There was a time when a deep thinker and a free thinker had great difficulty in expressing his thoughts, and that time has not altogether ceased. But at the same time, in some ways there seems to be much more freedom of expression in this age than in ancient times. At that time, anyone who expressed his thoughts freely about life and its hidden law "about soul , God, creation and manifestation" met with great difficulty.
The difficulty was that the religious authorities of all kinds governed, and under the religious reign the principles of the exoteric religion reigned. And therefore those who attained by the esoteric side of philosophy always had difficulty in telling it to the people. Many were persecuted; they were stoned, they were flayed, they were put to death. All sort of punishment were inflicted upon them, and in this way the progress of humanity was retarded. Today we do not see this. At the same time, the limited attitude of the human mind on religious and philosophical questions is to be found in all ages.
Those who found by the help of meditation the source of knowledge in their own hearts, for them it was very difficult to give to the world in plain words what little they could explain of the truth. It is true that the truth cannot be spoken in words; but at the same time, those gifted with poetic and prophetic expression have always had that inclination and tendency of expressing what their souls experienced.
The same ideal which one sees in all religions, Jesus Christ taught, saying "God is love". If there is anything divine in man , it is love. If God is to be found anywhere, it is in a man's heart, which is love, and if the love element is awakened in the heart then God is made love, so to speak, and is born in one's self.
The key to this is appreciation of beauty in all its forms. Beauty is not always in an object or in a person. Beauty depends upon one's attitude towards life, how one looks at it; and its effect depends upon our power of appreciation. The very same music or poetry or painting will touch one person so that he feels its beauty to the very depth of his being, and perhaps there is another person who looks at it but does not see it.
The whole manifestation has its beauty; sometimes the beauty is manifest to you, sometimes you have to look for it. There comes a good person; we are always charmed by the beauty of goodness. There comes another person who looks bad. But at the same time good is somewhere hidden in him, if we would look for it, if we have the desire to draw it out. The look of bad is not always in objects or persons, but in our looking.
The whole idea is to awaken that appreciation of beauty and love of beauty, which is the only condition through which to experience that bliss for which our life is purposed. Someone asked a Sufi the reason for this whole creation, and he answered, "God, Whose being is love itself, had desire to experience the nature of His own being, and in order to experience it, He had to manifest Himself."
God Himself and His manifestation, the soul and God; this dual aspect can be seen in all forms of nature, in the sun and the moon; in night and day; in male and female, in positive and negative; and in all things of opposite characters, in order that this love principle, itself the original and the only principle at the back of the whole manifestation, may have the scope of its full play. And therefore the fulfillment of the purpose of life is the full expression of the love principle.
Very often people by learning philosophy, and by looking at this world with a pessimistic thought have renounced the world and have called it material and false; and have left this world and have gone to the forest or desert or cave, and have taught the principle of self-denial and self abnegation and renunciation. This is not the way of which we speak.
The poet Hafiz said it is like journeying over the sea and coming to a new port, and before landing one becomes frightened, saying, "But I shall perhaps be attacked by the people, or the place will attract me so much that I will not be able to go back where I come from." But he does not know why he has taken that journey. He has not taken that journey to go back without landing..
The attitude of Hafiz is to land there. Risk it. If it is an attractive place, he is ready to be won. If it will crush him, he is ready to be crushed. This is a daring attitude. Not running away from this false world, but in this false world to discover glimpses of the true. And in this maze to find God's purpose.
Now, there are many people in this world who have once believed in God, in His mercy and compassion, in His love and forgiveness, but after having suffered, after seeing catastrophes and injustice, have give up belief. Many people after great sorrow and suffering have given up religion.
The reason is that the religion they have followed has taught then God as goodness, God as judge. Well then, they ask from a judge justice. Justice to satisfy their own ideas. They think their standard of justice is God's. They look for goodness as they understand it. And therefore there comes a time of struggle in their hearts. They do not see justice, because they are looking from their own point of view. They are looking for goodness, kindness and mercy from their own point of view. And there are many conditions which make them think there is no justice, that there is no such thing as a forgiving element.
But here it is different. This is not the belief of God the just and good. Here God is the Beloved, to whom one surrenders in perfect love and devotion, and everything coming from the Beloved is taken with love and devotion as the reward. Prefer poison coming from the hand of the Beloved to nectar from another. Prefer death to life if it is the will of the Beloved.
But you may say, "Is it fair?" There is no question of fairness where there is love. Love stands above law. Law is beneath love, law is born of love. The mistake in this day is that we keep law higher than love. We do not see that the divine principle, which is love, stands above law. Man makes God a judge who is bound by law who cannot do His will, but has to do according to what is written in His book.
God is not justice. Justice is His nature, but love is predominant. People give such importance to one's actions and their results. They do not know that above action and results is a law that can consume the fire of hell, which can dominate if the whole world were being drowned in the flood of destruction, that the love power is greater than any other.
Think of the hen when she takes care of her little ones. If they were threatened with danger, though it were a horse or elephant, she would fight, because the love principle is predominant. A kind mother is ready to forgive when her son comes with his head bowed and says, "Mother, I have been foolish., I have not listened to you. I have been insolent. I am sorry." So we wee mercy and compassion going out as love, a stream of love which can purify al the evil actions of years.
Then, if a human being can actually forgive, can not God forgive? Many of the dogmatic religions have taken away the love element which is predominant, which makes God sovereign. And they make a God who is limited, who is bound by the book, and who cannot show his compassion. If God were so limited He could not be just. An individual would be better, because an individual can forgive.
There are many religions and beliefs where it is said that there will come a day when man will be able to communicate with God. But when will that day come? Life is so short and our hearts so hungry. And if it does not come today perhaps it will not come at all. Therefore, the important thing is this; do not wait for that day to come tomorrow. Communicate with the Beloved just now. The Beloved is before you here in the form of your friend and in the form of your enemy; with a bowl of poison or with a rose. Recognize it and know it, for this is the purpose of life.
And among those great souls who have brought the message of God to humanity from time to time, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Abraham, Zarathustra, Lao Tsu, they were well known as most learned men. And what they learned, they learned from the love principle. What they knew was compassion, forgiveness, sympathy and tolerance; that attitude of appreciation; that opening of the heart to humanity. What they taught was love, a simple truth.
If religions seem complex, they have been added to. In every case what was brought by the Prophet was simple, and it was expressed in his personality and his life. And it is that influence that has remained for centuries after they have passed away. It is not the literature they have left -most of the literature is from their pupils. It is the simple truth shown in their personalities and their lives.
Lecture given by: Hazrat Inayat Khan (1923)
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