Hazrat Inayat Khan now returns to the theme of the inseparability of spirit and matter, as they are one and not two. The previous post in the series is here.
Spirit and matter are not two things. They are one, seen by us as two. The reason is that the former is not distinguishable, while the latter is distinct. The former is not evident, while the latter is. The spirit is man’s own being, his real being; the spirit is his knowing faculty, his intelligence. The very intelligence that distinguishes all things is man’s real being.
How can this intelligence see itself? It is the task of the spirit to feel matter, and at the same time it is the work of the spirit to feel itself. Matter cannot feel the spirit; spirit has to feel it in order to be evident. What happens when spirit cannot feel itself is shown in the story of the twenty peasants who went on a journey and after crossing a river they wanted to know if everyone was there. Each counted and said that there are nineteen because each forgot to count himself. It is the same with the spirit; the spirit distinguishes everything except itself, just as the eyes cannot see themselves. The eyes see all things, but no one has ever seen his eyes except as a reflection in a mirror.
Another and most important fact is that no matter can exist without spirit. Spirit is its existence and spirit is its life. With any object, sweet or sour, fragrant, cold or hot, whatever be its quality it is the phenomenon of spirit working through that object which makes it distinguishable in one way or another. If one were to ask whether there was a link between spirit and matter, the answer would be that there is none. There is no gap between the two because, as has been said, they are not two things they are one and the same. It is simply that the distinguishable aspect of the spirit we call matter, and its finer aspect, which cannot be distinguished, we call spirit.
People use the word spirit in different senses. Spiritualists have called spirit the soul that has departed from the earth. Religious people have called spirit the being of God. And both are right, although both explanations are limited. It is not only spirit that is the being of God. Matter is the being of God too. I once met a young man, who said to me, ‘I don’t believe in God, the hereafter, or the soul.’ I told him that I did not wish to make him believe in these things, that this was not my intention at all. Then the young man asked what I believed, for he wanted to continue the conversation. I said, ‘It is very difficult to put one’s belief into words, but I would very much like you to tell me what you believe?’ He said very easily, ‘I believe in eternal matter.’ I said, ‘My belief is not very far from yours, for the very same thing that you call eternal matter, I call eternal spirit. It is a difference of words. We really believe the same thing.’ Matter cannot be eternal, but if the young man wished to call that which is eternal matter, I had no objection. I was quite willing to call it matter too.
To be continued…