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by Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan

Spiritual ideals cannot be the property of one particular transmission because of their universal nature. Spirituality is a call for the human rights of thought and feeling on the spiritual path. This call has been sounding ever since eternity but has not always been understood, which explains why various terminologies generally misinterpret the real meaning of that call. Besides this, what brings still more confusion regarding spirituality is that there is an endless number of self-proclaimed mystics, occultists, spiritualists, fortune-tellers and para-psychologists, whose missions seem to content those who are chasing after miracles.

Hazrat Inayat Khan has given us to understand that in reality everyone is spiritual, because life itself is spirit, and spirit is life-power, motivating the materialized garb of the self. Along life’s path, one tends to distance oneself from inborn spirituality, identifying oneself with one’s limited mental and physical status, without realizing that the all-pervading immanence of life is that indescribable power constantly manifesting behind all impulses.

Spirituality can neither be taught nor learned; it can only be discovered by way of the heart, but not through the word, which is limited to each one’s individual understanding; therefore spirituality really means rebirth, in the sense that one begins to discover that it has always been one’s birthright. Spirituality cannot be defined in words, in doctrines, in theories or in philosophical statements, but it could best be described as the perfume of true knowledge, although it has been illustrated in all ages in many folkloric fairy-tales, which give spirituality the appearance of being related to strange powers and miracles. Besides this, spirituality cannot be pinned down as the possession of a particular sect or cult, or as belonging to any religious belief.

When turning the pages of numerous literary illustrations, one invariably discovers a common denominator in all such tales, describing spirituality in terms of such attributes as “love, lover and beloved.” If spirituality could be confined within a teaching, it could be understood as a challenge to express “love, human and divine” in every circumstance, be it material, social, religious or human.

The mystic strives constantly to offer an example, so that others might be inspired to discover that love really means rising in love and not falling in love; whereas devotion means the fall of the false concept of self, followed by the rising of the consciousness of the true self. Regrettably, one always assumes that spirituality is something that can be obtained, and we do not know how. We are sometimes intrigued by a person who is considered to be spiritual because of appearance or for some other reason, but spirituality mostly remains just a dream.

The light of the glowing sun cannot be limited to just one ray. It shines in an infinite number of rays. In the same way, the light of the inner conscience is not reserved only for the so-called spiritual people; it also shines in the hearts of everyone, good or bad, but at different levels of intensity, dependent upon the transparency of the ego. But again, if one cannot get rid of the ego, why not train it appropriately so that it can be used for beneficial purposes? If we did not have an ego, we would not be able to accomplish anything, either good or bad.
The ego is like an engine with tremendously powerful energy, which can only be useful if it is kept under control, for material as well as for spiritual experiences. The most powerful locomotive engine is helpless if there are no rails to roll on, and what is the good of rails without an engine to roll on them?
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image: "Screen" Fazalunissa Carole Harmon

There is a well-known theater play that asks, “To be or not to be?” and in fact, we all know that striving in this difficult life requires either to be or not to be. Therefore, we tend to assume that this method also applies in obtaining spirituality, but spirituality does not have any meaning, unless one discovers that to be spiritual means exactly the reverse of wanting to be something, or pretending to be something. Before making the first humble step on the path of spirituality, the idea is to realize that spirituality means losing the desire to be something and thereby unconsciously identifying one’s self with the divine presence.

We have all heard about heaven, and we imagine that to become spiritual means becoming higher and higher, but have we ever stopped to discover that everything that we might have wanted to obtain from up there, is already right here in our own hearts? There are numerous methods. There are numerous types of yoga, there are numerous religions, there are thousands of spiritual schools, but unless we try to hold the ego under control, we are wasting our time, and we are only facing disillusion, and disillusion in spirituality is much worse than disillusion in worldly affairs.

Truth is only Truth when one is not pretending to oneself or others about one’s supposed wisdom. Truth can only be Truth if it is expressed as a silent example of an awakening to the solution of the everlasting riddle: who, what, why, which, when, whence and whither.

As one proceeds onward through the darkness of human ignorance, steadfastly displaying the torch of spiritual liberty, one may perhaps discover that Truth could be interpreted as an invitation to become living examples of love, harmony and beauty, and, as living altars of all religious beliefs, to communicate to each in each one’s language while holding fast to the only secret there is in spirituality, inner peace and happiness.