The Mysticism of Sound: FORM – Hazrat Inayat Khan

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ART : Sufi Mystic – unknown artist


Volume II – The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word

Part I: The Mysticism of Sound

Chapter V

The light from which all life comes exists in three aspects, namely, the aspect which manifests as intelligence, the light of the abstract and the light of the sun. The Activity of this one light functions in three different aspects. The first is caused by a slow and solemn activity in the eternal consciousness, which may be called consciousness or intelligence. It is intelligence when there is nothing before it to be conscious of. When there is something intelligible before it, the same intelligence becomes consciousness. A normal activity in the light of intelligence causes the light of the abstract at the time when the abstract sound turns into light. This light becomes a torch for the seer who is journeying towards the eternal goal. The same light in its intense activity appears as the sun. No person would readily believe that intelligence, abstract light, and the sun are one and the same, yet language does not contradict itself, and all three have always been called by the name of light.

These three aspects of the one light form the idea that lies behind the doctrine of the Trinity, and that of Trimurti which existed thousands of years before Christianity among the Hindus and which denotes the three aspects of the One, the One being three. Substance develops from a ray to an atom, but before this it exists as a vibration. What man sees he accepts as something existent, and what he cannot see does not exist for him. All that man perceives, sees and feels is matter, and that which is the source and cause of all is spirit.

The philosophy of form may be understood by the study of the process by which the unseen life manifests into the seen. As the fine waves of vibrations produce sound, so the gross waves produce light. This is the manner in which the unseen, incomprehensible, and imperceptible life becomes gradually known, by first becoming audible and then visible; and this is the origin and only source of all form.

The sun therefore is the first form seen by the eyes, and it is the origin and source of all forms in the objective world; as such it has been worshipped by the ancients as God, and we can trace the origin and source of all religions in that mother-religion. We may trace this philosophy in the words of Shams-i Tabriz, ‘When the sun showed his face then appeared the faces and forms of all worlds. His beauty showed their beauty; in his brightness they shone out; so by his rays we saw and knew and named them.’

All the myriad colors in the universe are but the different grades and shades of light, the creator of all elements, which has decorated the heavens so beautifully with sun, moon, planets, and stars; which has made the land and water; with all the beauties of the lower spheres, in some parts dull and in some parts bright, which man has named light and shade. The sun, moon, planets and stars, the brilliance of electricity, the lesser light of gas, lamp, candle, coal and wood, all show the sun reappearing in different forms; the sun is reflected in all things, be they dull pebbles or sparkling diamonds, and their radiance is according to their capability of reflection. This shows that light is the one and only source, and the cause of the whole creation. ‘God is the light of the heaven and of the earth’, the Quran says, and we read in Genesis, ‘And God said: let there be light, and there was light’.

All forms on whatever plane they exist, are molded under the law of affinity. Every atom attracts towards itself the atom of its own element; every positive atom attracts the negative atom of its own element; every negative attracts the positive; yet each attraction is different and distinct. These atoms group together and make a form. The atoms of the abstract plane group together and make forms of light and color; these and all different forms of the finer forces of life are seen by the seer. The forms of the mental plane are composed of the atoms of that plane; these are seen by the mind’s eye and are called imagination. On the physical plane this process may be seen in a more concrete form.

The mystic sees on the abstract plane one or other element predominating at a certain time, either ether, air, fire, water or earth. Every element in the finer forces of life is rendered intelligible by the direction of its activity and color; and the various forms of light show its different rates of activity. For instance the feeling of humor develops into greater humor, and sadness into a deeper sorrow, and so it is with the imagination: every pleasant thought develops pleasure and expands into still pleasanter thought, and every disagreeable imagination grows and becomes more intense. Again, on the physical plane we not only see men dwelling together in cities and villages, but even beasts and birds living in flocks and herds; coal is found in the coal-mine, and gold in the gold-mine; the forest contains thousands of trees, where as the desert holds not a single one. All this proves the power of affinity which collects and groups the kindred atoms, and makes of them numerous forms, there by creating an illusion before the eye of man who thus forgets the one source in the manifestation of variety.

The direction taken by every element to make a form depends upon the nature of its activity. For instance, an activity following a horizontal direction shows the earth element, a downward direction the water element, an upward direction the fire element; the activity that moves in a zigzag direction shows the air element, and the form taken by ether is indistinct and misty. Therefore the nature of all things is made plain to the seer by their form and shape, and from their color their element is known, yellow being the color of earth, green of water, red of fire, blue of air, and gray of ether. The mingling of these elements produces mixed colors of innumerable shades and tones, and the variety of color in nature bears evidence of the unlimited life behind it.

Every activity of vibrations produces a certain sound, according to its dome of resonance, and according to the capacity of the mold in which the form is shaped. This explains the idea behind the ancient Hindu word Nada Brahma, which means sound, the Creator God.

By the law of construction and destruction, as well as by addition and reduction, the different forms in this objective world group together and change. A close study of the constant grouping and dispersing of the clouds will reveal many different forms within a few minutes, and this is a key to the same process which can be seen all through nature. The construction and destruction, addition and reduction in forms all take place under the influence of time and space. Each form is shaped and changed subject to this law, for the substance differs according to the length, breadth, depth, height and shape of the mold wherein the form is fashioned and the features are formed according to the impression pressed upon it. It takes time to make a young and tender leaf green, and again to change it from green to red and yellow; and it is space that makes of water either a ditch, well, pond, stream, river or ocean.

The dissimilarity in the features of various races in different periods can be accounted for by the law of time and space, together with climatic and racial causes. The Afghans resemble the natives of the Punjab, and the Singalese the people of Madras; Arabs are similar in feature to the Persians, and the Chinese closely resemble the Japanese; Tibetans resemble the natives of Bhutan, and the Burmese closely resemble the Siamese. All this proves that the proximity of the lands which they inhabit is largely the cause of likeness in feature. As wide as is the distance of space, so wide is the difference in feature among people. The similarity in form of germs, worms and insects is accounted for by the same reason. Twin-born children as a rule resemble each other more closely than other children.

Form depends mostly upon reflection; it is the reflection of the sun in the moon that makes the moon appear round like the sun. All the lower creation evolves by the same law. Animals which begin to resemble man are those which are in his surroundings and see him daily. A man who has the care of animals begins to resemble them, and we see that the butler of a colonel has the bearing of a soldier, and a maid working in a nunnery in time becomes like a nun.

As all things are subject to change, no one thing is the same as it was a moment before, although the change may not be noticeable, for only a definite change is perceptible. In a flower there is the change from bud to blossom, and in a fruit from the unripe to the ripe state.

Even stones change, and some among them have been known to become perceptibly altered even in the course of twenty-four hours.

Time has a great influence upon things and beings as may be seen by the change from infancy to youth, and from middle age to old age. In Sanskrit, therefore, time is called Kala which means destruction, as no change is possible without destruction; in other words destruction may be described as change. All things natural and artificial that we see today differ vastly in their form from what they were several thousand years ago, and not only can this be noticed in such things as fruit, flowers, birds, and animals, but also in the human race; for from time to time the structure of man has undergone various changes.

The form of man is divided into two parts, each part having its special attributes. The head is the spiritual body, and the lower part the material body. Therefore, in comparison with the body, the head has far greater importance; thereby one individual is able to recognize another, as the head is the only distinctive part of man. The face is expressive of man’s nature and condition of life, also of his past, present and future.

When asked if the face would be burned in the fire of hell, the Prophet answered, ‘No, the face will not be burned, for Allah hath said, We have modeled man in Our own image’.

The likeness between things and beings, as well as between beasts and birds, animals and man, can tell us a great deal about this secret of their nature. The sciences of phrenology and physiology were discovered not only by examining the lives of men of various features, but chiefly by studying the similarity that exists between them and animals. For instance a man having the features of a tiger will have a dominant nature, coupled with courage, anger and cruelty. A man with a face resembling a horse is by nature subservient; a man with a face like a dog will have a pugnacious tendency, while a mouse-like face shows timidity.

There are four sources from which the human face and form are derived, and these account for the changes which take place in them. These are: the inherent attributes of his soul; the influence of his heritage; the impressions of his surroundings; and lastly the impression of himself and of his thoughts and deeds, the clothes he wears, the food he eats, the air he breathes, and the way he lives.

In the first of these sources man is helpless for he has no choice; it was not the desire of the tiger to be a tiger, neither did a monkey choose to be a monkey, and it was not the choice of the infant to be born a male or a female. This proves that the first source of man’s form depends upon the inherent attributes brought by his soul. Words never can express adequately the wisdom of the Creator who not only fashioned and formed the world, but has given to each being the form suited to his needs. The animals of the cold zones are provided with thick fur as a protection against the cold; to the beasts of the tropics a suitable form is given; the birds of the sea have wings fit for the sea, and those of the earth are provided with wings suitable for the earth. Birds and animals have forms which accord with their habits in life. The form of man proclaims his grade of evolution, his nature, his past and present, as well as his race, nation and surroundings, character and fate.

Inayat Khan blog 8.7.

unknown artist

In the second instance man inherits beauty or its opposite from his ancestors, but in the third and fourth his form depends upon how he builds it. The build of his form depends upon the balance and regularity of his life, and upon the impressions he receives from the world; for in accordance with the attitude he takes towards life, his every thought and action adds or takes away, or removes to another place, the atoms of his body, thus forming the lines and muscles of form and feature. For instance the face of a man speaks his joy, sorrow, pleasure, displeasure, sincerity, insincerity, and all that is developed in him. The muscles of his head tell the phrenologist his condition in life.

There is a form in the thought and feelings which produces a beautiful or ugly effect. It is the nature of evolution for all beings, from the lowest to the highest stage of manifestation, to evolve by being connected with a more perfect form. Animals approaching man in their evolution resemble primitive man, and animals in contact with man acquire in their form traces of the likeness of man. This may be understood by a close study of the features of man in the past, and of the improvement which as been made in them.

The nature of creation is that it is progressing always towards beauty. ‘God is beautiful, and He loves beauty’, says the [Hadith]. The nature of the body is to beautify itself; the nature of the mind is to have beautiful thoughts; the longing of the heart is for beautiful feelings. Therefore an infant should grow more beautiful every day, and ignorance seeks to become intelligence. When the progress is in a contrary direction, it shows that the individual has lost the track of natural progress. There are two forms, the natural and the artificial, the latter being a copy of the former.

checked 22-Oct-2005


THE LIFE OF A SAGE IN THE EAST (2) Hazrat Inayat Khan @ Wahiduddin

Sufi Mystic artist unknown art

Art : Sufi Mystic – unknown artist


Volume XII – The Divinity of the Human Soul

Part I: The Vision of God and Man and other Lectures



HOWEVER good and beautiful life in the world is, how true it is that it leaves so small a margin in which to give oneself the thought of God and truth! The daily duties take up every moment of one’s time, and even if there is anything left over there is no end to the worries; and then there is disease and pain and suffering and all manner of other troubles.

A good man must have more patience, as he has to give in to people more and more; but although he will have his troubles, a wicked man will have twice as many, for he has not only the trouble which comes to a good person but also the troubles brought about by his own wickedness. The load is double.

Seclusion, silence, thoughtfulness, meditation, gentleness, all these make the rhythm of one’s life appropriate for receiving inspiration, revelation, and communion, at-one-ment with God. Perhaps you have noticed how things vary on different days. On some days you are very busy, enthusiastic about your work, and on such days you will not feel spiritually or religiously inclined because everything you do demands energy; while on other days you feel quite different, more religious, more desirous of seeking after truth. The troubles and worries of the world do not bother you so much, and the divine things and higher aspirations come more naturally. How is this? It is just rhythm, your mind, body, and whole being go through a certain rhythm, called Sabtal in Sufi terms. This is a rhythm whereby your mind, body, and soul come to feel an exaltation, an inclination towards higher things. It is just like the rising of a wave. A heart frozen through cold, through selfishness, has become liquid through some emotion, affection, love, or distress, sorrow, or despair. It becomes like an ocean when the waves form. The waves make a rhythm, a rhythm which soothes the mind, and which gives you joy and peace and a feeling of being inclined towards a higher truth. This is the life of the Sanyasi, the life adapted to higher aspirations and thought, to communication with the higher life.

At other times the work of the Sanyasi is quiet. He is silent, yet sometimes he does speak to help those who come to him wishing to be guided through there wordily struggles. Then he becomes their guru. Most gurus belong to the rank of the Sanyasi, those who have adopted a life of retirement and who, while living this life, give teaching to pupils.

Buddhist sages:

Then there are the Buddhist sages. Their life is different again. The Buddhist sage can begin his kind of life from the very first. He can become a sage at any age. He becomes a chela, and his living comes to him wherever he goes. The house of any Buddhist is open to a sage; no one closes his door to him, so he never worries about his food, for he will get it wherever he goes.

The same respect is paid to the Buddhist sage as to the Hindu sage, for he has renounced the world just like the vairagi or the sant. His life is devoted to teaching people good morals and to making their lives happy. Buddhists hold great celebrations all through the country to commemorate their sages. They never consider them as dead; they are so sure they have gone on to a new and better life. And this is most certainly true.

Sufi sages:

Lastly we come to speak of the Sufi sages. Here also we find two kinds, the Rind and the Salik. Those who are called faqirs all belong to the Rind. Their life consists in learning to disregard all worldly things. A person fears most being without such things, and this makes him a hypocrite all his life, for he fears missing the things of the world, so this is the first thing to learn to disregard. This is why wine is mentioned so often in the poetry of Rumi, Sadi Jami, Hafiz, and Omar Khayyam. The country where they lived and died was Muslim, and wine was despised and abhorred, so they chose this word as well as other words abhorrent to the religion, and used them in their poetry to express the philosophy of human nature, while incurring the displeasure of the people in general. They hid the action of God and man within these words: wine, jar, glass, rose, etc.

Among these Rind are to be found the so-called dancing dervishes. The idea is that dancing implies motion, and motion means life; dancing expresses the joy of life. And what is joy? Joy is the sign of a good soul, of a good heart. You always notice that when a convivial person, a good soul, a good-hearted man, comes into your life he brings delight to all. Whenever he speaks it is in good humor, and he brings pleasantness and joy. Being joyous himself he makes others cheerful. It is not hypocrisy; he is alive; he is joyous.

Take another person who comes weeping; he will make you want to weep too. Wherever he goes he brings gloom; he is taking misery along with him, and so he makes everyone else miserable. Now what does this mean? It just means that in the depth of his heart there is some decay. He is not enjoying life fully. The sign of life is having goodness, beauty, strength in your disposition, which means that you have some joy and are conscious of beauty, goodness, and joy. Having joy in your nature and disposition, you bring it to everybody you meet. Well, that is the state of the dervish. He says to himself, ‘If I may not dance, what shall I do?’ Possessing the joy of the presence of his Beloved, he feels the Sublimity of nature; he is conscious of all the motion going on throughout nature. It intoxicates him like wine.

Besides, there is a certain ritual among some dervishes, and they trace its origin to the time ofΒ Β  Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Persian poet. It is related how on one occasion Rumi, absorbed in the thought of all life as being one beauty, in the thought of the motion and rhythm of life, began to revolve; and while he circled round and round in front of his pupils, the skirt of his garment as it whirled produced such a beautiful effect that they stored it in their memory for ever after. So the dance celebrates this memory.

The teaching of Jesus Christ will be found among the dervishes; indeed, not only his teaching but his life too. If you wished to see a living example of Christ’s life you could see it among the dervishes, for among them you will find some who have taken a vow of poverty and chastity, as in earliest times. There is no compulsion of any kind about it; they do not have to follow this life; it depends on whether they wish to follow the same kind of life that Christ lived. Wherever you traveled in India or Persia, you will see this whenever you meet a true dervish.

The other form of the Sufi path is that of the Salik. The Salik is a person who believes that he can be a sage and at the same time follow his worldly occupation. His work is making his life amidst the responsibilities of everyday affairs, and at the same time he does this for a higher purpose; his mind is fixed on higher aspirations even while in the world. Every act in all the affairs of life is directed towards higher aspirations, and finally every thought in everything that he is doing is directed towards this higher aspiration. So you find that the Salik is a worldly man, with the responsibility of a home or profession or business or trade, and yet when he has attained to that height he can be made a murshid; he can be a teacher. It is not necessary to renounce the world and become a monk; he can be a murshid even though he is still working in the world.

It is not that a murshid gives his knowledge to someone else. It is not possible to give one’s knowledge that way, so the murshid does not profess to be able to do this or that. His work is to help another person to find out for himself, to discover for himself what is true and what is not. There are no doctrines to impart, there are no principles to lay down, and there are no tenets according to which his pupils must order their lives. He is just a guide along the path. He is the one who kindles the light that is already in the pupil. He does not stand before the pupil as a priest; he is as a brother, a colleague, a friend. As he is just a human being he is limited, exactly as the pupil is; he is liable to make mistakes and to have failures as anyone. He enjoys no special authority, nor is he one who stands apart in holiness. He will say, ‘ I am not more holy than any other person; if he is not holy, no more am I.’ No, the murshid is the friend of the mureed; he is a friend on a path, which the mureed has not yet trodden. So he can advise him if the mureed desires to be guided, and he can be his friend if the mureed desires him to be a friend. He can solve the mureed’s problems; he can show him how to understand what kind of life is best for him; he can show him what truth is and how to attain to it.

The sage in the East is regarded everywhere with respect, whether he be a murshid, a sadhu, a sanyasi, or a sant. The name does not signify. One will hear that Hindu and Buddhist and Sufi sages are all different from one another. Well, that is true; they can be different just as in Western countries there are differences in the churches. For all that, there is really no difference between the sadhu, the sanyasi, and the sant. Both Hindu and Muslim will bow before the sage, whether he be Buddhist, Vedantist, or Sufi. No one makes any distinction. Every sage is just a person on the path of truth, and so people respect him, though the feeling which one receives from a sage may be a little different in each case. But they all bring with them a light and an inspiration, which are quite remarkable, as I know from my own experience.

When one is in the presence of a vairagi everything seems faded and pale, as if nothing in life had any value; it seems as if one had risen above all weakness and above all earthly goods. One receives a feeling of kingliness, as if one were above everything; it seems as if all else was just a hindrance. That is the feeling one gets.

In the presence of a sanyasi the feeling is different again. One has a sense of inspiration, of revolution. All the problems of life seem to be settled at once in his mere presence. It is like a light illuminating one, so that one begins to feel things and look upon them differently. The feeling one gets in the presence of a Buddhist sage is a moral experience. One gets a feeling of self-sacrifice, of gentleness, goodness, and sympathy for every living creature.

When one is in the presence of a dervish of the Sufis one gets a feeling of ecstasy, which Omar Khayyam calls wine. It is an atmosphere charged with magnetism; there is a sense of intoxication, a spiritual intoxication which could never be compared with any effects of wine of the worldly kind.

Lastly, when one is in the presence of a Salik one feels as if one’s eyes had been opened so as to perceive all the beauty there is in the world, the beauty of inner planes, the beauty of outer planes, the beauty of the whole manifestation of life. It is as if the curtain had risen upon a stage as soon as one had arrived and one found the stage full of every imaginable beauty. Some wonderful beauty had hitherto been hidden, and now it is all opened out before one.

For those who expect wonder-working from a sage, who expect him to prove that he is a sage, I say that it is the very presence of a real sage which brings such great joy and deep peace. One need never seek a greater wonder than this evidence in order to know that one is in the presence of a true sage.


Sufi Mystic artist unknown art

Art : Sufi Mystic – unknown artist

THE LIFE OF THE SAGE IN THE EAST – Hazrat Inayat Khan @ Wahiduddin

SUFI by S.a. Noory - Watercolour

ART : Sufi – by S.a. Noory – Watercolour

Volume XII – The Divinity of the Human Soul

Part I: The Vision of God and Man and other Lectures



WHEN I reflect on the English word ‘sage’ it seems to me that it must come from two different roots, of which one is to be found in Sanskrit, namely ‘swaga’, and the other in Persian, ‘safa’ or ‘saga’. The first root means ‘heaven’, which suggests that the one who tries to become a sage is trying to attain heaven or to become it himself. The other root suggests that a sage is a person who wishes to construct something, one who is constructive. But, of course, there is no such word as ‘sage’ in any eastern language, though they possess a similar word, ‘sant’, which has the same meaning as ‘saint’. Then there is the word ‘sadhana’, which means ‘mastery’; and a Sadhu is one who masters life.

Now there are two different temperaments. There is the one which is always inclined to be contented with things, to accept everything as it comes, willing to live a retired life, resigned to everything that may happen. Indeed we see this temperament more or less in everyone. The other temperament is the one which wishes to master things, which has a desire to master every situation, to master another person, to master an undertaking, to act with will power and courage.

No doubt there is good and evil in both temperaments. The person who is always retired and resigned and contented with everything is not necessarily all good, without any evil in him, nor is the one who controls others and masters circumstances always an ideal person. It is just that there are these two temperaments, and everyone has more or less of the one or of the other.

The Sadhu and the Sant represent these two temperaments. The Sadhu controls and masters things; the Sant is resigned and contented in all situations and under all circumstances in life. He chooses a life of retirement and resignation. If you were to ask me which of the two is superior, I would say that there is neither superior nor inferior. If you work according to your temperament, that is the natural work for you, whereas if you work against your temperament it is like knocking yourself against a rock, and there is no hope of progress. But if you do what you are fitted for, and act accordingly to your temperament, then there will always be progress. The temperament is not a virtue to be displayed; neither is it something to be overcome so that one acts against one’s own nature. The sage recognizes these two temperaments and uses them accordingly, giving them more rein and rendering them more evident to the eye of the seer. He studies how they operate in people’s lives, and no doubt it is very interesting to study the lives of the sages in the East from this point of view; but to a stranger in these countries it is mystifying how their different behaviors can belong to sagehood or saintliness, because in the West people have the idea a sage must be kind, retiring and renouncing, or perhaps even a wonder-worker. So when such qualities are not in evidence it might seem that there is something wrong with the sages! To gain deep understanding of what the saintly life means, and to form a reasonable opinion about the sages in the East, much patience and tolerance are required. People are apt to be disappointed when they judge from appearances.

Hindu sages:

We will first take the sages among the Hindus. This race is naturally sage-like, and a Hindu sage may be a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya, or even a Shudra. There are sages among all castes in India. The idea has been worked out in that country for thousands of years; it is in the people’s blood, and this tendency can be seen even in a child. In my own childhood I derived great pleasure from being in the presence of a sage. At an age when others liked to play ball or play with kites and pigeons I yearned for solitude. It is as if such a desire has been carried on for thousands of years; not only have the sages made their impression on the race, but the race has also been impressed by sagehood itself. The people have the greatest respect for a sage; the greatest admiration, whether they are in business or in a profession, or students, or whatever walk of life they follow. Their greatest joy is to be at the feet of a sage; it is as if one were at the feet of the Deity. So the greatest thing in the world, the highest ideal of life, is some day to be able to become a sage. Not only does the Brahmin feel thus, but also the laborer, the Shudra, has the desire to be released from his toil and obtain a glimpse of that beauty which is hidden in the sage.

There are two kinds of Hindu sages: the Vairagi and the Sant. The one is ascetic, the other is saintly. The life of the Vairagi is very surprising, very extraordinary, and it is a great puzzle to those who meet him. One might be quite afraid of a man who was lying down with ashes rubbed all over his face and body, or perhaps sitting almost in a fire. His very appearance is so strange. He may be living in a graveyard outside the city, and going into the city only to obtain food for himself and his friends who are Vairgis like himself. At other times he goes off into the wilderness and lives there. He spends most of his time in meditation and in striving after mastery of the self.

The path which the Hindus follow is one of the four Yogas, and it is through Hatha Yoga, the path of abstinence, that the Vairagi endeavors to develop his spiritual life. In following this path, practices may be carried out which seem hideous, or at least very strange, to those who do not understand the underlying philosophy or ideal. Whatever he does, the object is to reach the spirit by killing everything that hides the spirit from his sight. One might say that he considers himself to be his own enemy, so he crushes everything that is not spirit, everything that interferes with his spiritual progress. He seeks to kill all that is mortal within himself, realizing that in this way he can attain to a higher and more powerful life.

No words can ever describe the experience he gains. No one else but he himself can possibly understand his experience; it is like a child who has never eaten sugar what the word ‘sweet’ means. Only they can understand the idea of sweet who have experienced sweetness. So a Vairagi is very powerful; to perform a miracle all he has to do is flick his hand. His whole life seems to stand before him as his obedient servant; all who see a Vairagi know that he is the master of life.

Once one is master of self one is master of life. The self is that which makes our life limited, so when we master it we master life, and we become its master in proportion to the degree in which we have attained self-mastery. Such a person is master even of plants and trees, or any living being; he has mastered everything. We cannot easily appreciate this, for it is quite unintelligible until one has oneself developed that mastery in one’s own life. Then it is possible to see how life seems to become obedient in all manner of relationships.

Do we not see, even in our own limited experience, how things go wrong when we have become weak in will or mind in one affair or another? It is not possible to master the conditions of life until we have learned to control ourselves. Once we have mastery over our self everything will go right. It is just the same as when a rider has no strength in his fingers, so that he cannot hold the horse’s reins. His fingers must obey his mind before the horse will obey. This is true of all circumstances in life, and of all the various conditions around us, our relations, our friends. We may complain that no one listens, that our servant does not do what we wish him to do, that our assistants do not carry out our orders. We may blame them when all the time it is ourselves who are to blame because we have not mastered ourselves first. After we have done this they will obey.

The Vairagi learns his lesson mainly through abstinence. Why is this? Because things go wrong through our own weakness; we do not do what we wish to do; we consider ourselves so small that we cannot achieve our own wishes.

There are many wonder-workers among the sages of the Vairagi category. But do not think that they will mount a platform and perform! Anyone who walks on to a stage to show off miracles is false, not real. The real Vairagi aims at his own mastery and is not concerned with doing tricks for the world to see, so no one sees them. The Vairagi’s whole life is a wonder, and yet the world is unaware of it. Not only is he a wonder in himself, but the whole world is a wonder to him, so great is his vision, his power, his inspiration. But his life is a very hard one; it is a great renunciation.

The other kind of sage is the Sant. He also grows through four stages, of which the first is Brahmacharya-shrama or the stage of study. He uses the intellect and he learns about life through both study and practice. This is an intellectual attainment of knowledge. From this he passes on to Grihastha-shrama, the attainment of knowledge through practical experience of the responsibilities of life – responsibility for wife, husband, children, home; the experience of living with neighbors, with enemies; doing one’s duty by them in every way. All this is necessary before he can become a sage.

Next there is Vanaprastha-shrama, in which the aspirant goes beyond serving just his family. His consciousness comes to realize that all he has done for his family so far has been done for himself, for his wife and children. Now he must live for others, for the people of the town, of the country, of the race; he must even do what he can for the whole world. This is the service of humanity, the path of duty.

Finally he arrives at Sanyasa-shrama, which is a life of retirement and solitude. This is the life of retreat. The man who has lived a life of honesty, virtue, goodness, and service is recognized as having done so by his wife and children, and they appreciate that now he should be allowed to follow the life of his own choice. They realize it is time for him to go into retreat. He must go into Sanyasa-shrama; but he does not do this unless his family consents.

Before describing this life I must explain why it is necessary. Why should not one always be in the world? Why the need for retirement at the latter part of life? This retirement is only too necessary. In the first place the man has given up all his life, all his time, all his energy, to the study of worldly things; secondly he has done all this in the interest of his family or perhaps for many people around him. It is right that he should some day have a rest. We ourselves feel justified in resting when Saturday comes, so why should he not have his Sunday after working all his life – a life that has been nothing but continual conflict every moment, proving him to be wise and kind and gentle, true, honest, and virtuous through it all? His patience and virtue have been tested through all the temptations to which he was exposed, through all of life’s difficulties, dangers, humiliations, and responsibilities that had to be faced. This man is surely justified, on reaching the fourth stage of life, in having a little peace, with no more worries or responsibilities of business or profession or even of his family. The world should leave him alone to think and meditate and let his muscles, bones, body, and mind be at rest. All this is natural. So you cannot imagine anyone in the East, and especially in India, not longing from the time he was born for the day when he can become a sage. Whatever may have been his occupation, profession, business, trade or family, he will have been longing for that moment when he could become a Vairagi at last, when he could cast off the load of responsibility that he had carried on his back all those years. He has longed for the time when he can give himself over to thinking about the truth, having now peace and rest and opportunity to communicate with the eternal Being. He has all the time been hoping for his desire to be granted when he may have a rest, with enough time to think of God and live that life wherein one becomes capable of being one with God.


SUFI by S.a. Noory - Watercolour

ART : Sufi – by S.a. Noory – Watercolour