Having begun his philosophical description of matter by describing it as a temporary solidification of spirit, Hazrat Inayat Khan now addresses the fundamental question of the nature of spirit.
Now, coming to the idea of spirit – what is it? how do we define it? The answer is: if we define spirit it cannot be spirit; the spirit that can be defined cannot be spirit. The best definition of spirit is, ‘that which is not matter’. The chemical world has applied the word spirit to the essence taken from anything. Symbolically this expresses the same meaning, though in this way spirit is brought into matter. When one takes a bottle of essence and says, ‘This is spirit’, it is true symbolically but in reality spirit means something that our senses cannot perceive. It is spirit in the sense that it is essence, but in the sense that it is perceived, it cannot be spirit.
Then spiritualistic people have given this name to the souls which have passed. Symbolically, it is true that the body, representing the material part of man, has disappeared, and that the personality has gone towards the spirit, and yet as long as the personality is perceptible and has its own particular qualities, as long as it still retains its individuality, it cannot be spirit.
If we really want to define spirit, the best definition is pure intelligence. Because, occupied as we are with this world of illusion, we retain in our minds impressions and knowledge of the material world, we are not always able to experience that part of our being which is pure intelligence. We generally use the word intelligence in quite a different sense. When we say that someone is intelligent, we mean that he is clever. But pure intelligence has nothing to do with cleverness; nor can one call pure intelligence the knowing quality because it is above this. We know intelligence as a faculty, but in reality it is spirit itself. No doubt science today may not accept this argument, as the idea of the modern scientist is rather that what we call intelligence is an outcome of matter, that matter has evolved during thousands of years through different aspects and has culminated in man as a wonderful phenomenon in the form of intelligence. He traces the origin of intelligence to matter. But the mystic holds, as in the past all prophets, saints, and sages have known, that it is spirit which through a gradual action has become denser, and has materialized itself into what we call matter or substance. Through this substance it gradually unfolds itself, for it cannot rest in it. It is caught in this denseness, gradually making its way out through a process taking thousands of years, until in man it develops itself as intelligence.
Many biologists have said that animals have no mind, but it is only a difference of words. Mind is merely a vehicle of intelligence. It is intelligence which has manifested as matter, and it is the same intelligence, which gradually developed through different aspects into a clearer and purer intelligence. Therefore the lower creatures may not have that mind which a scientist perhaps sees in man; nevertheless we find a vehicle of intelligence in all, and not only in animals and birds, but even in substance we can find intelligence.
It is not only due to chemical action that a flower fades in the hand of one person and keeps fresh in the hands of another. It is not automatic when a plant grows under the care of a certain person but wilts if tended by someone else. And a still deeper study will reveal that the color and brilliance of precious stones change in every person’s hand; pearls too change their light when they go from hand to hand. The more deeply we study matter, the more proofs we shall find of intelligence working through the whole process of continual unfoldment.
What is the reason that flowers fade when touched by some people? It is the same reason as with us. The presence of one person annoys us. We cannot tolerate it. The presence of another person brings us closer. It is the same with flowers. But the phenomenon behind it all is love. Whatever is touched by a person who lacks that element, becomes dead. Whether he touches a flower, or whether he touches an affair, or whether he touches a child, whatever he touches is destroyed. For love in itself is an essence, the essence; it is the sign of spirit. All that a person touches with love will be given light and life. Lack of love causes all death and decay. Glasses will break and saucers will crack when a loveless person touches them. One may not yet have had this experience, but one day one will see that when an inharmonious person enters the house things begin to break, accidents happen, pet animals such as dogs and cats become restless.
To be continued…