Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote a number of plays as a way of expressing the Sufi Message, and the play ‘Una’ has sometimes been performed in retreats and Summer Schools. The scene of the costume ball that Una is forced to attend, at which guests dress as they suppose they were in a previous life, is always boisterously enjoyable. Here Hazrat Inayat tells the story of ‘Una’, with his own explanation of the inner meaning of the sculptor’s relationship with her sculpture.
There was an artist. This artist was devoted to her art; nothing else in the world had attraction for her. She had a studio, and whenever she had a moment to spare her first thought was to go to that studio and to work on a statue she was making.
People could not understand her, for it is not everybody who is devoted to one thing like this. For a time a person interests himself in art, at other times in something else–in the home, in the theatre.
But she did not mind. She went every day to her studio and spent most of her time in making this work of art, the only work of art that she made in her life. And the more the work progressed, the more she began to feel delighted with it, attracted by the beauty to which she was devoting her time. And it began to manifest to her eyes, and she began to communicate with that beauty. It was no longer a statue for her, it was a living being.
The moment the statue was finished she could not believe her eyes that it had been made by her. She forgot the work that she had put into the statue and the time that the statue had taken, the thought, the enthusiasm. The world did not exist for her, only this beauty which was produced before her. She could not believe for a moment that this could be a dead statue. She saw there a living beauty, more living than anything else in the world, inspiring and revealing. She felt exalted by the beauty of the statue.
And she was so overcome by the impression that the statue made on her that she knelt down before this perfect vision of beauty with all humility, and asked the statue to speak, forgetting entirely that it was her own work.
And as God is in all things and all beings, as God Himself is all beauty that there is, and as God answers from everywhere if the heart is ready to listen to that answer, and as God is ready to communicate with the soul who is awakened to the beauty of God, there came a voice from the statue: “If you love me, there is only one condition, and that is to take this bowl of poison from my hand. If you wish me to be living, you no more will live. Is it acceptable?”
“Yes,” she said. “You are beauty, you are the beloved, you are the one to whom I give all my thought, my admiration, my worship. Even my life I will give to you.”
“Then take this bowl of poison,” said the statue, “that you may no longer be.”
For her it was nectar to feel, “I shall now be free from being. That beauty will be, the beauty that I have worshipped and admired will remain. I need no longer be.”
She took the bowl of poison and fell dead. The statue lifter her and by kissing her gave her its own life, the life of beauty and sacredness, the life which is everlasting and eternal.
This story is an allegory of the worship of God.