The Inner Call now begins a short series based on a fundamental puzzle: what is the Sufi’s attitude toward God. It should be clear that when Hazrat Inayat Khan speaks here of a Sufi, he means a developed soul, rather than a beginner on the path.
A man who stands outside Sufism is always confused as to the Sufi’s attitude towards God. He cannot make out whether the Sufi is a worshipper of God or a worshipper of self, whether the Sufi claims himself to be God, whether he is an idolater, or whether he worships the formless God in heaven. The one who wonders like this has some reason for it, because when he sees that in this world there are believers and unbelievers, that there are some who worship God and some who do not, he cannot understand the attitude of the Sufi; he cannot decide whether the Sufi is a beginner on the spiritual path or whether he has arrived at the goal. If he calls him a beginner, he cannot prove this to himself, because of the Sufi’s personality which radiates God. And if he calls him someone who has arrived at the height of spirituality then he thinks, ‘How can a Sufi, who is supposed to be a God-realized man, be so childlike as to worship God in the same way as everybody else does, when he says that he does not see any importance in the worship of form, that he is above it?’
Moreover, there are some attitudes of the Sufi which very much shock a religious man, an orthodox person, for the realization of the Sufi cannot always be held back. He may try to do so, but sometimes it will leap out, and then one begins to doubt whether the Sufi is really a worshipper of God or whether inwardly he feels differently towards God. The Sufi, therefore, is a riddle to a person who cannot understand him fully, to one who stands outside Sufism, for he does not know what the Sufi believes and what he does not believe.
There are four different stages of God-realization of the Sufi. The first and primitive stage is to make a God. If he does not make Him out of a rock or out of wood he makes Him out of his thought. He does not mind, as an idolater would not mind, worshipping the God that he has made himself. Out of what does he make Him? Out of his imagination. The man who has no imagination stands on the ground; he has no wings, he cannot fly. The Sufi imagines that in spite of all the injustice of human nature there is one just Being, and he worships this Being, whom he has imagined, as his God.
In spite of all the unreliable lovers and beloveds, he imagines that there is a Lover and a Beloved upon whom he can always depend. He thinks, ‘Notwithstanding this ever-changing and unreliable human nature that surrounds me, there is a reliable, unchangeable source of love and of life before me. He hears not only my words but every thought I have. He feels all my feelings, and He is continually with me and within me; to whichever side I turn I meet Him. He protects me when I am asleep, when I am not conscious of protecting myself: He is the source of my support, and He is the center of all wisdom. He is mercy, He is compassion. God is the greatest friend, upon whom I can always depend. And if the whole world turns away from me I shall still have that friend, a friend who will not turn away as the friends of this earthly life do after having buried their beloved friend or relation, a friend whom I shall find even in my grave. Wherever I exist I will always have this friend with me.’
To be continued…