The Best Translations
The best translations
Are from the author himself
He knows what he had in mind
That is why it is so important
To listen to your heart
“To ask for a purely intellectual proof of the existence of God is like asking for the privilege of being able to see with your ears.”
For various reasons, God is a controversial issue. I am an ex-atheist. I understand reservations that stem from that end. But I have to say, the anti-God atheists (as opposed to those with a live and let live attitude) have it easy, in that a lot of “religious” folk are embarrassing to be associated with. But it cuts both ways. The born-agains and the dinosaur/human co-habitationists who knock on your door are indeed to be criticized, on the grounds of they can’t see subtlety. Black and white is the name of their game; cartoon is their reality. Paint by numbers cartoon. (I clarify, so as not to disparage the true arts).
But often while ridiculing this incapacity for mentally manipulating subtlety, these anti-God atheists make the same mistake themselves, with a careless lumping together of all who believe in “God,” and then extrapolating down to the lowest common denominator and declaring that this is what this God business is about. And then they laugh at their funny looking straw man caricicature. And mind you, these are people who every day treat their children with love, their friends with kindness, and everyone with a smile of tolerance.
So I would say to these people, have a care. Use your famous better ability to discriminate and understand that others have a different view of “God,” which you by your own behavior have signaled you would not ridicule. To which, in fact, you are dedicating your life.
This is because to me and other Sufis, God is best defined by His or Her manifestations, since what lies beyond that is by definition infinite and so inherently ungraspable.” It’s kind of like the test for HIV. You see, they can’t find the HIV, it doesn’t show up anywhere. What they detect is the body’s key-in-a-specific-lock antibodies which would not be there if there were no exposure to HIV. And similarly, we know the presence of God by God’s fruits: of love, of kindness, of tolerance.
Let me tell you then my definition, my concept of God. And of course it’s absurdly off the mark. We’re all, with our finite minds, off the scent, which is why Inayat Khan so constantly emphasized the use of the imagination, as the means of seeing God. It’s like poetry really, where the poet has something to share, largely perhaps a feeling in her heart, and so, impossible to put into words. But one can point to it with metaphors, you can dance to it and this works especially well when you turn the whole thing into a sort of music. Now you see, I am doing it. Even the best poet cannot put “God” into words except by the power of a suggestion that can insinuate itself into your heart and find a matching key, a proof of brotherhood. And that is what poetry is: the attempt to express the inexpressible, as some famous person said (I forget who). And so yes, I am resorting to poetry. But what do you expect from a poet?
But I do confess I have a fascination with the amusement afforded by metaphysical speculation. Using the mind to try to sort out issues like this. So I will now tell you what I personally mean by “God.”
Well, it’s hinted at by the invocation of Hazrat Inayat Khan (The founder of Sufism in the Western world):
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
I guess what bothers atheists the most is the concept of God having a personality, of having powers, of granting wishes, the stuff really of fairy tales. But how do we know the very existence of fairy tales isn’t an antibody-sign of reality of the principle behind the metaphor? (The reality being that there are indeed miracles, sophisticated miracles, much beyond these toy ones)
I will tell you this, I find it an incredibly fascinating concept, to think that love can have power. Inherent power. That love can coalesce like how interstellar gas turns into the central locus of a star, and can manifest as a personality or at least a power that reflects any and all objectively different personalities but which are all animated by the same light. And instead of complaining, the atheists should be thanking God for making everything so bloody interesting. And you know, that if God ever made God obvious to the mere mind, (and thus satisfy the atheists) God would then be ridiculed. And by the very atheists who had demanded the display of proof. And justly so. God just can’t win with this mindset. Hence the intense historical emphasis on the value of faith. It sure does save a lot of time, effort, and spurious analysis.
God be with you,