A JOURNAL OF TRANS-ETHNIC SPIRITUALITY
VOL. 3, ISSUE 1
The prayer Salat exhibits a unique view of the prophet/avatar/savior and presents a vision of inclusivity of the Divine messenger rather than each being exclusive. As such it offers the lesson that each of us should respect and accept the divine message through all of the great souls who have come to present it.
"Most Gracious Lord, Master, Messiah and Saviour of humanity, we greet Thee with all humility."
'There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads His followers towards the light.'
The Sufi understands that although God is the source of all knowledge, inspiration, and guidance, yet man is the medium through which God chooses to impart His knowledge to the world. He imparts it through one who is a man in the eyes of the world, but God in his consciousness. It is the mature soul that draws blessings from the heavens, and God speaks through that soul. Although the tongue of God is busy speaking through all things, yet in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for Him to speak through the lips of man. He has done this all through the history of man, every great teacher of the past having been this Guiding Spirit living the life of God in human guise. In other words, their human guise consists of various coats worn by the same person, who appeared to be different in each. Shiva, Buddha, Rama, Krishna on the one side, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed on the other; and many more, known or unknown to history, always one and the same person.
Those who saw the person and knew Him recognized Him in whatever form or guise; those who could only see the coat went astray. To the Sufi therefore there is only one Teacher, however differently He may be named at different periods of history, and He comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion, and to guide man onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi progresses in this view he recognizes his Master, not only in the holy ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never allowed the Master who is One alone, and the only One who can be and who ever will be, to disappear from his sight.
The Persian word for Master is Murshid. The Sufi recognizes the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom he learns. Then he begins to see the light of Risalat, the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and thing in the universe. Thus he sees Rasul, his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him. Thus the Sufi sees the vision of God, the worshipped deity, in His immanence, manifest in nature, and life now becomes for him a perfect revelation both within and without.
It is often for no other reason than clinging to the personality of their particular teacher, claiming for him superiority over other teachers, and degrading a teacher held in the same esteem by others, that people have separated themselves from one another, and caused most of the wars and factions and contentions which history records among the children of God.
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.
A Sanskrit poet says, 'Jewels are stones, but cannot be found everywhere; the sandal tree is a tree, but does not grow in every forest; as there are many elephants, but only one king elephant, so there are human beings all over the world, but the real human being is rarely to be found.'
When we arise above faculty and consider the spirit of guidance, we shall find that it is consummated in the Bodhisatva, the spiritual teacher or divine messenger. There is a saying that the reformer is the child of civilization, but the prophet is its father. This spirit has always existed, and must always exist; and in this way from time to time the message of God has been given.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION Sufi ThoughtsThe Masters have been numberless since the creation of man; they have appeared with different names and forms; but He alone was disguised in them who is the only Master of eternity.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The Masters
Thou art the First Cause and the Last Effect, the Divine Light and the Spirit of Guidance, Alpha and Omega.All Masters from the time of Adam till the time of Mohammad have been the one embodiment of the Master-ideal. When Jesus Christ is represented as saying, 'I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,' it is not meant that either the name or the visible person of Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, but the Master-spirit within. It was this spirit which proclaimed this, moved by its realization of past, present, and future life, confident of its eternity. It is the same spirit which spoke through Krishna, saying, 'We appear on earth when Dharma is corrupted,' which was long before the coming of Christ. During his divine absorption Mohammad said, 'I existed even before this creation and shall remain after its assimilation.' In the holy traditions it is said, 'We have created thee of Our light and from thy light We have created the universe.' This is not said of the external person of Mohammad as known by this name. It refers to the spirit which spoke through all the blessed tongues and yet remained formless, nameless, birthless and deathless.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The Masters
Thy Light is in all forms, Thy Love in all beings: in a loving mother, in a kind father, in an innocent child, in a helpful friend, and in an inspiring teacher.Very often parents say something to their child in which there is the Voice of God; very often a kind friend suggests something to his friend, out of his love and sympathy, which happens to be a Message of God; sometimes a teacher says an inspiring word, which is as a word coming direct from God; even from an innocent child a word comes which comes as a warning from God; for all laces are His faces, and from all lips it is His Word that comes, whenever it comes. But those who can respond to Him, they become as His appointed servants. People call them Chosen Ones; God has chosen all, for all souls are near to the Creator. But the soul who is attached to the lips of God as a horn becomes the herald of His Message, and through his lips what comes is not his words, but the Message of God.
from THE UNITY OF RELIGIOUS IDEALS, The Siritual Hierarchy
Allow is to recognize Thee in all Thy Holy Names and Forms:But the blind world, absorbed in its phenomena and impressed by a certain name and form, has clung to the name, forgetting the true being. It is this ignorance which has divided the children of men into so many divisions and separated one from the other by their own delusions: whereas in reality there exists one religion and one single Master, the Only God. Man has considered his faithfulness to the Master in whom he believed his true religion; and to believe in the next teacher he considered a breach of faith.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The Masters
as Rama, as Krishna, as Shiva, as Buddha; let us know Thee as Abraham, as Solomon, as Zarathustra, as Moses, as Jesus, as Muhammed, and in many more Names and Forms, known and unknown to the world.Rejection of the stranger, and belief only in the one whom he has once acknowledged, has kept man in darkness for ages. If he believed one message he would not accept the succeeding message, brought by another Master, who was perhaps a stranger to him. This has caused many troubles in the lives of all the Masters. Man refused to believe the Masters and their teachings, whether of the past or future, if their names were not written in the particular tradition he believed, or if he had not heard their names in the legends handed down for ages among his people. Therefore the people of that part of the world who have acknowledged the Hebrew prophets do not for instance recognize Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, or Vishnu and Shiva simply because they cannot find these names in their scriptures. The same thing occurs in the other part of humanity, which does not count Abraham, Moses or Jesus among its Devatas, as it does not find those names written in the legends with which it is familiar. Even if it were true that Brahma was the same Devata whom the Hebrews called Abraham, and if Christ was the same Master whom the Hindus have called Krishna, yet man would not recognize as one those whom he has distinguished as different, having a higher opinion of one of them and a lower opinion of the other.
If the Masters were not the same in their mortal garb, yet in spirit they were one; if it were not so, how could one and the same truth be disclosed by them all? The Masters of humanity have been the eider brothers who guided the younger ones out of their brotherly love, and owing to their love of the Father. It is humane to sympathize with one's fellow-man when he is striving for something and cannot gain it, and to help him to the attainment of the ideal for which he strives.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The Masters
We adore Thy Past, Thy Presence deeply enlightens our being, and we look for Thy Blessing in the future, O Messenger, Christ, Nabi, the Rasul of God! Thou whose heart constantly reaches upwards,According to the Sufi conception, there are several degrees distinguished as different stages of responsiveness; in other words, of higher initiation. Among them there are five principal ones: Wali, Ghous, Qutub, Nabi, Rasul, the sign of Rasul being the crescent, which represents a responsive heart. People call them Masters, but they are in reality pupils; for, in point of fact, no one in the world is a Master save God. Man's privilege is to become a greater pupil. Therefore none of the Great Ones have called themselves Masters, nor have they considered themselves to be so. What they have known in their lives is the privilege of opening their hearts wider and wider to reflect the light of the Master, Who is God Himself. The progress of these high Initiates is in their responsiveness, for they have never connected themselves with what they have expressed.
from THE UNITY OF RELIGIOUS IDEALS, The Siritual HierarchyNabi is the apostle whose spirit reflects the Spirit of Guidance, called in Sanskrit Bodhisatva, whose work mainly is the giving of the Message in the form of warning, awakening, preaching, teaching, and inspiring those to whom he may be sent. He comes into the lives of those who are meant to be guided along the spiritual path. He is sent to the nations when the nations are meant to change their conditions. He is sent to a community or race to give warnings. He is meant to be a reformer in the times when a reformer is needed. He elevates individuals and bears a Divine Message.
Rasul is the World Messenger, who comes to the world for all the people in the time of the world's need, and brings with him that inspiration, influence, and power which will harmonize humanity. He may be a king or a pauper; in all conditions he will fulfill the purpose of his coming on earth. Answering the cry of humanity, he fulfills the purpose of his mission on earth.
from THE UNITY OF RELIGIOUS IDEALS, The Spiritual Hierarchy
Thou comest on earth with a Message, as a dove from above when dharma decayeth,That the Messengers came successively did not mean that they were to give different Messages, but that they should correct the corruptions made in the message of the past by its followers; and also to revive principles in order to suit the evolution of the period, and to recall the same truth to the human mind which had been taught by the past Masters but had become lost from memory. It was not their personal message, but the divine message. They were obliged to correct the errors made by the misinterpretation of the religions, thereby renewing the same truth given by the past Masters, which had in the course of time been changed from its real character. Man has ignorantly quarrelled about the names and forms of Masters, traditions, principles, and their limited groups, forgetting that they are one in that which unites them.
Their messages differ from one another in their outer appearance, each message being given in accordance with the age of man's evolution, and also in order to add a particular part in the course of divine wisdom. Certain laws and principles were prescribed by them to suit the country where the message was given, the climate, the period, customs, manners and requirements.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The Masters
and speakest the word that is put in thy mouth, as the light filleth the crescent moon.The symbol of the Sufi Movement, which is a heart with wings, is symbolical of its ideal. The heart is both earthly and heavenly. The heart is a receptacle on earth of the Divine Spirit, and when it holds the Divine Spirit, it soars heavenward; the wings picture its rising. The crescent in the heart symbolizes responsiveness. It is the heart which responds to the spirit of God that rises. The crescent is a symbol of responsiveness because it grows fuller as the moon grows fuller by responding more and more to the sun as it progresses. The light one sees in the crescent is the light of the sun. As it gets more light with its increasing response, so it becomes fuller of the light of the sun. The star in the heart of the crescent represents the divine spark which is reflected in the human heart as love, and which helps the crescent toward its fullness.
from THE UNITY OF RELIGIOUS IDEALS, The Religion of the HeartThus poets of great repute in all ages have always been attracted by the moon; they have not written so many lyrics about the sun, as they had more appreciation for the feminine aspect of creation. For the same reason the crescent was the sign of the Prophet, for if a prophet were not responsive to God as the crescent moon is to the sun, illumination would not come to him. It is through his response to the voice of God that a prophet receives or conceives in his spirit the message which he then gives to humanity.
from, THE PATH OF INITIATION, Poetry (2)
Let the star of the Divine Light shining in thy heart be reflected in the hearts of thy devotees.The explanation of the five-pointed star is that it represents the divine light. For when the light comes it has five points, when it returns it has four, the one form suggesting creation, the other annihilation. The five-pointed star also represents the natural figure of man, whereas that with four points represents all forms of the world. But the form with five points is a development of the four-pointed form. For instance if a man is standing with his legs joined and arms extended he makes a four-pointed form, but when man shows activity -- dancing, jumping -- or he moves one leg, he forms a five-pointed star, which represents a beginning activity, in other words a beginning of life.
It is the divine light which is represented by the five-pointed star, and the star is reflected in the heart which is responsive to the divine light. And the heart which has by its response received the light of God is liberated, as the wings show. Therefore this sentence will explain in short the meaning of the symbol: The heart responsive to the light of God is liberated.
from, Gatha One, The Symbol of the Sufi Order
May the Message of God reach far and wide, illuminating and making the whole of humanity as one single family in the Parenthood of God. AmenThe divine message has always been sent through those fitly endowed. For instance when wealth was esteemed the message was delivered by King Solomon; when beauty was worshipped, Joseph, the most handsome, gave the message; when music was regarded as celestial David gave his message in song; when there was curiosity about miracles Moses brought his message; when sacrifice was highly esteemed Abraham gave the message; when heredity was recognized, Christ gave his message as .the Son of God; and when democracy was necessary, Mohammad gave his message as the Servant of God, one like all and among all; this put an end to the necessity for more prophets, because of the democratic nature of his proclamation and message. He proclaimed la elaha ill 'Allah (none exists but God). God constitutes the whole being, singly, individually and collectively, and every soul has the source of the divine message within itself. This is the reason why there is no longer the need for mediation, for a third person as a savior between man and God. For man has evolved enough to conceive the idea of God being all and all being God, and has become tolerant enough to believe in the divine message given by one like himself, who is liable to birth, death, joy, and sorrow, and all the natural vicissitudes of life.
from THE WAY OF ILLUMINATION The MastersPir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan -- A Prayer of the Gayatri
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