The Entire Cosmos is a Mirror to the Divine
Everything in this universe is a mirror pointing to God Almighty, like an articulate language telling of Him, and a tune singing His Name. Human beings, things, and the whole of existence always reflects Him and bears witness to Him in their sounds and silences, acts and positions, in their beings and the fruits they yield. In their manners and stances they allude and point to Him. They are like shadows emanating from His existence in their weave, pattern, and accents…. Let those who cannot see fail to see; those who can see with their insight read His signs in everything, and listen to such sounds and words from His different manifestations. If hearts are open to Him and eyes can see beyond corporeality—this may not be to the same degree in everyone—whenever we look at existence as if we were reading it like a book, whenever we visit the exhibition of this earth and set ourselves to gazing at it, we find everything in it as mesmerizing as in dreams. Those who do not or cannot look at things and events in the Name of the Creator cannot feel this charm, underlying meaning and content. They cannot see the beauty, harmony, grace, and the underlying purpose, will, and wisdom behind all of these… They cannot feel the light, knowledge, love and vigor flowing from them into our souls.
However, all things are under a mysterious spell all the time. Nature sways like a flower bed. Rays of light gently descend as if being poured down on our heads with compassion. Breezes caress us with a new grace at every moment. And the winds blow with a mixture of scents.
In the sight of someone who has managed to adopt the right perspective, everything living or non-living points to God with its manner and appearance; as things smile at us, they make allusions to Him, presenting ranks of pictures of meanings which belong to Him. They open up to our gaze entrancing vistas and let our souls listen to choruses of the most delightful sounds. All of existence is enlivened in our eyes as if it were feeling the joy of reunion. We join the same rhythm at times, we enjoy the rapture as far as we are capable… and we remember Him in every breath we draw and release. As our vision become clearer, we see the hues appearing and hear the sounds echoing around us differently. We interpret every act and every sound very differently as if we were able to understand the tongues of all things. From the blades of grass and the trees swaying around us to the birds flying overhead, from the tiny creatures hurrying here and there near our feet to intimidating creatures of immense size, from an entire arena of things to humankind, which represents the hands, feet, eyes, ears, tongue, and lips of the tree of creation, in short, from everybody, every event, and every object, we get different messages; we try to decode them in our own way, enter deeper reveries as we succeed, open up more towards the essence, are further invigorated—how happy are those who can accomplish all this!—and then we can focus on the dimension that lies behind the apparent face of all things.
For such people, this universe and what it contains seems like a comprehensive book. This magical palace called the world becomes an exhibition of divine art. The life they lead turns into an enjoyable journey to the Hereafter and what they see and sense makes them realize that they are alive. And then they feel as if they were soaring past the horizons of the heart and spirit for a lifetime. As existence and what is beyond open to their consciousness, the knowledge and love of God within them transforms into a deeper love and attachment. Now these people feel Him in everything and relate every event and every object to Him. Life becomes more beautiful to them than ever before; everything changes its manner and language and assumes a more magical identity. Then their spirit, which ascends beyond all obvious considerations, awakens to deep secrets never unlocked before.
If we manage to overcome the barriers of the body and corporeality, we see the entire cosmos as if everything has passed to a different dimension and feel as if we are in a world of surprises. Then we interpret every event differently—the air we breath every moment; the rivers which flow chanting His Name, the blades of grass swaying sweetly as they offer bouquets of melodies to us, and the trees; the stars singing a new song to us every night; the moons and suns, whose rising and settings are all adjusted in precise measure and which offer us different feasts every night—and what is more, we feel as if everything is a part of our being because of the spaciousness faith brings to our hearts. And then every time we gaze at the magnificent spectacle of this cosmos, we let ourselves go into waterfalls of love and vitality and feel as if we are soaring through a magical time towards the reunion with the Most Beloved. As we walk, we benefit from the lights of the signs He placed on the road, we converse with everything living or non-living we encounter, give heartfelt greetings to the signs and sign bearers, try to transform the difficulties of travel into blessings of the way, make the hours, minutes, and seconds granted for our journey gain such depth that they become a means to reach eternity, and turn this transient life into a corridor leading to the realms beyond. Actually, all the beauties of this world which evoke surprise and admiration in hearts can only open up through our intentions and adjusting our perspective correctly, provided that the Beloved One looks upon us with mercy. Then these beauties become eternal, and a day comes when they rise on the horizons of our spirit and shine. We feel the genuine taste and delight of the fruits of life we enjoy thanks to the graces of the Beloved One. We understand the relation of other beings to us and the warm company they keep along the way by feeling and sensing their relation to the Only Beloved One. And then, this relation within carries on as long as we manage to keep the warmth of our love, care, and closeness for Him, since all loves, cares, and relationships are for Him, who is the sole Ruler of the throne of love. Everything tells of Him in a different manner and style, utters words about Him to passersby, and whispers love of Him into our ears. So we love everything and everybody we come across on the way because of Him. If we are trying to keep our eyes on these roads, it is to see something from Him, and if we are alert to sounds, this is to hear something from Him. In fact, this is His right over us, and our responsibility toward Him. If a word is related to Him in the end, it may be considered to have found its value. Different considerations bear value if they can open a door to Him; and we can say that progress is being made if it is possible to keep every move and action within the scope of seeking His approval. We already know that we are sent into this world in order to prepare for a different realm. As for inviting to belief, it is nothing but calling people to such preparation. Those who believe in that are always aware in their feelings, thoughts, intentions, and all their actions that they are responding to that call, that they need to respond, and that they are on this testing ground and in this place of suffering in order to become worthy of the bounties and blessings beyond. So they constantly walk toward Him with the light of His presence in their eyes, the charm of believing in Him in their hearts, and a ceaseless desire for reunion in their dreams; by feeding their spirituality with faith, Islam, and perfect goodness,37 by being immersed in knowledge of God, and being refined through love and zeal…. They are in a state of constant bliss, surprise and admiration. They listen to sounds belonging to Him along the way, ask everybody and everything they see they come across about Him. They walk toward that Eternal King of all the known and unknown realms, as if they are fixed on the target.
They do not ask how long the road is, when the destination will be reached, or when the reunion will be realized; they do not wish for this journey of knowledge of God to end for they expect further graces and need more compassion. They are filled with considerations of loyalty and determination always to act sincerely, and eagerness for a wider perspective in their contemplation.
As they progress, they see better the smiling face of their fortune, the other side of their life, and the mysterious world of faith. Then they begin to draw new messages from everything, and they become more enthusiastic with every new sound and every glad tiding. They keep ascending as if realizing a holy Ascension (miraj). They reach levels previously unknown, travel through worlds unfamiliar to them, and greet everybody and everything they see. They shower all of these with smiles of contentment and walk toward the ultimate limits of the potential of their nature; smelling the roses and flowers on the way, talking with everything and everyone they encounter, conversing with light and shadow; listening to something of Him in every sound, every word, every accent, and every sight.
A time comes after this when they are always with Him, and they are freed of themselves. Their vision changes; they see the thorn as rose, and poison as honey… and they meet such great figures hidden behind humble appearances. God knows how many times they feel dizzy at different beauties, how many times their hearts thrill with divine surprises, how many chambers of secrets they visit, and how many times they receive divine compliments and graces in private. Every time they see and contemplate the different manifestations of His Beauty in different mirrors, the blood almost drains from their hearts, the rhythm of their pulse changes, and they sense Him alone. As a matter of fact, while our sensing Him is His due right, it is both a duty and blessing for us to do— or try to do—so. For the travelers who are aware of the gravity of this duty and who aim to attain the delight of this blessing, their journey is like a trip around the gardens of Paradise, no matter how steep and difficult the road being walked, and with the help of His signs placed here and there, covering the seemingly impossible distances turns into a journey of joy and zeal; apparently impassable chasms or obstacles are leapt over with the zest for reunion, and no trace of fatigue from the way or from the troubles of walking is felt; they wish to walk these paths forever. These souls, who are fixed on reaching the Beloved and seeing Him, are aware that they continue their lives by freeing themselves from the trivial matters of corporeality and the narrowness of the world, that they lead their lives within the vast and colorful atlas of faith and knowledge of God and are nourished by His graces. They revere everything they contemplate as a letter or a stamp from Him and always walk around the limits of spiritual delights. They think every peak of knowledge and love of God to be the ultimate citadel; they glorify Him with “God is great,” and express their gratitude with “all praise be to God.” However, they meet a new shower of surprises two steps later and find themselves in a different symphony of spiritual pleasures and knowledge of God.
On every new peak they reach they sense the All-Beautiful One in His different manifestations, they once more rise with love and vitality and walk toward the next peak which lies further on. Beauties follow one another on the path they walk; neither the manifestations of His Beauty end, nor does the pleasure of contemplation in their souls.
For those who can see and perceive, this road features love and zeal, just as it is replete with reunion in the form of drops which point to the ocean. God knows what else those who see the ocean in the drop, who contemplate constellations in an atom witness from the realms beyond, and what extraordinary sounds they listen to, for, “This world is but a mirror; nothing lasts but with the Almighty Lord” (anon). So, reading the signs is the purpose of creation and the essential wisdom of being human.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
37 The term ihsan, which is translated here as perfect goodness also denotes worshipping sincerely and seriously as if one were able to see God or at least in the awareness of being seen by Him.