Gatha with Commentary
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
Murshid Samuel L. Lewis
(Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti)
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 1
The Reproduction of the Mental Record
GATHA: Every line which is deeply engraved on the surface of the mind may be likened to a vein through which the blood runs, keeping it alive; and while the blood is running it is productive of offshoots of that deep-set line.
TASAWWUF: Actually every impression that we receive causes some phenomena of mind. We close our eyes, we shut our ears, we pacify all the senses when we do not wish to receive samskaras. But, it is also proper to live in the world and to maintain inner rapport no matter what occurs on the surface.
Mind is called Manas in Sanskrit and this is the surface mind, one connected with the senses. Citta is the term used for mind in the depth, which is Shin in Chinese. Just as sunlight produces effects upon photographic plates, so do mental activities impress the mind.
These impressions are of three natures; those caused by the world without, those coming from the worlds within, and those arising in the mind itself. The first may be instinctive, the second intuitional and the last often the result of reason.
Thought creates furrows in the brain, also lines in the mind. Thought is not life itself, though it appears more living than matter. The life in thought may result from the feeding of mind by heart. In the physical body the blood circulates through brain and nerve centers. It imparts life to them. From this is derived the mental magnetism which is in turn derived from the lifeforce itself and the spiritual magnetism of this manifests in heart.
GATHA: There are moments when a kind of congestion comes in a line where the blood is not running, and there are no offshoots. This congestion can be broken by some outer influence; and when the congested line is touched by an outer influence related to that line then this sets the blood running again and offshoots arising, expressing themselves in thoughts. It is just like a waking or sleeping state of the lines.
TASAWWUF: There is a time element in the recording of a photographic sensation, also need of focus. So with mind. Sufis practice concentration so as to be able to hold or reject desirable or undesirable impressions. It is also possible by esoteric exercises to determine which impressions have some spiritual value, or some personal value. Kashf always brings harmony to the breath.
Concentration not based on feeling has the tendency to draw blood in such a way as to cause congestion. Headaches are one example of it. We can say that headaches follow when one is not performing Dharma. For instance, after a meal the blood collects in the stomach and digestive glands; only acts that harmonize therewith are then beneficial. During and after thought processes, the blood and its energies collect in the part of the nervous system used, the brain or otherwise. Thoughts held by feeling are in the direction of life and those without feeling waste energy and cause fatigue and pain.
People with fixed habits of mind have deep ridges in the brain and the same occurs in the mind itself. The life energy does not flow properly. That is why Fikr and meditation are used by mystics. This stabilizes both breathing and circulation so that the energy is drawn out of the cosmic to strengthen one. Otherwise it is utilized by the ego to produce pain, age, and other infirmities.
GATHA: As one note of music can be fully audible at a time so one line of offshoots can be intelligible at a time; and it is the warmth of interest that keeps the blood running in that particular line.
TASAWWUF: The depth of soul, the tuning of soul, is like a single note. The heart itself establishes harmonies and these have been compared to the notes of gongs and metallic instruments which give out group harmonics. When the mind is used otherwise, when attention is taken away, it is wasteful. Therefore to keep composure and strength in one’s thought, one task should be engaged in at one time.
The same idea is found in Zen. There is a story of a Zen monk. He was weighing flax when somebody asked him the meaning of Zen. He answered, “This flax weighs ten pounds.” Of course, this is not the literal meaning of Zen; it is neither literal nor symbolic, but illustrates splendidly the concentration of essence of mind in a single act.
GATHA: There may be other lines where the blood is alive also; still if they are not kept warm by one’s interest they become congested and thus paralyzed; and yet the blood is there, the life is there, it awaits the moment to awaken.
TASAWWUF: There are two things to consider: the faculty of memory and the process of unlearning. The first may be developed without alteration of ego, but for the second it is necessary to control ego. Still when one is completely relaxed and “unlearned” one becomes attuned to a universal memory which is still part of himself, but of which he may be unconscious. Thus memory will not interfere with immediacy; memory becomes one’s servant and one himself serves the immediate moment.
One repeats, “Toward the One, United with All ….” Now one may apply it to oneself, working as if toward a single goal, be it God, be it a grain of dust. The more intent one is on this goal, the greater one’s facility of relaxation to regain control of all the events, all the knowledge, all the needs of one’s lifetime.
Life is in the sea in a universal sense, and in the blood in a particular sense. When the heart is awakened this life energy flows through the blood and with the blood which is the Universal Mother. The bloodstream itself is the Adam, and when it feeds the cells of the body or the mind it is Eve, the life. So Adam and Eve represent humanity and life, or Purusha and Prakriti.
GATHA: The sorrows of the past, the fears of the past, the joys of the past, can be brought to life after ages, and could give exactly the same sensation that one had experienced formerly.
TASAWWUF: There is now an art and science of regression, which a skilled memory can bring to the surface. By suggestion, by hypnotism, even by chemical means, one’s activity on the surface can become dormant. Nothing is ever lost. The question is whether it is needed.
We have in the case of Buddhism the Jataka tales which are based in one sense on the recurrence of a particular entity. Orthodox Buddhism teaches there is no ego-entity, yet this same orthodox Buddhism gives us these tales of the former lives of an entity. But these tales can also be looked upon as analogies of the movements of the Spirit of Guidance which is in all things. Wherever there is light, wherever there is intelligence, that is Buddha.
Then we have advances in psychic sciences. And some seem to be able to look back. They can tell all about what has happened and sometimes what has actually happened to a person. When it is for the purpose of help this is wonderful, but when it is for so-called occult knowledge, then that is different. One’s attention is taken from God and universality. The ego becomes important. Often all the uncovered phenomena are true, but just as often they are misleading for they are in the opposite direction from “Toward the One.”
You can trace a river to its source, and then back to the rainclouds and back to the ocean and on and on and what is proved? What is uncovered?
GATHA: The more one knows the mystery of this phenomenon the more one learns to understand that there is a world in one’s self, that in one’s mind there is the source of happiness and unhappiness, the source of health and illness, the source of light and darkness, and that it can be awakened, either mechanically or at will, if one only knew how to do it.
TASAWWUF: That is to say we have a universe within and it can not be repeated too often that God created man in His image. He did not create man in a simplicity; man is not a glorified animal or a materialized angel though he has both angel and animal in him. But man is man, the mind individualized so that the universe can experience life in and through an individual. For this the animal will not do, nor can the angel do.
Unhappiness, illness, and darkness are caused by shadows falling upon the mind through the interference of ego-thought. There is a phenomenon of the interference of light and by it we can tell what happens when light becomes entangled with light. Similarly there is a phenomenon when thought becomes entangled with thought. To free oneself from this the disciple is directed toward purity of thought and purity of breath by the proper esoteric exercises.
GATHA: Then one does not blame his ill-fortune nor complain of his fellow man.
TASAWWUF: One has to learn to untangle the mind. It is not easy. By safa, purification, by keeping “toward the one” on the breath, by singleness of purpose, one carves one’s true path in life. True there is karma, and this may come from the confrontation of egos with other egos and with the stream of life generally. But it is like mountain climbing: no obstacles, no climbing. And in the end strength and wisdom are attained.
GATHA: He becomes more tolerant, more joyful, and more loving toward his neighbor, because he knows the cause of every thought and action, and he sees it all as the effect of a certain cause. A physician would not revenge himself on a patient in an asylum, even if the patient hit him, for he knows the cause.
TASAWWUF: The more one finds in oneself, the more one finds in others. It should become clear, after centuries, that goodness does not arise because of some code, some words, some exhortations.
Goodness comes when one finds the goodness, when one finds it in himself and then exemplifies it to others.
It is the broad spirit which works for tolerance, and the broader one becomes, the more compassionate. Thus there is the word Rahm from which both Rahman and Rahim are derived. One might call it “heart intelligence.” Heart intelligence is seemingly first exemplified in a mother toward her newborn infant. Mohammed has said that Allah loves His offspring more than a mother loves her baby. This is something to be learned.
The more one looks deeply into the heart, whether it concerns oneself, or others, or the world, one will increase not only in Sight and Insight, but also in Love and Compassion. They are part of the same process. In the Mahayana it is shown that Dhyana and Karuna come together, and this is what happens. When the surface of the mind is enlarged, when the depth of the mind is deepened, one experiences more the Divine Light which is at its essence, and this divine light at the same time contains and retains all the Sifat-i-Allah so that any deepening in any direction brings about all depth and all wisdom, all intelligence and all virtue.
GATHA: Psychology is the higher alchemy, and one must not study it only without practicing it. Practice and study must go together, which opens the door to happiness for every soul.
TASAWWUF: We have seen the appropriation of the word “alchemy” by western scholars of prestige. They had the prestige; they did not have wisdom. They had very complex minds and these were taken for being deep minds. No mind is deep unless it exhibits compassion and tenderness along with significant content.
Besides this there was no exemplification of practice. Misled and misleading people take study for wisdom. Study is reflection; it adds to the contents of the mind. It merely reflects what somebody has done or may have done. There is no knowledge of self gained by reflecting what others do or opine.
The work, The Alchemy of Happiness, gives in somewhat simple terms the bases for processes, and processes are far more valuable than reflections. And if there is no experience of happiness, of joy, of exaltation, what are we talking about?
The deeper meaning of the story of Jonah in the whale is that while in the flesh man can find the key to all things—wisdom, knowledge, power, even wealth if he desires that. It is all within and can be gained while man is in the physical body.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 2
GATHA: The mind is like the record of the talking-machine. But, as it is a living mechanism, it does not only reproduces what is impressed on it, but it creates as well as reproduces.
TASAWWUF: It is most difficult for the mind to fully comprehend and apprehend mind for sometimes it is caught in itself. At the same time it is well to know its own principles, its potentialities and its limitations.
On the material plane a record keeps what it has and then may gradually lose it by attrition, by erosion, by wearing away. But the mind-world is real and the prakrit of the mental plane, so to speak, is more living. It is something like ground which contains its own fertilizer and helps everything placed in it to grow, to come to fruition but not always to come to fruition in a beneficial manner.
GATHA: There are five different actions of the mind which can be distinguished: 1) creating of thoughts; 2) the sense of discrimination; 3) memory; 4) the factor of feeling; 5) the principal faculty, the feeling of I-ness or ego.
TASAWWUF: This framework is mentioned again and again in the literature, and is one of the few items that should be learned intellectually as well as functionally. Or as it is said, man operates as the five-pointed star, but when the ego disappears he becomes the cross.
The creative faculty is derived from spirit and operates through man. The energy is from the Divine Source and it gives both man and woman all the impetus needed. And if more is needed it is also there because this is from the Divine Source.
There are two aspects of discrimination and one comes from the ego which is not the main concern. It is that which distinguishes, as let us say, wood from metal, war from breath, and all divisions of fundamentals, of analyzes. This first stands out in the kingdoms: the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and human kingdom, and in their divisions and subdivisions, such as in the ancient Greek analyzes of genus and species and all variations thereof.
There is a story in the Qur’an and it is repeated in the literature that God created the world and asks the angels to explain it. They could praise God and do all good things but they could not explain. Then Allah called Adam and he could name and explain. This alludes to the discriminating faculty.
Memory is from the prakrit. It carves upon the mind by reflected light. It is the concomitant of experience. Every event, every word or thought makes a mark. It is in this respect that the mind is like a talking machine or even a tape recorder.
The factor of feeling has a lower and higher aspect. When the tamasic guna operates there is impulse and prejudice and often this prejudice is accompanied by a form of reason. But there is a ladder upward from impression to intuition and inspiration, and finally, when it comes, revelation. In this way the mind can reflect and contain the Divine Light of Intelligence.
The sense of I-ness, the ego, is most difficult to explain or control. We operate through it and then tend to identify with it. It is a needed instrument, for otherwise the light might be scattering in all directions. The ego focuses the energies of the universe. Without it there would be a vast almost inert cosmic harmony. To have action there must be a tightening and tension, then a release. All operations work variously on this principle.
It may be moments or ages that the tension persists, and with it ego. But it can be released and this brings joy and liberation.
GATHA: Every thought which mind creates has some connection with some idea already recorded, not exactly similar, but akin to it. For instance, one deeply engraved line on the mind may have several small lines shooting out from it like branches from the trunk of a tree.
TASAWWUF: If it were not for this education would be impossible. No doubt we often have to begin by rote, by memorizing. But this puts life into the mind and also into the brain, its physical counterpart. These lines become lines of life, roadways so to speak which enable one to grow further.
GATHA: The Sufi, therefore, learns and practices to discern the more deeply engraved lines by the observation of their offshoots. Therefore he is able to learn more from a person’s thought than anybody else, just as by looking at a leaf of a tree one can find out what tree it is.
TASAWWUF: This is by operation of Kashf. This deep feeling or insight gives one a universal vision but it is from the depths. It is not surface vision although often there are resemblances.
Lines become embedded in the mind and this produces different characters. The lines at the ends of thumbs and fingers, used in fingerprinting, arise from different karmas and are not always explained by biological phenomena. Some day, as well as being used to distinguish the outward persons, they may also be used to understand personalities.
But this is analysis. At the other end there is the immediate grasping of the whole by the whole consciousness which is the method of the seer. And the more one learns to utilize the whole consciousness as if it were a single factor, the more capable one becomes in the discernment of life.
GATHA: As a rule, every thought a person expresses has at bottom a connection with some deep feeling. The reading of the deep-set line is like reading the cause of the person’s thought.
TASAWWUF: The work of the soul on the angelic plane is tuning. This tuning may not seem to have content but it determines the directions followed and from this the interests one will have in life. That is why also in the early life of an infant not only strange persons but strange thoughts should be kept away. We may not think of it, but the introduction of strange atmospheres even strange music and speeches by radio and television will affect the life of the child.
But once there is knowledge of the use of this tuning, one can use it to direct oneself and another in the fullest efficiency. Then also one can tell from the breath, from the speech, from the manners and especially from the atmosphere of another what his thought is, whether he can be influenced, whether he will listen or whether it is useless to deal with him. Everybody reveals his own self to the seer, but for this one must develop this all-embracing Insight, Kashf, and not analyze any more.
GATHA: The knowledge of the cause can give greater understanding than the knowing only the thought. It is just like standing on the other side of the wall. Thought is like a wall; behind it—the cause.
TASAWWUF: The cause may be in the tuning of heart. This works through mind and into operation. The deep feeling is like a sight, even like an x-ray eyesight that pierces walls and obstacles. By learning the art of quiescence, of silence, one will find a whole universe of operations there; far from being blank, it is filled with all potentialities. These the heart of man can pick and see once the spirit of agitation is calmed.
Differences of faculty cause differences of opinion. From these differentiations come all sorts of divisions. Opinions themselves do not arise from creative energy but from reactions to creative energy, that is, samskaras. So one turns in another direction and instead of being concerned with surfaces, one becomes concerned with depths.
The eye comes from the nerve terminals touching the surface, but it is the soul that sees. It can use all the nerve terminals; it can use the whole nervous system. The use of the nervous energy as a whole, the use of the mind as a whole, opens up potentialities in human behavior and this leads to the functions described as over-mind and super-mind. But these descriptions are themselves of no particular value. A person has not the jinn-mind because he knows about the jinn-mind. Sometimes what he thinks may be so limited—in contrast to actualities—that intellectual and moral people unwittingly stand in the way of spiritual progress.
GATHA: Often the difference between cause and effect is like that between sour and sweet. It is often confusing, yet simple, that the same fruit may be sour when unripe and sweet when ripe. When one begins to understand life from this point of view, the opinion one forms of thought becomes different.
TASAWWUF: From a Zen point of view all the operations of thought may be egoistic, whatever one’s motive. It is certain that all thought not controlled by feeling falls under the aegis of ego. And then one divides into good and bad, or even sweet and sour. That is the nature of the ego. But a wise horticulturist, looking at a fruit tree will know when the fruit will be ripe, when it will be sweet. And in a similar way the sage, looking at a person, will know when his thoughts will be sweet. So he will refrain both from arguing and enlightening. If the time is not right he will avoid and evade.
The more one can operate from the sense of wholeness, the deeper the feeling, the greater the consciousness of unity, the more one will see from the point of view of another, will even understand the evolution of another, and his reason and reasonings. In this way Kashf leads towards Mushahida, the cosmic contemplation when one finds consciousness of the universe within oneself, and all that it contains, and pertains to within oneself. Then the rest becomes easy.
GATHA: There is a great difference between reading a thought externally and reading it from the inside, the source. The one who forms an opinion of the shade has not seen the reality. The effect of a thought is but a shade, the reality is the cause, the source.
TASAWWUF: The science and art of determining samskaras does not of itself obliterate them. All sorts of proclamations have been made, all kinds of [cult]/[occult] teachings, almost everything but the cosmic position of man. “Work out thy salvation with diligence” comes from Lord Buddha. It is only thus that the samskaras can be terminated. True, there are grades of development and in these grades one has the leaning on some Master or Savior outside oneself. This has its purposes, but they are limited.
Seeing and feeling as a whole is an art and science which is to be developed through practice by oneself.
GATHA: What are these deep lines from which offshoots come? These deep lines are the deep impressions which man gets in the first part of his life. In the East, considering this theory, they observe certain rules in the family concerning the expectant mother and the child to be, so that no undesirable impressions may touch their minds. This shows how important it is that this question must be studied.
TASAWWUF: If this could be put into practice for the infant, even for the expectant infant, it would lead to a way that would be of great help in the spiritual life. In the case of the infant, care would be taken to see that the first lines impressed on the mind are suitable ones. Once this practice of selecting only suitable samskaras is instituted, it can become a way of life; it can establish a path which can become the Path. So early childhood is most important.
But it is also true in spiritual teaching that the spiritual teacher should use care in directing the interests and attentions of all disciples, that their hearts be awakened and purified.
GATHA: The word “man” comes from the Sanskrit manas, which means mind. This shows that man is principally his mind, rather than his body. And as mind is impressionable in its nature, that means that man is naturally impressionable too.
TASAWWUF: We do not always realize that we are not always using creative thought. It is right to be impressionable because that is our nature. But this opens the universe of samskaras and so long as they persist with their complexities and complications, with their actions and reactions, we may expect a degree of turmoil.
Meditation is theoretically practiced so that one can select his own impressions. Breathing practices and esoteric exercises are given so that one can reject those samskaras which do not serve a purpose. One does not even have to examine them. If the breath is in the state of purity and harmony and it is disrupted, then for that person the impressions are unfavorable and should be removed. And for this one practices the presence of God at all times. One does not even have to weigh whether impressions are welcome or unwelcome; the heart and breath tell.
GATHA: Most often his illness, health, prosperity, failure, all depend upon the impressions on his mind. They say “Lines of fate and death are on the head and palm,” but I would say that it is the impressions man has on his mind which decide his destiny.
TASAWWUF: Yes, the impressions are on the head and palm. They are also on the soles of the feet, on the ears. The seer can read these signs from every form and feature. They come from the one source, the mind. All those who read them are correct, but they are not exclusively correct. Every indicator is a true indicator but not the only indicator.
It cannot be repeated too often that the direct teachings from Buddhism to the West were on this point: that we are and become what mind makes us. But learning this as a truism does not make it a factor in life. We must then turn our attention to the sciences of mind as it operates actually, not as it impresses others. Western psychology is no doubt correct in all its conclusions but they are mostly surface conclusions and that is demonstrated because every few years the methods, the teachings, the persons involved are different. The schools are different.
Destiny is a turning from the straight direction. It means being caught in the web of circumstances (samskara.) This is natural but it was not meant for man to be caught forever; it was meant for him to find his way out.
Editor’s note: On occasion the previous sentences of Hazrat Inayat Khan are repeated by Murshid SAM in this work. As additional commentary is given in these instances, we have included all these repeated words along with the new commentary.
GATHA: They say “Lines of fate and death are on the head and palm,” but I would say that it is the impressions man has on his mind which decide his destiny. The lines on head and palm are but reimpressions of the mind, and once a person has learned the lines of the mind, there is no need of the lines on the hand or face.
TASAWWUF: Lines on the head and hand come from nerve termini. These in turn are affected by the thoughts. Whenever there is thought, there is activity in the brain cells; whenever there are activities in the brain cells, these affect the whole nervous system. Whenever there is nervous agitation, this reaches the terminals, wherever they are.
The Chinese have had a school of medicine of correction through the ends of the nerve terminals wherever they are. In this way they treat mind and body together.
GATHA: Can this language be learned like shorthand? No, the method is different. The method is that, whereas to understand a person every man in his reasoning goes forward from the thought of another, the Sufi goes backward.
TASAWWUF: This is part of unlearning, and also by going backward it means going deeper. Mostly mankind is affected by the surface events. He reads the newspapers; he listens to conversations; he hears by the air; and comes to some conclusions. But actually if one kept very quiet one would find the correspondences of events in the ethers. By silence he can learn to read the ethers and also know what is going on, and not only the effects but also the causes. And then he can tell the time-values and know the movement of cycles, of war and peace, of famine and prosperity, and of all things. This is what Buddha called “Right Mindedness.”
GATHA: All impressions of joy, sorrow, fear, disappointment, become engraved on the mind. This means they have become man’s self. In other words, man is the record of his impressions.
TASAWWUF: Knowing that, man can select which impressions he wishes to receive. No doubt there is fear when the earth element is contaminated and sorrow when the water element is contaminated.
But when the breath becomes lighter, it is also stronger, due to the etheric assimilation and this is to one’s great advantage. By avoiding the heavy breaths one can avoid all heaviness in life.
It is not that we have to adopt what is called the Pollyanna attitude. It is that we can face whatever comes with equanimity. And as one becomes master of breath and servant-master of heart, one can become a wall of armor against unwelcomed impressions. Then the desirable impressions and emotions remain, and the undesirable become less and less important.
GATHA: The religion of the ancients said that the record of man’s actions will be reproduced on the Last Day, and that angels write down all the good and ill done by each one.
TASAWWUF: It is not that angels record good and bad. This was a way to try to teach undeveloped people to become better in their consideration of each other. All that we do or try is recorded in the ethers and all that we do or try produces samskaras which are ultimately weighed or erased.
Different religions also teach that there is an ultimate state of ever lasting day. Then nothing more is recorded because there are no shadows. And in the Indian philosophy this is called “Nishkama Karma,” that there are actions without any disturbing aftereffects. But until this state is reached, and even after it is reached, it is always well to be very careful both of actions and impressions, especially of the latter.
This is why in the Christian religion also it is constantly repeated, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This attitude helps to keep pure the atmosphere in and around us and everywhere.
GATHA: What we learn from this allegorical expression is that all is impressed on the mind; although forgotten, it is always there and will one day show up.
TASAWWUF: That is why when people consulted the seer, Edgar Cayce, he could look into Akashic records and recall and recover. Nothing was lost. And he could use this, and others could use, this to end the suffering.
This also shows that there is logic and justice in the universe, balance and order, and an unceasing movement toward harmony. And what a seer can do in the deep trance state can also be done by the awakened at all times by the deepening of the consciousness in and of heart.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 3
The Balance of Life
GATHA: Every habit makes a line in man’s mind, and the continuation of that habit wakens that line from sleep; in other words it gives the line sensitiveness, which is the feeling of life; and in time man indulges in his habit.
TASAWWUF: If this did not occur there would not be multiplicity and variety. Life began in single-celled animals and plants. It evolved through integration and complication, with an ever-growing accommodation for lifeforce and thus for spirituality. No doubt simplicity and childlikeness have their benefits; if one can continue with innocence along with development, one may become very wise indeed.
The lines marked on the forehead are the externalizations of lines on the mind. But we can change the mind by willpower and we can develop that willpower by internal attunement. Otherwise the willpower will also bring with it reactions, the loss of magnetism and energies.
GATHA: If a person takes a liking to a certain phrase of music its every repetition gives him a renewed joy; when someone enjoys a certain poetry it cannot be repeated to him too often; if anyone likes a certain dish, in time he has a craving for it.
TASAWWUF: The conclusion has been that man is a creature of habit and what it really means is that man is in the captivity of nufs. It is not necessarily wrong, but it is a limitation. Besides, rhythms establish health and a degree of wellbeing. However, if one is too much the creature of habit and a change is required, then one is not always able to meet it.
In the spiritual life one is encouraged to become universal, to tolerate, if not enjoy, all kinds of food, all kinds of art, even every form of religious exaltation.
GATHA: Not only praise or flattery does man enjoy, but even insults, if they have made a deep line on his mind; he will try to tease others or offend somebody, in order to receive an insult. He may not outwardly seem to enjoy it, and yet he will revel in it.
TASAWWUF: Both of these attitudes involve, nufs, the ego, and keep one under the agitations of the ego. Multitudes read in the Gita and elsewhere to be equal-minded in pleasure and pain but they are often unable to behave that way. The psychologists have been able to analyze such situations but that does not mean curing the victims. For both sadism and masochism arise out of egocentricity. And until egocentricity is recognized and rooted out the unsettled conditions will prevail.
Of course the practice of the Presence of God in any form will help, will the promulgation of the principle that the body is the Temple of God. Nobody has a right to interfere with that temple.
Beyond that is the teaching that “The Mind is Buddha.” For if the body is sacred, so also is the mind. When one delights in any form of torture in any way this affects both body and mind and keeps a turmoil which can disturb others.
GATHA: If a person becomes accustomed to sit on a certain rock in a garden he forms a habit of going and seeking the same rock every day; if someone has a liking for the scenery of a certain place he longs to see it every day.
TASAWWUF: It is not only desire-nature. It is also that one benefits from one’s own atmosphere. He longs to extend it and still he benefits from it; it gives him solace that cannot be gained any other way. The same principle may be extended to all things.
GATHA: Of course it depends upon the depth of the line; the deeper the line the more one lives in it. When talking, a business man explains things in terms of pounds and shillings, an architect in the terms of his compass and tools. Every person has his own language and that language is made of his words which come from the deeply engraved line of his mind.
TASAWWUF: This is in the opposite direction of cosmic language which is deep and broad. Of course one can progress from personal language to cosmic language. Every personal language, every craft idiom, is derived from a larger context and then becomes fixed for the purposes of communication. This is why these languages also have been called “esoteric.” They are known to the few; they are known to the specialists in that particular area of expression.
GATHA: Therefore, the work of the mystic is to be able to read the language of the mind. As the clerk in the telegraph office reads letters from the ticks, so the Sufi gets behind every word spoken to him and discovers what has prompted the word to come out. He therefore reads the lines which are behind man’s thought, speech, and action.
TASAWWUF: At one time papers on “Natural Science” were given out, where the discrete meanings of the lines and furrows were presented. This is fine for analysis but gives no opportunity for the awakening of inner faculties, for the deeper aspects of life, nor for attunement between heart and heart. If one reads this way he is making a division between self and other. Actually mystics have a different approach which derives from the attunements of mind, heart, and breath, and not from any dualistic separation.
Besides, if one is skilled in the mysticism of sound, he can tell from the voice placement, the tone, and little nuances just what meaning is there—regardless of the words used. This faculty is used in order to understand and not necessarily for correcting anybody. But if there is understanding, wisdom can come whether in the line of correction or harmony or for any other purpose.
It also comes as a whole. The analytical language is one of separation, of parts; the synthetic language is one of entireties and leads to mutual benefit and understanding.
GATHA: He also understands that every kind of longing and craving in life, good or bad, has its source in deep impressions. By knowing this root of the disease he is easily able to find out its cure. No impression is such that it cannot be erased.
TASAWWUF: The line of the mystic in general is different from that of the healer. There are two types of spiritual healers: one works to eradicate immediate pain, and the other is more psychological, to get at the root and to touch the cause and thus effect permanent correction.
But the mystic does not even make distinction between sick and well. He deals with every person on a different level for a different purpose. Of course all of us are incomplete, imperfect, and perhaps this does not matter. But the mystic and the bodhisattva try to raise the consciousness to a higher level to promote self-understanding and thus move pain away.
GATHA: The mystics have two processes in dealing with these lines. One process is to renew this line by putting in some other colour and therefore changing one impression into another impression. No doubt this needs great knowledge of mental chemistry.
TASAWWUF: This can be done if one has the knowledge of breath. At one level it is beneficial to know the significance of the breath itself, of inhalation and exhalation, of retention, and of coarse and fine efforts. Beyond this is the knowledge of the elements: how they affect the breath and how the breath affects them. Then these can be put together, for what is known as Akasha, or Ether, refines the breath. The refined breath is more capable than anything else to overcome weaknesses, though by itself it cannot be used for outward action.
Many people who have delved into Alchemy see it mostly as an outward art and science, or as merely symbolic. They do not know so much about its realities. Such an approach to Alchemy is seldom beneficial in dealing with the shortcomings of oneself or another.
GATHA: Another way that the mystic takes is to rub out the line from the surface. But often, when the line is deep, it takes the rubbing out of a great portion of the mind to destroy one line.
TASAWWUF: This is very difficult if man tries this with his personal will. Then we say we invoke God. But how do we invoke God? As many mystics tell us, for practical purposes “God is His Name.” And there is a Sufic science called “Irfan,” which roughly interpreted means “gnosis.” By invoking the Name of Allah, one is invoking Allah; then one does not have to consider “my will” or “Thy will” because in Irfan there is only the one will, and it is operative.
One can place the Name of Allah any place inwardly or outwardly and one can use one’s own will to direct this Divine Force and Divine Faculty. It is like exerting a counterpressure. It may be quick or it may take a long time; but the pressure and counterpressure of Allah has also with it the benefit of the Sound itself connoted by “Allah,” so that all aspects of the universe unite here to man’s benefit.
GATHA: Naturally the mystic becomes tolerant of every sort of dealing of others with him, as he sees not only the dealing as it appears, thoughtful or thoughtless, cold or warm, but the cause which is at the back of it.
TASAWWUF: One must lighten one’s heart and breath to accomplish a purpose along this line; doing so automatically refines one. One becomes more tender, more delicate. It puts into operation the teaching that the essence of Allah (Zat) is not separate from his Qualities (Sifat), of which Rahman and Rahim stand out foremost. But the mind makes separations and when Safa is affected, these separations disappear.
As these separations disappear, one becomes every sort of Bodhisattva, so to speak: wise, tolerant, tender, and forgiving. Gradually the perfections of Allah manifest in and through him.
GATHA: By reading the human mind a mystic gets insight into human nature and to him the life of human beings begins to appear as a mechanism working. The mystic learns from this that life is give and take. It is not only that one receives what one gives but also one gives what one receives.
TASAWWUF: There are several aspects of this. Giving and receiving are connected with inhalation and exhalation. One does not have the one without the other. Only one learns to control one’s gains and losses by mastery over the breath and with the knowledge of mysticism. In the end one may reach the states of calm and peace which surmount all other states and touch the depths of personality and life.
Then one also sees how God operates, and especially how God operates with [man]/[and] through man. Thus there is the latent God, so to speak, in the depths of every personality. To awaken it is the work of the mystic and thus there is also a chain of awakenings which goes on at all times.
It is the peaceful state which is most refined and most important, for from this all other states can be derived.
GATHA: In this way the mystic begins to see the balance of life; he realizes that life is a balance, and if the gain or loss, the joy or pain of one outweighs that of another, it is for the moment, but in time it all sums up in a balance, and without balance there is no existence possible.
TASAWWUF: Inhalation, exhalation; night and day; all the seeming dualisms are part of the one Unity. If this were not so there could not even be Unity. And by slowing down, purifying and tenderizing, one reaches the state of nufs-e-salima and becomes a fountainhead and fortress of the Peace of God. Then indeed is a man a true Muslim, but not otherwise. So also then and only then is one a true Sufi, and not otherwise.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 4
The Language of the Mind
GATHA: Everything one expresses in his art, painting, verse, music, is the reproduction of the mind. Not only that, but his choice, his likes and dislikes, his habits, all show what is the state of his mind.
TASAWWUF: There is one aspect of this in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Another aspect comes in Cosmic Language. We are all attuned to the cosmic language but when the ego interferes it is either shunned or shunted or ignored. Still it is there. There is a universal spirit of Guidance and there is also in man something called “freewill,” which gives him the choice of depending on the life within or being allured by the life without.
The seer can easily tell the state of mind of a composer from his music, even when words do not accompany it. The music itself has a meaning, not always one we can verbalize in the usual sense, but it impresses the mind some way or other, and the same with poetry and all the arts.
GATHA: Everything man says or does shows the lines already traced on his mind.
TASAWWUF: There is the universal law of the imprint of samskaras, that they make furrows in the mind. They may be good or bad, favorable or unfavorable, but the important thing is that they are. They may be used to advantage or disadvantage and it becomes a question whether they are man’s servants or masters. This is not determined by will. It is determined by attunement and the deeper man goes into himself the easier it is for him to control them. Conversely the more superficially one lives, the easier it is for samskaras to control him.
GATHA: There is no exaggeration in the saying that man’s face is the mirror of his heart. It seems as if the mind begins to speak through every particle of the body. Since the head is the more predominant factor, man’s expression tells most about the condition of his mind.
TASAWWUF: Sufis have a practice of giving disciples spiritual names. These names are either the reflection of a high inner condition or are used to bring this better condition about. And they make some impression, some suggestion. Suggestion involves thought and thought nerve activity and the terminals of the nerves are marked on the exterior, especially of the head and palms but also everywhere through the body.
There is no action without the involvement of nervous energy and magnetism. The same applies to thoughts and words. We do not remove these vibrations at will. They are marked in the ethers. It is therefore to one’s advantage to take care before any movements involving the mind in any way.
GATHA: No doubt it is difficult to give a certain rule of reading this language expressed in the face, form or movements. But two things can help one to understand it: keen observation to study human nature, and developed intuition.
TASAWWUF: There is an immediate obstacle in that thinking about the subject is of no benefit. One develops keen observation by careful observation and never by reflections about the kind of observing one is doing. And when one takes details seriously they speak to him, they tell.
No doubt this is connected with the developed intuition. Intuition is developed by use. A philosophy about intuition may be very helpful, but that is not enough. The Frenchman Bergson has written much and said much on this subject, but whether his work has been admired or criticized, it has not followed that the intuition has been used much. His acceptance by critics has ironically come at a time when wars, turmoils, and chaos dominate the scene. These should give evidence that the ego-mind is not of much use; if it were these problems and perplexities would not arise.
On the other hand, people who have the developed intuition attune to each other. They not only attune, they commune. And after one learns this attunement and communion practically, he can look at anybody, listen to anybody and know more about them than through surface observation only.
GATHA: Then one begins to have a sort of key to this language; but if you ask him, he cannot express it. From different compositions of composers one can imagine their character, their life and state of mind. As in the science of sound there is tone and the overtone, so in the music of a certain composer there is a sense which stands together with the music. The one who hears the notes, he only enjoys the music; the one who understands the sense, he knows the mind of the composer.
TASAWWUF: The mind of the composer does not necessarily change from opus to opus although these often reflect quite different emotional states. After a time a skilled hearer can know who has been the composer and will also sense a universal state of being behind all his compositions.
GATHA: So the verse is the soul of the poet. For the poetry is not only a poetry, it has its music behind. The one who reads the verse, he only enjoys the poetry; but the one who comprehends the sense in it enjoys the music of this poetry. One who asks a question of himself on hearing a certain word, on seeing a certain movement, on observing a certain expression in a face, must receive an answer from his intuition, telling him the cause of this effect which manifests outwardly. In this way the Sufi makes his way for his journey in the inner world.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 5
The Influence of Experience
GATHA: Beneath the five senses there is one principal sense that works through the others. It is through this sense that one feels deeply and distinguishes between the impressions which come from outside. Every impression and experience gained by this sense is recorded on the mind.
TASAWWUF: This subject has been given considerable consideration by the followers of deep philosophies and psychologies. In India there is the science of control of samskaras and in Sufism one goes directly to the cause of such operations, which is to say the human nufs or ego. Or to put it in other terms, we live according to nirvana or samsara; we accept all the turmoil of external existence or we are able to rise above it. But at the same time there is another approach which accepts everything and to accept everything one must use the mind as a whole; one must use the mind and not be used by the mind.
GATHA: This record is made of deep lines, and the nature of these lines deeply set in the mind is to want the same thing that has already been recorded, according to the depth of the line. And it is according to the depth of these lines that one needs the thing that one has once experienced.
TASAWWUF: We see this reflected even in the physical body. Thus the more effective the emotion or thought, the deeper may be the lines of frowns. The more important the general trend, the more this will show in the lines of the hands, also in the lines of the feet, and the ears. Indeed much of the body reveals the state of mind. And one who can read these lines—which is generally done by Kashf but also by subtle or psychic sight—can know about a person without questioning. But for the mystic the breath is a better indicator if this form of analysis is necessary or valuable.
GATHA: For instance, the liking for salt, sour, or pepper are acquired tastes, and the sign of this acquisition is the deep line on the mind. Each line so produced wishes to live upon its impression, and the lack of that experience is like death to that line. Unpleasant flavors, such as that of fish, or vinegar, or cheese, become pleasant after the line is formed; tastes even more unpalatable than these may become excessively agreeable once the line is well-engraved on the mind.
TASAWWUF: In India there are schools which have made discrete analyzes of types and temperaments drawn to particular savors. It is certain that anything mineral does lower the vitality of the body and personality no matter how much it is desired or seems to benefit the flesh. And all strong flavors energize emotions.
Lord Buddha emphasized the term “curry” and this may have two quite different meanings. One is that it refers to particular, or not to particular, spices and vegetables especially added to rice. The other is that it means anything to balance the otherwise monodiet. The question of palatability, however, may depend upon many factors. And we cannot say that fish, for instance, is positively disagreeable to all, though it is to some people, and it is part of the basic diet of others. Something like vinegar is not only tasty, it is definitely a result of tamasic process, decay. And it can deenergize a person.
Still from another point of view there are natural and acquired tastes. We can benefit from partaking of Sattvic foods although this should never be an absolute requirement. The presumable paths to liberation have been overcrowded with “musts” in diet and habit and yet seldom have they resulted in actual spiritual liberation. One result is that there is too much ego-mentality involved, too little freedom and this lowers the efficiency of Kashf at every level.
GATHA: The same rule is applicable to notes of music. A certain combination of notes, or a certain arrangement, when once impressed on the mind, may become agreeable to it. The more one hears the music which has once been impressed on our mind the more one wants to hear it. And one never becomes tired of it, unless another, deeper line, is formed; then the first line may be neglected and become a dead line.
TASAWWUF: There is an agreement between mysticism and science here that Music, in the all-embracing sense, is universal. But the common usage of the term “Music” in various restrictive senses has not been universal at all. Indeed music has been used for propaganda—there is nothing especially wrong with that, but the basic principles are not reflected in the terms used.
For instance children are taught patriotic songs and marches at a tender age. This impresses them deeply. It even arouses martial feelings which are not always eradicated. And once music has been used for certain emotional or propaganda purposes, it is not easy to erase. Thus while the words of “La Marseillaise” instill patriotism in the French, the tune is of such a nature that it has been adopted in many lands for the purpose of arousing desired feelings.
The songs of different lands may have different rhythms, and also melodies. Melodies often reveal the mental or intellectual state of a people. The rhythms give the fundamental background, derived from prakrit, so to speak. The celebrated British psychologist, Havelock Ellis, wrote The Dance of Life early in his career, whereby he delineated people by “What do you dance?” In other words, “What is your rhythm?” This is basically the Sufi teaching also, and his wife Edith became a disciple in the Sufi Order.
By singing, chanting, and dancing together a more universal harmony may be affected. It has been said that people who pray together stay together, but in song and dance they directly participate and are impelled to harmonize. And it is possible that in this way more and more people will join and work together, for the harmonies of music and dance can be adopted in all walks of life.
GATHA: It is for that reason that the music that belongs to a certain people, whether evolved or unevolved, is their ideal music. Therefore it is not the music written without, it is the music written within the mind that has influence. This is the reason why composers resemble each other in their music, for the lines that are impressed upon their minds have been created by what they have heard, and as the first lines are inherited from other composers there is a resemblance in their music. In this way the music of every people forms its own character.
The same law works in poetry. One enjoys poetry from one’s previous impressions. If the poetry that one reads is not in harmony with the first impressions one will not enjoy it so much. The more one reads a certain poetry the more one enjoys it, because of the deep impression on the mind.
TASAWWUF: Nursery rhymes are used for children and they give basic rhythms and chants. Once learned, they are not easily forgotten if the child is impressed at an early age.
In modern education many forms of poetry are also introduced: in each of the aspects of poetry, lyrical, epic and dramatic. They aid in awakening facets of personality. And they also bring harmony in another way. Thus there is a custom at Taj for groups to come together and read, recite, and create poems. The Persians (Iranians) have games in poetry or rhyme creation, which are not only a source of pleasure, but also of inspiration.
Repetitions also make a deep effect, especially of rhythmical lines and these effects continue. The schema of Lord Tennyson’s Locksley Hall has a strange influence in opening inner vision as it did first to him and then to others who used the same scansion. The poems of Hafiz have been even more effective.
GATHA: From this we learn that not only what is desirable but also what is undesirable may become a favorite thing. Even things that one would like never to have, such as pain, illness, worry or death, if they are deeply impressed on one’s mind, one unconsciously longs to experience again.
TASAWWUF: One thus learns the patriotic thrill and other influences which come early in life and responds to them more or less automatically. But also on the side of pain, there are people who develop a sort of masochistic enjoyment. They have had pain, they expect pain, and pain seems to become as a norm.
The worst forms have come in religion which have instilled beliefs in powerful hells and which also belittle mankind, to make one feel he is nothing. It is only before God that man is nothing. God has placed the whole world at his feet for his control and even enjoyment.
The wise try to break their habits especially habits which have no place in the eternal life. We are all subject to change and if we become creatures of habit, any change will bring pain and any pain will bring change.
GATHA: It is very interesting to find that if a man has formed an opinion about a certain thing or person and after a time there has been everything to disprove that opinion, he will still hold on to his impression and will not like to change his opinion, because of these lines deeply impressed on his mind.
TASAWWUF: The wise, knowing this, try to break their egos especially when there is no benefit from forming a habit and getting enjoyment from the habit rather than from the experience. Many of our divisions have arisen out of these attachments, and also political differences, internal and external, arise therefrom and do not belong to the world of absolutes.
When one learns to control his impressions (samskaras) he becomes a free man, and for this the science and art of esotericism is more helpful.
GATHA: How true is what the mystic says, that the true ego of man is his mind! And it is still more amusing to find that after spending his life under the influence of the deep impressions on his mind man still boasts of what he calls his free will.
TASAWWUF: Yes, there is a certain freedom in being able to select impressions and identifying with them. But this very freedom is also a restriction in that one is limited to these particular enjoyments. One’s limitation of his own enjoyments is a restriction man has put on himself.
When one identifies with the Spirit of the Universe there is no end to enjoyment, but not in any limited sense. Bliss, Joy and Love have no limits.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 6
GATHA: The modern psychologist adopts a system of psychoanalysis in order to investigate the state of mind of his patient, and the barrister in the law court cross-examines in order to investigate the truth of the case. All these methods are more or less useful when they are rightly practiced, but the chief thing for getting to the mind of a person is to see the person, in his form, in his expression, in his movements, in his words, in his imagination and in the way of his action.
TASAWWUF: The knowledge gained by analysis is necessarily limited. It is useful but still limited. There are points of view in some sciences according to whether the approach is that of the static or dynamic outlook, and most analyzes are, in this sense, static. All the knowledge of anatomy does not necessarily reveal the state of health or illness of anybody. Physiology is more useful because it establishes a sort of norm but still does not tell too much of each individual.
A blueprint is not a building nor a musical score a concert. The Sufi outlook and even the Sufi sciences which may be called esoteric are partly so because of the incompleteness of some other methods. There are now handwriting experts who can tell much of a person’s character, outlook, and place in life. And there are other approaches which are not always called “scientific” but which are none the less pragmatic; they work. So the Sufi also assumes a position, “by their words ye shall know them;” and uses every form of examination and observation to learn about another.
GATHA: And the principal thing which helps in seeing the mind of another person is the light of intuition. Nothing else, neither rules nor studies nor standard of understanding can help without the development of intuition.
TASAWWUF: This subject is dealt with at length in Cosmic Language and, of course, in the commentary thereof. But neither the basic teachings nor the addenda are of themselves of much use to the seeker unless he puts them into practice. A cookbook does not supply a meal nor a roadmap alone take one to one’s destination.
Even years of study and devotion does not always bring the realization of the words of Khatum, “Open Thou our heart that we may hear Thy Voice which cometh constantly from within.” Yes, the voice is there; the guidance is there. Sometimes it is like a kind of looking, more often like a kind of feeling or hearing. It seems to operate from the whole personality and yet this operation is also as if channeled and if one can get the drift of that channeling he will be aware of the Spirit of Guidance which is there in all of us.
It is something like rule and law and certainly there is always a spirit of harmony in it, and also a spirit of assurance which one can feel. By trusting that feeling one can grow and grow both inwardly and outwardly.
GATHA: But one thing must be remembered, that man shows the lines engraved upon his mind in his form, expression, in his movements, words, in his imagination, and action, and it is possible to detect a man from his word before his action, or from his movement before his action, or from his expression before his words, or from his form before even he had time to imagine. Therefore the knowledge of this can save a great deal of trouble in life, if man only knows beforehand how to act with different people.
TASAWWUF: Just as man has three bodies, so to speak, so every cell and atom of his being has a subtle and spiritual counterpart. Every portion of the body radiates overtones, so to speak, conveying the vibrations of mind. This language is open to the still deeper part of his being.
No doubt one can see this more clearly in the eyes. The eyes have all kinds of languages and all kinds of vibrations. There, every part of man’s inner and outer being comes to the surface and radiates. It is not only the physical light that is radiated, but also the light from the mental and angelic planes; all manifest in and through the eyes. To a seer these vibrations are very effective and tell much.
We can see the soft eyes, the hard eyes, the radiant eyes, the sad eyes—all the emotions are easily discernible if one is aware. Not only that but the whole state of being. And as one looks, his own inner being begins to express itself more consciously, to pick up and interpret all one sees, and of course, to record the vibrations—each according to its kind.
GATHA: The person who acts in the same manner with every person, however good or kind he may be must always meet with disappointments. As the direction of the fire is upwards and that of water is downwards, so the direction of one person is different from that of another. Therefore if you expect a person who is going to the south to take your message to the north, you will find yourself mistaken in the end.
TASAWWUF: This teaching was also offered in the Candidates’ Gathekas, especially those dealing with “The Intoxication of Life.” This state leads man to adopt standards and principles, but these standards and principles may be emanations of his own ego and do not necessarily reflect the position or condition of another. Therefore the Sufi does not always adopt a universal standard. In turn he is often most misunderstood because what the world calls “justice” is based on theoretical standards and does not necessarily bring justice to individuals.
Modern society realizes that according to what is called “environment” and also according to the grade of evolution entailing all kinds of variations, there can be no absolute justice. Besides, in this there is no scope for mercy.
The adept not only uses his intuitive faculties but knows how to tell from the condition of his breath, something about each person he meets, each situation in which he is involved.
GATHA: Generally a person dealing with others thinks of the affair more than of the person. Really the person must be the chief object of study, not the affair, for the affair depends upon the person.
TASAWWUF: The whole teaching is to regard the person as important. In this sense events are accidents; they do not determine life. Events give no scope for human consideration or for morality. And the more we look into each individual, the more scope we find for life and the more expressions we can discover of the operation of the divine life on the surface.
Here we must not regard the divine life as separate from life on the surface. If we are to distinguish spiritual from divine, it is that the divine life includes everything. It cannot be separated from anything—the spiritual is often contrasted with the material and the subtle with the obvious or heavy, but the divine life is all-inclusive and if we disregard anything or anybody we do not grasp its full significance.
GATHA: In the East there is a superstition of a dog or a cat or a horse being unlucky or lucky for the person who possesses it, but the reality of this idea can be seen in every human being with whom one comes in contact through one’s everyday life. He must surely bring something with him, pleasure, displeasure, happiness, unhappiness, good or bad influence. Every man in himself is a world, and every new contact is a new world opened before us.
TASAWWUF: This is a theme in Gayan and also in the brochure Metaphysics published in A Sufi Message. We are brought up in an environment which posits individualism and separateness, yet Jesus has said, “I am the Vine and ye are the branches thereof.” Abdul Baha has said, “People of the world, you are as branches of the tree, and leaves of the branch.” Epidemics and earthquakes, even wars make us really a brotherhood of suffering. But there is equally a brotherhood of enjoyment when once the heart is open.
The teachings on Metaphysics show the way of the Sufi, how he does not see anybody as separate, that every person is a leaf of the book of life and every event adds something to its contents.
Mr. Paul Reps has written Ask a Potato. Of course one can ask a potato, but over the vegetable one can ask the animal, and far over the animal one can ask man. It is not that the teachings are wrong; they are very right, for every atom of the universe contains the divine wisdom. But how much more in man! How much more we can see in everybody if we only look!
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 7
Evidence of the Thought
GATHA: When a person is thinking, you can see his thoughts in his eyes, in his expression, in his movements. Things such as opening or closing the eyes, looking up or looking down, and looking out the corners of the eyes, turning the head to the right or left, raising it or bowing it, scratching the fingers, rubbing the hands, turning the thumbs, a half smile, puckering the face or the forehead, sitting stiffly or at ease, sitting upright or leaning back, or leaning to one side or to the other, all show to the seer the line of thought. Especially when a person is asked a question, before he answers the seer knows what will be his answer from his attitude.
TASAWWUF: This science is studied both objectively and subjectively by the Sufis; both from a knowledge of form and symbols and through response to the intuition, it becomes natural to learn from every experience of life. This whole subject is offered again and again in the literature and perhaps best in Cosmic Language. One can even memorize the meanings of all movements but then it becomes too intellectual, too slow. To be efficient one works with spontaneity. Kashf is not a time-space or mediate function. It is immediate and at the same time transcendental; it perceives and pierces.
Opening the eyes generally shows interest and intelligence. Closing them may be due to fatigue, lack of interest, or inability to comprehend. Looking upward is often a sign of pride, downward of modesty or selflessness, refinement or respect. Looking out the corners of the eyes may be due to deep thinking or again it may be due to slyness. In deep thinking the light is concentrated, and in slyness it is sharp, like a sword and not bread.
The tendency to turn the head to the right or left is a sign of doubt, whereas a straightforward look reveals a straightforward person. Raising the head shows vanity and bowing it humility, as in Salat. The movements of the prayers are all connected with psychic principles as well as with devotion.
Scratching the fingers or rubbing the hands shows impulsiveness and lack of control. Turning the thumbs shows presence or absence of willpower; when the willpower is weak the thumbs will not hold still; when it is strong they may be held or released at will. In a careless person the thumbs will not be held in a position harmonious to the fingers.
The half smile is a sign of high character, often of spirituality; puckering the face or the forehead is a sign of bitterness in one’s life or character. Sitting at ease shows sociability and amiability while sitting stiffly may indicate pride, conceit, or egoism. Sitting upright shows balance, while leaning backwards indicates one has to be on guard against much opposition in life. Leaning to the right shows one’s life is spent among enemies, leaning to the left that one is among friends.
All these postures and positions show the operations of psychic and cosmic forces. They operate that way. And therefore in some schools the psychic art and science is to propose or impel postures that will effect the right movements and the absorption of qualities and forces needed by a person in moral and spiritual development (not necessarily the same.). The Zen Buddhist postures today are few—they once were many—and are presumed to take one in a most direct line to the goal.
In Hatha Yoga one learns many positions and combinations of poses and postures which will work toward a definite end. It is not a matter of mind at all; it is not a matter of suggestion. Any position that the body takes reflects the personality, and any corrective posture benefits the personality.
GATHA: The Hindus believe that the creation is Brahma’s dream, which means the Creator’s dream—in plain words, what the Creator has thought He has made. So, in proportion to his might, man makes what he thinks. What materializes we call happening, but what has not materialized we don’t know, and what we don’t know still exists in the thought-world.
TASAWWUF: This is also presented in the literature and sometimes we find in the literature more profound teachings than in the sacred papers. But the ignorant do not know that and those who act as teachers or presume to act as teachers without the inner awakenings (sometimes called “initiations”) cannot bring the knowledge to the disciples. It may all then be opinion or fancy or speculation. It will not be knowledge.
Man has been made in the image of God, which means that the principles which seem to come from God are also at man’s disposal. He can apply them at will and most of all when he attunes his will by esoteric practices and devotions to the Universal Will. For every little thought or imagination makes its appearance in the physical world: if complete it becomes act and fact; if incomplete it nevertheless leaves a mark on the body and expression.
The real power behind thought is the will. This will is not so direct a faculty of mind, though it works through and with mind. It comes from the depth of mind, which is heart. Willpower may grow with concentration but it does not grow by seemingly forcing it. All one does then is misuse psychic power without much accomplishment. On the other hand, the abandonment of will which may also come through esotericism and devotion, actually brings more power, more light, more magnetism.
The operations of the thought-world are explained in the literature. This can be studied intellectually or mechanically, but once the Insight, or Kashf becomes the way of life, one can understand immediately, without effort.
GATHA: In the Qur’an it is said, “The organs of your body will give evidence of your action on the Last Day.” Really speaking, not only of the action only but evidence even of the thought is given by every atom of the body immediately. The nature of the manifestation is such that there is nothing hidden except that which one cannot see, and what one cannot see is not hidden in itself, but from one’s eyes.
TASAWWUF: The “Last Day” may mean both finality and what is occurring this every instant. For not only are the eyes the windows of the soul, the eternity is near and now. When Mohammed said that Allah is closer than the neck-vein he meant just that, and its being ignored by the people who are convinced they accept and follow him does not detract one bit from the truth nor prevent any seer from functioning to the full.
Mental vibrations themselves are endowed with intelligence, and they become atoms only after they are disseminated in the mental world. These vibrations may be of a much finer nature and more penetrating than one may conceive. The Mind-World is full of wonders.
GATHA: The aim of the Sufi, therefore, is to see and yet not be interested. Suppose you were climbing Mount Everest, and were interested in a certain place which you liked, to admire it, or in the part which you disliked, to break it. In both cases you have allowed your feet to be chained to that place for more or less time, and by that have lost time and opportunity; whereas you could have gone on forever and perhaps seen and learnt more than by stopping there.
TASAWWUF: There are in this respect three teachings:
1. Indifference, which may also be called detachment. One may be in the world but not of it. One may live and fulfill all one’s obligations and yet by attunement and devotion to God (or to some universal outlook, apart from personalities) continue on as a human being and yet fulfilling the functions of, let us say, a superman. A superman is not a cosmic magician but one who adheres steadfastly to his purposes in life.
2. Fulfilling one’s purpose in life. Whatever it be—to adhere, to concentrate and not be deviated by small or greater temptations—one can pursue this by observation of breath, or by chanting inwardly, and also by concentration which can be continued through all functions.
3. Relating all things to one’s final purpose. This comes when one has the broad outlook, when one fulfills the functions of, let us say, the Vijnana and Anananda outlooks, when one functions as a Bodhisattva or as a Zakir.
GATHA: Those who trouble about other’s thoughts and interest themselves in other’s actions most often lose their time and blunt their inner sight. Those who go farther, their moral is to overlook all they see on their ways, as their mind is fixed on the goal.
TASAWWUF: Jesus has said, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” Qur’an teaches, “Verily with difficulty cometh ease.” But as the ordinary way is to avoid unnecessary burdens and to adhere to verbal formulae rather than to increase the scope of heart, this is not always done. We were not sent into the world to correct each other’s faults, but to correct our own. It is only occasionally that the Divine Spirit may descend with warnings. The average person is more concerned with the faults of others than even with his own virtues. This has been decried by all Messengers of God at all times but instead of accepting the teachings, the whole tenor has been in personality worship and here again the Messengers are united, that only by one’s own efforts can one attain salvation. There is no “easy” way, but it also may be there is no “hard” way, only “few there be that find it.”
GATHA: It is not a sin to know anybody’s thought, but it is a fault no doubt if one professes to do so. To try to know the thought of another for one’s own interest is not just or beneficial; at the same time to sit with closed eyes is not good either.
TASAWWUF: Gayan teaches that it is not the purpose of a mystic to point out another’s faults, but neither is it his mission to overlook them. Verbal condemnations have not reformed many people; it is only on rare instances that this can be done. When it can be done, it should be done. When it cannot be done, the wise seek other methods.
The general tendency is to overlook the great sins of great people and to be very obdurate about the small shortcomings of other people, say, one’s neighbors. In the New Age we have to try to love the neighbor as the self and to stop indulging in verbal formulas as substitutes for virtue. If you cannot be wise, then keep silent.
GATHA: The best thing is to see and rise above, never to halt on the way, and it is this attitude that, if constantly practiced, will lead man safely to his soul’s desired goal.
TASAWWUF: The cultivation of the broad outlook; the learning to rely upon Kashf; the practice of devotion all help one to clear one’s own path. When one’s own path is clear he can see more and better and then he will find that all things fit into their place.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 8
The Activity of the Mind
GATHA: The activity of mind can be recognized in three different aspects, mobile, rhythmic and chaotic. And the activity of mind can be seen by the speech and action of a person.
TASAWWUF: One reads much about the gunas, and one will memorize these gunas and their characteristics. But it is not so easy to pursue this knowledge into the daily life, to observe all and determine wherein the sattvic actually dominates; wherein the rajasic is foremost; and also what is tamasic or chaotic. Many people having a surface verbal or mental knowledge easily fall into tamas. The tamas person is full of suggestions—for others; he does not take himself seriously and it is a tragedy when others do that.
GATHA: If, in speech and action a person shows a friendly attitude, love and kindness, the activity is mobile, and every impulse prompted by this activity will manifest in the form of gentleness, generosity, gratitude and good will.
TASAWWUF: This is the sattvic outlook. No doubt the Bhagavad Gita has given us some splendid philosophy along with much else of wisdom. But this alone is not the Krishna-consciousness, and one can repeat mantrams all day long without having more than a tinge of the Krishna consciousness. For people also have repeated the names of Christ and Buddha and this has not produced any internal transformation. Indeed such methods are often contrary to the actual teachings. The substitution of personality for friendliness, love, and kindness toward others is a delusion, one much admired but bearing no fruit.
While Sufism is based on a different approach, nevertheless Sufism uses humanity more than any other teaching, and it is not in formulae or token mantrams, but in the actual application to life that spirituality and growth are manifest. As Sohrawardi, one of the great Sufis, has said, “Consideration consists of extending consideration to others and never seeking consideration for oneself.”
GATHA: If the activity is rhythmic it will make a person more reasoning. He will be exacting, weighing, measuring, loving and hating; liking and dislike will be balanced. This is not an easygoing person; this person will be more businesslike. All that manifests from him in speech or action will be more substantial, reasonable, also progressive in a worldly sense.
TASAWWUF: The rajasic people are the ones who accomplish the worldly things. Among the nations perhaps the United States is the most rajasic. It best fulfills the principles connected with rajas. There is also change going on, and much satisfaction but not necessarily increase of happiness and if bliss is rising it is due to other factors, especially an innate awareness of the superiority of sattva. And when sattva and rajas are skillfully blended we may find the wisest courses of life manifesting.
It is rajas that has given birth to civilizations, to technologies, to inventions, and also to the fulfillment of ambitions. But it is rajas also that has brought about wars and struggles and rivalries. Still, action is needed in the world, and with all faults, this is far superior to torpor.
GATHA: But the person whose activity of mind is chaotic will be agitated, confused, suspicious, horrified, and all that will manifest in his speech and action will be anger, passion, intolerance, imprudence, and will be difficult for himself and for others.
TASAWWUF: The tamasic attitude is verbally decried and perhaps most of all by the tamasic people themselves. The splendid example of Mahatma Gandhi did not prevent the useless killing of millions of persons. For there is something especially in the East which regard the rajasic guna as evil and every effort is made to avoid action under the supposition that useless action is an ill. Such persons do not see that useless inaction is still a greater evil.
We need not be surprised therefore, when those people who make the greatest claims to spirituality are found engaging in more mob actions, more mass emotions than others. They have no self-control. Instability is the order of the day. And it is worse when this manifests among the educated and cultured people. When they go wild they are worse than others. They are like the cats which are unusually calm when calm and unusually hostile when perturbed.
The inability to study and apply the gunas, especially by those who study Scriptures superficially, has become the cause of more internal wars, and some external wars. This will continue until people apply their teachings to themselves first and do not expect too much idealism from others.
GATHA: No soul is by nature fixed to any of these three aspects of activity; it is what he allows himself to be or what the condition of his life makes him be.
TASAWWUF: There is a similar teaching in the Bible, that Noah had three sons: Shem, Japtheth and Ham. They correspond to the three gunas. But knowing this intellectually or symbolically is not of much help. It is valuable when one can control the qualities, when one has made himself the master. And when one has made himself master, he may control all affairs of life.
There is a little known work, Hebrew Language Restored, by the Frenchman, Fabre D’Olivet, wherein he explains the meaning of the words and the functions attached thereto. These become valuable when first internalized and then put into practice. When Noah cursed Canaan he was condemning the human ego. The ego is greatest when the tamasic guna (i.e. Ham) is dominant in human nature.
Noah stands for universal repose and is found in the teachings concerning “Silent Life” which is beyond and yet within every aspect of life. In one sense Noah stands for the soul of man personalized. In another, for that Cosmic Peace from which all come and to which all return.
GATHA: Therefore the principle of Sufi teaching is to regulate the rhythm of man’s mind. Then the Sufi becomes the master of the rhythm of his own mind, his mind becomes his instrument. He can play on it any music of any rhythm and nothing will affect it, for he is no longer in the hand of his mind; his mind is in his hand.
TASAWWUF: No doubt the first step is to appreciate this intellectually. But that is only an introduction. One has to learn, study, assimilate and digest; and to learn, study, assimilate and digest is not a surface studying of these words and what they connote. There is such a thing as deep meditation which takes in each aspect of teaching until one identifies oneself with it consciously and also identifies the teaching with himself. The bare words are like clothing and the clothing can be changed, for one is not one’s clothes.
To regulate rhythm one must first understand rhythm. We make use of music and dancing and breathing exercises for this purpose. Also in the practices of meditation and concentration it is most necessary to maintain rhythm in order to succeed. Thinking about it is no good and self-approval is a subtle obstacle. One must become the processes which one is considering.
To say that one can play with any music or any rhythm does not give one either the facility or faculty. For this most serious self-discipline is needed. When one goes to the opera one must either listen to the music and watch, or the whole purpose of one’s attendance is lost. So it is with life and especially with the spiritual teachings. Therefore, the wise show the aspirants how to breathe properly, walk properly, sing properly, dance properly, and perform all services in life properly. By “properly” here is meant the skillful adjustment and adaptations of the blending of rajas and sattva.
There is a time when the descent of the Holy Spirit, so to speak, occurs. Then one’s breath is refined; one senses and operates from a wider outlook; the heart is filled with living compassion, kindness and consideration. This makes it possible to lead others, to teach others, and to help others in the line of attunement which is most valuable and important for spiritual development.
When one cannot do this consciously, there is always recourse to silence, to silent meditation and to restraint of activity. For the cosmos is Living and the more one appreciates the Divine Presence the more this Divine Presence will operate through the personality.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 9
Likes and Dislikes
GATHA: What one dislikes in line, form, colour, smell, taste, or sound, or in sense or idea, is not disliked because it deserves to be so, but because it is foreign to one’s nature.
TASAWWUF: There are certain sayings, and they are not wrong, that art or music or some other aesthetic function is the salvation of humanity. Then one selects some particular aspect of the art and considers it as if universal.
There are examples in the studies where something called “music” has been used to help people who are ill in mind or body or otherwise, and it has failed. Musical tones themselves are of great value and there are overtones which penetrate into the worlds unseen. Music as understood by the scientists may so be used, but particular aspects of music, of schools of national and international art, have no such validity. And to play some composition of the East or West and apply it to some specific case fails. There is no especial attunement from the soul of man to keep it in line with the compositions of even the greatest artist. For all compositions are filled with mental aspects, and though there are often subtle elements, they are mostly limited by the psyche of the composer.
A scientist, and especially a laboratory scientist, can find equal or equivalent values in the musics of all peoples. Not the Chinese, nor the Hindus, nor the Indonesians, nor the Nigerians, nor the Western people are necessarily superior. Combinations of tones, the creation of a master artist or of a skilled technician do not necessarily produce marvelous effects. It is necessary to have the attunements of the ears, the minds, and the hearts of the audiences.
Indian music has the superiority in that the player often tunes himself to the audience and then brings about an alignment between performance and listeners. Other musics and especially those of the West, treat compositions as if they were some sort of revelation, and that the internal consciousness of the listeners did not matter. So it is that those who are fixed, who are attuned to certain types of music, to certain moods and modes, do not always appreciate the arts of other peoples. And the same applies to all the senses.
GATHA: Once a person becomes accustomed to anything, he develops love for it in himself. Therefore, often some people have a liking for certain things which many others dislike, or a dislike of certain things many others like.
TASAWWUF: This applies to all things. The Sufi Message has as one of its aims the brotherhood of humanity and this can come about when people accept the foods, clothing, habits, even the folk festivals and religions of others. There is a way to attune to the hearts of strangers and this is done through Insight and not so much through philosophy although that sometimes helps.
GATHA: Often when traveling in the train a person feels more comfortable if no one else comes into his compartment, but once someone has come and sat there, if they have spoken together and become acquainted, then they wish to travel together.
TASAWWUF: This is particularly noticeable in India where the train crews are most hospitable and this also helps to bring traveling companions together. And as it is their custom to discuss lofty subjects it is especially pleasing to a person of spiritual inclination to meet such companions. But also in each land there are certain subjects which are considered proper for conversation and the more one learns of these subjects, the less will he be a stranger and the more comfort and satisfaction will he find everywhere.
GATHA: All things have their beauty, and so has every person his goodness, and one’s dislike of a person very often comes from lack of knowing that person or from lack of familiarity with him. What makes one dislike things and despise men is a certain barrier which very often the one who dislikes does not know and also the one who is disliked does not know.
TASAWWUF: From the Sufi point of view every one is the beloved of Allah, no exceptions. True the ego-movements may be very strong and the shadows of nufs ammara may be in control. But as has been explained by analogy, whenever we dig deeply we will sooner or later find water; so whenever we delve into personalities sooner or later we find light. There is no exception because otherwise the atoms of the body would not, could not cling together. This shows there is some form of love in all of us.
There are many people who theorize about saving others, or about compassion. This of itself is not harmful until one’s self-satisfaction with such ideas completely controls a person, whereupon the zeal for human consideration flags. The teaching of Jesus Christ that we should love one another also includes that we have no right to dislike one another. It has been said that one should eschew evil without blaming the evil-doer, and it is consideration which helps elevate the evil-doer above his ways, although this is sometimes a long and arduous path. But no one is compelled to change others; life itself will do that if left alone.
GATHA: The work of the Sufi is therefore to investigate the truth about all things or persons whom he likes or dislikes. By a keen observation of life he gets to that barrier and understands what it is that makes him disliked or makes him dislike others.
TASAWWUF: We may consider this from the standpoints of philosophy and psychology which are analytic. Then even if one finds reasons, and beyond reasons causes, this does not of itself surmount the difficulties. What is needed is attunement and this comes from Insight. It is the more developed person who must show the attunement and Insight and expect himself to help others and not expect others to help him.
This subject is presented in The Mysticism of Sound but the mere intellectual consideration of that work is not enough. If it were enough there would be a multitude of saviours operating in the world.
GATHA: All fear, doubt, suspicion, misunderstanding, bitterness, or spite becomes cleared as soon as one touches that barrier which keeps souls apart.
TASAWWUF: One crossing of barriers comes when the breath becomes light. When the breath becomes light then it happens that one is “blessed with the spirit.” Especially if people meditate together, and either in the presence of a teacher or by repetition of the Invocation surmount at least one barrier, then the negative emotions begin to fade in the light. The ego can not hold on strongly when one breathes lightly or when one holds onto sacred phrases by thought or word.
GATHA: It is true that one need not force one’s nature. It is not necessary to dislike what one likes or to take a liking to something that by nature one dislikes; only one must know why one likes if one likes a certain thing, and the reason why one dislikes if one takes a dislike to a certain thing.
TASAWWUF: There was a Rabbi in San Francisco who during the early days of Hitler used to lecture on “The dislike of the unlike.” It was a marvelous theme and he seemed to be entirely sincere. But when there was a change in the outlooks, when other people were involved, the people who admired him had their own dislikes for the unlike. Little was changed by persecution or war or peace conferences, because there was no way shown how to exemplify high ideals—not just with words.
A much better approach is the positive one, for if one cannot change the world, he can change himself. And this is most easily accomplished through the refinement of breath, and then of feelings. Then, without losing sight of what is in front of one, one may perceive deeply or causally.
GATHA: After observation one will come to understand, “All I like in the world is what I have always liked, and all I dislike is what I have always disliked in life.” It can be said in other words, “What I know to be lovable I have always loved and all that I don’t know I cannot love at once.”
TASAWWUF: So the first corrective is to begin to know and what one knows, one will love. If one stands apart one cannot learn and when one cannot learn, one cannot love. He can even deceive himself on that; for truly loving is not just being negative, it is being positive and yet fully considerate.
GATHA: This shows that ignorance becomes a cover over all that is beautiful and ugly, and knowledge uncovers it; liking comes from knowledge and dislike from ignorance, although both are necessary.
TASAWWUF: According to most Indian philosophies, it has been necessary for the human soul to evolve through ignorance, or avidya. Knowing the word avidya itself does not add to the deep knowledge. Sometimes having a slight knowledge of the Sanskrit is liable to produce more confusion, but still we find that the Indian languages are often more exact in such matters than the European languages.
When one understands the whole cosmic psychology and the relation of progress to one’s capacity for bliss, the whole picture becomes clear.
GATHA: Also it is possible that through ignorance one may like a certain thing and by knowledge one may rise above that liking. However, the higher knowledge must always give liking for all things, and things which do not deserve liking, above them a soul will rise by the help of knowledge.
TASAWWUF: It cannot be repeated too often: “Thy list is in all forms, Thy love in all beings.” Perhaps this must be repeated thousands and thousands of times to produce the right impression. To say that God is the Creator and then to deny His creatures shows that there are lessons to be learned. One need not become hypocritical but one can rise above the distinctions and differences which divide men.
the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls
Who Form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.
Gatha with Commentary Series II: Number 10
GATHA: In man’s speech and in his action the seer sees designs: a straight line, a round, a crooked line, zigzag, oval, square, a triangle.
TASAWWUF: This subject is presented first in the Gathas on Symbology, but there are many places in the teachings which throw light on the subject. The psychic sciences may be slow of development but in the future they will be recognized along with the physical sciences.
In a sense all things proceed from the dot. There is also a science behind the Hebrew language based on this, but it became lost when the mere formulae were studied without the corresponding awakening in men’s consciousness. Indeed the seer can read from these expressions, both in the movements of man and in his creative arts.
These movements, these symbols, tell the wise both what man has an abundance of and what he is lacking, for several of them are mutually exclusive. By proper exercises in concentration, by suitable breathing practices, and by corrections in postures, the bodies and minds of all people can be turned and tuned aright.
GATHA: For instance there is a person who speaks straight to the face all he feels.
TASAWWUF: Usually this is a straightforward person. If he is not straightforward there will be a dimness in the eyes; they will be shadowy or watery; they will not be full of light. But if one is straightforward and has light and magnetism he will be found to be honest.
GATHA: There is another person who proceeds in a roundabout way.
TASAWWUF: This person may be considerate and tactful, careful not to harm another, and yet not especially intuitive.
GATHA: There is another person who has a crooked way of mentioning a thing.
TASAWWUF: This person is also readily distinguished and his tone of voice is uneven. He may be under the influence of the air element and so he can be reached by correcting his breathing, and refining it. That will often change him without any appealing otherwise. In a similar manner the roundabout person can be helped by repeating “Toward the One” which will bring him to a point.
GATHA: There is a person who will touch two opposite angles before he will arrive at the desired point; there is another person who will go about in a zigzag way, you can’t know whether he is going to the south or to the north until he has arrived at a certain point.
TASAWWUF: The person who touches two angles is very likely to be analytical and often skeptical. The zigzag person is never too sure of himself though he may seem fair-minded and kind-hearted. In such cases one must watch one’s own breath and if one’s breath is strong and refined without a word being spoken he will control the atmosphere. By controlling the atmosphere he will be helpful to another and also subtly dominate any scene.
GATHA: These figures represent the lines on the mind of man. Man does not feel comfortable in acting differently from the lines already engraved upon his mind. Therefore a crooked person enjoys his crookedness as much as a straightforward person enjoys his straightforwardness.
TASAWWUF: The breath takes the direction of the mental lines. Only by correction of breathing can these mental lines be changed, unless another really wants to change; and this is mostly as a result of pain, although sometimes love helps very much. But few are changed by the willpower of another. Indeed there may be strong resistance.
Therefore refinement of breath is most valuable and from this refinement of manner. Also in this way without hypocrisy one may more readily harmonize with others and also be helpful to them.
GATHA: A most interesting study of this subject can be made by studying the art of different ages and of different nations. Every nation has its typical lines and typical forms, every period shows the peculiarity of expression of the art of that period.
TASAWWUF: Oswald Spengler has explained this in detail in The Decline of the West. It has been presented also in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Besides this, the European Sufi Scholar, Titus Burckhardt, has had some articles and books published on this subject.
Considerable studies have been made along this line, especially since there has been intermingling of Eastern and Western cultures; this also has led to eclecticism and universal approaches. It is from these that the idea of a universal temple has been offered, and it is possible that such a structure will some day appear, so that there will be a “house of prayer for all peoples.” Such a structure will help in the directions of peace and brotherhood.
There have been parallel studies in the history of mathematics, in particular, of geometry and also of the various theories of perspective used by artists in different parts of the world.
GATHA: So one finds in the imagery of poets and in the theme of musicians. If you study one musician and his lifelong work you will find that his whole work is developed on a certain line as the basis of his work.
TASAWWUF: Nowhere is this more clear than in the lives of such European composers as Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky. But it will also be found true if we study poets and musicians in detail. Their themes, methods, ideals, and efforts all teach us something of their personalities, their times, and the surroundings in which they lived.
This being true it is possible for a constructive artist to create, compose, and teach in such a way as to affect the humanity around him. So now the Sufis are teaching more and more in the lines of music and dancing again and also reviving the great poetry which, perhaps, has never been surpassed.
GATHA: Also by studying the biography of great people you will find how one thing has led to the other, different but of similar kind. Therefore it is natural that a thief in time becomes a greater thief; so the righteous after some time may become a saint.
TASAWWUF: This subject has also been discussed in The Mysticism of Sound and is found in various places in the literature. However, one should go ahead and make independent studies so that he can know this and not just take it on blind faith. Many people accept on blind faith and this stultifies their Kashf. For this the heart must be always open.
There are untold sciences and unexplored areas which will be considered by scientists as the faculty of Insight is developed. The Japanese Daisetz Suzuki has proclaimed that Zen is really Prajna and enlightenment is really the extension of Prajna which is identical with the Sufi Kashf. But the words are empty without operation. The Prajna Paramita Sutra proclaims Prajna and also that words are empty; here is a word—is it empty or not? The use of this type of logic and this application or misapplication of words is very confusing and has caused rifts in the writers on Zen and Buddhism. But rifts are only natural when people write on subjects and have not had the requisite experience.
A scientist writing on butterflies is presumed to have examined butterflies; a chemist telling about some compound such as saturated fats and oils is presumed to have done some laboratory research. But a writer of profundities may easily substitute obtuse language and complexities and have his work accepted as being wisdom and there is no evidence for it. A little child may have Kashf and an aged philosopher may be devoid of it.
GATHA: It is not difficult to slide on the line already made on one’s mind, the difficulty is to act contrary to the line which is engraved there, especially in the case when it happens to be an undesirable line.
TASAWWUF: It is taught that a Sufi does everything possible to break his own nufs, ego. There are no doubt undesirable foods, especially those frowned on by the various Divine Messengers. But it is also possible to regard as undesirable those foods, those types of clothing, those personal and social habits which are strange. When strangeness is confused with undesirability, it is wise to alter one’s ways. When that which is exotic is regarded as unwelcome, then also one must examine oneself.
GATHA: Shiva, the great Lord of Yogis, has given a special teaching on the subject, which he calls Viprit Karnai, “Acting contrary to one’s nature,” and he gives great importance to this method of working with oneself, that by this method, in the end, one arrives at mastery.
TASAWWUF: This was also used by the commentator in passing from subjectivity to objectivity, from objectivity to subjectivity, from extroversion to introversion, and for the opposite courses. One can only become universal in widening one’s own potentialities and outlooks even if one does not indulge in all things.
There is another aspect of this when the teacher by skillful means awakens some latent faculty or broadens the disciple with some new interest. Often the disciple may be unwilling but mostly the teacher tries to encourage the awakening of latent faculties.
This principle lies at the basis of the Sufic practice known as fana-fi-Sheikh, which comes from the attunement of one’s personality and breath to that of the spiritual teacher. As the disciple takes on the rhythm of the teacher, by walking, by breathing, and even by imitation, it awakens something in him which has been dormant. This both broadens his life and also helps to bring him into attunement with the spiritual hierarchy, the union of all teachers and masters of all times. It is not done by will and those who attempt it, using their own wills, often fall into error and, instead of progressing, they retrogress.
It is true that God is in every one, that God is the life and the deep reality, that is to say the soul. So also we may talk about the surrender. It is not actually a surrender to another, but using apparently another personality to help to bring the latent life to the surface. For all of us have the potentialities of perfection.
Also among the Sufis there are schools such as the Khalandari and Malamati who emphasized this breaking of ego-habits. They even behaved in direct opposite to social customs. This made them unpopular and sometimes to the degree that they regarded unpopularity as a sign, offhand, of God’s favour. While this is not true of itself, those who have the Divine Grace must live independently of any goodwill from humanity.
The real middle path is not to adhere to popularity or unpopularity but to watch for the divine signs which are in us and by listening to the heart with the inner ear, one can find this divine guidance every moment of one’s life.