The Sufi meditation of the heart is a simple practice that uses the energy of love to take the wayfarer Home. The lover gradually passes from the stage of fanâ, the annihilation of the self, to the stage of baqâ, abiding in God, or “abiding after passing away.” Through the power of His love for us, which is hidden within the heart, we are awakened to love’s unity that underlies all of life. Leaving behind the mind and the ego, we are able to enter the innermost chamber of the heart where lover and Beloved are one. Surrendering our ego-consciousness, we gradually become acclimatized to the inner dimensions of oneness, and at the same time create a vessel that can contain this higher consciousness. At first we may be frightened of a reality beyond the mind and the ego. But as the states of meditation change we become familiar with this state of absorption, are no longer fearful of being where the “lover,” annihilated in love, does not exist:
Love has moved in and adorned the house, my self tied up its bundle and left. You imagine that you see me, but I no longer exist: what remains is the Beloved.(14)
Meditation both takes us into the onenesss of love and prepares us for this experience. T.S. Eliot wisely remarked, “human kind can not bear very much reality,”(15) and the tremendous experience of the eternal emptiness that lies beyond the mind and the ego can be terrifying. We are conditioned by the basic belief that we exist as an individual, separate entity. The ego is the center of our conscious awareness. In meditation we begin to glimpse a deeper truth, that the ego is an illusion and the outer world as insubstantial as a dream. In Shakespeare’s words, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”(16)
The journey of the Sufi is the journey of the lover returning to the arms of the Beloved, a journey of love in which we die to the limited ego-bound perspective of ourself. Drowned in love, in the formless emptiness that is beyond the mind, we discover that within us which is eternal, and awaken to the life within the heart. In this dynamically unfolding oneness the path and the seeker are forgotten. Only His formless Presence is real:
In God there is no duality. In that Presence “I” and “we” and “you” do not exist. “I” and “you” and “we” and “He” become one…. Since in the Unity there is no distinction, the Quest and the Way and the Seeker become one.(18)
Knowing and living this unity, the lover reflects the light and love of the Beloved into his daily life. The secret of love’s oneness becomes the ground upon which we walk, the essence of the air we breathe. Inwardly merged in our Beloved, we impress the stamp of His reality into each and every moment. Outwardly we see His oneness reflected in the world; we come to know the hidden face of creation, what the Sufis call the secret of the word Kun! (Be).
Attentive to Him, we are here to serve Him. The lover who has given himself in love has embraced the poverty of the heart, “having nothing and wanting nothing.” Surrendered to our Beloved, we want nothing for ourself, not even the states of meditation. But through the mercy of His love for us He comes to us and takes us to Him. We become nourished from within, from the love and guidance that flow into the heart. Through the practice of meditation we are given access to the secrets of love, and can help to bring these secrets into the world.