A JOURNAL OF TRANS-ETHNIC SPIRITUALITY
VOL. 2, ISSUE 4
The prayers Saum, Salat and Khatum form the participatory backbone of the Universal Worship Service and may be said to embody a great deal of what the teachings of the Church are. So, to spend a little time discussing them will yield much benefit. The first and third prayers are directed toward the Divine Being and the second prayer to the Messenger or human representatives who have brought the Message in the past.
Hazrat Inayat Khan says of these prayers;
The Sufi prayers such as Saum and Salat are not man-made prayers. They have descended from above, just as in every period of spiritual reconstruction prayers were given. And there is every power and blessing in them, especially for those who believe.
In this issue we will take a look at the first of these prayers; the prayer Saum. To bring a deeper illumination to this prayer, selections have been taken from the lectures of Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of the Church of All, which relate to the ideas behind the phrases of the prayer.
In the Sufi terminology there is one word, Haqq, which means God and also truth. This term itself explains that God is truth and truth is God. Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all- pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.
To the view of a Sufi this universe is nothing but a manifestation of the divine Being, and this divine manifestation is called in Sufi terms Nur-Zahur. The supreme God, from His existence as the single and only Being, has, so to speak, journeyed as far as He could towards the surface. Through His activity and His will behind it, He has manifested on the surface, from the heavens He has descended upon earth. From the most unconscious state of existence, blind, unaware of His being, as is the rock, He has gradually awakened to consciousness of the surroundings on the surface. Also in the Qur'an, one finds the idea that the world was created out of darkness. The gradual progress of the journey brings the Inner Being to the condition of a plant, flower and fruit, then to the state of worm, germ, and animal, until He manifests as man, Ashfar al-Makhluqat, the ruler of this universe and the controller of the heavens. In man He reaches the final goal of His destiny, when He realizes Himself as the whole being, which He has not done hitherto. God has made man in His image, as is said in the Bible.
What do I mean by this denseness? There is a rock, and you want to produce sound from it. It does not give resonance, it does not answer your desire to produce sound, but the string or wire will give an answer to the tone you want. You strike it, and it answers. There are objects which give resonance to sound. You wish to produce a sound in them, and they resound; they make your music complete.
So it is with human nature. One person is heavy and dull. You tell him something, he cannot understand; you speak to him, he will not hear. He will not respond to music, to beauty, or to art. What is it? It is denseness. There is another person who is ready to appreciate and understand music and poetry, or beauty in any form. In character, in manner - in every form - beauty is appreciated by such a person. It is this which is the awakening of the soul, which is the living condition of the heart, and it is this which is the real spiritual attainment. Spiritual attainment is to make the spirit live, to become conscious. When man is not conscious of soul and spirit, and is only conscious of the material being, he is dense, he is away from spirit.
Man has worshipped God, beholding the beauty of sun, moon, stars, and planets; he has worshipped God in plants, in animals; he has recognized God in the beautiful merits of man, and he has with his perfect view of beauty found the source of all beauty in the Unseen, from whence all this springs, and in Whom all is merged.
The Sufi, realizing this, worships beauty in all its aspects, and sees the face of the Beloved in all that is seen, and the Beloved's spirit in the Unseen. So wherever he looks his ideal of worship is before him.
'Everywhere I look, I see Thy winning face; everywhere I go, I arrive at Thy dwelling-place.'
Everyone knows God in some way and has his own picture of Him, either as a Man, as the Absolute, as Goodness, as Something beautiful or illuminating; everyone has some conception; and for the one who does not believe in God, even for him the Name exists. Very often the unbeliever is an unbeliever because of his own vanity, though this is not always so.
The work of the inner life is to make God a reality, so that He is no more an imagination; that this relationship that man has with God may seem to him more real than any other relationship in this world; and when this happens, then all relationships, however near and dear, become less binding. But at the same time, a person does not thus become cold; he becomes more loving. It is the godless man who is cold, impressed by the selfishness and lovelessness of this world, because he partakes of those conditions in which he lives. But the one who is in love with God, the one who has established his relationship with God, his love becomes living; he is no more cold; he fulfills his duties to those related to him in this world much more than does the godless man.
Now, as to the way in which man establishes this relationship, which is the most desirable to establish with God, what should he imagine? God as Father, as Creator, as Judge, as Forgiver, as Friend, or as Beloved? The answer is, that in every capacity of life we must give God the place that is demanded by the moment.
When, crushed by the injustice, the coldness of the world, man looks at God, the perfection of Justice, he is no more agitated, his heart is no more disturbed, he consoles himself with the justice of God. He places the just God before him, and by this he learns justice; the sense of justice awakens in his heart, and he sees things in quite a different light.
When man finds himself in this world motherless or fatherless, then he thinks that there is the mother and father in God; and that, even if he were in the presence of his mother and father, these are only related on the earth. The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God is the only real relationship. The mother and father of the earth only reflect a spark of that motherly and fatherly love which God has in fullness and perfection. Then man finds that God can forgive, as the parents can forgive the child if he was in error; then man feels the goodness, kindness, protection, support, sympathy coming from every side; he learns to feel that it comes from God, the Father- Mother, through all.
When man pictures God as Forgiver, he finds that there is not only in this world a strict justice, but there is love developed also, there is mercy and compassion, there is that sense of forgiveness; that God is not the servant of law, as is the judge in this world. He is Master of law. He judges when He judges; when He forgives He forgives. He has both powers, He has the power to judge and He has the power to forgive. He is Judge because He does not close His eyes to anything man does; He knows, He weighs, and measures, and He returns what is due to man. And He is Forgiver, because beyond and above His power of justice there is His great power of love and compassion, which is His very being, which is His own nature, and therefore it is more, and in greater proportion, and working with a greater activity than His power of justice. We, the human beings in this world, if there is a spark of goodness or kindness in our hearts, avoid judging people. We prefer forgiving to judging. Forgiving gives us naturally a greater happiness than taking revenge, unless a man is on quite a different path.
The man who realizes God as a friend is never lonely in the world, neither in this world nor in the hereafter. There is always a friend, a friend in the crowd, a friend in the solitude; or while he is asleep, unconscious of this outer world, and when he is awake and conscious of it. In both cases the friend is there in his thought, in his imagination, in his heart, in his soul.
And the man who makes God his Beloved, what more does he want? His heart becomes awakened to all the beauty there is within and without. To him all things appeal, everything unfolds itself, and it is beauty to his eyes, because God is all-pervading, in all names and all forms; therefore his Beloved is never absent. How happy therefore is the one whose Beloved is never absent, because the whole tragedy of life is the absence of the beloved; and to one whose Beloved is always there, when he has closed his eyes the Beloved is within, when he has opened his eyes the Beloved is without. His every sense perceives the Beloved; his eyes see Him, his ears hear His voice. When a person arrives at this realization he, so to speak, lives in the presence of God; then to him the different forms and beliefs, faiths and communities do not count. To him God is all-in-all; to him God is everywhere. If he goes to the Christian church, or to the synagogue, to the Buddhist temple, to the Hindu shrine, or to the mosque of the Muslim, there is God. In the wilderness, in the forest, in the crowd, everywhere he sees God.
This shows that the inner life does not consist in closing the eyes and looking inward. The inner life is to look outwardly and inwardly, and to find one's Beloved everywhere. But God cannot be made a Beloved unless the love element is awakened sufficiently. The one who hates his enemy and loves his friend cannot call God his Beloved, for he does not know God. When love comes to its fullness, then one looks at the friend with affection, on the enemy with forgiveness, on the stranger with sympathy. There is love in all its aspects expressed when love rises to its fullness; and it is the fullness of love which is worth offering to God. It is then that man recognizes in God his Beloved, his Ideal; and by that, although he rises above the narrow affection of this world, he is the one who really knows how to love even his friend. It is the lover of God who knows love when he rises to that stage of the fullness of love.
It is not easy to develop in the heart the love of God, because when one does not see or realize the object of love one cannot love. God must become tangible in order that one may love Him, but once a person has attained to that love he has really entered the journey of the spiritual path.
As every light needs fuel, so the light which is ours, which is ourself, needs fuel also. The fuel for the physical part of our life is what we call food, but for the life of the mind intellectual sustenance is necessary. If the body is fed and the mind is not, then naturally that light becomes less. The sustenance of the soul is the divine ideal, which is both love and light. If the soul does not receive that nourishment which is necessary for it, then the soul is starved. The body may be nourished, but it is not sufficient. That is why we see before our physical eyes many famine-stricken souls, but if we saw with the spiritual eyes we would see still more famine in humanity.
The Spirit of Guidance is as the yeast which is used to make bread, to prepare humanity for the purpose for which it was created. The Spirit of Guidance is a plant that grows and blossoms when it receives response and care; and when it is watered by the rainfall of divine inspiration it blooms in the light of the Divine Sun. The Spirit of Guidance is the Light of God, which may be likened to a lantern that the farmer carries when walking on the farm in the darkness of night. The Spirit of Guidance is like a searchlight. Any object on which the searchlight is thrown, it shows clearly; so the Spirit of Guidance thrown upon any aspect of life gives one a keen insight into it. In the Spirit of Guidance one finds a living God active in the heart of every person.
One who depends upon the Spirit of Guidance to guide his life is guided aright. We always have a counsel within, but the one who ignores the existence of such a thing as the Spirit of Guidance is left alone for some time by the Spirit of Guidance to look out for himself. It is like the mother and the dependent child, who tries to hold the hand of the mother at every step it takes; so the mother's whole attention is drawn to every step of her child. But when the child tries to move about by his own will, and tries to keep away, then the attention of the mother, to some extent, becomes released. This does not mean that the mother gives up entirely the care of the child; it only means that the mother allows the child to have its own way to some extent, and feels sorry when the child falls and hurts itself. In point of fact, all souls are children of God, but such souls as are conscious of their relation to God, as between a child and his parents, certainly deserve to be called the children of God. They are especially cared for; they are always guided, because they ask for guidance...
What the Spirit of Guidance is, can be further explained as follows: as in man there is a faculty for art, music, poetry and science, so in him is the faculty or spirit of guidance; it is better to call it spirit because it is the supreme faculty from which all the others originate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty, but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree; but the spirit of guidance is found among few indeed of the human race.
Spirituality is natural nobleness, and the unfolding of this innate nobleness is spirituality. It is a divine heritage which is hidden in every soul, and by the manifestation of this divine heritage a soul shows its divine origin. All striving in the spiritual path is to bring out that nobleness - but one need not strive to bring it out; it will come by itself, if one is conscious of one's divine heritage. It is this consciousness which brings out the nobleness of spirit. In the Sufi terminology this nobleness is called akhlaq Allah, which means the manner of God, a manner which is unlike any other manner known to the world. It is the manner of the mother towards her child, the manner of the father towards his son, the manner of a man towards his friend, the manner of the maiden towards her beloved, it is the manner of the lord towards his servant; it is the manner of the child towards his mother, the manner of a son towards his father, the manner of a slave towards his king - and yet it is above and beyond all manners known to mankind. It is humility, it is modesty, it is pride, it is honor, it is kindness, it is graciousness, it is indifference, it is independence; a manner inconceivable to human mentality, a manner which cannot be learned or taught, a manner which springs up by itself and comes forth as a divine blossom.
It is in this manner that lies the fulfillment of the purpose of man's life. This manner is the highest religion, the true spirituality, real aristocracy, and perfect democracy. All disputes and disagreements, all misunderstandings fall away the moment the human spirit has become noble, for it is the sign of the noble spirit to comprehend all things, to assimilate all things and therefore to tolerate and forgive all things. Of what use is a religion, a philosophy, a mysticism, or whateveryou call it, if it does not produce that spirit in you, that inclination which is divine? And if that inclination and that spirit manifest themselves in anything, they show in divine manner. Neither in the graciousness of a king, nor in the subservience of a slave one will find that dignity and that humility which divine manner gives.
Is not man the seed of God? Is it then not his life's purpose to bring forth divine blossoms? It is not by working wonders that man shows his divine origin, nor is it by possessing extraordinary powers. If in anything divine origin is seen it is in the aristocracy of the human soul, it is in the democracy of the human ego. In the world we see that there is aristocracy and that there is democracy, but in spiritual unfoldment these two become one, culminating in real perfection.
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