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Volume XIII - The Gathas

Part II
Kashf: Insight


1.   The Reproduction of the Mental Record

Every line which is deeply engraved on the surface of the mind may be likened to a vein through which the blood runs, keeping it alive, and while the blood is running it is productive of offshoots of that deep-set line. There are moments when a kind of congestion comes in a line where the blood is not running, and there are no offshoots. This congestion can be broken by some outer influence; and when the congested line is touched by an outer influence related to that line, then this sets the blood running again and offshoots arising, expressing themselves in thoughts. It is just like a waking or sleeping state of the lines. As one note of music can be fully audible at a time so one line of offshoots can be intelligible at a time, and it is the warmth of interest that keeps the blood running in that particular line. There may be other lines where the blood is alive also. Still, if they are not kept warm by one's interest they become congested and thus paralyzed. And yet, the blood is there, the life is there, it awaits the moment to awaken. The sorrows of the past, the fears of the past, the joys of the past, can be brought to life after ages, and could give exactly the same sensation that one had experienced formerly.

The more one knows the mystery of this phenomenon, the more one learns to understand that there is a world in one's self, that in one's mind there is a source of happiness and unhappiness, the source of health and illness, the source of light and darkness, and that it can be awakened, either mechanically or at will, if only one knew how to do it. Then one does not blame his ill fortune nor complain of his fellow man. He becomes more tolerant, more joyful, and more loving toward his neighbor, because he knows the cause of every thought and action, and he sees it all as the effect of a certain cause. A physician would not revenge himself on a patient in an asylum, even if the patient hit him, for he knows the cause. Psychology is the higher alchemy, and one must not study it only without practicing it. Practice and study must go together, which opens the door to happiness for every soul.

2.   Impression

The mind can be likened to a record of the talking-machine. But, as it is a living mechanism, it does not only reproduce what is impressed on it, but it creates as well as reproduces. There are five different actions of the mind which can be distinguished:

1) Creating of thoughts; 2) the sense of discrimination; 3) memory; 4) the factor of feeling; 5) the principal faculty, the feeling of I-ness, or ego. Every thought which mind creates has some connection with some idea already recorded, not exactly similar, but akin to it. For instance, one deeply engraved line on the mind may have several small lines shooting out from it like branches from the trunk of a tree.

The Sufi, therefore, learns and practices to discern the more deeply engraved lines by the observation of their offshoots. Therefore, he is able to learn more from a person's thought than anybody else, just as by looking at a leaf of a tree one can find out what kind of tree it is. As a rule, every thought a person expresses has at bottom a connection with some deep feeling. The reading of the deep-set line is like reading the cause of the person's thought. The knowledge of the cause can give greater understanding than knowing only the thought. It is just like standing on the other side of the wall. Thought is like a wall; behind it – the cause. Often the difference between cause and effect is like that between sour and sweet. It is often confusing, yet simple, that the same fruit may be sour when unripe and sweet when ripe. When one begins to understand life from his point of view, the opinion one forms of thought becomes different. There is a great difference between reading a thought externally and reading it from the inside, the source. The one who forms an opinion of the shade has not seen the reality. The effect of a thought is but a shade, the reality is the cause, the source.

What are these deep lines from which offshoots come? These deep lines are the deep impressions which man gets in the first part of his life. In the East, considering this theory, they observe certain rules in the family concerning the expectant mother and the child to be, so that no undesirable impressions may touch their minds. This shows how important it is that this question must be studied. The word 'man' comes from the Sanskrit Manas, which means mind. This shows that man is principally his mind, rather than his body. And as mind is naturally impressionable, that means that man is naturally impressionable too. Most often his illness, health, prosperity, failure, all depend upon the impressions on his mind. They say 'Lines of fate and death are on the head and palm,' but I would say that it is the impressions man has on his mind which decide his destiny. The lines on head and palm are but reimpressions of the mind, and once a person has learned the lines of the mind, there is no need of the lines on hand or face.

Can this language be learned like shorthand? No, the method is different. The method is that, whereas to understand a person every man in his reasoning goes forward from the thought of another, the Sufi goes backward. All impressions of joy, sorrow, fear, disappointment, become engraved on the mind. This means that they have become man's self. In other words, man is the record of his impressions. The religion of the ancients said that the record of man's actions will be reproduced on the Last Day, and that angels write down all the good and ill done by each one. What we learn from this allegorical expression is that all is impressed on the mind; although forgotten, it is always there and will one day show up.

3.   The Balance of Life

Every habit makes a line in man's mind, and the continuation of that habit wakens that line from sleep; in other words it gives the line sensitiveness, which is the feeling of life; and in time man indulges in his habit. If a person takes a liking to a certain phrase of music its every repetition gives him a renewed joy. When someone enjoys certain poetry it cannot be repeated to him too often. If anyone likes a certain dish, in time he has a craving for it. Not only praise or flattery does man enjoy, but even insults, if they have made a deep line on his mind. He will try to tease others or offend somebody, in order to receive an insult. He may not outwardly seem to enjoy it, and yet he will revel in it. If a person becomes accustomed to sit on a certain rock in a garden he forms a habit of going and seeking the same rock every day. If someone has a liking for the scenery of a certain place he longs to see it every day. Of course it depends upon the depth of the line. The deeper the line, the more one lives in it. When talking, a businessman explains things in terms of pounds and shillings, an architect in the terms of his compass and tools. Every person has his own language and that language is made of his words which come from the deeply engraved line of his mind.

Therefore, the work of the mystic is to be able to read the language of the mind. As the clerk in the telegraph office reads letters from the ticks, so the Sufi gets behind every word spoken to him and discovers what has prompted the word to come out. He therefore reads the lines which are behind man's thought, speech, and action. He also understands that every kind of longing and craving in life, good or bad, has its source in deep impression. By knowing this root of the disease he is easily able to find out its cure. No impression is such that it cannot be erased.

The mystics have two processes in dealing with these lines. One process is to renew this line by putting in some other color and therefore changing one impression into another impression. No doubt this needs great knowledge of mental chemistry. Another way that the mystic takes is to rub out the line from the surface. But often, when the line is deep, it takes the rubbing out of a great portion of the mind to destroy one line.

Naturally, the mystic becomes tolerant of every sort of dealing of others with him, as he sees not only the dealing as it appears, thoughtful or thoughtless, cold or warm, but the cause that is at the back of it.

By reading the human mind a mystic gets insight into human nature and to him the life of human beings begin to appear as a mechanism working. The mystic learns from this that life is give and take. It is not only that one receives what one gives but also one gives what one receives. In this way the mystic begins to see the balance of life. He realizes that life is a balance, and if the gain or loss, the joy or pain of one outweighs that of another, it is for the moment, but in time it all sums up in a balance, and without balance there is no existence possible.

4.   The Language of the Mind

Everything one expresses in his art, painting, verse, music, is the reproduction of the mind. Not only that, but his choice, his likes and dislikes, his habits, all show what is the state of his mind. Everything man says or does shows the lines already traced in his mind. There is no exaggeration in the saying that man's face is the mirror of his heart. It seems as if the mind begins to speak through every particle of the body. Since the head is the more predominant factor, the expression of man tells most about the condition of his mind.

No doubt it is difficult to give a certain rule of reading this language expressed in the face, form, or movements but two things can help one to understand it: keen observation to study human nature, and developed intuition. Then one begins to have a sort of key to this language. But if you ask him, he cannot express it. From different compositions of composers one can imagine their character, their life and state of mind. As in the science of sound there is a tone and an overtone, so in the music of a certain composer there is a sense which stands together with the music. The one, who hears the notes, he only enjoys the music. The one, who understands the sense, he knows the mind of the composer. So the verse is the soul of the poet. For the poetry is not only poetry, it has its music behind. The one, who reads the verse, he only enjoys the poetry. But the one who comprehends the sense in it enjoys the music of this poetry. One who asks a question of himself on hearing a certain word, on seeing a certain movement, on observing a certain expression in a face, must receive an answer from his intuition, telling him the cause of this effect which manifests outwardly. In this way the Sufi makes his way for his journey in the inner world.

5.   The Influence of Experience

Beneath the five senses there is one principal sense that works through the others. It is through this sense that one feels deeply, and distinguishes between the impressions which come from outside. Every impression and experience gained by this sense is recorded on the mind. This record is made up of deep lines, and the nature of these lines deeply set in the mind is to want the same thing that has already been recorded, according to the depth of the line. And it is according to the depth of the line that one needs the thing that one has once experienced. For instance, the liking for salt, sour, or pepper are acquired tastes, and the sign of this acquisition is the deep line that is on the mind. Each line so produced wishes to live upon its impression, and the lack of that experience is like death to that line. Unpleasant flavors such as that of fish, or vinegar, or cheese, become pleasant after the line is formed. Tastes even more unpalatable than these may become excessively agreeable once the line is well-engraved on the mind.

The same rule is applicable to notes of music. A certain combination of notes, or a certain arrangement, when once impressed upon the mind, may become very agreeable to it. The more one hears the music which has once been impressed on our mind, the more one wants to hear it. And one never becomes tired of it, unless another, deeper line is formed. Then the first line may be neglected and become a dead line. It is for that reason that the music that belongs to a certain people, whether evolved or unevolved, is their ideal music. Therefore, it is not the music written without; it is the music written within the mind that has influence. This is the reason why composers resemble each other in their music, for the lines that are impressed upon their minds have been created by what they have heard, and as the first lines are inherited from other composers, there is a resemblance in their music. In this way the music of every people forms its own character.

The same law works in poetry. One enjoys poetry from one's previous impressions. If the poetry that one reads is not in harmony with the first impressions one will not enjoy it so much. The more one reads a certain poetry the more one enjoys it, because of the deep impression on the mind.

From this we learn that not only what is desirable but also what is undesirable may become a favorite thing. Even things that one would never like to have, such as pain, illness, worry or death, if they are deeply impressed on one's mind, one unconsciously longs to experience again.

It is very interesting to find that if a man has formed an opinion about a certain thing or person and after a time there has been everything to disprove that opinion, he will still hold on to his impression and will not like to change his opinion, because of these lines deeply impressed upon his mind. How true is what the mystic says, that the true ego of man is his mind! And it is still more amusing to find that after spending his life under the influence of the deep impressions on his mind man still boasts of what he calls his free will.

6.   Intuition

The modern psychologist adopts a system of psychoanalysis in order to investigate the state of mind of his patient, and the barrister in the law court cross-examines in order to investigate the truth of the case. All these methods are more or less useful, when they are rightly practiced. But the chief thing for getting to the mind of a person is to see the person, in his form, in his expression, in his movements, in his words, in his imagination and in the way of his action. And the principal thing which helps in seeing the mind of another person is the light of intuition. Nothing else, neither rules, nor studies, nor standard of understanding can help, without the development of intuition. But one thing must be remembered that man shows the line engraved upon his mind in this form, expression, in his movements, words, in his imagination and action. And it is possible to detect a man from his word before his action, or from his movement before his action, or from his expression before his words, or from his form before even he had time to imagine. Therefore, the knowledge of this can save a great deal of trouble in life, if man only knows beforehand how to act with different people.

The person who acts in the same manner with every person, however good or kind he may be must always meet with disappointments. As the direction of the fire is upwards and that of the water is downwards so the direction of one person is different from that of the other. Therefore, if you expect a person who is going to the south to take your message to the north, you will find yourself mistaken in the end. Generally a person dealing with others thinks of the affair more than of the person. Really the person must be the chief object of study, not the affair, for the affair depends upon the person. In the East there is a superstition of a dog or cat or horse being lucky or unlucky for the person who possesses it, but the reality of this idea can be most seen in every human being with whom one comes in contact through one's everyday life. He must surely bring something with him, pleasure, displeasure, happiness, unhappiness, good or bad influence. Every man in himself is a world, and every new contact is a new world opened before us.

7.   Evidence of the Thought

When a person is thinking, you can see his thought in his eyes, in his expression, in his movements. Things such as: opening or closing the eyes, looking up or looking down, looking out the corners of the eyes, turning the head to the right or left, raising it or bowing it, scratching the fingers, rubbing the hands, turning the thumbs, a half-smile, puckering the face or the forehead, sitting stiffly or at ease, sitting upright or leaning back, or leaning to one side or to the other, all show to the seer the line of thought. Especially when a person is asked a question, before he answers the seer knows what will be his answer from his attitude.

The Hindus believe that the creation is Brahma's dream, which means the Creator's dream – in plain words, what the Creator has thought, He has made. So, in proportion to his might, man makes what he thinks. What materializes, we call happening, but what has not been materialized we don't know, and what we don't know still exists in the thought-world. In the Quran it is said, 'The organs of your body will give evidence of your action on the Last Day.' Really speaking, not of the action only but evidence even of the thought is given by every atom of the body immediately. The nature of the manifestation is such that there is nothing hidden except that which one cannot see, and what one cannot see is not hidden in itself, but from one's eyes.

The aim of the Sufi, therefore, is to see and yet not be interested. Suppose you were climbing Mount Everest, and were interested in a certain place which you liked, to admire it, or in the part which you disliked, to break it. In both cases you have allowed your feet to be chained to that place for more or less time, and by that, have lost time and opportunity. Whereas, you could have gone on forever and perhaps seen and learned more than by stopping there. Those who trouble about others' thoughts and interest themselves in others' actions most often lose their time and blunt their inner sight. Those who go farther, their moral is to overlook all they see on their way, as their mind is fixed on the goal. It is not a sin to know anybody's thought, but it is a fault no doubt if one professes to do so. To try to know the thought of another for one's own interest is neither just nor beneficial. At the same time to sit with closed eyes is not good either. The best thing is to see and rise above, never to halt on the way, and it is this attitude that, if constantly practiced, will lead man safely to his soul's desired goal.

8.   The Activity of the Mind

The activity of mind can be recognized in three different aspects, mobile, rhythmic, and chaotic. And the activity of mind can be seen by the speech and action of a person. If, in speech and action a person shows a friendly attitude, love and kindness, the activity is mobile, and every impulse prompted by this activity will manifest in the form of gentleness, generosity, gratitude and goodwill. If the activity of mind is rhythmic it will make a person more reasoning. He will be exacting, weighing, measuring, loving and hating. Liking and dislike will be balanced. This is not an easygoing person. This person will be more businesslike. All that manifests from him in speech or action will be more substantial, reasonable, also progressive in a worldly sense. But the person the activity of whose mind is chaotic will be agitated, confused, suspicious, horrified, and all that will manifest in his speech and action will be anger, passion, intolerance, imprudence, and will be difficult for himself and for others.

No soul is by nature fixed to any of these three aspects of activity. It is what he allows himself to be or what the condition of his life makes him to be. Therefore, the principle of Sufi teaching is to regulate the rhythm of man's mind. Then the Sufi becomes the master of the rhythm of his own mind, his mind becomes his instrument. He can play on it any music of any rhythm and nothing will affect it, for he is no longer in the hand of his mind, his mind is in his hand.

9.   Likes and Dislikes

What one dislikes in line, form, color, smell, taste, or sound, or in sense or idea, is not disliked because it deserves to be so, but because it is foreign to one's nature. Once a person becomes accustomed to anything he develops love for it in himself. Therefore, often some people have a liking for certain things which many others dislike, or a dislike of certain things which many others like. Often when traveling in the train a person feels more comfortable if no one else comes into his compartment, but once someone has come and sat there, if they have spoken together and become acquainted, then they wish to travel together. All things have their beauty, and so has every person his goodness, and one's dislike of a person very often comes from lack of knowing that person or from lack of familiarity with him. What makes one dislike things and despise men is a certain barrier which very often the one who dislikes does not know and also the one who is disliked does not know.

The work of the Sufi is therefore, to investigate the truth about all things or persons whom he likes or dislikes. By a keen observation of life he gets to that barrier and understands what it is that makes him disliked or makes him dislike others. All fear, doubt, suspicion, misunderstanding, bitterness, or spite becomes cleared as soon as one touches that barrier which keeps souls apart. It is true that one need not force one's nature. It is not necessary to dislike what one likes or to take a liking to something that by nature one dislikes. Only one must know why one likes if one likes a certain thing, and the reason why one dislikes if one takes a dislike to a certain thing. After observation one will come to understand. 'All I like in the world is what I have always liked, and all I dislike is what I have always disliked in life.' It can be said in other words, 'What I know to be lovable I have always loved and all that I don't know I cannot love at once.' This shows that ignorance becomes a cover over all that is beautiful and ugly, and knowledge uncovers it. Liking comes from knowledge and dislike from ignorance, although both are necessary. Also it is possible that through ignorance one may like a certain thing and by knowledge one may rise above that liking. However, the higher knowledge must always give liking for all things. And things that do not deserve liking, above them a soul will rise by the help of knowledge.

10.   Viprit Karnai

In man's speech and in his action the seer sees designs: a straight line, a round, a crooked line, zigzag, oval, square, a triangle. For instance there is a person who speaks straight to the face of all he feels. There is another person who proceeds in a roundabout way. There is a person who has a crooked way of mentioning a thing. There is a person who will touch two opposite angles before he will arrive at a desired point. There is another person who will go about in a zigzag way, you can't know whether he is going to the south or to the north until he has arrived at a certain point. These figures represent the lines on the mind of man. Man does not feel comfortable in acting differently from the lines already engraved upon his mind. Therefore, a crooked person enjoys his crookedness as much as a straightforward person enjoys his straightforwardness.

A most interesting study of this subject can be made by studying the art of different ages and of different nations. Every nation has its typical lines and typical forms. Every period shows the peculiarity of expression of the art of that period. So one finds in the imagery of poets and in the theme of musicians. If you study one musician and his lifelong work you will find that his whole work is developed on a certain line as the basis of his work. Also by studying the biography of great people you will find how one thing has led to another, different but of similar kind. Therefore, it is natural that a thief in time becomes a greater thief. So the righteous after some time may become a saint.

It is not difficult to slide on the line already made on one's mind, the difficulty is to act contrary to the line which is engraved there, especially in the case when it happens to be an undesirable line. Shiva, the great Lord of Yogis, has given a special teaching on the subject which he calls Viprit Karnai, 'Acting contrary to one's nature,' and he gives great importance to this method of working with oneself, that by this method in the end one arrives at mastery.


checked 16-Jan-2006