Forum December


from: Hazrat Inayat Khan -

The Purpose of Life

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There is a continual desire working in every soul to see things perfect according to our own conception of perfection; and as we go on with this desire, observing, analyzing and examining things and beings, we become disappointed and disheartened, and besides we become impressed with the lack we see in conditions, in persons, in beings.

No doubt there is one thing that keeps us alive, and that is hope: if it is not right today, tomorrow it will become right; if it is not perfect just now, after some time it will be perfect. And so on this hope we live, and if we have given up this hope then life ends. If we are disappointed in one person, we think that in another person we can find all that we expect; if under one condition we are disappointed, we hope for another condition which will bring about the fruitfulness of our expectations. The teachers and the prophets have pointed upward. That symbolically teaches us that it is in looking forward to something more hopeful that we live, and that is the secret of happiness and peace. But once a person develops an idea that there is nothing to look forward to in life, he has finished living.

You will see around you that those who live and those who help others to live, are the ones who look forward in life with hope and courage. It is they whom we can call living beings. But there are others who do not live, for they do not look forward to the life before them; they have lost hope. In order to be saved, they will cling to the hopeful, but if the hopeful also had a limited hope then they would sink with them. Such souls are as dead. Those who lack hope and courage in life lack a sort of energy of spirit. The standard of health as the physician understands it today is an energetic, robust body, but the standard of real health is the health of the spirit; not only the body is living, but the spirit is living. The one who is open to appreciate all, to feel encouraged to do all that comes in his way; who feels joyful, hopeful, ready to accomplish his duty, ready to suffer pain that comes to him; ready to take up responsibility, ready to answer the demands as a soldier on the battlefield; this one shows the spirit hidden within the body. If that condition is lacking, then a person is lacking perfect health and must be helped to gain that energy.

Hopelessness can be overcome by faith. In the first place by faith in God; at the same time knowing that the soul draws its power from the divine source. Every thought, every impulse, every wish, every desire comes from there, and in its accomplishment there is the law of perfection. And in that way a person feels hopeful. But when we think, ‘What shall I do? what am I to do? how am I to do it? I have not got the means; I have not got the resources; I have not got the inspiration to do it’; when we are pessimistic about things, we destroy the roots of our desires, because, by denying we cast away that which could otherwise have been attained.

For in recognizing the quality of Father in God, we become conscious of our divine heritage, and that there is no lack in the divine Spirit, and therefore there is no lack in life. It is only a matter of time. If we build our hope in God, there is an assured fulfillment of it.

It is very interesting to study the lives of the great in the world. We find that some great people have almost arrived at the fulfillment of their undertakings and just before they had reached the goal they have lost it; and there have been some great people who have attained the ultimate success in whatever they have undertaken. You will always find that the souls of the former-kind are the ones who were gifted with great power and yet lacked faith, while the others were gifted with the same power, and that power was supported by faith. A person may have all the power there is, all the wisdom and inspiration, but if there is one thing lacking, which is faith, he may attain to ninety-nine degrees of success and yet may miss that very one whose loss in the end takes away all that was gained previously. There is a saying in English, ‘all is well that ends well’, as the Eastern people say in their prayers, ‘make our end good’; for if there be a difficulty just now we do not mind, because there will be success, the real success, in its completion.

It is in this outlook that we can find the secret of the idea of Paradise, the paradise which has been spoken of by the elevated souls of all times, and in all scriptures you will find a reference to paradise is a hope in the hereafter, a hope in the future.

Happiness, certainly thou didst play hide-and-seek with me;

since I have been in thy pursuit,

I saw in the world thy shadow cast,

and in paradise I saw thy reflection;

in pleasure I saw a veil over thy beautiful countenance,

in pain I saw the dust lying beneath thy feet.


Vadan - Alankaras

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