Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
ANY EFFORTS made in developing the personality or in character-building must be made not for the sake of proving oneself superior to others, but in order to become more agreeable to those around one and to those with whom we come in contact. Conciliation, or ittifaq as it is called by the Sufis, is not only the moral of the Sufi, but it is the sign of the Sufi. This virtue is not learned and practiced easily, for it needs not only goodwill but wisdom. The great talent of the diplomat is to bring about the desired results by agreement. Disagreement is easy; among the lower creation one sees it so often; what is difficult is agreement, for it requires a wider outlook, which is the true sign of spirituality. Narrowness of outlook makes the horizon of man's vision small; the person with a narrow outlook cannot easily agree with another. There is always a meeting-ground for two people, however much they differ in thought; but the meeting-ground may be far off, and a man is not always willing to take the trouble to go so far, in order to come to an agreement. Very often his patience does not allow him to go far enough to meet another. What generally happens is that everyone wants the other to meet him where he himself is standing, and there is no desire on his part to move from there.
This does not mean that a person in order to become a real Sufi must give up his ideas so that he may meet in agreement with another; and there is no benefit in always being lenient with every thought that comes from somebody else, nor is there any benefit in always erasing one's own idea from one's heart. That is not conciliation. The one who is able to listen to another is the one who will make another listen to him. It is the one who agrees easily with another who will have the power of making another agree readily with him. Therefore in doing so one really gains in spite of the apparent loss which might sometimes occur. When man is able to see both from his own point of view and from the point of view of another, he has a complete vision and a clear insight; he so to speak sees with both eyes.
No doubt friction produces light, but light is the agreement of the atoms. It is a stimulus to thought if two people have their own ideas and argue about them, and in that way it does not matter so much; but when a person argues for the sake of argument, the argument becomes his object and he gets no satisfaction out of conciliation. Words provide the means of disagreement, reasons become the fuel for the fire; but wisdom resides where the intelligence is pliable; then one understands all things, both the wrong of the right and the right of the wrong. The man who arrives at perfect knowledge has risen above right and wrong. He knows them and yet he does not know, he can say much and yet what can he say? Then it becomes easy for him to conciliate each and all.
There is a story that two Sufis met after many years, having traveled their separate ways. They were glad to meet each other after many years of separation because they were both mureeds of the same murshid. One said to the other, 'Tell me, please, what has been your experience. After all this time of study and practice of Sufism I have learned one thing: how to conciliate others; and I can do it very well now. Will you please tell me what you have learned?' The other one said, 'After all this time of study and practice of Sufism I have learned how to master life; all that exists in this world is for me, and I am the master. All that happens, happens by my will.' Then came the murshid, whose mureeds they had been, and they both told him about their experiences during their travels. The murshid said, 'Both of you are right. In the case of the first it was self-denial in the right sense of the word which enabled him to conciliate others; in the case of the other there was nothing left of his will; if there was any will, it was the Will of God.'