In contrast to his scholarly writings, Ostad Elahi’s oral teachings were always presented in a simple and straightforward manner that made them accessible to everyone. Two volumes of these teachings, compiled and edited by his son, Bahram Elahi, MD, were published posthumously under the title Asar ol-Haqq (Traces of Truth). In response to questions from family members, friends, and visitors from all walks of life, Ostad discussed a variety of topics ranging from the longing for transcendence and the stages of self-knowledge to the role of contemplative practices and the process of spiritual perfection. A short selection from these two volumes was published in 2014 in French as Paroles de Vérité (Words of Truth). Below, several of these sayings have been grouped together by subject matter.
Life in this world revolves around one principle: respect for the rights of others.
A true human being is one who rejoices in the happiness of others and shares in their sorrows.
Whereas a human being’s natural tendency is to first think of himself and then consider the interests of others if possible, a true human being always places the interests of others before his own.
Good deeds should be performed out of a sense of duty and with the intention of drawing closer to God. Rather than seeking to please a particular individual or group, we should look to God and focus on our duty. By doing so, the fruits of our efforts will remain.
To be truly human and to know God is to be tenderhearted, compassionate, and moved by the misfortune of others. Such are those whose hearts are illuminated by God. Conversely, those who are hardhearted and lack compassion are devoid of this light.
The journey along the path of perfection begins with the right intention—seeking proximity to God and His contentment—without which the essential foundation is lacking.
Truth is knowing what we are, where we have come from, what duties we have here, and where our ultimate destination lies. To access the Truth, we must devote ourselves to the pursuit of this knowledge and seek to understand it through practice.
The key to truly knowing oneself is to delve within, meaning that we should seek Him within ourselves. Although the potential for acquiring this self-knowledge exists in all of us, we must first learn how to unlock it.
As long as we have not come to know ourselves, we cannot come to know God. The first step in the process of attaining self-knowledge is to overcome our selfishness and self-centeredness.
Willpower is the key to access all levels in spirituality. Once we have acquired a sufficient degree of willpower and self-control, we can access the spiritual realm.
On Life in Society
My approach resembles a new field of medicine that is based on years of asceticism, experimentation, and research; in reality, it is the synthesis of my personal experience.
Before entering public service, I did not realize that the whole of my devotions and twelve years of prescribed ascetic practice were equal in value to just one year of office work. Each year spent in those sensitive posts containing all kinds of temptations to which I didn’t succumb had the same value as those twelve years combined.
This is not a path of words, but of deeds; only through action can progress be realized.
One must not withdraw from society and lead a life of seclusion and prayer like mystics of the past. Instead, one should be engaged in society, while remaining attentive to the Source.
It is ideal for a student of spirituality to constantly be mindful of his goal. Like a traveler intent on reaching his destination, he would do best to avoid distractions and diversions along the way and instead stride purposefully toward his objective.
On Religion & Prayer
Religion means coming to know God and acting according to His precepts, which are solely intended to ensure peace and well-being for all.
The religions differ only in their secondary aspects; otherwise, their fundamental objective and principles are the same.
Regardless of our religion, what is expected of us is to be a true human being: one who has a good disposition, moral integrity, and sound intentions.
What matters to God is a person’s heart, not his words. Regardless of the language one speaks, or even if no words are uttered at all, His sole concern is with the heart.
Provided our attention is focused on the Source, our personal prayers will be accepted, regardless of the time, place, circumstance, form, or occasion.