Good News / Mystic Traditions|
Every Moment In His Presence
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
21.03.2006, changed 31.08.2007
There are many virtues, but there is one principal virtue. Every moment passed outside the presence of God is sin, and every moment in His presence is virtue.
The whole object of the Sufi, after learning this way of communicating is to arrive at a stage where every moment of our life passes in communion with God, and where our every action is done as if God were before us. Is that within everyone's reach? We are meant to be so. Just think of a person who is in love: when he eats or drinks, whatever he does, the image of the beloved is there. In the same way, when the love of God has come, it is natural to think of God in everything we do.
What makes some people unable to pray is the reflection of the mineral kingdom, denseness. For instance, when the sky is thickly clouded the light of the sun does not reach the earth, and it is the same with the soul which is divine and which is all light, but which sometimes may be clouded.
The difference between the diamond and an ordinary stone is one of denseness. The diamond reflects the light, which falls upon it, but the stone is so dense that it will not allow the light of the sun to be reflected in it.
There are three kinds of people among those who offer prayer. One person in praying feels he is fulfilling a certain duty, which he considers to be one among the other duties of life. He does not know to whom he is praying; he thinks it is to some God. If he is in a congregation he feels obliged to do as the others do. He is like one of a flock of sheep which goes on not knowing where and why. Praying, to him, is something that he must do because he is in a situation where he cannot help it. In order to fall in with the custom of the family or community, and in order to respect those around him, he does it like everybody else. His prayer is mechanical and if it has any effect it is very little.
The second kind of person who offers prayers is the one who prays because he has been taught to do so, and yet is uncertain as to whether there is any God and whether his prayers are really heard. He may be praying, and yet at the same time his mind may be full of uncertainty, so that he wonders whether he is doing right or wrong. If he is a busy man, he may think, 'Am I giving my time to something really profitable, or am I wasting it? I see no one before me. I hear no answer to my prayer.' He does it because he was taught by someone to do it, or because it might perhaps benefit him in some way. His prayer is a prayer in the dark. The heart, which should be opened to God, is closed in by his own doubt, and if he prayed in this way for a thousand years, it would never be heard. It is this kind of soul who loses his faith, in the end, especially when he meets with a disappointment. He prays, and if his prayer is not answered, that puts an end to his belief.
Then there is a third person who has imagination, which is strengthened by faith. He not only prays to God, but he prays before God, in the presence of God. Once imagination has helped a man to bring the presence of God before him, God is awakened in his own heart. Then before he utters a word, it is heard by God. When he is praying in a room, he is not alone. He is there with God. Then to him God is not in the highest heaven but close to him, before him, in him. Then to him heaven is on earth and earth is heaven. No one is then so living, so intelligible as God; and all names and forms disappear before Him. Then every word of prayer he utters is a living word. It not only brings blessing to him, but to all those around him. This manner of prayer is the only right way of praying and in this way the object that is to be fulfilled by prayer is accomplished.
[Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from The Unity of Religious Ideals, by Hazrat Inayat Khan, as published on Wahiduddin's Web. Please click here to learn about the Bowl of Saki, a daily non-sectarian, inspirational message which is also taken from the writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan.]