As he concludes this series of teachings on the struggle of life, Hazrat Inayat Khan advises us that any fault we observe in others we must also have in ourselves, and he adds that if we do not notice faults in ourselves, it means we are not getting better but worse! The previous post in the series is here.
When we blame another person, when we dislike somebody, we overlook the same element in ourselves. There is no soul in the world who can say, ‘I have not this in me’. If only he were just! For mostly it is the unjust person who blames another. The more just we become, the more silent will we be in all circumstances. If outwardly we see faults in others, inwardly there is the sum total within ourselves. For instance the little child cannot help loving. If a thief comes, or a robber, the child wants to love him and smiles at him. Why is it? Because a thief is not awakened in the child. The child is from heaven, the thief from the earth. There is no place for him there; that is why he is no thief to the child. We accept something because we already have it in us. If we consider our knowledge, a thousand things we seem to have experienced, we find that other people have told us most of them and we believed them at once. As soon as a person tells us about someone wicked, we think, ‘Now we know, we can be quite sure about it’. But when a person comes along and says, ‘I have seen a most wonderful thing; this man is so good’, everyone thinks, ‘Is it really true? Is it possible to be as good as that? Is there not anything bad in him?’ Good is unnatural to many people.
One might ask whether the spiritual path is a tyranny over oneself. No, for it is by treading it that one molds one’s character, that one makes one’s personality. In this is all religion. When a person begins to think, ‘I must not bring harm to or hurt anyone I meet, worthy or unworthy, friend or foe’, only then does he begin his work in the spiritual direction. Spirituality is not wonder-working. Spirituality is attained by right attitude.
Where is the shrine of God? It is in the heart of man. As soon as one begins to consider the feelings of another, one begins to worship God. One might say that it is difficult to please everyone. No doubt it is. It is more difficult still if one has in oneself the inclination to please everyone. There is a story of a murshid who was going with his mureeds to visit some village. And he was keeping a fast. The mureeds also had taken a vow of fasting. They arrived at the peasants’ home where there was great enthusiasm and happiness and where a dinner was arranged for them. When they were invited to the table, the murshid went and sat down; but the mureeds did not dare because they had taken a vow of fasting. Yet they would never mention it to the murshid. They thought, ‘Murshid is forgetful; Murshid has forgotten the vow.’ After dinner was over and they went out the pupils asked, ‘Did you not forget the vow of fasting?’ ‘No,’ was the murshid’s answer, ‘I had not forgotten. But I preferred breaking the fast rather than the heart of that man who with all his enthusiasm had prepared the food.’
The thirst for life makes us overlook little opportunities of doing good. Every moment of life brings an opportunity for being conscious of human feeling, in prosperity, in adversity, in all conditions. It costs very little; only a little thought is necessary. A person may be good but at the same time not be conscientious about little things. There is no greater religion than love. God is love; and the best form of love is to be conscientious regarding the feelings of those with whom we come in contact in everyday life.
The further one goes, the more difficulties there are; one finds greater faults in oneself as one advances along the spiritual path. It is not because the number of faults has increased; but the sense has become so keen that one regards differently faults which formerly one would not have noticed. It is like a musician: the more he advances and the better he plays, the more faults he notices. He who does not notice his faults is in reality becoming worse. There is no end to one’s faults. To think of them makes one humble.
To say, ‘God is in me’ before one has realized this other metaphysical aspect of truth, is not humble but profane. God is in the depth of the heart, but to know this is of no use when the doors of the heart are not open. It is the realization of the innumerable faults which makes one humble and effaces the little self from one’s consciousness. And it is in the effacement of the self that real spiritual attainment lies.