The Return Journey
from: Hazrat Inayat Khan -
The Soul Whence and Whither
The soul during its journey towards manifestation, and during its stay in any plane, whether in the heaven of the angels, the sphere of the jinn, or the plane of human beings, feels drawn towards its source and goal. Some souls feel more drawn than others; but there is a conscious or unconscious inner attraction felt by every soul. It is the ignorant soul, ignorant of its source and goal, which fears leaving the spheres to which it has become attached. It is the soul that knows not what is beyond which is afraid of being lifted up above the ground its feet are touching. Is the fish afraid of going to the depths of the sea? But, apart from fish, even men who are born on land and have been brought up on land, make a practice of swimming and diving deep into the sea, and bringing up the pearl shells from its depths. There are seamen who are happier on the sea than on the land; and their daring, to those unaccustomed to the phenomenon of water, is sometimes perfectly amazing.
Life is interesting in every phase; on the journey towards manifestation as well as on the soul's return towards the goal. Every moment of life has its particular experience, one better than the other, one more valuable than another. In short, life may be said to be full of interest. Sorrow is interesting as well as joy; there is beauty in every phase, if only one can learn to appreciate it. What dies? It is death that dies, not life. What then, is the soul? The soul is life, it never touches death. Death is its illusion, its impression; death comes to something which the soul holds, not to the soul itself. The soul becomes accustomed to identify itself with the body it adopts, with the environment which surrounds it, with the names by which it is known; with its rank and possessions which are only the outward signs that belong to the world of illusion. The soul, absorbed in its child-like fancies, in things that it values and to which it gives importance, and in the beings to which it attaches itself, blinds itself by the veils of its enthusiasm. Thus it covers with a thousand veils its own truth from its own eyes.
What is the return journey? Where does one return to? When does one return? The return begins from the time the flower has come to its full bloom, from the moment the plant has touched its summit; from the time that the object, the purpose for which a soul is born upon earth is fulfilled. For then there is nothing more to hold it, and the soul naturally draws back as the breath is drawn in. But does man die by drawing in his breath? No. So the soul does not die owing to this drawing in, though it gives to the dying person and to those who watch an impression of death.
The physical body may be likened to a clock; it has its mechanism and it requires winding; and this winding keeps it going. It is the healthiness of the physical body which enables it by its magnetic power to hold the soul which functions in it. As this body for some reason or other, either by disorder or by having been worn out, loses that power by which it holds together; it gives way, and the soul naturally departs, leaving the material body as one would throw away a coat which one no longer needs.
The connection of the body and the soul is like man's attachment to his dress. It is man's duty to keep his dress in good order, for he needs it in order to live in the world; but it would be ignorance if he thought his dress to be himself. Yet as a rule this is what man does; how few in this world stop to think on this subject, whether this body is myself, or whether I am apart from this body; whether higher or greater, more precious or longer living than this body! What then is mortality? There is no such thing as mortality, except the illusion and the impression of that illusion, which man keeps before himself as fear during his lifetime, and as an impression after he has passed from this earth.
Whether a person feels attracted to God now or not,
there will come a day when he will be attracted;
for every soul has to return to God.
Hazrat Inayat Khan: Aphorisms