What is Needed


According to the Sufi idea the condition of life around one depends absolutely on the condition of one’s inner self. So what is needed to change the conditions in outer life, or to tune oneself, is to work with one’s inner self in order to bring about the necessary balance.

One must study the nature of life, one must understand the psychology of this struggle. In order to understand this struggle one must see that there are three sides to it: struggle with oneself, struggle with others, and struggle with circumstances. One person may be capable of struggling with himself, but that is not sufficient. Another is able to struggle with others, but even that is not sufficient. A third person may answer the demands of circumstance, but this is not enough either; what is needed is that all three should be studied and learnt, and one must be able to manage the struggle in all three directions.

Domestic life seems to be declining every day. Life is becoming more and more a hotel life. Very few in the world today experience and enjoy home life, or are even capable of appreciating it, for they do not know it. Those who lived before us were much happier, for they knew the simplicity and affection of home life and the joy and the pleasure of a home. The pleasures today are not like the enjoyments of the more intelligent and wise in ancient times. They used to enjoy poetry and higher music; today jazz has become more popular. It is the same with all the other entertainments. When we go to the theatre we find the plays more and more limited in scope; there is no depth, no height, no ideal. They show life as it really is, but that does not inspire or uplift mankind. What is needed is to show life better than it is so that man may follow that example. Besides the tendency of the writer, of the poet, of the artist, of the musician, is now to appeal to the most ordinary person, to the man of the lowest evolution, ‘the man in the street’. If everything that should educate man, theatre, books, poetry, and art, pull him down to his lowest stage of evolution, it means going downward instead of upward. When a person writes good music or poetry with more lofty themes, there is no market for it. Whenever a person brings something higher he is told that it is not wanted. It seems that education, higher ideals, everything, is becoming commercialized; and by being commercialized it is lowered. And at the same time, if we stand in the midst of the crowd and look at the people hurrying by, we would think that never before have people tried so hard to make the best of life’s opportunity.

What is needed is religious awakening; the awakening of that religion which is of every soul, not of a particular section or faith. If the spirit of democracy is born, it will only be born in hearts awakened to spiritual life. Every faith and belief has its principles, right or wrong, good or bad. Some follow these, others do not. They are given to humanity for a particular time, when a message is given for that period for a certain race. Whenever a spiritual wave has come to the world, in the time of the prophets and great teachers of humanity, it has always been a great spiritual ideal to awaken democracy. In the scriptures of Zarathustra, in the Bible, in the Qur’an, in the Kabala, it is always the same voice teaching the equality of man and love for one’s brethren.

Mankind cannot all be turned one way. Form does not matter; form is nothing without spirit. What is needed is the understanding of each other’s faith, respect for each other’s ideal, regard for that which is dear to our fellow-men and other creatures. The attempt to make the whole world believers of one faith would be - if it could succeed - as if all men had the same face. It would become a very uninteresting world.

The education of the younger generation needs the spiritual ideal more than anything else. Since the world has become so materialistic man has almost lost sight of the main object of life, which is the spiritual ideal. Spiritual ideal does not mean that children should necessarily be attached to any particular faith, or that any particular Church should be forced upon them. What is needed is simply to give some ideal to the child to look forward to, some high ideal, yet one which the child’s mind can conceive. The divine ideal has been given to mankind for spiritual attainment in all periods of the world’s history, and humanity will never outgrow that ideal.

What is needed first, both for worldly and spiritual attainment, is to gain self-discipline. Many experience, although few know why, that things go wrong when one’s self is not disciplined. Those who give way to anger, passion, or emotions may seem for the moment successful, but they cannot continually succeed in life. Very often misfortunes follow, and illness or a failure; the reason is that one weakness gives way to another, and so the person who goes down continues to go down. It is natural sometimes to take a step downward, for the path of life is not even. But the wise way is to ensure that if one has gone down one step the next step should be taken upward. No doubt it means resisting the force that pulls one downward, but only that resistance ensures the safety of life.

Self-pity is the worst enemy of man. Although sometimes it gives a tender sensation in the heart to say, ‘Oh, how poorly I am’, and it is soothing to hear from someone, ‘Oh, I am so sorry you are not well’, yet I should think that one would prefer if another thing were said in sympathy, namely, ‘I am so happy to see you are so well’. In order to create that tender sensation one need not be ill; what is needed is to be thankful. We can never be too thankful. If we can appreciate the privileges of life there are endless gifts from above which we never think about and we never value. If we think of them thankfully, naturally a tenderness is felt; and it is that tenderness which is worth having.

What is needed today is an education which will teach humanity to feel the essence of their religion in everyday life. Man is not put on this earth to be an angel. He need not be praying in church all day long, nor go into the wilderness. He needs only to understand life better. He must learn to set apart a certain time in the day to think about his own life and doings. He must ask himself, ‘Have I done an honest deed today? Have I proved myself worthy in that place, in that capacity?’ In this way he can make his everyday life a prayer. Among politicians, doctors, lawyers, merchants it might be possible to have love as the battery behind every deed, every action, together with a sense of harmony behind all these activities.

Some on hearing my words exclaimed, "Nothing he said that was new." Some said, "I have always thought this; That is my own point of view." Some asked, "What mystery he revealed? What wonder did he perform?" Some answered, "We ask no wonder, So long as his heart is warm." Some said, "He is a man as we are, What difference in him do you see?" Some answered, "It is not to know; What is needed, is to be."




This page was last updated on Monday, March 27, 2017



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