Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
Everyone sees how great is the influence of personal magnetism upon success in everyday life, profession, business, family, and daily occupations.
Sometimes we notice that we go to a shop to buy a certain thing, and there is something about the manner of the salesman that impels us to decide to visit the same shop the next time we need that kind of article. Even if it is a long way to the shop, we prefer not to go to one, which is nearer. Similarly it sometimes happens that a person goes to a hotel or boarding house or restaurant, and someone treats him in such a way that he decides to return to that place rather than visit another.
So with doctors, solicitors, barristers, scientists, professors, and teachers of all kinds. A doctor may be well versed in his knowledge, he may have a great many degrees, but if he lacks this personal magnetism, instead of curing patients he may make them worse. Sometimes a doctor cures the patient before giving him the prescription. Just by a word of kindness, by a manner, a tenderness, a sympathy he makes the patient feel so much better that the disease which before was too much to bear, appears to be curable after all. Half the pain has gone with just seeing the doctor, such a difference does personality make. It is a great healer.
Then there may be a solicitor or barrister who antagonizes his client as soon as he sees him, and so the latter does not wish to go to him next time. Another person will impart courage and hope; his personality, his speech, everything, will show that he is the man to follow, to go to for help.
In family life disagreement or agreement often arises for the same reason. The father, mother, husband, or wife may have personal magnetism, which can hold the family together. When this magnetism is lacking, a person finds it better to be among friends than to be with a relative; he would rather go out than stay at home. The home becomes a strange place, because there is not that magnetism for which he lives. It is as if in mid-winter a person comes to his room and finds it cold because there is no fire there; he wishes that he were somewhere else where there is a fire. Personal magnetism can create beauty around one, can attract one, can make a person attractive to his fellow men, serviceable to them. It is soothing; it is healing.
What is this personal magnetism? Is it a development of psychic power or occult power? Is it an education, or is it refinement? The answer is that education helps personal magnetism, because knowledge is light, and light is beautiful, and it always helps. But this is not personal magnetism. People may be very well educated and at the same time very disagreeable. Sadi says that an educated man who does not put what he has learnt into practice, is like a donkey loaded with books: he is carrying them on his back, but he does not know it or act accordingly. He has a load of knowledge, which serves no purpose. If his education has not made a man human, what is the use of education? It is just learning for the purpose of earning money.
One may think, if magnetism is not education, is it them psychic power? Not necessarily, though it is the natural psychic or occult power that we call personal magnetism. It is not necessary to attain this kind of power by a certain practice or study; one should already have it; and when it is used in the right way it is personal magnetism.
Is magnetism then politeness? Is it polish? As polish is the fashion today, every person learns it when he mixes with people; but this is not necessarily personal magnetism, though he may think he has a winning manner. If there can be any real explanation of personal magnetism, it is the making of one's own personality into that which one expects from others. A man usually makes the mistake of expecting things from others and not doing them himself. For instance a man is very pleased if he is well received in a friend's house, if he is spoken kindly of, and treated well, if his vanity is satisfied by the action of others. He is very glad if others have a good opinion of him and overlook his defects. But seldom does he pause to do the same himself.
If we only tried to give to others all the things we demand from them. If we overlooked their bad points instead of expecting them to overlook ours; if we only thought, 'How inconsiderate I was that time when I spoke so rudely to so and so.' If we only gave others all that we would like them to give us, that would create a personal magnetism; if we did to them all the things that we expect from them!
The word 'gentleman' in the English language is a very good one in this respect. It has come to refer merely to dressing well; but the ideal behind it is good. It is the ideal of gentleness, and gentleness is the essence of personal magnetism. There cannot be a better lesson than that given in the Bible where it is said, 'Blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit.' But the difficulty is that man pays little attention to all these things; he thinks they are too simple. And at the same time if you ask him the meaning of 'poor in spirit,' he will find it very difficult to answer. Not many will know what that means. It may be understood by comparing the spirit of man with the spirit of an animal. If a tiger is lying in a certain place, and you want the tiger to get up, he will roar. If a man is lying there, and you say, 'Will you please let me sit there,' he will say, 'Certainly,' because his spirit is poorer than the spirit of the tiger. And that is also the difference between a man and a gentleman. The gentleman is he who shows that poorness of spirit in himself, a spirit of accommodating another, letting another sit in his place if he wants to. He feels that it does not matter if another person sits in his place; it is really better. There is a person who, if we talk roughly to him, returns our words four times more rudely and coarsely. There is another person who, if we talk roughly to him, bears it an perhaps does not give an answer at all or perhaps he understands and consequently avoids a fight or quarrel in his search for peace. It is written, 'Blessed are the peace-makers.' This is not merely the kind of peace, which prevents fighting and bloodshed and strife. We may make this kind of peace many times a day from morning to night. There are a thousand matters about which we can quarrel and get annoyed with one another. So throughout our daily life, at all times, there are opportunities of making peace.
We always admire a person who shows gentleness in his movements, in sitting, walking, in his voice or words, in his thought; we admire it consciously or unconsciously. There is always a charm in gentleness, and yet man neglects it when the time comes to practice it. That which should come first comes last. If only man realized how much he likes gentleness on the part of others! If a person has gentleness of voice or expression or word, it is so charming, so winning; we know this so well and yet we always forget it at the critical moment.
Poorness of spirit comes from meekness. Meekness is mildness, which is contrary to what we call roughness. Roughness of action or roughness of speech is contrary to mildness or meekness. Our eyes naturally always enjoy softness of color rather than striking tones, because of the aggressive power in the latter, which our eyes cannot bear. We experience the same thing with the sun and moon. We do not like to look at the sun, and in India we enjoy the moonlight nights so much, we wish the moon shone every night. Why? Because it is mild; it shows meekness. Our power is the power of light; our strength of speech, thought, and action is of the same kind and the same nature as the light of the sun and moon respectively. If the light is too strong, it irritates; if it is mild, it soothes. So if we treat everyone with gentleness, our personality is always welcome wherever we are. The same gentleness in our speech will always give us success, and we will always have friends. If only we had control over our words; if only our words were always of that meek nature!
Among the musicians and poets of the East special attention is given to education in meekness and mildness. There is a Sanskrit saying, 'Art becomes twice as graceful when art and mildness go together.' How true it is. When we admire the art of the artist and say how beautiful it is, and he answers, 'O, it is nothing, it is your kindness that causes you to admire it,' his magnetism becomes great.
From a king down to the most ordinary person, it is mildness that wins the whole world. People of all positions in life and all grades of evolution can do such a great work with this one little possession. Sadi says, 'If your word is sweet, you conquer the world; wherever you go you win men's hearts.' Is it not what Christ means when he says to the fishermen, 'follow me, and I will make you fishers of men;' that is, 'I will teach you those manners of humanity by which you will win everyone you may come in contact with?' Do you think a person can become a fisher of men by his cleverness, by his artificial polish? False is false, gold is gold. The true gold will last; the false gold will lose its brilliance.
Polish is just like false gold. A person may wish to win wife, husband, father, brother, all by his cleverness, by his polish, but he will prove to be false even on a very unimportant occasion. Polish may please the eyes, but it cannot please the heart. One can polish one's actions, but one cannot polish one's heart; the polish of the heart comes from the feeling. When the action of the heart is not in harmony with the roughness of the feeling, the feeling will come out all the same. All that is real will come out; the polish is only beautiful for a moment. It may show a person to be very gentle and clever for a moment, but it does not last. His friends will leave him in a short time. The relatives will all know in time that it is just external, all cleverness, not that which will last forever. It is the truth that lasts for always. All the beautiful qualities should be true qualities, not false, because the value lies in the true and not in the false.
In ancient times people of great descent, royal princes, people of educated and religious families, used to go out into the world, and were not recognized as such because there was no international communication in those days; no nation knew its neighbor. Yet it happened that these persons were always recognized by their manner, recognized as belonging to such a family.
Evolution has made all humanity a family; and now is the time when every individual should consider that as a member of the family, of the whole of humanity he ought to show himself as being human in nature, and show how superior he can be to the animals and the lower creatures. If we only did what animals do, if we only ate, drank, slept, bit each other, got the better of one another, we should not accomplish anything great. Their whole life is spent in pursuit of their food. In the night animals join together and make a noise in the jungle. If we also enjoy ourselves in that way, then our amusements and joys and comforts are no greater than those of animals, unless we show some quality in our personality which animals do not possess.
A Hindustani poet, Amir, says, 'It is much more precious than any wealth to collect the wealth of a good manner.' Because by a good manner we can make another person as kind as our own father and mother; as kind and sympathetic as our own brother and sister, as respectful as our own son and daughter, if we only have that manner. If we know how to be motherly, how to be fatherly to the young, if we know how to behave respectfully towards our elders, if we know how sympathetic and polite and good we ought to be to those who are poor or are servants, or who depend on us, if our manner is beautiful, there is no heart we can fail to win. The children of the wealthiest people may, owing to the ill manner of the parents, want to sacrifice all their fortune, their father and mother, in order to get away from them; they would even sacrifice life itself. As with children, so with less near relatives. They cannot attract as long as they have no good manner; all the physical magnetism passes away. During youth, a man may be very magnetic, but when his youth passes away his attraction may be lost. But the attraction of personal magnetism grows with years and can be used at all times. Even an old man is attractive, so that people will say, 'What a nice person. By going to him we can feel so filled with joy and comfort.' Although even the nearest and dearest will not always desire to spend time with an old person, they find themselves attracted to an aged one who has personal magnetism.
The Prophet said, 'God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.' What is beautiful in life? It is not only trees and plants and flowers and the external physical world; the higher beauty is the beauty of personality. By the beauty of personality, our heart is filled with joy; by the beauty of nature, only the eyes are satisfied, the heart is not satisfied. It is the beauty of personality that fills our heart with joy; there is something imparted to us, which we cannot explain. Animal magnetism passes away with the strength of the animal. Animal beauty all goes when the person is ill and his physical energy is lost; there is no longer any attraction.
Personal magnetism helps in all conditions. If a person is poor, it makes him rich, because his personality is such that he receives the attentions, the service, and all his life's demands with less trouble, even in spite of his humble position in life. Do we not see around us how a person of beautiful personality however helpless, will always attract the good, the bad and all around him? If a person lacks it, however rich, however educated, however great in position, he will only attract those who are forced into his society, or such as are looking to get some of his wealth. His relatives, forced to be with him, only long for the time when he is no more, and his wealth will be theirs.
Let us think about the Prophets. There are so many followers of Christ in the world today, and perhaps it is true that not everyone understands his teachings or follows him because of his teaching. But if there is anything of him, which is known to the world, if there is any of his fragrance left in the world, it is his personality. He was ready to forget and overlook the faults of others; he was ready to attend to the service of the poor, ready to play and be equal with little children. He never said, 'I am a teacher from God, and people must come and bow before me.'
That, then, is the attitude: the poorness of spirit, the harmony in life, the harmonious temperament.
From the highest to the lowest we always find people in a state of disharmony. In clubs, associations, meetings, institutions, parliaments, all will dispute and fight. This teaches us that however evolved a person may be in his education, his position, or his power and wealth, he has not mastered the law of harmony by these.
Whoever has mastered the law of harmony has developed humanity with in himself. He will harmonize equally with the wise and with the foolish. It is not because he is wise that he harmonizes with the wise, nor because he is foolish that he harmonizes with the foolish. Foolish men gave their lives for Christ; wise men worshipped him for his wisdom. 'They left their nets' and the fishing where they had spent all their lives because Christ harmonized with them. He answered their questions; he was tolerant.
So with the story of Krishna. He is looked on as the incarnation of God, one of the greatest teachers the Hindus ever had. He was a child with little children, a cowherd with every cowherd, he was harmonious with everybody; he was wise among the learned, and was merry among the happy. He was not a king; he was not poor; he was one among all. The young and the old, everybody loved him. When he played the flute the cows and the deer and all he animals of the jungle would come to listen. It was not the mere skill of his music, for music is not attractive if the personality is not attractive; it was his personality that attracted them.
There were two friends speaking together, and one said, 'That funeral which is passing is of a person who is going to heaven.' Another funeral, passing later, caused this friend to remark, 'For this person, the place is hell.' The younger of the two friends asked, 'What do you know about it?' 'O,' said the other, 'it is so simple: behind the first one were people walking with tears in their eyes, and they all looked so sad. So he must have won their hearts by his personality. His magnetism must have made such an impression that all the people appeared sad and sorrowing. But with the other funeral there were few people, and they were laughing in their sleeves and winking, and everybody had a smile, which shows that they were very pleased to get rid of him.'
Whatever possession, whatever power, whatever honor, whatever wealth, whatever property we have, is of no use in the end, for all is passing. But if there is any one thing, which is worth gaining in life, because it lasts forever, it is humanity.