Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Purpose of Life
Chapter 11
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


A person who is conscientious of his duty, who attaches great importance to his ideal, is apt to say to the person who is engaged in money-making, "You are striving for earth's treasures, I am performing what I consider my duty". The person who is making his way towards heaven, who is holding paradise in his expectations, is inclined to say to the pleasure-seeking soul, "You are absorbed in life's momentary pleasures, I am working for the life to come". But the person who is busy making money can also say to the one who is conscientious of duty and the one possessing a high ideal, "If you had to go through the experience which I have to go through, you would see in this also something worthwhile". And the seeker after paradise may also be answered by the pleasure-seeking soul, as Omar Khayyam has said,

O my beloved, fill the cup that clears To-day of past regrets and future fears. 
To-morrow ? Why, to-morrow I may be
Myself, with yesterday's sev'nty thousand years!


This shows that all these seekers after different things, seekers after wealth, seekers after the ideal, seekers after pleasure and seekers after paradise, must have their own ways, and at the same time they will have their own reasons. One may contradict another, although they are all making their way to the goal. Sooner or later, with more or less difficulty they must arrive one day at the purpose of life.


One may ask, "Which of these four ways is the best way of arriving at the purpose of life ?" That way is best which suits you best. The way of one person is not for another person, although man is always inclined to accuse another person of doing wrong, knowing that he himself is doing right. Really speaking, the purpose is beyond all these four things. Neither in paradise nor in the ideal, neither in pleasures nor in the wealth of this earth is that purpose accomplished; that purpose is accomplished when a person has risen above all these things. It is that person then who will tolerate all, who will understand all, who will assimilate all things, who will not feel agitated against things which are not in accordance with his own nature or the way which is not his way. He will not look at them with contempt, but he will see that in every person, in the depth of his being, there is a divine spark which is trying to raise its flame towards the purpose.


When a person has arrived at this stage, it is then that he has risen above the limitations of the world. Then he has become entitled to experience the joy of coming near to the real purpose of life. It is then that in everything he says or does he will be accomplishing that purpose. Whether outwardly it would seem the right thing to the world or a wrong thing, he is accomplishing his purpose just the same.


For instance, I have seen holy souls taking part in a religious procession which was made perhaps by the ordinary people: thousands of people making out of it a kind of fête-day, playing music and dancing before the procession, singing and enjoying themselves, and among them most highly developed souls who may be called saints doing the same thing, all going in the procession. One might wonder, "Did they need it ? Was it good for their evolution, or by this did they gain any satisfaction ? No, and yet it does not hinder their progress. They are what they are, they know what they know. A grown-up person by playing with the children does not become a child; he only adapts himself for the time to the party of children. Did not Solomon sit on a throne and wear a crown ? Did it make him less wise or did it rob him of spirituality ? No, for he was above it. For him the throne or crown were nothing but acting in a play for the time being; it was a pastime. We read that Krishna took part in the battle of Mahabharata. A self-righteous person who would look upon it as a cruel thing would be ready to condemn Krishna for this cruel inclination. But behind all that outward appearance, what was it ? There was the highest realization of love, of wisdom, of justice, of goodness; the soul had reached its culmination. An ordinary person even to-day can judge it and say, "How can he be a great Master who led the army of Arjuna ?" We come to understand by this that the further we go the more tolerant we become. Outward things matter little, it is inward realization which counts.


However sacred duty may be, however high may be the hope of paradise, however great the happiness one may experience in the pleasures of the earth, however much satisfaction one may find in earthly treasures, the purpose of life is in rising beyond all things. It is then that the soul will not feel the sting of death. It is then that the soul will know no limitations. It is then that the soul will have no discords, no disagreements with others. It is then that the natural attitude of the soul will become tolerant and forgiving.


The purpose of life is fulfilled in rising to the greatest heights and in diving to the deepest depths of life, in widening the sphere of one's horizon, in penetrating life in all its spheres, in losing oneself and in finding oneself in the end. In the accomplishment of the purpose of life the purpose of the creation is fulfilled. Therefore, in this fulfilment it is not that man has attained, but God Himself has fulfilled His purpose.



Question : Will you please explain what you meant by "diving to the depths of life" ?

Answer : A rich merchant was desirous of selecting an agent for his business, and he had to make a choice between two candidates. One day in the later part of the night he heard some waggons coming from another country into his town. He asked one of the candidates to go and see what it was, and ten minutes later he asked the other candidate, "What is this ? I hear some noise at a distance". The first went and came back saying, "Sir, there are waggons loaded with wheat. Many waggons are coming". The other one came back after half an hour and said, "Since there were a hundred waggons with grain coming, I saw that here was our opportunity and I bought them at once. As we came closer to the town, we had an offer, so I sold them and this is the cheque".

The one who was sent first saw at the surface what was coming. The other saw what was coming and what to do with it, and how to profit by the situation. So every soul is sent from the Master for the same reason, just as an agent goes out to do something. One comes and goes and looks here and there; he becomes disheartened or frightened, disappointed or afraid of it; so discontent he wants to commit suicide. Another one looks at it and says, "What is this noise ? What is the meaning of it ? Is it something that I do not understand ? I must know the language first. What language is it ? What is it ? What is its purpose ? What profit is gained by it ? What is the outcome of it ? What is my duty here ? What is the purpose to accomplish and the way I shall accomplish it ?" That is the person who dives into the depths of life. The other person stands and looks at the surface of things; he is frightened, he is afraid of it, he knows little of it and runs back.


Question : A simple person who during his life had as an ideal, for instance, to have a motorcar, will he have the fulfilment of this in paradise ?

Answer : Of course in order to have autos in paradise they must have factories. Paradise would no longer be paradise if they had factories - noise going on. Nevertheless, for this person a paradise will be specially made with factories and motorcars.


Question : Please explain the verse: "Unless a man is born again of water and spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of God".

Answer : Water in this case is matter. Spirit is that life which is unseen life; matter is that life which is seen life. The earth is an element which follows water - water is the first element. Therefore, when the Master said "water", that means earth and water both, because water is the symbol of physical life. Spirit is the symbol of spiritual life. And "unless a person" means a soul; once the soul is "born of water" means born of physical life; and "again born of spirit" means that it has found its origin, its heritage - not in the physical life but in the spiritual life. It is then that he is able to enter the kingdom of God.


Question : Is that what the Hindus call twice born?

Answer : Therefore, among Brahmins there is the word dwija which means twice born.


Question : Is it not possible for a person to overdo it and to neglect the inner life through always probing and investigating matters ?

Answer : The business example that I have given is an analogy of the spiritual life. When a soul becomes conscious of being sent as an agent on a certain work, then it wants to know about life. Besides, there are many good people in this world; they are not always spiritual. There are very good people, and if goodness is called spirituality it is a different thing. Then there are many learned people; they are not called spiritual. Spirituality is the understanding of life, and therefore spirituality is a natural thing which nature wants and by which nature feels liberated - the soul feels liberated. If not, the soul feels in prison. All the confusion and depression and pain and despair come from this imprisonment of the soul, and it rises above this prison by being able to understand life. It is understanding which liberates it. Verily it is truth which will save.

Furthermore, knowing is not an undesirable thing - whatever we know, whether we know the ways of business, the secrets of a profession, the ideas of science, the mystery of art or the philosophy of life or the psychology of human nature. The very fact of knowing, wanting to know, is a sign of spirituality, for the whole purpose of creation is in knowing, wanting to know, and that purpose is expressed by an infant. When a person thinks, "I know, I have nothing more to know", then there he ends, he is no longer living. If one wants to live one must know that there is always much to know, that it is never enough. One may be so blessed with knowledge that one touches the depths of life and reaches the heights of life, and yet one may learn from a little child something which will be worthwhile learning.




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