In this further instalment in the series of teachings on initiation, Hazrat Inayat Khan emphasises the need for idealism and the development of consideration. The previous post in the series may be found here.
One wonders, especially in the Western part of the world, what the path of discipleship may really be. Although the path of discipleship was the path of those who followed Christ and all the other teachers, the modern trend of thought has taken away much of the ideal that existed in the past. It is not only that the ideal of discipleship seems to be little known, but even the ideal attitude towards motherhood and fatherhood, as well as towards the aged, seems to be less understood. This change in the ideal of the world has worked unwittingly to such an extent that world conflicts have been the result in our times. The troubles between nations and classes, in social and domestic life, all arise for one and the same reason. If someone were to ask me what is the cause of today’s world unrest, I would answer that it is the lack of idealism.
In ancient times, the path of discipleship was a lesson to be applied in every direction of life. Man is not only his body; he is his soul. When a child is born on earth, that is not the time that the soul is born; the soul is born from the moment that consideration is born. This birth of consideration is, in reality, the birth of the soul; man shows his soul in his consideration. Some become considerate as children; others, perhaps, do not awaken to consideration throughout their whole life. Love is called a divine element, but love’s divine expression is nothing but consideration, and it would not be very wrong to say that love without consideration is not fully divine. Love that has no consideration loses its fragrance. Moreover, intelligence is not consideration. It is the balance of love and intelligence, it is the action and reaction of love and intelligence upon each other that produce consideration. Children who are considerate are more precious than jewels to their parents. The man who is considerate, the friend who has consideration, all those with whom we come in contact who are considerate, we value most.
Thus, it is the lesson of consideration given by the spiritual teachers that may be called the path of discipleship. This does not mean that the great teachers have wanted the discipleship, devotion, or respect of the pupils for themselves. If any teacher expects that, he cannot be a teacher. How could he then be a spiritual teacher, as he must be above all this in order to be above them? But respect, devotion, and consideration are taught for the disciple’s own advantage, as an attribute that must be cultivated. Until now there has been a custom in India, which I myself experienced when young, that the first things the parents taught their children were respect for the teacher, consideration, and a kindly inclination.
A modern child going to school has not the same idea. He thinks the teacher is appointed to perform a certain duty; he hardly knows the teacher, nor does the teacher know him well. When he comes home, he has the same tendency towards his parents as at school. Most children grow up thinking that all the attention their parents give them is only part of their duty; at most they will think, ‘Perhaps one day, if I am able, I shall repay it.’ The ancient idea was different. For instance the Prophet Mohammed taught his disciples that the greatest debt every man had to pay was to his mother, and if he wished his sins to be forgiven, he must so act through life that, at the end, his mother, before passing from this earth, would say, ‘I have forgiven you the debt.’ There was nothing a man could give or do, neither money nor service, which would enable him to say, ‘I have paid my debt’ – no, his mother must say, ‘I have forgiven you that debt.’ What does this teach? It teaches the value of that unselfish love which is above all earthly passion.
If we inquire of our self within, for what purpose we have come on earth and why we have become human beings, wondering whether it would perhaps have been better to remain angels, the answer will certainly come to the wise, from his own heart, that we are here to experience a fuller life, to become fully human. For it is through being considerate that we become fully human. Every action done with consideration is valuable, every word said with consideration is precious. The whole teaching of Christ — ‘Blessed are the meek… the poor in spirit’ – teaches one thing: consideration. Although it seems simple, yet it is a hard lesson to learn. The more we wish to act according to this ideal, the more we realize that we fail. The further we go on the path of consideration, the more delicate do the eyes of our perception become; we feel and regret the slightest mistake.
It is not every soul that takes the trouble to tread this path. Not everyone is a plant; there are many who are rocks, and these do not want to be considerate, they think it is too much trouble. Of course the stone has no pain; it is the one who feels who has pain. Still, it is in feeling that there is life; life’s joy is so great that, even with pain, one would rather be a living being than a rock, for there is a joy in living, in feeling alive, which cannot be expressed in words. After how many millions of years has the life buried in stones and rocks risen to the human being! Even so, if a person wishes to stay a rock, he had better stay so, though the natural inclination in every person should be to develop the human qualities fully.
To be continued…