Parable about Offense, Forgiveness, and the Purification of the Soul
One day a middle-aged woman came to the Master casting no shadows.
She told Him her sad story about her life:
“I came to You for help, because my life is full of sorrow and makes no sense. I don’t cherish any hope that someday everything will change and Allah will send happiness to my home…
“I am a widow…
“My father was a Sufi. He taught me the love for Allah that lives in the beauty of nature, of music, of words, and of wise thoughts. He taught me to read and write, to perform music and beautiful dances…
“However, he died early, and then my relatives married me off. I was very young, almost a child, and obeyed… My husband was much older than I. I was to him like a slave-concubine that fulfilled his indisputable will obediently even when everything inside me resisted… I couldn’t even imagine then that a woman can really love her husband… Time went on… My husband became old and no longer ordered me about as before, but I continued to serve him…
“We didn’t have children…
“… Then he died and I stayed all alone.
“At that time, I woke up from a bad dream. I started, as in my childhood, seeing the beauty around, hearing the singing of birds and the murmur of water in a river. I began to see stars and the sun…. This beauty gave me the hope…
“I fell in love with one man, my neighbor. We could have become a good match… We spoke about the important… It seemed to me that we always understood each other… It seemed to me that he loved me too and that he wanted to marry me and soon would offer me to unite our lives…
“The time was passing, but he still did not speak about the marriage…
“And then… he married a young girl… Yes, she was very beautiful, but this was her only virtue… She was moody and not very clever… She ordered her husband about and made him satisfy all her whims…
“I still loved him… It was the light in my life, even though my love was not reciprocated. I forgave him for his choice. We remained good friends.
“Then one day he offended me gravely. It was as if the light grew dark in the soul… I realized that I no longer could, as before, live by love that I gave to him, because he didn’t need my love…
“Even now his contemptuous and angry words continue to sound in the soul and poison my life!
“I will never be young and beautiful again. No one needs my skills… Loneliness and emptiness is all that awaits me… I don’t know how to live out the time that is left for me on the Earth… I almost have no means of livelihood. I cannot maintain the property of my ex-husband, which has already fallen into decay…”
“Do you know that you came to a Sufi? I will not give you advice on how and where you can find a husband. I’ll talk with you about something else. Do you want to change your life before the Eyes of Allah?”
“Yes, I want to try if something still can be done…”
“The first thing you need to learn is to forgive offenses. Look, everything bad that happens to you now comes from your resentment!
“Everyone should learn to change situations in his or her own life ‘from his or her end’.
“It often happens that we cannot change the events that come into our lives, because they are beyond our control. However, we always can choose our own point of view on those events, our attitude to what is going on.
“And we should always remember that everything that comes to our lives is sent by Allah and that He sends it for our good!
“For example, it is raining. You can be sad that the weather is not good and that you can’t even leave your house. Or you can be happy that this living moisture is nourishing crops and grasses, trees and shrubs.
“You can be sad because the intense heat does not let you enjoy a stroll. Or you can be glad that this warmth will help the harvest to ripen.”
“You are speaking like my father, and I am listening to you like a little girl!”
“You were offended, and I even know that what happened to you was unfair if we look at this situation with the eyes of an ordinary person. Nevertheless, it depends on you whether you continue accumulating the bile of bitter resentment and suffer because of it — or forgive and let the whole situation go so that you can open yourself for a new and clean life in harmony with Allah!
“Many people live dreaming of revenge for years, hatching up plans of murder… You are not like them: you do not want to harm that man. Still you’re doing bad to yourself! You harm yourself by spoiling all the best that is in you! This is a sin before Allah! You poison the soul slowly with your state of resentment! This can result in a serious illness and then in an untimely death of your body.
“It’s up to you to continue being offended or to forgive! You managed to forgive him when he didn’t choose you as his helpmate. So, why not forgive him right now as well?
“Each time we can decide how to react to what is sent by Allah to our lives, and the only correct decision in each case is to thank Him for all that He sends. Thanks to these lessons, we can become better — kinder and cleverer!
“It is completely in our power to choose how to react to what comes to us from Him! You once were learning to do this a long time ago.
“You don’t know yet what a wonderful gift from Allah came to your life with that event and that now you have an opportunity to change a lot in your destiny!
“Your father was a great master and could teach you how to live by the spiritual heart. A heart with wings is a symbol of Sufis. This heart can soar in the world of Love and Light even when everything around takes a very unfavorable turn!
“However, you have recalled the lessons of your father only a few times during your entire adult life! This is why many things in it were not as good as they could have been…
“Now you can recollect how you were taught to live being full of love for Allah and for everything around you! You can live as the developed spiritual heart and no longer break down due to outside events that seem to be unwanted at first sight…
“You should see and understand what happens when a soul submerges into the emotions of resentment, anger, sadness, despair, desire ‘to get’, or envy… Any low state of a soul makes this soul move to that layer of the multidimensional universe where the winds of the same emotions reign. They capture this soul, enslave it and do not let it swim out to the light, to the joy of life in Purity and Love…
“One should learn to purify oneself as a soul, accustoming oneself to living in the Subtlety and Light, so that the layers of Love, Harmony, Tenderness, and Care will become one’s natural habitat!
“Look, the one who lives being entangled with low emotional states, such as depression, creates around oneself similar dull and lifeless space… The same can be said about a soul that splashes the filth of hatred and anger around itself. Those black and sticky states pollute intensively the surrounding area! This evil affects negatively other people and all other souls, including plants, animals, and other beings! Thus sadness and filth multiply in the space of our planet!
“The longer the soul resides in heavy and dirty states, the harder it will be for it to stand up, to cleanse and accustom itself to living in the transparent purity, kindness, and tenderness!
“Sufi path is the Path of Purity!
“So you need to begin with obtaining the purity of yourself as a soul! Only then you will be able to transform the surrounding space with this purity!
“If one, having woken up in the morning, opens one’s spiritual heart, fills it with calm, love, and tenderness, and sends these emotions to all directions — forward, backward, left, right, up, and down — wishing to give love and calm to everything around — then the pure and subtle space of the spiritual heart opens, and Allah joyfully fills it with Himself!
“You can also learn to merge with the Flow of Light of Allah that runs from top to bottom and ask Him to help you in the purification of your body and the soul. Then a waterfall of Purity will flow down abundantly! This Shining Flow will help you to cleanse your body and the soul, to wash yourself with the Light and become filled with It!
“All this is very simple! You should do it every day!
“Having filled yourself with Purity, you will be able to merge with the River of the Divine Light That flows above the expanse of fields, meadows, steppes, or deserts. In this way, you also will be able to give love — together with Allah — to everything and everyone around you!
“To begin with, these several methods of purification of the soul will be enough for you. Then I will teach you other methods. There are many of them! This is the Path of Purity — the Path of a Sufi!
“Right now another very simple technique can help you. If suddenly dark and heavy thoughts and emotions — due to your habit formed during years — try to overcome you once again, then you can cultivate a habit of appealing immediately to Allah in such situations. Exclaim in your spiritual heart: ‘Allah — Akbar!’ and then thank Him, remembering that He — Great and Omnipresent — is looking at you, loving you, and wanting to help you… His reciprocal Love then will kindle every time in your heart!
“You will be able to do this if you want!”
“All this is great, but I’d like to bring at least some benefit to others! It’s so hard to live, knowing that you are useless, that your life does not warm anyone, does not give fruits!”
“You received a good education. Could you rewrite some of the books that contain wise sayings of Sufi Masters and some edifying stories? I have very valuable manuscripts that exist only in one or few copies in the entire world. You could help a lot of people to become familiar with that wisdom which is contained in them…”
“Yes, I’ll be able to do this well!”
“Then My disciples will bring you the texts and some money so that you do not have to think about what to buy food with… This work is very important for many people. It will also bring great benefit to you if you do not just copy these texts but use the wisdom contained in them in your life.”
… The Master gave her one of the manuscripts, and she, full of gratitude, went home to try to start a new life.
* * *
Some time passed since then. On the surface, almost nothing had changed in her life, but her attitude to everything that was happening became quite different.
The disciples of the Master brought her new books and some money from time to time and helped her with housework. Besides, at the request of the Master, they explained the new methods of cleansing and development of the soul to her.
She also quite often found valuable advice on the pages of the books that she copied for others. When she was working with those texts, it seemed to her that she was speaking with the Master and that He was indicating what she should pay special attention to. She tried to follow His advice at all times.
However, one day a young disciple gave her latest work back to her, saying that the Master was not satisfied with the ornament, in whose design, according to Him, there was no harmony. That is why He was asking her to do this work over again…
The young man left without lingering on.
She stayed alone…
Despair seized her: “Can it really be true that I wasn’t able to do even this simple work? Oh Allah! Is there any hope for me?”
Tears streamed from her eyes…
Then she set to work again, trying hard to feel harmony and the Love of Allah…
She repainted the ornament and then began to rewrite a new text. The words were falling into place, forming nice and neat lines. The text was saying the following:
“If a person makes a mistake and then understands it and repents, unavoidably there will be a similar situation in his or her life in which he or she should act correctly. In that way, this person will prove to Allah that His lesson was learned.
“If, on the other hand, the mistake persists, then the tests will be also repeated until this person erases all the facets of this vice of the soul.
“The same thing will happen with every vice.
“As a result, the soul should become like a crystal clear glass vessel, in which the Light of Allah shines!
“The one who understands this accepts difficulties of these tests with joy and humility and praises Allah for every possibility to become better!”
She laughed happily, realizing that she had understood the idea of this lesson received from Allah: she repeated her mistake! How unstable her achieved level of purity and love turned out to be!
She saw the smiling face of the Master that consisted of Light and thanked Him for this lesson!
Light and Love filled her! She comprehended how Allah was helping her to become better!
The happiness of life under His Guidance flooded her, and she continued her work.
* * *
Time went by… She kept learning to feel the Will of Allah and the joy of life dedicated to Him.
The disciples of the Master liked to be in her house. They liked simplicity and purity that now reigned there. They also liked how she rewrote books, how she decorated them with delicate ornaments, and how she took part in discussions by expressing humbly and simply wise thoughts sometimes.
The Master was also pleased with the success of His female disciple…
Villagers started coming to her with their requests or questions, and she never refused anyone and explained to them what she knew. She also retold stories that she copied. She told them in a very simple way, and what was difficult to understand turned into wise tales or parables from her lips…
Now children frequently visited her! They loved her stories and fairy tales very much! Thus her house became filled with laughter and joy, and she could teach those children the Laws of Love of Allah… Even though they were not her own, they loved her and called her among themselves Sufi storyteller.
Her neighbor changed as well. He apologized for having offended her once and even offered her to become his second wife… She answered him kindly that she no longer remembered that offense, but the past could not be returned, and now both — he and she — had new lives…
One day some travelers from the distant land came to that village and began to ask where the famous Sufi woman lived. All local people were very surprised and did not know what to answer them…
* * *
It so happened that the Master sent to her a new disciple who was not young already. He was traversing the path of the heart slowly, since in all his born days earthly love had never happened to him, and therefore his love for Allah also was not filled with vivid emotions. His efforts were either obedient execution of the instructions or the attempts to conquer his bad qualities… He succeeded greatly in the understanding of ethical truths and was diligent, but he tried to perform the meditative trainings taught by the Master as just some given tasks. His spiritual heart did not start singing because of the love for Allah… He asked again and again new initiations from the Master, for he truly wanted to become better…
The Master once suggested that he live in the house of that woman and learn her simple way of life, in which she did everything only for Allah. He also emphasized that she had visited Him only once and had not looked for new initiations. In spite of this, she was one of His best disciples: she successfully developed herself as the soul and helped others to do the same. And Allah guided her!
… What happened next was the gift of Allah for those who seek to become better and perform the acts of kindness: their mutual love tinged their life together!
All around them was lit up by the Presence of Allah, since they lived and worked for Him!