"Learning to live without definition or restriction is not easy. For the mystic there is no visible set of rules to follow, no prescribed patterns or imposed order. I was once told this very clearly in a dream: 'You cannot walk the path of straight with rules.' The path is too straight, too one-pointed to be defined by rules, because rules by their very nature are limiting, and the path to the infinite has to be unlimited. What is right for one person is wrong for someone else. Some people have to learn to be poor, while others need to take the responsibility of having money. Some wayfarers have to learn to love, while others need to discover the vulnerability of being loved. Each in our own way we are taken by God to God, according to His ways; and His ways are often the opposite of what we think is spiritual. The great Sufi Dhu-l-Nun expressed this very simply: 'Whatever you think, God is the opposite of that.'

"However, although the path is too free to be defined by rules, the Sufi has to live by the highest ethics. On our path we are taught that to have something you do not use is like stealing; even keeping an overdue library book is stealing. One should also try never to hurt another's feelings. The Sufis call the ethics required for the path 'chivalry.' We stress generosity, having a good nature, refraining from passing judgment on one's fellow men. We do not impose our beliefs upon others, because 'we respect the variety of human paths, beliefs, opinions, and ways of conduct,' and 'we believe that all paths lead to the Beloved.' Also 'we try to give precedence to our friends over ourselves; yet we use our honest discrimination so as not to abuse our self-respect.'

"But these principles of the path are only guidelines, because what is more important is that we learn to follow the hint, the guidance that is given within the heart. This guidance belongs to the moment, not to any defined set of principles. In the West we are conditioned to define and plan our life, to follow the course set by our goals and outer objectives. But if you follow your heart you have to give yourself to a path that promises insecurity, vulnerability, and an openness to the unexpected. You have to learn to read between the lines of life, to catch the subtle hints that are given by both the inner and the outer world, for in the words of the Qur'an (Sura 41:53), 'We will show them Our signs on the horizons and in themselves.'

"Catching the hint that is given, we live the mystery that calls us, not deviating from the single purpose that draws us Home. This mystery is His imprint within the heart. When someone comes to a Sufi group for the first time, he or she is often asked, 'Why have you come?' This question has tremendous significance for it brings into consciousness the soul's purpose, the heart's imprint. The wayfarer has to find out why he came and then live this answer, live it with the passion and determination that are demanded by the path.

"We have to discover what really matters to us, what is the most important thing in our whole life, and then have the courage to live this deepest dream. Carl Jung said, 'Find the meaning and make the meaning your goal.' Whatever is most meaningful should be our purpose, whether this is to be a successful businessman or to climb a mountain. But if this one thing is to realize the Truth, then you are a mystic. And to follow the path of a mystic takes courage because you are doing something which does not belong to the mind or to the senses, but to the unknown and the unknowable. As the Sufi Inayat Khan said, 'It is like shooting arrows in the dark, you see the bow and the arrow, but you don't see the target.' "