The Master knows what is in the best interest of the disciple and how his character can be moulded, quickly and without undue strain. In fact the whole exercise relates to surrender of ego. A seeker by taking the shelter of the Master surrenders his ego at the feet of his Master. This is the easiest and quickest way to surrender one's ego. A person who attempts to go across the path of spirituality without the aid of the Master is said to have Shaitan for his guide and is compared to a tree that for want of a gardener's care brings forth none or bitter fruit. The Shaitan is a symbolical representation of one's ego. The Master having already travelled the path knows the ins and outs of the path and helps the disciple achieve his objective. Besides, the Master also helps the disciple to keep his ultimate objective constantly in mind and in not getting distracted by Siddhis(miraculous powers) that might be acquired by the seeker in the process.
The Sufi leaders have developed a system of Tavajjoh for training the disciples. The Sufi Saints through Tavajjoh, i.e., focusing their attention on to the disciple, produce great spiritual changes in disciples. Through Tavajjoh they transmit their spiritual energy to their Murid (disciple). The methods of Tavajjoh varied in different Tariqats (different Sufi Orders). There are about forty Sufi Tariqats, the main four being Naqshbandia, Chishtia, Qadaria and Suhurawadia. The centre of every order at any given time is a Murshid (Master), who is considered to be a spiritual heir of the original founder and as such received his authority through his immediate predecessor.
Every Pir has a few basic or 'seed ideas' that represent the fundamental note of his teachings. These ideas, which he has absorbed in himself, become a part of his existence, and lead him to the realisation of the Truth. His teachings, therefore, revolve around these ideas. As a result, the teacher only imparts that knowledge that he has assimilated in himself. He may not convey the whole amount of his teaching. Some times the teacher may ask his disciple to go to another teacher for him to acquire some knowledge, which he may not possess. If the teacher considers it necessary he would ask the disciple himself but the disciple is never expected to do so on his own.
No knowledge, however, can be transmitted to the disciple until he is able to comprehend it and is prepared to receive it. One has to grow to the Truth and only then it is communicable. The task of the Master is to arouse the desire in the disciple to seek the Truth and to keep this flame burning. The knowledge can be transferred efficiently when the consciousness of the disciple gets absorbed in the consciousness of the Master. The path for this merger is complete surrender.
It is the duty of a real Satguru (master) to see to it that there is no desire left within the disciple at the time of his death. The desire only leads to another birth. The Master serves as a focus of attention for the mind. This is because the mind needs something to hold on to and it takes the form of the thing it thinks about. If, therefore, the disciple focuses his attention on the Master, he becomes like the Master.
The spiritual knowledge cannot be conveyed through words. The real knowledge can be transmitted only from heart-to-heart. The Sufis, therefore, insist on the necessity of getting in touch with a living Master.
The Absolute Truth being beyond perception, it is only His representative, the Master, who can lead the disciple to the Truth. The Master is like a door, the one side of which faces the closet and the other side to the open i.e. the Master is the doorway to lead the disciple to God. But for this fact, there is no difference between the Master and the God who is linked both to the finite and the Infinite.
It is the Master who by his grace gives faith to the disciple. The Master being like the disciple, i.e. both being human, it assures the disciple that it is possible for him, with all his human weaknesses to overcome them and to become one like his Master. The disciple is nourished with the essence of the Guru.
The Master is said to re-live his life as the disciple. If, therefore, the Master is a competent Master, he is sure to take the disciple with him, the only condition being the commitment of the disciple to the Master. In fact, even the question of commitment is relevant only up to a certain level, for it is the Master, who knows how to guide his disciple, how to produce the change in him. The Sufis take great care to avoid hurting the feeling of others. Therefore, even to their disciples, they do not frankly say anything directly but indicate that in hint. But a hint is given always. If the disciple does not take the hint, the Master may give him another opportunity. But it all depends upon the will of God. The Master can fill the heart of the disciple with Divine love in a moment but it depends upon the faith and courage of the disciple. It depends upon the capacity of the disciple. The Master gives him as much as he can bear.
The Master is always benevolent and merciful. Even his scoldings have his deep love hidden behind them. It is meant for the benefit and progress of the disciple. To clean the carpet of the dust, it needs to be struck with a stick. It may appear to be a cruelty to the carpet but in fact it is not cruelty, it is necessary to clean it, to remove the dust. Similarly, even if a disciple is thrown away from the door of the Master, as it happened with many Sufi saints, it is for his benefit as the pain of separation arouses the fire of longing and continuous remembrance of the beloved, that is the Master, which purifies the heart of the disciple.
Thus the role of the Pir in Sufism is of immense importance as it is the master who shows the disciple his real self. The Master knows how to help his disciple or to protect him from undesired effects. It is through the calm and persistent efforts of the master that the disciple is able to achieve his goal.
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