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Volume XIII - The Gathas

Part VI
Taqwa Taharat: Everyday Life


1.   Purity of the Heart

The real purity is experienced not by means of the outer ablutions nor by keeping away evil thoughts, but by keeping the heart pure from feelings which disturb the rhythm of the mind and thus upset the whole spirit. Feelings have a greater power than thoughts. If evil thoughts are monsters evil feelings are as demons. Such feelings as the desire of robbing someone of his rights or his belongings have a very disturbing effect upon the spirit. Before such a feeling is put into action the effect is more, while it is being put into action it is less, but afterwards the effect is most. Life rightly and honestly lived has inner struggles, but by adding to it feelings that disturb life's tranquility one only adds to one's troubles in life, which than become endless.

Purity of heart must not be considered a virtue but a necessity, a necessity not only to be considered for the good of others, but for one's own life. The feelings which produce that weakness in the heart, take away strength from the eyelid, the glance drops instead of the eyes firmly gazing straight. Nothing in the world, however valuable or rare, can make up for this loss. The main thing that must be remembered is that the soul is pure and the lack of purity it cannot bear without feeling restless. The spirit has a tune and a rhythm. When it is out of tune and out of rhythm, if the riches of the whole world are given to it, it is worth nothing. It is purity and peace which is the soul's constant seeking.

2.   Keeping the Heart Pure

As the rust is natural to the iron, and as the milk turns sour, so the heart can become rusted, and its feeling, which by nature is as pure as milk, turns sour. Then nothing in the world is tasteful to that person, and life with all its beauty becomes worthless. It is this condition which must be avoided. An adept must keep his mind pure from rust.

The rust comes from allowing the heart to bear malice and spite against anyone, by having hatred and prejudice against anyone, by wanting to take revenge, by looking down upon another with contempt, and by the feeling of jealousy, rivalry, or envy. The heart wants a constant care to keep it from getting rusted., for the nature of this life of illusion is such that some little unimportant things, which are not of the least value, coming from the outer life, the heart may be affected by, and the rust may be produced as the mere touch of water can produce rust upon iron. Once the feeling has become soured it is as difficult, if not impossible, to turn it sweet again as to make sour milk sweet.

A soul has brought from heaven its love for sweet. It may, after coming on earth, develop a taste for salt, sour, or bitter; but its innate longing is always for the sweet, and what its life needs most is not sugar, which is required in some degree for physical health, but the sweet which is the original property of his heart and which is needed most for his true happiness and real well-being.

3.   The Radiance of the Face

As the cleansing of a metal object produces a shine in it so is the cleansing of the heart, especially from any feeling that produces humiliation. When a person thinks, 'I have been wrong by acting in a certain way', 'By saying a certain thing', or 'By having thought something which should not have crossed my mind,' he loses, so to speak, a radiance. This radiance even beams out through his countenance and is called in Persian abi ru, meaning 'The radiance of the face.' Every person shows from his expression his condition of heart. Therefore the innocence of the expression is the sign of the purity of heart. Man may be clever, learned, qualified, most able, he may be strong physically or even mentally, he may be wealthy, of high rank, but none of these outside things help him to retain that glow of the countenance which depends only upon the purity of heart.

Many know and some say that the eyes can tell everything that is in the heart of man, but fewer there are who know the cause behind it. The eyes are like the thermometer of the center in the head, which is focused to the center of the heart. Every impression that the heart bears, beautiful or ugly, is mirrored upon the center of the head, and so it is reflected accordingly in man's visage, especially in his eyes, which express the most.

There are many clever people but so few there are who may be called wise. The clever ones plot and plan one against the other and exchange evil thoughts between themselves. So those deceitful and treacherous, intoxicated by their interest in life, cover their eyes with the cover of selfishness, thus keeping the heart from showing out its light, which lone illuminates the path of every achievement in life.

It might seem hard work to empty one's heart of all bad impressions and ill feelings, of all bitterness and evil thoughts, and yet it is not nearly so hard as the task of earning one's daily bread. The work in one's everyday life takes most part of the day, the emptying the heart of all undesirable things takes but a few moments silence. It is the desire of erasing from the heart every undesirable impression that enables one in time to purify one's heart.

4.   Innocence

Innocence is the real purity according to the mystic, for innocence is the sign of purity of heart. The intuitive faculties play a greater part in the life of the innocent. People call them simple ones, nevertheless innocence proves often more beneficial in life than worldly cleverness. The innocent are oftener blessed by Providence than those worldly-wise, always trying to get the best of everyone and to seize every opportunity that may seem to be advantageous in any way.

It is not easy for a clever person to try and become innocent; it is something natural and manifests with the blooming of the heart. Innocence is the sign of the thriving of a spiritual personality. If one can develop anything it is only this, that one may abstain from trying to be clever, and know that a selfish and clever person, with all his qualification of getting the best of another, comes across, sooner or later, a person cleverer than he. Often a clever person finds his own chain tied around his legs.

No one has arrived at a higher degree of spirituality without innocence. Innocence does not mean not knowing; it only means knowing and yet not knowing. A stupid person must not be confused with an innocent person, for the former is blind, whereas the latter only closes his eyes when he wants to. It is the wise, really, who becomes innocent on arriving at a stage of perfection in wisdom. It is two kinds of persons who show childlike simplicity in their lives: the silly one who shows childish traits, and the wise one who shows innocence.

5.   Reject the Impression of Errors and Shortcomings

There is generally a tendency seen in those treading the spiritual path to feel discouraged at having bad impressions upon their heart of their own faults and shortcomings. And they begin to feel that they are too unworthy to have anything to do with things of a sacred nature. But it is a great error, in spite of all the virtue humility has in it. When one acknowledges something wrong in oneself one gives that wrong a soul out of one's own spirit, and by withdrawing from all that is good and beautiful, spiritual and sacred, instead of developing the spirit of rejecting all errors, in time one becomes a receptacle of what is wrong. He goes on disapproving and yet collecting errors, so producing within himself a perpetual conflict that never ends. When man becomes helpless before his infirmities he becomes a slave to his errors, he feels within himself an obedient servant to his adversary.

The greater the purity developed in the heart the greater becomes the power of man. As great the power of man within himself so great becomes his power on others. A hair's breadth can divide power from weakness, which appear to have as wide a gulf between them as between land and sky.

6.   Purity of the Heart

He alone is capable of removing from the heart of another doubt, deceit, fear, or malice whose heart is already pure from these things or who, at least, can empty his heart of these things. There is a weakness of the heart and there is a strength of the heart. The heart's weakness is caused by things it contains which enfeeble it, such as doubt, deceit, fear and malice. The absence of these things produces that purity of heart which in itself is a power. This power could be increased by faith, hope and righteousness.

Purity of the heart causes its expansion, and the lack of purity makes it narrow. The mystic poet of Hyderabad, Asif, says, 'If the heart is large, it can be largest of all things.' Besides it is purity alone which opens the doors of the heart. All that hinders that purity stands as a closed door of the heart.

The pure-hearted may seem to be thinking, saying or doing simple things. And yet there is a beauty and charm in all they do, for there is nothing more attractive than light itself. All that is besides light depends upon the light to show out its beauty; light is beauty in itself. Purity of the heart is the only condition that allows the inner stream to rise. The pure-hearted see deeper, though they say little. There is no pretense about them. What they know, they know; what they don't know, they don't know. The pure ones make all pure, for to them all is pure. Their presence makes everything pure. As the pure water is the best tonic so is the contact of the pure-hearted person. In the spiritual path when one is able to accomplish this thing there is not much then that remains to be accomplished.

7.   Exaltation

Exaltation depends upon purity. The body cleansed gives an exaltation which is experienced by all living beings on the physical plane. The heart cleansed of all impurities gives a much greater exaltation, which is experienced in the inner plane and is reflected on the outer plane.

Most people little realize the meaning of exaltation. In point of fact all things man seeks for and becomes occupied with are most often methods adopted to obtain exaltation, through food, perfume, music, or through the beauty of color and line. No method, however, succeeds in giving the experience of a fuller exaltation in the absence of purity of heart. In plain words, it is the pure-hearted who enjoy the beauty of music, color or perfume more fully than those without purity of heart; although the pure-hearted seem to need these things which bring about exaltation less, sometimes for the very reason that the very purity of the heart gives them that exaltation which others strive to achieve by different methods.

Amir, the mystic poet, says, 'Their eyes refused the wine, her generous offer, saying, 'We do not need thee, we are intoxicated perpetually.' 'The reason behind the refusal of the pious, at times, of music, art, gaiety, or merriment was that they already had the exaltation which others try to gain by these things. It does not at all mean that the pious are always against things of beauty and pleasure. It only means that they are rich by the feeling of exaltation which comes from within, without adopting for it any other methods. Nevertheless the pious are the ones who are capable of enjoying beauty in all its aspects fully. As Hafiz says, 'If the pious ones would hear the song I sing they would get up and dance unrestrainedly.'

8.   Purify the Mind from Fear

To purify the mind from fear is of great importance, and this can be best done by analyzing what causes one fear. Fear is an outcome of long-collected problems unsolved. When once a person looks his own problem in the face he gets an insight into the cause of fear, and as in the sun many germs are destroyed so the germs of fear are destroyed by the light of intelligence. Fear comes from weakness to face the consequences of one's condition, attitude and deeds. Once a person has solved the problem how he will meet the consequences the fear is done with. The best way of getting over the fear of swallowing a bitter pill is to swallow the bitter pill and to experience by it that it is not more bitter than it is.

Fear comes also by being too cautious for one's health, morals and reputation; also by being too considerate of the feelings of those one loves, and too regardful of those under whose influence one is; also by taking too much to heart what other say. Fear very often remains in the heart of man in the guise of virtues, and very often a timid one is taken for a righteous one. But the timorous well-doer is worse than a fearless sinner.

The best practice one can make is to speak with oneself, with one's own fear; to dispute with it, and to root out the reasons on whose foundations it rests. What generally happens is that all things one fears, one fears even to think of them. But the solution of getting above fear lies in analyzing the cause of the fear and so making it non-existent. Man by nature possesses a tremendous power hidden in his heart, the power which waits constantly to become manifest. This power is hidden by fear. The day when fear disappears, this latent power will manifest to view.

9.   Keep the Heart Free from Poison

Antipathy turns into malice, and malice culminates in bitterness. To possess it in one's heart is like possessing in one's heart a poison, a poison that clouds with and produces obscurity. If one keeps one's heart free from malice one has accomplished a great deal, for it is in the clear heart that the light from above is reflected. Often without an intention on one's part malice enters, of which man is unconscious. Often the man who possesses malice is quite innocent, for his heart is reflecting the malice which is projected from another heart. It is therefore that care must be taken to keep one's heart free from the impressions and influences coming from others. The question how can one avoid this is answered thus, that the heart will focus itself to a person or to an influence which is akin to its own quality; that is the nature of the heart.

Therefore even if the impression came from another, for the influence of another the man who reflects it is responsible. To make the heart reflect good qualities one must prepare it, one must train it; for it is the good quality of heart that will keep away undesirable impressions and thoughts, and will only reflect good impressions and desirable influences. As a practice of purifying one's heart is to repeat every morning and every evening; 'My thoughtful self! Reproach no one, hold a grudge against no one, bear malice against no one; be wise, tolerate, considerate, polite and kind to all!'

10.   The Real Purification of Mind

The real purification of mind is in purifying it from thoughts and impressions which live in it as a germ of disease. The best way of cleansing the mind from all this is to be able to empty the mind of any thought, feeling or impression. To be pure means to be natural. The spirit in man in its natural condition is not a thought but mind, not love but heart. For as the thought is the outcome of mind so is love the outcome of the heart. To attain to the purity which is the seeking of the mystic one must be able to purify one's spirit from every thought and feeling, however deeply impressed or engraved in one's heart. The mystic goes as far as purifying himself from his identity, by removing it for a certain time and by putting something else in its place. From beginning to end the whole process of spiritual development depends upon this.


checked 11-nov-2015