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.
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
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
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.
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
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.