WHENCE AND WHITHER?
The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
The divine Spirit is known by the mystics of all ages as the Sun; and therefore in all ancient mystical symbols the sun has been pictured as the sign of God. This conception gives further help in the knowledge of metaphysics. The sun is that aspect oft he Absolute God in which He begins to manifest, and the first step towards manifestation is contraction. That contraction is seen in all living beings and in all objects. It is first contraction that takes place, and then expansion, which comes as a matter of course, as a reaction. The former tendency is the desire of inhalation, and the latter exhalation. The contraction and expansion which are seen in all aspects of life come from God Himself.
The Omnipotent Light by this tendency becomes concentrated; and it is this concentrated Light of Intelligence which is the sun recognized by the mystics. As Shams-e-Tabrez has said, 'When the Sun of His countenance became manifest, the atoms of both worlds began to appear; as its light fell every atom donned a name and a form.' The Hindus have called it in the Vedanta Chaitanya, the Spirit or the Light of God. In the Qur'an it is mentioned, 'We have made thy light out of Our Light, and of that Light We have made the universe.' In plain words this means that when there was nothing--no form, no name, no person, no object--except Intelligence; and it is the contraction of that intelligence which brought its essence into a form of light which is called the divine Spirit; and the expression of the same light has been the cause of the whole of manifestation. Creation is the exhalation of God; and what is called destruction is absorption, which is the inhalation of God.
The divine Spirit spreads itself; this we call creation and it consists of various names and forms. There arises a conflicting condition or entanglement of the Breath of God, disorder in its rhythm, which manifests in destruction, and culminates in what is called by Hindus Pralaya, the end of the world. For this many blame God, many judge Him, and many think it is unfair on the part of God to create, and to destroy; but for God, who is the only Being, this is the natural condition, by which He eternally lives. The beginning and the end of the world is only His one
Breath, the duration of which is numberless years. During this one Breath myriads of beings have been born, have lived and died, and experienced both this world and the next. Souls therefore are the rays of this Sun, which is called in Sanskrit Brahma. The nature of the ray is to extend and withdraw, to appear and disappear; and the duration of its existence is short when compared with the duration of the eternal God, the divine Spirit. There are living creatures, small germs, worms and insects who live no longer than a moment; and there are other beings whose life is a hundred years; and some live longer still; and yet even if it were a thousand years it is a moment compared with eternity. Time, as man knows it, is in the first place discerned by the knowledge of his own physical constitution.
From the Sanskrit word Pala, which means moment, has come the word 'pulse'; that which is pulsation. This knowledge has been completed to some extent by the study of nature, the changes of the seasons, and the journeys the world makes round the sun. Many wish to limit divine law to this man-made conception of time, and they make speculations about it; but the tendency of the mystic is to bend his head low in worship, as the thought of the eternal life of God, the only Being, comes to his mind. Instead of questioning why and what, he contemplates the being of God, and so raises his consciousness above the limitations of time and space, thus liberating his soul by lifting it to the divine spheres.
The soul, which is the ray of the divine Sun in one sphere, the sphere in which it does not touch any earthly being, is called Malak or angel. Therefore every soul passes through the angelic heavens; in other words, every soul is an angel before it touches the earthly plane. The angels it is who become human beings; and those who do not become human beings, remain angels. The human being, therefore, is a grown-up angel; or an angel is a soul who has not grown sufficiently. Infants who come on earth with their angelic qualities, and sometimes pass away without having experienced the life of the grown-up man, show us the picture of the original condition of the soul.
The idea that the angels are nearer to God is right according to this doctrine. Souls who have not journeyed farther are naturally close to the divine Spirit; they are angels. Someone asked the Prophet why man was greater than the angels; man, who causes all the bloodshed on the earth, while the angels are always occupied in the praise of God. It is said in the Qur'an that the angels knew nothing of the earth; they knew God, and so they occupied themselves with God; but man is greater, for when he comes on earth he has much in the world to be occupied with, and still he pursues God. That angelic sphere is free from passions and emotions which are the source of all wrong and sin; souls pure of all greed and desires given by the denseness of earth are angels who know nothing else but happiness; for happiness is the real nature of the soul.
The Hindus call the angels Suras; Sura also means breath and breath means life. Suras, therefore, mean pure lives, lives that live long. In the Hindu scriptures there is another word used: Asura, meaning lifeless; in other words, not in tune with the infinite. Man may retain angelic qualities even in his life on the earth as a human being; and it is the angelic quality which can be traced in some souls who show innocence and sympathy in their lives. This is not necessarily weakness;it only shows the delicacy of a flower in the personality, together with fragrance.
Angelic souls on the earth-plane are inclined to love, to be kind, to be dependent upon those who show them love. They are ready to believe, willing to learn, inclined to follow that which seems to them for the moment good, beautiful and true. The picture of the angels that we read of in the scriptures as sitting upon clouds and playing harps is but an expression of a mystical secret. Playing the harp is vibrating harmoniously; the angels have no actual harps, they themselves are the harps; they are living vibrations; they are life itself.
One can see in a person who is vibrating harmoniously that his presence becomes the inspiration of music and poetry. The person whose heart is tuned to the pitch of the angelic heavens will show on earth heavenly bliss; therefore the wise seek the association of spiritual beings. And sitting on clouds means that the angels are above all clouds;clouds are for the beings of the dense earth;the angels are free both from transitory pleasures and from constant spells of depression; clouds do not surround them, for they are above clouds. Such souls, who are in direct touch with the spirit of God, and who have no knowledge of the false world which is full of illusion, who live and know not death, whose lives are happiness, whose food is divine light, make around 'Arsh, the divine Spirit, an aura which is called the Highest Heaven.
The souls in the angelic heavens are all goodness; and this shows that goodness is natural, and what is contrary to our nature we call evil. Souls in the angelic heavens are innocent; this also shows that innocence is the natural condition of the soul, and the lack of innocence is a foreign element which the soul acquires after coming upon earth. In the angelic spheres the souls are happy; this shows that unhappiness does not belong to the soul. It is something which is foreign to it; therefore in the experience of man the discomfort coming out of life gives unhappiness. Souls on the earth retain something of the angelic quality; therefore they readily respond and are attracted without resistance to the innocence, happiness, and goodness of another person. If they knew that it is because this is the original quality of the soul they would develop the same in their own being. As Rumi has said, 'People are drawn towards me, and they shed tears with my cries, and yet they know not what it is in me that attracts them.'
Seeking after goodness, innocence, and happiness helps the angelic qualifies to develop in a soul. Spirituality, therefore, is the development of the angelic quality; and love of spirituality is the longing for the angelic heavens;it is homesickness.
Does death frighten the spiritual being? No; death for the spiritual soul is only a gate through which it enters into that sphere which every soul knows to be its home. Souls who become conscious of the angelic heavens, even in the smallest degree, hear the call of that sphere; and if they have any discomfort in this world, it is that of the homesickness which the call of the angelic heavens gives.
The soul may be likened to a ray of the sun; so the souls of the angels, being not adorned with a physical garb, are as flames themselves. The scriptures therefore say that the angels are made of Nur or light; Nur is specially that light which comes from the divine Sun, the spirit of God. All souls are made of that essence which is the essence of the whole manifestation; and the quality of that essence is that it absorbs all that is around it, and in time develops so that it will emerge into its own element, which is the divine.
The soul going towards manifestation which is still in the angelic heavens is free from all the differences and distinctions which are the conditions of the soul's life on earth. The dual aspect starts even in the angelic heavens; God alone is above duality; in all other conditions and aspects of life this is to be seen, though it is more distinct on the earth-plane. In the angelic heavens it is not distinguishable. People often question if the angels are in touch with those on earth; and the answer is that their life does not necessitate any communication with human life on earth, except in the case of some who are destined to perform a certain duty on the earth.
It is mentioned in the ancient scriptures that angels came with messages to the prophets of Beni Israel;but the explanation of this from the metaphysical point of view is quite different from what an ordinary person would imagine. No man on earth is capable of communicating with the angels in heaven, nor is an angel from heaven inclined to communicate with man. But in the exceptional lives of the prophets what happens is, that they rise above all the planes which keep man removed from the angelic heavens, and by doing so they are able to touch these heavens. And being charged with the ever-glowing fire of inspiration from the angelic spheres, where they come into touch with angels, they descend to the plane of the earth; and it is then that their words become tongues of flame, as spoken of in the scriptures. This means that every word of theirs becomes a torch given into the hands of those who listen, to illuminate their hearts through life. Specially is this so in the lives of the Great Ones who have given a divine message, a religion, to the world; their souls have never been disconnected in any way with the angelic world; and it is this current, which linked their souls with the souls of the angels, that always kept them in contact with both heaven and earth. The soul of the Prophet therefore is a link between heaven and earth; it is a medium by which God's Message can be received.
Then there are some spiritual souls who have had the experience in their lives of having been helped or warned by an angel. It is such souls who have kept a thread unbroken which they brought with them from the angelic world; they may be conscious of it or not, but there is a telegraphic wire which connects their souls with the souls of the angels, and they are conscious of having had contact with the angels.
Common disease is called normal health; when many cannot express something which is rare, they think the person who can experience such a rare thing has gone mad. Therefore it is the law of the mystics to see all things, to experience all things, either of heaven or earth, and yet to say little; for the souls incapable of understanding the possibility of their reach will ridicule them.
There is another aspect of the contact with the angels, and that is at the time of death. Many have seen in their lives the angels of death, yet when death's call comes some have seen them in human form. Others have not seen them, but have heard them speak. The reason is that there are some souls who have already departed from the earth-plane, though the breath is still connecting the soul with the body; and such souls experience the angelic spheres while still on the earth at the time of their death. They see angels clad in the form of their own imagination and hear the words of the angels in their own language. The reason is that a person who has lived on the earthly plane has to clothe a being of the higher planes in earthly garments, and to interpret the language of the higher spheres in his own words.
For instance, the angel Gabriel spoke to Moses in the Hebrew language, and to Mohammad in Arabic. One would ask, which was the language of the angel Gabriel, Arabic or Hebrew? Neither Arabic nor Hebrew was the language of Gabriel; his language was the language of the soul, and the soul knows the language of the soul; it is when a person interprets what he hears, even to himself, that he clothes the words he hears in his own language.
When the Spirit descended upon the twelve apostles they began to speak all languages, and the meaning of this is, that when they were inspired by the angelic world, by the divine Sun or the Holy Ghost, they knew all languages; that is they knew the language of the soul, which means that they heard before the men spoke to them. In other words, they were able to hear the voice of every soul through that inspiration. It would not give any special credit to the apostles if one said they knew all the languages in the world instantly; for there are people even now to be found whose genius as linguists is so great that they know more than twenty or thirty languages. There is only one language which may be called 'all languages', and that is the language of the soul. Before the illuminated soul all souls stand as written letters.
The Guardian Angel is a term known to many. This angelic protection comes to some souls on earth; souls who are walking on the earth, and yet are linked in some way or other with the heavenly spheres. Often one sees an innocent child being saved from an accident;and often a person is warned to save a child at the moment when it is in danger. This guardian angel also appears in the same form as the angels sent to people on various duties. There are recording angels, who take a record of our good and bad actions; and the most interesting thing is that those who keep the record of the good actions do not keep the record of the bad actions. Those who keep a record of the bad actions are other angels; and there is a further explanation given by the Prophet on this subject: that often a discussion takes place between those who keep the record of the good deeds and those who record the evil deeds.
The former do not believe in the evil deeds because they are only conscious of man's goodness; they cannot believe that one who is good can be bad also. Also those who record the good points want their record to be filled and the other angels want their record to be filled, and so there is a great rivalry between them. Is this not the condition which we see in human nature? There is no person living on earth of whom all say good things; and there is no person living about whom all say bad things and no one says any good; and the most interesting point for a keen observer of life is how each tries to prove his argument to be correct.
In Sufi terms these two are called the angels of Khair and of Khar, and the difference in the spelling is very small. This suggests how little difference there is between goodness and badness. As Omar Khayyam says:
A hair perhaps divides the false and true;
Yes, and a single Alif were the clue,
Could you but find it--to the treasure house,
And, peradventure, to the Master too.
The ancient belief is that immediately after a dead person is buried these two kinds of angels come to his grave with their records and dispute about him. But do we not see in human nature the same thing? People do not even wait until after death; they begin to say things about the people they know, about their friends and foes, and dispute about them even during their lifetime. The ancient belief was that after a dead person is put into his grave and buried, two angels come to ask him questions, and by this cross-examination to prove their arguments for and against. Their names are Munkir and Nakir. There is a story in the Bible that Jacob wrestled with an angel all night; and before the breaking of the dawn Jacob won, and the angel asked his name, blessed him, and gave him a new name. The interpretation of this is that the illuminated souls of the angels coming into contact with earthly beings are in conflict, and that conflict ends when man has given up his earthly point of view and has adopted the heavenly point of view.
Then there is no more a conflict, but a blessing. And the asking of the name is a paradox, for when once the false ego is crushed, the soul does not know what its real name is; for the old name belongs to the false ego, and he is given the true name, Israel, the great Name of God. In reality there is only one kind of angel; but their relation with human beings, and their desire to experience life through human beings, divides them into nine degrees. Then there is a belief that there are angels who are the inhabitants of heaven, and others who live in the contrary place; those of the heaven are called Nur, light, and the others Nar which means fire in Arabic. This is an extreme point of view;in reality, they can be distinguished as two kinds, Jelal and Jemal, Angels of Power and Angels of Beauty. A question arises as to why the angels who descend on earth as angels do not come as human beings, for every human being was originally an angel. The angels who are related with human beings are souls now in the angelic world, and they keep connection with human beings because of their wish; and now that they have returned from the earthly regions to the angelic heavens, they still keep in touch with the earth, either being on a certain duty or because of their own pleasure.
The angelic spheres, the highest heavens, are the spheres of light which are called Nur; and that current of power which runs through the divine Sun causes rays to spread, each ray being an angel or a soul. It is the divine current which is really Nafs, the breath, or the ego. Breath is the ego, and ego is the breath. When the breath has left the body, the ego has gone. The nature of this current, which spreads as a ray and which is a life-current, is to collect and to create. It collects the atoms of the sphere through which it is turning; and it creates out of itself all that it can create. Therefore in the angelic heavens, which is the sphere of radiance, the soul collects the atoms of radiance. A Sufi poet of Persia has given a most beautiful expression of this idea in a verse: 'A glow garbed with a flame came.' Before the angels were conceived by artists in the form of human beings they were symbolized as burning lamps; from this comes the custom of lighting candles in religious services, showing thereby to some extent what the angels were like before they became human souls.
In the ancient scriptures it is mentioned that human beings produced angels by their virtues; but this is only a symbological expression; it is not that human beings produced angels by their virtues, but that their virtues lifted their souls to the angels. One may ask, 'If the souls who have settled in the angelic heaven are angels, then what makes them come to the earth?' The answer is that it is not the angels who have settled in the angelic heaven who come to the earth; for these rays have finished their creative power in manifesting as angels. If they had had a greater power they would certainly have gone farther, even to the physical plane, and would preferably have manifested as human beings; for the desire of every soul is to reach the culmination in manifestation, and that culmination is the stage of the human plane.
It is the work of the souls who return from the earth to communicate with the earth very often, and it is such angels who are generally known to man. Angels who have never manifested as men on earth, only experience life on earth by the medium of other minds and bodies, which by their evolution come closer to the angelic heavens. They take these as their instruments, and at times reflect themselves in them, and at times have them reflected in themselves. This is not obsession, but inspiration.
Souls in the angelic heavens live as a breath. The soul in its nature is a current; a current the nature of which is to envelop itself with all that may come along and meet it on its way. The soul collects all that comes to it, therefore it becomes different from its original condition. Yet in its real being the soul is a vibration, the soul is a breath, the soul is intelligence, and the soul is the essence of the personality.
The question very often arises, 'If an angel comes from above, does it descend outwardly before a person; or manifest within a person in the heart?' The 'lift' which brings a soul down and takes it back to heaven is situated within; that 'lift' is the breath; the soul comes to earth with the breath, and with the same breath it returns. Those among human beings who are not even aware of their own breath, how can they know who comes within themselves and who goes out? Many seem wide awake to the life without, but asleep to the life within; and though the chamber of their heart is continually visited by the hosts of heaven, they do not know their own heart; they are not there.
There is a very interesting story told in the Arabic scriptures. It is that God made Iblis the chief among the angels, and then told him to bring some clay that He might make out of it an image. The angels, under the direction of Iblis, brought the clay and made an image; then God breathed into that image, and asked the angels to bow before it. All the angels bowed; but Iblis said, 'Lord, Thou hast made me the chief of all angels, and I have brought this clay at Thy command, and made with my own hands this image which Thou commandest me to bow before.' The displeasure of God arose and fell on his neck as the sign of the outcast.
This story helps us to understand what Jesus Christ meant when He said, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.' What Iblis denied was the reflection of God in man; and one can observe the same law in every direction of life. A person may be rich in wealth or high in position, but he still must obey the policeman;it is not the rank and wealth which the latter has, but in him is reflected the power of the government, and when a man takes no heed of the policeman, he refuses to obey the law of the state. In everything small or great it is the same law; and in every person there is a spark of this tendency of Iblis; the tendency which we know as egotism, the tendency to say, 'No, I will not listen; I will not give in; I will not consider. Because of what? Because of "I"; because "I am."' But there is only one 'I'--the perfect 'I'. He is God, whose power is mightier than any power existing in the world, whose position is greater than that of anyone; and He shows it in answer to the egotistic tendency of man, who is limited. This is expressed in the saying, 'Man proposes, but God disposes.' It is this thought which teaches man the virtue of resignation, which shows him that the 'I' he creates is a much smaller 'I', and that there is no comparison between this 'I' and the 'I' of the great Ego, God.
Another story tells how frightened the soul was when it was commanded to enter the body of clay; it was most unwilling, not from pride, but from fear. The soul, whose nature is freedom, whose dwelling-place is heaven, whose comfort it is to be free and to dwell in all the spheres of existence, for that soul to dwell in a house made of clay was most terrifying. Then God asked the angels to play and sing, and the ecstasy that was produced in the soul by hearing that music made it enter the body of day, where it became captive to death.
The interpretation of this idea is, that the soul, which is pure intelligence and angelic in its being, had not the least interest in dwelling in the physical plane, which robs it of its freedom and makes it limited. But what interested the soul, and made it come into the body, is what this physical world offers to the senses; and this produces such an intoxication that it takes away for the moment the thought of heaven from the soul, and so the soul becomes captive in the physical body. What is Cupid? Is not Cupid the soul? It is the soul; the angel going towards manifestation, the angel which has arrived at its destination, the human plane; and before it manifests there it is Cupid.
The soul which has passed through the angelic heavens in its descent to earth comes next into the sphere of the Jinn or Genius. This is the sphere of mind, and may be called the spiritual sphere, for it is mind and soul which make spirit. The souls who halt in this sphere, being attracted by its beauty, settle there; also the souls who have no power to go further into outer manifestation become the inhabitants of this sphere. Therefore there are three kinds of souls who touch this sphere on their way to manifestation: the souls who are attracted to this sphere, and who desire to remain there; the souls who are unable to go farther, and who have to settle there; and the souls who are continuing their journey towards the earth-plane, and who are there on their way to the earth.
The jinn is an entity with a mind; but not a mind like that of man; a mind more pure, more clear, and illuminated by the light of intelligence. The mind of the jinn is deeper in perception and in conception, because it is empty, not filled with thoughts and imaginations as is that of man. It is the mind of the jinn which may be called the 'empty cup'; a cup into which knowledge can be poured, in which there is accommodation. It is for this reason that the Teachers on the spiritual path appreciate the quality of the jinn in the minds of their pupils, in which they find accommodation for knowledge. A cup which is already filled, or even partly filled, does not give free accommodation for that knowledge which the Teacher wishes to pour into the heart of his pupil. As the jinns are keen in perception and conception, so they are keen in expression either in word or deed. The action of the jinn extends as far as the mind can reach; and the word of the jinn reaches even farther than the voice, for its root is in the mental sphere which is above the air-waves.
The jinn comes closer to man than the angel; for in the jinn there is something like the mind which is completed in man. All the intuitive and inspirational properties are possessed by the jinn, because that is the only source that the jinn has of receiving its knowledge. Subjects such as poetry, music, art, inventive science, philosophy and morals are akin to the nature of the jinn. The artist, the poet, the musician and the philosopher show in their gifts throughout their lives the heritage of the jinn. The words genius and jinn come from a Sanskrit word Jnana, which means knowledge. The jinns, therefore, are the beings of knowledge; whose hunger is for knowledge, whose joy is in learning, in understanding, and whose work is in inspiring, and bringing light and joy to others. In every kind of knowledge that exists, the favorite knowledge to a jinn is the knowledge of truth, in which is the fulfillment of its life's purpose.
The sphere of the jinn is the universe of minds. It may be called a mental world; and yet the soul is with the mind. The soul with the mind is called spirit, and therefore it may also be called a spiritual world. The questions, 'What are the jinns like? What do they look like?' may be answered in the same way as in explaining the forms of angels: that things are not always as they are, but as we see them. Man always pictures the beings he imagines and cannot see with his physical eyes as something like himself; or man's imagination may gather together different forms: for instance, wings from the birds, horns from the oxen, hooves from horses and paws from tigers. He puts them all together and makes a new form.
It is beyond possibility to explain exactly what the jinn looks like, and yet there is no being who lives without a form. There is much that can be said in support of man's imagination, which pictures the angel or jinn more or less in the form of man. For everything in the world proves on examination that it is striving to culminate in the form of man. Rocks, trees, fruits, flowers, mountains and clouds, all show a gradual development towards the image of man. A keen observer of nature will prove this a thousand times; there is everything in the world to support this argument. Every form shows either a part of the human form or an undeveloped outline of it. As it is with material things and with the lower creation, so it is that even the form of the jinn and the angel is growing towards the human form. It is this idea which is expressed in the words of the scriptures, 'We have made man in our own image.' If I were to add a word of explanation I would say, 'We have made all forms in order to complete the image of man.'
The world of the jinns is the world of mind; yet the minds of the jinns are not so developed as the minds of men. The reason for this is that the experience of life on the earth completes the making of mind. In the world of the jinns the mind is only a design, an outline; a design which is not yet embroidered. What is the occupation of the jinns? What does the world of the jinns look like? One may give a thousand explanations, but nothing can explain it fully. For instance, if a person were to ask me what China looks like, I would say, 'Most wonderful, most interesting,' but if he said, 'What is wonderful in China?' I would say, 'Go and take a tour through China in order that you may see it fully.'
We have not adequate words to explain what the jinn is like, or what the world of the jinn is; but what little can be said is that it is a world of music, art, poetry; a world of intelligence, cheer fullness and joy; a world of thought, imagination and sentiment; a world that a poet would long for and a musician would crave to dwell in. The life of the jinn is an ideal life for a thinker; a life which is free from all illness, pure from all bitterness of human nature, free to move about through space without any hindrance. This sphere is a most joyful place, where the sun of intelligence shines, where the trouble of life and death is not so serious, life not so short as on the earth. If there is any paradise it is the world of the jinn. Hindus have called it Indra-loka, and picture Gandharvas and Upsaras to be there; it is a paradise, of which every prophet has spoken to his followers in the way in which they could understand it.
The question, how does a prophet know of this? may be answered by saying that the soul of the prophet is like a fruit which by its weight touches the ground; it has not dropped on to the earth like other fruits;it is still connected with the branch to which it is attached, the branch which droops through all the planes of existence; and so he, in his experience of the different planes, so to speak, touches all worlds. It is this mystery which is hidden behind the life of the prophet. It is through this branch that the fruit is connected with the stem. Therefore, though on earth, he calls aloud the name of God. While to many God is an imagination, to him God is the reality.
The soul is a current. We may call it an electric current, yet one unlike the electric current we know on this physical plane, different from it in its power and phenomena; a current which runs more speedily than anything we know; a current which is beyond time and space; a current which runs through all the planes of life. If manifestation is the Breath of God, according to the conception of the Yogi, there is one Breath and there are many breaths. The one, or central, Breath is called by Yogis Prana, and all other breaths which have a certain part to play in the mechanism of the human body are lesser breaths; and again Prana and all other breaths when put together make one Breath, which man calls life. Souls therefore are different breaths of God. This idea may be pictured as a tree which has a stem and various branches; each branch in its place representing the stem.
The elements of every sphere are different. Just as the air, the water and the earth of every part of the world are different in their effect upon the human being, so the atoms of every plane are different; their nature and character are as different as their effect. Therefore the form of the angel cannot be compared in any way with the form of the jinn; neither can the form of the jinn be compared with the form of man, for the atoms of which the jinn is made belong to another sphere.
A man who is accustomed to physical forms cannot very well grasp the idea of the forms of the jinns. This shows us that the soul shoots forth and functions in a body which that particular sphere offers it. The heavens, for instance, offer that luminous body to the soul which in the Sufi term is called Nur, because heaven consists of luminous atoms; it is all illumination. It was the recognition of that angelic body in the Buddha which caused his disciples to make the statue of Buddha in gold. Often artists have had the conception of painting angels in gold, for gold represents light.
The soul that goes as far as the sphere of the jinn as a current coming from the heavens functions in a body of the sphere of jinn. The question is, a soul which comes from the heavens, through the world of angels, does it come to the world of the jinns without a body? It comes with a body, the angelic body; yet it becomes necessary for the soul coming with the angelic body into the world of jinns to adopt a body of that particular world in order to withstand the weather of that plane. Animals which live in cold countries have a different skin from those that live in a tropical climate. That is the condition for going into any other sphere. Even if a person were journeying, going from a tropical country to another tropical country, and on the way he had to pass through a cold climate, he would need suitable garments for that climate. The body is a garment of the soul; the soul wears this garment in order to stand the conditions of that particular sphere.
Souls which are passing through the sphere of the jinns towards the physical plane, and who do not stop in that sphere, meet with other travellers who are on their journey back home, and they learn from them a great many things. There is give and take, there is buying and selling, there is learning and teaching; but who teaches the most? The one with most experience, the one who is going back home.
This latter gives the map of the journey to the soul travelling towards manifestation. It is from this map that the travelling soul strikes his path rightly or wrongly. One soul may have one kind of instruction, another soul may have another kind; one soul may be clear, another may be confused. Yet they all go forward as the travellers of a caravan, taking with them all the precious information, all the things which they have learned from the others on the journey.
It is for this reason that every child born on earth possesses, besides what he has inherited from his parents and ancestors, a power and knowledge quite peculiar to himself and different from that which his parents and ancestors possessed;yet he knows not whence he received it, or who gave him the knowledge; but he shows from the beginning of his life on earth signs of having known things which he has never been taught.
One soul is more impressionable than another, one soul is perhaps more impressed by the angelic heavens, and that impression has remained more deeply with it throughout the whole journey; another is more impressed by the sphere of the jinns, and that impression lasts through the whole journey. Then there is another soul who is not deeply impressed with the angelic heavens or the world of the jinn, and that soul does not know of these worlds; he comes through blindly, and is only interested in things of the earth when he reaches it.
One generally finds among artists, poets, musicians, thinkers, as well as among philosophers, great politicians and inventors, souls of the world of the jinns, who have brought with them to the earth some deep impression which causes them in their lives to be what men term great geniuses. Impression is a great phenomenon in itself: as a man thinketh so is he.
And what does man think? He thinks of that with which he is most impressed; and whatever he is most impressed with he himself is. Do we not see in our life on earth that people who are deeply impressed with a certain personality, wish, thought, or feeling, become in time the same? If this is true, what is man? Man is his impression.
The soul impressed deeply in the world of the jinns by some personality coming back from the earth, an impression deeply engraved upon that soul which it can never throw away, certainly becomes that personality with which it is impressed. Suppose a soul is impressed in the world of the jinn with the personality of Beethoven; when born on earth he is Beethoven in thought, feeling, tendency, inclination and knowledge. Only in addition to that personality he has the heritage of his parents and of his ancestors. As the son of a certain family .is called by the name of that family, so the impression of a certain personality may rightfully be called by that name. Therefore if Shankaracharya claims to be the reincarnation of Krishna, there is every reason for his claim, and this theory stands in support of it. Life from the beginning to the end is a mystery. The deeper one dives in order to investigate the truth the more difficulty one finds in distinguishing what is called individuality. But it is not the aim of the wise to hold on to individuality. Wisdom lies in understanding the secret of individuality, its composition or its decomposition, which resolves in the end into one individuality, the individuality of God. As it is written, 'There is one God; none exists save He.'
Souls who are impressed in the world of the jinns by the personalities of those they meet on their way towards manifestation receive different kinds of impressions. Some are deeply impressed by one personality, and some are slightly impressed by one personality. Some souls receive many impressions on that plane, and it is hardly distinguishable which impression has more effect and which less. However, it is certainly true that in reality one impression is predominant in every soul. The soul, so to speak, conceives this impression; an impression which is not only the outline of the personality which impresses it, but is the very essence of that personality. A soul cannot be compared with an object, for the soul is all the life there is; therefore it not only takes an impression like a photographic plate, but it becomes nurtured by it. The soul is creation, therefore it expresses all that it has absorbed on its way.
The question whether a jinn is sent on earth on a ntission to human beings, may be answered by saying that whether it be angel, jinn or man, all are intended to play their part in the scheme of working of the whole universe; and all are used by the wisdom of God for the purpose for which they were created. No doubt the angels are primarily for the angelic heavens and the jinns for the sphere of the jinn, yet in a house the inhabitants of the second or third floor are sometimes sent to the ground floor on an errand when it is necessary. The most remarkable thing that one notices in all those planes of existence is that the beings of these separate planes are not imprisoned there by the Creator. They become captive themselves, just as a man who lives in a village passes his whole life in the same place, and when he is told of the history of the neighboring county it is another world to him. He never tries to leave his village, and the neighboring county is foreign to him. He has heard the name of the next village all through his life, but he has never tried to visit it.
It is this nature of the soul which arises from its ignorance that limits that which is, in point of fact, limitless. How does the soul of a jinn communicate with human beings on earth? It focuses itself upon the heart of man, and experiences all that the man experiences, and knows all that the man knows. It is easy for a jinn to do this, because its mind is clear like crystal, and it can accommodate and reflect all that falls within its range of vision.
One might ask, 'If the souls on their return journey from the earth give their experience to the souls coming from above, what do the souls coming from above give to the souls on their return journey?' They can do a great deal too; for they know the forgotten ways through which they have recently travelled, and the laws and customs of the way that the souls on the return journey need to learn. Besides this they give to them that light and life which is necessary to those worn out and withered souls, who have probably given most of themselves to the ever-robbing and consuming plane of the earth. In this way a man is helped towards his goal by the soul he meets on his own return journey.
The question in what manner the jinns can help man on the earth may be answered by saying that they are capable of inspiring man, not with a definite knowledge of things, but with the sense of the knowledge; especially of the knowledge of art, beauty, tone and rhythm; with knowledge of the inventive nature, and sometimes with a sense of knowledge that might help to accomplish great things in life. But though they meet as inhabitants of different countries who do not know the language, it is the language of the heart which becomes the medium of communication; heart talks to heart, and soul speaks to soul.