In the following brief lecture about the nature and work of the mind, Hazrat Inayat Khan refers to the five aspects of mind which he describes elsewhere as: identification, or ego; perception; memory; feeling; and reasoning, which includes imagination. Here he is concerned with the last quality, the creative power of mind.
The mind is not only the akasha [capacity] which contains all one learns and experiences through life, but among five different aspects of the mind, each having its own work, there is one aspect which may be especially called the mind, which shows the power of the Creator. All we see before our eyes, all the objects made by the skill of man, conditions brought about in life favorable or unfavorable, they are all the creation of human mind, of one mind or of many minds. Man’s failures in life, together with the impression of limitation which man has, keep him ignorant of that great power which is hidden in the mind. Man’s life is the phenomenon of his mind. Man’s happiness and success, man’s sorrows and failures, are mostly brought about by his own mind, of which man knows so little.
If this secret had been known by all, no person in this world would have been unhappy, no soul would have had a failure, for unhappiness and failure both are unnatural. The natural is all man wants and wishes to have. No doubt first one must know what one wants, and the next question is how to get it. The words of Emerson support this argument: ‘Beware of what you want, for you will get it’*. The whole life is one continual learning, and for the one who really learns from life, the knowledge is never enough. The more he learns, the more there is to learn. The secret of this idea is said in the Quran: ” ‘Be’, He said, and then it became.” The seers and knowers of life do not know this only in theory, but it is their life’s own experience.
There is a story told among Hindus about a magic tree. A man was traveling in the hot sun towards the woods. He became so tired that he felt like sitting under the shade of a tree. Then he thought: if there were a little mattress to sit on, it would be better than stones; and as he looked he saw the mattress already there; then he thought the tree is so hard to lean against, and when he turned he saw there was a cushion already existing. Then he thought: this mattress is too hard, if I had a cushion to sit on at the same time now I am so tired; and it was there. Then he thought: If I had some cooling syrup to drink, it would be very nice; and then he saw some one bringing him syrup. He was astonished and very glad.
Then he thought: This tree is not enough, it would be nice to have a house; and a beautiful little house was there. Then he thought: Walking in the woods is very tiring, I must have a chariot; and the chariot and the horses were there. Then he was very astonished and could not understand. Then he thought: Is this all true, or is it only imagination? And then everything disappeared – only the hard stones remained and the tree above. That is the story of the mind. The mind has the power to create, it creates everything. But out of what does it create? Out of mazing [confusing] maya, a substance subject to change, to death and destruction. However, the power of the mind is beyond question. And does not this teach us that mostly our unhappiness and our failures are more caused by our own minds than by the mind of another? And if caused by the mind of another, then our mind is not in working order.
The knowledge of the power of the mind is then worth knowing. When the moral conception of life is understood better, when man knows what is right, and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, and judges himself only, he sees these two opposite things in his own life, person and character. For man sees the folly of another and wishes to judge another when his sense of justice is not wide awake. Those whose personalities have brought comfort and healing to their fellow men were the ones who only used the faculty of justice to judge themselves, who tried to correct themselves of their own follies; and being engaged in correcting themselves, had hardly time in their life to judge another. The teaching of Christ: “Judge not, lest ye be judged”, will always prove the greatest example to be followed.
The mind is a magic shell, a shell in which a design is made by the imagination, and the same imagination is materialized on the surface. The question, ‘Then why does not all we think come true, why is all we wish not always realized?’ may be answered, that by our limitedness, we, so to speak, bury the divine creative power in our mind. Life confuses us so much that there is hardly one person among a thousand who really knows what he wants, and perhaps among a million there is one who knows why he wants it. And even among millions you will not find one with the knowledge why he should want it, and why he should not want it. With all the power of the mind one thing must be remembered: “Man proposes, God disposes,” will always prove true when man’s desire stands against the will of God Almighty. Therefore the path of saints in life has been to seek with resignation the will of God, and in this way to swim with the tide, so that with the accomplishment of their wish, the purpose of God may be fulfilled.
God bless you.
* Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Be careful what you set your heart on, for it will surely be yours.”