Social Gatheka Number 18
My subject this afternoon is Sadi, the great Sufi Poet
of Persia. In point of fact all the poets of Persia were
Sufi poets; their point of view is recognized as the Sufi
point of view; not only the poets of Persia, but also the
poets of India.The works of Sadi have been considered in the East simple
and educational, and at the same time uplifting. And in
India they begin the education of Children with the works
of Sadi. His Karima is taught to children of
nine or ten, and at the same time it is not just a
legend or an amusing story: it is like a seed sown in
the heart of a child of that age, that in time it may
flourish and bring forth fruits of good thought and
imagination. Karima is a poem of thanksgiving.
In it the first lesson Sadi gives is to learn how to be
grateful, how to express gratitude, how to appreciate; and
so he teaches the lesson of gratefulness and appreciation
for all in the world, for the kindness and love of mother
and father, and of friend and companion, by teaching first
gratefulness to God for all the blessings and benefits man
receives. Sadi begins in Karima by saying: 'Oh Lord, most
merciful, I ask Thy forgiveness, for I am limited and in
this life of limitation I am always apt to err.' He teaches
in the first lesson, that man should recognize his limited
condition, and that this limitedness makes him subject to
error, and at the same time he suggests the innermost desire
of every soul to rise above limitations and keep from error,
to seek divine love and ask pardon, and to appreciate all
the blessings he receives in life, in order to rise towards
that ideal stage of the humane man.
And as we see life today it seems this is the very thing
which is lacking. When children grow up without that tendency
of appreciation, they often cannot understand what their
mother has done for them, what their father has done for
them, what their duty is to their kind friends, to older
people, to their teacher. And when they grow without developing
that gratefulness in their nature, the egoistic nature which
naturally develops becomes terrible. A boy who does not
appreciate in his childhood all that his mother has done
for him, cannot then learn to be tender and gentle to his
wife, for his first lesson he has learned with his mother.
Everything that by nature springs up, has to be refined,
and in its fulfillment it has to become perfect.
nature there is a self asserting tendency from childhood.
Most pronounced in the nature of the child is 'I', and of
everything that he possesses he says 'my'. And if that is
not changed, if the same attitude remains, when that child
grows older, he becomes hard to those around him, for his
'I', and of everything that he possesses he says 'my'. And
if that is not changed, if the same attitude remains, when
that child grows older, he becomes hard to those around
him, for his 'I' and what he calls 'my', becomes difficult
for all those around him.
The whole religious, spiritual and philosophical teaching
leads us towards the development of the personality. There
is something that is made by nature in man, but there is
something that the man himself has to make. Man is born
as man, but man develops to become humane. And if man remains
only man as he is born, and the same qualities with which
he is born remain undeveloped, and without being refined,
then he does not fulfill the object of life. With all the
great Teachers and Masters of this world who have come from
time to time, and whom we recognize as Saints and Sages,
Masters, Teachers and inspired helpers, it is not always
the philosophy they taught man, it is not always the dogmas
or the form of religion they gave that was of the greatest
importance. What has been of the greatest importance is
their personality, their person. The teachings of Buddha
are held by many millions, but more than his teachings is
the life he lived and the wisdom he expressed in his life,
for there is the fulfillment.
Man is born with a purpose, and that purpose is fulfilled
in the refinement of his personality. This unrefined nature
of the ego, when developed through life, has an effect like
the sting of a thorn. Wherever, whoever, whatever it touches,
it causes some harm or disturbance, some destruction. And
so personalities in human beings, when they are not refined,
and they have before them all temptations, all things that
attract them, things they like and admire and wish to have,
then they go against the conflicting activities of life,
they rub up against everything like a thorn, tearing it
to pieces. And what happens? No doubt when thorns rub against
thorns they crush one another and they feel it less. But
when thorns rub against flowers, they tear them to pieces.
If you will ask individuals in this world, in all walks
of life, 'Tell me, what is your difficulty in life?' perhaps
they will tell you that they lack wealth or power or position,
but mostly the complaints will be that they are in some
way or other hurt by others, by friend, or parent, or child, lifemate, or neighbor, or co-worker; they are disturbed
or troubled and in difficulty from this thorn-life influence
from morning to evening touching them and scratching them.
And yet man does not seem to think deeply on this subject.
Life is blinding, and it keeps man busy and engaged finding
fault with others. He does not find the thorn in himself,
he always sees the thorn in others.
Sadi, in simple language, has tried to give man a helping
hand towards the development in his personality of that
flowerlike quality; to train this personality which was
made to be a flower and to help. His whole life's work has
been to explain to man how life can turn into a flower.
He has called his books 'Gulistan' which means a flower-bed
or a rose-garden, and 'Bustan' a place of all sorts of fragrances,
a place of fragrance. In this he has tried to explain to
man how the heart can be turned into a flower. In reality
it is a flower, it is made to be a flower, it is made to
spread its perfume. If only you trained it and tended it,
it would show the delicacy and beauty and fragrance of a
flower; and that is the purpose of your life.
There is no mystification in Sadi's poetry. It is full
of wit and intelligence, and at the same time original.
And the most wonderful thing that one sees in the poetry
of Sadi is his humorous trend of mind. He is ready to look
at the funny side of things and to amuse himself and enjoy.
And how few of us in this world know what real, true mirth
means, humor that is not vulgarized, nor abused. It shows
the rhythm and tune of the soul. Without humor life is dull
and depressing. Humor is the reflection of that divine life
and sun which makes life like the day. And a person who
reflects divine wisdom and divine joy, adds to the expression
of his thought when he expresses his ideas with mirth.
One day Sadi was sitting in a bookseller's shop, where
his books were sold. The bookseller was absent, and someone
came in and asked for one of Sadi's books, not knowing that
he was speaking to Sadi himself. Sadi said, 'What do you
like about Sadi's books?' He replied, 'Oh, he is a funny
fellow.' Whereupon Sadi made him a present of the book,
and when he wished to pay for it, said, 'No, I am Sadi,
and when you called me a funny fellow, you gave me all the
reward I wish.'
He wanted life to be joyous. Spirituality is not in a
long face and deep sigh. No doubt there are moments when
you will sympathize with the troubles of others; there are
moments that move you to tears, and there are times when
you must just close your lips. But there are other moments
when you can see the joyous side of life and enjoy its beauties.
Man is not born into this world for depression and unhappiness.
His very being is happiness. Depression is something unnatural.
By this I do not mean to say that sorrow is a sin or suffering
always avoidable. We all have to experience both in life,
to accomplish the purpose of life. We cannot always be smiling.
There is no spiritual evolution in ignoring either side
of life. Spirituality is in every side of life. As long
as one is not bound, it is no sin to stand in the midst
of life. Man need not go into the forest, away from all
people, to show his goodness and virtue. Of what use is
his goodness and virtue if he buries himself in the forest?
It is in the very midst of life that we have to develop
and express all that is beautiful and perfect and divine
in our souls.