- Author Hidayat Inayat-Khan
I would like to tell you something about the work of the Movement and about the two aspects of this work. One aspect is the school of inner culture represented by the Sufi Order, the school which originated in ancient Egypt. As God is one, as truth is one, so a school of inner culture is one, revealed at different times in different ways. Traces of this school can be found in all periods of history, at the time of Abraham, at the time of Moses and of Jesus Christ and of Mohammed.
Different leaders of the school such as Ali, Rumi, or Qadir, had each their particular way of teaching. One had his work in India, another in Persia, another in Arabia. They had to give their wisdom in consideration of the knowledge and the religion of the people, and therefore the school of the Sufis, which our Order represents, is without doubt the same school of inner culture as it has always been.
For the people of the West to whom the teaching is given it is not the same as for the people of the East; therefore in view of this work this particular school of the Sufi Order is a pioneer, but not as a Sufi school; as such it is as ancient as the mountains of the Himalayas.
The order has, so to speak, two bodies; an inner body and an outer body. The outer body is an institution, a society, a school, organized so that the teaching may be circulated among the seekers of truth in different parts of the world. However much I personally feel inclined to be free from an organization, as many true seekers after truth do, I realize that it is impossible to live on earth without a physical body, and that it is necessary; it has been necessary in all ages in some form or other.
The other body is the inner body, which contains four circles, each one higher than the other, and my Mureeds are privileged to have the opportunity of going from one circle to the other in order to accomplish the spiritual object. Each circle has its initiates, and one circle prepares a Mureed for the next. This school is a school of quietism; the aim is to become ourselves examples in proving our philosophy, but not by trying to prove it through the power of words and argument. For every individual has a separate belief, and at each step during his progress he changes his belief; therefore a Sufi’s belief is in the goal. He makes a staircase of his beliefs, and he has to climb through several beliefs in order to come to the realization which may be called the goal.
This school teaches us to keep our learning, our power, and our inspiration in a humble guise; not to show ourselves any better than others in thought, in piety, or in spirituality.
The idea of the Sufi is that the heart must produce light in order that all things may become clear. The great sages, saints, and masters, were they great students? They were students of life. Everything they saw became revealed to them. You can perceive how this is possible in your own experience. There are times when you are confused, when you are depressed, times when you do not know why you are breaking glasses or upsetting cups; but when your mind is in a state of tranquillity, then you can perceive things better. Pain, bitterness, doubt, anger, fear — all these things intoxicate and confuse man so much that the light of heaven in his heart is covered. But it is still there; the thing to do is to prepare the body and mind so that the light can shine of itself and show us the path.
Suppose Murshid told you this is right and that is wrong. How long will he be able to tell you this? You have your whole life before you! The work of Murshid is to tell you how to prepare yourself so that the light within you can show you the path.
Then there is another aspect of the Sufi Movement, about which little can be said, but the Mureeds whose souls sometimes realize the truth should know that this aspect is the most important one. It is to bring about a better understanding between nations, races, and classes, and between the followers of different religions. It is the destiny of the Message to awaken humanity to a new spiritual consciousness; and the Message is not restricted to one nation, race, or class of people. This part of the Sufi Movement is for all. No doubt it is beyond human powers even to imagine having such an undertaking, but this is not man’s enterprise; it is the call from above which strikes the note of the day.
Are we anxious about its success? No, we do not work for success. Success is not the only power that encourages us. It is the work itself which is our encouragement and power, just like on a farm some people are engaged in cultivating the soil, while others are engaged in sowing the seed or in harvesting the crop, and again others must sell and others eat. We shall do our duty and leave the rest to God and His creation. Those Mureeds who re-echo the voice of Murshid and who believe in the call of God should feel their responsibility as being part of the embodiment of the Movement: to try and do all they can in order to help and spread the cause of God.
Now the question which I am often asked is: what can we do? I will answer that we, everyone of us, as individuals, have our kingdom, smaller or greater; we have our sphere, we have our friends. If we really believe in the value of the Message and in the virtue of serving the Message, there are a thousand ways in which we can serve. And as to worldly duties, as long as we are in this world we shall always have them, we shall never be far form them. But besides worldly duties there is our duty towards God and humanity. If worldly duties can take twelve hours of our life we can easily spare one hour for the service of God. There are many things we can do, and the first and the most important is to make ourselves examples of what we think to be the ideal. In this way we will prove the truth of that which we believe; and there is no greater and better way of spreading the Message than this. You will become satisfied with yourself, you will make Murshid proud of you, and you will please God by making yourself into that which you consider to be good and right.
And the other way is to talk or read from time to time to your friends about these subjects when you invite them to tea or dinner. What is the use of wasting one’s energy by talking at table about things that matter very little? think how much it would help the cause if each Mureed created interest in this way among his friends!
Besides, there is the unfortunate need of money which one sees everywhere, and especially when it is a question of religion or philosophy. After hearing about philosophy and truth, as soon as a person hears the word ‘money’ his first thought is: what relation is there between heaven and earth? Here is a cause for love, life, spirituality; what has money to do with it? But they cannot imagine that heaven has to be on earth. If it were a theatre or a cinema, without any question it would be a monetary success, but a spiritual cause which has thousands of demands needs money. Every penny can be helpful for the reason that it is a world mission, and that the responsibility of rendering service to the world rests upon its shoulders. And when one says that the message of God should be helped by God, that is right; it is helped by God from all sides, every wave of the sea is helping it, but that does not mean that we, who can realize its truth and value, should not help also!
Not everyone is in a position to do so. Circumstances are not alike; but everyone has some means which are even more valuable than money. These means are to think and to pray that this work which is done for humanity, and this path which is full of thorns, may become easy. No doubt prayer has a greater power than anything else in the world, and in this way everyone in the Movement who feels sympathy with the cause and realizes its value can help.
As to the results we do not need to be anxious. There is one power, which exists especially on the spiritual path, and that power is faith; and if that faith is kept solid from beginning to end, there is no question about a sure success.