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The Art of Being Human
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Volume VIII A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty
Published by Element, Inc. in 1991
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


In the early 1980's I read the other eleven volumes in this set, some of them several times. When I got on the Internet for the first time several weeks ago I discovered this volume for sale by a Sufi Book Center in Virginia. I ordered the book over the net on a Friday afternoon and was reading it Monday afternoon.

This book is divided into two sections: I. Health and Order of Body and Mind and II. The Privilege of Being Human. The first section was a good review for me, but the second section was packed with insights. If I had read the book ten years ago when I first began looking for it, it would have undoubtedly not have had the same impact for me. One afternoon I sat down to continue reading from page 165. I had just finished three intensive days of income tax preparation and felt too washed out emotionally to write anything. In the course of the next three hours and fifty pages I wrote fifteen poems, inspired by the writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Here is a list of the titles which will suggest something of the nature of the poems:

1. Write On!
2. 'appiness
3. "Judging or No-Judging Section?"
4. Sound Harmony
5. Feed No Evil
6. Life's Massage
7. No-Fault Love
8. A Pear Tree
10. Chains of Mind
11. Hang It All!
12. Light Traveler
13. Dogs of War
14. Salt of the Earth
15. Without A Doubt

This past month I listened to a minister friend give a homily on the Samaritan woman at the well. He explained how she had come to the well under the hot midday sun so that she would not encounter other women who might scorn her presence there, and how after Christ told her of the living water, she left her vase at the well and ran back to the city to tell everyone. On page 159 Hazrat comments on how children outgrow their dolls and says, "So it is with us, the children of the world. Our likes and infatuations have a certain limit; when their time has expired the period of indifference commences. When the water of indifference is drunk, then there is no more wish for anything in the world."[italics mine] It was the water of indifference, of divine knowledge, that Christ offered the Samaritan woman at the well that caused her to drop everything, all her attachments to the things of the world, and to rush back to the city to tell how she had found everything inside herself, thanks to this man at the well.

When I found Hazrat Inayat Khan ten years ago, I was alone at the well, carrying heavy vases during the heat of the day to be filled. He filled my vases then, and when I returned ten years later, I was empty-handed, and he gently reminded me to look within, for the divine knowledge of God, the water of indifference, flows therein as an eternal spring. And if one has an eternal spring flowing within, one will never need to return to earthly wells.

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