Here is a further instalment in the important series of teachings from Hazrat Inayat Khan about initiation. The previous posting may be found here. In the second paragraph, Hazrat Inayat uses the expression, ‘under the power of a spell’; although ‘spell’ can indeed refer to witchcraft or an enchantment, in this case it is a common phrase meaning ‘not in complete control of our mind.’
Why do Sufis study esoteric subjects? Is it for the acquisition of spiritual powers or inspiration, to bring about phenomena, or out of curiosity? If this were so, it would be wrong. Is it in order to accomplish something material, or for worldly success? That is not desirable. Self-realization, to know what we are, should be the Sufi’s aim.
Some people who admire piety and goodness want everyone to be an angel, and, discovering that this is impossible, they are full of criticism. Man has in him both a devil and an angel; he is at once human and animal. It is the devil in man that drives him to do harm without a motive, by instinct, and the first step should be to abandon this attitude. Although nowadays, hardly anyone believes that his particular demon can be a manifestation of the devil, who can say that he is free from such an evil spirit? We can be under the power of a spell, but we must overcome such a power; we must liberate ourselves from evil. Everyone can fight.
We must discover at which times we have manifested our devil or our animal spirit. We want a human spirit, and self-realization is the search for this human spirit; everything must become human in us. But how should we accomplish this? Read the Bible and other holy scriptures? All these books tell us what we should do, but we must also find the store of goodness that is within us, in our heart. As we cultivate our heart, it rises. By asceticism, one can develop one’s soul and reach ecstasy, but what is the use of samadhi if we are not first human? If we want to live in this world, we must be human. The ascetic should live in the forest.
How should we cultivate the heart, the feeling? There is no doubt that harmlessness, devotion, and kindness are necessary, but there is something besides these. It is the awakening of certain centers that make one sensitive, not only externally but also mentally. There are two kinds of people: one will be struck by the beauty of music or other manifestations of beauty; another is as dull as a stone to all this. Why? Because something in his heart and mind is not awakened. We have five senses, but we also have inner senses, and these can enjoy life much more keenly. Some people will say that they need no inner senses, that the outer senses satisfy them completely. They would speak differently if, for instance, they lost their eyesight or another of their five senses. In order to be complete, a human being must also develop his inner senses; but first of all he should develop his inner feeling.
Intellectual study may last the whole of one’s life – there is no end to it, and this is why the teacher does not encourage speculation. A doctrine means a separation from other doctrines. The Sufi belongs to every religion, and thus he has no special beliefs and speculations. There can, for instance, be one Sufi who believes in reincarnation, and another who realizes heaven and hell. The work of the Sufi is personal development. It is what one practices that is important rather than what the teacher says, though the teacher can give protection.
Initiation contains several degrees. It is a trust given to one by the teacher, but the real initiation is the work of God. No teacher can or will judge. The real pupil is he whom the teacher knows he can trust, though all are welcome to him. Spiritually, he is both father and mother to the pupil. The life of the teacher is often a sacrifice; he is often persecuted and suffers much, but what little help he can give, he will give.
No special qualification is needed in order to become a pupil. The teacher gives; the pupil can take it or leave it. The teaching is like a precious jewel hidden in a stone; it is for the pupil to break the stone and find the jewel. In the East this inner teaching is part of religion, whereas in the West it is often looked upon merely as a form of education. It ought to be a sacred education. In the East the murshid gives the lesson and the pupil practices it for a month or a year; he cannot have a different practice every week. My grandfather practiced one meditation for forty years, then a miracle happened to him. One should not be ambitious to do other exercises before having had a result from the first one.
To be continued…