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Volume XIII - The Gathas

Part II
Kashf: Insight


1.   Safa

It is the faculty of the soul to see, and the eyes are its instruments. It is not the instrument that sees, but it is the soul that uses the instrument to see. The eyes I have given as an example, but really the whole body is the instrument of the soul, to get the experience of life. The seeing of the soul through the ears is called hearing, through the tongue, tasting. It is the knowing by the soul of the external life; the soul uses different instruments to obtain different experiences.

Between the body and the soul there is another instrument which is recognized by scientists and mystics as inexplicable. That is the mind. The scientists call it the brain, but the brain is but the instrument of the mind, and the mind goes beyond it. Plainly speaking, it may be said that the mind is the instrument of the soul and the body is the instrument of the mind, but both mind and body are the instruments of the soul. Although these instruments give the soul knowledge of things clearly, these instruments at the same time limit the power of the soul.

There are two aspects of sight: one is penetration and the other expansion, i.e., the length and width of the range of sight. Through the eyes of the body one can see a short or long distance, or have a wide or narrow horizon. But by using the mind as its instrument the soul sees through another mind in the same way as the eye sees across the length and breadth of its range of sight.

When the mind takes the body in order to experience life, it limits the experience. For the body is not sufficient. But if the mind were free, it would see further. But, as from childhood man has the habit of using the body as the instrument of the mind, hardly anyone knows how to make use of the mind without the body. And as the soul has always taken the mind as its instrument, it also limits its sight and experience. If the soul could see independently of mind and body, it would see infinitely more.

As it is difficult for the mind to see independently of the body, it is more difficult for the soul to see independently of the mind. Therefore, the Sufi tries to make his mind independent of the body and his soul independent of mind and body. In order to accomplish this different concentrations and practices are given. It is like effacing the external form from the mind, and erasing from the soul the form of the mind. It is this experience which is called Safa.

2.   Tat Tvam Asi

There are three aspects of life, and by seeing the oneness of these three one comes to divine knowledge. To the mystic, therefore, the idea of the Trinity suggests this philosophy. This idea also exists in the Hindu religion, and is known as Trimurti. They have a religious instrument with three points (a kind of fork with three points) as a symbol of this, the idea being that it is the three different aspects of the one life which confuse man and prevent him from realizing the one life beneath these three aspects.

The first aspect is the knower, the second is the known, and the third is the knowing. In other words they may be called the seer, the seen or that which appears, and the sight. These three are three turnings on the same road, which hide it and divide it into three aspects. Therefore, in the spiritual path this puzzle must be solved as the first thing and the last thing. If the barriers which divide these three aspects are removed, then the mystic realizes one life and not three.

Occult power is the power of knowing or seeing, the faculty of knowing or seeing. The seer is the greatest of these aspects, the second is that which is seen (appears), the seeing power is the third. The reason of this is that the seer is the source and origin of what is seen and of the seeing power. Therefore, Jesus Christ called Him 'Father.' That which is seen has in it the light inherited from the seer. Whether flower or fruit, it has radiance in it which makes it appear. There is a verse of a Persian poet, which explains this: 'The nightingale has borrowed from Thee his beautiful song, and the rose has borrowed from Thee its color and fragrance.' But the means that the seer takes as his instrument is the mind, which is the instrument of the soul, and the body, the instrument of the mind.

Therefore, the first lesson the mystic has to learn is to know the relation between himself and the thing he sees. As soon as a mystic sees life from this point of view, that he connects himself with the thing he sees, he can understand it much better than the average person. Sufism is not a religion, because it does not give any doctrine or principle, but it is a point of view. The ancient Vedantists adopted this point of view in teaching the sacred words Tat Tvam Asi: 'As Thou art, so I am.' With this point of view, when the sight becomes keen, even objects become clear to the seer and speak to him, and what is called psychometry, or such phenomena, become as a play to the seer. The whole life begins to unfold before him like as an open book. But there is nothing so interesting for the seer to see or know as human nature, and it is the seer who can see and know another person.

Ordinarily there exist many barriers between one person and another, such as prejudice, hatred, reserve, remoteness, and all aspects of duality. A person considers another his greatest friend in the world if he realizes that the other understands him. There is nothing that brings two people closer together than understanding. And what is this comprehension? It is trinity with unity. Often one wonders, 'Why do I not understand this person?' But one does not realize that one creates oneself the barriers, which separate one person from another. If these barriers are not created, the soul has freedom to see and nothing can stand in its way. Do you think the sages and saints try to see the thoughts of other people? Not at all, that does not concern them. But the thoughts of another person manifest themselves to the saint. Why? Because there is no barrier. This barrier creates duality.

The idea of the Sufi is to uncover himself, and this he can accomplish by continued contemplation upon the idea of God, which is the Absolute Oneness. When one realizes this in its immensity, all such sciences as physiognomy or phrenology begin to become like play, because by these sciences one sees a part, but by the light of the soul one sees the whole.

3.   The Glance of the Seer

The glance of the seer is penetrating, and in this it differs from the glance of the ordinary man. It has three characteristics (qualities). The first is that it penetrates through body, mind, and soul. The second quality of this glance is that it opens, unlocks, and unfolds things; it also possesses the power of seeking and finding. The third characteristic of the glance of the seer is more wonderful. It is this: as it falls upon a thing, it makes that thing, as it wants to make it. This is not actually creating, but it is awakening that particular quality, which was perhaps asleep.

This is quite natural, as we see in the ordinary course of life that by fear we create in others dreadful qualities, and when we love, we create kindness. It is possible to turn a friend into an enemy by thinking that he is an enemy, and also it is possible to change an enemy into a friend by expecting him to be a friend. Therefore, the tendency of the mystic is to turn everything into that which he wishes it to be. To turn what is ugly into beauty, and beauty into ugliness, this is what the vision can accomplish. This proves to a deep thinker that things are not what they appear to be, but we make them as they are. The whole life may be made into a thing of complete ugliness or it may be made into a sublime vision of perfect beauty. The lord of the yogis, Shiva, is pictured with a cobra on his neck, which means that death, which frightens everyone, is accepted by him as life. That shows that even death can be made into life, and it is only the difference of the point of view that makes life death.

The first characteristic of the glance of the seer, penetration, depends upon clearness of vision. The second characteristic, the uncovering of objects, depends upon the illumination of the soul. But the third, the greatest, comes from confidence in the self, called Iman.

4.   Divine Evidence

The first thing in the study of human nature is observation of the external part of man. This has two aspects, one is the head of man, and the other is his form. And this can be seen from two points of view, the first is the analytical point of view, the second the synthetic. The former is the understanding of the character of each organ and the meaning of its form, and the latter is the harmony of the different organs. And a person understands half if he considers one organ only and not its combination with other organs.

The study of physiognomy can help one as an interesting study, but one must have intuition also to help and guide him who wishes to judge. Nothing in life is so interesting as the study of human nature, and in attaining to knowledge of God, knowledge of human nature is the beginning. Therefore, in occult study one must begin by studying human beings, and the first lesson is to study their form.

The prominence of particular organs and muscles shows the vitality which exists in these organs, and the lack of it is lack of energy in these organs. Therefore, the straightness of any organ suggests straightness in the nature, and curve, where it is natural, shows subtlety of nature, a point, wherever it is natural shows sharpness of nature, roundness makes for subtlety, and the oval form shows acute intelligence, proportion of head and body and of each part of the head and body shows balance, and lack of it shows lack of balance. Every organ represents a certain part of man's nature that may have no connection with that organ. A particular mode of standing or sitting denotes a certain nature. Crookedness where there should be straightness shows lack of straightness in the nature. Organs which should be symmetrical and are not show lack of balance.

In every face and form there is always some resemblance to the lower creation, and a person with keen insight can recognize it, and intuition helps us to understand it. Sometimes in face or form, sometimes in movements, we show a sign of one or the other of the lower creatures, and this signifies some resemblance with the nature of that particular creature.

The more one observes from this point of view the clearer the view becomes, and it shows the marvel of the Creator. It makes one tolerant and forgiving to everyone, by reason of understanding that none can act against his nature. Also he who looks at this marvel begins to see the divine evidence in every face, as a person can see the painter in his painting. And it is only natural to wish to study this part of occultism in order to recognize the divine part in the creature and worship Him.

5.   Openness

Every atom of man's body expresses his past, present, and future. The reason is that, in the first place, every impulse creates its vibrations and takes a particular direction of activity. This influences the heart, whence the blood is circulated through the whole body. In this way the thought is, so to speak, written on man's face. Man's continual agitation in regard to others, his satisfaction or dissatisfaction, his love or hatred, all show in his appearance. Everyone can know it more or less, but he seer can read more correctly. It is difficult to tell definitely the marks of a person's thoughts and feelings that are shown in his appearance. Nevertheless, partly by intuition and partly by experience, man reads them. There are some in whom self-control is developed, who are capable of hiding their thoughts and emotions, and yet it is impossible to feel deeply and to hide one's feelings from the eyes of others.

No doubt form and movement speak aloud of one's condition, but the expression of man's face speaks louder still. There come distinct changes at every impulse, at every change of emotion, making distinct marks which are an open book to a seer. The word Kashf means 'opening', and it is used by the Sufis with the meaning that the human heart is, as a rule, a closed book and the one to whom it becomes open can read it like an open book. No doubt reading man's condition of mind from his appearance is not such a difficult thing. Even dogs and cats can know this and sometimes they know better than man does. What gives one insight into another is, in the first place, his sympathy. The seer first develops the quality of love. He whose heart is kindled with the love of God is capable of the love of humanity. The heart thus kindled with love becomes a lighted lantern, which throws its light on every person the seer meets, and, as this light falls upon the person he meets, all things about that person, his body, heart, and soul, become clear to him. Love is a torch that illuminates all that comes within its light, but it is the knowledge of God, which is the key which opens the hearts of men.

6.   Movement (1)

Every movement that one makes suggests to the seer some meaning. A person is not always conscious of his movements, and not every movement is made intentionally, and many movements that man makes unconsciously and thinks nothing of, mean something to the seer.

The seer notices them from two points, the beginning and the end. No motion, to a seer, is without a direction; in other words every movement is directed by a precedent cause. And no motion, to him, is without a certain result. The purpose seems to be in the cause, but in reality it is in the effect. It is born in the cause, but it is finished in the effect.

The first thing that the mystic understands by a movement that a person makes is the nature of the person, and the next thing that he understands is about the person's affairs. And the law holds good about straightness suggesting straightness and crookedness suggesting crookedness, grace of movement suggesting beauty and lack of grace the lack of that element. Rhythm of movement suggests balance, lack of rhythm suggests lack of balance. The upward tendency of movement suggests rise, the downward tendency fall, and the horizontal spreading. The movement inward and outward are suggestive of within and without. Also the law of the tendency of the five elements to different directions helps the seer to recognize the different elements working in man's nature. The movement can be recognized in sitting, walking, lying, and in laughter or in crying.

The study of these laws of movement and direction is helpful only when the intuitive faculty is developed. If the study is intellectual it is limited and rigid, and one cannot probe the depths of human nature far enough by intellectual study alone.

7.   Movement (2)

The condition of the mind is expressed not only in the countenance but also in the movements. Every movement denotes a certain change of thought and feeling. The more one understands the language of movements the more one comprehends this. In every thought and feeling the waves of the mind, so to speak, rise and fall, and as by seeing the waves one can notice whether the sea is rough or calm, so by noticing the movements of a person one can read the condition of his mind.

Upward movement suggests wrath, revenge, conceit, or pride; downward movement depression, helplessness, or meekness. Movements towards the left and right also have their significance. To the right show struggle and power, to the left art and skill. A contracting tendency suggests fear, indifference, and coldness. A stretching tendency shows desire for action, strength and power. A tendency to turn shows confusion. A tendency to pinch and press shows uneasiness and agony of mind. Expansion and ease of movement show joy and happiness, and stillness without stiffness is expressive of calm and peace.

8.   The Study of the Whole

Man's form can be divided into two parts, the head and the body. One part is for action, the other for thought. Therefore, the face can explain the attitude of mind and depict the nature and character more fully than the body and its movements. Every little movement of the eyes, the movements of the lips in smiling or in laughter, the movements of the eyebrows or of the head itself explain the condition of the mind.

The ends of the eyebrows turning upwards denotes egoism and shrewdness. The puckering of the lips suggests pleasure, as the twitching of the lips shows a tendency to humor or indicates pleasure. The rolling of the eyes or a restless movement suggests confusion. The movement of the eyes towards the outer corners denotes a clever brain. The puffing of the cheeks denotes joy, the drawing in, sorrow.

One can get a full conception of the character by studying the full countenance and not a part only. The study of a part always gives only partial knowledge; complete knowledge is gained only by a study of the whole. Keen observation with the desire to understand helps a person to read the condition of man's mind, his nature and character, yet the view is often colored by the personality of the one who sees. His favor or disfavor, his liking or dislike, stands between the eyes of the one who sees and the one who is seen. Therefore, sometimes, innocent people have a better understanding of a person than clever people with deceitful minds. There is a saying of Sadi, 'O my subtle cleverness, Thou often becomest my greatest deceiver.'

9.   The Mystery of Expression

Man's expression is more indicative of his nature and character than his form or features. In the Quran it is said that man's eyes and gestures will confess what he tries to hide in his heart. The strength, the weakness, the power, the fear, the happiness, the joy, the uneasiness, the praise or blame, the love or hatred, all these are shown by the expression. The more capable one becomes of reading the expression the more clearly one can read character.

This shows that there is a mystery that lies behind movement. There are certain vibrations, which take a particular direction under certain conditions, and the visible signs of all vibrations can be seen in man's movements or the expression of his countenance. It does not take one moment for the expression to change from pleasure to pain, from calm to horror, from love to hate. That shows that all the atoms of man's body, the veins, tubes and muscles, and the lines formed by their movements, are under the control of the heart. And every change that takes place in the heart shows on man's face, so that one who knows the language can read it. People who see each other often can read such changes from the expression, because each grows accustomed to know and to recognize the changes of facial expression in the others, but it is the development of intuition which gives the clearness of vision by which one can see more completely.

The eyes are more expressive of thought and feeling than anything else. A person who can read the language of the eyes, their appearance and their movement, has the key to character. The eyes can ask and answer questions, and it is in the grade of speed and direction of the glance that the mystery of expression lies.

10.   Different Qualities of Mind

As there are different qualities of the sight, such as long and short sight, so there are different qualities of mind. There are minds, which can see a certain distance and no further, and others that can see a longer distance; and what is called foresight is not a supernatural, superhuman faculty but a long range of sight. When a person can see the action of another person, the seer can see the reason of the action too, and if the sight is keener still, he can see the reason of the reason. One cannot give one's sight to another; he can tell what he sees, but that is not sufficient, for in order to be sure every soul wants its own experience.

The faculty of seeing through life can be developed by observation, which is called study; and the focusing of the mind upon the object of study is called concentration. As by making a habit of lifting one thing, a person can learn to lift several different weighty things, so by observing one object of study a man becomes capable of observing any object in the same way. Keenness of observation is a phenomenon in itself. In the first place, the sight penetrates, so to speak, the object one sees; and the next thing is that the light of the sun has the power to open the buds, so the power of keen observation commands the objects observed to unfold themselves and to reveal their secrets.

Every object has a soul in it, which may be called its spirit. In ancient times the seers recognized the spirit of all things, the spirit of mountains, trees, stars, and planets, of the rivers, lakes, pools and seas. And penetrating through objects means touching their spirit. No doubt it is easier to touch the spirit of man than to touch the spirit of the objects, for the very reason that man is more living than any other form of creation.

The person whose eyes are not steady cannot observe fully. So also, the mind that is not steady also cannot observe things well. Therefore, the mystics prescribe certain postures in order to make the body stable. And steadiness of body reacts upon the mind, making it steady also. The mind and body react on each other. So a self-mastered person who has control over his body and mind, has balance and wisdom. Wisdom comes from steadiness and insight follows wisdom.


checked 3-nov-2015