35:12 Not equal are the two oceans, this one sweet, satisfying, delicious to drink, that one salty, bitter.
This verse alludes to two states: turning toward God and turning away from God. Those who turn toward God are occupied with obeying Him and recognizing Him. Those who turn away from Him are shut off from worshiping Him and protest against His apportioning and decree. The former is the cause of union, and the latter is the cause of deprivation and separation. These are two different oceans, one delicious and the other bitter, standing between the servant and God. One is the ocean of destruction, the other the ocean of salvation.
This is their likeness: Ships that are traveling in the ocean of destruction: avarice, eye-service, persistence in acts of disobedience, heedlessness, and despair. Whoever sits in the ship of avarice will reach the shore of love for this world. Whoever sits in the ship of eye service will reach the shore of hypocrisy. Whoever sits in the ship of persistence in acts of disobedience will reach the shore of wretchedness. Whoever sits in the ship of heedlessness will reach the shore of remorse. Whoever sits in the ship of despair will reach the shore of unbelief.
As for the ocean of salvation, ships that are traveling on it: fear, hope, renunciation, recognition, and tawḥīd. Whoever sits in the ship of fear will reach the shore of security. Whoever sits in the ship of hope will reach the shore of bestowal. Whoever sits in the ship of renunciation will reach the shore of proximity. Whoever sits in the ship of recognition will reach the shore of closeness. Whoever sits in the ship of tawḥīd will reach the shore of contemplation.
“Dear friends, it is time to seek salvation from this ocean of destruction and rise up from this pit of lassitude. Do not sell subsistent bliss for this evanescent house! “A soul without service is estranged. Do not nurture the estranged! A heart without wakefulness is a ghoul. Do not be the companion of a ghoul! A soul without awareness is wind. Do not live in the wind! Do not be satisfied with name and description in place of meaning and reality! Do not feel secure from hidden deception! Always be careful about the outcome of the work at the last breath!”
Put your foot on this world and sew up the eye of name and reputation,
seize hold of the afterworld and close down the road of pride and honor.
How long will you sit like a woman in hope of color and scent?
Fix your aspiration on the road and set out like a man!
The eyes of a fool fall in love with the oyster’s shell.
By God, his eyes will never see the royal pearl! [DS 204-5]
Concerning His words, “Not equal are the two oceans,” one of the folks of recognition said, “This means that two present moments are not equal. One is expansion, and its owner dwells in repose. The other is contraction, and its owner laments. One is separation, and its owner has the attribute of servanthood. The other is togetherness, and its owner witnesses the Lordhood.”
According to the tasting of the recognizers, these two oceans allude to the contraction and expansion of the wayfarers. The contraction and expansion of the advanced are like the fear and hope of the beginners. At the beginning of his desire during the moments of service, the desirer has no escape from fear and hope. In the same way, at the end of the state with perfect recognition, no one is empty of contraction and expansion. When someone is in fear and hope, his gaze is all towards the Endless: “What will be done with me tomorrow?” When someone is in contraction and expansion, his gaze is all towards the Beginningless: “What was done with me, what was decreed for me, in the Beginningless?”
“Alas for the apportioning gone before me! Alack for the words spoken by the Self-Seer! I do not know if I should live happy or distraught. My dread is what the Powerful said in the Beginningless.” As long as the servant is in contraction, his sleep is like the sleep of the drowning, his food like the food of the ill, his life like the life of prisoners. He lives as is suited to his need. He follows the road in lowliness and misery and says with the tongue of abasement,
“My two eyes full of water, my liver full of fire,
my hands full of wind, my head full of dust!”
When his misery and lowliness reach their extreme and his abasement and incapacity become manifest, the Exalted Lord attends to his heart and opens the door of expansion and elation in his heart. His present moment becomes sweet, his heart is joined with the Protector, and his secret core is adorned with awareness of the Real. He says with the tongue of gratitude, “O God, You became my good fortune! You were my sorrow, You became my ease! You were my burning brand, You became my lamp! You were my wound, You became my cure!”
35:15 O people, you are the poor toward God, and God is the Unneedy, the Praiseworthy.
Know that poverty is of two sorts: the poverty of created nature and the poverty of attributes. The poverty of created nature, in general, belongs to every newly arrived thing that has come into existence from nonexistence. The meaning of poverty is need. Every created thing needs the Creator—first for the creation and second for nurture. Thus you know that God has no needs or requirements, and everything else has needs and requirements. This is why the Exalted Lord says, “God is the Unneedy, and you are the poor” [47:38]. As for the poverty of attributes, that is what the Lord of the Worlds said: “the poor emigrants” [59:8]. He specified the Messenger’s Companions for this poverty and praised them for it, as He said: “For the poor, who are constrained in the path of God” [2:273]. He named them poor to disguise the wealth of their state so that no one would know of their wealth.
Friendship is built on disguise. The name ‘king’ for Solomon is the disguise of poverty. ‘Disobedience’ for Adam is the disguise of being chosen. The blessings that clothed Abraham disguised bosom friendship. This is because the stipulation of love is jealousy. Friends do not show their state to just anyone. Someone without an iota of being, who never gazes on the two worlds and who always keeps God’s gaze before his eyes is called poor, for he lacks everything and is wealthy through the Real. One must have wealth in the breast, not in the storehouse. The poor man is he who sees no handhold in the two worlds other than the Real and does not gaze upon himself. He has recited the prayer of the dead over his own essence and attributes—as that chevalier said:
When someone steps into the field of passion for the beautiful,
night and day will recite for him the prayer of the dead.” [DS 209-10]