More about Impulse

In his lengthy and subtle talk about the Divine impulse, posted in instalments here, here and here, Hazrat Inayat Khan tells us that all we think, say and do arises from deep within us – from an impulse originating from such a profound depth that we can call it ‘divine,’ for it is moved by the very source of life. At first glance, this may be puzzling, for very often what we think, say and do does not appear in any way to be divine.  What is more, we tend to associate  an ‘impulsive nature’ with immaturity and a tendency to chaotic behaviour.  How can we understand this?

Imagine that you sit somewhere in nature; it is dark, but there is an expectant, living stillness: dawn is coming.  As the stars fade overhead and faint light discloses your surroundings, the birds awaken and begin to sing. They are responding to the returning of the day; after the darkness, the growing light stirs them and gives them a joyful impulse to sing.  Each bird will sing with its own voice,  a song created by its physical inheritance, and by the story of its brief life.  In that moment perhaps you also feel an impulse to sing – and what happens to that impulse?  It must work through the layers of consciousness – the heart and the mind – before it succeeds in moving your lips and tongue and diaphragm.  If your heart is burdened with shadows – maybe you have some sorrow or you are depressed – then the impulse will not be fulfilled. You react against the impulse, and stifle it.  Or if it passes upward into the mind, and your mind puts up obstacles – “Someone might hear me!” or “I don’t know how to sing,” or some other excuse – again the impulse will not be fulfilled.  But if the heart and the mind accept the impulse, and you sing, the impulse finds fulfilment, but the result will be conditioned by other details of your ‘being’: if you have not sung for forty years, your contribution to the dawn chorus will be more like the crow than like the nightingale.

So it is with every impulse.  If our heart is covered with clouds, if we have acquired a habit of bitterness or sourness or selfishness or fearfulness, that condition will of course affect the way that impulses are manifested.  If our mind is cluttered with preconceptions that bend and twist the impulse, that also has an effect.  When the shadows and obstructions are great, the impulse may become very distorted in its expression, and we may call the results ‘satanic.’  But if we have done some spiritual work to purify the heart and the mind, to become more transparent, it becomes possible for the divine impulse to speak through us with some clarity.

Then we can begin to recognise in each impulse the Spirit of Guidance.  When we perceive that guidance in the mental realm, we call it intuition; when we hear it in the heart, we call it inspiration; when we have become clear enough to perceive it at the level of the soul, it can be called revelation, the divine light and power that the great prophets and messengers were privileged to receive, and which they transmitted as faithfully as they could to humanity.

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