Hazrat Inayat Khan now begins to explain the metaphysical origins of interest and indifference. The previous post in the series is here.
People often say that indifference is a philosophy. There are Yogis, ascetics, adepts, mystics who say that indifference gives great power. But interest also gives great power. The whole of manifestation is a phenomenon of interest. All that we see in this world of art and science, the new inventions, the beautiful houses, all this world that man has made, where has it come from? It has come from the power of interest. The power of interest is behind it all, and it is that power which has enabled man to create it.
To go still further, it is the interest of the Creator which has made this creation. Even the Creator would not have been able to create if there had been no interest. The whole creation and all that is in it is the product of the Creator’s interest, the Creator as Spirit, or as human being, as a living being.
It is the interest of the bird which enables it to build its nest, and in the same way it is the interest of man which enables him to make all that he makes. If man did not have this faculty of taking interest, the world would never have evolved. This is why the secret of manifestation and the mystery of evolution are to be found in interest. But at the same time I do not deny the power of indifference. The power of indifference is a greater one still, provided that the indifference is not an artificial one. When a person chooses indifference only because he thinks it is a good principle, then it is not a virtue. And also there will be no power, for such a man is a captive: on one side he is drawn by interest, and on the other side he wants to show indifference. It is a mistake on his part, for he neither accomplishes anything by the power of interest, nor does he gain the advantages that can be derived from indifference.
Seen from the point of view of metaphysics, why is the power of indifference greater than the power of interest? Because although motive has a power, yet at the same time motive limits power. Man is endowed at birth with much greater power than he ever imagines, and it is motive that limits this power: any motive and every motive. Yet it is motive that gives man the power to accomplish things. If there were no motive there would be no power. But when one compares the original power of man with the power of motive, one will find it is just like the difference between the ocean and a drop. The motive reduces the power to a drop. Without a motive the power of the soul is like an ocean. But at the same time that ocean-like power cannot be used without a motive, while as soon as one wants to use it for a purpose it becomes less.
Indifference releases that limitation automatically. The limitation is broken, and the power automatically becomes greater. One can see this even in worldly things. There are people who run after money, and there are people after whom money runs. And they are not necessarily spiritual people. Sometimes they themselves do not realize their condition.
Some people are worshippers of beauty. There are others before whom beauty worships. There are some who wish to wield power, what little power they can get, and there are others upon whom power is heaped, though they do not want it. We also see many examples in this world of how interest often limits man’s power, and how indifference makes it greater. But at the same time indifference should not be practiced unless it springs naturally from the heart. There is a saying in the Hindi language, ‘Interest makes kings, but indifference makes emperors.’
To be continued…
Dear Pir Nawab,
Isn’t it true that showing interest is a movement from the inside out and indifference is a (possible) respons to an external stimulus? With Love, Alim
Dear Alim, thank you for the thought. That is one way to describe interest and indifference. Hazrat Inayat Khan puts in a ‘vertical axis.’ When we aspire to something – and our aspiration is of course dependent upon interest – we place the goal above us, and we reach upward toward it. When we attain to our goal, we rise to the same level, but we go no higher unless we become indifferent to what we have desired. Then we rise above our previous ‘interest’ by the power of indifference. With loving gratitude, Nawab
Dear Pir Nawab,
Thanks for this; vertical axis! Hazrat Inayat says about this, among other things, “the vertical (beam?), carries the horizontal”. With Love, Alim.
This text is wonderfully illuminating an area of interest for many years,
particularly the metaphysical perspective: the effect of indifference releasing the power of the ocean, which interest may have focussed to a drop.