With this post we continue the series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the important subject of initiation. The previous post in the series may be found here.
The meaning of the word initiation is in the word itself. Initiation is initiative. In the first place every child that is born on earth is born with initiative, but then, as it grows, more or less that spirit dies away, because the knowledge he gathers in his life together with discouragements gives him a doubt. This doubt, increasing more and more, very often makes a man lose the power of initiative. He then does not want to take a step before he sees whether it is land or water. And very often water looks like land and land looks like water, since, according to the mystics, life is an illusion, and upon that illusion he bases his reason. Nevertheless, this reason which he acquires helps him in his life in the world. And yet, very often it is this reasoning which keeps him back from taking what is called initiative.
It is with this initiative spirit that anyone in the world who has accomplished something great, has accomplished it. People call them mad, or fanatic, or crazy, or void of reason in the beginning of their efforts, but after the result, they think that that person was the most wise. Great prophets, the great makers of nations, the great inventors, the great discoverers, they all proved this. And there is a question – do they not see, as a reasoning person sees, what is before him? Yes, they see, but with different eyes. Their point of view is different; it does not always agree with the point of view of the average person. Therefore it is natural that people should call them fanatic, for that person sees perhaps more than the many around him. If anyone has helped himself to gain success after great failure, or to get over an illness after great suffering, that person has only come to this by his initiative spirit.
There are two different kinds of initiation that the souls experience. One kind of initiation is a natural initiation; a kind of natural unfoldment comes to a soul, for which the soul cannot give any cause or reason. No effort or attempt has been made by a soul to experience it. Sometimes the same initiation comes after a great illness, or pain, or suffering. It comes as an opening of the horizon, it comes as a flash of light, and in a moment the world is different. It is not that the world has changed; it is that the person is tuned to a different pitch. He begins to think differently, feel differently, see and act differently; the whole condition of the person begins to change. In connection with that person, one might say that from that moment he begins to live. One might ask, “In what way does it come? Does it come as a vision, as a dream, as a phenomenon?” It might come in any of the said forms, and yet one cannot fix the manner of its manifestation.
And the other initiation which is known among the mystics is the initiation that one takes from a person living on earth. Every mystical school, therefore, has its own initiation. In the Orient, where mystical ideas are considered and regarded as most sacred, any person there who wishes to tread the spiritual path considers initiation as the most important thing. When souls like Jesus Christ had to be baptized by Saint John, no soul on the earth can say that ‘I have risen above the initiation.’ A person might ask me, “Is it possible?” and I will answer that there is nothing impossible in attaining the spiritual end without initiation. I can only say that it is possible for a person to jump into the water and try to swim, with the intention to arrive at the port of New York. But his life is more secure if he will book his passage by the line where the ships always pass. And the same, even greater, is the difference between the two souls, one who wishes to journey the spiritual path by taking initiation, and the other who refuses to do so.
The initiation that a spiritual teacher gives means a trust given by the teacher to a pupil, and the trust given by the pupil to the teacher. And the progress of the one initiated depends upon how much of himself he gives to his teacher’s guidance. One might give only a finger, and the other even a part of the finger. Another would give his whole hand. That makes a great difference. For if a pupil would ask a teacher, “What do you ask of me?” the teacher will say, “Your whole being.” And as a pupil says, “Well, I will give a certain amount of my time and thought to your guidance. I will do a bit, that comes in my way to do, will that be enough?” the teacher will say, “Yes, enough, when you think it is enough.” But it is never enough in reality. One might think, “Is it not giving away one’s point of view in order to follow another’s point of view?” I will answer, “No, if you have a point of view, you will never lose it. The point of view that you lose is not yours. And by looking at a thing from another’s point of view, you only enlarge your own point of view. You have two points of view, instead of one.” If the thought of the pupil happens to be different than that of the teacher, by taking the teacher’s thought, it is only doubled; the pupil has his own point of view just the same. He has something to make his choice, for his vision, the horizon of his thought, is expanded. But a pupil who will close himself, and will say, “I will guard my point of view, or it will run away,” he will never benefit by it.
To be continued…