Volume VIII The Art of Being by Hazrat Inayat Khan
There is a story of Khwaja Moin-uddin Chishti, whose fame is still so great that, although he died hundreds of years ago, thousands come to his tomb every year, and the power of his holiness is so great that everyone who goes there falls into a trance.
One of his mureeds once wrote him a letter and, as we write "yours sincerely," "yours truly," he signed "faqir." Faqir means one who has renounced one who is spiritual. Khwaja Moin-uddin Chishti read the letter and said, "Thank you God, I have a mureed who is a faqir, what I myself, all my life following this way, have not become." He answered the mureed saying, "I am very glad that you have become a faqir." The mureed was much dismayed. He thought, "What have I done? I have written the wrong thing." Faqir also means a humble person, which was what he meant.
He went to his Murshid and said, "I have made a great fault." The Murshid replied, "It is all right. I wish that you should be greater than I. I shall show you how I am considered." He took the mureed out in the wilderness where the hermits were living, a long, long way from any town. They knocked at the door, and a voice came from within, "Will the dogs of the world not leave us in peace even here?" Khwaja Moin-uddin Chishti said, "I am your Murshid, and you see in what sort of respect I am held."
We distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong by our own experiences. One man has a good experience from a certain thing and at once calls it good; another has a bad experience from the same thing and calls it bad. A person who may seem very bad to some is called good by his friend. In a person who leads a merry life one may be sure, by looking carefully, to find some good, such as may not be found in persons of great repute for their holiness and spirituality.
Man is born with such a critical tendency and has so much developed this tendency that he easily seeks what is bad in everything. The Sufi takes the contrary way; he seeks for what is good in everyone and everything. The way of morality is to think that if someone has done us some good it is very great, and if we have done good to someone to think that it is very little and that we might have done more. If a person has done something bad to us we should forget it as soon as possible, and if we have done something bad we should think of it as a great fault. If we see something that seems bad to us we should overlook it, disregard it, and forgive it. This is the only way to happiness and peace.
We must never think, "You did so much good to me, I do so much good to you." That makes all goodness and kindness a commercial transaction: you give me a hat, and I give you a pair of gloves!
If someone finds fault with another, he will try to get us to agree with him. He will say, "That person is doing this. Is it not dreadful?" If we say, "Yes it is terrible," our fault will be as great or greater than his will.
Whatever is said or done echoes in the world as a dome, and what good or bad a person does comes back to him. It may not always come back from the same person to whom he did good or harm. It may come from quite another side, because the universe is not many beings, but one Being. If a man does harm to a person who did nothing to him, that person is receiving back what bad he once did to another. However, that does not justify you, as an individual, in doing harm. When good is done, it also comes back as good, maybe from another side.
Only the Murshid who is responsible for his mureeds, or the father, who is responsible for his children, may say to the face of the mureed or the child, "My child, this is not right for you," but he may not tell it to others.
The morals of humanity have three aspects: morality with regard to God, morality regarding friends and morality with regard to those whom we do not like and to enemies.
Morality with regard to God has three parts. The first is to idealize, to see all the good attributes in God, all the beautiful qualities, all His mercy and kindness. You may ask, "Why should we not also see the bad attributes in God? Why should we not say God is cruel?" For instance, a child may be ill and the mother may say, "I pray to God to make my child well." Then, if the child is not better, the mother may say, "God is unjust, God has no justice. This little child, what has it done that it should suffer so much?" In reality the child is not our property. We have no right to it. It belongs to the spirit. The moral is: if you are sorry not to complain to God; if you are sick not to blame God; if you are unfortunate not to say that it is Gods fault. This is called adab.
The second part is praise. Wherever we see something beautiful to say that it is the kindness of God. When we perform some act of mercy to give the credit to God.
The third part is thanks. God does not need mans worship or mans thanks. Nothing can be given to Him by mans worship, nor can anything be taken from Him. If one goes to King Georges Palace and says, "I wish to thank the king," the sentry will say, "Thank him at home. You cannot thank the king here." Mans worship, mans praise are needed for man himself in order to produce in him the attributes of humanity.
The morality regarding those we like, our friends, firstly is to be sincere, not to say what is not true. In the world everybody says, "How kind you are, how good you are," and not a word of it is meant. People in towns are polite and polished, but the heart does not feel much. If one goes to villages where there are two or three hundred houses, one will find people not so polished but with more heart, more ready to sympathize. This is so all over the world. I used to think that it was so in India, but now I have seen that it is so everywhere.
Secondly, always be a friend. If once you have formed a friendship, keep it up. However circumstances and cases may change, keep up the friendship. Do not expect your friend to do what you do. He may not be worthy, or he may not be able to do what you do, and if you expect a kindness in return for a kindness it becomes commercial: I give you a book, you give me a pencil. That is not friendship, it is trade.
Thirdly, do not increase the friendship. If one increases it, friendship becomes so heavy that it cannot last. It becomes a spell, an intoxication; when the intoxication is gone the love and friendship are gone and hatred remains. A story is told about the emperor Mahmud Ghaznavi. He was riding his horse outside the city where a drunken man was sitting by the roadside. When he saw the emperor on his horse he said, "O man, will you sell me that horse?" The emperor was amused at his confidence and boldness; he smiled at him and rode on. Later, when the emperor came back, he saw the man still sitting by the roadside, his drunkenness gone. The emperor said to him, "Are you the man who wants to buy the horse?" The man replied, "The buyer of the horse has gone, the servant of the horse remains." This was a very good and nice answer, and the emperor was pleased with it. The moral is: have a little friendship and keep it up.
The morality towards those, whom we dislike, towards enemies, is more difficult, and it is much greater. For it is easy to be kind to those whom we like, who please us. In those whom we dislike even merits do not seem merits; we cannot see their merits because of our dislike. We should pity those who cannot attract our liking, and we should not think that we are different from them. We can see on the face of the man who takes a dislike to another that his own soul despises him, because in disliking the other he dislikes his own soul. His own soul is not a different soul; it is the same soul as that of the other, the same soul as the soul of the prophet, the same soul as the soul of the greatest sinner, the same soul as the Soul of the world.
The most essential lines of a poem of Hafiz are these: "To friends be faithful and loving, to enemies serviceable and courteous. This is the secret of the two worlds."
This was taught in all ages by all the prophets, saints and those who have served the world, and it is because we have forgotten it that we suffer all the ills we suffer. All our lacks come from forgetting it. It is the secret of happiness and peace. What is done for a return is not service, otherwise all the people in the city working with their machines would be called servants of God. That, which is done, not for fame or name, not for the appreciation or thanks from those for whom it is done, but only for love, is service of God.
Muhammads claim was: Muhammad Abduhu wa ar-Rasuluh, Muhammad, His servant and prophet. He was prophet because he was servant. Muhamud Ghaznavi, the emperor, says in a poem, "Mahmud Ghaznavi, who has a thousand slaves, since love gushed from his heart, feels that he is the slave of slaves." No one can be master who has not been servant.
Someone went to Muhammad and asked him, "How long must I serve my mother before I have fully repaid her what she has done for me?" The Prophet said, "If you served her all her life you could not do enough, unless in her last days she said, I forgive you what you owe me." When he asked for more explanation the Prophet added, "You serve your mother thinking that she will live for some years and then it will be over. She served you thinking May my child grow and prosper and live after me. The mother is much greater."
You should ask your soul whether you have always been kind to enemy and friend. If your soul will answer "Yes," then I will say that you are a saint. Although you may not know any mysticism or philosophy, although you may not be a very spiritual person, although you may not see any phenomena or work wonders, this kindness in itself is enough to make you a saint. This kindness is the moral taught by all religions.
You must see in the heart of another the temple of God. God is peeping through the heart of another. In whatever way you can, in act, in speech, in feeling, at whatever sacrifice, you should please the heart of the other and do nothing that can hurt it.
The word hope to those who are broken-hearted is startling, to them it is poison. If you speak of hope to the broken-hearted they say, "Do not speak of it, I do not wish to hear of it!" The state of the broken-hearted is worse than death; they are without ambition, without hope, without life. The one who is broken-hearted is dead while he is alive; the breath is still there, but his heart is dead, life has gone with the hope that was lost. He may not be old in years, but he has become old.
To him who is heartless hope is a ridiculous word. The heartless, he whose heart is incapable of feeling, will say, "Hope? What is it? See what you can do, and do it. Do not dream." This is the material person who can see no further than the material possibilities.
In the life of Christ we see that enemies, difficulties and helplessness were all around and confidence in the truth of the message gave hope to carry it through. If there had not been hope, the thought "I will bring the message," what material possibility was there of spreading the message? This whole manifestation has hope as its underlying motive. Nature first hoped to produce the world and then produced it.
In the Orient people have the habit of depending upon kismet, fate, and this is a source of weakness. If an astrologer tells a Brahmin, "After so many years such and such a calamity will come upon you," the Brahmin does not even make an effort to fight against misfortune; he awaits it and accepts it. If a man is told, "In such a year you will become very ill," he does not even try to avoid the illness. They do not consider that hope can avert misfortune and can turn aside even the influence of the planets. Where no possibility of attaining the object is given, a strong hope can attain it.
Without going to the mystics this can be seen in the history of kings. Muhmud Ghaznavi was a slave. What possibility was there for him to become a king? With only hope he started from Turkistan and founded a kingdom in Afghanistan. Of Timur is told that once he was lying asleep in the jungle. He was going through such a hard time that he did not even have a place to lie down, hardly any clothes, nothing. A dervish happened to pass that way and saw Timur lying in the hot sun where not even an animal would lie. He went nearer and saw about this man some signs of greatness. He also saw a sign of bad luck, and that sign was that Timur, while asleep was lying with his legs crossed. He saw that this man himself was the hindrance to his undertakings. The dervish had a stick and hit him so hare that the bone of his leg broke. Timur woke up feeling a great pain. He said, "O dervish, this is very unkind! I already have such hard luck, and you break my bone." The dervish replied, "My son, your bad luck is gone. You will be emperor." There seemed to be no possibility for it. Timur had no army, no clothes even, and now his bone was broken. But after great striving and after many years he became the emperor Timur Leng.
All works that have been accomplished have been accomplished by hope. Without hope the engineer could not have built a bridge across the Themes; he hoped, and then he built it. Without hope the Suez Canal, a thing that seemed impossible, could not have been cut.
One may ask, "How long shall I hope? I have hoped once and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a second time and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a third time and I have been disappointed. " I will say "Hope until the last breath. While there is breath in the body, hope."
A person may lose hope in his profession or trade. For instance he may have gone to a singer to take singing lessons for one or two months, or for one or two years, and then he may think, "I am not getting on with this, I should stop singing. I believe I have no voice." Or he may think, "I am not getting on in my business. I cannot make it a success, I should give it up." The ill is not changing of profession or business, but giving up all together. If the person thinks, "Now I wish to be a poet," and becomes a poet, then he is not hopeless; or if he thinks, "Now I wish to compose," and becomes a composer; or "I should be a teacher," and becomes a teacher, then he is not hopeless.
People say that doctors have now found remedies for so many diseases, but I say that the cause of most illnesses is loss of hope. In the pharmacy there is no such great remedy for all the diseases as hope is. Even when disease is incurable, hope cures it.
The question arises: What hope is right, and what hope is not right? A wise person will never hope for what is impossible. Hoping to be a queen, when there are no means of being a queen, is hoping the impossible. First we must know what is possible this is wisdom and then we must hope. The Quran speaks of khawf, hope with consideration.
This word does not men fear, as it has sometimes been translated, but consideration, conscientiousness. Hope with consideration of the purpose for which the manifestation was made, with the consideration of God that hope is always right. Hope without consideration is wrong.
Why with consideration? Because we must not hope for what is wrong, for what is bad. We must hope with the fear of God before us. The hope must be so strong that, if today we are penniless, we must think that there is every possibility that tomorrow we may be a millionaire. If today is every possibility that tomorrow we may me known to the whole world.
There is no stain so great as the stain of hopelessness. Sometimes weakness is the cause of hopelessness. During an illness a person thinks, "I am so weak, I cannot get better." Or weakness is caused by old age; a person thinks, "I am old, there is little left for me to do." And he becomes sad and discouraged. He really may have the strength to do much more, but the loss of hope makes him old. A man may be given to drink, or he may be a gambler, or have any other vice, and may think, "I am too weak, I cannot be cured."
Besides old age the hurt of the heart causes hopelessness. This shows us how careful we should be not to hurt the heart of another and not to let our own heart be hurt. In India we are most careful of this; diljoi, not to hurt the heart of another is taught as the greatest moral: not to hurt the heart of the parent, of the friend, even of the enemy. Also our own heart must be protected by forts around it.
A story is told about a man who went to the Sharif of Mecca and said to him that the camel the Sharif rode was his and had been stolen from him. The Sharif asked whether he had any witnesses. He had none. Then the Sharif asked, "What proof have you that the camel is really yours? How can you recognize it?" The man answered, "On my camels heart are two black spots." "On its heart?" said the Sharif, "How do you know that?" The man replied, "The animals feel as we do. My camel is a she-camel had two young ones, and at different times both died. Each time I saw that camel looked up to heaven and gave a cry like a sigh, a deep great sigh, and that was all. So I know that on her heart are two black spots." The Sharif held out two gold coins and said, "Either take back your camel, or take the price for your discovery." If the heart of an animal can feel like this, how much can the heart of man feel?
If we do not protect our own heart from harm, we can be killed at every moment. Amir, the poet, says, "Why did you not kill me before you wounded my heart? It would have been better to kill me first." We must consider what the world is and what it can give. We must give and not expect to take the same as we give. A kick for a kindness, a blow for a mercy is what the world gives. We must not expect the world to be as we are expected to be. If we receive some good, it is well. If not, it does not matter. The world does not understand in the same way as we do. Material interest has so blinded people that when a question of money comes, of interest, of a share, of a territory, of property, even a child, a wife, a relative, or the closest friend will turn against us. A Sanskrit poem says that, when the question of money arises, no consideration for father or brother remains.
We must fortify our heart, so that we always may be the same, always kind, merciful, generous, serviceable. When a person has understood this, then comes that inner hope which is within every heart, the hope in another life. If one asks anyone why a man must go out and work all day long and have no time to give to what he likes, why a man must leave his parents and go to work, why lovers must part, the answer is always the same: "It is the struggle for life." If this life is so valuable, how great must be the value of that other life. The hope of another life is in man, of a life that is unchanging, immortal and everlasting. It is only because our consciousness is so bound to the self that we are not conscious of it, and it is very bad that the external self always is before us, because it always makes us think, "I have been offended, I have been badly treated, I have been neglected" always I, I, and I.
There was a dervish who used to say, "knife upon the throat of man." Man (pronounced nasally) in Hindustani means I. People asked the dervish what he meant, and he said, "The goats and sheep say man, man, man. I say: a knife upon their throat for this!" A man who says "I" deserves to be killed like the goats and sheep that are slaughtered because they say "man."
When that "I" is killed, when the consciousness of this "I" is lost, then comes the consciousness that in the whole existence there is only I no you, no he, no she. The illusion makes us distinguish you, he she and it; in reality there is only I. When the external I is lost, then a fragrance comes into the personality, a beauty, a magnetism. Then he sees into the personality, a beauty, and a magnetism. Then he sees in every being the manifestation of God, he bows before every being. In the Sufi poems we may read of the tyranny of the beloved. This is the tyranny of the beloved, the opposition of manifestation. It is the grade of worship. There is still the grade of realization, of merging in God, but that is beyond it. The grade of worship comes first. If a priest sees a foolish person doing something foolish, he may say with authority, "He is a sinner." But the Sufi
Says, "I am much worse than he, I have no right to condemn him. I am a worshipper; I must see here the manifestation of God. I must worship it; I must revere it, serve it, and therein accomplish my lifes purpose."
I have always hope. Hope is my greatest strength. I do not require that my hopes are fulfilled, as fuel is needed to keep the fire burning. My hopes are kept alive in my faith.
Patience, the word itself, is the heaviest thing that is. To one who is in difficulties and troubles, to one who is in sorrow, to one who lives in the wish of obtaining his desire, the word patience has a dreadful sound. The sound is dreadful, the thought is terrible, and the idea is frightful to us. Yet all our difficulties in life, all our failures come from lack of patience. All the results of life often are lost through impatience. A person may have patience for forty years, and then lose patience, and so lose the result of all his endeavors during so many years.
The impatient person will show his impatience in his speech. When you ask him something, he will not let you finish your sentence. He answers before you have finished because he thinks, "Why should you still say that half sentence?" The impatient person eats very fast, and all the veins and tubes of his body cannot drink so fast as he drinks. If he walks across the room he will stumble ten times. He walks into chairs, into the table, into the door and does not look into whom he walks. If he intends to take some action, he starts and three times before he reaches the door he will say, "I am going, I am not going, I am going," because he does not give time to his decision.
All our errors and faults come from impatience. It is not that the soul wants something, which is wrong, but we do not stop to weigh our acts. We seize upon the first thought that comes to us without weighing or considering it. Nowadays the wish for variety has grown so strong that we always wish for new surroundings, new friends, new faces, and our thoughts change every moment. If we could hold our thought, we should increase its power. We think, "It is only a thought, it will pass." In reality, by our thought we create a spirit, a jinn, a genius, that acts and works and achieves. The more patiently we think a thought, the stronger the thought becomes.
The lesson of patience is much less taught nowadays as the influence of religion has become much less, and education is mostly given for commercial purposes. So we must look upon the lesson of patience as a lesson we give ourselves; we must think of all the beautiful results we gain by patience, and be sure that, if we have conquered patience, we have conquered the whole world.
Patience in perseverance is a very good thing, but it can only be possessed by those who have confidence. Each Sura of the Quran is addressed to those who have patience and great importance is given to confidence: iman.
Muslims perform namaz, their prayers, five times a day. If you ask an old Muslim whether he has gained anything by it, he will answer, "What do you know about it?" I have gained what I wanted: my satisfaction." If he is ill he does not care, he does not blame God. If he loses his fortune, he does not blame God. He does not say, After so many years of namaz this illness, this trouble has come!"
Everything that has been done has been done by confidence, and nothing can be done without confidence. You cannot dig the earth for gold, if you do not have confidence that the gold is there. You cannot watch the cooking pan, if you do not have confidence that there is something in the pan which the fire has the power to cook.
If I were to tell you to work three hours in the night repeating the name of Allah, you would say, "My Murshid has told me so, and I must do it, but Then when you repeated Allah, Allah for half an hour, you would think, "Here I am sitting for half an hour in this cold, and I do not see what I have gained by it. If I were to write some music now, tomorrow I could sell it for five pounds. Then I would have worked and I would have gained something."
It has been the difficulty of all prophets, of all who have come with a message, that people said, "Show us something that these eyes can see. Show that the sun comes down, or the moon, or that the earth cleaves. But the message of God what is it? Show us something." That is why, if there is a suffrage meeting, at once there is a subscription for a thousand pounds, because people know that by fighting the government they can get laws passed. If someone comes with a message from God and says, "We need money to spread this message," people say, "Why do you need money? Money is needed for a scheme. Have you engineered a scheme?"
To have patience, to have confidence, we must see an object before us. We can have confidence in obtaining any material object. It is much more difficult to have patience where there is nothing to show only the satisfaction of the soul; to have patience is a virtue, to merge in the illumination, to gain the light. It is the same with fire: at first there is smoke mixed with it and, if it had no patience until it would become a flame, there would only be smoke and it would go out. If it has patience it will become a flame that illuminates the whole room so that everything can be seen and known. More than all else this patience is the greatest gift and blessing.
Every success in life is brought about by confidence, iman, and all our lacks are due to want of confidence. It is so with material as well as spiritual things.
In India many things are thought lucky or unlucky. If you go out on an undertaking and a cat crosses your road, it is thought that you cannot be successful then. If you go out and at once meet a person carrying flowers, then you will be successful. It is easy to understand the reason. If you first meet something that gives you pleasure, you have a good impression, and that gives you confidence. If you receive a bad impression your confidence disappears. A man, an ordinary sort of man, once came to my Murshid and asked him, "Give me your blessing for good luck. I have built a carriage and I want to make some money with it." My Murshid said, "Every morning when you get up count your money."
Whatever we are to undertake, we should say, "I shall accomplish it, or lose my life." Failure comes from lack of confidence, lack of confidence comes from doubt, doubt comes from reasoning, and reasoning comes from thinking of the means. If you think, "I will go to Brighton, but perhaps, if I do, the Zeppelins will come and I shall be killed." Then you lose your confidence. There is no need to think of the Zeppelins. They might come, but if they come you would be one among the many inhabitants of Brighton, and you might not be killed.
Whether in our own undertakings or in what we may do to help another, confidence is needed. You may do everything to help another, but if he has no confidence, if he does not work also, there cannot be success. God also needs your confidence and your effort for success.
By faith in God hopelessness can be turned into hopefulness. The spirit draws its power inspirationally from the divine Source. Every impulse, every desire comes from there, and in accomplishment the law of perfection is realized. But when a person doubts about everything and says that there is no inspiration, then, by denying this power, he gives away that which he already possessed. By recognizing the divine Fatherhood of God one becomes conscious of ones divine heritage and one knows that there is no lack in the divine Spirit, and no lack in life. Then there is certainty of fulfillment, which is only a matter of time.
Some good people have almost arrived at the fulfillment of their desire, and then just at the last moment have failed, while others attain ultimate success in everything. One will always find that the souls of the former were influenced by great power but lacked faith, while the others had power supported by faith. If faith is lacking one may attain ninety-nine percent of success and miss the last one, and so in the end the loss takes away all that was previously gained.
Question: What is more necessary for a student of mysticism, faith or intelligence?
Answer: For absolute faith the first step is the ideal. The next step brings man into the presence of God. For the intelligence that way goes from intellect to wisdom, and there are obstacles at every step.
Faith - faith in the greatness, the mercy, the power of God is the greatest thing. It also is the most difficult thing. For the one who has faith all difficulties, all responsibility rests upon Him in whom he has faith. The intelligence takes its own responsibility. But if there is the least chance of the intellect rebelling against faith, it is a sign that the intellect asks to be fed, and it should be given its food: all knowledge.
Faith is a word that has been so little understood, and often it is considered to be a religious term. Really speaking, faith is not only something which is required in religion, but in all aspects of life. It is the one thing that is required most. It is the misinterpretation of faith that has taken away the value that could be attached to the word. Otherwise, if I am to say one word, the sense of which is most valuable in the world, it is faith. In the Orient they call faith yaqin and another Arabic word used for it is iman.
There are many sacred things in the world, but faith is the most sacred; not faith in something, but faith in itself. Faith comes from above; doubt rises from below, from the earth. Therefore one is heavenly, the other earthly. When a person is more worldly he is more doubting; the less worldly he is the more faith he has. You may find a person who once had a great faith and then lost it, and you will observe that at the same time his life went from a less worldly condition to a more worldly one. Being more absorbed in the life of this world makes one void of faith. This shows that faith is innate in human nature; doubt is something of which man partakes.
The sun is light, the light which always is light; clouds may cover it, but they do not really cover the sun, they only cover the sun from our eyes. When a person has no faith, it does not mean that in the depth of his being there is no faith. There is faith, but that sun is covered by clouds. When the heart is exposed to the things of the world, there are always doubts rising from the earth, and they will cover the heart.
Doubt gives a pessimistic attitude. One questions, "Will it be, or will it not be? Do I think rightly, or do I think wrongly? Am I on the right path, or on the wrong path? Shall I succeed, or shall I fail throughout life? Will conditions be better or worse? " When there are two possibilities the earth impresses a person with doubt against the good one. He wants to conquer the good one, to have it, he desires that things should be better, but what he finds, rising from the earth, is doubt, and for his faith therefore he does not get the proper support from the earth. As man does not see God, he does not look up, he only looks at the earth and wants support from there. The great lesson that the blessed ones have taught to humanity was to raise ones vision upwards and to find faith in something, which is free from all doubt. Pessimism and optimism, therefore, are two different attitudes: the one looks downwards, the other looks upwards.
Very few of us know what miracle is hidden in faith, what power and inspiration. We only think, "I can believe in some things, and in some things I cannot believe." But for what we believe we want proof from the earth. In order to sustain our faith we need sustenance from an unlimited source, but we look for sustenance to the earth which is a limited source. When a person looks at a tank full of water and says, "Oh, what a small supply, what shall I do for next year? He is right but he is looking at the tank. When he looks above he will see that the source from which the rain falls is there and can fill many such tanks, and even rivers. Blessing of all kind is there, if only we prepare our heart to receive it. If the heart is small like a glass, it can only fetch a glass of water even if it is taken to the sea. But if the heart is larger then it will bring that much more water.
No doubt, patience is the first lesson to learn on the path of faith, because it is patience, which gives one strength to hope. My spiritual teacher used to say as his benediction, "May your faith be strengthened." As a youth I thought that he would say, "May you live long, may you be happy, prosperous, may you gain wisdom." The meaning of this blessing I realize now more and more every moment of my life, for in faith there is all. All that one wants, all that one needs, all that one wishes to attain through life is all hidden in ones faith.
It is most interesting and sometimes laughable to see how easy it is for a man to fix his faith on small things, while on large things he cannot fix it: he fixes his faith on an object, not on a person. For instance if one says to somebody, "Here is a medicine for you, a medicine that will cure you," it is easy for him to have faith. And when one says, "Well, I will think of you for your cure; and you will be cured," the first thing that will come to mind will be doubt. What is the reason? The reason is that he sees the object, he does not see the thought.
I once met a very great healer who had much success and I asked him the secret of his working. He said, "The secret of my way of working is first that I have taken a religious shrine where people come and sit; they certainly come with faith to this particular shrine. Then I give them some kind of mixture of powder. Really speaking I heal them by myself, but they have no faith in that; so I give them some powder to drink, and they feel better." The whole effort of different religions has been to make man see what is hidden in a human being. Rituals, ceremonies and all different forms teach the same thing: find the secret and the mystery of life not only in the objects but when you have passed through them, in the human being.
It is the same thing, to see that one can easily have faith in a man, while it is difficult to have faith in God, for the reason that one can see a human being before one, but one cannot see the greatest Power and Perfection, which is in the abstract. Faith is as a substance: if one does not possess that substance, one cannot raise it to the highest ideal which alone merits faith.
Medical science is now coming to the realization of the importance of psychology, although it is as yet only considering the thought waves and thought power. Faith is still something else to be considered and studied. My experience with numerous students in this line has shown me that a person may be able to concentrate and maintain a thought, but often is not capable to do it fully, because there is no faith at the back of it. Faith, therefore, is not something, which may be called a thought. Faith is the ground itself. It is a ground from which thoughts spring up as plants. If the land is not fertile the plants cannot come up. And so, if there is no faith at the root of a thought, the thought is not beneficial. Besides this there is another thing: something that can be accomplished by the power of thought in a years time is accomplished with the power of faith behind it in one day.
Someone said to a Brahmin who was worshipping an idol made of stone, "God is formless. He should not be worshipped in an idol of rock." The Brahmin answered, "It is a question of faith. If I have faith in this stone, God who is everywhere will speak through this stone. But if one has no faith, even the God of the abstract, of heavens, will not be able to speak." If this is so, is there anything that cannot be accomplished, that cannot be realized by faith?
When we look at it from a metaphysical point of view we shall find that the secret of the whole creation is faith, and the perfection of faith is attained when it has risen to that ideal, that height, where it can hold itself without any support. Faith therefore after having accomplished all that is to be accomplished, will be the one thing and that will prove to be all things.
Question: How do we gain that faith?
Answer: By fighting doubt. It is a continual fight, because doubts are the inheritance of the earth. We are walking on the earth, so it is a continual fight.
Question: But faith can be mastered?
Answer: Of course faith can be mastered. As one will fight doubts, so one will gain ones victory over doubts.
Question: Can there be a religious faith without being attached to any religion?
Answer: Certainly. The religion of every soul is his own. Outwardly one may belong to a religion, but inwardly everyone has his own religion, and that is his true religion. By faith I do not at all mean faith in a particular religion or gospel, or idea. I say that faith is within a person.
Question: Can one obtain the spiritual plane by an earthly fight?
Answer: We say in the East that a teacher is most helpful for that. A person, who in his scientific attainment has arrived for instance at the stage of Edison, is there already; he only has to turn his face and he is already there. There is perhaps a businessman who all his life has done nothing but gain wealth. A religious, orthodox, or pious person will look upon him as most materialistic, but he does not know what fight this man had to go through in his life in order to gain that much money, and what sacrifice, what struggle and consideration he had to give to it. It is not always easy to become a man of wealth. Therefore, if he has struggled along and has arrived at a point where he can be called rich, he has to change his attitude and he is there already.
Question: Can faith have an effect on things that are not religious?
Answer: Oh yes, faith can be used in every direction, just like light. By light you can study religion and fare forth to the heavens and do anything. No one in this world has been able to accomplish a great thing without the power of faith, whether he was a general, a businessman, an inventor or a religious man. The power that faith gives is beyond words. The weakness and the poverty that exist in the absence of faith are most deplorable. A person may have everything in life, youth, wealth, comfort, position and power if faith lacks he is poverty-stricken.
Question: So if our object is right we are bound to get it unless our faith fails?
Answer: Yes that is true. It depends upon our attitude if our heart, just like the compass, is always seeking the right direction. The heart is just like a compass: you can take it to any side, it always points in the same direction. So the heart, wherever one turns it to, will always point to the same direction. In other words for him who does right it is most difficult to do wrong and for the wrongdoer it is most difficult to do it right.
Question: Can the wrongdoer come to the right one day?
Answer: Right is the might, and right is the depth, and right is the ideal of every soul. A person who tells a lie, who deceives people, who is treacherous, will do so to others, but he does not want his friends to do the same to him. This shows that he prefers it to be different.
Faith and Doubt
Faith and doubt are as light and darkness. The moments of faith are like the moments of the day and the moment of doubt are like those of the night. As both day and night come in life, so hours of faith and hours of darkness also come. It is the seeking of the soul to reach that stage where it feels faith and it is the nature of the soul to gather doubts around itself. Therefore the soul attracts both faith and doubt. If it happens to attract doubts more, then more doubts will be gathered; if it attracts faith, then more and more faith will come.
Doubts are likened to clouds. If there is one cloud, it will attract others and, if many clouds are gathered, still more will be attracted to join them. If there is one current of the sun shooting through the clouds it will scatter them, and once they are scattered they will be scattered more and more, and more and more light will manifest itself to view. Doubts cover faith but faith breaks doubt. Therefore faith is more dependable: doubts only come and go.
It would not be an exaggeration if I said that doubt is a disease a disease that takes away faith. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that doubt is the rust the eats the iron, the iron-like faith. It is very easy to allow doubts to work, and it is difficult to keep faith. However much evolved a person may be, there comes a time when doubts take hold of him, and the moments he is in doubt the light of intelligence disappears. Therefore there is a constant conflict between doubt and faith. If there was not this enemy who always fights with faith, man could do great things, wonderful things; every man would perform miracles, every man would be perfect. This shows that the greater your faith, the greater person you are; the more deeply rooted your faith, the higher you reach.
One might ask: Is it possible to develop faith? Is it possible to find faith? Yes, in every person a spark of faith is hidden somewhere, but sometimes it is so covered, clouded and buried, that it needs digging, it needs being dug out. What is it buried with? With the sands of doubts. As soon as the sand is removed, the faith, like water, springs up.
One can study this principle in a child: a child is born with faith. When one says, "This is water, this is bread, this is father, this is mother," the child does not refuse to believe it; it does not say, "It is not so." The child at once takes it to be so. It is afterwards that doubts begin to come. When the infant grows up, when it begins to hear a story and asks, "But is it real?" Then doubt begins. Very often worldly knowledge gives more and more doubts; the experiences of worldly life make one doubt more and more, and when doubt becomes predominant in a persons nature, then he doubts everything and everyone. He doubts those who should not be doubted and he doubts those who can be doubted. There is always a doubt before his eyes. No sooner does he cast his glance upon a person than the cloud of doubt stands between them. In this way inspiration is lost, power is lost, the personality is lost. Man has become a machine, a mechanism.
In the business world, in the world of industry, a person does not care what your feelings are, what your being is, how much evolved you are, how deeply you feel, what your principles are, what your thoughts. What this person is concerned with is if the other will sign the paper, whether he will stamp that paper at once, and whether there are two witnesses who watch it at the same time. It does not matter what you are, as long as the paper is perfect. We are coming to mechanical perfection, we seek after worldly, earthly perfection.
Five hundred years ago this shows how gradually the world has changed a Hindustani poet has written: "Those days have passed when a value was attached to mans personality." That is so; it is some centuries since the world went downward. It seems that man has no trust, no faith in another man. What he trusts is the written word.
Faith should be continued to the end. One may have faith when climbing the stairs of a hundred steps; one may climb ninety-six steps with faith, and then one may lose it. Before the four steps that are still to be climbed one may lose faith; doubt has come and the whole journey is spoiled. This happens very often in the lives of so many people who are face to face with their success and yet fail. They have just approached what they wanted and then they lose it. In nearly every persons life one sees this. And the greater the person the more one sees it. for the greater the person the more powerful his faith, and therefore he is able to see the play of faith. It is just like sending a kite so far into the sky and before it reaches higher, it drops down. The enemy which causes this is doubt.
One may do something during ones whole life and accomplish it to a great extent, but through lack of a little more faith one will lose it, and all that was done will be spoiled in a moments time. How long does it take for a house to be built, and how long does it take to destroy it? How long does it take to make a business really prosperous? How long does it take to fail? One moment. When one learns this principle and thinks about it, one begins to see that the whole world, with all that we hear and see and touch and feel, is all illusion in the face of faith. Faith alone is reality, and compared with faith all else is unreal. But since we do not see faith with our own eyes, it is very difficult to call faith real and all else unreal; our eyes cannot see faith and we do not know where it is.
Now raises the question: how can one find faith in oneself, how can one develop it? One can find faith by practicing self-confidence as the first thing, by having self-confidence even in the smallest things. Today most people have the habit to say with everything "perhaps." It seems as if a new word has come in use; they say "perhaps." It seems as if a new word has come in use; they say "perhaps it will happen." It is a kind of polite expression, or a word of refined people to show themselves pessimistic. I can see their reason. They think that it is fanatic, presumptuous, and simple to say, "It will be," or "It will come," or "It will be accomplished," or "It will be fulfilled." To say "perhaps," so they think, makes them free from responsibility of having committed themselves. The more pessimistic a person, the more "perhaps" he uses, and this "perhaps" has gone so deep in souls today that they cannot find faith.
After self-confidence is developed, the second step is to trust another with closed eyes. One might think that this is not always practical, and one might think that it might lead to great loss. But at the same time even that loss would be a gain, and a thousand gains compared with the loss of faith would be as nothing. A person is richer if he has trusted someone and lost something than if he had not trusted someone and preserved something that one day will be taken away from him! He could just as well have given it up.
One might say that every simple person is inclined to trust another. Yes, but the difference between the wise person who trusts bravely and the simple person who readily is great. The wise man who trusts, if he is influenced by another that he may not, or must not, trust a certain person, even if he is given a certain proof, even then that habit of trusting will remain with him. As to the simple man, as soon as anyone says, "Oh, what are you doing, you trust somebody who is not trustworthy," his trust will change. That is the difference between the wise and foolish person. The foolish person trusts because he does not know better; the wise person trusts because he knows that to trust is best.
The third step towards the development of faith is trust in the unseen, to trust in something which one does not see. Reason does not show what it is, where it is, how it is, how it should be gained, how it can be brought about, how it should be obtained, how it can be reached. One does not see the reason, one only sees: it will be done, it must be done, it must come. It is that trust in the unseen which is called trust in God. When you do not see any sign before you of something that should happen, and yet you think, "Yes, it must happen, it will happen, it certainly must happen," and you have no doubt, then your trust is in God.
The first principle of the Sufi message is faith. It is not only occult study, nor is it scientific analysis, nor psychic phenomena. The first lesson of the message is faith, and it is with faith that the message will be spread. We each shall work in our way in serving, in spreading the message, and it is with faith that the message of God will be fulfilled.
The Story of Orpheus
There is always a deep meaning in the legends of the ancient Greeks, as in those of the Indians, Persians and Egyptians, and it is most interesting to watch how the art of the Greeks, with its beautiful structure as well as with its legends, had a much deeper meaning than would appear on the outside. Seeing and studying this art we find the key to the ancient culture, and the further we explore it the more we shall be acquainted with its depth and its profound meaning.
From the first part of the story of Orpheus we learn that no object a person has once desired from the depth of his heart will ever be lost. Even if the object of love that a person has once desired is in the deepest depth of the earth where reason, but not the eye, can see it even then it can be attained if he pursues it sufficiently.
The next thing we learn is that in order to attain an object the love element alone is not sufficient, but besides love, wisdom is necessary. It is wisdom, which awakens in harmony and harmonizes with the cosmic forces, which helps one to attain ones object. There is a saying that the one who possesses the knowledge of sound knows the science of the whole life, and this will be admitted by the wise ones of all ages and of all countries. The invoking of the gods by Orpheus was his coming in touch with all the harmonious forces which, united together, brought him that object which he wanted to attain.
But the most fascinating part of the story is the last one, both as a picture and as to the sense. As Orpheus was proceeding , Euridice following him, the promise was that he was not to look back. The moment he would look back Euridice would be taken away from him. The meaning of this is that the secret of all attainment is faith. If the faith of a person endures as fare as ninety-nine miles and one mile remains before gaining the object, even then, if doubt comes, attainment is no more to be expected.
From this we learn a lesson, a lesson which can be used in everything we do, in every walk of life: in order to attain anything we need faith, and if faith is lacking even if there is the slightest lack of faith in the form of doubt it will spoil all we have done.
"Verily faith is light and doubt darkness."
Our happiness and unhappiness depend upon one thing: how we look at life, whether we appreciate and value all we have or depreciate and underestimate all we have. If we think of what we have not in life, we shall find that there is so much that we have not got, and it will then seem that what we have got is not even as big as a bubble in a vast sea. And if we try to realize what we have, there also will come a time when we shall see that what we have not is like a little bubble in a vast sea. It is a matter of looking at it. The general tendency is to see what we have not got in life, and rarely a soul is so blessed that he is awakened to appreciate all he has in life and to be thankful for it. When we think of what we lack, there comes a flood of that lack and it drowns the whole universe. We find ourselves entirely lacking everything that it is possible to have. If we begin to realize what we have, it will be increased and be completed by abundance, so that in the end of our realization we shall be able to find that, really speaking, we have all. It is in this that lies the secret of spiritual attainment. The saying of Christ, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you," has the same meaning. When by our thankfulness, by our appreciation of life we arrive at the fullness of life, in that bliss we shall find the kingdom of God, and once the kingdom of God is realized, all else will be added.
Once a dervish came before Sekandar, the great king, with the bowl of a beggar and asked him if he could fill it. Sekandar looked at him and thought, "What is he asking of an emperor like me? To fill that little bowl?" The dervish asked, "Can you fill this little bowl?" The emperor immediately said, "Yes," but the bowl was a magic bowl. Hundreds and thousands and millions were poured into it but it would not fill. It always remained half empty, its mouth wide open to be filled when Sekandar began to feel poor while filling this bowl he said, "Dervish, tell me if you are not a magician. You have brought a bowl of magic; it has swallowed my whole treasure and it is empty still." The dervish answered, "Sekandar, if the whole worlds treasure was put into it, it would still remain empty. Do you know what this bowl is? It is the want of man."
Be it love, be it wealth, be it attention, be it service, be it comfort, be it happiness, be it pleasure, be it rank, position, power, honor, or possession in life, the more man can receive the more he wants. He is never content, he will never be content. The richer man becomes richer with everything, with anything the poorer he becomes, for the bowl that he has brought with him, the bowl of want, can never be filled and is never filled.
The only secret of attaining happiness therefore, is to learn how to appreciate our privileges in life. If we cultivate that sense of appreciation we shall be thankful, we shall be contented and every moment we shall offer our thanks to God, for His gifts are many and enormous. When we do not see them it is because our wants cover our eyes from seeing all with which we are blessed by Providence. No meditation, no study, nothing can help in that direction. Except one thing: and that is to keep our eyes open to appreciate every little privilege in life, to admire every glimpse of beauty that comes before us, being thankful for every little love, kindness or affection shown to us by young or old, rich or poor, wise or foolish. In this way, continually developing the faculty of appreciating life and devoting it to thanksgiving, we arrive at a bliss which no words can explain, a bliss which is beyond imagination: the bliss that we find ourselves having already entered the kingdom of God.
The Privilege of Being Human
Mankind is so absorbed in lifes pleasures and pain that a man has hardly a moment to think what a privilege it is to be human. Life in the world contains, no doubt, more pain than pleasure and that which one considers to be pleasure costs so much that, when it is weighed against the pain it costs, it also becomes pain. As man is so absorbed in his worldly life he traces nothing but pain and complaint in life and, until he changes his outlook, he cannot understand the privilege of being human.
Yet, however unhappy a person may be in his life, if he were asked, "Would you prefer to be a rock rather than a human being?" His answer would be that he would rather suffer and be a human being than be a rock. Whatever be the condition of mans life, if he were asked, "Would you rather be a tree than a man?" He would choose to be a human being. And although the life of the birds and beasts is so free from care and troubles, so free in the forest, yet if a man were asked whether he would prefer to be one of them and be in the forest, he would surely prefer to be a man. This shows that when human life is compared with the other different aspects of life it proves its greatness and its privilege, but when it is not compared with them man is discontented and his eyes are closed to the privilege of being human.
Another thing is that man is mostly selfish, and what interests him is that which concerns his own life. Not knowing the troubles of the lives of others he feels the burden of his own life even more than the burden of the whole world. If only man in his poverty could think that there are others who are poorer than he, in his illness that there are others whose sufferings are perhaps greater than his, in his troubles that there are others whose difficulties are perhaps greater than his! Self-pity is the worst poverty. It overwhelms man and he sees nothing but his own troubles and pains, and it seems to him that he is the most unhappy person in the world, more so than anyone else.
A great thinker of Persia, Saadi, writes in an account of his life, "once I had no shoes, I had to walk barefoot in the hot sand, and how miserable I was. Then I met a man who was lame, for whom waling was very difficult. I bowed down to heaven at once and offered thanks that I was much better off than he who had not even feet to walk upon." This shows that it is not a mans situation in life, but his attitude towards life that makes him happy or unhappy. This attitude can even make such a difference between men that one living in a palace could be unhappy and another living in a humble cottage could be very happy. The difference is only in the horizon that one sees: one person looks only at the condition of life, another looks at the lives of many people; it is a difference of horizon.
Beside this, the impulse that comes from within has its influence on ones affairs: there is an influence always working from within. If it is a discontent and dissatisfaction in life, one finds its effect in ones affairs. For instance, a person impressed by illness can never be cured by a physician or medicines. A person impressed by poverty will never get on in life. A person who thinks, "Everybody is against me, everybody troubles me, everybody has a poor opinion of me," wherever he goes will always find it so. There are many people in the world in business, in professions who before going to their work bear in their mind as a first thought, "Perhaps I shall not be successful."
The masters of humanity, in whatever period they came to the world, always taught faith as mans first lesson to learn: faith in success, faith in love, faith in kindness, and faith in God. This faith cannot be developed unless man is self-confident. It is very essential that man should learn to trust another. If he does not trust anyone, life will be hard for him. If he doubts, if he suspects everyone he meets, then he will not trust the people nearest to him in the world, his closest relations, and this will soon develop to such a state of distrust that he will even distrust himself. But the trust of the one who trusts another and does not trust himself is profitless. It is he who trusts another because he trusts himself who has the real trust, and by this trust in himself he can make his life happy in whatever condition he may be.
In the traditions of the Hindus there is a well-known idea: that of the tree of the fulfillment of desires. There is a story in India of a man who was told that there was a tree of the fulfillment of desires, and who went in search of it. after going through the forests and across the mountains he arrived at last at a place where he lay down and slept without knowing that the tree of the fulfillment of desires was there. Before he went to sleep he was so tired that he thought, "What a good thing it would be if I had just now a soft bed to rest upon and a beautiful house with a courtyard around it and a fountain, and people waiting on me!" With this thought he went to sleep, and when he opened his eyes from sleep he saw that he was lying in a soft bed, and there was a beautiful house and a courtyard and a fountain, and there were people waiting on him. He was very much astonished and remembered that before going to sleep he had thought about this subject, he found, "The tree that I was looking for it was under that tree that I slept, and it was the miracle of the tree that was accomplished."
The interpretation of this legend is a philosophy in itself. It is man himself who is the tree of fulfillment of his desire, and the root of this tree is in the heart of man. The trees and plants with their fruits and flowers, the beasts with their strength and power, and the birds with their wings are unable to arrive at the stage which man can attain. The trees in the forest await that blessing, that freedom, that liberation in stillness, in quietude. The mountains and the whole of nature seem to await that unfoldment, the privilege of which is given to man. That is why the traditions say that man is made in the image of God. Thus one may say that the most fitting instrument for the working of God is the human
being. From a mystical point of view, one may also say that the Creator takes the heart of man as His means of experiencing the whole creation.
That shows that no being on earth is more capable of happiness, of satisfaction, of joy, of peace, than man and it is a pity when man is not aware of this privilege of being human. Every moment in life that he passes in this error of unawareness is a waste and is to his greatest loss.
Mans greatest privilege is to become a suitable instrument of God, and until he knows this he has not realized his true purpose in life. The whole tragedy in the life of man is his ignorance of this fact. From the moment a man realizes this he lives the real life, the life of harmony between God and man. When Jesus Christ said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," this teaching was an answer to the cry of humanity: some crying, "I have no wealth," others crying, "I have no rest," others crying, "My situation in life is difficult," My friends are troubling me," or, "I want a position, wealth." The answer to them all is, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."
How can we understand this from a practical, a scientific point of view? All that is external is not in direct connection with you and is therefore unattainable in many cases. Therefore, sometimes you can attain your wish, but many times you fail. By seeking the kingdom of God, you seek the center of all that is within and without. And all that is in heaven and on the earth is directly connected with the center. So, from the center, you are able to reach all that is on earth and in heaven but, when you reach what is not at the center, all may be snatched away from you.
In the Quran it is written, "God is the light of the heavens and of the earth." Beside the desire to obtain the things of the earth there is that innermost desire, unconsciously working at every moment of life, to come into touch with the Infinite. When a painter is painting, when a musician is singing or playing, if he thinks, "It is my painting, my playing, my music," perhaps he has some satisfaction but it is like a drop in the ocean. If he connects his painting, his music, with the consciousness of God, if he thinks, "It is Thy painting, Thy music, not mine," then he connects himself with the center and his life becomes the life of God.
There is much in life that one can call good, and there is much to be contented with. There is much that one can admire, if one can only bring about that attitude, and it is that attitude that can make man contented and his life happy.
Another thing is that God is the painter of all this beautiful creation, and if we do not connect ourself with the painter we cannot admire his painting. When one goes to the house of a friend whom one likes and admires, every little thing is so pleasant, but when one goes to the house of an enemy, everything is disagreeable. So our devotion, or love, our friendship for God can make this whole creation a source of happiness to us. In the house of a dear friend a loaf of bead, a glass of milk is most delicious. And in the house of one we dislike all the best dishes are useless. As soon as one begins to realize that the many mansions in the house of the Father are this world with its many religions, many races, many nations, which are yet in the house of God. Then, however humble and difficult our situation in life, it must sooner or later become happier and better. For we feel that we are in the house of the One we love and admire, and all that we meet with we take with love and gratitude, because it comes from the One we love.
Think for a moment of the condition of the world just now: how many nation, communities, churches, religions, all divide humanity the children of one Father who loves them all without distinction! Man with all his claims of civilization, of progress, seem to have fallen into the greatest error. For centuries the world has not been in such a state as it is just now: one nation hating another, looking with contempt on another. What can we call it? Is it progress, or is it a stand-still? Or is it worse than that? Is this not the time when thinking souls should open their eyes from sleep and devote themselves to the effort of doing what good they can do humanity in order to better the conditions of the world and, when each one is thinking only of his own interest, to think of the interest of all?
Sufism brings to the world the message of unity, of uniting in the Fatherhood of God beyond all differences and distinctions. The chief object of the Sufi is to bring about a friendly understanding between people of different nations and races, to bring people of different religions closer together in one understanding, the understanding of the truth.
One may ask, "Is it then not the message of Christ which brought the tiding of the love of God and the unity of mankind in the love of God?" There cannot be two religions, there is always only one religion. And there cannot be a new one, as Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. Whenever the message of love and wisdom is given it is not a new religion. It is the revivification of religion, in order to bring to man the realization of the truth of the religion he follows. Sufism therefore, does not bring a new religion, it brings that life and light which are necessary to revivify that religion that has always existed.