THE WAY OFTHESEVENFOLDSECRETByI. Lilias Trotter
The Way of theSevenfold Secret."God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit,for the Spirit searcheth all things, yeathe deep things of God."-----WITH INTRODUCTORY FOREWORDby the Right Rev. The Bishop in JERUSALEM.-----NILE MISSION PRESS,CAIRO, ASSIUT, JERUSALEM, ALGIERS.Home Office:— NILE HOUSE, TUNBRIDGE WELLS, ENGLAND.2
FirstARABICEdition““December, 1926ENGLISHEditionNovember, 1926Second““February, 1927Third“(Memorial)September, 1928FirstPERSIANEditionNovember, 1928FirstFRENCH“February, 1929FourthENGLISH“March, 1933SecondFirstJuly, 1926
FOREWORD.S. S. "China,"October 15th, 1926.TO THOSE who have lived many years in the Near East Miss Lilias Trotter haslong been known as one who, to a most unusual degree, has been gifted with thepower to express in simple, clear and moving words the truths of God as revealedin Christ Jesus our Lord.Since the great Conference on the Mount of Olives in 1924—during whichMiss Trotter added greatly to her already rich stores of experience—thoughconfined to bed for more than two years and heavily handicapped by bodilyweakness, her ready pen has continued to carry on the work to which mostevidently the Spirit of God has called her.The "Sevenfold Secret" has already been published in Arabic and is nowbeing sold to many Moslems. To the Sufis, the Mystics of Islam, it cannot fail tocome as verily a revelation of the loving purposes of God for the salvation ofmen's souls from the powers of darkness, of ignorance and of sin. To manyChristians also this same book, now published in English, will come as indeed arevelation vouchsafed through this well-tried saint of God—a revelation both ofthe love and of the beauty of our Blessed Saviour Jesus.It is to me a real privilege to be associated, in however humble a way, withthe work of faith, the labour of love and the patience of hope to which the authorhas been called. Most earnestly do I commend this little book to the careful studyand the prayer of all those into whose hands it may come.rRENNIE MACINNES,Bishop in Jerusalem.4
MYSTICISM IN ISLAMThis book, originally published in Arabic, was the expression of a lifelongdesire on the part of the writer to reach Moslem mystics. She made a careful studyof their doctrines and practices and was thus fitted to write in a way that wouldappeal to them. It must be remembered in reading this volume that many of thethoughts presented and the expressions used are such as would evoke a definiteresponse in the hearts and minds of these Moslem seekers after God.For the information of the reader we should like to quote from a chapter onthis subject in Miss Trotter's last book, "Between the Desert and the Sea""For North Africa is, per se, the land of the Moslem mystics, though theyhave ramifications all over the country, and they form the chief missionaryelement in the spread of their creed. In the desert the mystics might be studied insomething very near their pristine form of faith and of fraternity, if only theywould let us get near enough to them to study them. Here is the difficulty. Thevery expression of these Sufi men is inscrutable, with dark unfathomable eyes,and there is an aloofness of manner that holds the questioner at a distance. Tillyou show by some word that you understand them and care for them and arereaching forth also to "the things that are before", they will remain within theirshell: and they will withdraw into it in a moment if they think you may ask someof their state secrets. For each Brotherhood has its own initiatory rites andformulas, as jealously guarded as any freemasonry."Even their speech, when it touches on the inward life, is a thing apart, insharp contrast to the dearth of spiritual expression in ordinary Arabic. The needfor something deeper created a supply, and that a rich and beautiful one. Themystic has his own terminology but dimly understood by those outside."Many influences from the past have gone to the moulding of him. Themonks of the Thebaid, the Neoplatonists of Greece, the Buddhists of India, theSatians of Persia have been each welded in."The product has been of a twofold order. The development that comes intopublic view is that associated with the name of dervish, recognisable as a rule byclothing, tattered and patched to the last degree. This patched garment is bestowedon those who have reached a certain point in the stages of the inward life and is animportant feature. So important is it that one of the old Sufi books contains adisquisition as to whether the patches should be sewn on neatly or at random —literally, "wherever the needle lifts her head." One saint is mentioned in the samepassage who sewed them so thickly one over the other that scorpions hid betweenthe layers."But it is when they get together that these dervish orders show the Sufisystem at its worst. They meet regularly for prolonged times of prayer, called the
"dhikr", i.e., the "mentioning" of the names of God in continuous chantingrepetition. That forms the long introduction: the ultimate aim is to produce socalled ecstasy, and this is brought about by drugs, auto-suggestion, hypnotism andother weird processes, till they reach together a frenzy of mental intoxicationwhere they imagine themselves beyond all landmarks that separate the lawfulfrom the unlawful. The result and the reaction may be imagined."In the other class of the Sufi devotees we find the souls who seek approachto God, not from the emotional side, but from that of philosophy, mental analysisand intricate metaphysics. The world is a fiction, they say; its forms are anemanation of the Divine essence, which will vanish and leave only the radiancyfrom which it came. Into that essence they seek to be united—united, notabsorbed as in Buddhist mysticism; and this union is to brought about through asuccession of seven spiritual states to be bestowed by God. All is sought under theguidance of a director and in blind obedience to his bidding. They entrustthemselves to him, to use their own metaphor, like the corpse in the hands of thewasher."Between these two extremes of the adepts sways the lay brother element,receiving its religious impulses from one and the other in varying force and keptin the path of sanity by having to work for daily bread."There are crevices where heavenly dynamite is being lodged, for we hearnow and again of little groups of these "brothers" who meet and read together thescriptures, and anything of Christian literature that comes their way. Who canforetell the issues of a spark of God's fire?"If, on the other hand, we ascend the scale in the organizations (and it is ahighly developed scale) we shall find that among the upper circles of thefraternities are those whose chief outlook on the brotherhood life is as a vehiclefor ambition, power and political intrigue. These cause much uneasiness in thecolony, and with reason. Each Brotherhood is self-governed and has unlimitedauthority and can set wide currents in motion. Each is an elaborate system on thesame outline, from the hierarchy of the initiated down to the unlettered fellah whohopes in some way to reach God through the mazes of the dhikr. There are largefunds at its disposal and immense hospitality is available in the Zaouias, as thefraternity houses are named."Two or three of the chief Brotherhoods have Sisterhoods recognised andattached: these organizations are worked by the women themselves. All is carriedon, as in the case of Brotherhoods, without a break in the home life, except forperiods of retreat. Celibacy has no place in the system."It is among the rank and file that lies the strategic point for the newmessage. They have enough to awake a thirst for the unseen, but never to satisfyit, for all is subjective. As has been well said, 'Their need is objective, verifiable6
and divine revelation.' It is for us to bring them this in the revelation of JesusChrist. Then will be fulfilled the word by Isaiah the prophet, 'the mirage shallbecome a pool'. (Isa. xxxv. 7. R V.)"Our dream is of a future where the Christian mystic shall go after theMoslem mystic, and that thus these Brotherhood men, when their thirst has beenquenched by the living water, may be drawn into their own development onChristian lines, and bring into the compacting of the Church an element that noothers can offer."
INDEX.FOREWORDNOTE—Mysticism in IslamPREFACETHE SECRET of SATISFACTIONThe Bread of LifeTHE SECRET OF ILLUMINATIONThe Light of the WorldTHE SECRET OF ACCESSThe DoorTHE SECRET OF LEADERSHIPThe ShepherdTHE SECRET OF LIFE THROUGH DEATHThe Resurrection and The LifeTHE SECRET OF PROGRESSThe Way, the Truth, and the LifeTHE SECRET OF ABIDING (OR, UNION)The True VineCONCLUSION (Al-Khatima)8Page45101318242934394448
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, andthe Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Allthings were made by Him, and without Him was not anything madethat was made. In Him was Life and the life was the Light of men.That was the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into theworld.John 1. 1, 4, 9.For the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bearwitness and show unto you that Eternal Life.That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that yealso may have fellowship with us.1 John 1:2, 3.
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.PREFACE.TO the praise of the grace of God, who hath prepared for them that love Him suchgood things as pass man's understanding, and hath revealed them unto us by HisSpirit, to Him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.There is between us and you, our brothers the Sufis,1 much agreement. TheSufi is a man who has the purpose of discovering secrets, and they are the secretsof Divine truth and Divine power. He leaves to other men the lifeless husk, that isto say, the things that are seen, and he desires with all his heart to break throughto the kernel, that is, to the things that are unseen, and that have in them theessence of eternal life.And we Christians are with you in this. One of the Apostles of old spokethese words, which are written in the Holy Book: "We look, not at the thingswhich are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seenare temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."2We do not despise the husk which consists of "the things that are seen," thatis to say, the ordinary materials of life, as honour and food and raiment, and thejoys of family and friendship, and the profit of learning, for God created all ourvisible surroundings in this world to enfold the true kernel that He would bestowon us, and the kernel of all things is the knowledge of Himself. And like you, Opeople of the Way, we want to reach the best that is possible to us in our life inthis world, which is union with God, and we desire this kernel notwithstanding allthat it may cost to break through the husk of the things that are seen: that is, all ofsurrender and of sacrifice that may lie before us in His will.But, though our aim and yours is the same, there is a great divergencebetween us and you in the method of the search. You hold, by the experience ofthe saints that have gone before you, that you must pass by a long and hardwrestling, through stage after stage, and you hold that it may please God, or itmay not please Him, to bestow on you the states that will bring you at last toknowledge and union. And also you are aware of the snares that beset you allalong the road, so that even in "audition" there is the fear that the world, the fleshand the devil may conquer you, and that they may drag you back into sin, fromwhat you deemed the gate of heaven.12Moslem mystics.2 Cor. 4:18.10
But we can tell you of a road wherein we have found joy and peace from thefirst step. And this road does not depend on a man's good works, such as muchfasting and rising by night and retirement and meditation—and it does not involvethe abandonment of yourself to the counsels of a director, be he ever socelebrated, and it does not consist in the dispositions acceptable to God that youseek for in your heart; but this new and wonderful road is in the revelation ofJesus Christ to your spirit, for He is the One Who has come into the world tobring us to God by means of His redemption, whereby He destroyed all the veilsthat separated us from Him.We wish in this book to place before you seven of the sayings of Christconcerning Himself while He was in the world, which reveal to us the missionthat He had received from God. These words were spoken by Him during the lastthree years of His life, and they were written down for us in the Gospel by thedisciple who best understood his Master, and are wonderful words to us and toyou. For these seven sayings are so simple that a child can understand them,according to his intelligence, but so deep that all the wise men in the world cannotreach to their depths.And our prayer for you is, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may giveunto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."
They said unto Jesus: Our Fathers did eat manna in thewilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.Then Jesus said unto them, Moses gave you not that bread fromheaven; but My Father giveth you the true Bread from heaven.I Am the Bread of Life.He that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth inMe shall never thirst.I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. If any maneat of this Bread he shall live for ever: and the Bread that I will giveis My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.John 6. 31, 32, 35, 51.12
I.The Secret of Satisfaction.YOU will remember the history in the Taurât (Old Testament) that is mentionedon the preceding page: that is to say, the history of the manna that came downfrom heaven to the children of Israel in the wilderness when they were in fear ofdying from hunger. And as you know, they lived by this heavenly food that Godbestowed upon them: every day, during forty years, each man of that great hostwas satisfied, he and the people of his household.Till the manna was given them from heaven, that wilderness was in truth abarren place and empty of any hope of life. No corn could be raised in the sand,and moreover they were always travelling on. If pasturage could be found fortheir flocks and herds, it was as much as could be hoped.But as is said in the Psalm,—"Man did eat angels' food,"3 and again, "Hesatisfied them with the bread of heaven".4 It had nothing to do with earth or withthe toil of man: it was the gift of God. In a miraculous way it lay, morning bymorning on the barren soil, white and sweet and wonderful, enough for every manand woman and boy and girl in the company. The only name that they could giveit was "manna," meaning "what is this?" For it was full of mystery. They knewbut one thing: it stood between them and starvation; it was to them the Bread ofLife.Now the words from the Gospel of St. John at the head of this chapter, tell usthat the story of this mystery was but the figure of a deeper mystery; that is to say,that Christ is the true Bread that came down from heaven.We and you know well that this world is but a wilderness. You do not need tobe told this, for it is the reason that has led you out into the Way, with the purposeof finding that which shall stay the hunger of your souls; and this hunger as youknow, can be met by God alone, even as was said by one of our holy men of thepast,—"Thou has made us for Thyself, and the heart resteth not till it rests inThee."But the satisfaction that you desire is still far off, and you hold that few canattain to it, for but few can continue through all the asceticism of the way that liesbetween.Now we have come to tell you the first secret of these seven Mysteries thatGod has shown to us in the Gospel. It is that the satisfaction that you deem far off,lies close at hand, if you will but receive it.34Psalms 78:25.Psalms 105:40.
For long before you began to seek God, God began, through the Person ofChrist, to seek you, and to make ready the way in which He might satisfy thelonging of the soul that He created and that sighs for Him in low estate. And thisis the way that God took to meet our need.As God sent down the manna into the wilderness, and caused it to lie uponthe sand of the desert, white and sweet and fresh with the dew of heaven, thus Hesent down Christ from above,5 in a way known to Himself alone, by a birth thatwas a miracle, as you yourselves admit. You speak of Him as "the DescendedOne." His spirit came6 from God and found a dwelling place in the body that Godhad prepared for Him, and this body was free from the taint of Adam, and indwellby the purity of the Godhead.But the words "I came down from heaven" have a still further meaning, andit is a meaning that reaches back into the eternity that lies behind us. The wordsmean that Christ was with God from the beginning.7 And this also you yourselves,our brothers, allow when you name Him Ruh Allah (Spirit of God). For the spiritof a man is in him from the beginning of his life, and as God, May He be exalted,is from eternity, it follows that if Christ is the spirit of God, He was with Godfrom the beginning, that is, from eternity. This we see stated in the first words ofthe Gospel of John, where He is called "the Word."And through His life on earth he remained like the manna in His heavenlypurity, for even as the manna remained undefiled, being protected from alloutward contact by the dew that lay beneath it and upon it, so Christ throughoutcontinued with His purity untouched either by Satan or by the world, or by anydesire apart from the will of God. He was separated unto God.But at the end of His Life we see another sense in which He became to usthe bread of God. In the beginning of His life, that is in His Incarnation, we seeHim as the pure manna that came down from heaven, in mystery, to earth. But inthe end of His life He called Himself "a corn of wheat."8 This means that only bythe path of suffering could He become to us the True Bread. For the corn of wheatbears the cutting of the sickle and the trampling of the oxen and the crushing ofthe mill and the heat of the furnace and the breaking by the hands of man, that itmay fulfil its ministry. Even thus did our Lord Christ go through stage after stageof surrender and suffering, even unto death, that through the laying down of Hisown life, He might impart life to us.And can this life that He has brought us become ours? The only condition on5Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. John 8:23.I came forth from the Father and am come into the world. John 16:28.7In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The samewas in the beginning with God And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1.1,2,14).8John 12:24.614
our part is that we receive Him by faith: the results are from His mighty working,we know not how. We only know that as the bread imparts physical life to thebody, so Christ imparts the life of God to the soul. As the bread becomes part ofour body, in a way past our comprehension, so, in the path of Divine Mystery,Christ becomes one with our spiritual being in a spiritual union that results in ourgrowing to desire what He desires and to hate what He hates, that is, all sininward as well as outward.Again, as the bread satisfies the hunger of the body, so this indwelling ofChrist in us satisfies the hunger of the soul, until it becomes rested through andthrough. And we believe that this hunger of the soul has been granted to you, ourBrothers of the Road, by the Grace of God, to prepare you for the satisfying that isto be found in our Lord the Christ according to these His words: "He that comethto me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst."And here again, the secret of the Rida (Satisfaction) that
The "Sevenfold Secret" has already been published in Arabic and is now being sold to many Moslems. To the Sufis, the Mystics of Islam, it cannot fail to ... It is to me a real privilege to be associated, in however humble a way, with ... Sufi is a man who has the purpose of discovering secrets, and they are the secrets