Caravanserai Magazine Archive

Published 1988-2000 semi-annually on behalf of the Sufi Movement International by the Sufi Movement in Canada.


1988 volume 1. Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan. "Science and Psychology"

The day when science and psychology will come to a certain understanding, on that day, knowledge will become complete. But when I say psychology, I mean psychology in the sense that 7 mean, not in the sense as is understood by most others. For that psychology which is known as a new philosophy is still in its primitive condition. What I mean by psychology is that which bridges material science with esotericism.

In order to get further in this subject I should mention first that the names 'matter' and 'spirit' are for our convenience. As far as we perceive life as something tangible we call it matter. And what is not as tangible as a substance, but perceivable, then that we call spirit, the knowledge of which we call psychology. But esotericism is that knowledge which is gained not by perception, not by tangibility of substance, but by revelation. And so we can divide the three different aspects of science in these names: science, psychology, esotericism. Science cannot be complete without psychology, nor can psychology be complete without esotericism. It is these three that make knowledge complete. And it is by these that one can hope to understand life more fully.

There is a vast field of knowledge in the realm of psychology. The knowledge of imagination, and the same turning into thought; the knowledge of feeling and the same turning into emotion; the knowledge of passion and the same turning into expression; the knowledge of impulse and its outlet; the knowledge of impulse and its suppression; the knowledge of attraction and the knowledge of its contrary effect; sympathy and antipathy, their origin and source, all these belong to psychology. Therefore psychology is a knowledge of tangible things, yet not of solid things that one can touch. And therefore it is more difficult to explain the laws of psychology in words than explaining the laws of the material science.

A perception must be developed in order to understand psychology better. It is the understanding of a law working behind the screen which is real psychology. It is the understanding of cause and effect in everything, in every action, in every aspect. And it is a stepping-stone towards esotericism, because it is a psychological attitude which leads one to esoteric knowledge. If a person cannot see the truth of esotericism or mysticism it is because he is backward in psychology. If a person is not able to see the hidden law he will not be able to see that hidden love which is called in the Scripture, 'God.' Esotericism therefore is a process of learning quite contrary to the process by which science is learnt. For science is learnt by analysis; esotericism is obtained by synthesis. If a person, while wanting to obtain esoteric knowledge turns things into bits, he is analysing them. As long as he is analysing them, he will never come to the understanding of esotericism.

Psychology needs two things: analysing and synthesizing. And by understanding psychology better, when one has accustomed oneself to synthesize as well as to analyse, then he prepares himself to synthesize only, in order to understand esotericism more fully.

Therefore acquiring esoteric knowledge is quite different from acquiring the knowledge of science. It is like going to the North for acquiring one thing, and going to the South for acquiring another thing. The ancient people therefore made the knowledge of science, of psychology and of esotericism as one knowledge, and they called it alchemy. And it was very convenient to explain to the simple person. They said: turning steel into gold. Therefore many who sought gold in life, they went into the pursuit of learning this alchemy. And some who went to the end, instead of finding gold, they became gold.

There is a story told in the East, which explains this idea in an interesting form. A king was anxious to find some man who really knew alchemy. Many came, but upon examination it was found that they could not make gold. In the end, someone told the king that there was in a village a person living who was simple, most unassuming, but it was said that he had the knowledge of alchemy. The king sent for him immediately, and he was brought in the presence of the monarch. When he was brought to the court, the king expressed his wish to learn alchemy. And the king told him whatever he might ask for it will be given to him.

"No," said the man, "I do not know any such thing as you ask."

The king said, "Everyone told me, everyone said that you are the person who knows it."

"No, King," he said. "You have found the wrong person. I am not the person who knows it."

"Look here," said the king, "I am going to sentence you to spend your whole life in prison."

The man said, "Whatever you wish to do, you may do. You have found the wrong person for what you want."

"Well," said the king, "I will give you six weeks in prison to think. At the end of the six weeks, I am going to have you put to death."

The man was put in prison. And every morning the king came to the prison and said, "Now have you changed your mind? Can you teach me? Now death is approaching, take care, give that knowledge to me."

And the man said, "No, King, go to someone else who has what you want. I am not the person you are seeking for."

And at night, every night, the king went as a porter and swept the floor and dusted the room, and took food for him and sympathized with him, and did everything he could do for him as a servant. The king asked him, "Is your head aching? Can I do something for you? Are you tired? Can I make your bed for you to lie down? Shall I fan you to sleep? It is warm, it is hot!" Everything that a person could do he did at that time.

And so days passed, and then one day remained. The next day was appointed for this man to be beheaded. The king visited him, and told him, "Now you see there is only one day remaining before your death. And this is your last opportunity to save your life."

The man said, "No, King, you are looking for someone else, not for me." But that night, when the porter came, this man put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Poor man, poor porter, you are so sympathetic, I will whisper in your ears a word, a word of alchemy, and that alchemy will change you from steel to gold."

The porter said, "I do not know what you say, alchemy. I only know to serve you. And I am only sorry that tomorrow you will be beheaded. That is the one thing that tears my heart. I only wish that I could give my life to save yours. I would be most thankful."

The alchemist said, "It is better for me to die rather than give alchemy to the unworthy. It is the same thing which I give you just now in sympathy, in appreciation, in love, which I do not give to that king, who will tomorrow take my life. Why is it? It is because you deserve it. The king does not deserve." Then he whispered in his ears the secret words, and instead of making gold, he became gold.

In the morning the king came to give him a last warning. He said, "Now here is your last chance. The moment has come when you must be beheaded."

The man said, "No, no."

The king said, "Yes, you have already given me."

The man said, "Did I give you? I did not give to the king, I gave to the porter."

This beautiful story gives us an insight into the idea. That process through which the king went as a porter, it is that process through which the knowledge of esotericism is to be gained. The other process, when the king demanded, that was not the right way of acquiring that knowledge. That knowledge never comes through that process.

The difficulty of esoteric knowledge at the present time is only this, that man trained in science is not yet capable of attaining to the esoteric knowledge, unless he goes through the process of psychological knowledge. In order to enter the gates of mysticism the first thing for man to understand is what feeling is, what service is, what sympathy is, what sincerity is. It is a great fault of learning today that the sentimental side, which is the most important side, is kept apart. It is like wanting a person to come, but not with his life, but as a corpse. In order to educate a person, it is as if the life should be taken out of him, and he should be turned from a living person to a dead one. Therefore we find the death of heroism, therefore we find the death of idealism, therefore we find the death of souls who have made impressions upon humanity and which have lasted for thousands and thousands of years.

What is to be revived in the present generation is the capacity of feeling. It is the thinking which is developed today, but not the feeling, and only after feeling comes seeing. And it is this seeing which is known in the English word, 'seer.'

Q: What is the best way in education to develop that feeling in children?

A: I think people at home are more responsible for it than at school, because this is the first work of home. But if, at home, such education is given and at school it is spoiled, then of course there is an inharmony. For instance, I will give you an example. When the children were quarreling over one another's toys, a nurse told the children, "You must keep your toy, you must not take away the toy of another child." The nurse taught them, "No, each of you has your own. The one has no right to touch the toys of the other." It was just, but it was not love. Then another one came who knew about it and who said to each child, "No, all the toys belong to all of you. And the best thing is to give one's toys to the other, that you play with each other's toys. Do you not like to see your brother or sister playing with your toy? You ought to be delighted to see that your brother or sister is playing with it." Well, that is the feeling that must be developed. This crude way in which sometimes people want to work up high ideals by troubling and fighting, that is not the way. The best way is the way of love, of harmony, of sympathy. And for that, feeling must be developed instead of thought. The present generation has made a great advancement in thought. But that is not enough. Now what is needed is the battery which stands behind thought, and that is feeling.



Post a Comment

<< Home