By Hazrat Inayat Khan
The word 'soul' is used by different people in different senses. But the manner of its connection with the body proves it to be divine. Therefore, the Sufi conception of the soul is that it is the divine part in man. The fire that comes from coal or wood is in reality the part of the sun that is in them. When the soul qualities arise in the heart of a man and show themselves, this proves that it is the divine part in him that rises, like the flame in the fire.
Soul is in all objects, both things and beings, but when it is recognized as soul, then it becomes a soul. It is of the soul that a Persian Sufi has said, 'God slept in the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable kingdom, awoke in the animal kingdom, and became self-conscious in man.' It is the description of the soul, starting in manifestation as one and manifested in variety.
The reason why one cannot see the soul is that it is the soul that sees all things, and the soul has to become two in order to see itself, and this can never be. As consciousness is realized by being conscious of something, and as intelligence is realized by the knowledge of things, so the existence of the soul can be proved by one's very existence. That part which exists in one, or which makes one existent, that part which sees, conceives perceives, and is conscious of all things and yet above all things is the soul.
The destiny of the soul with the mind and the body is a momentary experience when compared with the everlasting life of the soul. The soul with the mind and body are like three persons traveling together. The difference between them is that one depends for his life upon the other two – that is the body; and one depends upon one for its life – that is the mind; and one does not depend upon either for its life – that is the soul. That is why the spiritual person, who realizes being not as body and mind alone, but as soul independent of body and mind, attains to everlasting life. But for the experience of the external life the soul depends upon the mind, and the mind depends upon the body.
There is no object or being that has no soul, but the word, 'soul' is used in ordinary language only for that entity which is conscious of its individual being. The soul is the light, the mind is the furniture, and the body is the room. The furniture could be anywhere, and the room is a fitting place for it. But without light, neither room nor furniture is of any use, nor would life exist without soul.
The mind is created by the soul, yet the soul is independent of the mind. Just as the body is created by the mind, but the mind is independent of the body for its life. It is the life of the body, which we call life on earth, and it is the life of the mind, which we call the hereafter. It is the life of the soul that we call the life everlasting. Who lives with the body, dies with the body. Who lives with the mind will live long with the mind, and will die with the death of the mind; but who lives with the soul will live and live forever. Who lives with his individual self will live so long as his individual self lives, here and hereafter, and who lives with God will live the everlasting life of God. There is a saying of Nanak that, as a grain is saved from being ground in the mill by being in the center, so the worshipper who lives with God is saved from mortality.
The soul is the originator and producer of the mind, and the mind is also the originator and producer of the body. The soul produces the mind out of its own self. Yet the mind is constructed fully after the formation of the body, and the soul becomes a spirit after the formation of the mind. The soul holds the mind and the mind clings to the soul, as the mind holds the body and the body clings to the mind. The soul holds the mind as long as its activity is constructive, in other words, the soul holds the mind as long as it is engaged in the creative purpose.
When the activity of the soul takes another direction it withdraws itself from the mind. As long as the mind has power, it still clings to it, though it becomes exhausted as there is no hold on the part of the soul. This can be seen when the aged and ill begin to lose their memory and become uninterested in thinking, speaking, or hearing.
In the same way the mind works with the body. When the mind for some reason or other withdraws its activity, the body becomes disconnected from it, for it loses its hold of the mind. But if the body is still strong and healthy it clings to the mind; soon however it becomes exhausted and this causes death and disease.
Death is mostly caused by the withdrawing of the soul and the mind. It seldom happens that it is cause by the body, its weakness or disorder. When the activity of the soul and the mind is constructive and drawn within, the body with a disease or a disorder continues to live. The cases where people lie for years with disease and pain are proof of this.
The phenomena of the radiance of the soul are apparent to the student of the human body. The body with its perfect mechanism loses power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness, when the soul departs from the body. This shows that the power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness belong to the soul. But since they are expressed through the body, man attributes all this to the physical body.
The heart of man is like a globe over the light of the soul. When the globe is dusty, naturally the light is dim. When it is cleaned, the light increases. In fact, the light is always the same. It is the fault of the globe when it is not clear. When this radiance shines out, it shows itself not only through the countenance and expression of a man, but even in the man's atmosphere. The soul-power, so to speak, freely projects outward, and the surroundings feel it. The radiance of the soul is not only a power, but it is an inspiration too. A man understands better; there is less confusion; and if he is absorbed in the contemplation of something, be it art, science, music, poetry, or philosophy, he can get inspirations clearly, and the secret of life and nature is revealed to him.
Love is the best means of making the heart capable of reflecting the soul-power – love in the sense of pain rather than as pleasure. Every blow, it seems, opens a door in the heart whence the soul-power comes forth. The concrete manifestations of the soul-power can be witnessed in the depth of the voice, in the choice of words, in the form of a sentence or a phrase, in every movement, pose, gesture, and especially in the expression of the man. Even the atmosphere speaks, though it is difficult for everyone to hear it.
The heart may be likened to soil. Soil may be fertile or a barren desert, but the soil which is fertile is that which bears fruit. It is that which is chosen by living beings to dwell in, although many are lost in the soil of the desert, and lead in it a life of grief and loneliness. Man has both in him, for he is the final manifestation. He may let his heart be a desert where everyone abides hungry and thirsty, or he may make it a fertile and fruitful land where food is provided for hungry souls, the children of the earth, strong or weak, rich or poor, who always hunger for love and sympathy.
(Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, Spiritual Liberty [“The Sufi Message” vol. V])
URL of Part 63: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/hazrat-inayat-khan/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--63--on-silence/d/98532