After Hazrat Inayat Khan’s thorough explanation of the meaning, need and purpose of the Message and the role of the Messenger in bringing it to humanity, we conclude this series with a succinct summary of what we might understand to be the Sufi form of the message. The previous post in the series may be found here.
Very often the Sufi message, in its form of beneficence, is taken to be what is nowadays called pacifism, and those who do not favor the idea of pacifism say that it means peace at any price. Sufism does not teach that. Sufism does not mean goodness, kindness, or piety; Sufism means wisdom. All things in life are materials for wisdom to work with, and wisdom cannot be restricted to any principles. Among Sufis there have been great souls who were kings, and others who were in the position of beggars, saints, workmen, commanders, generals, businessmen, statesmen, or prophets; and in all ages the Sufis have practiced Sufism in all walks of life. This shows that no one can point out a particular belief or tenet and say it is a Sufi doctrine.
In music there are two things: sound and notes. Notes indicate the degree of the sound, but sound can be all notes, no note in particular. So it is with Sufism: it is all beliefs and no belief in particular. There is no action which the Sufi calls right or wrong, for every action can become right and can also become wrong. It depends upon the use or abuse of the action, its fitness or unfitness. Right or wrong depends upon the attitude and the situation, not on the action. This naturally gives the Sufi tolerance towards others and makes him ready to forgive them, and he is unwilling to form an opinion about the action of another person. This attitude keeps the Sufi far removed from saying that peace is good or war is good. The Sufi will prefer to say that war is good at the time of war, and that peace is good at the time of peace.
But, if all things are right in their proper place, what then has Sufism to do in life? The principal mission of Sufism is to dig the soil under which the light of the soul has become buried. It is the same as the teaching of Christ, who has said that no one should hide his light under a bushel, and also that one should raise one’s light on high.
The condition of the world today is such that humanity has become abnormal. Man is not only scared of badness but also of goodness; man not only dreads war but also peace; he is not only tired of enmity but also of friendship; he not only suspects his adversary but even his own brother. It seems as if the mind of the world is not only tired but ill, as if humanity has had a nervous breakdown. Individually or collectively man does not know his life’s purpose or goal. The Sufi message warns humanity to get to know life better and to achieve freedom in life; it warns man to accomplish what he considers good, just, and desirable; it warns him before every action to note its consequences by studying the situation, his own attitude, and the method he should adopt.
Sufism not only guides those who are religious, mystical, or visionary, but the Sufi message gives to the world the religion of the day, and that is to make one’s life a religion, to turn one’s occupation or profession into a religion, to make one’s ideal a religious ideal. The object of Sufism is the uniting of life and religion, which so far seem to have been kept apart. When a man goes to church once a week, and devotes all the other days of the week to his business, how can he benefit by religion? Therefore the teaching of Sufism is to transform everyday life into a religion, so that every action may bear some spiritual fruit.
The method of world reform which various institutions have adopted today is not the method of the Sufi Movement. Sufis believe that if evil is contagious, goodness must be even more so. The depth of every soul is good; every soul is searching for good, and by the effort of individuals who wish to do good in the world, much can be done, even more than a materialistic institution can achieve. No doubt for the general good there are political and commercial problems to be solved; but that must not bar individuals from progress, for it is the individual progress through the spiritual path which alone can bring about the desired condition in the world.