More about Antipathy

The recent post of a text by Hazrat Inayat Khan concerning sympathy and antipathy produced some interesting reactions.  By antipathy Hazrat Inayat is referring to what we might these days call ‘negative feelings,’ such as hatred, resentment, jealousy and so on, and he stated that to allow these feelings is a sign of weakness.  One reader objected, saying that we should not deny such feelings, but that rather we should try to understand them.  If we look a little more deeply into the subject, though, we find there is not really a difference of intention here.

We could begin first with a short explanation of what is the purpose of the Sufi path.  Sufism is not a religion; religions are made to draw a community together and point it toward a divine ideal expressed in a form more or less comprehensible to that culture.  The purpose of religion is to help humanity forward by awakening to beauty, although like every manifest form and structure, religions are subject to the effects of age, and sometimes senility.  On the other hand, Sufism is an individual path to the knowledge of the self.  In a lecture given to inquirers, Hazrat Inayat said, “Why do we join the study classes? Is it for the acquisition of spiritual powers, for inspirations, phenomena, or curiosity? All this is wrong. Is it for the accomplishment of something material or for worldly success? That is not desirable. Self-realization, to know what we are, should be our aim.

If we begin to study ourselves, we soon discover that the visible characteristics don’t tell us about our essence.  We may be a person with curly hair who likes Mozart and the colour green, but that is not the core of our being.  Sufism teaches that the best path to self knowledge is through knowledge of God.  In the Nirtan we find this saying:
When man arrives at God-knowledge from self-knowledge,
he makes God as small as his little self;
but when he comes to self-knowledge through the knowledge of God,
he becomes as large as God.

For this reason, as Hazrat Inayat observed, “Hazrat Ali, the most distinguished among Sufis of the past, said, ‘To know the self is to know God’, yet he spent much of his day and most of his nights in prayer.”  

Therefore the person treading the Sufi path tries to awaken to an ideal, a divine and perfect ideal, and in the process discovers that the only curtain that obscures our view of the infinite is our attachment to ‘me.’  But the curtain cannot be removed simply by its recognition, or by a conceptual understanding–it can only be pulled aside by our making an ever-present reality of the ideal, in our thought, our speech and our action.

And it is for this reason that the Sufi strives to control his negative feelings–not to fulfil some moral code that says such feelings are ‘bad,’ but because they are in the way. They keep him or her from the goal, the ultimate goal of understanding the self in the light of God-knowledge.

One Reply to “More about Antipathy”

  1. Theodorra

    Dear Nawab,
    Thank you for the clear explanation about the (Soefi Movement’s) way of working with – and approaching negative feelings, there is new information for me in it and it clearifies a lot. I’m chewing on it,..
    warm regards, sincerely,


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