Here Hazrat Inayat Khan continues his exploration of belief and disbelief. The first part of this lecture was posted a few days ago.
When the tendency of imagining God reaches still higher, man finds greater manifestations of God not in animals or in nature, but in man. And as all things in this world of variety have superior and inferior degrees, so the Divine is seen more at one particular stage of man’s evolution. No doubt man is proud and has the spirit of rivalry and of jealousy. He never gives in to his fellowman, however spiritual he may be and however greatly the Divine be expressed by him.
Man has always fought for what he calls the equality of man. All the keys of the piano produce sound, but if they were all equal where would the music be? Some are higher and some are lower, and all together make the music. There is a saying in the Hindu language, that the diamond does not need to tell its price; its nature, its light proves it. Those who came with the Divine Spirit gave light, the Message from Above, and their work proved what they brought.
Man has always shown his childish tendency. Man is not only a child when he is young, but often man is a child all his life. In every period of the world’s history people have fought together, some for one Master or scripture and some for another. It is just like people from one country fighting people from another country, saying: “Your country cannot produce diamonds.” or “On your coast there are no pearls to be found, but on our coast there are plenty.” Man clings to the exterior form or scripture and teaching, and has lost hold of the spirit, whose light pervades all over the earth. People have given up their religion, but still Churches exist and scriptures exist. What is lost? It is the Light which illuminates and gives man his belief.
Doubt acts as a cover over all things, right and wrong. To-day doubt is a cover over multitudes, over nations, over races and communities. Can you remember one instance in history when one race distrusted not another nation, but a whole race. The friendship between men and races and nations and religions is all for [self] interest. The central theme of the whole life is selfishness, not that confidence and belief that Christ has taught to man. Religion without confidence is a religion without foundation, but a religion based upon confidence is a true belief!
Belief can be explained as being in four different grades: One belief is that which comes by the strength of collectivity: ‘If my neighbour is of the same belief, of course that is the true thing, I must believe it also.’ This is not different from sheep and goats; when one is walking, all the others go with it. If the leader goes east, all go east, because the belief of one strengthens the others. Of course it cannot be helped, it is the nature of man, but if this collectivity is wrongly directed, it must result in disaster. For such a belief there are two ways open, the right way and the wrong way. One thing must be understood: belief is the path and not the goal. The one who stands on the path is at a loss, but the one who walks on the path will reach the goal. Belief which does not raise man, but keeps him in the same place, is a dead belief, and the man who holds that belief is a dead believer. But the belief that opens a path for man, that belief leads to the goal.
The second kind of belief does not depend on collectivity, but upon man’s reason. He reasons out his belief and he fortifies his belief by the strength of his reason. This belief with reason can become a secure foundation, but at the same time reason is a danger to belief, and reason can destroy belief. The one who makes his belief lead and reason follow, finds his way illuminated, but he who makes his reason lead and his belief follow, finds that his belief has no existence. Belief is heavenly and reason is earthy; belief we have brought with us, but reason we have learned here.
The belief of the third sort is conviction. In this stage one believes not only from reasoning but by examples, not only by theories but by the experience gained by practice. One believes what one’s soul apprehends, what one’s own soul tells one. It is beyond the power of the generality to arrive at this belief. In this sort of belief, for instance, two people may say: “We are one in spirit,” because although they may not have the same joys and sorrows, they know that they are one in spirit. To take another example, one may believe in the same way that the source and the goal are the same.
The fourth kind of belief is : actual realisation of what one believes. This belief cannot actually be spoken of in words; the ultimate belief is no more belief, it is reality.
If it is sufficient for our life to believe what others believe, if we are content with that, then that is sufficient for our purpose. But if there is the desire in our soul to arrive at such a belief where doubt does not exist, where all is seen clearly as in the daylight, then we must seek for a way to advance in our belief. Therefore what Sufism teaches and the Sufi strives after is to arrive from the state of the belief of the collectivity to that state where everything is as daylight and everything is clear. We all seek light, in an earthy form or in a heavenly form; the difference is, which light we seek for. This proves that every heart is longing for the light. Wealth, power and position will not suffice his purpose and in the end man must attain the light of the soul if he wants to accomplish his purpose. At this time there seems to be a period of great degeneration that has ruined the world, and the desire for light is in every heart.
Man is groping in darkness to find something to satisfy his need just now. Some are going after wonderworking, clairvoyance, spiritism. In whatever form one seeks for God one will arrive at the end. The difference is only that between the straight path or the path with curves, which is much longer. The idea of Sufism is to bring humanity, nations and religions, now so torn apart, into harmony and unity by awakening the thought of unity in the souls. It is a Message not to one community or race only, but to the whole humanity; not a call to join a particular Church or religion, but a call to join in the human Brotherhood. The Sufi Movement does not consider it any profit that everyone should become a member, although it welcomes all who feel attracted to it. Its chief purpose is that of awakening the spirit of Brotherhood in man. Together with this aim exists a school of esoteric teaching, and for those who take interest in inner cult, for them it is a source of blessing.