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
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."