Hazrat Inayat: A question about vanity

During a lecture on the mind world Hazrat Inayat Khan spoke of the mirror-like nature of the heart, saying that in order for it to reflect as it should, it must be cleared of all the impressions, both good and bad, that accumulate there.  Usually, we hold certain impressions in our heart, a feeling of resentment, for example, or a sense of loss, and these impressions are continually reflected back into our life.  After the talk the following question was asked.

Q.: Is not vanity a great hindrance to have a perfectly clear heart?

A.:  Certainly, but I would call that vanity egotism, conceit, pride.  Vanity is a very light word, for vanity is a poetic word, and according to the Eastern idea vanity is a beautiful word.  A poet says, in Persian: “My vanity, have you not been the means for all good and bad that I have done?” Because when we look at it from a different point of view, from that poetic point of view, we see that it is vanity which very often gives inclination to goodness, to chivalry.  I will give you an example.  Two children were fighting for one toy, wanting to snatch it from each other’s hands, and both were crying.  A third child, an older one, was there, and I said to that one, “This boy,” meaning the elder of the two who were fighting, “is a very good boy.  He is a really good boy, and he does not mind if his brother takes away his toy, because he is above it.  He is a really good boy, he does not care.  He is pleased to see his little brother play with his toy; even his own toy he can give!”  I did not say it to the boy, but to someone else, and what did it touch?  The ego: “I am a good boy, I must prove it to be so.”  A kind of feeling of honour, of dignity, that, “I am considered so, I must prove it to be so.”

But of course there is another side of it, and that is the pride and conceit that blinds a person’s vision, and keeps one back from the true progress and real attainment.

One Reply to “Hazrat Inayat: A question about vanity”

  1. Azim Smith

    Tenzing Palmo told this story in Sydney last week.
    ‘I was with some Sufi friends [!] in England and a visitor brought their young boy a box of chocolates. He had never had such a treat. When his Father suggested he offer the guest a chocolate , the boy held them close saying ‘ but they’re mine’.
    The Father replied ‘Yes and that means You can share them ‘.
    The boy was so impressed by this idea that he insisted everybody should have a chocolate !’


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