One of the most beautiful classification ever – by my beloved Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan.
The heart of man can be likened to water. Either it is frozen and then it is snow, or it is water and then it is liquid. When it is frozen it has turned into a crystal; when it is liquid it is in running order, and it is natural for water to be running.
Then there are two principal kinds of water: salt water and sweet water. The sea which is quite contented in itself, indifferent to everything else, has salt water because it is independent of anything else. It gives health, happiness and pleasure to those who walk along it, because it represents perfection. It asks nothing from anyone, it rises and falls within itself, it is independent, it is immense. In that way it shows perfection. But with that independent perfection its water is not sweet, and the ascetic who has closed his heart, with the perfection of God and with the realization of truth is like the sea, independent, indifferent to all things. His presence heals people, his contact gives them joy, gives them peace, and yet his personality is uninteresting: the water of the sea is salt water.
When the sea is calm it is a pleasure to travel on it, and when the sea is rough there is no worse illness than seasickness. So is the powerful mind, the mind of a soul that has touched perfection: it is with tranquillity, calmness and peace that this mind gives everyone a way into it, as the sea lays itself with open heart before those who Journey on it. Ships and boats pass through it, those who journey enjoy their travelling. But when the sea is disturbed by the wind, by storm, it is perfect in its annoyance, it can shake boats and steamers. And so the mind of the sage can have an effect upon all things in nature; it can cause volcanic eruptions, it can cause disasters, revolutions, all manner of things once its tranquillity is disturbed. Knowing this nature of the sage’s heart and knowing the great powers that a man who has touched divine perfection possesses, people in the East regard closely the pleasure and displeasure of the sage. They think that to annoy a sage is like annoying the whole of nature, to disturb his tranquillity means to shake the whole universe. A storm in the sea is a very small thing, whereas the heart that has touched perfection, if once upset, can upset the whole universe.
The water of the river is sweet. It is sweet because it is attracted to the sea, it is longing to reach the sea. The river represents the loving quality, a quality that is seeking for the object it loves. A heart that loves God and His perfection is likened to the river that seeks the sea. It is therefore that the personality of the seeker is more pleasant than the personality of the one who is contented with what he knows. There is little danger in travelling on the river, there is great joy in swimming in the river, and there is a fine scenery along it to look at. So it is with the personality which is like the river: that running of the feeling of sympathy, that continual running, means a living sympathy. The river helps the trees and plants and the earth along it. So does the kind, sympathetic person whose feeling is liquid: everywhere he goes he takes with him that influence which nourishes, which helps souls to flourish and to progress.
Then one sometimes sees a little stream. It runs, it is not a river, it is a small little stream running, and it is even more beautiful to look at for it expresses modesty, it expresses fineness of character, it expresses purity. For always the water of a little stream is pure. It expresses the nature of an innocent heart, the heart that cannot be prevented from being sympathetic, from being loving, by any experience of the world which makes water turn bitter. The bitter experience has not touched it, and it is pure and clear. It inspires poets, it uplifts a composer, it quenches the thirst of the thirsty one, it is an ideal spot for a painter to paint. With its modesty it has purity and with its purity it has life. (more…)