Hazrat Inayat Khan often spoke about the need for a Divine ideal. Here he discusses in more detail how the ideal can lead and inspire the mystic, or the person who seeks to directly experience reality.
An adept on the path of spiritual attainment needs an ideal to keep before him. And people often wonder when they see that a mystic who is on the esoteric path appears to have the same kind of ideal that an orthodox person has in his religious life; but although the mystic may perhaps have the religious ideal of a Lord and Savior just like many others, yet the way he looks upon that ideal is different from the way of the world. His spiritual ideal is not a personality from a story or legend. His ideal is the Rasul, by whatever name people may know him. And who is the Rasul? The Rasul is the soul through which God Himself has attained that which is the purpose of creation. In other words, the Rasul is the one who represents God’s perfection through human limitation. The historical man, the man of a tradition, is the Rasul of his followers, but the adept recognizes that Rasul who is behind the picture which history or tradition makes of him.
When people argue after reading the life of one Rasul whom they consider their own, or of the Rasul of other people, the adept is not interested in this dispute, for to him it is like two artists who have made a portrait of the same person and argue, saying, ‘Your conception is wrong. My conception is right,’ or ‘My picture is better than yours,’ whereas an adept looks at the picture and says, ‘It is his conception.’ One artist may have painted Dante in one form, another paints him in a different way, but if there is a dispute about which is the real portrait of Dante, the one who has understanding will say that each is a different conception. Perhaps one appeals to one person, while another appeals to another person.
Thus the adept makes a garland of the names by which different people have called their Rasul and offers this garland to his own ideal. He says, ‘If there was any Buddha, it is you. If there was any Christ,, it is you. If there was any Muhammad, it is you. In you I see him. If Moses came with a message, it was you who came. I see you in Solomon, and in the wonders of Krishna as well as in the splendor of Shiva, I see you.’ Whereas others argue about the different names of the great ones and about the different conceptions that people have of them, he does not limit his ideal. He makes his ideal the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.
A mystic can only be called a mystic when he has arrived at the stage where his ideal is larger than that which can be covered by a name. He may give any name to his ideal, but if he covers his ideal with a name he has certainly not yet arrived at the mystic stage. All the beautiful forms that exist are forms of this ideal. All the good qualities that one finds in man he gives to his ideal and also all the different ways of expressing one’s respect and devotion that he sees in the world. And in this way, as he progresses through life, he makes his ideal better and better, greater and greater, higher and higher, till the ideal is perfect. If there seems to be a limitation in his ideal, he thinks that it is his own limitation, that it is he who cannot conceive his ideal better. It is just like an artist who tries to make a statue of his beloved ideal as beautiful, as fine as he can, and at the same time he realizes that all that is lacking in it and all that remains to be done, or all the faults that it may seem to have, are his own faults, while his ideal is perfect. This is a stepping stone for the mystic to come closer to God’s shrine; by this he attains more quickly to a higher degree of perfection, for it is through love and devotion alone that man can forget himself.
To be continued…