"The supreme test, the supreme initiation, is that at the time when you need the
divine presence, you cannot feel it."
What we mean by the divine presence is the divine being beyond the qualities.
And here we are right up against the secret of life, because for God's presence
to be felt, we cannot be there any more. That is why they say the one who sees
God cannot live: Our consciousness of our self stands in the way of our
awareness of the divine presence. There is no use thinking that you can
experience the divine presence while continuing to be conscious of yourself.
You have to go through crucifixion in order to experience the divine presence.
And that is what the mystics do; that is why they call for death. Al-Hallaj, for
example, says, "It is good enough if Thou alone should testify to Thy unity and
I should not be there to testify to it. As long as I am conscious of myself, how
can I say La ilaha illa 'llah?" That is why 'al-Hallaj said that the moment of
his death was the most important moment. He said that the moment of truth was
the moment when one experienced the dwindling or even the annihilation of "me."
And then he said those unforgettable words: "I have been invited to the divine
banquet and the divine host has offered me to drink of the wine, the poison,
that is His beverage. How can I refuse? It is the beverage that gives eternal
Then he went on to say, "Thy abandonment of me is a proof of Thy love."
This means that God tests most those He loves most. I think those words of 'al-Hallaj
are among the most important that have been said in the history of the world.
You remember the words of Jesus when he said, "Why hast Thou abandoned me?" I
know these words have been interpreted in various ways, and that he was quoting
a psalm of David, but what do his words mean? The supreme test, the supreme
initiation, is that at the time when you need the divine presence, you cannot
feel it. At the very moment when everything has been sacrificed and it is
necessary to feel the divine presence, even though you have felt it all along,
at that very moment when you need it most, it is not there. Al-Hallaj felt that
he had to live to say what Jesus was unable to say, except to the angels,
because his resurrection took place so quickly. And that was, "Thy abandonment
of me is a proof of Thy love," because God tests most those He loves most. This
is the supreme answer to the suffering of the world. Everybody who suffers says,
"Why do I have to suffer?" And the answer is because God tests most those He
Meditation becomes very much an ego trip if it's just stilling the mind and
reaching freedom. If it does not incorporate the suffering of the world,
meditation is frigid. The height of meditation is letting oneself be the chalice
in which the grapes are transformed into wine, in which suffering is transformed
into joy. Unless one can allow one's heart to encompass all beings in one's own.
And this is what I mean by presence. You can make beings present in you by your
love; this is what is meant by making God present in one, because He is all
these beings. But you cannot operate this transmutation of suffering into joy
without having gone through the transmutation yourself. That is the real meaning
of compassion. There is a difference between compassion and pity. In pity, you
feel like being generous, like giving of yourself for the person who is
suffering; it gives you a personal satisfaction, the generosity of the heart.
But compassion means that you are sharing in the sufferings of beings. When that
happens, one's personal sufferings can never seem a problem anymore. Sometimes
people are concerned about their little problems, as when somebody is upset
because a wonderful necklace has been stolen but forgets to think of all those
children who are dying of hunger in India. It is incongruous for that person to
sit in meditation trying to reach illumination. Meditation, to be real, cannot
be a selfish act; otherwise it is a terrible insult to the sacredness of God, a
This brings us to Christian meditation. The particular attunement that Christ
brought into the world is that of misericordia, sharing in the emotional drama
of the universe instead of detaching oneself from it. It is a matter of actively
working towards the transmutation or transfiguration of suffering into joy. The
joy comes, of course, from freedom from one's self. For example, you can love a
person very much but not depend upon his love for your joy. You do not have to
be indifferent to be detached. You can be detached as far as your person is
concerned, and yet be very deeply involved in your love. It is impossible to
transmute suffering into joy without loving. And that is the secret of the
broken heart. This is an extraordinary thing that can happen to one's heart when
it has been shattered by the heart of God. Having a broken heart is a wonderful
cure for personal suffering, because you can never again suffer from any
personal thing that can happen to you. In a way it is a cure for your heart to
be broken. A tremendous freedom comes from the breaking of the heart. Hazrat
Inayat Khan said, "Out of the broken heart emerges the newborn soul." The
dervish goes through such tremendous depth of emotion and always says, "I am so
shattered. I am so overwhelmed. I am so bewondered by the world, by everything
that I see."