Photo ©Simba Russeau. 2010 Sahara.
Once a very famous ori came to grandshaykh Abd Allah Daghestani in Damascus and said, “O my master, I come to you after studying the Psalms, the Torah, the Bible, and the Holy Quran. I have studied all kinds of philosophy, all the religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, everything. But still I feel nothing in my heart. I feel no satisfaction in my heart. On the contrary, it is as if I were standing on a cliff about to fall. I have become so shaky that I go from one center to another, seeking what is Real, trying to find Reality. Where can I reach that Reality and gain satisfaction in my heart ? Where can I find my Lord? Finally, I have come to you. After you, I am not going to go anywhere. I have been everywhere. I have asked famous philosophers, orientalists, people whom I considered saints. I have read everything I could. Yet when I asked any scholar a question, they gave me an answer I already knew. They did not give me anything new. I am confused. I heard your name and I have come to you. Will you give me an answer to my question? Whatever you say, I will follow and believe. But if you do not give me an answer, I shall remain as I am-confused and uncertain for the rest of my life.”
Grandshaykh said, “My son, if you take the seed of an apple or any fruit and leave it there to dry for hundreds of years, it will remain dry. But if you take that seed, put it in a field, plant it, and then come back after one month, you will find that it has sprouted from the earth as a green shoot. If you dig into the earth to try to find that seed, you will not find it. It has vanished. Something new is there. If you continue to water that plant, it will grow into a tree and that tree will give fruit. But where is the original seed? It has disappeared. The original seed is no longer there. That seed has become a large tree now loaded with fruit. Similarly, if you take an egg and put it under a chicken for a certain number of days, after those exact number of days have passed, that egg disappears and a new chick comes forth. Something new comes into being. If you look under the chicken you will no longer find the egg there. The egg has vanished. It lay a certain number of days under that chicken. Then it emerges as a new generation. Something similar happens with a human fetus when it is in its mother’s womb for about nine months and ten days, without connection to anything outside, alone. Yet after those nine months and ten days of loneliness, it will come forth a new generation, a new creation.
“My son, in each of these three examples I have given you there was something that went into seclusion. The seed cut itself off from the material world above the ground and went into seclusion for thirty or forty or fifty days. Then a new plant emerged. The egg went into seclusion under its mother with no connection to material life outside its shell and came forth as a new generation. The sperm went into seclusion in the mother’s womb for nine months, without connection to the external world of this material life. After this seclusion, it emerged a new generation.
“My son, if you do not enter into seclusion, if you do not say to yourself, just as a seed says to itself, ‘I want to cut myself off from the materialistic life of this world and vanish from it for the love of God and for the benefit of creation-for the seed begets fruit-if you do not experience a retreat like this, if you do not cut yourself off from material life, forsake your ego in complete sacrifice and vanish into nothingness to exist only in God, you will never find your ultimate reality, your true self. You will never be like that tree that bears fruit for everyone to eat. If you will not to be like that egg and sever yourself from materialism, retreating into the shell of seclusion, existing only in the Presence of your Lord, meditating, concentrating on Him, worshipping Him, and keeping His Presence always in your heart, you will never find that happiness and satisfaction you seek.
Why must you imitate that sperm that enters into seclusion for nine months ? It is because the mother’s womb consists of three layers. This was mentioned fourteen hundred years ago in the Quran [39:6]2 at a time when no microscopes existed. The Prophet (s) also said that the womb of a mother is made up of ‘darknesses’, that is, layers. Hence, if you do not enter into this loneliness, severing your bond to everything external, cutting yourself off from the material things of this world to be alone with your Lord, and thus make connection to your Ultimate Reality by fitting that image you wear here to its original there in the Divine Presence, you will never know satisfaction no matter how many books you may read. For when you read, you only ‘hear’ the books. The knowledge they contain is only ‘heard of’ knowledge’. It is not real. Yet in seclusion, you not only hear, but you feel. You not only see, but you smell. It is then that the eyes of the heart open. My son, if you do not enter into seclusion, your heart will never feel the contentment you have been seeking for so long.”
Immediately, the scholar said, “You have given me the answer I needed. My heart is open. Show me the way.” Grandshaykh gave him permission to enter into seclusion in a certain place, cutting himself off from everything. The scholar entered that place an ordinary man. After one year, he emerged a saint.