Topic October

Four Paths Human Beings Take - 3

from: Hazrat Inayat Khan -

Alchemy of Happiness

(see also Forum)

You can listen to all themes here

4. Preparing for the Future:.

The fourth aspect is that of those who think, ‘What is life on earth after all! Is it not only a few days to pass somehow?’ The day ends, the months and the years pass, and so time slips by. We come to the end of life before we have expected it, and the whole past becomes like a dream in the night. Ask a human being who has lived a hundred years, ‘What do you think about life on earth?’ He will say, ‘One night's dream, my child, it is no longer than that.’

If that is all there is to life, then those who consider it thus will realize they should think about the hereafter. Just as some think, ‘While we are able to work we must strive in order to make provision for our old age that we may be more comfortable’, so those who think of the hereafter say, ‘Life is short, it is nothing but an opportunity. We must prepare something so that later we shall have the benefit of it.’ Maybe there will be some who have the right understanding, while others make too much of it and have a wrong conception of the hereafter; yet the wise ones who believe that they must use the time and opportunity which is given to them in this life to prepare for the next one, have accomplished a great deal. It is something to admire.

It is said that the earth and the sky and space do not accommodate a person who does not answer life's demands, although for exceptional souls there are exceptional laws, for the lives of exceptional beings cannot be explained in ordinary terms. We may ask what will be the future of those who have not fulfilled the demand of life; will they have to come back to learn their lesson once more? We must all learn our lesson right now. Life is lived right now, its demand is right now, and we must answer it right now. At every moment we are asked to perform a certain duty, to fulfil a certain obligation; and to become conscious of this and to do it in the most fitting and right manner, that is the true religion.

We understand life's demands by understanding life better. There are some who do not answer life's demands because they do not know what life asks of them; and there are others who do not answer life's demands although they do know. When the demands of the outer life are different from what the inner life asks of us, we should fulfil the demands of the outer life without neglecting those of the inner life, as it is said in the Bible, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.’

We have to become like the ebb and flow. This is a symbolical expression. A certain thing is accomplished at one time by sympathy, and at another time by indifference; one situation we must meet by taking interest in it, in another situation we must become indifferent, not concerned with it. If in a sea there were always ebb and no flow, or always flow and no ebb, then this would be a dead sea. The living sea is both inhaling and exhaling; thus in everything we do in life, we should be able to meet every situation and event with the manner that the situation demands.

These are the four different ways human beings take in order to accomplish the purpose of their lives:

  • making wealth,
  • being conscientious in their duty,
  • making the best of every moment of life,
  • and preparing for the future.

All these four have their good points. And once we realize this there is no need to blame anyone for having taken another path than our own for the accomplishment of life's purpose. By understanding this we become tolerant.

If you live in the vision of the past, dream on, do not open your eyes to the present.

 If you live in the eternal, do not worry about the morrow.

But if you live for the time to come, do all you can to prepare for the future.


Gayan - Chalas

(Maheboob Khan, Hazrat Inayat Khan‘s brother, has composed music to a row of aphorisms of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the middle of last century, as this ‚How Shall I Thank Thee‘. Mohammed Ali Khan, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s cousin, has sung this song around the year 1956 in a concert in Zürich – here you can listen to it)

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