Heart of the Message - A Journal of Trans-Ethnic Spirituality - click to return to main page




Heart of the Message, is produced for the Church of All and of all churches at Pagosa Springs by Post-Dogmatist Publications, Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon; Editor-in-Chief. This publication is a part of the larger site, A CHERAG'S LIBRARY. COPYRIGHT 1997  

Concerning the Prayers used in the Universal Worship Service 
Part I. by Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon  

The prayers Saum, Salat and Khatum form the participatory backbone of the Universal Worship Service and may be said to embody a great deal of what the teachings of the Church are. So, to spend a little time discussing them will yield much benefit. The first and third prayers are directed toward the Divine Being and the second prayer to the Messenger or human representatives who have brought the Message in the past.  

Hazrat Inayat Khan says of these prayers;  

The Sufi prayers such as Saum and Salat are not man-made prayers. They have descended from above, just as in every period of spiritual reconstruction prayers were given. And there is every power and blessing in them, especially for those who believe.  

In this issue we will take a look at the first of these prayers; the prayer Saum. To bring a deeper illumination to this prayer, selections have been taken from the lectures of Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of the Church of All, which relate to the ideas behind the phrases of the prayer.  

    "Praise be to Thee most supreme God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-pervading, the only Being." 
God is omniscient, omnipotent, all-pervading, and the Only Being. This suggests to us that the absolute is living being - the Only Being - that there is no such thing as death, that there is no such thing as an end, that every thing, every being, every particle has a continuity, because life is continuous...  

In the Sufi terminology there is one word, Haqq, which means God and also truth. This term itself explains that God is truth and truth is God. Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all- pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.  

To the view of a Sufi this universe is nothing but a manifestation of the divine Being, and this divine manifestation is called in Sufi terms Nur-Zahur. The supreme God, from His existence as the single and only Being, has, so to speak, journeyed as far as He could towards the surface. Through His activity and His will behind it, He has manifested on the surface, from the heavens He has descended upon earth. From the most unconscious state of existence, blind, unaware of His being, as is the rock, He has gradually awakened to consciousness of the surroundings on the surface. Also in the Qur'an, one finds the idea that the world was created out of darkness. The gradual progress of the journey brings the Inner Being to the condition of a plant, flower and fruit, then to the state of worm, germ, and animal, until He manifests as man, Ashfar al-Makhluqat, the ruler of this universe and the controller of the heavens. In man He reaches the final goal of His destiny, when He realizes Himself as the whole being, which He has not done hitherto. God has made man in His image, as is said in the Bible.  

    "Take us in thy Parental Arms, Raise us from the denseness of the earth". 
You may ask: 'What is it that keeps man back from spiritual attainment?' The answer is that it is the denseness of this material existence, and the fact that man is unconscious of his spiritual being - divided into limitations. This prevents that free flow and free movement which are the nature and character of life.  

What do I mean by this denseness? There is a rock, and you want to produce sound from it. It does not give resonance, it does not answer your desire to produce sound, but the string or wire will give an answer to the tone you want. You strike it, and it answers. There are objects which give resonance to sound. You wish to produce a sound in them, and they resound; they make your music complete.  

So it is with human nature. One person is heavy and dull. You tell him something, he cannot understand; you speak to him, he will not hear. He will not respond to music, to beauty, or to art. What is it? It is denseness. There is another person who is ready to appreciate and understand music and poetry, or beauty in any form. In character, in manner - in every form - beauty is appreciated by such a person. It is this which is the awakening of the soul, which is the living condition of the heart, and it is this which is the real spiritual attainment. Spiritual attainment is to make the spirit live, to become conscious. When man is not conscious of soul and spirit, and is only conscious of the material being, he is dense, he is away from spirit.  

    "Thy Beauty do we worship," 
It is said in the Hadith, 'God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.' This expresses the truth that man, who inherits the Spirit of God, has beauty in him and loves beauty, although that which is beautiful to one is not beautiful to another. Man cultivates the sense of beauty as he evolves, and prefers the higher aspect of beauty to the lower. But when he has observed the highest vision of beauty in the Unseen by a gradual evolution from praising the beauty in the seen world, then the entire existence becomes to him one single vision of beauty.  

Man has worshipped God, beholding the beauty of sun, moon, stars, and planets; he has worshipped God in plants, in animals; he has recognized God in the beautiful merits of man, and he has with his perfect view of beauty found the source of all beauty in the Unseen, from whence all this springs, and in Whom all is merged.  

The Sufi, realizing this, worships beauty in all its aspects, and sees the face of the Beloved in all that is seen, and the Beloved's spirit in the Unseen. So wherever he looks his ideal of worship is before him.  

'Everywhere I look, I see Thy winning face; everywhere I go, I arrive at Thy dwelling-place.'  

    "Most Merciful and Compassionate God, the Idealized Lord of the whole humanity" 
The God-Ideal has been regarded by different men differently. Some have idealized God as the King of Earth and Heaven, some have a conception of God as a Person, others think of God as an abstraction; some believe in God, others do not, some raise the ideal of the Deity to the highest heaven, others bring it down to the lowest depth of earth; some picture God in Paradise, others make an idol and worship it. There are many ideas and many beliefs, different names, such as pantheism, idolatry, belief in a formless God, or belief in many gods and goddesses, but all are striving after something in one way or another. If I were asked how many conceptions there are of God, I would say, "As many as there are souls"; for all, whether wise or foolish, have some conception of God.  

Everyone knows God in some way and has his own picture of Him, either as a Man, as the Absolute, as Goodness, as Something beautiful or illuminating; everyone has some conception; and for the one who does not believe in God, even for him the Name exists. Very often the unbeliever is an unbeliever because of his own vanity, though this is not always so.  

    "to Thee do we give willing surrender." 
If there is anything that works against the vanity of the ego, it is love. The nature of love is to surrender; there is no one in the world who does not surrender. The world of variety, which has divided life into limited parts, naturally causes every lesser one to surrender to the greater. And, again, for every greater one there is another still greater in relation to whom he is smaller, and for every smaller one there is another still smaller, in relation to whom he is greater. And as every soul is by its nature compelled to surrender to perfection in all its grades, the only thing that matters is whether it be a willing surrender or an unwilling surrender. The former comes by love, the latter is made through helplessness, which makes life wretched. It moves the Sufi when he reads in the Qur'an that the perfect Being asked the imperfect souls, the children of Adam, 'Who is thy Lord? They, conscious of' their imperfections, said humbly, 'Thou art our Lord.' Surrender is a curse when, with coldness and helplessness, one is forced to surrender; but the same becomes the greatest joy when it is made with love and all willingness.  
    "Thee only do we worship and toward Thee alone do we aspire." 
And the wise of all ages have taught that it is the knowledge of the divine Being that is life, and the only reality. Although a human activity may have a number of complicated motives, some of which are base and gross, it is the aspiration towards divinity, the desire towards beauty, which is its soul, its life, its reality. And it is in proportion to the degree of strength or weakness of his aspiration towards beauty that man's ideal is great or small, and his religion is great or small.  
    "Open our hearts toward Thy Beauty," 
Man in his innermost is seeking for happiness, for beauty, for harmony; and yet, by not responding to the beauty and harmony which is before him, he wastes his life, which is an opportunity for him to experience and to enjoy. What self-denial is it to deny the divine beauty which is before us? If we deny ourselves the divine beauty which surrounds us, then the beauty which is within will not unfold itself. Because the condition is that the soul is born with its eyes open outwardly; it does not see the life within. The only way of wakening to the life within, which is most beautiful, is first to respond to the beauty outside. This world with all its unlimited beauty, nature with its sublimity, personalities with divine immanence, if we ignore all this then why have we come, and what have we accomplished here? The person who ignores it turns his back on something which he is continually seeking for. He is his own enemy. By this way he cannot be spiritual, he cannot be religious; by denying himself all that is beautiful around him he cannot be exalted. For if beauty within was the only purpose of life, God would not have created man and sent him on earth.  
    "Illuminate our souls with Divine Light," 
There is a time in a person's life when he is learning, and there comes a time when he himself is knowledge. It is at the time when the soul becomes knowledge itself that it begins to have glimpses into the hidden laws of nature; and this illumination may develop so that a person sees the whole of manifestation clearly and fully in the light of intelligence. The Qur'an says, 'God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth'; and if there is any spark of God that can be found in man, it is his intelligence. Naturally, therefore, when this divine light which is hidden in man is once brought to a blaze and has risen as a flame, it illuminates his path towards perfection.  
    "O Thou, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty, All-Powerful Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Forgiver of our shortcomings. " 
The first and principal thing in the inner life is to establish a relationship with God, making God the object with which we relate ourselves, such as the Creator, Sustainer, Forgiver, Judge, Friend, Father, Mother and Beloved. In every relationship we must place God before us, and become conscious of that relationship so that it will no more remain an imagination; because the first thing a believer does is to imagine. He imagines that God is the Creator, and tries to believe that God is the Sustainer, and he makes an effort to think that God is a Friend, and an attempt to feel that he loves God. But if this imagination is to become a reality, then exactly as one feels for one's earthly beloved sympathy, love and attachment, so one must feel the same for God. However greatly a person may be pious, good or righteous, yet without this his piety or his goodness is not a reality to him.  

The work of the inner life is to make God a reality, so that He is no more an imagination; that this relationship that man has with God may seem to him more real than any other relationship in this world; and when this happens, then all relationships, however near and dear, become less binding. But at the same time, a person does not thus become cold; he becomes more loving. It is the godless man who is cold, impressed by the selfishness and lovelessness of this world, because he partakes of those conditions in which he lives. But the one who is in love with God, the one who has established his relationship with God, his love becomes living; he is no more cold; he fulfills his duties to those related to him in this world much more than does the godless man.  

Now, as to the way in which man establishes this relationship, which is the most desirable to establish with God, what should he imagine? God as Father, as Creator, as Judge, as Forgiver, as Friend, or as Beloved? The answer is, that in every capacity of life we must give God the place that is demanded by the moment.  

When, crushed by the injustice, the coldness of the world, man looks at God, the perfection of Justice, he is no more agitated, his heart is no more disturbed, he consoles himself with the justice of God. He places the just God before him, and by this he learns justice; the sense of justice awakens in his heart, and he sees things in quite a different light.  

When man finds himself in this world motherless or fatherless, then he thinks that there is the mother and father in God; and that, even if he were in the presence of his mother and father, these are only related on the earth. The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God is the only real relationship. The mother and father of the earth only reflect a spark of that motherly and fatherly love which God has in fullness and perfection. Then man finds that God can forgive, as the parents can forgive the child if he was in error; then man feels the goodness, kindness, protection, support, sympathy coming from every side; he learns to feel that it comes from God, the Father- Mother, through all.  

When man pictures God as Forgiver, he finds that there is not only in this world a strict justice, but there is love developed also, there is mercy and compassion, there is that sense of forgiveness; that God is not the servant of law, as is the judge in this world. He is Master of law. He judges when He judges; when He forgives He forgives. He has both powers, He has the power to judge and He has the power to forgive. He is Judge because He does not close His eyes to anything man does; He knows, He weighs, and measures, and He returns what is due to man. And He is Forgiver, because beyond and above His power of justice there is His great power of love and compassion, which is His very being, which is His own nature, and therefore it is more, and in greater proportion, and working with a greater activity than His power of justice. We, the human beings in this world, if there is a spark of goodness or kindness in our hearts, avoid judging people. We prefer forgiving to judging. Forgiving gives us naturally a greater happiness than taking revenge, unless a man is on quite a different path.  

The man who realizes God as a friend is never lonely in the world, neither in this world nor in the hereafter. There is always a friend, a friend in the crowd, a friend in the solitude; or while he is asleep, unconscious of this outer world, and when he is awake and conscious of it. In both cases the friend is there in his thought, in his imagination, in his heart, in his soul.  

And the man who makes God his Beloved, what more does he want? His heart becomes awakened to all the beauty there is within and without. To him all things appeal, everything unfolds itself, and it is beauty to his eyes, because God is all-pervading, in all names and all forms; therefore his Beloved is never absent. How happy therefore is the one whose Beloved is never absent, because the whole tragedy of life is the absence of the beloved; and to one whose Beloved is always there, when he has closed his eyes the Beloved is within, when he has opened his eyes the Beloved is without. His every sense perceives the Beloved; his eyes see Him, his ears hear His voice. When a person arrives at this realization he, so to speak, lives in the presence of God; then to him the different forms and beliefs, faiths and communities do not count. To him God is all-in-all; to him God is everywhere. If he goes to the Christian church, or to the synagogue, to the Buddhist temple, to the Hindu shrine, or to the mosque of the Muslim, there is God. In the wilderness, in the forest, in the crowd, everywhere he sees God.  

This shows that the inner life does not consist in closing the eyes and looking inward. The inner life is to look outwardly and inwardly, and to find one's Beloved everywhere. But God cannot be made a Beloved unless the love element is awakened sufficiently. The one who hates his enemy and loves his friend cannot call God his Beloved, for he does not know God. When love comes to its fullness, then one looks at the friend with affection, on the enemy with forgiveness, on the stranger with sympathy. There is love in all its aspects expressed when love rises to its fullness; and it is the fullness of love which is worth offering to God. It is then that man recognizes in God his Beloved, his Ideal; and by that, although he rises above the narrow affection of this world, he is the one who really knows how to love even his friend. It is the lover of God who knows love when he rises to that stage of the fullness of love.  

It is not easy to develop in the heart the love of God, because when one does not see or realize the object of love one cannot love. God must become tangible in order that one may love Him, but once a person has attained to that love he has really entered the journey of the spiritual path.  

    "Lord God of the East and of the West; of the world above and below and of the seen and the unseen Beings." 
The God of the Sufi is the God of every creed, and the God of all. Names make no difference to him. Allah, God, Gott, Dieu, Brahma, or Bhagwan, all these names and more are the names of his God; and yet to him God is beyond the limitation of name. He sees his God in the sun, in the fire, in the idol which diverse sects worship; and he recognizes Him in all the forms of the universe, yet knowing Him to be beyond all form: God in all, and all in God, He being the Seen and the Unseen, the Only Being. God to the Sufi is not only a religious belief, but also the highest ideal the human mind can conceive.  
    "Pour upon us Thy Love and Thy Light;" 
As love is the source of creation and the real sustenance of all beings, so, if man knows how to give it to the world around him as sympathy, as kindness, as service, he supplies to all the food for which every soul hungers. If man knew this secret of life he would win the whole world, without any doubt...  

As every light needs fuel, so the light which is ours, which is ourself, needs fuel also. The fuel for the physical part of our life is what we call food, but for the life of the mind intellectual sustenance is necessary. If the body is fed and the mind is not, then naturally that light becomes less. The sustenance of the soul is the divine ideal, which is both love and light. If the soul does not receive that nourishment which is necessary for it, then the soul is starved. The body may be nourished, but it is not sufficient. That is why we see before our physical eyes many famine-stricken souls, but if we saw with the spiritual eyes we would see still more famine in humanity.  

    "Give sustenance to our bodies, hearts and souls. 
These gifts of nature which are before us, how can we be thankful enough for them? Besides, as a person develops spiritually he will see that it is not only his body that needs food, but also his mind, his heart, his soul; a food that this mechanical world cannot provide. It is the food that God alone can give, and it is therefore that we call God the Sustainer. Furthermore, at a time when there was neither strength in us nor sense enough to earn our livelihood, at that time our food was created. When one thinks of this, and when one realizes that every little creature, a germ or worm that no one ever notices, also receives its sustenance, then one begins to see that there is a Sustainer; and that Sustainer we find in God, and towards Him we have a duty.  
    "Use us for the purpose that Thy wisdom chooseth, And guide us on the path of Thine Own Goodness." 
The soul of man is goodness itself, if only he begins to love goodness. This is not something which is acquired; it springs up of itself. Right attitude towards God is a direct response to God. For His voice is continually coming as an answer to every call. The ears of the heart should be open and focused on that source whence the voice is coming. When that is done then the teacher within is found; then there is continual guidance, and one is guided to the extent that one keeps close to it. Then one needs no other guidance; but first the guidance of a spiritual teacher is necessary in order to come nearer to it...  

The Spirit of Guidance is as the yeast which is used to make bread, to prepare humanity for the purpose for which it was created. The Spirit of Guidance is a plant that grows and blossoms when it receives response and care; and when it is watered by the rainfall of divine inspiration it blooms in the light of the Divine Sun. The Spirit of Guidance is the Light of God, which may be likened to a lantern that the farmer carries when walking on the farm in the darkness of night. The Spirit of Guidance is like a searchlight. Any object on which the searchlight is thrown, it shows clearly; so the Spirit of Guidance thrown upon any aspect of life gives one a keen insight into it. In the Spirit of Guidance one finds a living God active in the heart of every person.  

One who depends upon the Spirit of Guidance to guide his life is guided aright. We always have a counsel within, but the one who ignores the existence of such a thing as the Spirit of Guidance is left alone for some time by the Spirit of Guidance to look out for himself. It is like the mother and the dependent child, who tries to hold the hand of the mother at every step it takes; so the mother's whole attention is drawn to every step of her child. But when the child tries to move about by his own will, and tries to keep away, then the attention of the mother, to some extent, becomes released. This does not mean that the mother gives up entirely the care of the child; it only means that the mother allows the child to have its own way to some extent, and feels sorry when the child falls and hurts itself. In point of fact, all souls are children of God, but such souls as are conscious of their relation to God, as between a child and his parents, certainly deserve to be called the children of God. They are especially cared for; they are always guided, because they ask for guidance...  

What the Spirit of Guidance is, can be further explained as follows: as in man there is a faculty for art, music, poetry and science, so in him is the faculty or spirit of guidance; it is better to call it spirit because it is the supreme faculty from which all the others originate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty, but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree; but the spirit of guidance is found among few indeed of the human race.  

    "Draw us closer to Thee every moment of our life until in us be reflected Thy Grace, Thy Glory, Thy Wisdom, Thy Joy and Thy Peace."  
That is the meaning of Christ's constantly pointing out to humanity the Fatherhood of God; to see the Father in God, and so inherit the qualities of God, which are great and superior and kingly and noble, and which are divine, and which no one in the world, or of those whom one has met on the way, possesses. The Sufis call these qualities Akhlak Allah, which means the manner of God, or divine manner. A seeker after truth, a worshipper of God need only believe in one Father, and that is God; and not only believe, but know and be conscious of One, and inherit from that perfect source, perfecting one's life with it; and it is that heritage which is called divine...  

Spirituality is natural nobleness, and the unfolding of this innate nobleness is spirituality. It is a divine heritage which is hidden in every soul, and by the manifestation of this divine heritage a soul shows its divine origin. All striving in the spiritual path is to bring out that nobleness - but one need not strive to bring it out; it will come by itself, if one is conscious of one's divine heritage. It is this consciousness which brings out the nobleness of spirit. In the Sufi terminology this nobleness is called akhlaq Allah, which means the manner of God, a manner which is unlike any other manner known to the world. It is the manner of the mother towards her child, the manner of the father towards his son, the manner of a man towards his friend, the manner of the maiden towards her beloved, it is the manner of the lord towards his servant; it is the manner of the child towards his mother, the manner of a son towards his father, the manner of a slave towards his king - and yet it is above and beyond all manners known to mankind. It is humility, it is modesty, it is pride, it is honor, it is kindness, it is graciousness, it is indifference, it is independence; a manner inconceivable to human mentality, a manner which cannot be learned or taught, a manner which springs up by itself and comes forth as a divine blossom.  

It is in this manner that lies the fulfillment of the purpose of man's life. This manner is the highest religion, the true spirituality, real aristocracy, and perfect democracy. All disputes and disagreements, all misunderstandings fall away the moment the human spirit has become noble, for it is the sign of the noble spirit to comprehend all things, to assimilate all things and therefore to tolerate and forgive all things. Of what use is a religion, a philosophy, a mysticism, or whateveryou call it, if it does not produce that spirit in you, that inclination which is divine? And if that inclination and that spirit manifest themselves in anything, they show in divine manner. Neither in the graciousness of a king, nor in the subservience of a slave one will find that dignity and that humility which divine manner gives.  

Is not man the seed of God? Is it then not his life's purpose to bring forth divine blossoms? It is not by working wonders that man shows his divine origin, nor is it by possessing extraordinary powers. If in anything divine origin is seen it is in the aristocracy of the human soul, it is in the democracy of the human ego. In the world we see that there is aristocracy and that there is democracy, but in spiritual unfoldment these two become one, culminating in real perfection.  

Please visit the Gallery at Cecil Touchon Contemporary Art who supplies the space for this page.  

produced by AetherArts copyright 1997