Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Purpose of Life
Chapter 13
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


The purpose of life in short is that the Only Being makes intelligible to Himself His Oneness. He goes through different planes of evolution, or planes through which he arrives at different changes, in order to make clear to Himself His Oneness. And as long as this purpose is not accomplished, the One and Only Being has not arrived at His ultimate satisfaction in which resides His divine Perfection.


This may be understood by a little example. A jinn wanted to amuse himself, and when about to do so he brought upon himself a problem, for the jinn was powerful and he said to himself, "Be thou a rock". So the jinn turned into a rock, and by becoming a rock he began to feel solitary, left in the wilderness, with loss of action, loss of movement, lack of freedom and lack of experience. This was a terrible captivity for the jinn. For many years this jinn had to have patience to change into something else. It did not mean that through the rock he did not realize life, for even the rock is living, even the rock is vibrating, is changing. Yet a rock is a rock, a rock is not a jinn.


It was through the patience of thousands of years that the rock began to wear out and crumble into earth. And when the jinn came out of that earth as a plant, he was delighted that he had grown out as a tree. The jinn was so pleased to feel, "Out of a rock I could become a plant, I could enjoy the air more freely, I could swing with the wind blowing". He smiled at the sun and bathed happily in the rain. He was pleased to bring out fruits, to bring out flowers, but at the same time his innate desire was not satisfied. It kept him in the hope of breaking some day through this captivity of being rooted in a particular place and this limitation of movement. For a long, long time the jinn was waiting to come out of this limitation. This was better, yet it was not the experience the jinn desired. But then after a while the fruit became decayed and part of that fruit turned into a little worm. The jinn was more delighted to feel, "I can move about; now I am not rooted only in a certain place so as not to be able to move". But as the worm breathed and was under the sun, this worm got wings and began to fly. The jinn was still more delighted to see, "I have begun to fly".


From one experience to another he flew in the air and experienced the life of a bird. Then he sat upon the trees and walked on the earth, and as he enjoyed life on the earth more and more, he became a heavy bird; he could not fly, he walked. This heaviness made him coarse and he turned into an animal. He was most happy, for then, because he was no longer a bird, he could stand against all the other animals that wanted to kill birds.


Through a process of gradual change the jinn arrived at becoming a human being. And when as a human being the jinn looked around, he thought, "This is something that I was destined to be, because now, as a jinn, I can see all these different bodies that I have taken in order to become more free, in order to become perceptive, sensitive, in order to know things, in order to enjoy things. There could not have been any other vehicle more fitting than this". And yet he thought, "Even this is not a fitting vehicle, because when I want to fly I have no wings, and I feel like flying also. I walk on the earth, but I have not the strength of the lion. And now I feel that I belong to heaven, and where it is I do not know".


This made the jinn search for what was missing and he found in the end, "I was a jinn just the same in the rock, in the plant, in the bird, in the animal, but I was captive and my eyes were veiled from my own being. It is by becoming man that now I am beginning to think that I was a jinn. And yet I found in this life of man also a great limitation; I have not that freedom of expansion, the freedom of movement, that life which is dependable, that knowledge which is reality". Then this thought itself took him to his real domain which was the jinn-life, and there he arrived with the air of a conqueror, with the grandeur of a sovereign, with the splendour of a king, with the honour of an emperor, realizing, "After all I have enjoyed, I have experienced, though I have suffered, and I have known being and I have become what I am."


There is another story that can also explain the mystery of life's purpose. A fairy had a great desire to amuse herself and she descended on the earth. There children had made a little doll's puzzle. She wanted to enter this doll's puzzle, but it was difficult for her to enter into the space where only a doll can go. "Well then", she said, "I am going to take a different way. I will send one of my fingers by one side of the puzzle, another finger by another". She made herself come into different bits and each bit of herself went into the different parts of the puzzle. When one part of her being met another part, at once they rubbed against one another, and that was very unpleasant. Then there was a fight among her different particles. "Why are you coming my way ? This was my way; why do you come my way ?" Each part of her being interested itself in something in some part of the puzzle. Yet that moment of interest passed and a certain part of her being wanted to go out of the puzzle. But then there were other parts of her being which were not willing to let it go; they were holding it. "You must stay here, you cannot go out". Some parts of her being wanted to push out another part; they did not want it there. But then there was no way of putting it out. So it was a kind of chaos all through, one part not knowing that the other part belonged to the same fairy, and yet one part being attracted unconsciously to the other part, because they were the different parts of the same body.


In the end the heart of the fairy traveled also. This heart soothed every other part, saying, "You have come from me, I wish to console you, I wish to serve you. If you are troubled, I wish to take away your trouble. If you are in need of a service, I wish to render it to you. If you lack anything I wish to bring it for you. I know how much you are troubled in this puzzle". But some said, "We are not troubled at all , we are enjoying ourselves. If we are troubled it is through the wish to remain here. Those who are troubled are others, not we". The heart said, "Yes, I shall look at you and I shall enjoy too. Those who are troubled I shall sympathize with them; those who are enjoying I shall help them." This was the one part of the fairy's being which was conscious of its atoms being scattered all around. But the atoms were hardly conscious of it, although since they belonged to the same body they were attracted to the heart, knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously. The power of this heart was such. It was just like the power of the sun that turns the responsive flower into a sun-flower. So the power of the heart of the fairy turned every part of its being that responded into a heart. And as the heart was light and life itself, no longer could the puzzle hold the heart. The heart was experiencing the joy of the puzzle, but was at the same time able to fly away. The heart delighted itself by finding all its atoms belonging to its body and it worked through all, through every part of its organs, so in time turning every part of its organs into a heart also - in which was the fulfilment of this phenomenon.


Truth is simple, but for the very reason that it is simple the souls will not take it, because our life on earth is such that for everything we value we have to pay a great price to get it. And one thinks that if truth is the most precious of all things, then how can truth be attained simply ? It is this illusion that makes everyone deny simple truth and search for complexity. Tell people something that makes their heads whirl round and round and round, even if they do not understand it, they are most pleased to think, "It is something substantial, it is something solid, for it is an idea we cannot understand; it must be lofty". But something which every soul knows, proving the divine in every soul, which it cannot help but know, that appears to be too cheap, for the soul already knows it.


There are two things: knowing and being. It is easy to know truth, but most difficult to be truth. It is not in knowing truth that life's purpose is accomplished. Life's purpose is accomplished in being truth.



Question : In your books you seem to make a difference between animals and birds. Is this so ?

Answer : It is so


Question : Is there a deeper difference between birds and other beasts ?

Answer : Yes, certainly. One takes the direction of the sky; that direction itself makes it a different being. The other has the direction of the earth; it makes its inclination quite different. The inclination of the one is towards the high, the inclination of the other towards the earth. But man represents both, for although man stands on the earth, his feet on the earth, his hands are lifted from the earth.

The inclination of a perfect man is towards heaven. That is what is shown by the symbol of the five-pointed star: the raised hands make with the head three points upwards, and standing on two feet on the earth - that makes five points.


Question : Before man appeared on earth, did God not realize His oneness ?

Answer : But who can say how many times man appeared on the earth and disappeared from the earth ? What we know is only of one history of the planet. But how many planets existed ? How many millions of years and unlimited amounts of time ? How many creations created and how many withdrawn ? What one can say is only this: one cannot say "God's past, present and future", one can only give an idea which is the central idea of all aspects of truth : that it is the Only Being who existed, who exists and will exist. All that we see is His phenomenon.


Question : So it is only man who is the organ through which God realizes His oneness ?

Answer : God realizes His oneness through His own nature. Since God is one He always realizes His oneness - through all things, but through man He realizes His oneness to fulness. For instance, in the tree there are many leaves; although each leaf is different from the other leaf, yet the difference is not so great. Then coming to worms and germs and birds and animals, they are different one from another, and yet the difference is not so distinct as in man. One man is so distinctly different from another man. And when one thinks of this great variety of numberless human forms - and it seems that there is not one human form which is exactly like another - this itself shows us a living proof of the Oneness of God - that unity holds itself intact, proving itself to be one, even in the world of variety.


Question : The idea of contrast ............ ?

Answer : Yes, and yet He holds oneness. In every person there is one person; there is no other person like him. In order to show this Asif, the Nizam of Hyderabad, made a very beautiful verse:

You look at me with contempt.
Yes, granted, I am contemptible,
But will you show me such another contemptible creature ?

Which means that there may be the worst person in the world, and yet he is incomparable, there is none like him. That is a great phenomenon, the proof of oneness, the proof of unity: in the creation of God there is no competition, no one competes with the Creator.


Question : Does the creation tend towards more and more diversity ?

Answer : Yes, and yet through that diversity there is a proof of unity, by making each one unique. In other words, it would hurt the pride of the Only Being to feel, "There is another like Me, even in the world of variety". He retains His pride, even in the world of variety: "No one is like Me". Even in the worst garb He stands alone, no comparison.




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