The Soul’s Journey

The idea of the prophets which one finds in the ancient scriptures, that there will be a Judgment Day, and that man will be called before the great Judge to answer for his deeds, must not be understood literally. No, the Judgment Day is every day, and man knows it as his sight becomes more keen. Every hour, every moment in life, has its judgment, as the Prophet has said, ‘One will have to give account for every grain of corn one eats.’ There is no doubt about this, but the Judgment Day has been especially mentioned in the scriptures as taking place in the hereafter because in the hereafter one cover has been lifted from the soul. Therefore the judgment which every soul experiences here on earth, and yet remains ignorant, being unconscious of it, becomes more clearly manifest to the view of the soul after it has passed from this earth.  –Inayat Khan, The Soul Whence and Whither

For those of us raised in this Judeo-Christian culture, the idea of judgment is a rather obsessive one. I myself was raised with the “hell-fire and brimstone” concepts of my old grandmother, and even though our family dutifully attended the socially correct church in our community, those early, carefully-instilled control mechanisms stayed with me. I also realized, early, that by judging and punishing myself, I could deflect the blows of those who might hit harder, and so it was that I reached adulthood carrying a great deal of self-blame, and the entrenched belief that it was obligatory.

But recent movement out of the past and into the future has led me to reexamine my concepts of sin and salvation, judgment and redemption, and even “good” and “bad.” The thing is that one comes to see that what is popularly termed reality is really just the tip of the iceberg, and that things are in actuality far more complicated, and therefore far more subjective as to the judgments that might be applied to any of them. As my beloved Pir said, “If you really knew how the universe is governed, you would be shattered in your understanding.” Well, I’m all for that, and the universe seems to be cooperating with my my desire for a more expansive perception of things. As far as I can tell, most of us are still pretty wet behind the ears when it comes to having a clear perception of values. If I trace any event or memory as far back–and forward–as possible, I can generally see that any judgments of mine are indeed subjective ones, and I’m more and more convinced that I would do better to suspend my judgements, yea even unto myself, until I get a better grasp of things. But here we come to another problem: if reality is constantly reshaping itself, how is this to happen? It isn’t, as far as I can see. It is not hard to see why control mechanisms such as sin, law, responsibility, commitment, were created in order to keep people in line and keep this old world wobbling along….but the solution eventually becomes a problem, as we see, when we find ourselves trapped in our perceptions, our values, our judgments….. Eventually one tends to notice that there is more out there than originally perceived, and that is when we begin to, as Murshid said, “shatter our ideals upon the rock of truth.” Ah, but what is Truth?

Tune in, friends, to my next episode of “As the Dervish Turns,” wherein I plan to make a remarkably poor attempt at answering this question.

The way to spirituality is the expansion and the widening of the heart. In order to accommodate the divine Truth the heart must be expanded. With the expansion of the heart the divine bliss is poured out. –Inayat Khan

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