Mental Purification and Healing

Hazrat Inayat Khan




The soul is likened to a caterpillar. As a caterpillar reflects all the beauty and color that it sees, and out of it turns itself into a butterfly, so does the soul. When in the angelic world, it reflects the angelic beauty, manifesting itself in the form of an angel. When in the world of genius, it reflects the jinn qualities, covering itself thereby with the form of a jinn; when in the world of man, it reflects human qualities, manifesting itself therefore, in the form of man. If the caterpillar is impressed by one form or by a number of forms of leaves and flowers and colors, it reflects them, and it becomes them. Very often you will see that a caterpillar has the color of its surroundings, the leaves or flowers or whatever is near to it. It becomes that. It does not take the color and form of trees and flowers, which are at a distance, which it has not touched. Such is the condition of the soul. It partakes of the quality of all that it comes into contact with, color and perfume, reflecting it and in time becoming that which it reflects.

This proves to us that the mirror like quality of the heart does not only show when the soul is on the earth, but it shows it from the beginning of the soul’s adventure towards manifestation. Therefore, the soul’s captivity and freedom both come from itself. Kudsi, the great Persian poet, has said, ‘It is thou thyself who becomest a captive, and again thyself who becomest free from this captivity.’ Both these things, captivity in this body of clay, and liberation from this dense earth, the soul brings about itself. And it brings them about by one law, and that is the law of reflection. There may be different ideas, dogmas or speculations, expressed by different wise people as to the soul’s coming on earth, as to the soul’s return from here. But the thoughtful souls, however different they may be in their conception of the divine law of nature, cannot deny for one single moment this principal law working as the most powerful factor in the soul’s journey towards manifestation and in the soul’s return to the goal.

Therefore, naturally a mystic thinks, ‘What is past is past, what is done is done. I do not trouble about it. What I am concerned with, is to make the present moment as I wish it to be, and to make the road which leads to my destination in the future easy for me.’ On this principle, the whole of mysticism has been based.

The Sufi concerns himself little with what happened yesterday. Yes, if the knowledge of yesterday has a relation to the things of today, if that knowledge can help him to make life better, in that case alone he consults the past. But not for the sake of the past. As Omar Khayyam says,

‘Tomorrow? Why, tomorrow I may be

Myself with yesterday’s sev’n thousand years.’

Which means, ‘If I lived for seven thousand years in the past, what is it to me just now?’

The greatest problem that faces man is, ‘Today, just now, how can I make my life best for myself, for others?’ If he occupies himself with this science, there is not one single moment that he can spare. It will occupy his whole life to make the best of just now. And after all, it is just now which repeats, and it is now which makes the future.

Besides, it is the science of reflection, the study and practice of which brings a person to that attainment, which is the quest of every soul. As Zeb-un-Nissa, the Persian poetess says, ‘If thou thinkest of the blooming rose, thou wilt become a rose. And, if thou thinkest of the crying nightingale, thou wilt become a nightingale. Such is the mystery of life. If thou thinkest of the divine Spirit, thou wilt reflect It and thou wilt become It.’

Why does not a mosquito turn into a butterfly, for a mosquito also sometimes dwells among beautiful plants and flowers? Because the mosquito is not interested in listening. It is interested in speaking. It does not learn, it teaches. So it remains what it is. The caterpillar on the contrary is silent. It silently meditates moves gently, quietly sits and meditates. That is why in the end it turns into a butterfly.

One might ask why it is that one soul reflects the properties of a murderer and the other those of a saint, both souls being equally divine. As the caterpillar, which first reflects and then becomes what it reflects, so it is with the murderer and the saint. Thus the murderer reflects a murderer because he has gradually turned himself into that reflection. By trying to erase from his heart sympathy, kindness, tenderness, by trying to be blind to that aspect of his own being, and by trying to cause harm and hurt another, he has gradually developed in that way. Very often, a young murderer is reflecting somebody’s thought, either on this side or on the other side. Very often quite innocent people are arrested as anarchists who have no enmity towards the person whom they have killed. It has only come as a reflection on the mind, projected by someone who was an enemy, and this person has simply become an instrument. But when one asks if he is not responsible for it, the answer is yes. For he prepared his mind for that reflection.