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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part III - Character Building and the Art of Personality

Chapter I
CHARACTER-BUILDING

i

The will power plays a great part in character-building. And the will power becomes feeble when a person yields to every little tendency, inclination, and fancy he has; but when a person fights against every little fancy and tendency and inclination he learns to fight with himself, and in that way he develops will power. When once a person's inclinations, fancies, and tendencies have grown stronger than his will power, he experiences in his life several enemies existing in his own self, and he finds it difficult to combat them. For inclinations, fancies, and tendencies, when powerful, do not let will power work against them. If there is any such thing as self-denial, it is this practice; and by this practice in time one attains to a power which may be called mastery over oneself.

In small things of everyday life one neglects this consideration because one thinks, 'These are my tendencies, my fancies, my inclinations, and by respecting them I respect myself, by considering them I consider myself.' But one forgets that what one calls my is not oneself, it is what wills that is oneself. Therefore in the Christian prayer it is said, Thy Will be done, which means, Thy Will when it works through me; in other words, my will which is Thy Will, be done. It is this illusion of confusing one's possession with oneself that creates all illusion and keeps man from self-realization.

Life is a continual battle. Man struggles with things that are outside him, and so he gives a chance to the foes who exist in his own being. Therefore the first thing necessary in life is to make peace for the time being with the outside world, in order to prepare for the war which is to be fought within oneself. Once peace is made within, one will gain by that sufficient strength and power to be used through the struggle of life within and without. Self-pity is the worst poverty. When a person says, 'I am...' with pity, before he has said anything more he has diminished himself to half of what he is; and what is said further, diminishes him totally; nothing more of him is left afterwards. There is so much in the world that we can pity and which it would be right for us to take pity upon, but if we have no time free from our own self we cannot give our mind to others in the world. Life is one long journey, and the further behind we have left our self, the further we have progressed toward the goal. Verily when the false self is lost the true self is discovered.

ii

In character-building it is most necessary that one should learn how to face the world, the world where one meets with sorrows and troubles and pleasures and pains. It is very difficult for one to hide them from the world, and at the same time a wise person is not meant to show all he feels nor to show at every moment what he feels. The ordinary person, like a machine, reacts in answer to every outer influence and inner impulse; and in this way he very often cannot keep to the law of the music of life.

Life to a wise person is music; and in that symphony he has to play a certain part. If one were feeling so low that one's heart was sounding a lower pitch, and the demand of life at that moment was that one should voice a higher pitch, then one would feel that one had failed in that music in which one was meant to play one's part fittingly. This is the test by which you can distinguish the old soul and the child's soul. The child soul will give way to every feeling; the old soul will strike the higher note in spite of every difficulty.

There are moments when laughter must be kept back, and there are times when tears must be withheld. And those who have arrived at the stage where they can act efficiently the part that they are meant to act in this life's drama, have even power over the expression of their face; they can even turn their tears into smiles, or their smiles into tears. One may ask, is it not hypocrisy not to be natural? But he who has control over his nature is more natural; he is not only natural, he is the master of nature, while the one who lacks power over nature, in spite of his naturalness, is weak.

Also, it must be understood that real civilization means the art of life. What is that art? It is knowing the music of life. Once a soul has awakened to the continual music of life, that soul will consider it as his responsibility, as his duty, to play his part in outer life, even if it be contrary to his inner condition for the moment. One must know at every moment in one's daily life: what does life demand of me, what does it ask of me, and how shall I answer the demand of my life? This requires one to be awakened fully to life's conditions. One must have insight into human nature, and one must be able to know one's own condition fully. If one says, 'I am as I am; if I am sad, I am sad; if I am glad, I am glad,' that will not do. Even the earth will not bear the person who will not answer life's demands. The sky will not tolerate that person, and the sphere will not accommodate him who is not ready to give what life demands of him. If this is true, then it is best when it is easily done and willingly done.

In the orchestra there is a conductor and there are many who play the music; and every player of an instrument has to fulfill his part in the performance. If he does not do it rightly, it is his fault. The conductor will not listen if he says he did not do it properly because he was sad or because he was too glad. The conductor of the orchestra is not concerned with his sadness or his gladness. He is concerned with the part that the particular musician must play in the whole symphony. This is the nature of our lives. The further we advance in our part in this orchestra, the more efficiently we perform our part in life's symphony. In order to be able to have this control over oneself, what is necessary? We must have control over our inner self, because every outward manifestation is nothing but a reaction of the inner condition. Therefore the first control that one has to gain is over one's own self, one's inner self, which is done by strengthening the will, and also by understanding life better.

iii

In everyday life it is most necessary to have control over speech and action, for one may automatically give way to a word, prompted by an inner impulse; afterwards one finds that one should not have said it, or perhaps one should have said it differently. It is the same with action. One feels, 'I should not have done so', after having done something; or one thinks, 'I should have done differently'; but once it is done it is too late to do it otherwise. In human nature there is an inner urge to express oneself; and that urge pushes a word out of one, so to speak, before one has really thought of it; and all this shows lack of control over oneself.

It is also a sign of nervousness. Very often a person tries to answer somebody who has not yet finished speaking; before a sentence is completed the answer is given. Such an answer given to an incomplete idea is often wrong. What generally happens in such cases is that one takes all that comes from outside in life too much to heart, and allows these outer things and influences to penetrate one more deeply than they should. In this way one becomes sensitive, and out of this arises nervousness.

In order to practice self-control in all one does in everyday life, the best thing is to develop in one's nature a certain amount of indifference. Every word that is said to one need not be taken to be so important that it upsets one's whole being, disturbs one's balance, and robs one of one's will power. There are things that matter; but there are many things in one's everyday life which do not matter much, and one is often apt to put undue stress upon them.

Independence is achieved by indifference. It does not mean that one should take no heed of what anyone does or says; it only means one should discriminate between important and unimportant things of everyday life; that every necessary and unnecessary thing should not demand so much of one's attention, thought, and feeling. Political economy has become a subject of education, but spiritual economy is the main thing in religion. All one says and does and all that one thinks and feels puts a certain strain upon one's spirit. It is wise to avoid every risk of losing one's equilibrium. One must stand peacefully but firmly before all influences that disturb one's life. The natural inclination is to answer in defense to every offense that comes from outside, but in that way one loses one's equilibrium. Self-control, therefore, is the key to all success and happiness.

Besides, there are many who feel urged and obliged to say or do something because it is asked of them, and in this way they get weaker and weaker. There are others who roughly fight against it; and in this way both are in error. He who is able to keep his equilibrium without being annoyed, without being troubled about it, gains that mastery which is needed in the evolution of life. No principle must be blindly followed. Spiritual economy is not always a virtue, if it disturbs harmony, if it in any way keeps one from progress, or if it places one in a worse condition. However, it is most necessary to know the science of spiritual economy; how to guard against all influences in our everyday life which come to disturb our tranquility and the peace of our soul.

iv

A very important thing in character-building is to become conscious of one's relationship, obligation, and duty to each person in he world, and not to mix that link and connection which is established between oneself and another with a third person. One must consider that everything that is entrusted to one by any person in life is one's trust, and one must know that to prove true to the confidence of any person in the world is one's sacred obligation. In this manner a harmonious connection is established with everyone; and it is this harmony which attunes the soul to the infinite.

It requires a great study of human nature, together with tact, to keep on harmonious terms with everyone in life. If one has an admiration for someone, or a grudge against someone, it is better to express it directly instead of mixing it up with many connections and relationships in the world. Friends apart, even in an acquaintanceship such consideration is necessary, to guard carefully that thin thread that connects two souls in whatever relation or capacity.

Dharma in the language of the Hindus means religion, but the literal meaning of this word is duty. It suggests that one's relation to every person in the world is one's religion; and the more conscientiously one follows it, the more keen one proves in following one's religion. To keep the secret of our friend, our acquaintance, even of someone with whom for a time one has been vexed, is the most sacred obligation. The one who thus realizes his religion would never consider it right to tell another of any harm or hurt he has received from his friend.

It is in this way that self-denial is learned; not always by fasting and retiring into the wilderness. A man conscientious in his duty and in his obligations to his friends is more pious than someone sitting in solitude. The one in solitude does not serve God, he only helps himself by enjoying the pleasure of solitude; but the one who proves trustworthy to every soul he meets, and considers his relationships and connections, small or great, as something sacred, certainly observes the spiritual law of that religion which is the religion of all religions.

Faults? Everyone has faults. Oneself, one's friend, and one's enemy are all subject to faults. The one who wishes that his own faults should not be disclosed must necessarily consider the same for the others he meets. The one who knows what the relation of friendship is between one soul and another, the tenderness of that connection, its delicacy, its beauty, and its sacredness, that one can enjoy life in its fullness, for he is living; and in this manner he must some day communicate with God. For it is the same bridge that connects two souls in the world, which, once built, becomes the path to God. There is no greater virtue in this world than proving kind and trustworthy to one's friend, worthy of his confidence. The difference between the old soul and the young soul is to be found in this particular principle. The young soul only knows himself and what he wants, absorbed in his own pleasures and displeasures and obsessed by his ever-changing moods. The old soul regards his relation to every soul, he keenly observes his obligation toward everyone he knows in the world. He covers his wounds, if he happens to have any, from the sight of others, and endures all things in order to fulfill his duty to the best of his ability toward everyone in the world.

v

Subtlety of nature is the sign of the intelligent. If a person takes the right direction he does good with this wealth of intelligence, but a person who is going in a wrong direction may abuse this great faculty. When someone who is subtle by nature is compared with the personality which is devoid of it, it is like the river and the mountain. The subtle personality is as pliable as running water, everything that comes before that personality is reflected in it as clearly as the image in the pure water. The rocklike personality, without subtlety, is like a mountain, it reflects nothing. Many admire plain speaking, but the reason is they lack understanding of fine subtlety. Can all things be put into words? Is there not anything more fine, more subtle than spoken words? The person who can read between the lines makes a book out of one letter. Subtlety of perception and subtlety of expression are the signs of the wise. Wise and foolish are distinguished by fineness on the part of the one and rigidness on the part of the other. A person devoid of subtlety wants truth to be turned into a stone; but the subtle one will turn even a stone into truth.

In order to acquire spiritual knowledge, receive inspiration, prepare one's heart for inner revelation, one must try to make one's mentality pliable like water rather than like a rock; for the further along the path of life's mystery a person will journey, the more subtle he will have to become in order to perceive and to express the mystery of life. God is a mystery, His knowledge is a mystery, life is a mystery, human nature is a mystery; in short, the depth of all knowledge is a mystery, even science or art.

All that is more mysterious is more deep. What all the prophets and masters have done in all ages is to express that mystery in words, in deeds, in thoughts, in feelings; but most of the mystery is expressed by them in silence. For then the mystery is in its place. To bring the mystery down to earth is like pulling down a king on to the ground from his throne; but allowing the mystery to remain in its own place, in the silent spheres, is like giving homage to the King to whom all homage is due.

Life's mysteries apart, in little things of everyday life the fewer words used, the more profitable it is. Do you think more words explain more? No, not at all. It is only nervousness on the part of those who wish to say a hundred words to explain a thing which can quite well be explained in two words; and on the part of the listener it is lack of intelligence when he wants a hundred words in order to understand something which can just as well be explained in one word. Many think that more words explain things better; but they do not know that mostly as many words as are spoken, so many veils are wrapped around the idea. In the end you go out by the same door through which you entered.

Respect, consideration, reverence, kindness, compassion and sympathy, forgiveness and gratefulness, all these virtues can be best adorned by subtlety of expression. One need not dance in thanksgiving; one word of thanks is quite sufficient. One need not cry out loudly, 'I sympathize with you, my dear friend!' One need not play drums and say, 'I have forgiven somebody!' Such things are fine, subtle; they are to be felt; no noise can express them. Noise only spoils their beauty and takes from their value. In spiritual ideals and thoughts subtlety is more needed than anything else. If a spiritual person were to bring his realizations into the market-place, and dispute with everyone that came along about his beliefs and disbeliefs, where would he end?

What makes a spiritual person harmonize with all people in the world? The key to the art of conciliation which a spiritual person possesses is subtlety both in perception and expression. Is it lack of frankness, is it hypocrisy to be subtle? Not in the least. There are many people who are outspoken, always ready to tell the truth in a way which is like hitting another person on the head, and who proudly support their frankness by saying, 'I do not mind if it makes anybody sorry or angry, I only tell the truth.' If the truth is as hard as a hammer may truth never be spoken, may no one in the world follow such a truth!

Then where is that truth which is peace-giving, which is healing, which is comforting to every heart and soul, that truth which uplifts the soul, which is creative of harmony and beauty, where is that truth born? That truth is born in subtlety of intelligence in thought, speech, and action, of fineness which brings pleasure, comfort, beauty, harmony, and peace.

vi

There are two attitudes which divide people into two sections. The one is an ever-complaining attitude, and the other is an ever-smiling attitude. Life is the same; call it good call it bad, call it right, call it wrong; it is what it is, it cannot be otherwise. A person complains in order to get the sympathy of others and to show them his good points, sometimes in order to show himself as more just, more intelligent, and also in the right. He complains about everything, about friends and about foes, about those he loves, and much more about those he hates. He complains from morning till evening, and there is never an end to his complaint. It can increase to such an extent that the weather is not good and the air is not good and the atmosphere is not good; he is against both earth and sky, and everything everybody does is wrong; until it reaches the stage where that man begins to dislike his own works; and it culminates when he dislikes himself. In this way he grows to be against others, against conditions, and in the end against himself.

Do not imagine that this is a character rarely to be found in the world. It is a character you frequently meet with, and certainly the one who has this attitude is his own worst enemy. The person with a right attitude of mind tries to make even wrong right, but the one with a wrong attitude of mind will turn even right into wrong. Besides, magnetism is the need of every soul; the lack of it makes life burdensome. The tendency of seeing wrong in everything robs one to a great extent of that magnetism which is needed very much in life. For the nature of life is such that naturally the multitude only accepts those who come to it with the power of magnetism, and casts out everyone else. In other words, the world is a place where you cannot enter without a pass of admission, and that pass of admission is magnetism; the one who does not possess it will be refused everywhere.

Besides, you will find many who are always complaining about their health. There may be good reason, but sometimes there may be very little reason, too little indeed to speak of. And when once a person has become accustomed to answer despondently when sympathetically asked, 'How are you?' he certainly waters the plant of illness in himself by this complaining tendency.

Our life of limitation in the world, and the nature of this world's comforts and pleasures which are so changeable and unreliable, and the falseness that one finds in everything everywhere, if one complained about it, a whole lifetime would be too short to complain about it fully; every moment of our life would become filled with complaints. But the way out is to look at the cheerful side of it, the bright side. Especially those who seek God and truth, for them there is something else to think about; they need not think how bad a person is. When they think who is behind this person, who is in his heart, then they will look at life with hope. When we see things which are wrong, if we only give thought to this: that behind all workings there is God, who is just and perfect, then we will certainly become hopeful.

The attitude of looking at everything with a smile is the sign of the saintly soul. A smile given to a friend, a smile given even to an enemy will win him over in the end; for this is the key to the heart of man. As the sunshine from without lights the whole world, so the sunshine from within, if it were raised up, would illuminate the whole life, in spite of all the seeming wrongs and in spite of all limitations. God is happiness, the soul is happiness, the spirit is happiness. There is no place for sadness in the kingdom of God. That which deprives man of happiness deprives him of God and of truth.

One can begin to learn to smile by appreciating every little good thing that comes in one's way through life, and by overlooking every bad thing that one does not like to see. Be not troubled too much about unnecessary things in life which give nothing but displeasure. But looking at life with a hopeful attitude of mind, with an optimistic view, it is this which will give one the power of turning wrong into right, and bringing light into the place where all is darkness. Cheerfulness is life, sulkiness is death. Life attracts, death repulses. The sunshine which comes from the soul, rises through the heart, and manifests itself in man's smile is indeed the light from the heavens. In that light many flowers grow and many fruits become ripe.

vii

The best way of working in all ways of life, at home or outside, is noiseless working, a thing which is so little thought of by many and which is so necessary in creating order, harmony, and peace in life. Very often a person does little and speaks much about it. In doing every little thing he makes a noise, and thereby very often, instead of finishing something successfully, he attracts difficulties.

The first thing to be remembered in character-building is to understand the secret and character of human nature. We must know that every person in the world has his own object in life, his own interest and his point of view, and that he is concerned with himself. His peace is disturbed when you wish to interest him in your object of interest. If you wish to force upon him your point of view, however near and dear he may be to you, he is not pleased with it. Very few consider this; and they wish to pour out their own troubles and difficulties upon someone near to them, thinking, 'Everyone has the same interest in my subject as I myself and everyone has the same point of view as myself; so everyone will be glad to hear my tale.'

There is a story told that a person began to speak before a new acquaintance about his ancestors. He continued so long that the patience of his hearer was thoroughly exhausted. In the end the acquaintance interrupted the story by asking, 'If I do not care to know about my own ancestors, what do I care to know about yours?' There are many who are very keen to let their neighbors know about every cold and cough they may have; every little gain or loss, however small, they would be glad to announce with drums and bugles. This is a childish quality; this tendency shows a child soul. Sometimes it frightens away friends and helps the foes. People who work noisily accomplish little, for they attract by their noise ten more people who come and interfere and spoil the work which one person could easily have finished.

Noisiness comes from restlessness, and restlessness is the sign of Tamas, the destructive rhythm. Those who have made any success in life, in whatever direction, have done so by their quiet working. In business, in industry, in art, in science, in education, in politics, in all directions of life, a wise worker is the quiet worker. He tells about things when the time comes, not before. The one who talks about things before he has accomplished them is like a cook who is announcing dishes before they are cooked, to the whole neighborhood.

There is a story told in the East of an enthusiastic servant. The master had a headache, and he told the servant to go and fetch some medicine from the chemist. The servant thought it would not be sufficient only to fetch medicine from the chemist; so he also made an appointment with the doctor, and on his way home he visited the undertaker. The master asked, 'Why are you so late?' The servant said, 'Sir, I arranged everything.' Enthusiasm is a great thing in life. It is creative and it is a key to success, but too much of it sometimes spoils things. The more wise a person, the more gentle he is in everything he does. A gentleman, in the English language, is the quiet man.

There is a fable that a donkey went to a camel and said, 'Uncle, we shall be friends, we shall go grazing together.' The camel said 'Child, I enjoy my walks alone.' Said the donkey, 'I am most eager to accompany you, uncle.' The good-natured camel consented to it, and they both went together. Long before the camel finished grazing the donkey had finished and was eager to express himself. He said, 'Uncle, I would like to sing, if you don't mind.' The camel said, 'Do not do such a thing. It will be a terrible thing for both you and me. I have not yet finished my dinner.' The donkey had no patience, he could not control his joy and began to sing. A husbandman, attracted by his singing, came with a long bamboo. The donkey ran away, and all the thrashing fell upon the back of the camel. When next morning the donkey went again to invite Uncle Camel, the camel said, 'I am too ill, and your way is different and my way is different. From today we shall part.'

There is such a great difference between the quiet person and a noisy person. One is like a restless child, the other like a grown-up person. One constructs, the other destroys. A quiet way of working must be practiced in everything. By making too much ado about nothing one creates commotion, disturbance in the atmosphere; useless activity without any result. One also finds noise in the tendency to exaggeration, when someone wants to make a mountain out of a molehill. Modesty, humility, gentleness, meekness, all such virtues are manifest in the person who works quietly through life.

viii

There is something which belongs to human nature, and its origin is in curiosity; curiosity which gives a desire for knowledge. When the tendency is abused it develops into inquisitiveness. It is wonderful that the root of all defects is a right tendency, and it is the abuse of the right tendency which turns it into a defect. If we considered how little time we have to live on this earth, we would see that every moment of our life is precious, and that it should be given to something which is really worthwhile. When that time is given to inquisitiveness, wanting to know about the affairs of others, one has wasted that time which could have been used for a much better purpose. Life has so many responsibilities and so many duties, and there is so much that one has to correct in oneself, there is so much that one has to undo in what one has done, and there is so much to attend to in one's affairs to make one's life right, that it seems as if a person were intoxicated who, leaving all his responsibilities and duties, occupies himself, occupies his mind with inquisitiveness and engages his ears in it.

Free will is given to attend to one's own duties, to gain one's own objects, to attend to one's own affairs, and when that free will is used in trying to find out about others, the weaknesses of others, the lacks of others, the faults of others, one certainly abuses free will. Sometimes a person is inquisitive because of his interest in the lives of others, but very often a person is inquisitive because it is his illness. He may have no interest in the matter at all; it is only because he wants to satisfy himself by hearing and knowing about others. Self-knowledge is the ideal of the philosophers, not the knowledge of lives of others.

There are two phases in the development of a man, one phase when he looks at others, and another phase when he looks at himself. When the first phase has ended and the next phase begun, then one starts one's journey to the desired goal. Rumi says, 'Trouble not about others, for there is much for you to think of in yourself.'

Besides this, it is a sign of great respect to the aged and to those one wishes to respect, to show no tendency of knowing more than one is allowed to know. Even in such a close relationship as parents and children, when they respect the privacy of one another they certainly show therein a great virtue.

To want to know about another is very often a lack of trust. One who trusts does not need to unveil, does not need to discover what is covered. He who wishes to unveil something, wishes to discover it. If there is anything that should be discovered first, it is the self. The time that one spends in discovering others, their lives, their faults, their weaknesses, one could just as well spend in discovering one's soul. The desire to know is born in the soul. But man should discern what must be known, what is worth knowing, There are many things not worth troubling about. When one devotes one's time and thought to trying to know what one need not know, one loses that opportunity which life offers to discover the nature and secret of the soul, in which lies the fulfillment of the purpose of life.

ix

It must be remembered that one shows lack of nobleness of character by love of gossiping. It is so natural, and yet it is a great fault in the character to cherish the tendency to talk about others. One shows a great weakness when one makes remarks about someone behind his back. In the first place it is against what may be called frankness, and also it is judging another, which is wrong according to the teaching of Christ, who says, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged'. When one allows this tendency to remain in one, one develops love of talking about others. It is a defect which commonly exists, and when two people meet who have the same tendency, they gossip together. One helps the other, one encourages the other. And when something is supported by two people of necessity it becomes a virtue, if only for the time being.

How often man forgets that although he is talking about someone in his absence, yet it is spoken in the presence of God. God hears all things and knows all things. The Creator knows about His creatures, about their virtues and faults. God is displeased by hearing about the fault of His creature, as an artist would be displeased on hearing bad remarks made by anyone on his art. Even though he acknowledged the defect of his art, he would still prefer finding it himself, and not anyone else. When a person speaks against someone his words may not reach the other, but his feelings reach him. If he is sensitive he knows of someone having talked against him; and when he sees the person who has been talking against him, he reads all he has said in his face, if he be sensitive and of a keen sight. This world is a house of mirrors, the reflection of one is mirrored upon another. In this world where so many things seem hidden, in reality nothing remains hidden; everything some time or other rises to the surface and manifests itself to view.

How few in this world know what an effect it makes on one's personality, talking ill of another; what influence it has on one's soul! Man's self within is not only like a dome where everything he says has an echo, but that echo is creative and productive of what has been said. Every good and bad thing in one's life one develops by taking interest in it. Every fault one has, as long as it is small, one does not notice it; and so one develops the fault till it results in a disappointment. Life is so precious, and it becomes more and more valuable as one becomes more prudent; and every moment of life can be used for a much greater purpose. Life is an opportunity and the more one realizes this, the more one will make the best of this opportunity which life offers.

x

The spirit of generosity in nature builds a path to God, for generosity is outgoing, is spontaneity; its nature is to make its way toward a wide horizon. Generosity, therefore, may be called charity of heart. It is not necessary that the spirit of generosity be shown always by the spending of money; in every little thing one can show it. Generosity is an attitude a person shows in every little action that he does for people that he comes in contact with in his everyday life. One can show generosity by a smile, by a kind glance, by a warm handshake; by patting the younger soul on the shoulder as a mark of encouragement, of showing appreciation, of expressing affection. Generosity one can show in accommodating one's fellow man, in welcoming him, in bidding farewell to one's friend. In thought, word, and deed, in every manner and form one can show that generous spirit which is the sign of the godly.

The Bible speaks of generosity by the word 'charity', but if I were to give an interpretation of the word 'generosity' I would call it nobility. No rank, position, or power can prove one noble; truly noble is he who is generous of heart. What is generosity? It is nobility, it is expansion of heart. As the heart expands, so the horizon becomes wide, and one finds greater and greater scope in which to build the kingdom of God.

Depression, despair, and all manner of sorrow and sadness come from lack of generosity. Where does jealousy come from? Where does envy, aching of the heart come from? It all comes from lack of generosity. A man may not have one single coin to his name, and yet he can be generous, he can be noble, if only he has a large heart of friendly feeling. Life in the world offers every opportunity to a man, whatever be his position in life, to show if he has any spirit of generosity.

The changeableness and falsehood of human nature, besides lack of consideration and thoughtlessness for those whom he meets through life, and furthermore the selfishness and grabbing and grafting spirit that disturbs and troubles his soul, all these create a situation which is itself a test and trial through which every soul has to pass in the midst of worldly life. And when through this test and trial a man holds fast to his principle of charity, and marches along toward his destination, not allowing the influences that come from the four corners of the world to keep him back from his journey to the goal, in the end he becomes the king of life, even if when he reaches his destination there is not left one single earthly coin to his name.

It is not earthly wealth that makes man rich. Riches come by discovering that gold-mine which is hidden in the human heart, out of which comes the spirit of generosity. Someone asked the Prophet, whose virtue was the greatest, that of the pious soul who prays continually, or that of the traveler who travels to make the holy pilgrimage, or of the one who fasts for nights and days, or of the one who learns the Scripture by heart. 'None of them', said the Prophet, 'is so great as the soul who shows through life charity of heart.'
 

checked 18-Oct-2005