Hazrat Inayat: A Question of Evolution

In the Summer School of 1924 Hazrat Inayat Khan gave a lecture about life in the world and the spiritual path.  His concluding remarks are given below, together with some questions that arose as a consequence.

We must not always try to get away from difficulties for in the end we shall not manage to get away from them.  The life on earth is difficult and with the evolution of the earth it will be even more difficult. Every day it will become more difficult.  What we can do is to make ourselves strong enough to go through life on earth, and it is only by this strength of conviction that by whatever path we journey, that we shall arrive at the spiritual goal, and whatever be our life–professional, industrial, commercial–it does not matter; we shall live religion, nature’s religion, turning our life into a religion, making of our life a religion.  And so, even with every earthly success we shall be taking steps toward spiritual attainment.

Q. : Will you please explain a little more fully why life on earth will become even more difficult as evolution progresses?

A. : When we take the world as a human being, if we picture it as a human being, a human is making his life from infancy to age.  In infancy, however much the infant is dependent, yet he is sovereign, quite happy in the arms of the mother, in the care of the father; nothing to worry him, nothing to trouble him, no attachment, no enmity; he is as happy as angels in heaven.  And so was the beginning of the world, the beginning of the human race especially.  The Hindus have called it the golden age.  And then comes youth, with its spring and delicacy, with its responsibility together with it.  Youth has its own trials, its own experiences, its own fears.  This unsettled condition of the earth was called by the Hindus the silver age, which means the age with all the treasures, the springtime of youth.  But then as life goes forward, the world comes to the stage of what may be called a middle age, an age of cares, of worries, of responsibilities. The Hindus have named it the copper age.  And as life advances, so it has much to bear. A fruitful tree, with the weight of fruits, becomes bent, and so is the progress. With every step forward there are its obligations and responsibilities.

Nevertheless, we must not look forward to difficulties.  There is one thing that saves us and that is hopefulness.  That part is the metaphysical part about which I have spoken.  Now I am speaking of the psychological attitude we ought to have.  Always hope for the best and we certainly shall see the best.

Q.: How is it that a person who lives a life of duty is often void of love, beauty and poetry?

A. : I do not think that duty has anything to do with depriving a person of love, harmony and beauty.  Rather, the real spirit of duty wakens a person; it is this which begins poetry.  If there is a beautiful poetry to be found, if there is anyone who has experienced love, harmony and beauty, it is that person who understands the soul of duty.  For instance, a child newly born, he has come from heaven.  He is as happy as angels, he is beautiful himself; he is an expression of harmony and he is love himself. Yet he does not know love, harmony and beauty.  Why? Because he does not yet know duty, and the moment the spirit of duty is wakened in a person, poetry begins.  It is that sense which begins poetry.  And when poetry has begun, then love, harmony and beauty manifest to his view fully.

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