Surely everyone has had the experience of suddenly hitting a blank spot in mid-conversation, going from full speed to zero, as it were, while we grope distractedly for whatever it was we were about to say. And how about mislaying vital items such as keys or a mobile phone? Or ‘putting something away in a safe place,’ and promptly forgetting where that safe place is? If we recognise these occurrences, then we might be a bit doubtful when we hear Hazrat Inayat Khan say, “No thought ever born of the mind, be it even for a second, is lost.”*
On the other hand, is it not a common experience, probably universal, to feel a sudden pang of regret or shame upon recalling something that we did or said decades ago? No matter how far in the past, it can seem as if the memory sits like a pin upon a nerve here in the present. And if the recollection rouses us in the middle of the night, we may toss and turn a long time before we find the comfort of sleep again. Therefore we might begin to think that perhaps Hazrat Inayat is right, and that thoughts do indeed endure, although we are not always able to manage them.
What is more, the lifetime of a thought, we are told, is far greater than that of a human being. Says Hazrat Inayat Khan, “Thought has its birth and death like a living being, but the life of the thought is incomparably longer than that of any living being in the physical body.“
This should make us feel concerned; we are aware that in this life on earth we must behave responsibly, and if we do bad things there will be consequences. But have we thought about the consequences of our thoughts? “Souls would become frightened if they had a glimpse of the record of the thoughts they have created, under the spell of their ever-changing moods,” says our Master.
When the physical body is left behind, all of our thoughts will still be echoing, like a vast chorus, and much more audibly when the consciousness is no longer insulated by the material blanket of the body. Hazrat Inayat Khan cites the Prophet Mohammed here, saying that the world, which had seemed so attractive while we were in it, will then appear before us as a horrible witch, and we will want to run away.
But that same longevity of thoughts can also help us: every harmonious thought, every thought of love and beauty, will also persist, and be there to give us welcome. Seek for harmony, then, and for beauty, and if we love sincerely, then by the compassion of the Only Being we can hope to be well received when we go from this world to the next.
*Quotations in this post are taken from “The Soul Whence and Whither,” vol. I of the Message series.