Hazrat Inayat Khan
SUFI TEACHING ABOUT PURPOSE BY HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN
In the Gulistan, Sa’adi (a Sufi mystic) expresses a wonderful thought. He says, “Every soul is meant for a certain purpose, and the light of that purpose has been kindled in that soul.” It is one short verse, but it is a volume in itself. It suggests to us that this whole universe is like a single symphony and that all souls are like the different notes. Their activities accord with the rhythm of this symphony, and the purpose of their life is to perfect this symphony.
People are often anxious to do a certain thing, and they wait for years and years, unhappy, in despair, for the right moment to come. The soul knows subconsciously that there is a note to be struck, and at the moment when it strikes that note, this soul will be satisfied. Yet the soul does not know what note it is nor when it will be struck.
What is life, and what keeps us living in this world of limitation, this world of continual changes, full of falsehood and full of suffering and trouble? If there is anything in this world that keeps us alive it is hope, the honey of life. There is not one soul in this world who will say, “Now I am satisfied, I have no further desire.” In everyone, whatever be one’s position in life, very rich or very poor, full of health or ailing, in all conditions, one is continually yearning and waiting for something to come. One does not know what, but one is waiting for something to come. The real explanation of life is waiting, waiting for something. And what is it that one awaits? It is the fulfillment of the purpose of life that comes when the soul strikes that note, the note which is meant to be that soul's note. This it seeks, whether on the outer plane or on the inner plane.
One has not fulfilled one’s life's purpose until one has struck that note which is one’s note, and the greatest tragedy in life is obscurity of purpose. When the purpose is not clear, one suffers, one cannot breath. One does not know what to do. This life will present one with things that will interest one for the moment; but as soon as one possesses them, one will say, “No, this is not it, it is something else.” So one goes on in illusion, constantly seeking and yet not knowing what one seeks. Blessed is he who knows his life's purpose, for that is the first step to fulfillment.
How are we to know our life's purpose? Can anybody tell us? No, noone can tell us, for life in its very nature is self-revealing and it is our own fault if we are not open to that revelation that life offers to us. It is not the fault of life. We are the offspring of nature; therefore, our purpose belongs to nature. But the artificiality of life brings obscurity, and this prevents us from receiving that knowledge which is the revelation of our own soul.
If asked how one should proceed, I would advise the study of every object, whether false or true, which holds and attracts us, either outwardly or inwardly. We should not be doubting and suspicious. What Christ taught from morning until night was faith, but the interpretation generally given to this word does not make it clear. People have said that it means faith in a priest, in a church, or in a sect; but that is not the meaning. The true meaning of faith is trust in oneself.
The works of Sa’adi, from beginning to end, teach the first lesson of faith, which is to understand that we are not here in this world in vain, to waste our lives. We are here for a purpose, everyone for a particular purpose. Each one of us is an atom of this universe and completes the symphony; and when we do not strike our note, it means that note is lacking in the symphony of the whole. When we do not fulfill our life's purpose in the way for which we were created, we are not living rightly and consequently, we are not happy.
Our happiness depends on living rightly, and right living depends on striking our note. The realization of that purpose is in the book of our heart. Open that book and look at it. The aim of all meditation, concentration and contemplation is only to open this book, to focus our mind, and to see what purpose there is in our life. As soon as we see that our ultimate goal, our life's object and happiness, our true health and well-being, and our real wealth lie in the fulfillment of our purpose, then the whole trend of our life will change.
Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Sufi Message, Volume X, Sufi Poetry, Sa’adi