Hazrat Inayat : Initiation pt XX

After detailing the work of the teacher in the previous post in this series Hazrat Inayat Khan here talks about the work of the disciple. It is worth reminding ourselves that in the fifth paragraph below, when the Master states the the murshid is a medium, he definitely does not mean that the murshid engages in psychic phenomena, but that he faithfully transmits Divine guidance.

During discipleship, the first period may be called the period of observation; in this, the disciple observes with a respectful attitude everything, good and bad, and right and wrong, without expressing any opinion about them. And every day this reveals to the disciple a new idea on the subject. Today he thinks it is wrong, but does not say so; tomorrow he wonders how it can be wrong. The day after tomorrow he thinks, ‘But can this really be wrong?’, while on the fourth day he may think that it is not wrong, and on the fifth day that it is right. And he may follow the same process with what is right, if only he does not express himself on the first day. It is the foolish who always readily express their opinion; the wise keep it back. By keeping their opinion back, they become wiser every day; by expressing their opinion they continually become less wise.            

 The second thing that is most important for the disciple, is learning. And how is he to learn? Every word the disciple hears coming from the lips of the teacher is a whole sacred book. Instead of reading a sacred book of any religion from beginning to end, he has taken in one word of the teacher, and that is the same. By meditating upon it, by thinking about it, by pondering upon it, he makes that word a plant from which flowers and fruit come. A book is one thing, and a living word is another. Perhaps a whole book could be written by the inspiration of one living word of the teacher. Besides, the disciple practices all the meditations given to him, and by these exercises he develops within himself that inspiration, that power which is meant to be developed in the disciple.

Special care should be taken that,
during the time of discipleship,
one does not become a teacher.

And the third step forward for the disciple lies in testing the inspiration, the power that he has received. One might ask, how can one test it? Life can give a thousand examples of every idea that one has thought about. If one has learnt from within that a certain idea is wrong or right, then life itself is an example which shows why it is wrong or why it is right.          

 If a person does not become enlightened, one can find the explanation by watching the rain: it falls upon all trees, but it is according to the response of those trees that they grow and bear fruit. The sun shines upon all the trees; it makes no distinction between them; but it is according to the response that the trees give to the sun that they profit by its sunshine.

At the same time, a mureed is very often an inspiration to the murshid. It is not the murshid who teaches; it is God who teaches. The murshid is only a medium, and as high as the response of the mureed reaches, so strongly does it attract the message of God.   The mureed can inspire, but he can also cease to inspire. If there is no response on his side, or if there is antagonism or lack of interest, then the inspiration of the murshid is shut off, just like the clouds, which cannot produce a shower when they are above the desert – the desert affects them, but when the same clouds are above the forest, the trees attract them and the rain falls.         

The attributes of the disciple are reserve, thoughtfulness, consideration, balance, and sincerity. Special care should be taken that, during the time of discipleship, one does not become a teacher, for very often a growing soul is so eager to become a teacher that, before he has finished the period of discipleship, he becomes impatient. It should be remembered that all the great teachers of humanity, such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and Zarathustra, have been great pupils; they have learned from the innocent child, they have learned from everyone, from every person that came near them. They have learned from every situation and every condition of the world; they have understood, and they have learned. It is the desire to learn continually that makes one a teacher, and not the desire to become a teacher. As soon as a person thinks, ‘I am something of a teacher’, he has lost ground, for there is only one teacher: God alone is the Teacher, and all are His pupils. We all learn from life what life teaches us; and the day when a soul begins to think that he has learned all he had to learn, and that now he is a teacher, he is very much mistaken. The greatest teachers of humanity have learned from humanity more than they have taught.

To be continued…

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