Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
When the lips are closed then the heart begins to speak. When the heart is silent then the soul blazes up, raising its flame which illuminates the whole life. It is this idea which shows to the mystic the great importance of silence, which is gained by repose. It is so little known by the generality what repose means, because every person who experiences repose feels that he needs it after being tired, but if he were not tired he would never see the necessity of repose.
Repose has many aspects. One repose is when a person retires from the action of everyday life and finds himself alone in his room. He breathes a breath of thankfulness, which means, "After all interesting and uninteresting experiences I am just now alone by myself". It is not an ordinary feeling, there is a far deeper feeling behind it. Its meaning is the certainty that there is nothing to attract his mind and nothing which demands his action. At that moment his soul has a glimpse of relief, the pleasure of which is inexpressible . But the intoxication of life, from which every man suffers, is such that he cannot very well appreciate that moment of relief, which every person expects in the time of retirement after the actions of daily life, whether he be rich or poor, tired or not.
Does this not teach us that there is a great mystery in repose, a mystery of which a person is very often ignorant? Besides this, we always find a thoughtful person reposeful by nature, and a reposeful one thoughtful by nature. It is repose which makes one more thoughtful, and it is continual action which takes away that thoughtfulness even from a sensible person. People working in the telephone or telegraph or post offices, upon whose mind there is a continual demand, in time develop impertinence, insolence, lack of patience. They do not become less sensible, it only means that lack of repose, which weakens their sense of control, makes them give in to such things. This shows that repose is not only necessary for a person who walks through the spiritual path, but for every soul living on the earth, whatever be his grade of evolution, whatever be his standard in life. This is the one thing which must be developed in nature, and not only in grown-up people; this is something which should be taught from childhood. In education nowadays so much is thought about the different intellectual things the child will want in life, and so little about the repose which is for the child the greatest necessity.
Sometimes cats and dogs prove more intuitive than mankind. Are animals capable of more things than man? No, man is more capable, but man does not give himself time to become more intuitive, he does not give enough time to it. It often amused me to see in New York, where one easily becomes exhausted by the noises of trains and trams and elevators and factories, that when a person has a little time to sit quietly in a train or a tube, he is looking at the newspapers. All that action is not enough. If not in the body, then there must be action in the brain.
What is it? It is nervousness, a common disease which has almost become normal health. If everybody suffers from the same disease then this disease may be called normal. What is called self-control, self-discipline only comes from the practice of repose, which is helpful not only in the spiritual path, but also in one's practical life, in being thoughtful and considerate.
The mystic, therefore, takes this method of repose, and by this he tries to prepare himself to tread the spiritual path. The spiritual path is, as I have said, not an outward path. It is an inward path one has to tread, and therefore the laws and journeying through the spiritual path are quite contrary to the laws and journey through the outer path. To explain in plain words what the spiritual path is I would say, it begins by living in communication with oneself, because it is the innermost self of man in which is to be found the life of God. This does not mean that the voice of the inner self does not come to everyone. It always comes, but every person does not hear it. Therefore, to begin his effort in this path the Sufi begins to communicate with his self within, to address it. And when once he has addressed the soul, then from the soul comes a kind of reproduction, like that which the singer could hear from his song on a record which has been produced from his own voice.
Having done this he has taken a first step in the direction within, when he has listened to what this process reproduces. And this process has awakened a kind of echo in his being. Peace or happiness, light or form, whatever he has wished to produce, it is produced as soon as he has begun to communicate with himself. Now you may compare the man who says, "I cannot help being active, being sad, being worried, as it is the condition of my mind and soul", with the adept, the worker, who communes with himself. It is not long before the self begins to realize the value of it.
This is what the Sufis have taught for thousands of years. The path of the Sufi is not to commune with fairies and genii. It is to commune with one's deepest, innermost self, as if one blows one's inner spark into a divine fire. But he does not stop there, he goes still further. He then remains in a state of repose and that repose could be brought about by a certain way of sitting and breathing and by a certain attitude of mind. Then he begins to become conscious of some part of his being which is not the physical body but which is above it. The more he becomes conscious of this, the more he begins to realize the truth, which is a sure truth, of the life hereafter. Then there are no longer his imaginations nor his beliefs. It is his actual realization of the experience which is independent of physical life, and it is in this state that one is capable of experiencing the phenomenon of life. The Sufi, therefore, does not dabble in different wonder-workings and phenomena. Once he realizes this, the whole of life is a phenomenon. Every moment, every experience brings to him a realization of that life he has found in his meditation.
The being of man is a mechanism of body and mind. When this mechanism is in order, there is happiness, fullness of life. When anything is wrong with the mechanism, the body is ill and peace is gone. This mechanism depends upon winding. Just as a clock is wound and then goes on for twenty-four hours, so it is in meditation. When a person sits in a reposeful attitude and puts the mind in a condition of repose and regulates the work of this mechanism by the process of meditation, it is like winding the clock. Its effect is felt all the time because the mechanism is put in order.
Thus the belief of a mystic is not an outward belief in a deity he has not seen. The mystic's worship is not only an outer form: that by saying prayers his worship is finished. He makes the best use of the outer things, but at the same time his pursuit is logical, scientific; and he will, if possible, unite this with the mystical conception. But mysticism is the scientific explanation, also the realization, of things taught by religion, things which otherwise would have no meaning to an ordinary person. When an ordinary person reads about the Kingdom of God and Heaven, he reads these names, but he does not know where Heaven is; he feels there is a God, but there is no evidence. And therefore a large number of intellectual people, who really are seeking the truth, are going away from the outer religion because they cannot find the explanation, and consequently then become materialists. The mystic says, the explanation of the whole of religion is investigation of the self. The more one explores oneself, the more one will understand all religions in the fullest light, and all will become clear. Sufism is only a light thrown upon your own religion, like a light brought in a room where all things you want are; the one thing needed was light.
Yet the mystic is not always ready to give his answer to every person. Can parents always answer every question of their infant children? No, there are questions which can be answered, and there are some for the answer of which we should wait, until we have come to the point where we understand. I used to be fond of a poem which yet I did not understand, for which I could not find a satisfactory explanation. After ten years, all of a sudden, in one second's time a light was thrown upon it and I understood. There was no end to my joy. Does it not show that everything has its time? When people become impatient and ask for an answer, something can be answered and something cannot be answered. The answer will come in its time, one has to wait. Has anyone in the world been able to say to the full what is God, with all Scriptures and prophets? God is an ideal too high and great for words to explain. Can anyone explain such a word as love or say what is truth?
Very often people ask what is truth. I often felt as if I should write the word TRUTH on a brick in charcoal and put it into their hands and say, "There, hold this, then you can hold the truth". If truth is to be attained, it is only attained when truth itself has begun to speak, which comes about in revelation. Truth reveals itself; therefore the Persian word for truth is Khuda which means self-revealing, for this word unites God with truth. So God is truth. Neither can one explain the first word, nor the second. The only help the mystic can give is by explaining how to arrive at this revelation. No one can teach this; one has to learn oneself. The teacher is only there to guide one to this revelation. There is only one teacher, who is God. And the great masters of the world, they were the greatest pupils, they knew how to become a pupil.
How is it all taught or brought to the consciousness of those who tread the path of truth? By bayat, by initiation. It is a trust, given by someone who guides, to someone who is treading the path. The treader of the path must be willing to risk the difficulties of the path, to be sincere, faithful, truthful, undoubting, not pessimistic nor sceptical, else his efforts will not reach his aim. He must come whole-heartedly or else not come; half-heartedness has no value. And then what is necessary is some intellectual understanding of the metaphysical aspect of life, which some have but not all. What is necessary besides this are the qualities of the heart, love as a first principle, which is known to be divine. Then action, such action as will not hinder in the path of truth, such action as creates greater and greater harmony. And then repose; that which is learned by the study of one year is learned by the silence of one day, if one only knows the real way of silence.