Hazrat Inayat: The Journey to the Goal pt I

Here we begin a long and very subtle text by Hazrat Inayat Khan about the awakening to perfection, which is often described as a journey to the goal, a journey from limitation to the unlimited.  Our concepts of time and space do not apply to this journey, however, and, an apparent paradox, the Whole is in the drop as well as in the ocean.  The text will be completed in further instalments.

The Journey to the Goal

Man has the tendency to expect in his spiritual journey experiences akin to those of the earth. If he had these, then only could he believe that he is journeying. But on this journey there is at each step less to be seen, until he arrives at the highest state where there is nothing before his sight–that is, neither before the eyes, the mind, the heart, nor before the soul. Although the faculty of seeing is there, there is no object to be seen. There is the consciousness alone, the pure intelligence, in its own essence.

‘Journey’ makes one think of a journey in time and space, like the journeys of our everyday life. This is a journey not in time or space, and yet in time and space. If we go to Brighton, it takes so many hours. If we go to Paris it takes so many more hours. If we make a journey to India, it takes such a long time. But this journey cannot be measured in the everyday time. It may take much more time; it may be done in a second. If a person sits here and closes his eyes, he may journey in thought a thousand miles. Yet he has not moved. This shows us that this journey has nothing to do with space.

We measure the time by ourselves. Because we are limited within a hundred years, we count a hundred years, and a thousand years, and we cannot easily count much more. We cannot count the great cycles. When we are sad or sorry, the time goes so slowly. One moment seems an hour, and an hour seems a whole year. And when we are happy or joyful, the days pass so quickly, that ten years are gone, and we do not know where they are. This shows us that there is no time. The journey may take very, very many years, and yet it has not been a long time, because it was not felt to be long.

All the space that we measure is from here to there, so many yards, so many miles. There is another space, within which this space is contained. The nature of this higher, or inner space is that its least little sparkle can contain all the sun, moon, and planets: the space upward and inward, the planes. This space has been produced from that. The higher planes have turned themselves from vibrations into space.

If I drop any object, it will fall down. If I pour water from a pitcher, it will fall down. The flame goes up, and the smoke goes up. If you have a chimney, you will see that the flame leaves behind whatever earth substance it has for the earth to take, and when the smoke has become quite pure from the earth, it goes up as ether, as the pure spirit. This shows us that the lower elements go down, and the higher elements go up. The higher planes are up, above. Christ is always depicted with his finger pointed upwards. Some have said, “Is Heaven then up in the sky?” The higher life, to which Christ points, is above. When you feel sad or sorry, you feel heavy, and drawn down to earth; then you feel depressed. When you feel a joy, you feel light–what sadness is there in illumination? This is why the Parsis have worshipped the fire, the sun, as the purest element, the symbol of God. It was worshipped until it was said, “Do not worship the sun, the symbol; worship man, in whom is God Himself.” But rather than worship men like themselves, men worshipped the elements, less than themselves, because there was not the jealousy of men.

How can these planes, which are greater, be contained in the space, which is less? Our eyes teach us a great lesson. These eyes, not an inch wide, can contain not only all the countries and seas, but also the universe, the sun, the stars. Man, who is so small in one respect, and so limited in another aspect, is so great that he is himself the whole.

In one way we are so poor; poor is small, smaller than a tree, smaller than the big animals even, than an elephant, a camel, a horse, so poor in every way, a drop of water in the sea, a thing not to be counted, and, in another, so vast, that we are ourselves the whole.

There is a poem of my Murshid, where he says:
I, the poor, have such a strength,
That if the eyes had eyes,
They could not see the rapidity of my steps,
If the eyes had their utmost power,
they could not see the rapidity of my paces.
This is the strength of the strong.

Khwaja Nizamuddin Chishti says: “The boat in the sea, and the sea in the boat–oh, what fun, that the sea is in the boat.”  He expresses this philosophy, that man, the boat, is borne up by the whole, the sea, and the whole, the water, is borne up by man, the boat.

To be continued…

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