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    The Glorious Divine Play...

          ... and How to Enjoy It

Things are not as they appear...

For most people, the greatest obstacle to discovering true peace is their feeling of "control"... the false belief that they themselves can really cause this or that to happen solely by their own personal will.

Alas, there is very little that is solely caused by any person. This is not meant to suggest that our will is not important, but rather that we can greatly benefit by learning to recognize the power behind our power, the One who is the cause behind the cause.

When one thinks deeply about the origin of drama, one finds that drama belongs to the origin of life itself; not only has man invented dramatic art, but God has produced a play in the form of this manifestation. Very often, inquiring souls raise the question of why, if God is kind and loving and merciful, must there be these tragedies in life — suffering, disappointments, and failures. And the best answer that could be given to this question is that He has arranged this play. Would we say that it is unkind to give someone the part of the victim in a play, or that it is wrong of the producer to give an actor the part of a murderer? But when we look at it as a play, we see that all these different parts are given in order to produce one effect, in order to get to the essence. For every character in the play, from beginning to end, the king and the slave, the murderer and his victim, the lover and the one who hates, the cruel one and the one who is kind-hearted, the one who is just and the other who is unjust — they are all helping to produce one ultimate effect, and it is for this effect that the whole play has been arranged.

It is the same with God and the Creation. The whole of manifestation is arranged, with all its desirable and undesirable aspects, with its right and wrong, and with all the kindness and cruelty that we see on the surface of this earth; all this produces in the end one single effect for which the whole play was made. One might say that if this is only a play then it is nothing, but if this is nothing, then there is nothing else that we can call anything. If anything exists at all, it is this manifestation; one may call it everything or nothing, as one wishes. ...

When we consider our own individual life, is it not a drama? In the dream, a play is performed; for hours on end a certain life is experienced. But when the eyes are opened, the curtain has fallen and the play is over. That which was real at that moment becomes a dream, as soon as the eyes are open and the sun has risen.

            from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume X, Drama

People can certainly cause some small and relatively unimportant things to happen, but everything that is really important is out of our control. On a personal level, we are not even in charge of whether or not we will wake-up in the morning. We are not in charge of whether our hearts will continue beating. We are not even fully in charge of when we inhale or when we exhale. And on a spiritual level, we have even less influence! It is no exaggeration to say that everything really important is out of our hands.

When man says, 'I have done this,' or 'I can do it,' or 'I will do it,' the One perfect in power and wisdom smiles as a grown-up person would smile at a child saying, 'I will remove mountains.' It does not mean there is no free will, but if one only knew what is behind one's free will he would never call it free will, he would call it His Will.

       from Sangatha II, by Hazrat Inayat Khan (unpublished)  

We are in the midst of a grand creation, a Divine Play which has been going on for millions of years, in which we are only on the stage of life for a very brief moment. We have come in to the play very late, the plot is already well established, and there is really nothing that we can do to change the plot.... our greatest choice is whether to enjoy the play and extend the wonderful qualities of love, harmony and beauty to our fellow participants in this grand play, or to fight and struggle against the established plot in our own self-centered, futile battle.

Look at life as if it was a play going on on the stage, with the actors all dressed up as the king, the servant, the minister, the judge, but when they come away from the stage, they have only performed their part in the story. They are nothing, but while they are on the stage it is their duty to perform the role which they are meant to perform. So one understands that one is performing the role of a king, of a thief or of a judge, of a servant or of a prince. It only means that it is meant so; it is written in the story that it should be performed like this. It is a play that we all perform in the whole universe, and each takes part in this play, a certain part which is given to him maybe a desirable part or an undesirable part. Only the one who sees it in this light sees that it is a stage on which a play is performed, and the one who does not see it in this light thinks that it is really like this - his life is most difficult.

       from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XIV, Points of View

All of the actors in this grand play have some degree of freedom; they can say their lines in a loud voice or perhaps a quiet voice, they can stand in whatever position suits the needs of the moment, they can move about as they play their part, yet the overall plot will remain unchanged... so why not relax and enjoy the wonder of it all?

This grand play is choreographed by Divine Will. When we act in harmony with the Divine Will, then all that we have envisioned comes to pass, and it seems as though our own will is being done. But when we attempt to act in opposition to the Divine Will, then our plans will not be successful, and we see that our own will and our petty opinions mean nothing when they are in opposition to the Divine Will.

Sometimes things are accomplished without the least effort. When it is the divine will it is like something floating on water; it advances without effort. Problems and actions may be achieved in a moment then, whilst at other times the smallest problem cannot be solved without great difficulty. One finds that some persons are very clever and experienced in industrial work or in politics; and they have striven very hard to attain their goal, and yet have accomplished nothing; they are always a failure. And there are others who take up a thing, and without much effort, without much worry on their part they complete it and attain their goal.

All this is accounted for by harmony with the divine will. Everyone experiences such a thing at some time or other. When things are in harmony with the divine will, everything is there; we just glance towards a thing and it is found, as in the saying, 'Word spoken, action done.' When we strive with all the material in our hands and yet cannot achieve our desire, that is when the matter is contrary to the divine will. Our success or failure all depends upon the harmony or disharmony of our individual will with the divine will.

             from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume VII, The Will


As the Prophet Muḥammad said 'Tie your camel, and then put your trust in Allah', that is, we should do our best, but beyond that, matters are really not up to us. All of the matters that are truly important are guided by the hand of The One, the Unlimited One who does not really need our limited advice. The Almighty One is truly in command and really does not need our guidance! The realization of this simple fact is the moment when true submission really begins.  

There is really only one thing that we control... and that is how we react to the present moment. If we react to the present moment with fear or anger or self-pity, then we are sowing seeds of fear and anger and we will continue to grow ever-larger crops of fear and anger and unhappiness until we choose to quit planting such seeds.

On the other hand, if we react to every situation with loving-kindness, then we are sowing seeds of loving-kindness which will grow into ever-larger crops of loving-kindness, to be harvested by us and by all those around us.

Look not on life as a person would watch a play on the stage. Rather look upon it as a student who is learning at college. It is not a passing show; it is not a place of amusement in which to fool our life away. It is a place for study, in which every sorrow, every heartbreak brings a precious lesson. It is a place in which to learn by one's own suffering, by the study of the suffering of others; to learn from the people who have been kind to us as well as from the people who have been unkind. It is a place in which all experiences, be they disappointments, struggles, and pains, or joys, pleasures, and comforts, contribute to the understanding of what life is.

             from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume VII, Nature's Religion

Many people will readily agree that there is indeed a Creative Intelligence which has created all of the worlds for some purpose... yet those same people often act as if  the Creator has made some great blunder and that the Creator should change the circumstances of Life to better suit their own personal needs or opinions. There is a plan that has been going on for millions or billions of years without our approval or our corrections or our demands. Clearly, the Creator does not really need our opinions, corrections or demands.

Free will is an important concept, yet it is a bit of an illusion. Everything that actually happens is, in some way, in accord with the grand plan of the Divine Will. Thus, every action that a person can actually carry out must necessarily fit within the scope of the Divine Plan. Any actions which are not in accord with the Divine Plan will not be carried out, and no matter how much one plans or schemes, such plans will be thwarted.

However, this does not imply that one should be passive or inactive. Indeed, one should be active and enjoy the wondrous benefits of Life. One should wish for the happiness of others, pray for the happiness of others, work for the happiness of others, strive in every possible way for the happiness and well-being of others... but have no expectations or demands about the results. The results are determined only by the Divine Will, and none other.

This is the challenge: to do one's work only for the glory of The Lord, with no expectations, no demands and taking no credit whatsoever for the results.

When all desires that surge in the heart
are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart
are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
This sums up the teachings of the scriptures.

                Katha Upanishad (II.3.14-15)

We can plant seeds, we can water the seeds, and we can help to make conditions favorable to their growth... but we cannot actually make them grow, that is beyond our power. So, we must do our best to plant good seeds, do our best to help make good conditions for their growth, but leave the results to The Almighty and none other.

In conclusion we come to understand that there are two aspects of will working through all things in life. One is the individual will, the other the divine will. When a person goes against the divine will, naturally his human will fails and he finds difficulties, because he is swimming against the tide. The moment a person works in consonance, in harmony with the divine will, things become smooth.

             from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XIV, Destiny and Free Will

We are, as Sri Aurobindo has put it, merely "vessels of the Universal Will" and our every act must necessarily be in accord with whatever that Universal Will has decided. Indeed, the fruits of all action are should be dedicated to the glory of the Divine, not for mankind to gloat over. The path to bliss is to be in harmony with the Divine Will and unattached to the fruits of any action.

How can we, mere creatures of Earth, ever hope to understand the Divine Will? Perhaps we will never really understand it, but we can learn to live in harmony with the Divine Will. In order to learn to live in harmony with the Divine Will, mankind has been given the glorious example of Nature and has also been been the magnificent examples of the lives of the Prophets. The one who studies the ways of the great Prophets and strives to be in harmony with the ways of their teachings will be blessed. And the one who studies Nature and strives to be in harmony with the divine ways of Nature will also be blessed.

To the eye of the seer every leaf of the tree is a page of the holy book that contains divine revelation, and he is inspired every moment of his life by constantly reading and understanding the holy script of nature.

             from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume I, Sufi Thoughts

There are so many activities going on in one's own life, so many interests, so many distractions -- how can we decide what is important, what leads to Divine Harmony, and what should be given lesser priority?

Jesus gave us these glorious ideals:

 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

And likewise, in the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna tells Arjuna:

Through unfailing devotion you can know Me, see Me and have union with Me. Whoever makes Me the supreme goal of all his work and acts without selfish attachment, who devotes himself to Me completely and free from ill will toward any creature, enters into Me.

Love, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity, selfless giving -- these glorious principles are always in harmony with Nature, with the Prophets, and  with the Divine Will; thus they always lead to enduring, blissful peace.

Ahhhh... what a delightful and grand play this is.... when in doubt, Love!


Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,

posted June 23, 2002... updated 6-Nov-2006