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The Remembrance of God

The singer began a rapturous song; 

my heart became enthralled and intoxicated. 

Thus it was moved to explain some matters 

in order to close down the shops of those who profit from Sufism.

It speaks of the mystery and spiritual experience of zekr, 

so that some people will not become dealers thereof.

O Sufi! You who claim to remember God, 

your every breath is dedicated to an idol.

You call out to God, while being heedless of Him; 

you talk of water, while you stand on the shore.

You perform remembrance of God just to worship yourself; 

night and day you make a display of your own existence. 

You call out to God through zekr in such a way

that each moment you are merely calling yourself to mind.

When your ego draws you into unbelief, 

you turn to prayers and zekr.

What zekr is this, that increases your self-existence 

and brings you into sobriety from intoxication!

What zekr is this, that distances you from Divine Unity

and makes you the hireling of your deceitful self!

What zekr is this, that leads you to plunge into the maelstrom of carnal self

through your devilish nature! 

What zekr is this, that through the self and its desires

consumes you with hope of gaining food and possessions!

What zekr is this, that releases your lusts

like a thief disguised as a guard!

What zekr is this, with which you still exist, 

where you are not yet delivered from the self! 

What zekr is this, in which self-existence persists and where

lust is the beloved and craving the cupbearer!

What zekr is this, that has increased your self-conceit and through which, 

rather than becoming free, you have imprisoned yourself!

                    * * * * *

Real zekr is a matter for the heart; 

it is not a matter for the flesh.

Real zekr takes place when you have heart-consciousness 

and are not self-worshiping and futile.

Real zekr is that which takes over your breath,

not that which arises from the windpipe of desire.

Real zekr is that which burns up your soul, 

not that which teaches the cult of self-conceit.

Real zekr is that which makes you drunk

and releases you from all thought of being.

Real zekr is that which takes away what you have

and fills up your whole being with itself

in such a way that nothing remains of you

and you can no longer discern yourself.

Real zekr occurs when only the Remembered One remains, 

when the heart forgets the rememberer and remembering.

                    * * * * *

It is zekr when you no longer exist.

If God exists eternally, who are you to imagine you exist?

Zekr is that which takes you from yourself, 

which calls you away from self-existence to non-existence. 

It is zekr if you have repented from identity, and, absent from self,

have turned your attention towards God alone.

Zekr means deliverance from “we” and “I”

and arrival at the station of security. 

It is zekr if it makes you unable to distinguish

others from yourself, and good from bad.

                    * * * * *

If your zekr is just a name made up of letters, 

an audio tape will repeat the name better than you.

A tape that is recorded with the name of God

can run night and day without showing off.

Yet even if this tape were to run for years, 

it could not attain the quality of a human being.

You practice zekr, but you are far from its meaning; 

the masters of heart consider you to be no more than a tape.

Zekr is a name, seek the Named; 

zekr is like form, seek content.

The name will carry you to the Named,

from the realm of form to that of content. 

Only by way of drunkenness and becoming nothing

will you become released from self and attain the Named.

For us the name represents a Name and Attribute of God,

which makes your heart increase in gnosis. 

For us mere utterance represents just the form of the word; 

the form of the word never opened the way for anyone.

If your zekr only involves the form of the word, 

its result is trickery and deception. 

If you realize even one of the Names of God, 

you will shed the limited and become the Absolute.

Seek to open the treasure of the Named with the key of a Name; 

otherwise you will never be able to break this spell. 

If you practice zekr and still have self-existence, 

be aware, O brother, that you are still an idol-worshiper.

Believe me, you are secretly worshiping idols

with your various prayers and your silent zekr.

You are worshiping idols in the name of God; 

you drink vinegar and play drunk to impress people.

Outwardly you have attached yourself to God, 

inwardly you have become attached to your self.

This way you have things upside down: 

you affirm yourself while denying God!

You claim to have powers and visions, 

but your whole being is tainted by your carnal self.

You satisfy your passions with fantasies

by telling stories about the past. 

Don’t reduce real love to that which is false; 

Don’t play around with the tail of the Lion!

                    * * * * *

Outwardly you claim to be Bayazid;

inwardly you are wicked and in the clutches of your carnal self. 

Outwardly you have become a master free of passions; 

inwardly you buzz with the instincts of a horsefly.

Your aim is not to initiate others into zekr,

but rather to pass on your ego to them.

A group of vulgar people, all followers of desire, 

worship you with deceit and pretension.

Birds of your feather will flock to you

and fall at your feet crying in humility.

They have found an egotistical pharaoh with whom they can identify; 

they have discovered in you the manifestation of their own true nature.

As a result, your ego is joyful,

for truth, too, was trampled by you.

                    * * * * *

You are not worthy of zekr, do not make light of it; 

God honors those who are truly engaged in its practice.

You worship yourself — what have you got to do with God?

You are unfaithful — how then can you care about purity?

If you are not selfless, you cannot truly practice zekr, 

for someone who merely mouths zekr is not a Sufi.

The heart of one moved by desire cannot be engaged in zekr;

its utterance merely increases hypocrisy.

If you practice zekr, forget yourself;

with zekr you have to shed the foundation of your self-existence.

                    * * * * *

If you are ready to practice zekr

and to be purged of self-consciousness,

then go and repent of the sin of your self-existence;

and drunkenly stamp out everything else!

With the blade of neediness cut off the head of your coyness; 

grab the hem of the cloak of one who provides the cure,

so that out of loving-kindness he may glance towards you

and pour the wine of non-existence into your jug.

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