Found in the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green. The book is unrelated to Sufism or spiritual practice, but this story popped up at a crucial time.
Rabe’a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, “I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.”
A student brought a short story to my attention the other day, and sent me a link to it today (thanks, K!). “She Unnames Them” was written by Ursula K. LeGuin, first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1985.
I first encountered her books in the 1970s, and during my late teens and early 20s I read everything I could find of her writing, and learned a great many worthwhile things from doing so. She continues to write prolifically and it seems I have many more things to read now.
“She Unnames Them” has a lot of relevance to our practice. I found a Google Doc of it online and have made this PDF link for you to read, if you wish.
Douglas Harding was the brilliant man who discovered, and fearlessly shared, his highly original insights (including most famously “The Headless Way”) for decades. Here he is teaching about the four stages of life. Well worth viewing.
Douglas Harding died in 2007, nearly 98 and still gobsmacked by life. Fortunately for us many of his friends (he never called them students!) learned the practice and many of them share it enthusiastically. Richard Lang is the best known: his website can be viewed here and is worth a long, long explore.