Heart with Wings

Brotherhood and Sisterhood Activity by Hidayat Inayat-Khan

Brotherhood and Sisterhood Activity

Before venturing to consider the deep meaning behind the concept of a brother-and-sisterhood of mankind, it might be wise to recall that hundreds of institutions have already had the very same dream. Why then should we believe that our activities in that direction are the first ever made, or the best available in our time? Rather than making such presumptions, would it not be preferable to transform our convictions into a reality, and provide an example of that great ideal? Then we might inspire brotherly and sisterly feelings in others, rather than expecting such feelings from them. And would it not be preferable to refrain from intruding upon the beliefs of others with the harsh weapons of our own preconceived ideas?

In working for the accomplishment of that ideal, however, it would also be wise to be aware of the human tendency to level down to one's own plane of understanding all concepts with which one is confronted, concepts which are thereby conditioned through the screens of ready-made opinions, interpreting experiences according to arbitrary evaluation.

Furthermore, while proceeding on the path of understanding, one might discover sooner or later that mastery starts with discipleship. Unfortunately, there are more would-be masters than there are pupils. Truth, however, has no need to prove itself - it is untruth which fights for self-assertion. In fact, what is said and done does not always reveal the true purpose. It is the attitude hidden behind the words and actions which can truly express the innermost intentions. That attitude is conveyed either consciously or unconsciously through the power of thoughts and the magic of feelings.

Rather than wanting to master others, therefore, let us start by working on ourselves. Let us stop wondering what others could do for us, but rather ask ourselves what we could do for others. What could we really do for others? This question is already answered when we realize that the first effort to be made is to vanquish our own shortcomings, doubts, fears and worries, and to put into practice the basic principles of love, harmony and beauty, accommodating these to all circumstances.

These principles apply to all involvement with others, whether or not we appreciate their convictions; whether or not their understandings about good and bad correspond to our own; whether we are dependent on them or they are dependent upon us. In other words, our first duty to others is to make the best out of ourselves so that we might become some day an example, that others may, if they choose, then pluck the fruits of our experience.

In this connection, an outer gain is not necessarily a real gain; it could eventually prove to be an inner loss. Conversely, a loss is not always a loss; it could reveal some day an unexpected gain. Obviously, one is constantly involved in problems, either one's own or those of others, which one tries to solve, knowing that the more problems that are solved, the more able one becomes to handle the many more which are awaiting our attention, as brothers and sisters to one another.

From a religious point of view, various world scriptures speak of the ideal of brotherhood or compassion, and this special concept runs like a golden thread through history, untarnished by dogma. In fact, compassion is the true origin of religion in its purest aspect, and is the soul force by which religion in all ages inspired an outburst of devotional creativity. Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan explains that although each religious system reflects the cultural conditions of mankind at a certain time and place, and therefore has its own tone, nevertheless each sounds a basic call for brotherhood. Thus the different religions may be symbolized by various tones and the origin of these tones is hidden in the ever-present secret which reveals itself when all tones are in harmony with one another making audible thereby the music of the Spirit of Guidance.

Reprinted from 'Sufi Teachings Lectures from Lake O'Hara' by Hidayat Inayat-Khan, Ekstasis Editions, Canada, 1994