Spiritual truths are “birds” who cannot be owned.
It is inevitable the degradation spiritual truth undergoes
as soon as it enters the material universe.
Spiritual truth exists beyond the mind and,
when touches the world of mankind,
its ordinary reality,
it turns instantly into a lie.
Q: If there is a single, original Teaching, how is it that it becomes confused and misused as it passes through generations and cultures?
A: There is a saying, “Whatever goes into a salt-mine becomes salt.” The Teaching is the worldly manifestation of something, and as such a manifestation it is affected by the deforming character in appearance and operation of those who adopt it into their culture without understanding its inner dimensions. Listen to what happened to Marhuma:
Fariduddin Attar relates in his Ilahi-Nama (Book of the Divine) that there was once a woman of virtue named Marhuma, which means “She upon whom mercy is exercised” Her fate stands for the vicissitudes of the Teaching.
Her husband decided to perform the Pilgrimage to Mecca, and left her in the care of his younger brother. After a time, this man fell in love with her, and made approaches to her. She rebuked him: but he threatened that if she did not submit he would put her in danger. When she refused to yield, he brought four false witnesses, charging her with adultery. The woman, brought before the judge, was declared guilty and was taken to an open space to be stoned to death.
Marhuma was left for dead, and lay in that place all night. In the morning, when she began to revive, and when she was almost back to her senses, a desert Arab who was passing heard her groans. He asked her who she was and she answered that she was ill, so he decided to take care of her.
After a few days she recovered and, seeing her beauty, the Arab besought her to marry him. “but I am already married” she said. She so moved him by her entreaties to leave her alone that he adopted her, making her his sister.
Now the Arab had a slave, and this man fell in love with Marhuma: but she resisted him as well. He decided to have his revenge for being rebuffed. The master had a beautiful child and the slave, one night, killed it and put the bloodstained dagger which he had used under Marhuma’s pillow.
When the child’s mother went in the morning to give it milk, she discovered the murder: and she found the weapon in Marhuma’s bed.
The Arab asked Marhuma why she had repaid his kindness in this way: giving evil in exchange for good: but she was able to convince him that she was innocent.
But the Arab realized that, after the shock which she had had, his wife would always associate Marhuma’s face with the death of her little one, and so he had to send Marhuma away.
The manifestation of the Teaching, in the form of tales and exercises, of actions and thoughts, will always be as vulnerable as Marhuma, and is often betrayed and misunderstood by the base and the ignorant.
Supposed forms of Sufi teachings are abundant; some of them have a fair face, others are associated with unacceptable histories; and these are all the result of the kind of thing which happened to Marhuma when her husband was away.
From the book “Seeker After Truth”
by Idries Shah.
Many thanks to Phil Vinton for his help and precious friendship.
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