Hazrat Inayat : The Masters of our Destiny pt VI

Hazrat Inayat Khan continues the thread of his thought by now considering the merits of fate and free will. The previous post in the series is here.

There are two opposite opinions existing in the world: one belongs to those who are called fatalists, those who believe in fate, and the other is the opinion of those who believe in free will. And if we look at life from both these points of view we shall find reasons for and against each. There are many instances in life where there are qualifications, conditions, inclinations and every possibility of progress, yet at the same time there is some unknown hindrance and one cannot find out what it is. A man may work for years and years and not succeed. There are also many who hope and believe that all good things will come by themselves, but just by hoping and believing, good things do not come; it takes an effort and persistence, it needs patience to accomplish things. This shows that there is truth in both possibilities; but at the same time the middle way is the best, the way of understanding how far free will works and also where free will is hindered.

Life, according to the mystic’s point of view, can be divided into two aspects. One is the preparatory aspect, and the other is that of action. The preparatory aspect is the time before a person is born and the other aspect is the time after his birth. A person may be born into a certain condition which becomes the foundation of his life’s course – for instance, among people who are addicted to drink, or in a rich family. The credit for what he does, considering that condition, belongs to him, but that condition is something he has not made; from it he has to develop and evolve through life. And the question is, how this condition is brought about.

Eastern philosophers have had different ideas about this matter. The way that the wise and the mystics look at it is that man is a ray of the spirit, like a ray shooting forth from the sun. Therefore the origin of all souls is one and the same, just as the origin of the various rays is in the one sun. But as these rays shoot forth, they pass through three different phases; in other words they penetrate through three different spheres. When the ray shoots forth, the first sphere it passes is the angelic sphere, the next is the sphere of the genius or jinn, and the third is the physical sphere, as they are recognized in the metaphysics of the East.

Now the nature of each sphere is such that the ray or soul, when it penetrates through a certain sphere, must clothe itself in the garb of that sphere. Just as a person from a tropical country, going to a cold climate, must adopt the clothes of that climate, so the soul, which by origin is intelligence and a ray of that Sun which is the source and goal of all beings, adopts a certain garb with which it is able to enter, to stay, and to pass through that particular sphere. Therefore, according to the metaphysics of the East, man is an angel, a jinn, and is also man. In these three conditions the soul is the same, though the garb it has taken makes it seem different. Passing through the angelic sphere the soul is angel; passing through the sphere of the genius the soul is jinn; passing through the physical sphere the soul is man. The soul’s condition in the preparatory stages of angel and jinn in the end makes it man.

What about the animals, and about many other beings and objects which show some part of life in them, such as trees and plants and rocks? All these are preparatory coverings, which make the clothes, the garb, for the soul. There is a saying of a great sage of Persia who lived five hundred years before Darwin and who gave his ideas on biology: he said that God slept in the rocks, God dreamed in the plant, God awoke in the animal, and God realized Himself in man. It tells that this process, from the vegetable to the animal, from the animal to man, is really the progress of the garb. For instance the first clothes were made of the bark of a tree. Then as people went on making clothes they found better materials and finally came to the finest. Man is the finest material: his garb, not his soul. His soul is the same as that of the man of a thousand years ago. The material has changed and has progressed with the evolution of the soul which has adorned itself with it. In this way the vanity of creatures has been made manifest. And as the matter of our bodies changes every few years, we attract a finer and finer quality of matter as we grow spiritually. Spiritual advancement has an influence upon the body.

To be continued…

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