The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      



Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

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The Inner Meaning of the Sufi Order

Resignation and Struggle

By Date


Resignation and Struggle

Beloved Ones of God,
I would like to speak on the subject of the different paths through which one attains the spiritual goal. There are two distinct paths, and both are quite contrary one from another. The one is the path of resignation, the other is the path of struggle. No doubt in the path of struggle there is also resignation, and in the path of resignation there is also struggle. The only thing is, that the one who is treading the path of resignation has only one thought: to be resigned. And for the one who strikes the path of struggle, the main object is to struggle.

Christ has taught these two paths in a symbolical way when he says to Peter: "Take your sword and sheathe it" [John 18:11].

The taking of the sword means struggle, to cover it is resignation. The necessity of these two paths is so great; it is not possible that the one is ignored, and that only one is accepted.

Often people make the meaning of Sufism as passivism. But it is not passivism, it is activism and passivism both. It is the knowing of the secret of life of man on earth, of what he needs, for his character, for his condition. When we reflect upon these principles, we find that in life there are things to which we can only be resigned. It is easy to be resigned to things that one cannot help, but if one has the power to struggle it is difficult to be resigned. But a person who is resigned in easy conditions and does not find it difficult, that person does not know resignation.

For instance, there is a person whose poor relations wanted a part of his capital because they were in great need, and in spite of all needs, this person could not be resigned to let them have that part of it. Then in the night came the robbers. They broke in the house and went away with the fortune. The next day this person resigned himself to that. This resignation is no virtue.

To resign is when one has the power to manage, and then resigns.

All the great ones have seen the value of resignation and have taught it.

Christ has said: If someone wants you to walk a distance with him, walk with him a longer distance. [Matthew 5:41]

What does that teach? Resignation. One might think that resignation is impractical. This selfish world will take the best of one. Yes, it is true, but the loss is much less, compared to the gain. If only the heart can sustain the loss. If one is not contented with what has been done it is better not to resign.

For an instance: if an acquaintance comes to your house and asks to take your umbrella, and you say yes. Now comes the time that you want to go out; it is raining and your umbrella is taken. Now you grumble about that acquaintance: how stupid of him, how could he have the boldness to ask my only umbrella? That resignation is of no good, it bears no fruit. This resignation would only be a virtue when going in the rain yet you were satisfied because the other person was safe from it; that only is virtue of resignation.

One who is really resigned does not show it; it is not an easy thing. How many people in this world try to learn wonderful spiritual things. But the simple thing of resignation is miraculous. For this virtue is not only beautiful, it is a miracle. And there are little things in which there is resignation, in which we do not see resignation, and where yet it is.

  • Those around us might ask us to do something to which we feel not pleased.
  • Those around us perhaps say something that we do not wish to take silently, we wish to talk back.
  • Then there are the little pin-pricks from those around us in everyday life.

If we are not resigned we feel excited every moment. Therefore to be resigned is not weakness, it is a great strength.

When one goes further one finds that one can be resigned even to cold and heat, with places congenial and uncongenial; that all has a meaning, a benefit. And if we do not form a habit of being resigned, we just as well could have resigned. Not having resigned to an experience is a loss of occasion.

Besides this there are two forces working: the individual power and the collective power. In Sufi terms the one is qadr, the other qaza. Very often the individual power will not surrender. If this is not so, it is crushed. For an instance, in a country someone is called to the arms, but he says he will not join. In spite of all the beauty of his ideal he is helpless before the might of the whole nation. Here one must resign under the condition where there is a conflict between a less and a greater power; here resignation is the only solution.

No doubt everything must be understood rightly. Resignation preached foolishly is not a benefit.

There was a mureed learning from a murshid the lesson of resignation, and the simple mureed, thinking of this subject, was walking when a mad elephant was coming from the other side. As this mureed was going in the thought of resignation, he stayed in the midst of the road. There was a wise man who told him to go away, but he would not because he was resigning to the elephant, until he was pushed away by the strength of the elephant. They brought him to his murshid who asked him: "How are you hurt so much?" He answered that he was practicing resignation. The murshid said: "But was not there anybody who told you to go away?" "Yes", he answered, "but I would not listen". "But", said the murshid, "why did not you resign to that person?"

Therefore often beautiful principles can be practised to the greatest disadvantage.

Nevertheless resignation has proved to be the path of saints, because it develops patience in man. And what is patience? It is all treasure there is. Nothing is more valuable, nothing a greater bliss than patience.

There is a story of a prophet who was very ill, and who suffered many years. But through his suffering his insight became more clear. His suffering was so great that those around him became tired of it, and so he had to seek the refuge of God in the forest, to relieve them of his pain. As his sight was keen and the ears of his heart were open, he heard from trees: "I am the medicine of your disease". The prophet asked: "Has the time of my cure come?" There came a voice: "No". Then he said: "Why shall I take you then?" Another time he had another experience. He heard: "I am the medicine of your disease". He asked: "Has the time of my cure come?" The answer came: "Yes". The prophet said: "Why shall I take you?" For he could still not resign.

When we think of this extreme ideal we might ask: "But is this not unpractical?" Specially in this time, where there are so many treatments, so many mechanical things. But a thoughtful person will find how many people have ruined their lives by going from one treatment to another, lacking patience and resignation in which reside their absolute cure. The remedy is not always the answer of the difficulty; often patience is the answer. It seems as if man becomes more and more impatient every day owing to his superfluous life. There is hardly any resignation to little things. But it is better to resign than to struggle.

When we put the mystic light upon this subject, we find that we form a harmonious connection with the infinite by being resigned. How to learn it? Must we do it by being resigned to God? No, that is a greater lesson to learn. The first thing to learn is to resign to the little difficulties in life. And what is that? Not to be as something that strikes against everything coming against it. When one were able to manage this, one would not need to cultivate a great power. Then the presence of that person is a healing. Such a person is in the world more than every branch of the rose: they have many thorns, and there is hardly one flower.

Question: Some people say, "I cannot rise above my faults". What could they do to overcome them?
Answer: As I have said: struggle in the spiritual path, struggle is the only thing.

I shall give an example of a person facing a struggle: a person who has a disagreeable conversation, who has an inclination to retort. At the same time this person has no battle with this, of giving back. By letting his force go out, by insulting back, he has lost his power. By controlling this inclination, one has a thousandfold greater power. For the moment that it happens, to humiliate oneself, to crush one's pride, to crush oneself, one feels crushed both sides, by not answering and then by crushing oneself. "I have given back too" gives a little pride, a satisfaction.

Question: What is the way the dance of the soul expresses itself?
Answer: The difference is of the water in the tank and the running water of a stream. In the tank, it is still, lying dead. So a person can be dull, heavy, depressed. The water of the running stream is dancing at every step. So the dancing soul is ready to see the beauty of music, truth, colour, line. The dancing soul it is which attracts to itself as the little stream of water, and will bring pleasure and satisfaction to all who see.