In addition to giving lectures on various themes, Hazrat Inayat Khan also took questions from his students, and readers may find the following handful of exchanges very stimulating. The question for the first answer has not been recorded.
A. Intellectual knowledge has much to do with the brain, and wisdom comes from within the heart; but in wisdom heart and head both work. We may call the brain the seat of intellect and the heart the throne of wisdom. Wisdom certainly may be called spiritual knowledge; but the best explanation of wisdom will be perfect knowledge, the knowledge of life within and without.
Q. What is the difference between intellect and intelligence?
A. Intelligence is the knowing quality; yet it cannot very well be called a quality, it is the self in us which knows. And intellect is the mould which is made of all we have learned and experienced; and through this mould intelligence works. Intelligence represents the soul itself.
Q. What is humor, and what is its value?
A. Humor is the sign of light. It is the light from above. When that light touches the mind it tickles it; and it is the tickling of the mind which produces humor.
Q. What is the attitude of true prayer?
A. The attitude of a prayerful person toward God is that of a lover to his beloved, of a child to his parents, of a servant to his master, of a pupil to his teacher, and of a soldier to his commander.
Q. What is love, and how should one be loving?
A. It is very difficult to say what love is and how one can be loving. Is it that one should be embracing people, or running after people, or speaking sweet words? Every person has a different way of expressing his love. One person has a love hidden in his heart, it does not manifest. Another person has love coming out in his words and action. Another person’s love rises just like vapors and charges the whole atmosphere. Another person’s love is like a spark in a stone: outside the stone is cold, inside there is a spark. Therefore, to judge who has love and who has not is not in the power of every person; it is very difficult. For instance, love as a fire rising from a cracker, calls out, “I am love!” and burns up and is finished. There is also a fire in the pebble which never manifests. If one holds the pebble it is so cold; at the same time the ‘spark’ is there. Someday you can strike it, it is dependable, it lasts. Therefore one can never judge, because the manner of expressing love of every person is different.
Q. What is the heart and what is the soul?
A. Suppose we take a lamp, a burning lamp, as a picture of the human being. The flame is the soul, and the globe is the heart. The inner part of the globe is called heart, the outer part is mind and the shade over the lamp is the body.
Q. Can one change the object of desire in any other way than by satiety?
A. Yes, there is – by rising above it. For instance, that person has no virtue in fasting who is not hungry. Fasting is a virtue for the one who wants to eat and renounces food.
Q. Does the practice of not blaming others mean that we must not see the faults of anyone, that we rise above it?
A. No. In the first place it is a question of self-restraint or self-control, politeness, kindness, sympathy, graciousness, of a worshipful attitude toward God, the Creator of all beings, Whose children we all are, good or bad. If any person’s child happened to be homely in appearance, would it be polite to say before the parents, “Your child is homely?” Then the Father-Mother of all beings is there, comprehending and knowing what is going on in every person’s heart. He creates all, with their faults and merits. When we are ready to judge, it is certainly before the Artist Who has made them, not behind His back, but in His Presence.
If we realized this, it would not be difficult to feel the Presence of God everywhere. Besides this, there is always one’s favor and disfavor connected with it. If we see more faults, it means we close our hearts to the favorable attitude, and we open our hearts to the unfavorable attitude in order to criticize them. Yes, there comes a time after a continual practice of this virtue, when we see the reason behind every fault that appears to us in anyone we meet in our life; we become more tolerant, we become more forgiving. For instance, take a person who is ill, and creating disturbance in his atmosphere by crying, weeping, shouting. It disturbs us. We say, “How bad, how annoying! What a bad nature!” It is not bad nature, it is the illness behind it. It is that reason which will make us tolerant. When we see no reason, we are blind to that Light of God, blind to that forgiveness which is the only essence of God which can be found in the human heart.
Q. Ought one’s spiritual journey to be rapid or slow, or is it a question of temperament?
A. I should say it is a question of temperament; but I think that the happy medium is best. Too slow is monotonous, and too quick is undesirable. I think the joy of the journey is in its balance. If man traveled with the speed of an ant, or a worm, or a germ, no doubt eternity is before him, but it would not be an interesting thing for man. He is not made to travel in that way. Therefore, the man who adopts an artificial speed is always limited. A person who goes in an aeroplane or in a railway train will not enjoy the full pleasure of the journey that the man does who travels on foot. Besides, in everything we can see the same thing. From the gramophone we hear the human voice, but it loses its magnetism, because it is the human voice which is made to strike upon the ears. When it comes from the gramophone, that spoils it.