In the previous post of this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan began to take questions, and here he concludes the session, giving his listeners the challenging advice to learn to see God in all – in what we like and in what we do not like.
Q. How can we keep our thought on God only, and away from earthly things, when God manifests to our eyes through earthly forms?
A. Shams-i-Tabriz says, “Make clear your path of another, if you desire that I should walk there.” The Quran says, “Say, Allah, Allah, and Allah thou wilt be. Again I promise thee, for Allah, that Allah thou wilt be.” Again Shams-i-Tabriz says, “Make clear thy path of another, if thou desirest to see Me. Cast not thy glance on another, if thou wishest to see Me.” This means, do not recognize anyone as other than God, if you would see God.
This is a very difficult, a very subtle thing. You will say, “Is God jealous, that He cannot walk where another goes?” Who is another if all is God? It means, do not let your recognizing power [i.e. power of recognition] recognize anyone as another. See God in all, in everybody with whom you come in contact. If we welcome the person whom we like and say to the one whom we do not like, “You are not pleasing to me,” we do not see God in the first one, we see what is pleasing to us; and we do not see God in the other, we see what is unpleasing to us.
I was once in the presence of a very great saint and mystic. He was a classmate of my murshid. He did many miracles and he was much revered for his great love of humanity, and he advised everybody. Someone came and said to him, “Please tell me the way to concentrate my mind. When I am in my meditation a thousand thoughts come.” He said, “What thoughts, my brother?” The man said, “I have so many things to do. There is my house, my business, my office. All these thoughts come when I wish to think of God.” The mystic said, “You cannot give an hour to God, as if that were a business, and give the rest to your office.”
When we are in meditation, if the thought of a horse comes, or if the thought of a motorcar comes, or if the thought comes of two persons quarrelling, we must see that thought as the manifestation of God. When a person is in meditation, he at once expects to see a phenomenon. The world of phenomena is much further away from us. It is of much less use than this world. It is here that we have to live. It is here that we should see God. If we go into our room, and hold out our hands and say, “O God, all my veneration, all my devotion, all my worship is to Thee. I do not know where Thou art or who Thou art, but all my love and worship is to Thee,” it serves a little, because it produces the melting of the heart, but it does not serve much.
If, when we see something done that we dislike, that seems to us bad, we hang down our head and say, “O God, this is Thy manifestation, and I venerate and worship Thee, and I should like to turn away from me all the bad thoughts that arise in me;” if, when we see some person who seems to us wicked, we hang down our head and say, “O God, this is from Thee. There is no other than Thee from Whom this can be manifested. I recognize Thy manifestation in this;” if we can see the presence of God, not only where we like to be but also where we do not like to be, then we shall see God in all, without distinguishing friend or enemy, good or bad.
Q. Why should we recall to our mind the thought of God?
A. This is a question very natural to ask an Indian, because in India, many times a day, in the Namaz, and also in speech, they repeat the name of God. They say the Namaz so many times a day. If you play or sing, and they show their appreciation, they say, “Subhan Allah, God is pure, beautiful.” They say, “Al-hamdulillah, praise be to God.” “Allahu akbar, God is great.” They say, “Insha’allah: If God pleases.” “A’udu billah, I take refuge in God.” “Bismillah, In the name of God.” It is very necessary to call to mind the thought of God, because all day long everything and everybody reminds us of ourselves, nothing in all the day reminds us of God. Everything makes us think that we have a separate existence, that there is something substantial in us.
A king had a slave called Ayaz, whom he held in high esteem and made him treasurer. The courtiers who were envious of Ayaz and jealous, thinking that one who had been a slave should have risen so high, told the king that every day Ayaz goes to the treasury at a certain time, and spends some time there alone and that that could be for no good. The king had a hole made in the wall, and he stood and looked through the hole. He saw Ayaz, in the treasury, go to the cupboard, and take out something from there. He held it up, and the king saw that it was his slave’s dress. Ayaz pressed it to his eyes and to his forehead, and said: “O Ayaz, remember that you were a slave and in this dress, and from this the King raised you. Remember, if you should use your power to harm another, to trouble another, to be tyrannical to another, that you yourself were a slave and helpless.” When the king heard this, he was very much touched. He made Ayaz minister.
This is an example to us, to remember that we at first had nothing. We were only the consciousness. Later on there are so many things that we call ours: our name, our power, our possessions, our friends. Nothing is ours. All has been clothed upon the consciousness from the external world. We, as an infant, were helpless, and since then all our needs have been supplied by His nature. And as soon as we began to know and recognize things, we called that ‘ours’ which in fact did not belong to us, and loaded ourselves with responsibilities and needs of life, forgetting ungratefully the favors of the Creator. Blessed among us is he who, like Ayaz, remembers his helpless state and then the gifts of God. For this he is promoted to a higher place.
In what manner prayer be offered matters little if only the sentiment be right. The orthodox world has fought with each other, each claiming that, “Our manner of prayer is the best. Our church is the best. Our temple is the best. Our sermon is the best. The others are astray,” not knowing that in the house of God it is not asked, “To which church do you belong? To which temple do you belong?” but it is asked, “How sincere were you in your prayer?”
God bless you.