After giving a glimpse of the cosmic structure of Creation, Hazrat Inayat Khan now begins to describe the journey of the soul, passing first through the angelic realm.
The soul, which is the ray of the divine Sun in one sphere, the sphere in which it does not touch any earthly being, is called malak or angel. Therefore every soul passes through the angelic heavens; in other words, every soul is an angel before it touches the earthly plane – the angels that is who become human beings, and those who do not become human beings remain angels. The human being, therefore, is a grown-up angel, or an angel is a soul who has not grown sufficiently. Infants who come on earth with their angelic qualities, and sometimes pass away without having experienced the life of the grown-up man, show us the picture of the original condition of the soul.
The idea that the angels are nearer to God is right according to this doctrine. Souls who have not journeyed farther are naturally close to the divine Spirit; they are angels. Someone asked the Prophet why man was greater than the angels – man, who causes all the bloodshed on the earth, while the angels are always occupied in the praise of God. It is said in the Quran that the angels knew nothing of the earth; they knew God, and so they occupied themselves with God; but man is greater, for when he comes on earth he has much in the world to be occupied with, and still he pursues God. That angelic sphere is free from passions and emotions, which are the source of all wrong and sin; souls pure of all greed and desires given by the denseness of earth are angels who know nothing else but happiness, for happiness is the real nature of the soul.
The Hindus call the angels suras; sura also means breath and breath means life. Suras, therefore, mean pure lives, lives that live long. In the Hindu scriptures there is another word used: asura, meaning lifeless; in other words, not in tune with the infinite. Man may retain angelic qualities even in his life on the earth as a human being; and it is the angelic quality which can be traced in some souls who show innocence and simplicity in their lives. This is not necessarily weakness; it only shows the delicacy of a flower in the personality, together with fragrance.
Angelic souls on the earth-plane are inclined to love, to be kind, to be dependent upon those who show them love. They are ready to believe, willing to learn, inclined to follow that which seems to them for the moment good, beautiful and true. The picture of the angels that we read of in the scriptures as sitting upon clouds and playing harps is but an expression of a mystical secret. Playing the harp is vibrating harmoniously; the angels have no actual harps, they themselves are the harps; they are living vibrations; they are life itself.
One can see in a person who is vibrating harmoniously that his presence becomes the inspiration of music and poetry. The person whose heart is tuned to the pitch of the angelic heavens will show on earth heavenly bliss; therefore the wise seek the association of spiritual beings. And sitting on clouds means that the angels are above all clouds; clouds are for the beings of the dense earth; the angels are free both from transitory pleasures and from constant spells of depression; clouds do not surround them, for they are above clouds. Such souls, who are in direct touch with the spirit of God, and who have no knowledge of the false world which is full of illusion, who live and know not death, whose lives are happiness, whose food is divine light, make around ‘Arsh, the divine Spirit, an aura which is called the Highest Heaven.
To be continued…