The Path of Attainment. (Hazrat Inayat Khan)

 My Blessed Mureeds, 

 I would like to speak this evening on the subject of the path of attainment. The path of attainment is likened to a narrow path, to a steep path, that one finds on the mountain, to climb to the top. And therefore the path of attainment is difficult, because it is going uphill. And there is another path which leads to the goal that follows after the attainment. It cannot be very well called downhill, but at the same time the journey on this path is as easy as it is to come down from the top of the mountain.

 The path that goes uphill towards attainment requires continual sacrifice. The one who is not ready to sacrifice must stand at the foot of the mountain, or the place he is standing on the way. He cannot go further, because he cannot sacrifice. And the path that is after the attainment requires renunciation to arrive at the goal. But to mix these two words is like confusing the words such as pleasure and happiness, such as intellect and wisdom. These are two different things. The one has not made sacrifice in life, the one who has not yet gone through the path of sacrifice, must not take the name of renunciation, for it is quite a different thing. Everything is good in its own time. When a sacrifice is needed and one makes a renunciation, one goes backwards. When a renunciation is necessary and one makes a sacrifice, he goes backwards, too. For these are two distinct and different things.

Spiritual path apart, even in the things of worldly life such as starting a new business, going in a new profession, making one’s career, treading the path of love and friendship, working for name and fame, whatever be the nature or character of the object one wishes to attain, what it asks is a sacrifice, from the beginning to the end. We are apt to forget it, and therefore we each think that our life asks for so many sacrifices. ”Look how this professional man is happy, how that businessman is enjoying life, how that man who is making a career in the government is going on in his life!” Only we do not see the sacrifice that each one of them has had to make in order to arrive at that object which he wishes to attain. A lazy man is preferred to a man who is unwilling to make sacrifices. By laziness a man shows that he does not care enough to attain to something. He enjoys his comfort, his convenience; he is quite content in his life. But the man who wishes to attain something and is not willing to make sacrifices, that man will have a difficult time, for he wants to purchase things without coins.

 The sacrifice one has to make is of different characters, of different natures according to the object we have in view. The greater the object of attainment, the greater the sacrifice asked for it. But sacrifice must be understood rightly. It is not always that one has to sacrifice what one possesses; but one has to sacrifice what one is. That is a great difficulty. As a miser holds to his last penny, so man, disinclined to sacrifice, holds himself tight. ”Anything be stolen, but not myself.” It is a natural inclination in man. And what does the spiritual path ask of you? That very thing: ”self.” Give false self, and get the real self. If the mystery is understood, then attainment is at the next step. But man is not easily inclined to give up himself; anything else, but not himself. What do I mean by this?

 One says, ”My idea is my idea, my wish is my wish. It is mine. My thought is my thought, my inclination is my inclination, my point of view is my point of view.” He makes all these things greater possessions than the possessions he has outwardly, and therefore it becomes easier to give what one possesses than to give up what one thinks and feels. If you say to a person, ”But this is a wrong thing to do,” he says, ”Yes, but I am that way, I think like this. I know that it is wrong. I feel like it, although it is wrong. I cannot do otherwise.” In other words, he holds his possessions, thinking that it is himself. But it is not himself. It is his false self. However small be the object of your attainment, it matters little. However great a sacrifice it asks from you, it does not matter. By paying a greater cost if you have attained a small object, even then you have attained something.

And now coming to renunciation. Very often a person sees renunciation in a wrong light. A person thinks that he is not willing to make the sacrifice, therefore he renounces the object of attainment. It is a wrong conception of renunciation. Many renounce object very often in their lives, only because they are unwilling to make enough sacrifices. They value themselves or they value the sacrifice that it asks, more than the object they wish to attain. And because they cannot attain it, they say, ”I renounce it.”

It is very easy to renounce. The great heroes and the souls who have really done something worthwhile in the world have begun their life with sacrifices. Sacrifice of comfort, sacrifice of convenience, sacrifice of pleasure, of merriment, of joy. There is hardly one among them that you find who did not have to pay a great price to have arrived to that attainment. The higher the attainment the greater the sacrifice it asks. But the one who understands keeps his object always higher than the sacrifice he makes. The one who does not understand wishes to see the object of attainment much less than the sacrifice it asks for. And in it he thinks that it is practical. It is a common sense. No doubt it is practical, and it is a common sense when the object is material to only pay the price of the object.

But the high-minded person who has ideal in him will show that tendency; even if you called him unpractical he does not mind, even in material things. The diamond ring that he likes, he will pay any price for it. Others will mock at him, call him unpractical, but he does not mind. The pleasure he gets out of the thing that he has bought is greater than the money if he had it in the bank. After all, life is but four days. As Sa’adi, the great poet, says, ”Who has earned and who has spent, and who has lived is greater than the one who has earned and who has collected at the sacrifice of joy that one gains by sacrifice.”

But when it comes to higher things, such as friendship, such as love, such as kindness, there you can never make enough sacrifice. He who had the ideal in his heart, for him always sacrifice is small. What sacrifice he does is always small. It is the one who has no ideal who will weigh and measure and see if it is even or uneven. ”What I give is even with what I take, or there is no balance in it.” There is his practicality; he calls it wisdom. It is not wisdom, it is cleverness. Wisdom stands higher, above it all. Wisdom does not come by practicality. When a person says, ”I will guard my interest against every attempt made by others,” he is a different person. That person is greater who trusts, who risks, and who can make sacrifices.

When we come to the spiritual path, it needs a greater sacrifice than anything else. It asks one for one’s time, for one’s thought; when you are concentrating even it does not allow you to think of anything else. You must think on the object you concentrate on. The further you go, the greater sacrifice is wanted. And the difference between those who go quicker in this path or who go slower is in the capability of sacrifice. Sacrifice teaches renunciation. And there is no other way of self-effacement than sacrifice. The one who knows the path of friendship, the one who knows what real friendship means, he need not be told what sacrifice means; he knows it. For friendship does not mean a good time, a pastime. Friendship means sacrifice. And when once by friendship sacrifice is learned, then one begins to know what sacrifice is necessary on the path of spiritual attainment.

God Bless You!



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