Second part of the whiff
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Glory be to God. How thin is the veil between the outer and inner, invisible dimensions of existence. And yet how great is the distance between them. How short, yet long, is the way between this world and the Hereafter. How fine, yet thick, is the veil between knowledge and ignorance. How transparent, yet dense, is the space between belief and unbelief. How short is the distance between servanthood to God and rebellion, despite their being as far apart as Paradise and Hell. How short is life, yet how great is ambition.
Likewise, between yesterday and today there is a thin veil that cannot prevent the spirit from passing and penetrating into yesterday and even beyond. For the body, however, this distance is so great that it would take a year to travel through it. The veils between the outer and inner dimensions of existence and between the world and the Hereafter are thin and transparent for people whose hearts and spirits are alive and awake, while they are extremely thick for those who obey their carnal selves and bodily desires.
Similarly, there is a fine interval between your night and day: your “eyelid.” When you open the eye of yourself, your night disappears and your day shines. But if you forget what you are, you fall into permanent night. When looking at the universe for the Almighty’s sake, all that is seen becomes a (source of) knowledge; when doing so from heedlessness and material or natural causes, all that is seen as knowledge becomes sheer ignorance.
Between the illumination of the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) and its being in thick darkness at night, there is a moment as short as switching the lights on or off. The flash of lightning and its disappearance occur almost simultaneously. The sky darkens and is cleared, in rapid succession, by a breeze of mercy. One who sees with the light of belief and belief in Divine Unity sees the universe as filled with light and friendship, mutual love and affection, and all things and beings in it as amiable, living brothers and sisters. But one who looks with unbelief sees all things and beings as dreadful corpses and strangers hostile to one another. Such a person also sees the universe in veils of darkness, and oneself in a deep sea covered by waves, above which are clouds. When he or see stretches out a hand, it is almost invisible.
The veil between a mirror’s two faces is thinner than a leaf, but the difference between them is as great as that between east and west. With a movement of a finger, the mirror either smiles at you or makes your face completely dark. In the same way, our deeds have two “faces.” Those done with the intention to please God provide you with a transparent face, in the depth of which numberless manifestations are reflected. The lack of such an intention shows a dark, opaque face that bears nothing in the name of truth.
While a dark face has no depth and contains nothing, as it only occupies enough space to show itself, a transparent face, because of its relation to the immaterial World of Ideas or Symbols, can contain limitless huge things. In the same way, life has two faces: One relates to the world and is dark, narrow, and transient; the other relates to the Truth and is transparent, broad, and permanent. The heedless carnal self, under the influence of a devilish sophistry, wears the dark face but demands what is possible in the transparent face, such as seeking eternity.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that your ego holds the key of creation. Although creation’s doors seem to be open, actually they are closed. The Truth has entrusted humanity with a key that opens all of creation’s doors and unveils the Creator’s treasury. This key is your ego, which is an enigma. When you solve that enigma by knowing its nature, creation is opened to you.
God Almighty gave each person an ego, which serves as a unit of comparison, so they could understand the attributes of Divine Lordship. When you know what the ego is, you see it as fine and weak, like a conscious hair in the rope of your existence, like a thin stripe in the cloth of your nature, like an alif (the first Arabic letter) in your book. It also has two faces: One turned to good, a passive recipient (not the agent) of God’s bounties and blessings; the other turned to evil and non-existence, and thinking itself an agent. It has an illusory nature and an imagined lordship and sovereignty. Its existence is so weak that it can bear nothing by itself. It is like a thermometer or a similar instrument that measures things and properties to know the Necessarily Existent Being’s absolute, all-encompassing Attributes. You should be well aware of this and, becoming a referent of: He has indeed prospered who purifies it (91:9), should fulfill the Trust you have been given.
If you consider your ego a unit of comparison to comprehend the Creator’s Attributes and Names, it becomes an eye for you to see what exists in the universe. In your ego, this information finds that which will confirm it and transform it into real knowledge. Then its claim of lordship or sovereignty and self-ownership ends, and it perceives its existence as illusory. But if you consider your ego independent and thereby breach the Trust, you will be among those referred to in: And indeed he has ruined it who stunts and spoils it (91:10), for it is the ego that the heavens, Earth, and mountains shrank from bearing.
Such an ego is the source of associating partners with God, as well as of all evil and misguidance. If ego hides itself from you, it grows thick and swells until it swallows you and transforms you into an ego. It grows stronger with tribal and then racial fanaticism, until it becomes a devil contending against its Maker’s command. Then it likens other people, things, and natural causes with itself, attributing self-ownership and sovereignty to each, and begins to associate partners with God. If you look at creation while in this state, everything is closed just when it seems to have opened, for your eyes return to yourself and you see everything as colored by ego. The color of ego is associating partners with, or denying, God. Even if all horizons were filled with the most manifest signs (of the Creator’s Existence and Unity), what remains in the ego would be a dark point covering all those signs.