As he continues his theme, begun here, Hazrat Inayat Khan takes us into subtle, seemingly paradoxical realms, where ‘God is in the ideal of God.’ In this portion he concludes his lecture and begins to take questions; the remainder of the questions and answers will follow in another post.
A material person says, “Show me something more valuable than gold, more precious than diamonds, something that I can weigh and measure, then I will say, that is God.” He understands the brightness of the diamonds, the value of the gold. But the gold has only the value that we give it. In itself it has no more value than the iron – we can make more things of iron. But we like it, we like its color, it has a radiance. It is the same with all things. The prophets, the illuminated souls have not come with their merits from there. Their value is made here. The same person may be admired, liked by one person, and not liked at all by another. The first likes him and so he sees his merits; the other, because he does not like him, sees his faults.
When Christ was in his own country, the people would not listen to his words; he had to go to another country to be valued. When Muhammad was away from his country, the people followed him on the pilgrimage, ready to lay down their lives for him. In his own country, they would not even let him speak. God is in the ideal of God, the ideal we have of what is most perfect. He cannot be called by any name – names are to distinguish one thing from another, one person from another. The whole cannot be distinguished from anything. God in the infinite state does not know that He is God. The elephant does not know that he is an elephant. It is the miniature elephant who knows. It is man who realizes that he is not this miniature man, but that there is one Being.
You will ask, “When we have recognized that the self is all, whom should we praise, admire, worship, and love? To praise, worship, admire, and love brings the idea of another. We cannot worship our self, praise our self, admire our self.” I will say that you are born with a tendency to worship. There is someone whom you admire, someone before whom you bow, someone of whom you ask help. If we want someone to do something for us, we bow before him. If we want his money, his favor, we bow before him. The beauties that are beautiful for one day, and tomorrow the beauty may be gone, we admire. Why should we then not admire, why should we not love and worship that Being Who is sufficient to supply all our needs, Whose beauty never changes, and Whose beauty is all that there is?
Man is born with the wish to praise and I will say that it is by praise that man has made God. When children admire their parents, it is not usually because their parents teach them to, it is their wish to praise. They admire their parents’ face, their ways, their goodness, their love and kindness. Then comes the thought that the parents take care of them. It is man alone who praises. When the rocks were made, they did not praise. When the trees and birds and animals were made, they could praise much less than man can. Therefore man was made Ashraf al Makhlaqat, the chief of creation. And if he forgets his place as Ashraf al Makhlaqat, it is man’s fault.
This was exaggerated by the religions. They made man praise, worship and adore. Often, by misunderstanding the praise of God, a mistake has been make. People have praised God, and disliked the world, not understanding that the world is God’s face. That Invisible Being can show no sign or mark for your praise. His perfection is shown in manifestation. Therefore, it is best to praise whatever in the world is most worthy of praise. This was taught in different ways in the different stages of the world’s evolution. But in the time of Muhammad, who was the seal of prophecy, it was taught that all praise belongs to God. They said, “Al-hamdulillah ar-rahman ar-rahim. All praise to God, the most merciful and compassionate.”
Q. Shall I see God after my death?
A. You may see Mr. Asquith* a thousand times in the park, driving in a motorcar, but if you do not know him and cannot recognize him, if you are asked, “Have you seen Mr. Asquith?” you will say, “No.” God’s faces are everywhere. There is nothing on the earth, in the sky, in the sea, where He is not seen; but if we do not recognize Him we do not know that we see Him. A great Indian poet, Amir, says, “O eyes, that are longing to see the Beloved, why do you complain of His absence?” This means, the Beloved is before you, He has not run away, but your eyes must recognize Him. The Quran says, “Who is blind in life is blind after death.” This is the time to see God. This physical existence was made that man might recognize God. This life is the most important time, and the only chance of seeing God.
*Henry Asquith, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916.
To be continued…