In this concluding post of this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan gives an illuminating comparison between the art of painting a picture and the art of personality. The previous post in the series may be found here.
It is not a subject of which one can say: it is no better than any other subject. On the contrary, it is a subject of the greatest importance. There are millions of Muslims, on hearing the name of the Prophet, their eyes are full of tears. What is it? Is it the teaching the Prophet has given? What touches is the personality of the Prophet; his personality has given the deep impression which never can be erased, which remains there still. The art of personality therefore is a magic. The fishermen among whom Jesus Christ had to walk were incapable of knowing the greatness of the Master and not ready to understand the Message He had brought. And yet they used to stand spellbound in the presence of the Master, they used to be deeply impressed by the personality of the Teacher. What was it? It was not a new teaching they received. It was the example before their eyes.
The Sufis of all ages considered the art of personality of the greatest importance. The yogi-theory of asceticism has nothing to do with it [the art of personality]. It is another thing. But the wise of all ages who taught that God Himself has manifested in the form of man, who from an individual develops into a person, they see in this the fulfilment of life’s purpose.
And now one might ask: how does one learn the art of personality? In the same way as one learns the art of painting or drawing. In the first place one learns how to draw a straight line, a horizontal line, a circle, a curve. And in learning the art of personality it is the same: how to say a thing, and how not to say a thing, and how to avoid to say a thing, and how to say a thing without saying it.
Then one learns the art of light and shade, which is the next thing. And that light and shade is how to hide a certain part in conversation and to make the other part brought to prominence. And then there is coloring. There is a great variety of colors. Every feeling, every thought, every idea has its particular color. And when a person knows how many of these colors there are and when he composes with them all he says and does in life, then it becomes an art of personality. It is nothing if a person has collected diamonds, or if he has got pearls or if he has got rubies. What is it if he has not developed in his personality that precious quality which makes a person precious? What is it? All those things are nothing.
There are four grades through which one develops in the art of personality. One grade is when a person has become thoughtful. Then he begins to observe his thoughts, to see his actions. The second grade is that not only he observes his thoughts and sees his actions, but is able to control them. The third grade is that a spontaneous outflow of sympathy comes from the person, that it is natural; that his attitude is outgoing, that his personality attracts and that his personality becomes a blessing. And the fourth grade is a grade where no effort has to be made by the artist to make the art of personality. In this grade the artist becomes art itself, and whatever he does, it all becomes a beautiful picture.