Happiness, from Gemma Erickson and Gayan Galik

Beloved Sisters and Brothers,

Hazrat Inayat Khan teaches, "Very often it is the outlook on life which changes the whole life for a person. It can turn hell into heaven; it can turn sorrow into joy." This message offers the insight that happiness is connected to our attitude and response to the conditions in life. We are encouraged to rise above all conditions as if upon wings, so that we might see things from a point of view that can relieve difficulty or suffering. May all beings have Happiness.

With loving regards and prayers for an enlightened world,
KarimaGita and Gayan




Social Gatheka, No. 5, Happiness
by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Does happiness depend upon the condition in life or upon an outlook on life? It is a question which is very often asked and it is most difficult to answer. Many with philosophical knowledge will say, this material world is an illusion and its condition a dream, but yet there are very few who can make themselves believe it. To know a thing in theory is different from practicing it. It is most difficult in this world to rise above the effect that conditions produce. No doubt to rise above conditions there is only one thing that helps and that is a change of outlook on life and this change is made practical by the change of attitude.

In the language of the Hindus, life in the world is called samsara. It is pictured as life in a mist. One thinks and says and does and feels, and yet does not know fully why. If a person knows one reason for it, there is another reason hidden behind which he does not yet know. Very often conditions in life show a picture of captivity, often it seems as if one had to walk between the water and a pit, and to rise above conditions one needs wings, which not everybody has. The wings are attached to the will, one is independence the other is indifference. Independence needs a great deal of sacrifice in one's life before one can feel independent in life. Indifference against one's nature of love and sympathy is like cutting one's heart asunder before one can practice indifference through life. No doubt once the will is able to spread its wings then one sees the conditions of life far removed, one stands above all conditions that make man captive. There is no difficulty which cannot be surmounted sooner or later, but even if one has achieved something one desires in life, there is something else in life that seems to be unfinished, and so if one went from one thing to another achieving all he desires, the object of his desire will multiply and there will never be an end to one's desire.

The more one has to do in life, the more difficulties he has to meet with. If one keeps away from the life of the world then his being here is purposeless. The more important the task the more difficult to accomplish it. And so every evening follows the day and goes on till eternity. For a Sufi, therefore, it is not only the patience to bear all things but to see all things from a certain point of view that can relieve him for that moment from difficulty and pain. Very often it is the outlook on life which changes the whole life for a person. It can turn hell into heaven; it can turn sorrow into joy. When a person looks from a certain point of view, every little pinprick feels like the point of a sword piercing through one's heart. If one looks at the same thing from a different point of view the heart becomes sting-proof, nothing can touch it, all things which are thrown at that person as bullets drop down without having touched him.

What is the meaning of walking upon the water? Life is symbolical of water. There is one who becomes drowned in the water, there is another who swims in the water, but there is another who walks upon it. The one that is so sensitive that after having one little pinprick he is unhappy all through the day and the night is the man of the first category. The one who takes and gives back and makes a game of life is the swimmer. He does not mind if he received one knock, for he derives his satisfaction from being able to give two knocks in return. But the one whom nothing can touch is in the world and yet is above the world. He is the one who walks on water. The life is under his feet, its joy and sorrow both. Verily independence and indifference are two things which enable the soul to fly.




Reflection

Does happiness depend upon the condition in life or upon an outlook on life?

Hazrat Inayat Khan presents us this question to reflect upon. He affirms that it is our attitude toward conditions that affects our happiness, saying: “There is only one thing that helps us to rise above conditions, and that is a change of outlook on life.”

Understanding that we may wonder how to accomplish this change of outlook, Hazrat Inayat Khan offers this wisdom: “To rise above conditions one needs wings… The wings are attached to the will, one is independence the other is indifference.”

Verily independence and indifference are two things
which enable the soul to fly.

While contemplating this teaching, we might visualize the Sufi symbol, the heart with wings lifted and spread wide. When a situation arises that we view as unfavorable, difficult, or a cause of unhappiness, we may practice remembering this symbol and this teaching, and reflect on its deeper meaning while observing our outlook on the situation. With awareness, reflection, and patience, we may discover we are guided to look at this situation from a different point of view, and so feel as if we are lifted upon wings.

It is the outlook on life which changes the whole life for a person.
It can turn hell into heaven; it can turn sorrow into joy.


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