By Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Sufi sees both the Creator and the creation in man. The limited part of man's being is the creation, and the innermost part of his being is the Creator. If this is true, then man is both limited and unlimited. If he wishes to be limited he can become more and more limited. If he wishes to be unlimited he can become more and more unlimited
With every kind of weakness, every kind of illness, every kind of misery, the more one gives in to them, the more they weigh one down. And sometimes this can happen even to the extent that the whole world falls on one's back and one is buried beneath it. Another person however, will rise up from it. It may be difficult, but at the same time it is possible. Little by little, with courage and patience, he will rise up and stand upon that world which would otherwise have crushed him. The former is going down, the latter is rising. Both depend upon the attitude of mind. And it is the changing of this attitude which is the principal thing in life, either from a material or from a spiritual point of view. All that is taught in the Sufi esoteric studies and by the Sufi practices is taught in order to arrive little by little, gradually, at the fulfillment which is called mastery.
Mastery comes from the evolution of the soul, and the sign of mastery is to conquer everything that revolts one. That is real tolerance. Souls, which have attained to that spiritual mastery, show it not only with people, but even with their food. There is nothing that the soul which has gained mastery would not touch, though it may not like it or approve of it.
The entire system of the Yogis, especially of the Hatha Yogis, is based upon making themselves acquainted with something their nature revolts against. No doubt by doing this they may go too far in torturing and tormenting themselves, and these extremes are not right, but all the same that is their principle.
One will find that intolerant souls are the most unhappy in the world, because everything hurts them. Why should they be so uncomfortable in the house and restless outside? Because of this tendency of disliking, of rejecting, of prejudice. It is this tendency which must be conquered. And when it is conquered great mastery is achieved.
I remember my teacher at school telling us that the leaves of the Neem tree had great healing qualities. That did not interest me very much, but what did interest me, as he told us also, was that these leaves were so bitter than one could not drink a brew of them. And the first thing I did was to gather some of these leaves, and nobody understood why I did it. But I made a tea of them and drank it, and to my great satisfaction I did not even make a face! For four or five days I continued this and then I forgot all about it. It is fighting against all that one cannot do that gives one mastery. But generally one does not do that. One fights against things that prevent one from getting what one wants. Man should fight only with himself, fight against the tendency of rejecting. This would lead him to mastery. As a general principle in life there is no use in forcing anything, but if we want to train ourselves, that is another thing. It is a process, not a principle.
One may say it is a great struggle. Yes, it is so; but there is struggle in both, in coming down and in going up. It is just as well to struggle and come up, instead of struggling and going down. Whenever a person goes down, it only means that he is feeble in his thought. And why is he feeble in his thought? Because he is weak in his feeling. If feeling protects thought, and if thought stands firm, whatever be the difficulty in life, it will be surmounted.
(Excerpted from Mental Purification and Healing, by Hazrat Inayat Khan [“The Sufi Message”, vol. 1V])