Hazrat Inayat: Spirituality, The Tuning of the Heart pt I

In February of 1926, less than a year before he was destined to leave this world, Hazrat Inayat Khan gave a public lecture in Oakland, California on the subject of spirituality and the tuning of the heart.  As it is quite a long text, it will be presented here in instalments, and it is given more or less as it was spoken, without a great deal of editing; although in some places the flow may seem a little irregular, we can hear in it an echo of Hazrat Inayat’s natural way of speaking, which is worth preserving.  In this first portion he begins by making clear what he means by spirituality–and what he excludes from the term.  He was particularly outspoken concerning ‘mediumship’, which was popular in certain circles at the time, and which he said was a danger to the health and balance of those who indulged in it.

Beloved ones of God,

It is my happiness and privilege to address the people of this city for the first time, speaking on the subject of spirituality, the tuning of the heart.  Before speaking on spirituality, I must first explain what I mean by spirituality. There are people who consider spirituality as orthodoxy, or piety, to be religious, to be a priest, to be a monk, a hermit, to fast, or to live a life of a certain discipline, to adopt a certain form of worship–all these outer forms.  A person may have all these forms and not be spiritual, and nothing of these forms a person may have, and be spiritual.  And those who seek spirituality in such outer forms are mistaken, because spirituality is far from that.

Real spirituality, then, is spirit consciousness. To be spiritual means to be conscious of spirit, as a material person means a person who is conscious of matter.  Therefore it is not a religion or orthodoxy or outer form, or a certain kind of life which means spiritual life.  It is to be conscious of the spirit that makes one spiritual.

There are those who think that those who perform phenomena, miracles, wonderworks are spiritual.  It is not so.  Many who are capable of performing phenomena are not different from a magician.  Then there are others who say to be spiritual means to tell fortunes or be clairvoyant, or to see wonderful things.  It is not necessary that one ought to do wonderful things, to see wonderful things in order to be spiritual.

Then there are others who imagine to be spiritual means sitting in the caves of mountains, or roaming about in forests, or to appear and disappear.  All these things are but fancies of the imagination.  To be spiritual means to be oneself, to be one’s natural self.  And that shows how many of us are ourselves; if we were ourselves, we would all be spiritual–but we are not ourselves, we are far from ourselves, is it not true?  A great Indian poet expressed it this way: “Accomplishing things apart, for man to be a man is the most difficult thing.”  That means for a human being to be a human being is the greatest difficulty–yet he is born a human being.  The first thing he ought to be is the thing he is not.  He is anything but a human being.  He is willing to be a solicitor, a doctor, a professor, but a human being, that is a thing he thinks of last, and even mostly of which he does not think.

People say that nowadays there is a great tendency in the world to discover spiritual truth, that there is an inner spiritual awakening.  Yes, I admit it.  And then again they say that in America there is to be found a great thirst for spiritual attainment.  That is true also.  But what direction does it take?  Very often it takes wrong directions.  Those searching after truth either think that the best thing to find a belief in the spirit and in the hereafter is mediumship, to become ourselves a medium or to go to a medium, and when he has found the proof, to communicate with the dead, then he has found the proof of the spiritual.  They wreck their nervous system; many go out of balance. They think that in that is the way that leads to spirituality, but it leads to destruction.

Then there are others who wish to pursue the spiritual in the same way as the person in the university and college.  They want to read all things in the book.  They think if there is anything like a spiritual attainment, one book must tell us about it. If they go to the library and read all the books there are throughout the whole life, they cannot touch spirituality, because it does not come from a book.  Reading helps one sometimes to waken, and yet every person does not know how to read.  There are thousands and thousands of people in the United States who are reading one book and another book and another book till their mind is so confused that they do not know what to believe and what not to believe. Among them there are many who think what is the best way is the intellectual way.  But what is intellectual? Is reading really intellectual? And are all books the same?  They only confuse a person.  Very often they read the books of ten horrors on the same line, which puzzle a person’s mind so much that he does not know where he is.  Often people have come to me and said, to help me, to have confidence in them because for ten years they have been reading occult books.  Instead of confidence, I have to guide them on the path to erase what they have learned first.  Perhaps they are not willing to have it erased.  They think they have gained knowledge by reading a hundred books.  What knowledge?  Is it spiritual?

Besides that, very often intellectual pursuit gives them the idea that there are such masters and such mahatmas and such saints in the Himalayas, in the caves of the mountains.  They never think he can be in the crowds.  But it interests them more when he is in a place where nobody can reach.  They think he cannot be in the restaurant to take his dinner, he must be in the caves of a mountain.  Imagine!  Why was this world created, why are we born in this world, if this world were not a school to develop the soul and arrive at a stage which is life’s purpose!  Man has lost confidence in his fellow man. He expects spirituality from the dead, from the trees, not from man. He has no confidence in his brothers.

And there are others who are interested in the meaning of symbology.  This particular symbol means this, another gives a great revelation, another is a great mystery.  Where is spirituality to be found?  Is it not in the heart of man? Instead of in their own heart, people want to look in different places or in certain symbols.  Yes, symbols are expressive of that, but the direct way is within oneself.

One day I was very amused.  In England, travelling near Bournemouth, I was brought to a place where I was supposed to speak, and they said it was an important place.  So I went there.  And the man who brought me there, he said, “Now here in this corner, you can feel, that is the secret.”  Imagine, in that place was spirituality, and not in man!

Those who make an occupation of spirituality take advantage of people’s ignorance.  Then they cater, they feed them.  They say to any person, “You are a medium.” So those who take this as a profession, they work to tell everyone, “Come along!  Be more fanciful, more imaginative, more superstitious.” They feed curiosity.  Does it lead anywhere?  They are lost; they are never spiritual.  It is everywhere to be found; not only in America, also in Europe it is the same condition.

To be continued…

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