With this post Hazrat Inayat Khan continues his teaching about the attainment of truth, and concludes that it is not necessary to withdraw to the wilderness if we can discriminate between the true coin and the counterfeit. The previous post in the series can be found here.
Lack of reality and lack of truth cause one to wander away from truth all the time, but at the same time there is a great desire to understand and learn truth. But though prompted by that desire, when the person comes to search for truth, he seeks to find it in complexity of things, things which he cannot understand. The simple words of such great teachers as Christ and Buddha are too simple for many, who say, “This is only something we have always heard in churches, something which the old people have always said.” He thinks it is not new, and he can only give his mind to something that is new and complex, something that he cannot understand. So he gropes on into darkness, into one subtlety after another.
It is like going into a maze. Children enjoy going to a place where they cannot find their way, for they know they are safe with their parents all the time. So, too, the soul that is not mature continues to seek after complexities, and is not satisfied with the ultimate truth. If one were to describe the truth in simple words, such persons would reply, “That is too simple,” “We know that,” “We know it already.” But though the real knowledge of truth is already within every person, everyone is not conscious of knowing it. If he is made conscious of it now, one is after all only making him conscious of something which is already there; that is why he does not think that what he hears is something new. It is true. It was there already all the time. True spiritual teaching does not consist in imparting something to another, but in awakening a sense within him which requires to be awakened. No spiritual teacher imparts new knowledge to his pupil unless he wants him to play with a puzzle. Parents often make a great game for their children by perplexing them with puzzles.
When a person really wants to find the way, it is not very far from him. Whether it is far or not depends on the sincerity of the desire to find it. What is necessary for finding it is not much reading or discussion or argument, but a practical study of self. One questions one’s own self: ‘What am I? Am I a material body, or a mind, or something behind a mind? Am I myself or my coat? Is this object “me,” or something different? Is this body my cover, or myself?’
Truth can be attained by reflecting thus: ‘For what am I toiling from morning till evening? What is the purpose of my life – to work for wealth, or for honor, or for position? If that is my life, how shall I be able to hold it? Shall I part from what I have gathered together? If that is so, then it does not belong to me; so it is not really my own property. That which can be snatched from my hand is not really my property, and therefore I must seek something – in myself, perhaps – which can be depended on, and is also valuable.’
Once a person realizes the falsehood of things, he will cease to consider them important; their color fades, and their real values appear. It is just like a child going into a theater and seeing a palace on the stage. He thinks, “How beautiful; I would like to live there in that palace.” But take him in the daytime, and let him see it was really only a painted curtain, and not a palace at all – then he will lose the value he attached to that scene. So it is with all things. Everything we value, all we long for and toil for, from morning till evening, all these things so often cause us to lose sight of honesty and truth. We are very often placed in positions in which honesty and truth are lost, where one person plots against another, and where there is reciprocity in falsehood. One’s whole life becomes folded up and covered in by falsehood. The soul must be unfolded so that reality can come to view.
This does not mean that we are obliged to give up everything that seems false and everything that seems real. That would be impossible. We cannot live in the world and overlook its need and all that is necessary for life. We must work for such things. But at the same time we must have a realization of the true and the false, we must discriminate between what is our soul’s need and what our body’s need, what our soul seeks for and what will always stay with us, and what will leave us. It is a matter of discriminating between the true coin and its counterfeit. It is not a matter of retiring away from the world and “going to live in a forest.”
To be continued…