Chapter 45: A Peak unto Yourself
And some of you have called me aloof, and drunk with my own aloneness,
And you have said, “He holds council with the trees of the forest, but not with men.
“He sits alone on hill-tops and looks down upon our city.”
True it is that I have climbed the hills and walked in remote places.
How could I have seen you save from a great height or a great distance?
How can one be indeed near unless he be far?
And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said:
“Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests?
“Why seek you the unattainable?
“What storms would you trap in your net,
“And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky?
“Come and be one of us.
“Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine.”
In the solitude of their souls they said these things:
But were their solitude deeper they would have known that I sought but the secret of your joy and your pain,
And I hunted only the larger selves that walk the sky.
But the hunter was also the hunted;
For many of my arrows left my bow only to seek my own breast.
And the flier was also the creeper;
For when my wings were spread in the sun their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.
And I the believer was also the doubter;
For often have I put my finger in my own wound that I might have the greater belief in you and the greater knowledge of you.
And it is with this belief and this knowledge that I say,
You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields.
That which is you dwells above the mountains and roves with the wind.
It is not a thing that crawls into the sun for warmth or digs holes into darkness for safety,
But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the earth and moves in the ether.
If these be vague words, then seek not to clear them.
Vague and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end,
And I fain would have you remember me as a beginning.
Life, and all that lives, is conceived in the mist and not in the crystal.
And who knows but a crystal is mist in decay?
And some of you have called me aloof and drunk with my own aloneness,
And you have said, “He holds council with the trees of the forest, but not with men.”
This is the way all the mystics have been misunderstood by the people who are fast asleep - people who do not know themselves, but are very eager to judge others. Every mystic is bound to be condemned by the masses as alone and drunk with his own aloneness. To be alone and to be drunk with your own aloneness is what meditation is all about.
Be in the world, but don’t be of it. Be with people, but don’t let them become part of you.
When Junnaid, a Sufi mystic, went to see his master for the first time, his family was on the one hand crying, and on the other hand feeling proud that one of their sons was going in search of truth.