Hazrat Inayat Khan continues with his explanation of the natural progression from imperfection to perfection, emphasizing that it is possible to make this journey, and showing that religion is the means to begin the search. The first installment in the series is here.
Is it possible for man to reach perfection? When one sees how limited man is, one can never believe that he is entitled to perfection. There is no end to his limitations and he cannot even comprehend what perfection means. One becomes pessimistic when it is a question of perfection. Yet we read in the Bible the words of Christ, ‘Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ This shows that there is indeed a possibility of it. All philosophies, all religious and sacred teachings, are intended to bring about that realization which is called perfection. Any philosophy or religion that does not show this path to perfection has been corrupted and fails. There is something missing in it.
But if we look at religion as one and the same religion in all the ages, given by different masters of humanity, yet inspired by one and the same Spirit of Guidance, one and the same light of wisdom, we see that they have all given the same truth. It is only when it is interpreted to suit people of different ages, periods, and races that it varies. In this way it differs. But the underlying truth of all religions is one and the same, and whenever a preacher teaches that perfection is not for man, he corrupts the teaching that is given in all the religions. He has not understood it. He professes a certain religion, but he does not understand it, for the main object of every religion is the striving toward perfection.
Many people seeking for knowledge say, ‘What we want in the world today is greater harmony, greater peace, better conditions. We don’t want spiritual perfection.’ But Christ has said in the Bible, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ The tendency of every man is to seek everything else first and to keep the kingdom of God for the last. That which should be sought first is left to the last. That is why humanity is not evolving towards perfection.
Occupations such as war and preparation for war cannot be called civilized occupations. It is a pity that in this period of civilization man should have wars. And yet we think that we are more civilized than the people of ancient times! Ages before Christ, Buddha taught ‘Ahimsa paramo dharma ha’ – harmlessness is the essence of religion. And he taught people to be friendly even to the smallest insect. He taught them the brotherhood of all things. And we occupy ourselves with wars! Under the conditions existing today we can expect war anywhere in the world. Why is this so? It all comes from seeking perfection in the wrong way. Instead of seeking spiritual perfection, earthly perfection is sought. But what the earth holds is limited, and when everyone struggles for earthly perfection, the earth will not be able to answer the demands. Whether we get what we want or not, there will be a continuous struggle.
The main way of seeking for perfection is through religion. Religion has five different aspects, and its principal aspect and foundation is belief in God. What is God? To many the thought of a personal God does not appeal, though they might accept the idea of an abstract God. But they forget that something abstract cannot be a living being. You cannot call something abstract, like space, God. Space is space. You can neither call space God, nor can you call time God. Space is a conception of our own, and in the same way time is a conception. In reality they do not exist.
To be continued…