Saturday, August 05, 2006

The symbol of the dove

Hazrat Inayat Khan

The bird represents the wayfarer of the sky, and at the same time it represents a being who though it belongs to the earth is capable of dwelling in the skies. The former explanation of the bird represents the idea of a soul whose dwelling place is heaven, and the latter represents the dweller on earth being able to move about in the higher spheres; and both these explanations give the idea that the spiritual man, dwelling on the earth, is from heaven. They also explain that the spiritual man is the inhabitant of the heavens and is only dwelling on earth for a while.

The pigeon is used as a messenger, to carry a message from one place to another, and therefore the symbol of the dove is a natural one to represent the messenger from above. Spiritual bliss is such a wonderful experience that if a bird or an animal were to have it, it would never return to its own kind. But it is to man's credit that after touching that point of great happiness and bliss he comes back into the world of sorrows and disappointments and delivers his message.

This quality can also be seen in the pigeon: when the pigeon is sent it goes, but it faithfully comes back to its master. The spiritual man performs this duty doubly: he reaches higher than the human plane, touches the divine plane, and brings the message from the divine to the human plane. In this way, instead of remaining on the divine plane, he returns to be among his fellowmen for their welfare, which is no small sacrifice. Besides he performs a duty to God, from whom he brings the message which he delivers to humanity. He lives as a human being, subject to love, hate, praise, and blame; he passes his life in the world of attachment and the life that binds him with a thousand ties on all sides; and yet he does not forget the place whence he has come, and he constantly and eagerly looks forward to reaching the goal for which he is bound. Therefore in both these journeys, from earth to heaven and from heaven to earth, the idea of the dove proves to be the most appropriate of all.

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