it. If, due to bad temperament, the seed uses the immaterial members given it in attracting certain harmful substances under the ground, in a short time it will rot and decay in that narrow place without benefit. But if the seed conforms to the creational command of,
God is the Splitter of the seed-grain and date-stone1
and employs well those immaterial members, it will emerge from that narrow world, and through becoming a large fruit-bearing tree, its tiny particular reality and its spirit will take on the form of an extensive universal reality.
Similarly, significant members and valuable programmes have been deposited in man’s nature by Divine power and determining. If man uses those immaterial members on the desires of his soul and on minor pleasures under the soil of worldly life in the narrow confines of this earthly world, he will decay and decompose in the midst of difficulties in a brief life in a constricted place like the rotted seed, and load the responsibility on his unfortunate spirit, then depart from this world.
If, however, he nurtures the seed of his abilities with the water of Islam and light of belief under the soil of worship and servitude to God, conforms to the commands of the Qur’an, and turns his faculties towards their true aims, they will produce branches and buds in the World of Similitudes and the Intermediate Realm; he will be a seed of great value and a shining machine containing the members of an everlasting tree and permanent truth which will be the means to innumerable perfections and bounties in Paradise. And he will be a blessed and luminous fruit of the tree of the universe.
Yes, true progress is to turn the faces of the heart, spirit, intellect, and even the imagination and other subtle faculties given to man towards eternal life and for each to be occupied with the particular duty of worship worthy of it. Progress is not as the people of misguidance imagine, to plunge into the life of this world in all its minute details and in order to taste every sort of pleasure, even the basest, make subject to the evil-commanding soul all the subtle faculties and the heart and intellect, and make them assist it; to do this is not progress, it is decline. I saw this fact in a vision which is described in the following comparison:
I was entering a large town when I looked and saw it was full of large palaces. At the doors of some of these palaces was merry-making like a brilliant theatre; it captured and held everyone’s attention and was entertaining them. I looked carefully and saw that the lord of such a palace had come to the door; he was playing with a dog and assisting the merry-making. The ladies were indulging in sweet conversation with ill-mannered youths. Grown-up girls were organizing the children’s games. And the doorkeeper