The Supplementary Papers
Q & A - After Social gatheka No. 4, on "Harmony"
Q. At what age would you begin to develop in a child the feeling of harmony? A. At the very beginning of a child's growth.
Q. By which means do you develop in children this sense of harmony? A. I would develop in a child in his manner, in his action, in his speech first, believing that naturally he has got love for harmony. And disharmony that he shows is not in his nature. And therefore it is not difficult to put out that which is not in his nature. But if personally you ask me this question to answer with my experience, not only with children, but in persons of all ages of a great deal of variety, I should like to say, I never for one moment think that anything wrong belongs to anyone's nature. I only think that it is something outside, which has got hold of him, and which can be taken off some day or other. And therefore I believe that there is a hope for every person.
And if a person was accused to have been the very worst person yesterday, today I would look at him with hope, and think it has all gone from yesterday. Another thing I consider: that to accuse a person of a fault, or to think of a person with the thought that a person is wrong or inharmonious, that that creates in that person that which one is thinking of. But I must tell you that it is a difficult thing, even for me. It is denying something which is before you, and it is not only standing still, but being active. It is just telling a person who is cross by nature, and who is cross with you, to say, "No, he is not cross."
Q. That will change it? A. Surely. It is the same thing which Christian Science says for the physical; it is in the mental. Of course, a person who practices Christian Science wants to put his science so much into words that he makes people revolt against him. But as far as the idea goes it is a most splendid idea. Denying a thing is destroying a thing. And to admit a certain thing is giving it a root. Even if a person says: "I have that enemy, and he is so bad to me," is really giving that enemy a strength from one's own spirit. But when you forget it from your mind, "Well, I have a good wish for everyone, I do not wish to look at anything that is disagreeable," it does not give that strength.
Q. How does Murshid propose to deal with criminals? A. I would suggest those accused of a certain fault, before being brought to a judge, they should be brought to a jury of psychologists to see what is the matter with him firs And if a person is judged, he must again be taken to the jury, in what way can they be cured of the fault they have in themselves? Then, instead of being sent to prison one should think they should be sent to a school which is intended for criminals. It should be committed to the critic of this professor.
Q. Could you give us a more definite idea, a way of development of children in speech and action? A. For instance, in speech there are two faults that a child makes without knowing of the fault. One fault is that it wants to speak sometimes in the way that a child must not speak, where there is no consideration of manner. And in that way it creates disharmony. When it has spoken something in the form that ought not to be spoken in. Well, the unknown fault is that from childhood they will get into a habit of saying something which is psychologically not right, without good results. Of course, this idea is very much considered in the East. But it is an idea that must be considered wherever humanity exists. For instance, there are many words which have power behind them, there are many words which cause a bad effect psychologically. And a child in play does not consider what it says. It simply says it. It does not feel backward to speak about death, or somebody's illness, which perhaps is psychologically wrong. Besides, it is suggestible. If one child says to another, "I shall cut your head," the other perhaps takes the knife and does it.
Now to action. The child is full of activity, and one child in a room is like hundred children. He is always active, he does not know what to do. Therefore he is destructive. He may spoil things. If you stop him from one thing, he goes to another, and in order to awaken in him that sense of what is destructive, what would make things wrong, one will waken in him that desire for harmony. Besides for a child to consider others, the comfort of others the importance of the work of others, these are all necessary things. There is a saying in the East that, "A good manner in the child means good luck, bad manner means bad luck." And one can easily see the reason of it. That good manner attracts love, affection, and good will from all sides, and it helps the child to grow.
Whenever a grownup person sees a child with good manner
his first impulse is, "May he be blessed may he succeed
in life." And that good will that comes from the grownup
people is not taken by a child who disturbs them; he is
deprived of that blessing. And to me it seems that the first
lesson of religion is to teach them to consider the mother,
the father, the elderly people in the home. And if the children
are not trained in that, then when they grow up they cannot
understand religion. Religion, I mean in the sense of the
word, not a special form of religion. And what is really
needed in the world today is the bettering of the soul.
A good time will only come when the coming generation will
try and strive after the improvement of the soul. Q. What
must one do before an advancing army of Germans and Bolsheviks?
A. I think that this saying must be blown in a trumpet,
through all the parts of the world, I say, "Fight with another
is war, and struggle with oneself is peace."
Q & A - After gatheka No. 16 on "The Ideal..."
Q. Have the Sufis a method of concentration by which they can attain to this inner harmony? A. Yes, certainly, there is a method in which a person is initiated, the one who is seriously seeking for truth and would steadily go on in that path with patience and trust.
Q. What is the difference between Sufism and other movements? A. In the first place if a person says that my wisdom is different from the wisdom of others, he defeats his own argument. Sufism would rather take away its name Sufi, if it did not believe in the word wisdom, not only belonging to Sufism alone, but as a divine heritage of man. And therefore there is no pretense nor intention of proving the Sufi wisdom as superior to any other wisdom, but in acknowledging it as the same wisdom which has always existed, and calling it wisdom. Besides, at this moment when the mechanism of the world's life has become so upset by the spirit of competition which is arising, by the spirit of commercialism, at that time, if we – those who try to do our best in serving God and humanity – if we had also the same view, to prove our own way perhaps superior to the others, it will be the same spirit, we shall be going no good.
Our deepest sympathy goes to all those who are doing,
in whatever way they can, good to humanity by their service,
by bringing humanity together. And if we leave any opinion
to form, we leave it to those who tread the path of Sufism,
for them to find out for themselves how it has helped, and
whether it has been more suited to their nature or not.
But to a part of your question, how it can be applied to
the practical life, I will answer that in Sufism, the central
theme of our esoteric working is practicing, so to speak,
the Presence of God. But in metaphysical terms it may be
called – to keep before one's view reality, in spite of
the continual illusions which come before us from morning
till evening. Those who tread this path, whatever be their
method, we respect it, we consider they are treading the
same path that we are. As to the name, we must call ourselves
something, if we did not have a name, someone would give
Q & A - After Social Gatheka 23, on "Music"
Q. What is the meaning of the word "Chishtiyya?" A. There are two meanings which come to my mind of this word. This as far as I remember comes from the Caucasian part of the world, and in the language of the Russians it means pure, clear. Therefore the work of the inner cult that the Sufi does is purifying himself from the element that is foreign to his soul. That is why the word Sufi is adopted, which means pure. Well, the other meaning which occurs to me is, it has come from the word Christia, for it is an Order which has retained not only the teaching of Christ as a tradition or a scripture, but as a practice of life. And their principle has been that whatever religion may be in the country where they live, they live the life that Christ lived. In other words, the imitation of Christ is the moral principle of Chishtis.
(Editor's Footnote: The
word Chishtiyya is derived from Chisht, a small
town near Herat, Afghanistan where the Chishti order
began around 930 CE.)
Questions and Answers
A. Intellectual knowledge has much to do with the brain, and wisdom comes from within the heart; but in wisdom heart and head both work. We may call the brain the seat of intellect and the heart the throne of wisdom. Wisdom certainly may be called spiritual knowledge; but the best explanation of wisdom will be perfect knowledge, the knowledge of life within and without.
Q. What is the difference between intellect and intelligence? A. Intelligence is the knowing quality; yet it cannot very well be called a quality, it is the self in us which knows. And intellect is the mold which is made of all we have learned and experienced; and through this mold intelligence works. Intelligence represents the soul itself.
Q. What is humor, and what is its value? A. Humor is the sign of light. It is the light from above. When that light touches the mind it tickles it; and it is the tickling of the mind which produces humor.
Q. What is the attitude of true prayer? A. The attitude of a prayerful person toward God is that of a lover to his beloved, of a child to his parents, of a servant to his master, of a pupil to his teacher, and of a soldier to his commander.
Q. What is love, and how should one be loving? A. It is very difficult to say what love is and how one can be loving. Is it that one should be embracing people, or running after people, or speaking sweet words? Every person has a different way of expressing his love. One person has a love hidden in his heart, it does not manifest. Another person has love coming out in his words and action. Another person's love rises just like vapors and charges the whole atmosphere. Another person's love is like a spark in a stone: outside the stone is cold, inside there is a spark. Therefore to judge who has love and who has not is not in the power of every person; it is very difficult. For instance, love as a fire rising from a cracker, calls out: "I am love! " and burns up and is finished. There is also a fire in the pebble which never manifests. If one holds the pebble it is so cold; at the same time the "spark" is there. Someday you can strike it, it is dependable, it lasts. Therefore one can never judge because the manner of expressing love of every person is different.
Q. What is the heart and what is the soul? A. Suppose we take a lamp, a burning lamp, as a picture of the human being. The flame is the soul, and the globe is the heart. The inner part of the globe is called heart, the outer part is mind and the shade over the lamp is the body.
Q. Can one change the object of desire in any other way than by satiety? A. Yes, there is, by rising above it. For instance, that person has no virtue in fasting who is not hungry. Fasting is a virtue for the one who wants to eat and renounces food.
Q. Does the practice of not blaming others mean that we must not see the faults of anyone, that we rise above it? A. No. In the first place it is a question of self-restraint or self-control, politeness, kindness, sympathy, graciousness, of a worshipful attitude toward God, the Creator of all beings, Whose children we all are, good or bad. If any person's child happened to be homely in appearance, would it be polite to say before the parents "Your child is homely?" Then the Father-Mother of all beings is there, comprehending and knowing what is going on in every person's heart. He creates all, with their faults and merits. When we are ready to judge, it is certainly before the Artist Who has made them, not behind His back, but in His Presence.
If we realized this, it would not be difficult to feel the Presence of God everywhere. Besides this, there is always one's favor and disfavor connected with it. If we see more faults, it means we close our hearts to the favorable attitude, and we open our hearts to the unfavorable attitude in order to criticize them. Yes, there comes a time after a continual practice of this virtue when we see the reason behind every fault that appears to us in anyone we meet in our life; we become more tolerant, we become more forgiving. For instance, take a person who is ill, and creating disturbance in his atmosphere by crying, weeping, shouting. It disturbs us. We say, "How bad, how annoying! What a bad nature!" It is not bad nature, it is the illness behind it. It is that reason which will make us tolerant. When we see no reason, we are blind to that Light of God, blind to that forgiveness which is the only essence of God which can be found in the human heart.
Q. Ought one's spiritual journey to be rapid or slow, or is it a question of temperament? A. I should say it is a question of temperament; but I think that the happy medium is best. Too slow is monotonous, and too quick is undesirable. I think the joy of the journey is in its balance. If man traveled with the speed of an ant, or a worm, or a germ, no doubt eternity is before him, but it would not be an interesting thing for man. He is not made to travel in that way. Therefore, the man who adopts an artificial speed is always limited. A person who goes in an aeroplane or in a railway train will not enjoy the full pleasure of the journey that the man does who travels on foot. Besides, in everything we can see the same thing. From the gramophone we hear the human voice, but it loses its magnetism, because it is the human voice which is made to strike upon the ears. When it comes from the gramophone, that spoils it.
Q. Is the whole universe going on automatically, and is there no free will? A. Yes, man is born in a universe which is going on automatically, and he is born helpless. Therefore it is true that the condition is such, but what is the child born with? He is born with a desire to do as he will. This desire is the proof of there being a free will, which is put to the test under all opposing conditions and influences which the soul meets with through life. And to rise above all the opposing influence and to give the fullest expression to the free will brings about that result of life which is the fulfillment of the soul's coming on earth.
A. In this case we must understand that although outwardly it is automatically working, inwardly there is God. There is no mechanism without an engineer, only the engineer does not seem to be standing by the side of the mechanism, and he is not claiming that he is the engineer. One thinks that there is a machine going on and there is no engineer. If one knew that there is an engineer, one would know that a small part of the machine can understand so little of the scheme and plan which is made for the working of the whole universe. And if anybody understands, it is the wakened soul; but how much does he understand, and what? He can only say what he can say about it, that all justice and injustice, which may seem to us on the surface, will all fit in and be perfect at the finish, where there is the summing up of the working of the whole universe.
Q. How can thought help one to come to the realization of God, or of unity? A. What man thinks he sees: all man sees is his own thought. Man can produce out of his thought Satan, or an angel, or a devil; and he can produce out of his thought God. Man's thought has a great power. And when he comes to the realization that all is from one source and all is developing to one goal, then he begins to see that that source is God. Therefore the world of variety is no longer variety to him; it is unity, it is one.
Q. How can one learn virtue? A. The real virtue is learned by the study of reality, and the true virtue comes by itself. When a person becomes conscious of reality, all he does becomes virtuous. He has the light of reality before him, the lantern of Aladdin, the guiding light.
Q. Why are some souls born in miserable surroundings? A. There is a saying of the Quran, "The creation has come out of darkness." The soul does not always come with open eyes, it comes with closed eyes, the picture of which the infant shows. Its eyes open afterward. But at the same time, to compare one condition with another condition needs familiarity with the conditions, and the time of that comes after being born. If this question is considered more deeply, one will come to a very great realization of the secret of life, and especially of good fortune and bad fortune. It is not always a design in which the soul is so limited that it cannot get out of that, but every soul makes for itself a condition, even after coming on earth. Are there not thousands and thousands who live in miserable or in bad conditions because they know no better? If they had known better they could have managed to become better. This rule applies to very many cases in life. Most of the reasons for misery are in people's own ignorance. If they know how to combat, how to get out of misery, there are many doors, many ways to get out of it.
Q. Is it ungenerous to be critical of things that do not agree with our sense of beauty? A. When we are developing our sense of beauty, then naturally we shall be critical of what is not up to our standard of beauty. But once we have developed our sense of beauty, then the next cycle shows us a different phase. The divine compassion is developed in us.
Q. What is the way to attain dignity? A. By learning to think, one develops dignity in nature. The more one thinks, the more dignified one becomes, because dignity springs out of thoughtfulness.
Q. Is time an aspect of space? A. It is by space time becomes intelligible, and by time space becomes intelligible. But when one has insight into life neither time stands before him nor space, for both these have created this illusion which we call life. Furthermore, rhythm cannot exist without tone, nor tone without rhythm. They are interdependent for their existence; and so it is with time and space.
Q. What is imagination? Is it something unreal? A. Imagination is everything. To the real all is real, to the unreal all is unreal.
Q. Is it especially on the saintly path that ascetic
qualities are acquired? A. No. Ascetism is a tendency, and
you will find this quality in every person who has a longing
for spiritual attainment to a greater or less extent.
Q & A - After the Lecture on "Resist Not Evil"
Q. How is a person who is at the head of a business or some institution to keep the position of not resisting evil in the world? A. I have seen at the head of certain factories people who have won the heart of every worker in the factory. And another head of a factory against whom every worker in the factory was speaking. May be that this next head of the factory may make a greater profit than the other one. But at the same time in the end he will find that the first is more durable than the next. These manners of wisdom and tenderness cannot be made as principles for people to be restricted to follow. The place of a knife, a brush cannot take, and therefore everyone has to use every manner and action according to the situation. Nevertheless that thought of not resisting evil should be at the back of it.
Q. How can one manage with a person who is really bad? A. Yes, it is this, that if a person is really bad, that means that the whole surface has become bad. But still the depth cannot be bad. However bad a person, the depth cannot be bad. For goodness is life itself, and a person who is all bad cannot live. The very fact that he is living shows that there is a spark of goodness there. Besides, as there are various objects, there are various persons. Some show softness outside, hardness inside; some show hardness outside and softness inside. Some have good in the depth and evil on the surface, and some have evil in the depth and good on the surface. Because as many souls, so many different varieties there are.
Q. Is there a system to take away the bad? A. The system is understanding life more and more. It is to keep the love element alive, to try to keep a harmonious attitude as much as possible, and then to keep beauty before oneself. Humankind is always progressing, and in that progress there are passing phases.
Q. But I suppose that if it is with grownup people it is much more difficult? A. It is, but at the same time if one has the spirit that we are never grownup, that we have never closed our heart from learning, that whatever the age we are always ready to accept what is harmonious and beautiful. The idea is this, that when one thinks that, "What I think is right," and one finds arguments and reasons to make it right; and "What another person thinks is wrong," and one finds reasons to make it wrong, this person will always remain in the same place. But one who is ready to accept even from a child, if there is anything that one says that is wrong and one thinks, 'Yes, even the child says it, it is a profit for me to accept it." For God has not only spoken through His prophets, but He speaks through every person if we open our heart to listen to it. The difficulty is that we become teachers. If we kept ourselves a pupil.... Through our whole life we can keep ourselves a pupil, and the teaching will come all the time from within and without. As soon as we become teachers we close our heart from Him Who alone is our Teacher.
Q. If we want to be kind to someone, how can we prevent that person abusing of our kindness? A. Our part is to be kind. That person's part is to use it rightly. It is not our part to see that the other person makes the right use of it. If we shall think about it we shall forget our business.
Q. How can one help at the same time that person who is doing harm, who does not understand our kindness? A. Love is a conqueror, and in the end he will conquer. It is not only the person outside that love will conquer, but it will conquer the self, the one who loves, the conquering of which is the conquering of the Kingdom of God. The power of love is penetrating: nothing can resist it in the end. And by giving kindness we have not lost anything. It is an element which is never lessened, it is a treasure which is divine. When we see whether the person is worthy or unworthy, in that case we limit our love in a channel. But when we allow that feeling of kindness to flow, then it will develop into a continual flowing condition. And then kindness will work out its destiny without any intention on our part. It is something that one must learn one's whole life.
God bless you.