Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part V: PEARLS FROM THE OCEAN UNSEEN
'BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT'
The words 'poor in spirit' are an unsatisfactory translation, and do not convey the real meaning of the text. There are certain words in the original, which cannot be accurately translated. In Sufi terms this poorness of spirit is called Halim Taba', and means mild spirited. The more true meaning of the words is, 'Blessed are the mild in ego,' and this is the teaching of Jesus throughout. He himself is spoken of in the Bible as 'the Lamb of God,' conveying the meaning of the mild in ego, like a lamb.
The ego is seen in the animal creation, but much more strongly in the carnivorous than in the herbivorous animals. It is very strong in the lion, and in the dog, which will not suffer the presence of another dog when it is eating a bone. Elephants on the contrary, the largest of all animals, are docile and harmless, and obey the commands of men. They live together in herds, and seldom fight. The same is the case with horses and sheep.
When we consider the ego in connection with the whole consciousness, we first look at the earth and rocks, the lowest form of life, and find how stiff and hard, how unmovable and unbendable they are. When we come to the water element, we find that it is pliable, and can be poured from one vessel to another. The course of a river or stream may be diverted and made to go in another direction. It is poorer in spirit than the earth, for it is the higher element. A more exalted state of consciousness belongs to the poor in spirit, the pliable and the serviceable, than to the stiff and set. When we come to the fire element, we find that it is still more pliable. It can be taken from the rock and from the atmosphere, and it is more serviceable and more pliant. Air is still more pliable and is everywhere, and man cannot live without it. Ether is the highest element, and is nearest to us, for it surrounds us and is within us.
We frequently say, 'I dislike him,' 'I wish to avoid her,' but if we examine this carefully, we find it is the same element in all that we dislike, the ego. And when we turn to ourselves to see if we have it in us, we find it is there too. We should forget it, therefore, in other people, and first turn our attention to crushing it within ourselves. We should determine to have our house clean even if other people neglect theirs. We should be careful to take away from ourselves any thorns that prick us in the personality of others. There is a verse in the Quran, which says, 'Arise in the midst of the night, and commune with thy Lord... Bear patiently what others say.' This is not only a command to rise in the night and pray, but it also means that by rising in the night we crush the ego, for the ego demands its rest and comfort, and when denied, is crushed. The mystics fast for the same reason.
The Sufis base the whole of their teaching on the crushing of the ego which they term Nafs-kushi, for therein lies all magnetism and power. Jesus Christ meant this power of magnetism when He told His disciples that they would become the fishers of men. This can be acquired by developing the personality in poorness of spirit.