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On Learning, The Way, and Your Inheritance

by Inayat Khan

Our Friend and the great teacher, Inayat Khan spoke and wrote of some of his experiences with his teacher and guide (Murshid). This was over 100 years ago. These apply today as well. Toward this end, we commence our appreciation of The Way and Transmission. This is some of the attitude we take toward these classes and then the more focused and work of the Real. It explains much. It helps show or point toward the position to take in learning and the way toward more real living. While he was discussing discipleship, he also was speaking about life.

It may be that you will find some of the language or words to be dated, or you may find the repeated references to "Man", or "God" not quite harmonious to you. In the first case, you can simply relate to the feeling and message. Attune your heart and breath to that, and you will gain. For the second, you may consider this not to be an attitude of gender inequality or sexism, but the more common usage of the day. Substitute in your heart what is true - and thereby reach toward his intention. And for the third, substitute any word you wish - Allah, Brahma, The Universe, Nature, That Which Is, Truth, Life, Being, The Real, The One - or none at all. Simply attune to, place your heart and breath toward the highest of your Ideal, Beloved, or Way. Here is what he said:

"For six months after initiation I went daily to my murshid and not once I had a lesson, and all the time he talked to me about birds and flowers, and all sorts of things. And then one day after those six months he began to talk of philosophy, and when I took out my notebook he stopped. Truth is the real Illumination, and the real learning is not in words, but in the Presence and not in the words. And I really know the times when I received, and these were only one or two times, and those times were when through my devotion or humility the heart of my murshid was moved, and those moments when the heart is opened are like the key. Some beauty, some humility just for a moment in the mureed touches the heart of the murshid.

The secret of discipleship is not study or contemplation, but devotion; at that moment it is not Murshid but God Who is seen. The door is unlocked, the shrine is opened, it is no more Murshid but God; and from that time I realized that, Murshid apart anyone in the world, mother, father, servant, poor person, beggar, innocent child, helpful friend, even through them God can answer the cry of the heart, if one went at the right moment and knocked at the door. But it is only such a wave of sincerity of feeling that can open the door. For life has the power to open the door of Eternal Life. Ways of study and contemplation all take time but there is no limit to the deeps of life.

By contemplation how far can we pierce through life? One, two, or three planes, then we must stop, but the nearest way of all is by Love and Devotion, for it is God's way, and God is Love. God cannot be deceived God will not be deceived. When any one has taken this way it is by the God in him. And as we give all things they come back to us through Love. The more we give, the more comes back. Love has its limitations when it is directed to limited beings, but love that is directed to God has no limitations, God alone deserves all love, and the freedom of Love is in giving it to God. Devotion to the teacher is not for the sake of the teacher, it is for God. Even in the case of a teacher the devotee may make a mistake by halting at the feet of the teacher and not progressing to God. The teacher is a shield covering God, a gate through which one has to go. As it is necessary to enter the gate, so to reach God it is necessary to have devotion to the teacher first. But the ideal of real progress is that man, through his devotion, arrives to God, freeing himself from all limitations and bondages. For the teacher, one has gratitude, but love and devotion is for God.

The question which is very often asked, whether life gives more sorrow or more joy, is very difficult to answer. For its true answer is, life is joy, and at the same time life contradicts it. Really speaking, the nature of life is joy, the soul is joy itself and the experience one has which is contrary to it comes from the limitation of this dense earth. Man's real being is joy itself and man seeks for joy by all different ways, by gaining wealth, power, renown, greatness, or by seeking for pleasures, comfort, by being good or virtuous, pious or spiritual. In different forms, according to his particular evolution, man seeks after joy. And yet ninety-nine out of one hundred can say in this world, "The more we pursue joy the further we seem to have been removed from it."

Coming to the cause of the lack of joy, one realizes by pondering on the subject that it is not pursuing after joy that results in disappointment, it is the wrong method adopted in the pursuit of joy which brings, instead of joy, sorrow or disappointment. For instance, when the source of joy is in the North and man mistakenly goes in its pursuit to the South, when joy is in Heaven and man looks for it on the earth, when joy is within and man wishes to find it without, then naturally he meets with disappointment. It would not be an exaggeration if I were to say that the whole tragedy that one experiences through life is caused by error, but by that I do not mean that there is any human being on the face of the earth who is not subject to error. Nevertheless the lack of joy is the result of error.

Nothing can take away joy from the man who has right understanding. Through all conditions of life he will retain it, but the one who lacks understanding, nothing in the world or Heaven there is which can bring him a lasting joy. This shows that, in reality, joy does not come from the external life, though always it seems so. Joy has only one source and that is the heart of man, which is the globe over his soul's light. And the absence of joy does not mean that the soul has lost its light. The sun does not lose its light when under an eclipse. For the moment it is a shadow of the earth which covers the sun and yet it cannot always cover. And so are the moments of depression and sorrow. They do not belong to the human soul, they are just the shadows of the earth which eclipse the heart for a moment and pass away. It must be remembered that the heart is the source of joy and if it was only kept pure and glowing then joy would always be yours."

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