Continuing with his explanation of the aim of life, Hazrat Inayat Khan now points out that each person has his own puzzle to solve, in accordance with his own temperament, and we must not fall into the error of judging whether another person has gone astray. Characteristic of his broad view, he uses Sanskrit terms from Hindu philosophy to describe four general ways in which people seek the goal. The previous post of the series may be found here.
Life itself directs man towards its aim, and it is man’s fault when he cannot realize his life’s aim. It is a confusion that arises on the awakening of the soul after man is born on this earth, by seeing the world of variety. He becomes puzzled, and cannot make up his mind towards a particular direction with certainty, thinking that that is the right path for his journey. Therefore from youth to age, very often, man keeps in this puzzle. He sometimes thinks that the spiritual path is his path, sometimes that the commercial path is his path, sometimes the political – sometimes one, sometimes another. But at the same time, this is not the fault of life or of that guiding spirit which is constantly guiding. In reality, in the cradle and as an infant man begins to be shown his path in life; the way is shown in childhood. Confusion arises as man grows up, by his becoming attracted by various things in life, and then he does not know what is what, what is right, what wrong.
No doubt the first impression the world gives is the impression of falsehood. The child opens his eyes in truthfulness, and the first impression is that of falsehood. That confuses him, and he begins to take the course of denying even what is right, and is against every religious truth. This is the revolt not of one person but of thousands and millions. The child denies, because the first impression is that of falsehood. He grows up in it, and does not know what is right and what wrong, and sometimes this confusion lasts till the end of life.
On this subject, of distinguishing what is the object of a person’s life, Sadi has a very instructive verse: “Every soul that comes on earth comes with a light already kindled in him for his work on earth”, and if he does not know it, it is the fault of the world that surrounds him, not the fault of nature and the spirit.
If you inquire into the greatest and worst tragedy in life, you will find there is no greater tragedy than this. All the happiness, all the wealth, all that this world can give, is all nothing. The soul is constantly striving to find its way, and when the soul finds its way closed, all that the world can offer is nothing. All this gives us an illusion: power, possession – we think that the person possessing these is blessed. But nothing the world can offer can suffice. What really suffices is the blessing of Heaven, that light by which man begins to see his path in life.
Before we judge the attitude of another person, we must stop and think what right we have to judge whether he is going the right way or a wrong way. We can only judge ourselves as to whether we are going a right way or a wrong way, when we can see our own way before us. As Jesus Christ has said, “Judge not.” According to the ideas of the Hindus there are four seeming objects toward which man generally feels attracted, feeling that this is his way: Dharm, Ardh, Karm, Moksha.
1) Dharm, duty. A person sometimes gives his whole life and all he has for someone he loves, a brother, a sister, mother, father, son or daughter, a prophet, teacher, inspirer, someone towards whom he considers he has a duty. For the nation, in war, he gives his life; that he considers his virtue. Perhaps the same way may be a right, desirable, good and virtuous path for one, for another the same path is wrong. But has anyone the right to call the path of another wrong? However evolved a man may be, has he the right to judge the way of another? He cannot have the right to do so, for everyone has to solve his own puzzle in life.
2) Ardh, earth, all that the earth can offer, wealth, possessions, position or power, all that the world can give; a person works for it, strives for it. He thinks, “This is the wide way, the practical way, the other does not know the wise way, the right way!” And if we can see the other side, the greatest charities come from those who have worked in this way and then given. How can one judge and say that is not the right way? Perhaps that way, by which one has risen to that position or wealth from which he commands for the generality of humanity, cannot be called wrong.
3) The way of happiness, comfort, pleasure. A person who seeks after happiness, pleasure, comfort, very often thinks of others, for such a one at least understands about others’ wants. One who is sleeping in the forest on stones does not know what the world wants, but that person who seeks for happiness can share his happiness with others. A person who is torturing himself cannot share happiness with others, because he is torturing himself. If we can see from this point of view, tolerance and forgiveness will arise in us towards all.
4) That to which all religious, pious people advance, Moksha. They strive for some reward, some happiness in a future life. They think, “If the life in this world is discouraging, if our devotion, our service cannot be of use here, in the hereafter there will be a reward.” To whatever religion, to whatever faith they belong, so long as they are keeping to their path, no doubt they are accomplishing something, perhaps more than the person who is awaiting a reward tomorrow. Think of the patience they have and the good deeds they do. And while a person who does good and expects a reward here may leave the good path, on the contrary he who expects a reward hereafter keeps on his path.
The words of Christ, “Judge not,” come to help us in probing the depth of this problem. The more insight we have, the more we see that the paths are according to temperaments. One goes on one path, one on another, but all are going towards one goal. The goal is not different, the path is different. And those disputes and fights between people of different religions, each saying, “My path is right,” how can that be right, how can that be the idea of Christ? As soon as we have judged a person, we have broken not only the teaching, but the life of Christ. He not only taught, he lived it. People with all different kinds of faults were brought to him, to all he showed tolerance and forgiveness. He said, “Call me not good.”
To be continued…