With this post we begin a series of talks by Hazrat Inayat Khan on initiation, a subject poorly understood in the West, and frequently subject to misinterpretation. It is worth remembering that the word initiation, as Hazrat Inayat says in other places, simply means ‘a beginning,’ but exactly what is begun is beyond the understanding of the one who is starting the journey. It is only when the journey is complete that one can appreciate the value of the first step.
What is this initiation? This initiation is a sacred trust given by Murshid to his mureed and a trust given by the mureed to Murshid. There should not exist a wall from the moment of this initiation; for if there is a wall, then the initiation is no more an initiation, and when the wall is removed by the mureed and Murshid, then the next step will be that the wall will be removed between God and the worshipper.
Besides that, the Sufi Order is the order of mysticism, and there are certain thoughts and considerations which should be observed. There is a consideration, that when once a certain secret is entrusted to one that it must be kept as one’s most secret and sacred trust. Besides that, all the teaching that will be given to one, to take it; whether it is a bitter medicine or a sweet medicine, the patient takes it. Besides that, everything has a time, and so illumination has a time. But progress, the real progress, depends upon the patience of the pupil, together with his eagerness to go forward. Ghazali, the great Sufi says, “To journey in the spiritual path is like shooting an arrow, not knowing where it goes and what it hits.”
Besides that, the path of initiation is a path of tests: the tests from the initiator, tests from God, tests from self, and tests from the world. And to go through these tests is the sign of a real progress of the mureed, and the one who will not observe these tests, he will be losing his time. Besides that, the Order, the word Order itself means that there is a certain form of initiators and of the Pir-o-Murshid, and they must be regarded and respected as those who have gone further in that direction.
The law is not any different from the law of nature and of life; a child who is disrespectful to his parents, when he will come to be in the place of the parents will also find the same thing from his children. A soldier who does not observe discipline under the captain or colonel, will also find the same experience when he will be in that position as a captain or a colonel. But the question is, whether he will ever arrive at that state, after not having considered and observed that which should be observed. For those who have gone further in any line of music, in poetry, in thought, in philosophy, they have always gone in a humble way, greeting at every step those who have gone further.
Then there are three stages for the pupil, for the mureed, to tread the spiritual path. The one stage is receptivity for all that is given, to take without saying, “This I will take and this I will not take.” The next stage is to assimilate. And the third stage is to put it in the mind and let the mind see the reason of things – but only after the assimilation.
And therefore, the one who will divide these three stages and will go through these three stages with regard and securely, namely the stage of receptivity, the stage of assimilation and the stage of consideration, he will be the successful mureed on the path.
With the form of hierarchy that might appear on the surface, the Sufi Message leads to the true democracy, for it promises every soul that goal which is the yearning of every soul. That itself is the principal thing in democracy, because that is what makes democracy, and the reason is that the Sufi believes the divine spark to be in every soul, and it is with trust and confidence in God and the Murshid and in that divine spark which is in one’s heart, if he will step forward, that he is assured of success in his life.
To be continued…