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Volume XIII - The Gathas

Part VI
Taqwa Taharat: Everyday Life


1.   The Purity of the Body

The purity of the body is more desirable than bodily strength. Purity of body consists of three things: pure blood, sound muscles, and skin in proper condition. One might ask, how can one be strong without a pure body? But I should say, one can be. There are many strong and vigorous-looking people with something wrong in their flesh, blood or skin. Health, from a spiritual point of view, does not mean a strong muscular body, health means a body sound in all its aspects. The standard of normal health is different for a mystic from what a scientist today thinks. To the scientist the emotional side of a man is not of interest; if the body is perfect according to his idea, he thinks the man is healthy. But from a mystical point of view if, bodily, man is strong, but his emotional nature is buried beneath, he is not healthy, there is something wrong with him. Therefore a physician will find many not in proper health, but still more a mystic will find not in proper health. The person who is healthy to a physician is not necessarily healthy to a mystic, but good health from the point of view of a mystic is also good health from the point of view of a physician.

The illness that humanity has today is lack of that emotional nature which is productive of sentiment. In the East, though times are changed, still there is a recognition of that healthiness which is recognized by mystic as good health. They name these qualities by beautiful names, as considerate, thoughtful, mild, gentle, sympathetic, harmonious, selfless. When these things are lacking in a person, the mystic considers it lack of health. Even an animal can be materially strong. If man were strong he would be no better than an animal. It is purity which is necessary, in the body first, in the mind afterwards; which produces in a person a state of health which alone can be truly called good health.

2.   Purification

The nature of the memory is to hold an impression, agreeable or disagreeable, and therefore a person holds a thought in mind, whether it is beneficial to him or not, without knowing the result which will come from it. It is like a child who holds a rattle in his hand and hits his head with the rattle and cries with the pain, and yet does not throw the rattle away. There are many who keep in their mind a thought of illness or a thought of unkindness done to them by someone and suffer from it, yet not knowing what it is that makes them suffer so, nor understanding the reason of their suffering. They go on suffering and yet hold on in memory the very source of suffering. Memory must be one's obedient servant; when it is a master then life becomes difficult. A person who cannot throw away from his memory what he does not desire to keep in mind is like a person who has a safe, but the key of that safe he has lost. He can put in money, but he cannot take it out. All faculties in man become invaluable when a person is able to use them at will, but when the faculties use the person, then he is no longer master of himself.

Concentration is taught by the mystics in order to exercise the will, making it capable of making use of all faculties. A person with will power can remember what he wishes to remember and can forget what he wishes to forget. All things that deprive one of one's freedom in life are undesirable. The mind must be free from all bad impressions of life, which take away the rest and peace of life. By concentration, one is able to hold a certain thought one desires and to keep away all other thoughts. When one is able to keep away all the thoughts one does not wish to think about, it becomes easy to throw away the impressions of years, if one wishes to forget them. Bad impressions, however old and intimate, are like rubbish accumulated, which should be removed in order to make the house clean. The human heart is the home of the soul, and upon this home the comfort and peace of the soul depends.

3.   Purity of Mind (1)

Purity of mind requires the destroying of all bad impressions which are already collected there or which the mind receives instantly. One can destroy these impressions by five ways, and the way is adopted according to the impression one has to destroy. Some impressions want to be washed off from the mind; some require to be erased from the surface of the mind; some want to be shaken off like dust from the clothes; some require burning like the wood in the fire, which, after its test through fire, turns into ashes; and some impressions must be drowned, so that they will never come up again. Bury certain impressions like a corpse; find every way of annihilation which is suited for that particular impression, so that your mind may be clear. The mind is not only a means of thinking or reasoning, but it is the king of one's being; and upon the condition of mind one's health, happiness, and peace of life depend.

Now the question is what to destroy and what to keep in mind. Collect and keep all that is beautiful, and destroy all that is void of beauty. Collect and keep all that is agreeable, and destroy all that has a disagreeable effect upon you. Collect and keep all that is harmonious, and destroy all that creates inharmony in yourself. Collect and keep all that is restful, and destroy all that disturbs the peace of your life. As some dust gets into the mechanism of a clock and stops it from going, so the effects produced by all impressions which are void of beauty and harmony and which disturb your peace keep you from progress. The mind cannot act properly when it is hindered by impressions which have a paralyzing effect upon it. Life is progress, and stopping from progress is death. Failure does not matter in life for a progressive person, even a thousand failures do not matter. He has before his view success, and success is his even after a thousand failures. The greatest pity in life is the standstill when life does not move further. A sensible person prefers death to such a life. It is as a paralysis of the soul, of the spirit, and is always caused by holding bad impressions in mind. No soul is deprived of happiness in reality. The soul's very being is happiness. Man brings unhappiness upon himself by holding in his hands the clouds of bad impressions, which fall as a shadow upon his soul. Once a person is able to clear from his mind, by whatever process, the undesirable impressions, a new power begins to spring from his heart. This opens a way before him to accomplish all he wishes, attracting to him all he requires, clearing his path of all obstacles, and making his atmosphere clear, for him to live and move and to accomplish all he wishes to accomplish.

4.   Purity of Mind (2)

Purity of mind is the principal thing upon which the health of both body and mind depend. The process of purifying the mind is not much different from the process of cleaning or washing any object. Water poured upon any object washes it, and if there is a spot which cannot be washed away by the water, some substance which can take away that spot is applied, to wash it thoroughly. The water which washes the heart is the continual running of the love-stream. When that stream is stopped, when its way is blocked by some object which closes the heart, and when the love-stream is no longer running, then the mind cannot keep pure. As water is the cleansing and purifying substance in the physical world, so love is on the higher plane. Sometimes when it is difficult for love to take away some impressions that are disagreeable, which block the way of the love-stream, they may be washed away by some element that can destroy them. The whole life is a chemical process, and the knowledge of its chemistry helps man to make life happy. An unhappy person, being himself unhappy, cannot make others happy. It is a wealthy person who can help the one who is hard up, not a poor person, however much desire of helping he may have. So it is with happiness, which is a great wealth; and a happy person can take away the unhappiness of another, for he has enough for himself and for others.

Earthly pleasures are the shadows of happiness; because of their transitory character. True happiness is in love, which is the stream that springs from one's soul. He who will allow this stream to run continually in all conditions of life, in all situations, however difficult, will have a happiness which truly belongs to him, the source of which is not without, but within. If there is a constant outpouring of love one becomes a divine fountain, for from the depth of the fountain rises the stream and, on its return, it pours upon the fountain, bathing it continually. It is a divine bath, the true bath in the Ganges, the sacred river. When once one has got the key of this fountain, one is always purified, every moment of one's life; nothing can stay in the mind causing man unhappiness! For happiness alone is natural, and it is attained by knowing and by living naturally.

Questions and Answers

Q What is the process of drowning impressions in the ocean of the consciousness of eternal now?

A The one who does not know the love of an individual does not know universal love. But if one stands there, one stands there without going forward. The love of an individual in love's path is a doll's play, which is learned for the time to come. So the love of an individual is the first step. But when one progresses then one advances towards the love of a cause, a community, a nation; or even the whole universe. Man, as a human being, is capable of loving one; but his soul, as the light of God, is capable of loving not only the world, but even if there were a thousand worlds. For the heart of man is larger than the whole universe.

5.   Purification of the Mind

The principle thing in attaining happiness, is to purify one's mind from all things that disturb it and create inharmony. There are not only bad impressions which disturb the tranquility of mind, but there are many feelings of resentment and resistance against things which do not agree with one's own idea which disturb one's mind. The person who has some business to carry out, some profession to attend to, requires a tranquil mind, but especially the one who journeys on the spiritual path needs tranquility of mind most. Prayers, concentrations, meditations make no effect when the mind is not purified from all disturbances. Therefore, for an adept, no cost and no sacrifice is great enough to keep harmony within himself. A Sufi tries to keep harmony in his surroundings, the harmony which demands many sacrifices. It makes one endure what one is not willing to endure, it makes one overlook what one is not inclined to overlook, it makes one tolerate what one is not accustomed to tolerate, and it makes one forgive and forget what one would never have forgotten if it were not for the sake of harmony. But at whatever cost harmony is attained, it is a good bargain. For harmony is the secret of happiness, and in absence of this a person living in palaces and rolling in gold can be most unhappy.

Harmony is brought about by attuning oneself to all beings, to all things, to all conditions, to all situations. And he who cannot tune himself tries to tune others, and while trying to tune others he breaks the string. It is like a person who has a violin in his hands wishing to tune the cello. If he wishes to be in tune with the cellist, he must tune his violin to the cellist's pitch. Every soul, as its nature, seeks constantly for harmony, but rarely there is to be found a soul who really knows how to create it. If one says, 'This noise which goes on always next to my ears makes me mad,' he cannot stop the noise. He must know how to close himself from that noise; if he cannot, to accustom himself to that noise so as to be able to bear it and eventually to rise above it, that it may no more create inharmony. Very often, at the sight of inharmony, one tries to escape it. But inharmony has such a wonderful magic that if one avoids it in the East, one meets it in the West. It never leaves a person; who it loves it follows. And the best way to meet with inharmony is to try and harmonize with it. Knowing that the source and goal of all things is the perfection of harmony, and bearing that idea in mind, if one met with inharmony, which has no existence in reality, which is like a shadow, it must certainly disappear as the shadow disappears at the sight of the sun.

It is very difficult to evolve oneself and at the same time to keep in tune with the unevolved ones through life. It is like being drawn from above and at the same time being pulled from below. And if there is anything that can save man from being torn to pieces in life, there is only one way, and that is to resound, to respond to all that is asked of man. It is this principle which is taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount may seem to teach a willing surrender to all, but that is not the way to look at it. The real lesson that one can learn from it is to harmonize oneself with all notes instead of with one note. Every note is fixed in its place, so is every man fixed in his ideas and ways. But the one who treads the spiritual path, he is all notes and he is no note in particular. Therefore he may rightfully be called the keynote, the note which makes a consonant chord with every note that is played with it. There is no beauty where there is no harmony; harmony is the fruit of love. Therefore by attaining harmony in life one reaches the perfection of all three: love, harmony, and beauty.

6.   The Power of Mind

Anything that weighs upon the mind, such as worry, or fear, or remorse, keeps the mind below the pitch at which it is meant to be. When the mind is weighed down by anything, however learned a man may be, however capable and efficient, he can work but very little. Learning does not help the mind which is not in its right place. So it is seen to be with many learned people: most capable and efficient, and yet incapable of accomplishing anything important in life. This is often found in life, and rare is the case where it is not so.

All the affairs of life are accomplished by the power of mind. External conditions are nothing but mechanisms with which the mind works as an engineer, producing from life all that is desired. Therefore, whatever be the condition in life, the principal thing is to shake off all things that weigh upon the mind, thus making the mind free to fulfill its task through life.

Often people find them selves helpless before a difficult situation, but very few stop to think that it is not only the situation that is difficult, but there is some difficulty in one's own mind. One hardly gives a thought to this question, for every man's eyes are fixed upon the difficulty of the situation alone. It is like seeing a wall standing before one and yet not realizing if one has a hammer in one's hand. If one realized the power that the mind has, not only the wall but even mountains, if they were standing before one, could be removed. Many seek for a power from without, ignorant of the fact that all power is hidden within. When, by freeing his own mind from all that weighs it down, man realizes the power he inherits from the source of all beings, he will realize in himself and enormous power. The mastermind is the master of life.

7.   Every Mind Has Its Own Standard of Good and Bad

Every mind has its particular standard of good and bad, and of right and wrong. This standard is made by what one has experienced through life, by what one has seen or heard; it also depends upon one's belief in a certain religion, one's birth in a certain nation and origin in a certain race. But what can really be called good or bad, right or wrong, is what comforts the mind and what causes it discomfort. It is not true, although it appears so, that it is discomfort that causes wrongdoing. In reality, it is wrongdoing which causes discomfort, and it is right-doing which gives comfort. And for the very reason that a certain thing gives comfort it is right, and what causes discomfort is wrong.

Very few in the world look at it in this way. If one who does good all his life is unhappy, I would rather he did not do good. His well-doing is neither good for him nor for another. The standard of right and wrong or good and bad, made rigidly on the action, is the artificial standard which seems outwardly a moral law, but causes degeneration in the end. The standard of action must be made natural, not artificial. The curse of the present day is the artificiality of life. Man must be taught to consult his own spirit, and from his own feeling to find out and make a distinction between right and wrong and good and bad. When this natural principle will be adopted by humanity the greater part of the world-misery will come to an end. This wrong and artificial standard is taught today to children at home and to young people at school. They begin to learn that that is wrong which they have heard others call wrong, that is right which they have read in a book that it is right; something is good because their parents have said it is good, something is bad because their friends have told them so. An artificial standard made in this way buries the spirit, which alone has the right to discern between right and wrong, good and bad. On the day when people will arrive at the freedom of making their own standard by their own feelings, a better condition will come. For those searching after truth, journeying through the spiritual path, this is the first thing to learn, to find out for themselves under all conditions in life what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, not from what they are taught or told, but from their own feeling, which can be perceived by a delicate sense of realizing through life what really gives comfort and what causes discomfort. Life is not made to be good and unhappy, life is made to be happy and therefore one has to be good – no happiness must be sacrificed to goodness, but that goodness must be considered the real goodness which in its result is happiness.

8.   The Impression of Illness and Weakness on the Mind

The action of every illness or weakness is more manifest in its impression on the mind. There are many people who after an illness that has lasted some time become so impressed by it that even after their cure the impression remains. Therefore to those who suffer for many years from an illness, their illness becomes natural, becomes a part of themselves, and the obstacle to their cure is not the illness but the impression engraved on the mind.

So it is with weakness or a defect of any sort. Very often a person confesses, 'This is my defect, but I cannot help it.' If there is any weakness or defect, it is merely in the impression. When a person says, 'There are moments when I lose my temper,' or when a person says, 'I would like to tolerate, but I cannot stand that person,' his weakness is nowhere but in the impression he has in his mind. Therefore the best cure for every illness and weakness is denial of the same. Affirmation deepens the impression, and contemplation of it makes it worse. There is no harm in denying one's illness or weakness, for that is not telling a lie, as it does not exist in reality; it is merely a shadow. Truthful confession of something which is unreal is worse than a lie. One must first deny that to oneself, and then to others.

The Sufi, whose ideal through life is the realization of God and His perfection, after realizing his ideal cannot say, 'I cannot tolerate' – or 'endure' or 'stand' – 'anybody;' and he cannot say that he cannot think, act or feel as he thinks right. The idea of the Sufi is always to suggest to oneself that which one wishes to be, that which one would like to be. And when he finds he failed to think, speak or act as he wishes to, he must think the condition of the process is to fall several times before one gets one's balance, instead of thinking, 'It is my weakness, I cannot do otherwise.' Those who walk toward the perfection of power and wisdom take every step forward with a new hope and new courage; and weakness, to them, was a story of the past, it does not exist any more, they don't recognize such a thing as existing. They can't accept themselves being what they don't wish to. They picture themselves as their ideal, what they would like to be. Some time or other in their lives – if not sooner, later – they certainly succeed in molding their life to their ideal.

9.   Keeping the Mind in a Pure Condition

All that exists lives on its own element, springs from its own element, and returns to its own element. So earth to earth, water to water, fire to fire, and air to air. Purification means to make a certain object itself; nothing added, nothing foreign attached to it which does not belong to it. These two rules make one understand the process by which the mind could be nourished and purified. The mind is nourished by thoughts and impressions that are harmonious and productive of beauty and which result in satisfaction. For harmony is the nature of the soul, beauty is its source and goal, and by harmony and beauty the mind is nourished, as it is made of harmony and beauty. And the same elements are needed to purify the mind of all undesirable thoughts and impressions, harmony as water and beauty as soap, purifying the mind of all thoughts which are void of harmony and beauty.

The first thing in purifying the mind is to be able to discern the foreign element there. As all that is foreign to the body does not agree with the body, making it ill, so all that is foreign to the mind disturbs the peace of the mind, and it is that which proves that it does not belong to the mind: such things as worry, anxiety, fear, sorrow, or any sort of disturbance that takes away the tranquility of the mind, preventing it from experiencing that joy and peace for which it longs and in which alone is its satisfaction.

There are many who do not know the importance of keeping the mind in a pure and harmonious condition, and the few who know it find it difficult to bring about better conditions in practical life. In the first place it is difficult to accomplish outward duties, to answer the demands of life, and yet to keep the mind in perfect tranquility. It needs the knowledge of purifying the mind of all external influences. And the way one can manage it can be said in a few words: to throw away inharmony by the power of harmony and to wash away all that lacks beauty by preserving the great power of beauty within oneself.

10.   Keeping the Mind Free from All Undesirable Impressions

The best way of keeping the mind free from all undesirable impressions is not to partake them at the moment when they fall upon the mind. For instance, if someone is disagreeable, instantly his influence produces the same thing in another person with whom he is disagreeable. The best way to avoid it would be to stand on one's guard that one may not catch his infectious disagreeableness. All such things as pride, prejudice, jealousy, intolerance, coldness, have a great influence upon a person. When speaking, working or walking with someone, one can easily partake one's companion's disagreeable impulse, because as a rule a person thinks there is justification for giving it back, a word for a word, a frown for frown. A person feels satisfied in boasting, 'He said two words to me, but I have him back the same in four words.' He feels very glad for the moment, thinking, 'I have given back what I had received.' But he does not know that if he had not given it back, the same that the other person had thrown upon him would have returned to that person a thousandfold.

The psychological point of view therefore differs from the ordinary point of view, for in the psychological point of view there is a science, it teaches one not to take in one's mind what is disagreeable, inharmonious. By understanding this one can maintain the purity of mind, and it requires fortifying oneself with will power, making the heart as a stone wall, for all that is thrown at it not to pierce through, but to fall down.

The psychological effect of every impression is such that each impression has a tendency to be held by the mind; all we see during the day has, consciously or unconsciously, and influence upon our life. All good or bad things, or things with beauty or ugliness, they remain with us and flourish in our minds. If it was an impression of beauty, that would flourish; if it was an impression of ugliness, that would flourish. This is the principal reason why dreams have effect upon our life. It is the impression that the dream has made upon us that works out its destiny in the waking state. Therefore, if by being on one's guard, instead of resisting evil one would only slide it over, it would run away by its own force.

However good a person, if he easily partakes impressions, he cannot be trustworthy. The one who has no will power cannot even trust himself. There is no will power in fighting with another; one shows will power in fighting with self. The one who is strong enough to keep away from his mind all undesirable impressions will in time radiate harmony and will create the atmosphere of peace; thus making himself happy, he will bring happiness to others.

checked 18-Oct-2005