VOLUME I - Part III: THE SOUL: Whence and Whither?
THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION
by HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN
BEFORE Manifestation what existed? Zat, the Truly
Existing, the Only Being. In what form? In no form. As what? As nothing. The only definition that word can give is as the Absolute. In the Sufi terms this existence is termed AHADIAT.
A consciousness arose out of the Absolute, the consciousness of Existence. There was nothing of which the Absolute could be conscious, except Existence. This stage is called WAHDAT. Out of this consciousness of existence, a sense developed: a sense ‘that I exist’. It was a development of the consciousness of existence. It was this development which formed the first Ego, the Logos, which is termed WAHDANIAT by the Sufis.
With the feeling of I-ness the innate power of the Absolute, so to speak, pulled itself together; in other words concentrated on one point; thus the all-pervading radiance formed its center, the Center which is the divine Spirit or the NUR, in Sufi terms called ARWAH. This central light then divided existence into two forms, light and darkness. In point of fact, there is no such thing as darkness; there has never been darkness; it is only less light compared with more light. This light and darkness formed an Akasha or Asman, an accommodation, a mould; and the phenomenon of light and shadow working through this mould furthered the manifestation into a great many accommodations, Asmans or Akashas, one within the other. Every step manifestation has taken has resulted in a variety of forms made by the different substances which are produced during the process of spirit turning into matter. The working of this process has been according to the law of vibration, which is the secret of motion; and it is the plane of the definite forms of nature which is called ASMAN in Sufi terminology. Out of these forms the vegetable kingdom came gradually from the mineral and from the animal came the human race. This provided for the divine Spirit the AJSAM, the bodies which it has needed from the time it centered itself in one point, and from there spread its rays as various souls.
Thus six definite steps towards manifestation are recognized by Sufis. The first three are called TANZI, and the next three TASHBI; the first three imperceptible, and the next three distinguishable.
There is also the phenomenon of four elements. Besides one which is the source and goal of all elements; NUR, the ether; this makes them five. BAAD the air, AETSH the fire, AAB the water, KHAAK the earth. These elements have worked in consonance with one another in order to bring about the results desired by the divine wisdom working behind them. In every Akasha or Asman they have been present either more or less; one without the other did not exist; the four together brought the fifth. In this way the whole manifestation has taken place through a gradual process of development.
Manifestation finished half its task in the creation of man, in whom is born the wisdom of controlling and using all that is on the earth to its best advantage. And in man the purpose of manifestation is fully accomplished, especially in the man who has on his return journey become more and more conscious of the purpose, by widening his outlook and by living a fuller life, the man who has reached that stage of realization which is called divinity, in which is the fulfillment of the purpose of this whole manifestation.
THE SOUL: Whence and Whither?
THE divine Spirit is known by the mystics of all ages as the Sun; and therefore in all ancient mystical symbols the sun has been pictured as the sign of God. This conception gives further help in the knowledge of metaphysics. The sun is that aspect of the Absolute
God in which He begins to manifest, and the first step towards manifestation is contraction. That contraction is seen in all living beings and in all objects. It is first contraction that takes place, and then expansion, which comes as a matter of course, as a reaction. The former tendency is the desire of inhalation, and the latter exhalation. The contraction and expansion, which are seen in all aspects of life, come from God Himself.
The Omnipotent Light by this tendency becomes concentrated; and it is this concentrated Light of Intelligence, which is the sun recognized by the mystics. As Shams-e Tabrez has said, ‘When the Sun of His countenance became manifest, the atoms of both worlds began to appear; as its light fell every atom donned a name and a form.’ The Hindus have called it in the Vedanta CHAITANYA, the Spirit or the Light of God. In the Qur’an it is mentioned, ‘we have made thy light out of Our Light, and of that Light we have made the Universe.’ In plain words this means that when there was nothing-no form, no name, no person, no object-except Intelligence; and it is the contraction of that intelligence; which brought its essence into a form of light which is called the divine Spirit; and the expression of the same light has been the cause of the whole of manifestation. Creation is the exhalation of God; and what is called destruction is absorption, which is the inhalation of God.
The divine Spirit spreads itself; this we call creation and it consists of various names and forms. There arises a conflicting condition or entanglement of the Breath of God, disorder in its rhythm, which manifests in destruction, and culminates in what is called by Hindus PRALAYA, the end of the world. For this many blame God many judge Him, and many think it is unfair on the part of God to create, and to destroy; but for God, who is the only Being, this is the natural condition, by which He eternally lives. The beginning and the end of the world is only His one Breath, the duration of which is numberless years. During this one Breath myriads of beings have been born, have lived and died, and experienced both this world and the next. Souls therefore are the rays of this Sun, Which is called in Sanskrit BRAHMA. The nature of the ray is to extend and withdraw, to appear and disappear; and the duration of its existence is short when compared with the duration of the eternal God the divine Spirit. There are living creatures, small germs, worms and insects who live no longer than a moment; and there are other beings whose life is a hundred years; and some live longer still; and yet even if it were a thousand years it is a moment compared with eternity. Time, as man knows it, is in the first place discerned by the knowledge of his own physical constitution.
From the Sanskrit word PALA, which means moment, has come the word ‘pulse’; that which is pulsation. This knowledge has been completed to some extent by the study of nature, the changes of the seasons, and the journeys the world makes round the sun. Many wish to limit divine law to this man-made conception of time, and they make speculations about it; but the tendency of the mystic is to bend his head low in worship, as the thought of the eternal life of God, the only Being, comes to his mind. Instead of questioning why and what, he contemplates the being of God, and so raises his consciousness above the limitations of time and space, thus liberating his soul by lifting it to the divine spheres.
The soul, which is the ray of the divine Sun in one sphere, the sphere in which it does not touch any earthly being, is called MALAK or angel. Therefore every soul passes through the angelic heavens; in other words, every soul is an angel before it touches the earthly plane. The angels it is who become human beings; and those who do not become human beings, remain angels. The human being, therefore, is a grown-up angel; or an angel is a soul who has not grown sufficiently Infants who come on earth with their angelic qualities, and sometimes pass away without having experienced the life of the grown-up man, show us the picture of the original condition of the soul.
The idea that the angels are nearer to God is right according to this doctrine. Souls who have not journeyed farther are naturally close to the divine Spirit; they are angels. Someone asked the Prophet why man was greater than the angels were; man, who causes all the bloodshed on the earth, while the angels are always occupied in the praise of God. It is said in the Qur’an that the angels knew nothing of the earth; they knew God. And so they occupied themselves with God; but man is greater, for when he comes on earth he has much in the world to be occupied with, and still he pursues God. That angelic sphere is free from passions and emotions, which are the source of all wrong and sin; souls pure of all greed and desires given by the denseness of earth are angels who know nothing else but happiness; for happiness is the real nature of the soul.
The Hindus call the angels SURAS; SURA also means breath and breath means life.
Suras, therefore, mean pure lives, lives that live long. In the Hindu scriptures
There is another word used: ASURA, meaning lifeless; in other words, not in tune with the infinite. Man may retain angelic qualities even in his life on the earth as a human being; and it is the angelic quality, which can be traced in some souls who show innocence and sympathy in their lives. This is not necessarily weakness; it only shows the delicacy of a flower in the personality, together with fragrance.
Angelic souls on the earth-plane are inclined to love, to be kind, to be dependent upon those who show them love. They are ready to believe, willing to learn, inclined to follow that which seems to them for the moment good, beautiful and true. The picture of the angels that we read of in the scriptures as sitting upon clouds and playing harps is but an expression of a mystical secret. Playing the harp is vibrating harmoniously; the angels have no actual harps, they themselves are the harps; they are living vibrations; they are life itself.
One can see in a person who is vibrating harmoniously that his presence becomes the inspiration of music and poetry. The person whose heart is tuned to the pitch of the angelic heavens will show on earth heavenly bliss; therefore the wise seek the association of spiritual beings. And sitting of clouds means that the angels are above all clouds. Such souls, who are in direct touch with the spirit of God, and who have no knowledge of the false world which is full of illusion, who live and know not death, whose lives are happiness, whose food is divine light, make around ‘ARSH, the divine Spirit, an aura which is called the Highest Heaven.
The souls in the angelic heavens are all goodness; and this shows that goodness is natural, and what is contrary to our nature we call evil. Souls in the angelic heavens are innocent; this also shows that innocence is the natural condition of the soul, and the lack of innocence is a foreign element which the soul acquires after coming upon earth, In the angelic spheres the souls are happy; this shows that unhappiness does not belong to the soul. It is something, which is foreign to it; therefore in the experience of man the discomfort coming out of life gives unhappiness. Souls on the earth retain something of the angelic quality; therefore they readily respond and are attracted without resistance to the innocence, happiness, and goodness of another person. If they knew that it is because this is the original quality of the soul they would develop the same in their own being. As Rumi has said, ‘People are drawn to me, and they shed tears with my cries, and yet they know not what it is in me that attracts them.’
Seeking after goodness, innocence, and happiness helps the angelic qualities to develop in a soul. Spirituality, therefore, is the development of the angelic quality; and love of spirituality is the longing for the angelic heavens; it is homesickness.
Does death frighten the spiritual being? No; death for the spiritual soul is only a gate through which it enters into that sphere which every soul knows to be its home. Souls, who become conscious of the angelic heavens, even in the smallest degree, hear the call of that sphere; and if they have any discomfort in this world it is that of the homesickness, which the call of the angelic heavens gives.
The soul may be likened to a ray of the sun; so the souls of the angels, being not adorned with a physical garb, are as flames themselves. The scriptures therefore say that the angels are made of NUR or light; Nur is specially that light which comes from the divine Sun, the spirit of God. All souls are made of that essence which is the essence of the whole manifestation; and the quality of that essence is that it absorbs all that is around it, and in time develops so that it will emerge into its own element, which is the divine.
The soul going towards manifestation which is still in the angelic heavens is free from all the differences and distinctions which are the conditions of the soul’s life of earth. The dual aspect starts even in the angelic heavens; God alone is above duality; in all other conditions and aspects of life this is to be seen; though it is more distinct on the earth-plane. In the angelic heavens it is mot distinguishable. People often question if the angels are in touch with those on earth; and the answer is that their life does not necessitate any communication with human life on earth, except in the case of some who are destined to perform a certain duty on the earth.
It is mentioned in the ancient scriptures that angels came with messages to the prophets of Beni Israel; but the explanation of this from the metaphysical point of view is quite different from what an ordinary person would imagine. No man on earth is capable of communicating with the angels in heaven, nor is an angel from heaven inclined to communicate with man. But in the exceptional lives of the prophets what happens is, that they rise above all the planes which keep man removed from the angelic heavens, and by doing so they are able to touch these heavens. And being charged with the ever-glowing fire of inspiration from the angelic spheres, where they come into touch with angels they descend to the plane of the earth; and it is then that their words become tongues of flame, as spoken of in the scriptures. This means that every word of theirs becomes a torch given into the hands of those who listen, to illuminate their hearts through life. Specially is this so in the lives of the Great Ones who have given a divine message, a religion, to the world; their souls have never been disconnected in any way with the angelic world; and it is this current, which linked their souls with the souls of the angels, that always kept them in contact with both heaven and earth. The soul of the prophet is therefore a link between heaven and earth; it is a medium by which God’s message can be received.
Then there are some spiritual souls who have had the experience in their lives of having been helped or warned by an angel. It is such souls who have kept a thread unbroken which they brought with them from the angelic world; they may be conscious of it or not, but there is a telegraphic wire which connects their souls with the souls of the angels, and they are conscious of having had contact with the angels.
Common disease is called normal health; when many cannot express something, which is rare, they think the person who can experience such a rare thing has gone mad. Therefore it is the law of the mystics to see all things, to experience all things, either of heaven or earth, and yet to say little; for the souls incapable of understanding the possibility of their reach will ridicule them.
There is another aspect of the contact with the angels, and that is at the time of death. Many have seen in their lives the angels of death, yet when death’s call comes some have seen them in human form. Others have not seen them, but have heard them speak. The reason is that there are some souls who have already departed from the earth -plane, though the breath is still connecting the soul with the body; and such soul experience the angelic spheres while still on the earth at the time of their death. They see angels clad in the form of their own imagination and hear the words of the angels in their own language. The reason is that a person who has lived on the earthly plane has to clothe a being of the higher planes in earthly garments, and to interpret the language of the higher spheres in his own words. For instance, the angel Gabriel spoke to Moses in the Hebrew language, and to Mohammad in Arabic. One would ask, which was the language of the angel Gabriel, Arabic or Hebrew? Neither Arabic nor Hebrew was the language of Gabriel; His language was the language of the soul and the soul knows the language of the soul; it is when a person interprets what he hears, even to himself, that he clothes the words he hears in his own language. When the Spirit descended upon the twelve apostles they began to speak all languages, and the meaning of this is, that when they were inspired by the angelic world, by the divine Sun or the Holy Ghost, they knew all languages; that is they knew the language of the soul, which means that they heard before the men spoke to them. In other words, they were able to hear the voice of every soul through that inspiration. It would not give any special credit to the apostles if one said they knew all the languages in the world instantly; for there are people even now to be found whose genius as linguists is so great that they know more than twenty or thirty languages. There is only one language, which may be called all languages and that is the language of the soul. Before the illuminated soul all souls stand as written letters.
The Guardian Angel is a term known to many. This angelic protection comes to some like souls on earth; souls who are walking on the earth, and yet are linked in some way or other with the heavenly spheres. Often one sees an innocent child being saved from an accident; and often a person is warned to save a child at the moment when it is in danger. This guardian angel also appears in the same form as the angels sent to people on various duties. There are recording angels, who take a record of our good and bad actions; and the most interesting thing is that those who keep the record of the good actions do not keep the record of the bad actions. Those who keep a record of the bad actions are other angels; and there is a further explanation given by the prophet on this subject: that often a discussion takes place between those who keep a record of the good deeds and those who record the evil deeds. The former do not believe in the evil deeds because they are only conscious of man’s goodness; they cannot believe that one who is good can be bad also. Also those who record the good points want their record to be filled and the other angels want their record to be filled, and so there is a great rivalry between them. Is this not the condition, which we see in human nature? There is no person living on earth of whom all say good things; and there is no person living of earth of whom all say bad things and no one says any good; and the most interesting point for a keen observer of life is how each tries to prove his argument to be correct.
In Sufi terms these two are called the angels of KHAIR and of KHAR, and the difference in the spelling is very small. This suggests how little difference there is between goodness and badness. As Omar Khayyam says:
A hair perhaps divides the false and true;
Yes and a single Alif were the clue,
Could you but find it-to the treasure house,
And peradventure, to the Master too.
The ancient belief is that immediately after a dead person is buried these two kinds of angels come to his grave with their records and dispute about him. But do we not see in human nature the same thing? People do not even wait until after death; they begin to say things about the people they know, about their friends and foes, and dispute about them even during their lifetime. The ancient belief was that after a dead person is put into his grave and buried, two angels come to ask him questions, and by this cross examination to prove their arguments for and against. Their names are MUNKIR and NAKIR. There is a story in the Bible that Jacob wrestled with an angel all night; and before the breaking of the dawn Jacob won, and the angels asked his name, blessed him, and gave him a new name. The interpretation of this is that the illuminated souls of the angels coming into contact with earthly beings are in conflict, and that conflict ends when man has given up his earthly point of view and has adopted the heavenly point of view. Then there is no more conflict, but a blessing. And the asking of the name is a paradox, for when once the false ego is crushed, the soul does not know what its real name is; for the old name belongs to the false ego, and he is given the true name, Israel, the great Name of God. In reality there is only one kind of angel; But their relation with human beings, their desire to experience life through human beings, divides them into nine degrees. Then there is a belief that there are angels who are the inhabitants of heaven, and others who live in the contrary place; Those of the heaven are called NUR, light, and the others NAR which means fire in Arabic. This is an extreme point of view; in reality, they can be distinguished as two kinds, Jelal and Jemal, Angels of Power and Angels of Beauty. A question arises as to why the angels who descend on earth as angels do not come as human beings, for every human being was originally an angel. The angels who are related with human beings are souls now in the angelic world, and they keep connection with human beings because of their wish; and now that they have returned from the earthly regions to the angelic heavens, they still keep in touch with the earth, either being on a certain duty or because of their own pleasure.
The angelic spheres, the highest heavens, are the spheres of light which are called NUR and that current of power which runs though the divine Sun causes rays to spread, each ray being an angel or a soul. It is the divine current, which is really NAFS, the breath, or the ego. Breath is the ego, and ego is the breath. When the breath has left the body, the ego has gone. The nature of this current, which spreads as a ray and which is a life current, is to collect and to create. It collects the atoms of the sphere through which it is running; and it creates out of itself all that it can create. Therefore in the angelic heavens, which is the sphere of radiance, the soul collects the atoms of radiance. A Sufi poet of Persia has given a most beautiful expression of this idea in a verse: ‘A glow garbed with a flame came.’ Before the angels were conceived by artists in the form of human beings they were symbolized as burning lamps; from this comes the custom of lighting candles in religious services, showing thereby to some extent what the angels were like before they became human souls
In the ancient scriptures it is mentioned that human beings produced angels by their virtues; but this is only a symbolical expression; it is not that human beings produced angels by their virtues, but that their virtues lifted their souls to the angels. One may ask, ‘If the souls who have settled in the angelic heaven are angels, then what makes them come to the earth? The answers that it is not the angels who have settled in the angelic heaven who come to the earth; for these rays have finished their creative power in manifesting as angels. If they had had a greater power they would certainly have gone farther, even to the physical plane, and would preferably have manifested as human beings; for the desire of every soul is to reach the culmination in manifestation, and that culmination is the stage of the human plane.
It is the work of the souls who return from the earth to communicate with the earth very often, and it is such angels who are generally known to man. Angels, who have never manifested as men on earth, only experience life on earth by the medium of other minds and bodies, which by their evolution come closer to the angelic heavens. They take these as their instruments, and at times reflect themselves in them, and at times have them reflected in themselves. This is not obsession, but inspiration.
Souls in the angelic heavens live as a breath. The soul in its nature is a current; a current the nature of which is to envelop itself with all that may come along and meet it on its way. The soul collects all that comes to it; therefore it becomes different from its original condition. Yet in its real being the soul is a vibration, the soul is a breath, the soul is intelligence, and the soul is the essence of the personality.
The question very often arises, If an angel comes from above, does it descend outwardly before a person; or, manifest within a person in the heart?’ The ‘lift’, which brings a soul down and takes it back to heaven is situated within; that ‘lift’ is the breath; the soul comes to earth with the breath, and with the same breath it returns. Those among human beings who are not even aware of their own breath, how can they know who comes within themselves and who comes out? Many seem wide-awake to the life without, but asleep to the life within; and though the chamber of their heart is continually visited by the hosts of heaven, they do not know their own heart; they are not there.
There is a very interesting story told in the Arabic scriptures. It is that God made Iblis the chief among the angels, and then told him to bring some clay that he might make out of it an image. The angels, under the direction of Iblis, brought the clay and made an image; then God breathed into that image, and asked the angels to bow before it. All the angels bowed; but Iblis said, ‘Lord, Thou hast made me chief of all angels, and I have brought this clay at Thy command, and made with my own hands this image which Thou commandest me to bow before.’ The displeasure of God arose and fell on his neck as the sign of the outcast
This story helps us to understand what Jesus Christ meant when He said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ What Iblis denied was the reflection of God in man; and one can observe the same law in every direction of life. A person may be rich in wealth or high in position, but he still must obey the policeman; it is not the rank and wealth which the latter has, but in him is reflected the power of the government, and when a man takes no heed of the policeman, he refuses to obey the law of the state. In everything small or great it is the same law; and in every person there is a spark of this tendency of Iblis; the tendency which we know as egotism, the tendency to say, ‘No, I will not listen; I will not give in; I will not consider. Because of what? Because of “I”; because “I am.” ‘ But there is only one ‘I’-the perfect ‘I’. He is God, whose power is mightier than any power existing in the world, whose position is greater than that of anyone; and He shows it in answer to the egotistic tendency of man, who is limited. This is expressed in the saying, ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.’ It is this thought which teaches man the virtue of resignation, which shows him that the I he creates is a much smaller ‘I’, and that there is no comparison between this ‘I’ and the ‘I’ of the great Ego God.
Another story tells how frightened the soul was when it was commanded to enter the body of clay; it was most unwilling, not from pride, but from fear. The soul, whose nature is freedom, whose dwelling-place is heaven, whose comfort it is to be free and to dwell in a house made of clay, was most terrifying. Then God asked the angels to play and sing, and the ecstasy that was produced in the soul by hearing that music made it enter the body of clay where it became captive to death.
The interpretation of this idea is, that the soul, which is pure intelligence and angelic in its being, had not lost the least interest in dwelling in the physical plane, which robs it of its freedom and makes it limited. But what interested the soul, and made it come into the body, is what this physical world offers to the senses; and this produces such an intoxication that it takes away for the moment the thought of heaven from the soul and so the soul becomes captive in the physical body. What is Cupid? Is not Cupid the soul? It is the soul; the angel going towards manifestation, the angel, which has arrived at its destination, the human plane; and before it manifests there is Cupid.
The soul, which has passed through the angelic heavens in its descent to earth, comes next into the sphere of the Jinn or GENIUS. This is the sphere of mind, and may be called the spiritual sphere, for it is mind and soul, which make spirit. The souls who halt in this sphere, being attracted by its beauty, settle there; also the souls who have no power to go further into outer manifestation become the inhabitants of this sphere. Therefore there are three kinds of souls who touch this sphere on their way to manifestation: the souls who are attracted to this sphere, and who desire to remain there; the souls who are unable to go farther, and who have to settle there; and the souls who are continuing their journey towards the earth-plane, and who are there on their way to the earth.
The jinn is an entity with a mind; but not a mind like that of man; a mind more pure, more clear, and illuminated by the light of intelligence. The mind of the jinn is deeper in perception and in conception, because it is empty, not filled with the thoughts and imaginations as is that of man. It is the mind of the jinn, which may be called the ’empty cup’; a cup into which knowledge can be poured, in which there is accommodation. It is for this reason that the Teachers on the spiritual path appreciate the quality of the jinn in the minds of their pupils, in which they find accommodation for knowledge. A cup, which is already filled, or even partly filled, does not give free accommodation for that knowledge which the Teacher wishes to pour into the heart of his pupil. As the jinns are keen in perception and conception so they are keen in expression either in word or deed. The action of the jinn extends as far as the mind can reach; and the word of the jinn reaches even farther than the voice, for its root is in the mental sphere which is above the airwaves.
The jinn comes closer to man than the angel; for in the jinn there is something like the mind which is completed in man. All the intuitive and inspirational properties are possessed by the jinn, because that is the only source that the jinn have of receiving its knowledge. Subjects such as poetry, music, art, inventive science, philosophy and morals are akin to the nature of the jinn. The artist, the poet, the musician and the philosopher show in their gifts throughout their lives the heritage of the jinn. The words genius and jinn come from a Sanskrit wordJNANA, which means knowledge. The jinns. Therefore, are the beings of knowledge; whose hunger is for knowledge, whose joy is in learning, in understanding, and whose work is in inspiring, and bring light and joy to others. In every kind of knowledge that exists, the favorite knowledge to a jinn is the knowledge of truth, in which is the fulfillment of its life’s purpose.
The sphere of the jinn is the universe of minds. It may be called a mental world; and yet the soul is with the mind. The soul with the mind is called spirit, and therefore it may also be called a spiritual world. The questions, ‘What are the jinns like? What do they look like?’ may be answered in the same way as in explaining the forms of angels: that things are not always as they are, but as we see them. Man always pictures the beings he imagines and cannot see with his physical eyes as something like himself; or man’s imagination may gather together different forms: for instance, wings from the birds. Horns from the oxen, hooves from horses and paws from tigers. He puts them all together and makes a new form.
It is beyond possibility to explain exactly what the jinn looks like. And yet there is no being who lives without a form. There is much that can be said in support of man’s imagination, which pictures the angels or jinn more or less in the form of man. For everything in the world proves on examination that it is striving to culminate in the form of man. Rocks, trees, fruits, flowers, mountains and clouds, all show a gradual development towards the image of man. A keen observer of nature will prove this a thousand times; there is everything in the world to support this argument. Every form shows either a part of the human form or an undeveloped outline of it. As it is with material things and with the lower creation, so it is that even the form of the jinn and the angel is growing towards the human form. It is this idea which is expressed in the words of the scriptures. ‘We have made man in our own image.’ If I were to add a word of explanation I would say, ‘We have made all forms in order to complete the image of man. ‘The world of the jinns is the world of mind; yet the minds of the jinns are not so developed as the minds of men. The reason for this is that the experience of life on the earth completes the making of mind. In the world of the jinns the mind is only a design, an outline; a design which is not yet embroidered. ‘What is the occupation of the jinns? What does the world of the jinns look like? One may give a thousand explanations, but nothing can explain it fully. For instance, if a person were to ask me what China looks like, I would say, ‘Most wonderful, most interesting,’ but if he said, ‘What is wonderful in China?’ I would say, ‘Go and take a tour through China in order that you may see it fully.’
We have not adequate words to explain what the jinn is like, or what the world of the jinn is; but what little can be said that it is a world of music, art, poetry; a world of intelligence, cheerfulness and joy; a world of thought, imagination and sentiment; a world that a poet would long for and a musician would crave to dwell in. The life of the jinn is an ideal life for a thinker; a life which is free from all illness, pure from all bitterness of human nature, free to move about through space without any hindrance. This sphere is a most joyful place, Where the trouble of life and death is not so serious, life not so short as on the earth. If there is any paradise it is the world of the jinn. Hindus have called it INDRA-LOKA, and pictureGANDHARVAS and UPSARAS to be there; it is a paradise, of which every prophet has spoken to his followers in the way in which they could understand it.
The question, how does a prophet know of this? May be answered by saying that the soul of the prophet is like a fruit which by its weight touches the ground; it has not dropped on to the earth like other fruits; it is still connected with the branch to which it is attached, the branch which droops through all the planes of existence; and so he, in his experience of the different planes, so to speak, touches all worlds. It is this mystery which is hidden behind the life of the prophet. It is through this branch that the fruit is connected with the stem. Therefore, though on earth, he calls aloud the name of God. While to many God is an imagination, to him God is the reality.
The soul is a current. We may call it an electric current, Yet one unlike the electric current we know on this physical plane, different from it in its power and phenomena; a current which runs more speedily then anything we know; a current which is beyond time and space; a current which runs through all the planes of life. If manifestation is the Breath and there are many breaths. The one, or central. Breath is called by Yogis PRANA, and all other breaths which have a certain part to play in the mechanism of the human body are lesser breaths; and again Prana and all other breaths of God This idea may be pictured as a tree which has a stem and various branches; each branch in its place representing the stem.
The elements of every sphere are different. Just as the air, the water and the earth of every part of the world are different in their effect upon the human being. So the atoms of every plane are different; their nature and character are as different as their effect. Therefore the form of the angel cannot be compared in any way with the form of the jinn; neither can the form of the jinn be compared with the form of man, for the atoms of which the jinn is made belong to another sphere.
A man who is accustomed to physical forms cannot very well grasp the idea of the forms of the jinns. This shows us that the soul shoots forth and functions in a body, which that particular sphere offers it. The heavens, for instance, offer that luminous body to soul, which in the Sufi term is called Nur, because heaven consists of luminous atoms; it is all illumination. It was recognition of that angelic body in the Buddha, which caused his disciples to make the statue of Buddha in gold. Often artists have had the conception of painting angels in gold, for gold represents light.
The soul that goes as far as the sphere of the jinn as a current coming from the heavens functions in a body of the sphere of jinn. The question is, a soul which comes from the heavens, through the world of angels, does it come to the world of the jinns without a body? It comes with a body, the angelic body; yet it becomes necessary for the soul coming with the angelic body into the world of jinns to adopt a body of that particular world in order to withstand the weather of that plane. Animals, which live in cold countries, have a different skin from those that live in a tropical climate. That is the condition for going into any other sphere. Even if a person were journeying, going from a tropical country to another tropical country, and on the way he had to pass through a cold climate, he would need suitable garments for that climate. The body is a garment of the soul; the soul wears this garment in order to stand the conditions of that particular sphere.
Souls which are passing through the sphere of the jinns towards the physical plane, and who do not stop in that sphere, meet with other travelers who are on their journey back home, and they learn from them a great many things. There is give and take, there is buying and selling, there is learning and teaching; but who teaches the most? The one with most experience, the one who is going back home.
This latter gives the map of the journey to the soul traveling towards manifestation. It is from this map that the traveling soul strikes his path rightly or wrongly. One soul may have another kind; one soul may be clear, another may be confused. Yet they all go forward as the travelers of a caravan, taking with them all the precious information, all the things which they have learned from the others on the journey.
It is for this reason that every child born on earth possesses, besides what he has inherited from his parents and ancestors, a power and knowledge quite peculiar to himself and different from that which his parents and ancestors possessed; yet he knows not whence he received it, or who gave him the knowledge; but he shows from the beginning of his life on earth signs of having known things which he has never been taught.
One soul is more impressionable than another is, one soul is perhaps more impressed by the angelic heavens, and that impression has remained more deeply with it throughout the whole journey; another is more impressed by the sphere of the jinns, and that impression lasts through the whole journey. Then there is another soul who is not deeply impressed with the angelic heavens or the world of the jinn, and that soul does not know of these worlds; he comes through blindly, and is only interested in things of the earth when he reaches it.
One generally finds among artists, poets, musicians, thinkers, as well as among philosophers, great politicians and inventors, souls of the world of the jinns, who have brought with them to the earth some deep impression which causes them in their lives to be what men term great geniuses. Impression is a great phenomenon in itself: as a man thinketh so is he.
And what does man think? He thinks of that with which he is most impressed; and whatever he is most impressed with he himself is. Do we not see in our life on earth that people, who are deeply impressed with a certain personality, wish, thought, or feeling, becomes in time the same? If this is true, what is man? Man is his impression. The soul impressed deeply in the world of the jinns by some personality coming back from the earth, an impression deeply engraved upon that soul, which it can never throw away, certainly becomes that personality with which it is impressed. Suppose a soul is impressed in the world of the jinn with the personality of Beethoven; when born on earth he is Beethoven in thought, feeling, tendency, inclination and knowledge. Only in addition to that personality he has the heritage of his parents and of his ancestors. As the son of a certain family is called by the name of that family, so the impression of a certain personality may rightfully be called by that name. Therefore if Shankaracharya claims to be the reincarnation of Krishna, there is every reason for his claim, and this theory stands in support of it. Life from the beginning to the end is a mystery. The deeper one dives in order to investigate the truth the more difficulty one finds in distinguishing what is called individuality. Wisdom lies in understanding the secret of individuality, its composition or its decomposition, which resolves in the end onto one individuality, the individuality of God. As it is written, ‘There is one God; none exists save He,’
Souls who are impressed in the world of the jinns by the personalities of those they meet on their way towards manifestation receive different kinds of impressions. Some are deeply impressed by one personality, and some are slightly impressed by one personality. Some souls receive many impressions on that plane, and it is hardly distinguishable which impression has more effect and which less. However, it is certainly true that in reality one impression is predominant in every soul. The soul, so to speak, conceives this impression; an impression which is not only the outline of the personality. A Soul cannot be compared with an object, for the soul is all the life there is; therefore it not only takes an impression like a photographic plate, but it becomes nurtured by it. The soul is creation; therefore it expresses all that it has absorbed on its way.
The question whether a jinn is sent on earth on a mission to human beings, may be answered by saying that whether it be angel, jinn or men, all are intended to play their part in the scheme of working of the whole universe; and all are used by the wisdom of God for the purpose for which they were created. No doubt the angels are primarily for the angelic heavens and the jinns for the sphere of the jinn, yet in a house the inhabitants of the second or third floor are sometimes sent to the ground floor on an errand when it is necessary. The most remarkable thing that one notices in all those planes of existence is that the beings of these separate planes are not imprisoned there by the Creator. They become captive themselves, just as a man who lives in a village passes his whole life in the same place, and when he is told of the history of the neighboring county it is another world to him. He never tries to leave his village, and the neighboring county is foreign to him. He has heard the name of the next village all through his life. But he has never tried to visit it.
It is this nature of the soul, which arises from its ignorance that limits that which is, in point of fact, limitless. How does the soul of a jinn communicate with human beings on earth? It focuses itself upon the heart of man, and experiences all that the man experiences, and knows all that the man knows. It is easy for a jinn to do this, because its mind is clear like crystal, and it can accommodate and reflect all that falls within its range of vision.
One might ask, ‘If the souls on their return journey from the earth give their experience to the souls coming from above, what do the souls coming from above give to the souls on their return journey?’ They can do a great deal too; for they know the forgotten ways through which they have recently traveled, and the laws and customs of the way that the souls on the return journey need to learn. Besides this they give to them that light and life, which is necessary to those worn out, and withered souls. Who have probably given most of themselves to the ever-robbing and consuming plane of the earth? In this way a man is helped towards his goal by the soul he meets on his own return journey.
The question in what manner the jinns can help man on the earth may be answered by saying that they are capable of inspiring man, not with a definite knowledge of things. But with the sense of the knowledge; especially of the knowledge of art, beauty, tone and rhythm; with knowledge of the inventive nature, and sometimes with a sense of knowledge that might help to accomplish great things in life. But though they meet as inhabitants of different countries, who do not know the language, it is the language of the heart, which becomes the medium of communication; heart talks to heart, and soul speaks to soul.
After the soul has passed through the sphere of the jinns it arrives on the physical plane. What helps this soul to come on to the physical plane? What opens the way for this new-coming soul to enter physical existence? The coming soul enters the physical sphere by the channel of the breath. Breath is the power at the back of every action. It works as a battery, which keeps the physical mechanism of the human body going. The secret of birth and death is to be found in the mystery of the breath. What is Cupid? It is the soul, which is being born. Before it appears on the physical plane it is pictured by the wise as a cupid or angel; it is an angel, for the soul itself is the angel
Duality in every aspect of life, and on whatever plane, is creative; and its issue is the purpose and the outcome of the dual aspect of nature. The affinity, which brings about the fulfillment of the purpose, is the power of Cupid; in reality it is the phenomenon of the soul.
When the soul is born on earth its first expression is a cry. Why does it cry? Because it finds itself in a new place which is all strange to it. It finds itself in captivity, which it has not experienced before. Every person, every object is new, and is something foreign to this soul; but soon this condition passes away. Soon the senses of the infant become acquainted with the outer life, which so continually attracts its attention. It first becomes interested in breathing the air of the world, then in hearing the sounds, and then in seeing the objects before it; then; then in touching them and then its taste develops. The more familiar the soul becomes with this physical world the more interested it becomes; though sometimes it shows homesickness in the fits of crying that it so often has during its infancy. It is not always illness; it is not always that it is crying for things outside. No doubt, as it grows it longs for things itself; but it often cries from the feeling of having been removed from a place which was more pleasant and comfortable, and having come to a foreign land of which it knows so little. It is this, which causes the infant to have fits of crying.
The wisdom of nature is perfect; and there is no better vision of the splendor of the divine wisdom for the thinker than a child in its early infancy. If the senses of an infant were developed, as are the senses of a grown-up person, it would lose its reason from the sudden pressure of the physical world falling instantly upon it. Its delicate senses would not have been able to stand the pressure of so many and various and intense activities of this world. How marvelously the wisdom behind it works, the wisdom, which is, the evidence of the divine Protector, Father, Mother, Creator, the support and protection of all; so that the senses of the child develop gradually as it becomes more familiar with life. The more it knows the more its mind expands; and it cannot know more than its mind can grasp. So that in every way an infant is protected in both mind and body.
When the soul comes into the physical world it receives an offering from the whole universe; and that offering is the body in which to function. It is not offered to the soul only by the parents, but by the ancestors, by the nation and race into which the soul is born, and by the whole human race. This body is not only an offering of the human race, but is an outcome of something that the whole world has produced for ages; a clay which has been kneaded a thousand times over; a clay which has been prepared so that in its very development it has become more intelligent, more radiant, and more living; a clay which appeared first in the mineral kingdom, which developed in the vegetable kingdom, which then appeared in the vegetable kingdom, which then appeared as the animal, and which was finished in the making of that body which is offered to the new-coming human soul. One may ask, ‘It is not true then, as some scientists say in their biological study, that man has risen from the animal kingdom? Certainly it is true in the sense explained above.
We need not understand by this that every rock turned into a plant, and every plant into an animal, and every animal into a man. The soul is direct from heaven; it functions in a body, and it is this body through which it experiences life on the earth more fully. Rocks, trees and animals, therefore, may not be considered as the ancestors of the soul. It is the body, which is the outcome of the activity of all these different kingdoms, which are the development of one another. A question arises, ‘Why must a soul function in a human body? Why not in an animal, bird or insect?’ The answer is that it does so function. Every soul is not the same ray, has not the same illumination, the same far-reaching power, or the same volume; and therefore it is true that souls do not only function in a human body, but in all forms, however insignificant and small.
What about rocks, mountains, seas and rivers? Are they not the outcome of the soul? Nature in general in its various aspects is the naturalization of that Light which is called divine Spirit; but not everything in nature has what man understands by soul, for he recognizes only that ray which functions in the lower creation to be the same, although it comes from the same source. There are two things: there are the rays, and there is light from which they spring. If the rays are the source of the soul of human beings, then the light of that same divine Sun is the spirit of the whole of nature. It is the same light; but not divided, not distinct, as are the rays, which we call souls. Why has nature its different aspects? If the spirit behind it is one, why is everything in nature separate and different? Creation is a gradual evolution of that light which is the source and goal of all beings. For instance, plant- life is a development of the mineral kingdom, animal life of the vegetable kingdom, and human life the culmination of this evolution. But this culmination is only the finishing of the vehicle, which the soul uses; by this evolution the soul is not evolved. This evolution only means that the soul has adopted a more finished instrument in order to experience life more fully. No doubt the better the instrument in order to experience life more fully. No doubt the better the instrument the greater the satisfaction of the soul. When one looks from this point of view at the whole creation one feels it to be the truth that not only man, but the whole of manifestation, was created in the image of God.
The soul which has already brought with it from the angelic heavens a luminous body, and from the sphere of the jinn a body full of impressions, functions in the end in the human body which the physical plane offers it; and it settles for some time in this abode. This completes what we understand by the word individuality. These three planes, which are the principal planes of existence, are called in the terms of Vedanta: BHU-LOKA, DEVA-LOKA, SVAR-LOKA, meaning three worlds: BUH-LOKAthe physical world, DEVA-LOKA the world of the jinns, and SVAR-LOKA the world of the angels. The human being therefore has all three beings in him, the angel, the jinn, and man. What man acquires on the earth is the experience gained by the means of his senses. An experience which man collects in that accommodation within himself which he calls the heart. The surface of the heart, which is the collection of his knowledge, he calls the mind. This word comes from the SanskritMANAS, mind, and from this word ‘man’ has come.
Man shows the signs of the angelic heavens and the sphere of the jinn by his tendencies; his tendency towards light, truth, love and righteousness; his love of God; his seeking for the truth of life. This all shows the angel in him.
In his longing for beauty, in his attraction towards art, in his love for music, in his appreciation of poetry, in his tendency to produce, to create, to express, he shows signs of the sphere of the jinn. And the impressions which constitute his being, which he has brought as a heritage from the sphere of the jinn, which have been imparted to him by the souls on their way back towards the goal, he shows as something peculiar and different from what his family possess.
No doubt it often happens that a child possesses qualities of his ancestors which were perhaps missing in his parents, or even two or three generations back; however, this is another heritage, a heritage which is known to us as such. I might express this by saying that a soul borrows a property from the spheres of the jinn, and a more concrete property from the physical world; and as it borrows this property, together with this transaction it takes upon itself the taxation and the obligations as well as the responsibilities, which are attached to the property. Very often the property that becomes his due. Together with the property he becomes the owner of the records and the contracts of the property which he owns. In this is to be found the secret of what is called KARMA.
What makes the soul know of its own existence? Something, with which it adorns itself, something, which it adopts, possesses, owns and uses. For instance, what makes a king know that he is a king? His palace, his kingly environment, people standing before him in attendance; if all that were absent the soul would be no king. Therefore the king is a palace, and it is the consciousness of the environment which makes the soul feel, ‘I am this or that.’ Otherwise by origin it is something nameless. Formless.
On the earth-plane the personality develops out of the individuality. The soul is an individual from the moment it is born upon the earth in the worldly sense of the word; but it becomes a person as it grows. For personality is the development of individuality, and in personality is the development of individuality, and in personality, which is formed by character-building, is born that spirit which is the re-birth of the soul. The first birth is the birth of man; the second birth is the birth of God.
The law that governs the soul’s manifestation may be divided into three parts: that of the world of man, or the physical plane.
In the angelic heavens there are no distinct impressions; but there is a tuning. The soul is tuned to a certain pitch by the law of vibration, high or low according to the impression it receives from the souls coming back home. In this tuning it gets, so to speak, a tone and rhythm which directs its path towards the world of the jinn. Souls in themselves are not different in the angelic heavens, as they are immediately next to that of the divine Being. If there is a difference of souls in the angelic heavens, it is the difference of more or less radiance, and the longer or shorter scope of their range.
That which attracts souls from the sphere of the jinn to the human world is what they receive from the souls who are homeward bound. In accordance with this they take their direction towards the physical world. If I were to give this idea in a more expressive form, I would say it is like a person whose heart is tuned to love and light, and to the appreciation and admiration of beauty. He will certainly take a direction towards a greater beauty, and will seek such friends to be with and learn from as seem to him in some way similar to his nature or idea. This is an example of the soul, which is attracted from the angelic heavens to the sphere of the jinn. A person who has studied music and practiced through his life will certainly seek the association of musical friends, artists, singers, composers and lovers of music. Among these he will find his friends, his comrades; and so a soul from the sphere of the jinn is directed according to its love for certain things on the physical plane. This shows that God does not thrust certain conditions upon the souls going towards manifestation, but in this manner they choose them.
A person may say, ‘But no soul can have chosen miserable conditions for itself!’ The answer to this we find before us in this world. Many here cause their own miseries; they may not know it, they may not admit it; nevertheless many of man’s joys and sorrows are caused by himself. This is a law, which answers the question that rises out of common sense. But if one raised one’s head from this world of illusion and looked up, and asked God, ‘Tell me the secret and the mystery of Thy creation,’ one would hear in answer that every thing and being is put in its own place, and each is busy carrying out that work which has to be done in the whole scheme of nature. Life is a symphony; and the action of every person in this symphony is the playing of his particular part in the music.
When the war was going on all people were called to arms, and were placed where they were needed regardless of their profession, qualifications or moral standard. The reason was that the ‘call of the purpose’ was the first consideration. If there is anything which will bring peace to the thinker it is the understanding of this. The thought, ‘I am suffering now because of my sins in a past life’, may bring an answer to the inquiring and reasoning mind and stop it from rebelling for the moment. But will this take away the irritation that the misery is causing in the heart? Will that mind ever excuse God for having so severely judged him? He may own his mistakes of the past, but will he ever believe in God as a God of love and compassion, as a God of mercy, or as a God of forgiveness?
The soul comes on earth rich or poor, ripened or unripened, through three phases where it has either enriched or lost its opportunity. It takes light from the angelic heavens, knowledge from the sphere of the jinn, and it inherits qualities from its parents and ancestors on the earth-plane.
Of the things, which it has collected on its way to manifestation on the earth, it has made that accommodation which is called the mind. The body in which the soul functions on the physical plane also contributes to the worlds the properties of all the worlds to which it has belonged: the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal kingdoms. It is for this reason that man is called a universe in himself; for man consists in himself of all that is in heaven and all that is in heaven and all that is on earth. The Qur’an tells how God made man His representative on earth, His chief in whose care the universe was given.
Man shows in his life traces of all the conditions through which the clay that makes his body has gone. There are atoms of his body, which represent the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom and the animal kingdom; all these are represented in him. Not only his body but his mind shows the reflection of all the kingdoms through which it has passed. For the mind is the medium between heaven and earth. Man experiences heaven when conscious of his soul; he experiences the earth when conscious of his body. Man experiences that plane which is between heaven and earth when he is conscious of his mind. Man shows by his stupidity the mineral kingdom, which is in him, thick, and hard; he shows by his pliability the vegetable kingdom, by his productive and creative faculties, which bring forth the flowers and fruits of his life from his thoughts and deeds. Man shows the traces of the animal kingdom in him by his passions, emotions, and attachments, by his willingness for service and usefulness. And if one were to say what represents the human in him, the answer is all things, all the attributes of earth and heaven; the stillness, hardness and strength of the stone; the fighting nature, the tendency to attachment from the animals; the fruitfulness and usefulness of the vegetable kingdom; the inventive, artistic, poetical and musical genius of the sphere of the jinn; the beauty, illumination, love, calm and peace of the angelic planes. All these put together make man. The human soul consists of all. And thus culminates in that purpose for which the whole creation has taken place.
The soul manifested on the earth is not at all disconnected with the higher sphere. It lives in all spheres, but knows mostly one sphere, ignorant of the others, on which it turns its back. Thus the soul becomes deprived of the heavenly bless, and conscious of the troubles and limitations of life on the earth. It is not the truth that Adam was put out of the Garden of Eden; he only turned his back on it, which made him an exile from heaven. The souls of seers, Saints, masters and prophets are conscious of the different spheres. It is therefore that they are connected with the worlds of the angels and jinns, and with the Spirit if God.
The condition of the former is like that of a captive imprisoned on the ground floor of the house, he has no access to the other floors of the building wherever he may wish to dwell. The secret of life is that every soul by its nature is an Asman or Akasha, an accommodation, and has in it an appetite; and of all that it takes it creates a cover which surrounds it as a shell, and the life of that shell becomes dependent upon the same substance of which it is made. Therefore the shell becomes susceptible to all influences. And subject to their laws of that sphere from which it seeks its sustenance; or rather, the sustenance of the shell. The soul cannot see itself; it sees what is round it, it sees that in which it functions; and so it enjoys the comforts of the shell which is around it, and experiences the pains and discomforts which belong to the shell. And in this way it becomes an exile from the land of its birth, which is the Being of God, which is divine Spirit; and it seeks consciously or unconsciously once again the peace and happiness of home. God therefore is not the goal but the abode of the soul, its real self, its true being.
There are five spheres of which the soul can be conscious. What are these spheres? They are the different shells, each shell having its own work.
The first sphere is NASUT, a sphere which is commonly known as the physical plane. How are the comforts and discomforts of this sphere experienced? By the medium of the physical body; and when there is something wrong with an organ of the senses the soul is deprived of that particular experience that it would like to have on this physical plane. The physical body is susceptible to all changes of climate and becomes dependent in its experience and expression, thus making the soul dependent and limited. Therefore, with all the riches that the world can give, man, who is only conscious of this sphere is limited. ‘God is free from all wants, it is ye that are needy,’ says the Qur’an.
MALAKUT is the next sphere, the sphere of thought and imagination, where there is a greater freedom and less limitation than is experienced on the physical plane. A man with thought and imagination can add to life that comfort and beauty, which is lasting on the physical plane. And the more real his imagination becomes the more conscious of that sphere of mind he proves to be. This sphere of mind is his world, not smaller than this world, but much larger; a world which can accommodate all that the universe holds, and still there would be a place in it to be filled.
The third sphere, JABARUT, is a sphere in which the soul is at home. In the waking state the soul of the average man only touches this sphere for a moment at a time. Man does not know where he is at that moment. He calls it abstraction. Do they not say when a person is not listening that he is not here? Every soul is lifted up to that sphere, even if it be for only a moment, and the life and light with which the soul is charged in that sphere enable it to live on this earth the life full of struggles and difficulties.
Nothing in the world could give man the strength that is needed to live a life on the earth if there were not blessings from heaven reaching him from time to time, of which he is so little aware.
The other two spheres are experienced in sleep; but they are not different spheres; they are only different because they are experienced in sleep. They are Malakut, which is experienced in dreams the world of mind, of thought and imagination; and Jabarut, the state of deep sleep when even the mind is still. This sleep frees the suffering patient from pain, and gives to the prisoner freedom from his prison; it takes away from the mind its load of worry and anxiety, and removes from the body every exhaustion and tiredness. Bringing to mind and body repose, rest and peace; so that after man has wakened from his deep sleep he feels comfortable, rested, invigorated, as if a new life had come to him. One would give anything in the world to have a deep sleep, tough so few know its value. That state of Malakut is reached while in the waking state by the great thinkers. The great inventive minds and the gifted artists; and it is experienced by the seers and sages. It is to experience this that all the concentrations are given by spiritual teachers to their disciples. This fuller experience is also called LAHUT.
Still another experience is HAHUT, a further stage, which is experienced by souls who have reached the most high spiritual attainment, which is called SAMADHI inVedantic terms. In this experience a person is conscious of Jabarut while awake; and this state he brings about at will. Though for the sake of convenience these spheres are explained as five spheres, yet chiefly they are three:NASUT, the plane of the world of man, Malakut, the sphere of the jinn and Jabarut, the angelic world.
Now there is the question if a soul by rising to all these spheres becomes conscious of the sphere of the jinn and of the angelic heavens, or if it only sees within itself its self-made world of mind, and the spheres of joy and peace within itself. The answer is first it sees its own world by rising to the sphere called Malakut. It experiences the joy and peace, which belong to its own heart. And which are of its own being. But that is only one part of spiritual attainment. This part of the attainment is the way of the Yogi. The way in which the Sufi differs from the Yogi is in his expansion; and it is these two sides of the journey, which are pictured by the two lines of the cross, the perpendicular and the horizontal. The perpendicular line shows a progress straight within from Nasut to Jabarut, experiencing one’s own world within oneself; but that which the horizontal line denotes is expansion. The Sufi therefore tries to expand as he progresses; for it is the largeness of the soul, which will accommodate all experiences and in the end will become God- conscious and all, embracing. The man, who shuts himself up from all men, however high spiritually he may be, will not be free in Malakut, in the higher sphere. He will have a wall around him, keeping away the jinns and even the angels of the angelic heavens; and so his journey will be exclusive. It is therefore that Sufism does not only teach concentration and meditation, which help one to make one-sided progress, but the love of God which is expansion; the opening of the heart of all beings, which is the way of Christ and the sign of the cross.
Every person shows from his earthly heritage a nature, which is one of four types. The first is that of the idealist, who lives in the world for his ideals; a man of principles, intelligent, modest, moderate in everything, patient; and a man with refined manners, dreamy by nature, or a deep thinker; a man of dignity who guards his reputation as one would take care of a thin glass. His contact with the earth is like that of a bird who builds its nest upon a tree in the air, descends to the earth to pick up a grain when hungry, and then flies off. He dwells on the earth because he is born on the earth, but in reality he lives in his thoughts. The earth and all that belongs to the earth is his need, not his want.
The second type is that of the artist: an artist not necessarily by profession, but by nature. Artistic by temperament, this man shows discrimination in his love; he is distinct in his likes and dislikes; subtle, clever, witty, observing conventions, and yet not bound by them; one who notices everything, and yet does not show himself fully; elusive by nature, yet tender and affectionate; fine and simple, social and yet detached. He is like a deer in the woods, who is one moment in one part of the forest, and at another quite a distance away. One may think by coming into contact with him that one has got him, but at the next moment one will find him far away from one’s reach. This is the type of man of whom many say, ‘I cannot understand him.’
The third is the material man, material in his outlook, devoid of the of beauty, concerned only with what he needs, clever but not wise. He lives all through life in the pursuit of earthly gains, ignorant of the beauty life can offer, looking hopefully from day to day to that gain for which he is working. One might say that he is waiting for the day when his ships will arrive.
The fourth is a man with mundane desires, who enjoys his food and drink; what he thinks about is his bodily comfort, his momentary pleasures, his passing joys; the slave of his passions and captive to the things of the earth. He is uninterested in every thing but himself. He belongs to no one, nor does anyone in reality belong to him. He is happy-go-lucky by nature, yet susceptible to depression and despair. One might say that he lives to eat.
These four different qualities belong to the body that the earth offers to the soul; the third and fourth classes more than the first and second. It is thus that one can track back the origin of this clay that the soul has adorned and called ‘myself’; this clay that has passed through so many different conditions while being kneaded. It developed through the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms and then of it was made the image of man. ‘Verily in man is reflected all that is on the earth and in heaven.’
The questions, why do souls come on earth? why has this creation taken place? what is the purpose of this manifestation? may be answered in one word: satisfaction; for the satisfaction of God. Why is God not satisfied without it? Because God is the only Being, and the desire of being is to become conscious of being. This consciousness experiences life through various channels, names and forms; and in man this consciousness of being reaches its culmination. In plain words, through man God experiences life at its highest perfection. If anyone then asks, ‘ What is man’s duty if that be the purpose?’ the answer is, that his most sacred duty is to attain to that perfect consciousness which is his Dharma, his true religion. In order to perform his duty he may have to struggle with himself, he may have to go through suffering and pain, he may have to pass many tests and trials. By making many sacrifices, and practicing renunciation, he will attain that consciousness, which is God-consciousness, in which, resides all perfection.
But why must man suffer and sacrifice for God? At the end of his suffering and sacrifice he will find that though he began to do so for God, it has proved to be for himself. It is the foolishly selfish who is selfish, and the wisely selfish proves to be selfless.
Now comes the question how this consciousness may be attained by self-realization. First man must realize himself, and find out of what he is composed, He is composed of spirit and matter. He consists in himself of the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds, the jinn and the angel; and it is his work to balance all these knowing that he has neither been created to be as spiritual as an angel, nor to be as material as an animal. And when he strikes the happy medium he will certainly tread the path, which is meant for a human being to tread, the path, which leads straight to the goal. ‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way’; narrow because any step taken on either side will lead to some other path. Balance is the keynote of spiritual attainment. In order to attain to God-consciousness the first condition is to make God a reality, so that He is no longer an imagination. No sooner is the God-ideal brought to life than the worshipper of God turns into truth. There is no greater religion than truth. Then truth no longer is the object of his seeking; then truth becomes his being, and in the light of that absolute Truth he finds all knowledge. No question remains unanswered; that continual question that arises in the heart of man, ‘ why?’ then becomes non-existent, for with the rising of every’ why?’ rises its answer. The moment a man has become the owner of a house, then he becomes acquainted with all there is in it; it is the stranger who finds it difficult to find any room in the house, not the one who lives in it; he knows about the whole house. What is rooted out in the quest of truth is ignorance; it is entirely removed from the heart, and the outlook becomes wide; as wide as the Eye of God; therein is born the divine Spirit, the spirit, which is called Divinity.
The sphere of the jinn has as many worlds as there are planets in the universe; yet not so far apart, not so much out of communication with each other. The heaven of the angels is created on the same model. But is it on the model of the heaven of the angels that our universe has been molded, and also that of the jinns? What is the life there? What is it like? It is difficult to explain, and difficult to put into words, but for example one might see the difference in the life of the birds which can fly over seas and forests, over hills and dales, and feel in tune with nature, and express their day in song. Then the deer in the woods dwelling in the caves of the mountains. drinking water at the natural springs, moving about in the open spaces, looking at the horizon from morning till evening, the sun their timekeeper. and the moon serving as their torch. And then imagine our lives, the lives of human beings in crowded cities, days in the factories and nights indoors away from God, away from nature, even away from self; a life fully absorbed in the struggle for existence, an ever-increasing struggle to which there is no end. There is the picture, which helps us to imagine what life the angels live in the highest heavens, what life the jinns live in the middle heaven, and to compare our life as human beings in the universe with their lives.
Are there suns, are there moons, in their worlds as in ours? Yes, this outer solar system is the reflection of the inner solar system is the reflection of the inner solar system. What difference is there between time, our conception of time, and the idea of time they have there? There is an incomparable difference. No words will give the exact idea of the comparison between these conceptions of time; but for the sake of convenience let us say that our year is the hour of the jinns and the moment of the angels.
Are there angels and jinns of longer and shorter lives, as with men on earth? Certainly there are; but there is no comparison between the length of their life and that of the human being. Are there differences among the jinns and the angels as among men of different kinds? Indeed there are; but among the jinns not so many as among men; still less among the angels.
What about the time that every soul spends in the heavens of the angels and the sphere of the jinns? The speed of every soul is different. It is according to the speed with which they manifest; it is a different dimension. The difference in speed is like travelling on the earth, sailing on the water, and flying through the air. Difference in speed between different souls may be likened to one child advancing in his thought so that it may learn in ten years things which another could not learn in a hundred years of life on the earth. Nevertheless, as they say, ‘Slow and sure.’ Souls with balance and rhythm throughout their manifestation learn and experience much more than by a rapid run through the heavens.
The word A KASHA in the language of the Hindus is Expressive of a meaning that explains its object. Akasha means accommodation; not necessarily what man calls the sky, although the sky is an accommodation. On the model of the Akasha the whole creation has been based. The organs of the senses, the ears, the eyes, the nostrils, the mouth are all different aspects of Akasha and thus is the human body constructed.
The purpose of this construction can be found in its own nature; as the purpose of the ears is in hearing, of the nostrils in breathing, of the eyes in seeing, so is the purpose of the body is to experience life fully. The body becomes a vehicle for the intelligence by which it is able to experience life fully. In order to make sound more audible people build domes and other places where resonance is produced and the voice and the words become more clear. So the construction of the body is intended to make all that is perceptible clear. By nature the body is the vehicle of the intelligence or the soul, by which it experiences life fully. But as man has lived for generations a life of increasing artificiality, he has moved farther and farther from nature; therefore this vehicle which was made a perfect instrument to experience life fully has become less and less capable of attaining that object. It is this incapability of experiencing life fully, and the innate desire to experience it, which made the soul strive for spiritual attainment. What man does not know he thinks does not exist; in these is to be found the origin of materialism . But the tendency towards spiritual realization remains there as an innate desire, which is consciously or unconsciously felt by every soul, whether spiritual or material. It is for this reason that even a material person, has a silent craving in his heart to probe the depth of the very spiritual ideal which he disowns. The work of the senses is to experience, to taste, to smell, touch, hear, and see; but besides these senses there is the inner sense which is one sense. It is by experiencing through the different organs of the senses that this one sense becomes many senses. It is the same sense, which hears, smells, tastes, feels, touches; but because it experiences life through different organs, man divides one sense into five senses. The depth of that sense which is the inner sense is more subtle than one can imagine. When that sense find a free expression it not only experiences life more keenly through the organs of the senses, but it becomes independent of the organs of sense. It penetrates through life deeply, and as Kabir says, ‘ It sees without eyes and hears without ears.’ The reason is this : that all that exists is contained in an accommodation, in the Akasha, and by being in Akasha the nature of all things is revealed.
In fact there is nothing in this world which does not speak. Everything and every being is continually calling out its nature, its character and its secret; and the more the inner sense is open. the more it becomes capable of hearing the voice of all things. In every person this sense exists. but for the most part, hidden, buried; and its being buried gives discomfort, for it is something, which is living, the only living being there is. The idea of the ‘lost word’ has its secret in this; when once this inner sense has broken the walls, which keep it enclosed, it breathes the freedom and happiness, which belong to the soul; the soul attains. Every discomfort, from whatever source, comes through the lack of understanding. The more the inner sense is covered, the more the soul finds itself in obscurity. It is for this reason that the sign of the enlightened soul is readiness to understand; therefore these souls are easy to reconcile. When a person can understand himself better, he can make another person understand better also. But when a person is perplexed himself, instead of making another person understand, he confuses him. In this way differences are produced.
The organs of the senses are the Akashas or accommodations of grosser and finer nature. The finer the organ the more perception it has; the grossness takes away from the organ its power of perception.
This shows that the body may be likened to a glass house made of mirrors. In Persian language the poets have called it AINA KHANA, meaning the ‘temple of mirrors’. The eye stands as a mirror before all that is visible; it reflects all that it sees. The ears are the accommodation for the re-echo of every sound that falls upon the senses of touch and of taste are grosser than the senses of sight and hearing. At the same time their nature is the same; they perceive all the different sweet, sour and salt savors, and the feeling of warmth and cold,, and they stand as mirrors in which objects are reflected. Therefore, as one sees oneself reflected in the mirror, so this body stands as a mirror in which every experience of the outer life is reflected, and is made clear. If the mirror is dusty it does not reflect the image clearly, so the experience of life is not clear when the body is not looked after according to the spiritual point of view.
The scriptures say that the body is the Temple of God; but the right interpretation of this saying would be that the body is made to be the Temple of God; a temple cannot be called a Temple of God if God is not brought and placed there. So it is natural when a soul feels depressed that there is something wrong with the vehicle. When the writer wishes to work, and the pen is not in order, it annoys him; there is nothing the matter with the writer; it is the pen which is not right. No discomfort comes from the soul; the soul is happy by nature; the soul is happiness itself. It becomes unhappy when something is the matter with its vehicle, which is its instrument, its tool, with which to experience life. Care of the body, therefore, is the first and the most important principle of religion. Piety without this thought is of little significance.
The soul manifests in this world in order that it may experience the different phases of manifestation, and yet may not lose its way and be lost, but may attain to its original freedom, in addition to the experience and knowledge it has gained in this world. The different exercises that the Sufis and Yogis do in order to enable the mind and body to experience life more fully, exercises such as fasting, pose, posture, movement, they all help to train the body, that it may become a fitting vehicle for the experience of life. Wonder working, such as psychometry, feeling the atmosphere of places, of objects, of people, comes when the body is also prepared for it.
A person may be intelligent, clever, learned, good or pious, and yet his sense of perception may not be fully awake. It must be remembered as the first principle of life that manifestation was destined for keener observation of life within and without.
The greatest unhappiness that a person feels is from lack of mastery; the unhappiness comes when knowing his mastery he yet cannot practice that which he knows. Sadness comes from limitation. limitation in different forms: lack of perception, lack of power over oneself, or over conditions, or from the lack of that substance which is happiness itself, which is love.
There is sometimes lack of understanding, though there may be love, or lack of love through lack of understanding; there may be both things and lack of power. If love has reached perfection it will attain all three powers; when love becomes power , it becomes understanding. The nature of love is as the nature of water in the depths of the earth. If one does not dig deep enough one finds sand , not water; but when one digs deep enough one finds water. Many lovers of God lose patience, trust and hope; they have touched sand and not reached water, but when they have dug deep enough they find pure water.
As there are different organs of senses, so there are five centers of inner perception. These centers are seats of the intuitive faculties. Two among them are of great importance: the heart and the head . If the Sufi training differs from that of the Yogis, it is in the training of both these centers together, by which the Sufi achieves balance. The head without the heart shows dry intellect. The heart without the head represents an unbalanced condition. Balance is the use of both these faculties. The Sufi training is based upon this principle.
The centers may be likened to the space that one finds in the apple. It is an Akasha, an accommodation, where not only scent, touch, hearing and sight are perceived. but even the thought and feeling of another; the condition in the atmosphere. the pleasure and displeasure of one’s fellow man are perceived, and if the sense of perception is keener, then even past, present and future are revealed. When man does not perceive in this way it does not mean that it is foreign to his nature; it only means that the soul has not developed that power of perception in his body. The absence of such fine perception naturally causes depression and confusion, for the soul longs for a keen perception; and it feels confused, and at times agitated, owing to a lack of a fuller perception, as the person who is blind feels nervous agitation, because the inner longing is to see, and when the organ of sight fails he becomes agitated.
This is generally the cause in many souls who feel restless. And the life man lives is a life of artificiality, it works against him. It is not necessary to read the ancient traditions to find out the truth about this. Today in the people who live a less artificial life, a more simple life, a life in and near nature, the intuitive faculties are more keen, and these people show a greater happiness.
The centers become blocked by certain foods and by living a more materialistic life. They are located in certain places; and as there are some plants in the caves of the mountains where the sun and the air do not reach, and it is difficult for the plants to live, so are the centers of perception located in the physical body; the body is nourished by food, but these centers remain without any nourishment.
The physical body is made of matter, its substance is matter; but the centers of perception are of still finer matter. and though they are located in the physical body, no nourishment can reach them , except that which is drawn through the breath, the fine substance which is not even visible. In the language of the mystics it is called NUR , which means light. The body does not only want food, but also breath , in other words vibration, and that vibration is given to it by the repetition of sacred words. The sounds, the vowels, and the composition of the sacred words is chemical, and it is this process which was called by the ancient philosophers Alchemy.These centers are the Akasha or domes where every sound has its echo, and echo once produced in this Akasha or Asman reaches all other Asmans which exist within and without. Therefore the repetition of a sacred word has not only to do with oneself and one’s life, but it spreads and rises higher than man can imagine, and wider than he can perceive. Verily every action sets in movement every atom of the universe.
When once the inner sense has become keen it shows its development first by working through the organs of the senses. The vision becomes clearer, the hearing becomes keener, the sense of taste and smell clearer. Therefore among those who tread the mystic path one finds many who are sensitive, and become more sensitive as they develop spiritually. As the standard of health known by the average person is much beneath the mystical ideal, so to the uninitiated the sensitiveness of a person of mystical temperament may often seem peculiar. At the same time when this sensitiveness is developed by spiritual training, and is under control, it manifests as the first quality in the life of a seer. The body, which covers the soul, keeps it blind by depriving it of its freedom of expression in keener perception. It is like a captivity for the soul. /when the centers of the body are awakened and at work, then the soul experiences life more clearly, and naturally clouds which give depression clear away. The soul begins to look forward to life with hope, with trust, and with courage; and thus attains that power and understanding which is needed in the struggle for life.
When a little more advanced, the intelligence begins to see through the eyes what every eye cannot see the finer forces of nature manifesting in color and form. There are many who talk much about this, and some who know fantasy little, for they do not see wisdom in speaking about something, which their neighbor does not see. And among those who speak much about seeing things which others do not see, there is hardly one who really sees.
There is no doubt that, as the sight becomes keen, first the colors of different elements working in nature manifest to the view; secondly, the atmosphere that is created around man, which is composed of semi-material atoms also becomes manifest. This is what is called the aura . The different colors of this aura express the meaning, for there is nothing in the world, which is without meaning. The one who pursues the meaning of life in all its aspects hears again n them the Word which was once lost for him. No doubt the life of a sensitive person becomes difficult, especially when one has to live among the crowd. It is for this reason the Brahmins lived an exclusive life, which has been criticized by some who do not know the meaning of it. Different practices of breathing are a great help in training both mind and body to make them more perceptive, in order that they may become fitting vehicles to fulfil the purpose of life.
The mind is made after the body. It is therefore that its form is that of the body. We read in the Old Testament that the heavens were made after the earth; the real place where the heavens are made is within man. The mind is made of all one learns. one experiences, one loves and one remembers. It is therefore that man is that which his mind contains. If his mind contains a sorrow, a man is sorrowful; if his mind contains joy, he is joyous, if it contains success, he is successful; if it contains failure, failure awaits him, everywhere he moves he finds failure. The mind is an accommodation in which man collects all that he learns and experiences in life. In short, man is his mind. How true therefore the claim of the Dervishes when, sitting on the bare earth cloaked in rags, they address one another, ‘O King of Kings, O Monarch of Monarchs!’ That is their usual way of addressing one another. Their voice is that of true democracy; for this claim of theirs is the expression of their being conscious of the Kingdom of God. The mind is not only the treasure house of all one learns, but also it is creative by nature. The mind improves upon what it learns. and creates not only in imagination, but it finishes its task when the imagination becomes materialized. The heavens and the infernal regions are both the creations of the mind and are experienced in the mind.
But the question arises, is the body not born with a mind? did the mind not exist before the body? Yes, it did exist; it existed as Akasha or accommodation. Was this accommodation formed on any special model or design? The first design of this Akasha is molded upon the impression that falls deeply upon the soul, the soul coming towards manifestation from the infinite Spirit If we picture the infinite Spirit as the sun, The soul is like its ray. The nature of the soul is to gather on its way all that it can gather, and to make a mould out of it.
It is this impression that has helped to form the first mould of the mind. It manifests its original nature and character through the body with which it is connected and identified. The impression of the nature and character of the parents, of the ancestry, of the nation and race, follows after the first impression that the soul has taken on its way. If it happens to be the impression of one personality, falling upon the mind going towards manifestation the distinct characteristics of a certain personality who has lived in the past will show clearly in the life of that person. It is in this that the secret of the doctrine of reincarnation, which the Hindus hold, can be recognized. There are souls who return from the Infinite existence to the finite, and there are souls who return from the finite existence to the Infinite, and their meeting-ground is on the way. It may be one impression or it may be several impressions which help to mould this Akasha, which, after it is once connected with the body, becomes the mind; for the mind is not complete until it is filled with the knowledge and experience the soul gains by the help of the physical body.
The mind is not the brain. The mind is a capacity, an Akasha, which contains all the experiences we have in life, all the impressions we gain through our five senses. It is not only within the body but also around the body. But the centers of perception reflect every thought and feeling, and then men feels that the mind is within him. In point of fact the body is within the mind, and the mind within the body. As the eye sees an object before it, so the centers of perception reflect every thought and feeling. For instance man feels the sensation of joy and depression in the center called solar plexus; however, this does not mean that joy or depression is there, but that this center is sensitive to such experiences.
The mind for the sake of convenience may be called a substance, but a substance quite different from physical matter in its nature and character. There are some objects, which give more resonance to sound, and there are other objects, which respond less to sound. There are sonorous objects, such as metals of different kinds which reproduce sound clearly, and then there are stones and solid wood, which do not respond to sound. Such is the difference between mind and body.
The mind is a much better vehicle for the intelligence than the body. Therefore, though the mind experiences life even through the material organs of the senses, yet it is itself more perceptive, and can experience life in its different aspects apart from the body. In other words, the mind can see for itself; it can even hear without the ears, for the mind has its own eyes and ears. Though it needs the physical eyes and ears to see and to hear, yet there are things, which the physical eyes and ears to see and to hear, yet there things, which the physical eyes and ears, cannot see and hear; the mind sees and hears these. The more independent the mind is made of the outer senses, the more freely it perceives life and becomes capable of using the outer organs of sense to their best advantage.
To the question, if the mind has a form, it may be answered, that the mind has the same form as that with which the soul is most impressed. And what is the form with which the soul is most impressed? One’s own. That is why, when man says ‘I’, he identifies himself with the form which can be very easily changed, very quickly altered, compared with the physical one. The phenomenon of the mind is great, and wonders could be performed if only one had the key of the mind in one’s hand. The difficulty is that man becomes so fixed in his physical body, that he hardly realizes in life that he has a mind. What man knows of himself is of the body, through the mind;
verily man is his own mind.
The mind is not only the Akasha which contains all that one learns and experiences through life, but among five different aspects of the mind, each having its own work, there is one aspect which may be specially called the mind and which shows the power of the creator. All that we see before our eyes, and all objects made by the skill of man, every condition brought about in life, whether favorable or unfavorable, all are the creation of the human mind; of one mind or of many minds. Man’s failures in life, together with his impression of limitation, keep him ignorant of that great power which is hidden in the mind. Man’s life is the phenomenon of his mind; man’s happiness and success, his sorrows and failures, are mostly brought about by his own mind, of which he knows so little. If this secret had been known by all, no one in this world would have been unhappy no soul would have had failure. For unhappiness and failure are both unnatural; the natural is what man desires; the only question is. how to get it? The words of Emerson support this idea ‘Beware of what you want, for you will get it.’
The whole of life is continual learning, and for the one who really learns from life, the knowledge is never enough. The more he learns from life, the more there is to learn. The secret of this idea is in the Qur’an ‘Be! He said; and it became.’ The Seers and Knowers of life do not only know this theory, but by their life’s own experience.
The mind has the power of creating; it creates all, but out of what does it create Out of Maya , a substance subject to change, to death and destruction. However, the power of the mind is beyond question, and it teaches us that mostly our unhappiness and failures are caused by our own mind, more than by the mind of another; and if caused by the mind of another, our mind then is not in working order. The knowledge of the power of mind is worth knowing when the moral conception of life is understood better; when man knows what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, and judges himself only, and sees these two opposite things in his own life, person and character. For when man sees the folly of another, and wishes to judge another, then his sense of justice is not awake. The great ones whose personality has brought comfort and healing to their fellowmen were those who only used the faculty of justice to judge themselves; who tried to correct themselves of their own follies, and, being engaged in correcting themselves. had hardly time in life to judge another. The teaching of Christ, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’, will always prove the greatest example to be followed.
The mind is a magic shell in which a design is made by the imagination, and the same imagination is materialized on the surface. And then arises the question, ‘Why does not all that man thinks come true, why is not all he wishes realized? The answer is that by man’s limitations he so to speak buries the divine creative power in his mind. Life confuses man so much that there is hardly one among a thousand who really knows what he wants; and perhaps there is one among a million who knows what he wants; and perhaps there is one among a million who knows why he wants it; and even among millions you will not find one with the knowledge of why he should want it, and why he should not want it. With all the power of the mind one thing must be remembered that man proposes, and God disposes. This will always prove true when man stands against the will of God Almighty. Therefore the path of the saints in life has been to seek with resignation the will of God, and in this way to swim with that great tide, so that with the accomplishment of their wish the purpose of God may be fulfilled.
The key to the mind is the knowledge of life. There is only one real key. It is learnt in one moment; but the nature of life is such that we forget. The key to the mind is the knowledge of life; in other words, it is the psychology of life, and there is rarely a person who knows the psychology of life profoundly. Man has the faculty of knowing, but he is so absorbed in life that he does not give time to practice the psychology of life, which is more precious than anything in the world.
By psychology is meant that before uttering a word a man should think what effect it might have on the atmosphere, upon this person, on the whole of life. Every word is a materialization of thought; it has a dynamic power. If one considered one would find that every little thought, every little feeling, every movement one makes, even a smile, or a frown, such a small thing has its effect. If one knew the effect of every cause before bringing that cause into thought, speech, or action one would become wise. Generally man does everything mechanically, influenced by the conditions of the moment, by anger or depression; so every man in life lives a life without control, in other words, without mastery. What we learn through spiritual knowledge is to gain mastery, to learn what consequences our actions will bring. A man cannot be perfect in this knowledge; all souls have their limitations; but it is something to strive after, and in this is the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Even this knowledge alone does not make a man capable; practice is necessary and practice may take a whole life. Every day man seems to make more mistakes; this is not really so, but his sight becomes more keen.
But what of those who do not think of all this? Every change of mood or emotion changes their actions, words, and thoughts, and so they can never achieve what they have come to accomplish; all their life is passed in failure and mistakes, and in the end they have gained only what they have made. So it is always true that life is an opportunity; every moment of life is valuable. If one is able to handle oneself one has accomplished a great deal.
The mind has different aspects, which are distinguished as different departments, which have their own work to do. First, the heart which feels, and which contains in itself four other aspects of mind; second, the mind which creates thought and imagination; third, memory; fourth, the will which holds the thought; fifth, the ego, that conception of mind which claims to be ‘I’. There is no mind without a body, for the body is a vehicle of the mind; also it is made by the mind, not the same mind, but by other minds. The child does not only inherit the form and features of his parents and ancestors, but also their nature and character; in other words their mind, which molds its mind and body.
The mind is not only the creator of thought, but it is the receptacle of all that falls upon it. The awakened mind makes the body sensitive to every kind of feeling. The sleeping mind makes the body dull. At the same time the fineness of the body has its influence in making the mind finer, and the denseness of the body makes the mind dense. Therefore the mind and body act and react upon one another. When there is harmony between the mind and the body health is secure, and affairs will come right. It is the disharmony between the mind and body which most often causes sickness, and makes affairs go wrong. When the body goes south and the mind north then the soul is pulled asunder, and there is no happiness. The secret of mysticism, therefore, is to feel, think, speak, and act at the same time, for then all that is said, or felt, or done, becomes perfect.
The different minds in the world may be likened to various mirrors, capable of projecting reflections, and reflecting all that falls upon them. No one, however great in wisdom and power, can claim to be free from influences. It is like the mirror claiming, ‘I do not reflect all that falls upon me.’ Only the difference between the wise and the foolish is that the wise man turns his back to what he must not reflect; the foolish not only reflects the undesirable thought, but most proudly owns to it.
The mind is creative and the mind is destructive; it has both powers. No thought ever born of the mind, be it even for a second, is lost. Thought has its birth and death like a living being, but the life of the thought is incomparably longer than that of any living being in the physical body. Therefore man is not only responsible for his action, but also for his thought. Souls would become frightened if they caught a glimpse of the record of the thoughts they have created, under the spell of their ever-changing moods. As the prophet has said, this life of the world which was once so attractive will one day appear before them as a horrible witch; they will fly from it, and will cry, ‘Peace, peace.’
It would not be an exaggeration if one called the mind a world; it is the world that man makes and in which he will make his life in the hereafter, as a spider weaves his web to live in. Once a person thinks of this problem he begins to see the value of the spiritual path. The soul learns on the path in which it is trained not to be owned by the mind, but to own it; not to become a slave of the mind, but to master it.
It has been asked of the sages and thinkers of all times by the seekers of truth that they should explain the meaning of the word ‘soul’. Some have tried to explain it and some have given answers, which are difficult for everyone to understand. About the meaning of the word soul many statements of thinkers differ, though all mystics arrive at the same understanding of the idea of the soul. As the air, by being caught in water, becomes a bubble for the moment, and as the waves of the air, being caught in a hollow vessel, become a sound, so Intelligence, being caught by the mind and body, becomes the soul. It is only a condition of the intelligence, which is the soul. The intelligence in its original aspect is the essence of life, the spirit , or God. But when this intelligence is caught in an accommodation such as body and mind, it original nature of knowing then knows, and that knowing intelligence becomes consciousness. The difference between consciousness and the soul is that the soul is like a mirror, and the consciousness is a mirror, which shows a reflection in it. The Arabic word Ruh and the Sanskrit word Atma mean the same thing soul.
There is another word ‘sole’ in the English language, which means one or single; although different in spelling, yet it is expressive of the same idea, namely, that the soul is that part of our being in which we realize ourselves to be one single being. When one thinks of the body, it has many organs; when one thinks of the mind, it has various thoughts; when one thinks of the heart, it has many feelings; but when one thinks of soul in the right sense of the word, it is one single being; it is above division, and therefore it is the soul which really can be called the individual . Very often philosophers have used this name for the body, mind, and consciousness, for all three.
Sufism may be related to the word Saf which means purity. This purity is attained by purifying the soul from all foreign attributes that it has acquired, thereby discovering its real nature and character. Pure water means water that is in its original condition; if it happens that there is sugar and milk in the water, then the one who wishes to analyze it will separate the elements. and will try to see the water in its pure condition. Sufism, therefore, is the analyzing of the self, the self which has for the moment become a mixture of three things, of body, mind, and soul. By separating the outer garments of the soul the Sufi discovers the real nature and character of the soul, and in this discovery lies the secret of the whole life.
Rumi has said in the Masnavi that life on earth is a captivity of the soul. When one looks at the bubble in which the air has been caught by the water, one sees the meaning of Rumi’s words that something which is free to move about becomes a captive of the atoms of water for a time, and loses its freedom for that moment.
Man in all conditions of life, whatever be his rank, position or possessions, has trouble, pains and difficulties. Where do these come from? From his limitations. But if limitations were natural, why should he not be contented with his troubles? Because limitation is not natural to the soul; the soul, which is by nature free, feels uncomfortable in the life of limitation. In spite of all that this world can offer, when the soul experiences the highest degree of pain it refuses everything in order to fly from the spheres of the earth, and seek the spheres of liberty and that freedom which is the soul’s destination. There is a lodging hidden beneath all the other longings, which man has, and that longing is freedom. This longing is sometimes satisfied by walking in the solitude, in the woods, when one is left alone for a time, when one is fast asleep, when even dreams do not trouble one; and when one is in meditation, in which for a moment the activities of body and mind are both suspended. Therefore the sages have preferred solitude, and have always shown love for nature; and they have adopted meditation as the method of attaining that goal which is the freedom of the soul.
The Zat , the primal Intelligence, becomes captive in knowledge; that which is its sustenance limits it, reduces it; and pain and pleasure, birth and death, are experienced by the intelligence in this capacity which we call life. Death, in point of fact, does not belong to the soul, and so it does not belong to the person. Death comes to what the person knows, not to the person himself. Life lives, death dies. But the mind, which has not probed the depths of the secret of life becomes perplexed and unhappy over the idea of death. He said, ‘ Ask this question of someone who will die, of some mortal being, which I am not.
Intelligence is not only a knowing faculty, but is creative at the same time. The whole of manifestation is the creation of the intelligence. Time and space are both nothing but the knowledge of the intelligence. The intelligence confined to this knowledge becomes limited, but when it is free from all knowledge, then it experiences its own essence, its own being. It is this, which the Sufi calls the process of unlearning, which purifies and makes the intelligence free from knowledge. It is the glimpses of this experience, which are called ecstasy; for then the intelligence has an independent joy which is true happiness.
The soul’s happiness is in itself; nothing can make the soul fully happy but self-relaxation. Phenomena which the intelligence creates by its creative power becomes the source of its own delusion; as the spider is caught in its own web, so the soul is imprisoned in all it has created.
This picture we see in the lives of individuals and of the multitude. Motive gives power, and at the same time it is motive which limits power; for the power of the soul is greater than any motive. But it is the consciousness of the motive, which stimulates the power, and yet robs it of its power. The Hindus have called the whole phenomenon of life by the name MAYA, which means illusion, and once the true nature and character of this puzzle if realized the meaning of every word of language becomes untrue, for there is only one truth, which words cannot explain. Therefore the soul may be considered to be a condition of God, a condition, which makes the only Being, limited for a time. And the experience gained in this time, with its ever-changing joy and pain, is interesting, and the fuller the experience the wider becomes the vision of life. What one has to experience in life is its true being.
The life, which everyone knows is this momentary period of the soul’s captivity. Beyond this man knows nothing, therefore every seeming change that takes place he calls death or decay. Once the soul has risen above this illusive phase of life, by surmounting all that exists apart from itself, it experiences in the end that happiness for which this whole creation took place. The uncovering of the soul is the discovering of God.
The word intelligence as it is known by us, and spoken in everyday language, does not give a full idea; especially the word intelligence as used by modern science will only convey to us something, which is the outcome of matter or energy. But according to the mystic, intelligence is the primal element, or the cause as well as the effect. While science acknowledges it as the effect, the mystic sees in it the cause. One may ask, ‘How can intelligence create this dense earth which is matter? There must be energy behind it.’ But this question comes because we separate intelligence from energy or matter. In point of fact it is spirit which is matter, and matter which is spirit; the denseness of spirit is matter, and the fineness of matter is spirit. Intelligence becomes intelligible by turning into denseness; that denseness being manifest to its own view, creates two objects: Zat, the self, and Sifat, what is known by the self. And then comes of necessity a third object, the medium by which the self knows what it knows Nazar, , the sight or the mind. The Sufi poets have pictured these three in their verse as Bagh, Bahar, and Bulbul, the garden, the spring, and the nightingale. And it is these three aspects of life which are at the root of the idea of Trinity. The moment these three are realized as one, life’s purpose is fulfilled.
As matter evolves so it shows intelligence, and when one studies the growing evolution of the natural world one will find that at each step of evolution the natural world has shown itself to be more intelligent, reaching its height in the human race. But this is only the predisposition of what we call matter which is manifested in the end; and everything in nature, even in the vegetable world, if we could see it, is the seed of which the root is the evidence, and thus the intelligence, which is the effect, is also the cause.
TOWARDS THE GOAL
The soul during its journey towards manifestation, and during its stay in any plane, whether in the heaven of the angels, the sphere of the jinn, or the plane of human beings, feels drawn towards its source and goal., Some souls feel more drawn than others; but there is a conscious or unconscious inner attraction felt by every soul. It is the ignorant soul, ignorant of its source and goal, which fears leaving the spheres to which it has become attached. It is the soul that knows not what is beyond which is afraid of being lifted up above the ground its feet are touching. Is the fish afraid of going to the depths of the sea? But apart from fish, even men who are born on land and have been brought up on lad, make a practice of swimming and diving deep into the sea, and bringing up the pearl shells from its depths. There are seamen who are happier on the sea than on the land; and their daring, to those unaccustomed to the phenomenon of water, is sometimes perfectly amazing.
Life is interesting in every phase; on the journey towards manifestation as well as on the soul’s return towards the goal. Every moment of life has its particular experience, one better than the other, one more valuable than another. In short, life may be said to be full of interest. Sorrow is interesting as well as joy; there is beauty in every phase, id only one can learn to appreciate it. What dies? It is death that dies, not life. What then, is the soul? The soul is life, it never touches death. Death is its illusion, its impression; death comes to something, which the soul holds. not to the soul itself. The soul becomes accustomed to identify itself with the body it adopts, with environment which surrounds it, with the names by which it is known; with its rank and possessions which are only the outward signs that belong to the world of illusion. The soul, absorbed in its child-like fancies, in things that it values and to which it gives importance, and in the beings to which it attaches itself, blinds itself by the veils of its enthusiasm. Thus it covers with a thousand veils its own truth from its own eyes.
What is the return journey? Where does one return to? When does one return? The return begins from the time the flower has come to its full bloom, from the moment the plant has touched its summit; from the time that the object, the purpose for which a soul is born upon earth is fulfilled. For then there is nothing more to hold it, ad the soul naturally draws back as the breath is drawn in. But does man die by drawing in his breath? No. So the soul does not die owing to this drawing in, though it gives to the dying person and to those who watch an impression of death.
The physical body may be likened to a clock, it has its mechanism and it requires winding, and this winding keeps it going. It is the healthiness of the physical body which enables it by its magnetic power to hold the soul which functions in it .As this body for some reason or other , either by disorder or by having been worn out, loses that power by which it holds together; it gives way, and the soul naturally departs, leaving the material body as one would throw away a coat which one no longer needs.
The connection of the body and the soul is like man’s attachment to his dress. It is man’s duty to keep his dress in good order, for he needs it in order to live in the world; but it would be ignorance if he thought his dress to be himself. Yet as a rule this is what man does; how few in this world stop to think on this subject, whether this body is myself, or whether I am apart from this body; whether higher or greater, more precious or longer living than this body! What then is immortality? There is no such thing as mortality, except the illusion and the impression of that illusion, which man keeps before himself as fear during his lifetime, and as impression after he has passed from this earth.
Both life and death are contrary aspects of one thing, and that is change. If there remains any thing of death with the soul which has passed away from this earth, it is the impression of death, according to the idea it has had of death. If the soul has had a horror of death, it carries that horror with it. If it has agitation at the thought of death, it carries that feeling with it; also, the dying soul carries with it the impression of the idea and regard for death of those surrounding it in life, especially at the time of its passing from the earth. This change paralyses every activity of the soul for some time. The soul which has become impressed by the idea it held of death, and by the impression which was created by those around the deathbed, is kept in a state of inertia which may be called fear, horror, depression or disappointment.
It takes some time for the soul to recover from this feeling of being stunned; it is this, which may be called purgatory. Once the soul has recovered from this state it again begins to progress, advancing towards its goal on the tracks which it had laid before. How many souls foolishly believe in the idea of death, and carry with them that thought while passing from the earth to a life which is a still greater life! And how many souls do we find in the world who believe the end of life to be death; a belief in mortality which cannot be rooted from their minds! The whole teaching of Jesus Christ has as its central theme the unfoldment, the realization of immortality.
What is purgatory? The Sufis call it Naza, a suspension of activity. If there is any death it is stillness and inactivity. It is like a clock which for some time is stopped; it wants winding, and a little movement sets a clock going. So there comes the impulse of life, which, breaking through this cloud of mortality, makes the soul see the daylight after the darkness of the night. In Sufi terms this may be called Nahazat. And what does the soul see in this bright daylight? It sees itself living as before, having the same name and form and yet progressing. The soul finds a greater freedom in this sphere, and less limitation than it has previously experienced in its life on the earth. Before the soul now is a world, a world not strange to it, but which it had made during its life on the earth. That which the soul had known as mind, that very mind is now to the soul a world; that which the soul while on earth called imagination is now before it a reality.
If this world is artistic it is the art produced by the soul. If there is absence of beauty, that is also caused by the neglect of beauty by the soul while on earth. The picture of Jannat, paradise, the ideas about heaven, and the conception of the infernal regions. is now to the soul an experience.
Is the soul sent to the one or the other place, among many who are rejoicing there or suffering for their sins? No, this is the kingdom that the soul had made while on earth, as some creatures build nests to stay in during the winter. It is the winter of the soul, which is the immediate hereafter. It passes this winter in the world, which it has made either agreeable or disagreeable for itself. But one might ask, ‘Does the soul live a solitary life in this world which it has made? No, how can it be solitary? The mind, whose secret so few in the world know, can be as large as the world, and larger still. This mind can contain all that exists in the world, and even all that the universe holds within itself. Though some might say, ‘What a wonderful phenomenon; I never thought that the mind could be so large; I thought my mind was even smaller than my body, that it was hidden somewhere in a corner of my brain.’
The understanding of mind indeed widens one’s outlook on life. It first produces bewilderment, and then the vision of the nature of God, which is a phenomenon in itself, becomes revealed. Does one see, then, all those whom one has known while on the earth? Yes, especially those whom one has loved most, or hated most. What will be the atmosphere of that world? It will be the echo of the same atmosphere, which one has created in this. If one has learned while on earth to create joy and happiness for oneself and for others, in the other world that that joy and happiness surrounds one. And if one has sown the seeds of poison while on earth the fruits of these one must reap there; that is where one sees justice as the nature of life.
The idea of the prophets, which one finds in the ancient scriptures, that there will be a Judgment Day, and that man will be called before the great Judge to answer for his deeds, must not be understood literally. No, the Judgment Day is every day, and men know it as his sight becomes more keen. Every hour, every moment in life, has its judgment, as the Prophet has said, ‘one will have to give account for every grain of corn one eats.’ There is no doubt about this, but the Judgment Day has been especially mentioned in the scriptures as taking place in the hereafter because in the hereafter one cover has been lifted from the soul. Therefore the judgment, which every soul experiences here on earth, and yet remains ignorant, being unconscious of it, becomes more clearly manifest to the view of the soul after it has passed from this earth.
What connection has the soul, which has passed from the earth with those who are still on the earth? No doubt there is a wall now which divides those on this earth from those in the other plane, yet the connection of the heart still keeps intact, and it remains unbroken as long as the link of sympathy is there. But why do the lovers of those who have passed away from the earth not know of the condition of their beloveds on the other side? They know it in their souls, but the veils of the illusion of the physical world cover their hearts, therefore they cannot get through clear reflections. Besides, it is not only the link of love and sympathy, but it is the belief in the hereafter to the extent of conviction, which lifts those still on earth to knowledge of their beloved ones who have passed over to the other side. Those who deny the hereafter deny to themselves that knowledge which is the essence of all learning.
It is more easy for those who have passed from the earth to the other side to get into touch with those on the earth, for they have one veil less.
What does a soul do after having arrived at the sphere of the jinn on its return journey? It continues to do the same things, which it was doing while on earth, right or wrong, good or evil. It goes along the same lines that it went on through life. Is there no progress for that soul? Yes, there is, but in the same direction. No change necessarily takes place; the soul finds itself in more clear spheres, therefore it knows its way better than it did when on earth.
What is its destination? The same destination, though it may be hidden under a thousand objects, for every soul is bound for the same goal. How can it be otherwise? Think how a person becomes attached to a place where he has been before. How one is attracted to a spot in a solitude where once one has sat and enjoyed the beauty of nature. How much more then the soul must be attracted, either consciously or unconsciously, to its source which is its eternal abode.
What connection do the souls who have passed from the earth have with those whom they have left on the earth? No particular connection, except that which is made by the link of love and sympathy. Do they all know of the conditions of the earth? If they care to. How can they know if they care to? is there no wall between the people on the earth and those who have passed away? There is a wall, which only stands before those who are still on the earth, gut not before the ones who have passed over to the other side. They rise above this wall, so they see, if they care to see, the conditions of the world as clearly as we do, and even more so. Do they need some medium in order to observe the conditions on earth, or can they observe without any medium? No, they must have a medium, a medium on the earth, as their instrument; for they must have the physical eyes to see, the physical ears to hear, and the physical senses to experience life in the physical world? They seek for an accommodation in the heart of a being on the earth, and they focus themselves on the mind of that person, and receive through this medium all the knowledge and experience of this earth that they desire as clearly as the person himself. For instance, if a scientist wishes to learn something from the earth he may try to focus himself upon the mind of someone still in the body. He may choose an artist who knows nothing about science, and he can thus learn all he wishes about art, and yet the artist will remain as ignorant as before of science, except that he might have some vague idea of, or interest in, scientific discovery. Do the spirits always learn from the earth? or do they teach those on the earth? Both; they learn, and they also teach. Are there any spirits who care little for the life they have left behind? Many, and among them good ones who are only concerned with the journey onwards. It is those as a rule whose heart is still attached to life on the earth, and in whose heart interest for the journey onward has not yet been kindles, who are inclined to keep in communication with the earth. Yet there are exceptions, there are spirits, who out of kindness to one, to a few or to many, wish still to keep in connection with the earth in order to serve and to be useful. The spirits of this latter kind still go on advancing towards the goal instead of being detained when they communicate with the people on the earth.
What connection have the returning spirits with the inhabitants of the sphere of the jinns? They are as far removed from them as one planet is from the other, and yet are in the same universe. Do they meet with the inhabitants of that sphere? They do, but only such spirits. as are not closed in or imprisoned in their own world; those who have gained strength and even while on earth to break the ropes that bind them, and have liberated themselves from any situation, however difficult. But how do these brave ones arrive at this stage? By rising above themselves. If this limited self which makes the false ego is broken, and one has risen above the limitations of life on all the planes of existence, the soul will break all boundaries, and will experience that freedom which is the longing of every soul.
The soul which functions in different bodies on its way to manifestation covers itself thus with one body over another; these it uses to a smaller or greater degree in the renewing of the tissues of the body, or in healing it. The child born into a family in which there are physical infirmities is often born already healed from hereditary conditions and with its tissues renewed. The reason is that the soul is the divine Breath; it purifies, revivifies and heals the instrument in which it functions.
On its return journey the soul shows the same phenomenon in a different way; freed from all the impressions of illness, sadness and misery which it has experienced while on the earth, and has taken into the spirit world, it heals its own being, and renews the tissues of that body, which still remains with it after it has left the physical form. It purifies itself from all illness and the impression of illness, and thus renews the life in the spirit world in accordance to its grade of evolution. But apart from evolution it is the tendency of the soul to repel all that is foreign to it, either from the physical body, or from the mental body which it still has in the spirit world. The soul is on a continual journey, on whatever plane it is; it is journeying all the time, and on this journey it has a purpose to accomplish; many purposes contained and hidden in one purpose.
There are objects, which remain unfulfilled in one’s lifetime on earth; they are accomplished on the further journey in the spirit world. For nothing that the human heart has once desired remains unfilled. If it is not fulfilled here, it is accomplished in the hereafter. The desire of the soul is the wish of God; small or great, right or wrong, it has a moment of fulfillment. If that moment does not come while the soul is on the earth-plane it comes to the soul in the spirit world.
The soul proves its divine origin on all the planes of existence, in creating for itself all it desires, in producing for itself the wish of its earth, in attracting and drawing to itself all that it wants. The source of the soul is perfect, and so is its goal; therefore even in its limitation the soul is perfect, and so is its goal; therefore even in its limitation the soul has the spark of perfection. The nature of perfection is that no want remains. The limitation that the soul experiences is on the earth, where it lives the life of limitation; yet its one desire is perfection. So every want is supplied, for the reason that the Perfect One, even in the world of variety, does everything possible to experience perfection.
There is a process to be seen within the soul coming to earth and in its return. When coming to earth it adorns itself with the veils of the particular planes through which it passes; and on its return it unveils itself from the bodies it has adopted for its convenience in experiencing that particular plane. In this way there is a process of covering and uncovering. The soul, so to speak, throws off its garment on the same plane from which it borrowed it , when it has no more use for it. Then what becomes of these bodies? Earthly bodies are composed of physical atoms, and so all that has been composed decompresses and returns to its own element; breath to air, heat to fire, liquid to water, and matter to earth, In spite of all the divers ways in which the body may apparently be absorbed –various insects may eat it, birds may share it in their food, wild animals may devour it, or it may be swallowed by a fish, in time it may turn into the soil, or it may be used to nourish a plant or a tree– in every case the first rule remains.
As the physical body composes and decomposes, so does the mental or spiritual body. This body has an incomparably longer life than the physical body has n the earth. Its end is similar to the end of the physical body. When the soul unveils itself of its mental garb this garb falls flat, as did the body of the earth, in that plane to which it belongs; for it is not the body which has strength to stand; the strength of standing belongs to the soul. It is therefore that man, in whom the soul manifests in the most pronounced form, stands upright; all other animals bow or bend in their natural form.
The decomposing of the spirit body is used in making the bodies of the spirit world, but not in such a crude way as happens with the earthly body; in a much finer way, for this is a finer body. There is joy in the composing or decomposing of this body, as there is even some pleasure in the composing and decomposing of the physical body. What does the body that the soul wears on the spirit-plane look like? Exactly the same as it looked on the earth. Why must it be so? Because of man’s love for his body. Does this change? Yes, if it wishes to change; if the soul wishes, it can be changed according to its own ideal. It can be made as young and as beautiful as possible, but it must be remembered that by nature the soul becomes so attached to its form that it clings to it, and as a rule it does not like to become different.
The condition of the next world is very like the condition of the dream world. In dreams one does not see oneself as very different from what one appears, except in some cases and at some times; and for that there are reasons. Nevertheless, the power that the soul has in the next world is much greater than that which it has in this world of limitations. The soul in the other world, so to speak, matures, and finds within itself the power of which it was ignorant during its life on earth; the power of creating and producing all that it wishes. And its movements being no so much hindered by time and space, it is capable of accomplishing and doing for itself things, which are difficult for the soul to do and accomplish on the earth-plane.
A soul, which has passed from the earth, and is in the spirit world, can still live on the earth in one way, and that is by obsessing another soul. Very often people have explained this idea wrongly, when they have said that spirit takes hold of a dead body, and, entering into it, makes use of it. The body once dead is dead; it has entered upon the process of returning to its own origin. It has lost that magnetism which attracts the soul and holds it, in order to allow it to function in the physical body. If the dead body had magnetism, then it would not have allowed the soul to return; it would have held it back. For it is the body which holds the soul to the earth; the soul has a pull from within which draws it continually towards its source. But there are many living dead in the good or bad sense of the words. It is in these cases that single-pointed spirit takes hold of their minds and bodies as its own instrument, using them to the best advantage; this is generally known as obsession in the true sense of the word; for there are moments in every day life when those on the other side take the souls on the earth as their medium through which to experience life on the physical plane.
Impression upon the soul is a much deeper experience than that which obsession gives; for in time the spirit which enters into the being of a person on earth makes that person entirely void of himself. In time he loses his identity, and becomes like the spirit who has obsessed him, not only in his thought, speech and action, but also in his attitude and outlook. In his habits and manners, even in his looks, he becomes like the obsessing entity.
Might one say, then it is a good thing from a mystical point of view thus to become selfless? No, this is not the way to become selfless; in this way one is robbed of the self. The mystical way to become selfless is to realize the self by unveiling it from its numberless covers, which make the false ego.
The soul, arriving on its return forwards the goal in the sphere of the jinns has collected during its life on the earth some riches in the form of merits, qualities, experiences convictions, talents, and a certain outlook on life. The belongings of the earth it has returned to the earth on its passing, but in the spirit world the soul offers these riches or allows them to be taken from it, and it imparts them to the souls coming from their source who are on their way to the earth. These souls on their way to the earth, full of heavenly bliss but poor in earthly riches, purchase with the current coin of the plane of the jinns, guarantees, contracts, mortgages, and all the accounts that the spirit had left unfinished on the earth; these they have to undertake to pay when coming on the earth. among these souls there are some who take from one spirit all they can as their heritage from the spirit world; some take from many. Yet the souls who absorb, attract, conceive and receive all that is given to them on the spirit plane have perhaps received more from one spirit than all the gifts they have received from other spirits they have met.
Does this exchange rob the spirit on his way to the goal of his merits and qualities? No, not in the least. The riches that the soul can take to the sphere of the jinn are safe and secure. Any knowledge or learning, merit or talent given to another person is not lost by the person who gives; it only makes the giver richer still. When the Hindus told in ancient times to a wicked person, ‘Next time you are born it will be as a dog or monkey,’ it was to tell him, who did not know any thing of life except himself, that his animal qualities would come again as the heritage of the animal world, so that he would not be known again to his human friends as a man , but as an animal. When they said, ‘ Your good actions will bring you back as a better person,’ it was said so that the man who did not know the two extreme poles of his soul might understand that no good action could be lost; and for the man who had no hope in the hereafter, and who only new of life as lived on the earth, it was a consolation to know that all the good he had done would come again. The theory, which was thus explained was true in that sense.
It is only a difference of words; the soul who comes from above has no name or form, no particular identity. It makes no difference to the soul what it is called; since it has no nave it might just as well adopt the name of the coat which was put on it, as that is the nature of life. The robe of justice put on a person makes him a judge, and the uniform of a policeman makes him a constable; but the judge was not born a judge, nor the constable a policeman; they were born on earth nameless, if not formless. Distinctions and differences belong to the lower world, not to the higher; therefore the Sufi does not argue against the idea of reincarnation. The difference is only in words; and it is necessary that a precaution be taken that the door may be kept open for souls who wish to enter the Kingdom of God; that they may not feel bound by the dogma that they will be dragged back after having left the earth-plane by their Karma. The soul of man is the spark of God. Though this spark is limited on the earth, still God is all-powerful; and by teaching the prayer ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, the Master has given a key to every soul who repeats this prayer; a key to open that door behind which is the secret of that almighty power and perfect wisdom which raises the soul above all limitations.
Does the spirit impart its merits, talents, experiences and knowledge consciously or unconsciously to the new-coming soul passing through the spirit spheres towards the earth? In some cases it imparts consciously, in others unconsciously; but in the conscious action there is the greatest pleasure for the spirit. For the soul, which receives the knowledge from a spirit as its heritage from the sphere of the jinn, is considered by the spirit as a child is by his parents or a pupil by his teacher; in giving the heritage to this soul there is a great joy for that spirit.
Do they keep connection in any way? No connection except a sympathetic link, for one goes to the north and the other to the south; one ascending to heaven, the other descending to the earth. A connection or an attachment between them would do nothing but hinder the progress of both. A soul lives in the spirit world while it is busy accomplishing the purpose of its life, which may last for thousands of years. Does a soul in the spirit continue to do the same work, which it did during its life, which may last for thousands of years. It does in the beginning; but it is not bound to the same work because it is not subject to the same limitations as it was while on the earth. The soul eventually rises to the standard of its ideal; it does that work which was its desire.
Are there difficulties in the spirit world as on the earth, in doing something and in accomplishing something? Certainly there are; but not so many as here on the earth. And what if there were one object, which was desired by various spirits, how can they all attain to it? Will they all get parts of that object? And if it is a living being, what then?
The law of that world is different from the law of this world of limitations. There souls will find in abundance all which is rarely to be found here on earth. The picture of the spirit world is given in the story of Krishna. The Gopis of Brindaban all requested the young Krishna to dance with them. Krishna smiled, and answered each one that on the night of the full moon he would do so. All the Gopis gathered in the valley of Brindaban, and a miracle happened. However many Gopis there were, every Gopi had a dance with Krishna, and all had their desire fulfilled; which is a symbolical way of teaching that the One Divine Being may be found by every soul.
The spirit world is incomprehensible to the mind, which is only acquainted with the laws of the physical world; an individual who is a limited being here is as a world there; a soul is a person here and a planet there. When one considers the helplessness of this plane one cannot for a single moment imagine the greatness, the facility, the convenience, the comfort and the possibilities of the next world; and it is human nature that that which is unknown to man means nothing to him. A pessimist came to Ali and said, ‘Is there really a hereafter for which you are preparing us by telling us to refrain from things of our desire, and to live a life of goodness and piety? What if there is no such thing as a hereafter I shall be the gainer, and you will be the loser.’ Life lives and death dies; the one who lives will live, must live; there is no alternative.
Life in the sphere of the jinn is the phenomenon of mind; the mind is not the same there, with all the thoughts and imaginations which carries from to earth to this plane. Mind, which is a mind here on earth, is the whole being there. On the return journey thoughts are imaginations here, but realities there. One thinks here, but the same action there instead of a thought becomes a deed; for action which here depends upon the physical body; there is the act of mind.
There is a story, which gives a picture of this idea. A man who had heard of there being a tree of desire was once travelling; and he happened to find himself under the shade of a tree, which he felt to be restful and cooling, so he sat there leaning against it . He said to himself, ‘How beautiful is nature; how cooling is the shade of this tree, and the breeze is most exhilarating; but I wish I had a soft carpet to sit on, and some cushions to lean against’ No sooner had he thought about it than he saw himself sitting in the midst of soft cushions. ‘How wonderful,’ he thought, ‘to have got this’; but bow he thought, ‘If only I had a glass of cooling drink’ and there came a fairy with a most delicious glass of cold drink. He enjoyed it, but said, ‘ I would like a good dinner.’ No sooner had he thought of a dinner than a gold tray was brought to him, with beautifully arranged dishes of all sorts. Now he thought, ‘If only I had a chariot, that I might take a drive into the forest’; and a four-horse chariot was already there, the coachman greeting him with bent head. He thought, ‘Everything I desire comes without any effort. I wonder if it is true, or all a dream.’ No sooner had he thought this than everything disappeared, and he found himself sitting on the same ground leaning against the tree.
This is the picture of the spirit world. It is the world of the optimist. The pessimist has no share in its great glory, because he refuses to accept the possibility, which is the nature of life. Thus he denies to himself all he desires, and even the possibility of achieving his desires.
The pessimist stands in his own light, and defeats his own object here, and even more so in the hereafter, where the desire is the seed which is sown in the soil of the spirit world. Optimism is the water, which is the water, which rears the plant; but the intelligence at the same time gives that sunshine which helps the plant to flourish on the earth as well as in the spheres of the jinn.
Is there death for the spirits in the sphere of the jinns? Yes they have so-called death, but after a much longer time, a death not so severe as on the earthly plane, where everything is crude and coarse; but a change which is slightly felt after a very long life of the fulfillment of every desire. What causes this death? Are there illnesses or diseases? Yes, there are discomforts and pains peculiar to that sphere, not to be compared with the diseases in the plane of the earth. What especially brings about change in the sphere of the inn is the moment when hope gives way, and there is no ambition left. It is the loss of enthusiasm which is change there, and the cause of death here on the earth.
Souls in the spirit world have more control over their life and death than those on the earth. The world of the spirit is his own world; it is a planet; when it loses that strength and imagination which hold the soul functioning in it, it falls like a star from heaven, and the soul departs to its own origin.
The soul now enters the angelic heavens, and it is allowed to enter under the same conditions as before. It has to leave all that belongs to the sphere of the jinn in that sphere. Thus by unveiling itself from the garb of the spirit world, it finds its entrance into The world of the angels.
Does it take anything to the world of the angels? Yes, but not thoughts; it takes the feelings that it has collected; therefore the life of the soul in this sphere is more felt by its vibrations. Every soul that enters the heaven of the angels vibrates in the same way to all that it has gathered during its life in the physical world and in the world of the jinn.
Examples of this are manifest to our view here if we would observe life more keenly. Every person before he does anything, or says one word, begins to vibrate aloud what he is, what he has done, what he will do. There is an English saying, ‘What you are speaks louder than what you say.’ The soul apart from the body and mind is sound, a note, a tone, which is called in Sanskrit Sura. If this note is inharmonious, and has dissonant vibrations, it is called in the Sanskrit language Asura, or out of tune. The soul therefore in the heaven of the angels has no sins or virtues to show; nor has it a heaven or hell to experience; nor dies it show any particular ambition or desire; it is either in tune or out of tune. If it is in tune it takes its place in the music of the heavens as a note in the tune; if it is not in tune it falls short of this producing discordant effects for itself and for others. What occupation has the soul there? Its occupation is to be around the light and life, like the bee around the flower. What is its sustenance? its sustenance is divine light and divine love; divine beauty it sees, divine air it breathes, in the sphere of freedom it dwells, and the presence of God it enjoys. Life in the heaven of the angels is one continual music. Therefore it is that the wise of all ages have called music celestial, a divine art; the reason is that the heaven of the angels is all music the activity, the repose, and the atmosphere there is all one symphony continually working towards greater and greater harmony.
What connection has the soul with the sphere of the jinn whence it as arrived in the angelic heavens? No connection necessarily, except a sympathetic link, if it happens to have such with anyone there; or if it happens that the body in which it functioned gives way before it has accomplished what it wanted to accomplish. The happiness of the angelic heavens is so great that the joy of the sphere of the jinns cannot be compared with it and the pleasures of the earth are not even worth mentioning. For earthly pleasures are mere shadows of that joy which belongs to the heaven of the angels, and the joy of the sphere of the jinn is like wine that has touched the lips but has never been drunk. That wine one drinks on arriving at the heaven of the angels. In the Sufi terminology that bowl of wine is called Jam-e Kauthir.
There is a saying that there are four things which intoxicate the soul physical energy, wealth, power, and harmony; but the intoxication that music gives excels all other forms of intoxication that music of the heavens where harmony is in its fullness; man here on earth cannot imagine the joy which that can give. If the experience of that music is known to anyone, it is to the awakened souls whose bodies are here, whose hearts are in the spheres of the jinn and whose souls are in the heaven of the angels; who, while on earth, can experience all the planes of existence. They call the music of the angelic spheres Saut-e Sarmad and find in it a happiness, which carries them to the highest heavens, lifting them from worries and anxieties and from all the limitations of the plane of this earth.
What body has the soul in the heaven of the angels? Though the soul continues in the sphere of the jinn with a body resembling the one it had while on earth, it has undergone an enormous change in its body and form while in the sphere of the jinn; and when the soul reaches the angelic heavens there is still a greater change, for there it is turned into a luminous being. Its body then consists of radiance; it is light itself. The difference is that light as we understand it on the physical plane is of another character. For here it is visible, but there it is both light and life in one, so the light is audible as well as visible, besides being intelligent.
One might say that the physical body is intelligent also. It is; it is its intelligence, which we call sensitiveness. But the body in the sphere of the jinn is even more intelligent, and the body in the sphere of the jinn is even more intelligent. The body that remains in the angelic heavens is more intelligent still. It may be called Intelligence itself.
The life of the souls in the angelic heavens is incomparably longer than the life of those in the sphere of the jinns. They have no more desires, no more ambitions. no more strivings; only aspiration to reach farther, to experience greater happiness, and to get closer to that light which is now within their sight. They fly around this light like the moth around the lantern; the ‘magic lantern’, which is the seeking of all souls, is now within their horizon. Nothing has a greater attraction for them than this light which is continually burning before them. They live and move and have their being in this divine light. Have they anything to offer to the souls going towards manifestation? Yes, their feelings. In what way do they offer them? Souls coming from the source and going towards the earth are tuned by them are set to a certain rhythm. It is this offering which determines the path they tread in the future. The Sufis call that day of tuning Azal; the day when the plan was first designed of the life of that particular soul.
It is not necessarily one soul only, which impresses the soul newly coming towards earth with its tune and rhythm, with its feelings and sentiments; many souls may impress; but there is one impression, which is dominant. Is there any link or connection established between the souls which give and take one from the other? There is a link of sympathy, a feeling of love and friendliness, an impression of joy, which a soul carries with it even to its destination on the earth.
The crying of an infant is very often the expression of its longing for the angelic heavens; the smiles of an infant are a narrative of its memories in heaven and of the spheres above. Does the returning soul who meets with the new-coming soul receive anything? It does not require much; it is full of joy in its approach to the culmination of life, the goal of its journey. Yet the purity that the new-coming soul brings gives a new life and light and in the heaven of the angels, are as numerous as on the earth-plane. The size of the body that the soul brings from the sphere of the jinn is much larger than the size of the physical body, but also enters into it. And so the body brought from the angelic heavens covers both the body of the sphere of the jinn and that of the physical body, but also enters into it. And so the body brought from the angelic heavens covers both the body of the sphere of the jinn and that of the physical plane, and yet enters into the innermost part of man’s being. In this way the angelic and the jinn bodies not only surround the physical body, but exist within it.
There is almost too much that a soul has to do on the earth; there is also much that it has to accomplish in the spirit world or plane of the jinns. But there is much less to be done in the heaven of the angels; for as the soul proceeds forward, so its burden becomes lighter. The only condition of proceeding forward and drawing closer to the goal is that of throwing away the heavy burden, which the soul has taken upon itself throughout its journey. If one may say that the soul is most willing to depart, even from that plane of love, harmony and beauty, in order to embrace the source and goal of life, harmony and beauty which has attracted it through all the planes. As the soul approaches nearer, so it has been drawn closer, It is throwing off of that radiant garment which is its body in the angelic heavens that brings the soul to its real destination, the goal which it has continually sought either consciously or unconsciously.
What will be the mystery hidden behind the accomplishment of all desire in the next world to the earth-plane? Willpower, with optimism. It is the conviction called Yaqin by he Sufis, that will be the guiding light on the path of the soul in the spiritual world, What will hinder the progress of the spirits is the lack of this, though it is not necessary that the soul who has been pessimistic here should remain pessimistic in the next world. It is possible that its journey onward will bring about a change once the soul becomes acquainted with the mysteries of hopefulness.
In what way will the spirits communicate; only those spirits who wish to communicate will do so. In what language? In their own language. If spirits did not know one another’s language in the spirit world there would be the same difficulty as on the earth; but there is one common language of that plane, a language which is the language of the spirit.
What is this journey taken by the soul from the source to manifestation, and from manifestation back to the same source which is the goal? is it a journey, or is it not a journey? It is not a journey in truth. It is a change of experience, which makes it a journey, a story; and yet a whole journey produced in moving pictures is in one film, which does not journey for miles and miles, as it appears to do on the screen.
Do many journey, or one? Many while still in illusion; and one when the spirit has disillusioned itself. Who journeys, is it man or God? Both and yet one the two ends of one line. What is the nature and character of this manifestation? It is an interesting dream. What is this illusion caused by? By cover upon cover; the soul is covered by a thousand veils. Do these covers give happiness to the soul? Not happiness, but intoxication. The farther the soul is removed from its source, the greater the intoxication. Does this intoxication help the purpose of the soul’s journey towards its accomplishment? It does in a way, but the purpose of the soul is accomplished by its longing. And what does it long for? Sobriety. And how is that sobriety attained? By throwing away the veils which have covered the soul, and thus divided it from its real source and goal. What uncovers the soul from these veils of illusion? The change, which is called death. This change can be forced upon the soul against its desire, and is then called death. This is a most disagreeable experience like snatching away the bottle of wine from a drunken man, which is most painful to him for a time. Or the change can be brought about at will, and the soul throws away the cover that surrounds it and attains the same experience of sobriety while on earth, even if it be but a glimpse of it. This is the same experience which the soul arrives at after millions and millions of years, drunk with illusion; and yet not exactly the same.
The experience of the former is fana, annihilation, but the realization of the latter is Baqa, the resurrection. The soul, drawn by the magnetic power of the divine Spirit, falls into it, with a joy inexpressible in words, as a loving heart lays itself down in the arms of its beloved. The increase of this joy is so great that nothing the soul has ever experienced has made it so unconscious of the self; but this unconsciousness of the self becomes in reality the true self-consciousness. It is then that the soul realizes fully that ‘I exist’.
But the soul, which arrives at this stage of realization, consciously has a different experience. The difference is like that of one person having been pulled, with his back turned to the source, and another person having journeyed towards the goal, enjoying at every step each experience it has met with, and rejoicing at every moment of this journey in approaching nearer to the goal. What does this soul, conscious of its progress towards the goal, realize? It realizes with every veil it has thrown off a greater power, and increased inspiration, until it arrives at a stage, after having passed through the sphere of the jinns and the heaven of the angels, when it realizes that error which it had known, and yet not known fully; the error it made in identifying itself with its reflection, with its shadow falling on these different planes.
It is like the sun looking at the sunflower and thinking, ‘I am the sunflower’, forgetting at that moment that the sunflower is only its footprint. Neither on the earth-plane was man his own self, nor in the sphere of the jinns, nor in the heaven of the angels. He was only a captive of his own illusion, caught in a frame; and yet he was not inside it, it was only his reflection. But he saw himself nowhere, so he could only identify himself with his various reflections, until his soul realized, ‘It is I who will be, whomever there will be. It is I who am the source, the traveler, and the goal of this existence.
‘Verily truth is all the religion there is; and it is truth which will save.’