With this post we begin a series of teachings on the aim or purpose of life given by Hazrat Inayat Khan to a circle of his mureeds. A close reading may show a more lively and individual tone to his words than is found in his public lectures.
This is the question that everyone asks, as soon as the intelligence develops: “Why am I here? What is the object of my life?”
Every being has a different idea of what is the aim of life. Some think that the aim of life is to be virtuous, and by the practice of virtue to be happy. But then, what is virtue? That which may seem to us very virtuous may not seem virtuous to others. What in one case is virtue, in another case may be sin. What seems outwardly very virtuous, inwardly may be very different.
If someone is sitting with a rosary on the steps of a sanctuary, the world will say, “He is very virtuous.” If another is walking in the slums, or sitting in the cafes, he may be inwardly very virtuous, but from the mere fact of his walking in the slums, the world will never say that he is virtuous. There are the lovers of God, and there are the sellers of God. If there is one with a rosary and a long beard, sitting in the shrine, all the world will go to him, a holy being. He makes a show, a trade, of his piety. And there are the lovers of God. They do not make any profession of love of God. “Inwardly be a friend, and outwardly it does not matter.” This manner is little found in the world. We see that the lovers in the beginning of their love, hide their love. She does not take his name before others; he does not take her name before others. How much more will he who begins to love God hide his love from others. He does not speak the name of God.
Some think that the aim of life is power. But we see that some desire power and others do not at all desire it. It is impossible that the aim of God, of Life, should be that which is not desired by some. And if power were the aim of life, the most powerful should be always happy. The tiger, the lion are the most powerful animals. If we go in the jungle where the tigers are, we see that the tiger is always restless, always moving up and down. His power is so great that it leaves him no rest. If we go amongst the lambs, who are weak, innocent, helpless, we see that the lambs are playing. One lamb never wants to fight with another. If you frighten it, it hangs its head, it hides itself. If you feed it, it comes at once and eats, it trusts you. When it sleeps, it sleeps quietly. In the jungle where the tiger and the lion are, all night long there is roaring. The tiger will not let another tiger be near him. If another tiger comes, they will fight until one is killed and one is left. By day, if you go near them, you will see that the breath is always coming and going quickly. The breath that makes others quiet and calm, gives him no rest. He has no peace, no calm, no rest. Go to the tigers’ cage and see. If power were the aim of life, the most powerful nations should be the happiest. Is this so?
Some think that pleasure is the aim of life, to eat, drink, and make merry, for tomorrow we die. This is every person’s idea when he finished his school education. “Let us be gay and merry, for tomorrow we may be dead.” But he can never be satisfied. If today we go to a cafe, tomorrow we want to go to a much grander restaurant. If today we go in the bus, tomorrow we want a motorcar of our own. We want all the theaters, all the restaurants, to amuse ourselves in. And who has the health for all this enjoyment, or his pocket always full? The kings, the rich people, fail. How short a time the pleasure lasts. It is not possible that something so short, so imperfect, should be the aim of God.
To be continued…