Hazrat Inayat: Some Ideas of the Sufis pt II

We continue with the talk given by Hazrat Inayat Khan to students of the University of Southern California, begun here.  The first portion concluded with an explanation of the difference, in Sufi understanding, between sensation and exaltation.  The masters and teachers of all ages, Hazrat Inayat told his listeners, have taught in different forms the art of relaxation, the art of repose. At the conclusion of the lecture Hazrat Inayat took a number of questions from the audience, mostly in connection with sensation and exaltation, and these will be posted in a third instalment. 

And now coming to the question how this art is practised. The first practice of this art by the Sufis is what they call pose and posture. Sensation is created and experienced by action. Exaltation is created and experienced by repose. To sit quiet in a certain posture brings about the repose. And as they went further in the science of repose they also found out that as movement in every direction has a certain effect, so the posture of every kind produces a certain effect. Perhaps you have seen in the pictures of India Yogis sitting in a certain way or standing in a certain form. And the old statues of Buddha, and of gods and goddesses give this education, that every form in which one stands produces in one a certain psychological effect, every form in which one sits produces a psychological effect. In the East people sit before Buddha’s statue and it is inspiring to them. They see the posture, and they see the peace of the posture and it produces in them that effect.

Then again breathing has so much to do with the condition of mind. Today in the outer world they make use of breath as far as voice production goes, in order to develop voice, or in order to develop the muscular system they use breath with gymnastics. But the right breathing has a still greater effect on the mind when it is once known. All different rhythms change the effect; in other words, all the circulation of the blood is changed by a certain breathing, and not only circulation of the blood, but pulsation.* And by changing the rhythm of blood and pulsation, different effects are produced. And in this way one gets mastery over one’s body. And by getting mastery over one’s body one can go further in the spiritual path. Is it not always true that mind has influence upon the body? But also the body has influence upon the mind. When a person is tired his rhythm of breath is not right. When the pulsation has lost its original rhythm, when the activity is greater than normally it would be, a person becomes restless, cross, he cannot control himself, he loses his mind.

If we go still further to think about the mind, the thought of the mystic is different in considering mind. The mystic does not call brain his mind. The mystic says brain is the vehicle through which mind is expressed. For the mystic, mind is something independent, the faculty of thinking, of reasoning, of remembering, of feeling. In the same way, for the mystic the heart is not a piece of flesh in the breast. For the mystic the word heart means the depth of mind; mind is the surface of the heart. And the culture of the heart is the higher culture. As all congestion of the body is broken by regularizing breathing and by pose and posture of a certain kind, by silence, by solitude, so the congestion of mind is broken also by knowing how to practise meditation. One might ask, “What do I mean by congestion of mind?” There are a thousand things in the day which bring about congestion of mind, as every nervous shock brings about congestion of the nerves. Psychologists find that many diseases come from congestion. It is the life of sensation in the absence of the life of repose which causes many illnesses. And so often discomfort is caused by not relieving the congestion of the heart, a congestion which is brought about by little things: something we dislike, we cannot endure, we cannot tolerate, which burdens our nervous system; fear, and doubt, and anxiety, and horror, and prejudice, and suspicion, and confusion, and puzzling thought, all these things bring about congestion of the heart. Every little shock in feeling, in affection, in sympathy, love, and devotion brings about congestion of the heart, producing a poison which comes out in the thought, in the word, in the action, the influence of which is not only in the inner bodies, but also in the outer expression of man.

The meditative life that Sufis live is really a creating of that balance which is necessary for every man in his life in the world. Yes, people have gone to caves of mountains, and forests, and remote places in order to take rest and meditate. But that was only for experiment, not for everyone to follow. But the education of repose, which in other words may be called meditation, is the most essential thing to practise and to know, for it is that which makes this daily life normal. One begins to live more fully, and the doors of inspiration latent in man are opened when the life is lived normally and more fully.

To be continued…

*From his use of the word ‘pulsation’ here and in other texts, it is evident that Hazrat Inayat is referring to rhythms of consciousness, perhaps equivalent to brain waves.

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