In the posted text by Hazrat Inayat Khan about the purity of mind, he tells us that it is the constant running of the love stream that will wash away impurities, but he also acknowledges that some impressions are more difficult to remove than others, saying, ‘Sometimes when it is difficult for love to take away some impressions that are disagreeable, which block the way of the love-stream, they may be washed away by some element that can destroy them.’ Naturally, the question comes: ‘And what might that element be?’ In the days when the technology of washing clothes was less advanced, there used to be books full of helpful hints: ‘In the case of stubborn stains, apply the following…’ If we are honest we will all admit that there are some stains on our consciousness that are hard to remove, and we would like to be able to flip open a handy Sufi reference book and find the ready solution. But Hazrat Inayat does not offer pre-packaged stain-removers. He says that, ‘The whole life is a chemical process, and the knowledge of its chemistry helps man to make life happy.‘ In other words, we must study life ourselves, and the ‘chemical’ nature of the impression we wish to remove, in order to know how to free ourselves from it.
How could it be otherwise? All of life is a battle, within and without, from beginning to end, and if we do not meet the challenges, many precious opportunities will be lost. And how do we master those challenges? As it says in the Gayan:
Master is he who masters himself;
teacher is he who teaches himself;
governor is he who governs himself;
and ruler is he who rules himself.
One point to keep in mind in this process of ‘stain removal’ is that there is a difference between dissatisfaction and guilt. If an unwanted impression is connected with a feeling of guilt, it is difficult for us to look at it clearly, and that hinders us from knowing how to wipe it away. But guilt is discomfort produced by our feeling that we have failed in our duty toward our ideal, and the only remedy is, first, to admit our shortcoming before the Ideal (whether one calls that Ideal God or Allah or Jehovah or the All-Living Mystery does not matter), and then to steadfastly set to work to repair the damage so far as we are able. There is no error so great that the Infinite Compassion cannot cancel it out, and God loves to forgive–if only we will acknowledge our mistakes and sincerely desire to do better.