Mental Purification and Healing
Hazrat Inayat Khan
THE MIND WORLD
The impression that is made upon the mind has quite a different character from the impression that is made upon objects. Man is living, therefore creative. Whatever impression his mind takes it not only holds as a stone holds an impression, but it produces the same several times in a moment, thus keeping it a living impression. And it is that life of the impression, which is held in the mind that, becomes audible to the ears of the heart. It is in this way that we all, more or less, feel the thought or the feeling of another, his pleasure or displeasure, his joy or disappointment, for it is continually repeated in his mind.
The impression of the mind does not stand still like a picture. The phenomenon of memory is such that one creates all that the memory holds, not only the vibrations that the memory holds, but the vibrations or forms in answer to it. For instance, a person has a deep impression of fear in his mind. The consequence is that the mind is at work to produce an object of its fear. In the dream, in imagination, in a wakeful state, that fear is created. One can easily understand that it is created in the dream, but how in the wakeful state? Everything that is around a person, his friends, his foes, conditions, environments, all take a form which will frighten the mind that is holding fear in it. How wonderful then the plane of the mind is! The mind is its question, and is itself its answer. Thus, miseries are attracted especially by those who fear miseries. Disappointment is brought about by those who expect disappointment. Failure is caused by holding the impression of failure. Often people say, ‘I shall never succeed, I shall never succeed. Everything I do goes wrong, there is something wrong.’ It is a very good thing that there are stars, so that they can attribute their miseries to the stars! But these miseries belong to them; it is they, in reality, who is holding them in their minds.
When a person is continually thinking, ‘Nothing will happen right. Nothing good will come,’ failure is anticipated. And even if all the stars of heaven were in his favor, he would still meet with failure. In this way man is the creator of his condition, of his fate. Many there are who see no prospects before them in life. Does that mean that the world, the universe is so poor that it cannot provide for all their need? There is abundance, but by thinking continually that there is no way out of it, a person becomes fixed in his thoughts and brings about despair.
When man is thinking or feeling he is at the same time emitting what he thinks or feels as a fragrance. He is creating around himself an atmosphere, which expresses it. And it not only conveys to another his thought and feeling, but it creates for him an answer. For instance, a person who before leaving home, thinks, ‘I shall have a motor accident,’ is reflecting that thought, perhaps, upon some motor driver. His thought has struck the driver, and when he approaches that car there is an accident. And so it is with success. When he goes out in the world and says, ‘in my business I think I will be successful,’ he attracts all that is necessary to make him successful.
There was a girl who had learned a new theatrical song, the words of which were, ‘How suddenly my fate has changed!’ she took such a liking to it that whenever she was about the house, she hummed and she said the words. And what was the outcome? She was looking down from a balcony of the house, and she fell from it and was killed. Those who knew her said that she was particularly happy three days before she was singing this song.
The Emperor Zafar of Delhi, or the Moghul dynasty, was a great poet, a poet of the highest order. So delicate in his expression, such a great master of words his imagination so beautiful and refined. His poetry was nothing less than a marvelous picture, a work of art, and so was he himself. But, as it is natural that an artist, a poet, interests himself more in tragedy than in comedy, so this poet began to write the words of a tragedy. What was the consequence? After the book was finished his tragedy in life began. He came to decline, and his whole life was repeating the same tragedy. Life repeated the same poetry, which he had written.
Sometimes warnings of accidents reach people in this way. But sometimes also a fortune teller tells you that something is going to happen to you, an accident or an illness, or such and such a thing. In the life of one it comes true, in the life of another it does not come true. And you will find that in the life of one who is impressionable, it comes true, because he has taken to heart that such and such a thing is going to happen. Therefore, especially in India, where the science of astrology is so advanced and for thousands of years the life of the people depended upon it, they have a saying: ‘Never consult a foolish astrologer. He may be a good astrologer, but if he is foolish, never consult him. He will say things that will impress you.’ And when this idea is not taught, what happens? A person easily says something in fun; for instance, a person says to another, ‘Don’t go there; you will be killed.’ He does not think anything of this, it is a joke. But, he does not know that it may make an impression that will cause the death of that person.
If the warning of an accident really comes from another person’s thought can we then avoid danger by using our thought power to counteract the other person’s thought? We can if we know how to do it. For that is the practice of denial. Self-denial apart, we again come to the work that is done in the Sufi method: to deny even the thoughts and impressions which we do not wish to come to us. It is not allowing our minds to be stained by those impressions, which we do not desire that helps us to avoid them. We must rise above every impression that is against us. Only, what is needed is to know the science that we may act wisely towards others. Suppose we rise above it, or we do not care for it, or we do not believe it, yet we may still do harm to others. But, if we are careful and conscientious about what impression we make on others, that will make a great difference in the lives of our friends.
One may ask why prayer is used, if it is in our own power to have success or failure. It is in our own hands to say a prayer or not to say a prayer. It is doing our work. Prayer is a certain kind of work. We are doing it, if we did not do it, it would not be. Prayer from the depth and prayer from the surface are two prayers. One can utter what Christ has called ‘vain repetitions,’ just repeating the prayer; one does not fix one’s mind on the meaning of the prayer. If the depth of one’s heart has heard the prayer, God has heard it, because God hears through the ears of man. When man prays, through his own ears, God hears it.
A person not capable of praying so deeply, can learn to pray deeply by practice, as a person who is not able to draw a straight line, by drawing a straight line a hundred times, a thousand times, will get accustomed to drawing it; so it is with prayer.
One can change the condition of the mind of a person who is repeating the same reflections over and over, by giving him quite another direction, a direction which would interest him most.
What we must first accomplish in life is to clear the reflections from our own heart, reflections that hinder our path. Once a businessman came to me and said, ‘Well, I cannot understand. There is some sort of bad luck with me, so that I always fail, and I cannot understand why I fail. I went to spiritualists, I went to clairvoyants, and I went to people who make one’s horoscope. Some said one thing, some another thing, now I cannot make out what is right.’ I told him,
The right and wrong is in yourself. Listen to yourself. Find out what is going on in your mind. Is it not the memory of the loss that you have had? It is a kind of continual voice going on in your heart. The astrologers will say it is something that is around you. The spiritualists will say that some ghost or spirit is behind it. There may be ghosts or there may not be, but what really happens is that in your heart a voice is saying, ‘You have failed, you have failed.’ Can you make this be quiet, be silent? As soon as you get rid of this reflection, all will be well with you.’ He said, ‘What must I do? How can I do it?’ I said, ‘Determination. Promise me that from now on you will never give a thought to your past failures. Past is past, the present is present. Proceed with hope and courage; all will be well.’
You will always find that those who say, ‘Everything is going wrong with me’ are hearing the voice aloud; it is their own failure talking to them. As soon as they have been able to silence this voice, the failure is ended; a new page in the book of life turned, and they can look forward to their life with a greater courage and a greater hope. That person is brave who, in the face of a thousand failures can stand up and say, ‘Now I am not going to fail. The failure was only a preparation for my success.’ That is the right spirit.
How can one wipe out all the innumerable pictures which hinder one? The whole process of the Sufi method is this: to make the photographic plate of the mind clear. This can be done by the practice of concentration. The horses in the forest will not come if you call them to come to you, nor will they walk as you wish them to walk, because they are untrained horses. So are one’s thoughts and imaginations. They go about in the mind without harness, without rein. And when this is taken in hand, then it is just like the trainer in the circus who tells the horse to come, and the horse comes, and then he tells the horse to go, and the horse goes; he tells the horse to run, and the horse runs; to stop, and the horse stops.
Working with thoughts is just like what the circus man does. This is the first lesson and the most important lesson that you have to learn in Sufi work. This is the foundation of the whole of mysticism and the practice of philosophy that you are able to move your thoughts about as you wish. When you wish to think of a rose, a lily must not come to your thought. When you think of a horse, an elephant must no appear before you. You must keep it away. This teaches you to create a thought and hold it, and to expel every thought that you do not wish to have. In this way you become master of your thoughts. You train them, you control them. And then you use them to your benefit. Does it not prove to us that this is a mirror land? A mirror land with a living phenomenon, living because the mirrors are living. It is not only projecting and reflecting that takes place in the mirrors, but a phenomenon of creation: that all that is projected and reflected is created at the same time, and materialized sooner or later.
It is in this that the Sufi finds the secret of mastery; that besides all the ideas of fate and worldly influences and heavenly influences, there is a creative power in man, which works. In one person, perhaps, the creative faculty of his being is at work one degree, and the mechanical part of his being is at work ninety-nine degrees. In another person, who is more evolved, ninety-nine degrees of creative power may be at work and perhaps one degree of the mechanical part of his being.
It is the mechanical part of one’s being, which is subject to conditions, environments, and which is helpless. And it is the creative part of one’s being, which is creative, which produces phenomena. And in this aspect the divine essence is to be found.