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Thread: Wisdom of Hazrat Inayat Khan — a Sufi Master

  1. #251 The real abode of God is in the heart of man; when it is frozen with bitterness... 
    The real abode of God is in the heart of man; when it is frozen with bitterness or hatred, the doors of the shrine are closed, the light is hidden.

    Everybody is working for selfish ends, not caring about others, and this alone has brought about the misery in the world today. When the world is evolving from imperfection towards perfection, it needs all love and sympathy. Great tenderness and watchfulness is required of each one of us. The heart of every man, both good and bad, is the abode of God, and care should be taken never to wound anybody by word or act.
    According to the belief of a Sufi the heart is the shrine of God, and when the doors of the shrine are closed it is just like a light being hidden under a bushel. The pupil sees that God is Love. If He is love He does not stay in the heavens. His earthly body is the heart of man. When that heart is frozen and when there is no love but bitterness, coldness, prejudice and contempt, unforgiving feelings and hatred (which all come from one source: want of tolerance) the feeling I am different and you are different comes. Then that spirit and that light of God, that divine essence that is in the heart of man, is buried as in a tomb. The work that one has to do is to dig it up, as one would dig the ground until one touched the water underneath.

    What the Sufi calls riyazat, a process of achievement, is nothing else than digging constantly in that holy land which is the heart of man... The first and last lesson in love is, 'I am not -- Thou art' and unless man is moved to that selflessness he does not know justice, right or truth.
    The soul is the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God lives within the shrine of the heart; this shrine can be closed or it can be open. There are some things in life that open it and some that close it. The things that close the heart are those which are contrary to love, tolerance and forgiveness, such as coldness, bitterness and ill-will, and a strong element of duality. The world is more upset today than ever before; in many ways man seems to go from bad to worse, and yet he thinks that he is progressing. It is not lack of organization or of civilization; both these things he has. What he lacks is the expression of the soul. He closes his door to his fellow man, he closes the shrine of the heart and by doing so he is keeping God away from himself and others. Nation is set against nation, race against race, religion against religion. Therefore today more than ever before there is a need for the realization of this philosophy. What we need is not that all religions should become one nor all races; that can never be. But what is needed is undivided progress, and making ourselves examples of love and tolerance.

    By talking about it, by discussing and arguing it will not come, but by self-realization, by making ourselves the examples of what should be, by giving love, taking love, and showing in our action gentleness, consideration and the desire for service for the sake of God in whom we can all unite beyond the narrow barriers of race and creed.


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  2. #252 It is false love that does not uproot man's claim of "I"; the first and last lesson.. 
    It is false love that does not uproot man's claim of "I"; the first and last lesson of love is "I am not".

    It is not love, but the pretense of love, that imposes the claim of the self. The first and last lesson in love is, 'I am not -- Thou art' and unless man is moved to that selflessness he does not know justice, right or truth. His self stands above or between him and God.
    There is no greater teacher of morals than love itself, for the first lesson that one learns from love is, 'I am not, you are.' This is self-denial, self-abnegation, without which we cannot take the first step on love's path. One may claim to be a great lover, to be a great admirer, to be very affectionate, but it all means nothing as long as the thought of self is there, for there is no love. But when the thought of self is removed, then every action, every deed that one performs in life, becomes a virtue.
    He who says, 'I love you but only so much, I love you and give you sixpence but I keep sixpence for myself, I love you but I stand at a distance and never come closer, we are separate beings'- his love is with his self. As long as that exists, love has not done its full work. Love accomplishes its work when it spreads its wings and veils man's self from his own eyes. That is the time when love is fulfilled, and so it is in the life of the holy ones who have not only loved God by professing or showing it, but who have loved God to the extent that they forgot themselves.
    Man is here on earth for this one purpose, that he may bring forth that spirit of God in him and thus discover his own perfection. The three stages towards this perfection are the following. The first stage is to make God as great and as perfect as your imagination can. ....

    The second stage is the work of the heart... The first lesson that love teaches us is: 'I am not. Thou art.' The first thing to think of is to erase ourselves from our minds and to think of the one we love. As long as we do not arrive at this idea, so long the word love remains only in the dictionary. Many speak about love but very few know it. Is love a pastime, an amusement, a drama; is it a performance? The first lesson of love is sacrifice, service, self-effacement. ... To close the eyes for prayer is one thing, and to produce the love of God is another thing. That is the second stage in spiritual realization, where, in the thought of God, one begins to lose oneself in the same way that the lover loses the thought of self in the thought of the beloved.

    And the third stage is different again. In the third stage the Beloved becomes the Self, and the self is there no more. For then the self, as we think it to be, no longer remains. The self becomes what it really is. It is that realization which is called Self-realization.

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  3. #253 The source of truth is within man; he himself is the object of his realization. 
    The source of truth is within man; he himself is the object of his realization.

    In point of fact truth is simple; it is man who makes it difficult for himself. For all other aspects of knowledge he has to get from outside, but truth is something which is within man himself. It is something which is nearest to us though we imagine it to be farthest; it is something which is within, though we imagine it to be outside; it is knowledge itself we want to acquire. Thus the seeker is engaged in a continual struggle: struggle with himself, struggle with others, and struggle with life. And at the end of the journey he always finds that he has traveled because it was his destiny to travel, and he discovers that his starting-point is the same as his final goal.
    Then the question arises: what is the way to attain the truth? Can it be attained through study? The answer is that the source of realizing the truth is within man. But man is the object of his realization. There are words of Hazrat 'Ali, saying that the one who knows himself truly knows God.

    Man, absorbed from morning till evening in his occupations which engage his every attention to the things of the earth and of self interest, remains intoxicated. Seldom there are moments in his life, brought about by pain or suffering, when he experiences a state of mind which can be called soberness. Hindus call this state of mind sat, which is a state of tranquility. Man then begins to become conscious of some part of his being which he finds to have almost covered his eyes. When we look at life from this point of view we find that an individual who claims to be a living being is not necessarily living a full life. It is only a realization of inner life which at every moment unveils the soul, and brings before man another aspect of life in which he finds fullness, a greater satisfaction, and a rest which gives true peace.
    Heaven is not a country or a continent; it is a state, a condition within oneself, only experienced when the rhythm is in perfect working order. If one knows this, one realizes that happiness is man's own property. Man is his own enemy: he seeks for happiness in the wrong direction and never finds it. It is a continual illusion. Man thinks, 'If I had this or that I should be happy for ever', and he never arrives at happiness because he pursues an illusion instead of the truth. Happiness is only to be found within, and when man tunes himself he finds all for which his soul yearns within himself.


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  4. #254 God is truth, and truth is God. 
    God is truth, and truth is God.

    We generally confuse truth with fact, and we often use the word fact for truth. When we look at it from the mystic's point of view we find that words are too intricate ever to explain what is truth. ... Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all-pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.
    The seeker after truth goes out into the world and he finds innumerable different sects and religions. He does not know where to start. Then he desires to find out what is hidden under these sects, these different religions, and he begins to seek the object which he wishes to gain through wisdom. Wisdom is a veil over truth, even wisdom cannot be called truth. God alone is truth, and it is truth that is God. And truth can neither be studied nor taught nor learned; it is to be touched, it is to be realized; and it can be realized by the unfoldment of the heart.
    Many intellectual people, with their various ideas, differ from one another in their opinions and in their way of looking at things, in their speculations, but do the prophets differ from one another? No, they cannot differ. The reason is that it is the various minds which differ, not the souls. The one who lives in his mind, is conscious of his mind; the one who lives in his soul is conscious of the soul. ... When a person is living in his mind, he is living through the darkness of the night. The moment he rises above his mind and awakens in the light of the soul he becomes spiritual. And if a thousand spiritual people speak, they will say the same thing, perhaps in different words but with only one meaning, for they have one and the same vision. This is why spiritual realization is called the truth. There are many facts but only one truth. The facts can be put into words but not the truth, for God is truth, the soul is truth, the real self of man is truth.


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  5. #255 Until one loses himself in the vision of God, he cannot be said to live really. 
    Until one loses himself in the vision of God, he cannot be said to live really.

    Man wrongly identifies himself with the physical body, calling it 'myself.' And when the physical body is in pain he says, 'I am ill,' because he identifies himself with something which belongs to him but which is not himself. The first thing to learn in the spiritual path is to recognize the physical body not as one's self, but as an instrument, a vehicle, through which to experience life.
    Every soul seeks after beauty; and every virtue, righteousness, good action, is nothing but a glimpse of beauty. Once having this moral, the Sufi does not need to follow a particular belief or faith, to restrict himself to a particular path. He can follow the Hindu way, the Muslim way, the way of any Church or faith, provided he treads this royal road: that the whole universe is but an immanence of beauty. ... Therein lies the whole of religion. The mystic's prayer is to that beauty, and his work is to forget the self, to lose himself like a bubble in the water [like a drop in the ocean].
    As life unfolds itself to man the first lesson it teaches is humility; the first thing that comes to man's vision is his own limitedness. The vaster God appears to him, the smaller he finds himself. This goes on and on until the moment comes when he loses himself in the vision of God. In terms of the Sufis this is called fana, and it is this process that was taught by Christ under the name of self-denial. Often man interprets this teaching wrongly and considers renunciation as self-denial. He thinks that the teaching is to renounce all that is in the world. But although that is a way and an important step which leads to true self-denial, the self-denial meant is the losing oneself in God.


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  6. #256 At every step of evolution, one's realization of God changes. 
    At every step of evolution, one's realization of God changes.

    There is a time when toys are treasures. But the child who cries for a toy comes to an age when he gives it away. And at every step in a man's evolution the values of power and position and wealth change in his eyes. And so as he evolves there arises in him a spirit of renunciation which may be called the Spirit of God. Gradually he recognizes the real value of those fair and lovely qualities of the spirit that change not.
    Every step in evolution makes life more valuable. The more evolved you are, the more priceless is every moment; it becomes an opportunity for you to do good to others, to serve others, to give love to others, to be gentle to others, to give your sympathy to souls who are longing and hungering for it. Life is miserable when a person is absorbed in himself.
    In selfishness there is an illusion of profit, but in the end the profit attained by selfishness proves to be worthless. Life is the principal thing to consider, and true life is the inner life, the realization of God, the consciousness of one's spirit. When the human heart becomes conscious of God it turns into the sea and it spreads; it extends the waves of its love to friend and foe. Spreading further and further it attains perfection.
    The one who in the shrine of his heart has seen the vision of God, the one who has the realization of truth, can only smile, for words can never really explain what truth means. The nearest explanation one can give is that truth is realization. At every step of man's evolution his realization changes, but there is a stage where man arrives at the true realization, a realization which is a firm conviction that no reason or logic can change or alter. Nothing in the world can change it any more, and that conviction is called by the Sufis Iman.

    The realization which is attained is that there is nothing to realize any more. The process of this attainment is a sincere research into truth and life, and the understanding of 'what I am the other is', together with the contemplation of God, a selfless consciousness, and a continual pursuit after the receiving of the knowledge of God.


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  7. #257 There is one Teacher, God Himself; we are all His pupils. 
    There is one Teacher, God Himself; we are all His pupils.

    According to the Sufi point of view there is only one teacher, and that teacher is God Himself. No man can teach another man. All one can do for another is to give him one's own experience in order to help him to be successful. For instance if a person happens to know a road, he can tell another man that it is the road which leads to the place he wishes to find. The work of the spiritual teacher is like the work of Cupid. The work of Cupid is to bring two souls together. And so is the work of the spiritual teacher: to bring together the soul and God. But what is taught to the one who seeks after truth? Nothing is taught. He is only shown how he should learn from God. For no man can ever teach spirituality. It is God alone who teaches it. And how is it learned? When these ears which are open outwardly are closed to the outside world and focused upon the heart within, then instead of hearing all that comes from the outer life one begins to hear the words within. Thus if one were to define what meditation is, that also is an attitude: the right attitude towards God. The attitude should first be to seek God within. And, after seeking God within, then to see God outside.
    If truth is to be attained, it is only when truth itself has begun to speak, which happens in revelation. Truth reveals itself; therefore, the Persian word for both God and truth is Khuda, which means self-revealing, thus uniting God with truth. One cannot explain either of these words. The only help the mystic can give is by indicating how to arrive at this revelation. No one can teach or learn this, one has to learn it oneself. The teacher is only there to guide one towards this revelation. There is only one teacher, and that teacher is God. The great masters of the world were the greatest pupils, and they each knew how to become a pupil.
    'There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads His followers towards the light.'

    To the Sufi therefore there is only one Teacher, however differently He may be named at different periods of history, and He comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion, and to guide man onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi progresses in this view he recognizes his Master not only in the holy ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never allowed the Master who is One alone, and the only One who can be and who ever will be, to disappear from his sight.

    The Persian word for Master is Murshid. The Sufi recognizes the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom he learns. Then he begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and thing in the universe, thus he sees Rasul, his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him. Thus the Sufi sees the vision of God, the worshipped deity, in His immanence, manifest in nature, and life now becomes for him a perfect revelation both within and without.


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  8. #258 The first sign of the realization of truth is tolerance. 
    The first sign of the realization of truth is tolerance.

    A soul shows the proof of its evolution in the degree of the tolerance it shows. The life in the lower creation shows the lack of tolerance. The tendency of fighting with one another, which one sees among beasts and birds, shows the reason at the back of it, that intolerance is born in their nature. ... But when a soul has evolved still more, tolerance becomes the natural thing for him. Because the highly evolved soul then begins to realize 'Another person is not separate from me, but the other person is myself. The separation is on the surface of life, but in the depth of life I and the other person are one.' Therefore tolerance is not learned fully by trying to follow it as a good principle. It is learned by having the love of God, by attaining the knowledge of self, and by understanding the truth of life.
    A Sufi tries to keep harmony in his surroundings, the harmony which demands many sacrifices. It makes one endure what one is not willing to endure, it makes one overlook what one is not inclined to overlook, it makes one tolerate what one is not accustomed to tolerate, and it makes one forgive and forget what one would never have forgotten if it were not for the sake of harmony. But at whatever cost harmony is attained, it is a good bargain. For harmony is the secret of happiness, and in absence of this a person living in palaces and rolling in gold can be most unhappy.
    The first step to the attainment of the truth cannot be taught in books, or be imparted by a teacher. It must come spontaneously, namely through the love for truth. The next step is to search for it; the third step is the actual attainment. How can one attain? In order to attain truth one must make one's own life truthful. ... Passing from the state of natural man, through the state of being a lover of truth and a seeker after truth, one begins to express truth ... One begins to understand what the great teachers have taught. Then one becomes tolerant to the various religions. Nothing seems strange any more. Nothing surprises. For now one begins to know the innermost nature of man; one sees the cause behind every action. Therefore tolerance and forgiveness and understanding of others come naturally. The person who knows the truth is the most tolerant. It is the knower of truth who is forgiving; it is the knower of truth who understands another person's point of view. It is the knower of truth who does not readily voice his opinion, for he has respect for the opinions of others.

    When man gains insight into himself, he also gains insight into the hearts of others. All this desire for learning occult or mystical powers or psychic powers now disappears, because he begins to see all this power in one truth -- loving truth, seeking truth, looking for truth, living the truthful life. That it is which opens all doors.


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  9. #259 The one who is filled with the knowledge of names and forms has no capacity for... 
    The one who is filled with the knowledge of names and forms has no capacity for the knowledge of God.

    A man filled with earthly knowledge -- and what he calls learning is often only the knowledge of names and forms -- has no capacity for the knowledge of truth or God. It is the innocent and pure soul who has a capacity for learning. When a person comes to take a lesson on any subject, and he brings his own knowledge with him, the teacher has little to teach him, for the doors of his heart are not open. His heart that should be empty in order to receive knowledge is occupied by the knowledge that he already had acquired.
    Intellect is the knowledge of names and forms, their character and nature, gathered from the external world. It shows in an infant from birth, when he begins to be curious about all he sees; then, by storing in his mind the various forms and figures he sees he recognizes them as an addition to his knowledge of variety. Man thus gathers the knowledge of numberless forms of the whole world in his mind and holds them... and calls that 'learning'. This becomes his world, although it neither gives him a sense of unchanging comfort, nor does he thereby gain an everlasting peace.

    Wisdom is contrary to the above-named knowledge. It is the knowledge which is illumined by the light within; it comes with the maturity of the soul, and opens up the sight to the similarity of all things and beings, as well as the unity in names and forms. The wise man penetrates the spirit of all things; he sees the human in the male and female, and the racial origin which unites nations. He sees the human in all people and the divine immanence in all things in the universe, until the vision of the whole being becomes to him the vision of the One Alone, the most beautiful and beloved God.
    Every soul yearns for knowledge, that knowledge which will give exaltation. But the soul cannot be satisfied by the knowledge one gathers from books, by learning, or by the study of outside things. For instance the knowledge of science, the knowledge of art, are outside knowledge. They give one a kind of strength, a kind of satisfaction, but this does not last. It is another knowledge that the soul is really seeking. The soul cannot be satisfied unless it finds that knowledge, but that knowledge does not come by learning names and forms. ...

    We must enrich ourselves with thought, with that happiness which is spiritual happiness, with that peace which belongs to our soul, with that liberty, that freedom, for which our soul longs; and attain to that higher knowledge which breaks all the fetters of life and raises our consciousness to look at life from a different point of view. Once a person has realized this opportunity he has fulfilled the purpose of Life.


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  10. #260 Mankind is closer to God than the fishes are to the ocean. 
    Mankind is closer to God than the fishes are to the ocean.

    One day Inayat was praying on the roof of the house, offering his prayers and he thought to himself that there had not been an answer yet to all the prayers he had offered to God and he did not know where God was to hear his prayers and he could not reconcile himself to going on praying to the God whom he knew not. He went fearlessly to his father and said: "I do not think I will continue my prayers any longer, for it does not fit in with my reason. I do not know how I can go on praying to a God I do not know." His father, taken aback, did not become cross lest he might turn Inayat's beliefs sour by forcing them upon him without satisfying his reason and he was glad on the other hand to see that, although it was irreverent on the child's part, yet it was frank, and he knew that the lad really hungered after Truth and was ready to learn now, what many could not learn in their whole life.

    He said to him: "God is in you and you are in God. As the bubble is in the ocean and the bubble is a part of the ocean and yet not separate from the ocean. For a moment it has appeared as a bubble, then it will return to that from which it has risen. So is the relation between man and God. The Prophet has said that God is closer to you than the jugular vein, which in reality means that your own body is farther from you than God is. If this be rightly interpreted, it will mean that God is the very depth of your own being." This moment to Inayat was his very great initiation, as if a switch had turned in him, and from that moment onward his whole life Inayat busied himself, and his whole being became engaged in witnessing in life what he knew and believed, by this one great Truth.
    The innermost being of man is the real being of God; man is always linked with God. If he could only realize it, it is by finding harmony in his own soul that he finds communion with God. All meditation and contemplation are taught with this purpose: to harmonize one's innermost being with God, so that He is seeing, hearing, thinking through us, and our being is a ray of His light. In that way we are even closer to God than the fishes are to the ocean in which they have their being.
    Many think that spiritual attainment can only be achieved by great labor. It is not so; labor is necessary for material attainment, but for spiritual attainment what one needs is a seeking soul like that of Moses. Moses falling upon the ground may be interpreted as the cross, which means, 'I am not; Thou art.' In order to be, one must pass through a stage of being nothing. In Sufi terms this is called Fana, when one thinks, 'I am not what I had always thought myself to be.' This is the true self-denial, which the Hindus called Layam, and the Buddhists annihilation. It is the annihilation of the false self which gives rise to the true self; once this is done, from that moment man approaches closer and closer to God, until he stands face to face with his divine ideal, with which he can communicate at every moment of his life.


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