In this continuation of our series, Hazrat Inayat Khan speaks of the all-pervading selfishness of the world today, and tells us that the remedy to this illness is the ideal, which has disappeared from general awareness. The previous post may be found here.
The message is not for one nation, race, or community; it is for the whole of humanity. Its one and only object is to bring about a better understanding between the divided sections of humanity by awakening their consciousness to the fact that humanity is one family. If one person in the family is ill or unhappy, this must certainly cause unhappiness to the whole family. Yet even this is not the most appropriate simile. Humanity is one body, the whole of life being one in its source and in its goal, its beginning and its end. No scientist will deny this. And if part of the body is in pain, sooner or later the whole body is affected; if our finger aches, our body is not free from pain. Thus no nation, race, or community can be considered as a separate part of humanity.
Today in education, in politics, in all directions of life, there seems to be an individualistic view, but where will such a tendency end, where will it lead humanity? If each one thinks he must get the better of another, where will be the harmony and peace for which all are longing, no matter to what race or religion they belong?
No doubt this condition has been brought about by a long continued materialism and commercialism, which have taught every soul the spirit of competition and rivalry, the whole life of each being absorbed in guarding his own interests, and in trying to take the best in life for himself. Life is one continual battle, and only one thing can ease this battle: consideration for others, reciprocity, unselfishness instead of selfishness.
With selfishness as the central theme, the world’s progress will never lead to the soul’s desire and aim. It must culminate in destruction. At one time the call was to guard self-interest; now the moment has come for mankind to be given a message of understanding and consideration for one another, since individual peace and happiness depend upon the peace and happiness of the whole of humanity.
What is missing in modern education, in art and science, in social, political, and commercial life, is the ideal, the ideal which is the secret of heaven and earth, the mystery hidden behind both man and God. With all he possesses in the objective world, man is poor in the absence of the ideal, and it is this poverty which creates irritation, conflicts, and disagreements, thereby causing wars and disasters of all kinds. Man’s greatest need today is for the exploration of the human personality, in order to find there the latent inspiration and power upon which to build the whole structure of his life. For life means not only to live, but to ennoble oneself and reach that perfection which is the innate yearning of the soul. The solution to the problem of the day is the awakening of the consciousness of humanity to the divinity of man. The undertone of all religions is the realization of the one life which culminates in the thought of unity. It is towards raising humanity to this consciousness that the efforts of the Sufi Movement are directed.
To be continued…