As he begins his teaching on mastery, Hazrat Inayat Khan contrasts the way of the scientist and the way of the mystic. Although to the average person they may seem very different, yet they pursue similar understanding. The real difference is in their method.
The difference between a scientist and a mystic is that the former analyzes the things he is interested in, studying them by different methods in order to ascertain as much information as possible about them, the ways in which they can be of benefit, their uses, and their nature. The mystic does the same, but instead of using some technical instrument or special scientific process, he first aims at lighting that light within himself by which he can see in this world of darkness and illusion. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” Therefore his first task is to light the candle within.
The story of Aladdin illustrates this truth. Aladdin could only attain to the princess when he first obtained the lamp or candle which she desired. He goes out into the world but cannot find the candle there. So he goes into the forest, and there he meets with someone who is able to show him the way to reach it. This person cannot himself give it to him. This means that just emotion does not suffice to bring it. No, he is told to go to a certain mountain, and repeat certain words which will cause the side of the mountain to open. He does this, and the caves open up, but when he is within them he begins to suffocate because there is no air. Nevertheless he goes on into the caverns perseveringly, and in time he comes upon the lantern.
It is with this “candle” that the mystic gains the knowledge within himself. As soon as he has possession of this candle all things disclose their secret, and he gains a wisdom greater than that possessed by any scientist. It may be thought that a mystic could not find out all the scientist knows. Yes, the details found by the scientist may appear different, and yet the mystic perceives the same truths which the scientist is seeking for. He does not use the same words or terms; he does not know about the same processes in the same way as the scientist, yet he finds the outlines of the whole of what the scientist gets to know by his laborious methods.
It has happened that some scientists are Sufis; Avicenna was one, Lokman the Greek was another, and their knowledge was greater because of their having the candle. Perhaps even without the technical information, the mystic may have more knowledge. He may not know exactly how to make a chemical substance like the scientist may claim, but he can see the secret behind every object, and the purpose which underlies every object.
The mystic can analyze the whole world very easily and understand it through the vehicle of one individual body. It is true he cannot realize all things at once, but if he sets about knowing some particular thing he will do so much sooner than anyone else can, because he has the light within him.
His method is meditative. It is like opening oneself, opening the vehicles – the senses and the various unseen faculties of the mind, the abstract faculties which are beyond the perceptive faculties. These vehicles are opened by way of meditation, and now the soul works through all parts – seen and unseen – instead of only blindly through one part of the being, as hitherto. Even the bodily senses become more sensitive.
The sense of touch becomes more acute; the sense of sight becomes more keen, as also the sense of hearing. Taste becomes more keen. In fact, activity as a whole, vigor of action, enthusiasm, all increase after meditation. When the bodily energy and its sensitiveness are greater, it shows that the other faculties which are not seen are also increased – reason, imagination and its power of creation, memory and its power of retaining thought. The ego is also developed. Then after all these have developed, development of a still higher part of the being begins – the abstract being, which is linked up with the others. The person’s mind becomes the mind of another person, his thought becomes the thought of another person, and the mystic is now beginning to work through objects and not merely through the people around him. From this time on, the objects work as he desires them to work.
The mystic’s experiences are now more than phenomena; his dreams are a phenomenon and so when a thought comes to him, it grows to something more than mere imagination, and is a force acting through his mind to achieve an effect – be it constructive or destructive. Whatever arises in his mind becomes a reality. The further he develops the more real does his kingdom become.
To be continued…