Hazrat Inayat : My Initiation in Sufism pt I

In the recently concluded series of posts, Hazrat Inayat Khan told of the awakening of his interest in Sufism. Now we begin to learn of his initiation in this sacred path.

My interest in Sufism made me very friendly with the dervishes. I learned to love the sweetness of their nature and the innate perfume of their manner of using music as the food of the soul. 

I began at first to imitate their habits and methods, and spent a few hours in silence every day. Once in a dream I saw a great gathering of prophets, saints, and sages, all clad in their Sufi garments, rejoicing in the Sama or music of the dervishes. I was absorbed into their blissful state of ecstasy, and when I was aroused I still felt the exultation my vision had brought to me. After this I heard continually, waking or sleeping, an unknown voice which cried to me, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ – God is great!

I also had visions of a most haunting and spiritual face, radiant with light, during my concentration in the silence, which heightened my interest in mysticism still more, especially as I could not divine its meaning. I feared to ask for its significance, lest others might laugh at my fancy, and ridicule it. At last, when I could no longer control my impatience, I described my golden vision to a friend who was also a lover of the mystical, and begged him for an interpretation.

He answered that the dream was a symbol of my initiation into the Sufi Order of Chishtiyya Khandan*, and the words I heard were the crying of Haqq or truth, while the vision was the image of my spiritual guide and protector. He also advised me to undergo the initiation of Sufism, although I had always considered myself undeserving of initiation in that Brotherhood of Purity. But I had a little courage, hoping I might at least be used as a waste-paper basket is employed for torn scraps of wisdom, which would quite suffice me. I visited several Murshids with this purpose, but they made no response, although I had the privilege of studying their various views and methods of teaching.

Thus I learned to know four true kinds of masters and four false ones. Among the true I saw first the one who would never answer the appeal of a seeker until he was fully prepared. The second kind would not initiate anyone until a long and trying period of probation had been undergone by the disciple. The third, in order to keep away undesirable adherents, would make himself appear so utterly disagreeable that everyone would run away at the sight of him. And the fourth would so disguise himself to escape the praise and publicity of the world that none would believe for a moment that he was truly a Murshid. 

Among the false teachers I first met the hypocrite, who increases the number of his adherents by telling most wonderful stories and showing them tricks of phenomena. The second apostate was pious, disguising his infirmities and failings under the cloak of morality and always busy with worship and prayer. The third was the money-taking master, who eagerly seized upon every opportunity of emptying the pockets of his pupils. The fourth was he who was greedy for the adoration, worship and servility of his followers.

*Khandan means family or lineage. The friend is advising Inayat to take initiation in the Chishti Order, a lineage which is distinguished for, among other things, its mystical use of music.

To be continued…

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