Continuing with his explanation of this theme, Hazrat Inayat Khan investigates two aspects of the art of personality, movement and speech, and illustrates the subject with a personal anecdote and a clear, simple story. The previous post may be found here.
If a tree from the forest grew in the garden in the same way [as in the forest], the gardener would say: “You are not welcome here, you do not fit in with the surroundings here. This is a garden, this is not a forest.” But besides that, the art of personality is not only something that a person should learn in order to become pleasant to others – the art of personality fulfils the purpose of life.
And now comes a question: What is the art of personality? Do you call the art of personality mannerism? Is it putting on different ways of expression, an extra politeness, a society rhythm? Not at all. That is a falsehood that people adopt, being unnatural and acting unnaturally. Instead of giving a better impression, they give a worse impression. It is something which spontaneously expresses itself. You do not need to act in a certain way, you do not need to put on something. It is the expression of your self which is the art of personality.
Besides, it is the sign of the great to express the art of personality. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, a person may have developed himself to that manner, and it is wonderful to watch. In India I was very fond of seeing the celebrities known in our country. And one day I heard that a great wrestler was visiting our town. I never had approved of something that makes one win and the other fail, but because this man was a celebrity, I wanted to see him. One could have expected very little from the personality of a wrestler. But in this personality, instead of all strength – muscular and nervous strength – there was such a kindly manner, such a sympathetic look, such an outgoing attitude, and there was such a serenity, that I thought, even a wrestler who does the most material and physical work, could show that it is his personality, and not something material, which has made him great; it is his personality.
One might ask, “If a person has a personality, why must he develop it?” But even a diamond must be cut. It has the light in it, yet cutting is required. It cannot show that glow and that brilliancy before it has been cut. The same thing with personality.
Then one may ask, “How is personality regarded, in how many different aspects?” The first aspect of personality is the action, the movement. Very often, before a person has spoken a word, he has achieved a movement which has caused a jar upon the delicate sensibility of a person who sees it, and who may [therefore] have formed an opinion of that person, before he has known about him, only by his movement. In one movement a person shows his state of mind, unless he has the power to control. One can show stubbornness, weakness, foolishness; all things can be traced when a person walks, or sits, or stands up. Those who can recognize a person in the twinkling of an eye, for them it is not necessary to study physiognomy. One movement, to them, shows whether a person is evolved or unevolved. And when his movements are not directed, when this science is not taught, not understood, a person may make such movements that will make an impression upon his [own] spirit and turn his whole being into wrong. Very little attention has been given to this by education.
And now coming to the other aspect of personality, which belongs to speech. The more we understand about this, the more we shall know that for every word there is a time and for every word there is a place. And everything you say in its own place and which is a fitting thing, it will be good. It becomes wrong when it is spoken in a place which is not its place. People generally do not think about it. Very often people are outspoken – they do not mind when they speak, what they speak, where they speak. A person who has no control over his speech becomes like a kind of machine, which goes on and goes on and goes on, without any will at the back of it.
Remember that not only do they not gain the affection of others, the approbation of others, but they repel others. They cannot keep any secret, because they have to say it, they have the habit to say, they have no control about it. Once a woman went to a healer and said, “Can you help me, I am in a distress.” The healer asked: “What is the matter?” She said, “When my husband comes home, he is in such a state that there always is a disagreement.” “O,” said the healer, “that is the easiest thing to do. I will just give you these magnetized lozenges. When your husband comes home, you take one in the mouth and keep it.” When the husband came home, tired and fatigued, he was inclined to war as usual, but she was quiet and did not answer. He was grumpy for a little while, but then became quiet. And so the home became more harmonious. Then, before the lozenges were finished, she went to the healer and said,”Give me one more packet of these,” and he answered: “Lady, learn from this, that it is not the lozenges, it is the keeping quiet, it is the closed lips. When your husband is tired, he does not know his mind. And when you do not encourage him to quarrel, he will not quarrel.”
To be continued…