page 2 - The Crown of Creation - Firos Holterman ten Hove

United Nature: Agriculture

The guardian
In Bagdad around 800 C.E. reigned Caliph Harun ar-Rashid, famous through the stories in Thousand and One Night. He became the prototype of a good ruler in the Arabian world. His wisdom was famous and based on his nightly adventures. When the evening fell, he dressed like a normal citizen and together with his friend he wandered through the town, listening to the stories and the latest news the people in the streets and in the taverns told to each other. On the basis of these informations collected in the night he took in the daytime his decisions as ruler and judge.


He showed in his behavior a typical characteristic of the caliph. He watched his territories while the others slept. He listened and investigated before forming his own opinion. He protected his people against hidden dangers. In this sense he was a real warden or guardian. 


The words gardener und guardian have the same root. In both cases is the person meant, that keeps and protects a defined area, district or piece of land.


The representative
The Qur'an tells how God made man His representative on earth, His chief in whose care the universe was given.

Traditionally  a representative is a deputy  given the full power of an officer without holding the office. He is the second in command, in the case of the kalifat Allah it is God who holds the office. The caliph is an assistant or agent of God. He has no rights of ownership and is selected or chosen to do a job in the name of the owner of the universe.


How to do a good job as caliph? How to take care of creation?

By tuning into the purpose that God has with creation. All beings have the capacity of enjoying nature but man has the possibility of knowing and understanding nature.


The whole beauty of creation - the dogs have seen it, the cats have seen it, the peacocks and other birds have seen it and in their way they have been delighted, they have enjoyed it, they have danced and rejoiced over it. They have admired it in their own way, but man - besides admiring - sees beyond, his sight penetrates all he sees, and he touches God, the Creator. It is not only praising God, but it is knowing and understanding God which gives the greatest satisfaction to the Deity, because that is the purpose of the creation of man: that he may understand and know. And it is only by seeing the sublimity of nature's beauty, by being impressed by it, by understanding it, by knowing its language, by hearing its voice, that this can be done.


So Murshid says that the human being is on his/her way of becoming caliph when he/she tunes in to the beauty of nature. That´s the way to become representative,  steward or successor of God.  When the heart is open to the sublimity of the universe, understanding and knowledge of life can be the result.  This attitude is completely different from current definitions of science. Scientific research is much more based on dead matter than on studying life-processes. The Sufi Message is based on the insight, that an empiric attitude has to be rooted in the heart. The love and respect for life has to lie at the basis of any empiric investigation, because the phenomena of nature are the language of God. It is a holy language which has to be guarded.


The man who is living, who can hear and see and whose heart can feel, has risen above ordinary humanity. It does not mean that man has to become an angel: he needs to live a fuller life, a really human life.


The birth of the soul

When a soul matures it begins to feel its responsibility, and it is from that moment that a person begins his life. As long as man is not conscious of his responsibility he does not know the kingdom of God. It is his becoming conscious of his responsibility which wakens him to the kingdom of God, in which is the birth of the soul.

In the technological progress of our western society the aspect of responsibility till know plays not the role it should be. Be it atomic energy, be it gen-manipulated plants, be it the use of anti-biotics, in all these aspects and many more the consequences for tomorrow are not or not sufficiently  regarded.


It is told in the Qur'an that God said: 'We laid our trust on the mountains, and they could not bear the load; we laid our trust on the trees, and they were unable to take it; we then laid our trust on man, and it is man who has borne it'. This trust is our responsibility; not only our responsibility to those around us, to those whom we meet in everyday life, or to the work that we are engaged in, or to the interest that we have in life - but our responsibility towards this whole creation: what we contribute to this creation, whether it is something agreeable to bring about better and harmonious conditions in the sphere, in the world, on the earth. If we do so then we know our responsibility. If we are unaware of it, we have not yet learned the purpose of our being here.


Basicly, the soul of humanity has not been born yet. The Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, proclaiming that mankind is on the verge of discovering its divinity, did not come through till now. But it will, because the process of maturing cannot be stopped. 

There is childhood, when a child knows nothing. He destroys things of value and beauty owing to his curiosity, his fancy. But when he grows up the child begins to feel his responsibility. The sign of maturity is the feeling of responsibility.


The saint 

The conditions for man becoming the caliph of the whole creation are still in the making.


When a person has attained mastery, it may be called an inner initiation. From that time he is consciously used to fulfil a certain purpose. Every soul is here on earth in order to fulfil a certain purpose in the scheme of life; but when one has reached mastery, from that moment one is chosen by Providence to be used as a tool, an instrument, to accomplish a certain purpose. Humanity, every single human being, is a kind of raw material which destiny uses. The master-mind, however, is a finished instrument which destiny handles to accomplish its purpose.


One condition is the awakening of the inner life. In Sufism this is mostly called the opening of the heart. We saw already, that sympathy from the open heart is the fundamental quality of a caliph as meant in the scriptures. Sympathy is directly connected to a state of resignation to the will of God. Hazrat Inayat Khan calls this the saintly temperament.


The saint has learnt patience, confidence, endurance, tolerance. He has carried the cross, he is crucified a thousand times in his life. He knows what love means. He has taken a path of devotion; he leads a life of service; he has effaced himself; he has crushed his personality….. It is not just a fable that the trees and plants and rocks spoke to the saints. It is the truth. When a person has developed that sympathy, he is sympathetic to rock and plant and tree; everything in nature opens up before him. It is through that at-one-ment that he is able to communicate with every form of life, whatever it is.


Before mastering the task of being the caliph of the whole universe it is necessary to go through the inner process of purification, that the saint goes through.


The spirit of a saint results in being tuned to the whole universe; he is in tune with the climates, with the weather, with nature, with animals, birds; he becomes in tune with the trees and plants, in tune with all atmospheres, with all human beings of various natures, because he becomes the keynote to the whole universe. All harmonize with him, the virtuous souls, the wicked souls, angels and devils, all become in tune. He becomes in harmony with every object, with every element; with those who have passed from this earth he is in tune, those in the atmosphere he is in tune with and with those who live on earth. The moral of a saint is very difficult, but the spirit of the saint is a benediction to himself and blessing to others.


The master of creation 

Only then the caliph can start working and restoring the order of the universe, when darma is in decline. The caliph knows that the order in the outside world is directly connected to the order in the inner world. Microcosmos and macrocosmos are one for the caliph.

He conquers himself, he battles with life, he is at war with destiny, he invades all that seems wrong to him, he finds the key to the secrets unknown to him, he instead of being resigned to all conditions, all things, all people, turns them to the shape that he wishes and molds as he likes the personalities which come in touch with him. He tunes personalities in the tune which would suit his orchestration. He has command over objects, he produces effects in objects which are not there naturally. He can even rise to a state where he can command nature.


The Farmer

At the end of his life Hazrat Inayat Khan founded  Ziraat,  an “activity” within the Sufi Order dedicated to agriculture. Till today nobody could tell me, why the master suddenly emphasized  farming. Some consider the rudimentary body of Ziraat-Teachings as purely symbolic in the sense of allegoric. In my point of view, this makes no sense.  After a rich life of incessantly teaching about alchemy, inner processes, symbology, mysticism there was no need for it.


For me there can be only one reason: the master had a vision of the way the caliph-principle would be needed in the coming world. The Ziraat-Teachings elaborate on the theme of the purpose of man in creation: Although in essence, even after touching the deepest depths of the earth, the soul is divine, in order to realize for itself that Divine Element it has a task waiting even after being human, and it is the manner in which that task is accomplished, and the object gained which is called ZIRAAT” 


But why  in the end of his lifework Hazrat Inayat Khan called the human being that works in line with God´s purpose in the universe suddenly “Farmer” and not “Caliph” or “Master of the whole creation” or simply “Sufi” as he did before?



Etymologically the word farm comes from the protogermanic word  “ferhuz”, meaning life force, body, being.


The Proto-Indo-European equivalent  “perk” means: to surround; the world; body; life; spirit; force; strength; tree. Related words are paradise and Persia. 


The farm in this sense is a being which is the center of life force for the human. It is the piece of planet earth, where the farmer is responsible for a way of living in tune with the elements and nature kingdoms. As such it is the prototype for a civilization in tune with the divine. The farm is a laboratory, where mankind instead of just consuming energy, can learn to find energy for himself in exchange for giving energy to the other living beings.


“The body of God is the whole universe” (Hazrat Inayat Khan)

My hypothesis is that Hazrat Inayat Khan choose the symbol of the farmer to emphasize the importance of life on earth, life in the body. Farming is the most physical of all professions. The farm is the first working place, where a new attitude towards creation can be put into practice. A new civilization in tune with the divine acknowledges the divinity in nature. Matter that lost any holiness must be revalued and treated differently. 


Many people think that the physical has little to do with the spiritual. Why not, they ask, cast the idea of the physical aside in order to be entirely spiritual? If without the physical aspect of our being the purpose of life could be accomplished, the soul would not have taken a physical body and the spirit would not have produced the physical world. A Hindustani poet says, 'If the purpose of creation could have been fulfilled by the angels, who are entirely spiritual, God would not have created man.' That shows that there is a great purpose to be accomplished by what is called the physical body. If the light of God could have shone directly, there would not have been a manifestation such as that of Christ. It was necessary, so to speak, that God should walk on the earth in the physical body. And the conception that the physical body is made of sin, and that this is the lowest aspect of being, will very often prove to be a mistake, for it is through this physical body that the highest and the greatest purpose of life is to be achieved. A person only calls it his physical body in ignorance; once the knowledge has come to him he begins to look upon it as the sacred temple of God.



We don´t need to discuss, if Ziraat is meant as work on the person of the farmer or as activity on the farm as an entity. Typical for the Message is, that any distinguishing between inner and outer world has been abolished. This abolishment was revolutionary in the times of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Great physicians and philosophers since then followed in leaving behind the artificial difference between observer and observed. The Sufis say: Love, Lover and Beloved are one. In terms of Ziraat it would be called: Farm, Farmer and Farming are one. The success of the farmer is dependent of his attitude towards the soil, plants, animals and humans he is responsible for. 


The question how the secret of the universe could be found within oneself, in a drop which is like a drop in the ocean, may be answered thus, that the drop itself is nothing but ocean, and he who studies the drop can study the ocean.  The saying of Christ, "Straight is the gate and narrow is the way," speaks of the gate within the body, which seems a narrow gate compared with the external world which is so vast.  But when one enters by the gate which is within oneself by the help of Shaghal one discovers gradually the whole process of the working of the whole universe.  


Gratitude for our daily bread
The difference between “ordinary humanity” and “man who is living” is surprisingly something very simple: it is gratitude.


The first lesson given to man was to be grateful for his daily bread, because that was the greatest necessity of his life.

At the basis of a new mankind lies a new attitude towards bread. It has to do with an new consciousness, that our life depends on the world of plants. At the moment the opposite is the case: industrialization goes together with a shift from vegetable food towards animal food. Meat consumption is rising worldwide. The world of plants is continuously being reduced. The CO2 Problem is due to the loss of balance between plants breathing in CO2 and animals/humans/machines breathing out CO2. 


Saadi says, "The sun, the moon, the planets, the air, the water and the earth are all serving you, aiding life's purpose and preparing for your food. Yet you regard all this unthankfully, absorbed in your own little troubles which are as nothing before the great forces of nature, always working, night and day". 



To whom does the farm belong?

It is our Father's heritage.

For the description of the relationship between God and Man on the farm Hazrat Inayat Khan choose the medieval term of bondmen. By using this word he found an alternative to the description of the relationship between caliph and God. A bondmen is very much the same as a successor or representative. The farm does not belong to the farmer. He is the caretaker in the name of God. The more he tunes in to the divine purpose, the more he enlarges his heart in sympathy with divine nature, the more the farm will flourish.


Let us depart, knowing ourselves the Willing Bondmen of the Owner of the Farm. In His Service is Perfect Freedom.


Farm and Farmer are one

Beloved, Thou makest me fuller every day.
Thou diggest into my heart deeper than the depths of the earth. Thou raisest my soul higher than the highest heaven, making me more empty every day and yet fuller. Thou makest me wider than the ends of the world; Thou stretchest my two arms across the land and the sea, giving into my enfoldment the East and the West.

Thou changest my flesh into fertile soil; Thou turnest my blood into streams of water; Thou kneadest my clay, I know, to make a new universe.