Extracts from

Letters from a Sufi Teacher


Shaikh Sharfuddin Maneri

tr. from the Persian by

Baijnath Singh



"Some say the desire-nature is a substance, placed in the body, similar to the soul. Others say it is a quality of the body, similar to life. But all take it as the source of evil qualities & acts. These evils are grouped into: (a) sins, (b) qualities, for example pride, envy, anger. The former pertain more to the outer man, the latter more to the inner man. The former are purified by ascetic practices, the latter by (turning, repentance)."
"There is no help against the desire-nature save in ascetic practices. ... the desire-nature leads one to hell, being its image." "Pain and torture destroy all things, but they simply aid (the) growth (of the desire-nature). It said: 'This is due to the fact of my constitution being the other way: what is pain for others is pleasure for me.'" p82-83
"These (hog, fox, snake, dog) stories go to show that the desire-nature is a corporeal being -- not a quality -- albeit it is endowed with qualities. It should be subdued by ascetic practices, but it cannot be completely destroyed in its essential nature." "Desires are twofold: (a) those connected with the senses & sex; (b) ambition of power & fame. The victims of the former resort to brothels without seriously affecting the well-being of others. The victims of the latter resort to holy places, and become the pests of the world. ... The desire-nature constantly puts on many a semblance of divinity, and invites man to his ruin."
"The desire-nature is the worst foe. It is very difficult to be armed against it, since, firstly, it is an internal foe, and it is almost impossible to guard the house against a thief co-tenant; and secondly, it is a lovely foe, and a man is blind to the defects of his beloved, whose shortcomings take on the appearance of merits. Such being the case, the desire-nature may ere long hurl a man unawares to the lowest depth of degradation. If you ponder well. you will find it at the root of all the troubles that beset man in the past or may beset him in the future." p84-85
"It is improper to overcome it all at once, as it is a vehicle of the soul; nor is it proper to let it go wholly unbridled, in view of the probable dangers. ... You should strengthen it to the extent of enabling it to perform its duties; you should weaken it to the measure of preventing the chance of its leading you astray. Anything besides this rule is objectionable." There are three ways of thus subduing it: ..." p86
"The goal is unattainable save through the destruction of the desire-nature. Either be ready to kill it out & tread the Path, or withdraw from the rank of the seekers -- so that others may pass on (unimpeded by your presence)." p90-91 Sharfuddin Maneri

a student's notes


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