THE FOURTH STEP: The earth
Then, as that reflective traveler reads each page of the earth, their belief, which is the key to true happiness, begins to gain strength; their knowledge of God, the key to spiritual progress, increases, and the truth of belief in God, the source and foundation of all perfection, develops in them one degree more, bestowing upon them many spiritual pleasures and further arousing their curiosity and eagerness. Having listened to the perfect and convincing lessons taught to them by the heavens, the atmosphere, and the earth, the traveler asks: “Is there more?” At which point they hear the loud, rapturous invocations of God made by the seas and the great rivers which flow into them; they listen awhile to these mournful and pleasant sounds. Both verbally and with mute eloquence they are saying: “Look at us and read us too!” And so the traveler looks, and this is what they see:
Although the seas, which are constantly surging with life, and which have an innate tendency toward pouring forth and flooding the land, and are made to move together with the earth, which revolves around the sun so speedily that it in one year it covers a distance that a person could walk in twenty-five thousand years, they neither disperse nor overflow, never encroaching on the land at whose edge their waters lap. This means that they are made to move and are held in place by the command and power of a most powerful and sublime being.
Looking into the depths of the sea, the traveler sees that in addition to the extremely beautiful, well-adorned, and proportioned jewels, thousands of kinds of animals are provided for, maintained, brought to life and caused to die in a perfectly balanced and orderly fashion. They also see that these creatures are provided for from nothing more than mere sand and water, but in such a perfect way that beyond doubt they establish the Existence of an All-Powerful One of Majesty, an All-Compassionate One of Grace.
The traveler then looks at the rivers and sees that the benefits they supply, the tasks they carry out, and the waters which both flow in and out of them display such wisdom and mercy that they prove quite clearly that all rivers, springs and streams flow forth from the treasury of mercy of an All-Merciful One of Majesty and Munificence. They are fed, preserved and dispensed in such an extraordinary fashion that it has been reported from the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings: “Four rivers originate from Paradise.” That is, since the reality of their flowing transcends apparent causes, they issue forth from the treasury of an immaterial heavenly source, from the superabundance of an unseen and inexhaustible wellspring.
The blessed Nile, for example, (the longest river of the world,) that turns the sandy land of Egypt into a paradise, originates from the Mountains of the Moon (or some highlands or hills or lakes) in central Africa and flows without exhaustion, as though it were a small sea. If the water it carries in six months were gathered together in the form of an iceberg, it would be larger than the mountains (or highlands or lakes) that act as its source. Yet the source of the river in those mountains does not equal even a sixth of their mass. As for the water which feeds the river, and the rain that enters its reservoir, they amount to very little in such a hot region and are quickly swallowed up by the thirsty soil; as a result they are incapable of maintaining the balance between the amount of the water being added to and flowing away from the river. Thus the Prophetic Tradition which says that the blessed Nile originates, in an extraordinary fashion, from an unseen heavenly source is extremely meaningful and expresses a beautiful reality.
Thus, the traveler sees a thousandth part of the ocean-like truths and testimonies contained in the oceans and rivers. All of these truths pronounce unanimously and with a power that is proportionate to the size of the seas, “There is no deity but He,” while the seas produce as many witnesses for this testimony as all the creatures that inhabit them. This much the traveler perceives.
Intending and expressing the testimony of the seas and the rivers, it was in The Fourth Step of The First Station:
There is no deity but God, the Necessarily Existent One, Whose Necessary Existence in His Unity is demonstrated clearly by all the seas and rivers with whatever there is in them. This is testified to by the sublimely comprehensive, vast and perfect reality of subjugation, preservation, storing, and management, all of which are clearly observable.