Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan identifies the purpose of the Sufi Message, which is an eternal Message expressed in many different languages and traditions, in two ways. He says that our Sacred Task in our current world is to develop the spirit of tolerance. This is important in the world as we try to understand and tolerate people of different religions, cultures, social classes, and so forth. And this is also an individual and personal challenge. How can I understand, much less accept or tolerate, a person who acts or expresses ideas that I feel are just wrong. The person who seems to me to be racist or a bigot. The person who always talks about him or herself, and is always “right.” The person of a different political party who wants to destroy rights and laws “I” fought to establish. It can be so difficult to see as a godly soul does: from a broader and more universal point of view.
You might wonder why I should try to tolerate someone whom I think is “wrong.” This brings us to the second purpose of the Sufi Message. This is to create the realization of the divine spark in every soul. Every soul carries the light of God within.
Murshid says, “Besides that, the central theme of the Sufi Message is one simple thing; and yet it is the most difficult. And that is to bring about in the world the realization of the divinity of the human soul, which hitherto has been overlooked, for the reason that the time had not come.
“The principal thing that the Message has to accomplish in this era is to create the realization of the divine spark in every soul; that every soul, according to its progress, may begin to realize for itself the divinity within. This is the task that is before us.” (the Gatheka papers)
It is so interesting that Murshid says that “the time had not come” for humanity to realize the divinity of the soul. We are at a stage of development in society and culture that is different from previous eras. Individual people can read and write, can communicate with new electronic means, that provide the ground for individual thought and creativity. We are not as dependent upon an authority figure to provide information and interpret it correctly. This capacity for individual thought is extraordinary.
And so now there is the possibility for an individual to realize that the light of the soul is Divine. The soul is light. Is Divine light. This is the meaning of the birth of the Christ child in Christian symbolism. As we have just celebrated Christmas, this is the deep meaning of this celebration. The Son is the Sun is the Light Divine. The creative imagination, which understands symbolism, resides in the unconscious psyche. So Son=Sun=Light. And we celebrate this event at the darkest time of the year, the winter solstice. We hope and rejoice with our affirmation that the light is growing stronger in the deepest darkness. Even if we can’t perceive it just now. We have hope that this is the case. And just as it occurs in the outer world, so in our inner times of darkness and suffering, the soul’s light which is Divine light shines. May we be blessed with true vision.