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Stages on the Path of Realization

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Part Two

The prophets of all ages have given some ideal to help man to form a conception of God. It has been said, 'If you have no God, make one.' That is the right way and the easiest way of realizing the unlimited truth.

There are many who would rather meditate than worship, than pray. In this way there has always been conflict between the intellectual person and the idealistic person. The Prophet was taught as the first thing to idealize the Lord; and when the ideal he thus made became his conception of God, then in that conception God awakened. And he began to hear the voice saying, 'Now you must serve your people, you must awaken in your people the sense of religion, the ideal of God, the desire for spiritual attainment, and the wish to live a better life.' Then he knew that it was now his turn to accomplish all those things that the prophets who had come before had been meant to accomplish.

What do I mean by an ideal? However insignificant the object may be which one loves, which one looks up to, for which one is ready to sacrifice oneself and all one possesses, yet that is an ideal.

The Sufi, forgetting the self and aiming at the attainment of the divine ideal, walks constantly all through life in the path of love and light. In God the Sufi sees the perfection of all that is in the reach of man's perception and yet he knows Him to be above human reach. He looks to Him as the lover to his beloved. and takes all things in life as coming from Him, with perfect resignation. The sacred name of God is to him as medicine to the patient. The divine thought is the compass by which he steers the ship to the shores of immortality. The God-ideal is to a Sufi as a lift by which he raises himself to the eternal goal, the attainment of which is the only purpose of his life.

God to the Sufi is not only a heavenly King or an ideal of worship, but a friend, a beloved, nearer and dearer than all others in the world; and our dealings with Him must be as the dealings of an earnest lover with his beloved. When it is the time of worship, we must worship Him as the soldier saluting his king, as his duty; but at the time of communion we must commune with Him as a lover would with his beloved.

The Sufi's God is his divine ideal to whom he attributes all that is good and beautiful in its perfection; and he himself stands before Him in humility realizing his imperfection, being a soul, free to roam the heavens, now captive on earth in the physical body. His aim in life is to release the captive soul from the bondage of limitations, which he accomplishes by the repetition of the sacred names of God and by constant thought of his divine ideal, and an ever-increasing love for the divine Beloved until the beloved God with His perfection becomes manifest to his vision, and his imperfect self vanishes from his sight.

Those who because of their materialistic outlook cannot believe in the God-ideal lose a great deal in their lives. That ideal which is highest and best, the only ideal worth loving, worshipping, longing for, worth the sacrifice of all one has, and worth depending upon both by day and through the darkness of night, is God. He who has God in his life has all he needs; he who does not have God may possess everything in this material world, but he will be lonely; he is in the wilderness even in the midst of the crowd. Thus the journey of the Sufi is towards God. It is divine knowledge which he seeks; it is the realization of God-consciousness which is his goal....The God-ideal is the flower of the human race, and this flower blooms in the realization of God.

The idea of God is a means for the Sufi to rise from imperfection to perfection, as is suggested in the Bible, 'be ye perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.' There is a vast gulf between the state of imperfection and the state of perfection; and God is the boat in which one sails from the port of imperfection to perfection.

Either because of a commercial instinct, or with the desire to have a success, there is a tendency to cater to what people want. If people seem to be tired of the God-ideal, those who have that tendency want to give them occultism; they call it that or mysticism, because the God-ideal seems so simple. And as there is a fashion in everything there is even a fashion in belief. Man thinks that the ideal of God is old-fashioned, something of the past. In order to create a new fashion he abandons the method which was the royal road trodden by all the wise and thoughtful of all ages, the method which will surely take men to perfection. Safety and success are sure in that path.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

To Part Three

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