Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Awakening of the Soul
Part I
The Smiling Forehead
Chapter 20
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


There is  an awakening from childhood to youth and from youth to mature age and during this development one's point of view, one's outlook in life changes. Also sometimes in one's life, when one has gone through an illness or a great suffering, at the end of it the whole outlook on life has changed. One also sees that a person who has taken a long journey after having come back has quite changed. Also after a friendship, after a pupil ship, after a marriage a sudden change comes in the outlook of a person, and we find that there are some cases where the change is so great that we may say that he is an entirely new person. Seeing this we can divide such changes which may be called developments into three classes.


One class pertains to the physical development, another is connected with the development of the mind and the third class with the development of the soul. There are instances in the lives of many - who rarely will say or admit it - that they can recollect experiences in their childhood when in one moment's time their whole outlook on life changed. As ripening is a desired result, it is the result of every object in life to ripen and to develop. Therefore the fulfilment of life's purpose is to be expected in the awakening of the soul.


One may ask what are the signs of the soul's awakening. The first sign of this awakening is just like the birth of an infant. From the time of its birth the infant is interested in hearing something, any sound that comes, and in seeing something, a colour or light, whatever it be attracted to. And thus a person whose soul has awakened becomes awake to everything he sees and hears. Compared to that person everyone else seems to be with open eyes and yet not to see, to be with open ears and yet not to hear. There are many with open ears, but there is rarely one who hears, and there are many with open eyes, but there is hardly one who sees. It is therefore that the natural seeing of the awakened soul is called clairvoyance and his natural hearing clairaudience. In English there is the simple word "seer" which explains that this person not only has eyes, but together with eyes he has sight.


The moment the soul has awakened music makes an appeal to it, poetry touches it, words move it, art has an influence upon it. It no longer is a sleeping soul, it is awake and it begins to enjoy life to a fuller extent. It is this awakening of the soul which is mentioned in the Bible, "Unless the soul is born again it will not enter the kingdom of heaven". Being born again means that the soul is awakened after having come on earth, and entering the kingdom of heaven means that this world, the same kingdom in which we are standing just now, turns into heaven as soon as the point of view has changed. Is it not interesting and most wonderful to think that the same earth we walk on is earth to one person and heaven to another? And it is still more interesting to notice that it is we who change it; we change it from earth into heaven, or we change it otherwise.


This change comes not by study, nor by anything else, but only by the changing of our point of view. I have seen people seek after truth, study in books about it, write many books on theology, and in the end they were in the same place where they were standing before. This shows that all outer efforts are excuses. There is only one thing that brings us before reality and that is the awakening of the soul.


All tragedy of life, all misery and inharmony are caused by one thing and that is lack of understanding. Lack of understanding comes from lack of penetration. The one who does not see from the point of view from which he ought to see becomes disappointed because he cannot understand. It is not for the outer world to help us to understand life better; it is we ourselves who should help ourselves to understand it better.


Then there is a further awakening which is a continuation of what I have called the awakening of the soul. The sign of it is that the awakened person throws a light, the light of his soul, upon every person and every object and sees that object, that condition in this light. It is his own soul which becomes a torch in his hand, it is his own light that illuminates his path. It is just like throwing a searchlight upon dark corners which one did not see before, and the corners become clear and illuminated again. It is like throwing light upon problems that one did not understand at first; it is like seeing with x-­rays persons who were a riddle before.


Since life becomes clear to the awakened soul it shows another manifestation: every aspect of life becomes communicative with him. The idea is that life is communi­cating, the soul is communicating, but they do not communicate until a person is awakened. Once a soul is awakened it becomes communicative with life.


As a young man I had a great desire to visit the shrines of sages, of great teachers. With every desire of hearing something of them or of asking them something I always held my tongue back. I sat quiet in their presence and had a great satisfaction and felt a greater blessing by sitting quiet there than if I had discussed and argued and talked with them; for in the end I felt that there was a communication which was much more satisfactory than these outer discussions and arguments of people who know not what they discuss. It was enlightening, it was refreshing and it gave that power and inspiration with which one can see life in a better light. Those who are awakened become lights, not only lights for themselves but also lights for others. These may not know it but their light, their presence itself helps to make the most difficult problems easy. This brings us to realize the fact that man is light, as the Scriptures have said, a light whose origin, whose source is divine. And when this light is raised then life becomes quite different.


When the soul is awakened furthermore its condition is then as that of a person sitting in the midst of the night among hundreds and thousands of people who are fast asleep. The picture is that he is sitting among them, standing among them, he is looking at them, hearing of their sorrows, miseries and conditions - hundreds of them moving about in their sleep, in their own dreams, not awake to the condition of the other one who is next to them. They may be friends or relations or acquaintances or enemies; whatever be their relationship, little they know about one another, each one absorbed in his own troubles. This awakened soul standing among them all will listen to everyone, will see everyone, will recognize and realize all they think and feel, but his lan­guage no one understands; his thoughts he cannot explain to anyone; his feelings he cannot expect anyone to feel. He feels lonely and nothing else can be felt. No doubt in that loneliness there is a sense of perfection, because perfection is loneliness.


When it was said that the apostles knew all languages at the descent of the Holy Spirit, it did not mean knowing the languages of all countries. They knew the language of the soul; for there are several languages which are spoken in different lands, but numberless languages are spoken, as each individual has his particular language. That brings us to realize another idea of very great importance: the outer language can convey only outward things and feelings to one another, but there is an inner language, a language which can be understood by souls who are awakened. It is a universal language, a language of vibrations, a language of feeling, a language which touches the innermost sense. Heat and cold for instance are different feelings which are called by different names in different countries, but inwardly they are the same feelings. So there is love and hate and kindness, harmony and inharmony which are all called by different names in different countries, but their feeling is the same experience for all men.


When in order to know the thought of another we depend upon his outer word then no doubt we fail to understand, for perhaps we do not know that person's language. But if we can communicate with him soul to soul we can certainly understand what he means, for before he says a word he has said it within himself, and that word reaches us before it is expressed outwardly. Before the word is spoken the expression says it; before the thought has formed, the feeling speaks of it. And this shows that it is a feeling which forms a thought, a thought which comes as speech. Even before this a feeling existed, and even there it can be caught when one is able to communicate with the soul. This is what may be called communication: to communicate with the innermost being of a person. But who can communicate? The one who knows how to communicate with himself, the one who in other words is awakened.


The personality of an awakened soul becomes different from every other personality. It becomes more magnetic, because it is a living person who has magnetism; the dead corpse has no magnetism. It is the living person who brings joy, and therefore it is the awakened soul who is joyous. Never for one moment imagine, as many do, that a spiritual person means a most sorrowful, dried-up, long-faced person. Spirit is joy, spirit is life, and when this spirit has awakened all the joy and pleasure that exist are there. As the sun takes away all darkness, so spiritual light takes away all worries and anxieties, sufferings and doubts. If spiritual awakening were not so precious what would be the use of seeking it in life? It is a treasure which nobody can take away from you, a light that will always keep and will never be extinguished. That is called spiritual awakening which is the fulfilment of life's purpose.


Certainly, the things a person once valued and considered important become less important. They lose their value, and things which are beautiful lose their colour. It is just like seeing the stage in the light of the sun; all the big palaces and decorations on the stage mean nothing. No doubt this takes away the slavery to which everyone is put by the things of this world; the awakened person becomes a master, and at the same time he need not give those things up. Optimism develops naturally, but an optimism with open eyes. Power increases, the power of accomplishing things. Then as long as a person has not accomplished something he will go after it however small it is.


It is very difficult to judge an awakened soul, as they say in the East, for there is nothing outwardly to prove to you, "this person is an awakened soul". The best way of seeing an awakened soul is to waken oneself. No one in the world can pretend to be awake when he is still asleep, as a little child by putting moustaches on his face will not prove himself to be a grown-up man. All other pretences may be accepted but not the one of being an awakened soul, for it is a living light which no one can pretend to be. If there is any truth it is in the awakening of the soul, for truth is born in this awakening. Truth is not taught, truth is discovered.


Very often people make an effort - but in vain - to awaken a friend or a near relation whom they love. But in the first place we do not know if that person is not more awakened than we ourselves, and we may be trying in vain. And the other point is that a person may be asleep and needs that sleep. Waking him would be a sin instead of a virtue. We are only allowed to give our hand to the one who is turning over in his sleep, who desires to awake. Only then a hand is given.


This giving of the hand in esoteric terms is called initiation. No doubt outwardly a teacher who is acquainted with this path may give a hand to the one who wishes to journey, but inwardly there is the Teacher who gives a hand who has always given and always gives a hand to awakening souls, the same hand which has received the sages and masters of all times in a higher initiation.


Verily, the seeker will find sooner or later, if only he keeps steady on the path till he arrives at his destination.




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