In the first part of the series, Hazrat Inayat Khan stated that there are four steps on the path, the first of which is to make God – whether of wood or stone or of thought, but in any case to give form to our ideal. Now he speaks of further steps.
And when he has passed through this stage, then there comes another stage, the stage of the lover of God. In this stage he begins to look upon God as his Beloved, and only then does he begin to learn the manner of true love, for love begins in man and culminates in God, the perfect ideal and object of love. A Hindustani poet says that the first step on the path of love teaches a person to say, ‘I am not.’ As long as he thinks, ‘I am,’ he is far away from the path of love; his claim of love is false. Naturally, just as a lover is resigned to the will of the beloved, to suffer or to go through any test, so the Sufi at this stage takes all things in life as they come, courageously and bravely, meeting all difficulties and all circumstances, realizing that it all comes from the beloved God. It is in this way that contentment and resignation are learned, that a willing surrender in love is practiced, and that love, which is a divine quality, naturally raises man to a higher standard.
One might say, ‘How can one love God, God whom one does not know, does not see?’ But the one who says this wants to take the second step instead of the first. He must first make God a reality, and then God will make him the truth. This stage is so beautiful. It makes the personality so tender and gentle; it gives such patience to the worshipper of God; and together with this gentleness and patience he becomes so powerful and strong that there is nothing that he will not face courageously – illness, difficulties, loss of money, opposition – there is nothing that he is afraid of. With all his gentleness and tenderness, inwardly he becomes strong.
When a man has passed through this stage, then there comes a third stage, and it is that he considers all earthly sources, whether favorable or unfavorable, all that comes to him, as God. If a friend comes to meet him, to the Sufi it is God who is coming to meet him. If a beggar is asking for a penny, it is God whom the Sufi recognizes in that form. If a wretched man is suffering misery, he sees also in this the existence of God. Only, the difference is that in some he sees God unconscious, in others he sees God conscious. All those who love him, who hate him, who like or dislike him, who look upon him with admiration or contempt, he looks at with the eyes of the worshipper of God, who sees his Beloved in all aspects. Naturally, when this attitude is developed he develops a saintly spirit. Then he begins to see in this world of variety the only Being playing His role as various beings, and for him every moment of his life is full of worship. But even with this realization he will never say that he is more evolved than those who worship God in an ordinary form. He can stand with them and worship in the same manner as they, although he stands above it all; but he will never claim to do so.
To be continued…