The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Vol. 4, Mental Purification
10. The Will
Vol. 4, Mental Purification
10. The Will
Words such as wish, desire, love, and their like mean more or less the same thing; but the word "will" has a greater importance than all those other words. And the reason is that will is life itself. The Bible calls God love. Love in what sense? Love in the sense of will. The Creator created the universe by what? By love? By will; love came afterwards. Love is the will when it is recognized by its manifestation; then it is called love; but in the beginning it is will.
For instance, the Taj Mahal, the great building at Agra, is said to be the token of the love that the emperor bad for his beloved. At the same time, when one looks at it objectively, one cannot call it an expression of love; one would sooner call it a phenomenon of will. For the beginning of the building at least, one may look at the spirit, the impulse which started it, as a phenomenon of the emperor's will; after it was finished one can say it was the expression of his love.
When a person says, "I desire it", "I wish it", it is an incomplete will, a will which is not conscious of its strength, a will which is not sure what it wills. In that case it is called a desire, a wish. But when a person says, "I will it", that means it is definite. A person who never can say "I will it", has no will.
From this we may conclude that will is the source and the origin of all phenomena. Hindus have called the creation a dream of Brahma, the Creator. But a dream is a phenomenon of the unconscious will, when the will works automatically.
The will is the action of the soul. One can also call the soul the self of the will. The difference between will and soul is like the difference between a person and his action.
There is a difference between the thoughtful and the imaginative man, and the difference is that the one thinks with will, the other thinks without will. When once a person knows the value of will he then recognizes that there is nothing in the world which is more precious than will. Naturally, therefore, the question arises in the mind of the thoughtful man, "Have I will in me? have I a strong will or have I a weak will?" And the answer is that no one can exist without will; everyone has a will.
The automatic working of the mind produces imagination, and the value of imagination depends upon the cultivation of the mind; if the mind is tuned to a higher pitch then the imagination will naturally be at a higher pitch; but if the mind is not tuned to a high pitch then naturally the imaginations will not be at a high pitch.
Imagination has its place and its value. But when? At that time when the heart is tuned to such a pitch that the imagination cannot go anywhere else but into paradise. The heart which is so tuned by love and harmony and beauty, without willing it begins to float automatically; and in this automatic movement it reacts to whatever it touches, or expresses it in some form. When it is in the form of line or color or notes, then art, painting, music, or poetry is produced; it is then that imagination has value. But when it comes to business and science and all things which are connected with our everyday life and the world, it is better to leave imagination aside and work with thought.
As both night and day are useful, as both rest and action are necessary, so both thinking and imagination have their place in our life. For instance, if a poet used his will to direct his imagination it would become a thought and would become rigid. The natural thing for a poet is to let his mind float into space; and whatever it happens to touch to let his heart express it, and then what is expressed is an inspiration. But when a person has to attend to a business affair he must not let his heart float in the air; he must think of the things of the earth, and think about figures very carefully.
Then we come to the question of how we can maintain our will. The nature of the life we live is to rob us of our will. Not only the struggle we have to undergo in life, but also our own self, our thoughts, our desires, our wishes, our motives, weaken our will. The person who knows how our inner being is connected with the perfect Will, will find that what makes the will smaller, narrower, more limited, is our experience throughout life. Our joys rob us of our will as do our sorrows; our pleasures rob us of our will as do our pains; and the only way of maintaining the power of will is by studying the existence of will and by analyzing among all the things in ourselves what will is.
It might seem that motive increases will-power, but no doubt in the end we will find that it robs us of will-power. Motive is a shadow upon the intelligence, although the higher the motive, the higher the soul, and the greater the motive, the greater the man. When the motive is beneath the ideal, then this is the fall of man; and when his motive is his ideal it is his rise. According to the width of motive man's vision is wide, and according to the power of motive man's strength is great.
Furthermore there is an English saying, "Man proposes, God disposes." One is always faced with a power greater than oneself which does not always support one's desire. And naturally a person with will, faced with a greater power, must sooner or later give in and be impressed by the loss of his own will. This is only one example, but a hundred examples could be given to show how one is robbed of one's will without realizing it. Very often a person thinks that by being active or determined he maintains his will, and that by being passive he loses his will. But it is not so. Where there is a battle there is an advance and there is a retreat. By a retreat one is not defeated and by an advance one has not always succeeded. A person who exerts his will all the time, strains it and exhausts it very soon. It is like being too sure of a string that one has in one's hand while rubbing it on the edge of a sharp stone. Very often one sees that people who profess great will-power fail much sooner than those who do not profess it.
There is also always a battle between will-power and wisdom; and the first and wisest thing to do is to bring about a harmony between wisdom and will-power. When a person says, "I wish to do this, I will do this", and at the same time his sense says, "No, you cannot do it, you must not do it", then even with all his will-power he either cannot do it or he will do something against his better judgment.
This also shows us life in another light: that those who are wise but without will are as helpless as a person with will-power but without wisdom. There is no use keeping wisdom at the front and will-power at the back; nor is there any use in keeping will-power at the front and wisdom at the back. What is necessary is to make the two as one, and this can be done by becoming conscious of the action of both in all one does. At the same time one can practice it in one's everyday life by depriving oneself of things one likes. If a person always has what he likes to have, no doubt he spoils his will, for then his will has no reaction.
A stimulus is given to the will when one deprives oneself of what one desires: then the will becomes conscious of itself, alive; it wonders why it should not have it. For instance, a person wants to have peaches, but at the same time he is very much attracted to the flower of the peach. He thinks the flower is beautiful, and then the idea comes: why not let it remain on the plant? That will make him decide not to pick it. This gives him a stimulus, because first desire wanted to take hold of it, then sense wanted to work with it; and as light comes from friction, so also does will come from friction.
The power of will is in controlling, in contrast with imagination which works without control, for if one wants to control it one spoils it. Nothing in the world, either in the sphere of the mind or on the physical plane, can move without the power of will; but while with one thing the power of will is in absolute control, with the other it is working automatically.
There is another enemy of will-power and that is the power of desire. Sometimes this robs will-power of its strength; sometimes will-power, by a conflict with desire, becomes strong. The self-denial taught in the Bible generally means the crushing of desires. It should not be taken as a principle but as a process. Those who have taken it as a principle have lost; those who have taken it as a process have gained.
The enemy of sense, of wisdom, is the lack of tranquillity of mind. When the mind is tranquil it produces the right thought, and wisdom naturally rises as a fountain. The Sufis have therefore taught different exercises, both in physical and in meditative form, in order to make the mind tranquil, so that the wisdom which is there may spring up as a fountain. It is not in disturbed water that one can see one's image reflected; it is in the still water that one can see one's image clearly. Our heart is likened to water, and when it is still wisdom springs up by itself. It is wisdom and will together that work towards a successful issue.
Will-power is systematically developed by first disciplining the body. The body must sit in the prescribed posture; it must stand in the place it is asked to stand in. The body should not become restless, tired, by what is asked of it, but it should answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment the Sufi begins to discipline the body, he begins to see how undisciplined it always was; then he finds out that this body which he has always called "mine", "myself", and for whose comfort he has done everything he could, that this infidel seems to be most disobedient, most faithless.
After that comes the discipline of the mind. This is done by concentration. When the mind is thinking of something else and one wishes it to think on one specific thought, then the mind becomes very restless; it does not want to remain in one spot, for it has always been without discipline. As soon as one disciplines it, it becomes like a restive horse that one has to master. The difficulty starts when one tries to concentrate; it begins to jump, while at other times it only moves about. This happens because the mind is an entity. It feels as a wild horse would feel: "Why should I be troubled by you?" But the mind is meant to be an obedient servant, just as the body is meant to become an obedient tool to experience life with. If they are not in order, if they do not act as one wishes them to, then one cannot hope for real happiness, real comfort in life.
The will can become so strong that it controls the body, making it perfectly healthy. But, one may ask, what about death then? Death is not something foreign to will-power. Even death is caused by will-power. One thinks one does not invite one's death; indeed, one does not; but the personal will becomes feeble and the greater Will impresses this feeble will, turning it into itself. For the smaller will belongs to the greater Will. Sufis call the former Kadr and the latter Kaza. Kaza reflects upon Kadr its command, and Kadr unconsciously accepts it. On the surface a man may still want to live, but in the depth he has resigned himself to die. If man did not resign himself to death he would not die. In the depth of his being he becomes resigned to death before his life is taken away from him.
Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real crucifixion. After that crucifixion, follows resurrection. One can come to this by seeking the pleasure of God; and it is not difficult, once one has begun to seek the pleasure of God. It is only when one does not begin to try that one does not know what is the pleasure of God. But apart from this there is another lesson which the Sufis have taught: to seek the pleasure of one's fellowmen; and this is the very thing that man usually refuses to do. He is quite willing to do the pleasure of God, but when one asks him to seek the pleasure of his fellow-men he refuses.
In either case, however, one is seeking the pleasure of one and the same Being. One begins with resignation; but once one has learnt to be resigned in life, and when one is tuned to the divine Will, one does not need to be resigned, for one's wish becomes the divine impulse.