should follow along on their path, for they always travel on the shortcuts that
    lead directly to their Lord. They know well the peaks that give way and those
    that do not. They search for those horizons in case they need to retreat. They frequent
    the coves of reunion and are always attentive to the echoes of their goal;
    without any distortion or breakage, they pass on these voices to those
    following. They stand firm against any waves or tremors that may hit both
    themselves and their followers during this long journey.

    This journey moves between light and darkness. Along the
    way, one might come across small packages of epiphanies coming from the
    ultimate goal; but it is also possible that all destined rewards be put off
    until the completion of the journey, when one receives a special accolade. 

    During the trip, every traveler is sometimes filled with awe
    by an indistinct ray of light that flashes in the distance. Sometimes, as if
    being tested on the strength of their loyalty, one does not come across even a
    single ray of light their whole life; other times, one witnesses that the roads
    they pass have been illuminated with light all around. Sometimes, one is
    inspired as though they are being watched through unseen blinds, and with awe
    they grow attentive in all their senses. Considering this surveillance which has
    been opened to them by their faith as a sign of growing closer to the Divine Presence,
    one’s excitement and zeal grows even stronger, as in the case of a runner who has
    come close to the finish line. In fact, with the feeling of having joined the
    angels, their excitement grows to such heights that the harmony of the skies
    can be heard in the rhythm of their hearts. 

    During this journey, the manifestations that come to those
    who have understanding and insight are sometimes in the form of sprinkles and
    dew; other times, they are showers. They do not always arrive with the same
    degree, same quality, same color, same dialect, or even the same
    wavelength.  Every rise and manifestation
    throughout the journey is a special gift to every traveler and giver of
    service.

    The gifts are determined, first of all, by the extent of
    one's faith and sincerity, then by the purity of one's horizon, the clearness
    of one's heart, the vastness of one's understanding, and the depth of one's
    metaphysical aspect. Some of these gifts are obvious through their outer packages
    and the instant they meet with one’s senses they transform into gratitude;
    others are packaged with certain motifs and symbols and can only be deciphered
    through the light of attention and insight. Still others crash into the limits
    of the body and physical world and clothe themselves in a black veil; they
    expect us to renew our relationship with God and open the doorways to positive
    interpretations. And while some others make it all the way down to one’s hopes
    – by virtue of the vastness of the Divine mercy – more often than not, they end
    up being imbued by one’s despair and sorrow, and flow as tar into one’s thoughts.
    This is in a way dependent on the victory of either “fear” (khawf) or
    “hope” (raja) over the other, the result of which may change the picture
    of the journey significantly.  

    No matter the wavelength of these gifts, this attitude
    shapes one’s behavior into a certain framework. These warnings and instructions
    happen to come through, and individuals consider the victory of traveling down
    such a road a kind of invitation to reunion. They will certainly wake up one
    day, even if they are in the deepest of sleep. They will hear the call of the
    Eternal that their souls have forever been acquainted with, and will, to the
    end of their lives, run towards this complimentary call.  Like trained athletes ready for action, if
    every hero of the heart sees those nights, where the breeze of Divine
    manifestation blows gently as a pier, a harbor, a kind of launching platform
    for the journey leading to The Ultimate Truth and Ever-Constant, then there
    should be no doubt that the Divine throne of mercy will pour down its
    compliments upon them. 

    Is it ever possible that the Eternally Merciful One, who
    grants compliments to every individual many times above their merit, would
    remain indifferent to those faithful travelers who ardently run towards Him?
    Would He not treat with a particular favor and kindness those who turn towards
    His most special intimacy with their utmost sincerity?

    Actually, even if there were not such a grant of Divine
    compliments, and no one was promised such a blessing, every individual should
    accept their connection with the Eternal Sovereign as an advance given
    beforehand, and, with each new breath of air should, like a hero of faith and
    loyalty, breathe Him in.  One shouldn't
    resort to childlike sulking, saying "Things didn't go as planned; blessings
    and compliments didn't rain down from the sky." One shouldn't grow sad or
    disappointed in a manner fit for characterless and ungrateful individuals. One
    shouldn't be defeated by distances by thinking too much about the hardships and
    length of the journey.

    Instead, one should "overflow like the waters, shed
    tears like Job," setting one's heart on Him and only Him in every place
    one wanders. One should live every moment with the thought of seeing, hearing,
    and knowing Him so that they do not waste their credits worthy of the Eternal
    on attaining certain childlike ambitions; so that they do not narrow through
    their own senses and fancies the vastness that God has bestowed upon them; so
    that by responding to the all-exceeding mercy with an all-embracing favor and
    zeal they are able to fulfill the requirements of the implicit treaty made with
    the Divine. All of this is done in accordance with His greatness and one’s smallness.

    Every individual on this long journey leading to Him may
    sometimes change position due to the elements that give shape to their
    character. In fact, because they may be subject to certain slips during this
    change of position, one may not always be able to maintain their situation and
    may sometimes stray so far off center that they may crash into the most outward
    part of the circle.  It’s possible that,
    while a world full of people are delighting in the showers of Divine
    compliment, they may regard the continuous developments as congestion, the
    conquests as retractions, the ceremonies of victory as a kind of show, and the
    chants of joy as the consolation of the defeated. 

    In almost every period of time, there have been, and there
    will always be, such bewildered individuals who have temporarily wandered away
    from the rest of the caravan. However, most have jumped back into their
    positions near the center, and, with the warmth that comes after a separation
    and longing, they have achieved a brand-new integration and maturity.

    Yet, in order to attain such a spiritual awakening and alertness,
    one cannot approve a willful separation from the group, for every separation is
    a kind of slipping and can, in fact, result in one being caught in an
    irreversible current.  Therefore, it is
    certainly not permissible for one to take up such an uncertain adventure by
    trusting in the thought of being able to horizontally overcome the abyss of
    distance that forms between them and the rest of the people. Though there is an
    aspect in every involuntary lapse and turnover that holds the promise of
    "revival after death," as we have pointed out above, it may not
    always be possible to achieve the desired outcome. I believe that one's
    conscience cannot say "yes" to such a seemingly certain disaster,
    only for the sake of a possible feeling of enlightenment and spiritual
    maturity.

    Even if a person is sometimes shaken in
    their connection with the center, by staying within the community, maintaining
    the path, and following the signs and guides, they may come across certain
    enlightened souls whose gravity pulls them in. They may always stay alive,
    refreshed, and strong by sharpening their consciousness along the road. By
    virtue of moving together with a society that is always advancing, one may feel
    a new joy of revival effervescing in their souls every day, every hour, and
    every moment. They feel it as they jump from one peak to the other, and are
    filled with the desire to move towards the source of light that the sign and
    signals along the road point to.

    Such a heroic traveler will never leave oneself to the wavering
    flow of coincidences.  They reach out to
    those who utilize the innermost consciousness that will not lead to a
    troublesome path. They follow behind the ever serious, dignified, cautious
    leaders whose depths of their souls are visible in the smiling features of
    their faces, line by line. They line up behind the altruistic souls, the heroes
    of fidelity, responsibility, and duty. They strive hard in all their work with
    full sincerity as their hearts beat in palpitations of going forward. As they battle
    with both vertical and horizontal distances to the best of their skills, they
    are in full consciousness of the honors they are entitled. They experience multiple
    dimensions of time as their actions and thoughts are intertwined, and they feel
    they rotate around themselves like the North Star.

    In short, one must have the patience to endure along the
    path. If thoughts of the journey can fulfill the hope of reaching the ultimate
    goal and the role of guidance, the whole group and the individuals acting as
    its molecules will, tomorrow if not today, reach the ocean that the river of
    these conscious and non-conscious groups all flow into. The drops of sweat and perseverance
    on their foreheads will turn into the fountain of Paradise which they will
    drink in. There have been many times where the collective advancing of the
    crowds who outwardly seemed as though they were being dragged on by the
    incentives of the masses rather than their own free will have won many
    victories and reunions they could not have achieved by any individual act,
    owing to the effect of a consciously conducted central plan of action.

    These actions, which may seem still on the outside, are
    constantly repeated along the journey and thus are only able to be
    distinguished by conscious looks: these little motions squeezed into narrow
    spaces; light and quiet progress; these efforts that are appealing to people…






















































































    All of these feature in their apparent shallowness the chilling depths of
    the oceans; in their silence, the movements and vastness of the sky; and in
    their simplicity, the heavenliness of spiritual beings. They will no doubt
    eventually pay off to these heroes at an expected place with surprises that are
    beyond one’s expectations. All of these efforts, struggles, and sacrifices will
    flow and boil, and will come to the right consistency when the time comes. The
    truth for whose sake lives are given will rise like a full moon behind the
    hills in the distance, carrying hundreds of cheerful tidings of dawns that will
    break, slowly rising like the sun that we have awaited. It will smile into our
    eyes and will whisper the prosperity of our lives. It will flow into our beings
    with its beams of light and imbue our features with its own color. It will take
    and blend us into its world.
        

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