Words such as wish, desire, love, and their like mean more
or less the same thing. But the word 'will' has a greater importance
than all those other words. And the reason is that will is life
itself. The Bible calls God love. Love in what sense? Love in
the sense of will. The Creator created the universe by what?
By love? By will, love came afterwards. Love is the will
when it is recognized by its manifestation. Then it is called
love. But in the beginning it is will. For instance, the Taj
Mahal, the great building at Agra, is said to be the token of
the love that the emperor had for his beloved. At the same time,
when one looks at it objectively, one cannot call it an expression
of love. One would sooner call it a phenomenon of will. For
the beginning of the building at least, one may look at the
spirit, the impulse which started it, as a phenomenon of the
emperor's will. After it was finished one can say it was the
expression of his love. When a person says, 'I desire it,' 'I
wish it,' it is an incomplete will; a will, which is not conscious
of its strength; a will, which is not sure what it wills. In
that case it is called a desire, a wish. But when a person says
'I will it' that means it is definite. A person, who never can
say 'I will it' has no will.
From this we may conclude that will, is the source and the
origin of all phenomena. Hindus have called the creation a dream
of Brahma, the Creator. But a dream is a phenomenon of
the unconscious will, when the will works automatically.
The will is the action of the soul. One can also call the
soul the self of the will. The difference between will and soul
is like the difference between a person and his action.
There is a difference between the thoughtful and the imaginative
man and the difference is that one thinks with will, the other
thinks without will. When a person knows the value of will;
he then recognizes that there is nothing in the world, which
is more precious than will. Naturally, therefore, the question
arises in the mind of the thoughtful man, 'Have I will in me?
Have I a strong will or have I a weak will?' And the answer
is that no one can exist without will. Everyone has a will.
The automatic working of the mind produces imagination, and
the value of imagination depends upon the cultivation of the
mind. If the mind is tuned to a higher pitch then the imagination
will naturally be at a higher pitch; but if the mind is not
tuned to a high pitch then naturally the imaginations will not
be at a high pitch.
Imagination has its place and its value. But when? At that
time when the heart is tuned to such a pitch that the imagination
cannot go anywhere else but into paradise. The heart, which
is so tuned by love and harmony and beauty, without willing
it, begins to float automatically. And in this automatic movement
it reacts to whatever it touches, or expresses it in some form.
When it is in the form of line or color or notes, then art,
painting, music, or poetry is produced. It is then that imagination
has value. But when it comes to business and science and all
things, which are connected with our everyday life and the world,
it is better to leave imagination aside and work with thought.
As both night and day are useful, as both rest and action
are necessary, so both thinking and imagination have their place
in our life. For instance, if a poet used his will to direct
his imagination it would become a thought and would become rigid.
The natural thing for a poet is to let his mind float into space,
and whatever it happens to touch to let his heart express it,
and then what is expressed is an inspiration. But when a person
has to attend to a business affair he must not let his heart
float in the air. He must think of the things of the earth,
and think about figures very carefully.
Then we come to the question of how we can maintain our will.
The nature of the life we live is to rob us of our will. Not
only the struggle we have to undergo in life, but also our own
self, our thoughts, our desires, our wishes, our motives, weaken
our will. The person who knows how our inner being is connected
with the perfect Will, will find that what makes the will smaller,
narrower, and more limited, is our experience throughout life.
Our joys rob us of our will, as do our sorrows. Our pleasures
rob us of our will, as do our pains. And the only way of maintaining
the power of will is by studying the existence of will and by
analyzing among all the things in ourselves what will is.
It might seem that motive increases will power. But, no doubt,
in the end we will find that it robs us of will power. Motive
is a shadow upon the intelligence, although the higher the motive,
the higher the soul, and the greater the motive, the greater
the man. When the motive is beneath the ideal, then this is
the fall of man. And when his motive is his ideal it is his
rise. According to the width of motive man's vision is wide,
and according to the power of motive man's strength is great.
Furthermore there is an English saying, 'Man proposes, God
disposes.' One is always faced with a power greater than oneself,
which does not always support one's desire. And naturally a
person with will, faced with a greater power, must sooner or
later give in and be impressed by the loss of his own will.
This is only one example, but a hundred examples could be given
to show how one is robbed of one's will without realizing it.
Very often a person thinks that by being active or determined
he maintains his will, and that by being passive he loses his
will. But it is not so. Where there is a battle there is an
advance and there is a retreat. By a retreat one is not defeated
and by an advance one has not always succeeded. A person who
exerts his will all the time, strains it and exhausts it very
soon. It is like being too sure of a string that one has in
one's hand while rubbing it on the edge of a sharp stone. Very
often one sees that people who profess great will power fail
much sooner than those who do not profess it.
There is also always a battle between will power and wisdom.
And the first and the wisest thing to do, is to bring about
a harmony between wisdom and will power. When a person says,
'I wish to do this; I will do this.' And at the same time his
sense says, 'No, you cannot do it, you must not do it,' then,
even with all his will power he either cannot do it or he will
do something against his better judgment.
This also shows us life in another light: that those who
are wise but without will are as helpless as a person with will
power but without wisdom. There is no use keeping wisdom at
the front and will power at the back, nor is there any use in
keeping will power at the front and wisdom at the back. What
is necessary is to make the two as one, and this can be done
by becoming conscious of the action of both in all one does.
At the same time one can practice it in one's everyday life
by depriving oneself of things one likes. If a person always
has what he likes to have, no doubt he spoils his will, for
then his will has no reaction.
A stimulus is given to the will when one deprives oneself
of what one desires. Then the will becomes conscious of itself,
alive. It wonders why it should not have it. For instance, a
person wants to have peaches, but at the same time he is very
much attracted to the flower of the peach. He thinks the flower
is beautiful, and then the idea comes: why not let it remain
on the plant? That will make him decide not to pick it. This
gives him a stimulus, because first desire wanted to take hold
of it, then sense wanted to work with it; and as light comes
from friction, so also does will come from friction.
The power of will is in controlling, in contrast with imagination,
which works without control, for if one wants to control it
one spoils it. Nothing in the world, either in the sphere of
the mind or on the physical plane, can move without the power
of will. But while with one thing the power of will is in absolute
control, with the other it is working automatically.
There is another enemy of will power and that is the power
of desire. Sometimes this robs will power of its strength. Sometimes
will power, by a conflict with desire, becomes strong. The self-denial
taught in the Bible generally means the crushing of desires.
It should not be taken as a principle but as a process. Those
who have taken it as a principle have lost. Those who have taken
it as a process have gained.
The enemy of sense, of wisdom, is the lack of tranquility
of mind. When the mind is tranquil it produces the right thought,
and wisdom naturally rises as a fountain. The Sufis have therefore
taught different exercises, both in physical and in meditative
form; in order to make the mind tranquil, so that the wisdom
which is there may spring up as a fountain. It is not in disturbed
water that one can see one's image reflected. It is in the still
water that one can see one's image clearly. Our heart is likened
to water and when it is still, wisdom springs up by itself.
It is wisdom and will together that work towards a successful
Will power is systematically developed by first disciplining
the body. The body must sit in the prescribed posture. It must
stand in the place it is asked to stand in. The body should
not become restless, tired, by what is asked of it, but it should
answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment
the Sufi begins to discipline the body, he begins to see how
undisciplined it always was. Then he finds out that this body
which he has always called 'mine,' 'myself,' and for whose comfort
he has done everything he could, that this infidel seems to
be most disobedient, most faithless.
After that comes the discipline of the mind. This is done
by concentration. When the mind is thinking of something else
and one wishes it to think on one specific thought, then the
mind becomes very restless. It does not want to remain in one
spot, for it has always been without discipline. As soon as
one disciplines it, it becomes like a restive horse that one
has to master. The difficulty starts when one tries to concentrate.
It begins to jump, while at other times it only moves about.
This happens because the mind is an entity. It feels as a wild
horse would feel: 'Why should I be troubled by you?' But the
mind is meant to be an obedient servant, just as the body is
meant to become an obedient tool to experience life with. If
they are not in order, if they do not act as one wishes them
to, then one cannot hope for real happiness, real comfort in
The will can become so strong that it controls the body,
making it perfectly healthy. But, one may ask, what about death
then? Death is not something foreign to will power. Even death
is caused by will power. One thinks one does not invite one's
death. Indeed, one does not, but the personal will becomes feeble
and the greater Will impresses this feeble will, turning it
into itself. For the smaller will belongs to the greater Will.
Sufis call the former Qadr and the latter Qaza.
Qaza reflects upon Qadr its command, and Qadr
unconsciously accepts it. On the surface a man may still
want to live, but in depth he has resigned himself to die. If
a man did not resign himself to death he would not die. In the
depth of his being he becomes resigned to death before his life
is taken away from him.
Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real
crucifixion. After that crucifixion, follows resurrection. One
can come to this by seeking the pleasure of God. And it is not
difficult, once one has begun to seek the pleasure of God. It
is only when one does not begin to try that one does not know
what is the pleasure of God. But apart from this there is another
lesson, which the Sufis have taught: to seek the pleasure of
one's fellow men. And this is the very thing that man usually
refuses to do. He is quite willing to do the pleasure of God,
but when one asks him to seek the pleasure of his fellow men
In either case, however, one is seeking the pleasure of one
and the same Being. One begins with resignation, but once one
has learnt to be resigned in life, and when one is tuned to
the divine Will, one does not need to be resigned, for one's
wish becomes the divine impulse.