Paths to the same goal

In this post in the continuing series on initiation, Hazrat Inayat Khan mentions two paths by which Sufis seek attainment, that of the salik, and that of the rind. He gives a brief explanation of one aspect of the path of the salik, but students might wonder what these terms could mean to our own search.

The salik is one who travels the path of study, of meditation and of ethical behaviour. The fact that Hazrat Inayat only gives details of this path in his text should tell us that, if we follow his guidance and inspiration, this will be our way. It is a path of discipline by which we continually strive to develop the sacred art and beauty of personality – or in other words, to become truly human. In this connection Hazrat Inayat mentions the aspect of devotion, perhaps because discipline without the fire of devotion cannot go far before it becomes lifeless and mechanical, and that does not serve the purpose. Therefore, both aspects are needed, the outer mastery of impulse and the inner awakening of ardour.

The path of the rind appears to be completely the opposite. The word means ‘drunkard’ and therefore it is a person who is oblivious to all conventions and dogmas. In the present-day ‘age of individualism,’ many might think that they are destined for this path, but there is a great difference between the individualistic person and the rind. The one who claims individuality does what he or she wants, just to please themselves; they may ignore social conventions because they are ‘too much trouble,’ but they have expectations, one could even say demands, of how life should be arranged to please them. Their motive is centred on ego. The rind, on the other hand, wants to free the spirit of all constraints, including the ego, and will not only cast aside all rules and conventions but all comforts as well. Perhaps one example of a rind soul was Sufi Sarmad, who lived in India in the Mughal era (ca. 1590–1661 CE). Completely intoxicated by the Spirit, in the last years of his life he went about naked. It is said that another Sufi once chided him about this, saying gently, ‘But brother, there are people present…” To which Sarmad replied, “Do you see people? I see only animals.”

One cannot say that one path or the other is better, nor is one way ‘easier’ than the other, for both paths, followed to the end, mean reducing the ego, like a stick of incense, to ashes. There is One Truth, and it will call us by the path ‘that Thy Wisdom chooseth.’ Our task, or one could say, our privilege, is only this: that when we hear the call in our hearts, we rise up and begin to journey.

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