Having spoken in general terms about the ideal of the Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan now begins to address the path of initiation in the spiritual school of Sufism.
In considering the question of being initiated into the Sufi Order [the Inner School of the Sufi Movement], there is in the first place the inclination to know something different from what is taught in the world. One feels the desire to seek for something, though one knows not what. One feels that the opposites, good and evil, right and wrong, friend and foe are not so far apart as one used to think. At the same time the heart is felt to be more sympathetic than ever before, and the sense of justice makes one wish to judge oneself before judging others. This all shows that one may look for a guide through these unknown paths.
Then there is the feeling, especially after reading or hearing something about Sufism that one is already really a Sufi, that one is at one with the circle of Sufis. One may now feel drawn to the spirit of the Teacher from whose hand initiation may be taken.
And thirdly there is the feeling, after studying the books published by the movement, or after speaking with the Pir-o-Murshid, that the message is genuine.
Then the question arises: what is meant by initiation? Initiation, or in Sufi terms bayat, first of all has to do with the relationship between the pupil and the Murshid. The Murshid is understood to be the counselor on the spiritual path. He does not give anything to or teach the pupil, the mureed, for he cannot give what the latter already has; he cannot teach what his soul has always known. What he does in the life of the mureed is to show him how he can clear his path towards the light within by his own self. This is the only purpose of man’s life on earth. One may attain the purpose of life without a personal guide, but to try to do so is to be like a ship traversing the ocean without a compass. To take initiation, then, means entrusting one self in regard to spiritual matters to a spiritual guide.
The next thing to be decided is, if I must have a personal guide, whom shall I take as guide? There is no stamp of spirituality, or seal of perfection marked upon any man’s forehead which enables one to say, ‘This is the man from whose hand to take the bayat.’ Neither his appearance nor his words can be relied on as evidence of his worth. The only thing that can be relied upon is the appeal of his soul in one’s heart. Even so, one must satisfy oneself whether it is evil appealing to the devil in one, or God appealing to the good in one.
There are three ways in which people trust. One is not to trust a person until he proves in time to be trustworthy. To those who trust in this way there will be no satisfactory gain on this path, for they will go on, like a spy, trying and testing the Murshid with their eyes focused downward. Hence they can only see the imperfect self of the teacher, and will never be able to see the beauty of the perfect self, above and beyond the limits of their view.
To be continued…