The retreat that has just concluded at the Dargah of Hazrat Inayat Khan worked with the theme, ‘Regarding the Pleasure and Displeasure of God.’ Before coming to India, participants were asked to prepare themselves with an exercise, part of which is given below. After attuning themselves with prayers and personal practices, they were asked to read the passage from vol. IX, The Unity of Religious Ideals, and then to begin observing themselves according to the instructions that follow. Readers might be interested to see what they can discover by a similar self-examination.
The question of the will, human and divine, may be seen from two points of view, from the wisdom point of view and from the point of view of the ultimate Truth. If words can explain something, it is from the former point of view; the latter point of view allows no word to be spoken in the matter, for in the absolute Truth two do not exist, there is no such thing as two; there is One Alone. From the wisdom point of view, one sees one weaker, one stronger, and one has to give in to the power of the other. This one sees in all aspects of the creation. The little fish is eaten by the larger fish, but the little fish lives upon smaller fishes. So there is no one in this world so strong that he has not another stronger still, and there is no one in this world so weak that he has not another who is weaker still.
The other thing one can think about, is the opposing conditions and situations which stand before a willing mind and a striving person like a stone wall, so that, with every wish to do something and to accomplish, one does not find his way. It is this experience which has made man say, “Man proposes, God disposes.” The Hindu philosophers have called these two great powers, one of which is an intention and the other the power of destruction, by the names Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva, the Destroyer. The most wonderful part in this creation and destruction is that what Brahma creates in a thousand years, Shiva destroys in one moment. Since God is almighty, the wise see the Hand of God in the greater power, manifesting either through an individual or by a certain condition or situation, and instead of struggling too much against the difficulties in life, and instead of moaning over the losses which cannot be helped, they are resigned to the Will of God.
In short, every plan that a person makes, and his desire to accomplish that plan, is often an outcome of his personal will; and when his will is helped by every other will that he comes in contact with in the path of the attainment of a certain object, then he is helped by God. As every will goes in the direction of his will and so his will becomes strengthened, often a person accomplishes something which perhaps a thousand people could not have been able to accomplish. Then there is another person who has a thought, a desire, and finds opposition from every side; everything seems to go wrong, and yet he has the inner urge which prompts him to go on in the path of attainment. There also is the Hand of God behind his back, pushing him on, forward in his path, even though there might seem oppositions in the beginning of his strife–but all is well that ends well.
The saintly souls, who consider it as their religion to seek the pleasure of God and to be resigned to His will, are really blessed, for their manner is pleasing to everyone, for they are conscientious lest they may hurt the feeling of anyone, and if by some mistake they happen to hurt someone’s feelings, they feel they have hurt God Whose pleasure they must constantly seek, for the happiness of their life is only in seeking the pleasure of God. They watch every person and every situation and condition, and their heart becomes so trained by constantly observing life keenly, as a lover of music whose ears become trained in time, who distinguishes between the correct and the false note. So they begin to see every desire that springs in their heart, if it is in accordance with the Will of God. Sometimes they know the moment the desire was sprung; sometimes they know when they have gone halfway in the path of its pursuit; and sometimes they know at the end of strife. But even then, at the end of it, their willingness to resign to the Will of God becomes their consolation, even in the face of disappointment. The secret of seeking the Will of God is in cultivating the faculty of sensing harmony, for harmony is beauty, and beauty is harmony. The lover of beauty in his further progress becomes the seeker of harmony, and by trying always to maintain harmony man will tune his heart to the Will of God.
During the week that follows, keep a journal with you, and try to make a habit of noting, as often as circumstances permit, the following:
• Where are you?
• What are you doing?
• What are you doing it for?
• Who does your activity please? In what way?
This exercise requires some discipline, and of course, honesty with yourself, but these notes are only for yourself. It might be practical to set a repeating alarm on your phone, to avoid forgetting to make observations.