Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Purpose of Life
Chapter 5
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


Happiness, which is sought after by every soul, has its secret in the knowledge of the self. Man seeks for happiness, not because happiness is his sustenance but because happiness is his own being. Therefore, in seeking for happiness man is seeking for himself. What gives man the inclination to seek for happiness is the feeling of having lost something which he had always owned, which belonged to him, which was his own self - although the absence of happiness which a soul has experienced from the day it has come on earth and which has increased every day more and more, makes man forget that his own being is happiness. He thinks that happiness is something which is acquired. As man thinks that happiness is something which is acquired, he continually strives in every direction to attain to it. In the end, after all his striving, he finds that the real happiness does not belong to what he calls pleasures.


Pleasures may be called shadows of happiness; there is an illusion of happiness, although all the illusion which stands beside reality is more esteemed by the average man than reality itself. A happiness which is momentary, a happiness which depends upon something outside of oneself is called pleasure. Very often we confuse in our everyday language the distinction between pleasure and happiness. A pastime, an amusement, an entertainment, merriment, gaiety that takes one's thought away from the responsibilities and worries and troubles and limitations of life and gives one a moment's consolation - one begins to think that these are the ways of happiness. And as one cannot keep them in hand and as one often finds that, seeking for what may be called a pleasure, the loss is sometimes greater than the gain, then one begins to look for something that will really be the means of one's happiness. It is this very often that wakens a soul to look for the mystery of religion, for the sense in philosophy, for the secret of mysticism, if he could find some happiness there. But even if all these things help one to find happiness, yet they are not happiness themselves.


It is the soul who is happiness himself, not all outer things which man seeks after and which he thinks will give him happiness. The very fact that he is continually craving after happiness shows that the real element which may be called man's real being is not what has formed his body and what has composed his mind, but what he is in himself. The mind and body are vehicles. Through the mind and body man experiences life more fully, more clearly, but they are not happiness in themselves nor does what is experienced through them give the real happiness. What he experiences through them is just pleasure, an illusion of happiness for a time being. It is not only that pleasures cost more than they are worth, but very often in the path of pleasure, when a person is seeking after happiness, as he goes further he is creating more and more unhappiness for himself. Very often it happens. Every side he turns to, everything he does, every plan he thinks out and carries out, thinking that this will give him happiness, produces a greater trouble, because he is seeking after happiness in a wrong direction.


A person might ask, "Is then the secret of happiness in the way of the ascetics: in tormenting oneself, in torturing oneself, in suffering as they have done for ages ?" Even that does not give happiness; it is only a distraction from the worldly pleasures which produce illusion. The ascetic shuts himself in in order to have an opportunity of taking another direction, but very often it so happens that the one who lives an ascetic life is himself unaware of what he is doing and for what it is intended. And therefore, if he lives his whole life an ascetic life, even then he cannot derive a full benefit from it. His loss is then greater than his gain, for even asceticism is not happiness, it is only a means of self-discipline. It is a drill in order to fight against temptations which draw one continually in life and which hinder one's path to happiness. Not understanding this, a person may go on living an ascetic life and can never be benefited by it, like a soldier who has drilled all his life and never fought. Many have understood self-denial as the way to happiness and they interpret self-denial in the form of asceticism: to deny oneself all pleasures which are momentary.


There is another way of looking at it. The creation is not intended to be renounced. We read in the Qur'an that all that is on earth and in heaven is created for man. Therefore, all that is beautiful and pleasing, all that gives joy and pleasure is not to be renounced. The secret of the whole thing is that what is made for man, man may hold it; he must not be held by it. When man renounces the path of happiness, real happiness, in order to pursue pleasures, it is then that he does wrong. If in the pursuit of happiness, which is the ultimate happiness, he goes on through life, then for him to be an ascetic and deny himself all the pleasures is not necessary.


There is a story told of Solomon, that Solomon had a vision. God revealed Himself to him and said, "We shall grant you all that is in the world, anything you like, wealth or power or learning or rank or possession, anything you wish, all that is before you, anything you may ask". Solomon answered, "I prefer to all things wisdom". The Deity said then, "If you prefer to all things of the world wisdom, then We shall give you wisdom and all things besides". This shows that it is not the renouncing of things, but it is making the best use of them, making the right use of them. It is not going away from life, but it is being among the crowd, being in the midst of life and yet not being attached to it.


One might say, "It would be a cruel thing to be detached from anybody who wants our love and kindness and sympathy". The answer is that you do not need to take away your love and kindness and sympathy. You can have the whole world, if you will not be of the world. If one keeps one's thoughts centred upon the idea of the real happiness which is attained by the realization of the self, and if one does not allow anything to hinder that, then in the end one arrives at that happiness which is the purpose of the coming of every soul on earth.




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