Imam Mohammed Baqir is said to have related this illustrative fable:
‘Finding I could speak the language of ants, I approached one and inquired, "What is God like? Does he resemble the ant?"
‘He answered, "God! No, indeed – we have only a single sting, but God, he has two!"
What is God?
Al-Hillaj Mansoor says:
It is the gathering together then the silence
Then the loss of words and the awareness
Then the discovering and the nakedness.
And it is the fire clay then the fire
Then the clarity and the cold
Then the darkness then the sun.
And it is the orgy then the casting away of cares
Then the wish and the approach
Then the conjunction then the joy.
And it is the strain then the relaxation
Then the disappearance and the separation
Then the union…
Then the fusion.
What is God?
It depends on you. Your God will be your God, my God will be my God. There are as many Gods as there are possibilities of looking at God. It is natural. We cannot go beyond our plane; we can only be aware of God through our eyes, through our minds. God will be just a reflection in our small mirror. That’s why there are so many concepts about God.
It is like the moon in the sky on a full moon night. There are millions of rivers and reservoirs and oceans and small streams and small puddles on the road – they will all reflect God, they will all reflect the moon. A small puddle will reflect the moon in its own way and the big ocean will reflect it in its own way.
Then there is great controversy. Hindus say something, Mohammedans say something else, Christians say something else again – and so on, so forth. The controversy is foolish. The conflict is meaningless. God is reflected in millions of ways, in millions of mirrors. Each mirror reflects in its own way. This is one of the fundamentals to be understood. Not understanding this fundamental there is naturally antagonism between religions, because they all think, “If our standpoint is right then the other has to be wrong.” Their rightness depends on the other’s wrongness. This is stupid. God is infinite, and you can look at him through many ways, through many windows. And naturally you can look at him only through yourself – you will be the window. Your God will reflect God as much as it will reflect you; you will both be there.
When Mansoor says something, he is saying something about himself. This tremendously beautiful statement – then the union…then the fusion – is much more about al-Hillaj Mansoor than about God. This is Mansoor’s God. This is Mansoor’s unique experience.