With this post, we conclude the series of lectures on the journey to perfection. In the previous installment, Hazrat Inayat Khan commented on those who earnestly ask to be told the truth, and his thought that it would perhaps be useful to write the word ‘truth’ on a brick and give it to them.
There is a great difference between fact and truth. Fact is a shadow of truth. Fact is intelligible, but truth is beyond comprehension, for truth is unlimited. Truth knows itself, and nothing else can explain it. What little explanation can be given lies in the idea of expansion. There is a man who toils all day in order to gain his livelihood, to give himself a little comfort or a little pleasure, and so life goes on. And there is another man who has a family, who has others to think about, who works for them; sometimes he forgets his own pleasure and comfort for the comfort and pleasure of those who depend upon him. He hardly has time to think about his own comfort or about himself. His pleasure is in the pleasure of those who depend upon him, his comfort is in their comfort. And there is still another man who tries to be useful to his town, to improve its condition, to help the education of the people of his town. He is engaged in this work, and very often he forgets himself in striving for the happiness of those for whom he is working. There are also those who live for their nation, who work for their nation, who give their whole life to it. They are only conscious of their nation.
The consciousness of the latter is expanded. It becomes larger. There is very little difference in the size of men’s frames but there is a great difference in the expansion of man’s consciousness. There is one man who seems as large as he actually is. There is another who seems as large as his family, another who seems as large as his town, another who seems as large as his nation. And there are men who are as large as the world.
There is a saying of a Hindustani poet, ‘Neither the sea nor the land can be compared with the heart of man.’ If the heart of man is large, it is larger than the universe. Therefore if perfection can be explained in any terms, if perfection can be defined, it is in the expansion of man’s consciousness. The man who strives after this perfection need not know or learn what is selfish or unselfish. Unselfishness comes to him naturally, he becomes unselfish. In the last few years humanity has gone through a great catastrophe. All nations have suffered and have shared in it. Every individual, even every living creature on this earth has been affected by it. One might ask, what was lacking? Was education lacking? There are many schools and universities. Was religion lacking? There are many churches still, and many different beliefs still exist in the world. What was lacking was the understanding of the true meaning of religion. What was lacking was the understanding of the real meaning of education.
Those who have found out that perfection is attained by realizing the self within have not attained it only by what man calls external worship; it was by self-abnegation in the true sense of the word. It is by going into that silence where one can forget the limitations of the self that one can get in touch with that part of one’s being which is called perfection; and this can best be attained by those who have realized the meaning of life.