Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ibn Ajiba on the Spiritual Virtues (5)

Contentment & Resignation, Vigilance, Self-Reckoning

10 – Contentment (rida) means to meet misfortunes with a smiling face; or it means the happiness the heart feels as fate unfolds; or it means to forgo one’s own free choice and leave things to God’s plan and decree; or it means the expansion of the breast and the absence of any resentment for what comes to one from the One Invincible God.

Resignation (taslim) means to leave all planning and free choice by being still and tranquil as fate unfolds. Thus it is like contentment in essence, except that contentment is greater than it. It is said that the time for contentment is when things actually happen, whilst the time for resignation is before they happen. In this sense, resignation is the same as spiritual abandonment (tafwid). Its beginning is patience and effort; its middle is outward tranquillity despite feelings of resentment and unhappiness; its end is joy and peace without any resentment. The first is for ordinary people, the second for the elite, and the third for the elite of the elite. Even the first stage is not always possible for everyone, because of the human weakness that they, being human, cannot be free of; and thus they are forgiven if they fall short of it.

11 – Vigilance (muraqaba) means constant awareness that God is watching one; or it means to fulfil the rights of God both secretly and openly, without indulging any doubts or delusions, and with complete sincerity. This is the root of all that is good. Vigilance leads to beatitude and determines its power: the more powerful one’s vigilance is, the more powerful the beatific vision he experiences later on will be. Exoterists are vigilant by protecting their bodies from sin; esoterists are vigilant by protecting their hearts from indulging in vain thoughts; the elite of the esoterists are vigilant by protecting their innermost secret from inclining to anything but God.

12 – Self-Reckoning (muhasaba) means to censure oneself from wasting one’s breath and time on anything but obedience to God. It takes place at the end of the day, just as forming one’s spiritual intention (musharata) takes place at the start of the day. One says to oneself at the start of the day: ‘This is a new day, and it will bear witness against you; strive to fill it with that which draws you nearer to God. Had you died yesterday, you would have missed out on the goodness you have a chance to win today.’ One says the same thing as the night approaches, and reckons it when it passes. One continues to do this until he becomes firm in the Presence, whereupon his time becomes unified; this is to drown in the witnessing of the Divine, so that there is no longer anyone to reckon or to chastise. Thus forming one’s spiritual intention comes first, and reckoning oneself comes last; and vigilance must be constant, as long as one walks the path – and when one arrives, there is no longer any reckoning, nor any intention.


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