Hazrat Inayat : The Masters of Our Destiny pt IX

As Hazrat Inayat Khan concludes his teaching on this subject, he sums up the Sufi view of reincarnation, and shows how free will is in fact an expression of the Divine Will. The previous post in the series is here.

There seems to be a great dissimilarity between the ideas of Buddhism and those of Christianity about reincarnation. The reason is that the message of Jesus Christ was given to the children of Beni Israel, to those prepared to understand God as the King, as the Master of the Day of Judgment, as the One who is all justice and all power, while the message which Buddha gave was to the people of India, who were more metaphysical and scientific. The simple people of India had their gods and goddesses, and they were satisfied with their religion, but the intellectual class was not satisfied with the gods and goddesses alone and with a religion of devotion. They were scientific and logical. They had their own philosophies. Buddha’s mission therefore was to give the people of India an understanding beyond what religious devotion can teach. That is why he did not give the essential wisdom in the form of religion, but in the form of philosophy. The common belief was in reincarnation. And it was much easier for the Master not to attack that particular belief but to build on that belief a wonderful structure.

Some Buddhists today, whose insight is great, wonder why Buddha gave this theory, and why he did not give a reason for it. I was very much interested once in San Francisco where a Buddhist came to see me. He was a well-known preacher of Buddhism in Japan. There was another man present who had read many Buddhist books. I was eagerly waiting to hear what this Buddhist priest had to say, but he did not think it necessary to say anything. In order to make him speak I said I would so much like to know the Buddhist teaching about reincarnation. But the other man, the one who had read many books, said, ‘Reincarnation is the principal idea in the Buddhist religion. That one is born again and again. And that is what constitutes Karma.’ But I was eager to hear something from the priest! After the other had finished his explanation, I asked the Buddhist preacher if this was right. And in his simple way of speaking, he said, ‘What this gentleman has said is his belief.’ He said no more.

If one should ask if there is such a thing as reincarnation, the answer is both yes and no. Why? Because in both answers there is sense, and both answers are true. When you look at life as one life, then you do not look upon people as separate entities. Then you cannot say that this person has reincarnated as another. It is the One who is all, and each one is nothing. Either you look at life in that way or you look at life by seeing each person as a separate entity. Naturally, as everything has to go on being something, it must still exist after it is destroyed, it must have an existence in some form. But the destruction or death is only a change. Something cannot be nothing. If it is nothing to our eyes, it is because we do not see. Everything must exist in some form or other. Thus the theory of reincarnation teaches that there is nothing which will be nothing, that everything will be something, must be something.

The other conception is this: if the source is one, the goal is one, then all that we see is phenomena as long as we do not look deeply. When once we look deeply we shall no longer distinguish separate entities. Then we shall see one life, one Being. And then there is no reason to think about reincarnation. The thought of Buddha was the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ, only given to Hindus in another form. The religion of the Master was the same, whether he was called Buddha or Christ. The more we think of this subject the more we shall find that a preparation is made for man before he is born on earth; and it is that preparation which makes him able to live the life on earth.

What is this life on earth? Is this a life which is fixed and designed, or is there free will? Very often people do not understand the meaning of the term free will, and specially those who claim most to have free will have the least of it. They are so conscious of their free will and yet they do not know where it comes from. When they have an inclination to laugh or cry, to sit or move, they believe that it is because they want to do it. But they do not know where the thought came from. 

Do we not feel every day at some time an oppression, seemingly without reason, or a feeling of hilarity or of despair, or a desire for action and at other times a feeling of lethargy? We think that whatever comes into one’s mind is free will, but free will is quite different from that. We each have our free will. And that free will gives us the power to work to some extent within the activity of the whole, but both that which we decide and that which conditions create can all be summed up in the Will of God. We have our individual part to perform; and we must do what we feel is right.

How can there be free will, one might ask, if all is God? The power of water is different from the power of fire; the power of fire is different from the power of earth. So the action of each individual is different, although in the soul of each there is God. According to conditions and education, temperaments differ, yet God is in all.

There are many things one has to overcome before one sets forth upon the journey to higher realization, but at each step one takes towards the realization of truth one will feel more self confident. And the more one overcomes all doubts and the more one’s self-confidence grows, the greater will be one’s will; and the closer to truth one reaches, the more light one will see. And what is that light? It is the light of self-realization.

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