While he was growing up in India, Hazrat Inayat Khan took great interest in the New Testament, and when he came to the West his study allowed him to give his students illuminating insights into various aspects of their faith. Earlier posts on the Resurrection may be found here and here.
We find the word ‘resurrection’ not only in the Bible, but also in the Quran and other scriptures. What is truth becomes false when wrongly understood, and even the false is made true when rightly understood.
The following story will help to explain the meaning of the word resurrection. There was once a king who desired that his son should experience all aspects of life, and for this reason kept him in ignorance of the fact that he was a prince. He ordered a palace to be built with seven stories. The ground floor was very simple and plain. Each story was a little more elaborate than the last, until the seventh, which was most magnificently furnished, and was in every way a worthy habitation for a king. The little prince was put to live on the ground floor with his nurses and attendants, and in his simple surroundings lived happy and contented for many years.
When he grew older he became curious, and asked if there was anything to see on the other floors of the house. The servants replied that there were six other floors, and that he was at liberty to see them. He was also told that he might ascend by means of the lift. The boy entered the lift, but he was careful not to let go his hold on the rope, for he wanted to make sure of his return to the ground floor with which he was so familiar. In this way he explored all seven stories. The father had determined that he should not be called the Crown Prince until he could ascend alone and investigate the palace, which was after all his own.
The seven stories mentioned in this tale can be interpreted as the seven planes of existence, and these are ours by right of inheritance. We are placed on the ground floor, the earth, as we have work to accomplish there. The most important work we have to do in life is to take charge of all seven floors. The Master, Jesus Christ, passed through all the seven planes, and gave the command, ‘Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.’ This state of perfection is the passing from the limited to the unlimited state of existence. The lift is breath, and when our physical body passes on to the next floor and loses hold on the breath, that is its death.
In point of fact, through death the soul enters the higher planes of existence freely, and that is the meaning of resurrection. There are two aspects of resurrection, the negative and the actual. The negative resurrection takes place when we pass to the higher planes of existence in the lift by means of the breath, and hold on to the rope, the physical body, and come back to the first floor, the earth, again. This is the meaning of those words in the Hadith, ‘Die before death.’ This negative resurrection is the teaching of the Sufis, and is the whole object of the contemplative life, which they lead. It takes away the fear of death, and death becomes the bridge that unites friend with friend. Jesus, when passing from the earth, left behind his physical body forever, and that was his positive resurrection.
When we are asleep and dream, we leave our physical body and live in our finer body for the time being. The finer body is a replica of our physical body. Both bodies have been impressed with each other, and are exactly alike. This answers the question as to how it was that Jesus appeared to his disciples in what they believed to be his physical body. He had promised them that he would come to them again, and it was their earnest desire and loving devotion that created his presence. This whole universe was created by the power of mind. This power is in each one of us, and our power of creating is in proportion to the earnestness and reality of our desires. Such was the case with the faithful disciples. It was their earnest love and longing that created the presence of their Lord.