Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fall of Iblīs

‘I am better than him,’ [Iblīs] said. ‘You created me from fire
and You created him from clay’ (Qur’an 38:76).

Iblīs’ pride was concealed in his worship of the Exalted; but the command to honour Adam, whom Iblīs saw as lower than himself, brought it to light. Even the proud can honour the Exalted, since worship is a relation, and through relation with the Exalted a worshipper may hope to partake in exaltation. It is easy to honour what is higher than oneself. But to regard a being whose nature or state is lower than one’s own as worthy of honour, and to honour this being as worthier than oneself, that is the test of true humility.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

From The Book of Privy Counseling

By the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing
   [Middle English, 14th century]

When you go apart to be alone for prayer, put from your mind everything you have been doing or plan to do. Reject all thoughts, be they good or be they evil. Do not pray with words unless you are really drawn to this; or if you do pray with words, pay no attention to whether they are many of few. Do not weigh them or their meaning. Do not be concerned about what kind of prayers you use, or whether you formulate them interiorly, by thoughts, or express them aloud in words. See that nothing remains in your conscious mind save a naked intent stretching out toward God. Leave it stripped of every particular idea about God (what He is like in Himself or in His works) and keep only the simple awareness that He is as He is. Let He be thus, I pray you, and force Him not to be otherwise. Search into Him no further, but rest in this faith as on solid ground. This awareness, stripped of ideas and deliberately bound and anchored in faith, shall leave your thought and affection in emptiness except for a naked thought and blind feeling of your own being. It will feel as if your whole desire cried out to God and said: “That which I am I offer to You, O Lord, without looking to any quality of Your being but only to the fact that You are as You are, and nothing more.”

      Let that quiet darkness be your whole mind and like a mirror to you. For I want your thought of self to be as naked and as simple as your thought of God, so that you can be spiritually united to God without any fragmentation and scattering of your mind. God is your being, and in the Divine you are what you are, not only because God is the cause and being of all that exists, but because the Divine is your cause and the deep centre of your being. Therefore, in this contemplative work think of your self and of God in the same way: that is, with the simple awareness that God is as God is, and that you are as you are. In this way your thought will not be fragmented or scattered, but unified in God who is all.


      Yet keep in mind this distinction between yourself and Him: He is your being but you are not His. It is true that everything exists in Him as in its source and ground of being, and that He exists in all things, as their cause and their being. Yet a radical distinction remains: He alone is His own cause and His own being. For as nothing can exist without Him, so He cannot exist without Himself. He is His own being and the being of everything else. Of Him alone may this be said: and thus He is wholly separate and distinct from every created thing. And thus, also, He is one in all things and all things are one in Him. For I repeat: al things exist in Him; He is the being of all.


      And since this is so, let grace unite your thought and affection to Him, while you strive to reject all minute inquiry into the particular qualities of your blind being or of His. Leave your thought quite naked, your affection uninvolved, and your self simply as you are, so that grace may touch and nourish you with the experiential knowledge of God as He really is. In this life, this experience will always remain dark and partial so that your longing desire for Him be ever newly enkindled. Look up joyfully, then, and say to your Lord, in words or desire: “That which I am, I offer to You, O Lord, for You are it entirely.” Go no further, but rest in this naked, stark, elemental awareness that you are as you are.


      It is not hard to master this way of thinking. I am certain that even the most uneducated man or woman, accustomed to a very primitive type of life, can easily learn it. Sometimes I smile to myself (though not without a touch of sadness), and marvel at those who claim that I write to you and others a complicated, difficult, lofty, and strange doctrine, intelligible to only a few clever and highly trained minds. It is not simple, uneducated folk who say this either; it is scholars and learned theologians. To these people in particular I want to reply. It is a great pity and a sad commentary on the state of those supposedly committed to God that, in our day, not just a few people but nearly everyone (excepting one or two of God’s special friends, here and there) is so blinded by a mad scramble for the latest theology or discoveries in the natural sciences that they cannot begin to understand the true nature of this simple practice; a practice so simple that even the most uneducated peasant may easily find in it a way to real union with God in the sweet simplicity of perfect love. Unfortunately, these sophisticated people are no more capable of understanding this truth in sincerity of heart than a child at his ABCs is able to understand the intricacies of erudite theologians. Yet, in their blindness, they insist on calling such a simple exercise deep and subtle; whereas, if they examined it rationally, they would discover it to be as clear and plain as the lesson of a beginner.


      Surely it is beginner’s fare, and I consider him hopelessly stupid and dull who cannot think and feel that he is; not how or what he is, but that he is. Such elemental self-awareness is obviously proper to the dumbest cow or most unreasonable beast. (I am being facetious, of course, for we cannot really say that one animal is dumber or more unreasonable than another.) But it is only fitting for a man to realize and experience his unique self-existence, because man stands apart in creation, far above all the beasts, as the only creature graced with reason. And so, go down to the deepest point of your mind and think of yourself in this simple, elemental way. (Others will mean the same thing, but because of their experience, speak of the mind’s “pinnacle”, and of this awareness as the “highest human wisdom”.) In any case, do not think what you are but that you are. For I grant that to realize what you are demands the effort of your intelligence in a good deal of thought and subtle introspection. But this you have done for quite a while with the help of God’s grace; and you understand to some degree (as much as you need to for the present) just what you really are – a human being by nature and a pitiful, fallen wretch through sin. Well do you know this. Yes, and probably you feel that you know only too well, from experience, the defilements that follow and befall a man because of sin. Fie on them! Forget them, I pray you. Reflect on them no further for fear of contamination. Instead, remember that you also possess an innate ability to know that you are, and that you can experience this without any special natural or acquired genius.


Step up bravely, then, and take this medicine. Lift up your sick self, just as you are, to the gracious God, just as He is. Leave behind all inquiry and profound speculation into your being or his. Forget all these qualities and everything about them, whether they be pure or defiled, natural or grace-given, divine or human. Nothing matters now except that you willingly offer to God that blind awareness of your naked being in joyful love, so that grace can bind you and make you spiritually one with the precious being of God, simply as He is in Himself.


I want you to understand clearly that in this work it is not necessary to inquire into minute details of God’s existence any more than of your own. For there is no name, no experience, and no insight so akin to the everlastingness of God than what you can possess, perceive, and actually experience in the blind loving awareness of this word, is. Describe Him as you will: good, fair Lord, sweet, merciful, righteous, wise, all-knowing, strong one, almighty; as knowledge, wisdom, might, strength, love, or charity, and you will find them all hidden and contained in this little word, is. God in His very existence is each and all of these. If you spoke of Him in a hundred like ways you would not go beyond or increase the significance of that one word, is. And if you used none of them, you would have taken nothing from it. So be as blind in the loving contemplation of God’s being as you are in the naked awareness of your own. Let your faculties rest from their minute inquiry into the attributes of His being or yours. Leave all this behind and worship Him with your substance: all that you are, just as you are, offered to all that He is, just as He is. For your God is the glorious being of Himself and you, in the naked starkness of his being. And thus you will bind everything together, and in a wonderful way, worship God with Himself because that which you are you have from Him and it is he, Himself. Of course, you had a beginning – that moment in time when He created you from nothing – yet your being has been and shall always be in Him, from eternity to eternity, for He is eternal.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beware.

The Beloved’s fragrance
is not all sweetness and joy.

It is devastation and ruin,
agony and death –
to the illusions
the lover lives by

in which he has
placed his trust
like the solid earth
he stands on.

Beware.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

love’s warm light

desire is
a fire 
that gives
no light –

intellect,
a light 
that gives
no warmth; 

and the
soul
that has
risen

above
mere
sensual
life

finds them
at one
in love’s
warm light.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Prophetic Invocation

Praise be to God –
before whose grandeur
   all things are modest,
before whose might
   all things are lowly,
to whose reign
   all things surrender,
to whose power
   all things submit,
before whose worth
   all things become still,
to whose wisdom
   all things are manifest,
before whose majesty
   all things are humbled.

Cited in Book IX of al-Ghazālī’s Iḥyā ‘ulūm al-dīn: Kitāb al-adhkār
wa-l-da‘awāt. From the collection of Ṭabarānī; Haythamī, Majma‘, x. 96.


الْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ الَّذِي تَوَاضَعَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِعَظَمَتِهِ، وَذَلَّ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِعِزَّتِهِ،
وخَضَعَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِمُلْكِهِ، وَاسْتَسْلَمَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِقُدْرَتِهِ، وَسَكَنَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِهَيْبَتِهِ،
وَأَظْهَرَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ بِحِكْمَتِهِ، وَتَصَاغَرَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ لِكِبْرِيَائِهِ.

[my translation]

Saturday, February 8, 2014

From Ibn al-Fāriḍ’s “Naẓm al-Sulūk”

   [Arabic, 12th century]

My way is plain to whoever is guided;
   yet humans are blinded by desire.
It is time for Me to expose to you
   the nature of your passion,
and for whom you languish,
   and to refute your claim to love Me.
You have sworn your self to ardour;
   but your ardour is for your self.
I cite this as clear evidence
   that you still withhold an attribute.
For you will not love Me truly
   until you have passed away in Me;
and when you have ceased to be,
   only then will My Image arise in you.
Renounce your claim to love, 
   summon your heart to other cares, 
and in so doing drive away
   this fault of yours. 
Cease from coveting that union
   which will never be
so long as you hold on to your life;
   if you are sincere, die!
For such is love: if you do not die,
   you will never achieve
your aim in love; so decide on death,
   or leave my love alone.

   (ll. 96-102)

[my translation]

Lady Wisdom in the Old Testament

My retranslation of passages from the poetic books of the Old Testament where Wisdom (Grk: Sophia, Heb: Hokma) is personified as a feminine being.

“[Feminine wisdom] is no abstract, disinterested knowledge, but a wisdom of loving participation. [...] Thus the spiritual power of Sophia is living and saving; her overflowing heart is wisdom and food at once. The nourishing life that she communicates is a life of the spirit and of transformation, not one of earthbound materiality.
   – Erich Neumann

“Say to Wisdom, ‘You are my sister!’ and call Intelligence your intimate friend.”
   – Proverbs 7:4


From The Book of the Wisdom of Solomon

6:13 Wisdom shines brightly, and fades not.
   Easily is she discerned by those who love her,
   and those who seek her find her.
14 She is quick to make herself known to those who desire her;
15 He who rises with the dawn for her sake will not grow weary,
   for he will find her seated at his door.
16 Taking her to heart is the perfection of intelligence,
   and being wakeful for her is the short path to peace of mind.
17 She herself ranges in search of those who are worthy of her,
   and on their daily path she kindly appears to them,
   and meets them in every thought.
18 Wisdom truly begins with the desire to learn,
   which in fact is love for her.
19 Loving her means keeping her ways,
   and keeping her ways means immortality,
20 and immortality brings one close to God;
21 thus the desire for Wisdom leads to a kingdom.

7:7 Therefore I prayed, and insight was given me.
   I called for help, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I valued her above sceptre and throne,
   and held riches as nothing beside her.
9 I saw that no precious stone was her equal,
   for all the gold in the world compared with her is but a sand pile,
   and silver worth a pile of clay.
10 I loved her above health and beauty,
   and preferred her even to the light of day,
   for her radiance never sleeps.
11 So all good things came to me at once with her,
   and in her hands was wealth past counting.
12 And all was mine to delight in, for all follows where Wisdom leads,
   and I was ignorant before, that she is the mother of it all.
13 What I learned with pure aims I share without grudging,
   and I do not hoard the wealth that comes from her.
14 She is an infinite treasure for mankind,
   and those who receive her become God’s friends,
   commended to Him by the gifts they receive from her teachings.

7:21 All such things as are hidden and not foreseen, I have learned.
   For I have been taught by she who is the artist of all things,
      Wisdom.
22 For in her is a holy and intelligent spirit,
   unique yet manifold, subtle, free, lucid, pure, 
   clear, undefiled, lover of the good, eager,
23 independent, gentle and kind, steadfast,
   unerring, free from care, all-powerful, all-seeing,
   and all-permeating through intelligent, pure, and subtle spirits.
24 Wisdom moves more easily than motion itself,
   pervading all things because she is pure.
25 Like a fine mist she rises from divine power,
   a pure emanation of the Almighty’s glory,
   and nothing impure can enter her, even stealthily.
26 For she is the refulgence of everlasting light,
   the flawless mirror of the divine active power,
   and the image of his goodness.
27 Because she is one, she can do everything;
   abiding in herself, she renews all things.
   Age after age she enters holy souls
   and makes them friends of God and prophets,
28 for God loves none so much as those who live with Wisdom.
29 More radiant than the sun
   and surpassing every constellation,
   she excels the light of day;
30 for day turns into night,
   but no evil can prevail against Wisdom.
8:1 She spans the world from end to end in power,
   and orders all things well.

8:2 Wisdom have I loved; I sought her out in the days of my youth,
   and longed for her to be my bride,
   and I fell in love with her beauty.
3 She glorifies her noble birth because she lives with God,
   and the Lord of all loves her.
4 With her are the mysteries of God’s knowledge,
   and she inspires all his works.
If wealth is desirable in life,
   who is wealthier than Wisdom, from whom all things arise?
If intelligence is revealed in action,
   who of all beings is a greater artist than she?

8:17 Considering these things in myself,
      and pondering them in my heart,
   I realized that in kinship with Wisdom lies immortality,
18 and that in her friendship is pure delight.

8:21 But I saw there was no way to receive Wisdom
      except by God’s gift—
   and it was a sign of intelligence
      to know from whom that gift must come—
   so I asked the Lord, and prayed to Him,
   and said with all my heart:

9:1 God of my ancestors, merciful Lord,
      who made all things by your Word,
and in your Wisdom fashioned man,
   to be the guardian of creation,
3 as steward of the world in holiness and justice,
   and to rule fairly with sincerity of heart,
grant me Wisdom, who sits beside your throne,
   and do not refuse me a place among your servants.
5 I am your slave, your handmaid’s son,
   a man weak and short-lived,
   too feeble to comprehend justice and law;
for let a man be perfect in the eyes of his fellow men,
   if the Wisdom that comes from you is lacking,
      he will be of no account.
9 With you is Wisdom, familiar with your works,
   and present at the creation of the world by you.
   She knows what is pleasing in your sight,
   and what is right in your commandments.
10 Send her forth from the holy heavens,
   and from your glorious throne bid her come down,
   that she may be present at my side,
   so that I may learn what pleases you;
11 for she knows and understands all things,
   and she will guide me well in all I do,
   and guard me in her glory;
12 so shall my life’s work be acceptable.
13 How can any man learn God’s plan?
   How can one perceive the Lord’s will? 
14 The reasoning of men is feeble,
   and our plans are fallible;
15 for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
   and its clay burdens the mind full of thoughts.
16 With difficulty we guess even at things on earth,
   and struggle to find out what lies at our feet.
   And who has traced out what is in heaven?
17 Who learned your purposes, unless you gave them Wisdom,
   and sent down your Holy Spirit from heaven?
18 Thus it was that those on earth were set upon the right path,
   and were taught what pleases you;
   thus were they healed by Wisdom.


From The Book of Proverbs

8:22 The Lord brought me forth in the beginning of His ways,
   before His works of old.
23 I was there from eternity, in the beginning, before the earth was.
24 When there were no oceans, I was brought forth.
   When there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills,
      I was brought forth.
26 While as yet the earth and the fields were not made,
   nor the first of the dust of the world.
27 When the Lord established the heavens, I was there.
28 When He marked out the vault over the face of the deep,
   when He made firm the skies above, 
29 When He fixed fast the foundations of the earth,
   when He assigned to the sea its limit
   so that the waters might not transgress His command,
30 Then I was with Him as His master artisan,
      and I was daily His delight,
   rejoicing always before Him,
31 rejoicing and playing on the surface of the earth,
   and I found my delight in all humankind.

8:32 So now, my dear child, listen to me.
33 For happy are they who keep my ways.
34 Hear my teachings and be wise. Do not turn away from me.
35 Happy are they who listen to me,
   watching every day at my gate, waiting beside my door.
36 For those who find me find life, and receive favour from the Lord.
   But those who ignore me hurt themselves;
   all those who hate me love death.


From The Book of Sirach

1:7 The Lord Himself created Wisdom.
   He poured her out upon all His creation.
8 She dwells with all beings according to His gift,
   and He has given her to those who love Him.

4:11 Wisdom breathes life into her children,
   and cares for those who seek her.
12 Whoever loves her loves life,
   and those who search for her will be filled with happiness.
13 Whoever holds her close will inherit honour,
   and the Lord will bless the place she enters.
14 Those who serve her will be servants to the Holy One,
   and God loves those who love her.

17 For though Wisdom takes them at first through winding ways,
   bringing fear and faintness to them,
18 plaguing them with her discipline until she can trust them,
   and testing them with her ordeals until their heart is fully with her,
19 in the end Wisdom will return to bring them happiness,
   and reveal her secrets to them.

6:26 Come to Wisdom with all your heart,
   and keep her ways with all your power.
27 Search for her, and she will reveal herself to you,
   and when you have found her, do not let her go.
28 For in the latter end you will find rest in her,
   and she will be your joy.

30 For in her is the beauty of life, and her bands are purple lace.
31 You will put her on as a robe of glory,
   and set her upon you as a crown of joy.

14:20 Blessed are those who meditate on Wisdom
   and reflect on holy things.
21 Those who ponder her ways in their heart
   will also have understanding in her secrets.

15:1 He that is faithful and just will come to Wisdom.
2 Like a honourable mother she will come to meet him,
   and like a virgin bride she will embrace him.
She will nourish him with the bread of meaning,
   and offer him living water from her spring to drink.
She will heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness,
   and clothe him with a robe of glory.

24:1 Wisdom praises herself, and finds honour in God.
In the midst of her people she proclaims her glory.
3 In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth,
   and glorifies herself in the sight of His power:
4 I came forth from the Most High, the firstborn before all creatures:
   I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never fails,
   and I covered the earth like a mist. 
Alone I circled the vault of the sky
   and walked on the bottom of the deeps.
Over the waves of the sea and over the whole earth
   and over every people and every nation I have held sway.
9 From eternity, in the beginning, God created me,
   and for eternity I shall remain.

24:18 I am the mother of fair love, and of awe,
   and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
   In me is all grace of the way and of the truth,
   in me is all hope of life and virtue.
19 Come to me, you who desire me, and be filled with my fruits.
20 For my spirit is sweeter than honey,
   and my inheritance more delightful than the sweetest honeycomb.
21 Those who eat of me will hunger for more,
   and those who drink of me will thirst for more.

24:28 The first man did not know Wisdom fully,
   nor will the last one fathom her.
29 For her thoughts are more abundant than the sea,
   and her counsel deeper than the great abyss.

24:40 I, Wisdom, have poured out rivers.
41 I, like a brook out of a river of a mighty water.
42 I, like a channel of a river,
   and like an aqueduct, came out of Paradise.
43 I said to myself: I will water my garden of plants,
   and I will water abundantly the fruits of my meadow.
44 And behold, my brook became a great river,
   and my river came near to a sea:
45 For I make Truth to shine forth like the dawn,
   and I will send forth her light afar off. 
46 I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth,
   and will behold all that sleep,
   and will awaken all that yearn in the Lord.
47 I will yet pour out teachings like prophecy,
   and will instruct all those that search for knowledge,
   and I will not cease to enlighten their offspring,
   even to the holy age.

51:13 In my youth I desired Wisdom openly in my prayers.
14 She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her.
15 From the first blossom to the ripening grape,
   my heart delighted in her.
   My foot walked on the right path,
   because from my youth I sought after her.
16 I became resolutely devoted to her,
   and earnestly I followed that which is good.
17 I burned with desire for her, never turning back.
   I became wholly immersed in her presence,
   never weary of extolling her.
18 I stretched forth my hands to the heavens above,
   and bewailed my ignorance of her.
   I directed my soul to her, and in purity I attained to her.
19 She opened her gate, and revealed her secrets to me.
   At first acquaintance with her
   I gained knowledge such that I will never forsake her.
20 My whole being was stirred as I beheld her.
   Thus she became my beloved companion.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

From Miskawayh’s “Treatise on the Deliverance from the Fear of Death”

Scholars have distinguished two kinds of life and death: a volitional (i.e. according to will) life and death, and a natural life and death. The volitional death is the mortification of mundane desires, whereas the volitional life is the satisfaction of all sensual desires. As for the natural life, it consists in focusing one’s attention towards preserving the eternal soul from ignorance with the help of knowledge, according to Plato’s saying: “Die volitionally, you will live naturally. He who fears natural death fears all that he should love and hope for, since for rational living beings death is the end of earthly life and its fulfillment, after which the soul ascends to the highest heaven. Every living being must necessarily undergo the dissolution of the parts that compose it, and there is no worse ignorance than that which inspires in us the fear of perfecting our nature and which causes us to confuse the true life with annihilation, and progression with disintegration. Whoever has the weakness of fearing that which would perfect him ignores the nature of his own soul. As for the sage, he loves all that contributes to making him more perfect and to making him gradually rise in dignity, and so he turns away from everything that tends to reinforce the bonds that tie him to matter and that reinforces his composite nature. He believes that his spiritual substance, divested through death of the impurities inherent to the body, will ascend to the eternal heavens and rejoice in the beatitude of the celestial realm, intimate with the Lord, and surrounded by the elect souls that preceded him. But the ignorant fears abandoning his body, and he is thereby plunged into misery and torment, seeking rest in a place where rest is impossible. [...] Whoever fears death fears the wisdom and justice of God as well as His mercy, for death is not an evil to be feared; rather, fear of death is an evil to be avoided. Those who are troubled by fear ignore both the nature of death and the conditions of their own existence. At death the soul leaves the body, but the soul’s substance remains intact, possessing eternal existence. Since the soul is incorporeal, not occupying any location in space, it is not bound by the conditions that govern the body and the accidents that affect it. [...] Freed from the limitations of time, the soul no longer needs to yearn for eternal life. Rather, after having developed itself by means of the body’s senses and having attained its perfection once it has been separated from the body, the soul passes to the celestial realm, in the presence of the Lord, its Creator.

[my translation-paraphrase]

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Forgiveness (is not impunity)

To forgive someone, or oneself, is not the same thing as to absolve someone, or oneself, from having committed a fault: it does not eliminate the responsibility attached to its consequences. Forgiveness is to free oneself from the captivity of judging and condemning another, or oneself. Who are we to judge and condemn another, or oneself? There is one Fair Judge, and He is All-Merciful. Or would one equate His Mercy with injustice? God forgives all faults. But forgiveness has nothing to do with impunity. The punishment is one with the fault, inseparable from it; the punishment arises simultaneously with the fault. If I hurt someone, I separate myself from so much of my own soul, in which is my only hope for happiness, on earth as in the Hereafter. God’s wrath is commensurate with my distance from my own soul, and hence from Him, who is in Himself All-Merciful. The more impure I am in thoughts, words and actions, the more I am estranged from the root of my own God-created nature, and from my very being. The eschatological punishment comes as my soul divests itself from the body at the time of death, and comes to see its own true state, reflected through every single action it has done in life, and the full awareness of all the ramifications of their consequences, whether beneficial or detrimental to oneself and others. If that is not perfect justice, I don’t know what else is. And in this justice, God holds no grudge and points no accusing finger. Although in its embodied life the soul may have been able to run away and hide for a time from its own self and from the consequences of its actions, the soul will not be able to turn its face away on the Day of Eternity. There will be no wall to hide behind, no one else to blame, no excuse to justify the truth of who I have become and what I have done. How alienated from, or how attuned with, the truth of its own nature my soul is, determines whether on the Day of Eternity I am in torment or in bliss. The more dissonance and disharmony between how I have lived and how I am created to be, the more torment I experience. To see my own revolting ugliness in the mirror of the pure beauty God created my soul to manifest, to see how far I have strayed from my soul’s fulfillment, that is the torment of the Fire. What I have become and what I am created to be are like two strings that will be plucked in unison, on the Day. If they are in tune, they will resonate splendid music, flowing like a cool stream under the shade of trees. If they are out of tune, they will emit an unbearable noise that will shatter my being. This life is the moment, just before the music starts, when we are directed to tune our instruments for the Great Concert that is to come.