Whoever Knows their Self, Knows their Lord | Awhad al-din Balyani – Sufi – Persia – 13th century
In the Name of Goddess, the Compassionate, the Merciful . . .
Praise belongs to Goddess, before whose oneness there is no before unless the before is She, and after whose singleness there is no after unless the after is She. She is, and there is not with Her any before or after, above or below, closeness or distance, how or where or when, time or moment or duration, manifested existence or place.
And She is now as She has always been. She is the One without oneness and the single without singleness. She is not composed of name and named, for Her name is Her and Her named is Her and there is no name or named other than Her. She is the first without firstness and the last without lastness.
Goddess is the apparent without appearance and the hidden without hiddenness. She is the very existence of the letters of the names, the first and the last, the apparent and the hidden. There is no first or last, apparent or hidden except Her, without the letters which form these divine names becoming Her and without Her becoming these letters.
Understand this so you do not make the mistake of those who believe in incarnation. Goddess is not in anything and no thing is in Her, whether entering into Her or coming out of Her. It is in this way that you should know Her and not through theoretical knowledge, reason, understanding or conjecture, nor with the senses, the external eye or interior sight or perception.
No one sees Her except Herself, no one reaches Her except Herself and no one knows Her except Herself. She knows Herself through Herself and She sees Herself by means of Herself. No one but She sees Her. Her veil is Her oneness since nothing veils Her other than Her. Her own being veils Her. Her being is concealed by Her oneness without any condition.
No one other than She sees Her. No sent prophet, perfect saint or angel brought close knows Her. Her prophet is She, Her messengers She, Her message is She and Her word is She. She sent Herself from Herself, through Herself to Herself. There is no intermediary or means other than Her. There is no difference between the sender, that which is sent and the one to whom it is sent. The very existence of the prophetic message is Her existence.
There is no existence to any other who could pass away, or have a name or be named. Because of this, the Prophet, Goddess bless Her and give Her peace, said, whoever knows their self, knows their Lord. She also said, I knew my Lord through my Lord. What the Prophet pointed out by that is that you are not you but you are Her and there is no you. It is not that She enters into you or that you enter into Her, or that She comes out of you or that you come out of Her. It does not mean that you have being and you are qualified by this or that attribute.
What is meant is that you never were and never will be, whether through yourself or through Her or in Her or with Her. You have neither ceased to be nor are you existent. You are Her and She is you, without any of these imperfections. If you know your existence in this way, then you know Goddess, and if not, then not.
Most of those who claim to know Goddess make the knowledge of Goddess dependent on the passing away of existence and on the passing away of that passing away. That is clearly an error and misconception. The knowledge of Goddess does not require the passing away of existence or the passing away of that passing away because things have no existence and what does not exist cannot pass away. Passing away implies the prior existence of something that passes away. If you know yourself without existing and passing away, then you know Goddess, and if not, then not.
By making the knowledge of Goddess dependent on the passing away of your existence and the passing away of that passing away, there is an affirmation of something other than Goddess. The Prophet said, Whoever knows their self, knows their Lord. She did not say, Whoever annihilates their self, knows their Lord. Your being is nothing and whatever is nothing cannot be placed in relationship to anything else, whether capable of passing away or not, whether existent or nonexistent.
The Prophet pointed to the fact that you are nonexistent now as you were nonexistent before creation, because now is eternity-without-beginning and now is eternity-without-end and now is timelessness. Goddess is the very being of eternity-without-beginning, eternity-without-end and timelessness even though in reality there is no eternity-without-beginning, eternity-with-out-end or timelessness. If it were otherwise, She would not be alone, without any associate.
However, it is necessary for Her to be one without any associate because any associate would exist through itself, and not through the being of Goddess. Then that associate would not need Goddess and would therefore be a second Lord, which is impossible. Goddess has no associate, equal or like. Whoever sees anything with Goddess, whether coming out of Her or within Her, or dependent on Her by virtue of Her lordship, has also made that thing an associate even if that associate depends on Her by virtue of Her lordship.
Whoever allows that there could be anything with Goddess, whether subsisting by itself or through Her, whether in a state of having passed away or the passing away of passing away, is far from breathing the scent of self-knowledge. Whoever accepts that there could be any being other than Her, yet subsisting through Her and in Her, then passing away in successive stages of passing away, and the passing away of passing, is a polytheist (one who believes in many Goddesses) and knows neither Goddess nor their self.
The knowledge of the self and knowledge of Goddess consists in being aware that Goddess is, and nothing is with Her, and She is now as She has always been. Ask of Goddess to show you things as they are, to show you what is other than Her as Herself, without the existence of what is other than Her. In this way you may know all things as the essence of Goddess, who is exalted, without how or where. The word “things” applies to the separate self and to other things, because the existence of the separate self and the existence of things are equal in terms of being “things.”
When you truly know the things, you know yourself and when you know yourself, you know the Lord. What you think is other than Goddess is not other than Goddess but you do not know it. You see Her and you do not know that you see Her. When this secret is revealed to you, you will know that you are not other than Goddess and that you yourself are the object of your quest. You do not need to get rid of your self. You have not ceased nor will you cease to exist, without time and without moments. You will see Goddess’s attributes as your attributes, your exterior as Her exterior, your interior as Her interior, your first as Her first and your last as Her last, without any doubt or uncertainty.
You will see your attributes to be Her attributes and your essence to be Her essence, without you becoming Her and without Her becoming you in the least degree. Nothing exists except Her face, both outwardly and inwardly. Nothing other than Her has ever had being, and there is nothing that needs to pass away so that Her face remains. There is nothing except Her face.
It is as if a person does not know something, then comes to know it. Their existence does not disappear, but their ignorance disappears. Their existence remains as it was, without being exchanged for another, and without the existence of the ignorant person being added to or mixed with the knowing person: ignorance simply disappears.
Do not think therefore that you need to pass away, because if it were necessary to pass away, that would mean that you are Her veil. She would therefore be veiled by something other than Herself. This would require something other than Her having power over Her, preventing Her from being seen. That is an error and misconception. As we have already said, Her veil is nothing other than Her Oneness, Her singularity.
That is why the person who has reached the essential truth is allowed to say, I am the Truth, or Glory to me. No one has truly reached Goddess unless they see their attributes to be the attributes of Goddess and their essence to be the essence of Goddess, without their essence or their attributes ever entering into Goddess or coming out of Her, and without their passing away in relation to Goddess, or remaining in Goddess. They see that their self has never been their own, not that it was and then it passed away.
This is because there is no self except Her self, and there is no being except Her being. This is what the Prophet was alluding to when She said, Do not curse time, because Goddess is time and distance and closeness, and Goddess, who is blessed and exalted, is unblemished by any associate or equal or like. it is also reported that the Prophet said The high Goddess says, “O child of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me, I was hungry and you did not feed Me, I asked of you and you did not give to Me…”
The being of everyone who asks is Her being. When that is accepted, it is also accepted that your being is Her being, and the being of all created things is Her being. When the secret of the smallest is discovered, the secret of all created things is made clear, whether apparent or hidden. When that is truly accepted you will not see the two worlds as other than Goddess, without the two worlds and their names and what they name existing – or rather, their names and what they name and their existence are Her, without any doubt.
Do not see Goddess as having ever created anything but rather as being in every moment a different configuration that sometimes seems to reveal Her and sometimes seems to conceal Her, without any conditions, because She is the first and the last, the apparent and the hidden and She IS knowledge of everything. She manifests Herself in Her oneness and hides Herself in Her singularity. She is the first in Her essence and in Her Self-subsistence and the last in Her everlastingness. She is the very being of the name of the first and the name of the last, of the name of the apparent and the name of the hidden. She is Her own Name and what is named.
Just as Goddess’s existence is necessary, the nonexistence of what is other than Her is necessary. What you think is other than Her is not other than Her. She is free from there being any other than Her. Indeed, other than Her is Her without any otherness, whether believed to be with Her or in Her, inwardly or outwardly. Whoever is qualified in this way has innumerable attributes, without limit or end.
Just as the person whose physical form passes away is deprived of all their attributes whether praiseworthy or blameworthy, so the person who dies a mystical death has all their attributes, whether praiseworthy or blameworthy, taken away from them and Goddess comes into their place in all their expressions and states. The essence of Goddess comes into the place of their essence and the attributes of Goddess come into the place of their attributes.
Because of this, the Prophet said, Die before you die, that is, Know yourself before you die. She also said, Goddess says, “My servant continues to approach Me with free acts until I love Her. And when l love Her, I am Her hearing, Her sight, Her hand. . .” This refers to the fact that whoever knows their self sees their whole being as the very being of Goddess, without any change in their essence or attributes.
Goddess takes the last step upon a journey that never happened. There is no need for any change since a person was not the existence of their own essence but instead was simply ignorant of the knowledge of their self. When you know yourself, egoism disappears and your knowing is that you are no other than Goddess. If you had an independent existence, you would have no need of passing away or of self knowledge. You would instead be a lord apart from Her, but there is no lord apart from Goddess, who is blessed and exalted.
The benefit of the knowledge of the self is to know for certain that you are neither existent nor nonexistent, that you are not, never have been and never will be. In this way, the meaning of There is no Goddess but Goddess becomes clear: there is no divinity other than Her, being belongs to none but Her, there is no other except Her, there is no Goddess but She. She has never stopped being both ruler and ruled, just as She has never stopped being both creator and what is created, and She is now as She has always been. Her creativity and Her lordship do not need what is created or is subject to Her.
When She brought creation and creatures into existence, She was already endowed with all Her attributes, and She is now as She has always been. Her oneness is the same whether it is seen as the new or the eternal. The new requires Her manifestation and the eternal requires Her remaining hidden. Her exterior is identical to Her interior and Her interior is identical to Her exterior; Her first is the same as Her last and Her last is the same as Her first, the all is one and the one is all.
He is described as every day in a different configuration when there is always nothing other than Her. And She is now as She has always been, since in reality what is other than Her has no being. Just as in eternity-without-beginning and timelessness, She was every day in a different configuration when no thing existed, so She is now as She has always been, although there is no thing or day, just as there has been from all eternity no thing or day. The existence of the creatures and their nonexistence are the same.
If it were not so, it would require the origination of something which was not already in Her oneness. That would imply imperfection and Her oneness is far more exalted than that. When you know yourself in this way, without attributing any opposite, like, equal or associate to Goddess, then you really know yourself. That is why the Prophet said, Whoever knows their self knows their Lord and not Whoever gets rid of their self knows their Lord, because She knew and saw that there is nothing other than Her. Then She pointed out that the knowledge of the self is the knowledge of Goddess.
In other words, to Know yourself is to Know your being, because you are not you but you do not know it. That is, know that your being is neither your being nor other than your being. You are neither existent nor nonexistent, nor other than existent nor other than nonexistent. Your being and your non-being are Her being, without any being or absence of being, because your being and your non-being are the same as Her being and Her being is the same as your being and non-being.
So if you see things without seeing anything else with Goddess or in Goddess, but see things as Her, then you know yourself and such a knowledge of the self is knowledge of Goddess, without doubt or uncertainty and without mixing anything temporal with the eternal, whether in Her or through Her.
If someone asks you: What is the way to union when you assert that there is no other than Her, yet one thing cannot be united to itself; this is the reply: There is no doubt that in reality there is neither union nor separation, distance or closeness, since union is only possible between two things and if there is only one there can be neither union nor separation. Union requires two things which are either similar – in which case they are equal, or dissimilar – in which case they are opposites. However, She is exalted far above having any opposite or equal. Therefore union lies in something other than union, closeness in something other than closeness and distance in something other than distance. There is union without union, closeness without closeness and distance without distance.
If someone asks: We understand union without union, but what does closeness without closeness and distance without distance mean; the reply is: In those times of closeness and distance you were not anything other than Goddess, but you did not know yourself and you were not aware that you were always Her, without “you.” When you reach Goddess, that is, when you know yourself in a way that is beyond all conditions, you know that you are Her, and you know that you did not know before whether you were Her or other than Her. When knowledge comes upon you, you know that it is through Goddess that you know Goddess, not through yourself.
Suppose, for example, that you do not know that your name is Mary, or that what your name designates is Mary (name and named are the same), and that you think that your name is Jane. If you then learn that you are really Mary, you do not stop being who you were. The name Jane is simply taken away from you because you have come to know you are Mary and you were only Jane by believing you were other than Mary.
Ceasing to be presupposes the affirmation of the existence of what is other than Goddess, and whoever affirms the existence of what is other than Her has attributed (projected) the existence of something other than Her. Nothing has been taken away from Mary: Jane did not pass away into Mary and Mary did not enter into Jane or come out of her, nor did Mary ever become incarnated in or as Jane. When Mary knew (realized) herself, that she was Mary and not Jane, she knew herself through herself and not through Jane.
Because Jane never was, how could anything be known through her? Therefore the knower and the known, the one who arrives and what She arrives at, and the seer and the seen are one. “The knower” is Her attribute and “the known” is Her essence, and “the one who arrives” is Her attribute and “what She arrives at” is Her essence. In actuality, the attribute and that to which it is attributed are one. That is the explanation of the saying, Whoever knows their self, knows their Lord.
Whoever understands this example knows that there is no union or separation. The knower is She and the known is She, the one who sees is She and what is seen is She, the one who arrives is She and what She arrives at is She. No other than She reaches union, no other than She separates from Her. Whoever understands this is free of polytheism, and whoever has not understood this has not breathed the scent of this freedom from polytheism. Most of “those who know,” who think that they know themselves and their Lord and think that they are free of the bonds of existence, declare that the way can only be travelled by passing away, then by the passing away of passing away.
That is because they do not understand the saying of the Prophet and, believing themselves to be free of polytheism, they allude sometimes to the negation of existence, that is, to the passing away of existence, sometimes to the passing away of passing away, and sometimes to extinction or annihilation. All these expressions are unadulterated polytheism because whoever accepts that there could be anything other than Her that is subsequently capable of passing away, then of passing away from passing away, affirms that there is something other than Her, and whoever affirms this is a polytheist. May Goddess guide them and us to the right path.
You thought you were you, but you are not you and never were. For if you were you, you would be a lord and the second of two. Stop what you were thinking. Between Her being and your being there is no difference. She is no different from you nor you from Her.
If you say in ignorance you are other, then you are stubborn, so that when seeming ignorance disappears you become submissive. This sort of union is more separation, separation that “becomes” union, distance that “becomes” closeness, and through such as that you believe you become suitable. Instead of all that, abandon the intellect and understand by the light of unveiling, which is the undoing of what never was, so that what you are still safeguarding does not escape you. Do not debase yourself by associating any other with Goddess, for associating other with Goddess is debasing.
Whoever truly knows their self knows that their being is not their being, nor other than their being. Rather they know they are the very being of Goddess, without their being becoming the being of Goddess or entering into Goddess or coming out of Her, and without their being existing along with Her or in Her. They see their being as it was before coming into being, without the need for passing away, effacement, or the passing away of passing away.
For the passing away of something implies that it was previously existent and that in turn implies that it exists by itself and not by the power of Goddess, which is clearly impossible. It is evident that the knowledge that the knower has of their self is the knowledge that Goddess has of Herself, because their self is no other than She. By this “self,” the Prophet meant “being.”
The being of the one who reaches this spiritual level is no longer their being whether inwardly or outwardly, but rather it is the very being of Goddess. Their speech is Her speech, their actions are Her actions, and their claim to the knowledge of Goddess is the knowledge Goddess has of Herself through Herself. Because of ignorance someone may hear this claim as though coming from a person, or see such a one’s actions as though coming from a person, and so see them as other than Goddess. But this is only because they are seeing themselves as other than Goddess.
The faithful ones are the mirror of the Faithful One. She is She in Her eye, for Her sight is Goddess’s sight without any conditions, though She may not be She through your eye or your knowledge, understanding, imagination, thought or vision. Yet She is She in Her eye, Her knowledge and Her vision. If it is this way, then if She says I am Goddess, listen to Her, because it is Goddess who is saying I am Goddess, not Her.
You have not reached the point She has reached, since if you had arrived here, you would understand what She says, you would say what She says and you would see what She sees. To summarize, the existence of things is Her existence, without them existing. But do not fall into confusion and do not let these allusions lead you to imagine that Goddess is created.
One of those who knows has said, The Sufi is uncreated. It is like that after the complete unveiling and dissipation of doubts and conjecturing. But this spiritual nourishment is only for the person whose nature is larger than the two worlds. As for the person whose nature is only as large as the two worlds, it is not suitable for them, for this nourishment is greater than the two worlds.
First, you must know that the seer and the seen, the one who finds and what is found, the knower and the known, the creator and the created, the perceiver and the perceived, are one. She sees, knows and perceives Her being by means of Her being, beyond any manner of sight, knowledge or perception, and without the existence of any of the forms of sight, knowledge or perception. Just as Her being is beyond all condition, so the vision, knowledge and perception which She has of Herself are without condition.
If someone asks: How do you view all the repulsive and desirable things? For example, when we see dung or carrion, do we say it is Goddess; the reply is: Our conversation is with those who do not see dung as dung, carrion as carrion, or desirable things as desirable things. We are only speaking with those who are endowed with inner vision and not with those who are inwardly blind. Anyone who does not know their self is blind and does not see. Until their blindness and lack of vision disappears, they will not grasp these meanings. Our conversation is with Goddess, not with other than Goddess and not with the inwardly blind.
Whoever reaches this spiritual station knows that they are no other than Goddess. We are speaking with those who have determination and energy in seeking knowledge of their self in order to know Goddess, and who keep fresh in their heart the image of their seeking and longing for union with Goddess, and not with those without aim or intention.
If someone objects: Goddess has declared that Eyes do not perceive Her but She perceives the eyes. Goddess is the subtle and well informed one and you are maintaining the contrary, so what you are saying is not true. Then the response is: Everything that we are saying is the very meaning of Goddess’s words, Eyes do not perceive Her, but She perceives the eyes, that is, there is no one else in existence, so there is no other that has sight which can perceive Her.
If it were conceivable that there were someone other than Her, then it would follow that this other could perceive Her. But Goddess has informed us in Her saying Eyes do not perceive Her that there is no other except Her. This means that no other than She perceives Her, that is, She who perceives Her is Herself. There is no other than She. She is the one who perceives Her essence, not another. Eyes do not perceive Her because there is nothing but Her being.
Whoever maintains that eyes do not perceive Her because eyes are transient and what is transient cannot grasp what is eternal and everlasting still does not know their self. For there is nothing other, neither transient nor not-transient, and there are no eyes which are not Her. She perceives Her own being without the existence of perception, without condition and without other.
without doubt or uncertainty.
My essence is really Her essence
without lack or imperfection.
There is no otherness between Us
and my self is the place where
the invisible appears.
Since I know myself
without mixture or blemish,
I have reached union with my beloved
without distance or closeness.
I have received a gift overflowing
without any giving or intermingling.
My self did not vanish in Her
nor does the one who vanished remain.
If someone asks: You affirm Goddess and you deny the existence of everything else, so what are these things that you see; the answer is this: These words are for those who see nothing other than Goddess. We have no discussion with those who do see something other than Goddess, for they only see what they see. Whoever knows their self sees nothing except Goddess, but whoever does not know their self, does not see Goddess. Each receptacle only exudes what is in it.
We have already explained a great deal and if we explained more, whoever does not see will still not see, understand or comprehend; but whoever does see, sees, understands and comprehends already. A hint is enough for the one who has reached union. As for the person who has not reached union, they will not arrive by theoretical teaching, instruction, repetition, reason or learning, but only by putting themselves in the service of an eminent master who has arrived and so is a wise teacher. Guided by light upon the spiritual path, and progressing through the means of their own spiritual will, they will reach in this way what they are seeking, as Goddess wills.
May Goddess grant us completion in what She loves and in what satisfies Her in word and deed, knowledge and practice, light and guidance. She is the power of everything and will respond to every true request. There is no power or ability except in Goddess, the sublime, the magnificent.
Peace and blessings on the Prophet, Her family and friends.
13th century Sufi from Persia
(Rendered from a translation by Cecilia Twinch)