Senses and the Levels of the Heart
Control the Five Senses to Open the Soul
From The Teaching of Mawlana Shaykh Hisham as Taught By Shaykh Nurjan MirAhmadi
A’odhu billahi minash shaytaanir rajeem
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
The gift of life is such a precious gift, and what the Divine wants for us is to achieve the reality of this life that was given. And many choose the lower existence and the pursuit of the physical desires. And then there are some whom the Divine inspires within themselves that there is a higher reality. That by a means of coming into this world, you are to discipline yourself to see the majesty, magnificence and munificence of the Divine soul, the Divine lights that the Divine has created upon the soul.
Then the spiritual paths come and begin to teach the reality of the religious orders and the religious understandings. That by disciplining your physicality and bringing the physicality and the physical desires down, they begin to teach us how to bring out the spiritual reality. As much as we listen to the physical ears and take enjoyment from the physical hearing, spiritual hearing can’t open. So they begin to train that: control what you’re hearing and don’t let unnecessary sounds occupy the ear because it’s going to be a direct effect to the heart.
They begin to teach us in Sufism that everything is based on the heart. Even the physiology of the body has an effect onto the heart. This was from the knowledge of the prophets, then inherited by knowledge of awliyaullah (saints). That is the inheritance of the Prophet Muhammad (saws)
Now in science they know that based on what you hear, aggressive loud noises can actually cause an agitation into the heart. That they know that certain sounds, when they are beating and the repetition of that sound begins to cause a difficulty within the heart.
For all the senses, there is also an inner reality. Maybe we are using only the ears from the outside but it doesn’t mean that we are hearing from the soul.
From hearing at station of Qalb (Heart) to seeing, that has to do with the station of sir (Secret).
1. Sense of Hearing – First Station of Heart – Qalb (heart)
Discipline the Physical Hearing to Open Spiritual Hearing
They begin to teach us that: if you want spiritual hearing to open, then begin the disciplining of your physical hearing. Means all the bad sounds and all the bad gossips and unnecessary noises, those are all zikrs that are coming into the heart. If it’s an agitating sound, it has a direct effect into the heart. If it’s nasty, then the soul and body will be accountable for what it is hearing. It will be written on and transcribed into the heart; that the negative and the very vile chanting that people listen to, it’s moving into the heart.
It’s not by coincidence that the negative and the evil ego comes up with this, because the ego and egoism, shaytaan and all the negativity, it doesn’t want us to reach our reality. It doesn’t want us to reach the goal of our existence here because that’s not its goal. Its goal is to play and enjoy the physical world.
The soul comes from above, comes from the heavens. There’s no up or down. It comes from the heavens and returns to the heavens.
إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ١٥٦…
12:156 – “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.” (Surat al Baqara)
“Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Holy Quran 2:156)
What you Listen to Affects your Heart
The ego and bad desires, they stay here. Their only interest is in entertainment and playing. And they know that when the power of the soul comes, they are in trouble and they are going to be burned by the power of the soul.
So at every stop, it says, “Listen to this,” and begins to put iPods and music and sounds that will directly darken the heart. Then the fasting of the ears and the beginning of the practices of ‘I’m going to listen to spiritual sounds that bring about an enjoyment in my soul, that bring about a pleasure and an energy in my soul. And that those other sounds I will be accountable’. They are a chanting from very negative forces that are being chanted upon and trying to darken the soul.
Knowledge is directly connected to Hearing
Then that qalb also is the station of knowledge. That every knowledge has to enter form where – the hearing. Knowledge is directly connected to hearing: how well you hear, not physical hearing only, it is hearing and obeying.
2:285 – “…Sam’ina wa ata’na, …” (Surat al Baqarah)
“…We hear, and we obey:…” (Holy Quran, 2:285)
Hearing and obeying means it’s really absorbing: you act upon what you hear, not just merely hear it through the faculty of the ear. Both hearing has to be there; the physical is the outside and the inner ka’bah, the inner reality of the circle has to be hearing.
2. Sense of Seeing – Second Station of Heart – Sir (Secret)
Control the Physical Eyes, To Open the Spiritual Vision
Then they begin to teach control your eyes. If you want the soul to open, then when you look with your physical eyes and your eyes become hungry and they eat and absorb everything. Then they teach then keep a path of closing your eyes. The insatiable appetite of the eyes never end. If everything in our lives is based on eyes and what we see we want, it will never end. So then they teach: keep a path in which you keep closing your eyes. That what we are looking for is not through the physical eyes.
Each Sense has Dual Nature
As soon as we close each sense, each sense has a dual nature, like the moon- there is a side you see and a side that you don’t. You have the outer ear, the physiology of the self, and you have the inner ear. As soon as you close the outer ear, the inner ear becomes more fine-tuned. Means the inner ear begins to hear not the voices of angels first but the voices of the conscience. The lower conscience locked within us, the higher conscience is in Divinely Presence. And the Divinely lights are telling that conscience, “Teach them. He came down to earth and he forgot what he has promised Me.” [He or she- doesn’t make a difference.]
Means we have a reality always in Divinely Presence. Only a small part of that light was sent into the physicality. So then the higher reality is always trying to communicate with the lower reality that’s locked behind the egoism of the body.
Then they begin to teach: as soon as you close your eyes, then your outer vision stops so that the inner vision of the heart can begin. Means that with every abstinence and every fasting, its reality will be born. But as much as we indulge in it, that reality will never be born.
In old times they would go to the shaykh and the shaykh would show a seed. Have you ever seen an avocado seed? It’s like a baseball. They take the seed and says, “Look at the seed. Is it ever going to become anything if I just hold it like this?” They would say, “No, it’s actually going to be a very hard piece of wood. You can use it for baseball, you can throw it at somebody.”
That seed, it can become a tree, which is amazing in itself that where the sprout comes from- that big seed. So then they teach by taking that seed and putting it into the soil. And the reality of the soil is the reality of the physicality because we are made from soil.
Importance of Khalwah (Seclusion) to Spiritual Growth
So Allah ‘Azza wa Jal says, “You put your sense back in. Go into your soil; put the seed in,” and that becomes the concept of seclusion and khalwah. We can make a seclusion
in our daily life just be isolating ourselves at times. Having a discipline that at certain times in which ‘I’m going to isolate, not to see and speak to anyone, and just be with myself; thinking of my reality so that the seed can one day be a tree’.
If it becomes a tree, it can one day bear fruits. And those fruits become eternal gift upon the soul because people are now benefiting from the fruits of your tree. Versus the Divine teaching that most come into this world with the capability- they have the seed and they leave with the seed. They didn’t take the time to plant it. And they become immensely saddened by the reality that is lost, because you show up to the Divine with a seed. It didn’t become a tree and it bore no fruit.
So all the discipline of the spiritual order, it is not hocus pocus. It’s a very defined science and matches the science that is known in this dunya– not their hypothesis that they keep guessing and hope one day that they’ll be right- but the proven ones.
Then abstaining in the hearing to open real hearing, abstaining in the vision to open the real vision of the soul. what we are seeing is an illusion. All these atoms are moving and none of it is real. As soon as you witness with the soul, the soul can witness what Allah ‘Azza wa Jal wants it to witness.
Start the Greater Struggle and Close your Eyes to Dunya
This is also the station of seeing, the sense of seeing. So the only way to begin to see is if you are dying towards the dunya life, to the material life. If you are loving the material life, then there is no reason to feel that you are dying towards it to go towards the spiritual reality. Means that the desires have to be brought down.
That is why Prophet (saws) was teaching his Companions, ‘The fights that we were going through, in my physical presence was one thing; but now what is going to be opening is the much greater fight which is the fight against the self’.
عن جابر قال قدم على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قوم غزاة فقال صلى الله عليه وسلم قدمتم خير مقدم من جهاد الأصغر إلى جهاد الأكبر قيل وما قال مجاهدة العبد هواه وهذا فيه ضعف
“An Jabir qala qadam ‘ala Rasulullah (saws) qawm ghazata faqala Sallallahu Alayhi was Salaam: ” Qadamtum khaira muqadem min jihadil Asghar ila Jihadil Akbar.” Qeela “wa ma?” Qala “Mujahidatal ‘Abd hawahu wa hadha fi D’af.”
Jabir (as) narrated: ‘Some warriors came to the Holy Prophet. He (Muhammad (s) said to them: “welcome back, you came from minor Jihad to the greater one.”
It was asked, ‘what is that Oh Prophet of Allah?” He (pbuh) replied: “One’s fight against his mundane wills/desires.” (Bahaqi Kitab ul Zuhd-al-Kabir)
As you begin to lose the desire of dunya (material world), more of the seeing and spiritual vision begins to open.
3. Sense of Touch – Third Station of the Heart – Sir Sir (Secret of Secrets)
To Open Sir Sir – Control the Hawa (Physical Desires)
It means they begin to teach from the Sir Sir. That from hearing, from seeing, now the sense of touch. That for Sir Sir to open its reality, it has to enter into a state of touch. To come against your nafs, your hawa, your dunya and Shaytan come against these enemies of the body, so that you can bring the power of your soul back. The Sir Sir has to do with Alam al Mithal in the World of Light.
Discipline your Physicality with Hardship
If you are not able to enter a state in which you put a hardship upon your physicality, the fasting of touch and sensation – hawa is the pleasures of your physicality – if you can’t control that hawa and enter into a state the Sir Sir can’t open.
It means they put a hardship upon their physicality. They come and say, “O shaykh this is going to be hard!” that is exactly the prescription. When they sit in a position that increases the difficulty and pain within their contemplation, that is the solution. When we were young we were able to sit all the time upon our knees and have a tremendous amount of pain. Because the pain wouldn’t let you sleep so you would be able to sit for long periods of time in contemplation because the pain just agitates you. It is not about entering a state of complete comfort and sleeping, meditation/tafakkur and sleeping are two different understandings.
Don’t Sleep so Comfortably that you miss Fajr Prayer
Then Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was teaching even his sleep was through difficulty. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) slept on a bamboo mat so that the marks from his sleeping were visible to his Companions. They would say, “Yaa Sayyidi, yaa Rasulul Kareem, yaa Habibul ‘Azheem, [O my master, O the generous Messenger, O the Great Beloved] let us get you something beautiful to sleep, why is it like this.” The teaching was that this difficulty allows me to wake up for my Fajr (morning prayer).
We know through training that when you put difficulty upon yourself your sleep is not going to be too deep. So then when people say they can’t wake up for Fajr, drink a lot of water and sleep on the floor. The water makes you constantly get up to make wudu (ablution), what’s wrong with that? Get up, make wudu, it’s noorun `ala noor [Light upon Light]. That every time when you wash and make wudu it is light upon light and you will be glowing on the Day of Judgement. They recommend that you take a big bottle of water and drink right before your sleep so that you wash all night long. And train yourself that you don’t sleep more than two hours, two hours, two hours; don’t go deep into your sleep.
That is different from what this world is teaching you with a Serta mattress, comfort bed, with all that cushion and pillow top so that you just melt into it and never come out. Then we are amazed that how we cannot (get up) to pray and we can’t do anything. But the way of struggling was they slept on the floor and drank a lot of water and throughout the night they were struggling with themselves so that the sleep would never be so deep. That way they came against their hawa, against their desires and through that then the Sir o Sir can be (opened).
4. Sense of Smell – Fourth Station of the Heart – Khafa (Hidden)
To Open Khafa – Safeguard Your Breath
Then they begin to teach: control your breath. That makes with your breath the chanting of the Divinely Presence. Your life is based on breath. The extent and the time of your life is based on how many breaths you have. So no need for all the life insurance and all the big plannings. It is better to sit and make zikr hadra (Hay, Hay, Hay (Name of Allah (aj)). That is why they call Nafas ur Rahmah – the Breath of Mercy. Because Allah ‘Azza wa Jal saying, “Before you make big plans and how long you’re going to live here, how you’re going to spend your money, you still haven’t thanked Me for the breath you have. And you may have 1 breath left, 10 breaths left, 70,000 breaths left; so make them in My remembrance.”
Then you have energized and opened the reality of your breath. So then all the tariqas (Islamic spiritual paths), they are all based on breathing; consciousness of the breathing, importance of the breath, the power that’s coming in with the breath. Then when you look to the lungs, you see it is a tree upside down, and that is the tree of life. Before you can reach the lote tree of the furthest boundary, that Allah ‘Azza wa Jal says, “Before you can make the external mi’raj, you have to make your internal pilgrimage.”
Before you can find that body tree and that reality, the Divine says, “It exists within you,” the tree that are the lungs. What is happening when we are breathing is that energy and that light is coming in, nourishing the blood and the first place that blood goes is to the heart. It doesn’t go to any of the other organs. That breath comes in, stamps the blood. It takes all of the energy it needs from the breath and then that blood goes to the heart.
If the Heart is Pure, the whole Body is Pure
Then tariqa and Sufism says: everything is based on the heart. If the heart is pure, it takes that blood and then stamps it with Allah, with the zikr of the Divine, and then moves to 11 essential organs. If the heart is dirty, and the breath coming in contaminated, all the being is going to be then made dirty from all the dirty blood flowing. Means if the reservoir is filthy and filled with najas and dirtiness, whatever you pour into it will sicken everything that comes in contact with it.
Then tariqa comes and says: that is the reservoir of your entire being. Why you want to focus on your leg and your head and your back and this chakra and that chakra? The main reservoir of your physiology- not hocus pocus- of your physiology, your breath is coming in, going into your lungs, your blood into your heart. If that heart is sick, Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam described from holy hadith, “If one part of you is sick, all of you will be sick;” and said, “that one part is the qalb.”
أَلا وَإِنَّ فِى الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، أَلا وَهِى الْقَلْبُ “
“Ala wa inna fil Jasadi mudghatan idha salahat salahal jasadu kulluho, wa idha fasadat fasadal jasadu kulluho, ala wa heyal Qalb.”
“There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled the whole body gets spoiled and that is the heart.” Prophet Muhammad (saws)
And that same part, the heart, if it’s purified, the Divine says, “Then I’m not in heavens and I’m not on earth; but I’m in the heart of the one who believes in Me.”
“maa wasi`anee laa Samayee, wa la ardee, laakin wasi’anee qalbi ‘Abdee al Mu’min.”
“Neither My Heavens nor My Earth can contain Me, but the heart of my Believing Servant.” (Hadith Qudsi conveyed by Prophet Muhammad (saw)
“Qalb al mu’min baytur rabb.”
“The heart of the believer is the House of the Lord.” Hadith Qudsi
Means ‘qalb al mu’min baytullah’. The Divine’s saying: that’s such an important organ that if your purify it, you wash it, you cleanse it, you circumambulate around it, it will become My Divinely house within your being. Means you will have a Ka’bah within your soul, your very own Ka’bah that you wash, you clean, you purify and you begin to make your tawaf around your heart; because Divinely light is now like rays of sun dressing your heart.
5. Sense of Taste – Fifth Station of the Heart – Akhfa (Most Hidden)
Taste the Heavenly Realities
Then hearing with reality, begin the seeing of reality, the breathing of reality, the touch, and then opening up the taste of reality. That if everything is working on the level of the soul, it is now hearing its conscious orders, because of the discipline, it can hear what it’s supposed to do and it doesn’t keep making crazy choices. When we want to see our life, how out of whack we are, is when we listen to our self. How we are always falling short and making very crazy choices and seem to have a very chaotic life.
Then they begin to teach that as you begin to discipline, discipline, discipline, you are hearing now the co-ordinance and those coordinance are coming from the Divine. As you are abstaining with your vision and looking for the vision of the soul, your lights are going on and you begin to be inspired within your heart. And the real vision and the real purpose of our being here becomes more and more clear.
‘I’m not being sent here to be a doughnut shop’. We have not been sent here to do all these different jobs we do. But once we are inspired and understand what is the reality of the soul, what is the mission and the purpose that we have been sent here. Then I open the ability to hear, to see and to breathe with reality; then I begin to taste the reality.
Light and Energy has No Boundaries
At the level of the soul then opens the reality of light; and the reality of light is different from the reality of physicality. In the physical world, we see this room with 60 people sitting around doing their best to chant. In the world of light, these are 60 souls and millions of other lights. And as soon as they begin their chanting, the energy that begins to dress their souls and begins to dress all the souls.
All those energies, they have no boundaries. We have our boundaries – you can’t sit on (somebody’s) lap; he is not going to appreciate it. Physicality has boundaries. But once you begin to open from the reality of the soul, your light is everywhere. And the light of many beings are present because it’s a holy association gathering for chanting.
Zikr (Divine Chanting) Empowers the Soul
As soon as they begin chanting, there is a fierce Divine light that begins to dress the souls and they begin to wash and cleanse and bathe within that light. Purify themselves, dress from realities that are unimaginable in their dressing.
13:28 – “Alladheena amano wa tatma’innu Qulobu hum bidhikrillahi, ala bidhikrillahi tatma’innul Qulob.” (Surat ar Ra’d)
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah. for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Holy Quran, the Thundar 13:28)
Then when the chanting and the program ends, those souls go back fully loaded, fully energized, fully dressed with an ability to empower themselves more to conquer themselves of al the desires we’ve already talked about.
24:36 “Fee buyotin adhina Allahu an turfa’a wa yudhkara feeha ismuhu yusabbihu lahu feeha bil ghuduwwi wal asal. ” (Surat an Noor)
“(Lit is such a Light) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour; and that His name be mentioned therein: In them He is glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again), (Holy Quran, The Light 24:36) Yusuf Ali
But if the soul doesn’t take from that energy, it is virtually impossible to come against all the other desires of the body’. Because the hearing desires are so overwhelmed by negative surroundings. We are talking about 1000 negative sounds versus 1 holy association for a nice sound. We are talking about millions of negative visions and images that everything is popping up to us versus sitting and meditating. Most people can’t do that for 5 minute, versus how many minutes a day you look at negative and horrible images? Means the overwhelming tide of negativity is to darken all the senses.
Zikr Energy Enables the Soul to Fights Back Negativity
With Energy of Zikr, soul controls Five senses and fights back negativity. So then they begin to teach; by these associations, an immense energy is released. The soul becomes loaded with that energy and goes back and now has more ability to fight against its desires. And again, to push down the negative desires so that it can come out, it can come out, it can come out until enough of those associations and the tide flips; where the power of the soul is enough to begin to push down and take control.
Then it has control and abstains from hearing negativity. It has control and abstains from seeing negativity. It has control and abstains from breathing in negativity. And begins to harness the reality of the breath, of pulling every energy out of that breath and igniting it to its reality. And then abstaining with the tongue and not speaking negativity and purifying to represent the reality of the soul.
Ask for the Gift of Faith and Blessings of Zikr Associations
Then tariqa comes and spirituality comes with a big reality for the lights and for the reality of the soul. We pray that on these nights and on these days that the biggest gift the Divine can give us, is the gift of faith; that to create that love and that yearning within our heart, to keep coming and to keep doing. For a day may come when the Divine takes that and we find ourselves not wanting to do and not wanting to go. It’s not our cleverness that not wanting to go and not wanting to do.
58:19 – “Istahwadha ‘alayhimush shaytanu fa ansahum Dhikra Allahi, Olayika hizbush shaytani, ala inna hizbash shaytani humul khasiroon.” (Surat al Mujadila)
“The Evil One has got the better of them: so he has made them lose the remembrance of Allah. They are the Party of the Evil One. Truly, it is the Party of the Evil One that will perish!” (Holy Quran 58:19)
It is a gift and a ni’mat (blessing) from the Divine to go to these associations. It’s a gift that somebody gives you a diamond and if you know the value of it, you are constantly thanking God that: “Don’t let that faith to go from me; don’t let that love to go from me. Don’t let that yearning that you placed into my heart to be taken by the thieves of the heart.” And then I find myself cut from that line and cut from that blessing.
So always, always asking that: “Please don’t lift that mercy from me and increase my yearning to move towards Your Divinely oceans and to open the reality of the soul.”
Subhana rabbika rabbal ‘izzati ‘amma yasifoon, wa salaamun ‘alal mursaleen, walhamdulillahi rabbil ‘aalameen.
[Special thanks to sister Saira and sister Hafsa for their help with transcribing this suhbah.]
Related Articles by Mawlana Shaykh Nurjan Mirahmadi:
- Senses of the Muttaqeen (Those with Consciousness) – They will teach you to fast with all five senses
- Main page of the Levels of the heart – Lataif ul Qalb
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