THIS VOLUME, the fourteenth of what is to constitute the revised complete edition of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s works on the philosophy, theory and practice of mysticism, is also the third appearing under the new serial heading of A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty. Adopting the title Hazrat Inayat Khan himself gave to his first publication, this series is intended gradually to replace the by now familiar one, published from 1960 asThe Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
The editorial motives for continuing and revising the publication of the complete edition have been explained at length in the Preface to Volume VIII. Beyond recalling that the present series aims at the completion of the entire corpus of Inayat Khan’s teachings, and intends to maintain its distinctive oral character, there is little reason to expound these motives anew. Suffice it to say that the new volumes VIII and XIV jointly represent a much expanded version of Sufi Teachings, the eighth volume in the earlier series.
However, a section of that earlier volume VIII, containing introductory chapters on the history, nature and aim of Sufism and the Sufis, is still retained for inclusion in a subsequent volume, just as some individual lectures on other subjects which in the opinion of the editors seem to be more at home elsewhere.
Some subjects now appear under a different – mostly their original – title, while a very limited number of chapters had to be left out altogether, as they were compiled from two or more different sources, or derived from an uncertain origin.
Some of Inayat Khan’s earlier sayings and expressions, conserved in the form of fragments, were compiled by his first disciples and with his consent reconstructed as articles. In later times- from 1921/22 onward- his lectures and talks were accurately and completely noted down and conserved. The present edition renders these in their entirety. Different items compiled in chapters of the first edition of Sufi Teachings are nowas far as they could be retraced to their origin- published separately as ideas, aphorisms and answers to questions. (See for instance the chapters “Love”, “Justice and Forgiveness”, “Conscience” and “Pairs of Opposites”). More detailed information on this subject is obtainable from the publisher or from the General Secretariat of the Sufi Movement: Anna Paulownastraat 78, 2518 BJ The Hague, Netherlands.
Like its predecessors, the present volume contains discourses and teachings given at different times and places, rather than a series of lectures on a single theme. However, in their choice of the published material the editors have endeavoured now to include lectures which throw a further light on a given subject, sometimes providing a more extensive explanation, sometimes treating the same topic from different points of view. The list of documents at the end of the book contains further relevant information.
Hazrat Inayat Khan considered a faithful rendition of his words essential in order to explain his teachings fully. Truth, according to him, is what cannot be put into words. No system could encompass the truth which to the Sufi is the same as God. Yet his whole work consists in giving this truth to the world, to be discovered in all its different aspects, as the various facets of a diamond.
In the chapters of these Sufi’ Teachings Hazrat Inayat Khan shows his constant desire to instruct and enlighten humanity, guiding it towards a better knowledge and understanding of the world’s many problems and of life’s endless difficulties.
THE SMILING FOREHEAD
The Smiling Forehead
BY FOREHEAD is meant man’s expression. The smiling forehead is the pleasant expression; it depends solely upon man’s attitude to life. Life is the same for the saint and for Satan, and if men are different it is because of their outlook on life. The same life is turned by the one into heaven and by the other into hell. There are two attitudes: to one all is wrong, to the other all is right. Our life in the world from morning to evening is full of experiences, good and bad, which can be distinguished according to their degree. And the more we study the mystery of good and bad the more we see that there really is no such thing as good and bad. It is because of our attitude and the conditions that things seem good or bad. It is easy for an ordinary person to say what is good or bad, just or unjust – it is very difficult for a wise man. Although everyone, according to his outlook on life, turns things from bad to good and from good to bad, everyone has his own grade of evolution and reasons accordingly.
Sometimes one thing is subtler than others and then it is difficult to judge. There was a time when Wagner ‘s music was not understood, and another time when he was considered the greatest of musicians. Sometimes things are good, but our own evolution makes them less good for us. What we considered good a few years ago may not seem good at a later degree of evolution. At one time a child appreciates a doll most, later it will prefer the work of great sculptors. This proves that at every step and degree of evolution man’s idea of good and bad changes. Therefore a thinker will understand that there is no such thing as right or wrong. If there is wrong, all is wrong; if there is right, all is right.
No doubt there is a phase when man is a slave of what he has himself made right or wrong, and there is another phase in which he is master. This mastery comes from his realization of the fact that right and wrong are made by his own attitude to life, and then right and wrong, good and bad, will be his slaves, because he knows that it is in his power to turn the one into the other. It is this attitude that the ancient Sufis called mantiq(i.e. logic).
This opens the door to another mystery of life which shows that as there is duality in each thing so there is duality in every action: in everything that is just something unjust is hidden, in everything that is bad something good. Then one begins to see how the world takes all men’s actions: one person sees only the good, another only the bad. In Sufi terms this particular attitude is called hairat, bewilderment. And just as to the average man moving pictures, theatres, bazars are interesting, so to the Sufi the whole of life is interesting, a constant vision of bewilderment. He cannot explain this to the world because there are no words to explain it.
Can one compare any joy to that of taking things quietly, patiently and easily? All other joys come from outward sources, but this happiness is one’s own property. When a person arrives at this feeling it expresses itself not in words, but in the “smiling forehead”.
There is another side to this subject: man is pleased to see the one he loves, admires and respects, and if he frowns at someone it is because it is someone he does not admire or respect. Love is the divine essence in man and is due to God alone. Love for man is a lesson, it is a first step forward to the love of God.
In human love one begins to see the way to divine love, as the lesson of domestic life is learned by a little girl playing with her dolls. One learns this lesson by loving one person, a friend, a beloved, a father, mother, brother, sister, or teacher, but the use of love becomes wrong when that love is constantly developing for one only and not spreading. The water of a pond may turn bad, but the water of a river remains pure because it is progressing. By sincerely loving one person therefore one rears the plant of love and makes it grow and spread. Love has done its work when man has become all love -his atmosphere, his expression, every movement he makes. And how can such a man love one and refuse another? Such a countenance, such a presence becomes a blessing.
In the East, when we speak of saints or sages, it is not because of their miracles, it is because of their presence and their countenance which radiate vibrations of love. How does this love express itself? In tolerance, in forgiveness, in respect, in overlooking the faults of others. Their sympathy covers the defects of others as if they were their own; they forget their own interest in the interest of others. They do not mind what conditions they are in; be they high or humble, their foreheads are smiling. To their eyes everyone is the expression of the Beloved, whose name they repeat. They see the divine in all forms and in all beings.
Just as the religious person has a religious attitude in a temple, so the Sufi has that attitude before every being, for to him every being is the temple of the divine. Therefore the Sufi is always before his Lord. Whether a servant, a master, a friend, or a foe is before him, he is in the presence of God. For the one whose God is in the high heavens there is a vast gulf between him and God, but the one who has God always before him – he is always in God’s presence, and there is no end to his happiness.
The idea of the Sufi is that however religious a person may be, without love he is nothing. It is the same with one who has studied thousands of books; without love he has learned nothing. Love is not in a claim of love; when love is born one hears its voice louder than the voice of man. Love needs no words; they are too inadequate to express it. In what little way love can express itself, it is in what the Persians call “the laughing forehead”.
The Heart Quality
THERE ARE people who look at life through their brain, their head, and there are others who look at life through their heart. Between these two points of view there is a vast difference; so much difference that something that one person can see on the earth the other sees in heaven, something that one sees as small the other sees as great, of something that one sees as limited the other sees the unlimitedness. These two persons become opposite poles; it is as if one is looking at the sky, the other at the earth.
No one will admit that he looks at things with his head; everyone will say, “I look at life with my heart”. If he knew what it is to look at life from the heart, the best person in the world would say, “I have not yet learned to look at life from the heart. I would like to know how to do it, I would like to learn it”.
One might say that emotional and devotional people are flying in the clouds, while others with their reason and logic are standing on the earth. Yes, it is true. But angels ride on clouds; if the soul has the angelic quality the clouds are its sphere, not the earth. Now one may ask, “Where is the place for practicality in life?” Yes, but what one calls practical in everyday life and one is very careful about -what is it, how long does it last, what is it worth? No doubt it is true that man is born on earth to bear the weight of his physical body and with it its needs: a roof over his head and a piece of bread to sustain him. If that is all there is to think about, man makes a great mistake if he devotes all his life to what he calls practicality, practical life, and never thinks of the heavenly treasure that is hidden in the heart of man.
The heart of man can be likened to water. Either it is frozen and then it is snow, or it is water and then it is liquid. When it is frozen it has turned into a crystal; when it is liquid it is in running order, and it is natural for water to be running.
Then there are two principal kinds of water: salt water and sweet water. The sea which is quite contented in itself, indifferent to everything else, has salt water because it is independent of anything else. It gives health, happiness and pleasure to those who walk along it, because it represents perfection. It asks nothing from anyone, it rises and falls within itself, it is independent, it is immense. In that way it shows perfection. But with that independent perfection its water is not sweet, and the ascetic who has closed his heart, with the perfection of God and with the realization of truth is like the sea, independent, indifferent to all things. His presence heals people, his contact gives them joy, gives them peace, and yet his personality is uninteresting: the water of the sea is salt water.
When the sea is calm it is a pleasure to travel on it, and when the sea is rough there is no worse illness than seasickness. So is the powerful mind, the mind of a soul that has touched perfection: it is with tranquillity, calmness and peace that this mind gives everyone a way into it, as the sea lays itself with open heart before those who journey on it. Ships and boats pass through it, those who journey enjoy their travelling. But when the sea is disturbed by the wind, by storm, it is perfect in its annoyance, it can shake boats and steamers. And so the mind of the sage can have an effect upon all things in nature; it can cause volcanic eruptions, it can cause disasters, revolutions, all manner of things once its tranquillity is disturbed. Knowing this nature of the sage’s heart and knowing the great powers that a man who has touched divine perfection possesses, people in the East regard closely the pleasure and displeasure of the sage. They think that to annoy a sage is like annoying the whole of nature, to disturb his tranquillity means to shake the whole universe. A storm in the sea is a very small thing, whereas the heart that has touched perfection, if once upset, can upset the whole universe.
The water of the river is sweet. It is sweet because it is attracted to the sea, it is longing to reach the sea. The river represents the loving quality, a quality that is seeking for the object it loves. A heart that loves God and His perfection is likened to the river that seeks the sea. It is therefore that the personality of the seeker is more pleasant than the personality of the one who is contented with what he knows. There is little danger in travelling on the river, there is great joy in swimming in the river, and there is a fine scenery along it to look at. So it is with the personality which is like the river: that running of the feeling of sympathy, that continual running, means a living sympathy. The river helps the trees and plants and the earth along it. So does the kind, sympathetic person whose feeling is liquid: everywhere he goes he takes with him that influence which nourishes, which helps souls to flourish and to progress.
Then one sometimes sees a little stream. It runs, it is not a river, it is a small little stream running, and it is even more beautiful to look at for it expresses modesty, it expresses fineness of character, it expresses purity. For always the water of a little stream is pure. It expresses the nature of an innocent heart, the heart that cannot be prevented from being sympathetic, from being loving, by any experience of the world which makes water turn bitter. The bitter experience has not touched it, and it is pure and clear. It inspires poets, it uplifts a composer, it quenches the thirst of the thirsty one, it is an ideal spot for a painter to paint. With its modesty it has purity and with its purity it has life.
There is also the water of a little pool. It is sometimes muddy, sometimes dirty. Why? Because of its narrowness, because it is small. In the same way the narrowness of the heart has always mud in it. ,Because it is narrow and because it is not deep enough, all the elements of the earth enter it and take away its purity.
Then there is the water of a large pool, where water-lilies grow, where little fishes swim, where the sun is reflected and the moonlight produces a beautiful vision, where one would like to sit and look at it because it expresses to everyone that sees it the liquid nature of the heart, the heart that is not frozen, the heart that is like water. It is still, it is calm, it can make one’s heart tranquil to sit by its side. One can see one’s reflection in it, for it is calm, it is tranquil.
The water of the spring is most healing and most inspiring because it comes from above and falls on to the earth; that is the character of the inspirational mind. The heart that, like a spring, pours out water in the form of inspiration – be it in poetry, be it in music, in whatever form – has beauty, it has a healing quality, it can take away all the worries, anxieties, difficulties and troubles of those who come to it. Like the water of the spring it not only inspires but it heals. Then there is a fountain that rises and falls in so many drops. It is man-made as the personality also is man-made. When man has made a personality, then the feeling that rises from the heart through that personality is like the fountain: each drop falling from it comes in the form of a virtue.
The water that rises from the sea towards the sky in the form of vapour represents the aspiration of the heart. The heart that aspires upward, that wishes to reach upward, that heart shows the quality of vapour. It is the heart of the devotee, of the seeker, the heart of the one who is always conscientiously seeking the higher ideal, touching the higher principles. In the form of clouds that heart of aspiration forms itself and pours down just like the rain, bringing celestial beauty in the form of art, poetry or music, or of anything that is good and beautiful.
There are hearts that have been impregnated with fire for a long, long time; there comes a sulphury water from them, purifying and healing. The heart has gone through fire, it has gone through suffering and therefore it can heal those who suffer.
There are hearts with many different qualities, like water may contain different chemical substances: those who have suffered, those who have gone through the test of patience, those who have contemplated. These hearts all represent one or the other kind of the water that heals and so do the personalities. Persons who have had deep experiences of any kind – of suffering, of agony, of love, of hate, of solitude, of association, of success, of failure – all have a particular quality, a quality which has a particular use for others.
Knowing this we will come to this conclusion: “Whatever has been my life’s destiny, my heart through sorrow or pain, through joy or pleasure, has prepared a chemical substance that serves a certain purpose for humanity. And I can only give that chemical substance for the use of humanity if I can keep my heart awake and open”. Once the heart is closed, once it is frozen, once it has turned from a warm heart into a stone, the person is no longer living. It does not matter what he has gone through, for even the worst poison can be of some use. There is no person therefore, however wicked, who is of no use, if only he knows that there is one condition for being useful to humanity, and that is to keep the heart open.
Now coming to spiritual attainment: this is something that we can never absorb through the head; it can only be received through the heart. Let two persons listen to the teachings of a teacher, one with his heart and the other with his head. The latter will think, “Is it so, or is it not so? And how is it, if it is so? How can it be, and if it is, why is it?” And there is never an end to the “why”. The other person will listen with his heart; both logic and reason are at his disposal, but they do not trouble him. His heart is open, he listens to it and the quality of the heart is such that whatever falls upon an open heart becomes instantly revealed. When one says, “I cannot understand you”, it is just like saying, “I have closed my heart to you”; there is no other reason for not understanding. And when one says, “I have understood it all”, it means the heart was open; that is why one has understood.
Understanding, therefore, does not depend upon the head, it depends upon the heart. By the help of the head one can make things more clear, they become intelligible, one can express them better, but understanding must begin to come from the heart, not from the head. Besides, with his head a person says, “Yes, it must be so because I think so”, but with his heart he says, “it is so because I believe it to be so”. That is the difference: in one person there is doubt, in the other conviction.
In an Eastern language there is a word which is very difficult to translate: iman. It is not exactly faith or belief; the nearest word one can find for it is conviction, a conviction that cannot be changed by anything, a conviction that does not come from outside. One always seeks for conviction, one asks, “Will anybody convince me, will this thing convince me?” Nothing convinces, nobody convinces. Conviction is something that comes from one’s own heart and it stands above faith and belief, for belief is the beginning of the same thing of which faith is the development and conviction the culmination.
What is spiritual attainment? Spiritual attainment is conviction. A man may think, “Perhaps it is so”; he may think about the best doctrine or about the highest idea that there is, and he will think, “it is so – perhaps”. But there is “perhaps” attached to it. Then there is another person who cannot use the word “perhaps” because he does not think about it; he cannot say, “It may be so” when he knows that it is so. When a person arrives at the stage where the knowledge of reality becomes his conviction, then there is nothing in the world that will change it. If there is anything to attain to, it is that conviction which one can never find in the world outside; it must rise from the depth of one’s own heart.
The scientists say that the body is formed around the heart; from the mystical point of view it is symbolical that the personality is formed around the heart. For a materialist the heart is a piece of flesh hidden in the breast; for the mystic the heart is the centre around which the personality is formed. Consciously or unconsciously man loves to hear the word “heart” and if we asked a poet to leave the word “heart” out of his poems he would never succeed to satisfy himself or others. Few people think about it and yet almost all poets who have appealed to humanity have used the word “heart” most. For what is man? Man is his heart. And what is heart? Heart is man: a dead heart – a dead man, a living heart – a living man.
People look for phenomena, for something wonderful, something surprising, something that amuses them. If only they knew that the greatest surprise and wonder can be found in their own heart. If there is anything that can tune man to a higher pitch or to a lower pitch, that can loosen the strings of his soul or tune them to the right note – it can only be done by the tuning of the heart. The one who has not reached his heart cannot reach God, and the one who has not reached the heart of his fellowman has not reached him. People may become friends, they may become acquaintances, relations, they may become connected through industry, political friendship, partnership in business or any collaboration, and yet they may be separated. Nearness in space does not bring the nearness of real friendship. There is only one way of coming near to one another and that is by way of the heart.
If there is anything most wonderful in heaven or on earth it is the heart. If there is anywhere a phenomenon, a miracle to be found it is in the heart. When God Himself is to be found in the heart what else is there that is not in it? As the Nizam of Hyderabad, the mystic poet, 1 said, “They speak of the largeness of the sea, the largeness of the ocean, the largeness of the land – if only they knew how large is the heart that accommodates them all!” The greatness of man, the smallness of man does not depend upon outer things. Be he rich or poor, whatever be his position in life, whatever his rank, if his heart is not great he cannot be great. And no matter what be his circumstances, if the heart is still great it remains great. It is the heart that makes man great or small.
One may see hearts of different qualities: there is a golden heart, a silver heart, a copper heart and there is an iron heart. The golden heart shows its colour and its beauty; it is precious and at the same time it is soft. The silver heart shows itself inferior compared to the golden heart; yet it is of silver that the current coins are made, so it is useful. There is the heart of copper of which pennies are made, and pennies are useful in everyday life; one has to use them more than gold and silver. Copper is hard and strong; it needs many hammerings to bend and shape it, to make something out of it. And then there is the iron heart which must be put into the fire before one can do anything with it. When in the glowing fire the iron has become hot then one can make something out of it. But how long does the heat of the fire last with it? A very short time! The blacksmith must be always ready; as soon as the fire begins to glow he must make something of it, for if he lets the moment go the iron will turn cold.
Besides these different aspects there is a heart of rock, and there is a heart of wax. The heart of rock must be broken, it must be cut in order to make something out of it; nothing reaches it, cold or heat, sun or water have little effect upon it. The heart of wax melts as soon as it is heated. You can shape it without breaking it; it is soft, you can turn it any way you like. There is also the heart of paper you make a kite with. It flies and goes up; if the wind is in the north it goes to the north, if the wind is in the south it goes to the south. You can control it as long as the wind does not blow it out of your hands and as long as the wind is strong enough to hold it in the sky. But when there is no more wind it will drop down, and so you will try it again -like a kite.
Are these sufficient examples for the heart of man? There are numberless hearts, each different in quality, and once we begin to look at them and to distinguish their peculiarities and qualities we begin to see a living phenomenon, a miracle, every moment of our life. Is there anything we can compare the heart with? It is something that dies and then lives again, something that is torn and can be mended again, something that can be broken and be made whole again, something that can rise and something that can fall, and after falling can rise again, and after rising can fall instantly if it was to fall. There is a heart that can creep and a heart that can walk; there is a heart that can run and a heart that can fly. We cannot limit the various actions of the heart.
Imagine how the heart can be illuminated in a moment and how it can be darkened in a moment, how the heart becomes a maze for us to enter without ever being able to get out again, how it can become confusion and how it can become paradise. If one asked: Where is the soul? Where can we see the soul manifest to view? Where is paradise? Where is heaven? Where is joy and pleasure? If one asked: Where is love? Where is God? We can answer each of these questions by saying: it is in the heart.
Imagine how wonderful and at the same time how obscure to our view! If we call the heart the spark of fire then we can see its different aspects: as sympathy in the form of heat, as longing in the form of fire, as affection in the form of glow, as devotion in the form of flame, as passion in the form of smoke that blinds the eyes.
That which gives courage to stand firm in the battlefield, that which enables man to struggle throughout his life, that which gives him the strength to endure all that comes and strengthens him to have patience – what is it? It is the heart. If the heart fails, man falls, if the heart rises, man rises.
When the heart is directed towards one ideal, one object, one point, it develops, but when the heart goes from one point to another it is weakened, for then the fire element of the heart dies. For instance, a little spark can be brought to a blaze if one blows upon it, but the flame is put out by the wind.
Why? Because blowing directs the air to one single spark, but the wind goes all around it and extinguishes the flame.
When man begins to say, “I love everybody”, you can be sure he loves nobody. But when he says, “I love my mother, my father, my son, my daughter, my friend, or my beloved, then you can believe that he has taken his first step on the path of love. Can anyone in the world claim love and at the same time know love? The moment one knows what love is one loses the claim. One can only say, “I love”, as long as one does not know what it is. Before saying, “I love”, one must first show it by jumping into the fire. As Amir Minai, the great Hindustani poet, says, “Your first initiation in the order of lovers is to become nothing”. And another poet says, “Oh love! You have taught me that lesson first which many others learn at the end”.
When a person says, “If you will be good to me, I will be good to you; if you will be kind to me, I will be kind to you; if you will be nice to me, I will be nice to you; if you will respect me, I will honour you” – it is like saying, “if you will give me ninepence, I will give you a shilling”; it is business. When a person says, “I wish there was somebody who loved me, a friend, someone!”, he is very mistaken. He will never be loved; he may wait for eternity. Love never asks love of someone else; love is more independent than anything else. It is love which makes one independent.
There is love that is like an infant. It must be taken in the arms, it cannot stand; if it is not taken in the arms it cries. It is not mature, it is not developed, it is not yet love. There is love which is like a wobbling child that has not yet learned to walk. It likes to walk but it likes to hold the cupboard, the chair, the table, someone else, in order to go so far. That love too is undeveloped. Then there is love that stands on its own feet and walks by itself. That is independent love, and you can depend upon it.
Love shows its quality by constancy. Where there is no constancy there is no love. People have wrongly understood the meaning of love; very often they do not know it. The real meaning of love is life itself, the feeling of life, the feeling: I live. That feeling itself is love. So what is love? Love is God. And what is God? God is love.
As long as one is involved in selfish thoughts and actions in life one does not understand the meaning of love. Love is sacrifice, love is service, love is regard for the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved. That love, once it is understood, can be seen in all the different aspects of life: love for those who depend upon one, for those with whom one comes in contact in one’s everyday life, love for those of one’s country, of one’s race, for humanity. It can expand even to such an extent that there can be love for every little creature in the world, for the smallest insect. This expansion is like a drop of water expanding into an ocean. Man – limited as he is-the more he sympathizes the more he expands and the further he reaches heavenward: thus he can become as great as the Absolute.
Therefore, instead of teaching the lesson of indifference, as many mystics have done, the Sufis have learned the lesson of love, of devotion, of sympathy, and have called it the cultivation of the heart. It is known by the word suluk, which means the loving manner. What we call refined manner is only a manner behind which there is no life. When manner is directed by the heart quality then it becomes living manner, the manner that comes from love, and all such attributes as kindness, gentleness, tolerance, forgiveness, mercy and compassion – they all spring from this loving manner.
The great teachers and prophets, and the inspirers of humanity of all times have not become what they were by their miracles or wonder-workings; these belong to other people. The main thing that could be seen in them was their loving manner. Read the lives of the prophets. First of all see the way Jesus Christ had with all those who came to him. When sinners who were condemned and expelled by society were brought to the master, he received them with compassion. He was not on the side of those who accused them, he was on the side of the accused. That was loving manner. The fishermen (the first disciplies of Jesus Christ.) could never understand the master-even the most educated men would not have understood him, let alone the fishermen. Yet the master lived with them, moved with them and won their hearts in the end. That is loving manner.
Think of the Prophet whose beloved daughter was killed by an Arab, and when this man was brought before him and said, “Will you forgive me?” the Prophet forgave him. When his worst enemies were brought before him in rows, arrested, waiting his command, he was king, conqueror and judge, the one who could do anything he liked to them. When they asked, “What are you going to do with us, Prophet?” he said, “You are my brothers. God may forgive you. I pray for you”.
The compassion of Buddha went to every living creature, to the smallest insect; this shows the expansion of his love. Remember therefore that for higher attainment on the spiritual path study is secondary; all knowledge of occult and psychic law, all magical powers, are secondary. The first and most important principle is the cultivation of the heart quality.
One may ask: How to cultivate the heart quality? There is only one way: to become selfless at each step one takes forward on this path, for what prevents one from cultivating the loving quality is the thought of self. The more we think of our self the less we think of others, and as we go further the self grows to become worse and worse. In the end the self meets us as a giant which we had always fought; and now at the end of the journey the giant is the stronger. But if from the first step we take on the path of perfection we struggled and fought and conquered this giant which is the self, it could be done only by the increasing power of love.
What do I mean by love? It is such a word that one cannot give one meaning. All attributes like kindness, gentleness, goodness, humbleness, mildness, fineness, are names of one and the same thing. Love therefore is that stream which when it rises falls in the form of a fountain, and each stream coming down is a virtue. All virtues taught by books or by a religious person have no strength and life because they have been learned; a virtue that is learned has no power, no life. The virtue that naturally springs from the depth of the heart, the virtue that rises from the love-spring and then falls as many different attributes, that virtue is real. There is a Hindustani saying, “No matter how much wealth you have, if you do not have the treasure of virtue, it is of no use”. The true riches is the ever increasing spring of love from which all virtues come.
The Heart – Aphorisms
THE LENGTH of his heart man shows by his tolerance. The width of his heart man shows by his endurance.
The height of his heart man shows by his power of understanding.
The depth of his heart man shows by the capacity of assimilating all.
The heart of man is the shrine of God.
Take care when you touch it lest you may hurt the Unseen Dweller within.
Never hurt human feelings in thought, word or deed. The human heart is so delicate; it is like a fine tissue.
Once there is a tear in the tissue you can repair it – yet the tear remains.
And so it is with the human heart; once there is a tear in it, it can never be healed.
When God’s divine love rises as a wave, it washes away the sins of the whole life in a moment, for law has no power to stand before love: the stream of love sweeps it away.
When we find faults and see no excuse, we are blind to the light which can free a person from his faults and give rise to that forgiveness which is the very essence of God – to be found in the human heart.
The very thought of the love of God fills the heart with joy and makes it light of its burden.
The heart in its depth is linked up with the divine Mind; so in the depth of the heart there is greater justice than on the surface.
The brain may be said to be the seat of the intelligence and the heart to be the throne of wisdom.
As the heart expands so the horizon becomes wider, and one finds greater and greater scope in which to build the kingdom of God.
Man’s heart is like a piece of ground; you may sow anything in it and rear it.
When the fruit comes, then man knows whether it was a sweet fruit or a poison.
The heart, when it is not living and making its life a life of love, feels out of place, and all the discomfort of life comes from this.
My respondent heart be still-be still and listen to the consoling voice of God.
The Path of Devotion
THERE ARE four paths by which man can attain to his highest goal. One is for the intellectual, the intelligent. By studying himself and the world, by understanding what he is, whence he has come and where he will ultimately go, man attains to perfection.
The second path is the way of abstinence. Those who follow this way detach themselves from all things in life; they renounce all the pleasures and comforts of life. They have no friendship, no attachment for anyone; they withstand all natural tendencies and inclinations. Those who have been in India may have seen some followers of this path, sometimes among the crowd, their body covered with ashes, sometimes in the solitude remote from all: by this their psychic power becomes very great.
The third way is that of those who live the life of the world and by their righteousness, by their piety become as a saint, a sage.
The fourth way is the path of love, of devotion. The whole universe has been made through love. The intelligence itself in the next step towards evolution has become love. It is love that has directed the Intelligence; if not, the intelligence would be spread all over, not directed in any direction in particular. All that is done in the world is done by love. One could not study the flower on the mantelpiece if love did not direct the intelligence towards the flower, to admire it and to know what it is. Therefore the mystics have understood that this power of love that has brought all into manifestation must be able to lead back from the seen world to the unseen.
Love is the sign of intelligence. Where there is no intelligence there is no love. Rocks have no intelligence and there is no love in them. Plants and trees have awakened to life and show some attachment. If we have a plant and care for it, it will respond to our care and flourish. Animals have more intelligence and show much affection and attachment. Pet animals in the house grow to have much affection and sympathy for their master; they are happy in his joy and become sad in his sorrow. Horses too show much affection. It is told that the horse of an Arab who had been wounded in battle stayed beside him for three days and nights, until his comrades came and rescued him. Man has the most intelligence, and he has the most love in his nature.
Someone may say, “But animals are cruel also”. So is man. Is man not far more cruel than the animals?
There are three sorts of mystics: Yogis, Buddhists and Sufis,2 and most of these have chosen the path of devotion, because it has beauty and gives a satisfaction that nothing else can give. Sufis may take the way of renunciation, the way of wisdom, but most of them have especially chosen this path of devotion.
Devotion is like fire, it has a magnetism, a warmth like fire. When the atmosphere is so cold that our body is chilled, we like to turn to the fire and draw near to it. In this cold world where nothing but cold and selfish hearts are all about us, each person caring only for himself, where there is a heart that has love in it, it has such a warmth, such a radiance that all are drawn to it, all want to be near it. He who works through the intellect may have a little intellectual attraction satisfying the desire of the mind for a little explanation of things. I have travelled for eight years all over India and have been in remote and inaccessible places where there was danger of robbers. I travelled to see the sages and mystics, and I have seen what charm had the atmosphere of those who were devotees, what fragrance had their presence.
We all know love to some small extent. There are many who have begun to love and then say, “I loved someone, but the one I loved did not prove to be my ideal”. They are disappointed, they cast love aside and by doing so they cast aside the only thing that could lead them towards God, they break off the bridge that could unite them with God. Love is the only thing that takes away the selfishness which is the only barrier between man and God. Love alone illuminates the heart. The heart is in the centre of the being. When it is illumined the whole being becomes light; when it is dark the whole being is in darkness. The soul has its light, because the soul is light, but it cannot give its light to the external being if the heart that is between them is darkened, nor can the body give its experiences to the soul.
Then there are disappointed people who say, “There is nothing on earth worth loving”. Of course it is true because the soul which is from God is perfect as He is perfect and seeks perfection. Man does not wish to prove himself perfect, but he seeks perfection in another. That perfection is only in God, the Unlimited, but man seeks it in the human being, in the limited being full of faults and imperfections.
Now you may ask, “How can we love God whom we do not see, whom we have never known?” You cannot love God only because it has been said in ancient times that there is a God and that we should love Him, or because it is written in a book. If someone says that you should love God because he is the Creator, you cannot praise Him as Creator; for we have always seen that the piano is created by the piano manufacturer and Pears’ soap is created by Mr. Pears, and we know that the carpenter creates the chair and the table. A person once said to me, “I have a horror of the idea of God. When I think that God may suddenly seize me and call me to account for everything I have done, I have a horror. I have quite enough to interest me here. I do not want to think of God”. I was rather amused and I could not blame him. The mistake is that the ideal of God is given before idealism is developed.
A child wishes to give its doll a piano, a chair, a table, all kinds of things, and so much ado is made about the doll. When the child has grown up it has perhaps forgotten the doll. If the child has accomplished anything by this, if it has achieved anything in life, it is that idealism has been learned. One should have the ideal of devotion which one admires, to which one aspires, which appeals to one’s own degree of evolution. If a person wishes to raise himself, to be powerful in the world, he should think of President Wilson who has raised himself from the position of a doctor to be President of the United States. If he wishes to be great in politics he should think of the Prime Minister who has raised himself from his small position to be Prime Minister.
We cannot love God in heaven if we do not love man on earth. Christ taught first love of our fellow-man. Enemies apart, to love our fellow-man is the first thing necessary. Those who take this way have devotion and love for the Murshid, or they may love a teacher, or a hero, a saint, a prophet, and that love must be kept. If you say, “I have love for Buddha, but he did not believe in the soul and I do not like that – and he did this and that”, such is not love or devotion. Keep the devotion for the ideal – with his disbelief in the soul and all! From this man rises to the degree of fana-fi-rasul, devotion for the unseen ideal, for the holiness, the goodness, the kindness of the being whom he has not seen. It is your idealization which produces in you the ideal. Buddha’s body is lost in the earth long ago. You have made the Buddha.
But all this is idolatry as long as there is not the ideal of God. As long as there is devotion for the limited ideal there is idolatry and as long as man has not broken away from idolatry to the unlimited ideal, he has not reached his highest goal. The ideal has attracted, has drawn out your love by his holiness, his goodness, his saintliness, but then love itself springs forth and is for the Unlimited. Then a person will not say, “I have seen injustice in God, I have seen unkindness in God”. He sees and loves Him with His kindness and unkindness, His power and justice and might, with all and everything and nothing.
When that is reached then this highest goal of attainment is reached; then man is perfect.
Ideas- Stories -Answers to Questions -Aphorisms
TO AN angelic soul love means glorification
To a jinn soul love means admiration
To a human soul love means affection
To an animal soul love means passion.
One need not fall in love, one must rise through love.
Pour out floods of love, yet keeping your garment of detachment from being wet.
Question: Can love exceed wisdom or can wisdom exceed love? What happens in either case? Is love measured according to love, or is wisdom measured according to love?
Answer: It is true that wise is loving and loving is truly wise, although in one person wisdom may be predominant and in another love. But both love and wisdom are needed. The cold-hearted man is never wise, and the really warm-hearted person is never foolish. Yet both these qualities, love and wisdom, are distinct and separate, and it is possible that a person may be loving but lacking wisdom, and it happens that a person who is wise may be lacking love to some extent. But no one can be wise if love is absent from his heart – call him clever. And no one will be truly loving if wisdom has not illuminated his heart, for love comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from love.
It is very difficult to say what love is and how one can love. Is it embracing people and running after them and saying sweet words to them? What could one show when one is loving? – for every person has a different way of expressing his love. One person perhaps has love hidden in his heart which does not manifest, and another person’s love comes out in his words and actions. The love of one person rises like vapour and charges the whole atmosphere, and another person’s love is like a spark hidden in a stone: outside the stone is cold, inside there is a spark.
Therefore to judge who has love and who has not is not in the power of every person, it is a very difficult thing. For instance love is a fire rising from a cracker calling out, “I am love!”, but it burns out and is finished. There is also fire in the pebble which never manifests. If you hold the pebble it feels cold, yet at the same time the fire is there. Some day you can strike it and it is there, it is dependable, it lasts. As many people as there are, so many are the different qualities of their love, and one cannot judge.
Question: Is jealousy inseparable from human love?
Answer: It is like asking, “Is the shadow separable from the body?” Where there is form there is shadow; where there is human love there is jealousy.
Love can bring out what is worst and best in man.
Love can take many forms, even that of indifference. I remember I went once for a relative to the house of a physician, an Indian physician who had a very ancient method of writing his prescriptions. Each took him nearly ten minutes. I was shown into a small room where fifteen to twenty people were already waiting, and I sat down among them. He continued to write prescriptions for all who came, and when he had finished with those who were before me he began to write prescriptions for those who had come after me. I had thought that the physician, as a friend of the family, would have seen me first, but he went on until he had seen everyone, and I was the last.
Finally he said to me, “Now tell me what you have to say”. I told him, and he wrote out the prescription without any haste, and when I was leaving he said, “I hope you understand that I did not want to see you while all the other patients were still there. I wanted to see you at leisure”. He was doing me a favour, and though he tried my patience it was still a majestic sort of favour. It gave me a good example of love in the form of indifference.
With indifference one still must have sympathy and love – be more and more sensitive as one evolves.
The Story of Hatim
The life of Hatim is written by the Persians and many stories are told about him. One of these stories is best known by the people in the East. It tells that a princess who was much renowned for her beauty and greatness had made as a condition for those who loved her and desired her hand that only the one who brought her a certain pearl which she longed to possess would marry her. There was one lover of the princess who really loved her, but did not find the way to obtain that pearl from anywhere.
The work of Hatim was to roam about from country to country and to do what he could for those who needed his services. He met this lover who, roaming about, was most unhappy because he could not find the pearl. Hatim consoled him and said, “Continue in your path of love, even if it be difficult, and remember that I shall not rest until I have brought relief to your heart by bringing you the pearl you are longing for”. Hatim then went in pursuit of the pearl and the story tells what difficulties he had in obtaining it. When at last he got it he brought it to the palace, and the princess was won by that pearl. When she consented to accept Hatim as her lover, he then said that this promise should be granted to his friend, who was really her lover, while Hatim was the lover of those who were in need.
In this story the princess is God, and the pearl that she wanted is the knowledge of God. There was a lover of God, but he would not go and take the trouble one has to take to obtain this knowledge. Someone else was ready; his work was to take this trouble to go to the depth – even if it was not for himself but for another – to get the knowledge and to give it to the one who had the love to have it.
This story also explains us that there are two stages of workers. The first stage is that of the one who works for himself; the higher stage of working is to work for others. The one who rises above the stage of working for himself comes to the stage of working for others, bringing in their lives the blessing which is the need of their lives.
To what does the love of God lead? It leads to that peace and stillness which can be seen in the life of the tree which flowers and bears fruit for others and expects no return.
Peace will not come to the lover’s heart so long as he will not become love itself.
Question: Why is it that with the growing of love difficulties arise from all sides? Is it not said by the ancients that God is a jealous God?
Answer: This is but a saying; God can never be jealous of His own manifestation. Only before love began one was unconsciously linked with the source alone, but once love has awakened on the physical plane, one is attached to someone on earth. It is like Adam and Eve being exiled from the garden of Eden. This naturally causes every influence to work against that love. Even the throne of God is shaken by love’s outburst, because by a sincere link on earth which is power itself every other influence is automatically pulled and pushed, causing thereby a commotion in the world of hearts.
The soul of man is happiness; yet man is never happy since he is occupied with this world of woes. It is only love that can bring about that happiness of which is spoken in legends, which is beyond all pleasures of this mortal world. Those who consciously or unconsciously see or feel that happiness experienced by the lover and the beloved, naturally either knowingly or unknowingly react against it.
Spiritual love is nectar, but as soon as it is mixed with matter, it becomes a sweet wine mixed with a bitter poison.
If we give ourselves up to the absorbing love of any being, any thing, God becomes jealous and He takes that being from us. Therefore Abraham was called upon to sacrifice his son. This lesson was given: God does not allow another affection to be dearer than His love. If we love our children because they are ours and other children are neglected, God says to us, “These are the beings whom We have given you to love, to take care of them for Us, not to cherish them for yourselves”. He takes from us whatever we love most forgetting Him, in order to show us that He is the Lord of the Jalal, Jamal and Kamal. The love of all beings lasts for a season, but it is His love that is always with us, in all forms and beings.
No creature that has ever been born has belonged in reality to any other. Every soul is the beloved of God. Does not God love as we human beings cannot?3
The Maharajah of Jaipur, Ram Singh, was a great lover of music. At his court were marvellous singers and dancers, they were like the Apsaras and Ghandarvas (In the Hindu Pantheon these are singers and dancers at the Court of Indra). From all India beautiful singers and dancers were called there; all the great musicians of India were there, also my grandfather Maula Bakhsh. The Maharajah did not know the secret of holding his wish. If he had known it he might have kept his happiness much longer. But he did not know it, and when everything was perfect he died.
That is why in the East there is a superstition that, if any thing or being belonging to us is much praised or admired, that thing or that person will soon be lost to us. Therefore if someone says, “Your child is very pretty”, the parents will say, “No, he is not pretty, he is a plain child”. And if the child is fair they make a black mark upon its face, so that it would not be perfectly fair.
Life provides you with a substitute for all you have lost.
Love is the fire that burns all infirmities.
Question: How do we see the love of God in the book of nature? We see all around us fruits and plants and animal life brought to fruition and then to destruction, and among men cruelty, misery, tragedies and enmities everywhere.
Answer: It is a difference of focus. If we focus our mind upon all that is good and beautiful we shall see – in spite of all the ugliness that exists in nature and especially more pronounced in human nature – that the ugliness will cover itself. We will spread a cover over it and see all that is beautiful, and to whatever lacks beauty we will be able to add, taking it from all that is beautiful in our heart where beauty has sufficiently been collected. But if we focus our mind upon all the ugliness that exists in nature – and in human nature – there will be much of it. It will take up all our attention and there will come a time when we shall not be able to see any good anywhere. We shall see all cruelty, ugliness, wickedness and unkindness everywhere.
Question: In focusing our mind on beauty alone, is there not a danger of shutting our eyes to the ugliness and suffering we might alleviate?
Answer: In order to help the poor we ought to be rich, and in order to take away the badness of a person we ought to be so much more good. That goodness must be earned, as money is earned. That earning of goodness is collecting goodness wherever we find it, and if we do not focus on goodness we will not be able to collect it sufficiently. What happens is that man becomes agitated by all the absence of goodness he sees. Being himself poor he cannot add to it, and unconsciously he develops in his own nature what he sees. He thinks, “Oh poor person! I should so much like you to be good”, but that does not help that person. His looking at the badness, his agitation, only adds one more wicked person to the lot. When one has focused one’s eyes on goodness one will add to beauty, but when a man’s eyes are focused on what is bad he will collect enough wickedness for him to be added himself to the number of the wicked in the end, for he receives the same impression.
Besides, by criticising, by judging, by looking at wickedness with contempt, one does not help the wicked or the stupid person. The one who helps is he who is ready to overlook, who is ready to forgive, to tolerate, to take disadvantages he may have to meet with patiently. It is he who can help.
A person who is able to help others should not hide himself but do his best to come out into the world. “Raise up your light high”, it is said. All that is in you should be brought out, and if the conditions hinder you, break through the conditions! That is the strength of life.
You are love – you come from love – you are made by love -you cannot cease to love.
Question: Is it a great lack in character when a person cannot give the love which friends require? When one receives love and is not able to return it, when one forgets one’s friends being absorbed in one’s work and occupation?
Answer: The question is: what work or occupation? There are works and occupations of a higher character which take one’s whole attention, one’s life. Such works may require renunciation and sacrifice. Then one does not become loveless; there is a duty of which one cannot be regardless. However if one can manage to give and take love at the same time, it is preferable.
Question: Will a person suffer one day through inability to love -merely giving a cold affection?
Answer: Love, whether hot or cold, is love.
Question: Is there cold love?
Answer: Since God is love the whole manifestation is love, the cold water and the hot fire.
Question: By which power does man attract his food and all he needs?
Answer: If there is any mighty power, it is the power of love. All that one desires comes from love. Even if one desires food, it is the love of food, and it is according to the power of his love that man will attract it. The question is only: what does he love most? Does he love something more than the ordinary things of life, then that must be his aim.
Hunger is an aspect of love. Love of the heart is what we call affection. Love of territory has caused many deaths. What man loves he must get. All words as seeking, wanting, requiring, searching, are words for loving. Love is the root of the whole phenomenon of life. Even if a poor man does not find his food, you will see that there is something else he loves more.
God is love and in Him I have my being – and I have no fear.
Let my intelligence shine out as love; let my limited self expand to Thy divine perfection.
1. The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Maheboob Ali Khan (1866-1926) was an esteemed poet and patron of poets. The Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan and other literature include accounts of the Murshid’s meetings with Indian monarchs and representatives of the Moghul tradition of culture and civilisation. Eventually Hazrat Inayat Khan gave up his contacts with the court in order to concentrate fully on mystical life and the tuition of his own initiator.
2. Three sorts of mystics: Yogis, Buddhists and Sufis: i.e. respectively ascetics, monastics, and mystics living life in the world rather than renouncing it.
3. These words are part of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s sermon of the Burial Ceremony.