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Volume VIII - The Art of Being

The Privilege of Being Human

Chapter XII
Graciousness - Khulq

No sooner does the soul touch the inner kingdom, which is the divine kingdom, that the true nobility of the soul becomes manifest in the form of graciousness. Kings and those belonging to aristocratic families were trained in the manner of graciousness, but it is born in the heart of man. This means that every soul shows the aristocratic manner from the moment it touches the inner kingdom, and it shows that true aristocracy is the nobility of the soul: when the soul begins to express in every feeling, thought, word and action that graciousness which belongs to God Himself.

Graciousness is quite different from that wrong manner which is termed patronizing in English. The gracious one, before expressing that noble attitude, tries to hide himself even from his own eyes. The reason why the great ones, the truly noble people, are gracious is because they are more sensitive to all the hurt and harm that comes to them from those who are unripe. Therefore, out of their kindness, they try to keep themselves from doing the same to another, however unimportant his position.

There is a story of a dervish who was standing in the royal road at the moment when the procession of the king was passing. Happy in his rags as he was, he did not at all mind who was coming, and did not move an inch at the warnings of the pages who were running ahead of the procession, until they pushed him away, yet he did not move far, he only said: 'That is why.' Then came the bodyguards on horseback. They did not push him, but they said, 'Away, away, dervish!' 'Do you not see the procession coming?' the dervish did not move an inch, but only answered, 'That is why.' Then followed the noblemen. They saw the dervish standing there. They did not like to tell him to move, they moved their own horses instead. The dervish seeing this said, 'That is why.' Then arrived the chariot of the king. His eyes fell on the dervish in his rags standing boldly in the middle of the road. Instead of waiting for his bow the king bowed himself, and the dervish said, 'That is why.' There was a young man standing by his side who could not understand the meaning of these words 'that is why' spoken by the dervish whatever way he was treated. When he asked the dervish kindly to explain what was meant by these words, the answer was, 'They explain all I mean.'

There is a great truth in what Christ has said in the sermon on the mount, 'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.' This will always prove true whatever be the time and whatever be the evolution of the world. Be it the time of aristocracy, be it the period of democracy, the value of that nobility of nature which is expressed in graciousness will always command its price. It is easy to know the word, but most difficult to practice graciousness through life, for there is no end to the thought that needs to be given to every action in life. It wants judgment and a fair sense of weighing and measuring all one does. Besides, it needs a fine sense of art and beauty, for in refining the personality one attains to the highest degree of art. Verily, the making of the personality is the highest art there is. The Sufi considers the cultivation of humane attributes, in which lies the fulfillment of the purpose of his life, as his religion.

A young man one day showed a little impatience toward his aged father, who could not hear very clearly and had asked him two, three times to tell him again what he had said. Seeing the disturbed expression on his face the father said, 'My son, do you remember that there was a day when you were a little child, and asked me what was the name of a certain bird? I told you: 'a sparrow.' You asked me perhaps fifty times, and I had the patience to repeat it again and again to you without being hurt or troubled about it; I was only pleased to tell you all I knew. Now when I cannot hear you clearly, you can at least have patience with me and if I did not hear you the first time, explain it twice to me.'

It seems that, in order to learn that noble manner of life, what is needed most is patience – sometimes in the form of endurance, sometimes in the form of consideration, and sometimes in the form of forgiveness.


checked 26-nov-2015