One of the sayings of his father that Murshid Hidayat loved to quote was this, from the Alapas* portion of the Gayan, “Make God a reality, and God will make you the Truth.” For the average person, ‘God’ is a concept, and not a reality, a concept we may take into consideration on some occasions, but that is far from ever-present. Therefore, we are also far from the Truth. What could we do to change that?
One place to start is to make a reality of our spiritual practices. With initiation, we are given certain exercises to help us along the way, and Hazrat Inayat Khan frequently stressed the importance of being regular with these; our spiritual exercises could be seen as the thread that is meant to lead us out of the labyrinth. Neglecting them is like dropping the thread in the dark, and to find it again is uncertain – and certainly time-consuming.
But even supposing that we do our exercises every day without fail, simply repeating various words and actions does not make them sacred; the practices only pass from concept to reality when we begin to find the life in them. The difference between a person and their shadow, Hazrat Inayat tells us, is that the shadow is not alive. Perfunctory, mechanical practice is only the shadow, but when we begin to discover the beauty, the harmony and the current of love in them, then they become truly living.
Those who remember the lesson taught by Hazrat Inayat Khan in his play Una, in which the artist sacrifices her own life so that her work of art may live, will see that our practices gain life because we give it to them. We could not hope for a better bargain: by giving the little that we have to give, we may be rewarded with the infinite.
*In Indian musical terminology, the ‘alap’ is the opening portion of a musical performance, the loose improvisational exploration of a musical thought. Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan said that the Alapas sayings may be heard as God speaking to man.