In this instalment of our series, Hazrat Inayat Khan gives profound insight into the paradoxical life of the Messenger, who is all and nothing at the same time. The previous post may be found here.
As to the instrument of the message, in reality the whole universe is an instrument, and every object and every being in it is an instrument. Through whichever instrument He chooses, God gives His message. There is a saying of Jelaluddin Rumi: ‘Fire, water, air, and earth are God’s servants, and whenever He wishes them to work for Him, they are ready to obey his command.’ If the elements are the obedient servants of God, cannot man be a greater and better instrument?
In point of fact God Himself is the messenger. In the aspect of God, He is God, but, in the form of the messenger, He is the messenger. The tide of the sea surges, and when the sea has that motion it is called tide, but in reality the tide is the sea itself.
It is not solid wood that can become a flute, but the empty reed. It is the perfection of that passiveness in the heart of the messenger which gives scope for the message from above; for the messenger is the reed, the instrument. The difference between his life and the life of the average man is that the latter is full of self. It is the blessed soul whose heart is empty of self, who is filled with the light of God.
The messenger has five aspects to his being: the divine, the ideal, the prophet, the message-bearer, and the teacher. Four of these aspects have already been mentioned, so there remains only the last, which is the aspect of the teacher.
The claim of Risalat [i.e of giving a divine message, of being a messenger] in man’s lifetime is a great burden, heavier than earth and larger than heaven. It is the fulfillment of the message which must identify his name with the Spirit of Guidance. Man, however great, should never claim perfection, for the limitation of his external being limits him in the eyes of men. The claimant of Christhood, living on earth, must be searched by numberless searchlights constantly falling upon him. Most men can only see the limitations of his human life, and can never probe the heights of his divinity; comparatively few can do this.
The claim of Christhood seemed to the people too great for Jesus; that is why he was crucified by the intolerant world. Christ was not crucified because the people of his time were unevolved, but because it is always difficult to live among people above whose standard of goodness one has risen. If Christ appeared today with the claim of Christhood, even today he would be crucified. Christ cannot be without the cross, nor can the cross be without Christ; Christ and cross both stand together.
What is asked of a messenger is to be as free as a silken thread, that he may tune his lute as high as he chooses; and yet to be as strong as the gut string, so that he may endure the wear and tear of life in the world; to be so tender as to respond to every call for sympathy, and to be so firm as to bear all things; to be in the world and yet not of the world; to live and not to live, for the Lord God alone lives.
What does the prophet bring? Does he bring new doctrines, new teachings, and new laws? He does, and yet he does not; for there is nothing new under the sun, and it is ever the same law which he comes to fulfil. When the need is there, the prophet cries aloud that which has always been whispered gently by the lips of the wise of all ages. Beyond and above the words, he brings the light which clears things, making them simple and as if they had always been known to the soul on earth; he brings life, revivifying the hearts and souls which otherwise are like dry bones in the grave of the human body. Yes, the prophet brings a religion, but that is not all: what he really brings to earth is the living God, who is otherwise hidden in the heavens.
And who is the Master? He is seen by all, and yet not really seen. He is known to many, and yet recognized by few. He speaks to all; yet his silence quickens every soul. Most attached is he, and yet detached; most interested, and yet indifferent. Sad of disposition, and yet most joyful; poor as man can be, and yet so rich. King in his soul, he yet walks with the bowl of the beggar in his hand from door to door. Warning of danger and consoling the broken-hearted; comrade of the youthful and friend of the aged; Master of life within and without, yet the servant of all – such is the being of the Master. He is man in the sight of man, but God in the Being of God.
To be continued…