Syvak’s Museum of Heresies

An eclectic integral blog of my personal studies


Posted by Jamil Syvak on May 15, 2008

Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan


There is a story told in Arabia that the angels descended from heaven to earth and cut open the breast of the Prophet; they took away something that was to be removed, and then the breast was made as before. It is a symbolic expression, which gives to a Sufi a key to the secret of human life. What closes the doors of the heart is fear, confusion, depression, spite, discouragement, disappointment, and a troubled conscience; and when that is cleared away, the doors of the heart open. The sensation of joy is felt in the centre of the breast, as is the heaviness caused by depression. Therefore as long as the breast remains choked with anything, the heart remains closed. When the breast is cleared of it, the heart is open. It is the open heart which receives the reflection of all impressions coming from outside. It is the open heart which can receive reflections from the divine Spirit within. Also, it is openness of heart which gives power and beauty to express oneself; and if it is closed a man, however learned, cannot express his learning to others.

This symbolical legend also explains what is needed in the life of man for the plant of divine love to grow in his heart. It is the removal of the element which gives a bitter feeling. Just as there is poison in the sting of the scorpion and in the teeth of the snake, so there is poison in the heart of man, which is made to be the shrine of God. But God cannot arise in the shrine which is as though dead from its own poison; for God to arise it must first be purified, and made real. The soul who had to sympathize with the whole world was thus prepared, that the drop of that poison which always produces contempt, resentment, and ill-feeling against another, was destroyed first.

So many talk about the purification of the heart, and so few really know what it is. Some say to be pure means to be free from all evil thought, but in reality there is no evil thought; and if there is any such thought, which one could call evil or devilish, it is the thought of bitterness against another in his heart! If a drop of poison can cause the death of the body, it is equal to a thousand deaths when the heart retains the smallest thought of bitterness. In this legend the cutting open of the breast is the cutting open of the ego, which is like a shell over the heart. And the removing of that element means that every kind of thought or feeling against anyone in the world has been taken away, and the breast, which means the heart, is filled with love alone, which is the real life of God.

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