Continuing his lecture, Hazrat Inayat Khan speaks of physical purity, purity of conduct, and the perils that we face if we do not learn purity of the heart. The first instalment is here.
There are so many phases through which one has passed through during life that the phase through which one has passed seems of no importance; the phase which one is passing through is of importance. The outward purity matters little when a person goes through the inward purity of life. But the first purity is the purity of the physical world, where one keeps to the laws of cleanliness, to the laws of health, from the psychic, from the physical, from the hygienic point of view; and in doing so a person takes one step onward towards spirituality.
Then the next is what is called in general purity of life. That purity of life is the purity of one’s conduct in dealing with others, and very often a man takes to the purity of life in one direction and in another direction forgets it. The churches, the religions, the national and social laws very often make rigid principles about purity of life, and a man begins to know manmade purity, which the individual soul has to break through to find that of a higher plane.
It seems as if the whole life is tending towards freedom, towards the unfoldment of something which is choked up by coming on earth. This freedom can be gained by true purity of life. Of course it is not for everybody to understand what action, what thought brings remorse or causes discomfort. Another thing, the life of the individual is not in his control. Every rising wave of passion or of emotion or of anger or of wrath or of affection carries away his reason, blinds him for the moment, so that he can easily give in to mistakes, and in a moment’s impulse can give way to an unworthy thought or action. Then comes remorse. But still, a man who wishes to learn, who wishes to improve himself, a man who wishes to go on further in his progress, at the thought of his faults and mistakes will go on, because every fault will be a lesson, and a good lesson. Then he does not need to read in a book or learn from a teacher, because his life becomes his teacher.
However, one should not, for one’s personal experience, wish for the lesson. If one were wise, one could learn the lesson from others, but at the same time one should not regard one’s fault as one’s nature; it is not one’s nature. A fault means what is against one’s nature. If it was in one’s nature, it could not be a fault. The very reason that it is against one’s nature makes it a fault. How can nature be a fault? When one says, “I cannot help being angry and I cannot help saying what I want to say when I feel bitter,” one does not know that one could if one wished to. I mean to say, that he does not wish to, when he says, “I cannot help.” [i.e. “I am not able to…”] It is lack of strength in a man when he says, “can’t.” There is nothing which he can’t. The human soul is the expression of the Almighty and therefore the human mind has in his will the power of the Almighty, if only he could use that power against all things which stand in his way as hindrances on his journey to the goal.
By regarding some few things in life as faults, one often covers up little faults, which sometimes are worse than the faults which are pointed out by the world. For instance, when a younger person is insulting to an elderly person, people do not call it a very great fault. Sometimes such a little fault can rise and make a worse effect upon his soul than the faults which are recognized faults in the world. A person by a sharp tongue, by an inquisitive nature, by satiric remarks, by thoughtless words, can commit a fault which can be worse than so-called great sins.
You do not know what is in an action. You cannot always judge a thing from the action. The judge has to see what is behind the action, and when a person has arrived at this stage of judgment, then he never dares to form an opinion, to judge. It is the ordinary person, the person who makes a thousand mistakes every day and overlooks them who is ready to judge others.
We have seen what purity of the body and purity of the mind means. However there is a further purity, which is the purity of the heart. This is reached by making the heart pure or free from all impressions which come from outside, which are foreign to one’s nature. This can be done by overlooking the faults and shortcomings of others, by forgiving the faults of one’s friends. By an increase of love one gives a way for desirable impressions, which come upon one’s heart and collect there, and in that way one keeps one’s heart pure.
If during the day an ill feeling comes to a person, towards a friend or relative a feeling of hatred, a feeling of annoyance, a feeling of criticism, a feeling of bitterness, and he wishes to protect his heart from such an impression, he should not think about it, he should not let it enter, knowing it to be poison. It is just like taking a poison into one’s blood, introducing a disease. Any bad impression coming from outside and kept in one’s heart produces disease. The bitterness that one takes from others who perhaps have done something one did not like, or to whom one feels bitter, is kept in one’s heart, and this is just like injecting poison into one’s heart. That poison develops there till it breaks out as a disease in one’s physical being. It is such illnesses which are difficult to be healed because they did not rise from a physical source, but from an inner source. It is taking the poison of another into one’s own self, and that becomes more lasting – even incurable.
To be continued…