Hazrat Inayat: Love, Harmony and Beauty pt III

We are happy to present the conclusion of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s lengthy explanation  of love, harmony and beauty, concepts which are fundamental to the path of Sufism.  The text began with this post and continued here.

It might be thought that the philosophers and mystics and sages, who are so near and close to God, might take too much liberty with the world. But they are, on the contrary, the most tender and sensitive towards mankind. They are ready to share anyone’s trouble, to share anyone’s sorrow, to share everyone’s depression and despair. They are ready to console any and every person with their words, to help with their service, and to give their sympathy always to those who need it. They shrink at no sacrifice of time, money, pleasure, or comfort. As Christ teaches, ‘Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain’.

Whoever experiences this joy of life…
is the possessor of the true wine.

What does all this teach us? It is all a lesson in sympathy for one’s fellow-man, to teach us to share in his troubles, in his despair. For whoever really experiences this joy of life, finds that it becomes so great that it fills his heart and his soul. It does not matter if he has fewer comforts or an inferior position than many in this world, because the light of his kindness, of his sympathy, of the love that is growing, the virtue that is springing up in his heart, all fill the soul with light. There is nothing now that he lacks in life, for he has become the king of it.

Such a person becomes a healer, a real healer. He heals a person with his glance, with a kind word, with his hand, by his comfort, by his nature. What a healing that is! Unpretentious, unassuming; the real healing is when a man is in sympathy with another’s trouble and gives him a helping hand. He is the possessor of the true wine. He who can send from his eye the glance that proves the sympathy and help he is anxious to give, what a healing power he has! Is it not like a young bird being taken in beneath the brooding wings? There cannot be a more beautiful process of healing than this among all the different methods by which people have endeavored to heal.

Some may ask what, then, should be the object which one should love in this life? Is there any particular object that a man can be recommended to love? Is it best to love one’s parent or friends; to love one friend only or to love just one beloved of the opposite sex? Should one love something in the abstract, some spirit, some ideal, some name, or something which is beyond man’s nature? Or should one love something idealized as the God whom one worships? There are many who say that there is no love which is useful but the love of God; all other forms are worthless. Another says that he or she can love no one who is of the opposite sex, having once been disappointed in this way. Another will say, ‘I will love no human being; I can love my dog or my cat better. They do not disappoint me, whereas I was once disappointed in man.’ Another says, ‘I love my money, because if I am in need that is the only friend that comes to my rescue. The deposit I have in my bank does more for me than anyone can do. Why then should I not love my money?’ And still another person says, ‘If God is all, if He is to have all love, then why not love the chair, or the table, or a book, or the work that a person does–a work of art, a piece of music; is it not the same?’ But all these questions are voiced by hearts which have once been disappointed, once broken. They broke and became closed, and once the doors of the heart are closed there is no light to guide its path. That is what is so beautiful in the little English song, ‘The light of a whole life dies when love is done’. There is no light when love is done. When love is done, the heart is closed.

Whenever the lover,
who was attracted by beauty, falls from his love,
it is because he depended on the beauty.

So often one meets with people who complain that the love on the part of the lover failed to satisfy and caused their despair and distress. What does the Sufi, what does the sage learn from this? He learns that it is those who love who gain. Those who have loved and not gone forward are those who have lost. The reason why they have gone back before reaching their destiny has been that they were dependent upon the object of love which disappointed them. The Sufi is aware of this great pit on the path. Whenever the lover, who was attracted by beauty, falls from his love, it is because he depended on the beauty. It was the beauty that he loved, and he could only stand as long as that beauty remained his ideal.

The lover rises again when he consults with himself and says, ‘I will make such an ideal as will allow my life to become self-sufficient. The ideal will be my excuse, but in reality I will raise my love. Whenever love was broken it was only because the ideal did not prove to be as the lover expected it to be. I will therefore avoid blinding my eyes with the external life, but will build the path on which to travel in my own heart. That ideal will suffice and provide everything that the beloved may lack.’ This lover is the real lover, because love has a beauty too, and he produces from his own love the beauty which perhaps the beloved lacks, and he no longer notices the lack in his beloved. From this time on, the beloved becomes his love because he has made a beloved in his thought, in his imagination, and he can continually add to the beauty of the manifestation.

In this manner the song of love and beauty has been sung in all periods of history. Sa’di of Persia, Dante of Italy, and all the great ones who have loved and appealed to the heart of man, all of them have left words which still pierce through our hearts today because of the greatness of their ideal. They have themselves created their ideal in their own hearts. For all such there can no longer be any question of the beloved proving unworthy of love. The lover has become the creator of the love. Did not God create love? Have not we inherited this beauty of God? Can we not create love also? That which one can create can always be depended on.

There is another side to this question, and it is that the ideal of love which is created by man is according to his evolution. If he is material, he will appreciate material beauty in a person or object. He cannot help this. It is not his fault. It is right for him to admire that which directly appeals to him. One person will prefer beauty of mind, of virtue, of personality, of some good manner, of some goodness which appeals to him; he values a beautiful personality, a sympathetic presence. Another person will perhaps like a soul because he finds in it his ideal of inspiration, intuition, peace of mind, and joy.

Therefore one cannot point to any particular object as the only object worthy of love, because beauty is only according to a person’s evolution. He who is of lower evolution cannot love a higher object. But a person of higher evolution can love the lower as well as the higher. He who once loves cannot hate. The one who hates is he who cannot appreciate. Hatred is found in the lower grades of evolution, not in the higher; and the higher the evolution develops, the less the hatred and prejudice become. In the higher realm there is no poison, for the object is higher, the standard is higher, the sphere is greater. As high as one sets one’s ideal, so high does one reach, and it is by raising the standard of beauty step by step that one rises up and up into the highest heaven.

It is by walking along and keeping ever on the path of love that even from the lowest depths the soul can reach the highest heaven. Man can even raise his ideal to that height in which he becomes able to love God the Formless, God the Nameless, who is above all goodness and virtue; not even He can be restricted to virtue, for He is beyond goodness.

There are sages who are moved to tears just by saying to themselves one word of essential truth, of abstract truth. What could have this effect? Is there some pain concealed in it? Is anything said to evoke sympathy? No, it is their ideal that is so high that they see the ideal beauty in the truth. The truth of being has become beautiful to them. Their beloved has become God, and when a word of truth is spoken in their hearing they are moved to tears. To these sages everything is a real manifestation of the beauty of God. If they hear music, in that music they feel God, in that music they see God. If they are standing before a picture, in the beauty of that picture they see their Beloved. If they are standing in a crowd, with all manner of faces, to them the whole picture is one harmony, one vision of the sublime, and they can see the whole beauty there. Whether it be desert, or sea, or sky, or land, whatever it is that is before their eyes has a vision of beauty to offer to them. And it is in this way that the whole of manifestation has become for them an immanence of the beauty of God.

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