Counsellor August

Nafs - the Ego (5)

from: Hazrat Inayat Khan -

Mysticism of Sound and Music

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The nafs, the ego of an individual, causes all disharmony with the self as well as with others, thus showing its unruliness in all aspects of life. The lion, sovereign among all animals, most powerful and majestic, is always unwelcome to the inhabitants of the forest, and he is even unfriendly to his own kind.

Two lions will never greet one another in a friendly way, for their nafs is so strong. Although the lion is the ruler of all other animals, he is a slave to his own passions which make his life restless.

The nafs of herbivorous animals such as sheep and goats is subdued; for this reason they are harmless to one another, and are even harmonious enough to live in herds. The harmony and sympathy existing among them makes them mutually partake of their joys and sorrows, but they easily fall a victim to the wild animals of the forest. The masters of the past, like Moses and Muhammed, have always loved to tend their flocks in the jungles, and Jesus Christ spoke of himself as the Good Shepherd, while St. John the Baptist spoke of the Lamb of God, harmless and innocent, ready for sacrifice.

The nafs of the bird is still milder; therefore upon one tree many and various kinds can live as one family, singing the praise of God in unison, and flying about in flocks of thousands. Among birds are to be found those who recognize their mate and who live together harmoniously, building the nest for their young, each in turn sitting on the eggs and bearing their part in the upbringing of their little ones. Many times they mourn and lament over the death of their mate.

The nafs of the insects is still less; they walk over each other without doing any harm, and live together in millions as one family without distinction of friend or foe. This proves how the power of nafs grows at each step in nature's evolution, and culminates in a human being, creating disharmony all through his life unless it is subdued, producing thereby a calm and peace within the self, and a sense of harmony with others.

Every human being has an attribute peculiar to his nafs. One is tiger-like, another resembles a dog, while a third may be like a cat, and a fourth like a fox. In this way human beings show in their speech, thoughts and feelings the beasts and birds, and the condition of their nafs is akin to their nature; at times their very appearance resembles them. Therefore the tendency to harmony depends upon the evolution of the nafs of a human being. As he begins to see clearly through human life, the world begins to appear as a forest to him, filled with wild animals, fighting, killing and preying upon one another.

Send Thy Peace, o Lord,
that we may be contented and thankful
for Thy Bountiful gifts


Send Thy Peace, o Lord,
that amidst our worldly strife
we may enjoy Thy Bliss


Hazrat Inayat Khan: Peace Prayer

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