Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan
Sufism is neither a religion nor a cult nor a sect, nor is it only from the East nor from the West. Sufism, which means wisdom, has always been and shall always be an open door to Truth, with sympathy towards all beliefs, while at the same time avoiding speculation upon abstract concepts. Sufism believes in the Divine origin of every form of worship in which the unity of religious ideals is respected.
When pronouncing the word ‘Sufism,’ the “ism” tends to suggest a limited understanding of wisdom, but wisdom can never be defined. For a Sufi, there are just as many expressions of wisdom as there are seekers after wisdom.
Sufism is not a religion; it is an attitude, a path. It is the path of love for mankind. It is not a speculative adventure; there is no searching after phenomena. Sufism does not mean being any better than anybody else. Sufism means to be a human being, so that others might perhaps benefit from the experience.
When offering as a brother or a sister to partake in easing the burden of misunderstandings between believers, the Sufi uses the language of spiritual liberty to communicate sympathy and dedication in support of the various understandings of the one Ideal of worship.
The Sufi emblem is a flying heart, symbolically representing the great power of love as it reaches upwards, carried upon wings of “Spiritual Liberty” into the spheres of Divine Consciousness. In this symbol, the five-pointed star represents the light of the Spirit of Guidance, illuminating the way all along the journey toward inner awakening. The crescent moon represents the receptive and expressive qualities of the heart set free when the limited self is no more the spectator.
The religion of our time is destined to be the religion of the heart, for the heart is the temple of God, wherein, when wisdom prevails, love, harmony and beauty together constitute the living altar.
Upon the altar of the unity of religious ideals, the burning lights represent the great world religions, as well as all those who, whether known or unknown to the world, have held aloft the light of Truth through the darkness of human ignorance. A further aspect of the Universal Worship is the offering of passages from various holy scriptures placed side by side, with the object of discovering the similarity found in all, provided that the teachings are received at a spiritual level of understanding.
During this sacred ceremony, the blessings of all the great Masters are profoundly felt when one’s heart is open to the pure essence of all religious inspirations, and when these are seen as so many rays of light coming from one and the same source, which is destined to shine for the welfare of all humanity.
What is really experienced in worship?
What is really understood by prayer, contemplation and meditation?
Is it not, perhaps, the call of the heart?
The spiritual path is a process of tuning the heart to an inner pitch, which is only heard when the doors of the heart are open, and the absence of the self miraculously reveals the silent tone within. This process can be traced in all religious teachings, and in this process lies the whole secret of happiness and inner peace.
What is the heart?
Is it not the temple of God?
And if so, could we really venture to invite the Divine Presence into that temple if impurities such as the ‘I am’ concept are there, along with all our doubts and fears and wants?
But what does this all really mean?
It means that as beloved ones of God, we are expected to remind ourselves of the noble responsibilities which are ours. It is then that one might eventually discovers that God-consciousness, which one had been frantically pursuing, is in fact already there. But so long as this consciousness is not an expression of the heart, then whatever be the external appearance of spirituality, piety or morality, this all remains void of Godliness.
If God-consciousness could be explained at all, it is certainly an unconditional reality of love, human and Divine; and it is with the great power of this profound realization that all brothers and sisters of all convictions humbly unite in Love, Harmony and Beauty.