After considering the belief of a Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan now addresses the question of right and wrong – the morality of a Sufi.
In regard to the Sufi’s attitude towards right and wrong – that these are man-made – one may ask, how then it can matter what a person does.
The answer is, it matters to those to whom it matters, and it does not matter to those to whom it does not matter. In this respect, if the Sufi has to say anything to his follower, it is this: refrain from doing that which hinders you from accomplishing the purpose in your inner and your external life. Do not act against you ideal, for it will never be satisfactory to you; you will not be pleased with yourself, and this inharmony in your inner and your external self will prevent peace, which is your life’s craving, without which life becomes unhappy. ‘Right’ is the straight path which the soul is inclined to take in life, but when one walks astray, leaving the straight path in life, owing either to negligence or ignorance, or by reason of weakness, or by the attraction of some temptation on the way, one can say that is wrong.
What is good and what is evil? There are two answers to this question. First, it may be said: good is that which you consider to be good, and the effect of which is agreeable to you both in its beginning and end. Evil is that which you consider to be evil and the effect of which is disagreeable in the beginning as well as in the end. If good and evil have no agreeable or disagreeable effect at first, or have a contrary effect at the beginning, whether they are really agreeable or disagreeable will appear in the end. The second answer is that all things that seem good and evil are the opposite ends of one line, and it is difficult to say where evil ends and good begins, for these are comparative terms. A lesser good would seem evil when compared with a greater good, and the lesser evil in comparison with the greater evil would appear good. If there were no evil, good would not have been valued. Without injustice, justice would not have been appreciated. Therefore the whole of life’s joy is expressed in duality.
Why is there so much suffering in life, when God is described as merciful? If God were a separate being from man, and if He rejoiced in the suffering of man, then He could be blamed. But He, as the Sufi realizes, is the sufferer and the suffering – yet He is beyond all suffering. This fact can be understood, not merely by believing in God, but in knowing Him. Suppose your hands dropped a heavy weight upon your feet and hurt them; are your hands to be blamed? No, for they share the pain with the feet, and although the feet seem to have been hurt, yet the one that feels hurt is your absolute being. In reality that being feels hurt, and therefore the hand shares the hurt of the foot. So it is with God. Our very life is His, and He is not void of the feeling of joy or of pain which we feel. In reality, He feels what we imagine we feel, yet at the same time His perfect Being keeps Him above all earthly joys and pains; and our imperfection limits us, so that we become subject to all joys and pains, however small they may be.
To be continued…