Having taken us from directed thought to concentration, and then in the previous post to contemplation, Hazrat Inayat Khan now speaks of the unity found in meditation.
In India there is an amusing story which illustrates this idea. A young lad was sent to school. He began his lessons with the other children, and the first lesson the teacher set him was the straight line, the figure ‘one’. But whereas the others went on progressing, this child continued writing the same figure. After two or three days the teacher came up to him and said, ‘Have you finished your lesson?’ He said, ‘No I am still writing ‘one’.’ He went on doing the same thing, and when at the end of the week the teacher asked him again he said, ‘I have not yet finished it.’ The teacher thought he was an idiot and should be sent away, as he could not or did not want to learn. At home the child continued with the same exercise, and the parents also became tired and disgusted. He simply said, ‘I have not yet learned it, I am learning it. When I have finished I shall take the other lessons.’ The parents said, ‘The other children are going on further, the school has given you up, and you do not show any progress; we are tired of you.’ And the lad thought with sad heart that as he had displeased his parents too, he had better leave home. So he went into the wilderness and lived on fruits and nuts. After a long time he returned to his old school, and when he saw the teacher he said to him, ‘I think I have learned it. See if I have. Shall I write on this wall?’ And when he made his sign the wall split in two.
What does this story tell us? It tells us that there is another direction of learning, which is quite contrary to what we generally understand by learning. When this lad was taught to write ‘one,’ he could not see beyond ‘one.’ He thought: two is one and one, it is one. What is four? It is one and one and one and one. It was to this ‘one’ that he put his mind, and when he went into the wilderness, what was his contemplation? Every tree suggested the same figure ‘one’ to him; every plant, everything in nature he saw as ‘one’, because everything in nature is unique, and it is the uniqueness in nature, which is the proof of the oneness behind it all. This symbolical story of the wall being split in two explains that when the meditative person has developed the sense of oneness, wherever he cast his glance, on a human being, on an object, it will open itself just as the wall opened into two, and it will show him its character, its nature, its secret, and its mystery. People who read occultism say that there are three eyes, and that the third is the inner Eye. What does this mean? It means that the very two eyes we have turn from two into one. When a person meditates upon the One, and when he realizes One, then his eyes become one; and in becoming one this eye obtains such power that it pierces all things and knows all things. It is for this knowledge that the eye opens.
But now one might ask a question. Today we live in a world of struggle, where there is only struggle to gain things of our choice and longing, but even the struggle for a living, the struggle for existence. What can one do under such conditions, and what shall we attain by coming to the realization about which I have spoken? The answer is that this difficulty of life, which we experience just now, is not a difficulty which arises from the conditions; it comes from our individual selves. It is we who cause this difficulty; it is not that the conditions have made it difficult for us. It is not true that the world is small and its population vast; the world would be large enough to accommodate a population ten times greater, if only man were as he ought to be, if he were humane, if his feelings toward others were what they should be. It is not that in this world there is a shortage of all that is good and beautiful and of all that we need. The shortage is in our hearts: we do not want others to have anything. And it is the culture of humanity, which will bring about better conditions, and not this outer change with which many occupy themselves, thinking that through this change the conditions of the world will improve.
Man experiences a kingliness of soul when he gets into touch with his inner being, and he experiences slavery, in spite of all that he may possess in life, if he has not come into touch with his inner self. But, one may say, can a meditative person not explain in words the knowledge that he receives, so that others can read such a book and thus acquire this knowledge? But I should like to say that if a man who had traveled to Venice gave an account of what he had seen there, it would entertain you for a moment, but it would not give you the same joy as you would experience by traveling to Venice yourself. That which a meditative person experiences in his meditation is not a speculation, neither is it a kind of conception or idea that a man can clothe in the form of poetry, that he can explain, that he can express. Besides, what is our language made of? It is composed of names, which were given to objects, to things that are intelligible to us. There are no words which can express that which is unintelligible; and the experience which is beyond words cannot be experienced by the help of explanations. When not even our everyday experiences, such as gratefulness, sympathy, pity, devotion, can be explained in words, then such a feeling as is experienced by coming into the state of meditation, by being in communion with one’s inner self, is so sacred that it can in no way be explained in words. That is why in the East this way is sought under the guidance of those who have trodden this path.