In the previous post in this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan describes some of the ways in which the message is received (or resisted). Here he speaks of three stages through which a sincere follower may pass.
There are three stages of action which the sincere followers of the message have to pass through, and the difficulty is that each stage has a tendency to hinder them from going on to the next stage. And the reason is that there is no end of interest and happiness at every stage that they have to go through in their lives. Another reason is that one stage is quite different from another, and therefore each stage has a kind of contrary action to the previous one.
These three stages may be called receiving the message, assimilating the message, and representing the message. For a sincere mureed the first stage can be so interesting that he may think he can never have enough of it, the receiving of that endless knowledge; and the heart of the seeker after truth, which is never full, may receive it for ages and yet it is never enough. When the receiver of the message is at that stage, then the activity of the further stages remains unaccomplished.
The next stage, which is the stage of assimilation, is most necessary, and very few can imagine how long it takes for the spirit to assimilate knowledge of truth. One assimilates it by the power of contemplation. It is by pondering over the subjects that one has heard, by practicing the teachings in one’s life, by looking at the world from the point of view which one has been taught, by observing one thing in its thousand different aspects, that one assimilates.
Many people, before assimilating the knowledge, wish to reason about it, wish to discuss it, wish to justify it and see how it fits in with their own preconceived ideas. In this way they disturb the digestive fire of the spirit, for just as the mechanism of the body is always working to help to assimilate food, so the spirit is constantly working to assimilate all that one learns throughout life. Therefore it is a matter of patience, of taking life easily without troubling the mind too much over things, and of allowing the knowledge, which one has received as a food of the spirit, to have time to be assimilated. By trying to assimilate knowledge too soon, man loses his normal health; it is just like taking drugs to help to digest food, which is not beneficial in the end.
But the third process is also necessary, and those who care little for this stage, the one of representing, miss a great deal in life. A person who, alone, has seen something beautiful, who has heard something harmonious, who has tasted something delicious, who has smelt something fragrant, may have enjoyed it, but not completely. The complete joy is in sharing one’s joy with others. For the selfish one who enjoys himself and does not care for others, whether he enjoys things of the earth or things of heaven, his enjoyment is not complete. So it is only in this third stage that the following of the message is fulfilled, when a soul has heard and has pondered upon it, and has passed the same blessing on to others.
To be continued…