Tales: The Ideal Life

Hazrat Inayat Khan told the following story from his life in India.

Once I was with a sage whom many people went to see. He pleased them all, and he was not fond of disputing or discussing, because to a sage there is nothing to discuss. Discussion is for those who say, “What I say is right, and what you say is wrong.” A sage never says such a thing; hence there is no discussion. The world is always fighting and discussing and disputing.

Many would come and try to dispute with him, but he did his best to avoid disputes. I was very fond of listening to his way of dealing with enquirers.

My friends wanted to discuss what the ideal life is. He said, “Whatever you think it is.”

But my friends were not satisfied with this; they wanted a discussion. They answered, “Do you think this worldly life, with so many responsibilities, with strife from morning to evening, can be the ideal life?”

He said, “Yes.”

They asked, “Do you not think that the life you lead, retirement and seclusion, is the ideal life?”

He answered, “Yes.”

They said, “But how can we give up our present life, our responsibilities to our children, our occupations, and all these things that take up so much time? How can we leave that life in order to follow your ideal life?”

He said, “Do not leave it.” They went on, “But if we do not leave it, how can we get on in the spiritual life?”

Then the sage asked, “What do you mean by the spiritual life?”

“We mean by spiritual life, a life like yours,” they answered. He said, “If you think my life is a spiritual life, be like me; if you think your life is a spiritual life, keep to it. It is not possible to say which life is best. If you think your worldly strife brings you happiness, just keep to it; if you think my life gives you happiness, give up your own. Whatever makes you happy and makes you think you are doing right, do it from that moment, and see what the result is. If it gives you more happiness, go on regardless of what others say. If it gives you happiness, if you are satisfied while doing it, while reaping its effect, then it is all right. Go on with it, and you will always be blessed.”


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