The post below is the last in this particular series of teaching by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the power of breath. In the earlier instalments, he unfolded the work of the breath in nature and in our body and mind. Here, he concludes with an intoxicating invitation to rise by breath and join the mystic in eternity. The previous post in the series may be found here.
From the time when man first perceived that there was a secret in breath, he has wanted to use his understanding of the secret in order to be able to perform wonders and reach the spirits, to master the elements, read thoughts, convey thoughts, and to perform any psychic or occult phenomena. But to seek to do these things is to give pearls to buy pebbles. How wasteful to spend life in gaining these powers when breath is the rope that takes us from this mortal plane to immortality, that saves us from the struggles and worries of this transitory life, and leads us to the happiness and joy and peace for which every soul longs! If breath can accomplish these pearls, will it not also accomplish the small things, the pebbles, the worldly needs? Yes, it will. After all, to have performed a few wonders is nothing.
One man is perhaps striving all day to earn his own bread so that he may live in a comfortable manner; another is always worrying about how to maintain himself and his children. Another is thinking, ‘What can I do to save my fellow-man from his trouble?’ If we compare these people, in order to see who is the greatest, we see that he is greatest whose ideal is greatest.
When we consider the great heroes of the past and present, those whom we admire, and to whom we look with hope for right guidance, we shall find that what has made them great has been the greatness of their ideal. The lower the ideal, the less the efforts; the higher the ideal, the greater the life. If we use all our intelligence and strength and wisdom to accomplish some little thing, it is only a waste of life. To consider what great things one can accomplish, to seek to do those things which will be most useful and valuable to others, that is the ideal life. The man who has earned money only to keep himself comfortable, what has he accomplished with his life? If he has just gratified his wish to roam about in a motor-car, to set up a comfortable home, to have people waiting upon him, he cannot be happy, because he has not accomplished anything with his life. He may possess many homes, he may possess much money in the bank, he may make a great name, but it will amount to nothing in comparison with the man whose power is greater than all wealth, position, or fame. Such a man will be much happier with the small things of the world; he has gained that peace with which the pleasures and transitory joys of this earth offer no comparison.
The life of the one is like the lips touching a cup of delicious wine; the life of the other is like drinking the whole cup full of heavenly wine. What a difference between just touching the wine with the lips, and drinking it! The pleasures of life are like touching the wine. The experience of these pleasures is only like a dream, a passing joy; it comes and goes again. One longs for the joy of that little pleasure to stay, but how can it stay? Even if one tried for thousands of years, one could not keep the happiness which is external. The only way to obtain the eternal bliss is to do as the mystics do, and to rise by the aid of the breath from plane to plane, finding the greater joy and the greater happiness.
It resembles the taking of a drug or medicine. A person may sit in meditation, and dream and imagine he is very happy. A materially minded person may easily say that a meditative person hypnotizes himself into thinking he is full of joy, but is it not hypnotism when a little word of flattery pleases one, when a little silver and gold produces such a change of expression in one’s countenance? The materialist, not understanding this, will laugh at the mystic and call him a dreamer, but if the mystic is a dreamer, what is the worldly man? Is he not a dreamer too? What produces the joy in these things that are of no importance? If it is good to be hypnotized by silver and gold, is it not better when the mystic is hypnotized by his divine ideal of perfection? The silver and gold will certainly be snatched away; at least the mystic’s ideal of God will last.
When we consider how this life and our environment can cramp and restrict us, we understand how it is that with all our hopes we still seek solitude, try to be by ourselves, and close our eyes to all the passing things. The life and activity which are directed to experiencing the pleasures of life, the transitory sources of joy and pleasure, all fade away before that which we seek in solitude, where we strive to reach the inner and enduring things. Even if our bed is comfortable, if our house contains all the comforts that the heart can desire, the mind still goes through all manner of torments, and sleep will not come. We may take a little rest, and sit still in order to obtain peace; but the real trouble never goes. It is to drown this trouble that people take drugs and intoxicants, and lose themselves in the pursuit of common things, however undesirable. Everybody strives to obtain some remedy which will enable him to realize the joy and pleasure and peace which his inner life unconsciously seeks; but he cannot get it. If he tries to obtain it through drugs or intoxicants, he only becomes a slave to them. If, failing these, he seeks to gain his desire through other vices, he will never find the contentment he seeks.
Come to the mystic, then, and sit with him when you are tired of all these other remedies that you have employed in vain; come and take a glass of wine with him. The mystic wine is the inner absorption, which removes all the worries and anxieties and troubles and cares of the physical and mental plane. All these are now done away with for ever. It is the mystic who is at rest; it is he who experiences that happiness which others do not experience; it is he who teaches the way to attain that peace and happiness which are the original heritage of man’s soul.