By Hazrat Inayat Khan
The infinite God is the Self of God, and all that have been manifested with name and form is the outward aspect of God. When we take all the existing forms and names and put them together, they become one form. In other words, all names are the name, and all forms are the form of God, but as God is one, His form also is one; and that is the sum total of all names and forms; there is no thing or being which is not the Being of God. In order to teach this, the wise have said God is in everything and in every being.
Many have wondered, if He is in everything, how he lives in everything, and as what; if He is in man, where is He to be found, and what part of man's being is considered to be God? Many answers may be given, yet none of them will satisfy, for the true answer is that all is God and God is all: none exists save He. And the question of what we are may be answered by the phrase in the Bible, that we live and move and have our being in God. God is we, but we are not gods. The difference between God and our being is not of the being; in being, God and we are one. The difference lies in our limitation and in the perfection of God.
How are we to conceive of the idea of God the Absolute? We are not meant to conceive of this. As limited beings we are not able to know perfection; only perfection itself can know perfection. We can imagine and make a God of our own, in order to make God intelligible to us and to make it easier for us to advance on the spiritual path. As we advance, the unlimited Being, working through us, makes His own way and realizes His perfection; for in doing this He only realizes Himself, which is not at all difficult for Him.
Man thinks that he has learned religion or philosophy or mysticism as he has evolved. Indeed, it is true, but the result of all this learning and evolution is realized to a certain degree not only by unevolved human beings, but even by the animals and birds. They all have their religion, and they all worship God in their own way. The birds while singing in the forest feel that exaltation even more than man after he has worshipped God; for not all men who join in prayer are as sincere as the birds in the forest, not one of which utters its prayer without sincerity. If a human soul were awakened to feel what they feel when singing at dawn, he would know that their prayer is even more exalting than his own, for their prayer is more natural. The godly, therefore, worship their God together with nature, and thus they experience perfect exaltation as the result of their prayer.
Man thinks he is able to meditate and concentrate, but he cannot do it any better than the animals and birds in the forest. The cobra attracts its food by thought. There are certain cobras whose food come and falls into their mouths; they fast patiently for a long time not worrying about the food for the morrow. There are men, on the contrary, who are anxious about their breakfast: they are not even certain of their luncheon. They have neither confidence in their own power nor faith in the providence of God.
In short, spirituality is attained by all beings, not only by man but also by the beasts and the birds; and each has its own religion, its principle, its law and its morals. For instance a bird, whose honor it is to fly over the heads of those who walk on the earth, feels it is beneath its dignity to be touched by an earthly being; it feels it is polluted. And if this bird is touched once by a human being, its fellow-creatures will not rest till they have killed it, for to them it is an outcast. They dwell in the air and it is their dignity to act thus. The study of nature is of interest not only to the student of science, but also to the one who treads the path of spirituality, the study of nature is of immense interest. Man will find at the end of his search on the spiritual path that all beings, including trees and plants, rocks and mountains, are prayerful, and all attain to that spiritual perfection which is the only longing of every soul.
[Extracted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Unity of Religious Ideals (The Sufi Message Vol IX)]