I will give an explanation of two questions which I have very often been asked: What was the object of the prophetic mission? Why is it necessary for man to be taught by another, by his fellowman? Why cannot each one find within himself the way to the light, to illumination?
The prophetic tendency exists in every part of the manifestation. Among the jinn and the heavenly beings there is the prophetic tendency and also in every part of nature: in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, among the animals as well as among men.
There would be no diamond mines in the earth if there were not one spark of a diamond which causes every other atom of the earth with which it comes in contact to become a diamond. It is the same with the ruby. The diamond wants to make everything else become a diamond; the ruby wants to make every other atom into a ruby.
Among the plants in the jungle - not where man has planted and sown, but in the jungle which has not been touched - you will see that if there is one mango tree, it will make a thousand mangoes grow; if there is one fragrant flower, a thousand fragrant flowers will be near it; if there is one sweet fruit, there will be hundreds of sweet fruits.
Among the animals there are many instances of this tendency of which I will tell you some cases that I have seen. Sometimes in India the monkeys come to a village from the forest and break down all the roofs of the houses. There is always one among them who is the leader. When he jumps, all the other monkeys jump after him; when he wants to go back to the forest, they all want to go back to the forest.
In India there are the Jains; their religion is harmlessness: to be harmless to every creature. When the Jains cook their food, they prepare some for themselves, some always for the priest and, if they can afford it, also a little for the animals.
In every street of a town we have dogs, ten, twelve, twenty-five dogs, according to the length of the street. The dogs are fed in this way; everyone is their master, and everyone feeds them. Among the dogs there is always one who is the leader. When a dog from another street appears, the dogs all collect behind their leader and when he barks they all bark; when he attacks they all attack, and so they drive the other dog away.
In the Northern provinces near Nainital and in Nepal, at the foot of the Himalayas, there is a jungle in which there are elephants. The people have many ways of catching them, and one way is to dig a small pit and cover it over with branches. Then they hang their swing-like nets up in a tree, and they stay for some days and watch for the elephants. They are happy in the trees, because the climate permits it. Then if a herd of elephants happens to go that way and an elephant puts his foot into the pit, he goes down, he cannot help himself. Then he cries out; the other elephants look on from a distance, but are afraid to come near, and the men have a kind of fireworks with which they frighten them away if they do.
Now in a troop of elephants there is always one who walks in front. He holds a stout branch in his trunk and hits the ground with it before every step he takes to see whether there is a pit. He knows a thousand other dangers and he knows this danger too. Then if the ground is safe he goes forward and all the others follow him. They have such confidence in him that wherever he goes they go too.
This shows that the tendency to leadership exists among the elephants, the tendency to self-sacrifice. The elephant who is the leader goes first, thinking, "If there is a pit I may fall in, and the other elephants will be safe." He never goes anywhere where it is not safe, and if some elephant is caught, it is some small elephant which has no sense and does not follow the leader.
In Nepal the Maharaja had an elephant who was a leader of elephants. He was in the Maharaja's house and the Maharaja gave orders that no one should ride him but he himself, because he honored the elephant, recognizing his qualities. I have seen this. Whenever Maharaja Bir Shamsher went into the forest elephant hunting this elephant was taken too. The Maharaja had named him Bijili, lightning. He was a very small elephant, but when they failed to make a catch he was sent out and, when another elephant saw him, he at once followed him. So Bijili always came back with another elephant - such was his magnetism. He did not like to catch elephants, because he had the quality of mercy. He would never go unless he was forced by the mahouts, and when he saw the other elephants he turned his head away.
Even among the animals there is this prophetic tendency. Sometimes we see this prophetic tendency in parents. Whatever way they themselves may have followed, they wish to train their child the best way for the higher way. Sometimes it is found in a friend. Whatever undesirable way he may have followed himself, he wishes to save his friend from it. It is only the chosen ones, the blessed souls, who have this tendency. It is not in every child's parents that this tendency is found, nor in every friend. To have such parents, such a friend, is the greatest blessing.
To come now to the question what was the object of the prophetic mission I will say that the evolution of men was very much nearer to the animals in ancient times than it is now. They thought only of eating and drinking and of taking the best things from another, caring nothing about the result of their actions, unless they were awakened from this animal existence.
In India, in the villages and small towns there are watchmen who go through every street, calling, "Awake, awake, lest thieves come!" They call at twelve o'clock, at one o'clock, at two o'clock, at three o'clock, all night. The prophets were sent to awaken. When a person cannot wake up in the morning of his own accord, then the alarm-clock awakes him. The prophets were this alarm.
Sometimes power was needed to arouse people; then the prophet was a king, like Solomon. Sometimes beauty appealed most; then Joseph came whose appearance, whose face was so beautiful that all hearts were melted by his magnetism. It has always been the intention of the divine Power to send that prophet whom the time needed. When a venerable life was revered there was Jacob, whose life was so venerable that all bowed before him. When music was most admired David came, who was gifted with a beautiful voice, who played the harp and gave his message in song. Thus every prophet came in the manner that the age could understand.
Man is the aim of the creation and the highest being, because it is man alone who knows the purpose for which he was manifested, the reason why he is here. Cats and dogs do not know this, because their intelligence is not developed enough for this, and also because their self is before their eyes. The prophets had renounced their self. That is why they were prophets. When the self is gone, then all the other selves come. When the self is before the eyes, then the soul is blinded.
Every other being in the manifestation wants to become man. The jinns want to become man, the rocks want to become man, the plants want to become man, the animals want to become man. If you go to a riverbed and take up the pebbles, how many pebbles do you not find that show the human face. Sometimes the nose is absent, sometimes the lips are absent, but a partial face you will often find; sometimes they have cracks and lines showing it. What a great thing this shows us: everything is striving to become the human face, to become man.
But it is not man as he is that the divine power wishes to produce. The man we want is not the man eating, drinking and sleeping like the animals. If man wishes to know what he should be, he should [not] compare himself with the animals: if he eats, they also eat; if he drinks, they also drink; if he sleeps, they also sleep. They have their passions and hatred and anger just as he has. If he has only that, then he is not man. It is only in man that kindness, sympathy, discipline, self-sacrifice, meekness, humility, and such qualities are found. And if we see any of them in animals, in dogs, cats, horses and cattle - such as faithfulness in the dog, obedience and courage in the horse - it is only the reflection of man, their association with man.
Then there is responsibility. Man alone has the sense of responsibility. Animals do not have it. About this a Hadith says,
"We sent Our burden upon the mountains, and the mountains refused. We sent Our burden upon the plants, and the plants refused. We sent Our burden upon the animals, and the animals ran away at the sight of it. We sent Our burden upon man, and he accepted it."
This means that only man has taken the responsibility for his actions.
Then a Sura says, "Verily, man is cruel and foolish." Foolish, because he has taken upon himself that which is God's. There are many who run away from marriage, because they think that a wife and children are a responsibility. They do not think that wife and children are God's and that He takes care of what is His. Cruel, because he uses his will and strength -- which are God's -- to harm others. Our will, our strength are God's, and yet we say " my" and " mine;" we claim them for ourselves.
The watchman calls from night till morning. In the day the alarm-clock is not needed because it is day. The prophets were sent from night till morning. They came with the same message under different names.
The same divine wisdom spoke in each of them, but if a Hebrew had been asked, "Do you recognize Krishna and Rama?" he would have said, "I have never heard of Krishna and Rama. I recognize Moses because that is written in my book" If a Hindu was asked, "Do you recognize Moses or Christ?" he would say, "No, I recognize Rama and Krishna and Vishnu and the Vedanta. You may keep Christ and Moses, I will keep Rama, Krishna and Vishnu." There are some who prefer the Kabbala to the Bible, they recognize the Kabbala. If you ask a Roman Catholic he will say, "If there is any church it is mine."
They have all recognized the name, the personality; they have not recognized the truth. They want to keep Krishna in the temple, Christ in the church, and Moses shut up in the synagogue. That is why so many now are seeking for the truth.
In each age the message was revealed more and more; in accordance with the world's capacity to hear it -- until the last and plainest revelation, the message of Muhammad, the seal of prophecy. After this no more prophets were needed. The world was awakened to the understanding of the true reality. Now is not the time to wait for the coming of another prophet; now is the time to awaken to the truth within ourselves, and if there is a friend who has gone this way before, now is the time to ask his advice.
The Sufi's work is not to interfere with anyone's religion, nor to force a belief upon anyone. He does not say, "Believe this." The murshid is a friend and a guide. He advises, he does not force anything upon you.
You may be a Christian -- I was not born in a Christian family, but no Christian is more touched than I am by the words of Christ that I read. If they are rightly understood, they alone are enough to make you a saint. They say that in the end he was crucified upon the cross, but I say that from his birth onward every moment of his life was a crucifixion. For the souls of the prophets the world is too rough, their hearts are too tender for it.
No Brahmin has studied the Vedanta with more interest than I have. If you know Brahma, if you know God, you are a Brahmin. Whether the Brahmin recognizes you or not is another matter.
The Sufi says, "You wish to know about illumination, about revelation? You wish to know about inspiration? This is the way for you to follow: believe as much as your intelligence allows you to believe, as much as you can reach. Do not believe what your intelligence does not allow you to believe."
He recognizes one divine wisdom in all the prophetic messages. He sees the same infinite Being speaking through all in different forms and names through all ages. It is just as if one had the photograph of one's sweetheart at different ages: at twelve, at twenty, at thirty, at forty. The photographs are different, but it is the same sweetheart.
Hazrat Inayat Khan