Mental Purification and Healing
Hazrat Inayat Khan
▼ MENTAL PURIFICATION
The Will •
The Power of Thought
There are some who through life’s experience have learned that thought has power, and there are others who wonder sometimes whether this is really so. There are also many that approach this subject with the preconceived idea that even if every thought has a certain power, yet it is limited. But it would be no exaggeration to say that thought has a power, which is unimaginable; and in order to find proof of this we do not have to go very far. Everything that we see in this world is but a phenomenon of thought. We live in it, and we see it from morning till evening, and yet we doubt if it is so. It shows that this, our beautiful world, itself gives us a pride and vanity, making us believe that we understand things better than we do. The less a person believes in the power of thought, the more positively he thinks he stands on earth. Nevertheless, consciously or unconsciously he feels his limitation, and searches for something that will strengthen his belief in thought.
Thought can be divided in five different aspects: imagination, thought, dream, vision and materialization. Imagination is that action of mind, which is automatic. From morning till evening a person is either working, or if he is resting his mind is working just the same through imagination. Thought is thinking with willpower behind it. In this way we distinguish between the imaginative and the thoughtful. These two kinds of people cannot be confused. For one is imaginative, which implies powerless thinking, automatic thinking. The other is thoughtful, which means his thinking is powerful.
When this automatic action takes place in the state of sleep, it is called a dream. This is distinct and different from imagination, because while a person is imagining his senses are open to this objective world, and therefore his imagination does not take a concrete form. But when the same automatic action of mind goes on in the dream, there is no objective world to compare it with. The mystic can always see the condition of the mind of a person by knowing how he dreams, for in the dream the automatic working of his mind is much more concrete than in his imagination.
There are some who are able to read the character or the future by knowing what the person imagines. They always ask him to name a flower, a fruit, something he loves or likes, in order that they may find the stream of his imagination. From that stream of imagination they find out something about the character of that person and about his life. It is not necessary to be a character reader or a fortune-teller. Any wise and thoughtful person can understand by the way someone dresses or by his environment how his thoughts run, what his imaginings are. But since the state of dreaming enables the mind to express itself more concretely, the dream is the best way to understand what state of mind a person has. When once this is understood, there is little reason left to doubt whether the dream has any effect upon the person’s life and future. Indeed, man does not know, man cannot imagine, to what extent thought influences life.
Vision can be said to be a dream which one experiences in the wakeful state. A person who is imaginative or capable of imagination is capable of creating a thought. And when this thought which he has created becomes an object upon which his mind is focused, then all else becomes hidden from him. That particular imagination alone stands before him as a picture. The effect of this vision is certainly greater than the effect of a dream. The reason is that the imagination, which can stand before one’s mind in one’s wakeful state is naturally stronger than the imagination which, was active in one’s state of sleep.
The fifth aspect of thought is materialization. And it is in the study of this subject that we find the greatest secret of life. No doubt a person will readily accept that it’s by the architect’s imagination that a beautiful building is built, that it is by the gardener’s imagination that a beautiful garden is made. But generally when it comes to matter and all things that are connected with matter, man wonders how far imagination or thought has power over them. Nowadays, as psychology is beginning to spread throughout the Western world, people will at least listen patiently when one speaks about it. But on the other hand there are many that take a medicine with great faith, but if they are told that a thought can cure them they will smile at the idea. This shows that with all the progress that humanity seems to have made, it has gone back in one direction, the higher thought. For man today generally does not believe in the power of thought and he believes still less in what he calls emotion.
In point of fact if one can speak the soul of a thought, that soul is the feeling which is in the back of it. One sees that people become confused when they hear only words behind which there is no feeling. What makes thought convincing is the power behind it, and that power consists of feeling. The general tendency is to wave aside what is called imagination. When someone says that a person imagines something it means that he amuses himself. One says to him, "Oh, you only imagine it; it does not exist in reality." But in reality when one has imagined something, that imagination is created, and what is once created exists. And if it is thought that is created, it lives longer, because thought is more powerful than imagination. In this way man today ignores that power which is the only power and the greatest power that exists, calling it sentimentality, which means nothing. It is with this power that heroes have conquered in battles. And if anyone has ever accomplished a great thing in the world, it is with this power of the brain. The music of the most wonderful composers, the poetry of the great poets of the world, have all come from the bottom of their hearts, not from their brain. And if we close the door to sentiment, to imagination, and to thought, that only means that we close the door to life.
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. If he cultivates in himself the illusion of being a creation, he can be that more and more. But if he cultivates in himself the knowledge of the Creator, he can also be that more and more.
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.
It is not the heat which kills a person, but the acceptance of the heat. It is the same with food and medicine, for behind every thing there is thought. Even now there are Yogis who could jump into the fire and not be burnt. 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 Nim 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.