Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
THE TUNING OF THE HEART (1)
NO ONE in this world may be called loveless; at the same time, everyone is not necessarily full of love. Either the fire is burnt out and the heart has turned to ashes, or the heart has a spark of love in its depths just as the stone has a spark of fire which hardly ever shows itself. One may ask if it is not a weakness to be sympathetic, as it is the sympathetic person who gives in, and the one without sympathy holds on to himself; but sometimes the one who gives in is more powerful than the one who thinks that he should not give in. Very often a person does not give in owing to fear, doubt, or lack of confidence in himself, and often it is the brave and courageous who give in. It is not always a weakness, although in some cases it may be so.
Sentiment is often underestimated when it is compared with reason. This is a mistake, for where there is real sentiment it is much stronger, much more powerful than reasoning. The one who goes from one reason to another, and then again to another reason, is often found to be very weak. Besides the man of reason has no magnetism, he has only reason. He can argue, discuss, talk too much, but he does not attract. The man of sentiment has strong magnetism, he can attract without words because he has something living in him. In the man of sentiment is to be found the divine element, the heart quality.
Someone came to the great poet of Persia, Jami, and asked him if he would take him as a pupil and teach him spiritual truth. And Jami asked, 'Have you ever loved in your life?' He said, 'No, never'. Jami said, 'Go and love first. Let your heart be tuned, let it be melted first. Then come to me. Then I will show you the spiritual path'.
Sympathy is the main quality to be cultivated in order to develop the spiritual faculty; but if one would ask me what I mean by sympathy, it is something I cannot explain. All such words are different names, different aspects of one and the same thing. What is called sympathy, kindness, mercy, goodness, pity, compassion, gentleness, humility, appreciation, gratefulness, service, is in reality love. And what is love? Love is God.
Someone will say, 'Yes, once I was very friendly and loving.' And if you ask him, 'Why not today?' He will answer, 'I was digging and I found mud.' But in every place you dig there is water. One need only dig deep enough, until one has found water. If one does not dig till one finds water, one only gets mud. Those who are disappointed in human nature and those who allow their heart to become cold because of this have lost a great deal. Somebody once said to me, 'I have lost my friend, and since then I have lost sympathy for human nature.' And I said, 'Your first loss was not so great, but I pity you for your second loss. It was then that you should have kept your sympathy.'
There are five different aspirations the wise may have in their search for spirituality: seeking for knowledge, seeking for life, seeking for happiness, seeking for peace, and seeking for an ideal. And all these five can only be sought in one's own heart, and then only when the heart is tuned to a certain pitch.
One may say, 'I seek for knowledge', but there are two kinds of knowledge. The one kind of knowledge is that of names and forms, in other words, the knowledge of facts. But there is a difference between a fact and truth. In our everyday language we often confuse these two words, and we say truth for fact and fact for truth. In order to attain to higher knowledge we should not try to gain it in the same way as we try to gain outer knowledge of names and forms. The outer knowledge we gain by learning; the inner knowledge we gain by unlearning. The inner knowledge we can only gain when the heart is tuned to its proper pitch. Criminals and those who are repulsive, and all those who are working towards their own defeat, one will mostly find to be devoid of heart quality. It is because of the lack of heart quality that all the inclinations come that drag a person downward. However highly a man may be qualified or however intelligent, whatever his profession, it does not matter; if the heart quality is lacking a person will go down. The ultimate result is that this person goes downward and not upward. It cannot be otherwise.
The inner knowledge is beyond words, and to try to put it into words is like trying to put the sea into a bottle. It is impossible to put it into words. It is something which we can only realize of ourselves, and then only when we have tuned our heart to the proper pitch. How can anybody explain what a high note means? One cannot explain it; we must sing ourselves and find out what a high note is; when we produce it ourselves we know what it means. Thus inner knowledge should be acquired by the tuning of the heart, in order that the heart itself knows what it is. Many have tried to describe the inner knowledge by saying they are one with God, or a part of God, or that they are God. But all these are insolent terms. Why try to put something into words which cannot be expressed? Apart from inner knowledge, can even a deep sentiment such as gratefulness, sympathy, admiration, respect, be put into words? Words would only limit these sentiments.
The power that the heart quality has is immense. The hen, when it is taking care of its young ones, will not hesitate to fight an elephant in defense of its chicks. The heart full of love for its young gives the hen such power that it does not even see the size of the elephant. Its confidence in its own power is greater than the strength of the elephant.
Those who have accomplished great things, those who have held their life cheap for a high ideal, have not thought about it with their brain; it is their heart which has felt it. It is the heart quality that gives courage and bravery, not the brain. Therefore, if one wants to seek for the divine power of the Almighty God, it should be sought for in one's own heart.
We also confuse pleasure and happiness. Sometimes we say pleasure for happiness, or happiness for pleasure. In reality very few in this world know what happiness means. Pleasure is the shadow of happiness, for pleasure depends upon things outside ourselves; happiness comes from within ourselves. Happiness belongs to the heart quality; pleasure to the outer world. The distance between pleasure and happiness is as vast as that between earth and heaven. As long as the heart is not tuned to its proper pitch one will not be happy. That inner smile which shows itself in a man's expression, in his atmosphere, that belongs to happiness. If position were taken away and wealth were lost in the outer life, that inner happiness would not be taken away. And the smiling of the heart depends upon the tuning of the heart, the heart must be tuned to that pitch where it is living.
The fourth aspiration is peace. Peace is the longing of our soul, but not necessarily for rest or comfort; it is far greater than that. Peace is something that relieves every atom of our body and mind from stress. It is a kind of relief, a kind of upliftment. It cannot be compared with any earthly experience; it is like being raised to the higher spheres, for it is there that a person really experiences peace. And where does it come from? It comes from the same tuning of the heart.
The fifth aspiration is the ideal. Again it is the heart quality which is necessary for the ideal; if one has no heart then the brain cannot make an ideal. It is the heart which tries to reach it. Christ has said, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.' By getting in tune with the God-ideal one will become so attuned that one will find a way open to the heart of every person one meets and a connection with every condition and with every object, thereby realizing at-one-ment with the Absolute.
Thus the five different aspects of spiritual attainment are all attained by the tuning of the heart. What is this tuning of the heart in reality? When a string of the violin is loose it does not give the sound it is meant to give, and therefore it does not fulfill the purpose for which it was put on the violin. It can only be used for that purpose when one has tuned it to the right pitch. And the same condition is needed with the heart. The heart must have a certain awakening, a certain amount of life in it, that can only be brought about by sympathy. When that sympathy is not there, then the heart is like a loose string on the violin.
Many will object, 'But does not our heart depend also upon our everyday environment, on the circumstances of life? If the environment is not agreeable, how can we make it right?' Indeed, the first stage of our development depends upon environment and circumstances; but there is nothing in this world which we cannot try to improve. There are many things that we can help and improve, if we would only try. Sometimes it is difficult, but often we think it is difficult while it is not really so. The greatest difficulty is loss of patience. When patience is exhausted things cannot be made better, and then they remain in the same condition; but when one really wants to make one's environment better and sacrifice all one can in order to do so, then one can. Too often one expects from others more than they are able to give, and that makes one helpless and dependent. Once a person has become so independent that without the help of others he can keep his feelings untouched, he becomes like the sun which burns without oil; and in that it differs from lamps which burn with oil, for when the oil is finished then their light goes out.
The relationship between the heart and the conditions of the outside world is such that it is the condition of the heart which influences one's life's affairs. When the heart is out of tune everything goes wrong; it makes the whole atmosphere out of tune. Once a lady said to me, 'I have had bad luck this week. I lose or break many things; everything tears and gets destroyed.' I said, 'There is something wrong with yourself. You yourself are out of tune; especially this week something has upset your rhythm.' And on thinking this over, she found out that it was so.
The more keenly one studies life, the more one will find that the heart has an influence on both failure and success, on rise and fall, on favorable and unfavorable conditions in life. No sooner has the heart been tuned than conditions in life become better and ill luck is averted; wrong reasoning, people becoming tired and disappointed with one another, things going wrong, losses, all these things disappear as soon as the heart is tuned. It is difficult enough to keep a delicate instrument like the violin tuned, and the heart is incomparably more delicate; it is the instrument on which the soul, the spirit, plays. It is on the model of the heart that the harp we know has been made, and the ancient artists have put a harp or a lute in the hands of the angels. Symbolically the angels mean heart, the heart quality.
The reason why the heart influences our life, is that the heart is like the seed out of which the plant has grown which we call our self. Thought, speech, and action, like fruits and flowers, are the effect of the heart; what the heart produces is the same as that which was already in it. For instance a person cannot conceal his feelings all the time. He may play at being a friend, he may play at being brave; whatever he plays at he is able to maintain for a certain time and no longer, for what is in the heart must come out some time or other in the form of actions or words, from the lips, in the expression, or as atmosphere. The heart never fails to express itself in some form or other. And what does it express? What it possesses, what it is. A person may be our bitter enemy and for a long time try to hide it, but in some form or other it will come out. A person may be our friend and like to show indifference in some form or other, but his love will leap out. If a person has something against us or if he has an admiration for us, it cannot remain hidden. He will close his lips, not showing anything in his actions and never saying it, but even through his eyes it will come out, through the expression it will show, through the atmosphere it will manifest. The heart will speak louder than words.
Our heart is also closely related to the people we meet; to such an extent that in industry, business, profession, science, politics, and domestic life, in every aspect of life, the people we meet are affected and influenced by the condition of our heart. If the heart is out of tune, let a man be in his office, the factory, his home, among friends, in the club, in society, whatever he says or does not say, or whatever he does, his very presence will upset the atmosphere. Therefore the secret of magnetism, the mystery of attraction in a person, is solved by the study of the heart. Very often we are uncomfortable in the presence of someone; or the presence of someone attracts us without that person having said one word. We may feel as if we had always known a person, as if we had always been friends though we had never seen him before. If we are in tune, we tune others also; but if a person's heart is not in tune, then everyone in his presence also gets out of tune. That is the mystery of attraction and repulsion.
Very often we will see that people attract one day and perhaps the week after or a month or a year later, there is repulsion. The reason why that person attracted for the moment, was that his heart was in tune; but then after some time his heart got out of tune again. It is because of this that a person who was once attracted may feel repulsion another time; and because he does not know the reason he will always blame the other. Human nature is such that man sees himself last; especially if it comes to blame he never thinks of himself, he first blames the other.
If we go still deeper into this subject, then we shall find that not only with human beings, but even with nature, with the atmosphere, with the weather, with the climate, there also is the tuning of the heart. Even flowers feel it. Many people can keep flowers in their hand for a long time, while with others, no sooner have they touched a flower than it fades. The fading of the flower means that it becomes out of tune. There are stories of sages in the East, who after having left a place of rest and peace where they were staying, perhaps under the shade of a tree or in a village, came back after ten years and found the place in a bad state; but the moment they returned it became fertile again and the place flourished. What does it mean? That they were in tune.
When we begin to think more about human nature and study it more, we shall find that there is no creature as selfish as man can be. With all his intelligence and goodness and kindness, the most unjust and inconsiderate creature is man; inconsiderate about the feelings of his fellow men, towards a relative who depends on him, or someone who waits upon him, who cares for him, or towards someone who relies upon his word. Man has always his motive, his convenience, his joy, his object before him; all else he sets aside. But he is the victim of his own inconsiderateness, though he does not know that it is really the cause of all failure, ill luck, difficulties, problems, or anything else he has to face.
There are so many debts to pay in life; not only money, but there are obligations to those around us, obligations to those who justly or unjustly, foolishly or wisely expect something from us: thought, consideration, love, service, our obligations towards friends and acquaintances, obligations towards strangers. Today the life we live keeps our minds so much at work that every day we become less and less considerate, less and less thoughtful. Thus the unknown influences which come upon us and bring about changes in our life are such that we blame this or that person or the stars and planets and other things; but in reality it all belongs to the realm of the heart. As soon as we realize this, we consider our relationship to others. Our duty, our interest, our virtue in the world is to be thoughtful, to be considerate about every word we say, every thought we think, every feeling we have, considering what influence it will have upon someone else and whether it will bring him pleasure. If there is any religion or spirituality it is in this.
There is a still higher stage of our development, and that is the attitude of going forth and sympathizing with all we meet. This comes by understanding; the more understanding we have of human nature the more sympathetic we become. Even for those who do not deserve it we should have sympathy. In this way sympathy, which is symbolically like water, spreads in time; it will expand like the water of the ocean. It becomes an everlasting spring that rises and falls. In order to teach this the wise of India turned the river Ganges and the river Yamuna into places of pilgrimage and called them sacred. These rivers rise in the same place on the top of the Himalayas, and from there they divide and descend, becoming larger streams; and the place where they join, near Allahabad, is a place of pilgrimage. Those who go there are purified from all sin.
Its symbology is this, that the water which rises from the top of the Himalayas is like a spring of love coming from the heart. That which rises from the heart is the first place of pilgrimage. Then it goes on like the holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and the place where these rivers meet is called Sangam, which means 'sympathy'; and where the river reaches the sea it is called the 'Unity with God'. It is a beautiful picture of life which one can observe in that symbolic form. If interpreted rightly we could have the sacred pilgrimage to the Ganges here and everywhere; the sacred river is the sympathy coming out of our own heart, and the reaching towards God is the perfection, the spiritual attainment.