Volume VIII The Sufi Message of Hazrat
Inayat Khan by Hazrat Inayat Khan
We love our body and identify ourselves with it to such an extent that we are very unhappy to think that this body, which is so dear to us, will some day be in the grave. No one likes to think that it will die and be destroyed. But the soul is our true self. It existed before our birth and will exist after our death. That which holds the conception of I, a living entity, is not the body but the soul deluded by the body. The soul thinks that it is the body. It thinks that it walks, sits, and lies down when the body does, but it does not really do any of these things. A little indisposition of the body makes it think, I am ill. A slight offense makes it dejected. A little praise makes it think itself in heaven. In reality it is not in heaven, nor on earth. It is where it is. The souls dwelling in the material body deludes it so much that it thinks, I can live only on material food, can stand only on earth, can enjoy only material surroundings. Without these I am nowhere, I am nothing.
There is a Persian saying: Do not build a house on the ground of another. This is what the soul does. Whatever it sees, the consciousness recognizes as itself. Its purity makes it reflect whatever is before it, and then it thinks, This is I, just as clear water reflects our image. The soul then wants everything to be very nice and pleasant for its comfort and vanity. It wants to see its objective self well dressed. Then it wants very good things about it. It sets up a good house, and all through this life it is in pursuit of these things. Then when death comes this building raised on the sand is blown away. Its collected property is taken from it. This is a very, very great disappointment. It loses all that it took interest in. Its withdrawing into its pure self, and the scattering of all earth's deluding environment from its sight impresses it with the idea of death, to its greatest horror. This horror and disappointment are the only death there is, for the body is nothing but a covering put over our soul, and when it is gone we are not dead; just as we do not think that we are dead when our coat is worn out, or if someone tears our shirt.
The moment when a person dies is the only moment when he feels that he is dead. The impression of his dying condition, the hopelessness of the doctor, the sorrow and grief of the family, all make up this impression. After death, as he recovers from this impression, he gradually finds himself alive; for the life which kept him alive in his physical garb, of course feels strange in the absence of that garb. Yet it is not dead. It is even more alive, for that great burden has been removed which for a time had made him think that the physical garb was his life.
The soul by its power has created the elements from itself, and has attracted them from outside. It has collected them and it holds them, but through use they are gradually worn out and last only for a certain period. The soul holds the body composed of all these elements as long as it has interest in the body, and as long as the magnetism of the body holds it and its activity keeps it engaged. As soon as its interest in the body is lessened, or the elements that form the body have lost their power, by feebleness or some irregularity in the system, the body loosens its hold, and the soul whose innate inclination is to free itself, takes advantage of this opportunity given to it by bodily inability. The result of this is death.
The elements begin to disperse even before death, but after the death of the body they return straight to their affinity, earth to earth, water to water, and so on, each to its affinity. And they are very glad to return. Each thing is glad to be with its like. If there is gas near the fire, the flame will go out to the gas, because there is much of the fire element in the gas.
One might think that this is all, and that after death there will be nothing left for the ordinary person who has thought of himself as this body, so tall, so broad, so heavy, so many years old; that when the physical body is gone all is gone. But it is not so; when the physical body is gone the mind remains, the finer part of mans self, composed of vibrations. The elements exist in the vibrations as well as in the atoms, otherwise a person who is angry would not get red and hot. In dreams, when the body is asleep, we see ourselves walking, speaking, acting, in certain surroundings with certain people. It is only by contrast with the waking condition that we call it a dream. This self still exists after the body is gone, the exact counterpart of what we are now, not of what we were when we were five years old, or ten years old, but of what we are now.
It is sometimes said that the soul is that which remains after the death of the physical body, and that it is then in heaven or in hell; but that is not so. The soul is something much greater. How can that be burned with fire which is itself light, Nur, the light of God? But owing to its delusion, it takes upon itself all the conditions that the mind has to go through after death. Therefore the experience after death of the soul that has not attained to liberation is very depressing. If the mind is not much attached to the earthly life and has gathered up the satisfaction of its deeds, it enjoys heaven. If the contrary is the case, then it experiences hell.
The mind that is more involved in earthly cares and attachments cannot let the soul be in the light. If you throw a balloon into the air it will go up and then it will come down again. It goes up because of the air that is in it. It comes down because of the earth substance in it. The tendency of the soul is to go to the highest spheres, to which it belongs. That is its nature. The earthly substance it has gathered around it weighs it down to earth. The kite goes up, but the string in a persons hand brings it back to earth. The earthly attachments are the string that draws the soul downwards. We see that the smoke goes up and on its way it leaves in the chimney its earth substance. All the rest of its earth substance it leaves in the air, and until it has left all behind, it cannot go up to the ether. By this simile we see how the soul cannot rise from the lower regions until it has left behind all earthly longings and attachments.
People have a great fear of death, and especially the simple, tender, and affectionate people, and those who are very much attached to their father and mother and brothers and sisters and friends, to their positions and possessions. But those who are unfortunate in life also fear death. A person would rather be very ill than dead. He would rather be in a hospital than in the grave with the dead people. When the thought comes to a man, Some day I must leave all this and go down to the grave, a great sadness comes upon him. With some people this fear lasts part of their lives; with some it lasts the whole life. The proof of how great the fear of death is, is that death has been made out to be the worst punishment, although it is not nearly so bad as the pains, sorrows, and worries of life.
Death is the great examination to which one goes prepared, another unprepared; one with confidence, another with fear. However much anyone may pretend to be spiritual or virtuous in life, at the sight of death he is tested and all pretense falls away. It is said in the Quran, Then, when the crushing calamity shall come, on that day shall man remember what he has striven after.
There was on old man who was always crying and lamenting, saying, I am so unhappy, my life is so hard, every day toil and labor? It would be better if I were dead. Every day he lamented in this way and called upon death to come and take him. One day Azrael, the angel of death, appeared and said to him, You have called me so often, now I am come to take you with me. The old man said, Not yet! I am an old man, pray grant me only a few days more of life! The angel of death said, No. You have so often asked to die, and now you must come to Allah. The old man said, Wait a little while. Let me stay here a little longer. But the angel of death said, Not one moment more, and he carried him off.
What thought should the mind hold at the moment of death? The thought should be, in accordance with the evolution of the person, either of God or the object of his devotion, or of pleasant surroundings and whatever he likes and has idealized. If he is an earthly person then the thought of pleasant surroundings will make a heaven for him. If he is in a state of devotion, he will unite with the object of his devotion. If he is godly, the thought of God will be right for him. Verily death is the bridge which unites friend to friend, one finds in the Sayings of Mohammad.
Those of whom it is said that they are in the presence of God, are those who hold the vision of their divine Beloved whom they have idealized all their life, and they rejoice for a very, very long time in the presence of their idealized One.
During our life on earth we are conscious of three conditions: that of the body, the mind, and the soul. After physical death we are conscious of two only. On the physical plane, if a thief comes, we are not so much afraid. We look about to find something to attack him with. But in a dream we are afraid, for we have nothing with which to attack him. Here the will is much stronger. There the imagination is stronger, and the will less so. In the physical life we have changes from one experience to another. If in the night we are afraid, in the morning we say, I had a nightmare, or, in my dream I was sad, but it means nothing. But there we have no change.
Thus it is here that we should awaken to what is the aim of our life. There we cannot improve so much as we can here. That is why there have always been some, the chosen ones of God, who have said, Awake, awake, while there is time!
There are some who in a dream can do what they wish. They can cause to happen whatever they will and the next day they see occur what they saw in the night. Such are exceptional cases. Because they have mastered their will here, they can make everything go according to their will even on the higher plane. When a person is just as glad that another should eat a good dish as that he should eat it himself, that another should wear beautiful clothes as that he should wear them himself, then he is raised above humanity. These are the saints and sages, and their hereafter is in their hands, because they are happy both in the gain and the loss.
The mind of the prophets and murshids cannot be compared with other minds. Theirs is a master mind, and they can hold it much longer. As they have lived only for others, after death they still live for others. They have thought only of what is eternal. Others have thought of things that pass away, and so in time their mind passes away.
Sufism is learned chiefly in order that a person may know what will happen to him after death, in that being which is our real being, though usually it is hidden from us.
After the physical death the life that cannot die bears man up and he remains always alive. Both on earth and on the sea we living beings exist, having both elements in our form, the earth and the water. The beings of the sea are formed of earth as well. We have water also in our constitution. Yet the sea is as strange to us as the earth is to the creatures of the sea. Neither would like their place exchanged; and if it so happens that they are out of their element, it leads them to their end. It is because the fish has not realized that it is also an earthly being and that the earth is its element too, that it cannot live on earth; and in the same way beings on land whose life depends on getting to shore, fail when they believe that they will sink in the sea.
If we were dropped into the sea, it would be a terrible thing. We would be convinced hat we would go to the bottom, that we would be drowned. It is our fear that makes us go to the bottom, and our thought; except for this there is no reason why we should sink. The sea lifts up the whole ship in which a thousand people are traveling and in which tons of weight are loaded; why should it not lift up our little body?
Our inner being is like the sea, our external being as the earth. So it is with the word called death. It is the sea part of ourselves, where we are taken from our earth part, and, not being accustomed to it, we find the journey unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and call it death. To the seaman the sea is as easy to journey upon, whenever he chooses to, as the land. Christ, in connection with this subject, said to Peter. O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Both in Sanskrit and Prakrit, liberation is called Taran, which means swimming. It is the power to swim which makes water the abode of the earthly fish, and for those who swim in the ocean of eternal life, in the presence as well as in the absence of the body, it becomes their everlasting abode.
The swimmer plays with the sea. At first he swims a little way, then he swims far out. Then he masters it, and at last it is his home, his element, as the earth is. He who has mastered these two elements has gained all mastery.
The divers in the port of Ceylon, and the Arabs on the Red Sea, dive down into the sea. First they stop up their ears, eyes, lips, and their nose, then they dive and bring up pearls. The mystic also dives in to the sea of consciousness by closing his senses from the external world and thus entering into the abstract plane.
The work of the Sufi is to take away the fear of death. This path is trodden in order to know in life what will be with us after death. As it is said in the Qur'an, Mutu kubla anta mutu or Die before death. To take off this mortal garb, to teach the soul that it is not this mortal but is that immortal being, so that we may escape the great disappointment which death brings, this is what is accomplished in life by a Sufi.
In Buddhism and in the Hindu religion little is said about the Day of Judgment, because they have the doctrine of Karma; but in the Quran it recurs often in the different suras, great emphasis being put upon it, and in the Bible the Day of Judgment is spoken of very many times.
This Day of Judgment, of which various religions have spoken, is a great secret. All that can be said about it is that not one moment of time, not the blinking of the eye passes without a judgment; that in the conscience of each individual there is the faculty of judging, which judges himself and others, and that this faculty exists in its perfection in the universal Conscience, which judges the whole universe. The former is mans justice, the latter the justice of God.
In mans justice partiality and error are found, for his conscience is overshadowed by his self; thus the seeing faculty of the conscience is dimmed. God's justice is the right justice, for no shadow of partiality falls upon His universal consciousness because the whole universe is His field of vision and therefore His sight is keen. As our justice determines our likes and dislikes and creates in us favor or disfavor for another, so it is with God. He reckons the account of deeds and bestows rewards and punishments. He also forgives in His mercy and compassion whomever he may choose to forgive, as do we human beings in our small way. To the short-sighted, mans justice is plain, but Gods justice is too vague to be apprehended; and there are many apparent examples to lead him astray, such as the righteous being ill-treated while the wicked enjoy life; but the keen sighted can see an end to the enjoyment of the wicked and to the ill-treatment of the righteous. The seer can see the blow awaiting its time to fall upon the one, and the reward being prepared for the other. It is only a matter of time.
To a material person this seems absurd. He thinks, If I rob someone, if the police catch me, that is the judgment. If they do not catch me, it is all right; then I am safe from it. If I have a purse full of money, and I can pay barristers and lawyers, it is all right. For he does not see anything in the hereafter. He sees only what is here.
A simple believer believes that there is a Day of Judgment, but he knows hardly anything about it. It is for the Sufi to understand that there is a record in the memory of every action, thought, and work -- nature's manuscript open before our own conscious; and if a murderer escapes the police, he cannot escape from his conscience within. One might think, It is his own conscience, what does it matter if it is displeased for a while? But there is the universal Conscience behind it, perfectly just and all-powerful, which, if he escaped from the land and sought refuge in the water, could hang him even by means of the waves of the sea, as a penalty for his crime.
Everything that one does, all ones works, have three parts: the beginning, the action, and the end. In the beginning there is hope. In the action there is joy, but in the end comes the realization.
In the morning when one wakes up, one is fresh and ready to plan all the work of the day. A person works all day, and in the evening he sees what result he has got from his work, how much he has gained.
When a child is born it is fresh and ready to enjoy everything. It is happy with any little thing, any little doll that it is given. It does not know where the world is nor what the cares of life are. Then a person has to go through all experiences, good and bad, in life; and when old age comes, then he sees the results of his actions. At the time of action he does not see them, because action is blinding. Then, if he has worked for riches, he has got riches. If he has worked for fame, he will have that. And if he loves, he receives the affection and sympathy of his surroundings. When he is old, that is the period of his judgment on earth. Then he sees the reward of his action. If he has murdered someone, the judgment is when he is hanged. If he has robbed, he is in jail and he repents. But the time of action comes only once, and after that it is too late to repair ones fault.
There are many things that we do that seem all right at the moment, but afterwards our self is not satisfied. It is just like a person eating something that at the time has a pleasant taste but afterwards produces a bad odor, so that the smell of his own breath makes his head ache. Whatever was tolerated in him while he had power, magnetism, and activity, together with energy, manner, appearance, and looks, no one will tolerate any longer when the power has left him. He has become cranky. His children want to leave him, because they say that old papa has lost his head. His friends despise him, because they say that he is no use.
There are many habits and weaknesses of the mind which in youth do not seem of much consequence, such as jealousy, greed, envy, anger, and passion. When youth is gone, and the strength and magnetism of youth, then only weakness remains with its gaping mouth. Whilst we are engaged in an activity, we are blind. Our eyes are opened when the result comes.
A Badishah was once riding in the jungle. Crossing a bridge he saw a man who was quite drunk standing in the middle of the bridge. The man called out, Will you sell that horse, O passerby? for he was quite drunk and could not recognize the rider. The Badishah thought, He is drunk, so he paid no heed. After shooting for some hours in the jungle he returned and saw the man who had been standing in the middle of the road now sitting by the roadside. The Badishah asked the man in fun, Do you want to purchase this horse? The mans drunkenness had now passed. He was astonished to think what he had said to the Badishah in his drunken state, but fortunately he thought of a very witty answer. He said, The purchaser of the horse has gone, the groom of the horse remains. This amused the Badishah, who overlooked his fault.
There is a time when our ego desires all that tempts it, but when that stage of beginning and action is past, helplessness remains.
Our life has three parts, the part before our birth, the time of our life here, and the time after death. When considering our life here and hereafter we understand that our life on earth is our youth, the hereafter age, the time of reaping fruits of our actions. And the judgment comes in age, which is the time after death.
In the arts too we see that there are these three aspects. In music there is first the introduction, then there is the music in its full grandeur, then there is the conclusion, which gives the essence of all that has gone before. In painting the artist first designs. Then he colors the picture, and then he looks at it, if it is not as he likes, he wipes it off or he tears it up. A person might say, You yourself have made it, why do you tear it up? It is because when he looks at it, he sometimes discovers that it is valueless, whereas when it is better the artist desires it to be sent to the exhibition, and he proudly calls his relations and friends to look at it. This world is the Creators picture. The Creator as an artist looks at his work; and He alters it, improves it, or He wipes it off as He chooses best.
Why is the Day of Judgment called day? Our day is when we are awake. Our night is when we are asleep. This is not the day and night of earth, which are limited to twelve hours each, but the day and night of the consciousness. What separates one day from another, what makes us distinguish the days, is the night.
Here our life is in the darkness of activity, where the world of illusion appears to our eyes as real, and rapid passing of life appears to us stable; just as when in the train it seems as if the trees by the line were running while the train is standing still. When the illusionary life has proved to be not so real as for some time we had thought it to be then comes the day when things appear as clear as in daylight. To some few this happens in this world, but to all in the hereafter.
Here we have two states, the waking state and the dream. There the only reality will be the dream. That will be our day, uninterrupted by any intervening night. It will not change. And this day will last for ever, that is to say until our individuality is merged in the divine consciousness.
We dream of all the things which are in our surroundings and of all things as they appear naturally. We dream of a horse or an elephant, or of our brother, our sister, our mother, our father, or our uncle; but we do not dream of nonexistent objects, such as a horse with wings, or a rabbit with elephants ears, because these are not of our world. That with which our consciousness is impressed, that only is our world. And that world comes into the judgment which is always going on. The world of the husbandman will be his cottage with his family, the world of the king will be the surroundings of his palace.
Shall we, then, not be in a great gathering where there will be millions and billions of souls in whatever form they may appear, and all the souls that have existed on earth will be tried at the same time? It will be so in appearance, but in reality, for every individuals Judgment Day will reflect the whole world within himself and will be peculiar to himself. In other words a world will be resurrected in each soul. The affirming and denying aspects for conscience will both be in full play, sometimes in the guise for Munkir and Nakir, the recording angels.
In reality it will be like a gramophone record, which repeats all ones lifes experiences, remembered and forgotten, good and bad, together with the moving picture of all who were concerned in them, whether dead before or after, or still alive on earth. This takes place before ones own soul in the presence of the perfectly just and mighty Being, the thorough Knower and Weigher of all things.
The idea of heaven and hell exists in some form or another in all religions. This gives the religions a great hold upon the masses keeping them completely under their sway, inducing them to do good and to keep from evil. Without this it would be almost impossible, for man is always being tempted to evil, and great difficulties stand in his way when he attempts to do good, since the wicked seem to possess the kingdom of the earth, while the righteous look to the mercy of God. If no such promise had been given, no other reward, however great, would ever have united mankind in the religion of faith.
The reward that God gives is quite different from any earthly comforts and riches, but in early times, and even with most people now, it could only be expressed in the form of earthly rewards. That is why the Apostles received the power to speak to every man in his own language.
The early scriptures were given at a time when the evolution of the world was such that people were eager for whatever material comfort was obtainable. If it had been at this time, something else would have been promised. They were told, If you will keep from sin, then you will be amid thornless lota trees and banana trees laden with fruit, the shade of them spreading over you, with water flowing and couches set up. Under them shall walk youths ever-blooming, and bright ones with large eyes like hidden pearls. There shall be created for you a new creation, and maidens young and beautiful, with golden goblets and ewers and a cup of flowing wine. Brows ache not thereat nor do the senses fail. And fruits of what you like best, and flesh of birds, whatever you desire. Ye shall hear therein no vain talk nor sin, only the cry, "Peace, peace!"
When a child is told, If you do this, you shall have candy, however great the sacrifice is, he will do it, for he thinks, I shall have candy. The words in the scriptures about the reward of good deeds in heaven were spoken in a manner suited to the evolution of that time. The promises were made as an older person makes promises to a child and says, Do not take another persons apple. I will give you another apple, even sweeter than this. Dont take another childs doll. I will give you another doll even better than this.
This was the only way of keeping unevolved people from undesirable actions.
In the same way mankind was threatened with punishment, such as being burnt by a scorching fire, made to drink from a fountain boiling fiercely, having no food but thorns and thistles, as a mother says to her child, You will get a whipping if you do so.
The Prophet once said, Hell is for the wicked, and heaven is striven for by the fools.
Each religion has pictured heaven and hell according to familiar scenes upon earth, in whatever part of the world it might be.
The heaven of the Hindu is an opera house. In it are the Upsaras and Gandharvas, the singers and dancers, and in their hell are snakes and scorpions, filth and worms.
In the Christian heaven the blessed become angels robed in white, with white wings. They hold golden harps. They are in the blue sky, seated on white clouds, singing the praise of God, and their joy is in knowing God and in the communion of the blessed. The Christian hell is a blazing, fiery furnace with lakes of brimstone and burning sulfur, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. The devils goad the damned with the red-hot prongs of their pitchforks. They are parched with thirst, and there they remain either forever or until they have paid the debt of their sins to the uttermost farthing.
In the Moslem heaven there will be Huris and Malaks to wait upon the inhabitants of Jannat, the heavenly attendants, whose faces will be luminous and radiant with heavenly beauty and incomparably more handsome than the fair ones of the earth. Milk and honey flow in streams, and jewels and gems roll underfoot. Cooling drinks, the bracing breeze, and all fruits, and delicious foods will always be ready, and fountains of Kouthar, the divine wine, will run. Every person who enters Jannat, be he a child or aged, will be young there. There will be the association of the holy, and the divine atmosphere will be felt throughout everything. Hell in the Moslem tradition is said to be like a raging fire, hotter beyond comparison than any fire on earth. There will be the company of those crying and shrieking, calling for water with flames in their mouths. Melancholy, miserable, helpless, and feeble will be the surroundings, and darkness, confusion, horror, and ignorance will be felt all around, while a devilish atmosphere will overwhelm all.
One might ask why the different religions have given differing accounts of heaven and hell. But the prophets never spoke what is not true, so that if we take the philosophical view, we see that the meaning is that whatever we have idealized we shall have.
The Hindus had idealized music, singing, playing, and dancing; therefore this was their heaven.
In Christianity, because from its foundation the thought of the distinction of sex was avoided, the holy place was held to be one where there are angels, sexless, singing to the God in the heavens above the clouds.
In Arabia, in the hot sand, a person wishes for a cooling drink every moment, and the climate makes the people emotional and gives them the desire to admire youth and beauty.
Hell, in almost all religions, has been described in some way or other as the place of torment, where all sources of torture are to be found.
The picture of heaven or hell had its origin in the simplest revelation as it came to the mind of the Prophet: a great horror at the idea of sin and a sense of joy and beauty at the sight of virtue. It expressed itself first in artistic imagination before it comes to the lips. The thought of horror at once brings pictures of fire, especially in the deserts and hot sand of Arabia, where water is the one salvation of all creatures, and fire is always the chief element of destruction. When the thought of joy and beauty comes, it at once pictures the beauty of the opposite sex, which has charmed the soul from the first day of creation and will do the same forever. Then all delights which appeal to the senses and all sights which one longs to see, stood before the Prophets artistic view, and were expressed in the language that his listeners were capable of appreciating. While the Sufi penetrates to the source of this idea, the simple believer revels in the words.
All that the traditions say is understood literally by the faithful, but the Sufi perceives them differently. To him Huris are the heavenly expressions of beauty appearing before the eye which was open on earth, admiring the divine immanence on earth. God is beautiful and he loves beauty, as it is said in the Hadith. The whole creation was made that the beauty within the Creator might manifest in His creation, that it might be witnessed. The same tendency is working throughout the whole circuit. Gods eye sees the heavenly beauty through the godly on their way towards the eternal goal. No soul knows what is reserved for them, what joy will refresh their eyes as a reward for what they have done, says the Quran.
Honey is the essence of all flowers. The essence of the whole being is wisdom. Wisdom is the honey which is found in heaven. Milk is the pure and essential substance prepared in the breast of the mother. The essential substance of our being is the spirit, which is pure like milk, and by spirituality we drink that milk on which our soul is nourished. It is said in the Bible, Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The earthly treasures such as gems and jewels, which the godly have renounced in their life upon earth, are rolling like pebbles, worthless, beneath their feet.
To the seer earthly wealth, which man pursues all his life, becomes in the end like pebbles rolling under his feet. Kouthar, wine, means the intoxicating influence of spiritual ecstasy, which is hidden in the heart as love. This purifies the mind from all impressions made upon it during the life on earth, thus preparing the soul for the at-one-ment with God.
There is a different heaven and hell for each person, in accordance with the grade of his evolution. What is heaven to one person may be hell to another. A poor man will think it heaven to have a comfortable house to live in and a carriage to drive in. If a king were made to live in the house of a rich merchant, with one or two carriages, and a few servants to wait upon him, he would think it hell. A click of the tongue is more painful to the horse than ten lashes on the back of a donkey. This shows that the hell of a horse and of a donkey cannot be the same.
There is a story told of a Badishah before whom four persons were brought, arrested for the same crime. He looked at one and said, Hang him. He looked at another and said, Lifelong imprisonment. He looked at the third and said, Banish him. Then he saw the fourth and said, Shame! How dare you show your face to me? Go, and never come before me again. The one who went to be hanged killed a few more on his way to the gallows. The exiled one went away and started his trade and roguery still more prosperously in another country. The imprisoned one rejoiced shamelessly with friends in the prison. But he who was exempted from all punishment went home and committed suicide. To him the Badishahs bitter words were worse than a bowl of poison.
It is not that God from His infinite state rewards us or punishes us, or that there is one fold or enclosure called heaven, in which the virtuous are allowed to be, and another called hell, in which all the sinners are penned. In reality we experience heaven and hell in our everyday life all the time. But here we experience both states, the dream and the physical life. There is always the possibility of change. If we experience hell now, tomorrow it may be heaven. If our experience today is heaven, then there is the chance that tomorrow it may be hell. But when we return from this world of variety we do not progress in experience. Our heaven and hell do not change much.
Let us take first the hell and heaven that each person makes for himself here. When a person does an action with which his conscience is not pleased, the impression remains with him, torturing him continually and keeping before his eyes the agonies that his self experiences. We see in the world people in high positions, in luxurious surroundings, possessed of wealth and power, yet whose evil deeds keep up a blazing fire within them. Sometimes their life shows outwardly what their inward state is. Sometimes it does not, and people think that they are happy, but they themselves find they are in hell. And yet it is partly hidden from their eyes, because of the continual variety of their experiences. This is the vague sight of their hell, which they will in the future experience fully.
When a person does some deed which his conscience likes, it approves him. It says, Bravo! Well done! His soul is glad of his deeds. In however bad an environment he may be placed, the inner joy still suffices to keep him happy. When by his righteous deeds he has satisfied his conscience, the God within is pleased. However bad his worldly situation may be, he is happy within himself. The world, perhaps, may deem him unhappy, but he is happier than kings. This is his heaven, and the same experience continues uninterruptedly on the higher plane of existence, which is heaven and hell.
Every person creates his own heaven and hell. A disciple once asked his murshid, Pray, Murshid, let me see heaven in a vision. The murshid said, Go into the next room, child, and sit and close your eyes and you will see heaven. The mureed went into the next room and sat in meditation. He saw in his vision a large area but nothing else. There were no rivers of honey and seas of milk, nor bricks of ruby, nor roofs of diamonds. He went to his murshid and said, Thank you, Murshid. Now I have seen heaven, I should like to see hell. The murshid said, Very well; do the same again. The disciple went into the next room and sat in his meditation, and again he saw a large area, but nothing in it, no snakes, no fire, no devils, nor cruel animals, nothing. He went to the murshid and said, I saw an area, but again there was nothing in it. The murshid said, Child, did you expect that the rivers of honey and the seas of milk would be there, or the snakes or the fire in hell? No. There is nothing there. You will have to take everything from here. This is the place to gather everything, either the delights of heaven or the fires of hell.
Heaven is the vision of fulfilled desire, and hell the shadow of a soul on fire, says Omar Khayyam.
Our self, in reality, is heaven if blessed by divine mercy, and it is our self which is hell if cursed by the divine wrath. The seven gates spoken of in the Quran are the seven openings of our senses, through which gates we experience our heaven or hell, and the seven pinnacles mean the seven planes of mans existence, which have each its peculiar heaven and its peculiar hell.
Things appear to us as we make them appear. If we are tolerant with our surroundings and contented with whatever we have, enduring unavoidable discomforts and inconveniences, and if we acquire knowledge of our being, if we see the divine immanence around us, and if we develop within us the love on which the whole world is sustained, our life becomes a preparation for heaven and our hereafter its full expression. Such is the state of the godly. As it is said in the Quran, The pious enter therein in peace and security....They shall touch them therein no worry, nor shall they be cast out. If they are covered with rags, if lying on the dust, that dust becomes the throne of Suleyman, and their turban of rags becomes Khussraus crown.
Our discontent with what we have in life, our intolerance of our surroundings, and lack of endurance of those conditions that we cannot avoid, our weakness in giving way to our passions and appetites, our lack of sociability, our ignorance of our true being and our blindness to the vision of God manifest in nature, are the torment of life here and the blazing fire in the hereafter.
Heaven is for the pious whose virtues were for this end, and hell is for the wicked who themselves have kindled its fire. The Sufi says, I am beyond both. Happy in the arms of the eternal peace. Neither can the joy of heaven tempt me, nor can the fire of hell touch me, for I have embraced the bliss and have kissed the curse, and have been raised above lifes joys and sorrows.
Of course, no soul will remain in heaven or hell forever. It is a gradual process of dissolving in the ocean of the eternal Being the remainder of the individual being. It is this state which is called Pulserat, or purgatory.
A Persian poet says:
Thou hast hidden Thy face under the veil of Thy creation,
But I know that it is Thou who hast by one stroke set both
the worlds in motion.
The world is like a childs hoop. when a blow is given to it, it runs on and on. when the force of the blow is spent it stops and falls down, and this may be seen in a lesser way in all things in the world. When the activity of the world has expired, the world will fall down. The course of destruction is like the course of manifestation. It is in cycles. The first action is created by the blow given, and each action afterwards causes a further action.
The course of the worlds life is like that of the clock. It is wound to go for a certain time. Some clocks go for four days, some go for eight days, some you have to wind every day. When the period for which it was wound has passed, the wheels stop.
The law of construction and destruction may be described as having three aspects. Uruj, the first aspect, shows the force of activity. Kemal shows the climax, the limit of its progress and Zeval brings it back to inactivity, the end of which is the absolute Kemal. Kemal shows its destructive power in both its poles, first at the end of Uruj, the active force, when the progress stops; and again at the finish of Zeval, when the activity absolutely ceases. The constructive element is called Kadr, the dominated power. The destructive is the absolute power which dominates. It is called Kaza. All that is born, built, made, or that springs up, must one day or other, singly or collectively, submit to Kaza, the destructive power.
It amazes us when, owing to an explosion, a factory is accidentally blown up, and thousands of lives are lost. It horrifies us to see a big city destroyed by a flood, and millions of lives sacrificed; but to the Creator it amounts to nothing. It is as if a mathematician were to write a sum, multiply, add, subtract, and divide, up to thousands and millions of figures, and then suddenly take a fancy to destroy the whole thing.
Why is manifestation, although it is made of eternal life, yet subject to destruction? The answer is that the eternal life is the only life and this seeming life on earth is merely an assumption. The Prophet was once asked, What is the soul? He answered in one word, Amr-e Allah, an action of God. There is the same difference between God and His manifestation that there is between a man and his action. The action perishes and man remains, so the manifestation is destroyed and God remains.
All impressions and all memory, and all stains of the world disappear from the consciousness, leaving it as pure as it was before.
If a bottle full of ink is poured into the ocean, the inky substance is absorbed, and the sea is clear and unchanged as before. When a new universe is manifested, it is without the experience of a previous manifestation. When the universe has ceased to be, it starts again, and though this is repeated numberless times, each time it is as fresh as ever.
In our daily life the influence of the visitors who come to our house is felt not only in their presence but remains even after they have left. In the chair on which they have sat, the room in which they have been, the hall in which they have walked a finer person can sense it, though not, of course, everybody.
Once, on a journey, I had taken a room at Kandy in Ceylon, and during the hours of my meditation in the evening, whilst I was engaged in the sacred practices, I felt very restless and disturbed, and could not fix my mind on my meditation for a single moment. I became cross with myself, and went to bed, but my uneasiness increased. Then I got up and felt I must look in the cupboards. I did not know why I was doing so. I think perhaps my inner self wanted to guide me to the reason for such an unusual experience. I found there, to my surprise, a bunch of black hair, looking as if some woman had collected her combings for a long time. I spent a bad night, and in the morning the first thing I did was to ask the landlady who had occupied this room before me. She said, Sir, don't remind me of her. The thought of her makes me feel ill. A woman lived here for sometime. She never paid me my rent. She called me bad names, fought with the men, and quarreled every single day, driving away all my other tenants. Now my heart is at rest since she has left this house. I said, What a shame that you gave me such a room to stay in. She said, Sir, I gave you that room on purpose, because you seem from your looks to be a godly man, so that I was sure that this room would be purified by your good influence. I had no answer for her but a smile.
If the influence of the living is such, how much greater is the influence of the dead in those places where they have lived and been happy, to which they are attached, and from which death has forcibly taken them! The remembrance of their home keeps them in the home in which they lived or in the field in which they worked, and in the clubs in which they enjoyed life, and in the house of the friends to whom they are drawn.
If the spirit, during his life, has been interested in good dishes, after his death wherever there is a good dish he will always be there. If all his life he has been fond of whisky, after his death he will be at the bar where there is whisky.
Spirits are also attracted to their graves and to the crematorium by the love of the body which they had thought was their only self, but which in fact was merely the instrument of experience. In fact there is not one inch of space, whether on land or on the water, free from the influence of spirits.
A person who has been very fond of a certain society, of the society of his friends, his parents, his brothers and sisters, will long to be in that society.
The spirits that are desperately attached to this plane, and especially those among them that have but lately left it, manifest to the view as apparitions, or else by knocking at the door, by rapping on the tables and chairs, by lifting and removing objects, and by speaking. Their voices vibrate in the spheres and become audible to some of us. Sometimes one hears singing and shouting, and sometimes dancing on the top floor, or fighting going on among them. Some spirits appear to the living without any clothes, some with their legs and feet twisted outward. The former is owing to their lust, also to the misery they went through in life; the latter is due to a life passed the thought of duality, and because they have gone astray in life, not having kept to the thought of unity; their body itself then demonstrates their crookedness.
I had my first experience of the spirits when a boy. One night I awoke in the middle of the night feeling a wish to look out of the window into our courtyard at the beautiful moonlight shinning there. I went to the window, and looking out I saw some way off a man of saintly appearance, clothed in a long white robe, with long snow-white hair and beard. I saw him as plainly as in full daylight. I was amazed at the sight of him, wondering how it had been possible for him to enter our courtyard, all the doors being locked. But for his saintly appearance I might have supposed him to be a thief, but the nearer he came the taller he grew. At each step his height increased, until I could no longer see his head, and as he came forward his figure became a mist, until at last he was like a shadow, and in a moment he vanished from my sight. My hair stood on end and I was completely overcome by bewilderment.
The next morning when I told my family what I had seen, they tried to make nothing of it in order to keep me from superstitious beliefs, but others told me that they too had often seen this phantom appearing in this quarter. This taught me that spirits are attached to those places in which they are interested, just as we are, and they are constantly drawn to the places of their interest. Their form is not solid but ethereal, and can expand. This phantom which I saw was that of a Pir who lived in the well in our courtyard.
After a few years of these first experiences I was trying to forget and disbelieve this impression, fearing that it might lead me towards superstitions. But one day, happening to arrive at our country cottage in the middle of the night, I found on our land a huge person at a distance of three yards from me, making a sign that he wished to wrestle with me in the way that Indians do, who give a challenge by slapping their thighs and crossing and slapping their arms. I did not for one moment take him to be a man. I at once thought that he was a spirit. At first I was terrified, comparing my size and strength with this gigantic spirit. But I had heard that the spirits swallow the fearful, so although I did not know the art of wrestling, I determined to fight with him, and I advanced, quite prepared to give him a blow. At each step that I took forward he drew back, which naturally gave me courage to close in upon him. He retreated until he was against the wall. I was glad that now I had got him, and approaching I struck him a strong blow, which, instead of hurting the spirit, knocked my hand against the wall, and the spirit disappeared.
The reason why the spirit appears and yet has no solid form is that it exists in a vaporous state, and the image seen in this vaporous form is nothing but the impression of his former body when on earth.
Among very many different experiences I cannot forget one which made a great impression upon my mind. I had purposely rented a haunted house in James Street, Sekunderabad, although my friends advised me not to, and in order to experience any manifestations there I slept there alone with a servant. After a few days I began to find that whenever I played upon the vina at night, sitting on my bed, the bed would gradually begin to move as if levitating, and to rock to and for. It would seem to rise for an instant some way in to the air, but the movement was so smooth that there was no shock. I was playing with my eyes closed, and I thought that perhaps this was the effect of imagination under the spell of music. This went on for some time. Then I happened to send my vina to be repaired, and one night to my great horror I heard a noise as if all the windows of my house were being smashed. I got up and looked everywhere. The window panes were unbroken, and there was no reason to suppose that there might be anyone in the house who had caused the noise. For three days this went on and I could not sleep. I had no peace at night until my vina came back. The spirits seemed to be so much interested in my music that they rejoiced in it and showed their appreciation by lifting me up. When the food of their soul was not given they rebelled.
You might ask by what power the bed was lifted. The answer is that the finer forces are much more powerful than the external forces. There is nothing that they cannot lift up or carry.
There are some who master the spirits so that the spirits bring them whatever they desire from anywhere, jewels, money, fruits, food. The spirits can even carry a person from one place to another. But those who work evil by the help of a spirit, train that spirit in evil and one day the spirit throws the bomb of evil back at them.
Sometimes spirits bring news for him who has mastered them. From whatever distance it may be they can bring the news in a moment of time. Sometimes the spirits go and cause trouble to someone if they are so directed by a spiritualist master. I have myself seen a case where the spirits would set fire to a man's house. Sometimes his clothes would catch fire, sometimes his papers burned, sometimes the food disappeared from the dish in which it had been put and dirt was found in the dish instead.
In twelve years traveling throughout India, during which I concerned myself with psychic research, I have met with great and extremely expert spiritualists, who were able to receive news in a moment from any part of the world, and could even foretell events by the help of a seer spirit.
Mohammad Chehl, a simple, unassuming man of ordinary appearance, our greatest spiritualist in India, showed the most wonderful phenomena. He could disconnect railway carriages from a train, leaving as many as he chose with the engine. Sometimes he disconnected all the carriages when the train was starting, leaving the engine to start alone. He never cared to travel in any class but the third. He used often for fun to ask the people sitting in the same railway carriage to show him their tickets, and then he would take the tickets, tear them up, and throw them out of the window in their presence. Everybody was angry and wanted to fight with him. He said to them, Who has taken your tickets? You have them with you. He said to one, Look in your turban, to another, Look again in your pocket. to another, See in your shoe, to another, Find it in your sleeve. They were all amused and thought him a wonderful conjurer. He said to them, You may think that I hid your tickets and then put them in your pockets by sleight-of-hand, but what do you think of this? And he put his hand out of the window and asked for a few hundred tickets for Delhi, and a few hundred for Anmer, and a few hundred for Agra, and he asked them what other stations they wanted. When the train reached the next station there was great excitement. The stationmaster had just received a telegram saying that all the tickets for those stations had been stolen in a second and nobody knew where they had gone.
Mohammad Chehl never produced such phenomena unless he wanted to amuse himself. He never cared for notoriety or money. Nothing would induce him to make a show or a trade of his power. If he had cared to show his great power in the Western world, he could have filled his house with bags of gold.
The believers in spirit phenomena often lose their balance and go to such lengths that the pursuit of spiritualism becomes a craze with them, for it is always interesting to tell and to listen to ghost stories. The teller has a tendency to exaggerate the story, to make it more interesting and arouse the astonishment of the hearer, and a simple listener has a tendency sometimes to take the rod for a snake.
There is a well-known case, which happened in India where ghosts were being discussed among friends. One of them said, I don't believe in such things. I am willing to go and sit half the night in the graveyard if you like. His friends said that they would not believe him unless he did so. He went the same night to sit in the graveyard. Half the night he passed trying to avoid all the threats that his imagination produced before him during that dark night in the graveyard. When the time was over, as he started to return to his friends, his long robe caught in some thorn bushes growing there. He thought a spirit had surely caught him. He fell down and was choked with fear, and in the morning he was found dead.
Often a landlord's enemies spread rumors that the house is haunted, so that he may not be able to get a tenant. Sometimes pretended spiritualists, who have made this their life's occupation, make it as interesting a play as they can, by arranging some knocks from here and there, by lifting the chairs and tables with an arrangement of wires, by producing effects of light and shade with phosphorus. They take advantage of the simple-minded. Some pretend to carry messages from the spirit world or to it, and deceive many earnest inquirers into these matters. Many carry out their questionable purposes by holding spirit meetings. All this drives material people, unbelievers in the spirit, still further away from the knowledge of the finer existence, while the so-called spiritualists are often so much engrossed in their hobby that they never realize their own spirit.
In ordinary life we experience two planes, the physical plane in which we experience through the eyes, the ears, and all the organs of the body; and the mental plane, the plane of thought and feeling. When we are asleep and all our organs are resting, we see ourselves just as we appear when awake in various surroundings. This shows us that we have another being besides this physical being and other eyes besides these eyes. Whilst we are dreaming, the dream is real to us. When we awaken, we think, I was there and now I am here. If what I saw in the dream had been real, it should all still be here now that I am awake; but it is all gone. We distinguish the dream as a dream by its contrast with the waking condition.
Whilst we are dreaming, if someone comes and tells us that it is a dream, that it is not real, we do not believe him. Or if someone tells us it is a dream, we say, No, it is quite real, I see the things about me. There is an expression we use of what is past, saying, It is all a dream now.
When a person after death still longs for the earthly joys, he is in a very bad state, because he has not the physical body with which to experience them. He is like a cricketer or a football player who has lost his arms. He longs to play, but he has no arms; or a singer whose throat has been operated upon. He will long to sing, but he cannot, because his voice has gone.
When the physical plane is taken from a person, then the dream remains as reality, because there is no contrast to prove it otherwise. This state of existence is called Mithal. He can not experience on the earth now because he has lost the physical means. All the impressions that he has gathered upon earth are his world. It is the nature of the mind to gather as many impressions as it can. From this store the pictures that he sees are formed. We do not dream of what we do not know, of what we have not seen. The butcher sees the meat all day, and at night he does not dream of the dairy but of meat.
Sometimes, not only in the West but also in the East, those apparitions of the departed that come to communicate, to warn, to speak with someone dear to them, are called spirits. The word is really inappropriate. The spirit is the essence, the soul that dwells beyond. But since the word is so generally used, let us accept it. These so-called spirits are not the soul alone, but the soul together with the mind; that is, all that remains of the external self after the death of the body.
It sometimes happens that ghosts wish so much to experience the life of this world, that to a certain extent they make themselves substantial. They cannot make themselves as concrete as we are; otherwise they could live here. But to a certain extent they do, by activating the around, either the ether or the air.
When people see a ghost, it is in part illusion and in part they may really see it. When the inner eye sees, these outer eyes think that they see. But if they try to touch the ghost, there is nothing there. Thus the actual self of the spirit might show itself in the mist; but where, one may ask, does it get the clothes in which it appears, or anything that it may hold in its hand? The answer is that it is the impression of itself that the spirit holds which mirrors in the soul of the spectator, so that by his concrete illusion he feels its presence as positively as if he saw it with his own eyes.
The dead feel the thought, the good wish of the living. Prayer and religious rites focus the mind of the living on that of the dead, so that the dead may be helped by the living, or the living may be blessed by a saintly spirit.
The custom of offering food, perfume, or incense, to the dead exists among Hindus and Muslims. If someone comes to see us and we set food before him, or whatever may please him, it is appreciated. It is so with the dead also. They enjoy by our eating, by our smelling the perfume, because, although they do not enjoy the actual thing that we put upon the table, yet the impression of our mind, the joy it gives, mirrors itself upon their soul.
The dead person becomes more interested in the things that speak to the mind than in the material satisfactions. Therefore, when the food and drink and perfume are offered, the sacred names, the suras of the Qur'an, are read before them so that their intelligence may be satisfied also.
In order to know of the existence of the spirit we must ourselves live in the spirit, and above matter. If a person loses someone whom he loved very much and in whom he was quite absorbed. He goes about lost in the thought of that person. He will become dead to the world around him, and then wherever he goes, in the crowds, in the jungle, he feels the presence of that person, because his self is no more before his view.
Our connection with the beings upon earth is much stronger, because we are conscious of our earthly life. We think of our friends whom we see, and sympathize with them; but we think much less of those who have passed on and what their condition may be now. Those who are living on other planes also think much less of us. There may be a connection between a mother and a child, or between a lover and his beloved, but ordinarily there is no contact between the living and the dead.
In regard to spirit communion, which is a subtle subject, I will say that it is better to have more connection with the beings living upon earth than to be obsessed with the desire to meet with the people on the other side of life. It is here that we are meant to evolve, and by being absorbed in those who have passed on we are taken away from the life we are meant to have; and we live on earth as if we were dead. People in pursuit of the spirits have a dead expression their faces.
To have devotion for the immortal and holy beings who have passed away is allowable because they are more alive than the living and more than the dead.
There are spirits whom we attract by our love for them, by our wish for their presence. We are surrounded in life by our friends, by those whom we like, whom by our liking we attract to us. And we attract the spirits also by our love. These are usually of a higher sort, these whom we call upon for help, for guidance, the murshids and the prophets. Sometimes there are visions of the murshids, the higher beings; these come to the initiate. They come to guide and to help in all difficulties. Someone who is quite absorbed in the thought of a prophet or murshid may be so lost in him, that if he calls upon him in any difficulty, the one upon whom he calls will always come and help him. To have devotion for a murshid or a prophet who has passed on is better than to ask for his help in whatever difficulty we may be, for God Almighty is closest to us and sufficient to help us in all our difficulties. No mediation of anyone, living or spirit, is necessary. Of course, as in life we depend upon each other's help. Also on the higher plane if the help of some Holy Spirit is granted to us we may accept it, but only if God's being is realized in all; from whatever source the help comes it is from God.
I have had many experiences of the vision of my murshid, one of which is the following.
Once we were making a three days' journey through the jungle, in a place were there was great danger from robbers, and every night two or three travelers were killed. Ours was the smallest caravan. Generally the caravans were of twenty wagons, but it happened that ours was of three wagons only. I had with me very precious gems given to me by the Nizam of Hyderabad, and instead of arms I had musical instruments with me. All the night I saw the form of my murshid, at first faintly, afterwards distinctly, walking with the wagon. The two other wagons were attacked and robbed, and a few worthless bundles were taken. But my wagon was safe. This is not the only instance I have had in my life; I have had a thousand experiences of the sort.
Animals can see the spirits better than we, because their activity is less than ours. We, owing to the worries and anxieties of life and the comforts and temptations of the earth, live more on the surface, although our intelligence is brighter than that of the animals. Animals after their death also appear as spirits, but for a shorter period and fewer in number than human beings, for they are not so absorbed in the earthly life as man is in his person and possessions.
I once had an experience with a dog. Returning from the theater in the middle of the night with a few friends, I saw a dog following us. He showed a special interest in us. One of us, thinking it to be a street dog, struck it with his stick. The instant that the stick hit it, the dog disappeared, and at the same moment the stick broke in pieces. This happened in the presence of many people. We then found that a dog, a pet of our family, very fond of us, had died six months before, and it was the spirit of that dog, still attached to us, that was following. This dog was an exceptional one, and a remarkable thing about it was that every Thursday, regularly, it would fast.
We often find in our daily life that we do things that we do not wish to do, things against our will and contrary to our ideals. Sometimes we recognize that such or such a friend has induced us to do an action which otherwise we should not have done, and we ascribe to him the credit or discredit of its result. It may be because our love for him is so great that we take his word to heart, whether we agree with it or not, or we may be so under the power of another person that we cannot but act as he wishes.
Occasionally we feel inclined to do a thing which apparently we have no reason to do. This is owing to the silent influence of some other person acting upon us without any spoken word and causing us to do that which we imagine to be his wish.
Sometimes the thoughts and conditions of mind of another person make so strong an impression upon us, either in the presence of that person or in his absence, according to the extent of his power, that his condition is transferred to us. We sometimes laugh without reason on seeing the intensity of another person's laughter, and we feel sad without any reason when we are in contact with one who is sorrowful. We fulfill the wish of another, not knowing that he had any such wish, sometimes even without his own knowledge of it.
It also happens now and then that we feel a desire to eat fish, and find that the cook has prepared the very dish of which we were thinking; sometimes we think of a friend and it happens that the friend comes to see us. All such instances are proofs of silent suggestion, the inner influence directed consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes we are under the influence of another person's mind and thought, at another time someone may be under our influence; it depends upon the positive or negative state of the will.
Suggestions are of two kinds; spoken command, and suggestion by thought. One who is powerful minded often may not intentionally command or suggest, and yet every word spoken by the powerful and thought by the mastermind is fulfilled. "Word spoken and action done.' is the accomplishment which us called Siddhi by Yogis, and those so accomplished are called Sahib-e Dil by the Sufis.
Hypnotism and mesmerism are a kind of obsession for either a good or bad purpose.
The black magicians work six different spells: murder, fascination, severance, unrest, torture, persecution. The same are also wrought by the evil soul whose occupation it still is to work evil upon earth. This it accomplishes solely by means of obsession. Those subject to its influence experience any of these ill effects.
All this is partial obsession. Thousands of such influences come and go like moving pictures upon the blank curtain of man's mind, and it rarely happens that the effect lasts longer; if it does, then people call it obsession.
The influence of the dead is the same as the influence of the living, but even stronger. Their spirit throws its reflection upon the mirror of man's mind, and man acts as the spirit wishes, knowing all the while that his wishes are other than the spirit's. The intensity of spirit obsession is much greater than that of the influence of a living person. The living are themselves subject to influences and obsessions, and their own self is an obsession to them, reflecting the various pictures of their own life upon their soul. The spirits, from whom the burden of external existence is removed, are much more powerful, freer, and more inclined to obsess others.
Frequently, a crime is committed by a man under the influence of another. A person with an evil thought of revenge, or the desire to kill somebody, by the very concentration of his evil thought becomes so weak that he cannot do it himself. Then he may consciously or unconsciously, by the intensity of his desire, convey to some other person the suggestion of doing it. The other person is innocent of the evil desire and so has the strength to accomplish it. This is often seen with anarchists; among anarchists there are some who only plan the deed, and there are others who carry it out.
There are two sorts of obsession: one is when one soul imparts qualities to another; the other is when one soul causes another to accomplish some deed; this may be either evil or good. In India we have often seen this with snakes. The soul focuses itself upon the snake, and then the snake will feel an inclination to go and bite a certain person.
If the influence is so strong from a living person, the obsession of a dead person, of a spirit, is much stronger still. The dead person has no other means of expression, and so he seizes upon a weak person, a weak mind, and controls that. It is not that the soul enters into the body; the soul is much too large to do that; but it reflects itself upon the other soul. A spirit focuses itself upon the soul of another; the greater power holds the lesser.
If a man has left this world full of anger, full of hatred against his enemy and longing to do him harm, he cannot find peace. If a person leaves the earth with revengeful feelings he will long to accomplish his revenge. He is restless and looking for some means to accomplish his desire. The negative soul, suited to his purpose, receives this impression; not the positive soul, but one who is weak in body or mind. The well-balanced and vigorous throw off such influences; they are not easily affected.
A spirit may obsess for a good purpose or for an evil purpose. If a mother dies before she has been able to bring her child up, and all her thoughts and affection are centered in the child, she may obsess one of the relations, who then will feel inclined to take the child and do all he can for it.
It may happen the case of soul mates. Especially in the East this is often see, where a man may love a girl or woman whom he has seen only once and there is no chance of his ever seeing her again. Then, if he dies, she may become obsessed. She can think of nothing else but his thought and she becomes half dead, and is often in a trance. It may not be that she loved him very much, but his thought obsesses her, and she feels his condition only.
The disciples of Khwaja Nizam-ud-Din Wali, a great saint of Delhi, were once sitting waiting for him to come and speak upon a very abstruse and difficult matter, when to their astonishment they saw his servant come into the room and sit down on the murshid's seat. Nizam-ud-Din then came in, made a very deep bow to the servant and took his seat before him. The servant began to speak and spoke for some time, explaining some very subtle and deep questions. Then a change came over his face, he looked around, and ran from the room in great confusion. Afterwards Nizam-ud-Din told his disciples that he had asked his murshid for the answer to some very difficult question, and that the subject was so complex that the murshid needed a human form in order to explain it exactly, and that was why he had spoken through the servant.
I have taken a great interest in this subject. As a boy, out of curiosity, I studied it very much. I have always gone where obsessed people were to be found and I have seen some very curious and remarkable cases of obsession. One was in a Parsi family. There was a young lady who sometimes once a day and sometimes two or three times, would change her mood and would speak in Arabic and Persian; and she spoke about philosophy and metaphysics which she had never been taught. She was so strongly obsessed that she did not care to speak to her father and mother or her brothers and sisters or anyone else; nor would she ever go out. She always had incense burning in her room and led a very retired life. They brought learned people to speak with her, and she discussed with them like a great philosopher and got the better of the argument. Then she would forget it all again. At Sekunderabad there was a boy who sang Telagu songs. He had never learnt them, because Telagu is not spoken there among Muslims. Sometimes he would sing many songs, and then later on he could not sing one.
Many people who are obsessed go to Ujjain in Central India to be healed at the tomb of a Sufi, Miran Datar, a saint who in his lifetime cured cases of obsession, and continued doing so even after death. I once visited this place. On the steps of the tomb a man was sitting who seemed a quiet and thoughtful person. He was praying. I spoke to him. If I had known that he was obsessed, I would not have spoken to him, but I did not know it. I asked him, 'Why are you here?' He said, 'Do not ask me such a question.' I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'Because I am afraid. Now that I am near this holy tomb I have a little strength to answer you; if I were not here I could not even do that.' He told me that he had been a storekeeper on some British liner going back and forth between Bombay and London. One day at sea he had a strange feeling, as if some power were taking hold of him, and he was not able to do anything. After that this power would often take hold of him, and he could not do what he wanted to do. At times he wanted to eat but could not; at other times, when he did not want to ear he had to go and eat. He became quite weak. He told the ship's doctor, but the doctor could do nothing for him. Then he went to see many other doctors, but none of them could help him. At last he went to the tomb of Miran Datar to see if he could find some relief.
While I was at the tomb of Miran Datar, the Prince of Kheralu came to see it, a very handsome boy of twelve or thirteen, accompanied by aides-de-camp and attendants. He was brought there to be cured. A conversation began of which we could only hear the part spoken by the prince whose words were really those of the spirit that obsessed him. He said, 'I will not leave him. I like him so much. He was in the forest, shooting, and he came near the tree on which I was sitting. Don't whip me, Miran, I am his guardian, I will not leave him. Miran, don't whip me.' The prince began to run, leaping high in to the air, and showed every sign of being severely whipped. He ran round and round the tomb, leaping every time that the invisible whip struck the spirit. At last he fell down exhausted, and his attendants a to once lifted him up and carried him away.
When I came to the Western world I was curious to know whether it is only we in the East who have so many obsessed people, or whether there are obsessed people in the West also. They said to me, 'Here if someone were to show such a condition, we should put him in a lunatic asylum. If you wish to see cases such as you mention you must go there.' I went, and found that there were many who were mad and also many who were obsessed. I wanted to try some experiments in casting out the influence, but the doctors would not let me, because they wanted a medical diploma, which unfortunately I lacked.
Then they took me into the laboratory where they were dissecting brains. They showed me that this man had a certain spot in his brain that was decayed and therefore he was mad, and another man had a cavity in his skull and there fore he became mad too. I asked them whether it was the decay that caused the madness, or the madness that caused the decay. At first they were astonished. But then they thought that there might be something in my philosophy.
According to the mystic's view the cause is mostly within. It is the fever that gives heat, not the heat that gives fever. Weeping does not come first and then sadness. The sadness comes first and that causes the tears to fall.
An Arab who had lost his camel, after searching for it everywhere heard that it was in the stable of the Sherif of Mecca. He went to the Sherif and said, 'I have been told that my she-camel which I lost has been sold to you and is in your stable.' The Sherif asked him. 'How will you recognize your camel? Has she any particular marks?' The Arab said, 'She has two black marks upon her heart.' The Sherif was amazed to hear this; wondering how the Arab could know about his camels heart; and in order to ascertain the truth the camel was cut open, and two black marks were found upon her heart. The Sherif asked, 'How could you know that your camel had these two black marks upon her heart?' The Arab replied, 'Twice my camel was in great sorrow; twice she lost her foal; she looked up and gave a deep sigh, and I knew that each time a black mark was left upon her heart.'
I have seen that there are many suffering from such influences in the West, but, science being the conqueror of religion, the casting out of devils, so often mentioned in the Bible, is today mostly regarded as only a superstition.
The East, on the contrary, has gone to the other extreme. There are a great many cases of illness there which are taken to those who cast out devils, and these, in order to get as many patients as they can, interpret every disease as the influence of a spirit.
There are, however, two advantages in this course. The first is that the patient thinks that the disease is not within himself, but is an external influence which will cease if it is cast out. This prevents his taking his illness too much to heart, for the very thought of having a disease which is rooted in the body may often lead him to his death. Instead of that, however serious the illness may be, the patient will have the impression that it is a spirit that can be cast out; and this belief may restore him to health.
The second advantage is that a wise person can, while pretending to cast out spirits, arouse the patient so that he begins to confess the secrets of his heart - some hidden thought or feeling which may have made him ill. He had not been able to speak of it, having been constrained by the situation in which he was placed, but when this poison is released, the patient can easily be cured. Faqirs often work in this way.
Sometimes women, owing to the strict customs and manners of their country and religion, cannot tell the secret of their despair to anyone, and thus they hold the poisonous seed in their heart until their death, and this consumes them within. Many have had longings which could not be attained, jealous fits which could not be explained, heart breaks which could not be repaired. All such cases show externally as a bodily disease, which doctors try to cure by chemical prescriptions, but the root remains. This treatment is like poison within mixed with poison without; the result, without any doubt, is usually death.
As soon as the patient's secret is known to the healer, he has really made a successful operation in the invisible heart and taken out all the poisonous substance which was causing the sickness and leading the patient to his death. He then releases him from this by words of consolation, by fragrance, by music, by the recitation of the names of God, and by reflecting upon the heart of the obsessed his own wisdom and piety. No doubt there are very few, even in the East, who could give the right treatment; and mostly there are real devils amongst those who profess to cast out devils.
I have known good and bad, sin and virtue, right and wrong; I have judged and have been judged; I have gone though birth and death, joy and pain, heaven and hell; and what I realize in the end is that I am in all and all is in me.