The prayer Salat, by which we may attune to the Spirit of Guidance in all its forms, addresses the Messenger as ‘Thou, whose heart constantly reaches upward.” If we have an ideal towards which we are working, this is a very helpful attitude. We will not go far toward our goal if we keep our ideal sitting idly on a shelf, perhaps consulted once in a while in some form of worship, while in daily life we go about in clouds of gloom and doubt. Our ideal, however we conceive of it – and our conception will naturally evolve as we do – should be a star of ‘divine light’ towards which we are constantly aspiring.
If we do succeed in keeping our ideal present before us, one of the consequences should be a development of the quality of ‘overlooking,’ a quality which Hazrat Inayat Khan describes in this post. Earthly life is full of limitations, and so it is natural that other people disappoint us in various ways. When this occurs, we may find ourself in a dilemma – should I react or not? Try to correct the perceived error of this other person? Or swallow the perceived affront and inwardly fume and grumble about it – in which case, ‘spirituality’ seems to be more a recipe for discomfort than a solution to the problems of life.
Indeed, the further we go on the spiritual path, the greater becomes the potential for such quandaries – we become more sensitive, and we also begin to think that, from our growing understanding of life, we know better than those around us. Without the ability to overlook, then, life does become every moment more uncomfortable.
Overlooking, therefore, is a necessary method to preserve our inner tranquility, or to put it poetically, to protect our heart from being broken. No doubt there will be ‘offences’ that challenge our sense of justice, and to which we must respond. But we must also recognise that we cannot right every wrong, nor is every wrong ours to fight. As it says in Vadan Chalas,
He who fights for justice in the affairs of this world,
may fight forever, for he will never find it;
justice is only manifest in the sum total of life.
What is more, as we deepen inwardly, we also begin to see that our standards may be correct for ourselves, but we cannot expect that others will have the same understanding, and often it is less the behaviour of the other person than our own reaction that brings unrest. Perhaps this is the wisdom behind the advice of Jesus, that if your eye offends you, pluck it out. In other words, if your way of seeing makes you stumble, then perhaps you need to investigate ways of changing the way you see.
In that connection, as Hazrat Inayat Khan points out in his article, it is the growing stream of love that helps us to rise above. It is limitation that judges, and when we find ourselves judging we are expressing our own limitations, whether we recognise them or not. And when, conscious of our ideal we struggle to overlook the disappointments of life, we are aided in our efforts by the rising tides of divine love.