Responding with Beauty...
... What's in your purse?
There is an old saying "You are what you eat", which reminds us that
everything which we take in becomes a part of our being. This is true not only
for food, but also for what we see, what we hear and what we
think about. The movies and television that we watch become a part of
us. The music and spoken word that we listen to also become a part of
us. The games that we play become a part of us. And our thoughts,
particularly those held with great emotion, also become a part of us.
If we have been taking in scenes of violence and strife, listening to
words of hatred, or thinking thoughts of unkindness or distress, then we
have actually been creating an unwholesome foundation upon which our
daily conduct will be built. And, if the very foundation of our life is
unwholesome, how can our actions be much better?
In order to produce a beautiful harvest, we must plant beautiful
seeds. If we allow thorns and weeds to be planted in our consciousness,
then we will have an unpleasant harvest. Therefore, we should strive to
sow seeds of love, harmony
and beauty in the garden of our consciousness so that the resulting harvest may be blessing to all whom we
Being such a blessing is exemplified in this story as related by the
great Sufi teacher Attar:
As Jesus and his disciples entered a village, some of the
villagers began to harass
Jesus, shouting unkind words and harsh accusations.
But Jesus answered them by bowing down and saying prayers for their
happiness and well-being.
A disciple said to him: 'You prayed for these men, aren't you filled
with anger toward them ?'
Jesus answered: 'I could only spend from what I had in my purse.'
Attar, The Way of the Sufi, Idries
When the situation is pleasant and comfortable, it is easy to be
nice. But when we're faced with an unpleasant situation, then we begin
to react from the very foundation of our being and automatically draw
from of the depths of our purse. If, in such difficult situations, we
respond in an unwholesome manner with anger, fear, hatred or violence,
then that shows all too clearly what our purse really contains.
So, my dear fellow traveler, what's in your purse?
We must each take responsibility for what is in our own purse.
Whenever we find something undesirable in our purse, we must root it out
and replace it with something beautiful.
Here are a few inspiring thoughts on this topic from Hazrat Inayat Khan:
In Sufi terms the divine manner is called Akhlaq-i Allah. Man
thinks, speaks, and acts according to the pitch to which his soul is
tuned. The highest note he can be tuned to is the divine note, and
once man has arrived at that pitch, he begins to express the manner
of God in everything he does. And what is the manner of God? It is
the kingly manner, but a manner, which is not known even to kings,
for only the King of heaven and of the earth knows it. This manner
is expressed by the soul who is tuned to God; it is devoid of
narrowness and free from pride and conceit, it is a manner which is
not only beautiful but is beauty itself. The soul which is tuned to
God also becomes as beautiful as God, and begins to express God
through all that it does, expressing the divine manner in life.
Why is it a kingly manner? By the word kingly we only mean someone
who possesses great power and wealth. But the soul tuned to God,
before whom all else fades away and in whose eyes all the little
things which are so important to everyone else are lessened, that
soul begins to express the divine manner in the form of contentment.
... Nothing frightens the soul who reflects God. He is above all
fear, for he possesses nothing; and fear is always connected with
man's possessions. ... in every form of human love and affection,
the self is somewhere hidden, asking for appreciation, for
reciprocity, for recognition; but the divine manner is above all
this. It gives all and asks nothing in return.
The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume IX
In order to help the poor we ought to be rich, and in order to take
away the badness of a person we ought to be so much more good. That
goodness must be earned, as money is earned. That earning of
goodness is collecting goodness wherever we find it, and if we do
not focus on goodness we will not be able to collect it
sufficiently. What happens is that man becomes agitated by all the
absence of goodness he sees. Being himself poor he cannot add to it,
and unconsciously he develops in his own nature what he sees. He
thinks, 'Oh poor person! I should so much like you to be good', but
that does not help that person. His looking at the badness, his
agitation, only adds one more wicked person to the lot. When one has
focused one's eyes on goodness one will add to beauty, but when a
man's eyes are focused on what is bad he will collect enough
wickedness for him to be added himself to the number of the wicked
in the end, for he receives the same impression.
Besides, by criticizing, by judging, by looking at wickedness with
contempt, one does not help the wicked or the stupid person. The one
who helps is he who is ready to overlook, who is ready to forgive,
to tolerate, to take disadvantages he may have to meet with
patiently. It is he who can help.
A person who is able to help others should not hide himself but do
his best to come out into the world. 'Raise up your light high', it
is said. All that is in you should be brought out, and if the
conditions hinder you, break through the conditions! That is the
strength of life.
You are love – you come from love – you are made by love – you
cannot cease to love.
The Sufi Message
of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume XIV
No one has ever proved to be our ideal; but we may make an ideal in
our imagination, and, whenever we see that goodness is lacking, we
may add to it from our own heart and so complete the nobility of
human nature. This is done by patience, tolerance, kindness,
forgiveness. The lover of goodness loves every little sign of
goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring
out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility
of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble
the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot
arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive
the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or
unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise
above the lack of harmony and beauty, until at last one arrives at
the stage when one begins to reflect all that one has collected.
All these riches of love, kindness, tolerance, and good manners a
man then reflects, and he throws this light on to the other person
and brings out those virtues in him, just as watering a plant makes
the leaves and buds open and the flowers blossom. This brings one
nearer to the perfection of God, in whom alone one sees all that is
perfect, all that is divine.
from The Sufi
Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Volume IX
Wishing you love, harmony and beauty,