Volume XI: The Unity of Religious Ideals
PHILOSOPHY, PSYCHOLOGY, MYSTICISM
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY
When science and psychology arrive at a certain understanding, on that day knowledge will become complete. But then I use the word psychology in a specific sense, not in the sense in which it is generally understood. The psychology, which is considered nowadays, as a new philosophy is still in a primitive condition. What I mean by psychology is the bridge between material science and esotericism. But before going further into this subject I should mention that the terms matter and spirit are meant only for our convenience. As far as we perceive life as something tangible we call it matter; and what is not as tangible as a substance but is yet perceptible we call spirit. It is the knowledge of this spirit that we call psychology, whereas the knowledge which is gained neither by tangibility of substance not by perception but by revelation is called esotericism. Thus we can divide the different aspects of knowledge into three groups: science, psychology, and esotericism. It is these three that make knowledge complete; and it is through these that one can hope to understand life more fully.
There is a vast field of knowledge in the realm of psychology. The knowledge of imagination and of imagination turning into thought, the knowledge of feeling and of feeling turning into emotion, the knowledge of passion and of passion turning into expression, the knowledge of impulse and its outlet, the knowledge of attraction and its contrary effect, the knowledge of the origin and source of sympathy and antipathy – all these belong to psychology. Thus psychology is a knowledge of perceptible things, yet not of solid things that one can touch, and that is why it is more difficult to explain the laws of psychology in words than the laws of material science.
In order to understand psychology better one should develop one’s perception and obtain insight into life. Real psychology is the understanding of a law working behind the scenes. It is the understanding of cause and effect in everything, in every action, in every aspect. It is also a stepping-stone towards esotericism, for it is the psychological attitude which leads one to esoteric knowledge. The one who cannot see the truth of esotericism or mysticism is ignorant because he is backward in psychology. If a person is not able to see the hidden law he will not be able to see that hidden love which is called God in the scriptures.
Esotericism is therefore a process of learning, which is quite contrary to the process by which science is learned. For science is learned by analysis and esotericism by synthesis.
If a person who wants to obtain esoteric knowledge breaks things up into bits, he is analyzing them; and as long as he does this he will never come to understand esotericism. In psychology two things are needed: analysis and synthesis; and when through a better understanding of psychology one has accustomed oneself to synthesize as well as to analyze, then one prepares oneself to synthesize only, which leads to a fuller understanding of esotericism. Therefore, the acquisition of esoteric knowledge is quite different from the study of science.
The only difficulty in acquiring esoteric knowledge at the present time is that man who is trained in science is not yet capable of attaining to esoteric knowledge unless he goes through the process of obtaining psychological knowledge. In order to enter the gates of mysticism the first thing for man to understand is what feeling is, what service is, what sympathy is, what sincerity is. It is a great fault of the education of today that sentiment, which is really its most important side, is neglected. It is like wanting a person to become, not alive, but like a corpse: in order to educate him life must be taken from him and he must be turned from a living person into a dead one! This is what lies behind the deaths of heroism and idealism, the deaths of souls which have made an impression on humanity that has lasted for thousands and thousands of years.
What is to be revived in the present generation is the capacity of feeling. Only thinking is developed today and not feeling; but thinking is not enough. After thinking comes feeling. After feeling comes seeing, and it is this seeing which is meant by the word seer.
We hardly realize how much we depend in our everyday life upon suggestion, especially in forming our opinions of other people. Any praise or blame of a person that falls upon our ears soon appears to us as reality; and few there are in this world who reject this suggestion that comes to them from someone else though they are quite ignorant of the facts themselves. We may become quite prejudiced against someone whom we have never seen, never known, merely because of what another person has said. And the interesting part of it is that we are doubtful of praise, but credulous as to blame. The reason for this is that our experience makes us pessimistic. All the wickedness and evil that we meet with in life impresses us and in time makes us feel that if anything exists it is wickedness, it is evil, and when we hear good of anyone we begin to doubt. We think that it is perhaps a mistake on the part of the person who tells us, that perhaps he is ignorant of the facts, or that we should wait till we know more about the person who is so good. But as to blame, we do not try to wait for the time when we can meet the person and get to know him and see where the blame lies. We believe it immediately.
When we consider the psychology of the crowd, we see how often great people who have really worked for their fellow men, in whatever capacity, fall into disfavor when once people begin to speak against them! And at this time when our life in the world is very automatic and we all depend upon what the newspapers say, we collectively change our opinion of people, day after day. We neither know the cause of their being praised, nor do we know much about why they are blamed.
When people begin to realize what suggestion means, many react wrongly against it. For instance, they think that to say to oneself, “I am well,” is suggestion, and they wonder whether it is not wrong. But they do not know that from morning till evening we are impressed by suggestions coming to us automatically in different forms. The importance does not lie in receiving suggestions or in rejecting suggestions. It lies in understanding what will benefit us and what will be detrimental. Suggestions about haunted houses make people afraid or ill. Because of such a suggestion they believe that the house is haunted, and that in itself is enough to make them feel ill.
Suggestions about difficulties we have to meet will produce difficulties. Suggestions made by people who say, “This person likes you,” “That person dislikes you,” all act so much upon a person that very often he becomes convinced of something before he even begins to try and find out the truth about it. Among a hundred people we will hardly find one who wishes to find out the truth before he accepts any suggestion. Very often he does not even trouble about it. To believe in something as soon as another has said it, and to form an opinion immediately is the easier way: it saves him from troubling anymore about it. That is why we readily accept a suggestion; and so our whole life is full of suggestions. It is hard on the person about whom we form an opinion just by hearing something against him. In any of the different capacities, whether he be our relation, our friend, our servant, or our superior, in any such case it proves to be unjust. And it does not end there. When once a person has heard something against someone else and has formed an opinion about it, his opinion acts upon that person and makes him what the other thought him to be.
In this way many do not develop in themselves a sense of justice, a capacity for understanding rightly, because they are dependent upon what others say. And when a person is in a high position where he has to deal with many people and his opinion counts, his opinion changes the condition of their lives. When that person lightly forms an opinion only from hearing about someone, many people under him suffer. This often happens with people in high positions. When they have neither time nor inclination to take the trouble to find out about others who are dependent on them or who work under them, and when they change their opinion just because another person has said something, it becomes very difficult. Often most devoted and faithful friends have broken their friendship because of this weakness of accepting a suggestion from another. Between relations and friends it happens frequently that there comes a break without reason.
The best way to react against suggestion is to try and find out the facts. But very often what a person does is to try and find out the facts in the light of that suggestion. It is just like the story of Othello, who, when he begins to inquire about Desdemona, interprets everything in the same light as it was suggested to him.
According to metaphysics, one way of removing the effect of suggestion from the mind is by concentration. There are two things one can accomplish by concentration: one is to establish a thought in one’s mind, and the other is to remove a thought from one’s mind. Concentration helps one to accomplish both these things, and then one is able to remove any thought one wishes from one’s mind, and to implant a thought which one wishes to keep in one’s mind.
But besides this, from a moral point of view one should close one’s ears and eyes to all that is disagreeable, inharmonious, and ugly, to all that sets one against another, and one should not take notice of it. There is much beauty to be observed in our lives, if we can only turn our eyes away from all ugliness, from all that is undesirable, and fix our eyes on all that is beautiful and agreeable. For if we want to feel hurt and insulted and troubled, there is not one thing only, there are a thousand things that trouble us, and the only way of getting over them is not to notice them.
Some people always seem to prefer the opposite to a given suggestion. That is another weakness. It not only shows that they do not trust another person, but that they do not trust themselves either. The natural or normal state of mind is to have mastery over things, over conditions, and if a suggestion comes from another person, to think about it. By thinking about it we do not need to believe it, but we need not act against it. For all things are a suggestion, whether they be good or bad. It is not that suggestions are always wrong. Suggestions are often very good. But when a person is always against any suggestion, he will reject all that is good because he is afraid.
There are many people in this world who will defend themselves before they are attacked. No one has any intention of attacking them but they are already on the defensive. There are people, who, before anyone has insulted them, are on the warpath; even before anyone insults them they imagine that someone had that intention. These are wrong tendencies of the mind, and they should be fought against in order to keep the mind clear. To clear the path of life, the mentality must be kept clear.
To keep a harmful suggestion out of one’s mind means a struggle, but if a person does not know how to struggle he will continue the same suggestion by this very struggle. For instance, a person who is struggling against his illness and is saying to himself, “I am not ill. I am not ill,” since both the words not and ill are there, he continues both. Or a person who is in poverty and who says, “I am not poor,” the poor is there besides the not,and his poverty will stay with him. While he is struggling against it he keeps it all the time before his mind; although he does not want it, yet it is there. It is in his own consciousness and he cannot get rid of it. One should act wisely in regard to suggestion.
The nature of the mind is such that the first suggestion makes a deep impression, and the following suggestion can only make little impression. Therefore, if once a person is impressed by a wrong thing and has formed a wrong opinion it is most difficult to change it. Besides there are people who sit upon their opinions. They do not hold an opinion, the opinion holds them, and once they have formed an opinion nothing can change it, for it is a dead opinion, just like a rock. Where the rock is placed, the rock lies. It is not a living being that walks and moves.
Humanity suffers greatly by this weakness which persists in the human race; and, as there is a lack of psychological knowledge in the world, it spreads and goes on more and more every day. In ancient times humanity suffered because it had to depend upon the opinion of one man, but now humanity suffers because it has to depend upon the opinions of ever so many people, working automatically all the time. During the last years how many personalities came out to shine before the world, how many became popular for some time, and how many fell into disfavor! The reason is that the crowd works automatically and does not know the reality. What it knows is what it is told. If, through the newspapers or in any other way, an opinion is formed, it becomes the opinion of the mob. And often it is not right; seldom can it be true. For the betterment of humanity people should be taught to understand from childhood what the automatic working of mind is, and what a difference there is between it and the working of mind with will.
Can one overcome everything by suggestion? It can be done, but it cannot be said. There are many very great things that can be accomplished. But when one wants to speak about them, it is too difficult. Not only will others not believe it, but a person will not be able to believe it himself if he begins to speak about it. If they were left unsaid, greater things could be done than one’s imagination can conceive.
SUGGESTION THROUGH IMPRESSION AND BELIEF
It happens very often that we find that a person who has been successful in life goes on being successful, and that one who has once failed goes on failing. Looked at from a psychological point of view, the reason is that the first person was impressed by his success and so he continued to be successful, and the other, who was impressed with his failure, continued to have failures because that impression suggested failure to him. But it is not because of the displeasure of God that unfortunate souls continue to be unfortunate in everything they do. It is that the suggestion of misfortune, of misery, keeps them miserable throughout their lives.
There was a wealthy man who had lost all his money and had become poor, yet he would not admit it. He said, “No, I have not lost it. I have still got it in my mind somewhere.” And in six months time he became as rich as he was before. He did not allow his failure to suggest itself to him. And so it is with one’s character. Often a person says, “I am stupid. I cannot think,” and when he has said this several times naturally he becomes stupid. Sometimes he says it out of modesty, humility, or politeness; but this virtue will prove to be a sin. Also, many have lost their memory through suggestion. When they have forgotten something, which is a natural thing for a human being to do, they repeat to themselves, “How stupid! How forgetful on my part!” That idea repeated twice or three times deepens their forgetfulness.
There are many different drawbacks of this kind, as when a person says, “When I am among people I become nervous. I become timid. When I am asked to speak or to do something, I cannot do it.” All these things are suggestions. Napoleon never liked to say, “I cannot.” When a person says, “I cannot,” he has made a suggestion to himself, he has weakened his power of accomplishing what he could otherwise have accomplished. To admit to oneself, “I have no force, I have no power, I have no thought, I have no intelligence,” only means working against oneself.
Often people who are disappointed with the world say, “My heart has grown cold.” But it is actually they who suggest to themselves that their heart has become cold. Others may say, “I can no longer love.” But we have come from love. We are love itself. We are made of love. How then, can we no longer love? All these suggestions which are undesirable and foolish work against our life. Then there are people who imagine that nobody likes them, that everybody hates them, that everybody is jealous of them. Nobody may hate them, nobody may even dislike them, but naturally when such a thought develops in their own minds, it reflects upon others and creates in them the tendency to hate and dislike.
We should always remember that man is not created by God as wood is carved by the carpenter, for the carpenter is different from the wood, but that man is created out of the self of God. Therefore, all that is in God is in man. All the different powers and qualities that we need in life are attainable if we do not deny their existence in ourselves, but when we deny that they exist in us, then naturally life will deprive us of that gift which is our own. How can man be fortunate when he believes and thinks that everything he touches goes wrong? How can a person be loved when he carries in his heart the thought that everyone who sees him dislikes him, hates him, avoids him, works against him? Nobody is his enemy except he himself. By such an attitude one becomes one’s own worst enemy.
This psychological idea should not, of course, keep us from cultivating the principle of modesty. If a person without learning says, “I am learned,” it does not mean that he will become learned. If, without having a voice he claims to be a tenor, this will not make him a tenor. If he has not got those qualities he should not profess them, though he may anticipate them and expect them. He should say, “I am entitled to all that opens the door to progress.” But as soon as a person admits to himself that they have not got that quality, that intelligence, that power, that gift in him, he drives his spirit out of that world.
The following story is an example of modesty together with suggestion. A slave named Ayaz was so highly favored by the Sultan that the Sultan made him his treasurer. The most precious jewels and gems were given into his charge. And those around the Sultan felt angry about it, to think that a slave was raised to their rank and that he was given such a trust. They were always trying to point out faults in the slave to the Sultan. One day a courtier said, “Ayaz goes every day to the treasure-house, even when there is no need to, and he sometimes remains there for hours. He certainly steals precious jewels from the treasury.” Every day the Sultan was hearing something against Ayaz, and at last he said, “If this is really so, I will go and see it with my own eyes.” He went and had a hole made in the wall so that he could see and hear what his slave did there. The Sultan was standing outside, looking into the room, and Ayaz entered and closed the door. First he opened the chest in which the precious jewels of the Sultan were kept. Then out of the same chest he took something which he kept there. He kissed it and pressed it to his eyes, and then he opened the package. And what was it? It was the same garment which he had worn when he was sold as a slave. He took off his courtier’s clothes and put on that garment and he stood before the mirror and said, “Ayaz, do you remember today what you were before? Nothing; a slave brought before the king to be sold. The king appreciated something in you. Perhaps you do not deserve it. But try your best to be faithful to the king who has made you what you are, and never forget the day when you wore this garment, that you may not raise your head in pride above the others who work under you. And never allow your feeling of gratitude to leave you, for prosperity is always intoxicating. Keep yourself sober and thank God, and pray God to grant the Sultan a long life, and be grateful for all that has been given to you.” Then he took off his garment and put it back in the chest and closed the doors and came out. The Sultan approached him with open arms and said, “Ayaz, until now you were the treasurer of my jewels, but now you are the treasurer of my heart. You have taught me a lesson of how I must stand before my King, before whom I was nothing and am nothing.”
This must be the attitude. It was not a suggestion of his misery as a slave, it was a suggestion of the realization that he had come from that state to his exalted position, and also, that he should prove worthy of it. When we become conscious of our unworthiness, of our limitations, it certainly helps us, yet it can only really help us when we hope to become better. But if we stop there, then we might just as well stay there forever. When a person says that he is too weak to become any better, he stays where he is, but when he admits to himself, “Yes, today I am weak, but tomorrow I will be better. I will try to be better,” that is the right attitude. We should never allow that spirit of mastery which is in us to become blunted by a feeling of inability, for the essence of life is hope, and when we hope for the better, we shall be better. It cannot be otherwise. Hopelessness is worse than death. It is better to die than to lose hope.
We are able to do anything if we choose to make the effort. The difficulty is that often we do not choose to make an effort. And why not? Because we do not believe. What is generally lacking in man is belief. He does not believe. Another interesting thing is this: suppose there were ten people sitting in meditation and Providence granted them a boon – to ask for as much wealth as they would wish. Will all ten ask for the same amount? No, because no two will agree as to how much can be obtained. One will ask for a hundred, another for a thousand, a third will ask for a million, and a fourth for nothing because he will not believe that any can be obtained.
Although the river is flowing with clear water, the different people who go to it will not all be able to take the same quantity of water. The one who has a glass will take a glass. Another who has a pitcher will take a pitcher. A third who has a rubber bag will fill that, and the one who has brought a tank will take a tankful. But no one will take the same quantity as another. And so it is with all of us in our lives: what we obtain is what our belief allows us to obtain, either wealth or virtue, power or rank or spirituality. What our belief does not allow us to attain to we do not attain to. We cannot attain it. It is difficult to say to what extent our belief allows us to attain, for we live in this world of limitation and we cannot believe beyond what we can see. What keeps us from believing is that we are impressed by the limitations around us, and we can never think of or believe in anything different from what we see.
How can one get belief? This is the most difficult question anyone can ask; for it cannot be learned, it cannot be taught, it is a grace of God. Belief is essentially the same thing as faith, but only when belief has become a conviction does it turn into faith. I remember my murshid giving me, in blessing me, this wish, “May your faith be strengthened.” Being a young man, I thought, “Is that all he is saying to me?” – not, “May you be inspired, or illuminated, or prosperous,” or something else? But when I think of it now I know that in that blessing there was all. When belief is strengthened, then there is everything. All that we lack in life is mostly because of our lack of belief. But again, it is not something that one can learn or teach or that one can give to anybody. This comes from the grace of God.
To affirm a belief is one thing, and really to believe is another. Many will say that they believe, but few really believe. Yes, there are moments when a person is under the spell of belief, but then there come other moments when he is under a spell of unbelief. If this condition vanishes and there comes a steady flow of belief, then, as a river reaches the sea, that soul reaches perfection.
SUGGESTION THROUGH VARIOUS FORMS OF IMPRESSION
Colors and forms automatically suggest to us a thought or a feeling. The colors we wear and the colors that are around us have an effect upon us and produce an atmosphere. I once happened to go to a newly formed club, and some members said to me, “There is surely some evil spirit in this house, for since we have had our club here, every time we have had a committee meeting there has been a quarrel!” I directed their attention to the walls of the room where they used to have their meetings and which were covered with red paper. I said, “It is this red wallpaper. It appeals to the fiery side of your nature, and if there is any inclination to fight it encourages you.”
The ancient orders of sages and saints and contemplative people knew this, and with this thought in mind they chose the colors of their dress and of their surroundings. This idea is overlooked today, and people take any color which is the fashion of the season, not knowing what it suggests to themselves and to others. And so it is with the form of things. If an object is well-formed it suggests rhythm and harmony, and if it is crooked it suggests the opposite.
In ancient times there were superstitions concerning good and bad omens. One of these was based on the principle that every color suggests to a person who is going to do some work, whether he will be successful or whether he will fail. The impression he gets from that color stays with him to the extent that it has an effect upon his work. There was also a superstition that if one met a crooked person when going to one’s work one would have ill luck: not only a crooked person, but anything crooked one sees at such a time naturally impresses one’s spirit with crookedness. Not everyone knows something about features, but every person is affected by features. He receives an impression from them without knowing it, for the form suggests something which he may not be able to describe, although he can feel it. It is a language without words. It conveys something, though it is not always easy for anyone to interpret it even to himself.
Every little pain and discomfort often continues through the power of suggestion. As soon as one feels discomfort or pain the mind repeats, “I have a pain. I am uncomfortable,” and this suggestion adds to that pain, like fuel to the fire. Very often a person becomes tired before any work has been done because a previous experience of tiredness suggested it to him. There are many cases of people who are tired because of an impression in their mind which gives them the suggestion that they are tired. It is the same with weakness. Once a person is impressed with his weakness, feebleness of body, this impression continues to act on him. It comes as an inner suggestion. And if some good friend tries to help by saying, “You seem to be very low today,” then this only aggravates it.
There is another most important side to suggestion, and that is an impression on one’s conscience of, “I have done wrong. I have done something which was unjust. I was not fair. It was beneath my dignity.” No doubt this impression is produced by the good side of a person’s being, but often it results in something bad. For what happens is that first comes the idea of having done wrong, and then in time that feeling is blunted and a person begins to bear it and think it is all right. But as the impression of having done wrong remains and continues to act upon a person, this makes him do worse and worse. Thus a person who has been in prison very often continues to go to prison, continues to commit the same crime. The reason is that he is impressed by that crime, and the spirit which opposes it has become blunted. He is now accustomed both to the crime and to the punishment. In other words, the person has become master of the situation.
We see the same with children. If a child is impressed by something it has done which is good, and we admire it and say, “It is very nice,” or if the child, of itself, thinks, “What I have done is very good,” this continues to work in the child and in that way it will improve every day.
It is because they recognized the power of suggestion that the ancient people gave names to their children with a meaning that would suggest to them certain ideas. Naturally if a person hears his name called by others a hundred times a day, he has something suggested to him a hundred times. He may not realize it at the time, but the depths of his consciousness receive the suggestion and he develops that quality, for such is the nature of the soul.
This idea is very little known to the world, but the more it becomes known, the more people will understand its value. There is nothing in the world that can give a deeper suggestion to a person than his own name, for he is called by that name all the time. And one should be thankful to those who begin to understand this idea so that they can spread it among their friends. There is an automatic suggestion in the name. We hear ourselves called so many times during the day, and this produces the feeling of that name, not only in our own consciousness but also in the minds of those who call us. Automatically a feeling arises, and all this works for our benefit.
Many give names thoughtlessly, or names without meaning, and this, of course, has no result. And when a person has been given a name which means, for instance, something like torture, the life of that person may become torture in the end. Also, if the parents who give the child a name are not inspired, then an automatic working of the cosmic forces may suggest to them a particular name, and that name then builds the child’s destiny.
It has been the custom of the great mystics to give someone a better name in order to produce better results. Sometimes a name given by a sage or a mystic in a moment of deep feeling, a name which comes out of his heart, changes the whole destiny of that person from the day that it is given. The poor become rich, the stupid wise, the insignificant great or famous. It is not only an idea, but a frequent experience. There have been many such instances when people have received a name as a blessing from a spiritual person and their whole life has been changed. We know so little about the power of the name, but the more one studies this question, the more one will realize that a person’s name can have a very great influence upon his life.
Nothing gives a stronger suggestion than a deep impression of success or failure, of weakness or strength, of good or ill luck, of sorrow or joy. And it is the greatest pity when a person is deeply impressed by his unworthiness. When this impression continues, where does it lead him? It leads to a complete feeling of unworthiness, and naturally he will have to bear with himself; and in that way the side of his nature which should oppose it becomes blunted, and this results in hopelessness.
SUGGESTION BY WORD AND VOICE
The tone of a spoken word, the music of a phrase, often suggest a meaning which is quite different from what these words and phrases really mean. Simple words such as yes and no convey different meanings with different tones. The music of a phrase may convey either a sincere thought or a sarcasm. Not everyone can explain very well what tone it is that makes the meaning different, or what music it is that changes the sense of a phrase. But automatically one may say an ordinary word or a phrase in a tone which one normally uses to express deep feeling. When this happens many plead that it is not their fault if they have been misunderstood, and that they cannot be blamed for having only said a few simple words – and indeed, if the same words had been said in another tone they would have been simple.
When we go deeper into this subject we find that every vowel is suggestive of a certain feeling, and that, therefore, names and words have a certain effect upon the speaker and the listener apart from their meaning. For instance, it is interesting to gather from the sound of the word why the flower should have been called flower and why the stone should have been called stone. We feel from the sound of stone that it is hard, solid. And we feel from the word flower that it is soft and beautiful. Those who speak without any knowledge of tone and music, those who have no intuition of how to express their thoughts and feelings in a proper tone, lose a great deal in life; for it takes away much of the sense which they wish to express in their speech, and often it even suggests something quite different from what they had meant. We very often hear people say, “I told him over and over again, but he would not listen.” But this may be because they were ignorant of the tone and music of speech. There is a psychological reason why he would not listen: perhaps the tone was not right or the music might not have been correct.
Voice has great mystery. The voice of the individual is suggestive of something, not only of his thought, feeling, and action, but of his grade of evolution, of his past, present, and future. If ten people say the same thing, we will find each of them suggesting a different sense, a sense which goes further than the words themselves. While the word reaches as far as the ears, feeling reaches further into the heart. It is the voice that carries a sense, a feeling, and it expresses so much that the more one studies it the more one finds that voice has a very great significance. When a person says, “I spoke, but nobody heard me,” he does not usually know that it was because of his voice that he was not heard. It was not what was said, but what the voice conveyed. Not everyone will notice it, but everyone will feel it automatically. Kind, wise, foolish, weak, or powerful personalities will all show their character in their voice. It would not be an exaggeration to say that sometimes a person’s voice expresses quite a different meaning from what he says in words.
When we trace the secret of language in history we find that many languages known to us today have come from just a very few ancient languages. But if we go further than history takes us we shall find that all languages have come from one language, a language that the human race knew in its cradle, a language that man learned from intuition. The names given to everything were derived from what each thing suggested. Things were called according to what people intuitively felt on seeing and feeling them. That is why the nearer we get to the ancient languages, the more we find the secret of psychological suggestion; for every word of the ancient languages has a psychological value, and is suggestive of its sense in such a profound way that it is as if the word had come as a reaction to what the actual thing had suggested to a person. Our minds, corrupted by the new languages, which have themselves been corrupted by mixture, cannot conceive or fully appreciate that feeling which one finds in an ancient language, and which is suggestive not only of the meaning of the word, but of the nature and character and mystery of what it is identified with.
It is on this principle that Mantra Yoga was founded. Words which sprang from the intuition of the Yogis and thinkers, words which conveyed the meaning in a most profound manner, such words were collected for the use of the adepts, who repeated them and who profited by repeating them. Mantra Yoga means a science of words, words which were sacred and helpful in one’s spiritual evolution. The Yogis have worked on this principle for many thousands of years, and have discovered a great mystery in the power of words. Sufis of all ages have followed this principle of making use of words which are suggestive of a certain sense, a sense which one wishes to bring out and make a reality in one’s life. No doubt it is necessary to know the meaning of the sacred words one repeats; this gives a thousand times greater effect. And the spoken word has a greater power than silent concentration, provided there is power of concentration and sincere feeling at the back of that word.
The suggestion of sacred words first impresses one’s own spirit, helping one to develop that quality, that virtue, that merit, that power of inspiration which the words suggest. And the mechanism of one’s inner being is such that every word that one repeats so many times becomes each time more living, and then this mechanism goes on repeating the same word automatically. Thus, if a person has repeated a sacred word for fifteen minutes, throughout the day and night this word goes on, as the spirit repeats it continually.
Another effect of this repetition is that the word is reflected upon the universal Spirit, and the universal mechanism then begins to repeat it automatically. In other words, what a person repeats, God then begins to repeat, until it is materialized and has become a reality on all planes of existence.
There are also dangerous words. There are actually so many dangerous words that one cannot warn people against them. In order to avoid words of bad effect there is a very amusing custom in India among certain people. Instead of saying, “When you were ill I came to see you,” they will say, “When your enemies were ill I came to see you.”
The mystics of all ages have attached great importance to the mystery of the word, and every adept who has persevered in the path of Mantra Yoga has always arrived at the desired issue. No doubt perseverance, patience, and faith, all three are required in accomplishing a mystical work by the power of repetition.
SUGGESTION BY MOVEMENT
Every movement has a greater significance than one can imagine. The ancient people, recognizing this fact, knew the psychology of movement, and it is a great pity that the science of movement and of its psychological effect seems to be so little known today. Movement is life. Its absence is like death. All that gives proof of life in whatever form is movement. All that shows the sign of death in whatever form is the absence of movement.
Movements can be considered from different points of view, and there are several kinds of movements. There is a natural spontaneous movement, which is mostly seen by noticing the movements of an innocent child who has not learned them from anywhere, who is not influenced by having seen someone else making these movements, but just makes them naturally, expressing its feelings which words can never express. When feelings of astonishment, of fear, of joy, of fancy , of affection, or of appreciation are expressed naturally, they reveal much more than words can ever say.
Then there are the movements which can be regarded as a language of people belonging to a certain community, a certain family, a certain country, or a certain race. The members of that particular community alone know that language; others are quite ignorant of it. These movements which have become expressions of language are not understood by the people of another country, but they are not the natural and spontaneous movements mentioned above which are like a language for all. For instance, the Eastern way of beckoning a person is with all one’s fingers. It suggests, “I call you from my whole heart,” and when a person calls somebody with only one finger it is not considered right. In Italy and other Mediterranean countries there is the same way of beckoning someone. In all the countries of the East the movements may differ, and there may also be some movements which are like those of southern European. There are psychological reasons why these movements should be alike.
There are also individual movements, the movements an individual makes, showing thereby his particular state of health and his particular mental condition; for one can read a person’s condition by the movements he makes. And if one has insight into movements one can perceive by the movements of a person whether his eyes and ears are in good order, or whether he has anything wrong with any part of his body. His movements will convey it. Movements also show the characteristics of a person, his attitude, his point of view, his outlook on life. The fineness or crudeness of a person’s character can be traced in his movements, and deep characteristics such as pride and humility can also be discovered from a person’s natural movements. Is it right to make movements? All is right, movements or no movements, because everything has its uses, everything has its meaning. It is the right use of all things that is right, and wrong use of everything that is wrong.
No doubt there is also a meaning in controlling the movements. If a person is allowed to go on with his movements, we do not know where it will end, but at the same time by repressing movements one can turn into a rock; and so there are many people who, with beautiful feelings and fine thoughts, turn into a rock because they control their movements too much. Every day a greater stiffness comes over them, and this works against their original character. They may not be stiff by nature, they may have fine thoughts and deep feeling, but they become stiff because they are taught to control their movements too much, even to the extent of turning into a stone. One sees this happen frequently.
By repressing a movement a person may have buried a thought or a feeling inside him, but if it is an undesirable thought or feeling it is just as well that by these movements it should be thrown out instead of being kept inside. It is better that it is extirpated than buried in the heart. No doubt there is another way of looking at it, and that is from the point of view of self-control; but this belongs to asceticism, which is another subject altogether.
Then there are the more refined movements which belong to art. This art, the art of movements, can be divided into three different classes. To the first belong the grace and fineness of movements executed with skill and subtlety, the harmony that they express and the music that they have of their own. The next is the movements which convey the meaning of what one says more fully. When the art of speech and of singing is separated from the art of movement, this certainly takes away a great beauty and charm, for speech, reciting, and singing go together with movements. And the third class of movements is to illustrate the feeling that is in music, to express or to interpret music in the form of movements.
But the most essential aspect of movement is that movement does not only suggest the meaning for which it is intended, but that a movement, according to its nature and character, can make an impression on the person who sees it or on the one who makes it, an effect which can automatically work to form a destiny in their lives. In ancient times, every movement the priest made during the service or ceremony had a significance, a psychological significance, and accordingly it made an impression on those who attended the services. In the ceremonies and rituals of ancient peoples every movement had a psychological significance. Thus we do not only attach a meaning to a movement, but a movement very often has a meaning in itself, and that meaning has an effect. A person can even harm himself or others, not knowing the significance of the movement he makes.
How can we know which movements are good or which have a destructive effect? All we want to know we can know and will know. Often we do not know things because we do not care to know them. The field of knowledge is so vast and yet so near that once we are interested in a subject it is not only we that go towards it, but the subject comes to us. To begin to discover the significance of movements, their character, their nature, their mystery we have only to watch, and our sense of right proportion, our sense of beauty and harmony, will begin to show us what suggests destruction and what suggests to us harmony, sympathy, love, beauty, or fineness. We have only to give our attention to it and it will all come; but to describe which movement is constructive and which is destructive would take volumes. It is perhaps as difficult and as subtle as making out which word is destructive and which word is constructive, and what hidden psychological significance each word has besides its common meaning.
Furthermore, our life as it is just now, so busy and occupied with material things, gives us little opportunity to look into the deeper significance of life. It keeps our mind occupied on the surface all day long, so that we have become ignorant of what is behind the veil of the life itself which we are living, of the movements around us and of the movements we make. It is a kind of intoxication, and it keeps us floating on the surface, ignorant of the depths of life, for we have no time to think of these things. Nevertheless, these things have their meaning, their significance, and their effect just the same, whether we know them or not.
The blessings given by the sages, the good wishes and prayers of the masters, were always connected with movement. The movements made the prayer alive. They insured that the blessings were granted. No doubt if movement is without silent thought and deep feeling it is less than thought and feeling, it is almost nothing; but when a movement is made with a living and sincere thought, and with deep feeling, it will make the thought and feeling a thousand times more effective.
SUGGESTION IN PRACTICE
Practical suggestion has four different aspects. The first is the suggestion that is made to oneself, which is called auto-suggestion. The second is the suggestion that is made to another person. The third is the suggestion that is made to the lower creatures. And the fourth, which is little known to the scientific world but which has always been understood by the mystics, is the suggestion that is made to an object.
Auto-suggestion is something by which one helps oneself to be encouraged or to be discouraged, to be well or to be ill, to go down or to rise, to be happy or to be unhappy. There are two kinds of auto-suggestion: the kind that one intentionally, consciously, makes to oneself and upon which the whole mystical training is based; and the suggestion that one makes to oneself automatically, knowing neither its nature nor its results. The latter kind of suggestion is made by everyone to himself without knowing whether it is to his advantage or to his disadvantage – by it many go downhill and very few uphill. There are many who, without knowing it are in love with misfortune. They will say outwardly, “I hate it. I don’t want it. I don’t want to be ill. I don’t want to be unfortunate,” yet at the same time unconsciously they continually suggest the contrary to themselves by thinking, “I am so ill. I am so unfortunate. I am so stupid. I am so weak.”
There are also two kinds of suggestions that one makes to others. One suggestion is that which one makes to another person to help him to be cured of an illness, or to help him to improve his life or his character. And the other is the suggestion one makes out of foolishness or out of ignorance of its effect. For instance, someone says in fun to a friend, “I will shoot you today.” It is a joke, but he does not know what effect that joke can have upon his friend. One easily says by way of a joke, “You will go bankrupt if you do so, if you go on spending like this,” or, “Do you wish to die? You will surely have an accident.” One simply says it, not realizing what effect it could have, sooner or later, upon the other. Sometimes in order to show one’s friendship a person says, “But how weak you look! You are very run down. You can’t be feeling well!” These suggestions often make a person ill.
Then there is the suggestion that one makes to the lower creation. All pet animals such as dogs and cats and horses receive suggestion readily and act upon it. This shows that it is not true, as many say, that the lower creatures have no mind. They not only have a mind but they have a heart, too, and very often it is more apparent and more alive than in so-called human beings.
And the fourth kind of suggestion is the suggestion that one makes to an object. In this age of materialism this is not understood by most people, but from a mystical point of view it is very often as effective and wonderful as any other suggestion I have mentioned. In ancient times a hero, before going to war, used to take his sword in his hand and speak words of friendship to it from the bottom of his heart. He would say, “I have taken you in my hand so that you will be my support, my protection, and my friend on the battlefield. All else I leave at home, but you I take along with me, my friend, my beloved sword.”
A musician in India, before playing on his vina, used to greet his instrument saying, “You are my life. You are my inspiration. You are the means of elevation for my soul. I greet you humbly. You will stand by me when I play.” No one can know of its effect except the one who has spoken these words; he knows what life he has put into the object. That instrument which was an object has turned into a living being.
All manner of practices such as invoking sacred names, repeating spiritual chants in a new house, are suggestion and affect even objects. However foolish it may look from the outside, still the fact remains that all things and beings represent life, the one life, although some are more open to suggestion and feeling, and others seemingly less open.
But even the latter are also open to suggestion. It is we who are not open to see them receive it. Rumi says in the Masnavi that fire, water, air, and earth are all as dead things to us, but before God they stand as living beings, as His obedient servants. The man who knows this mystery knows a wonderful law of nature. As soon as a soul is awakened to this mystery life begins to reveal itself, and the soul begins to communicate with life.
It is upon one’s attitude that one’s whole life depends; by attitude one achieves desirable or undesirable results. Generally, the whole difficulty in the life of a person is that he is not master of his own attitude. And however learned, however intelligent, or however spiritual a man may appear to be, if he has not control over his attitude and no insight into the result of that attitude, he has not gone very far on the path.
Although a right attitude is an inborn quality, it can be changed and developed. A right mind has a right attitude, a wrong mind has a wrong attitude. Sometimes the mind gets into a crooked or awkward position, it is not in its right place, and then whatever a person sees seems wrong to him, and whatever he does turns out to be wrong. In some people’s lives this happens very often, in others’ only at times.
In Sanskrit there is a saying that when a bad time comes in one’s life, the mind changes its attitude. But he who looks at the mind as a compass which always points in the right direction, and who continues to believe in this, will always find the right attitude. And once a person has a key to his attitude in life, then everything can be of use to him, as for instance, humility and pride. The one who has humility as his principle is incapable of pride, and the one who has pride as his principle is incapable of humility: one lacks the right leg, the other the left, and in both cases something is missing. There is a time when humility wins, when humility raises one’s position, when it melts hearts, when it is the greatest virtue in a man’s life; and at such times it is a serious fault if humility is missing. But then there is a time when pride has its place, when pride has to perform a role, when it raises a person, or when it sustains him; and at that time he is lost if he practices the principle of humility. Therefore, it is not the principle, it is making use of the principle which is the main thing.
When we tell a composer, “The music you have composed is wonderful,” and he answers, “It certainly is,” it is as if his whole composition has become out of tune. In such a case he would have harmonized his music by having humility. But when a person is urged very strongly by his friends to come and have a drink in a café, which may be all right for his friends, but not for him, if his pride at that time helped him and he said, “I am sorry, I cannot come,” that would be much better than humility or showing courtesy to them by saying, “I will come.”
It is the same with optimism and pessimism. There are people who obstinately hold on to optimism, and there are others who think it is wise to be always pessimistic. Both of these make a mistake. Optimism has its place and so has pessimism. If one looks at every sign of misfortune with pessimism, maybe one will be able to avert a coming misfortune. If, for instance, a young violinist, among whose audience there are perhaps fifty people who he himself feels do not appreciate him, is pessimistic in regard to that feeling, in time he will find that everyone in the audience will appreciate him. But if this pessimism develops too much he will find in the end that everyone in the audience is against him.
There are some things about which we must be pessimistic, and others about which we must be optimistic, and both are necessary in life. If someone says, “Your friend is unkind to you. He does not love you. He is not a true friend to you,” and we keep an unbelieving attitude towards this criticism, this criticism will remain negative, and will have no effect either upon us or upon our friend. Whereas, if we believe it, our belief in time will allow the same attribute to manifest in our friend. When a man says, “I am going to fight, but I doubt if we shall win,” he had better not fight. But the one who notices all the signs which show that there cannot be a victory and yet feels that he will succeed, will surely win in the end. To have a pessimistic attitude towards all that should not happen and to have an optimistic attitude towards all that one wishes to be, is a great thing. Very often a person, blinded by facts, falls flat because of them, and sometimes the truth is hidden by facts; but he would rather ignore the facts and keep to his optimistic point of view. The latter is like standing in space, and the former is like creeping on the ground. There is a saying in India, which everyone there knows: “If the attitude is right, then all will become easy,” and by right attitude is meant the proper attitude towards life.
Then there is the question of hopefulness and resignation. Resignation is the attribute of the saints, and hopefulness is the attribute of the masters; but in all illuminated souls there is a balance. The preferable resignation is the resignation to the past. We should be resigned to all that we have suffered, to all the pain we have gone through, to all that has gone wrong, to all that we have lost; but we should not continue that resignation for the things of the present, because the present should be met with hopefulness. By being hopeful one is sometimes able to change one’s life, while by being resigned one allows conditions to continue throughout life.
Even such a great and wonderful attribute as contentment, which is the sign of the saints, could sometimes prove to be disadvantageous in one’s life. When a person is contented with his life’s conditions this will affect his enthusiasm, and in time his enthusiasm will become paralyzed, whereas his discontented heart emits an enthusiasm which becomes a battery enabling him to go forward. Very often contentment proves a fault in people who may show harmony, calmness, peace and kindness in their nature, but who at the same time do not go forward. But with things that cannot be helped, situations that cannot be changed, conditions that will always remain the same, one may just as well be contented. Besides, if one has risen above certain things in life one does not attach any more importance to them; to be contented in that case is the contentment of the sages, of the wise. But if one wishes to obtain things which one considers to be of great importance to one, one should not be content, one should not practice contentment but enthusiasm. One should let enthusiasm grow so that the willpower may use that enthusiasm to produce the desired results from it.
There are two different dispositions. There is the person who feels that he must do something outwardly, that he must finish it; but although he is busy with it he has no hope of success. He may be studying for an examination or he may be working with his hands or with his brain, but at the back of his mind he holds the thought that perhaps it will not be successful. I knew a writer who had this disposition. She was most gifted and there was every opportunity for her to be successful, but that unfortunate disposition was so strong that every time she wrote something she asked herself, “Will it really be accepted? Will it really take, I wonder?” Her first thought was denial. And what happened? She would finish splendid articles and essays and books, but when they were sent to a publisher they were never accepted. It was not the fault of her essay or article. It was her attitude. The influence she put into it destroyed it all.
And then there is another disposition, the disposition of a person who will not accomplish anything, who will not do anything but will only be hopeful. He will be disappointed, too, for he is hopeful about nothing. He hopes for wonderful things to happen , but he does not move, he does not work for it.
Of these two kinds of people it seems that the one has the body but not the mind, and that the other has the mind but not the body. Both are lacking in something. It is balance that brings about desirable results: on one side hopefulness, on the other, perseverance. Then again, there are some who are very keen on perseverance, but at the same time they do not have anything except perseverance. They are just like a machine that can produce or make something; but first there must be an engineer to make it work. The machines cannot do it alone. This makes a person very dependent.
In conclusion, the right attitude is to keep a balance between reason and hopefulness. There must be facts, and there must be will together with the facts. Hopefulness should be built upon a ground which is solid and strong. And if a person has a hopeful attitude firmly built upon the ground of reason, he will no doubt achieve success.
One of the aspects of personal magnetism is physical magnetism, which has three kinds of attraction. One kind comes because the mechanism of the body is working properly, regularly, when the circulation of the blood is right and when proper care is taken of the body. The next depends on the attractiveness of the form and features with which a person is born. And the third is caused by harmonious movement. The person who lacks any of these three things will naturally lack magnetism. As there is the blossoming of the trees, so there is the time in a person’s life when he blossoms, a time which is called youth, when this magnetism expresses itself in its fullness. It comes as a season and it goes as a season.
The second aspect of magnetism is the magnetism of mind. A person of thought and wit, one who is quick to grasp something and apt in expressing his ideas to others, naturally has magnetic power. This magnetism of thought can also be divided into three kinds. One is thoughtfulness. A thoughtful person may not perhaps speak one word, nor do anything, but the very fact that he is thoughtful will attract others to him. The next way in which the magnetism of mind manifests is in the form of speech, of wit, of expression. Those who are in the presence of a man who has a living mind are immediately won by his magnetism. And the third kind of magnetism is the power of perception and conception. There are people to whom we at once feel attracted, to whom we feel close, who understand us and what we say and mean. Such a person need not speak or explain anything in order to show his magnetic power. He may sit before us and listen to us, and while we are talking to him we feel at one with him.
The third aspect of magnetism is the magnetism of heart. It is more powerful than the magnetism of mind, for the latter touches the surface whereas the magnetism of heart touches the depths of a person. The heart can be best described as a glowing fire if it is living, but when it is dead it is like frozen snow. Magnetism of heart needs no expression, for a person with a loving heart is indubitably magnetic. Therefore, no one should profess to love, for love speaks for itself. It needs no words. The fire does not cry out, “I am burning!” The heat of the glow is felt without words.
The magnetism of the heart can also be divided into three kinds. One is the heart that receives love. It has the magnetism of the moon. The cooling effect of the moon is seen in the beloved soul. Then there is the heart that loves, and this has a more powerful magnetism, a magnetism which can be likened to the sun, which is powerful and which shines. And the third kind of love is greater, finer, and more subtle than the two mentioned above: it is developed when the love becomes a continually springing fountain, which rises as a stream and falls as many drops. It is the love of souls who cannot help but love, the love of souls who only know love, not hate; the love of souls who are no longer the possessors of love but who have become love itself. Their magnetism spreads in a wider horizon and lasts longer than one could ever imagine.
The fourth and highest aspect of magnetism is the magnetism of the soul. The soul that is born again, the soul that has begun to live, the soul that has opened its eyes to the world, that soul not only attracts the wise and the virtuous, but also those who are devoid of wisdom and who lack virtue. The presence of souls who have awakened is itself a magnetism. It draws people walking on the earth and it draws souls that are not on the earth. It not only draws the living beings, the lower creation, but also the trees and plants are drawn to it. The atmosphere that an awakened soul produces lives for centuries in this world, unbroken and unpolluted. The sky takes care of it and preserves it for generations, in order to experience and enjoy this atmosphere produced by the illuminated souls. And the third way in which the illuminated soul shows its magnetism is in words and acts, so that every word becomes dynamic, in Biblical terms a tongue of flame; and everything this soul gives to the world remains, it lives and never dies.
There is not much difference between magnetism and vibration, but at the same time we use the word vibration for that which we can feel in some form or other, which we can perceive, which is more intelligible; whereas we are not always conscious of magnetism and it is not always intelligible although it has an effect on us. Sometimes magnetism may work for a long, long time before we are even conscious of it. Nevertheless, these are one and the same thing. In the aspect where it is intelligible we call it vibration because we feel the movement, whereas in the aspect of magnetism we may not feel it until its effect manifests to our view.
It is not always that one is attracted or feels repulsion on meeting a person, though it may happen that one is attracted or repulsed by merely seeing a person. Attraction or repulsion is something which takes place in less than a moment. The finer a man is the more he is awakened to this sense of attraction or repulsion, and as soon as he casts his glance over a person he either feels attracted or repelled. The only difference is that the wise see all and rise above it, whereas people of little sense react instantly. Nevertheless, every person gives an impression in an instant which calls out either attraction or repulsion.
Treating this subject from a physical point of view only, the first important thing which works automatically on another person is form and feature. The reason is that every individual is partly, even if not wholly, responsible for his form and features. Form and features do not represent only a family resemblance, but they tell us something about the person’s mentality, his attitude of mind, his outlook on life, his condition. The first principle, is right proportion. Upon this depend attraction and repulsion. No doubt everyone sees it differently, because the sense of proportion is different in everyone, and therefore the impression is also different. And when we look at it from the artistic point of view, we find that there is a sense which is more developed in some and less in others, a sense which is awakened and which is touched by line and color.
The next aspect of physical magnetism can be seen in the regularity of the working of the physical body, in the rhythm of the heart and the pulse and in the circulation of the blood; also in the purity of the body, within and without. This magnetism is sustained by a regular life, by taking care of one’s health and vigor, and by maintaining a regular rhythm of life. A man, absorbed as he is in his daily affairs, often neglects his body which is a vehicle to express the spiritual ideal. His neglect is sometimes due to his absorption in his daily work, sometimes to thoughtlessness and sometimes because he does not trouble to think about it.
Another aspect of physical magnetism can be observed in the movements. By this is not meant dancing movements, but movements in ordinary life: walking, sitting, eating, drinking. Every moment one shows the bent of one’s mind with every turn one takes. We can see from a man’s movements what his weakness is and what his strength. His movements can tell us of his wretchedness and of his joy. A person with awkward movements will always have an awkward mentality, a person with crude movements will naturally be coarse. This does not mean that one should develop artificial movements in one’s everyday life in order to make one’s movements more beautiful ad appealing; that would be still worse. Nothing that is artificial has any power. That which attracts is an innocent movement. It manifests naturally. One cannot help moving in a certain way. Control over ones actions, over one’s movements, gives a person magnetism. And the one who moves automatically loses that magnetism, whereas the one who gains control over his movements develops a power of magnetism which manifests in different forms. Is it not clear that a person who walks stamping on the floor with his feet has something hard in his mentality? A person may show his animal tendencies in the way he eats; also the way he sits, the way he looks, the way he speaks, and the way he acts in every capacity of life, are expressive of the condition of his mind.
Many do not observe all this, and yet they are affected by it just the same. Either they are attracted to someone or they are repulsed by him without his having said one word. Very often a person goes to look for work in an office, in a shop or elsewhere, and the man who appoints him, before he asks him any question has gained a first impression of him without even knowing it himself. And it is this impression which directs the whole conversation that he has with that person. He may ask him a hundred question or only two questions, but they are dictated by the first impression he received in one instant. Naturally an ordinary person is not awakened to the higher aspects of magnetism, but everyone in a greater or lesser degree possesses a sense to feel and to be affected by physical magnetism.
THE MAGNETISM OF THE MIND
In many cases the magnetism of the mind proves to be more powerful than physical magnetism. It can be divided into five aspects.
The man who has a keen perception can win the hearts of both the foolish and the wise, because he understands them both. The wise man looks for someone who will understand his wisdom, but the foolish man is also longing to meet someone who will listen to his story and who will understand him; for the foolish person is always rejected. Everybody gets tired of listening to his stories and tries to avoid him. The wise man, with his rare thoughts of wisdom, is always disappointed in people, and when he meets someone who can perceive his ideas this gives him a joy beyond words. It is because of this that a perceptive faculty in a person makes him loved by all.
The next aspect of mind is creative. It may manifest in the form of an invention or in a work of art. It may manifest in the form of composing music, writing poetry and in many other forms. This aspect shows a most wonderful quality of God, namely creation. The creative genius has always the sword of victory in his hand, and all he does will bring him success and give his personality that magnetism which attracts everyone who understands his merit.
The third aspect of the mind is reasoning, judging. The man who has the faculty of reasoning and of justice is sought by everyone. He is the one to depend upon and to accept advice from. This faculty will show in all he says and does, and it will win for him many who are attracted by it.
The fourth aspect of the mind is memory. A man who can remember verses, songs, words or ideas collects knowledge within himself. It is he who may be called learned, who has within him a storehouse of all he has studied, experienced, and seen and this gives him a magnetic influence which attracts those who value learning.
Sometimes people, wishing to improve a weak memory, attempt to memorize more and more, but it is not always by trying to use a particular faculty that the faculty develops. Very often we remember things which are useless. There are many things which it is not necessary to remember, and in trying to do so we make our memory tired with those thoughts; consequently, it is not free to remember other, more important things. It is no longer open. It becomes limited. It closes itself with the thoughts it has in it, and this may even develop insanity. The best advice in regard to memory is to forget all the disagreeable things of the past, and only to remember the most beautiful ones.
The fifth aspect of the mind is feeling. The mind that has a touch of feeling is brilliant like a diamond. It has a liquid quality, for the warmth of feeling liquefies the crystal-like mind. A man with such a mind shows this quality in what we call wit, and also in tact. Wit is a play of delicate feelings, of humor or joy, and the thought which if forms manifests in speech or action. It has a cunning way of winning those who have subtle perception. When three or four people are sitting together, and a serious person comes and sits down among them like a rock, hard and stiff and devoid of any sense of humor, he kills even the atmosphere of the place; but when someone, even if he is a stranger, joins them and shows that he possesses the quality of wit, he wins them all in a few moments. The mentality of the witty person can be called a dancing mind, and to have a witty mind is a wonderful manifestation of nature. It is a great quality. A witty person can make words dance. His phrases can give us the joy of a symphony.
The serious manifestation of this quality is tact. It is essentially the same as wit. When wit is developed and centralized it becomes tact. Everyone can feel, think, speak and act, but not everyone is always tactful. It takes lifelong study and practice to be tactful, and even if a person becomes tactful at the last moment of his life it is worth while. The magnetism of a tactful person is beyond words. Every word and movement, every action of his, will have an influence on those whom he meets, for he is not only a considerate person; he is consideration itself. It is not that all sympathetic people are always tactful. There are people who are most loving and yet tactless. The more they want to please their friends, the more they displease them. Their loving words can become stones instead of flowers. This does not mean that they have no love, that they have no sympathy. It only means that they do not possess this great wealth of mind which is tact.
There are three degrees of the rhythm of mind. There is a mind which creates slowly and perceives slowly. There is a mind which creates gently and perceives gently and the third degree is the mind which perceives quickly and creates thoughts quickly. There is a particular phenomenon that manifests from these three rhythms of the mind, which each has its particular influence. The three qualities of the mind – slow, gentle and quick – are the outcome of the three Gunas, as they are called in Sanskrit: Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. There is one person to whom we may say something and he answers, “Will you give me time to think it over? May I tell you about it tomorrow?” The answer that he will give us will surely be of some worth There is another person who has heard us say something and he says, “And then, what then?” and then we go on speaking, and while we are saying something else he is thinking about what has struck his mind. By the time we have finished our conversation he has found a proper answer to what we said first. And there is a third man who answers us even before we have finished our sentence. Far from thinking about what we have said, he has not even heard it. He has at once formed an opinion on it and promptly gives an answer. Such a man may easily make a mistake.
In conclusion, we might say that there are two principal mentalities, of which one may be called a living mind and the other a dead mind. A living mind will show its life by its creative and perceptive quality, whereas a dead mind is recognized by the absence of this quality. The pleasure that a man derives from a clear mind and a living mentality is a pleasure that cannot be compared with the pleasures that belong to this earth. A brilliant intellectuality imparts the pleasure of flying in the air, it lifts one above the earth. The thinker is like a bird that flies in the air compared with the man who is like an animal that stands on its four legs. And the joy of the bird that flies in the air is beyond comparison with the pleasure of the animal that walks on the earth.
THE MAGNETISM OF THE HEART
The living heart has the same quality as the primal being of God, and it is because of this that the heart of man is the greatest magnet there is. The primal aspect of the divine Being, as it is said in the Bible, is love. The manifestation of the same principle in its fullness is to be found in the heart of man, and thus the awakening of the heart is in fact the awakening of God. In the person whose heart is not awakened, God is not yet awakened.
There is nothing in the world that draws people closer together than sympathy. A simple answer to the question as to what attracts and what repulses, will be that sympathy attracts and that antipathy gives a feeling of repulsion. Some people have sympathy for one person and antipathy for another, but when they feel antipathy for somebody this eats up the magnetism which is created in their hearts by sympathy, and therefore they will always lack magnetism. What is created on one side is used up on the other side.
Heart quality is that which attracts not only mankind but even animals and birds When traveling abroad we very often meet a person who does not know one word of our language, and yet we feel a silent friendship with him. He may not speak, but his heart speaks and our heart hears it. The living heart is such a phenomenon that it needs no pleading. A sympathetic person need not say, “I like you very much.” Sympathy speaks for itself. The voice of the heart reaches us before a word is uttered. The voice of the heart is louder, the words that the heart speaks are clearer than the words of any language. No barrier remains when the heart draws a person, neither land nor water, for the heart is a phenomenon in itself. If there is anything in man that can be called living it is the heart, not heart in the physical sense but in the mystical sense.
There are three reasons why a person may be attracted to another: in one case the heart quality of the one is the same as that of the other with only very little difference; then they are attracted. The second reason is that the heart quality of the one is quite opposite to that of the other. And the third reason is that in the one there is a heart and in the other there is a stone.
The explanation of the first of these three rules is that like attracts like. A sympathetic person is naturally drawn towards a loving person. The explanation of the second rule is that the one has certain heart qualities and the other has other heart qualities. The qualities of the one supplement those of the other. Together, therefore, they make a complete heart; that is why they are drawn together. One will often see two people of quite different qualities who are yet great friends. And the explanation of the third rule is that what is most fine seeks for what is most dense in order to express itself. Are not souls attracted to the dense earth in order to be born as mortal beings? Are not souls living in the angelic world attracted to a human body, donning it in order to be walking under the sun? If heaven can be attracted to the earth, then a most spiritual person can be attracted to a most material one. What is fine cannot exist without what is dense, and what is dense cannot exist without what is fine. Therefore, two opposite poles, meeting together, form a perfect whole.
The other law is the law of repulsion. It is possible for a sympathetic person to become friends with a quite unsympathetic one, but there is often repulsion between a sympathetic person and one who is half-sympathetic, as there is between the wise and the half-wise. They cannot get along together. The wise can get along better with the foolish than with someone who is half-wise. The latter makes life very difficult for the wise man.
Another reason for repulsion is the inharmonious grouping of the qualities of two people. In other words, the qualities of the one do not blend with those of the other. Both may have lovable qualities, but they may be so different that they cannot blend, and then there comes repulsion.
The third reason for repulsion is that there is no echo of sympathy to be found in the other. Even in what we call a heartless person one expects to find an echo of one’s own sympathy, but when one does not find that echo, then it is like standing before an iron wall. It is then that repulsion comes.
We read in ancient legends that the saints, the illuminated souls, spoke with birds and animals. What language did they speak? It was the language of the heart. We read in the Bible of the Twelve Apostles understanding all languages. What was it? It was the awakening of the heart. Once the heart is awakened we begin to understand another’s language before a word is spoken. Birds and beasts apart, sympathy has an influence even on trees and plants. A sympathetic person creates an atmosphere which naturally attracts another. Worthy or unworthy, both are drawn by sympathy.
There are some who are capable of sympathy, and there are others who are not capable of it. Nevertheless, everyone possesses a heart. Either it is living or it is dead, and if it is living it has magnetism. The more living it is, the more magnetism it has. Without magnetism the heart is dead, or one should rather say that it is not yet awakened, that it is asleep.
It is the greatest pity when the heart awakens and then goes to sleep again. This is worse than not awakening. If it is awakened and keeps awake its magnetism becomes stronger and stronger because the power of the heart becomes greater and greater, and what it can attract is beyond words to explain. Souls who have the power of wonder-working, of performing miracles, do this through the power of the heart. And the power of the heart is the power of God. In Sufi terms an awakened heart is called Sahib-e Dil, which means master-mind. If anyone has ever heard the word within, it is he whose heart is awakened; for the Speaker speaks all the time while the heart is mostly asleep. If the heart is awakened it can hear the whisper which comes from within.
When disagreement arises between friends, when sympathy turns into antipathy, when sweet turns into bitter, and when one asks them why it is so, what do they say? “The other one does not understand.” Probably they will both say the same. Very few will say, “I did not understand the other.” Most people will say, “The other does not understand me.” But why must there be this lack of understanding? What causes it? It is lack of sympathy. No words can ever make a person understand. It is the heart alone which can convey its full meaning to the other heart, for there are subtle waves of sympathy, there are delicate perceptions of feelings such as gratefulness, admiration, kindness, which cannot be put into words. Words are too inadequate to explain the finer feelings. It is the heart quality which can express itself fully, and again it is the heart quality which can understand fully. Would it therefore be an exaggeration to say that as long as the heart is not awakened a man is as though dead? It is after the awakening of the heart that a man begins to live.
Then there is the question of how to develop this magnetism which is more powerful than all the other influences and qualities of man. The answer is that one should not try to develop the power of magnetism. This in itself would be an error. To develop a quality in order to draw others? For that reason? It is a selfish reason, and selfishness stands in the way of magnetism. Magnetism comes from having no desire for any such powers, but allowing this quality of the heart to develop naturally; for love is the plant of God, and it needs no water to grow. It is life itself, it has power in itself to grow and to expand, if only we do not close our heart. What is necessary on the part of man is not to keep it from developing. And in cases where we find lack of sympathy in people, it is not that their heart did not have sympathy, but only that it is closed, either intentionally or unintentionally. To say that someone is loveless is like saying that there is no water beneath a certain piece of land. There is no land which has no water in its depths, and if one has the patience to dig deep enough there is no heart that will seem to be without sympathy.
All the beauty of life manifests to the view of him whose heart is awakened. To the extent to which a heart is opened, to that extent the horizon of beauty manifests to his view. It is not only that the awakened heart draws man nearer, but a living heart also draws God closer. It is as in the story of a Persian king, to whom his Grand Vizir said, “All day long you give your time to the work of the state and at night you are occupied in devotion to God. Why is this?” The king answered, “At night I pursue God, so that during the day God will follow me!” People talk about magic. Can there be greater magic than the quality of heart? The most melodious song, the most beautiful poetry, is the fine feeling of a living heart.
THE MAGNETISM OF THE SOUL
The soul has the greatest magnetism compared with the power of mind and the physical magnetism. The word soul is so little understood that it is difficult for most people to perceive and to distinguish soul qualities. There are, however, soul qualities, distinct and different from the qualities of mind and body. They are greater than what one calls virtue, and they can attract more than any other quality. One might call them angelic qualities, but since we have to do with human beings and we have little to do with angels, it is better to call them soul qualities.
The principal soul quality is innocence. There is a great difference between innocence and ignorance. The ignorant one does not know. The innocent one both knows and does not know. It is its innocence that attracts us in a child, and the magnetism that we feel in the expression of an infant has a heavenly character. The child does not know and therefore it is innocent, but when the soul has reached a point where it knows and yet is innocent, then it is divine. Very often people mistake an innocent soul for a simple soul. Indeed, that soul is simple, but not in the way people think. When one sees generosity in someone who is poor and humility in someone who is honored, when one notices simplicity in a great soul and fineness in a strong personality, when one discerns an unassuming quality in a brave man and a desire to learn in a man who knows and understands, then one may realize that all these are qualities which belong to the soul, and they win the heart of man more than anything in the world. People are unconsciously attracted. Souls without realizing it will surrender to the soul that shows its original qualities.
Every infant brings with it to the earth soul qualities, but as it grows it forgets them and learns the qualities of the earth. And when these earth qualities have matured and developed after a person has learned the practical side of life, after he has learned to distinguish between good and bad, between right and wrong, then if the soul unfolds itself it will begin to show the soul qualities as a sign of its unfoldment. It is not possible to keep the innocence of childhood forever. Even if one wanted to preserve it one could not do so, for life on earth sweeps it away. And as a child grows up it becomes more and more clever, and that gives it satisfaction. People will call it common sense, they will call it practicality, or whatever name they may choose. They will even call it wisdom. But the time of the soul’s maturity eventually comes; and when once the soul has matured a new outlook on life arises. All the knowledge gained through experiences, through cleverness, practicality, common sense, or wisdom, drops its hard shell and remains only in the form of essence; and innocence manifests as its natural outcome. It is not that innocent people are not wise, though they may not seem wise from our point of view. Those who are really innocent know the essence of wisdom while yet perhaps appearing to be simple.
No doubt a person with soul qualities is not always understood. His language is different. But at the same time it is the one with soul qualities who will penetrate and who will have power in the form of influence. When we read in the lives of the saints of the simplicity with which they talked with birds and trees and flowers, then we can understand, if we try, that it was not the condition of a simple mind that they showed. It was a mind full of wisdom only it worked in a different way. It does not take long for someone with soul quality to make friends. He can make friends with the wise, with the foolish, with the virtuous, with the sinner; for nothing can stand as a barrier between two souls. His soul will reach the soul of the other, and the deeper he is, the deeper will he penetrate into the other.
Another soul quality is harmony. It is a natural inclination of an illuminated soul to create harmony, for it is in harmony that an illuminated soul finds peace. The one who is without illumination finds his satisfaction in struggle. Fearlessness is also a soul quality. It is the light of the soul, falling on problems that trouble us, which makes us see life more clearly and which gives us the power to surmount our difficulties. Soul quality gives bravery, courage, as we see in the image of Shiva, the Lord of the Yogis, who has a snake round his neck, which means that he is not afraid of keeping the enemy he has conquered curled round him. That is bravery.
All the manners one learns in order to become refined are the natural outcome of the soul quality. Once the soul is awakened one need not learn manners. Manners come of themselves. For all beautiful manners belong to the soul. They are the qualities of an illuminated soul. One tries to build a personality, but once the soul has awakened the personality is built like a magic palace. It is built without building.
In point of fact, all virtues are soul qualities. But virtues are also preached from the pulpit, and a person who has learned to be good and nice and kind because the preacher has told him to may possess virtues, and yet these virtues do not belong to him. They are like something he has borrowed from somewhere, and he will have to give it back some day. But that which comes out of the heart as a natural spring is real virtue, for it will all remain, and that gives one the greatest satisfaction. It is very sad for a person to be good only because goodness has been urged upon him and he cannot escape, and so he has to be good. This kind of goodness is really worse than badness.
Soul quality also expresses itself through art, through music, through poetry. And in whatever way one may wish to give expression to the soul, the soul quality manifests in the form of love, harmony and beauty.
Magnetism is something that can be wasted, that can be lost, and that can be made powerless. When a person consciously exerts the magnetism he has it becomes powerless. The very power with which one exerts the magnetism makes it powerless. Magnetism can be wasted if one does not have the strength and control to sustain it. Many possess great magnetism in some form or other, but without knowing it they lose some of it every moment of the day. As one needs a safe for keeping one’s treasures, so one must know the key to the control of magnetism of whatever kind.
Magnetism can be lost in two ways. A person who has some magnetism, without his noticing it may be robbed by another who does this either consciously or unconsciously. How can a man know when he robs another unconsciously of his magnetism? It is very easy to know. When he sees that people do not want to listen to him, when he realizes that people do not want to be with him for long but feel like running away from him, then he must know that he robs them unconsciously of their magnetism; that is why they run away. And magnetism may also be lost by lack of regularity in life, by lack of conscientiousness, and by not knowing how to keep magnetism intact. By being conscious of one’s magnetism one develops it, but by using magnetism consciously one loses it. And by being unconscious of one’s magnetism one retains its charm, but it develops slowly.
Magnetism is a life substance, a living spirit. It has its own particular science. The more one knows of this science, the more one will be able to value it, to maintain it , and to utilize it to the best purpose. Action develops magnetism, but repose controls it; that is why very active people always develop their magnetism, but without being able to hold it. With one hand they take magnetism, with the other hand they give it out, and there is nothing left. It is like earning money from one side, spending it on the other, and always being without.
A continual effort is necessary to control magnetism, and it can be controlled by a certain amount of reserve. But there are two things to consider. By too much reserve one will also close the doors to the development of magnetism, just as too much work will exhaust a man while working moderately will develop his muscular system. So it is with magnetism: when we use it continually it is soon exhausted, but when it is used no more than is needed in order to cultivate it and control it then it remains in proper proportion.
The magnetism of the word is cultivated by speech, but it is controlled by silence. A talkative person may be interesting for some time, but afterwards he loses his magnetism. He has given it out by talking. Magnetism is also lost by speaking too low, or with too much emphasis, or with too high a pitch of voice. Magnetism is lost by every unnatural expression. When a cowherd calls his cows in a high-pitched voice, as is done in India, this is natural for him. He loses no magnetism, on the contrary he develops magnetism because it is natural for him to do so. But if a lawyer goes into a field and calls a cow in that same pitch he certainly loses magnetism, and the cow will not come either.
A speaker is handicapped when he has to speak very loudly, for a speaker can speak best in his natural tone. It is most unfortunate if he has to speak in a larger hall than he is accustomed to, for if an unnatural tone is produced he will himself be disturbed by it so that he cannot create the effect he desires. No doubt when he has been speaking for many years to large audiences he may develop his voice, and then it would become natural to him, but if not, it takes away all his inspiration and power.
A thoughtful person develops magnetism by thinking, but when he is over-anxious to tell everyone about his thought he loses it. There are people who before they have even thought of a thing are too eager to speak about it, and thus instead of producing magnetic power they spoil and destroy it. Magnetism of feeling is also very powerful. Its power is so great that words cannot express it; but too much expression of sentiment lets it escape. One is attracted to a kind person, but one runs away from a person who is always shedding tears.
Spiritual magnetism is the most valuable magnetism there is, for it is the magnetism of the soul. But as soon as one begins to show one’s lantern, however beautifully it burns, the oil will begin to give out and then the lantern will become dim. It is a human tendency that a little spiritual stimulus gives man such an inclination to show it that as soon as he gives an extensive expression to his spiritual awakening in the form of words or acts he loses magnetism, for the magnetism had not yet been prepared. It was not ready. It is as if a piece of coal before turning into a diamond already began to shine out. It would then remain as it was and could never become a diamond. The mystery is that magnetism is developed by use and controlled by reserve. One must know the right balance between how to develop it and how to preserve it.
It is not true that only a few people have magnetism. In point of fact, everyone has some kind of magnetism. It is not true that there are people who do not develop their magnetism. The very fact that one is alive means that one develops it. But it is true that not everyone can control magnetism, and not everyone does control it. The loss of magnetism is more disadvantageous than the loss of wealth, for there is no earthly treasure to be compared with magnetism.
By Bayat, the initiation which a teacher gives to his pupil, a magnetism is given: the soul of the pupil is charged with a new battery. And if the pupil knows how to maintain it, how to keep it without wasting it, it will be like yeast, which never spoils and which lives for thousands of years. All the practices which are given by the teacher to guide his pupil on the spiritual path produce their particular magnetism. There is no occupation, there is no interest in the world which has so much to do with magnetism as treading the spiritual path. The power with which one progresses on the spiritual path is the power of magnetism, and the speed with which one advances depends upon the power of magnetism.
Spiritual magnetism is the best and the most dependable magnetism. Its character is healing and very powerful. This magnetism appears with the unfoldment of the soul. This means that the soul which is covered by many veils is uncovered through the meditative process, and then the soul begins to shine out as a flame does through the lantern, which spreads its light and radiates its heat so that everyone around can feel it.
In the same way a spiritual personality begins to radiate the original light of the soul, thereby giving light and life. When Jesus Christ bade us to drink his blood and eat his flesh, he meant that the spiritual magnetism which is given by spiritual personalities in the form of blessing, in the form of prayer, by their presence, in their atmosphere, should be our sustenance, should be the food for our soul. The spiritual path is a living path, because the magnetism of the spiritual path is living.
PSYCHOLOGY, THE MASTERY OF MIND
Psychology is a science of human nature, human tendencies, human inclinations and human points of view. And the more a man touches the depths of this science the more it enlightens him, making life more clear to his vision. The word psychology is not used here in the sense in which it is generally understood today, as a branch of modern medical science. What I mean by psychology is the point of view of the thinkers, the way of the wise of looking at life, the manner of the thoughtful, the ideas of those who know life more fully. There is individual psychology and psychology of the crowd. Also, it is very interesting that the more one becomes acquainted with psychology, the more one begins to see the thoughtless side of the thoughtful and the foolish side of the wise, the intoxication of the sober and the weakness of the strong.
An important aspect of psychology is attitude of mind. The mind takes a certain attitude, and then the whole world comes under the shadow of this attitude. If one has a fear, a doubt, or a suspicion, it becomes the attitude of the mind, and everything that one sees one begins to suspect, to fear, or to doubt, and as Sa’di says, every brain may have a little of it. One never knows when one changes one’s attitude. Life is an intoxication. Whatever happens to be a person’s attitude, it is according to that attitude that he looks at life. He may be the most thoughtful, wise, qualified, and learned man there is, but if he happens to have one of these attitudes of fear, doubt, or suspicion, the whole world will become the subject for proving to him the truth of whatever he has at the back of his mind. This does not mean that things and people in the world actually become what he fears. What happens is that first the shadow of his mind falls on them, and then the action of the shadow convinces him of the rightness of his doubt, of the truth of his suspicion, and of the reality of his fear. In other words, his doubt, his suspicion, or his fear becomes like a living entity before him.
There is an amusing story of an opium-eater who, half asleep, half awake, was lying on the grass with his hat on his knees, thinking, “Suppose a thief came along, what would I do?” And no sooner had he thought this than he saw a thief before him. He looked for a stick, and he struck the thief hard, whereupon he woke up suddenly and said, “Well, you gave it to me, but I gave it you back all right!” There was no thief. It was his own knee. His knee with his hat on it appeared for the moment to be a thief because the thought of a thief was in his mind. He gently, slowly, raised his stick, and when he struck he never thought that he would strike himself. In this moment there was fear, there was a thief, there was a fight and there was a hurt. And what was it all? He himself.
Such is the life of man. Man takes this opium from life. He has deep impressions of fear, of doubt, of suspicion, of prejudice or of distrust.. And when these impressions fall upon others they make him see in these others the same thing that he is keeping hidden in the depths of his heart.
A young man one day said to his friends, “You can send me to any place that is haunted. I can stand it, for I do not believe in such things.” One friend asked him, “Do you think you can stay all night in the graveyard?” He said, “Yes.” And so all night long he stayed there without any fear. Nothing appeared, but just before sunrise, when he got up after waiting all night for the ghost and started to leave the graveyard, his long cloak was caught by some thorns on the ground and he felt a pull. That shock made him faint and he almost died.
When a person thinks, “Everyone is unfriendly to me. No one is my friend,” wherever he looks he will see unfriendly faces. They may be most friendly and lovable and kind people but he sees them as unfriendly. When a person suspects that people are working against him, he believes he sees this in everything they do. If he knows that somebody has been writing a letter he thinks, “He is writing something against me.” If he sees somebody following his own thoughts he thinks, “He is thinking about me. He is planning against me just now.” If he finds a man who is asleep he will even think, “He is dreaming against me!” In the end what happens is that this thought falls upon the mind of every person that he sees or thinks about like a shadow, and this shadow turns that person into itself. And then, if that person happens to be weak he will do something unconsciously against the other. He does not do it consciously. The one who had that thought inspired him to do it and to prove thereby that he was against him.
It is the same with distrust. When we do not trust someone, we think that everything that he does is untrustworthy. It appears like this. And if we were to fight against every person who shows us the shadow of our own thought, there would be no end to the fight. We would become excitable and in the end we would die of that excitement. We would become mad and all kinds of ill luck would be attracted by that attitude, or we would become very frightened at our own fear. This happens in so many cases that we cannot say that even one person in a hundred is free from it. If we cured ourselves of this impression, we would change the outer circumstances of our life even without trying to do so. Just by changing ourselves we can change the outer circumstances. We can also change those whom we cannot trust into trustworthy people. We can change objects and individuals of whom we are afraid into great friends. Once suspicion had been cleared from the mind we would have very little chance of suspecting anyone any more.
This does not mean that it is a great virtue to trust everybody. To do this would be making oneself responsible for everyone’s purse. It would be taking a great responsibility upon oneself. The Prophet has said, “Tie your camel to the tree, and then trust in God.” But if a person developed trust so much that he trusted the camel to space and himself to God, then he would not wish for the camel any more. To trust or not to trust, these different attitudes follow our experience. We gradually gather experience from life, and this experience teaches us whom to trust and whom not to trust. No doubt there are people who distrust everybody, but that is a disease; that is not normal.
One need not say that one should fear nothing, though one may say that fear is a bad thing. There is a story of a Brahmin, a young man who was very much impressed by what his guru told him: that the whole of manifestation is the immanence of God and that, therefore, there is nothing to fear, nothing to distrust. This thought made the young man feel quite at home in the world, quite comfortable. Then one day a mad elephant came along the road on which the young man was walking. The men running before the elephant yelled, “Away, away! The elephant is coming!” But the young man would not get out of the way. With palms joined he stood as fearlessly before the elephant as one stands before God, as his guru had told him. The consequence was that the elephant gave him a shove and he fell down. He was brought to the guru who asked him what had happened. The young man said, “Guruji, you said that all is the immanence of God, and therefore, in all reverence, I stood before the elephant with joined hands.” The guru said, “Did anyone tell you to get out of the way?” He replied, “Yes.” “Why then,” said the guru, “did you not stand before that man with joined hands and listen to him?” Not to be deeply impressed by distrust does not mean that we should be over-ready to bestow our trust upon anyone, nor does giving up fear mean that we can stand in front of a moving motorcar thinking, “I trust it will be all right.” Everything has its place in life, and if we do not let it influence us unduly then everything is useful.
There is another aspect of psychology which is of very great importance. It is that often a person thinks, “I feel like this. I cannot help it,” or, “I think like this. I cannot help it.” But in reality it is not so. One is master of one’s thoughts and master of one’s feelings. One cannot think or feel unless one wants to. And when a person says, “I cannot help this thought coming to me,” he is the slave of his thought. Instead of being master of his mind, his mind is his master, and this is a kind of poverty and helplessness which is greater than any other in the world. Some even become so negative that the thought of another person works in their mind, the thought or the feeling of someone they know or even of someone they do not know works in their mind. They can no longer distinguish between their own thoughts and feelings and those of someone else. But as soon as a man begins to say, “I think like this, but I do not know why,” or, “I feel like this, but I do not want to feel so,” then he has gone down one step below the normal state of mind. A man who is helpless before his own mind is helpless before everything in the world. And therefore, the great mastery is to stand before one’s own mind and make it think what one wishes it to think, and make it feel what one wishes it to feel.
Still another aspect of psychology is an unconscious suggestion against one’s own wishes. This happens, for instance, when a person says, “I see it, my attitude is quite wrong.” But it is his attitude, it is in his own hands, and yet he watches and only says, “My attitude is wrong!” If he knows that his attitude is wrong why can he not make it right? It only means that he suggests to himself that his attitude is wrong. Or a person says, “I would like so much to have a friendly feeling towards you, but I feel like hitting you, I cannot help it.” This means that he has suggested to himself that he must hit the other, and yet he is helpless before his own idea. When someone says that he wishes that he could be your friend, but that he is sorry that he happens to be your enemy, this is the greatest helplessness that one could ever have. It is as if he did not exist, as if he were worse than a log of wood, for the log of wood would not re-echo. The one who accepts a suggestion which goes against himself and his own wishes is poisoning himself and working against his own happiness.
However much knowledge of science or art or philosophy a man has, if he does not consider these simple aspects of psychology he will allow his mind to develop many illnesses which cannot be cured by external remedies. Our attitude with regard to illness should be that one is resigned to the illness of the past, but one must try and avoid the illness of the future. And if a person is anticipating that something good will come his way, he must say to himself that the time is coming closer and closer every day. But if it is something he does not want, he must say that the time will never come.
The mind can be trained by regarding it as a separate entity, watching it and teaching it. There is the ego and there is the mind. The ego is our self and the mind is before us. We should look at the mind and think, I am the ego, my mind is before me,” and then analyze it, imagine it to be an entity, speak with it, and the answer will come. Even animals are trained; can man not train himself? When one cannot train oneself this only means that one does not want to train oneself. It is laziness, lethargy. One does not want to take the trouble. For instance, very often people, when asked to read a poem, will say, “Yes. I shall be glad to read it presently.” They do not want to exert their brain, and they may arrive at a state where they do not even want to take trouble for themselves. First they do not want to take trouble for another, and then their laziness increases and they do not want to take trouble for themselves. It begins with selfishness. They do not want to think about another, and then it ends by a person not wanting to think about himself. Then what is he thinking about? Nothing.
One should say to the mind, “Look here, you are my mind, you are my instrument. You are my slave and servant. You are here to help me, to work for me in this world. You have to listen to me. You will do whatever I wish. You will think whatever I wish. You will feel whatever I wish. You will not think or feel differently from my wishes, for you are my mind and you must prove in the end to be mine.” By doing this we begin to analyze our mind. We begin to see where it is wrong and where it is right. What is wrong in it and what is right in it; whether it is clouded, whether it is rusted, whether it has become too cool or whether it has become over-heated. We can train it ourselves, in accordance with its condition, and it is we who are the best trainers of our mind, better than anybody else in the world.
There is a belief, which comes from ancient times, and that is the belief in a twin soul. Some people wait for this phenomenon and search for it; and sometimes this belief is the cause of much unhappiness during the greater part of their lives because they have not yet found their twin soul. What is a twin soul? One might say that a proper answer is the twin soul of a question: every person is a question and every person is an answer. And when two people meet and one of them is a question and the other is the answer to that question then they are twin souls. But unfortunately what very often happens is that either two questions meet or two answers.
Twin souls can belong to three distinct spheres: to the angelic sphere, to the sphere of the jinns, and to the sphere of the earth. Two people may have inherited from their childhood, or brought with them from the moment of their birth, qualities that fit one another. They need not be of opposite sex. They can be personalities of the same sex. They can be friends or partners in life. It does not matter. It is two souls. One answers the other’s question, as every person is a question and at the same time an answer. These two souls who have brought with them qualities which already fit one another, become friends the moment they meet, and in coming together they find a satisfaction they have never experienced before, because all their life there has been a question and suddenly it is answered. This may come about early or late in life, but there comes a time in the life of most souls when they meet someone who is the answer to their soul’s question.
Souls need not know what question they are, and naturally they do not know it, but they are a question all the same. Neither do they know what the answer is, but when it comes they know that it fits, they know that it is satisfying, and unconsciously they know that it is the answer to their question. It may be that the two were friends before they came on earth or, as many call it, in a past incarnation, but there is no doubt that a contact had been established before their coming to earth, and that is why the moment they meet they think that they have known each other for many, many years.
Very often people do not realize it when they meet their twin soul, and very often they know it and yet do not feel sure. There were two sisters who were so devoted to each other that it seemed that there was one world made for these two sisters and another quite apart from it. They used to call one another, ‘my twin soul.’ There have been men who have worked together throughout their lives, who have striven and suffered and planned together, and when one of them passes away the other followed him. They were twin souls. One might wonder whether it is not an error of the soul to be born like this, because the conditions are often so unfavorable for twin souls; but whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, their satisfaction lies with one another and for one another if they are twin souls, and, therefore, it is not an error. It is never an error for a person to have been born on earth, to have to struggle all his life in order to gain the results that he wanted. It is natural.
There is a well-known story in India about a young Brahmin who, after his marriage went on a pilgrimage, while his wife stayed at home. And after two or three months some mischievous man brought her the news that her husband had died. He wanted to create a commotion in the house and see how Brahmins mourn. But the moment this young bride heard of her husband’s death she passed away herself. And after six months the young man came home from his pilgrimage and heard what had happened, that on hearing the news of his death his wife had died. No one saw a tear or heard a cry. He only closed his lips and from that moment he never spoke to anyone, he never saw anyone. It was as if he had drunk the news like a bowl of poison. People were anxious about him and kept guard over him. But one day he escaped and went to the place where his wife had been cremated and where ever since a fire used to glow every night. Many people had seen this. He went closer to this fire, and before those who had followed him could reach him the fire leaped up and made three turns around him, and he fell down dead.
Not only in man, but even among animals and birds one can see this tendency. A man who was very fond of shooting told the story that once he shot a bird, and before he could reach it to pick it up another bird came down from the tree to see if it was really dead. It moved it with its beak, and when it found that its mate was dead it fell dead, too. It need not only be human beings that find their twin soul; even the animals and the birds, even the lower creatures can find it – and much sooner than human beings, because human beings are so absorbed in themselves.
Then there are twin souls of another kind which belong to the earth, the world, the human sphere. The nature of these twin souls is different. They must develop to become twin souls. And what develops them is the situation in life that brings them together. They are drawn to each other by providence, and circumstances cause them to meet. As they develop they become twin souls, just as in one shell one can sometimes find two almonds. The shell has been the situation, the circumstances, the mold which has brought them together in order to go through life tolerantly. There is a lesson to be learned from this: that each of those two almond kernels has a curve, some part of it is removed, is gone, in order to let the other grow. If the two almonds had pushed one another they would never have grown. It was done by reciprocity. It was as if they said, “I will let you grow,” “I will let you grow, too,” “Some part of my being will be held in check. We shall grow as one almond.” But when that conception is not there, then there is no chance of growing together; that is the lesson which mankind has to learn.
The almonds can grow together, but souls cannot grow like that, for each soul has its Nafs, its ego, and each soul wants to push itself forward. It does not mean that man has no love, but that man puts his ego before love; that is the general feeling. One may not realize it, but it is so; and that is why those who are meant to become twin souls are often denied that privilege only because they will not give in to one another. What is friendship? Friendship is sacrifice. What is love? Love is regard for the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved; if that is not there then one does not grow. No one can be selfish and at the same time loving. These two things cannot go together. Either one becomes selfish or one becomes loving. And in order to become loving one must erase selfishness, while in order to become selfish one must erase love. For love will not allow the self to grow. Love is the enemy of the self, and the self is the enemy of love.
The third kind of twin souls are those of the angelic spheres. The twin souls of the angelic spheres are united in one person. He himself is his twin soul: himself one and his soul the other. It is this soul which develops quickly, for this soul contains his answer within himself.
Those who, not understanding the secret of twin souls, remain dissatisfied in life do not understand that either their twin soul is there, and that if it is there providence must bring them together one day; or that they should develop within themselves the quality of the twin soul in order that one day they may perfect themselves in it; or that they should find in their own soul the answer to their life’s question. It is the knowledge of one of these three qualities of twin souls that enables a person to realize in his life the meaning of this idea. Each soul has one of these three aspects.
Souls who have grown to be twin souls on earth remain so in heaven, for life on earth continues in heaven. The Prophet has said that death is a bridge which unites friend with friend. Can we have a twin soul in each sphere? We can have a twin soul every day; it depends on how much we want it; but if we choose to have another twin soul in another sphere we can change them every day. It is either a continual development from the beginning to the end, from the angelic sphere to the earthly sphere, and that brings about the perfect union; or a new union is created and accomplished and fulfilled for eternity, for the hereafter; or the soul has found within itself the twin soul, and that is God, that is perfection.
Furthermore, there are three aspects, three principles in life: Jelal, Jemal, and Kemal. Jelal is power, Jemal is beauty, and Kemal is perfection. The twin souls of the jinn sphere are Jemalbecause they respond to one another and Jemal is responsive. They naturally respond. They need not work for it. The twin souls of the earthly sphere are Jelal. They have to struggle with themselves, with their situation in life, with conditions, in order to develop those qualities which in the end will culminate in the condition of being twin souls. What is necessary is an effort, a power, an action. And the third aspect is Kemal. No action is needed there. One has to be quiet, one has to be meditative, one has to be silent, one has to close one’s eyes and get in touch with one’s self within; and then one will realize one’s twin soul within one’s own being. That is why it is called Kemal, perfection.
NATURE AND CHARACTER
Nature is born, character is built, and personality is developed. If nature is such, then it is not easy to change a person’s nature. Neither can a dog be made into a horse nor can a cat be made into a cow. Sa’di says, “The kitten in the end proves to be a kitten. Even if it were kept on the queen’s sofa, petted and kissed and loved and cared for, when the mouse came it would show that it was a cat.”
It is very easy to talk about equality, and it is very easy to consider all kinds of excellent points of view. It is also easy to talk about wonderful moral principles; but if we see the difference there is between one soul and another, which is sometimes as wide as the distance between earth and sky, we stand helpless before natures that cannot be changed. If we say that horns can be turned into hooves and that hooves can be turned into horns it may be believed, but if we say that a person has changed his nature it will be doubted.
Where does man’s nature come from? What is it made of? How does a person get his nature? Man’s nature comes from that which the soul has borrowed. It is not the being of the soul; it is that which the soul has added to itself. Just as innocence in someone shows an angelic nature, so intelligence shows the nature of the jinn, and a good manner or a sympathetic attitude shows human nature.
The nature of a person is not the same as his false ego, but the false ego is obsessed by his nature. Everyone has brought with him on earth a certain nature, and it is not always easy to get rid of it. A lion may be trained by his keeper and may work under a certain discipline for twenty years But one day his predisposition may be awakened and he will turn on his keeper, thus showing his nature that had been hidden. It will show that he is a lion. With all the training he has received and all the humility and surrender he has displayed, he is still a lion.
Besides a man’s nature is what he has inherited from his earthly parents, either from his mother’s or from his father’s side; it may not be from his parents but from his grandparents, and if not from his grandparents then from his great-grandparents, or perhaps five or six generations back. There is some part of his nature that he has brought with him and it is there. It is no use denying it.
When those who are peaceful and calm think that another person who is active and enthusiastic should also be calm and peaceful like them, when those who are thoughtful and considerate think that another person who is impulsive and adventurous should be like them, when those who have patience and endurance think that another person who is quickly aroused and temperamental should be like them – it is all impossible. The modest cannot be bold nor can the bold be modest. Every soul has its nature, and if one tries to bury it, although it will remain covered for some time, it only needs digging. Anyone can dig and find what is beneath. There may be a good nature hidden, and there may be a bad nature hidden, though for the moment one does not see it. A soul may seem to be a saint until one has spoken with him. Another soul may seem to be quite the contrary until one has investigated him, and then he may prove to be totally different.
Some show their nature outwardly, others have their nature covered, covered under what is called character. Character is something quite different. Nature is just like the light, and character is just like the globe. If it is a yellow globe the light seems yellow; if it is a green globe the light seems green. The light seems to be of the same color as the globe; but it is the light which is the principal thing. It is either a bright light or a dim light, and that is according to the degree of light there is. That is its nature; what covers it is its character.
Then one might ask where and how the character is built. The character is built by habit, by whatever habit one forms from childhood; and as the habit stays with one so the character is molded. If there is a habit of answering back, of interfering, of being curious, sarcastic, or ironical, or if there is a habit of being respectful, gentle, humble, or modest, if there is a habit of being proud and conceited and boastful, of pushing oneself forward, or if there is a habit of being thoughtful and considerate — according to this habit one’s character is made. It is the same electric light which one sees in the most ordinary shop and in the most beautiful palace. What is the difference? It is not the difference of light. It maybe the degree of light, but very often it is the difference of the globe. Sometimes the globe is so beautiful and so costly that it changes the whole light. And it is the same with a beautiful character: it changes the whole person, so that he can be called noble or something else according to the globe that covers him.
When we form a habit we never think about it. If it is undesirable we think that it does not matter, that it is nothing, just taking a little liberty; what is it after all, do we not seek freedom? And so by trying to seek freedom we develop habits which become our enemies. It is like finding a little hole in a garment, and then thinking that it is not necessary to mend it. It is such a small hole, nobody notices it! But one does not realize that the hole will expand, it will become larger and larger until everybody will see it.
Another thing is that if someone has developed an undesirable habit people, as a rule, do not mention it to him. They are polite. They are kind. And so one goes on, and one believes that everything is all right because nobody says anything. Besides there are always many to welcome an undesirable habit. The one who has taken to drink will find many friends who will welcome him in their society, and the one who has formed a habit of gambling will also find sympathetic comrades to encourage him.
Whatever path a man takes, he will find encouragement to go further on that path. Naturally, therefore, if a man is not careful as to where he is going he may end up anywhere. He may fall into any pit, any hole; and nobody comes to pick him up once he has fallen. The deeper he falls, the less people will look at him, for everyone, either consciously or unconsciously, is looking for someone who is going upward. No one is anxious to associate with someone who is going downhill. Even his best friends will leave him some day. Therefore, to study the mystery of character, to think about it and to build it, is life’s main purpose; that is the chief education.
There are some people who are interested in building their character, but at the same time there is always a conflict between their character and their nature; for the character is made by a certain habit, but the nature says, “You must not make this a habit. I will fight with you about it.” For instance, a coarse person may have formed the habit of being very polite, but we can usually find him out if we speak with him for a little while, for then the conversation may end in impoliteness. It begins with politeness, it ends with impoliteness, because then the nature conquers the character, proving thereby that there was rudeness in the nature and that politeness was only an outer cover.
Then there is always a struggle going on between principle and nature. Sometimes the principle subdues nature and nature surrenders, and sometimes nature subdues the principle and the principle surrenders; and there comes a great conflict. A person may seem to be very modest, and he remains modest as long as one does not know him, but when one gets to know him he may appear to be quite the contrary. Nature will clash with the character under certain conditions. A man who is lazy by nature may be in a situation where he must work. The moment he sees that nobody is looking he will sit down in a chair and doze. He will only work as long as he is watched, for by nature he is lazy, and only the conditions have made him work.
There is another person who is told, “This is the king’s palace, you may not speak.” But he is very talkative, and when he sees that nobody is looking and that he is out of earshot, he will begin to talk as soon as he has found someone who will listen to him. He is only silent because he is obliged to be silent, but it is his nature to talk; and when he wants to change his nature it is very difficult.
There are some who have built a character just like a cherry: outwardly soft, but inside there is hard stone. There is another character which is like a grape: it is outwardly soft and inwardly soft. There is also a walnut character, which is outwardly hard and inwardly soft. And there is a character like a pomegranate: outwardly hard and inwardly with hard pips. These differences come from both nature and character.
An effort made to change someone’s character does not always meet with success. People who want to develop a certain aspect in another’s character frequently produce a kind of confusion in his soul, and very often parents and guardians who want to change the character of their son or daughter make a great mistake; they spoil the character instead of making it better. One sees thousands of cases where such mistakes have been made. There was a Maharaja in India who was a great educator. To all classes of his subjects he gave the most wonderful education, even to the very lowest. One would imagine that a ruler who was so interested in the education of every youth in his country would naturally make a success of the education of his own children, but every son of his died a drunkard, every single one of them. This shows that to wish to change the character is one thing, but to try to change it and to know how to change it is another thing.
Sometimes a person has a tendency to exaggerate, and this develops from childhood. It is a very interesting tendency, because it gives an opportunity for the imagination to express itself; and if a person is poetical and wants to express himself, he will always show a tendency to exaggerate. It is a good tendency, but at the same time it can be carried too far, and then the virtue can become a sin. Therefore, guardians should not encourage a child in this tendency; but if it is kept under control and if the child is told that it must not exaggerate, that it may just say so much and no more, and if the child is corrected whenever it goes on doing it, then this will help the child very much.
It is easy to help children, but it is most difficult to help the grown-up. One may change snow into water and water into ice, but to try to change a character is the most difficult thing one can ever imagine. Therefore, it is usually vain to try. But what one can do is to build one’s own character; that is in one’s own hands. Only, what people are most occupied with is the character of someone else; they are always thinking of the other but they never want to change themselves.
Lastly there is personality. Personality is the finishing of character. Personality is like a cut diamond: when the character is cut all round, then it becomes like a cut diamond. As long as the personality is not developed, however much goodness and virtue a person possesses he remains an uncut diamond. Personality is the harmony of nature and character; that is what makes personality. When the nature harmonizes with the character, when there remains no conflict between these two, then a personality is born.
Personality also has an influence on the other planes, just as character and nature have. If Farid* could change himself into a cow by concentration, there is nothing in this world which cannot change; but only if we want to change. The one who does not care to change will never change. But the power constantly working from within can no doubt change the nature to anything, right or wrong. The life of humanity is not only nature, it is an art, and art is an improvement on nature; through art God finishes His creation. That is why the building of the character and the developing of the personality is an art, an art by which the purpose of life is fulfilled.
It is all right for a man who goes into a mountain cave or into the forest and says that he does not care to develop either his character or his personality. It is just as well that he should go there and not take the trouble to develop his nature. He need not change, he need not worry, he can live just like the trees and plants in nature which just grow; they do not develop themselves. But if he has to live in the midst of the crowd in this artificial world, then he must know the art of developing the character, and how to produce beauty in life.
Among all the different schools of esotericism and mysticism the Sufi school has concerned itself most with the development of personality. As a Sufi poet says, “If you have a diamond, if you have a ruby, what is it? If your self is not developed into a precious spirit, the diamond and the ruby are nothing.” And another Sufi poet says, “In order to worship God angels were made. In order to eat, drink, and sleep animals were made. Why was man created? Man was created in order to develop into a person, that he may be an image of God.” Image in this verse means God’s spirit, God’s tendency, God’s outlook, God’s nature. It means that there is divine nature in man, if only he can develop it. And when that nature is developed, then personality becomes a phenomenon; such a personality spreads harmony, peace, thoughtfulness, and consideration.
How did Sufis help their pupils, their mureeds, to develop their personality? Was it by telling them that this is right and that is wrong; or this is good and that is bad; or you must do this or you must do that? No, it was by establishing that current of sympathy through which the spirit of the teacher is reflected in the pupil, and the mureed begins to show forth his teacher in his thought, in his speech, and in his action. This training was considered most valuable among the Sufis of all ages, a training which is not given in words. For if a teacher has to correct his pupil in words it is perhaps only a scratch on the pupil, but on his own spirit it is a cut. Putting their feeling into words is the greatest pain for souls that live in the higher spheres. Subtle souls never say things that they should not say. It is not their desire to speak. The sympathetic mureed has to grasp, to feel what the teacher wishes to convey, what the teacher feels, how the teacher can be pleased, and what the teacher will be displeased with. And if the teacher has to descend to earth, so low as to have to tell it in words, then this means that there is no current. There is only a difference of two letters between worthiness and unworthiness.
Besides it is not the teacher’s responsibility to make his pupil an occultist. The Sufi teacher never wants his pupil to be come an occultist or a great psychic or a man with great power. This does not mean that he will not become powerful, but the responsibility of the teacher is to develop the personality of the mureed, that it may reflect God, that it may show God’s qualities; and when that is done then the responsibility of the teacher is over. Then he can only pray for the pupil, for his well-being.
If a person does not wish to develop his personality, he may not even develop his character, he may not develop anything; and yet he may advance, and when the time of his progress has come he will progress just the same. But we should always try to find the shortest way, and the shortest way is the development of the self.
There are also many people who show a very beautiful tendency and nature, and yet no tendency towards the spiritual ideal. The reason is that they have not yet reached the spiritual ideal, but they are on the way, and the proof of this is that they show a beautiful character in their nature. All those teachings that are given to say and repeat, “I am God,” are the teachings of insolence. Christ did not teach such things. Read the Beatitudes in the Bible. Has Christ not taught the development of personality? Did he not teach the building of the character? Did he not show in his life the innocence which proves the angelic heritage of man? Did he say, “Be ye occultists,” or “Tell people their fortunes,” or “Correct people of their errors?” Never. What Christ taught was, “Make your personality as it ought to be, that you may no more be the slave of the nature which you have brought with you, nor of the character which you have made in your life; but that you may show in your life the divine personality, that you may fulfill on this earth the purpose for which you have come.”
*For the story of Farid, see “Mental Purification", The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vol. IV, p. 109.