The Conditions and Obstacles on the Path of Mystic Endeavor
There are several obstacles on the mystic's way:
1-A mystic should never feel he has gained any advantage, accomplishment or superiority. Such a poisonous feeling can not only inhibit his promotion to higher levels, but even deteriorate his perfection-seeking nature.
2-Worldly interests and attachments like greed for wealth, fame, power and popularity among people are destructive to mystic progress. However, if wealth and power can serve as a means to adjust one's and also others' life, not only will it be constructive, but even a kind of worship, for the mystic must undergo a great deal of suffering to do so.
3-Saturating the feeling of selfishness in any way or by any means greatly hinders mystic advance. So is claiming piety and purity. Some people believe that claiming to be pious and pure is not a fact showing selfishness, but great mystics disagree; every glory or advantage the mystic gains arises from divine favor, so associating them to the mystic's own endeavor is a kind of blasphemy.
4-The blinding lights and joys the mystic experiences in his spiritual states can also be inhibiting. Some mystics drown in such pleasing states, thinking they are at the peak of perfection; these states, however, serve merely to encourage and activate the mystic on his path.
5-Other things that may hinder a mystic's progress are the activation of amazing powers such as knowing what goes on in people's minds, awareness of the unseen, past and future, and the ability to influence others' lives both physically and mentally. The mystic should remember that his goal is reaching God, not God's favors. Reaching God is much more difficult than discovering amazing God-given powers.
6-Absolute tranquility and freedom and complete knowledge and dominance over the universe are among the amazing effects of human glory, but if the mystic considers them as his own, he might fall astray of his spiritual greatness, and even claim to be God himself!
7-The feelings of spiritual joy and expansion are signs of entering divine attraction and the appearance of divine qualities in the mystic's heart. He should prevent the above mentioned feelings from inhibiting his way to divine perfection.
Mysticism and the Four Relationships
It is important to consider the four relationships of the mystic – with himself, with God, with the universe and with his fellow beings.
1-The Mystic's Relationship with Himself: The human self is of great significance in mysticism, for it possesses various aspects and potentials, and their activation and development is essential for reaching perfection. The human self is situated in the middle of its two extreme conditions – the purely natural self and the highest possible human self – which are infinity apart. In order to join them together, it is necessary to transform the purely natural self into the highest possible state of the human self, for which cleansing of the natural self and deserving to be attracted by divine perfection is required.
2-The Mystic's Relationship with God: In Islamic mysticism, the existence of God is accepted as clearly obvious. People have different relationships with God, and the highest possible form is "finding God," not "calling for God." The mystic should feel God's existence with every particle of his being. Internal purification, complete dominance and knowledge of the universe and witnessing its glory are among the factors that influence the process. The mystic achieves joy and spiritual prosperity by means of making contact with God and feeling His presence. No joy or pleasure can ever be comparable to that. The greater the mystic purifies his nature, the closer he will get to God. The more progress a group makes in their internal purifying and cleansing, the more successful they will be in making the transition from occasional sparks to continual witnessing of the blinding divine light; their involuntary receptions will change into controlled, voluntary observations. Reaching so high a mystic state is the result of one factor: the arising of the capacity to bear divine light, which makes witnessing the shining light last longer, just like when greater capacity to understand a branch of science increases the time period of the activity and its voluntary recall in the brain.
3-The Mystic's Relationship with the Universe: The mystic can go three ways in his relationship with the universe in order to reach God:
a)Realizing the immense glory of the universe
b)Observing the order and harmony of the universe
c)Feeling life in nature
The mystic should see the universe as a great place of worship for the pilgrims of divine truth.
4-The Mystic's Relationship with His Fellow Beings: The mystic's behavior toward other people is based on the fact that all human beings are virtually dignified. However, people are different, so the mystic treats them differently, too. He can easily get close to those who are advancing on the path to perfection, for they are of his kind. But he cannot feel close to the people who have fallen astray of the truth, and have drowned in their desires. Yet, the mystic always tries to do his best to bring them back to the right path.