The Supplementary Papers
The Art of Personality
Beloved Ones of God, I will speak this afternoon on the subject of "The art of personality." There is a difference between individuality and personality as there is a difference between nature and art. As much as nature is near to man's soul, art is closer to his heart. If it were not so, man would have preferred to live in the forest, he would have roamed about in nature and would have been quite satisfied in the wilderness, he would have found the greatest charm in the beauty which is to be seen in the forest. But instead of all that, man has created a world for himself, a world which he has made for himself and in that world he has made a nature of his own imagination, a nature which he calls art. If that is art, then on art much depends. People may say: "Is it not an imitation of nature?" Yes, it is an imitation of nature. You might say: "Then it is not as great as nature." But I say: "Both nature and art, both are made by the same Artist." Nature is made directly by the Artist and art is made indirectly through the pen of the artist. Nevertheless, art is the finishing of that beauty which begins to manifest in nature. A person who has not come to this conception of art he does not yet know the divinity of art.
And now coming to the question what art has to do with personality. Personality is art itself and the greatest art. Once a person came to me and said: "My parents brought me up just like a plant in the wilderness, naturally growing." I said: "It is a great pity," and she was surprised. What is education, what is culture, what is Self development? It is all art, it is all the way for individuality to culminate into personality. In the ancient times, the religious education and human culture in every form, mainly had personal culture as the central theme of education. And today we are expected to learn mathematics, geography, history and something else, and never the art of personality which is of greatest use in life.
Apart from its spiritual significance, in our everyday life we see a salesman who is pleasant, who is courteous, whose manner is well, be a successful salesman. If a seller lacks manner, if he is repellent, he may have all beautiful things in his shop, he will have no success. If a clerk in the office, a secretary, an assistant, a supervisor, if his personality is charming, if he has a kindly manner, if he has a sympathetic attitude, he will win the affection of all, everything will be light, everything will go smoothly. If a person lacks the art of personality, with all qualifications he may have, the most capable person he may be, yet things will not run smoothly. And so it is at home.
A person may be a barrister, a solicitor, a doctor, a most qualified person; but if there is no art of personality, if that art is not developed, he will be disagreeable and unpleasant in his own home and in all walks of life. The art of personality is the main thing to develop, and if that is not developed, a person has missed a great deal. And if the love of this art has not been given, then what happens? The human being becomes not any better than the lower creation. Is a human being greater because he possesses wealth, or because he has read many books, or because he has learnt much? Is he therefore greater as a human being? No. Man is greater when from an individual he has become a person. Very few of us distinguish between individuality and personality. Individuality is that which we have brought with our birth. We are born as a separate entity; that itself makes us an individuality. But personality is something that is acquired; it has not come with us; it is something we gain.
If a tree from the forest grew in the garden in the same way, the gardener would say: "You are not welcome here, you do not fit in with the surroundings here; this is a garden, this is not a forest." But besides that, the art of personality is not only something that a person should learn in order to become pleasant to others, the art of personality fulfills the purpose of life. And now comes a question: What is the art of personality? Do you call the art of personality, mannerism, is it putting on different ways of expression, an extra politeness, a society rhythm? Not at all. That is a falsehood that people adopt being unnatural and acting unnaturally. Instead of giving a better impression, they give a worse impression. It is something which spontaneously expresses itself. You do not need to act in a certain way, you do not need to put on something. It is the expression of your self which is the art of personality.
Besides, it is the sign of the great to express the art of personality. Whether knowingly or unknowingly a person may have developed himself to that manner and it is wonderful to watch. In India I was very fond of seeing the celebrities known in our country. And one day I heard that a great wrestler was visiting our town. I never had approved of something that makes one win and the other fail, but because this man was a celebrity, I wanted to see him. One could have expected very little from the personality of a wrestler. But in this personality instead of all strength, muscular and nervous strength, there was such a kindly manner, such a sympathetic look, such an outgoing attitude, and there was such a serenity, that I thought, even a wrestler who does the most material and physical work, could show that it is his personality and not something material which has made him great; it is his personality.
One might ask: "If a person has a personality, why must he develop it?" But even a diamond must be cut. It has the light in it. Yet cutting is required. It cannot show that glow and that brilliancy before it has been cut. The same thing with personality. Then one may ask: "How is personality regarded, in how many different aspects?" The first aspect of personality is the action, the movement. Very often, before a person has spoken a word, he has achieved a movement which has caused a jar upon the delicate sensibility of a person who sees it and who may have formed an opinion of that person, before he has known about him, only by his movement. In one movement a person shows his state of mind, unless he has the power to control. One can show stubbornness, weakness, foolishness; all things can be traced when a person walks, or sits, or stands up. Those who can recognize a person in the twinkling of an eye, for them it is not necessary to study physiognomy. One movement to them shows whether a person is evolved or unevolved. And when his movements are not directed when this science is not taught, not understood, a person may make such movements that will make an impression upon his spirit and turn his whole being into wrong. Very little attention has been given to this by education.
And now coming to the other aspect of personality which belongs to speech. The more we understand about this, the more we shall know that for every word there is a time and for every word there is a place. And everything you say in its own place and which is a fitting thing, it will be good. It becomes wrong when it is spoken in a place which is not its place. People generally do not think about it. Very often people are outspoken, they do not mind when they speak, what they speak, where they speak. A person who has no control over his speech becomes like a kind of machine which goes on and goes on and goes on, without any will at the back of it.
Remember that not only they do not gain the affection of others, the approbation of others, but they repel others, they cannot keep any secret because they have to say it, they have the habit to say, they have no control about it. Once a woman went to a healer and said: "Can you help me, I am in a distress." The healer asked: "What is the matter?" She said: "When my husband comes home, he is in such a state that there always is a disagreement." "O," said the healer, "that is the easiest thing to do. I will just give you these magnetized lozenges. When your husband comes home, you take one in the mouth and keep it." When the husband came home, tired and fatigued, he was inclined to war as usual, but she was quiet and did not answer. He was grumpy for a little while but then became quiet. And so the home became more harmonious. Then, before the lozenges were finished, she went to the healer and said :"Give me one more packet of these," and he answered: "Lady, learn from this that it is not the lozenges, it is the keeping quiet, it is the closed lips. When your husband is tired, he does not know his mind. And when you do not encourage him to quarrel, he will not quarrel."
The art of personality is not so difficult to learn. It is to learn to be thoughtful. Those who say much, very often say so little. Others who say little, they say much. It depends upon how it is said. In the Bible is said: "First was the Word and the Word was God." That shows what power the word has. If we control our speech, if we know how to use a word, we know the chemical science of life and use it to the best purpose in life. Sometimes a person can change a situation by one word and others cannot change it by a hundred hammers. There is a way to hammer and break a rock and there is the way of the water. If the rock is in the way, the water will not hammer; the water will surround it, will run smoothly over it and make its way on the top of the rock and in this way the waves will proceed.
If one only knew the art of personality. If a person is upset, among ten people who want to console him, there are nine who will upset him more and there is rarely one who will console him. That also belongs to the art of personality. And then we come to another aspect of the art of personality and that is sympathetic and right thinking. By right thinking all that one says and does naturally becomes right, because the root of every speech and action is in the mind. Naturally by right thinking one speaks rightly and acts rightly, one cannot do otherwise. But what generally happens is that one never thinks about right thinking in connection with oneself, always one thinks about it in connection with others. If there is any wrong, it is in the other one. And the most wonderful thing is that the one who is most in the wrong, is the one who sees most the wrong in others.
That person who is full of wrongs, you will see, that person knows thousand wrongs about a thousand people. Besides, our experiences make us so pessimistic that if anyone said: "I have seen someone, such a nice and kind and good person," we begin to doubt; unconsciously our first thought is: "Can it be true, it cannot be true; there is no such a thing as good in the world." And as soon as a person says: "I have seen such a wicked person", everybody is interested, because they believe it. That shows that we hardly expect any experience that can ever be right.
And now coming to the fourth aspect of the art of personality, which is feeling. The great drawback of modern civilization is that man today thinks what is balanced and what is practical, is to think with the brain, to reason out things. But to feel with the heart, he thinks: that is not practical, that is not common sense. Therefore today a normal and balanced person is the one who lives in his brain and the one whose heart is developed, is called a fanatic or unpractical. Imagine, after reading in the Bible that God is Love, we come to realize that the one who has less God in him is more practical and who has more God in him, he is good for nothing. When there is a discussion among intellectual persons it is understood to keep apart sentimentality: "just discuss on the point, that keeps your reasoning clear." But this takes away the beauty of life.
The art of personality is in that profound deep feeling which directs every thought, speech and action of man. When Jesus Christ said to the fishermen: "Come hither and I will make you the fishers of men", He spoke to those who were absorbed in catching fishes at the sea shore: "Come here, I will teach you, (in other words), the art of personality." It is therefore not a subject which I bring before you, it is a subject which Christ taught. It is the art of personality which the Prophets proved in their own lives to be of the greatest importance. The impression Buddha has left upon millions of people in the East who keep his image in the temple and see the expression of God in Buddha, what is it? Is it the theories and dogmas and teachings he has given? No, it is his personality which has given such a deep impression upon people that for centuries they have held it sacred. It has proved to be more precious than anything in the world.
It is not a subject of which one can say: it is no better than any other subject. On the contrary, it is a subject of the greatest importance. There are millions of Muslims, on hearing the name of the Prophet, their eyes are full of tears. What is it? Is it the teaching the Prophet has given? What touches is the personality of the Prophet; his personality has given the deep impression which never can be erased, which remains there still. The art of personality therefore is a magic. The fishermen among whom Jesus Christ had to walk were incapable of knowing the greatness of the Master and not ready to understand the Message He had brought. And yet they used to stand spellbound in the presence of the Master, they used to be deeply impressed by the personality of the Teacher. What was it? It was not a new teaching they received. It was the example before their eyes.
The Sufis of all ages considered the art of personality of the greatest importance. The yogi-theory of asceticism has nothing to do with it (the art of personality). It is another thing. But the wise of all ages who taught that God Himself has manifested in the form of man who from an individual develops into a person, they see in this the fulfillment of life's purpose.
And now one might ask: how does one learn the art of personality? In the same way as one learns the art of painting or drawing. In the first place one learns how to draw a straight line, a horizontal line, a circle, a curve. And in learning the art of personality it is the same. How to say a thing, and how not to say a thing, and how to avoid to say a thing, and how to say a thing without saying it.
Then one learns the art of light and shade which is the next thing. And that light and shade is how to hide a certain part in conversation and to make the other part brought to prominence. And then there is coloring. There is a great variety of colors. Every feeling, every thought, every idea has its particular color. And when a person knows how many of these colors there are and when he composes with them all he says and does in life, then it becomes an art of personality. It is nothing if a person has collected diamonds, or if he has got pearls or if he has got rubies. What is it if he has not developed in his personality that precious quality which makes a person precious. What is it? All those things are nothing.
There are four grades through which one develops in the art of personality. One grade is when a person has become thoughtful. Then he begins to observe his thoughts, to see his actions. The second grade is that not only he observes his thoughts and sees his actions, but is able to control them. The third grade is that a spontaneous outflow of sympathy comes from the person, that it is natural; that his attitude is outgoing, that his personality attracts and that his personality becomes a blessing. And the fourth grade is a grade where no effort has to be made by the artist to make the art of personality. In this grade the artist becomes art itself and whatever he does, it all becomes a beautiful picture.
Is Man the Master of His Destiny?
My subject this evening is "Is Man the Master of his Destiny?" Often a person wonders if man was meant to be the master of his destiny, for life's experience has taught men to say, "man proposes, God disposes", but I will still say that man is the master of his destiny. For the very reason that man may be resigned to destiny, but he cannot be happy with that destiny which he does not wish to have. If man was meant to be the slave to his destiny, then he would have been content with it, he would have been happy in it. For the very reason that he does not wish to be contented, for the very reason that he cannot be contented with his destiny shows that he is seeking mastery, and it is in order to get the key to this mastery that man strives through a right way or a wrong way.
By going the wrong way he has the same motive, but he does not accomplish it because then, in that way, he goes through an illusion. He thinks that he is striving in order to master his destiny, but he goes the wrong way. The one who goes the right way, he finds that key to that mastery, the mastery over his destiny. Well, now is the question how far is man granted that power of mastering his destiny and how far he stands in this life helpless? And the answer is, that it differs with every man. Every man has a certain degree of that power. But this must be seen in this way. That a soul is born on earth helpless, and out of this helplessness it grows, and then learns to help itself. As a soul grows from infancy to youth, from helplessness he becomes able to help himself, so is the soul; the person as he evolves, so he develops to help himself.
Do you not hear sometimes a relation or a friend say about his friend 'he is a child.' 'He is a child' means that he is still helpless. And this shows that in man there are both things, there is a part of his being which is helpless and there is a part of his being which has the mastery. The external part is the part which represents the helplessness of man, it is the inner part of man which represents the mastery. And since every man is conscious of his external being and rarely one is conscious of his inner being, so rarely is man a master, but everyone experiences helplessness through life. And after all, it is the consciousness of a thing which makes the person possess it, and if the person is not conscious of it, it may belong to him and yet he does not possess it. For an instance, there may be a large sum of money put in the name of a child in the bank; the child still does not possess it, he is not conscious of it, he cannot utilize it – it belongs to him, not to others – to him it is nothing, it does not belong to him.
And now you will ask me what explanation have I to give about that belief which has always existed and believed by the wise and foolish, that there exists some such a thing which is called "predestination." And I will explain it. That there was an artist and he planned in his mind, he made in his mind, planned that he wants to produce it on a canvas. And no sooner he took the colors and brush in his hand and began to paint his picture, every line he made and every color he put, it suggested him something, and that altered altogether his plan; the very plan with which he began then became an obscurity to his mind, and what was produced before him was quite a different thing than he had thought before.
What does it show? This shows the three stages of the picture. The first stage of the picture is that plan which, before bringing on the canvas, the artist had designed, the artist had planned; and the other aspect is that action of producing that picture which went as changes, right and wrong and right and wrong, and so on it went; and the third aspect is the completion of that plan, the completion of that picture which stood quite different from the plan first conceived. Therefore, what may be called "predestination" is that plan which is made beforehand, and what may be called "Karma" as they say in the Hindustanic tongues, is that process through which the picture is made; and the completion of that picture is what may be called "mastery."
It does not always happen that the picture is altogether different from what it was planned, and yet it often happens. And however much different the picture may be from the plan yet the foundation remains there as first planned. And therefore, how much different the life may be from that mark of predestination which was before, and yet the life is built, the life is erected upon the same plan which has been first made. No doubt the astrologers and the fortune-tellers, the future-tellers, the prophets will not always say the thing that is really coming, they may make a mistake, and yet the predestination is there; the mistake is in their reading, not in the predestination.
And still that saying of the old that the feet of the infant tell what he is going to be will always prove true. It is the lack of seeing, that men cannot see, but the one who can see, can see from infancy what the child is going to be. And that old saying that the fate of the child is written on his forehead, it is the same in reality; every part and particle of the infant is expressive of what he is going to be. The one who can read the eyes and the ears and the features and the forms as letters, he can read an infant – a human being – as a letter.
He need not consult with planets and mathematics; he need not know other sciences; that intuitive sense can see what the soul is going to be like. And the eyes which are open to see this, they are also open to see the process, that middle part of life's journey, how the person is developing, how the person is going through changes. They can see in the failure of a person a success; there can be in the success of a person a failure. And the one who is capable of doing this, also can see that how, when this picture will be complete, what sort of picture it will be. What the picture is going to be, he can see it beforehand.
And in order to support the argument of the fatalist we do not need to go far to find examples. Everyone has examples near him. There are men most qualified and yet fail; there are people most clever, and yet always lose. In order to support the argument of the one who thinks free will is something, there are reasons too, because it is the active, it is the persevering, it is the courageous who attain to the success, and those who lack it can sit and wait, and wait forever. And this teaches us that it is a great mistake to divide destiny from free-will, because behind destiny there is a free-will, and behind a free-will there is destiny. What we call destiny is a kind of cover upon the free-will, it is the free-will working in the form of free-will and yet the spirit of destiny is working.
I am now coming to a question, how does a mystic look upon this question? The mystic thinks that in the being of man there are two aspects: one aspect of his being is like a machine, the other aspect of his being is like an engineer. The machine-part of his being is dependent upon climatic changes, upon what is given to it, what is put into it, upon what it depends in order to keep in working condition. And there is another machine of fine mechanism which works as the inner part of this machine, that is finer than its outer part. And that fine part feels atmosphere, feels vibrations, feels pleasures and displeasures, enjoys comforts and rejects discomforts; every kind of feeling exists there.
Then the mystic looks on life in this manner: that this machine is made for the use of the other part of one's being, which is the engineer. But as long as that engineer is asleep, and that engineer is unaware of this machine, he does not run it, it is just left to conditions and environment; they run it. And so it means illness, with depressions, with fears, with his failures, with his helplessness, when this engineer-part of his being is asleep and the outer part of his being is subject to conditions. On the day when this engineer-part of man begins to waken, that day he begins to feel mastery over this machine; he begins to know on that day that this machine was made for him to work it to the best advantage.
I am coming to a still deeper side of metaphysics. We shall find that God Himself, for His own experience, manifests and experiences life through all its aspects, and specially through man. For what is this whole manifestation? This is nothing but the sublime vision of Divine Being. And with all the beauty that one sees in manifestation, the greatest and the most important thing is the fulfillment of this whole creation, and that is to be found in man. And this object is only fulfilled when man has wakened to this part of his being which represents the Master; in other words God Himself. But as long as man is interested in borrowing all that is necessary for this mechanism, which he calls his mind and body, from the external world, he depends upon it and he lives in it.
And since this becomes his occupation, and this becomes his nourishment, this outer world, then he becomes mortal. In other words: the immortal being becomes mortal by borrowing all that he needs from the mortal world. The more he depends upon the external life, the more he forgets the inner life, and there comes a time when he entirely forgets that there can exist a life which is above, which is beyond this external life. We do not need to go to see the example of this very far, when we see just now the condition of the world. We see that, with all this progress, there is materialism every day on the increase, and all the suffering that humanity has gone through, and just now humanity is going through, has been caused by this ever-increasing materialism.
What man believes in is in all that is external, that which he can touch, which he can see, which he can possess externally. In connection with him it may be said, quite contrary to what is said in the Bible, that he lives and moves and makes his life with what is in the material world. And when a person will live like this, his eyes will keep closed to that part of mastery which needs blowing, and by that blowing it can be risen to a blaze which can lighten, which can illuminate the path of man's life.
Therefore, the object of the Sufi Movement just now in this world, and its work, is only to waken in humanity the importance of that side of life which is much more important than the earth-side of life. The Sufi Message, therefore, is not a Message of a particular creed, it is the Message of understanding life better. And the question how can one attain to it, is to be answered that it is not one day's work, or two days' work. It is the work of a whole life. As every art and science is the same if one says that "in ten years I will accomplish learning music", he does not know what music means. If a person says "in ten years I will be a great poet", he does not know what poetry means. A whole lifetime is not sufficient.
If these things are so difficult to attain, one cannot suppose to attain in one day the knowledge of the deeper side of life, and there are some enthusiastic persons who will talk enthusiasm one day and another day will run away, because they did not see something wonderful. When a person takes the spiritual path he must understand first that he has taken a path for eternity. If eternity he does not know, he should not take his first step, because he is not entitled to take his first step in the spiritual path. And the one who wants to seek that truth, he must not seek it superficially, for truth is not sought, it is discovered. For truth is not something that is to be attained or to be possessed. Truth is the self of one's own being, and it is one's self that is to develop into truth.
Very often people think that sorrow or pain, that is the sign of spirituality. One must not mistake spirituality for sorrow or pain. Yes, in many cases sorrow or pain becomes a source or a process of attaining quickly spirituality, but for that one must not ascribe to oneself a sorrow or pain, for life has enough sorrow or pain. Why does man seek for happiness? Because in reality his real self is happiness. He has lost that self and therefore is unhappy. The greatest tragedy in life is helplessness, limitedness, and the idea is to rise above this limitation in every way possible. And this rising is climbing towards spiritual ideals from materialism. It is the summit of this spiritual ideal which must be climbed, and in the climbing there is the fulfillment of life's promise.
The mind is not only the Akasha which contains all one learns and experiences through life, but among five different aspects of the mind each having its own work, there is one aspect which may be especially called the mind which shows the power of the Creator. All we see before our eyes, all the objects made by the skill of man, conditions brought about in life favorable or unfavorable, they are all the creation of human mind, of one mind or of many minds. Man's failures in life together with the impression of limitation which man has, keep him ignorant of that great power which is hidden in the mind. Man's life is the phenomenon of his mind. Man's happiness and success, man's sorrows and failures, are mostly brought about by his own mind, of which man knows so little.
If this secret had been known by all, no person in this world would have been unhappy, no soul would have had a failure. For unhappiness and failure both are unnatural. The natural is all man wants and wishes to have. No doubt first one must know what one wants, and the next question is how to get it. The words of Emerson support this argument: 'Beware of what you want, for you will get it'. The whole life is one continual learning, and for the one who really learns from life, the knowledge is never enough. The more he learns the more there is to learn. The secret of this idea is said in the Quran: " 'Be', He said, and then it became." The seers and knowers of life do not know this only in theory but it is their life's own experience.
There is a story told among Hindus about a magic tree. A man was traveling in the hot sun towards the woods. He became so tired that he felt like sitting under the shade of a tree. Then he thought: if there were a little mattress to sit on, it would be better than stones; and as he looked he saw the mattress already there; then he thought the tree is so hard to lean against, and when he turned he saw there was a cushion already existing. Then he thought: this mattress is too hard, if I had a cushion to sit on at the same time now I am so tired; and it was there. Then he thought: If I had some cooling syrup to drink, it would be very nice; and then he saw some one bringing him syrup. He was astonished and very glad.
Then he thought: This tree is not enough, it would be nice to have a house; and a beautiful little house was there. Then he thought: Walking in the woods is very tiring, I must have a chariot; and the chariot and the horses were there. Then he was very astonished and could not understand. Then he thought: Is this all true, or is it only imagination; and then everything disappeared, only the hard stones remained and the tree above. That is the story of the mind. The mind has the power to create, it creates everything. But out of what does it create? Out of mazing maya, a substance subject to change, to death and destruction. However the power of the mind is beyond question; and does not this teach us that mostly our unhappiness and our failures are more caused by our own minds than by the mind of another, and if caused by the mind of another then our mind is not in working order.
The knowledge of the power of the mind is then worth knowing. When the moral conception of life is understood better, when man knows what is right, and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad and judges himself only, he sees these two opposite things in his own life, person and character. For man sees the folly of another and wishes to judge another, when his sense of justice is not wide awake. Those whose personalities have brought comfort and healing to their fellow men were the ones who only used the faculty of justice to judge themselves, who tried to correct themselves of their own follies; and being engaged in correcting themselves had hardly time in their life to judge another. The teaching of Christ: "Judge not, lest ye be judged", will always prove the greatest example to be followed.
The mind is a magic shell, a shell in which a design is made by the imagination, and the same imagination is materialized on the surface. The question 'then why does not all we think come true, why is all we wish not always realized,' may be answered, that by our limitedness, we, so to speak, bury the divine creative power in our mind. Life confuses us so much that there is hardly among a thousand one person who really knows what he wants, and perhaps among a million there is one who knows why he wants it. And even among millions you will not find one with the knowledge why he should want it, and why he should not want it. With all the power of the mind one thing must be remembered: "Man proposes, God disposes", will always prove true, when man's desire stands against the will of God Almighty. Therefore the path of saints in life has been to seek with resignation the will of God. And in this way to swim with the tide, so that with the accomplishment of their wish, the purpose of God may be fulfilled.
God bless you.