Volume IV - Mental Purification and Healing
Part IV: THE MIND WORLD
All that one learns and expresses in one's everyday life has been learned by the way of reflection, and this can be well studied if one observes the lives of growing youths. For the way of walking, of sitting, of speaking that a youth shows, is always from a reflection, an impression which has fallen upon his heart, and he has caught it and expresses it as his own manner, movement, and way of expression. It is not difficult for careful parents to realize how a youth suddenly changes the manner of his movements, suddenly takes a fancy to a certain word that he has picked up from somewhere, and suddenly changes his bearing. And there are youths in whose lives you will see every day a new change. A change in voice, word, and movement. Even he himself does not know where it has come from, and yet it has come from somewhere. The voice, word or movement, manner or attitude, which has impressed his heart, has changed his everyday life. There is no doubt that as a person grows old there is less change. Because that is the time for the collected impressions to appear in all that one says or does. But a child, a youth, is especially impressionable; and all that he expresses is what he has caught from others.
There is a custom in the East that no one is allowed to see a newborn infant except those esteemed in the family; whose impression is considered favorable, inspiring, and a good influence. It has been found very often that a child has inherited its foster-mother's qualities; not only physical elements, but also mental qualities. And it has been proved often and often that the foster-mother's qualities are more pronounced in the child than even the qualities of its own mother. It does not mean that the infant does not possess the qualities of its mother rather than the foster-mother's. It means that the foster-mother's qualities are on the surface and that they are more pronounced.
Very few know or think about this question of what a great influence a nurse or governess has upon a growing child. It is the nurse's faculties, which develop in the child unknowingly. And in the artificial life of today the parents, who neglect their children so much that they give them entirely into the hands of another person, do not know of what they deprive the child. They deprive the child of the influence of its own parents, which would perhaps be more advisable, although no doubt in some cases, the influence of the governess is better than the influence of the parents. Nevertheless, the child receives impressions and reflections deeply when it is an impression which has first fallen upon it in infancy, whether it came from its foster-mother or was gained from the nurse or a governess who has taken care of it.
Do we get reflections only if we love and admire, or also if we do not? We get reflections of both those whom we admire and those whom we hate. One may say that in the latter case, there will be repulsion, but repulsion comes after we have already got the reflection. Before we see ugliness, the ugliness has been reflected in our eyes. The mind is just like the eye. We say, 'This is ugly,' but before we say, 'This is ugly,' ugliness is reflected in our eyes already.
One can open oneself to beautiful reflections by being one's own master in everything that one does, by mastering one's life; and that comes by self discipline. However high a person rises or evolves, if he is without control, he has no credit for his evolution. The credit for his evolution is due to one who evolves intentionally. He evolves because he wishes to evolve, that is the mastery of himself; and the credit is in the mastery.
For instance, an adept was sitting in a ship with an ordinary person. And this person said, 'Oh, how terrible this noise is, continually going on! It breaks my nerves to pieces. Terrible, terrible, terrible! Day and night, to hear this going on. It almost drives me mad!' The adept said, 'I did not hear it until you reminded me of it. I hear it when I want to hear it, I do not hear it when I do not want to hear it.' That is the idea. Both had the sense of hearing, but one had the power to close it and to open it; the other had the doors of his hearing sense open but he could not close them.
And now, coming to the lives of the great personalities in the world. Most of the great souls, poets, musicians, writers, composers, inventors, have had a reflection of some personality upon them. They maintained it consciously or unconsciously, till it grew and culminated in a great personality. For that reflection grows just like a seed, and it brings the flowers and fruits according to its nature and character. Roses grow in the environment of roses, and thistles in the place of thistles. The shadows of great personalities produce great personalities. For what is it all? It is all a reflection, the whole phenomenon is of reflections, and therefore, the reflection which is worthwhile must bring forth worthwhile results.
The reflection of a great personality can also reach someone else through his works, for instance that of a poet, a painter. It is at such times that he does the greatest work he has ever done in his life, a work which makes him marvel at it, so that he cannot understand how it has been done.
In the case of the sages of India, Krishna and Rama and Mahadeva, who were known as the avatars or incarnations of divine personalities, what was it? The divine personality reflected in them. The numberless avatars of whom we read in the traditions of the Hindus have been the manifestations of that reflection. In the case of the Christ-like personalities which we find among the saints of ancient times, what was it? It was Christ manifested in their hearts. The inspiration of the Twelve Apostles, the Holy Spirit descending upon them, what was it? Was it not the reflection of Christ himself?
We need not go far to find support for this argument. The Khalifs after the Prophet Muhammad, Siddiq, Umar, Usman, 'Ali, showed in their character, in their nature, the fragrance of the Prophet's life. And then we come to the line of the great Murshids among the Sufis, and we see the reflection of Shams-i Tabriz in his mureed, Jalaluddin Rumi, the author of the Masnavi. And especially in the school of Chishti, which is the best known school of the ancient Sufis, we find perhaps more than ten great personalities at different times who prove to be the examples of souls which won the world by the divine manner of their personality.
It is our everyday experience that every little change we find in ourselves, in our thought and feeling, in our word and movement, is also caught by us unconsciously from someone else. The more intelligent person, the person who is more living, is more susceptible to reflections; and if that person happens to be more spiritual, then he has reflections from both sides, from the earth and from the other side. You will find in him a change every day and every moment, a certain change which is again the phenomenon of reflection.
A person in an abnormally negative state also gets reflections from the inner world. You will find in the insane asylum many cases of mediums. The physicians may not acknowledge it, and they may call it some kind of hallucination, but it is really a mediumistic soul which is open to another reflection from the other side. But, as Omar Khayyam says, 'A hair's breadth divides false from true.'
Such is the condition between normal and abnormal. It is just a hair's breadth. It is the same faculty, the same condition of spirit that could make one illuminated, and just a little difference can make a person insane.
One might ask if there is not a certain characteristic in
every person's character, which he keeps throughout his life
in spite of all reflections which change him continually. Nobody
has his peculiar characteristics, although everyone thinks,
'I have a certain character,' and everybody is pleased to say
it. To no one do these things belong. The soul came forth pure
of all these things. It receives them on its way. But what belonged
to a person yesterday is his own character as we know it. And
what he shows today we think he partakes of from someone else.
Therefore the best way of knowing what belongs to us is to know
that all we know belongs to us.