With this brief and very inspiring post we conclude the series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the theme of the silent life. The previous post in the series may be found here.
The Sufi looks upon life as one life, upon all religions as his religion: call him a Christian and he is that, call him a Muslim or a Hindu and he is that; call him whatever you like, he does not mind. A Sufi does not think about what people call him. Who calls him Sufi? It is not he. But if he does not call himself something, someone else is sure to find a name for him. Cats and dogs do not declare their names; it is man that gives them a name. If you call yourself ‘New Thought’, it will be made into the name of a new sect some day; if you call yourself ‘Higher Thought’, that will be a sect one day; call yourself what you will – philosophy, theosophy, religion, mysticism, it is only the one thing, it is nothing but the constant longing of the soul of the human being. After experiencing all the different aspects of the life of activity, the longing to attain to that state of peace or calm seems in the end to be the only object that the soul wishes to achieve.
A person may keep thinking that perhaps he will be happy when he is a king, or rich, or an officer; then he will gain his desire, and as long as he has not got it, the sweetness of the thought lies only in the hope. As long as there is hope, there is sweetness. After fulfilling the desire, the hope has gone; then he hopes for something else. It is hope that is sweet, not the object. The object is never sweet; it is the sweetness of the hope that makes the object seem sweet. ‘If I could reach that height!’ a man says. So long as he has not reached that height, the dream of reaching the height, of one day experiencing that position, experience, or imagination, the dream of being comforted by it, so long he has the sweetness of the hope. But when it has come, the sweetness is finished. Then begins a new hope, always hoping, hoping. And still behind it all is that one inclination, common to all, the inclination of which he does not know the nature.
No person would live did he not have the hope of something for which he was waiting. Hope is the only food of life. Then reason says, ‘Yes, I am looking forward to my change from this place to the next; to get my inheritance some day; then I shall be all right. I shall be all right when I get that position, that house, that comfort’. Man has always something before him, imagining, building, preparing and holding it in the mind all the time, and yet when he does get it, there is always another hope.
It is only those who are blessed by perceiving the origin and source of all things who awaken to the fact that the real inclination of every life is to attain to something which can not be touched or comprehended or understood. The hidden blessing of this knowledge is the first step to perfection. Once awake to this fact, man sees there is something in life that will make him really happy and give him his heart’s desire. He can say, ‘Though there are many things in life which I need for the moment and for which I shall certainly work, yet there is only that one thing, around which life centers, that will satisfy me: the spiritual attainment, the religious attainment, or, as one may even call it, the attainment of God’. Such a one has found the key to all happiness, and has found that all the things he needs will be reached because he has the key to all. ‘Seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ This kingdom of God is the silent life: the life inseparable, eternal, self-sufficient, and all-powerful. This is the life of the wise, whatever be the name given to it; this is the life which the wise contemplate. It is the face of this life that they long to see; it is the ocean of this life that they long to swim in; as it is written, ‘In Him we live and have our being’.
These are the ones who are really happy, who are above all unhappiness, above death and the destruction of life.