Modes of Thinking
Limitation / Cosmic
Constraint / Freedom
Determinism / Creativity
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Inspired by the vision of
Hazrat Inayat Khan
We are as great as our spirit, we are as wide as our spirit, we are as low as our spirit, we are as small as our spirit.
The world of one individual is as
small as a grain of lentil, and that of another as large
as the whole world.
We occupy only as much horizon as is
within our consciousness or as much as we are conscious
The outlook becomes wide; as wide as
the divine eye.
Mysticism means developing from limitation
The soul, conscious only of its limitation,
of its possessions with which it identifies itself,
forgets its own being and becomes captive of its limitation.
The mystic knows, if anyone knows,
what limitation means, for it is in perfection that
his joy and his happiness are to be found.
Of course the obstacle standing in the way of
our finding fulfillment in our lives lies in the inadequacy
of our self-image. But how do we deal with it? Awkwardly one
may try to annihilate oneself. The riddle is that one cannot
obliterate the personal dimension of one's self by dint of the
personal dimension of one's will. Of course the answer is God-consciousness;
that is, discovering the bounty of the universe lying in wait
potentially in our own being and longing to awaken.
To start with, check your self-image. This is less
easy than one might at first suppose, because one
identifies with it. This is where the Buddhist
techniques of Satipatana
will prove helpful.
As long as one's little personality
stands before one, as long as one cannot get
rid of it, as long as one's personality and
all that is connected with it interests one,
one will always find limitation.
The false self is the greatest limitation.
o Murshid coins our self-image as the false ego:
The false ego is what has been
wrongly conceived as one's real being.
It is not his true nature which is
limited; what is limited is what he holds to be himself.
The false self is the greatest limitation.
So the ego has its two sides: the
first is the one we know, and the next the one we
must discover. The side we know is the false ego which
makes us say "I." What is it in us that
we call "I?" We say, "This is my body,
my mind, these are my thoughts, my feelings, my impressions,
this is my position in life." We identify our
self with all that concerns us, and the sum-total
of all these we call "I." In the light of
truth this conception is false, it is a false identity.
...It is the imperfect division of the perfect ego.
The real self can rise to perfection;
the false self ends in limitation. In man there is
a real ego; this ego is divine. It is not that the
false ego is our ego and the true ego is the ego of
God, but that the true ego which is the ego of God
has become a false ego in us.
The divine ego is covered by a false
The ego itself is never destroyed;
it is the one thing that lives. In the knowledge of
the ego is the secret of immortality.
If one realized that spiritual development
depends upon the awakening of the false ego to the
true ego, its very foundation, how simple the way
to spiritual perfection would become!
How do we proceed?
A person has to analyze himself and see: 'Where
does "I" stand? Does it stand as a remote,
Observe your self-image. You can only observe it
by disidentifying with it. Then only can one explore
(admittedly at first vaguely) the many-splendored
bounty of one's real being latent behind the idiosyncrasies
of one's personality. Here again, the key is in rating
one's commonplace thinking as not sufficiently comprehensive
and therefore incomplete.
Can you reconnoiter your false ego? The key lies
in checking whether you identify with what is perishable
(your body) or transient (your thoughts).
Then we identify our soul with that
which is mortal. This is the false ego.
Imagine that your real being is covered by many veils.
To become selfless is to realize the
self by unveiling it from its numberless covers
which make the false ego.
One of those veils is our role-playing.
It is the situation we are in that makes
us believe we are this or that.
Whatever the soul experiences, that it believes
itself to be. If the soul sees the external
self as a baby, it believes I am a baby. If
it sees the external self as old, it believes
I am old. If it sees the external situation
in a palace, it believes I am rich. If it
sees itself in a hut, it believes I am poor.
But in reality it is only I am. When man lives
this limitation, he does not realize that
another part of himself exists which is much
higher, more wonderful, more living and more
exalted. This is His unlimited Being.
Either we live in our limitation or let
God reign there in His unlimited being.
Man's failures in life, together with
his impression of limitation, keep him ignorant
of that great power which is hidden in the
mind. Man's life is the phenomenon of his
mind; man's happiness and success, his sorrows
and failures, are mostly brought about by
his own mind, of which he knows so little.
Now let us try to reconnoiter our real being:
How can one be in tune with the infinite?
The nature of being in tune with the infinite
can be seen by comparing one's soul to the
string of an instrument. It is tied at both
sides: one is the infinite and the other is
the finite. When a person is conscious all
the time of the finite then he or she is tuned
with the finite, and the one who is conscious
of the infinite is tuned with the infinite.
Being in tune with one makes us limited,
weak, hopeless, and powerless; by being in
tune with the other we obtain the power and
strength to pull through life under all adverse
If man dived deep enough within himself
he would reach a point of his ego where it
lives an unlimited life. It is that realization
which brings man to the real understanding
of life, and as long as he has not realized
his unlimited self he lives a life of limitation,
a life of illusion.
Checking your self-image again, ascertain how limited
it is and then discover how you suffocate in restriction,
and long for the vastness
. You can find vastness in yourself. Ponder again
upon these words:
The world of one individual is as small
as a grain of lentil, and that of another
as large as the whole world.
We are as great as our spirit, we are as wide
as our spirit, we are a low as our spirit,
we are as small as our spirit.
We occupy as much of the horizon as is within
our consciousness or as much as we are conscious
The outlook becomes wide; as wide as the
In the tranquility inside, ponderous thoughts regarding
the nature of your being surface with unexpected clarity.
You can observe that, indeed, your self-image is based
upon the more overt features of your psyche, even
your body. But if you dive deeper, you will discover
that in one's ordinary experience, one tends to identify
with one's role playing, also with the features of
one's face, also with those thoughts which while formulated
in one's mind get constrained by trying to articulate
them within the constraint of language. In contrast:
try to grasp your real person behind the pretense
of role-playing; try to envision your real countenance
behind the face you see in the mirror, which now appears
as a mask. You will now be able to ascertain that
your sense of meaningfulness is often distorted in
your commonplace thoughts and that your personality
only manifests a sliver of the bounty of that seed
of your personality considered as a plant.
Now ponder upon the fact that, in the course of experiencing
the existential world, you have involved yourself
with people, with situations, with the fabric of the
planet Earth. Caught in the narrow perspective that
determines seeing things in detail, you have lost
the overview and consequently forgotten who you are.
Our consciousness is ordinarily squeezed into a microscopically
small range while we are oblivious of the way it relates
to an infinite totality. What you are experiencing in this
room on the screen of your mind is not only a sliver of
what is happening on the planet, let alone in the galaxies,
but an infinitesimal cross-section of an n-dimensional
world of beings living their lives in worlds of which we
are not familiar (that escape our grasp), including our
world in the past, which is still there, although it has
changed. These far reaches include those whom we have known
in our life-time or whose lives have been recorded in the
annals of history, and those whom, in our inadequate thinking,
we tend to believe are no more.
Consider this screen of your mind as a doorway giving you
access beyond its limitation. Envision that the shadows
on the screen are not simply what you perceive, but clues
which if followed would open vaster and vaster horizons.
This could be illustrated by a radio which functions as
of an infinite web of radio-waves that we could not make
sense of unless this complex network of waves - this wave interference
pattern (in physics) - were reduced to fit into the
range of our perception.
Can you now see that what we perceive as objects are simply
abstractions of a deeper dynamic reality which could be
described as the interrelationship between events. What
we perceive as events are simply cross-sections of intercepting
interrelationships that criss-cross. Everything resonates
with everything else.
Our consciousness functions like the radio that reduces
that stupendous network that our intelligence would not
be able to extrapolate and therefore make sense of.
Now try to expand your consciousness
. See the difference between reading the letters on
the pages of a book and scanning a vast horizon.
Of course it is an ideal situation if you meditate
at night under the stars and think how extraordinary
it is that your retinæ
are sensitive to light reaching you from distances
measured in umpteened light
years! Furthermore, imagine that the molecules,
atoms and electrons
of the cells of your body originated in the "Big
Bang" as they coalesced through the æons
of time to provide a support system for the intelligence
of the universe focalized as your consciousness.
In a further step, see if you can feel a force field
around your arms, in front of your chest, in your
back, around your head just like the magnetic
field of a magnet. Identify with it, considering
it as the template in which your body cells are configured.
And further, if you can, sense
a light field surrounding your body , also interfused
in your body cells. Now identify with it.
Now we can do the reverse: having expanded consciousness,
see if you can have a sense of encompassing a wide
horizon with your consciousness
Then hold people in your heart. Harbor them in safe
that they may be nurtured
, also that they may feel supported by you, so that
you would intercede in their favor
Now, says Pir o Murshid, since your outreach has
expanded: take stock of the areas, that Murshid calls
your kingdom, for which you assume responsibility
and of those people for whom you assume responsibility
, to be better able to manage one's affairs.