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Listen to the Master

Hear me now, that I may tell you who the master is,

though he is not involved in the commotion of existence. 

Who is the master? That mystic who has lost his self,

who has no faith or religion other than God.

Who is the master? The one who separates you from self,

who empties you of self and fills you with God.

Who is the master? That traveler on God’s way,

that guide on the path who knows pain.

Who is the master? The one who, in his innermost consciousness,

became nothing, for it is God Who is hidden within him. 

Who is the master? The one who is

completely effaced and annihilated in God.

Who is the master? The one who, in remembering God,

is liberated from remembrance of all else.

Who is the master? The visible mirror of the Beloved, 

within whose breast is only passion for Him.

Who is the master? One who has become a master through God,

who has been caught by the lasso of God’s love.

The master is one who is free from self,

whose heart’s hand grips tightly the hem of God’s cloak.

                    * * * * *

The master is the master of love, ecstasy and spiritual states;

he is not a master because of the passage of time.

He is a selfless rend who has burned away his own self-existence; 

the eye of his soul is illuminated by the Beloved.

He is as humble as earth and as flowing as water;

he bestows light like the sun.

Though he exists within the realm of being,

in God’s inner sanctuary he has no existence. 

With one glance he can tell who you really are

and whether you are truly an intoxicated lover.

Does your soul have the aptitude to burn and endure,

or are you bound to the world of desire?

God’s representative does not need to exaggerate 

or boast, nor is he dependent on money or gifts.

Although ashamed of his own existence,

he is God’s servant here, performing God’s will.

He claims no visions or miraculous powers,

nor does he need to talk constantly about himself. 

He has no trace in the world, nor does he exist,

though he is the spirit of the spirit and the soul of the soul.

He manifests God, as a theophany of Divine Oneness;

he is far from existence and multiplicity.

He has eaten the honey of contemplative vision from God’s hive;

he is liberated from possessing more or less and from what is or what is not.

To him anything other than God is not worth a penny; 

he is separated from everything, including himself.

Such a master is the guide on the way to Oneness; 

it is appropriate to throw your head at his feet.

                    * * * * *

Now listen, that I may speak more 

about a particular group of wicked, so-called masters.

They are claimants trapped in the lasso of the ego,

who falsely declare themselves to be spiritual masters.

These would-be masters welcome one and all to their feast, 

only to ensure that their own food is provided thereby.

Day and night they display their self-existence;

without having drunk spiritual wine they pretend to be intoxicated.

They claim to be masters and to guide others, 

though they have not been guided by a master themselves.

O brother, open the eye of your heart!

Clear your circle of these deceitful people! 

Do not listen to the talk of this base and morally bankrupt lot; 

do not step into the world of fortune-tellers! 

They will play all sorts of tricks on you;

ensnaring you in the web of the ego, they will make you sick.

When you become aware, it will be too late;

you will have nothing but a lost heart. 

You will have lost wealth, a lifetime, and your soul;

moreover, you will have strayed far from the path.

These so-called masters, who claim to be sages,

have gone astray and are ignorant and cruel.

They follow their own egos and seek material profit;

they are out to rob the simple-hearted.

They claim to know love, yet merely talk about it;

their talk is nonsense because of their ignorance.

They insist on calling themselves Sufis, 

but they are only concerned with misleading others.

Their attendants, tricky and gossipy,

buzz around them night and day.

They boast of miraculous and healing powers,

yet they even disparage Jesus. 

Their claims are no more than empty talk;

their intentions are to gain status and wealth.

                    * * * * *

I have been told how a truly selfless master

set out once with a charlatan Sufi.

The latter gradually became closer to the master 

and told him more and more of his secrets.

Murderer, criminal and power-seeker,

he had held a high position in his own land.

He’d had a master who had died, and

so was stranded on the path without a guide. 

The master asked, “Why did you wander off?

Why did you abandon that order?”

He answered, “My heart became confused and 

could not help me; it did not accept his successor.

That master had no power or spiritual intoxication.

Why should I serve one who is powerless?”

At this, the master told him, “Serve a worldly leader;

have nothing further to do with the spiritual path.

You are only concerned with power and wealth and talk; 

in a state like this do not complain of having no master!

Crows are made to flock together with crows;

the nightingale converses just with the rose.”

                    * * * * *

Now I’ll disclose another secret; 

open the ear of the soul to learn.

People tend to worship idols;

with heart and soul, passionately they adore idols.

Such idol-worshiping people 

seek idols everywhere. 

In fact, these people are really worshiping their own nature; 

they are the followers of the mirror’s reflection of their own face.

Although they claim to have many masters,

they are captivated by their own desire.

If you have a breast that is burning,

do not entrust your heart to a counterfeit master.

Seek God within yourself; a selfless master

is not concerned with self-promotion.

Love cannot be practiced by brokers;

the lover of God does not follow an imposter.

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