Volume XIII: The Gathas
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
BELIEF is a natural tendency to accept knowledge without doubt. Every soul is born with this tendency to accept every knowledge that is given to it, in whatever way or form. Therefore no soul in the world is born an unbeliever. There is a saying of the Prophet, ‘Every soul is born a believer, and it is others that make the soul an unbeliever.’ This unbelief comes by the conflict of one’s knowledge and belief.
Belief has two tendencies. One is the tendency of water that runs and the other is that of water that becomes frozen. Some people who have a belief like to keep that belief unchanged as a rock, and identify their ego with that belief. People of this temperament are steady in their belief, but often they lack progress. If they happen to have a right belief, there is no danger of their giving it up. But if it is not right, they are perplexed. Those, whose belief is like running water, perhaps go from one belief to another and they may not seem steady in their belief, yet their life is progressive. The progressive soul can never hold one belief, and must change and go on changing until it arrives at the ultimate truth. For a simple person steadiness of belief is more advantageous than change, for change may lead him astray. But for an intelligent person it is natural and necessary that he must go from belief to belief until he arrives at his final convictions.
Belief is of four kinds. The first kind is a belief accepted because it is believed by all. The second is a belief accepted because it is believed by someone in whom the believer trusts. The third belief is the belief that reason helps one to believe. The fourth belief is conviction of which one is as sure as if one were an eyewitness.
The four kinds of belief are held by souls of different grades of evolution in life and different temperaments. There is a knowledge, which one can perceive with the senses. There is a knowledge, which one can perceive with the mind alone, and a knowledge, which can be realized by the soul. And it is for this reason that when a person wishes to touch a thing, which can only be perceived, and when a person wishes to feel a thing, which can only be realized spiritually, he naturally becomes an unbeliever.
In point of fact one person’s belief cannot be another person’s belief. Every belief is peculiar to the person who holds it. Even if two persons held one belief, there would still be the difference of the point of view, even though it be as small as the difference between two roses. Therefore it is unjust, no doubt, on the part of one person to try to press his own belief on another. At the same time the person who refuses to try to understand the belief of another, from bigotry or pride, closes the door of his heart, that otherwise would have let that knowledge come in.
There are two tendencies that can be developed in a person, either constantly to try to believe whatever comes before him, or to try to disbelieve whatever is presented to him. And there is an advantage and a disadvantage in each of these tendencies. The advantage of the believing tendency is the taking of every chance of acquiring knowledge, the disadvantage is that one takes the chance of often and readily falling into error. But the advantage of the disbelieving tendency is only the protection from error, and its disadvantage is the prevention of every chance of further acquisition of knowledge.
Nature has very many covers. It’s activity covers and uncovers it. At every covering and uncovering, it is natural that the belief of the individual should change. Therefore when a Sufi is asked, ‘Do you believe in this, or that?’ he says, ‘My belief is for me, yours is for you, there is no faith to which I give my unchanging belief, nor any belief that I reject without having investigated it.’ If you are asked, “What belief does the Sufi teach?’ you may say, ‘No belief, but he helps the pupil to seek and find within himself his own belief.’
Faith can be defined by two words, ‘self-confidence’ and ‘certainty in expectation.’ Faith in no way signifies certainty without expectation, nor confidence with evidence. All things in life are appointed from eternity for a certain time. Every experience and every knowledge comes in its own time. No doubt in this free will plays a certain part, as destiny plays a great part. We make our road in life by our expectations. Things that we have not attained to we look forward to and hope to attain. Ideals that we wish to reach we expect to reach some day. And that which determines our success in attaining our ideal is faith. It is faith that uncovers things veiled with a thousand covers. It is faith that attracts things almost out of reach. The distance between heaven and earth, the difference between life and death can be bridged by faith.
There is blind faith, and there is faith, which is not blind. Faith is blind when its power is small and reason does not support it. Then faith may be called blind. But in fact the mind has all power. Every expectation that it has will certainly be fulfilled sooner or later. It may not be fulfilled in a certain limited time, but in eternity it will be fulfilled. Faith is the power of mind. Without faith the mind is powerless. When faith leads and reason follows, success is sure, but when reason leads and faith follows, success is doubtful. Faith causes the attitude of the mind. The influence of the attitude of the mind works psychically upon every affair. The belief, ‘My friend is faithful to me and is helping me’, by itself influences the helper. And when there is a doubting attitude -’Perhaps my friend or my agent is faithful to me, perhaps not’ – then the fact is made doubtful. Faith can bring a surer and speedier cure than medicine, and both success and failure in life depend very much upon faith. Man rides upon the elephant and controls tigers by the power of faith. The great people of world, the greatest people, are great more by their faith than by anything else, because mostly great people have been adventurous and the back of a venture is faith, nothing else.
Reason can strengthen faith, but things that are beyond reason are reached by faith alone. If faith is limited by reason it is held down so that it cannot rise, but when faith is independent of reason it is raised by the force of the ideal, and then reason has scope to advance and reach the ideal. Those who believe in an ideal and those who do not have both arrived at their conviction by faith. In the former it is positive, in the latter negative. An unbeliever asked a believer, ‘If there were no God then would not all your prayers and expectations be in vain?’ The believer answered, ‘If there be no God, and if my prayers are in vain and all that I have done for God is lost, then I am in the same case as you, but if He exists, then I have the advantage.” Faith is natural and it’s negative unnatural.
As all things in this artificial world are made by faith so the whole creation is made by the faith of the divine mind. Therefore as the divine mind had been able to create all by faith, so man by this divine attribute can rise to the source of his being.
Thought, speech, and action without faith are as body without life. All things by faith are made alive, for faith is the life of all things. Think what joy trust brings, and what a feeling of suffocation doubt brings! When a person does not trust another that means he has no confidence in himself. He is not happy through this. Is would be no exaggeration to say that material loss resulting from misplaced confidence is better than all profit resulting from justified suspicion.
Hope is a quality sometimes dependent on its object, sometimes independent of it, and these two different aspects of hope are the cause of two different natures, the optimistic and the pessimistic.
When the dependent nature is developed it makes man a pessimist, and when hope stands alone, without dependence, this develops optimism. The optimistic person compared to the pessimistic may seem blind, and no doubt, he is at times blind. But without doubt, as blind people develop a faculty of doing things without sight which people with seeing eyes cannot do, so the optimist can accomplish things without knowing how or why. Hope cannot be called sureness or certainty, but it is a feeling, which, almost by its own force, may bring sureness and certainty. Hope dependent upon reason is weak, and the more dependent the weaker it is. No doubt hope together with reason is strong, perhaps stronger than hope alone, but in proportion as reason supports hope, so hope depends on reason, and as in many cases in life, when reason cannot reach the object of hope, hope then sinks.
In fact hope is more than a faculty or a quality, hope may be called the substance of life. Wise and foolish, rich and poor, all live in some hope. Hope can prolong life and lack of hope can shorten it. The joy that one gets from hope is greater than the joy that comes from the possession of the object hoped for. Therefore there is a Sanskrit saying that Brahma in the creation took honey from all the flowers and that this honey was hope. The interpretation is that out of all things that are beautiful and that give joy and happiness the essence is taken and that essence is hope.
Hope is strengthened by reason, but it stands on the foundation of patience, for it is possible that in spite of all reasons a person may completely give up hope, if patience is lacking. If I used the poetical expression that the rocks and trees are standing in the deserts and forests resting in hope, that would be no exaggeration, because to the eyes of the mystic every aspect of life shows that it is standing in hope. This can be better seen in the life of human beings, because every person seems to be waiting from day to day and from hour to hour for something to come that he is hoping for. The loss of hope is worse than the loss of life, and provided that hope stands by man’s side, though no one else stands by him it does not matter.
Patience may also be called control, and one can say that patience is the will that controls the activity of the mind and holds it in check. To be patient is sometimes extremely difficult, for great energy is required to control the activity of the mind. We may picture patience as a wall against which the tides beat. The wall must be strong to resist the waves, and so it is with patience.
There are four different kinds of patience: patience in action, in thought, in word in the manner of feeling. There are two different acts of patience. The first is to stand firm against the activity of another person, the second is to stand firm against ones own activity. Not to resist the activity of another person is an act of patience of the former sort, and to control oneself when one wishes to do or say a certain thing is an act of patience of the latter sort. The most difficult test of patience is to have to wait for something, which one wants at once.
The symbol of patience is the cross. The vertical line indicates activity, the horizontal line control. Patience is, for the saint and the sage, the first lesson and the last. The more one learns to bear the more one has to bear, such is the nature of life. Yet in reality patience is never wasted, patience always wins something great, even when to all appearance it loses. Sometimes a patient person seems a vanquished one, but in reality the victory is his. In the path of mastery, as in the path of renunciation, patience plays the greatest part.
Every faculty has a tendency to act more and more quickly. Every activity starts from a rhythm that is productive, and when the activity is increased the rhythm becomes progressive, and if it is increased still more the rhythm becomes destructive. These three rhythms are called in Sanskrit Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. It is only by control that one can keep the productive and progressive nature. Lack of control allows destruction to set in. The will alone has the power to control each activity, either of the body or of the mind. When a person walks he wishes to walk faster, when he speaks to speak more quickly. It is the nature of activity to tend to increase its speed, and if this increase is permitted, very soon the destructive element comes about. The stronger this faculty of control becomes in a person the stronger the person becomes, and the more one loses the power of control the weaker one becomes.
There is no doubt that patience often seems a crucifixion, but one must remember that resurrection is always reached through crucifixion. Patience often seems like the effacement of self, and it is true that it is self-effacement, and yet nothing is lost, for by this practice of control a far greater power is attained. The Persian poets have called patience death. Doubtless it is to all appearance death, for it causes activity to cease, but in reality it is a greater life.
Fear is considered by the mystics to come from the action of the earth element, and its effect is to make the body stiff at the moment when a person is afraid. According to metaphysics fear is caused by the lack of light. Therefore the more light there is in the heart the more fearless the heart becomes. There is the Surah of the Koran, which supports this, where it is said, ‘There is no fear in the mastermind.’
Fear arises from the strangeness of an object or from ignorance on the part of the person who fears. There is a verse of a Marathi poet, who says that, ‘It is the self that creates for itself the object of fear – one’s fear comes from oneself.’ Every attitude towards life has a re-echo, and the attitude is formed by expectation. When one expects one’s fellow man to love one, his fellow man does love him, and when one expects harm from another, then harm comes. When a person is afraid of a dog, he gives the dog a tendency to bite him. This can be noticed so plainly in the lower creation, that every animal is afraid of another animal, and the expectation of harm makes it fear more than does the idea of the hugeness of the form or the bodily strength of another animal. Many things in life can be brought about, not only by wanting them and thinking about them, but also by fearing them, both objects and conditions. To clear one’s mind of fear is like bringing light into a dark room, and as light is needed to illuminate a dark room so the light of the soul is necessary to clear away the thought of fear.
Man is more impressionable than any other living being, owing to the fineness and sensitiveness of his nature, but at the same time man alone is capable of rising above all fear, for in him there is a torch that can show him a way through the darkness. Man fears all that is hurtful and harmful in any form, and more than all, man fears what he calls death. As in the case of every object and condition that arouses fear, the fear is caused by ignorance, so even the fear of death is caused by ignorance. Man is afraid if he is in the water, where even so helpless a creature as a fish feels safe. It is not only the fact that man is incapable of remaining in the water that makes him afraid, but also the water is a strange world to him. He does not know what is in it. Many have died in the water of fright of the water before having actually sunk. This life of names and forms is therefore called by the mystics Maya, an illusion, which is apt to be made into that which one would like to make it. When one fears, this world frightens one, but when one clears one’s heart of all fear, the whole world of illusion turns into one single vision of the sublime immanence of God.
Justice is a faculty of mind, which weighs things. There is also a faculty attached to it, which sees whether things are in their places and sees the fitness of things. This is also the power to view two sides of a subject or of a thing, the side where it is complete and the side where it is incomplete. This faculty is kindled by the light of intelligence. The more intelligence the greater justice. It is generally the lack of intelligence that produces injustice.
The development of the ego often obscures this faculty, in the same way that clouds eclipse the sun. Therefore a selfish person, however clever, lacks pure intelligence and is therefore deficient in the true sense of justice. It is often personal feeling, a personal like or dislike that disposes the weights in the scales of justice to suit the personal fancy. Therefore often a person who boasts of his sense of justice is really more unjust than one who makes no such claim. A just person is one who can decide against his own interest if necessary. Only when personal bias is absent can a decision be called just.
Into the scales of justice a person throws weights from his store of knowledge, and it is his own ideas about the values of things that weigh and balance them. But as opinions change at every step in evolution what may seem just or unjust today is not likely to seem so tomorrow. What a person calls wrong at one time will seem at another time in his life to be right, and it is the same with regard to what at one period of his evolution he considers right. No wonder that the prophets, reformers, and poets have so often contradicted themselves in their writings! One can find contradictions in all the scriptures of the world, and it needs a perfect development of the faculty to look at this idea with a perfect view.
Reason is a faculty that raises out of itself an answer to every question one asks. There is a store of knowledge of names, and forms, of principles, of feelings. From that store of knowledge an answer rises. It is that which is called reason.
This store of knowledge is different in every individual, and it is therefore that often two people may disagree and at the same time both may have reason for what they say. This shows that reason is not outside of oneself. It is within oneself, and at each stage towards evolution reason changes. The answer that a person may get from within to a certain question in one month may change in the next month. Every object and condition suggests a reason, but the more one penetrates through the object or condition the more one realizes that there is a reason under reason, and one condition may suggest numerous reasons, according to the depths one may touch. When there is a discourse about justice or injustice, right or wrong, one applies one’s own reason, and when one cannot understand the reason of another, one’s knowledge is incomplete.
The effect that different names and forms produce is an illusion, and so is reason, which is the creation of mind, when it is compared with the ultimate reality. Reality is above reason. When reason follows reality it is helpful, but when reality is covered under reason it is an illusion. The one who penetrates through the numerous covers of reason comes to the depth of knowledge, but the one who clings to the first reason he has touched remains there. For him there is no progress.
Logic is a support that reason takes to strengthen itself. It may be called a fortification of reason. The analytical faculty of the mind seeks for something substantial to make reason cut and dry. In other words logic may be called authorized reason, or reason supported by the reason of others.
Logic has a larger field than reason, because the scope of reason is only the mind of one individual. The scope of logic is vaster; it represents the minds of many individuals who have thought on the same subject. Logic is a degree higher in knowledge than reason. When one person gives a reason and another person says there is no logic in it that means that there is no support for this reason from other minds, which have thought about the subject.
In one sense logic may be said to be concrete and realistic knowledge, and yet in another sense it is most limited and poor knowledge. It is limited to names and forms that are forever changing. It is poor because it is founded on a substance that is subject to destruction. When logic helps to strengthen the knowledge of names and forms and of conditions it is a great help, but when it confines the progress of the soul, which is made on a different path, it is a great hindrance. In their words it may be said that the possessor of logic is a learned man, but he who is possessed by logic is lost.
Temptation is a momentary illusion. The beauty of some object covers the eyes of reason and man is drawn back or pushed aside from the track, which he follows in order to arrive at his desired destination, whatever it be. Therefore, what is a temptation to one person is not necessarily a temptation to another. The same object which is a temptation to one may be a goal to another. One cannot wisely point out: ‘This is a temptation, and that is not.’ In reality all is temptation and nothing is. It is not the object or the action which forms the temptation but the situation. In order to be aware of the temptation one has to meet with, it is well to keep before one the goal one wishes to attain, and always to reason out before taking a step toward anything whether it will help or hinder the attainment of one’s desired end.
There are three forms of temptation. The first is that which cries aloud what it is, which shows itself clearly. The second form is that in which the temptation disguises itself and hides the goal from the eyes of man, so that man may at once forget his destination. In the third form the temptation appears for the moment a greater gain than the desired object. In such a case reason no doubt helps, and yet it cannot help altogether, for as the temptation belongs to the external world so does reason also belong to the external world. There is only one thing that can counterbalance it and that is the faculty of intuition. If this faculty is really developed it comes to man’s rescue in all his difficulties.
If one desires to reach the goal one must make a great fortification against temptation. One should keep before one the object to be attained and feel behind one the strength of intuition to push one forward. The further we go the greater will be our temptation. Even after the attainment of an object temptations still persist, ready to snatch away the object attained, which is very well explained in the myth of Orpheus. It is not necessary to be so careful as to become timid, nor should we be so bold as to commit ourselves to follies at every step we take. We must keep the balance and keep on the straight path with our gaze fixed on the desired goal.
Tolerance is the first lesson of morals, and the next is forgiveness. A person who tolerates another through fear, through pride, from a sense of honor, or by the force of circumstances does not know tolerance. Tolerance is the control of the impulse of resistance by will. There is no virtue in tolerance which one practices because one is compelled by circumstances to tolerate, but tolerance is a consideration by which one overlooks the fault of another and gives no way in oneself to the impulse of resistance. A thoughtless person is naturally intolerant, but if a thoughtful person is intolerant, it shows his weakness. He has thought, but has no self-control. In the case of the thoughtless, he is not conscious of his fault, so it does not matter much to him, but a thoughtful person is to be pitied if he cannot control himself owing to the lack of will.
The activities in the worldly life cause many disturbances, and it is a constant jarring effect upon a sensitive soul. If one does not develop tolerance in nature, one is always subject to constant disturbances in life. To wish to live in the world and to be annoyed with its activities is like wanting to live in the sea and be constantly resisting its waves. This life of the world, full of different activities constantly working, has much in it to be despised, if one has a tendency to despise. But at the same time there is much to admire if one turns one’s face from left to right. It is in our own power to choose the view of imperfection or the vision of perfection, and the difference is only looking down, or looking upwards. By a slight change of attitude in one’s outlook on life one can make the world into heaven or hell. The more one tolerates, the stronger one becomes in this way. It is the tolerant who is thoughtful. And as thought becomes greater, one becomes more tolerant. The words of Christ, ‘Resist not evil’, teach tolerance.
They say, ‘Forgive and forget.’, which is very expressive of the process of forgiveness. It is impossible to forgive unless you can forget. What keeps man from forgiving his fellow man is that he holds the fault of another constantly before his view. It is just like sticking a little thorn in one’s own heart and keeping it there and suffering the pain. It may also be pictured as putting a drop of poison in one’s own heart and retaining it until the whole heart becomes poisoned. Verily, blessed are the innocent, who do not notice anybody’s fault, and the greater credit is to the mature souls, who, recognizing a fault, forget it and so forgive. How true are the words of Christ, ‘Let those throw a stone who have not sinned.’ The limitations of human life make man subject to faults. Some have more faults, some have less, but there is no soul without faults. As Christ says, ‘Call me not good.’
Forgiveness is a stream of love, which washes away all impurities wherever it flows. By keeping this spring of love, which is in the heart of man, running, man is able to forgive, however great the fault of his fellow man may seem. One who cannot forgive closes his heart. The sign of spirituality is that there is nothing you cannot forgive, there is no fault you cannot forget. Do not think that he who has committed a fault yesterday must do the same today, for life is constantly teaching and it is possible in one moment a sinner may turn into a saint.
At times it is hard to forgive, as it is hard to take away the thorn that has gone deep into one’s heart. But the pain that one feels in taking away the thorn deepest in the heart is preferable to keeping the thorn in the heart constantly. The greater pain of a moment is better than the mild pricking going on constantly. Ask him who forgives what relief there is in forgiveness. Words can never explain the feeling of the heart when one has cast out the bitter feeling from one’s heart by forgiving and when love spreads all over within oneself, circulating like warm blood through one’s whole being.
2 Endurance (1)
The human being is, physically and mentally, so constructed that he can endure only a certain degree of vibrations, audible or visible. Therefore noise distracts his mind and strong colors also make an uncomfortable effect. All that is called noise is beyond the range of his power of endurance. Generally soft colors appeal to him more, for the vibrations of soft colors are soothing and do not demand endurance on the part of man. But atmosphere demands the greatest strength of endurance. One can endure color or sound, but it is difficult to endure atmosphere, which is not congenial. Man prefers to endure a color or a sound, which is difficult to endure, rather than the personality of another person. Human activity has a more jarring effect than color or sound. Man does not need to speak or act in order to create a jarring effect upon another. If his mind is in that state, he has a jarring effect upon others without having to speak or act. If there is a thing most difficult to endure, it is man. And yet the soul most longs for the association of mankind. If a person were in a forest where he did not see a human being, after a few months, when his fancy were satisfied to some extent, he would long to see the face of a human being. Trees and plants and animals and birds are not sufficient. This shows that it is not only that like attracts like, but like needs like. The position of man is a strange position in life. Man is uncomfortable with his kind and unhappy without his kind, and he does not know what course is best to take. The Sufi, therefore, learns the lesson of endurance, to take the right course. For if one does not endure a devil one cannot endure an angel, if man is not happy on earth he cannot be happy in heaven. A person who has no endurance, his need will not even be answered in paradise.
Although it is difficult, at times, to endure, yet if one will not make an effort to endure he will endure, then, at all times. The world is what it is, it cannot be changed. If we want it to be different, we must change ourselves. If we become susceptible to jarring effects, jarring influences, not only human activities around us but also even the moving of the leaves will make us uncomfortable. To a miserable person the midsummer day is worse than a dark night. All seems gloomy, everything seems wretched, and he himself melancholy. This tendency is developed by not making an effort to endure but by avoiding situations, which ask for one’s endurance. In all walks of life success is assured for an enduring man, and with the lack of this quality, whatever be man’s qualification, he is kept back from success. By endurance I do not mean loving and admiring all things and beings that one likes or dislikes. Endurance means to be able to stand, to tolerate, and to overlook all that is not in accordance with one’s own way of thinking. All the troubles among friends, families, nations, are the result of lack of endurance. And if this spirit of endurance would spread from individuals, in time it would become the spirit of the multitude, and the conditions would become much better than they are at present.
3 Endurance (2)
It is endurance that makes things valuable and men great. Gold and Silver are not necessarily more beautiful than the delicate and fragrant flowers, which are much superior in their color, fragrance, and delicacy to gold and silver. Why are the flowers the slaves of gold and silver coins? Because gold and silver are durable and flowers have not that quality. In this ever-changing world, full of sensitiveness, endurance is very rarely to be found.
A person without endurance is night and day in torture. For life can be pictured as the waves of the sea, always slapping and knocking against what is standing firm. One who is susceptible of being moved by this continual motion of life has no rest for a single moment. It is said: ‘There is no peace for the wicked’ – it is really not ‘for the wicked’ but ‘for the weak’, because wickedness is the extension of weakness. Endurance is an exercise of strengthening the will power. The nature of life will always remain the same; it is man who can change himself. But generally people with life to become still, because they are disturbed. It is just like traveling on the sea: man wants the sea to stay calm instead of building his boat so that it may travel on the waves and stand all storms. All the great persons of the world, whatever their mission in life, proved their greatness by this one quality of endurance. The enduring personality is like a ship that can stand storms and winds under all conditions, and saves itself and others. Such blessed personalities, showing the strength of God, have been called the saviors of humanity.
4 Will Power
Will power is not mental power, but it appears in the form of a mental power: the mind, as a globe, gives out the light of the will. Will power, plainly speaking, is soul power. Therefore the more one realizes its source, the more one develops the power of will. No doubt the mind is an instrument, also the senses are instruments of the will power, and if these instruments are not sound and well developed, the will power cannot work properly. It is just like a blunted sword in the hand of a skillful warrior. It is therefore that in the Sufi cult practices are given to make the mind as well as the senses proper tools for the will power to use. As the plant is sprung from the earth, but is nourished by the rain falling from the sky, so the will power springs from within, but is developed by external activities. It must be remembered that the inner life reflects on the outer life and the outer life reflects on the inner life. Both parts of life are interdependent.
Will power is like a battery of life, and as difficult as it is to deal with a strong mechanism, and as dangerous as it is to work with a battery of enormous power, so difficult and dangerous it is to develop and to work with the will power. In the first place, power is blinding, beauty is revealing. Wrong and unjust and unreasonable tendencies may rise from power, and one may destroy oneself in its expression. Christ has given a hint on this subject where he says, ‘He who taketh the sword shall perish by the sword.’ But by this it is not meant that one must not develop will power. It only means that one prepares, before developing will power, knowledge and strength to control it when it is once developed, and the knowledge and the clearness of vision to utilize it rightfully.
Will power in man is the secret of God, and in this secret the mighty power of God is hidden. Therefore in the East, where mystical ideas are generally known, people always say, we do not know, behind this limited human form what is hidden. This makes them respect and consider what is hidden in every person they meet. Hafiz says, ‘Do not let yourself be fooled by the patched sleeve of the dervish, you do not know if under this patched sleeve a mighty arm is not hidden.’ What we call miracle is the outcome of the same power, except that what is above human limitation cannot be called natural, it is supernatural. Therefore the miracles are not done by man, but by the superman, who in the religious term is called the divine man. Man is inferior in his selfishness. When he rises above self, he is superior. Therefore the right to develop will power is the right of the superior man. The difference between what they call white magic and black magic lies only in the use made by the inferior man or by the superior man of the same will power. It is just as by the strength of arm you can take man’s life or you can save man’s life. Both things are accomplished by the same power.
No better use of will power can be made than for self-control, for control of the body, and control of the mind. One who controls his body will control his mind. The one who controls his mind will control his body. The best use one can make of will power is to use this power for self-discipline, on passion, on anger, on all things, which abide in man’s nature as his great enemies. In other words, by will power one must build up a force to fight with oneself, with that part of oneself which offends us. It is rarely that a man lives on earth who things, speaks and acts as he wishes to. If any man does so, he is no doubt a Master. Doing a miracle apart, if one can make oneself obey one’s own will one will surely rise to a greater exaltation. In the spiritual path the development of will power is the college education. The moral education is the school education, which comes before. But after finishing the development of the will power, then there comes a work, a duty that one has to perform toward God and toward humanity, by expending the thus-developed power of will.
5 Keeping a Secret
The power of keeping a secret is the digestive power of the mind, and one who cannot keep a secret is like a person who cannot digest food. As indigestion is a malady of the body so giving out of a secret is a disease of mind. Mind is the fertile ground, and it is the product of the mind, all this that we see before us, created and produced. Therefore the mind, which conceives a secret, will prove to be a fertile land, and the mind, which cannot assimilate a secret, is like a barren desert. Those who have accomplished something in life have accomplished it by this power, the power of keeping a secret. Those who have wasted their lives have wasted them by the lack of this power. With all the intelligence, learning and goodness they might have, they have proved to be shallow. The more one knows the secret of the world the more one feels inclined to keep it secret. And the more one keeps secret what one knows the more life unfolds its secrets to one.
One naturally keeps secret all that is bad, ugly, and undesirable, and one feels naturally inclined to expose all that is good, valuable, and beautiful. Yet even that, if kept secret, will show in time the phenomenon of a seed hidden in the ground, which will spring up, when the hour comes, with its leaves, fruits and flowers. Therefore sometimes Sufis have taken a contrary way: to keep secret all the good one does and to let one’s faults be known. There exists in Persia a sect of Sufis who are called Rind, who still practice this principle. There is a saying of a Rind: be a lover from within and become indifferent outwardly. This is a becoming manner, rarely seen in the world. When a person arrives at a stage of spiritual advancement, when he regards the fault or weakness of another as his own fault, when he sees himself standing in the position of another, when he sees in another his own self, then he feels inclined to cover the fault of another as he would his own.
In all ages there has been talk about the sacred word, and it has always been considered a great secret: that secret is the tendency of keeping a secret. It is not in everybody’s power to keep a secret. For the secret is heavier than an elephant to lift, the weak-minded is weighed down by the heavy weight of a secret. The person who has not developed this power feels as if it were a congestion of the heart, from which relief can only come when he has given out the secret. Till then he is in pain. Also, it must be remembered that the power of the body is nothing in comparison with the power of the mind. And the power of the one who keeps a secret is greater than the power of the giant who lifts a mountain. All that one holds is preserved, all that one lets go is dispersed.
Mind develops to its fullness in man, although it exists in its primitive stage in all the different aspects of creation. Man, therefore, is so called from Manas, which in Sanskrit means mind. Many psychologists have thought that mind is the possession of man only, that the animal has no mind, but it is not so, even the plants have a mind. Where there is feeling there is mind.
There is no difference between heart and mind, although ‘heart’ expresses more than ‘mind’. The heart is the depth, and the surface is called mind. Plainly speaking, the depth of mind is heart, and the surface of heart is mind. Mind is a receptacle of all to which it is exposed. It is like the photographic plate. Therefore all conditions, happy or unhappy, all actions, good or bad, all that is beautiful or void of beauty, become impressed upon the mind. Its first impression is on the surface, and as the impression is retained in the mind so it reaches the depth of the heart. It is like a photographic plate. Once it is developed, the impression becomes clear and deeply engraved. But the photographic plate is not creative and the heart is creative. Therefore every impression which once reaches the heart becomes as a seed in a fertile ground. The heart reproduces all it has received.
Therefore it is to the great disadvantage of the fault-finding man that he wishes to find fault with all he sees, for if he is not able to throw away immediately the undesirable impression received, which is not always so easy, he begins in due time to reproduce what he has received. Human nature is such that all the bad things man sees in another seem to him worse than they are, but when he himself does the same, he always has a reason to defend his fault. It is like partaking all that one dislikes in another only by the habit of faultfinding. For the wise, who have risen above the ordinary faults of human life, it matters little if they find fault, but they are the ones who do not criticize. They, as a rule, overlook all that seems undesirable, and that action of overlooking itself prevents all the undesirable impressions from penetrating through their hearts. There is a natural tendency in man as in the animal to protect his heart from all hurt or harm, but that is the external heart. If man only knew what harm is brought to one’s being by letting any undesirable impression enter the heart, he also would adopt the above-mentioned policy of the wise, to overlook.
Thought is a wave of the mind. The difference between thought and imagination is that the former is an activity of the mind directed with intention, an imagination is an activity, which is not directed intentionally but rises mechanically, like the waves of the sea. Therefore imagination has less power than thought. No doubt the imagination of a man with a powerful mind will also have an influence and an outcome. But thought, intentionally directed, has strength of will with it, and therefore its power is great.
A clear mind can have a clear thought, and therefore clearness of thought depends upon the cleanliness and the awakening of the centers. When the organs of the body, and especially the centers, are not in a clean and normal condition, then one’s own thought is unclear to oneself, and the thought of others still less clear. Man in reality is by nature a mind reader, and the state of body and mind is abnormal when he cannot read thought. To one to whom his own thought is clear, the thought of another person will be clear also. It is he who does not know himself, who does not know others. It is the knowledge of self, which enables man to know others. Man’s thought may be likened to a rubber ball. It can be directed to any point one wishes to hit, but there is also a likelihood that the thought so directed would rebound and hit oneself. A thought of love sent to another must rebound and bring love to oneself, and likewise the thought of hate.
Thought depends upon mind, as the plants depend upon the soil in which they are sown. Fruits and flowers grown in one kind of soil are sweet and fragrant, in another kind of soil they may lack that sweetness and fragrance. Therefore the wise know the mentality of a person by his thought, they know from which soil that thought comes. As water is found in the depth of the earth so love is hidden beneath every heart, only the difference is that in one part of the earth the water is far down below the earth, in another part of the earth it can be found quite near. And it is that water that makes the earth flourish. And so it is the love element, which makes the ground which we call the mind a fertile ground. Every thought coming from a fertile and flourishing ground must bear some fruit. A loving person’s life itself is a garden. But otherwise, if it is a barren soil, from there you expect nothing but volcanic eruptions, the volcano that destroys itself and its surroundings. Every element in the form of a thing or being, which is destructive, must of necessity destroy itself first.
In order to make thought fruitful mental culture is necessary. First the digging of the ground. The inner culture of the Sufis begins with the digging of this ground. What is meant by Zikar is this digging process. But it is not only the exercise; it is living the life. Digging the ground is what may be called consideration. It is constant consideration, which cultivates the mental ground. Then one must water this ground, and this water is the love element, to give and to receive love. Give more and take little is the principle. And when in a ground so cultivated and so watered the thought-plants will spring, they must necessarily bring forth sweet fruits and fragrant flowers.
Tawakul; Dependence Upon God
Dependence is nature and independence is the spirit. The independent spirit becomes dependent through manifestation. When One becomes many, then each part of the One, being limited, strives to be helped by the other part, for each part finds itself imperfect. Therefore we human beings, however rich with the treasures of heaven and earth, are poor in reality, because of our dependence upon others. The spiritual view makes one conscious of this, and the material view blinds man, who then shows independence and indifference to his fellow man. Pride, conceit and vanity are the outcome of this ignorance. There come moments when even the king has to depend upon a most insignificant person. Often one needs the help of someone before whom one has always been proud and upon whom one has always looked with contempt. As individuals depend upon individuals so the nations and races depend upon one another. As no individual can say, ‘I can get on without another person’, so no nation can say, ‘We can be happy while another nation is unhappy.’ But an individual or a multitude depends most upon God, in Whom we all unite. Those who depend upon the things of the earth certainly depend upon things that are transitory and they must some day or other lose them. Therefore there remains only one object of dependence, that is God, Who is not transitory, and Who always is and will be. Sa’di has said, ‘He who depends upon Thee will never be disappointed.’
No doubt it is the most difficult thing to depend upon God. For an average person, who has not known or seen, who never had any idea of such a personality existing as God, but has only heard in church that there exists someone in the Heavens Who is called God and has believed it, it is difficult to depend entirely upon Him. A person can hope that there is a God, that by depending upon Him he will have his desire fulfilled, a person can imagine that there can be Someone Whom people call God, but for him also it is difficult to depend entirely on God. It is for them that the Prophet has said, ‘Tie your camel and trust in God.’ It was not said to Daniel, ‘Take your sword and go among the lions.’ One imagines God, another realizes God. There is a difference between these two persons. The one who imagines can hope, but he cannot be certain. The one who realizes God, he is face to face with his Lord, and it is he who depends upon God with certainty. It is a matter of struggling along on the surface of the water, or courageously diving deep, touching the bottom of the sea. There is no greater trial for a person than dependence upon god. What patience it needs, besides the amount of faith it requires, to be in the midst of the world of illusion and yet to be conscious of the existence of God! To do this man must be able to turn all what is called life into death, and to realize in what is generally called death – in that death, the true life. This solves the problem of false and real.
People very often mean by piety, orthodoxy, a religious appearance, or a great goodness. Really speaking piety means purity. Piety is the healthy state of mind; the person of healthy mind is really pious. That mind is pious which fears not, which is beyond life’s anxieties and worries, which is above reproaches, which by its innermost joy makes even the body feel light. The pious feels exalted, for piety is purity from all things and conditions of earthly life which pull man down to the earth. When man feels light in his body and joyful in his heart his soul becomes exalted, and that is the sign of piety. If there is not this feeling in man, however much good there be in him, it is of no use, his learning is of no value, his religion, his prayer, all in vain.
Religion, prayer, or meditation, are all methods by which the joy, which is within man, which is man’s divine heritage, may be brought to the surface. Sufis have used different words from those of the orthodox in expressing their spiritual ideas. Therefore instead of calling man pious they call him Khuanda Pishani, the smiling forehead. It means that if his lips do not smile, his forehead smiles. How true it is that before man cries or laughs his eyebrows give warning of what is coming. That is what is meant by the word ‘expression’ in the English language. There is an inner joy, a divine feeling, which rises up as water from a fountain and shows itself in many forms, in smiles, in tears, in words, in silence. Man expresses it in dancing, in singing. His voice, his word, his gesture, all expresses piety. Hafiz has said in sarcasm to the long-faced pious, who have become so out of orthodoxy and who look at singing or dancing with contempt, ‘If the heads of the pious would hear my words sung, they would get up and begin to dance.’ Then he goes on, saying, ‘Hafiz says things sometimes through drunkenness which he ought not to have said. O pious one, I pray you will overlook it all.’ The Sufi’s piety is the divine joy which is the soul’s real treasure, and it does not matter in what way it is achieved, religiously or irreligiously, as long as it is achieved. It is the thing the Sufi values most.
It is amusing how many different meanings people attach to the word spiritual. Some call spirituality great goodness, some mean by it melancholy, some by it mean a miserable life, some think spirituality lies in communion with spirits, some consider wonder-working and the art of the conjuror a kind of spirituality, every good or bad power, so long as it is a power, people often imagine to be a spiritual power, many connect the idea of spirituality with a religious authority. Whereas it is the simplest idea, if one cares to understand it by rising above complexity. Spirituality is contrary to materiality. One who is conscious of matter alone is material, one who becomes conscious of spirit also is spiritual. He who thinks, ‘I am my body’, and sees no further, is material. He may as well say, ‘I am my coat’, and when the coat is worn out he may say, ‘I am dead.’ The one who is conscious of the spirit, to him his body is a coat, and as by taking off one’s coat one does not die, so even by the death of this body the spirit realized soul does not die.
It is the spiritual person who will attain in time immortality. He does not need to study much to prove to himself that he is spirit, for study will never convince him. It is the spirit itself, which must realize itself. The soul is its own evidence; nothing else will make the soul realize its own being. The whole work of the Sufi, which he calls inner cult, is towards soul-realization. It is realized by rising above matter, and yet the condition is that one can only realize it by getting through matter. As a fountain is necessary for the water to rise, so the material body is necessary for the soul to realize itself. The water, which remains still in the depth of the fountain, sees itself rising and falling within itself, and there lies its joy. The same picture illustrates the condition of spirit and soul. The spirit, which rises upward, is the soul, it falls again in its own being, and the realization of the spirit of this joy can alone be called spirituality.
Attitude is the principle thing in life. It is not the conditions in life which change life for us, but mostly it is our attitude toward life and its conditions upon which depends our happiness or unhappiness. With a sympathetic attitude one is able to sympathize with those who deserve sympathy and even with those who do not deserve sympathy. It is not the deserving or undeserving persons, but mostly it is the attitude with which they are seen. A person who is impressed by wrong, to him there is much wrong in the world and less right. The more he looks at life with this attitude the more wrong he sees. In the end to him every thing becomes wrong. It is a kind of mental agitation against one thing a person met with in life, which was wrong, which makes him see wrong in everything. A person who has once burnt his lips drinking hot milk blows the buttermilk to cool it before he drinks. The human mind is like a compass. If it is once made to point out wrong, whatever way you may take it, it will seek its own point all the time. So it is with the doubting person. A person who begins to doubt his enemy next doubts his friend, then he comes to doubt his nearest and dearest friends in life, and he cannot make his mind trust anybody in the world. With the best motive one may approach him, in every way one may show him sympathy, he will still think, ‘Perhaps in this sympathy there is hidden an enmity.’ It is generally the case with human beings that their attitude becomes fixed. It is not a rare thing, seldom met with. But the one who trusts will trust everyone and under all conditions, and who idealizes and sees good will see good in, and will idealize, even undeserving ones.
No doubt a better attitude fixed is preferable to the bad one, but the most desirable thing is to have the attitude un-fixed, moveable. One must be free to form an opinion about a person and to adopt a method of working under certain conditions, without having to subject one’s attitude to some preconceived ideas one has in the subconscious mind. To be able to approve or disapprove, to be able to like or dislike, to be able to choose or give up. Goodness is better than wickedness, but freedom is higher than goodness. By freedom is meant not only freedom from outer influences but freedom from certain inner influences which obsess one’s life, often making it wretched and miserable through all conditions.
The attitude becomes high and broad when one looks at life from a higher point of view. When the point of view is not high the range of man’s sight becomes limited. Man becomes narrow in his outlook on life, and in his feelings, thought, speech and action the same is expressed. Why is God pointed out on high, toward the sky? Why not toward the earth, for God is everywhere? The reason is that within the range of God’s sight the whole universe stands as a little grain of corn, as to one that flies in the balloon and looks down from high. The whole city comes within the range of his sight, when he stands on earth he sees no further than the four walls, which keep the whole world covered from his sight.
Sympathy is an awakening of the love element, which comes on seeing another in the same situation in which one has been at some time in one’s life. A person who has never experienced pain cannot sympathize with those suffering pain. In the same way a person sympathizes with someone whose honor or reputation has been harmed. The one who has no honor or reputation himself would not mind for he does not know what it is and what it is to lose it. A rich person who has lost his money may be laughed at by someone who has never had it. He can sympathize with him who has wealth, and still more can he sympathize with him who had wealth and lost it. Very often the young imagine they love their mother and think they sympathize with their parents, but they cannot come to the full realization of their love until they reach that situation. Very often people think it cruel and unkind of their friends when they do not receive sympathy from them, but they do not know that to have sympathy does not mean having a warm heart only, but it means having that experience which reminds them of it, making them sympathetic. Sympathy is something more than love and affection, for it is the knowledge of a certain suffering which moves the living heart to sympathy.
That person is living whose heart is living, and that heart is living which has wakened to sympathy. The heart void of sympathy is worse than a rock, for the rock is useful, but the heart void of sympathy produces antipathy. Man is most active physically and mentally, and when his heart is not tuned to sympathy his mental and physical activity takes quite a contrary direction, which leads to inharmony and destruction. No doubt love, affection, or sympathy without wisdom may seem profitless, as for instance, if a person was crying with pain and his sympathetic friend, on hearing his cry, began to weep with him, doubling his pain. Sympathy can only be useful when man does not make the condition of the person with whom he sympathizes worse, but makes things better. The feeling of sympathy must be within, it need not manifest purely as sympathy but as an action to better the condition of the one with whom one has sympathy. There are many attributes found in the human heart which are called divine, but among them there is no greater and better attribute than sympathy, by which man shows in human form God manifested.
3 The Word ‘Sin’
Man wonders if sin is an attitude or an action or a situation or a result, and the answer is that all these combined together make either a virtue or a sin. The absence of one from it makes it incomplete, but all these together make it a complete virtue or sin. Now the question is where it is originated, what is the source of it, and the answer is that its origin is in wrong thinking. Wrongdoing comes from wrong thinking and wrong thinking comes from wrong feeling. And yet it is difficult to distinguish between feeling right and wrong. In short, as a definition of the word I would give this: Every attitude, word, or action that deprives one of the expected result, the result which is expected not only by the mind but by the soul, may be called sin. That which deprives one of peace, freedom, happiness, tranquillity of mind, and ever-increasing power of will may be called sin, whatever be the action. It may be an action which all the orthodox call virtue, and yet it cannot be a virtue. Why is a virtue called a virtue? Because it brings happiness. It is not because it is a particular kind of action, it is because it brings to one what one’s whole being is desiring. It brings freedom, it brings the air of happiness, and it gives by its pressure upon one’s mind an increase of will power, that is why it is called virtue. It is therefore that no person in the world can judge another person, whether superior to him in evolution or inferior. The person himself is the best judge of his action.
In the Messages of the past it was necessary that a kind of standard of virtue should be given to the world as a law given from the Prophets of God, but at this period it is not necessary. The Sufi Message does not bring to the world a law made so plain as to say which is which, but the principle of the Message is to waken in the spirit of those who receive this Message that spirit that they may recognize what is right and what is wrong, that they may become masters of their destiny, and by their realization of this their progress on the spiritual path may become much higher as compared to those who during the period of the prophets depended on being directed in their lives by the law made by the prophets and carried out by the priests. The Sufi Message does not bring this. It brings the spirit of freedom, the air of happiness, that which gives happiness with increased will power, which opens up freedom for those who can recognize for themselves the difference between right and wrong, and in that evolution of humanity is brought a step forward from what it was before.
After a certain time the same principle that the Sufi Message has brought to the world will culminate and will appear as a law among nations, because the Message is the throwing of the seed. Just now you do not see the fruits and leaves, just now you see the seed which is hidden under the dust and on the ground. But time will show the tree with its fruit and its leaves. When the nations will recognize the divine law and the law of the time then humanity will no longer be ruled by the laws made by a few intellectual people for their convenience and as they think right, but the law will recognize the divine indication which is constantly working through every soul, guiding it on the path, showing it the way of its destiny. And when such a time will come there will not be a necessity for so many laws, and as many laws so many lawyers, and probably as many lawyers so many law courts, and no end of prisons and no limit to the prisoners! This will cease to exist. There will not be the necessity of strict laws and severe punishments for nothing.
If one could only see that among one hundred people who are sentenced by the course there is hardly one to be blamed, to be held responsible for his fault. And if there is anyone to be held responsible, it is all we human beings. Why do we not all work, why do we not all help them to kindle the light in their soul that would show them their path plainly? It is not necessary that the clergyman, the priest only should be responsible for the evolutions of each individual. We must work in the capacity of brother and sister to everyone. In the realization of the brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God we must hold it as our duty, our sacred task, to waken in our brother, with love, with respect, with modesty, with humility, that power of understanding what is really for his best, what can really benefit him. It is not the mission of one person, it is the mission of every person. And if we each considered our share of work in the Message and showed it by our own example in the world we should be doing a great duty toward God and humanity.
4 Kaza and Kadr: The Will, Human and Divine
The question of the will, human and divine, may be seen from two points of view, from the wisdom point of view and from the point of view of the ultimate truth. If words can explain something, it is from the former point of view. The latter point of view allows no word to be spoken in the matter, for in the absolute truth two do not exist, there is no such a thing as two, there is one alone. From the wisdom point of view one sees one weaker, one stronger, and one has to give in to the power of the other. This one sees in all aspects of the creation. The larger fish eats the little fish, but the little fish lives upon smaller fishes. So there is no one in this world so strong that there is not another person stronger still. And there is no one in this world so weak that there is not another that is weaker still. The other thing one can thing about is the opposing conditions and situations which stand before a willing mind and a striving person like a stone wall, so that with every wish of doing and accomplishing one does not find one’s way. It is this experience which has made man say, ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ The Hindu philosophers have called these two great powers, one of which is as an intention and the other the power of destruction, by the names Brahma, the Creator, and Shiva, the Destroyer. And the most wonderful part in this creation and destruction is that what Brahma creates in a thousand years, Shiva destroys in one moment. Since God is almighty, the wise see the hand of God in the greater power, manifesting either through an individual or by a certain condition or situation, and instead of struggling too much against the difficulties in life and instead of moaning over the losses which cannot be helped, they are resigned to the will of God.
In short, every plan that a person makes and his desire to accomplish that plan are often an outcome of his personal will, and when his will is helped by every other will that he comes in contact with in the path of the attainment of a certain object, then he is helped by God, as every will goes in the direction of his will and so his will becomes strengthened, and often a person accomplished something which perhaps a thousand people would not have been able to accomplish. Then there is another person who has a plan or a desire, and finds opposition from every side. Everything seems to go wrong, and yet he has the inner urge, which prompts him to go on in the path of attainment. There also is the hand of God behind his back, pushing him on, forward in his path, even though there might seem oppositions in the beginning of his strife – but all’s well that ends well.
The saintly souls, who consider it as their religion to seek the pleasure of God and to be resigned to His will, are really blessed, for their manner is pleasing to everyone, for they are conscientious lest they should hurt the feelings of anyone, and if by mistake they happen to hurt someone’s feeling they feel they have hurt God Whose pleasure they must constantly seek, for the happiness of their life is only in seeking the pleasure of God. They watch every person and every situation and condition, and their heart becomes so trained by constantly observing life keenly, as a lover of music whose ears become trained in time, who distinguishes between the correct and the false note. So they begin to see in every desire that springs in their heart, if it is in accordance with the will of God. Sometimes they know the moment the desire has sprung. Sometimes they know when they have gone halfway in the path of its pursuit. And sometimes they know at the end of strife. But even then, at the end of it, their willingness to resign to the will of God becomes their consolation, even in the face of disappointment. The secret of seeking the will of God is in cultivating the faculty of sensing harmony, for harmony is beauty and beauty is harmony. The lover of beauty in his further progress becomes the seeker of harmony, and by trying always to maintain harmony man will tune his heart to the will of God.
Questions and Answers (July 18th 1923)
Q Is there, in relation to Kaza and Kadr, a difference in the path of the saint and the master?
A Certainly. The saint is resigned to Kaza, and the master has regard for Kadr. Kaza is the will of God, and Kadr free will of an individual.
Q What is free will? Can man in reality do a thing contrary to the will of God?
A The answer is expressed in the first part of my lecture. From the point of view of the absolute truth all is the will of God. There is no such thing as free will. But from the wisdom point of view there is a greater will, a mightier will, and a smaller will. That shows one side perfection – of God. The other side limitation – the fate of man.
(July 19, 1923)
Q Will you please explain what you said yesterday about the two paths, the one, which leads to saintliness, and the one, which leads to mastership?
A There are two paths which lead to the goal, one of the saint and the other of the master. In one path the will is used in outward things, in the other path the will is mostly used to control oneself, in other words for the time being against oneself. This is the saintly path. It is wise, before one knows of the will of God, first to handle one’s own will, and to use it knowing that it is given for some great purpose in life. The one is the path of renunciation, abnegation, resignation, and self-denial, from the beginning to the end. And by doing this one arrives to that meeting ground where one touches that divine perfection. And then there is the path of the master. The path of firmness and obstinacy, breaking and penetrating through every difficult situation that comes before him. And so fighting all along from the beginning to the end. In this he has to fight with himself and with the life outside. Therefore the struggle is both sides. And there is all the time the work of the will power, and all through there is a battle. In this battle all the conditions that one has to go through are of the same character and nature as of the warfare. To be wounded and to cause wounds, and to be hurt and to hurt another also. And in this way it is a constant struggle. But still for the higher air, and for the greater gain. In the end he strikes the same note which the saint has struck. Neither the path of the saint is easy, nor of the master. The place where they meet both become one. For the resignation brings the saint to the same realization of the harmony with the Infinite, as the struggle brings the master to the same conviction in the end.
There is a third temperament, and that is the middle temperament. In which temperament there is the saintly temperament and the temperament of the master. That is the prophetic temperament. Because the prophet begins his life with both, struggle and resignation. One moment struggle, and another moment resignation. Gain and resignation, continually going on. And therefore in the prophet one sees the saint and the master, both in one.
Opinion is an outcome of mind. It is an outburst of its reasoning and judging faculty. And so, according to the evolution of a particular mind, its opinion is. Opinions clash when two people of different stages of evolution express themselves. Therefore the wise are more reluctant to express their opinion, whereas for the unwise it is easy. A simpleton is only too glad to express his opinion uninvited. In the ancient education of children that was the one thing that was taught from childhood in good families, that the child must not be too ready to express his opinion.
Very often in expressing one’s opinion – rather in giving one’s idea about another – one places himself before others for examination. As soon as a person has expressed his opinion all other know what note of life he strikes – that is, those who have the knowledge to know it. This does not mean that one must not have an opinion. It would be like saying one must not have a mind. Where there is a mind there will be an opinion. Does it not very often happen to an intelligent person that immediately after having expressed his opinion he finds out how foolish he has been in expressing his opinion? Often through nervousness, through lack of control over oneself, or through lack of patience one expresses one’s opinion. That opinion is valuable which comes by invitation.
When someone has asked, ‘Please tell me, what do you think of it?’, then the opinion becomes the answer to a demand. Sometimes the opinion is nothing but the voice of pride, and sometimes one’s opinion is colored by one’s favor or disfavor. Sometimes opinion lacks knowledge of the object on which it is formed. The wise therefore asks himself the question whether he has thorough knowledge on the subject upon which he expresses his opinion. If one took into consideration that very often one does not know what effect the expression of opinion may produce in the mind of the hearer, what reaction it will have, desirable or undesirable, one would certainly think much before expressing an opinion.
In the terms of the Sufis there is a phrase, dakhl dar makulat, interference with the expert. For a nurse to attempt to direct the surgeon who is busy doing his work, for the clerk to advise the judge while he is taking a case, for a student of the violin to tell the composer what he must do in a certain composition, all these things are meant by that phrase. If one considered, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge in any line of work, what study, what practice, and what experience is required, and if one would consider, by the time a person has reached a certain age, what he has had to pass through and what he has had to learn, one would certainly have consideration for the expert and for age before expressing an opinion.
No doubt there are minds, which show from childhood that brilliance which another person may not acquire in the whole life, and there is a genius who might show from youth a capability which can hardly be found among the experts. But even such gifted souls need consideration just the same. I have seen those who promised to be really something in life, who promised to accomplish something worthwhile in their lives, in spite of all their energy, enthusiasm and knowledge taking gentle steps in the path of life and halting at every other step lest they should do a wrong thing instead of the right. What is Sufism? It is wisdom. To learn wisdom at every step in the path of life is the only work of the Sufi.
Conscience is not only a record of one’s experiences and impressions gained in life, but it is a living voice of the heart which makes all that is in the heart, so to speak, dance in the light of justice. Therefore conscience is a world in man, a world as living as the world in which we live. And even more living than this, for the world of conscience is durable, whereas the outer world is subject to destruction. The word ‘hiding’ or ‘covering’ of a certain thing is for our limited understanding. In point of fact nothing can be covered, nothing can be hidden, since the nature of life is action and reaction. Every outer experience has a reaction within; every inner experience has its reaction in the outside of the life. In the Koran it is said, ‘Their hands and feet will give evidence of their action.’ The idea, from the point of view of metaphysics, may be thus explained, that there is no action, which has not a reaction. Every outer action has a reaction inwardly and every inner action has a reaction outwardly.
The finer the person the finer his conscience, and grossness makes the conscience gross. It is therefore that one person is more conscientious about his doings than the other person, one person repents more for his mistakes and failures than another person. But the most interesting thing in the law of life which one might watch is that the scheme of nature is so made that a conscientious person is taken to task more seriously by the scheme of nature for his evil-doing than an ordinary person who never thinks what he says or does. It might seem as if even God did not take notice of his wrongdoing. According to the metaphysical point of view in the soul of the conscientious God is more awake. In the soul of the other person God slumbers, He does not take serious notice of things. If one were to watch one’s own conscience one would no longer have a thirst for phenomena, for there is no greater phenomenon than what is going on within oneself and the action and reaction of every experience in life which materializes and manifest to one’s view in various ways and forms. A clear conscience gives the strength of a lion, but the guilty conscience might turn a lion into a rabbit. But who is it in the conscience who judges? In the spheres of conscience the soul of man and the spirit of God both meet and become one. Therefore to a soul wide-awakened Judgement Day does not come after death, for him every day is Judgement Day.
No doubt the sense of right and wrong is different in every mind. The right of one may be wrong to another, and for another the wrong of one may be right. The law of action is too complex to be put in words. For every step advanced gives a certain amount of freedom of action, and as one goes along further and further in the path of truth his freedom is greater and greater at every step. And yet no individual lives a life between the four walls of his individual self, every person is related and connected with a thousand ties with the others, known and unknown even to himself. Therefore the souls do not need regard for themselves only, but for the whole being, since every soul is a part in the whole scheme of nature. And conscience is the test which can voice that inner harmony in everything one thinks, says or does, thus keeping the soul tuned to its proper note.
Question and Answer
Q Is not the disapproval of conscience due to the soul’s knowledge of certain consequences in the past?
A The whole life of the world is built on conventionality and accepted ideas, and conscience is made on this edifice. Conscience is not necessarily truth. Of absolute Truth there is no word to be said. All else is Maya, illusion, and when one looks from that point of view there is nothing wrong, nothing right. If we accept right we must accept wrong. The modern German scientist Einstein’s theory is what the Hindus have called Maya, illusion. Illusion caused by relativity. The existence of everything is by our acceptance of it. We accept a certain thing to be right, good, beautiful, and once accepted that becomes part of our life, we have accepted it to be, so it becomes. A mistake cannot be a mistake unless we accept it as such. Our conscience tells us, but we have first told our conscience, and our conscience has accepted. Dervishes prove this by saying that fire will not burn us. Hell-fire is created in the conscience, and if in the objective world we can prove there is no such thing as fire, certainly in the conscience it does not exist either. The dervish jumps into the fire, and so proves his case. The best way of testing life is to have conscience as a testing instrument, to test and see if there is harmony or disharmony.
Conventionality is no doubt man-made, as art is man-made. But as in art is the finishing of nature so in conventionality there is the finishing of civilization. Conventionality is no doubt acquired, not inherited, but at the same time the love of conventionality is inherited also. Children born in families in which conventionality has existed for a long time are born with a tendency toward it and it becomes natural for them to learn it, also while learning they do not feel it to be foreign to their nature.
No doubt the extreme of all good and bad things is to be avoided. Nature has helped as far as that the soul is born on earth, and then comes education, in which is the fulfillment of the purpose of life. Conventionality is not the goal, and yet this, which makes civilization, is a bridge, which is connected with the goal of life. Conventionality loses its virtue, as do all things, when they become void of sincerity, for sincerity is the soul of every virtue.
Now coming to the question: what is conventionality? It is a law of manner which is used in life for the convenience and comfort of man. All that is man-made is as imperfect as man. Therefore if one would try to find out the mistakes of conventionality one could find them in every civilization existing at any period of history. Nevertheless the most civilized at any period have been the most conventional people of the time.
During the age of aristocracy conventionality increased in every part of the world and became the main part of education for that time. And when revolt arose against the spirit of aristocracy every good and bad thing that aristocracy possessed was condemned. Whatever line of reform the people in the world may adopt, they cannot be free from conventionality and yet progress. These two things cannot be separated. Only what can be done is to break one form of conventionality and build another form, call the first form conventionality and the next Bohemian life, it all comes to the same. There is one thing that must be considered, that freedom is the soul’s purpose, and if, without hindering the conventionalities, one can rise above them, so as to breath the breath of freedom, that would be the true democracy. Democracy void of culture and refinement can very well be called anarchy.
But there are two laws, which, if one considers them deeply, will become useful in living the right life. It is one thing to strive to achieve beauty, comfort, happiness and peace in life for oneself. And it is another thing to share the above-said things with the others – that is where the necessity of conventionalities comes from. The one who is a slave to conventionality is the possessor of that kingdom of which it is said in the Bible, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Kingdom of the Earth.’
Questions and Answers (July 21st 1923)
Q Will you tell us which has the most influence on the individual, heredity or environment?
A The heredity is the foundation of the house, and the environment is the building. And from this you can understand what is more useful and what less, and what has greater influence and what has less.
Q The most civilized have been the most conventional people. How does it come that the artist generally is not conventional at all?
A The artist lives in his own world. The greater the artist, the more of his own world he has. He does not live in the world. All those who live in their own world, they are out of the world, they have a civilization of their own. But when it comes to the question of the worldly life, life in the midst of the world, there comes the question of conventionality. He cannot ignore conventionality, and at the same time live in the midst of the world.
Paderewski did not have time enough to comb his hair. That is another thing. But I do not think that he could have come as a president without brushing his hair. As an artist it is all right, but as a man in the midst of the world, he has a world to face.
Q Is not conventionality very often the result of personal taste and habits? How would it be possible to know what to change and what to keep, when the conventionality of each person depends upon his environment? There would surely always be people who disagreed in this?
A Of course, this necessitates the exclusiveness of environments. Also, this is the cause of divisions of humanity. And yet no civilization can avoid it very well, however greatly advanced in its thoughts. The progress will create necessities of such kind. They will not admit it, but they will live it just the same. But I should think that the best way of understanding conventionality is the spiritual. Once a person understands the spiritual moral, he does not need to learn man-made refinement. It will come by itself, as soon as man begins to regard the pleasure and displeasure of God in the feeling of every person he meets, he cannot be but most refined, whatever be the position of his life. He may live in a cottage, but his manner will surpass the manner of palaces.
Another thing, when man has begun to judge his own actions, the fairness will develop in his nature. And therefore everything he will do will be just and fair. He does not need very much the study of outer conventionalities. He naturally will become conventional. And the third thing is that Sufi conception of God as the Beloved. When this conception is practiced in everyday life, and one regards it in dealing with everyone, that in everyone there is the Divine Spirit, more or less, one would regard everyone with that devotion and respect, with that thought and consideration which one would give to the Beloved God. And in these three ways this spiritual life teaches man the very depth of conventionalities. And if a civilization was built, which no doubt will be built one day, on a spiritual basis, the conventionalities of the world will become genuine and worth having.
Q Do you think that conventionalities are fundamentally based on common sense?
A Sometimes based on common sense, sometimes on the super sense, and sometimes beneath it.
Q How can one make people who are lacking in education see a thing that does not exist in their eyes, where they think there is no such thing as what the aristocratic people feel as necessary for their happiness?
A Civilization means progress. Those who are not educated, they must be educated to understand life better. There are only two things. Either go forward, or go backward. Either begin to think as everybody else without education thinks, or take the one who is not educated with you, and go forward. One thing or the other. As the inner inclination is to go forward, and to take the one who cannot understand just now gently … that the beautiful things are for the benefit of humanity.
I should think that an ordinary man in the street, he is neglected. Man turns his back to him. If he was taken closer to oneself, if he was taught with simplicity and good will, not showing that he was ignorant of beauty or culture, but showing him that in this is his real benefit, I am sure that the conditions, as bad as they are now, will not be. And there will be a better understanding between the classes as they are just now.
I will tell you a little example. When travelling in India, I was staying in a place near a Hindu temple. And there were two porters who took care of that temple. They were of Afghanistan, proud and stiff, rough and rigid in their manner, and yet in their expression there was honesty and goodness. As I passed through that way I saw them ignoring, so to speak, my entering and going out, lest they may have the trouble of observing any conventionalities. One of them came to me with a message from his master. I got up from my seat, and I received him most cordially. And since that time, every time I passed, even if five times in a day, I was very well-received with smiles, and with very warm welcome, and there was no more ignoring, because education was given to that person without hurting his feeling. That gave him the pleasure. Certainly he thought that he could give to another also.
To force a virtue upon a person is pride, but to let him see the beauty of a good manner, that is education. The condition today would become much better if we would take that to heart, and know as our sacred task to approach the people who need ripening, in such a gentle way, with such sympathy and love, and to develop in their spirit that culture and beauty which will then be shared between us and them.
The life which we know is from our own life, therefore the nature and character of that life which is eternal is beyond man’s comprehension. By this it is not meant that man is incapable of knowing the deeper life, but only that what man knows of life is from the knowledge of his own life. The difference between the life known to the generality and the life, which is unknown, is that of illusion and reality. Man mocks at the idea if he be told that all this is illusion, until he dives deep and finds out by comparison that this life which is subject to birth and death and subject to changes is a life and yet no life. This life is like a bubble in the sea. The bubble is existent and yet in reality non-existent when compared with the sea. And yet we cannot say that the bubble is non-existent, for it merges in the same sea in which it once appeared. So nothing takes it away but its own source and its original being.
The nature of this life of ours can be better understood by knowing its secret. And the knowledge of its secret will certainly enable us to live it to its best advantage. What happens is this: man, eager and anxious to get the best out of life, owing to his ignorance, becomes a loser in the end. In order to know the secret of life one must understand the law of creation, the law of sustenance and the law of destruction. We must understand that destruction awaits every created thing, and to save it from destruction there is one mystery to be solved and that is the mystery of sustenance. What happens is that in every activity which is directed toward a certain result, owing to one’s anxiety and eagerness, one draws that result closer before the time, and in this way very often man brings about that destruction which, if he knew that it could be warded off, he would put off to a later time. By this knowledge one develops patience, for very often it is the lack of patience which becomes the cause of destruction. An impatient person tries to reach too soon that culmination which causes destruction. And by patience, the one who is able to control his activities in life will become the sustainer of life and will make the best of life. In the Hindu mythology Vishnu is the Sustainer, in other words the king of life.
The science of today, wakened to the same mystery, has been able to control matter to man’s best advantage, more than we have ever known before in the history of the world. If the same mystery were used from a spiritual point of view in everything one does and one wishes to accomplish in life, success would surely be one’s own. In every little thing one does in life this point of view must be understood. Even in such things as eating and drinking, if one does not sustain the rhythm he cannot take the real benefit of the food he eats and the water that he drinks. The person who eats before the culmination of appetite will always complain of lack of digestion. So in business, industry, professions, study, meditation, in all affairs of life, whether affairs of the heart or of the head, the consideration of controlling one’s activity and guiding it and proceeding gradually toward a culmination is needed.
Questions and Answers (July 21st 1923)
Q In regarding the activity in life of the Shiva side of the deity …?
A It is a subject, which is very vast, and it is difficult to explain that subject in two words. But that aspect of destruction and knowing about destruction can be easier understood again by something, which we see in the modern science, by the medium of what they call inoculation. By putting that destructive element in one’s body one makes one’s body disease-proof. That particular disease is no longer a disease, but the nature of that person. That is the method of the mystic from a spiritual point of view. That death is a death so long as man is unacquainted with it. When man eats it up, then he has eaten death. Death cannot eat him. Then he knows the life eternal. That is the mystery of the Message of Jesus Christ. To seek eternal life from the beginning to the end. The mystery of eternal life is past once a person has eaten death, then he is eternal.
In little things of life, one person says: ‘I do not like to touch vinegar. It hurts my health’. One person says: ‘I cannot bear to eat cream, I cannot digest it’. Another person says: ‘I cannot stand to have sugar in the tea, I do not like it.’ For him the sugar is a poison. If he took the poison once, the same would become sugar for him. All things that one thinks that they are foreign to his nature, by this he makes his nature exclusive. And by becoming exclusive he makes himself subject to them in a way. There comes a time when they rule him, a situation when he is under them. A person who says: ‘Bitter quinine, it is too bitter, I cannot stand it’ – he is in a fever, the doctor says he must have it. He dreads having it. At the same time he cannot help it. Therefore the way of Shiva was always to work against one’s weaknesses. He counted them as weaknesses, not as nature. ‘Nature, all is my nature, but what I cannot have, that I make foreign to my nature. If I have separated it, there comes a time perhaps that I become so weak that I cannot help having it.’ Would you believe that the snake charmers, I have found some of them who have gradually, by making the snakes bite them time after time, developed so that poison does not hurt them. So that when they go, they just catch the snake in their hand. If the snake bites them, it does not hurt them. Shiva is pictured with a cobra round his neck. Out of death he has made a necklace. It is no more a death to him.
One can go to extremes. But still it is a law that must be studied and known. The only mystery it teaches is not to consider anything in nature as foreign to one’s nature. If it were not in use one would not know it. By this one overcomes all the destruction which is the source of fear and pain and disappointment.
Q Does it mean that if there is no poison there is no moral? There is no good and no bad, if there is no poison?
A No. It does not mean that. Good is good, and bad is bad. But at the same time one can rise above bad, or one can be submitted to badness. One can become weak before the evil, or become strong. The idea is to become strong before the evil instead of weak.
Q If one sees that a thing has begun with precipitance, what should one do?
A One should be sorry for having begun it too quickly, and one should try to regulate the rhythm. As in the beginning there is a need of patience, so also in the end. Patience should be all along. Patience is the secret of the whole thing. There are many virtues, but no virtue can be compared with patience. For it is not only a virtue, it is a power within itself.
Q Is it perhaps God’s way of making us immune to sorrow, when He sends us troubles and difficulties?
A Every way is God’s way. When He sends us troubles and difficulties, that is God’s way. Neither there is the law of God to send only sorrow and trouble, nor to send us only joy and happiness. But if we are thankful, and see the hand of God in all, we would certainly be grateful – and even after sorrow – and to see in both the way of God.
Very often there are people more impressed by the doctrine of Karma, who say that if illness has come, ‘Well, now it is our Karma, that we have to pay the due. Then we must take it patiently.’ I think there is a virtue in it also, and to see that it is from Karma. But it is not sufficient. We must know that happiness is our birthright. In our happiness there is the happiness of God. In our sorrow there is the pleasure of God. Therefore we must do everything in our power to get out of that illness, instead of thinking that the Karma had thrown that illness, and we must lie patiently, with a rock over us, and not try to push it off because it is Karma.
Q Is it bad to be too impatient, even for spiritual development?
A ‘Too’ is always bad. If a person asked me: ‘Is it right to be too good?’ It is enough to be good. Impatience of every kind is to be avoided. One loses one’s equilibrium. There is no gain out of impatience.
A Patience does not necessarily mean sloth, negligence and laziness.
Q Is in our sorrow not God’s sorrow reflected?
A Certainly, as in our happiness God’s happiness is reflected, so in our sorrow God’s sorrow is reflected. If God would not sorrow, man would be greater than God. For man is capable of two things, and God would only be capable of one.
Q Why did you then say that God is not pleased in our sorrow?
A I did not mean to say that in our sorrow there is not God’s sorrow, but I meant to say that God is not pleased – as man is sometimes – in causing sorrow to man. It is impossible to have no sorrow, but we want balance in sorrow and joy. When there is too much joy and no sorrow then life becomes monotonous.
Q After all is it not a good plan for one to look for the cause of their sorrow or gladness in their own thought and action?
A Sometimes it so happens that it is not conditions which make sorrow. We allow them to make us sorrowful. It is not only on their part that it depends, it depends upon both: a part of the sorrow comes from life, and a part one makes oneself. Therefore, if there is a response, one helps life to give a little joy, then the life will give one a little joy also. But if one prevents the life to give a little joy then the life becomes helpless.
There may be out of a hundred things ninety-nine in everyday life that we take too seriously. We might take perhaps one thing seriously, and of the ninety-nine say: ‘It matters little.’
9 The Word ‘Shame’
The word ‘shame’ is used in all different languages, and, more or less, the meaning of the word as understood by different people is the same. But the question what, really, the word ‘shame’ means could be answered by saying that shame means ‘want.’ A feeling, which one feels in oneself of wanting something to make up one’s ideal, gives the feeling which one calls shame. Or when one sees in another person something wanting, it is that which brings to one’s mind that sense of want, and one expresses that sense by the word shame. It is interesting to notice that in the Persian language there is a word Kham (which can also be pronounced as ‘shame’), the meaning of which is ‘foolish’, but the true meaning is ‘wanting.’
The question arises whether the conception of shame is inherent or acquired. That is where the point of view of the mystic differs from the conception of modern psychology. While modern psychology says that all this is acquired, the Sufi will say it is inherent. The springing of this sense in a child is worth noticing, and is of very great interest to a seer. But when one sees it from a metaphysical or from a spiritual point of view, it opens up a very vast field of thought. One learns, by thinking about this sense of wanting, that the human soul by nature is perfect and the life of limitation on earth is imperfection. Therefore the soul continually sees wanting in itself and want in others, and becomes unhappy over it.
The soul who sees the want in others becomes unhappy over others. Therefore there will be no end to the unhappiness of that soul, for there will always be the want in this life of limitation. But the soul who sees the want in itself no doubt has a chance to gain all that which is wanting, although the more a soul will advance the more it will find itself wanting.
It is therefore that the nobler the soul is, the more sense of shame it has, for that sense is wakened in it. And the lack of nobleness of spirit is signified by the lack of that sense. There is one person who fights against that sense, which in time becomes blunted. And he might feel happier for the moment, having that sense in him so blunted. However the limitation is there. The sense of shame is a channel, which leads to that goal, which is called perfection. But no doubt the more it is wakened the more one is subject to unhappiness. And yet true happiness is in the realization of perfection, and therefore in the end he does not lose much, in spite of the apparent gains that come to the one who is shameless. In practical life in the midst of the world the shameless has apparently more ease of action and of movement likewise. The one who has the sense of shame awakened, for him life is difficult.
But the sense of shame living in the heart of man is like a pearl in the shell. And as long as it is in the shell it may not fetch its price, but there is a pearl just the same. Whatever price the pearl fetches, the market place is not the place of the pearl. Its real place is the crown of the king. So a person with real, living quality may not always be appreciated, may have troubles in life, and yet sometimes his qualities will fetch their proper price. And if they did not fetch the proper price still there is no loss, for beauty in all its aspects is beyond price.
Where does man learn virtue? He learns it from that sense of shame. And what develops virtue in man? It is again the same sense. Often this sense works as a sharp knife upon a feeling heart, but it only makes it a cut diamond. By this we come to a realization that what is most precious in life is feeling. And if the feeling sense loses its sharpness, it is as if man, who is the salt of the earth, has lost favor. And there is nothing else from where it can be gained. In all times of the world’s history whenever a civilization had touched its summits, this sense was developed in the generality. For the heights of every civilization show the fineness of human feeling, which is the highest of all aspects of culture.
The manner of the saints has been to approach God with this feeling. It is this feeling which made the Prophet Mohammed cover himself with a mantle every time when the thought of God came. It is the same feeling, which gives a person modesty. And all the different forms of prayer have come from this inner tendency of man in the presence of the God of perfection.
Questions and Answers (August 15th 1923)
Q False accusation fills a child with a sense of shame, though there is no justification.
A Anything wrongly suggested always has a wrong result. Sometimes a person carries a sense of shame too far, but it has its own value when it is used rightly.
Often people have done great things, beyond their ordinary power, taken hold of by their sense of shame. They get such a desire to amend that they are awakened from a sense of death, they make superhuman efforts and they live again.
Repentance is the outcome of shame.
When the sense becomes more living the person feels the lack in himself and so he respects the lack in others. So what he does is to cover the lack of another, instead of exposing it by criticism. When he develops further he sees other persons exposing their own lacking. So the pain of the wise and of the saintly souls is the pain they feel for others as if for themselves. They feel it like a knife. Spiritual life means to feel the life of another man as one feels one’s own life. It looks so cruel on the part of man to expose the lack of another. It may satisfy his vanity or bring him a moment’s pleasure, but from the spiritual point of view it looks very cruel. One can overcome this by feeling the oneness of life, the same life in him and in me, so his pain, his sorrow, his pleasure I share, because his life is my life. So people cannot but be sympathetic to all in life, and have more or less love, but the difficulty is they do not know how to use it to their best advantage.
Q Will you please explain from the lesson on ‘shame’: ‘The sense of shame is like a pearl in a shell?’ And further: ‘The price cannot be given in the market place. The place of that pearl is the crown of the king?’
A That means that a virtue like this is appreciated and understood and rewarded fully in its right place. That is why it is said: ‘In the crown of the king.’ Everybody does not appreciate a person with this virtue. The person who has not got this virtue cannot appreciate it. Therefore for a greater person a greater place is required.
Tolerance is the sign of an evolved soul, for a soul shows the proof of its evolution in the degree of the tolerance it shows. The life in the lower creation shows the lack of tolerance. The tendency of fighting with one another, which one sees among beasts and birds, shows the reason at the back of it, that intolerance is born in their natures. By a psychological study of the nature and the tendencies of the lower creation one will find that the evolution that takes place among birds and beasts shows this tendency of intolerance becoming less and less. It is the love element developing in their nature which brings them together to form flocks and herds. The same tendency of intolerance sometimes manifests in a more distinct and pronounced form in man. The reason is that man’s responsibility in life is greater, his difficulties are many, and he lives in a crowd, which is larger than a flock or a herd.
At the back of this tendency there is a most wonderful secret hidden, the depths of which are fathomed by the mystic. The mystic, who sees God within and without both, who recognizes God in unity and in variety both, the mystic realizes that it is the One who has known Himself to be One, who does not know of two, who feels uncomfortable and agitated, and shows a revolt on knowing that: ‘There exists another besides Me.’And it is, therefore, that the birds have the tendency to fight with their own element, and so, the same thing one finds among the beasts. Among men, man is the enemy of man, and woman of woman. The rivalry that exists between professions and between people of the some position and between nations shows the same thing, that one principle that the nature of the ego, through every name and form, revolts against another, especially of the same name and form, in some way or other. One may give a thousand reasons for intolerance. They exist too, but the inner reason is one and the same in all aspects of intolerance. The Sufis have called it Kibria, which means vanity, vanity of the One to Whom alone it belongs.
As one evolves spiritually so a person seems to rise above this natural tendency of intolerance, for the reason that he begins to see, besides himself and the second person, God; and he unites himself with the other person in God. It is the third person whose love or devotion makes two people unite. For instance, the children of the same parents love one another in realization of the idea that they are of the same parents. The people of one nation love one another in the thought that they belong to one nation. And when two people tolerate one another with the thought of God as their Creator and as their support, then they are more evolved, because they can tolerate anyone of any country or race, of whatever name or form.
But when a soul has evolved still more, tolerance becomes the natural thing for him. Because the highly evolved soul then begins to realize ‘Another person is not separate from me, but the other person is myself. The separation is on the surface of life, but in the depth of life I and the other person are one.’
Therefore tolerance is not learned fully by trying to follow it as a good principle. It is learned by having the love of God, by attaining the knowledge of self, and by understanding the truth of life. There is no need to ask further about a person who, you think, is spiritual. Once he says, ‘I tolerate all,’ this is certainly the proof of his spirituality.
Questions and Answers (August 4th 1923)
Q Does the law of attraction work on a scientific basis, according to the law of vibrations?
A Yes, there is a law hidden under every activity; and therefore certainly there is a law of vibration in every activity. No movement is free from the law of vibration. Therefore in attraction and repulsion also.
Mastery comes from evolution of the soul. And the sign of mastery is to conquer everything that revolts one. And that is tolerance. And the souls, who have attained to some degree that spiritual mastery, they will see with me, not only with people, but even with the food, that where a person will say, ‘This I do not like, that I will not eat’, the soul who has gained the mastery rejects nothing. It may not approve of it; it may not be especially attracted to it. And then with the weather, the masterly soul will not say, ‘It is too hot’, or ‘too damp’, or ‘too dry.’ ‘We do not tolerate what is before us.’ It is hard to tolerate, but we cannot help to meet it. The difference is in tolerating it. The whole system of the Yogis, especially of the Shiva Bhaktis, is based on making oneself acquainted with something that the nature revolts against. In this way they could go too far in tormenting themselves. The extremity in all things is not right. At the same time that is the principle.
It is not the food but how the person accepts it, if he eats it. Thought works with simple food like medicine. If he says, ‘It will do me good’, it can cure. There are Yogis just now who will drink poison and not die, or jump into the fire and not be burnt. It is a practice to see that even the element such as fire … Because you will find the intolerant souls most unhappy. Everything hurts them, food, water, air, the change of the weather; every person they see hurts them. Where should they be, uncomfortable in the house, and restless outside?
Q What to say to such a one?
A It is very difficult. Therefore that tendency of rejecting, dislikes, prejudices, it is that tendency which must be conquered. It gives such a one mastery.
I remember my own experience once that in the school my teacher sad that there was a tree, that the leaves of that tree are very good for a person. They purify the blood – that did not interest me. But, he said, it is so bitter that you cannot drink it nor taste it, nor touch it. I thought ‘I think I can!’ I did not care for the medicine, I only thought, ‘If I cannot, no one can!’ I went home and gathered leaves, and everybody could not understand why I was gathering the leaves. It is bitterer than the water in the sea. I drank it, and my satisfaction was that I did not even make a face. I was not tired of it, I continued for five, six days.
It is a demand on the part of a person, if he wants to fight against all things. That gives the mastery. One does not fight mostly. One always fights against things that prevent getting what he wants. If one could fight with oneself, then one would fight against the tendency of rejecting. That leads in the end to mastery.
Q I thought it was no use trying to force yourself.
A As a general principle in life, there is no use to force. But to train oneself is another thing. It is a method.