The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship
A Sufi Perspective on Business
by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
My brothers and sisters, may God protect you. May He always protect you and guide you with His grace. He is the only protector we can rely on. May He take you ashore and give you peace in both this world and the next.
My brothers and sisters, you exist as the love within my love, the heart
within my heart. Because of your patience and good intentions, God will always
protect you and lead you on the straight path. Because of your good qualities
and the love and concern you have within your heart for other lives, God will
cause your patience and good qualities to grow and drive away the darkness and
torpor from your life. Do not worry, you are in God's hands.
Here is a point to consider and to remember. When rain water accumulates and there is a danger of flooding, what we need is a dam to contain the water. We must either stop the flow of water or divert it. Likewise, when the baby mind floods our intellect and wisdom with the muddy water of doubt and ignorance, what we need is the dam of wisdom and perfectly pure faith. We must either divert the muddy thoughts downstream to the ocean of illusion or contain the muddy water with a strong dam to form it into a lake. If this dam of perfectly pure faith and wisdom can be constructed, the dirt will settle to the bottom of the lake, and you will be able to use the clear water to drink or to provide water for your animals and crops.
This muddy water of ignorance with which the mind floods your intellect and wisdom arises from some so-called friends which are not good for you. These friends are the seven base desires, or nafs, which create cravings for this world. They stem from the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and ether, along with mind and desire. They always attempt to drag down mankind's wisdom and cover it with mud. However, theirs is an unstable partnership which will one day dissolve. This body will one day die and disperse into the five elements that formed it.
Through the grace and protection of God, you may be able to escape this flood of muddy thoughts if you develop faith and wisdom. You must develop the faith that God is the only One and always conduct yourself in accordance with the actions, qualities, and intentions of God. You should associate with good people who have some wisdom. These will be friends to the purity of your life, which can show you God's love and give you some peace. What is needed most in our lives is the stability of perfectly pure faith, wisdom, and the gracious qualities of God.
My brothers and sisters, when a poisonous snake bites us, we cannot even see the small amount of poison it discharges, yet that venom can cause instant death. Similarly, it takes only an infinitesimal amount of ignorance to kill the truth and wisdom within you and to shatter your faith. You should think about this a little. If you do not take this point into consideration, the mind will circle round and round and drag your wisdom down.
Some people's minds go around and around on a single thought, "Business hurts people. It takes their money and exploits them. I don't want to be like that, so how can I become a businessperson?" What they have failed to consider is that everything in the world is a business by its very nature. Farmers conduct a business; priests, ministers, and other religious leaders conduct businesses. Doctors charge patients, do they not? Show me anyone in the world who does not conduct a business. As long as we need food, shelter, and clothes, we must conduct some form of business.
Only people who lack wisdom and cleverness resort to hurting and exploiting others when conducting a business. Those with wisdom can earn enough for themselves and their families by using wisdom and God's qualities. They can control and escape the evils of the world.
Do not think about giving up your study of business. These studies will be beneficial to you and your life. The person who can live in the world without letting the world live in him is the clever one. It is quite easy to make an enormous profit by cheating the customer, or by cutting workers' wages in half and by working them twice as long, essentially making slaves of them. This is very easy. A person with wisdom, however, will find a way to provide the owners with what they want, the employees with what they want, the customers with fair values, and even himself with what he needs for his body and mind.
If no one conducted businesses, no one would have food, shelter, or a means of livelihood. If business can be conducted with love, justice, wisdom, and cleverness, having faith in God alone and not trusting in the world, then that business will lead to success both in this world and in the hereafter. This is the way you should conduct a business; then it will be of great benefit to all humanity.
You must learn to do business properly. Become first and foremost in your line of business, and then conduct it with love and justice. If you do this it would be of benefit to you and to everyone. Do not be lazy. Study well. In order to conduct a business with justice you must know much more than those who study simply to satisfy their greed and their lust for power, sex, property, and titles. You must make your intellect twice as sharp as theirs, so that you can control them and prevent them from harming themselves and others.
You must surrender all responsibility to God and then do your duty. With wisdom, love, justice, and a finely honed intellect, conduct a just business. Do not be lazy. A person who conducts a business in this way will truly be known as an exceptional businessperson. He will be a saint or sage for this world.
Do not think that business conducted with wisdom will hurt people. You must learn about business, and you must also learn about God, His qualities, and His compassionate duties. Do your studies well and also do your duty to God. This will be very good. You must give both these endeavors your best effort and give the responsibility to God alone. Then all will be well.
My brothers and sisters, jewels of my heart, you exist as the love within my love and the life within my life. May God grant you wisdom and provide the best for you in this world and the next. May He give you firm faith, purity, His gracious qualities, intentions, actions, and duties, and protect and nourish you and your family and friends forever and ever. May He provide you with exalted human wisdom. Give my love and greetings of peace to everyone. May the one God protect and nourish us all. Amen.