Jan 27 2014
If You welcome me, then I am Your accepted one
by Sharafuddin Maneri
English version by Paul Jackson
If You welcome me, then I am Your accepted one:
If You do not, I am still Your rejected servant!
I should not be worried whether You accept or reject me:
My task, in either state, is to remain preoccupied with You!
— from In Quest of God: Maneri’s Second Collection of 150 Letters, by Sharafuddin Maneri / Translated by Paul Jackson
/ Photo by rachel_titiriga /
Here in America people are gearing up for the Super Bowl. I’m especially aware of football fever because one of the two teams that made it to the Super Bowl this year is from Colorado, where I live. Everyone is wearing the colors of the Denver Broncos, flying Broncos flags. Even for someone who is not a sports fan, you can feel the sense of regional pride and shared experience while everyone readies for the big game.
Of course, the question on everyone’s lips is, will we win? Who will claim ultimate victory?
Then I read this poem by Shaikh Maneri, and I laugh. This poem is exactly the opposite of all that focus on winning. In this short meditation on the path to God, success and failure are beside the point.
As a seeker, whether or not we will be “accepted” by God and melt into that supreme bliss is not the question that should preoccupy our minds on the path. When we are constantly measuring our spiritual successes and failures, we don’t walk our path well, with the necessary poise and patience.
What is important is not so much how close our relationship with God is or how distant it seems — but recognizing the relationship itself. The satisfaction is found in our very devotion to the Absolute. A mature lover finds fulfillment in loving, without the need for constant reassurances. That is enough for the steady journey. –And, so long as we keep that sacred focus, it gives us victory even in defeat.
This poem reminds me of a Hindu story of a great saint who took the path of rejection all the way to God. As a young man, he hated God. He acutely felt every bit of suffering and wrong in the world, and he blamed God for it all. His hatred of God obsessed him. He constantly muttered his recriminations to God. His every thought and feeling was focused through his anger… on God. And his focus became so keen, that it was enough, and the bliss of enlightenment came upon him.
“Accepted” by God, “rejected” by God… The Eternal neither accepts nor rejects us, for how can we ever be truly separate from that which always and everywhere IS? But in our limited awareness we can create roadblocks and imagine them to be outside ourselves. Success in dispelling those illusions of separation from God is not always easy or obvious. But by remaining preoccupied with our purpose, our entire life force becomes oriented toward it; our energies flow toward our focus, and more and more they flow around whatever distractions and stuckness block the way.
Our job is not to emerge with the victory cup while the crowds roar their approval. Neither is our job to avoid the bitter disappointment of failure. No, our job as spiritual seekers is to overwhelm both success and failure with vibrant, joyful, and constant celebration of the Divine already within us.
Shaikh Sharafuddin Yahya Maneri is one of the most beloved Muslim saints of India. He was born and lived in Bihar near Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as Makhdum al-Mulk “The Spiritual Master of the Realm.”
As a young man he became a disciple of the Sufi master Shaikh Abu Tawwama. Under Abu Tawwama’s guidance, Sharafuddin Yahya Maneri became well versed in all traditional areas of Muslim religious learning while diving deeply into spiritual exercises and meditation.
During this time, he was so immersed in his spiritual practices that he ignored several letters that had come from his home. When he completed his studies, he finally opened the letters only to discover that his father had died.
He eventually returned home after marrying the daughter of his teacher.
Shaikh Maneri is widely known for his “100 Letters” addressed to the Governor of Chausa outlining the path to God. These letters are read, studied, and meditated upon by Sufis and spiritual seekers throughout India and South Asia.
The name Maneri refers to the region of Maner, where the Ganges River once met the Son River.
Shaikh Yahya Maneri’s tomb, near Patna, Bihar in India, is a popular destination for pilgrims of many religious traditions today.