|The following is adapted from The Message through Inayat Khan. This material was generally taken from talks in the early 1900's. As he was transmitting learning of the "sufi", to the west, some of his expression uses that term.|
One wonders, especially in the western part of the world, what the path of discipleship may really be. Although the path of discipleship was the path of those who followed Christ and all the other teachers, the modern trend of thought has taken away much of the ideal that existed in the past. It is not only that the ideal of discipleship seems to be little known; but even the ideal attitude towards motherhood and fatherhood, as well as towards the aged, seems to be less understood. This change in the ideal of the world has worked unwittingly to such an extent that world conflicts have been the result in our times. The troubles between nations and classes, in social and domestic life, all arise for one and the same reason. If someone were to ask me what is the cause of todays world unrest, I would answer that it is the lack of idealism.
In ancient times, the path of discipleship was a lesson to be applied in every direction of life. Man is not only his body; he is his soul. When a child is born on earth, that is not the time that the soul is born. The soul is born from the moment that consideration is born. This birth of consideration is, in reality, the birth of the soul. Man shows his soul in his consideration. Some become considerate as children, others perhaps do not awaken to consideration throughout their whole life. Love is called a divine element, but loves divine expression is nothing but consideration. It would not be very wrong to say that love without consideration is not fully divine. Love that has no consideration loses its fragrance.
Moreover, intelligence is not consideration. It is the balance of love and intelligence, it is the action and reaction of love and intelligence upon each other which produce consideration. Children who are considerate are more precious than jewels to their parents. The man who is considerate, the friend who has consideration, all those with whom we come into contact with who are considerate, we value the most.
Thus, it is the lesson of consideration given by the spiritual teachers which may be called the path of discipleship. This does not mean that the great teachers have wanted the discipleship, the devotion, or the respect of the pupils for themselves. If any teacher expects that, then he cannot be a teacher. How could he then be a spiritual teacher, as he must be above all of this in order to be above them? But respect, devotion and consideration are taught for the disciples own advantage, as an attribute that must be cultivated.
Until now, there has been a custom in India, which I myself experienced when young, that the first things the parents taught their children were respect for the teacher, consideration, and a kindly inclination. A modern child going to school has not the same idea. He thinks that the teacher is appointed to perform a certain duty. He hardly knows the teacher, nor does the teacher know him well. When he comes home, he has the same tendency towards his parents as he has at school. Most children grow up thinking that all the attention their parents give them is only part of their duty. At most, they will think, "Perhaps one day, if I am able, I shall repay it." The ancient idea was different. For instance, the Prophet Mohammad taught his disciples that the greatest debt every man had to pay was to his mother; and if he wished his sins to be forgiven, he must so act through life that at the end, his mother, before passing from this earth, would say, "I have forgiven you the debt." There was nothing a man could give or do, neither money nor service, which would enable him to say, "I have paid my debt." No, his mother must say, "I have forgiven you that debt." What does this teach? It teaches the value of that unselfish love which is above all earthly passion.
If we inquire of our self within for what purpose we have come to earth and why we have become human beings, wondering whether it would perhaps have been better to remain angels, the answer will certainly come to the wise, from his own heart, that we are here to experience a fuller life, to become fully human. For it is through being considerate that we become fully human. Every action done with consideration is valuable, every word said with consideration is precious.
The whole teaching of Christ "Blessed are the meek...the poor in spirit" teaches one thing: consideration. Although it seems simple, it is a hard lesson to learn. The more we wish to act according to this ideal, the more we realize that we fail. The farther we go on the path of consideration, the more delicate do the eyes of our perception become. We feel and regret the slightest mistake.
It is not every soul who takes the trouble to tread this path. Everyone is not a plant. There are many who are rocks, and these do not want to be considerate, they think it is too much trouble. Of course, the stone has no pain, it is the one who feels who has pain. Still, it is in feeling that there is life. Lifes joy is so great that even with pain, one would rather be a living being than a rock, for there is a joy in living, in feeling alive, which cannot be expressed in words. After how many millions of years has the life buried in stones and rocks risen to the human being! Even so, if a person wishes to stay a rock, he had better stay so, though the natural inclination in every person should be to develop the human qualities fully.
The first lesson that the pupil learns on the path of discipleship is what is called yaqin, which means confidence. This confidence he first gives to the one whom he considers to be his teacher, his spiritual guide. In the giving of confidence, three kinds of people can be distinguished. One gives a part of his confidence and cannot give another part. He is wobbling and thinking, "Yes, I believe that I have confidence; perhaps I have, perhaps I have not." And this sort of confidence puts him in a very difficult position. It would be better not to have it at all. It is like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold. In all things, this person will do the same, in business, in his profession. He trusts and doubts, he trusts and fears. He is not walking in the sky, he is not walking on the earth, he is in between the two. Then there is another kind, the one who gives his confidence to the teacher, but he is not sure about himself, he is not inwardly sure if he has given it. This person has no confidence in himself, he is not sure of himself; therefore, his confidence is of no value. And the third kind of person is the one who gives confidence because he feels confident. This confidence, alone, can rightfully be called yaqin.
Jesus Christ had people of all these categories around him. Thousands of people of the first category came, thronged round the Master, then left him. It did not take one moment for them to be attracted, nor one moment for them to leave the Master. In the second category are those who go on for some time, just as a drunken man goes on and on; but when they are sober again, things become clear to them and they ask themselves, "Where am I going? Not in the right direction." Thousands and thousands in this category followed the masters and prophets. However, those who stayed to the end of the test were those who, before giving their confidence to the teacher, first had confidence in their own heart.
It is they who, if the earth turned to water and the water turned to earth, if the sky came down and the earth rose up, would remain unshaken, firm in the belief that they had gained. It is by discipleship that a person learns the moral that in whatever position he is, as husband or wife, son or daughter, servant or friend, he will follow with confidence, firm and steady, wherever he goes.
After acquiring yaqin, there comes a test, and that is sacrifice. That is the ideal on the path of God. The most precious possession is not too valuable, nothing is too great to sacrifice. Not one of the disciples of the Prophet the real disciples thought even their life too great a sacrifice was needed. The story of Ali is very well known. A plot was discovered that one night, some enemies wanted to kill the Prophet, and Ali learned about it. He did not tell the Prophet, but persuaded him to leave home. He, himself, stayed, for he knew that if he went also, that the assassins would follow him and find out where the Prophet was. He slept in the same bed in place of the Prophet, so that the assassins might find him. However, at the same time, he did not intend to lose his life if he could fight them off. The consequence was that the plot failed, and the enemies could not touch either the Prophet nor Ali.
This is only one instance, but there are thousands of instances which show that the friendship formed in God and truth between the teacher and the disciple is for always, and that nothing in the world is able to break it. If the spiritual link cannot hold, then how can a material link keep intact? It will wear out, being only a worldly link. If spiritual thought cannot form a link between two souls, then what else can constitute such a strong tie that it can last both here and in the hereafter?
The third lesson on the path of discipleship is imitation. This means imitating the teacher in his every attitude, in his attitude towards the friend, towards the enemy, towards the foolish, and towards the wise. If the pupil acts as he wishes and the teacher acts as he wishes, then there is no benefit, however great the sacrifice and devotion. No teaching or meditation is as great or valuable as the imitation of the teacher on the path of truth. In the imitation of the teacher, the whole secret of the spiritual life is hidden. No doubt it is not only the imitation of his outward action, but also of his inner tendency.
The fourth lesson that the disciple learns is different again. This lesson is to turn the inward thought of the teacher outward until he grows to see his teacher in everyone and everything, in the wise, in the foolish, and in all forms.
Finally, by the fifth lesson, the disciple learns to give everything that he has so far given to his teacher devotion, sacrifice, service, respect to all, because he has learned to see his teacher in all.
One person will perhaps learn nothing all his life, whereas another will learn all five lessons in a short time. There is a story of a person who went to a teacher and said to him, "I would like to be your pupil, your disciple." The teacher said, "Yes, I shall be very glad." This man, conscious of so many faults, was surprised that the teacher was willing to accept him as a disciple. He said, "But I wonder if you know how many faults I have?" The teacher said, "Yes, I already know your faults, yet I accept you as my pupil." "But I have very bad faults," he said, "I am fond of gambling." The teacher said, "That does not matter much." "I am inclined to drink sometimes," he said. The teacher said, "That does not matter much." "Well," he said, "there are many other faults." The teacher said, "I do not mind. But now that I have accepted all your faults, you must accept one condition from your teacher." "Yes, most willingly," he said. "What is it?" The teacher said, "You may indulge in your faults, but not in my presence. Only that much respect you must reserve for your teacher."
The teacher knew that all five attributes of discipleship were natural to him, and he made him an initiate. As soon as he went out and had an inclination to gamble or to drink, he saw the face of his murshid before him. When, after some time, he returned to the teacher, the teacher smilingly asked, "Did you commit any faults?" He answered, "Oh, no, the great difficulty is that whenever I wanted to commit any of my usual faults, my murshid pursued me!"
Do not think that this spirit is only cultivated; this spirit may be found in an innocent child. When I once asked a little child of four years, "Have you been naughty?" The child answered, "I would like to be naughty, but my goodness will not let me." This shows us that the spirit of discipleship is in us. However, we should always remember that he who is a teacher is a disciple himself.
In reality, there is no such thing as a teacher. God, alone, is Teacher, and we are all his disciples. The lesson we all have to learn is that of discipleship. Discipleship is the first and the last lesson.
There are four kinds of disciples, of whom only one can be described as a real disciple. One kind is the disciple of modern times, who comes and says to his teacher, "We will study this book together," or, "Have you read that book? It is most interesting," or, "I have learned from someone else before, and now I would like to learn what I can from you, and then I will pass on to something which is still more interesting." Such a person may be called a student, but not yet a disciple. His spirit is not that of a disciple; it is the spirit of a student who goes from one university, from one college, to another, from one professor he passes into the hands of another. He may be well-suited for such intellectual pursuits, but the spirit of the disciple is different.
Then there is another type who thinks, "What I can get out of him I will get. And when I have collected it, then I shall use it in the way I think best." Well, his way is that of a thief who says, "I will take what I can from the purse of this person, and then I shall spend it for my own purpose." This is a wrong attitude because spiritual inspiration and power cannot be stolen. A thief cannot take them. If he has this attitude, such a disciple may remain with a teacher for a hundred years and still leave empty-handed. There are many in this world today who make intellectual theft their occupation; anything intellectual they find, they take it and use it. But they do not know what harm they do by this attitude. They paralyze their minds and they close their own spirit.
Then there is a third wrong tendency of a disciple to hold back something which is most essential, namely, confidence. He will say, "Tell me all you can teach me, all I can learn, give me all that you have." However, in his mind he says, "I will not give you my confidence, for I do not yet know if this road is right or wrong for me. When you have taught me, I shall judge; then I shall see what it is; but until then, I do not give you my confidence, though my ears are tuned to your words." This is a third wrong tendency. As long as a disciple will not give his confidence to his spiritual guide, he will not get the full benefit of his teaching.
The fourth kind is the right kind of discipleship. This does not come by just thinking that one would like to go on the spiritual path, or that one would like to be a disciple, a mureed, a chela. There comes a time in every persons life when circumstances have tried him so much that he begins to feel the wish to find a word of enlightenment, some counsel, some guidance, a direction on the path of truth. When the values of all things and beings are changing in his eyes, that is the time he begins to feel hungry for spiritual guidance. Bread is meant for the hungry, not for those who are quite satisfied.
If a person like this goes in search of a teacher, then he takes the right step. However, there is a difficulty. If he wants to test the teacher first, then there is no end to the testing. He can go from one teacher to another, from the earthly being to the heavenly being, testing everyone, and in the end, what will he find? Imperfection. He is looking for it, and he will find it. Man is an imperfect being, a human being, a limited being. If he wants to find perfection in a limited being, he will always end up being disappointed with whoever he meets, whether it is an angel or a human being. If he were simple enough to accept any teacher that came his way and said, "I will be your mureed," then it would be easier, although this is perhaps not always practicable.
Someone asked a Brahmin, "Why do you worship a god of rock, an idol of stone? Look, here I am, a worshipper of the God who is in heaven. This rock does not listen to you, it has no ears." And the Brahmin said, "If you have no faith, even the God in heaven will not hear you; and if you have faith, this rock will have ears to hear."
The middle way and the best way is to consult ones own intuition and inspiration. Ones intuition may say, "I will seek guidance from this teacher, whether he is raised high by the whole of humanity, or whether he is looked at with contempt and prejudice by thousands, I do not care." Then one follows the principle of constancy in adhering to that one teacher. But if a person is not constant on the spiritual path, he will naturally have difficulty in the end. For what is constancy? Constancy is the reflection of eternity. And what is truth? Truth is eternity; and so in seeking for truth, one must learn the principle of constancy.
The disciple has to have full confidence in the teachers guidance, in the direction that is given to him by the teacher. The Buddhists who regard a spiritual teacher with great reverence say, "We do not care whether he is well-known or not. Even if he is, we do not know if he will accept our reverence. If he receives it, we are not sure he needs it." Worship can only be given to those whose presence we are conscious of; and it is especially intended for the spiritual teacher, for he shows us the only path that frees us from all the pains of this life. That is why amongst all other obligations involving earthly gain and benefit, the obligation to the spiritual teacher is the greatest, for it is concerned with the liberation of the soul on its journey towards Nirvana, which is the only desire of every soul.
The teacher does not always teach in plain words. The spiritual teacher has a thousand ways. It may be that by his prayers, he can guide his disciple. It may be that by his thought, his feeling, or his sympathy, even at a distance, he may guide him. Therefore, when a disciple thinks that he can be taught only by words or teachings, by practices or exercises, it is a great mistake.
In order to get the right disciples and the right people to come to him, a Sufi who lived in Hyderabad made a wonderful arrangement. He got a grumpy woman to sit just near his house; and to anyone who came to see the great teacher, she would say all kinds of things against the teacher about how unkind he was, how cruel, how neglectful, how lazy. There was nothing she would leave unsaid. As a result, out of 100, 95 would turn back, they would not dare to come near him. Perhaps only five would come wanting to form their own opinion about him. The teacher was very pleased that the 95 went away, for what they had come to find was not there, it was somewhere else.
There is another side to this question. The first thing the teacher does is to find out what the pressing need of his disciple is. Certainly, the disciple has come to seek after truth and to be guided to the path of God; but at the same time, it is the psychological task of the teacher to give his thought first to the pressing need of his disciple, whether the disciple speaks of it or not. The teachers effort is directed towards removing that first difficulty because he knows it to be an obstacle in the disciples way. It is easy for a soul to tread the spiritual path because it is the spiritual path that the soul is looking for. God is the seeking of every soul, and every soul will make its way naturally, providing that there is nothing to obstruct it. So ,the most pressing need is the removal of any obstruction. Thus, a desire can be fulfilled, it can be conquered, or it can be removed. If it is fulfilled, so much the better. If it is not right to fulfill it, then it should be conquered or removed in order to clear the way. The teacher never thinks that he is concerned with his disciple only in his spiritual progress, in his attainment of God. For, if there is something blocking the way of the disciple, it will not be easy for the teacher to help him.
There are three faculties which the teacher considers essential to develop in the disciple: deepening the sympathy, showing the way to harmony and awakening the spirit of beauty. One often sees that without being taught any particular formula or receiving any particular lesson on these three subjects, the soul of a sincere disciple will grow under the guidance of the right teacher, like a plant that is carefully reared and watered every day, every month, and every year. Without knowing it himself, he will begin to show these three qualities: the ever-growing sympathy; the harmonizing quality increasing every day more and more; and the expression, understanding and appreciation of beauty in all of its forms.
One may ask, is there no going backwards? Well, sometimes there is a sensation of going backwards, just as when one is at sea and the ship may move in such a way that one sometimes has the feeling that one is going backwards, although one is really going forwards. One can have the same sensation when riding on an elephant or a camel. When in the lives of some disciples this sensation is felt, it is nothing but a proof of life. Nevertheless, a disciple will often feel that since he became a disciple he finds many more faults in himself than he had ever seen before. This may be so, but it does not mean that his faults have increased; it only means that now his eyes have opened wider so that every day he sees many more faults than before.
There is always a great danger on the spiritual path that the disciple has to overcome he may develop a feeling of being exalted, of knowing more than other people, of being better than other people. As soon as a person thinks, "I am more," the doors of knowledge are closed. He will no more be able to widen his knowledge because automatically, the doors of his heart are closed the moment he says, "I know." Spiritual knowledge, the knowledge of life, is so intoxicating, so exalting, it gives such a great joy, that one begins to pour out ones knowledge before anyone who comes along as soon as this knowledge springs up. But if at that time the disciple could realize that he should conserve that kindling of the light, reserve it, keep it within himself and let it deepen, then his words would not be necessary and his presence would enlighten people. As soon as the spring rises and he pours forth what comes out of that spring in words, although on the one side his vanity will be satisfied, on the other side his energy will be exhausted. The little spring that had risen, he has poured out before others and he remains without power. This is why reserve is taught to the true disciple, the conserving of inspiration and power. The one who speaks is not always wise; it is the one who listens who is wise.
During discipleship, the first period may be called the period of observation. In this, the disciple, with a respectful attitude, observes everything good and bad, right and wrong, without expressing any opinion about them. Every day this reveals to the disciple a new idea on the subject. Today he thinks it is wrong, but does not say so; tomorrow he wonders how it can be wrong. The day after tomorrow he thinks, "But can this really be wrong?" On the fourth day, he may think that it is not wrong, and on the fifth day he may think that it is right. He may follow the same process with what is right, if only he does not express himself on the first day. It is the foolish who always readily express their opinions; the wise hold their opinions to themselves. By holding their opinions back, they become wiser every day; by expressing their opinions, they continually become less wise.
The second thing that is most important for the disciple is learning. How is he to learn? Every word the disciple hears coming from the lips of the teacher is a whole sacred book. Instead of reading a sacred book of any religion from beginning to end, he has taken in one word of the teacher, and that is the same. By meditating upon it, by thinking about it, by pondering upon it, he makes that word a plant from which fruit and flowers come. A book is one thing, and a living word is another. Perhaps a whole book could be written by the inspiration of one living word of the teacher. Besides, the disciple practices all the meditations given to him, and by these exercises, he develops within him that inspiration, that power which is meant to be developed in the disciple.
The third step forward for the disciple lies in testing the inspiration, the power that he has received. One might ask, how can one test it? Life can give a thousand examples of every idea that one has thought about. If one has learned from within that a certain idea is wrong or right, then life itself is an example that shows why it is wrong or why it is right.
If a person does not become enlightened, then one can find the explanation by watching the rain. It falls upon all trees, but it is according to the response of those trees that they grow and bear fruit. The sun shines upon all the trees, it makes no distinction between them. However, it is according to the response that the trees give to the sun that they profit by its sunshine. At the same time, a mureed is very often an inspiration to the murshid. It is not the murshid who teaches, it is God who teaches. The murshid is only a medium, and as high as the response of the mureed reaches, so strongly does it attract the message of God.
The mureed can be inspired, but he can also cease to inspire. If there is no response on his side, or if there is antagonism or lack of interest, then the inspiration of the murshid is shut off; just like the clouds which cannot produce a shower when they are above the desert. The desert affects them; but when the same clouds are above the forest, the trees attract them and the rain falls.
The attributes of the disciple are reserve, thoughtfulness, consideration, balance and sincerity. Special care should be taken that during the time of discipleship, one does not become a teacher; for very often, a growing soul is so eager to become a teacher that before he has finished the period of discipleship he becomes impatient. It should be remembered that all the great teachers of humanity, such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammad and Zarathushtra, have been great pupils; they have learned from the innocent child, they have learned from everyone, from every person that came near them. They have learned from every situation and every condition of the world. They have understood and they have learned. It is the desire to learn continually that makes one a teacher, and not the desire to become a teacher. As soon as a person thinks, "I am something of a teacher," he has lost ground. For there is only one teacher God, alone, is the Teacher, and all others are His pupils. We all learn from life what life teaches us. When a soul begins to think that he has learned all he had to learn and that now he is a teacher, he is very much mistaken. The greatest teachers of humanity have learned from humanity more than they have taught.
A mureeds attitude towards life must be hopeful; towards his motives, courageous; towards his murshid, faithful; towards the cause, sincere; towards that object which he has to accomplish, earnest without the slightest doubt. In every aspect of life, it is our attitude that counts and which, in the end, proves to be creative of all kinds of phenomena. Both success and failure depend upon it, as in the Hindu saying, "If the attitude is right, then all will come right."
There is a natural tendency for the seeker on the spiritual path to wonder if he is really progressing. Very often, he begins to wonder from the day he sets foot on the path. It is like asking, "Shall I be able to digest?" while one is still eating. The spiritual path leads to selflessness. The more we worry about ourselves, the less progress we make because our whole striving should be to forget the self. It is mostly the self which obstructs the path. The path is made for the soul, and it is natural and easy for the soul to find it. Therefore, when a person is wondering about his progress, he is wasting his time. It is like standing still on the path on which one must go forward.
Can anyone distinguish how his face and body change day by day? No, for one cannot point out distinct signs of change from one day to another. If one cannot properly distinguish any change in the external self, then how can one expect to distinguish change in the inner process? It is not something that can be weighed on the scales as one weighs oneself on coming back from a holiday and sees that one has gained or lost several pounds. There is no such gain in spiritual progress.
Then there are some who imagine that they have progressed for a certain time, but they are then going backward. They are discouraged and say, "I thought I had arrived somewhere, but surely it must have been an illusion." But life is like the sea, and the sea is not always calm. There are times when the sea is rough, and then the boat naturally moves up and down. To think while the boat is moving downward that it will sink is a mistake. It is going down in order to go up. This is its movement, and this is natural. A mureed is subject to such experiences on the path of life. Life will take its own course. The one who sails will many times meet with a rough sea, and he has to be prepared for this and not be frightened or discouraged. He still has to go on through life. If lifes journey were soft and smooth, then there would be no need for spiritual development. He has to have control of the rudder to be able to go through both calm seas and storms.
Sometimes the mureed wonders what others are saying and if they are displeased or pleased. If they are displeased, then he thinks he is not progressing. However, this has nothing to do with progress. Those who are displeased would be displeased even with Jesus Christ. At the same time, they might be pleased with the worst person. The displeasure of others does not mean that one is not progressing.
If conditions are adverse, then the mureed thinks that he is not on the right path. Does this mean that the ship is not on its right course if a storm meets it? Neither the murshid nor God are responsible if the conditions are adverse. The best thing is to meet them, to be more brave and courageous and to make ones way through them. Ghazali, the great Sufi writer of Persia, says that spiritual progress is like shooting at a target in the dark. We do not know where the target is, we do not see it, but we shoot just the same.
The true ideal of the spiritual person is not great power, nor a great amount of knowledge. His true ideal stands beyond power and knowledge; it is that which is limitless, incomprehensible, nameless and formless. There are no milestones to count. One cannot say, "I have gone so many miles, and there are so many still before me." This does not belong to a spiritual journey. The pursuit of the limitless is limitless. The pursuit of the formless, is formless. One cannot make it tangible. So, then, what is it that assures progress, what evidence have we to go on? There is only one evidence, and that is our belief. There is one assurance, and that is our faith. If we believe we can go on, if we are convinced we will, then we must reach our goal.
There are innumerable outer signs of ones progress, but one need not think in the absence of these signs that one is not progressing. What are these signs of progress? The first is that one feels inspiration, and that things which one could not understand yesterday are easy today. Yet, if there are things which one is not ready to understand, then one should have patience until tomorrow. Agitating against lack of inspiration means closing the doors to inspiration. Agitation is not allowed on this path. Agitation disturbs our rhythm and paralyzes us, and then we prove in the end to be our own worst enemy. However, people will generally not admit this, and they will blame others instead. Or, if they have kind feelings towards others, then they blame the circumstances, although very often it is their own lack of patience rather than other people or the conditions.
The next sign of progress is that one begins to feel power. To some extent, it may manifest physically and also mentally. Later, the power may manifest in ones affairs in life. As spiritual pursuit is endless, so power has no end.
The third sign of progress is that one begins to feel a joy, a happiness. In spite of that feeling, however, it is possible that clouds of depression and despair may come from without, and one might think at that moment that all the happiness and joy which one had gained spiritually was snatched away. But that is not so. If spiritual joy could be snatched away, it wouldnt be spiritual joy. It is not like material comforts. When these are taken away from us, we have lost them; but spiritual joy is ours, it is our property, and no death or decay can take it away from us. Changing clouds like those which surround the sun might surround our joy; but when they are scattered, we will find our property still there in our own heart. It is something we can depend upon, something nobody can take away from us.
There is another sign of progress, and that is that one becomes fearless. Whatever the situation is in life, nothing seems to frighten one anymore, even death. Then one becomes fearless in all that might seem frightening and a brave spirit develops, a spirit that gives one patience and strength to struggle against all adverse conditions, however terrible they may seem. It can even develop to such an extent that one would like to fight with death. To such a person, nothing seems so horrible that he would feel helpless before it.
Still another sign of progress is that, at times, one begins to feel peaceful. This may increase so much that a restful feeling comes in the heart. One might be in the solitude; but even if one is in a crowd, one still feels restful. Life in the world is most exciting; it has a tiring effect upon a sensitive person. When one is restless, the conditions in life can make one experience the greatest discomfort, for there is no greater pain than restlessness. If there is any remedy for the lack of peace, it is spiritual progress. Once peace is developed in a soul, that soul feels such a great power and has such a great influence upon those who approach it and upon all upsetting conditions and jarring influences coming from all sides. Just as water makes the dust settle down, so all jarring influences settle down under the feet of the peaceful.
What do we learn from the story told in the Bible of Daniel, who was thrown into the lions den? What does this story suggest? Was it Daniels hypnotism which calmed the lions? If it was hypnotism, then let the hypnotists of today go to the lions and try the experience! No, it was his inner peace. The influence of that peace acts so powerfully upon all passions that it even calms lions and makes them sleep.
One may make the excuse that ones surroundings are worrying one, that ones friends are troublesome, or that ones enemies are horrible. However, nothing can withstand that peace that is awakened in the heart. All must calm down, all must settle down, like dust after water has been sprinkled on it.
If this power does not come immediately to a mureed, then let
him not be disappointed. Can one expect this whole journey to be made in a week? I would
not be surprised if many mureeds do expect this; but it is a lifelong journey, and
those who have really accomplished it are the ones who have never doubted that they would
progress. They have never allowed this doubt to enter their minds to hinder them. They do
not even concern themselves with this question. They only know that they must reach the
goal, that they will reach it, and that if they do not reach it today, that they will
reach it tomorrow. The right attitude is never to let ones mind feel, after one has
taken some steps, that one must go to the right or to the left. If a man has that one
strength, of faith, then that is all the power that he needs on the path. He can go
forward and nothing will hinder him. In the end, he will accomplish his purpose.