Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Purpose of Life
Chapter 8
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


Man has not been born on the earth to eat and drink and sleep, as all the lower creatures do, but he has been born on earth to learn how to utilize this fertile earth to its best advantage, how to appreciate the treasures this earth holds and how to use them rightly, and it is in this that man becomes connected with the earth. The soul that comes from heaven - its connection with the earth has in it a secret which leads towards the purpose of life. It is easy for a person to say, "We come from heaven and we are bound to heaven, and while four days dwelling on this earth what is there that belongs to us ? Besides, is it not sinful, all that belongs to the earth? It is better to escape from it and leave all this which in the end is of no worth". It is true, but it is not natural. The natural thing is to know how to appreciate all that is created on the earth. We appreciate it by valuing it.


The beauty of the mineral kingdom which one sees in the jewels and gems, one better than the other, is not something to be overlooked: to see that through a stone divine light shines and makes that stone incomparably greater than the pebbles on the road. How wonderful a phenomenon that even in a stone God shows His beauty. The perfume of flowers, the sweetness of fruits, the delicious tastes that different objects of the earth have, it seems that they were not created for no purpose. In gold, in silver, in metal, in all objects we see in the world, there seems to be a certain purpose to be accomplished here, and the one who is afraid of it - that it will take hold of him - runs away. And what does he do ? He loses both heaven and earth. He has left heaven already; he is leaving the earth. The one who holds it, is buried under it; it grows on him and swallows him. That is another aspect of the earth and the love of the earth. But the one who understands the purpose of the earth and of its treasures utilizes them to the best advantage, not only for himself but for his fellow-men. It is that person who has lived in this world fulfilling the purpose of his life.


Do we only see spiritual persons among those who are sitting in the caves of the mountains of the Himalayas ? Do we not see wonderful personalities in the midst of the world ? Very often people say that a person who has struggled along all through his life with business and industry and worldly things has become hardened, but I think that the one who has really gained victory over the earth, who really has made a success which can be called a success, has learned something from it. It is not everyone who becomes successful in earthly affairs, it is one among many. And the one who comes to the top has had his difficulties, has had his problems, his endurance, his patience have been tested; he has gone through a sacrifice; he has understood human nature standing in the midst of the market. If he has not read one book of philosophy, if he has not meditated one day, still he has arrived at a plane, at an understanding where he knows something worth knowing.


I considered myself most privileged at times when I had a conversation with business men, with persons who always busied themselves with the things of the earth and who have really reached to the top, and I have simply marvelled to think that, instead of hardening them, it has softened their nature to some extent. It has given them a sense which can come by spiritual understanding which is a religious sense; it has developed a fairness in them. By having gone through this world of injustice and having seen in the business world what one sees, they have come to a point of honesty where they begin to see life from a different point of view. And besides that, if anyone ever comes forward and says, "For a philanthropic purpose, for the good of humanity I give so many millions for education, for hospitals", it is they who do it. And I would very much wonder if a recluse who had always kept himself away from money, if he had the charge of many millions, would have liked to part with some. The only idea is that, whether a purpose is earthly or heavenly, to be true to the purpose of life is the first moral we have to learn. For even an earthly purpose, however material it may seem, will prove in the end to be a stepping-stone if one has nothing but that ideal before one.


No doubt all things pertaining to the earth have their influence upon a person. They harden one, they make one's heart cold and take away that tender sentiment that a person has towards his dear ones, towards those whom he loves and on whom he depends, towards his fellow-men. It makes one more and more greedy, and greed makes one unjust. Man becomes avaricious and covetous, and this cup of desire is never filled. One is never satisfied; The more that comes, the less there seems to be there. Nevertheless, if one does not go through this experience which is man's test and one makes another way to cross, then one has given up a great experience, an experience which really makes the soul noble. A person whom otherwise you may not have understood for ten years, you can understand in one day as soon as there is a money question. It at once brings out what is hidden in that person. This shows that it is a great test, a test through which one should go, and one should experience a path which is a part of one's destiny.


Therefore, the religious or spiritual man, even if he looks with contempt at a person engaged in the things of the earth, must know that it is his path, and a path which is his religion. If he proves to be honest in his business dealings, if he keeps his heart open to those near and dear to him, those to whom he has his obligations, if he keeps the flame of his love of mankind lit in his heart throughout it all, in the end he will arrive at a stage where he is greater than a saint, because he has kept alive the flame of saintliness through a continually blowing wind.


We must not always try to get away from difficulties, for in the end we shall not manage to get away from them. Life on earth is difficult, and with the evolution of the earth it will become even more difficult; every day it will be more difficult. What we can do is to make ourselves strong enough to go through the life on earth, and it is only by this strength of conviction that, through whatever path we journey, we shall arrive at the spiritual goal. And whatever be our life - professional, industrial or commercial, it does not matter - we shall live religion, nature's religion, turning our life into a religion, making of our life a religion. And so even with every earthly success we shall be taking steps forward towards spiritual attainment.



Question : Why will life on earth become even more difficult with the earth's evolution ?

Answer : We may take the world as a human being - picture it for instance as a human being making his life from infancy to age. In infancy, however much the infant is dependent, yet he is a sovereign, quite happy in the arms of the mother, in the care of the father - nothing to worry him, nothing to trouble him, no attachment, no enmity; he is as happy as angels in heaven. So was the beginning of the world, the beginning of the human race especially. The Hindus have called it the Golden Age. Then comes youth; youth with its spring and delicacy, with its responsibility together with it. Youth has its own trials, its own experiences, its own fears. This unsettled condition of the earth was called by the Hindus the Silver Age, which means the age with all the treasures, that spring-time of youth. But then as life goes forward, the world comes into the stage of what may be called middle age, the age of cares, of worries, of anxieties, of responsibilities. The Hindus have named it the Copper Age. And as life advances, so it has much to bear. A fruitful tree with the weight of fruits becomes bent, and so it is with progress. With every step forward there are obligations and responsibilities.

Nevertheless, we must not look forward to difficulties. There is one thing that saves us and that is hopefulness. All this about which I have spoken is the metaphysical part. What I am speaking about now is the psychological attitude we ought to have: always hope for the best and we certainly shall have the best.


Question : What is the best action for someone connected with business matters, who is not the principal actor in a transaction and disapproves of details, but feels it would be unwise to cut the connection completely ?

Answer : He is not the man in question; he is a man quite apart from the subject, because he is not doing his duty. He is not giving his heart and soul to the work. That is the test, that is where he learns. If he does not learn from details, if he keeps himself apart, then he is nowhere.


Question : As long as he refuses to accept responsibilities ?

Answer : Yes, responsibility, that is the idea. I would prefer a person either retiring absolutely from responsibility or accepting all consequences and being responsible for everything in his life. And in everything in life for which he can be responsible, he must not depend upon others, because it all teaches him a lesson. What is our daily life ? Even the smallest thing in everyday life is a lesson for us to learn, and we must make the best of our opportunity. However small and unimportant a work that comes along in life - it is not something to be rejected; it is something to be met with. All that is done is accomplished. If it has not done anything else, it has given us some experience and that is worth it.




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