The word 'hope' to those who are broken-hearted is startling,
to them it is poison. If you speak of hope to the broken-hearted
they say, 'Do not speak of it, I do not wish to hear of
it!' The state of the broken-hearted is worse than death;
they are without ambition, without hope, without life. The
one who is broken-hearted is dead while he is alive; the
breath is still there, but his heart is dead, life has gone
with the hope that was lost. He may not be old in years,
but he has become old.
To him who is heartless hope is a ridiculous word. The
heartless, he whose heart is incapable of feeling, will
say, 'Hope? What is it? See what you can do, and do it.
Do not dream.' This is the material person who can see no
further than the material possibilities.
In the life of Christ we see that enemies, difficulties
and helplessness were all around – and confidence in the
truth of the message gave hope to carry it through. If there
had not been hope, the thought 'I will bring the message,'
what material possibility was there of spreading the message?
This whole manifestation has hope as its underlying motive.
Nature first hoped to produce the world and then produced
In the Orient people have the habit of depending upon
kismet, fate, and this is a source of weakness. If
an astrologer tells a Brahmin, 'After so many years such
and such a calamity will come upon you,' the Brahmin does
not even make an effort to fight against misfortune; he
awaits it and accepts it. If a man is told, 'In such a year
you will become very ill,' he does not even try to avoid
the illness. They do not consider that hope can avert misfortune
and can turn aside even the influence of the planets. Where
no possibility of attaining the object is given, a strong
hope can attain it.
Without going to the mystics this can be seen in the
history of kings. Mahmud Ghaznavi was a slave. What possibility
was there for him to become a king? With only hope he started
from Turkistan and founded a kingdom in Afghanistan. Of
Timur is told that once he was lying asleep in the jungle.
He was going through such a hard time that he did not even
have a place to lie down, hardly any clothes, nothing. A
dervish happened to pass that way and saw Timur lying in
the hot sun where not even an animal would lie. He went
nearer and saw about this man some signs of greatness. He
also saw a sign of bad luck, and that sign was that Timur,
while asleep was lying with his legs crossed. He saw that
this man himself was the hindrance to his undertakings.
The dervish had a stick and hit him so hard that the bone
of his leg broke. Timur woke up feeling a great pain. He
said, 'O dervish, this is very unkind! I already have
such hard luck, and you break my bone.' The dervish
replied, 'My son, your bad luck is gone. You will be
emperor.' There seemed to be no possibility for it; Timur had no army, no
clothes even, and now his bone was broken. But after great
striving and after many years he became the emperor Timur
All works that have been accomplished have been accomplished
by hope. Without hope the engineer could not have built
a bridge across the Thames; he hoped, and then he built
it. Without hope the Suez Canal, a thing that seemed impossible,
could not have been cut.
One may ask, 'How long shall I hope? I have hoped once
and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a second time
and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a third time
and I have been disappointed. ' I will say 'Hope until the
last breath. While there is breath in the body, hope.'
A person may lose hope in his profession or trade. For
instance he may have gone to a singer to take singing lessons
for one or two months, or for one or two years, and then
he may think, 'I am not getting on with this, I should stop
singing. I believe I have no voice.' Or he may think, 'I
am not getting on in my business. I cannot make it a success,
I should give it up.' The ill is not changing of profession
or business, but giving up all together. If the person thinks,
'Now I wish to be a poet,' and becomes a poet, then he is
not hopeless; or if he thinks, 'Now I wish to compose,'
and becomes a composer; or 'I should be a teacher,' and
becomes a teacher, then he is not hopeless.
People say that doctors have now found remedies for so
many diseases, but I say that the cause of most illnesses
is loss of hope. In the pharmacy there is no such great
remedy for all diseases as hope is. Even when disease
is incurable, hope cures it.
The question arises: What hope is right, and what hope
is not right? A wise person will never hope for what is
impossible. Hoping to be a queen, when there are no means
of being a queen, is hoping the impossible. First we must
know what is possible – this is wisdom – and then we must
hope. The Quran speaks of khawf, hope with consideration.
This word does not mean fear, as it has sometimes been
translated, but consideration, conscientiousness. Hope with
consideration of the purpose for which the manifestation
was made, with the consideration of God – that hope is always
right. Hope without consideration is wrong.
Why with consideration? Because we must not hope for
what is wrong, for what is bad. We must hope with the
fear of God before us. The hope must be so strong that,
if today we are penniless, we must think that there is
every possibility that tomorrow we may be a millionaire.
If today our own relations do not know us, we must think
that there is every possibility that tomorrow we may be known to the whole world.
There is no stain so great as the stain of hopelessness.
Sometimes weakness is the cause of hopelessness. During
an illness a person thinks, 'I am so weak, I cannot get
better.' Or weakness is caused by old age; a person thinks,
'I am old, there is little left for me to do.' And he becomes
sad and discouraged. He really may have the strength to
do much more, but the loss of hope makes him old. A man
may be given to drink, or he may be a gambler, or have any
other vice, and may think, 'I am too weak, I cannot be cured.'
Besides physical weakness or the weakness that comes
with old age the hurt of the heart causes hopelessness.
This shows us how careful we should be not to hurt the heart
of another and not to let our own heart be hurt. In India
we are most careful of this; diljoi, not to hurt
the heart of another is taught as the greatest moral: not
to hurt the heart of the parent, of the friend, even of
the enemy. Also our own heart must be protected by forts
A story is told about a man who went to the Sharif of
Mecca and said to him that the camel the Sharif rode was
his and had been stolen from him. The Sharif asked whether
he had any witnesses. He had none. Then the Sharif asked,
'What proof have you that the camel is really yours? How
can you recognize it?' The man answered, 'On my camel's
heart are two black spots.' 'On its heart?' said the Sharif,
'How do you know that?' The man replied, 'The animals feel
as we do. My camel, a she-camel, had two young ones, and
at different times both died. Each time, I saw that camel
looked up to heaven and gave a cry like a sigh, a deep great
sigh, and that was all. So I know that on her heart are
two black spots.' The Sharif held out two gold coins and
said, 'Either take back your camel, or take the price for
your discovery.' If the heart of an animal can feel like
this, how much can the heart of man feel?
Man was made with a most feeling heart. A Hindustani
poet has said, 'The heart of man was made for feeling. For
praise and worship the angels in heaven are many.' Man's
heart has a great capacity for feeling. It is most sensitive
to any touch. How careful we must be to touch it, lest we
may wound it. The greatest fault is to hurt the heart of
another, the greatest virtue is to please the heart of
another. He who has learned this moral has learned all morality.
If we do not protect our own heart from harm, we can
be killed at every moment. Amir, the poet, says, 'Why did
you not kill me before you wounded my heart? It would have
been better to kill me first.' We must consider what the
world is and what it can give. We must give and not expect
to take the same as we give. A kick for a kindness, a blow
for a mercy is what the world gives. We must not expect
the world to be as we are expected to be. If we receive
some good, it is well. If not, it does not matter. The world
does not understand in the same way as we do. Material interest
has so blinded people that when a question of money comes,
of interest, of a share, of a territory, of property, even
a child, a wife, a relative, or the closest friend will
turn against us. A Sanskrit poem says that, when the question
of money arises, no consideration for father or brother
We must fortify our heart, so that we always may be the
same, always kind, merciful, generous, serviceable. When
a person has understood this, then comes that inner hope
which is within every heart, the hope in another life. If
one asks anyone why a man must go out and work all day long
and have no time to give to what he likes, why a man must
leave his parents and go to work, why lovers must part,
the answer is always the same: 'It is the struggle for life.'
If this life is so valuable, how great must be the value
of that other life. The hope of another life is in man,
of a life that is unchanging, immortal and everlasting.
It is only because our consciousness is so bound to the
self that we are not conscious of it, and it is very bad
that the external self always is before us, because it always
makes us think, 'I have been offended, I have been badly
treated, I have been neglected' – always I, I, and I.
There was a dervish who used to say, 'knife upon the
throat of man.' Man (pronounced nasally) in Hindustani
means I. People asked the dervish what he meant, and he
said, 'The goats and sheep say 'man, man, man.' I say: a
knife upon their throat for this!' A man who says 'I' deserves
to be killed like the goats and sheep that are slaughtered
because they say 'man.'
When that 'I' is killed, when the consciousness of this
'I' is lost, then comes the consciousness that in the whole
existence there is only I – no you, no he, no she. The illusion
makes us distinguish you, he she and it; in reality there
is only I. When the external I is lost, then a fragrance
comes into the personality, a beauty, a magnetism.
Then he sees in every being the manifestation of God, he
bows before every being. In the Sufi poems we may read of
the tyranny of the beloved. This is the tyranny of the beloved,
the opposition of manifestation. It is the grade of worship.
There is still the grade of realization, of merging in God,
but that is beyond it. The grade of worship comes first.
If a priest sees a foolish person doing something foolish,
he may say with authority, 'He is a sinner.' But the Sufi
Says, 'I am much worse than he, I have no right to condemn
him. I am a worshipper; I must see here the manifestation
of God. I must worship it; I must revere it, serve it, and
therein accomplish my life's purpose.'
I have always hope. Hope is my greatest strength. I do
not require that my hopes are fulfilled, as fuel is needed
to keep the fire burning. My hopes are kept alive in my