With this instalment, we conclude the series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the theme of initiation. After carefully exploring such aspects as the necessary attitude, and the ways that the teacher may employ to help the student, and after warning us that it is always difficult for a mureed to recognise their own progress, he here finishes by giving us some clues as to what might be expected as we journey forward. The previous post in the series may be found here.
There are innumerable outer signs of one’s progress, but one need not think that, in the absence of these signs, one is not progressing. What are these signs of progress? The first is that one feels inspiration, and that things which one could not understand yesterday are easy today. Yet if there are things which one is not ready to understand, one should have patience till tomorrow. Agitating against lack of inspiration means closing the doors to inspiration. Agitation is not allowed on this path; agitation disturbs our rhythm, and paralyses us, and then we prove in the end to be our own enemy. But people will generally not admit this, and blame others instead; or if they have unkind feelings towards others, then they blame the circumstances, although very often it is their own lack of patience, rather than other people or the conditions.
The next sign of progress is that one begins to feel power. To some extent it may manifest physically and also mentally; and later the power may manifest in one’s affairs in life. As spiritual pursuit is endless, so power has no end.
The third sign of progress is that one begins to feel a joy, a happiness. But in spite of that feeling, it is possible that clouds of depression and despair may come from without, and one might think, at that moment, that all the happiness and joy which one had gained spiritually was snatched away, but that is not so. If spiritual joy could be snatched away, it would not be spiritual joy. It is not like material comforts; when these are taken away from us, we have lost them; but spiritual joy is ours, it is our property; no death nor decay can take it away from us. Changing clouds, like those which surround the sun, might surround our joy, but when they are scattered we will find our property still there, in our own heart. It is something we can depend upon, something nobody can take away from us.
There is another sign of progress, and that is that one becomes fearless. Whatever be the situation in life, nothing seems to frighten one any more, even death. Then one becomes fearless in all that might seem frightening, and a brave spirit develops, a spirit which gives one patience and strength to struggle against all adverse conditions, however terrible they seem to be. It can even develop to such an extent that one would like to fight with death. To such a person, nothing seems so horrible that he would feel helpless before it.
Still another sign of progress is that, at times, one begins to feel peaceful. This may increase so much that a restful feeling comes in the heart. One might be in the solitude, but even if one is in a crowd, one still feels restful. Life in the world is most exciting; it has a tiring effect upon a sensitive person. When one is restless, the conditions in life can make one experience the greatest discomfort, for there is no greater pain than restlessness. And if there is any remedy for the lack of peace, it is spiritual progress. Once peace is developed in a soul, that soul feels such a great power, and has such a great influence upon those who approach it, and upon all upsetting conditions and jarring influences coming from all sides, that, just as water makes the dust settle down, so all jarring influences settle down under the feet of the peaceful. What do we learn from the story told in the Bible, of Daniel, who was thrown into the lions’ den – what does this story suggest? Was it Daniel’s hypnotism which calmed the lions? If it was hypnotism, let the hypnotizers of today go to the lions and try the experience! No, it was his inner peace. The influence of that peace acts so powerfully upon all passions, that it even calms lions and makes them sleep.
One may make the excuse that one’s surroundings are worrying one, that one’s friends are troublesome, or that one’s enemies are horrible; but nothing can withstand that peace which is awakened in the heart. All must calm down, all must settle down, like dust after water has been sprinkled on it.
But if this power does not come immediately to a mureed, let him not be disappointed. Can one expect this whole journey to be made in a week? I would not be surprised if many mureeds do expect this, but it is a lifelong journey, and those who have really accomplished it are the ones who have never doubted that they would progress. They have never allowed this doubt to enter their minds to hinder them. They do not even concern themselves with this question. They only know that they must reach the goal, that they will reach it, and that if they do not reach it today, they will reach it tomorrow. The right attitude is never to let one’s mind feel, after one has taken some steps, that one must go to the right or to the left. If a man has that one strength which is faith, that is all the power he needs on the path. He can go forward, and nothing will hinder him, and in the end he will accomplish his purpose.