Pir Zia offers monthly commentary on the “Gayan,” “Vadan,” and “Nirtan.”

Please check back regularly for the latest Hazrat Inayat Khan saying and contemplation.

January 2019

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Vadan

“My soul often has the feeling of being stretched, held fast by the heavens and pulled continually by the earth.”

If the soul remained entirely in the heavens and did not incarnate, its life would be simple, clear, and serene, but it would lack the opportunity to undergo the journey of life. It would have innocence but not experience.

If the soul came to earth and gave itself over completely to the intoxication of personal identity and sensory experience, it would enjoy pleasures and suffer pains and become, all the while, oblivious to its own essential nature.

Some souls that incarnate remain firmly rooted in the inner spheres. Most, however, become so beguiled by appearances that they forget their invisible origin.

The Message comes to remind souls of the world of soul. This reminder is not a summons to leave the world of form. It is, instead, an invitation to reconcile form and formlessness, self and selflessness, this moment and the always.

The one who answers the Message will surely be stretched: gripped by the heavens and pulled by the earth. By means of this stretching, the heart grows. In time, it may grow so large as to fill the whole universe.

December 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Vadan

“We shall see who will endure to the end, my persevering adversary or my patience.”

In a battle of wills there is always the temptation to flee the encounter, or alternatively, to bend to pressure and make concessions soon to be regretted. Resoluteness comes either from egotism or conviction.

The resoluteness of egotism is the desire to always be seen to be right, or at least, to defeat one’s opponents. To the little ego, the nature of a disagreement is inconsequential; what matters is to have the last word.

The resoluteness of conviction, on the other hand, is concerned with principles. One’s desire to prevail is motivated by the justness of the cause one serves. Even if doomed to fail, one considers oneself obligated to make every effort.

The minor struggle in life is waged against external adversaries. The major struggle is against the inner foe: the little ego, the taproot of all selfishness, vanity, and ignorance. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Your worst enemy is your ego which lies between your two sides.”

The work of alchemizing the little ego, so that its narrow boundaries dissolve, is a work of patience. Success requires staying the course and abstaining from even the slightest compromise that obscures the light of the soul.

Assistance, when it comes, comes from the Light of Lights. Hence Dhu’n-Nun said, “Patience is seeking help from God Most High.”

November 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

“The rapidity of my walk imagination cannot follow.”

A sage walked through the city. She came back glowing, and said, “What a joy!” A pupil of the sage was keen to see the same sights. He followed the route she had taken, but came back seized with repugnance. He asked, “Why did you and I see such different cities?” The sage answered, “We walked in different rhythms.”

The mystic’s walk crosses the bridge between the visible and invisible. Yes, the mystic sees the ordinary sights: the gutter, the butcher’s shop, the vacant look in the eyes of weary commuters. But the mystic sees more as well.

The mystic perceives the intricate web of life. The stagnant water in the gutter once surged in ocean waves and flew through the sky in clouds—and will again. The flank in the window came from a cow whose mother loved her. But she suffered rough treatment, and was kin to cattle for whom ancient forests are being bulldozed (sealing the doom of their teeming inhabitants). Buried in the chests of the ennui-stricken office-goers are hearts capable of an emotion as vast as the universe.

The mystic’s stride encompasses all of this, and more besides. Pressing onward, the mystic surpasses the boundaries of the bounded world. Vistas of light, energy, and vibration blaze into sight as the molten undercurrents of the universe disclose themselves. As the mystic hurls toward the center of everything, Being unveils its mysterium tremendum: only I exist.

Being is not a destination to which the imagination can walk. But Being imagines the universe and walks in it.

October 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

“My deep sigh rises above as a cry of the earth, and an answer comes from within as a message.”

The most vital questions are not those that drift on the breeze of airy speculation, but rather the ones that spring direct from the earth of immediate experience. When the handful of clay that is one’s life mingles with the rich sediment of life upon life upon life, powerful questions—and ardent cries—naturally arise.

So long as one lives and breathes, every exhalation is followed by an inhalation. In the same way, every question asked of the Spirit is answered.

If the mind, the heart, and the soul are distracted, no answer will be discernible. If the mind is awake but the heart and the soul are asleep, the answer will come in rational form. If the heart is awake but the soul is asleep, the answer will come in moral form.

If the soul is awake, the answer will come as a message intimating the Message of God. It will come as a never-to-be-repeated disclosure and enactment of the Love and Beauty that indwell forever in the One.

September 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

If anyone throws it down, my heart does not break; it bursts and the flame coming rises from it, which becomes my torch.

The human heart does not stay enclosed in the breast of its owner; in the course of day-to-day life it passes from hand to hand. One person holds it gently, another squeezes it, and still another hurls it down.

When the seat of one’s emotions is thrown to the ground, the injury is felt. How it is felt depends on the condition of the heart. If the heart is weak and rigid, it shatters and falls to pieces. Its pride is all it knows, and when that pride is ruptured there is nothing left.

If the heart is strong and flexible, instead of breaking it bursts. The “I” shines out, triumphantly revealing the light and life hidden within the shell of the self. Life’s vicissitudes do not dim the spirit within, but rather intensify it, as fuel to fire, so that it glows ever more brightly as the surrounding darkness deepens.

There is no better guide on the path than the heart’s own florescence when it has died as lump of flimsy pride and resurrected as a clear instrument of the light that is forever.

August 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

“I have not come to change humanity. I have come to help it on.”

The purpose of the Sufi path is not to impose on the human mind a particular belief system. The purpose is to reveal what is already present within the depths of the mind—the heart; and to reveal what is in the depths of the heart—the soul; and to reveal what is in the depths of the soul—God’s own being.

To try to change a person is not necessarily a kind act, even if well intended. Each person is who he or she is. At the same time, a person’s experience is never final. We are all continuously changing as we pass through life. Helping one another along in the midst of change, outer and inner, is the way of kindness.

Just as it is preferable to help a friend along rather than to try to change one’s friend, when it comes to what is emerging in the experience of humanity as a whole, discerning assistance aimed in the direction of the unfolding horizon of beauty is helpful in a way that impatient repudiation can never be.

July 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

“Hail to my exile from the Garden of Eden to earth; if I had not fallen I would not have probed the depths of life.”

The story of the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden describes the descent of the soul from heaven to earth. The soul first experienced life in the heavenly spheres as an angel, then descended to the mental realm in the form of a djinn, and finally incarnated on earth as a human being.

Whereas angels float in an atmosphere of pure love and light, the human being lives in a world starkly defined by opposites. The free will in the angel is slight; in the djinn it is greater; in the human being it is a formidable force.

Because the human being is free, he or she is capable of great evil. By the same token, when a human being exercises freedom to good purpose—perfecting freedom through the free offering up of oneself—the beauty that is hidden in the depths of being is revealed in a manner otherwise impossible.

Humans are subject to profound spiritual amnesia, the forgetting of the essence of reality. But precisely because we forget, we are enabled to remember. And the remembering of the One is the unveiling of the One in the One’s constantly renewed manifestation of all that is, which is the purpose of the whole creation.

June 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

I regard every failure as a stepping-stone toward a success.

The journey of life is one of trial and error. One learns by doing. Whatever the result of one’s endeavors, no experience is wasted if one learns from it and moves on, determined to go further.

Seen from the surface, success is rewarding and failure is disappointing. From the deeper perspective of the unfurling of the mind and heart, however, the knowledge gained in success and the knowledge gained in failure are equally enriching.

Every traveler on life’s path will sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. The difference between those who travel well and those who do not lies in their attitude. In the pessimist’s eyes, a failure is a precursor to ever-deepening disappointment. For the optimist, it’s no more than a stepping-stone on the path to success.

Failure generally leads to failure, unless hope intervenes. Hope is the usher at the door of success.

And what is success? Obtaining one’s desire is one kind of success. But as soon as a desire is fulfilled, another springs up. Real success is the ever-expanding awakening of wisdom and love in the onward movement of life’s journey.

May 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

There is nothing else in life which pleases me more than pleasing others, but it is difficult to please everybody.

There are three reasons a person may have for trying to please another. The first is strategic: one wishes to win, or keep, a friend, and avoid making an enemy. Keeping the people around one happy, as far possible, generally has the effect of smoothing one’s life path.

The second reason a person may have for to trying please another is to be thought well of. Very often, one’s self-image is bound up in other people’s opinions. One thrives on positive attention and withers under censorious glances.

The third reason is honest altruism. This motivation transcends the dark insecurities that overshadow the mind. One wishes to please others because one realizes, deep down in one’s heart, that every other is another oneself.

But even if one’s motivation is the purest, pleasing others is not always easy. As Hafiz says, “Love seemed at first an easy thing—but ah! the hard awakening.”

Sometimes by pleasing one person one displeases another; there are cases when one cannot please both at once. The attempt to please everyone is a noble one, but in the end one must follow one’s conscience and do as one believes best.

April 2018

Music of the Spheres: Gamaka Commentaries, Gayan

I feel myself when I am by myself.

There are two selves, the self and the I.

Physical and social characteristics define the self. It was born on a certain day and will die one day. Meanwhile, it has eyes with which to see.

The I, by contrast, has no name or form. Birth did not create it nor will death destroy it. It is not so much the seer as seeing itself.

As others regard the self, so it regards itself. The I, on the other hand, gains nothing from others’ good opinion and is untouched by their scorn.

In the marketplace of the world, the self rises to the fore. In every encounter, it renegotiates its standing. Meanwhile, the I is dormant.

Only in the silence of solitude does the I emerge. There is, then, no more self or other, only the witnessing of what appears. At last one feels oneself.

The feeling of being oneself at first comes most naturally when one is alone. But the mystic learns in time to be alone in the crowd: to be, not merely a self among selves, but an I among I’s.