In the first instalment of this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan explained that there are our relation to God takes five forms, the first being ‘idealising.’ Here he continues with the second form, ‘recognising.’
Recognising is the second step; it is called “tariqat*.” At this stage the believer in God thinks of Him not only as in heaven, where all praise, worship, honor, and respect are due to Him, but he recognizes that He is on earth also. For instance, take a person called ‘John.’ If you ask him the name of each part of him, he can give a certain name for each, for every part of his body has its name. But which is ‘John’? Which part of his being is ‘John’? How shall I recognise ‘John’? If I recognize him from his head, why not call his head ‘John’ instead of ‘head’? If I recognize him from his hand, then why do you not call his hand ‘John,’ why call it ‘hand’? If I recognize him from his body, why do you not call his body ‘John’ instead of ‘body’? But if the body is John and the body is dead, where is John? There where the dead body is, is John there? No, surely John is different from his body; yet at the same time he represents himself with his body. It is his inner self that is really John. Yet it is not his inner self which he shows to our external eyes, which are limited; it is his limited self – which we call ‘John’ – which he shows thus. John is behind his limited self. Our eyes are only the vehicle for seeing, and we can see something beyond our eyes. We, the ones who see, are the seer.
If we study this more and more carefully, we come to see that God is the creator, and must consider that He must have something to create from. When a sculptor sets to work he has something in mind before he starts. He has to have a piece of rock or stone to work on. Every worker has a certain thing besides himself to create from. So one may ask, “Was there anything besides this world for God to make it from? Where did God get the things to make the universe from?” If He created out of something already made, then that substance out of which He made the Universe must have been made by some other god – or perhaps a thousand gods, and even then we may not have come to the end! But this cannot be. The whole creation is from one Being Whose wisdom is unlimited, one Being Whose art is unlimited, Whose power is unlimited. He creates of Himself, with His own power. Therefore the creation and the Creator are not two, just as man and his body are not two. They are two, but at the same time they are not. When you recognise a man, you recognise him not from his body only, but from his spirit as well. If you recognise God, you can recognise Him not only in Heaven, but on earth also. Those who recognise Him, see Him in all.
A Hindustani song goes:
Ah! how desirous I was to see the divine Beloved!
It is not the fault of the Beloved that you do not see!
He is before you!
It is the fault of you who recognize Him not.
Everything, whatever you see, is nothing else but
The Presence of God!
But if you say, “All the world is the presence of God,” then what is in heaven? I do not say, “The body is John.” I say, “Behind the body is John, even though the body too is John.” So God is in heaven, but His manifestation is also God.
*In an exoteric sense, to follow customs and observances, and it is therefore that groups of Sufis, from following certain rites and forms, are sometimes called ‘tariqas’, but in an esoteric sense, tariqat refers to the second step of the mystical path.
To be continued…