Hazrat Inayat: The Demands of the True Self

This article was printed in the ‘Sufi’ magazine in May 1917 – a hundred years ago!  It was presented as ‘Words of Pir-o-Murshid by Mary Williams,’  which probably means that Miss Williams, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s first mureed in England, was responsible for transcribing and editing the text, but the ideas are clearly those of Hazrat Inayat. Miss Williams was also responsible for the Sufi Publishing Society, which  first published “Pearls from the Ocean Unseen,” now included in “Spiritual Liberty,” volume V of the Message series.  The term ‘moral hallucination,’ found near the end of the second paragraph, refers to a way of describing psychological abnormalities that was current in the 19th century, and roughly corresponds to the present term, ‘personality disorder.’

Every soul at times asks itself, “Why am I here?”  This question arises in accordance with the development of one’s intelligence. A man may say, “I am here to eat, drink and to make merry,” but this even the animals do; therefore, what more has he accomplished by being human?  Another might affirm that the attainment of power and position is important, but he must know that both of these are transitory. Power of any kind has its rise as well as its fall. All things we possess are taken from others, and others in their turn await with outstretched hands to seize them.

A man may say, “We are here to gain honour.” In this case someone has to  be humbled in order to give him the honour he seeks, but he in his turn may have to be humbled by a still more ardent honour-seeking personality. We may think that being loved is all important, but we should know that the beauty in ourselves which makes another love us is transient. Furthermore the beauty we possess may pale in comparison with the beauty of another. When we seek the love of another we are not only dependent upon their love, but are ourselves void of love. If we think that it is desirable to love someone who deserves our love, we are mistaken, for we are always liable to be disappointed in the object of our love, who may perhaps never prove to be our ideal, not worth the price of our love on examination.  One is led to suppose and believe that virtue is the only thing that matters in life, but it will be found that the greater number of patients of moral hallucination are to be met with among the self-righteous.

Then the only purpose of our life here on earth, if there be any, is the successful attainment of life’s demands. It may seem strange at first sight that all which life demands should be allowable and worthwhile attaining, but on a closer study of life we see that the demands of our external self are the only ones we know, and we are ignorant of the demands of the true self, our inner life. For instance, we know that we want good food and nice clothes, comfort of living and every convenience for moving about, honour, possessions and all necessary means for the satisfaction of our vanity, all of which for the moment appear to us as our life’s only demands, but neither they nor their joy reman with us constantly. We then come to think that what we had was but a little and that perhaps more would satisfy us, and still more would suffice our need, but this is not so. Even if the whole universe were within our grasp it would be impossible to fully satisfy our life’s demands. This shows that our true life has quite different demands from those of which we know. It does not want the joy experienced by this individual self only, it desires joy from all around. It does not wish for a momentary peace, but for one that is everlasting. It does not desire to love a beloved held in the arms of mortality. It needs a beloved to be always before it. It does not want to be loved only for today and perhaps not tomorrow. It wishes to float in the ocean of love.

It is therefore that the Sufi seeks God as his love, lover and beloved, his treasure, his possession, his honour, his joy, his peace, and this attainment alone suffices, in its perfection, all demands of life for the here and the hereafter.

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