By Hazrat Inayat Khan
As man grows through the inner life, so he feels a freedom of thought, speech and action which comes as a natural course through his spiritual journey. And the reason why this freedom comes and whence it comes can be explained by the fact that there is a spirit of freedom hidden within man, covered by outward conventionalities. When man grows out of the outward conventionalities, then the spirit of freedom, which was closed in so far, becomes manifest.
The laws given to humanity are given by those far from such laws, the Elder Ones. As for children, certain laws, certain rules are necessary, so those who have not yet evolved to look at life from the higher point of view are fixed under certain laws which are taught to them as religion; and these are as necessary for mankind as the rules given to the children in the home. If there were no rules given, the children would become unruly; but when the children become grown-up, then they begin to see for themselves the reason why rules were given to them and the benefit that these rules were to them; then they can make such rules for themselves as suit them best.
The inner life helps a soul to grow up; when the soul evolves from subjection to mastery, then it makes rules for itself. In the East, therefore, no one tries to criticize a spiritual person; no one stands up to judge his action or to accuse him of something which he himself calls wrong. For this reason Jesus Christ has said, 'Judge not'. But this teaching has been given to point out that 'judge not' applies to your equal; for the one who is still more advanced no one can judge. When man has the tendency to judge one more advanced then himself, the consequence is that spiritual advancement deteriorates; because however advanced he may be those who have not yet advanced pull him down. Therefore humanity, instead of going forward, goes backward. What happened in the case of Jesus Christ? He was judged. The liberated soul, the soul that was made free by divine nature, was judged at the court of man. The less advanced men considered themselves sufficiently learned to judge Christ, and not only to judge, but also to give sentence.
In whatever period of civilization, therefore, the tendency has shown itself to judge the one who is advanced; there has always come a collapse of the whole civilization. Sarmad, a great Sufi saint who lived in Gwalior, was asked by the Emperor Aurangzeb to attend the mosque, for it was against the rules of the time that anyone kept away from the regular prayers which took place in the mosque of the State. Sarmad, being a man of ecstasy, living every moment of his day and night in union with God, being God-conscious himself, perhaps forgot or refused. A certain time of prayer or a certain place for prayer to him was nothing; every place to him was a place of prayer; every time was a time of prayer; his every breath was a prayer. As he refused to attend prayers he was beheaded for breaking the rules which were made for everyone. The consequence was that the Mogul Empire declined and its downfall can be dated from that time; the entire Mogul civilization, unique in its period, fell to pieces.
The Hindus have always known this philosophy, for the reason that they had a perfect religion, a religion in which one aspect of God was characterized as human; and their various Devas are nothing but various characteristics of human nature, each of them adored and worshipped. In this way not only God, but the whole human nature in all its aspects, was adored and worshipped. It is that which makes the Hindu religion perfect. When people say, 'This place is sacred, and that other place is not sacred; that particular thing is holy, and all other things not holy,' in this way they divide life into many pieces, the life which is one, the life which cannot be divided.
Therefore those who rise above the ordinary conventionalities of life by their inner development come to another consciousness. For them worldly laws are the laws for the children. Those who begin to see this difference between the laws they set before themselves and the laws that are observed by mankind, at first sometimes condemn and then disregard the common laws. They criticize them, and ask, 'What is it all for?' But those who come to the fuller realization of the inner laws, show respect even for the laws of the children; knowing that they are the laws for the children and not for the grown-up yet they respect them, for they know that it cannot be otherwise.
The laws which they know can only manifest to the one whose soul rises to that realization; but before that soul rises it must have some law by which to live in harmony. Therefore advanced souls regard such laws with respect, and observe them when they are in the community. They do not condemn them; they will not criticize them. They realize that harmony is the principal thing in life, and that we cannot be happy through life if we cannot harmonize with all those around us. Whatever be our grade of evolution, whatever our outlook on life be, and whatever be our freedom, we must have regard for the laws of the majority.
Now the question is, do those who are spiritually advanced have any special conception of morals? Indeed they have; and their morals are great morals, much greater than the average human being can conceive. It is not that by becoming free spiritually from the laws of the generality they become free from their own laws. They have their own laws to bind them; and these are much higher and much greater laws. No doubt their way of looking at things may be criticized and may not be generally understood. Yet, their law is more akin to nature; their laws are in harmony with the spirit […]
[Extracted from the section titled “The Inner Life”, in “Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Way of Illumination (The Sufi Message, Vol. 1)]
URL of Part 32: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--the-realization-of-the-inner-life-–-32/d/12972