We continue with the series of texts from Hazrat Inayat Khan on the theme of initiation. The previous post in this series may be found here.
In the ancient times the disciples of the great teachers learned by quite a different method, not an academic method or way of study. The way was that, with open heart, perfect confidence and trust, they watched every movement the teacher made towards friends and towards people who looked at him with contempt, they watched their teacher in time of trouble and pain, how he stood it all; saw how patient he had been with the arguing of those who did not understand; how wise he had been to answer every one gently in his own language; the Mother spirit, the Father spirit, the Brother spirit, the Child spirit, the Friend spirit, the forgiving kindness, the ever tolerant nature; the respect for the aged; the compassion for all; the thorough understanding of human nature. This also the disciple learnt, that all disputes and books on metaphysics can never teach all the thoughts and philosophy that come up in the heart of man. A person may either study for a thousand years, or he may get to the source and see if he can touch the root of all wisdom and knowledge. In the emblem of the Order there is the heart in the centre, the sign for the Sufi that from the heart the stream rises, the stream of divine knowledge, the stream of inspiration.
On the path of initiation two things are necessary, contemplation, and living a life as the Sufi ought to live, and both depend upon each other. Contemplation helps to live the life of a Sufi, and the life of a Sufi helps contemplation. The question is, especially in the West where life is so busy and where there is no end to the responsibilities at every movement taken, if for us to have contemplation, if only for ten minutes in the evening, is not too much when we are tired.
The answer is that for that very reason in the West the contemplation is required more than in the East, where everything, even the surroundings, are helpful to contemplation. Besides, a beginning must be made on the path. If the contemplation does not develop in such a form that everything one does in life became a contemplation, then the contemplation does not do that person any good. It would be like going to church once a week, and forgetting all about religion the other days. A man who gives to contemplation ten or twenty minutes every evening and all day he forgets it, the contemplation will do not any good. We take our food at certain times every day, yet all the time, even when we are sleeping, the food nourishes our body. It is not the Sufi’s idea to retire in seclusion or to sit silent all day; the idea is that by contemplation one must be so inspired that in study, in every aspiration, progress is attained in every aspect of life. In that way he proves his contemplation to be a force helping him to withstand all difficulties that come to him.
The life a Sufi ought to live may be explained in a few words. There are many things in the life of a Sufi, but the greatest is to have a tendency to friendship, which is expressed in the form of tolerance and forgiveness, in the form of service and trust. In whatever he may express is found that central theme, that constant desire to prove one’s love to humanity, to be the friend of all.
Now that I have explained in a few words the subject of initiation, I will explain the Sufi Movement. The Sufi Movement consists of three sections. The central section is the Esoteric School. In this school, those who are seekers after Truth and wish to follow the path with faith and confidence and trust, are welcome. Then there are two side sections.
One is the section of Brotherhood. Its object is to unite mankind, separated just now by boundaries of castes and creeds, of nations and races, to unite mankind in the understanding of wisdom, in awakening the conscience in humanity by which man may be able to see that the happiness of each depends upon the happiness of all. In this section everyone is admitted and welcome. We never have workers enough in this time of great need of human brotherhood. The Sufi Movement is a nucleus of human brotherhood, and this part represents this nucleus, formed, not with the view that all should become members of the Sufi Movement, but that we all may become members of the human brotherhood, in the Fatherhood of God.
The other section is the devotional part of the Order. This is for people who have, perhaps, some belief, but are not satisfied with that belief; or others who do not go to any particular church, but at the same time have a side to their nature which needs religion and prayer. There are some who will not believe unless they are intellectually satisfied; for them this section works to give them the elements of all religions, to give them tolerance for different religions and faiths, so that they may learn to respect the religion of others, a religion which has perhaps inspired numberless souls but is not known to the followers of other religions. This unity of religion in prayer and thought is the real brotherhood in religion, nature’s religion. It is taught in this section in the religious line.
The central path is the path of initiation. To those entering this central path the other sections become open.
To be continued…