Hazrat Inayat Khan now concludes his teaching about the four stages on the path to God. The previous post in the series is here.
The fourth development of the God-ideal is in the loss of the self. But which self is lost? The false self is lost, and the true self is gained. In this stage the Sufi hears through the ears of God, sees through the eyes of God, works with the hands of God, walks with the feet of God; then his thought is the thought of God and his feeling is the feeling of God. For him there is no longer that difference which a worshipper makes between himself and God. As Khusrau the Indian poet says, ‘When I have become Thee and Thou hast become me, when I have become body and Thou hast become soul, then, Beloved, there is no difference between ‘I’ and ‘Thou.’
What profit does the Sufi derive from this loss of what he calls his outer personality? It is not really a loss of outer personality, it is an expansion of the outer personality to the width and height of the inner personality; then man becomes God-man, God-conscious. Outwardly he is in the universe, inwardly the universe is in him. Outwardly he is smaller than a drop, inwardly he is larger than the ocean. And in this realization the purpose of belief in God, of worshipping God, and of loving God is accomplished.
The Sufi says that since the whole of manifestation is the manifestation of love, and since God Himself is love, then it is natural that the same love which comes from the source returns to the source, and that the purpose of life is accomplished by it. Somebody asked a Sufi, ‘Why did God create the world?’ and he said, ‘In order to break the monotony of loneliness.’ And how is that monotony broken? It is broken through God loving His creation and through His creatures loving God. We see the same love of God in all things: in the love of a mother for her child, in the love of a friend for his friend, in all the different aspects it is the same love manifesting. Outwardly it may seem human, but inwardly it is all divine.
If we come face to face with truth, it is one and the same. One may look at it from the Christian, from the Buddhist, or from the Hindu point of view, but in reality it is one point of view. One can either be small or large, either be false or true, either not know or know. As long as a person says, ‘When I look at the horizon from the top of the mountain I become dizzy. This immensity of space frightens me,’ he should not look at it. But if it does not make one dizzy it is a great joy to look at life from above. And from that position a Christian, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist will all see the same immensity. It is not limited to those of any one faith or creed. Gradually, as they unfold themselves and give proof of their response to the immensity of the knowledge, they are asked to go forward, face to face with their Lord.
One should remember, however, that there are very few who enjoy reality compared with those who are afraid of it, and who, standing on the top of a high mountain, are afraid of looking at the immensity of space. It is the same sensation. What frightens them is the immensity of things. They seem lost and they hold on to their little self. The difficulty of this is that they not only die in the thought of mortality, but that even while they live, it culminates in a kind of disease, and this disease is called self-obsession, obsession by the self. They can think of nothing but themselves, of their fears, doubts and confusions, of all things pertaining to themselves. And in the end it turns them into their own enemy. First they look upon everybody else as their enemy because they are out of harmony with everybody, and in the end they are a burden to themselves. Such cases are not rare. Whatever religion they have, whatever faith they claim, they do not yet know what religion is. A man who professed to have no religion once said to me very profoundly, ‘I am happy. I have no fear!’ He was spiritual, though he did not know it.
One might ask if someone who has this realization can still have weaknesses. The weaknesses of the one who has gone along this path do not make him weak. It is his weaknesses which are weak, not he himself. Besides, there is a saying in Hindi, ‘Never judge the godly.’ As the eyes have a limit, so the mind has a limit. How can the unlimited soul, who is in the Unlimited, be judged by the man who looks at life from a narrow point of view? Those who arrive at an advanced stage never judge. It is the man who is at a lower stage who judges. The one who is on the top of the mountain judges no one, and therefore, he is exempt from being judged.
Furthermore, when a person says, ‘I have not made a God, but I want to love God,’ or when he says, ‘I have not loved God, but I want to know God, I want to see Him,’ or when he says, ‘I do not wish to see God, but I want to realize God,’ he is asking for something which is impossible. One can go through these stages either quickly or slowly, but one must pass through these four stages. And if a person has not the patience to pass through these four stages, he certainly cannot enjoy that pleasure, that happiness which is experienced by the traveler on the path of God.