In Nirtan, Gamakas, Hazrat Inayat Khan says, “The essence of today’s Message is balance.” No doubt many have read that with a feeling of relief, and perhaps even some smugness and complacency. ‘Very good,’ such folk may think, ‘no extremes are necessary, this is the perfect path for me! Business as usual, then – I am already living the Message. Thank you, Murshid, for the confirmation.’
But if we dig a little deeper in the theme, and ask, ‘What is it that needs to be balanced? And how can we know if we are well balanced?’ we may find ourselves at a loss for words.
There is of course the lesson of finding the proper proportion of what we do in the world – enough nutrients of various types in our food, enough activity and enough rest, enough fresh air and sunshine to keep ourselves healthy, and so on. But there is also the balance between the outer and the inner life, and as the inner life is not well known by many people, it may be difficult to recognise if we are balanced in this sense.
The recently posted poem by Shaikh Abu Saeed speaks directly to this question. He refers to the outer life, the world around us, as a flea-market, or in other words, a drab place where goods of little value, often second-hand and worn out, are exchanged. If we use our faculties, he warns us, to make the flea-market our kingdom, we have mis-used them; we have missed the point, and we face a difficult future. Sooner or later, but in any case too soon for our liking, we will leave the market and go into the solitude, and if our heart is still fixed on the tawdry items of the world, how can we be happy where we are going? The one who has found contentment in their own heart, however, will be content in all circumstances.
From that point of view, then, balance might be: living our life in the world as it needs to be lived, fulfilling all that is asked of us, but always guarding the contentment to be found in the silence of the heart. And if we do not feel that contentment, then we have not yet found the balance which is the essence of the Message.