Rhapsody on the Seven Valleys

In the valley of Search, one seeks out an entrance, looks for some secret that will open the door, like pursuing a person we fancy, trying anything to gain some interest.

Then the eyes that Intended One look toward us, and the realization of possibility kindles a hope that turns the world upside down. What does anything matter now? The Beloved has acknowledged you.

By immersing one’s self in the problem of remoteness and proximity, the differentiation between this world and that – the land of the servant and the plane of the King – becomes more plain. It is seen that time and place are not real, but perceptions of the ego’s experience, like light playing on the eyes. When these two falsehoods fade away, and the vision of the seeker transcends its limitations, then beginning and ending are one; you have already achieved your goal. The Beloved is near enough to be called your own self.

The fish has now returned to the Ocean, and there is no question of “Where is God?” As the perceptive faculties develop, and spiritual vision of faith becomes more real, it is seen how all evidences of distinction proceed from the understanding of the individual, and are not related to the Infinite. In a sense, the world we see is the manifestation of our own ignorance. As we see it, good is contending with evil, and there are always battles. Yet beyond all hindrances of vision, evil is as directly related to the Truth as good.

At this point there is no more striving, and nothing leads astray. Perfect contentment ensues. Where can the lover’s eye turn that he does not witness the beauty of the Beloved? Every breath is a kiss, every breeze an embrace. Whatever his outward condition, such a seeker is content with both life and death. Nothing gives, nothing takes away. His very existence is his bountiful food.

Finally, because he has sated the passions of knowing, the heart of the seeker is prepared to receive. And now from the cold night a fiery dawn emerges, and the spring rains begin to descend from the winter peaks. With all this flooding of light the heart of the lover is thrown about, because he is only a mite in a vast world. Everything he knew was only the beginning of knowledge; and, having thought himself satisfied, he finds that it was only the bliss of ignorance, whereas now he must contend with awe. This is the babe birthing from the womb, and the dreamer awakening. The world he sees now exceeds his imagination.

Through all this, it finally pervades his soul that he is less than nothing – even non-existent. Placing upon himself the cloak of faná, he returns to the Ocean as a single drop, and is gone. Yet, through his form be lost, his essence is not destroyed, and the world still receives his benefit. When a cow defecates in the garden, are we later able to the dirt and say, “Look, there it is?” The form is lost, but the essence remains, and imparts its properties to the soil. So it is that the body has form, but no essence, and the soul has essence, but no form. In trapping our consciousness within the limited frame of our life-conception – which is based initially on our material experiences – we divide ourselves from the nature of our origin, and become like a ray of sunlight buried in a cave. This is illusion. It is we who bind ourselves to that cave through a false sense of requirement, since we are unfamiliar with the nature of things. When we relinquish all feelings of knowledge, and divest ourselves of concepts even as basic as existence itself, our spirit is freed, and we find that nothing was holding there but our belief that we should have been.

Freed of space, the soul is a part now of both sun and earth; freed of time, there is on question of proceeding; freed of knowledge, the prison bars are shattered, and we enter a world where what we had known as nothing was not even so stable as false conjecture; and freed of limits, we resume our place in the Infinite, and there is nothing left but the will of the Creator. Questions of purpose are relative to where, when and why; but to that world, this place is such madness that questions are their own answers. And thus the journey is begun.