Hazrat Inayat: Love, Harmony and Beauty pt II

With this post we continue Hazrat Inayat Khan’s exploration of these fundamental themes, begun here.

When people begin to learn the lesson of love they are apt to be frightened at the pain and difficulties and troubles which they will have to face on behalf of love. When they compare their condition with that of the beloved, they think the beloved is much better off than they: ‘The one who takes my thought, who gives me pain, who wounds my heart, is much happier. When I compare myself with the beloved I think he is much the happier.’ And they go on thinking, ‘If I were the beloved it would be much better’. Every soul experiences that thought, but once he has risen above it, then he begins to know love. The soul that has not escaped from this fails to realize the fullness of love.

There is another side to love, and that is selfishness, and the lover must escape from this. The true lover says, ‘I will give everything, I will endure all things, all tortures, all torments that may have to be faced in life. I will bow in humility before whatever befalls me. I will give all that I have. I will bear all things, believe all things, hope for all things, and endure all things.’ But the other side of love says, ‘Are you crazy? Have you lost your senses? You are foolish. Why this complaining? See how happy the beloved is. Be happy Like him, and be in his exalted position, instead of in this humility and degradation. Enter into this greatness and not into that destruction!’ Then he proceeds to reason, and at length he understands. The one thing leads to destruction, the other promises safety. But in destruction there is the hand of God, while in safety there is the hand of Satan. All things that are selfish are taught by that power and by that knowledge which is the enemy of mankind. Satan is an enemy because he leads man away from the purpose of his life. He seeks to make the lover change places with the beloved and say, ‘Your position is better than mine; now I would like to be like you’. And perhaps he will wait all’ his life to gain that coveted position, and it never comes because the beloved would not surrender the wealth when the chance was there.

The life of a person is quite changed after being melted in the fire of love. The fire of love will exalt him so that his power will even influence animals and birds; the wise and foolish will be attracted to him alike. Once he is purified, burned in the fire of love, he will become the attraction of every soul, of every being, invisible as well as visible. It is only the advice of Satan that keeps him from that. The master is he who suffers. We often reflect upon how Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples. What beauty there is in that service, in that humility! Should we find that beauty in a proud man? Could a proud man win the hearts of the world for centuries and centuries? The proud man is led by Satan; he becomes egoistic, selfish, cold; everyone in his presence will freeze, for his presence is like ice and cannot impart comfort.

But how forgiving is he who has been through all suffering! Was there anything else in Christ’s life but forgiveness and tolerance? Always forgive, always tolerate, he said. It was became the love in the heart of the Master was so great that it appealed to everyone. Love was all the philosophy that his fishermen could understand, and if love were placed before philosophy and religion how devoted would the devotees become. The animals and the birds would be attracted by the power of man’s heart aflame with love. As it is, man only frightens love away at the least suspicion of its appearance, and so love never wants to come nearer.

How often is the word ‘love’ used in everyday life for what is nothing but an amusement, a pleasure, a pastime, a degraded thing. Love is so much higher. It is not a thing that you can give to a person, or of which a person may say, ‘I can develop it’. He cannot learn it, he cannot study it in a book; there is only this one thing to be done: to allow it to grow in the heart. A person cannot live without his heart, and the heart cannot exist without love. However loveless and cold a person seems to be, however wicked and cruel, he nevertheless has love, though it is hidden. There is a thick wall built round it. It has no means of coming out; it is continually kept within this shell, and it is uneasy and restless. That is why man becomes cold and unhappy, always wanting he knows not what, because he does not understand the only true inclination. The power of love has become captive in a thick shell, a shell of coldness, the frozen part of love, and this shell refuses outlet to the stream of love, the divine power which seeks to emerge through the heart. When a man does not give this love an outlet he becomes a burden to others; his presence becomes disagreeable to his surroundings, his influence becomes a burden to himself. For this reason some people even go mad. Not knowing what they want in life, they always blame others for not having loved them, and sympathized with them, or been kind to them. They do not realize that the key lies in themselves; in their heart lies the power to open and melt anyone’s heart. It is our own power that can bring another to our feet.

Whoever learns this truth ceases to blame anyone for being cold to him, unkind to him, unsympathetic towards him. He finds that the cause lies in himself. By seeking the sympathy and good feeling of another person he covers up his own heart and stops it from expressing itself. The power of love is ever wishing to come out to impress itself upon its surroundings, and yet it is as if the doors were being ever closed to prevent God from coming out to fulfil the purpose of His own creation.

How beautiful are the words of the Prophet: ‘The shrine of God is the heart of man’. How true that is! Is God to be found in a mosque, or temple, or church, or in any place where people sing hymns and offer their prayers? Can He be found where there is no love? He is not to be found in the houses that men have built for worship. These are only schools for children, and their playgrounds. Children like playing with toys, and yet they are preparing themselves for something else. When man has come to know the real beauty of God, he will find that it dwells only in one place: in the heart of man. God is love, and He is found in the heart of man.

He who understands this can worship God even in man, for when he abides by this philosophy he will always be aware that in every aspect and at every moment he may be injuring or hurting the feelings of God, that he is in danger of breaking the shrine of God in breaking the heart of his fellow-man.

To be continued…

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