After speaking about the need to seek for perfection, Hazrat Inayat Khan now sets forth the necesity for each person to conceive his or her own ideal of God, according to their particular understanding.
What is unlimited cannot be comprehended, and what cannot be comprehended is nameless. We can give a name to what is intelligible. If it is unintelligible we cannot give it a name, because we do not know it. And when we consider those who believe in a personal God, many of them merely believe in a certain law given in the name of God. They do good works for the sake of God, but at the same time they only know that there is a God somewhere.
Neither of these types of believer in God has a conception of the real meaning of the God-ideal. They merely have belief in God, and this does not take one much further. The God-ideal is in reality a stepping-stone towards the knowledge of spiritual perfection. It is through the God-ideal that higher knowledge can be gained. And those who wait to see if they will be shown a God before their eyes, or who want a proof of the Being of God, are mistaken. That which cannot be compared, which cannot be named, cannot be shown.
For instance, you see light; light is intelligible to you because there is darkness opposed to it. Things are known by their opposites. Since God has no opposite, God cannot be known in the same way that the things of the earth can be known. Besides, to explain God is to dethrone God. The less said the better. And yet the knowledge of God is necessary for those who seek after perfection.
Different religions have different conceptions of God, but not only religion – every man has his own conception of God. We cannot think of any being without making a conception in our mind of that being. For instance, if someone told us a fairy tale, the first thing we would do would be to make a conception of a fairy, what it looks like. If someone talks to us about an angel, we make a conception of it. It is a natural tendency to make a conception according to one’s own experience, and therefore very near to one’s own self. A human being does not think of an angel or a fairy as being like a bird or an animal, but as something like himself. If this is true, then it is not a fault when someone has his own idea of God. But it is a great fault on the part of those who want to take away that idea and wish to give that person another idea. It is not right. No one can give to another his own conception of God, because each one must make it real for himself. The prophets of all ages have given some ideal to help man to form a conception of God. It has been said, ‘If you have no God, make one.’ That is the right way and the easiest way of realizing the unlimited truth.
In the story about the Eastern Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnun, someone said to Majnun, the young lover, ‘Laila is not beautiful. What is she? Why do you love her so much?’ And Majnun said humbly, ‘In order to see Laila you must borrow Majnun’s eyes.’ The conception of God is different and distinct for every person and one cannot give one’s conception of God to another.
To be continued…