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Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings


IN NATURE the two great principles are the attraction of like to like and the attraction of opposites.

Looking at nature we see that if there is one speck of dust on the wall, more dust will collect there. It is sometimes hard to find one fly in the room, but if there is one fly we shall see that there are other flies near it. Where there is one ant or one sparrow, there will be other ants or sparrows near. In the jungle, where there is one parrot there will be a great many parrots in the same part of the forest. However much dogs may quarrel and fight, they enjoy being together best. The rabbit does not care to be among sparrows, nor does the donkey want to consort with serpents. Where there is one grain of wheat, more wheat grows; and where one finds one small rose-bush, there will be many roses.

This shows us that like is drawn to like, to what it has affinity with. It is for this reason that the nations and races have their particular characteristics and attributes; because for centuries people of like character and like qualities have collected together, forming groups. The French are unlike the English, who again are different from the Swedes; the Swedes differ from the Germans. It is not difficult for a person whose intelligence is trained in this direction, to distinguish at a glance a Belgian from a Frenchman, a German from an Italian, even in a crowd.

Families also have their likenesses, which come from the same principle. In India, where great attention is paid to heredity, this goes to great lengths. There every province, every district, has its peculiar character. A Gujarati will always like to be with another Gujarati, and where there are two or three Marathas they are happy; they do not want a Punjabi in their company. It is the same with Bengalis and Madrassis. Why? Because each rejoices in his own element.

The first reason for the attraction of like to like is the blood-relationship. At the present time relationship is much less thought of; we hardly know who our relations are any more. It is however a great bond; when the blood is the same, then the form is made of the same element.

There is a story of a young man who became a wrestler at the court of the King of Persia. No one knew anything about his ancestry except the king, who had brought him up with great care. This wrestler, whose name was Kushtam, became the champion of his country, and was trying to become a world champion. But the king would not allow him to meet foreigners or even to talk to them. He wrestled with many wrestlers and every time he won, but the custom of the time was that the one who was defeated had to acknowledge his defeat or be killed.

One day there arrived a great wrestler from another country, and it was arranged that this young man should fight with him. The match took place, and in the end the wrestler threw Kushtam; but the young man was very proud and would not acknowledge his defeat, so the wrestler had to kill him. And as he felt the thrust of the knife, while he still had enough strength left, he said, 'You have killed me, but certainly one day you will meet my father and he will kill you'. The other asked what his name was. And when he heard him answer, 'Kushtam', he clutched his head and wept; he went mad, realizing that he had killed his own son.

An attraction comes silently to the mind, but it is not always clear because it is acting through matter. The difference between spirit and matter is that when the divine intelligence is pouring out directly it is spirit, and when it is radiating through a dense medium it is matter. Thus in both spirit and matter there is divine intelligence.

There is a great attraction between twins. Twins are meant to be united, although they are not always as united as one might expect them to be. If twins are twins in the real sense of the word, that is if two twin souls have started on the journey together and have managed to come to the earth together, they are the most united. There have been twins who were so united than when one fell ill the other would fall ill too; if one was happy the other would be happy even though they might be separated. But there can also be twins who are like two people out in the rain who happen to find shelter in the same place; and that is another matter.

There may also be two souls born in different countries, and brought up by different parents, who will attract one another and support one another all their lives. They may be good friends, they may be partners, they may be in the position of master and servant. One may call them twin souls, and they resemble each other as do children of the same parents, and yet not quite as brothers or sisters. They are unselfish towards each other, and they attract each other's thoughts and ideas, sometimes even showing similarity in their work.

The second reason for the attraction of like to like is the affinity resulting from having the same kind of occupation. A farmer who has been tilling the soil all day, will want to be with other farmers in the evening with whom he can talk about the crops. He does not want to sit among literary people. A soldier prefers to be with other soldiers. A sportsman wishes to be with sportsmen; he will not want to be among the learned in whose society he feels out of place. A man with a taste for literature always seeks other literary people. A musician likes the society of musicians. I have experienced this myself when sometimes there were Indians in my audience, even people from my own province, who proved to be less appreciative than the Western musicians who were there. The latter did not perhaps understand the words I was singing, but because they were musicians their interest in the music made them akin to its being.

The third reason is the similarity of qualities. A brave person will like to be with other brave people; he will not like to be with cowards. A kind person will seek other kind-hearted people. The affectionate are drawn to the affectionate, not to the cold-hearted. A quarrelsome person will seek out another quarrelsome person to fight with. Like is always recognized by like. If there are two thieves in a company, they will at once recognize each other. If a thief goes from Paris to New York it will be very easy for him to find a brother there; someone else might take a very long time to find such a person, but he knows at once, 'This is a thief, this is my brother!' A cruel man attracts the cruelty of others. If we deceive another ever so little we shall at once find those who deceive us, even if deceit does not really belong to our nature. This is the explanation of what we call the punishment of our sins. It is not that God gives us a certain punishment, but that by our wickedness, by our evil thoughts, we attract towards us the same wickedness, the same evil thoughts from others. The evil we do brings the same evil upon us from others. A little kindness in us attracts their kindness. A kind person meets with kindness wherever he goes, even among the cruel. The smallest generosity on our part attracts the generosity of the generous. By the repetition of the name of God, by impressing upon our soul the kindness, the mercy, the infinite goodness of God, we create those qualities in our soul, and we draw to us that mercy, that kindness, that goodness, in whatever form and name it may come.

Besides the attraction of like to like there is the attraction of each to its opposite. There are the two great forces in nature, the creative force and the force that answers it, the receptive force; one can also call them the active and the passive forces, or Jalal and Jamal.

This can be understood by the law of rhythm. In every rhythm there is the stronger beat and the weaker beat. In two-four time, for instance, we count one-two, one-two, the strong beat and the beat that only has just enough force to counterbalance the other. We see the same in form, where convexity counterbalances concavity.

The representatives of these two forces in nature are the male and the female. But while in every man some qualities are male and some are female, and in every woman some of the qualities are female and some male, yet everywhere it is the strength, the creative power that rules, and it is the responsive power that is ruled. Man has the creative power, and when we observe woman we see that in all aspects of life she is responsive. Occasionally a woman may be so creative that the man becomes responsive, and this makes him her slave; but normally it is the man who has the creative power, and this makes him dominate her.

One may say that this is not just; but all the same it is man who has many more magnetic qualities who should rule, while woman who has the responsive qualities should be ruled. This is the philosophical aspect of this question; as to the moral aspect, one should realize that what is responsive needs far greater care, and that the creative power should pay much more attention to it. Until more attention is paid to a woman's life we cannot say that we are really civilized. And as to the social aspect, I have heard many complaints coming from all sides in the West; but the East too has a great deal to learn in the treatment of women.

We know that the ears are the receivers of sound; they do not create. The eyes are creative. The nose perceives the odor; it cannot create. The lips and the mouth create, and they are attracted to each other. When the ears hear a sound the eyes at once want to see what it is and from whence it comes. The nose can tell us the flavor of something much sooner and more exactly than the palate. The nose at once wants to interfere with what the mouth does. It says, 'Do not chew that any longer; I don't want it. ' Or it says, 'Do justice to that; I like it. ' We also find that when our right hand takes hold of something the left hand wants to help it; when our right foot comes forward the left foot at once wishes to join it; when we fold one arm the other arm wants to be folded too. One leg is inclined to cross the other, even in spite of the superstition which exists in India that it brings bad luck to sleep with the legs crossed. Everyone knows it, but it is most difficult for anyone to get out of this habit because it is so natural.

Often a person would rather be with his opposite than with one who is nearer his own level. When two who are nearly of equal strength meet, they do not readily harmonize. Students of breath will easily understand this. They know that there is a more active breath and a less active breath, and that when they both become equally active there is a clash. If one person is a great singer and another is teaching voice-production they can agree together; there is no competition between them. The one wants to be heard, the other does not. But if two great opera-singers come together they will rarely agree; there will be a rivalry between them.

A wise man would rather have a foolish servant than a half-wise one who will question his orders. There is a story of a servant who when he was sent to fetch the doctor went first to the undertaker. If a wise person cannot be among the wise he would rather be among the foolish than among the half-wise.

I have often seen that those with simple faith can be inspired and become illuminated, while the intellectual is always reasoning and does not advance one step. This is why scientists and mystics are hardly ever in harmony. The scientists will always say, 'If you know something, I know something too. If you are something, I am something too. '

It sometimes happens that there is repulsion between two people at first sight which later turns into a fast friendship; but it is not often so. Those who are to be friends are generally friends at first sight. In the former case there may be something which has a repellent influence, but after some time, when one has got over it and has become accustomed to it, one can bear it more easily; then one may find something interesting in the other person, and may even become friends. It is like becoming accustomed to poison.

There will always be some society, some association that we like, and some that we do not like; and always some that do not like us and some that appreciate us; for we always prefer our own element. There is nothing surprising in this and nothing to blame; it is simply the law of attraction. But the Sufi makes himself harmonious with all; he makes himself the element of all. He creates the element that is active within, and that element is love. We can learn this from the Bible which says that God is love. This is the only way in which the union of mankind, universal brotherhood, can be brought about. The differences and distinctions are external, but man is so trained from the beginning to see differences that he does not see the underlying unity.

People have said that by strong rule they would unite the world. What a mistake! What happens when we try to rule our family with a strong hand? It will never be united. It is love alone that can unite the world.

People have said, 'We are of this race, we are superior and you are inferior; our religion is superior, yours is inferior; our nation is great, yours is less.' The cause of the First World War was that the nations of Europe had all reached the same level. If one of them made a good aircraft or a good submarine another made a better still. One was strong, but the other wanted to be still stronger.