There are two tendencies: the tendency towards activity,
which has brought man from the unconscious to the manifestation,
and the tendency towards inactivity, which takes him back
there. It is a mistake, often made by ascetics, to give
all attention to the inactive tendency and to neglect the
physical altogether. Our physical body is our means of experiencing
this world, and it is necessary to keep it in good order.
To do this three things are needful: one is to keep the
circulation in good order by physical practices, another
is purification, and the third is development of the muscles.
It is very necessary to keep the circulation in good
order. There must be balance: so much activity, so much
sleep, so much eating, and so much activity. If there is
too much activity the circulation cannot be good. There
must be a balance of activity and repose, and there must
be a balance of eating and work. I do not say, 'Eat very
little,' I say, 'Eat much and do much work.'
It is a mistake to think out of an idea of delicacy
that by eating little we shall become very wonderful. We
should not think that we can only eat at certain hours;
if it is wanted, we should be able to eat at any hour.
We should not think that we cannot eat certain things;
we should not think, 'This is too heavy for me, I cannot
We should do whatever movement occurs in the course of
our occupations, not thinking, 'I shall be tired,' but thinking
that we are able to do it.
It is necessary to keep our life pure, and the five purifications
should be done very carefully: the purification by air,
the purification by water, the purification by earth, the
purification by fire, and the purification by ether. A person
is often inclined to neglect that which does not bring an
immediate result that he can see with his eyes. But these
purifications should be done very exactly. Washing face
and hands is not enough: every tube and vein of the body
must be kept clean. The postures and positions that are
taught, the posture of the zikr, of the fikr,
of shaghl, have the effect of making the blood flow
through certain veins. If this is done there is no disease.
The muscles develop during the whole of life, while the
bones do not continue to grow. They become solid, while
the muscles develop. Whatever your age may be, you should
have ten minutes or quarter of an hour each day in which
to do physical exercises. All physical practices, like standing
on the hands or head, on both feet, or on one foot, taught
by the Sufis, are taught for this purpose.