2. There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads followers towards the light.
The Sufi understands that although God is the source of all knowledge, inspiration, and guidance, yet the human being is the medium through which God chooses to impart God’s knowledge to the world. God imparts it through one who is a human in the eyes of the world, but God in consciousness. It is the mature soul that draws blessings from the heavens, and God speaks through that soul. Although the tongue of God is busy speaking through all things, yet in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for God to speak through the lips of humans. God has done this all through human history, every great teacher of the past having been this Guiding Spirit living the life of God in human guise. In other words, their human guise consists of various coats worn by the same person, who appeared to be different in each. Sita, Rama, Radha, Krishna, Parvati, Shiva, Qwan Yin, Tara, Buddha, on the one side, Sarah, Hagar, Abraham, Ashera, Solomon, Anahita, Zarathustra, Miriam, Moses, Mary, Mary Magdalena, Jesus, Khadija, Fatima, Muhammad on the other; and many more, known or unknown to history, always one and the same person.
Those who saw the person and knew God, recognized God in whatever form or guise; those who could only see the coat went astray. To the Sufi, therefore, there is only one Teacher, however differently She or He may be named at different periods of history, and the Teacher comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion, and to guide humanity onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi progresses in this view, the Sufi recognizes the Master, not only in the holy ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never allowed the Master, who is One alone and the only One who can be and who ever will be, to disappear from sight.
The Persian word for Master is Murshid(a). The Sufi recognizes the Murshid(a) in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom one learns. Then the Sufi begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before the Sufi in every being and thing in the universe; thus one sees Rasul, one’s divine Message bearer, a living identity before one. Thus the Sufi sees the vision of God, the worshipped deity, in God’s immanence, manifest in nature; and life now becomes for the Sufi a perfect revelation both within and without.
It is often for no other reason than clinging to the personality of their particular teacher, claiming for that teacher superiority over other teachers, and degrading a teacher held in the same esteem by others, that people have separated themselves from one another, and caused most of the wars and factions and contentions which history records among the children of God.
What the Spirit of Guidance is can be further explained as follows: as in humans there is a faculty for art, music, poetry and science, so in them is the faculty or spirit of guidance. It is better to call it spirit because it is the supreme faculty from which all the others originate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree; but the Spirit of Guidance is found among few indeed of the human race.
A Sanskrit poet says, “Jewels are stones, but cannot be found everywhere; the sandal tree is a tree, but does not grow in every forest; as there are many elephants, but only one king elephant, so there are human beings all over the world, but the real human being is rarely to be found.”
When we arise above faculty and consider the Spirit of Guidance, we shall find that it is consummated in the Bodhisattva, the spiritual teacher or divine messenger. There is a saying that the reformer is the child of civilization, but the prophet is its parent. This spirit has always existed, and must always exist; and in this way, from time to time, the message of God has been given.