The Control of the Body – pt. II
And now I come to the third aspect of our physical existence. The third aspect of our physical existence is the fullness of our body, in other words, the fineness, the sensitiveness of the body. There is a spiritual temperament, and that temperament you can see from a person’s body. There is a sensitive person, maybe a little bit nervous, and there is a dense person, which is quite a different aspect. A sensitive person, who can appreciate music, who can respond to the beauty of line and colour, who can enjoy salt and sweet and sour and bitter tastes fully, who can feel cold and heat, who can perceive fragrances and distinguish them, it is that person who is born with spiritual temperament. The person who has no love for music, who cannot appreciate fragrance, who cannot understand the beauty of line and colour, that person is a dense person. It takes time for him to develop. Therefore the experience of all the joy and pleasure that life offers is not in materiality, it is in spirituality. It is not the material person that experiences life fully; it is the spiritual person who does it.
And one might ask, “Then what about these ascetics who have lived the life of a hermit in the solitude, who did not eat proper food, and who kept themselves away from all the comfort and beauty of life?” I say, “They are not for everyone to follow.” At the same time, it is a mistake if we criticize them. Such people are the ones who make experiments of life by the sacrifice of all the joy and pleasure that the earth can give. By their solitude they make an experiment. Just like a scientist closes himself up in his laboratory for years and years, so these ascetics who left everything in the world, they also obtained a certain knowledge that they give us. But at the same time, it is not a principle to follow for everyone, for spirituality does not depend upon such things. Why are the eyes given if not to appreciate all that is beautiful? Why are the ears given if one cannot enjoy music? Why have we been sent on the earth if we do not look on the earth because we shall be material? Those who make of spirituality something like this, they make of God a bogey, something that frightens. Really speaking, spirituality is the fullness of life.
And now coming to the fourth aspect of our physical existence: man wrongly identifies himself with his physical body, calling it “myself.” And when the physical body is in pain, he says, “I am ill,” because he identifies himself with something which belongs to him but is not himself. The first thing to learn in the spiritual path is to recognize the physical body not as one’s self, but as an instrument, a vehicle to experience all that is worth experiencing outside oneself, and all that is worth experiencing within oneself. When a child is born and brought up, his first tendency is to enjoy and experience all that is outside himself, and so he never has a chance in his life to experience what is within himself. But at the same time, the body is equipped with the instrument, with the means by which to experience the life outside and the life within. If a person did not use his hand or his leg for many years, the outcome will be that it will lose the vitality, the life, the energy, and it will no longer be of any use. We know the use of our hands and feet, which are the outer parts of the physical mechanism. But then there are inner and finer parts of the physical mechanism, which mystics have called centers, each center having its particular object, intuition, inspiration, impression, revelation. All these are achieved through the means of these centers. As our organs of senses can experience life that is before us, so the nervous centers can experience life that is within us. And when these centers are not used for many years, they become blunted, not destroyed but blunted, and no longer are of that use for which they exist. Many who begin to do spiritual work, guided by a proper teacher, they begin to feel sensation here in the midst of the forehead, as if something is wakening. After some time they begin to notice more and more a sphere of which they have been quite ignorant. There are some who begin to notice a feeling in the solar plexus, which they did not have before. If that feeling is wakened they naturally become more intuitive. Some feel a sensitiveness on the top of their head, some in the midst of the throat. With their growth they feel more and more and more. And remember that there is among these people to be found those who are intuitive. The difference between such people whose nervous centers respond, and those whose nervous centers don’t respond, is that of rock and plant. The rock does not respond to sympathy, but the plant responds to it. If you take care of a plant with love and sympathy, if you rear it wholeheartedly, that plant begins to respond to your sympathy. In other words, the plant begins to waken to your sympathy, whereas the rock does not. And so the ones whose intuitive centers are wakened to some extent, they begin to feel intuition, and after this inspiration, and revelation follows. But remember that there is so much talk about these things, things that may not be talked about. Those who know little, they talk more, and then the ones who are not ready to know the secret of this, if they get hold of some little theory of this kind, they speak before everybody about it. And then they write their own wrong conception about it in books. Perhaps they have no patience, perseverance, and right guidance to help them. Perhaps they go astray. And many people have damaged their health and got out of balance trying to waken centers, and they mkae a fuss and discuss about it, and tell everybody about it. They make a play of something that is most serious, most sanctified, and something that leads to spiritual attainment. And there are others who make fun of it, those of the wrong quality, who cannot perceive, as a plant perceives, sympathy. They do not see those qualities in themselves, and mock at those who perceive them. And in this way a science, which is the highest, has been abused and laughed at by not being thoroughly studied. In the East a teacher does not give guidance until he has full confidence in the pupil, that he will not get the most sacred theory mocked at and laughed at by others. They give an initiation. The pupil takes an oath that he will not speak about these things before those unaware of their value, importance and sacredness. Then he is guided. And every individual is guided by the teacher separately. Nevertheless, by this we learn that the body is not only an instrument of experiencing the physical sphere, but an instrument at the same time to experience the inner spheres. And it is the experience of the outside life and the life within that makes one live a fuller life.
And now I come to the fifth aspect of our physical existence. There are two things, sensation and exaltation. By sensation one experiences pleasure; by exaltation one experiences joy. There is a difference between joy and pleasure. What man is accustomed to experience by the medium of his physical body is pleasure, the pleasure of eating, the pleasure of drinking, the pleasure of looking at beautiful things. And therefore, everything comforting that he knows is that which is experienced by the physical senses. But besides that, there is a joy that does not depend upon the senses, which only depends upon exaltation, and that exaltation is achieved by the medium of the body. And now you might ask, ‘How is this to be achieved?” There is action and its result, and there is repose and its result. It is the result of action that is called sensation; it is the result of repose which is called exaltation. In the book of Rumi, the most wonderful poet of Persia, we read about the blessing of sleep, where he says, “O sleep, there is no greater bliss to be compared with you, that in sleep the prisoners are free from their prison, and the kings do not possess throne and crown. The suffering and the ill lose their pain or worries, and sorrows are forgotten.” This shows that sleep is a form of repose automatically brought about, which lifts us up from anxieties, worries, discomforts, from sorrows and troubles. If this condition of repose can be brought about at will, that could give one an experience of mastery, because then one is not dependent upon an automatic condition–for sleep is an automatic condition. If this condition can be produced within ourselves, which raises us above our worries, troubles, sorrows, anxieties, pains and suffering, it is a great thing accomplished. And the way of accomplishing this is by the practice of repose.
The first thing an adept does in life is to attain these five different things of which I have spoken and to master them first, before he takes the next step in the path of spiritual attainment.
God bless you.
Dear Nawab, thank you for sharing this lecture of Murshid! A question connected to the last part: Murshid tells us in some other texts to focus in life more on beauty. How can we understand this in connection to what Murshid says in this lecture about sensation and exaltation? Beauty (like music) we experience through the senses?
Hearty greetings, Kadir
Dear Kadir, many kind thanks for the comment and the greetings. In the last point, Hazrat Inayat puts as opposites ‘sensation’ and ‘exaltation.’ ‘Sensation’ we (sometimes!) experience as pleasure, whereas in exaltation (meaning ‘to be lifted up’), we rise to a more spiritual level, where there is the possibility of recognising joy. And sensation comes from action, whereas exaltation comes from repose. In repose, we rise above the physical level, which is, so to speak, addicted to action, always limited and in need of repetition, and know something unlimited. That is what we might discover in meditation. We could also know it from sleep, if we were able to sleep consciously! Warmest greetings, Nawab
Dear Nawab, thank you For this lectura, its amazing how much work to be done, only in this 5 aspects.
I have a question with regards to you last comment. What is to sleep consciously? What happens when is not easy to remember your dreams, has this to do with my first question?
So we need to master this 5 aspects before atempting to meditate ?
Our daily practice is a sort of meditation?
Please excuse me, but ‘sleeping consciously’ was meant as a small joke. Real meditation is like deep, so-called stage IV sleep, which is dreamless. Dreaming consciously is something different. So please don’t torment yourself trying to be awake and asleep at the same time – a good night’s sleep is a blessing, and very healthy.
We do not need to wait until we have mastered all the preceding stages before we try to meditate, but we begin to understand what meditation really means once we have learned to relax the body and the mind. And yes, if we have tuned our mind and heart to the right pitch, our daily activities are our spiritual practice – if not meditation, then they are prayers.
Dear Nawab, it makes me so excited to read these words. I know they are true even though I only have glimpses of experience to confirm it. At 70 there is now little time left for me and so much yet to discover. I was told when I was young to practice as though my hair were on fire! I guess it meant, get on with it, there’s no time to waste. But then we come to the whole universe of repose. You can’t go gung-ho into repose. So I’m hoping you will settle in with us and float more way-marks out on the state of repose. I’m surely listening! Much love. Zora
Loving thanks for the note. A very interesting question isn’t it, how to urgently relax? Since this ‘repose’ question seems to be of interest, I’ll try to post something on it shortly.