- Author Hazrat Inayat Khan
I would like to say a few words on the subject of Mureedship. To think that to be a Mureed is something like being a member of a certain society or club or institution is one thing, and to receive initiation in the sacred Order so that one may reach the spiritual goal is another. Thus this world can be seen from two points of view, and accordingly there are two kinds of people.
One person is he who walks in this world looking on the surface for things that attract his mind. He lives a superficial life. But on the same earth there is another person who, being attracted by all things of the world, still holds on to the thought of reality, who still looks for reality in all things and in all walks of life. Be it in business or in his profession, be it in his domestic life or in friendship and acquaintance, in all things he wants to find a glimpse of reality. That is the man who lives a serious life; it is a different person.
And it is the same with coming to the Sufi Movement as a member. One person may stay a member for twenty years, but he will remain where he is. The superficial person may live for three hundred years on earth, but he will remain as much a stranger as everybody else. Therefore what I wish to say is particularly to those Mureeds who had been looking for a teacher in order to try to become a Mureed. It might sound to you as something new, something strange, and you may ask, «Why does Murshid put such an emphasis on this»? but it is better that you should know it beforehand rather than knowing it after you have lost your opportunity. This is a most serious thing; but whether you take the small things of life seriously and earnestly or not, it is earnestness and sincerity which make a man a person, a personality.
There are five things which are asked of a Mureed, which are expected from a serious disciple, and the first of these is the clear understanding of the exercises given to him. These are neither gymnastics nor mathematical examples, theories, or conceptions. They are instructions of a sacred kind, and they must be carried out with the sacred feeling that they are to be considered more than a religious ritual. This is well known in the East. The exercises given by the Guru, by the teacher, are valued more than anything else in the world, for in these exercises a power is hidden which leads to the goal. Outwardly they are only exercises, but inwardly they are the power of which is said in the Bible, «Straight is the way and narrow is the gate.»
And now coming to the manner of practicing. The exercises should be practiced regularly without missing them, because if one day one misses them one has to begin anew. Not all is lost but much of it. Besides they must be done with full attention. One must not speak about them or discuss these practices with others, except with the one who is given the charge of leading the esoteric group. By speaking about them you lose that real strength which is hidden in de sacred word.
Also, you will try to avoid the moods that come to a beginner, to a new student of mysticism. there may come a day that he throws his exercises away saying, «I am tired of it all» and another day when he feels well he things, «I will begin to practice again». these moods in which a Mureed may give up practicing come at a time of despair, of distress, but in this way he will not get any result from his practices. If he says, «I have done enough», and then after realizing that after all he has profited by these exercises it comes to his mind that he had better begin again because there is something in it, by that time much is lost. But besides this loss, this change of mentality – one day one thing and another day another thing – this is still worse.
The second thing which is most essential is the application of the practices in everyday life. If you practice them for half an hour every day and then forget about them, you do as many people who go to church on Sunday, but what do they do the six other days of the week? They never think about it. And so if the practices are done once a day, and forgotten all the rest of the day, then their purpose is not achieved. The practice is like the winding of a clock; after the winding the mechanism must work. I do not mean to say that one must meditate all day long, but that one should think about it.
The third thing which is asked of a Mureed is the consideration of his duty towards his fellow-Mureeds. One might think, «I have received my initiation and my exercises, that is all I am concerned about; what do I care for the other Mureeds?» But if we all thought so then nothing would exist, neither families nor communities nor nations – nothing would exist. The great teachers who have come from time t time and whose work was with individuals, their fist and main aim was to unite; to unite relations, to unite friends. Their real principle as unity in the spiritual ideal, and in this principle they felt the message of God. Christ said, «Where there are three or four united in my name, there I am.» And so it is with the teaching of Krishna, who said, «I live among my devotees». the power of joining together in one spiritual ideal is much greater than any other power conceivable.
In Arabia the destiny of the Prophet Mohammed was to teach the Arabs, who are inclined to suddenly become angry with one another and who when angry use fists or knives. Many of them are still the same. Nevertheless, if two Arabs are fighting with knives and a third comes and says, «Think of the Prophet», they immediately throw their knives away and forget their anger and kiss each other’s hand. In the name of the Prophet they instantly become friends; if not they would think it to be an insult to the Prophet.
It is this unity that I would like to see in my Mureeds. We are few, we have faults, we have shortcomings; for that very reason we must be friendly towards each other, forgive each other and unite with each other. To help our fellow-Mureeds in their time of need, to serve them in every small way we can, to be ready to sympathize with them in bad times. That will be the practice of Sufism, and in that way you will show the result of your practices.
And now coming to the cause. Will you only concern yourself with your spiritual development, or will you consider that you have some obligation towards the cause, the cause which is an infant and which perhaps will remain an infant for many years to come? There is no time in a person’s life when he needs more care and must be more looked after than infancy. The Sufi cause is in its infancy, and it asks your cooperation, your help, in every way. This does not mean that you should leave your work and your duties and give all your time and thought to the cause; no, it only means that those who can give one minute of their time, one thought in twenty-four hours, to the furtherance of the cause, even that is to be appreciated. You need not say, «I am unable to further the cause»; the very fact that we are alive makes us able to do it. And whatever we can do, it will always help a little.
At the same time we should not neglect to appreciate those who give their time, thought, service, and life to the cause. It is your appreciation more than anything else that will help them. But if you ignore them and only know the Sufi Center and your practices, but do not know the workers, it would not be right. Your appreciation will help and strengthen those in whom you will find a sincere devotion and whose service and thought is given freely to further the cause.
As during the war we all did our bit, that is my appeal to my Mureeds in the Sufi cause. You are not asked to give all your time and thought to it; one moment to the furthering of the cause, even one thought, would help.
And now coming to Murshid in whose hand you have received your initiation. Is this relationship to be considered as that between professor and student, or between general and soldier, or between the head of the office and the clerk? No, the sympathy of Murshid for his Mureeds is like that of a father and mother, more sacred than any relationship one can consider. My Murshid once told me, «There are many things that make people friends, but this one friendship which is made in the path of God and truth is most valuable, for it is a friendship that lasts forever.» Murshid is to be considered the one who stands with you in presence and in absence, in sorrow and in joy, always. In this relationship a link with Murshid is established, and this link will become a living thing in your life.
There is a story of a Mureed who was a peasant, a simple man living in a village. And some great saint came, and it was made known to the villagers that anyone who would see this saint would be allowed to enter heaven without one question asked about his deeds on earth. People were curious. Everyone wishes to enter heaven more easily. But this young man was not attracted. The teacher, having heard that the whole village had come to him except this young man, was curious and went to him and asked, «Why did you not come to me»? The young man answered, «It is not that I do not believe what the people say, only, I am already the Mureed of a teacher who has passed from this earth, and I do not yet know whether he is in heaven or in the other plane. By seeing you I should be privileged to enter heaven, but I would rather prefer the other place if I could be there with my teacher.» It is with this kind of faith that one arrives at the real stage of realization, but if the mind is divided it is like a tree which bears some fruits but not satisfactory ones.
In every relationship there is some sacredness. Even in a worldly friendship there is something sacred. But then when two people are united on this path of the understanding of life, a path which leads to God and to truth, in the initiation, there cannot be a greater, a more sacred relationship than this.
Once a candidate came to a Murshid and wanted to become a Mureed. He asked, «Will you accept me as your pupil»? «Yes,» said the teacher. «But I am very unworthy», the Mureed said, «I have many faults». The teacher answered, «It does not matter». But the man said, «If you knew my faults you would never accept me. Shall I tell you in order to be sure»? «Yes», said the teacher, «tell me». the man said, «The first fault I have is that I drink». The Murshid said, «that is nothing, is that all»? The Mureed was very pleased, but he added, «I have a worse fault, and that is that I like to gamble». «that is nothing», said the teacher. The Mureed was still more pleased, and so he mentioned two, three more faults, and every time the Murshid said, «It does not matter». But then the teacher said, «Now I have accepted you with all your faults, now you must accept one condition of me». «Yes, of course», the man answered. The Murshid then said, «My condition is that you may do all these things you have told me about just now, but you may not do them in my presence. Now you go». And he went. And one day he had a fancy to go to the tavern, and as he was entering the tavern he sees (Hazrat: saw) the Murshid standing before him. He said, «What do I do? I cannot enter the tavern; I must go back». Another day he felt a great desire to gamble, after such a long time he had not done it. But what he sees is the face of his teacher, so he turned back from there.
One day he went to pay homage to his Murshid, who asked him how he was getting on with his faults. «Oh», he said, «I feel a great desire to be as I have been, but you never leave me alone, you are always with me. I try to find a moment when you are not there, but I cannot find it!»
Friends, after all, what is the teacher? The teacher is placed before his Mureeds as the doll before the child: the child plays with the doll, but by playing with the doll it learns the duties of the home. The Murshid is placed before the Mureeds to sympathize with and to appreciate all what is leading towards the goal. It is not meant that the Murshid should be held high for ever, in order that all may consider that Murshid is so highly evolved. That is not the question. Think of the teaching of Buddha. With all the teachings he has given, with all the esteem with which his image is placed and worshiped in the temple, his principal teaching is to become Buddha oneself. All this worship does not mean, «You stay in your place and hold Buddha high»; what is meant is, «Become Buddha»!
There is aristocracy and there is democracy, two things of which one speaks very much in the modern world. But it is the understanding of these things that will make that man will find the meaning of true democracy, which is spiritual aristocracy.