We continue the short but very profound series of texts by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the silent life. The previous post in the series may be found here.
Then, coming to the cause of idol-worship, a person might wonder about the old custom of Brahmins and Buddhists, who went into the temple of Buddha or Krishna, and sat before an idol which neither spoke to them nor took notice of them. One might think, ‘What could they gain? It has a mouth and speaks not; it has hands, yet cannot move’. And so people mocked at them, scoffed at them, and called them heathen and pagan. But they did not know of this silence that was impressed upon the worshipper. This human form sitting before them, silent and quiet and not speaking, or hearing, or thinking, absolutely quiet – just think what it means.
When a man is among friends, he may get tired; sometimes he enjoys their society, but when he does not enjoy it, he thinks, ‘I am drained of all vitality’. Why is this? It is the impression of their minds that has been produced in his mind. Perhaps someone has insulted him, or snubbed him, or told him this or that, and he goes among his friends bringing all his troubles with him; and then he leaves, still saying, ‘I am tired’. If he is working in a factory, it is reasonable to be tired in body; but why should he be tired in society, where people are laughing and chatting? It is because their condition of mind is not like his. But before the idol, there is perfect harmony. See, here is someone sitting quiet. A quiet human form, which does not speak; what rest! It may not help, but it does not disturb. It keeps the worshipper silent; that was the idea.
What do we learn from this? Every effort was made by the teachers of religion to waken men to that aspect of life that is overlooked in ordinary life, which they call ‘life’. The purpose of concentration, contemplation, meditation, all that is the essence of religion or mysticism or philosophy, is nothing but this one thing: to attain to that depth which is the root of our life.
A Marathi poet has said, “O mind, my restless mind, my mind with its thoughts of a thousand things which it supposes will make it happy, saying, ‘If I had that, I should be happy; if I had this, I should feel life was not wasted.’ O, my mind, will you tell me who in this world is happy?” The mind says, ‘If I had the wealth which I see others have, I should be happy’. But are these others happy? They, in their turn, say they would be, if they had something still higher!
The secret of happiness is hidden under the veil of spiritual knowledge. And spiritual knowledge is nothing but this: that there is a constant longing in the heart of man to have something of its origin, to experience something of its original state, the state of peace and joy which has been disturbed, and yet is sought after throughout its whole life, and never can cease to be sought after until the real source has at length been realized. What was it in the wilderness that gave peace and joy? What was it that came to us in the forest, the solitude? In either case it was nothing else but the depth of our own life, which is silent like the depths of the great sea, so silent and still. It is the surface of the sea that makes waves and roaring breakers; the depth is silent. So the depth of our own being is silent also.
And this all-pervading, unbroken, inseparable, unlimited, ever-present, omnipotent silence unites with our silence like the meeting of flames. Something goes out from the depths of our being to receive something from there, which comes to meet us; our eyes cannot see and our ears cannot hear and our mind cannot perceive because it is beyond mind, thought, and comprehension. It is the meeting of the soul and the Spirit.
Therefore the idea of understanding the spiritual ideal is to attain to that state of being, of calm and peace and joy and everlasting happiness, which neither changes nor ceases to exist. It is to realize what is said in the Bible, ‘Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven’. Those words do not tell us to remain imperfect as everybody on earth. No, they mean the idea of all perfection, all unity, no separation. It is the opposite of the idea that religion should keep part of humanity separate, saying, ‘You do not belong to our church, our mosque, our temple!’ It is the opposite of loyalty to this particular sect or community, or to that particular sacred book, to this particular teaching, or to that particular truth. Is not the source of all truth hidden in every man’s heart, be he Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Jew? Is not each one part of that life which we call spiritual or divine? To be just this or that is the same as not going further than this or that. The bliss found in solitude is hidden within every human being; he has inherited it from his heavenly Father. In mystical words it is called the all-pervading light. Light is the source and origin of every human soul, of every mind.