Monday, May 29, 2006

Sufism and Gratitude

Many people who join Sufi groups look for an ecstatic experience, believing that this is what brings us closer to the Depth. Although ecstatic experiences, such as whirling and long periods of dkihr are necessary to reach a transcendent, and thus open, state of mind, they should not be the only spiritual exercises in Sufism.

Sufis also work at the deep “geological” level, affecting deep changes at the soul level. The profound beginning and end of Islam is an existential state of surrender. How do we achieve that? How do we simply give up before the Divine, surrendering our complete being, to the Source?

According to the Rose Crescent tradition, the first Sufi step on the path of surrender is cultivating the feeling of gratitude.

The Prophet taught us to pray five times a day. Do we remember to be thankful at least five times a day? Do we await the rising of the sun (Fajr), standing before it in all its golden glory and, together with the birds, sing songs of thankfulness to Allah? Do we whisper our gratitude when it is overhead at its zenith (Zuhr), and when the sun is on its descent and half way towards the horizon (‘Asr)? Do we glorify both Creator and creation at the sunset (Maghrib), and give thanks for our life, our loved ones and all beings before the moon in its many manifestations (‘Isha)?

Or are we burdened by feelings of bitterness about life?

Our inner soul is like a garden. Gratitude is the healthy soil from which the tree of paradise will grow, and the birds of heaven will come to roost. Without it no amount of ecstatic utterances will help.


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