Caravanserai Magazine Archive

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


1989 Volume 3. Ameen Carp. "Like a Pearl in the Heart"

When we ask ourselves what fundamental religious indications Hazrat Inayat Khan has given to the seeker of unity with his Creator, it is probably to be found in that lovely ‘Raga’ in the Gayan:

I searched, but could not find Thee; I called Thee aloud, standing on the minaret; I rang the temple bell with the rising and setting of the sun; I bathed in the Ganges in vain; I came back from Ka'aba disappointed; I looked for Thee on the earth; I searched for Thee in the heaven, my Beloved, but at last I have found Thee hidden as a pearl in the shell of my heart.

For a Sufi, God is everywhere, in nature, in all created beings, in the unmanifested life as well. In fact, is it not one of Hazrat Inayat Khan's revealing thoughts that God as manifested is only a small part of God's entire being. In other words, God is manifested (creation) and non-manifested (non-created), and the larger part of God is non-manifested. It makes us realize how immense, yes, how unfathomable God's being is.

But where can we truly find God? Where do we experience Him most deeply? It is this question which occupies the seeker constantly. And then the answer of the Sufi master unquestionably is: try to find God in the depth of your own being, in the depth of your heart.

To experience God in His manifold creation is a constant joy, certainly in His manifestation of beauty in nature, in music, in art. But in order to develop faith and the strength of inner conviction, one has to seek the path within, as in fact all masters and mystics have said. Jesus himself pointed at this: seek the kingdom of God that is within you. This is not an easy path to tread, as it requires so much patience, perseverance and idealism.

How do we do this? Hazrat Inayat Khan, in his book Mental Purification, calls the process 'mystic relaxation.' It is a training how to make the body and its senses obey the will, how to still the mind, how to purify our feelings. Then, by the passiveness of the mind the condition is created so that we can begin to receive what the Creator wishes to give to us. This is something not to be conquered by the will but to be achieved by submission to the Divine Being. In the continuous effort to keep the heart open (notwithstanding the problems of doing so) the devotee begins to experience a feeling of light, or a glowing feeling, of purity, of joy. This experience is an encouragement to keep the attention even more concentrated on the presence in the heart. We know that it is there; we also know that other seekers have been privileged to come closer to it, to experience a real and lasting contact with that Presence which is all there is. It is this which the Sufis call 'Hu,' as no description can be given of the Being we call God. Even words like omnipresent, omnipotent, all-pervading, are only general indications of the One and only Being, Whose breath and Whose spirit we are. It is in the shell of the heart that we find it hidden, like a precious gleam of light. And then we understand that while we were making all our efforts to find God in the holy places, in the temples and churches, in pilgrimages, in many hours of study, it was there, waiting for us to be found, to be discovered when the time was right, hidden as a pearl in the shell of our heart.


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