Speaking now of the attainment of the inner life, Hazrat Inayat describes the need for the mastery of the mind, including clearing away all unwanted impressions, and the guidance of a teacher. The previous post in the series is here.
In the attainment of the inner life there are five things necessary. The first thing that is necessary is the mastery of mind; and this is done by unlearning all that one has learned. The inner knowledge is not gained by adding to the knowledge one has already achieved in life, for it requires a rock foundation. One cannot build a house of rocks on a foundation of sand. In order to make the foundation on rocks, one has to dig into the sand and build the foundation on the rocks below. Very often therefore it becomes difficult for an intellectual person, who through life has learned things and understood them by the power of intellect, to attain to the inner life, for these two paths are different: the one goes to the north and the other goes to the south. When a person says, ‘I have now walked so many miles to the south, shall I therefore reach sooner something that exists in the north?’ He must know that he will not reach it sooner, but later, because as many hours as he has walked to the south he must walk back in order to reach the north.
Therefore, it must be understood that all man learns and experiences in this life, in the world, all that he calls learning or knowledge, is only used in the world where he is learning, and bears the same relation to himself as the eggshell does to the chick. But when he takes the path to the inner life, that learning and knowledge are of no use to him. The more he is capable of forgetting that knowledge, of unlearning it, the more capable he is of attaining the object for which he treads the spiritual path. It has been a great struggle for those learned and experienced in the outer life, to think that after their great advancement in worldly knowledge they have to go back again. Often they cannot understand; many among them think it is strange, and are therefore disappointed. It is like learning the language of a certain country, when wanting to go into another country where that language is not understood, nor the language of the latter country understood by oneself. Just as there is the North Pole and the South Pole, so there is the outward and the inward life. The difference is still vaster, because the gap between the inner life and the outer life is vaster than the distance between the North Pole and South Pole. The one who advances to the south is not getting nearer to the north pole, but on the contrary he is going further from it; in order to reach it he must turn right round. However, it is not difficult for the soul that is an earnest traveler on the path. It is only using the enthusiasm in the opposite direction, to turn the enthusiasm one has for learning something of the world into forgetting and unlearning it, in order to learn something of the inner life.
Now the question is, how does one unlearn? Learning is forming a knot in the mind. Whatever one learns from experience or from a person, one makes a knot of it in the mind; and there are as many knots found as there are things one has learned. Unlearning is unraveling the knot; and it is as hard to unlearn as it is to untie a knot. How much effort it requires, how much patience it requires, to unravel when one has made a knot and pulled it tight from both sides! So it requires patience and effort to unravel the knots in the mind. And what helps the process? The light of reason working with full power unravels the mental knots. A knot is a limited reason. When one unravels it, its limitation is taken away, it is open. And when the mind becomes smooth by unlearning and by digging out all impressions – of good and bad, of right and wrong – then the ground of the heart becomes as cultivated ground, just as the land does after plowing. All the old stumps and roots and pebbles and rocks are taken off, and it is made into ground which is now ready for the sowing of the seed. But if there are rocks and stones and bricks still scattered there, and still some of the old roots lying there, then it is difficult for the seed to be sown; the ground is not in the condition the farmer wishes it to be.
The next thing in the attainment of the inner life is to seek a spiritual guide, someone whom a man can absolutely trust and have every confidence in; someone to who he can look up, and with whom he is in sympathy, which would culminate in what is called devotion. And if once he has found someone in life whom he considers his Guru, his Murshid, his guide, then to give to him all confidence, so that not a thing is kept back. If there is something kept back, then what is given might just as well be taken away, because everything must be done fully, either have confidence or not have confidence, either have trust or no trust. On this path of perfection all things must be done fully.
Now there are the particular ways of the guide, which depend upon his temperament and upon his discrimination in finding for everyone who is being guided a special way. He may lead them to their destination by the royal road, or through the streets and lanes; down to the sea or through the town, by land or by water – the way that to him seems the best under certain circumstances.
To be continued …