Today I was researching Hazrat Inayat Khan because I saw a quote of his, which really spoke to me, and realized that aside from knowing he was a Sufi, I knew very little about this mystic. As I searched the internet for PDF files, which I could download to read, I encountered the preface to The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word. The first two sentences of this book caused me to sit with them, in quiet reflection. Consider these words and share your understanding with me, if you feel so inclined:
It was this second sentence which gave me pause. Do we really need to sacrifice what is dearest to us in order to serve God? As I processed this statement I had the following thoughts:
- I do believe that we must give up all identity with the self in order to open the heart to discover Self, which is a realization the mind cannot grasp. Was he writing about this type of sacrifice?
- Next, I thought: I have seen jazz musicians, completely lost to any sense of self as they allowed something greater than themselves to flow through them, expressing as unique and sometimes exquisite music.
- I have seen other artists and athletes who seemed to lose all sense of self as they entered a “zone,” that place where no thought was involved, and life just seemed to express through them. In fact, I have been there myself.
Sometimes when I write it seems my brain is disengaged, completely, and the words just flow through me. Other times it is obvious that my mind is trying to do the writing. During these times I struggle to compose thoughts that adequately convey what is in my heart.
At first it was hard for me to comprehend what Khan was saying. Surely he was not suggesting that I needed to give up my writing in order to serve God. I have always felt and believed that I was serving the Universe when I wrote what I discovered in my heart while exploring my journey. Then I suddenly understood that this was the point. Writing from the heart instead of from the head was, in essence, giving up that censor, that believer in an “I” which could somehow be separate from God.
Finally, I felt I could comprehend what Inayat Khan meant. Paraphrasing In my own words I think he was suggesting that we must live, move, and express from our hearts and not from our heads. I don’t think he was suggesting that everyone must give up what they hold dear in order to serve Life, but instead we must give up that which identifies its source in our ego-created minds. I came away from my period of reflection with the idea that perhaps he was teaching the same thoughts as was expressed by Jesus in the Parable of the Unrighteous Steward: the idea that we cannot serve two masters.
Inayat Khan found that when he released the self who played music and surrendered to the ONE Self, he became the instrument for the Divine. By releasing all sense of a separate individual who “did” something he became the music himself.
I am going to reprint Khan’s complete preface here. Please read it and share your thoughts with me, either by the comment system on this blog or by my email which is firstname.lastname@example.org
“I gave up my music because I had received from it all that I had to receive. To serve God one must sacrifice what is dearest to one; and so I sacrificed my music. I had composed songs; I sang and played the vina; and practicing this music I arrived at a stage where I touched the Music of the Spheres. Then every soul became for me a musical note, and all life became music. Inspired by it I spoke to the people, and those who were attracted by my words listened to them, instead of listening to my songs. Now, if I do anything, it is to tune souls instead of instruments; to harmonize people instead of notes. If there is anything in my philosophy, it is the law of harmony: that one must put oneself in harmony with oneself and with others. I have found in every word a certain musical value, a melody in every thought, harmony in every feeling; and I have tried to interpret the same thing, with clear and simple words, to those who used to listen to my music. I played the vina until my heart turned into this very instrument; then I offered this instrument to the divine Musician, the only musician existing. Since then I have become His flute; and when He chooses, He plays His music. The people give me credit for this music, which in reality is not due to me but to the Musician who plays on His own instrument.” ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
I think Khan’s offering is spot-on. I strive to be the Universe’s eyes, feet and hands so that which is in my heart flows through me, directly from the Oneness of Self. I must learn not to be a filter, not to restrict this flow by my incessant thoughts, but to be an open vessel of Love in all of the manners Self chooses to express through me. It is my Truth that this is ultimately the one purpose for living.
I feel very blessed to have found this preface today. I hope his words speak to you and allow you to hear whatever it is you most need at this moment in your life. Life has an amazing way of speaking to us when we are open and willing to let go of that precious self-identity, which is ultimately what we hold dearest.