With this post Hazrat Inayat Khan continues his teaching about the freedom of the soul, emphasising the constant longing we feel for freedom, and the inevitable transience of the world around us. The first post in the series may be found here.
Everyone wakes in the morning as if he were expecting something. Everyone goes to bed with the thought, “Perhaps tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, I shall obtain my heart’s desire’. With some, the desire is for a position, or a friend; with others, it is a hope. Everyone is looking out as if waiting for that something to come.
There is a familiar saying, ‘Wait till my ship comes home’. Every soul is waiting for his ship to come, not knowing what that ship will bring, or what sort of ship it is. Still, every soul is looking for ‘my ship’; every soul is unconsciously waiting for the coming of ‘my ship’. One person thinks it is the prospering of trade, another thinks of business, another thinks it is the coming of power or position, but everyone believes the ship will come!
The ship is different according to whether it is pictured by the mind or the body or the soul. The ship of the soul is its freedom. Indeed, freedom is the real object in all aspects of life; if the desire is for wealth, that is nothing but a desire for freedom from poverty; if the desire is for power, that is nothing but a desire for freedom to act as one wishes; the ideal of every soul is freedom – freedom to work, freedom to act, freedom to think, freedom in every direction.
Not knowing that this is the heart’s real desire, from the first day of his creation till today, man has always neglected the true freedom, because of his pursuit of freedom in the external life. That has been his mistake. In spite of the little freedom he has thus gained, he finds himself captive still; he has still failed to gain that complete joy and peace which his soul longs for.
Freedom for the body would be the freedom of walking in gardens, of moving about wherever it wished. But that would not be freedom for the mind. The mind would still be captive. Suppose the mind has freedom – freedom of thought, of understanding, of imagination, of actions – even then the soul would still be captive. But if the soul is free, the mind is free, and the body also is free.
How do we attain to this freedom? In the Sanskrit language there is very expressive word for freedom: taran, which means ‘liberation’, ‘swimming’, or ‘floating’. And it is such a beautiful idea that both these things, swimming and liberation, are alike in their nature.
How true it is, as the Eastern poets have always said, ‘Life is a bhavasagara, an ocean into which all things are drawn, fall and are absorbed’. It sweeps away all the plants and trees, animals and birds, and all that lie in the path of the flood; all are borne away into the ocean. Such is the force and power of the ocean. Similarly, this life sweeps away all the trees and plants, animals and men. Everything that we see is here only for the moment, and then is swept away. There is always a certain period, after which the things that seemed so enduring have all disappeared. Our ancestors, if they came back, would not recognize the country, the houses, the trees, the manners; everything would be different. All that was familiar to them has been swept away. That is the story of this life. That is why it is called maya, the illusion created before us, like a dream in the night. In the morning, it has all gone. All the happiness, unhappiness, pleasures, horrors, whatever we experience in the night, we perceive in the morning to have been a dream.
The whole of creation, when we come to think of it, is not in the end what we have thought it was: manners, customs, faces, everything changed. That is the condition of life. It is just like the sea. The tide comes, and it sweeps all before it, flowers, fruit, and all. Therefore life is pictured by the thinkers of the East as an ocean into which everything is swept.
To be continued…