When looking at the world with the eyes of the seer,
we shall see that people who are called wise and people
who are called foolish are much nearer to each other than
they are ordinarily thought to be: because of their unbalanced
state their different occupations are much nearer to each
other than they usually appear. The person who sees the
good in others will see more and more good. The person with
a fault finding tendency will see so many faults that at
last even the good seems bad in his eyes; the eyes themselves
There is much more chance of a fall for a person who
is running than for one who is walking. The activity itself
brings about a fall; the activity tends to grow more and
more, and by this, balance is lost. Sometimes a person has
no balance in telling the truth. He says, 'I tell the truth,'
and he is regardless of whether it is harmonious with his
surroundings, whether people are prepared to receive it.
He says, 'I tell the truth, and I want to fight with everybody
because I tell the truth!' Therefore, the lesson of repose
is the most important one to be learned.
Philosophy itself – the greatest, the highest thing in
the world, the knowledge of God – has often been lost through
lack of balance. This is why in the Bible, in the Vedanta,
in the Quran the truth, told so plainly, is nevertheless
told in a veiled manner. If the prophets, the masters had
spoken the truth in plain words, the world would have gone
to the left instead of to the right. It has been my own experience
that philosophy, when plainly expressed, is understood
than when it is expressed in a veiled manner.
When we speak we become inclined to speak more and more,
and we become so fond of speaking that we speak regardless
of whether anyone wishes to listen. We say what we do not
really wish to say; afterwards we think, 'Why did I insult
that person? Why did I tell my secret to somebody else?' Sadi, the great Persian poet says, 'O, intelligent one,
of what use is thine intelligence, if afterwards thou repentest?'
Whatever we do, whether good or bad, increases in us
more and more. If one day a person thinks about music for
five minutes, the next day that thought will continue for
half an hour. If one day he thinks about poetry for ten
minutes, the next day that thought will continue for an
hour. If a person has a little thought of bitterness, unconsciously
the thought will grow until his mind is full of bitterness.
Every sin comes about in this way. Zarathushtra distinguishes
three kinds of sin: the sin of thought, the sin of speech
and the sin of action. To have a thought of bitterness,
the thought of evil, is like doing evil; to speak evil is
like doing evil. And when a person commits an evil action,
then the evil is concrete.
We have balance of thought, when we can see things not
only from our own point of view, with the ideas and feelings
in which we are trained, but from all sides. The one-sided
person has no balance.
Suppose you are very patriotic and see everything from
the point of view of patriotism, and you go to an ironmonger
and demand that he should sell you some things at a certain
price. But the ironmonger is a poor man and, even for a
patriotic purpose, he cannot sell the things at that price.
After all he is an ironmonger and he thinks of his trade;
he cannot be expected to see with your patriotic eyes. One
person thinks only of patriotism; another says, 'God save
the trade.' A third, who is a musician, says, 'They are
mad, crazy! Music is the only thing that matters.' The poet
says, 'Poetry is the only thing in the world.' Each thinks
only of that in which he is active. A pious person exaggerates
his piety so much that there is nothing in him but piety,
which at last becomes hypocrisy.
One will ask: What is balance, and how can we achieve
it? First there is the balance of activity and repose, of
sleeping and waking. If a person thinks that by sleeping
very much he will become great and so sleeps very much,
he will become a monster instead of a man, because the body,
which is given in order to experience the world, is not
used. If one does not sleep at all, in a few days one will
have a nervous breakdown. If one fasts very much, certainly
one will become very ethereal, one will see into the other
world, into other planes; if one has learned the way of
inspiration, inspiration will come. But this body, these
senses will become weak, so that one will not be able to
experience the world for which they were given. Extremity
is undesirable in everything, whether good or evil. The
majzubs, in India, are those mystics who go to the
extreme of spirituality. Their external self is so much
forgotten that they leave the experience of the world altogether.
To sleep and wake, to eat and fast, to be active and
to be still, to speak and to be silent – that is to have
balance. The Sufi teaches control of the activity of the
body, the balance of the body, by pose, posture and movements,
which include namaz, wazifa and zikr.
He teaches the balance of the mind by concentration. To
sit at home and close the eyes is not concentration. Though
the eyes are closed, the thoughts go on. The right object
of concentration must be chosen.
By concentration and meditation a person experiences
ecstasy, the greatest happiness and bliss. Guidance of the
Murshid is needed for this; otherwise the balance will
be lost. A disciple was taught a practice by the Prophet
Muhammad, through which he experienced ecstasy. After
some days he came bringing fruit and flowers, which he
offered to the Prophet, thanking him greatly and saying,
'The lesson that you taught me has been of such great a value to me;
it has brought
me such joy. My prayers, which used to last a few minutes,
now last all day.' The Prophet said, 'I am glad you liked
the lesson, but, please from today on leave it.'
By control of the self a person experiences the higher
plane in which all beings are one. The guidance of the teacher,
the Murshid, is needed; no one can accomplish this by
And if anyone could, he would become so much interested
in what he experienced there, that he would become absent
from this world; absent-mindedness, even lunacy and many
other evil consequences would result.
Ecstasy is the greatest happiness, the greatest bliss.
A person always thinks, 'I am this which I see. This small
amount of flesh and blood, bones and skin is I.' By ecstasy
the consciousness is freed from this body, from this confinement;
it experiences its true existence above all sorrow, pain
and trouble. That is the greatest joy. To experience it,
and to keep control of the body and the senses through which
we experience all the life of this world – that is to have balance.
That is the highest state.
It is not only strength or nervous energy that enables
man to stand on the earth; besides muscular strength and
nervous energy, there is balance. It is balance which enables
man to stand and walk without falling. In the absence of
balance man will not be able to stand or walk in spite of
his muscular strength and nervous energy.
When we think of the mind – is it reasoning, is it far-reaching
imagination which makes man thoughtful? No, it is balance.
There are many whose imagination reaches so far that they
can float in the air for hours together, and there are others
whose reason is so powerful that they can go round and round
and round and end nowhere. If there is anything that makes
man thoughtful, it is not great reasoning or far-reaching
imagination: it is balance.
Is it the deep feeling of the heart, or is it living
in a spiritual ecstasy that makes a person illuminated?
No, neither of these things. A person can be in ecstasy,
see visions, phenomena, and yet he may not be called spiritual.
A person may have religious ideas, he may live a pious life,
have lofty ideals, and even then he may not be called an
illuminated soul. This shows that in order to make the body
as it ought to be, to keep the mind in order, and to maintain
it to that pitch, it is balance that is necessary.
When we study nature, we find that the growth of plants
and the life of trees all depend upon balance. And when
we think of the cosmos and study the condition of the stars
and planets, the main thing we realize is that the one holds
the other, thereby producing balance. All destruction caused
in nature, such as volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes,
comes from lack of balance. As long as nature holds its
balance, the abyss in the heart of the earth can remain
as it is; people can walk over it without any damage. Storms
and famine, all the difficult conditions caused by nature,
show that balance is missing; all the different plagues
that come to mankind are caused by the lack of that balance
which is the security of the health of humanity.
What we call art also comes from a balanced sense of
line and color, and what we call genius in science comes
from the balance between perception and conception.
What do we learn from all this? That the secret of existence
of the individual as well as of the whole cosmos lies in
one thing and that is balance. It would not be exaggerated
if I said that success and failure are caused by balance
and by the lack of it. Progress and lack of progress can
be explained as coming from balance and lack of balance.
There is another idea connected with what we call balance.
Life is movement, balance is something that controls it,
but perfect balance controls movement too much, bringing
it to the pitch of inertia. For instance, if the strength
of the right hand were equal to the strength of the left
hand, if the right leg and the left leg were equal, man
would not be able to work or to walk. If each of the two
eyes had the same power of sight, a person would not be
able to see. In this way balance controls everything. But,
too much balance destroys it, because too much balance brings
stillness. The ordinary balance, which is not complete,
brings about success.
Now the main idea is to know how balance is to be obtained
and to be retained. In answer to the first question, how
balance is to be attained, I would say that balance is naturally
there, so there is no need to attain it. The question is
only how to maintain balance and not how to attain it. The
influence of our way of life in this active world always
puts us off balance. No matter what direction we take in
life, no matter what our occupation, our business in life,
there is always difficulty in maintaining balance.
The Sufis therefore have found a key to it, and that
key is to isolate oneself within and thereby, to gain a
complete balance within oneself. I have already said that
perfect balance means destruction of action, but when we
think that from morning till evening our life is nothing
but action, we naturally cannot keep that balance. By keeping
a few minutes for a process of meditation, of silence, we
can touch that complete balance for a moment, and then,
naturally, in our active life a balance is maintained. Very
often people make the mistake of thinking that by the help
of meditation or silence they can bring about success in
activity. If it brings about a successful result, it is
only because complete balance in meditation makes one capable
of maintaining the balance necessary for activity.
Success, failure, progress, standstill, one's state of
being, it all comes from the condition that a person is
experiencing within himself. A man of common sense will
say, 'For this reason or for that reason you have met with
success or failure.' A person who is clairvoyant will say,
'Because a spirit or a ghost has said this or that, the
conditions must be worse or better.' The astrologer will
say, 'Because this star is in its house or not in its house,
you are experiencing such or such conditions.' But according
to the Sufi idea the condition of life around one depends
absolutely on the condition of one's inner self. So what
is needed to change the conditions in outer life, or to
tune oneself, is to work with one's inner self in order
to bring about the necessary balance.
Once balance is lost, it is very difficult to bring
it about again. In the first place it is often difficult
to keep balance in everyday life, and once it is lost,
there is little hope of success, of happiness, or of progress.
It is just like a clock getting out of order; it cannot
work as long as it is not brought into a proper balance
again – and the same is true for the conditions of the soul.
If a person has lost his wealth, has become a spendthrift,
has become thoughtless, all these things are signs of his
loss of balance. To be too sad, to be too busy, to be too
lazy, all these things are signs of lack of balance. All
that can be called too much is always out of balance.
Balance is the security of life, not only in our outward
life, but even in maintaining meditation and contemplation.
People in the East have always considered balance to be
the principal thing to maintain in life. All different exercises
they have prescribed, whether in the form of religion or
in the form of devotion, whether in the philosophical or
in the psychical realm, are all meant to maintain balance.
Balance must be maintained between what is physical and
what is eternal by being conscious of both. One must not
dive so deep into eternity that one does not know what time
it is, nor be so immersed in the physical that one is unaware
of immortality. As there is night and day, so there is the
change of consciousness from the physical to the spiritual,
and from the spiritual to the physical. By keeping a balance
between these two conditions a person leads a complete life.
Balance is something which is as rarely found among mystics
as among others. When we become interested in something,
it is our nature to want more and more of it, whether it
is spirituality or something material. If we become very
spiritual and are not material [enough], we lose the world.
If we were not meant to live in this world, we would not
have been sent here.