There is a difference between individuality and personality,
just as there is a difference between nature and art. However
much nature is near to man's soul, art is closer to his
heart. If it were not so, man would have preferred to live
in the forest; he would have roamed about in nature and
would have been quite satisfied in the wilderness; he would
have found the greatest charm in what the wilderness can
offer and in the beauty to be seen in the forest. Instead
of all this, man has created a world – a world which he
has made for himself – and in that world he has made a nature
of his own imagination, a nature which he calls art. If
that is art then on this art much depends. People may say,
'Is it not an imitation of nature?' Yes, it is an imitation
of nature. You might say, 'Then is it not as great as Nature?'
But I say: both nature and art are made by the same Artist.
Nature is made directly by the Artist. Art is the finishing
of that beauty which begins to manifest itself in nature.
A person who has not come to this conception of art does
not yet know the divinity of art.
Now as to the question what art has to do with personality,
personality is art itself, and the greatest art. Once a
lady told me, 'My parents brought me up just like a plant
grows in the wilderness.' When I replied, 'It is a great
pity,' she was surprised. What is education, what is culture,
what is self-development? It is all art, it is the way for
individuality to culminate into personality.
In ancient times the religious education and human culture
in every form mainly had the culture of the personality
as their central theme. Today we are expected to learn
mathematics, geography, history, and other things, but never
the art of personality which is of the greatest use in life.
Apart from its spiritual significance, we see in our everyday
life that a salesman who is pleasant, courteous and well-mannered
is successful. If he lacks manner he will be repellent;
he may have all kinds of beautiful things in his shop, he
will have no success. If a clerk in an office, a secretary,
an assistant, a supervisor has a charming personality, a
kindly manner, a sympathetic attitude, he will win the affection
of all; everything will be light, everything will go smoothly.
If he lacks the art of personality, he may have all qualifications,
he may be a most capable person, yet things will not run
smoothly. A person, whether man or woman, may be a barrister,
a solicitor, a doctor, a most qualified individual, but
if the art of personality is not developed, he will be disagreeable
and unpleasant – in his own home and in all walks of life.
The art of personality is the main thing to develop; if
not, a person misses a great deal.
The ancient people lived on tradition, and especially
in the East they regarded their ancestors not for their
titles or their great works, but for the art of their personality.
Today in modern civilization people have become regardless
of this art which considers the equality of all men. Equality
today is working in quite another direction: instead of
rising upward toward the level of the best, people want
to go downward and join the level of the worst.
When you hear the word equality it seems a beautiful
thing, it sounds very nice, it seems a religious, a philosophical
idea. But what is life, if it is not a symphony? And is
not every persona a note in this symphony? Suppose that
you want to hear music and that all the notes are the same.
How would you enjoy that music? If all notes are equal,
there is no music; if all persons are the same, there is
no symphony. The way to understand equality is different:
it is rising to the best, to the highest pitch. And everyone
can rise to that pitch if he wants to rise. But since man
takes the way of the least resistance, he falls to the level
of the average person.
It must be remembered that disregard of the principle,
which is called the art of personality, may lead the present
generation, the modern civilization, there where it can
find nothing but disappointment, especially when materialism
is prevailing all over and there is nothing to think about
but matter; this in itself keeps man away from the art of
personality. If this art is not introduced, and if there
is no love for it, what then happens is that the human being
does not become any better than the lower creation.
Is a human being greater than an animal because he possesses
wealth, or because he has read many books, or because he
has learned much? Does that make him greater as a human
being? No, man is greater when from an individual he has
become a person. Very few of us distinguish between individuality
and personality. Individuality is that which we have brought
with our birth. We are born as a separate entity; that itself
makes us an individuality. But personality is something
that is acquired; it has not come with us, it is something
we gain. If a tree grew in a garden in the same way as it
grew in the forest, the gardener would say, 'You are not
welcome here; you should fit in with the surroundings. This
is a garden, it is not a forest.' Besides this, the art
of personality is not only something one should learn in
order to become pleasant to others: the art of personality
fulfills the purpose of life.
Now arises the question: What is the art of personality?
Is it mannerism, putting on different airs of expression,
a special politeness, a society rhythm? Not at all. It is
falsehood, which people adopt by being unnatural and acting
unnaturally. Instead of giving a better impression of themselves,
they give a worse impression. The art of personality expresses
itself spontaneously. One need not act in a certain way,
one need not put on something: it is the expression of oneself
which shows the art of personality.
Expressing the art of personality is the sign of the
great. Knowingly or unknowingly a person may develop that
manner in himself and it is wonderful to watch it. When
in India I was very fond of seeing the celebrities known
in our country. One day I heard that a great wrestler was
visiting our town. I had never approved of something which
made one person win and the other fail, but because this
man was a celebrity I wanted to see him. One would expect
very little from the personality of a wrestler, but in this
personality, in spite of all muscular and nervous strength,
there was such a kindly manner, such a sympathetic look,
such an outgoing attitude and such a serenity that I thought,
even a wrestler, who does the most material and physical
work, can show that it is his personality, and not something
material, which has made him great.
One may ask: If we have a personality, why must we develop
it? But even a diamond must be cut! It has light in it,
yet cutting is required to awaken it. It cannot show its
glow and brilliancy before it has been cut. It is the same
with the personality.
Then one may ask: what are the different aspects of the
art of personality? Its first aspect is action, or movement.
Very often, before a person has spoken a word, he has achieved
a movement which causes a jar upon the delicate sensibility
of the one who sees it, and who may form an opinion about
that person before he knows him – only because of that movement.
In one movement a person can show his state of mind; unless
he has the power to control it, he can show stubbornness,
weakness, foolishness. All these things can be traced in
a man when he walks, sits, or stands up. Those who can recognize
a person in a twinkling of an eye need not study physiognomy:
one movement shows them whether he is evolved or unevolved.
When the science of movement has not been taught, has not
been understood, and a person's movements are not directed,
these may be such that they impress themselves upon his
spirit and turn his whole being into a wrong personality.
Education has given very little attention to this.
Another aspect of the art of personality belongs to
the realm of speech. The more we understand about this,
the more we shall know that for every word there is a
time, and for every word there is a place. Everything we
say, which is in its own place and which is fitting,
will be good; it becomes wrong when it is said in a
place which is not its own. People generally do not
think about it. Often they are outspoken; they do not
mind when to speak, what to say, where to speak. A
persona who has no control over his speech becomes a
kind of machine that goes on and on and on without any
will at the back of it. Remember that not only those
persons do not gain the affection, the approbation of
others, but they repel others. Being talkative they
cannot keep any secret. They have to tell it; they have
the habit to speak, they have no control over it. The
art of personality is not so difficult to learn; it is
learning to be thoughtful. Those who speak much, very often say so little; others
who speak little say much. It depends upon the way in which
things are said.
In the Bible it is said, 'First was the word and the
word was God.' This shows what power the word has. If we
control our speech, if we know how to use a word, we know
the chemistry of life and how to utilize it to the best
purpose. Sometimes a person can change a situation by one
word, which another cannot change by using a hundred hammers.
One can hammer at a rock and break it – that is the way
of the hammer. And there is the way of the water. If the rock
is in the way, the water will not hammer at it, it will
surround it, will run smoothly over it and make its way over the
top of the rock, and so will its waves proceed.
If someone is upset, among ten people who want to console
him, there are nine who upset him more, and there is rarely
one person who consoles him. This also belongs to the art
of personality – if one only knew it!
Another aspect of the art of personality is sympathetic
and right thinking. By right thinking all one naturally
says and does becomes right, because the root of every speech
and action is in the mind. So by right thinking one naturally
speaks and acts rightly; one cannot do otherwise. But what
generally happens is that one never considers it in connection
with others: if there is any wrong it is in the other. And
it is very wonderful that the one who is most in the wrong,
is the one who sees the most wrong in others. You will see
that the person who is full of wrong knows a thousand wrongs
about a thousand people. Besides, our experiences make us
so pessimistic that if anyone says, 'I have seen someone
who is such a nice, kind and good person,' we begin to doubt.
Unconsciously our first thought is, 'Can it be true? No,
it cannot be true; there is no such thing as good in the
world.' And as soon as someone says, 'I have seen such a
wicked person,' everybody is interested, because people
believe that. It shows that, as we always experience wrong
things, we hardly expect that ever there can be something
The fourth aspect of the art of personality is feeling.
The great drawback of modern civilization is that man today
thinks that it is balanced and practical to think with the
brain, to reason things out. But to feel with the heart
he thinks is not practical, is not common sense. Therefore
today is considered normal and balanced the person who lives
in his brain, and the one whose heart is developed is called fanatic
or unpractical. Imagine, after having read in the Bible
the lesson that God is love, one comes to realize that he
who has less God in him is more practical, and he who has
more God in him is a good for nothing! When there is a discussion
among intellectual persons, it is understood between them
to keep sentiment apart: to discuss keeping to the point,
just to recite facts, 'that keeps reasoning clear.' But
this takes away the beauty of life! The art of personality
is in the profound, the deep feeling which directs every
thought, speech and action of man.
When Jesus Christ told the fishermen, 'Come hither and
I shall make you fishers of men,' he said, in other words,
to those who were absorbed in catching fishes at the seashore,
'I shall teach you the art of personality.' This is,
therefore, not a subject which I bring before you, it is
a subject which Christ taught. It is the art of
personality which the prophets proved with their own
lives to be of the greatest importance. The impression
Buddha left upon millions of people in the East, who
keep his statue in their temples, seeing the expression
of God in Buddha – what is it? Is it the theories and
dogmas and teachings he gave? No, it is his personality
which made such a deep impression upon people that for
centuries they held it sacred; it has proved to be more
precious than anything else in the world. This is not a
subject of which one can say that it is no better than
any other. On the contrary, it is a subject of the
greatest importance. There are millions of
Muslims whose hearts are touched, whose eyes fill with tears
on hearing the name of the Prophet. What is it that touches
them? Is it the teaching that the Prophet gave? What touches
them is the personality of the Prophet, his personality
has made the deep impression which still remains, which
never can be erased.
The art of personality, therefore, is a magic. The fishermen
among whom Jesus Christ had to walk were incapable of knowing
the greatness of the Master, and not ready to understand
the message he brought. Yet they used to stand spell-bound
in the presence of the Master; they used to be deeply impressed
by the personality of the Teacher. What was it that impressed
them? It was not the new teaching they received, it was
the example before their eyes.
The Sufis of all ages considered the art of personality
of the greatest importance. The Yogi principle of asceticism
has nothing to do with it; it is another ideal. The wise
ones of all ages thought that God manifested Himself in
the form of man and, from an individual to a person, developed
as a soul, and that herein lies the fulfillment of life's
purpose. Therefore this was not only the main purpose of
education, but also the central theme of religion and of
life as a whole. What is religion taught for if not in
to make of man a personality? For every man is not a personality!
There is a metaphysical point to this subject, which
distinguishes two aspects of man: the machine and the engineer.
When man's machine part covers the spark which may be called
the engineer, man is subjected to all outer influences such
as cold and heat, wind and storm. These all condition
or failure. The other part of man is a divine spark. It
is that spark which makes him the engineer and gives him
command over the machine. Instead of allowing the machine
to be subjected to outer influences, the engineer part gradually
gains his own influence over the instrument. Herein lies
the secret of the art of personality. One condition is slavery,
the other mastery. In the first condition one is place by
nature, to the next one is brought through development of
Now you may ask: How does one learn the art of personality?
In the same way as one learns the art of painting or drawing.
First one learns how to draw a straight line, a horizontal
line, a circle, a curve. In the same way, learning the art
of personality, one learns how to say a thing and how not
to say a thing, how to avoid saying a thing, and how to
say a thing without saying it. Then one learns the art of
light and shade. This art of light and shade is knowing
how to hide a certain part in conversation and how to bring
another part to prominence. Then there is the coloring.
There is a great variety of colors. Every feeling, every
thought, every idea has its particular color, and when a
person knows how many of these colors there are, and when
he composes with them all he says and does in life, then
this becomes an art; the art of personality.
If a person has collected diamonds, or if he has got
pearls or rubies, what is it if he has not developed in
his personality that precious quality which makes a person
precious? What is it all? All those things are nothing.
There are four grades through which one develops in the
art of personality. The first grade is when a person becomes
thoughtful, and so begins to observe his thoughts, to see
his actions. The second grade is when he not only observes
his thoughts and actions, but is able to control them. The
third grade is when a spontaneous outflow of sympathy comes
from that person, when it is natural that his attitude is
outgoing, that his personality attracts and becomes a blessing.
And the fourth grade is a grade where no effort has to be
made by the artist to realize the art of personality. In
this grade the artist becomes art itself, and whatever he
does – it all becomes a beautiful picture.