Continuing the series on the freedom of the soul, in the following few paragraphs Hazrat Inayat Khan gives a clear and profound picture of the relationship between the single, divine Spirit and the multitude of apparently individual human beings. The previous post in this series may be found here.
In the East, it is said that the reason why an infant cries immediately after its birth is because it grieves over the loss it experiences, and this loss is the loss of freedom. The soul which was once free, and could float into the spheres higher than the birds, and could expand and live as light and life, has become captive in this limited body of flesh and bones when it came to earth, a sphere which is quite new and strange to the infant. Neither has it yet made any connection with earthly beings, nor with the earthly atmosphere. That is why the first thing a soul does is to cry. The Sufis, all mystics, have recognized this fact, and have founded their philosophy on this theory, that, through every condition in life, man is consciously or unconsciously seeking for freedom.
It may be that one is seeking freedom from having to work; another may be seeking freedom by getting away from some influence which surrounds him; perhaps another seeks freedom from a national point of view. But they each and all strive continually for freedom, and what gives the incentive to strive after freedom is the unconscious craving which the infant feels from the moment of its birth. That is why man is continually striving, knowingly or unknowingly, to attain to that freedom.
Our despair, our depression, our sorrow, our worries may have innumerable causes. But at the back of all these is one and the same cause, and that is that our soul is striving every day for freedom, which is something that perhaps only death will give us. People very often commit suicide hoping they will obtain freedom by it. Sometimes people think that getting away from everybody will give them this freedom, but they do not know that whatever effort one makes to get out of a situation, one will still not be free, for it is one’s own self which is in captivity. Apart from all outward situations which give us the impression of imprisonment, even our own self is captive; we are a captive in ourselves.
The relation between the soul and the body is that of the spark and the charcoal. When the spark of the fire touches the charcoal, then it is caught by the charcoal. The saying ‘it has caught fire’ means that the fire, which was apart from it, has been caught by it; and so the soul is caught by the body. One can also look at it in another way: that the body is caught by the soul, or better, that the body is used by the soul. And as the charcoal turns into ashes, so the body in the end is destroyed. But the fire is not lost; it has disappeared to its own element, which is heat.
It is the sun which is in electricity and gaslight and in all forms of heat; it is the sun which manifests through different processes. It is the same with the spirit, which, like the sun, has appeared through different processes as souls. One has become many in different forms, although it is not many in reality. Light appears as a fire in a room, or as six or as a hundred different lights, but in reality it is one light. It is only in appearance, because there are so many globes, that each light is limited. In the same way, each human body has absorbed divine light, and shows it as a separate light; and all these lights seen in many globes are called souls. But we may call them the light itself, for it is one spirit seen in different globes as different souls. All human beings are part of one consciousness, they have one source and one goal, although the spirit is caught by different vehicles.
To be continued…