As we approach the end of this sequence of texts on the awakening of the soul, Hazrat Inayat Khan speaks of the turning from one state to another, as we turn from dreams to this waking life. The previous post in the series may be found here.
The other day I was touched to see a play* in which a student of the light, of the higher ideals, pronounces the Word, the sacred Word, and dies. And the remarkable thing was that there was a sage in the play who saw it and said, ‘He saw beyond and died.’
What does death mean? Turning. The soul is always awake and therefore it is always living, but it may turn from one side to the other side. If there is some beautiful voice coming from behind to which it wishes to listen, then it turns towards it, and in the same way when it is attracted to a certain sphere to which it had been asleep before, that is called awakening.
We see that the time for nature to awaken is the spring. It is asleep all winter and it awakens in the spring. And there is a time for the sea to awaken; when the wind blows and brings good tidings as if to awaken it from sleep, then the waves rise. All this shows struggle, shows that something has touched the soul that makes it uneasy, restless, that makes it want liberation, release. Every atom, every object, every condition, and every living being has a time of awakening. Sometimes this is a gradual awakening and sometimes it is sudden. To some people it comes in a moment’s time by some blow or disappointment, or because their heart has broken through something that happened suddenly. It may have appeared cruel, but at the same time the result was a sudden awakening, and this awakening brought a blessing beyond words. The outlook changed, the insight deepened; joy, quiet, indifference, and freedom were felt, and compassion showed in the attitude. A person who would never forgive, who liked to take revenge, who was easily displeased, who would measure and weigh everything, when his soul is awakened, becomes in one moment a different person. As Mahmud Ghasnavi, the emperor poet of India, has said in most beautiful words, ‘I, the emperor, have thousands of slaves awaiting my command, but the moment love had sprung in my heart I considered myself the slave of my servants.’
The whole attitude changes. Only, the question is what one awakens to, in which sphere, in what plane, to which reality. Sometimes, after one has made a mistake, by the loss that mistake has caused, the outlook becomes different. In business, in one’s profession, in worldly life, a certain experience, just like a blow, has broken something in someone, and with that breaking a light has come, a new life. But it is not right to awaken someone by mistake. No doubt very often awakening comes by a blow, by great pain; but at the same time it is not necessary to look for a blow. Life has enough blows in store for us, we need not look for them.
In order to get a clear idea of awakening, one should consider the condition which we call dreaming. Many attach little importance to it. If somebody says, ‘That person is dreamy’, he means to say that he is not conscious of anything. But is there in reality anything which we can call a dream? The real meaning of dream is that which is past. Yesterday is as much a dream as the experience of the night – it is past. When a person is dreaming, does he think that he is in a dream, does he think that it is unimportant, does he give it any less importance than his everyday life at that moment? He looks at it as a dream when he has awakened to this other sphere, although in that sphere he will not call it a dream. If a person were asked when he is dreaming, ‘What about the experience of yesterday?’ he would say, ‘It was a dream’ – ‘And what about everyday life?’ ‘It was all a dream.’
*‘The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds’ by S. Ansky, written between 1913 and 1916.
To be continued…