There are two distinct paths through which one attains
the spiritual goal, and they are quite contrary to one another:
one is the path of resignation, the other the path of struggle.
No doubt in the path of struggle there is also resignation,
and in the path of resignation there is also struggle. But
the one who is treading the path of resignation has only
one thought: to be resigned; as to the one who strikes the
path of struggle, his main object is to struggle.
These two paths are illustrated in a symbolical way by
the words of Christ, 'Take your sword and sheathe it.' The
taking of the sword means struggle, the covering of it is
resignation. The necessity of these two paths is so great
that it is not possible that one of them is ignored and
only one of them is accepted. People often think that Sufism
means pacifism, but it is not 'passivism', it is activity
and 'passivism' both. It is the knowledge of the secret
of man's life on earth, of what he needs for his character,
for his condition.
When we reflect upon these principles, we find that there
are things in life to which we can only be resigned. It
is easy to be resigned to things one cannot help, but if
one has the power to struggle it is difficult to be resigned.
A person who is resigned in easy conditions, not finding
it difficult, does not know resignation. For instance, there
is a person whose poor relations want a part of his capital,
because they are in great need, but in spite of all their
need he cannot be resigned to let them have that part. Then
during the night robbers break into his house and go away
with his fortune, and the next day this person resigns himself
to it. This resignation is no virtue. To resign means that
one has the power to manage, and yet resigns.
All the great ones have seen the value of resignation,
and have taught it. Christ said that if someone wants you
to walk a certain distance with him, [you should] walk with
him a longer distance. What does it teach? Resignation.
One might think that resignation is unpractical, that this
selfish world will take the best of one. Yes, it is true,
but the loss is much less when compared to the gain – if
only the heart can sustain the loss. If one is not contented
with what has been done, it is better not to resign. For
instance, an acquaintance comes to your house and asks to
take your umbrella and you say 'yes.' Then comes the time
when you want to go out yourself. It is raining and your
umbrella is taken. Now you grumble about that acquaintance,
'How stupid of him, how could he have the boldness to ask
for my only umbrella!' That resignation was no good; it
bears no fruit. That is only virtue of resignation when
you went out in the rain, yet you were satisfied, because
the other person was safe from it. Only then would resignation
be a virtue.
One who is really resigned does not show it. Resignation
is not an easy thing. How many people in this world try
to learn wonderful spiritual things, but this simple thing,
resignation, is miraculous; for this virtue is not only
beautiful, it is a miracle. There are little things in which
we do not see resignation, and where yet it is. Those around
us may ask us to do something that does not please us; those
around us perhaps say something that we do not wish to take
silently, we wish to talk back; then, in everyday life,
there are the little pin-pricks from those around us. If
we are not resigned, we shall feel excited every moment.
To be resigned, therefore, is not a weakness, it is a great
When one goes further one finds that one can be resigned
even to cold and heat, to places congenial and uncongenial;
one finds that all has a meaning, a benefit. Even if one
had not formed a habit of being resigned, one could just
as well resign oneself, for not having resigned oneself
to an experience is the loss of an occasion.
There are two forces working: the individual power and
the collective power. In Sufi terms the former is called
qadr, the latter qaza. Often the individual
power will not surrender, but if it does not do so it is
crushed. For instance someone is called to arms in his country
but says he will not join the army. In spite of all the
beauty of his ideal he is helpless before the might of the
whole nation. Here he must resign to the condition in which
there is a conflict between a lesser and a greater power;
here resignation is the only solution.
No doubt everything must be understood rightly. Resignation
preached foolishly is of no benefit. There was a mureed
who learned from a Murshid the lesson of resignation, and
thinking on this subject the simple mureed was walking in
the middle of the road when a mad elephant came from the
other side. As he was walking in the thought of resignation
he stayed in the middle of the road. A wise man told him
to go out of the way, but he would not do so, because he
was resigned to the elephant, until he was pushed away by
its strength. They brought him to his Murshid who asked
him how he came to be hurt so much. He answered that he
was practicing resignation. The Murshid said, 'Was there
not somebody who told you to go away?' 'Yes', he answered,
'but I would not listen.' 'But', said the Murshid, 'why
did you not resign yourself to that person?' often beautiful
principles can be practiced to the greatest disadvantage.
Nevertheless, resignation has proved to be the path of saints,
because it develops patience in man. And what is patience?
It is all the treasure there is. Nothing is more valuable,
nothing is a greater bliss than patience.
There is a story about a prophet who was very ill. He
suffered many years, and through his suffering his insight
became clearer. His suffering was so great that those around
him became tired of it and so, in order to relieve them
from seeing his pain, he had to seek refuge with God in
the forest. As his sight was keen and the ears of his heart
were open, he heard from the trees, 'I am the medicine of
your disease.' The prophet asked, 'Has the time of my cure
come?' A voice answered: 'No.' So he said, 'Why shall I
take you then?' Another time he had this experience again;
he heard, 'I am the medicine of your disease', and asked,
'Has the time of my cure come?' The answer came, 'Yes.'
The prophet said, 'Why shall I take you then?'
When we think of this extreme ideal we may ask: is it
not unpractical, especially at this time where there are
so many treatments, so many mechanical means? But a thoughtful
person will see how many people have ruined their lives
by going from one treatment to another, lacking the patience
and resignation in which resides their absolute cure. The
remedy is not always the answer to the difficulty; often
patience is the answer. It seems as if man becomes more
and more impatient every day owing to his superficial life;
there is hardly any resignation to little things. Yet it
is better to resign than to struggle.
When we throw a mystic light upon this subject we find
that we form a harmonious connection with the Infinite by
being resigned. How to learn it? Should we learn it by being
resigned to God? No, that is a still greater lesson to learn.
The first thing to learn is to be resigned to the little
difficulties in life. What does this mean? It means not
to strike out at everything that comes in our way. If one
were able to manage this, one would not need to cultivate
great power; then one's presence would be healing. Such
a person is in the world more precious than a branch of
the rose, which may have many thorns and hardly one flower.
Question: How to attain peace when our life is often
Answer: No doubt, life is difficult for many of us, but
very often we make it even more difficult for ourselves.
When we do not understand the real nature and character
of life we make our own difficulties. I can assure you that
in every man's life five percent of his difficulties are
brought about by the conditions of life, and ninety-five
percent are difficulties caused by himself.
Now you will ask: When the difficulties come from ourselves,
where do they come from? We do not like struggle in life,
we do not like strife, we only want harmony, we only want
peace. It must be understood, however, that before making
peace, war is necessary, and that war must be made with
our self. Our worst enemy is our self: our faults, our weaknesses,
our limitations. And our mind is such a traitor! What does
it? It covers our faults even from our own eyes, and points
out to us the reason for all our difficulties: others! So
it constantly deludes us keeping us unaware of the real
enemy, and pushes us towards those others to fight them,
showing them to us as our enemies.
Besides this, we must tune ourselves to God. As high
we rise, so high becomes our point of view, and as high
our point of view so wide becomes the horizon of our sight.
When a person evolves higher and higher his point of view
becomes wider and wider, and so in all he does he strikes
the divine note, the note which is healing and comforting
and peace-giving to all souls.