9. There is One Truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.
Hazrat ’Ali says, “Know thyself, and thou shalt know God.”
It is the knowledge of self which blooms into the knowledge of God. Self-knowledge answers such problems as: whence have I come? Did I exist before I became conscious of my present existence? If I existed, as what did I exist? As an individual such as I now am, or as a multitude, or as an insect, bird, animal, spirit, jinn, or angel? What happens at death, the change to which every creature is subject? Why do I tarry here awhile? What purpose have I to accomplish here? What is my duty in life? In what does my happiness consist, and what is it that makes my life miserable?
Those whose hearts have been kindled by the light from above begin to ponder such questions, but those whose souls are already illumined by the knowledge of the self understand them. It is they who give to individuals or to the multitudes the benefit of their knowledge, so that even people whose hearts are not yet kindled, and whose souls are not illuminated, may be able to walk on the right path that leads to perfection.
This is why people are taught in various languages, in various forms of worship, in various tenets in different parts of the world. It is one and the same truth; it is only seen in diverse aspects appropriate to the people and the time. It is only those who do not understand this who can mock at the faith of another, condemning to hell or destruction those who do not consider their faith to be the only true faith.
The Sufi recognizes the knowledge of self as the essence of all religions; the Sufi traces it in every religion, sees the same truth in each, and therefore regards all as one. Hence the Sufi can realize the saying of Jesus: “I and my God are one.” The difference between creature and Creator remains on the Sufi’s lips, not in the Sufi’s soul. This is what is meant by union with God. It is in reality the dissolving of the false self in the knowledge of the true self, which is divine, eternal, and all pervading. “One who attaineth union with God, one’s very self must lose,” said Amir.