In the prayer Khatum we say, ‘Open our hearts, that we may hear Thy voice, which constantly cometh from within.’ With this post we begin a short series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the subject of that inner voice, and how we can learn to hear it more clearly.
Beloved ones of God, my subject of this evening is the Inner Voice.
In this age, the science of instinct is an admitted fact. Material man today admits that the animals choose their food, and what they must not eat they leave. Also he admits the fact that the birds, without being taught, fly; the fish, without being taught, swim; and the sparrows, without being taught, make their nests. But in spite of admitting this, he is ready to deny the source from which this instinct comes. It is the same source from which intuition comes, inspiration, and the revelation of other kinds of things – the same source from which instinct has come.
This shows to a mystic that God is the teacher of the whole creation, even of the lower creation. But to a man God teaches more, man being the finest of all creation. Besides, man is more capable to learn, and therefore he is taught more. In the East, religion says that God has made man as His representative in the whole creation. What does it mean? It does not mean that man represents heaven or something Divine, but it means that man is the miniature of God. That man is capable of showing the perfection of His wisdom can be seen in the example of Christ. If that perfection were not possible for man, it would not have been written in the Bible, “Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Someone may ask, “What is the reason that the warning of certain happenings is given by horses, by dogs and cats in the house, and man remains ignorant?” Many who have some experience with animals, who understand the signs of the animals, will without difficulty admit the fact that especially such happenings as a great illness or death are known by the animals in the house: they give man warning. Besides, there are several birds that give warnings of great happenings. No doubt the experience of these things has become more rare because man is living crowded in a city. He is in less contact with the Divine, and his life is artificial; he does not know, does not notice these things.
The reason why man does not know is not that he is incapable of knowing; it is only that he has so many things on his mind. He has lost his reason, his power of concentration, his power of stilling the mind, and in that respect he becomes worse than the horses, dogs, and cats. No doubt, as it is human nature, he is the most active among all the creatures, and this activity is the right thing for him if he could keep it under control. Instead of that, life is made artificial, and every day it becomes increasingly artificial. A man has not remained a man, he has become a machine. His thought, his mind is constantly working, and for what? For nothing. Think of the feeling that one gets in the large cities today – the trams running and the busses, the motorcars running over one another. Under the ground there are vibrations going on, and on the earth there are automobiles running. And now, since the war has taken place, now even the sky is not free for us to breathe the pure air; there are also aeroplanes you see every day. If you go near the water there are steaming ships making noise; if you go into the country you have the noise of the factory from morning till evening; and in the town there are machines.
Impressed by all these things, if you ask a man, if you say to him something about the inner voice, about spiritual ideas, he will answer, “What is it? I don’t understand.” It is only necessary to hear the voice which is within; it is not necessary to study something. What is necessary is to become like nature. But man has become artificial, and he must become natural in order to hear the voice within. But the unfortunate thing is that this artificial life has become necessary to man, and when they tell him about natural life, spiritual life, God-ideal, natural thought, he thinks it is something against his nature; he says, “I can’t bear it.”
When an illness becomes spread all over, it becomes common, it becomes the standard of health. Therefore, today’s illness of humanity is materialism, and that materialism has become natural. In order to find an example in support of this argument you need not look for a saint or saints. You can see this in a fairly good person, a righteous person of tranquil mind and good intentions, sympathetic. You can see this in his life. The first thing that a sympathetic heart with a clear conscience perceives is an impression: every person he meets during the day, he feels not only what that person says but what is behind it. This can increase. When a person comes into a certain room he feels the atmosphere in the house, of the people, of the family. He feels in his heart whether his friend’s enterprise will be a success or a failure, distinctly or indistinctly. He feels what is happening.
That person feels the pleasure, the displeasure of his fellow men without having spoken, that person can understand. If there is a smile outwardly and a cry inside, he hears it; and that person understands if there are tears outside and inside there is nothing. You may ask, “Is that faculty to be cultivated, and if it is to be cultivated in what manner?” I will answer, “Yes. A sympathetic person who has taken a spiritual path will naturally progress and that faculty will develop. But what is most necessary before wanting to develop that faculty is that one’s life has become true. It is sincerity, trueness, good living, a quieter thought, which prepare man for the voice which is within. But with all this goodness, not every person is spiritually inclined, not every person concentrates his mind towards that ideal which is necessary; he will still be, so to speak, blocked, not open to receive and hear the voice.”
To be continued…