Hazrat Inayat Khan now clearly describes the role of belief, and the steps through belief may evolve. The previous post in the series is here.
A constant ‘why’ arises in the minds of the intelligent, and when this ‘why’ is answered by life to man’s satisfaction, he goes on further and further, penetrating through all different planes of life. When this ‘why’ does not get a satisfactory answer from life, then doubt, dismay, and dissatisfaction arise and result in confusion, bewilderment, and despair. Sometimes belief proves to be worse than disbelief. This is when a person, set in his belief, hinders his own progress, not allowing his mind to go further into the research of life, refusing guidance and advice from another in order that he may preserve his own belief. Thus a belief which is preserved as a virtue becomes the greatest sin. Both belief and disbelief, by practice, in time become natural tendencies; the person who is inclined to believe gets into a habit of believing all things and everything, and an unbeliever in time comes to disbelieve everything, whether right or wrong. The optimistic temperament is the temperament of the believer, and pessimism is as a rule the nature of the unbeliever. The prophets have always promised a reward for the believer, and have threatened the unbeliever with punishment because the chance for spiritual enlightenment is only in the life of the believer, while the unbeliever covers his soul by his own disbelief.
Sufis are inclined to recognize four stages of belief:
Iman-i Muhmil, when someone believes in a thing which others believe in, but no matter how strong his belief may be, when those in his surroundings change their belief, he will likewise change his.
Iman-i Kamil, the next stage of belief, is the belief of the idealist who has faith in his scripture and savior. He believes because it is written in the scripture, or taught by the savior. His belief, of course, will not change with the weather, but still it may waver, if by any means reason were awakened in his soul. At least it would be dimmed, just as the light of a candle would become dimmed by the rising sun. When the sun of the intelligence rises, it would break through and scatter the clouds of emotion and devotion made by this belief.
Haqq al-Iman, the third stage of belief, when man believes because his reason allows him to believe. Such a man is journeying through life with a torch in his hand. His belief is based on reason, and cannot be broken except by a still greater reason, for it is the diamond that alone can cut the diamond, and reason alone can break reason.
‘Ain al-Iman, the fourth stage of belief is a belief of conviction; not only reason, but every part of one’s being is convinced and assured of the truth of things, and nothing on earth can change it. If a person were to say to him, ‘Do not cross over this place, there is water here,’ he will say, ‘No, it is land. I can see for myself.’ It is just like seeing with the eyes all that one believes. This belief is the belief of the seer whose knowledge is his eyewitness, and therefore his belief will last forever and ever. Of course, as a soul evolves from stage to stage, it must break the former belief in order to establish the later, and this breaking of the belief is called by Sufis tark, which means abandonment; the abandoning of the worldly ideal, the abandonment of the heavenly ideal, the abandoning of the divine ideal, and even the abandoning of abandonment. This brings the seer to the shores of the ultimate truth.
‘Truth is that which cannot be fully spoken, and that which can be spoken is not necessarily the truth.’
To be continued…