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By Frithjof Schuon

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Sample text

One Sufi has said that Tasawwuf is “poverty”; another has said it is “fasting”; still another has said it is “the five prayers and awaiting death”. These are pious associations of ideas; they are not definitions. If we were asked what Tasawwuf is, we would say it is (1) Discernment between the Real and the illusory, (2) permanent Remembrance of the Real, and (3) Beauty of soul, conformity to the Real. Discernment between the Real and the illusory: between al-Haqq, the True, and al-hijāb, the veil; lā ilāha illā 'Llāh.

To know is to be aware of the nature of a given reality; to will is to be incited to action by a given reality; to love is to experience happiness through a given reality. In a certain sense to love and to be coincide: what we love calls us to union; what we must love is also what we must be. To love God is to “be” God within the limits of our possibilities, and this means precisely that we must tend toward God “with all our being”. “Love God with all thy strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself”, which means that we must a priori love ourselves; now to love myself is to love what God wished to realize in creating me, hence to love my primordial Nature, the Fitrah, and as a consequence Faqr, Virtue aiming toward the Creator; it is in sum to love the “Kingdom of God that is within you”.

The perfect container is simple in and through the Remembrance of God, for not having any individual form there is nothing to distinguish it in particular; it is unique, for being every form—in and through the primordial Form—it is without a second; it is central, for not wandering from one phenomenon to another it is “here” and not “elsewhere”; it is actual, for being neither “before” nor “after” it is always “now”; and it is subtle, for not having a substance made opaque and heavy by individual coagulation it is transparent and light, which caused a Hindu sage to say that the delivered one possesses only a subtle body.

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