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Biography, Autobiography, Journal and Anecdotes

Reference - 92


A Magnate and a Mystic Meet

A genius of Oriental mysticism, and another genius, of Occidental materialism, met last Wednesday, looked earnestly at each other, and talked for an hour about the First Cause, the world of matter, human existence, the souls of men, the stretches of eternity before and after this little span of life. As they warmed to the themes which have engaged the mind of man through the ages, each smiled at the other as though he had encountered a friend of long ago.
"I agree with you," said Henry Ford.
"And I agree with you," said Murshid Inayat Khan.
Murshid (teacher) Khan, exponent of that mysticism which has flourished for centuries in the dreamland under the shadows of the Himalayas, and who has been preaching in recent years throughout Europe his gospel of self-forgetting meditation, is in Detroit, giving lectures at the Twentieth Century Club.


Murshid Khan waited with his companions in the library of the offices of the Ford Motor Company, at Dearborn. While he waited he read the sketchy account of Mr. Ford's philosophy of religion in a recent magazine. He had just finished, and had laid the magazine on the table. He was thinking of Mr. Ford's statement of his belief that in ages past mankind had possessed knowledge of spiritual reality which has been sacrificed in these materialistic, rushing latter days, with their strife for that which is called progress.
Deliberate always in speech and manner, the elderly prophet sat quietly thinking, but in the dark eyes was a query. That sketchy article did not go far into the subject.
With the rapid step of the man of affairs, Mr. Ford came into the room. Surely, here would be a clash of minds and theories !


"I have been waiting to meet you," Mr. Ford said. "You are not really a stranger to me."
It shortly appeared that, not being able to attend the lectures of Inayat Khan, Mr. Ford had been employing a stenographer to report them verbatim. He produced the copies which had been delivered to him, but which he had not had time to read.
"And now," said Mr. Ford, "let's compare notes. I seldom discuss my own religious ideas. I think that every kind of religion is doing good."
"I think so too," replied Inayat Khan, "but I think we all need breathing space, time to think about deeper things than—" he hesitated, as a smile played on his face.


" —Than automobiles," Mr. Ford said, with a hearty laugh. "But the power that makes the automobile go is, after all, invisible. It is so with all things. I think the real power of human lives is hidden away in the soul, and farther than that. There are actual entities all about us, entities of force, intelligence—call them electrons, if you like. When a man is doing what is right, they swarm to help him.
"The smallest indivisible reality which exists is, to my mind, intelligent and is waiting there to be used by human spirits if we reach out and call them in. We rush too much with nervous hands and worried minds. We are impatient for results. What we need, and might have, is reinforcement of the soul by the invisible power waiting to be used."
"That," said Murshid Khan, "completes the link in my philosophy of the soul. I think there is One Being, all-embracing, manifesting the primordial intelligence in every atom in this universe. And there is a way to approach this spiritual reality and to become linked with it."


"And yours is the way of meditation, is it not?" asked Mr. Ford.
"Meditation, yes. Periods of shutting out all of the material objectivity of the world, with emphasis, again and again, on the unity of the soul with the Soul of the universe," replied Inayat Khan.
"That, to my mind," said Mr. Ford, "is the heart of personal religion. I struggled for many years to solve the problem of religion. But I believe that for mankind, at this stage, religion opens the doors into unity of the soul with the real power back of all things.
"But I found, as you have said, that if I quietly withdrew from the nervous anxiety over things, inventions, and the business that drives from every side, there was renewal of strength in the thought of being a part of the great unseen power, call it God, Intelligence, what you will, I do not feel that men can find anything more helpful or satisfying."


"Except," said Inayat Khan, "if one realizes self-forgetting fully, and unity with the One, there is surely peace and deep joy in such an experience, and the human soul at that moment really becomes creative.
"It is like the artist in the painting of a picture. It is never, when finished, what he first planned. Creative inspiration comes as he loses himself in the task. Completely absorbed in his work, completely forgetful of self, shutting out the rest of the world, his finished product is, at the last, a truly creative expression of the self he has completely forgotten".
"And so, also, with the musician. The true musician always goes into improvisation. If he is lost in his theme, immediately the theme grows into beauty of harmony of which he had not before dreamed. Whence comes the harmony he had never before heard? The most beautiful music I ever heard Paderewski play he improvised one day as I sat alone with him in his studio. The best music has never been reduced to the printed sheet, and cannot be, for it is the immediate creation of the soul that has lost itself in the contemplation of the beauty of harmony".


"That is the best symbolic statement I can make of the real unity of the soul with the Source of all beauty and truth. What the true musician really experiences is possible for all human souls in a wider sense, in contact with the Source of life, power, beauty, truth, peace. But that contact is made only by the forgetting of self. I know of no terms in psychology by which the experience can be stated or explained. But your musician, artist, poet, knows at least the borderland of that experience."
There was a moment of silence.
"Murshid Khan," Mr. Ford said, "I think you are preaching a gospel that men of all faiths can understand. No matter what form it takes in doctrine, it is the thing Americans need. We can explain nothing, really, if we try to follow through to the final analysis. But I know there are reservoirs of spiritual strength from which we human beings thoughtlessly cut ourselves off. And I believe it is possible for us to put ourselves in vital touch with them."


"Then you have a real belief in God, Mr. Ford?"
"Why, of course." was the quick reply. "Have not things been created, or are they not being created constantly? I believe we shall someday be able to know enough about the source of power, and about the realm of the spirit to create something ourselves.
"I firmly believe that mankind was once wiser about spiritual things than we are today. What we now only believe, they knew. But as we became wiser about the visible world, we lost the wisdom of the unseen world, or it may be that we are only going back to that wisdom by another route. I personally do not see any difference between matter and spirit; they are both one. I seldom say "spirit," because it seems to prejudice that expression of it which we call matter.
"Our progress in mastery and use of the material world need not interfere with our understanding and use of the spiritual. Perhaps that deeper wisdom is what Jesus referred to when He told us we must become as little children if we would enter the Kingdom."


"Do you think the souls of men are indestructible?"
"Everything is indestructible, nothing is ever lost," Mr. Ford replied. "Souls come and go, and they come again, prepared by past experience for greater achievement and greater realization of whatever eternal life holds for them."
"It is a never ending circle of the life of spirits," said Inayat Khan. "We say, in the East, there is the Source of all radiating into manifestations of the One Intelligence in all things and all souls. There is the realm of the angelic, nearest the Source. Then there is the realm of genius, which is manifested in this life in some souls. And there are yet lower orders of manifestation of the Source, like the rays of the Sun streaming out to the farthermost reaches of the universe, attenuated, yet real. What part the individual soul shall play in this emanation of the Intelligence depends on the measure of unity it realizes with its source of existence."
"Still, while I think that if all believe in the never ending activity of the soul here, elsewhere, or here again, I think if one meditates too much there is not likely to be much work done!"
"But if one meditates somewhat," replied Inayat Khan, "there will really be much more work done, and better done, and with it will be happiness and peace. I do not preach the denial of the things of this world, nor do I condemn worldly accomplishment. I preach only that with the things we must do here in the material world there must also be real attainment in the world of the spirit."
"That is true," replied Mr. Ford. "It is the real religion of life, and we all need it."

By A. M. Smith.