Hazrat Inayat : The Soul, Whence and Whither pt XIX

Having described how the soul derives experience by means of the shell which surrounds it, Hazrat Inayat Khan now explains in more clarity the five shells or spheres which may be encountered.

There are five spheres of which the soul can be conscious. What are these spheres? They are the different shells, each shell having its own world.

The first sphere of which man becomes conscious after his birth on earth is Nasut, a sphere which is commonly known as the physical plane. How are the comforts and discomforts of this sphere experienced? By the medium of the physical body; and when there is something wrong with an organ of the senses the soul is deprived of that particular experience that it would like to have on this physical plane. The physical body is susceptible to all changes of climate and becomes dependent in its experience and expression, thus making the soul dependent and limited. Therefore, with all the riches that the world can give, man who is only conscious of this sphere is limited. ‘God is free from all wants, it is ye that are needy,’ says the Quran.

Malakut is the next sphere, the sphere of thought and imagination, where there is a greater freedom and less limitation than is experienced on the physical plane. A man with thought and imagination can add to life that comfort and beauty which is lacking on the physical plane. And the more real his imagination becomes the more conscious of that sphere of mind he proves to be. This sphere of mind is his world, not smaller than this world but much larger – a world which can accommodate all that the universe holds, and still there would be a place in it to be filled.

The third sphere, Jabarut, is a sphere in which the soul is at home. In the waking state the soul of the average man only touches this sphere for a moment at a time. Man does not know where he is at that moment. He calls it abstraction. Do they not say when a person is not listening that he is not here? Every soul is lifted up to that sphere, even if it be for only a moment, and the life and light with which the soul is charged in that sphere enable it to live on this earth the life full of struggles and difficulties. Nothing in the world could give man the strength that is needed to live a life on the earth if there were not blessings from heaven reaching him from time to time, of which he is so little aware.

The other two spheres are experienced in sleep; but they are not different spheres; they are only different because they are experienced in sleep. They are Malakut, which is experienced in dreams, the world of mind, of thought and imagination; and Jabarut, the state of deep sleep when even the mind is still. This sleep frees the suffering patient from pain, and gives to the prisoner freedom from his prison; it takes away from the mind its load of worry and anxiety, and removes from the body every exhaustion and tiredness, bringing to mind and body repose, rest and peace, so that after man has wakened from his deep sleep he feels comfortable, rested, invigorated, as if a new life had come to him. One would give anything in the world to have a deep sleep, though so few know its value. That state of Malakut is reached while in the waking state by the great thinkers. The great inventive minds and the gifted artists; and it is experienced by the seers and sages. It is to experience this that all the concentrations are given by spiritual teachers to their disciples. This fuller experience is also called Lahut.

Still another experience is Hahut, a further stage which is experienced by souls who have reached the most high spiritual attainment, which is called Samadhi in Vedantic terms. In this experience a person is conscious of Jabarut while awake; and this state he brings about at will. Though for the sake of convenience these spheres are explained as five spheres, yet chiefly they are three: Nasut, the plane of the world of man, Malakut, the sphere of the jinn and Jabarut, the angelic world.

Now there is the question, if a soul, by rising to all these spheres, becomes conscious of the sphere of the jinn and of the angelic heavens, or if it only sees within itself its self-made world of mind, and the spheres of joy and peace within itself. The answer is, first it sees its own world by rising to the sphere called Malakut: it experiences the joy and peace which belong to its own heart, and which are of its own being. But that is only one part of spiritual attainment. This part of the attainment is the way of the Yogi. The way in which the Sufi differs from the Yogi is in his expansion, and it is these two sides of the journey which are pictured by the two lines of the cross, the perpendicular and the horizontal. The perpendicular line shows a progress straight within from Nasut to Jabarut, experiencing one’s self within; but that which the horizontal line denotes is expansion. The Sufi therefore tries to expand as he progresses, for it is the largeness of the soul which will accommodate all experiences and in the end will become God-conscious and all-embracing. The man, who shuts himself up from all men, however high spiritually he may be, will not be free in Malakut, in the higher sphere. He will have a wall around him, keeping away the jinns and even the angels of the angelic heavens, and so his journey will be exclusive. It is therefore that Sufism does not only teach concentration and meditation, which help one to make one-sided progress, but the love of God which is expansion, the opening of the heart of all beings, which is the way of Christ and the sign of the cross.

To be continued…

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