Sufism, desert and poetry in Iran
The Persian mystical tradition assimilates the spiritual search to the crossing of the desert valleys. Sufism lists seven of these valleys: search, love, knowledge, detachment, unity with God, wonder, and annihilation. The road is dangerous. Asceticism in order to purify the soul; the denial of carnal passions; the renunciation of earthly desires: all these thorns await on the path of the mystic.
Gold, the possession of goods that flatter the eyes and the heart and arouse envy and desire – all the vanities in the world – appear like mirages on the path of the thirsty traveler.
All caravans need a guide to cross the desert; no one would be foolish enough to venture out onto the sandy expanses without someone to guide them. Similarly, the Iranian mystical tradition calls on the seekers of truth to seek the help of the “Pirs”, teachers who can show them the way. No disciple would venture on the path of devotion without the help of an initiator to instruct and impart the necessary knowledge. Like a caravan leader, the spiritual master is in charge of the proselyte’s chain of instruction.