Worship as Paradise, in Gate of the Heart
Posted by Sen on July 20, 2010
Continuing a series of postings to give readers a taste of Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart , I’ve chosen a section on pages 248-251 entitled “Worship as Paradise.” Naturally, in the book, Saiedi cites his sources, but if you want those, you will have to buy the book.
The ultimate meaning and the supreme end of phenomenal reality is worship of God. In typical approaches to the idea of worship, fear of punishment and desire for reward are the main motivations, but in the Bab’s writings these are inferior reasons as they are focused on something other than God. Worship of God must be an end in itself. It still entails reward, but in a new way. True worship, as the Bab explains, is the most exalted station human beings can attain: it is a mode of consciousness and feeling in which one is aware of being related to the entire universe by virtue of concentrating on the Supreme Origin of all reality. This kind of worship is the realization of the inner truth and reality of one’s own being, as well as union with the Divine Beloved. As such, it constitutes the realization of the potentialities of one’s own essential reality and the attainment of the state of paradise for human beings.
Worship, therefore, is an absolutely mystical state of being, a spiritual orientation in which one perceives in every thing nothing but the divine names and attributes. Worship, in other words, is a relation of true love, in which the lover, the Beloved, and the love become one and the same. All the concepts of heavenly reward revolve around this supreme state of servitude, a servitude whose inner reality is divinity:
Verily, the most sublime station of reward, and the most exalted position of divine summons, is naught but the state of the servant’s turning toward his Lord with utter devotion. For verily God will ever shed upon thee and through thee the splendours of His revelation ….
By thy Lord! Shouldst thou taste the joy of that ecstatic station, thou wouldst never part with it, even shouldst thou be torn asunder. For should one truly testify, “There is none other God but God,” he would taste the sweet delight of the revelation of everlasting glory, would be illumined by the dawning light of the Sun of Divine Unity, and would be exalted above all the contingent beings through the radiant Countenance of the Sovereign Source of Revelation.
God cannot be worshipped for any reason other than His own intrinsic Beauty, for at that station, nothing else even exists. The Bab extends this principle to the recognition of Him Whom God shall make manifest, stating that one must recognize the Promised One out of the intrinsic worth of His reality and not due to any social and material reasons external to Him. Again, this recognition constitutes the true paradise of human beings:
For were I to find Him alone, in His transcendent unity, I would unhesitatingly bow down before Him, solely on account of His intrinsic supreme worth, inasmuch as that kneeling is naught but adoration for Thee in Thy oneness, for there is none other God but Thee.
In like manner, should I find that all on earth prostrate themselves before Him, this would in no wise increase the awe of His majesty in my heart … For recognizing Him by Him, and through the testimony of His own Self, is paradise, the like of which hath not been created in Thy Knowledge. And were I to be swayed by anything, then I would have not believed in Thy Unity as it beseemeth Thee, nor acknowledged Him as it befitteth Him.”
In this elevated state of worship, the worshipper is completely oblivious to the consequences of the rapturous expression of love. Thus the Bab frequently says that true worship is performed by the servant even if the consequence of the deed is punishment rather than reward. In the Persian Bayan, He writes:
Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so like-wise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should »be the worship which befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God’s creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men.
Fire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise. Although when true worship is offered, the worshipper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the paradise of God’s good-pleasure, yet such should not be the motive of his act.
Thus, the Bab says, the mark that distinguishes true testifying to the unity of worship is the continuous awareness of the possibility of alteration – the recognition that it is only by virtue of divine grace and mercy that the act of worship is recompensed by the reward of heaven, and that at any moment divine justice may alter this decision and replace it by the punishment of hell. Yet, for the servant in such a state of devotion, this knowledge would not have the slightest effect on the worship. Just as testifying to the unity of divine Action was exemplified in the consciousness of Destiny, testifying to the unity of worship is crystallized in the ever-present consciousness of the possibility of alteration. The prayers of the Bab are imbued with this same consciousness; for example, He writes: “By Thy Glory! I testify in Thy presence that, verily, Wert Thou to torment me for my mention of Thy Self, throughout the eternity of Thy glory, by all that is in Thy power of seizure and vengeance, violence and wrath, Thou must assuredly be praised in Thine action and obeyed in Thy judgment, for I would truly deserve it.”
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