Recently, in a retreat surrounded by noble mountains and green nature, blessed by a brilliant sun, we worked with a phrase from the Gayan: Beauty is the object that every soul pursues. Like so many of the saying of Hazrat Inayat Khan, it can be understood in different ways, depending on one’s attunement. To some, perhaps, it may bring a smile simply to hear the words ‘beauty’ and ‘soul’ united in a single phrase; there is a comfort in this lofty thought; we might conclude that if we have beautiful things around us, it is a token of our spirituality. To others, working ‘to know and understand life better,’ it can give a different kind of reassurance.
One of the obstacles to overcome on the spiritual path is our own catalog of errors. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit we have made many mistakes in our lives, both blunders committed and opportunities neglected, and those ‘imperfections’ can stand as a barrier between ourselves and our Divine Ideal. Until we bring those shortcomings to light, until we admit them and then let them go, we are not free to lose ourselves in the grace, the compassion and the forgiveness of Reality.
Therefore the task the participants in the retreat undertook was to reflect upon whatever mistakes they might find in their past, and try to see that there really was a search for beauty in every impulse, however erroneous it now might seem in retrospect. It is a reflection that can be very helpful, for it gives us insight into our nature, and helps to free us from the limitations of our past.
What is more, once we have applied this insight to ourselves, it becomes much easier to see that somewhere at the root of the actions of others, of our family, our friends and our colleagues, for example, there is the same search for beauty. We may not necessarily agree with the method, but if we understand the motive, it is much easier to find harmony.