4) The loneliness in the crowd (Khalwat dar Anjuman)
Khalwat means ‘retreat’. Tradition says that perfection is not to show miraculous powers but it is to sit in the midst of others, sell and buy, marry and have children, without ever leave, even for a moment, the divine presence.
Here ‘loneliness in the crowd’: it means to be outwardly with people while remaining inwardly with God.
Maulana once began a speech, saying: “You are alone. Even if you are married, even if you are surrounded by people, you are alone. Even if you’re with me, you are alone”.
We are born alone. It is a fundamental point, difficult to accept because from birth we seek company and we continue to do so throughout our lives. The flame of that research is in each one of us, it is the core of our existence.
Then finally we find someone to love, we put him in God’s place, but after a while we understand that having a partner is not the answer. To wake up from this it is a long and painful process.
It is necessary to overcome the illusion of not being complete and the belief that you need the other half to be complete. We have this feeling because we hide to ourselves that part which, although being within us, we look for in the another.
Sufism does not require asceticism. The dervish lives a normal life, work and has a family, but inwardly he is always aware of the breath, listen to the beat of his own heart, let the dhikr come into harmony with his inner rhythm, and thus participates at the same time to a parallel world of pure awareness.
Thanks to the practice, the disciple feels that the situation of his own existence looks simpler. This does not happen because circumstances improve, indeed, often they become worse, but only because now he is more present to himself and thus less involved in changing contingencies of the world around him.
Burhanuddin Herrmann, “IL SUFISMO, Mistica, Spiritualità e Pratica”, 2° edition, Milano 2015