The consideration of spirit and matter now leads Hazrat Inayat Khan to speak of mortality and immortality. The previous post in the series is here.
The Bible says, ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing’. But, one will say, ‘Does not dense matter depend for its maintenance upon dense food?’ Yes, but at the same time the appetite is not satisfied by eating stones. Man eats vegetables or animal food because he not only gets a substance from it, but also the spirit that it has absorbed. In other words, even in eating dense food one is absorbing spirit from space.
Some people will call spirit energy, or a scientist will use the name of some form or force, but it is never called a person or a being. Then what is it that makes us call God spirit, or why do we call that which is really spirit God? If it is the very same spirit that we breathe from space that makes man an intelligent being, capable of thinking and feeling, the same spirit that gives him the power of perception and conception and develops in him that feeling which one calls ego, ‘I’. If this is the phenomenon that the spirit shows by being absorbed by the material body, how much more capable of perception and conception, of thought and feeling, must the spirit be in itself! Only, because we are limited by our physical frame we are not able to experience fully its perfect life and its perfect personality.
Where there is a hole, this hole has a tendency to become larger, and where there is a little substance that substance has a tendency to increase. This shows the tendency of spirit and matter, the continual conflict that exists between spirit and matter. On the part of matter there is always the tendency to absorb; on the part of spirit there is always the tendency to assimilate. Mortality, therefore, belongs to substance, not to spirit; immortality belongs to spirit.
What is it that makes man spiritual? Spirit-consciousness. If a person is not conscious of what he absorbs, he is not conscious of that which makes him more then the dense part of his being. It is not the dense substance that forms his body that makes him capable of thinking, that gives him the faculty of feeling, of experiencing, of knowing; it is spirit which this dense substance has absorbed. And if one asks whether this spirit which belongs to man, which may be called an individual spirit, is to be found within or without, the answer is: that man himself is the individual spirit. The body is something which the spirit has taken for its use. Therefore, just as man is dependent on his vehicle, which one calls the body, for experiencing the outer life, to the same extent or even more is he independent of the outer body in order to exist forever.
The dependence of man and the independence of man depends upon that which he wishes to experience. If he wishes to experience the dense earth, he depends upon the dense body. If he wishes to experience the life of the spirit, he need not depend upon anything. The spirit is living; the spirit is life itself; it only depends upon matter for its experience and not for its life. The spirit itself is life, though a life which is different from the life we generally recognize as such. What we call living is the matter which has absorbed spirit; and what we call life is that which is moving and acting through that which we call spirit. In reality life is that which matter has absorbed; life passes away from matter and yet remains; life cannot be destroyed. It is in the understanding of this that lies the secret of immortality.
To be continued…