In earlier instalments, Hazrat Inayat Khan described five levels of consciousness. In this post, he sketches stages of life that the evolving soul passes through. The previous post in the series may be found here.
The first stage in the awakening of the soul is a feeling of dissatisfaction with all that one knows, with all the knowledge one may have, whether of science, art, philosophy, or literature. A person comes to a stage where he feels there is something else he must know, that books, dogmas, and beliefs cannot teach, something higher and greater that words cannot explain. That is what he wants to know. It does not depend on age. It may be a child who has that inclination, or a man who may have already reached a considerable age. It depends upon the soul. Therefore in the East they call a child an old soul when it begins to show that inclination, when it is not satisfied with the knowledge of names and forms.
Then there comes a second stage, and that stage is bewilderment. Imagine an evolved person being more bewildered than an unevolved one! And yet it is so, for at this stage a man begins to see that things are not as they seem to be but as they are. This causes a kind of conflict; he does not know whether to call a thing good or bad, love or hate. There comes a time when all that he had accepted in his mind, all that he believed in, now appears to be quite the contrary to what it seemed before: his friend, his relations, those whom he loved, everything – wealth, position, all the things he has pursued – all change their appearance, and sometimes seem to become quite the opposite of what they were.
Once, in Chicago, a lady came to see me, trembling, in a very sorrowful state of mind. I asked her what was the matter. She said she had had an accident. The house in which she lived had been burnt down, and she had had to break a window in order to get out. She had hurt her hand, and it had all upset her very much. But then she said, ‘It is not the fire that has upset me so.’ I asked, ‘What, then?’ She said, ‘The way that all my friends and neighbors, whom I loved and liked, acted when the fire started has impressed me so that the whole world is quite different now.’ What does this mean? That friendship, relationship, love, or devotion may not be the same as they appeared when it comes to the time of test. There comes a time when our consciousness changes our outlook on life; and it changes as soon as our soul has opened its eyes. Then our whole life changes; we live in the same world and yet do not live in it; it becomes quite a different world.
And the next stage, after this bewilderment, is the stage of sympathy. We begin to appreciate things more and sympathize more, for up to now, when we walked on thorns we did not feel them. But at this stage we begin to feel them, and seeing that others are walking on the same thorns, we forget our pain and begin to sympathize with them. The evolved ones become sympathetic; they develop a natural tendency of outpouring. Troubles, sufferings, and limitations – everyone has to go through them, everyone has to face the same difficulties. And not only the good – the wicked have still greater difficulties. They live in the same world with their wickedness, they have a great load to carry. If one can see this, one naturally becomes forgiving and sympathetic.
And as one goes further in the soul’s unfoldment, one finally arrives at the stage of revelation. Life begins to reveal itself, and the whole of life becomes communicative. The evolved soul will feel the vibrations of every other soul; and every condition, every soul, every object in the world will reveal its nature and character to him.
To be continued…