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Hazrat Inayat Khan (on suffering)

[1-minute read]

A small group of Ottawa women decided, not long before a Chinese city that most of us had never heard of became Ground Zero for a novel coronavirus – you may have heard of it, and its Greek-lettered children – to raise the level of conversation in their beloved Baha’i community, and beyond it. H.H. and L.O. and some friends began a series of talks they called “Big Ideas: The Baha’i Faith and the Issues of Our Time”, starting with a discussion on climate change and inspired ways to cast light (and a little hope) upon this global crisis.

Now there have been 29 of these presentations, on subjects ranging from education to agriculture, from global governance to personal creativity, from racial justice to marital harmony. I love ‘em. (To be transparent: my bride gave the first one, and several friends have contributed their own. I am proudly and profoundly biased in favour of this project.) A recent BI talk by the intriguingly named Justice St. Rain focussed on human suffering – how we should think about it, and how to respond to it.

Its title – shared with one of his books, which was subtitled “A Spiritual Guide to Growing Through Tests” – was simply Why Me? I wrote a brief summary of the thing; here I will say only that Mr. St. Rain urges us to believe in the basic benevolence of a parent-like Creator, and to seek understanding of the difficulties that life inevitably presents to us. (Simple! But not so easy. Not for me.)

Virtuoso and music scholar, too: The Mysticism of Sound and Music is among his books. (photo from ramdass.org)

Almost as a coda to an hour-long seminar, St. Rain introduced me (and perhaps most of his audience) to a Sufi musician and philosopher, the India-born Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), and cited the counsel below. It’s gorgeous: simple, persuasive and poetic. I thought you’d want to know.¹

 

 

 

 

“I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

“I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to learn to solve.

“I asked for prosperity and God gave me a brain and brawn to work.

“I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.

“I asked for love and God gave me people to help.

“I asked for favours and God gave me opportunities.

“I received nothing I wanted.

“I received everything I needed.”

 

¹ Wonderful, even in spite of my distaste for its wide popularity and commercialization and careless quotation. When I first looked up this quote, I think I remember finding a source for this. I think it might have been Khan’s Pearls From the Ocean Unseen. Sadly, in typical Quotable Quotes on the InterWebs form, my search for its origins today went everywhere and nowhere. It was quoted on Christian wisdom sites (boy, are THEY going to be surprised to find a Muslim in their heads!), personal coaches’ and bloggers’ pages, all without sourcing and sometimes quoting an “author unknown”. The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist is the closest I could find to a source; she uses the poem but apparently doesn’t attribute it to a specific book of Khan’s, of which there were many.

Comment (1)

  1. Michael

    Um, stop asking for stuff. Maybe then God will give you peace.

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