By Hazrat Inayat Khan
When we analyse the word 'reason' it opens before us a vast field of thought. In the first place, every doer of good and every evil-doer has a reason to support his doing. When two persons quarrel, each says he is in the right because each has a reason. To a third person perhaps the reason of the one may appear to be more reasonable than that of the other, or perhaps he will say that both have no reason and that he has reason on his side. All disputes, arguments and discussions seem to be based upon reason; yet reason, before one has analyzed it, is nothing but an illusion and keeps one continually in perplexity. The cause of all disharmony, all disagreement, is the perplexity that is caused by not understanding one another's reason.
One might ask, 'What is reason? Where does it belong?' Reason belongs to both earth and heaven. Its depth is heavenly, its surface is earthly; and that which, in the form of reason, fills the gap between earth and heaven is the middle part of it that unites them. Therefore, reason can be most confusing, and reason can be most enlightening. In the language of the Hindus, reason is called Bodhi or Buddhi from which comes the title of Gautama Buddha. But what reason is this? It is the depth of reason, the most perfect reasoning, which belongs to heaven.
There is another reasoning that belongs to the earth. If a person says to someone who has taken another person's raincoat, 'Why did you take it?' he may answer, 'Because it was raining.' He has a reason. Another reason is the need to think, 'Why should I take another person's raincoat? Although it is raining, it is not my raincoat.' That is another reason altogether. Do you think that thieves and robbers, or the great assassins, have no reason? Sometimes they have great reasons, but reasons that are on the surface. Can a thief not say in order to justify his actions, 'What is it to that rich person if he lost so much money? Here I am, a poor man, I could make better use of it. I have not robbed him of every penny. I have just taken as much as I wanted. It is useful, I can do some good with it.'
Besides, reason is the servant of the mind. The mind feels like praising a person, and reason at once brings a thousand things in praise of him, in his favor. The mind has a desire to hate a person, and at once reason brings perhaps 20 arguments in favor of hating him. So, we see that a loving friend can find a thousand things that are good and beautiful in his friend, and an adversary will find a thousand faults in the best person in the world – and he has reasons.
It is not sometimes that one has a reason, for everyone always has a reason. Only it depends upon which reason it is. Is it the earthly reason, or is it the heavenly reason? It is natural that heavenly reason does not agree with earthly reason.
Now, coming to the essence of things, where do we get reason, where do we learn it? The earthly reason we learn from our earthly experiences. When we say, 'This is right, and that is wrong,' it is only because we have learned on the earth that this is right and that is wrong. An innocent child who is just born on earth and who has not yet learned to distinguish between what we call right and wrong – to that child, it is nothing, the child has not yet acquired that earthly reason.
Then there is a reason that is beyond earthly reason. The person who has taken someone's raincoat has a reason – 'Because it was raining.' But there is a reason beyond that – the raincoat did not belong to him. He should have gotten wet in the rain rather than having taken someone's raincoat. That is another reason that is reason behind reason.
Then there is the essence of reason, which is heavenly reason. It is that reason which not everyone understands. It is that reason which is discovered by the seers and sages, by the mystics and prophets, within themselves. It is upon this reason that religions are founded. On the ground of this reason, the ideas of mysticism and philosophy spring up as plants and bear fruits and flowers. When a pupil is expected to listen to the reason of his teacher instead of disputing over it, it is in order to regard that heavenly reason behind it and to know that there comes a time in one's life when one's eyes are open to the essential reason. It is that reason which is called, 'Bodhisattva: Bodhi or Buddhi,' meaning reason, and 'Sattva,' meaning essence.
How is one to arrive at that reason? By arriving at that rhythm which is called Sattva. There are three rhythms: Tamas, rajas and Sattva. A person whose rhythm of life is Tamas knows earthly reason. He whose life is Rajas know beyond earthly reason, a reason that is hidden behind a reason. The one who begins to see or live in the rhythm of Sattva begins to see the cause of every reason, which is in the profound depths of the whole being, and that is God's reason.
No doubt, in the present time, education is a great hindrance to children. The children are taught to reason freely with their parents. By reasoning freely, when they come to a certain age, they do not stop to think. Before they think, they argue, they dispute, and they ask, 'Why not? Why?' In this way, they never attain to the heavenly reason. For in order to arrive at that heavenly reason, a responsive attitude is necessary, not an exacting attitude. What a child learns today is to be assertive, he learns an exerting attitude. He exerts his knowledge upon others. Through the lack of that responsive attitude, he loses his opportunity of ever touching that essence of reason that is the spirit of Bodhisattva.
Once a Murshid went to the city, and on his return he said 'Oh, I am filled with joy, I am filled with joy! There was such exaltation in the presence of the Beloved!' Then his mureed thought, 'There was a beloved and an exaltation. How wonderful! I, too, must go and see if I cannot find one.' He went through the city and came back saying 'Horrible! How terrible the world is! All seem to be at one another's throats! That was the picture I saw. I felt nothing but depression, as if my whole being was torn to pieces.' 'Yes,' the Murshid said, 'you are right.' 'But explain to me,' the mureed said, 'why you were so exalted after going out and why I should be so torn to pieces. I cannot bear it. It is horrible!' The Murshid said, 'You did not walk in the rhythm that I walked in through the city.' This walking means not only the slow rhythm of the walk, but that rhythm with which the mind is moving, that rhythm with which the observation is gained. It is that which makes the difference between one person and another. It is that which brings about the difference between the reasoning of one person and another.
Reasoning is a ladder. By this ladder, one can rise, and by this ladder, one may fall. For if one does not go upward by reasoning, then it will help one to go downward too, because if for every step one takes upward there is a reason, there is also a reason for every step downward.
The reason that is attached to thought is the middle part of reason; the reason that is attached to impulse is the lower part of reason. But the reason that is inspiring, that is revealing to the soul is heavenly reason. This reason unfolds divine light; it comes by wakening to the reason that one finds in the heart of God.
There is a story told about Moses (see Quran 18:60-82). He was passing with Khidr through a country. Khidr was the Murshid of Moses when Moses was being prepared for prophetship. Moses' first lesson of discipline was to keep quiet under all circumstances. While they were walking through the beauty of nature, both teacher and pupil were quiet. The teacher was exalted in seeing the beauty of nature, and the pupil also felt it. So, they arrived on the bank of a river where Moses saw a little child drowning, and the mother crying aloud, for she could not help. Here Moses could not keep his lips closed. He had to break that discipline and say, 'Master, save him! The child is drowning!' Khidr said, 'Quiet!' and Moses was quiet. However, the heart of Moses was restless, he did not know what to think. 'Can the Master be so thoughtless, so inconsiderate, so cruel, or is the Master powerless?' He could not understand which was which. He did not dare to think such a thought, and yet it made him feel very uncomfortable.
As they went farther, they saw a boat sinking. Moses said, 'Master, that boat is sinking, it is going down!' The Master again ordered him to be quiet, so then Moses was quiet, but he was still more uncomfortable. When they arrived home, he said, 'Master, I thought that you would have saved that little innocent child from drowning and that you would have saved the boat that was going down in the water – but you did nothing. I cannot understand, but I should like to have an explanation.' The Master said, 'What you saw, I also saw. We both saw. So, there was no use in your telling me because I saw. You did not need to tell me what was happening, for I knew. If I had thought that it was better to interfere, I could have done it. Why did you take the trouble to tell me, and spoil your vow of silence?'
He continued, 'The child who was drowning was meant to bring about a conflict between two nations, and thousands and thousands of lives were going to be destroyed in that conflict. When he was drowned, this averted the other danger that was to come.' Moses looked at him with great surprise. Then Khidr said, 'The boat that was sinking was the boat of pirates. It was sailing in order to wreck a large ship full of pilgrims and then to take what was left in the ship and bring it home. Do you think that you and I can be judge of it? The Judge is behind. He knows what He is doing, He knows his work. When you were told to be quiet, your work was to keep your lips closed and to see everything, as I was doing, silently, in reverence.' There is a Persian verse that says, 'It is the gardener who knows which plant to rear and which to cut down.'
You might ask me, 'Shall we all take the same attitude? If a person is troubled or in difficulty, shall we not go and help?' Yes, you may help – but at the same time, if a spiritual person does not seem to do what you expect him to do, you do not need to trouble about it, for you must know that there is some reason. You do not need to judge him, for the more you evolve, the more your reason becomes different. So, no one has the power to judge another, but one may do one's best oneself.
(Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word [The Sufi Message, vol. 2])
URL of Part 43 http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--on-music-and-the-spiritual-path-–-43/d/13909