Man is likened to the light: his soul the glow, his mind
the flame, and his body the end of the flame. The heat that
comes from the light is the atmosphere of man. The smoke
that rises out of the light in reality does not belong to
the light, it belongs to the fuel. As ignorance in man is
troublesome, so the smoke rising out of the light disturbs.
As different lights differ in their degree of radiance,
so do different souls. The substance of every man, however,
is the same: it is light. We read in ancient scriptures
that the angels were made of fire. It is not fire they were
made of, it is light. But if we ask the question, 'Were
the angels made of light and no one else?' The answer will
be that all, each and every one, were created out of light.
The difference between our soul and our body, which sometimes
we consider as great as between earth and heaven, is not
so great. Soul and body are one light, and therefore the
external part of man is expressive of his inner being, and
the inner being of man also is dependent in many ways upon
his external being. 'Inner and outer part of man's being'
is a term used for our convenience; in reality there is
one being, there is one light. If a man lacks magnetism,
if he lacks enthusiasm and courage, if he lacks power of
accomplishment, it is all owing to the lack of that radiance
which belongs to his being. The health of the body, the
balance of the mind, the purity of the soul all depend upon
the radiance of man's being. Health of the body therefore
is spiritual, balance of the mind is spiritual, and so is
the purity of the soul. A good atmosphere is a sign of spirituality;
the power of the word, courage without fear, fearlessness,
self-confidence also are signs of spirituality; the capability
of accomplishing something and the strength of struggling
along all through life – all these are the signs of spirituality.
The purpose of the life of an individual is to perfect
the light in him, which is his very being. Whatever may
be the qualification of a person, whatever be his resources,
position and rank, if the light within him is not brilliant,
he cannot fulfill the purpose of his life. In the Bible,
in the allegory of the ten wise and foolish virgins, the
same idea is explained. The foolish ones did not keep oil
in their lamps, the wise virgins kept it. The wise ones,
therefore, answered the purpose on the day which was promised
and the foolish ones repented. Ten means one, zero meaning
nothing: a wise soul and a foolish soul. The wise soul collected
all material in order to make his light more brilliant for
that day which was the day of the promise. The foolish soul
wasted it, and found it absent at the time it was needed.
When we think of our life in the world, in our material
strife, in our spiritual struggle – what do we need? We
need that light the spark of which is within us, which is
our being. Every time when we are without it, when we lack
it, it causes us all failure and distress in life, since
our health, our balance and the clearness of our vision,
all depend upon the light that is within.
As every light needs fuel, so the light which is ours,
which is ourself, needs fuel also. The fuel for the physical
part of our life is what we call food, but for the life
of the mind intellectual sustenance is necessary. If the
body is fed and the mind is not, then naturally that light
becomes less. The sustenance of the soul is the divine ideal,
which is both love and light. If the soul does not receive
that nourishment which is necessary for it, then the soul
is starved. The body may be nourished, but it is not sufficient.
That is why we see before our physical eyes many famine-stricken
souls, but if we saw with the spiritual eyes we would see
still more famine in humanity.
What do we learn in Sufism? We learn in Sufism that mysticism
which teaches us how to collect the fuel which is necessary
not only for the body, but for our mind and soul. By concentration,
by meditation, by all other ways of contemplative practices,
the purpose accomplished by the Sufi is that purpose which
is the longing of every soul.
Question: What are the means, except concentration and
meditation, to develop and strengthen that light within
Answer: Right living.
Question: What is right living? Is it doing what everyone
thinks is right?
Answer: If each person would have his way of right living
there would be anarchy. I would consider right living that
which is right for oneself and for others. If not, those who
do good or who do wrong can all justify themselves by thinking
that what they do is best. Reason is the slave of man, it
always comes and sympathizes with him. One asks, 'Have I
not done right?' or 'Have I not done wrong?' and reason
says, 'Yes, you have.'
Question: How can one live so that it is approved by
Answer: It is impossible to live the life that one considers
best and that others consider best. But one can do one's
Question: One sees people in whom the divine spark of
light is more or less extinguished and who still live an
apparent virtuous life.
Answer: An apparent virtuous life is something different.
Right living in my sense is not only virtuous living. Right
living has a still deeper meaning, for what I call a right
life is the first step to that which may be called true
life. The third step is truth itself. The mystics say that
there are three steps to the goal: right life, true life
and truth. A person who loves to live a right life and who
tries to do it, even if he is not a contemplative or meditative
or religious person, must certainly arrive at that high
stage, at that goal which is the ideal goal; for within
man there is truth, and the seeking of man is truth. Therefore
right living helps him to realize truth.
If I were to interpret the words of Christ, 'Straight
is the gate and narrow is the way,' I would say that there
is a path in life, a path of going straight, and that path
is like walking upon a wire. In the circus they make a show
of it. It is exactly the picture: at every step one takes
there is fear of falling either to one side or to the other.
Jugglers in India even make a better picture of it. They
take two very light bamboo and tie a rope on the top of
them. The juggler stands on the rope in a brass tray and
his task is to go from one point to the other. While he
is traveling thus, his colleagues from below beat drums
and sing horrible songs in order to distract his mind. He
has to keep his concentration and secure his balance in
spite of all the music calling him from below. That is the
picture of right living.
Question: But once one is falling....?
Answer: Truth is merciful. One cannot fall but on truth;
if one falls, one will only fall in the arms of truth. A
seeker after truth has no loss. If apparently he loses something,
it is not a loss in the end.
Question: What does it mean to fall into the arms of
Answer: If a fall is caused in a certain struggle one
has fallen in the arms of that particular struggle. If it
is in the struggle for love, then it is in the arms of love
that one falls. If it is in the struggle for righteousness,
one falls into the arms of righteousness. Just as they say
that in a holy war a person gives his life for a holy purpose,
and is therefore in the arms of that holy object, so if
a person has fallen in the struggle for truth, he has fallen
in the arms of truth.
Besides, the hopeful never falls: both his rise and fall
mean success. Failure is the loss of hope. As long as there
is hope there is no failure.
Question: And what of those who do not hope any longer?
Answer: Then that is the end of success.
Question: Is there nothing that can help them?
Answer: A miracle can do something; nothing is impossible.
Nothing is more painful than the loss of hope. A hopeless
person is a dead person. A person who is dead with hope
is living. But a person walking on the earth without hope
is as dead.
Question: How can one revivify a soul?
Answer: By imparting one's life to him, just as a
can light another candle which is put out. When the fire
has gone out in the stove one must bring some other fire
to light it again. One has to give from one's own hope;
therefore the one who gives must be powerful enough to give
Question: When can one consider oneself powerful enough
Answer: One can judge it by one's own self-confidence,
because that life one gives from one's own life to another
comes from self-confidence. In the Sufi terminology it is
called iman. It is the most sacred thing in the whole
religion; self-confidence is the secret of all miracles.
Question: Is love for one's neighbor not sufficient to
Answer: Love is the substance, by self-confidence one
makes that substance, and by the power of
self-confidence one is able to impart it. For instance,
if one sees a person who is very ill and one thinks,
'What can I do, how can I do something?', then one can
do nothing. For healing, it is all self-confidence that
is needed, for healing oneself and for healing another. Not only for healing, but for all
things – in business, in industry, in all work – self-confidence
Question: How can self-confidence, confidence in oneself,
in one's own affairs, help another person?
Answer: Self-confidence gives the power to manage one's
affairs better and to help others too. Suppose a doctor
comes to see a patient who is in a bad condition and says,
'Oh you have called me too late. This person has gone very
far. Still, as you have called me here, I shall write a
prescription.' But another doctor may say, 'It is never
too late. I am sure that all will be well. I shall do my
very best, and certainly the patient will recover.' He may
give the same prescription as the first doctor, but his
prescription will be of much greater value. Why? Because
besides the medicine, he has given his self-confidence which
is a million times greater in healing power than prescriptions.
It is the same in all things. A person may start a business,
an enterprise, and someone may come along and take away
all his strength by saying, 'What a fool you are to have
begun this. Have you thought of this and that?' Then all
the power and radiance the man has can be lost in a moment's
time. Another person may say, 'It is a noble undertaking;
I am sure you will succeed. Therefore, my prayer, my thoughts
are with you; I shall do all I can to help your enterprise.
I wish you success.'
Question: In order to be quite sure to be able to give
to another, should one not have a great deal of vitality
Answer: Vitality also comes from self-confidence. Very
often one will see a person with no extraordinary strength
and vitality having more strength than a Sandow.
Independence is the sign of self-confidence. It is just
like a wealthy person who has wealth enough for himself
and who always can give to others. A person with limited
means, after one day of generosity, the next day will be