Why bother?

The recent post of words from Abul Hassan Kharqani emphasises that if we attain to the presence of God, it is not ‘our’ attainment, but a union bestowed by Him. We might wonder, then, whether it really matters whether we do our spiritual practices. When we first receive instruction regarding a routine of exercises, we usually show some discipline, and keep a regular rhythm, at least for a while. Then for various reasons – perhaps we move away and lose contact with our spiritual community, or life becomes more demanding – the glow fades and we become progressively more irregular practitioners. It is very common to hear students say something like, “Well, I haven’t really been doing my exercises. Most mornings I do say the Invocation when I get up, but I don’t have time for the rest.” And given the observation from Abul Hassan that ultimately it is God who grants our fulfilment, does this neglect really matter?

Assuming that we can leave our progress in the Hand of the Divine, though, is similar to reasoning that we don’t need to wash, since when we leave this world someone will wash our body anyway. We keep clean on a daily basis for the simple, practical reason that it is more agreeable, both to ourselves and others, and better for our health, and this same principle applies to our spiritual practices. Whatever guidance we have been given is meant to help us unfold, so that life can be lived more fully. Disregarding that advice means living in a cramped little cupboard instead of roaming freely through a spacious and light-filled home. Perhaps some will say, ‘Well, this cupboard has what I need,’ but they do not recognize the happiness they could know by making the effort to unlock the cupboard door.

There is another aspect to the question, one which only becomes evident when one begins to awaken spiritually – for we must remember that to be good is not the same as to be spiritual – and that is to consider our responsibility toward the Divine. To the unawakened, ‘God’ is a distant concept, problematic and difficult to fit into our daily life, but when one has had even a glimpse of the spiritual world, the picture frame shifts and one begins to seek closeness in whatever way one can. Then the center of one’s existence changes. That is the lesson in another recent post, of the Sufi who fell asleep after forty years of vigils, and was granted a vision of God while he slept. He was told that if he had not been so diligent in his vigils, he could not have received the divine Visit.

The true seeker does not engage in commerce – we do not think that by our practices we can buy our way into Consciousness, for the Truth is beyond any price – but we willingly give ourselves away in our practice, and that is a great relief to the suffering of the soul. What is more, we can be sure that God is observing every effort and if that is pleasing to the Divine, we can be content. In Vadan Alapas, we find : “…love is regarding constantly
the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved
. …it is love that teaches man:
Thou, not I.


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