From my heart to yours: you are invited.
Paparan ini pertama kali saya dengar ketika dibacakan oleh penulisnya, Edward Hallinan, saat saya mengikuti program enam bulan pertama di Beshara School, Skotlandia. Dari awal dibacakan hingga akhir, saya luruh.
Edward membawakan paparan tersebut layaknya seorang pecinta yang tengah membacakan surat cinta tentang dan untuk sang kekasih, dengan segala keberadaan dan kerinduan yang teramat sangat.
Hingga sekarang pun, setiap saya merindu untuk bisa ‘mendengar’, saya memutar ulang rekaman paparan tersebut.
Sekitar satu minggu yang lalu, saya tergerak untuk menerjemahkan paparan yang demikian indah ini. Entah kenapa dan entah dari mana ide tersebut muncul. Mungkin bukan saat dan tempatnya bagi saya bertanya kenapa. Rasanya ada pesan yang ingin, perlu, dan mendesak untuk didengar — oleh saya; oleh kita semua.
Tentu, apa yang saya tulis ini masih bisa terus disempurnakan.
Semoga dapat didengar dan dinikmati sebagaimana mestinya.
I have been supporting Nila Tanzil Petersen in her amazing initiative to set up community libraries in the remote areas in eastern Indonesia, named, Rainbow Reading Garden (Taman Bacaan Pelangi) since its inception.
But it wasn’t until two years ago, when I went with her and another friend, Metta, to Flores to visit the libraries, that I realised what she was doing. The one in this picture is the library about an hour from Labuan Bajo town, which is an hour by smaller plane from Bali.
Poem from the chapter on
‘The Wisdom of Elevation and Prophecy in the Word of Jesus’
From Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam
As for the spiritual bringing to life through knowledge, this is luminous, sublime, eternal, divine life about which God said, “Or whoever was dead and we brought him to life and we made for him a light with which he walks among the people”( Q. 6:122). Anyone who revives a dead soul through the life of knowledge, with regard to a particular question relating to the knowledge of God, has brought him to life by it, so it is for him a light with which he walks among the people, that is among those resembling him in form.
Were it not for Him and were it not for us
that which is would not have been.
We are truly servants
and God is our master;
And we are the same as Him. Know this
when you say ‘human being’
And do not be veiled by human being.
He has given you proof,
So be the Real ( haqq) and be creation (khalq)!
You will be, through God, All-compassionate.
Nourish His creation through Him,
You will be a “refreshing repose and reviving scent.” (Q.56:89)
We give Him that by which He appears in us,
and He gives to us.
The affair becomes shared
between Him and us.
He gives life to the one who knows my heart
when He gives us life.
In Him, we were beings
and potentialities and moments.
In us, it is not always so,
but only so at times.
Translated from the Arabic by Cecilia Twinch
Have you ever looked back in life and been in awe of how you’ve gotten to where you are? Isn’t it amazing how life turns out to be how it is? We wonder how we can meet so and so, arrive at certain places, and end up doing such and such.
We call it by numerous names: Luck, intuition, gifts, chances, blessings, serendipities, coincidences, etc. But I’d like to think that life is what it is meant to be. There is something that has purposefully led us to be where we are.
Recently, I was told, it is our feet.
One question I had before the first day of Ramadhan this year was: what does the word mean, Ramadhan? Well, other questions followed: Why do we (read: I) fast during Ramadhan? What is the meaning behind the fast? So I started to Google.
Understandably, there were a lot of hits on the word. Too complicated. Rather puzzling, I must admit. I read on. Let what sink in me sinks.
And what sinks was the word “fast” itself. The Arabic word for “fasting” is siyam, which means, to leave something or to avoid it. The obvious was abstinence of appetite (eating and drinking) and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk.
A second level, the fasting for the select few, as Al Ghazzali puts it, is that of keeping the ears, eyes, tongue, hands, feet, together with all the other sense free from sin. (“sin”, now that’s another interesting word to contemplate on.)
Even ‘higher’, is the fast of the elite, which is the fast of the heart from bad thoughts, worldly worries and anything else that may divert from anything but thoughts of Allah.
At this point, I thought, “wow, now how do I do that?” An ironic question, as the answer seems to be the exact opposite: The reality of fasting, according to Ibn ‘Arabi, is non-action, rather than action. It consists of abandoning things that break it. I suppose the word “siyam” gives the obvious clue: to refrain.
That is a word that has been so attractive to me for some time: to refrain. Perhaps because I have been moving so much most of my life. And I feel that somehow there is a better way. Non-action is far more attractive to me than action. Not in a lethargic sense, but more on a stillness meaning, to simply be and to allow whatever wants to arise arises. To me, this means allowing Him to express Himself fully through me and through things around me. To fill this heart with the Light of God.
How wonderful it would be if we (read: I) could achieve this: To empty our heart from other than Him. And that is the only thing we need to do: to refrain, to empty ourselves. To refrain from everything that may divert our focus from Him. When it is empty, then God obliges Himself to fill our heart with Light.
And when that happens … I bet you, one cannot help but being grateful and praise Him (whoever Him means to you).
No wonder the Koran gives such a high value to fasting in Ramadhan, the month when the Koran was first brought down to the Prophet Muhammad as “guidance for all” (QS 2:185) and that fasting may raise our spirituality, bring us ‘closer to God’ (here’s another contemplation, what does “closer” mean?)
I am a long way from there. But I do find what Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani says about this refraining exercise as practical tip, “Everything except Allah Almighty and His Pleasure must be put out of your heart. Every time you are by yourself, you can look into your heart to see if you are with your Lord or with someone or something else.”
It is indeed a good tip/exercise, every time I look into my heart, what do I find there?
All of my notes are more my notes for myself. And this one is no different. It is a beautiful reminder and invitation for me. As Bulent Rauf, the consultant of Beshara School, put it, an honest appraisal of self, which will lead to humility and realization of our place in this world and how to be.
To find that place in the middle and stay there, stay very still. To return.
Picture was taken from here.
One regular activity that I am so looking forward for during the week is the Fusus Al Hikam class at Paramadina, Pondok Indah, Jakarta on Wednesday nights.
I feel like I always receive something every single time I attend the class. It serves as a weekly reminder for me. A special invitation to go inside myself and to reflect on what is going on within me at that particular moment.
I have been meaning to share with you the stories. But so far I cannot think of a way to share it, in a way that you may see what I see; in a way that I can help you feel and understand what I feel.
Then I thought, why not. Let’s just do it. Share.
Last night we conversed about Moses—the third last chapter of Fusus. It was actually the sixteenth week we conversed about Moses.
This morning a friend asked: so what do you take from last night? (Thank you by the way, for reminding me to write this post).
It is through such abundance of love that He gives. He gives us what we need most at any particular situation, every single time.
Moses is one of His Chosen Ones. God has brought Moses close to Him. When Moses was walking at night in the desert, he was cold. Moses’ body needed warmth. Moses’ soul was looking for the essence of warmth.
God revealed Himself as what Moses needed most at that time: fire. To warm Moses’ body and allow his soul to feel the warmth that he was yearning for. He becomes what he desire and the essence of desire.
God gives us what we need. In Moses case, what he needed was what also what he wanted, as he is always aligned with God’s Will. For us, what we need may not necessarily what want, and vice verca.
Yet God still gives. He does not give up on us. We just don’t realize it. We just don’t know. That’s when faith comes in.
We pray with certitude that God is listening (the question is do we listen?). We pray with certitude that He is the Best Arranger. We pray with certitude of God’s compassion.
I am talking about the kind of prayer that is more than just what we utter with our lips. Every single cell can utter the prayer. Every thought, every feeling, every action is a prayer, a request. Hence, prayer is a way of being: let’s live with certitude of His Compassion.
If and when we truly believe this with all our heart, when the longing in our soul for Him is so strong, our soul, our desire (towards Him) will move us. We shall seek and, God willing, He will guide us.
I remember another conversation on Christmas Day 2008 at Chisholme, Beshara. A friend asked: what do you want for Christmas? He then rephrased it: What do you want for Christmas, knowing for certain you are going to get it?
That left us—at that time—with some questions: How certain are we of God’s generosity? When we ask, how certain are we that He listens and responds? Are we really listening to the response?
I shall end this note with the quote from Sayyid Husayn Nasr: “At every moment of the day, we have the choice of either forgetting God and remembering Him.”
We have this option, every single second of our life.