Pleasure blocks, but pain clears the way of inspiration.
Bowl of Saki, September 4, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:
Pain has a great power; the truth of God is born in pain, sincerity rises out of pain. Metaphysically, the heart is a gate, and the gate is closed when the feeling is hardened, and the gate is open when there is some pain.
~~~ "Sangatha I, Tasawwuf", by Hazrat Inayat Khan (unpublished)
Suppose a person goes on a bicycle in the streets of Paris and says, 'I shall go straight on, because my object is just to keep the line I have taken. If a car comes my way, I shall not mind it, I shall just go on.' This person will come against something which is more powerful than he, and he will destroy himself. The wise cyclist, therefore, will see that there is a vehicle before him, or that the road is blocked: he will take another way. At the time it is just a little hindrance, yet that resignation makes him safe from disaster and gives him a chance to strike another line by which he will come to the same destination.
Tagore says: 'When the string of the violin was being tuned it felt the pain of being stretched, but once it was tuned then it knew why it was stretched'. So it is with the human soul. While the soul goes through pain, torture and trouble it thinks that it would have been much better if it had gone through life without it. But once it reaches the culmination of it then, when it looks back, it begins to realize why all this was meant: it was only meant to tune the soul to a certain pitch.
My murshid, Abu Hashim Madani, once said that there is only one virtue and only one sin for a soul on this path: virtue when he is conscious of God and sin when he is not. No explanation can describe the truth of this except the experience of the contemplative, to whom, when he is conscious of God, it is as if a window is open, which is facing heaven, and when he is conscious of the self, the experience is the opposite. For all the tragedy of life is caused by consciousness of the self. All pain and depression are caused by this, and anything that can take away the thought of the self helps to a certain extent to relieve man from pain; but God-consciousness gives perfect relief.