The Valley Of Wonderment
and is tossed in the oceans of grandeur, and at every moment his wonder
groweth. Now he seeth the shape of wealth as poverty itself, and the
essence of freedom as sheer impotence. Now is he struck dumb with the
beauty of the All-Glorious; again is he wearied out with his own life. How
many a mystic tree hath this whirlwind of wonderment snatched by the
roots, how many a soul hath it exhausted. For in this Valley the traveler
is flung into confusion, albeit, in the eye of him who hath attained, such
marvels are esteemed and well beloved. At every moment he beholdeth a
wondrous world, a new creation, and goeth from astonishment to
astonishment, and is lost in awe at the works of the Lord of Oneness.
Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a
myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of
the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited
therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed.
Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a
sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without
moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou
seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou
speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the
outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.
Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream, which none but the
people of this Valley can comprehend in their true elements. First, what
is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts
all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest
today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of
sleep some ten years past? Consider the difference between these two
worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to
divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of
God, the Exalted, hath placed these signs in men, to the end that
philosophers may not deny the mysteries of the life beyond nor belittle
that which hath been promised them. For some hold to reason and deny
whatever the reason comprehendeth not, and yet weak minds can never grasp
the matters which we have related, but only the Supreme, Divine
Intelligence can comprehend them:
How can feeble reason encompass the Qur'an,
Or the spider snare a phoenix in his web?(58)
All these states are to be witnessed in the Valley of Wonderment, and the
traveler at every moment seeketh for more, and is not wearied. Thus the
Lord of the First and the Last in setting forth the grades of
contemplation, and expressing wonderment hath said: O Lord, increase my
astonishment at Thee!
Likewise, reflect upon the perfection of man's creation, and that all
these planes and states are folded up and hidden away within him.
Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?(59)
Then we must labor to destroy the animal condition, till the meaning of
humanity shall come to light.
Thus, too, Luqman, who had drunk from the wellspring of wisdom and tasted
of the waters of mercy, in proving to his son Nathan the planes of
resurrection and death, advanced the dream as an evidence and an example.
We relate it here, that through this evanescent Servant a memory may
endure of that youth of the school of Divine Unity, that elder of the art
of instruction and the Absolute. He said: O Son, if thou art able not to
sleep, then thou art able not to die. And if thou art able not to waken
after sleep, then thou shalt be able not to rise after death.
O friend, the heart is the dwelling of eternal mysteries, make it not the
home of fleeting fancies; waste not the treasure of thy precious life in
employment with this swiftly passing world. Thou comest from the world of
holiness--bind not thine heart to the earth; thou art a dweller in the
court of nearness--choose not the homeland of the dust.
In sum, there is no end to the description of these stages, but because of
the wrongs inflicted by the peoples of the earth, this Servant is in no
mood to continue:
The tale is still unfinished and I have no heart for it--
Then pray forgive me.(60)
The pen groaneth and the ink sheddeth tears, and the river(61) of the
heart moveth in waves of blood. Nothing can befall us but what God hath
destined for us.(62) Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
After scaling the high summits of wonderment the wayfarer cometh to
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