If our way will not be soft, then whose way will be soft?
You cannot expect all the people in the world to have the same opinion. You will always find some appreciative, some sympathetic, some ignorant, and some opposed. It may be that a person who is opposed to the Cause and to Murshid will make you indignant towards him by his remarks. Someone ignorant of Murshid and the Message will have his point of view. And someone who is sympathetic may show perhaps more sympathy than you have, and that will be also a surprise. Or it may be that he will show much less sympathy, and that might make you feel strange. And then you might come in contact with someone who is devoted, but whose conceptions are not as your own perhaps. He raises Murshid too high in your estimation, or perhaps he keeps Murshid too much beneath the conception that you have of Murshid. And even in that case it will be disagreeable.
Therefore the best thing you can do in such different situations is to agree with the one who has the slightest feeling of friendship and sympathy. If he shows a higher conception of Murshid and the Cause than you have, you must know that it is his business. You are not obliged to have that conception; and if he takes a lower conception than you have, you only will feel that ‘one day he may have the same as I.’ And the one who opposes the Message, you will try to make him see in the right light with patience, with endurance. You will tolerate all his opinions, your tolerating will help the Cause more than your revolting against him. And if the person is ignorant of the Cause and Murshid, that is still more easy for you to acquaint him slowly, patiently, hoping that one day he will come to the same conception. But gradually, not at once. Sometimes giving a sudden shock puts a person off from his equilibrium. It shakes his whole nervous system before he can be brought to a normal condition. Never, therefore, give him a shock. Nothing can give a greater shock than an opinion suddenly expressed, good or bad. Do not mind if another person gives you a shock, you will be prepared for it. But you may never give a person a shock, because know that by having a shock, he will never recover from it, and you will never be able to bring him again to a normal condition of mind. The best thing therefore is a gradual development. Wait with patience, and hope, tolerate and endure every opinion that comes before you. Face it, that will give you strength, and courage to the other person to reach to the height of your opinion.
Q.: Murshid, do you mean that we should not at once tell a person how much we are devoted to this Cause?
A.: Yes, stand on the same level where the other person is standing. That means, never stand on a higher pedestal when the other person is standing on a lower level. Stand with him first quite close to his opinion. For instance, suppose a person says, “What is it, is it not all silly?” If you say, “What do you say? How dare you say such a thing, have you any sense? You are quite ignorant, you are a fool, you are stupid, you are strong-headed.” Well, then it is broken. But if you say, “Maybe there is another point of view one might look at it from. There are many things which appear to be silly, but at the back of them there is something worthwhile; it is how we look at things.” You at once come nearer to this person, and yet you do not commit yourself, you do not say with them, this is silly, but at the same time you say that there are other silly things also which are better than they seem. In this way you are on the same level; in this way you can raise a person. But as soon as you say ‘you are silly,’ this is stopped. Now, this is the worst case I have given; but I would not be surprised that you will face this thing in your life.
Q.: Often when one speaks with people they have so many questions, always more questions. They are very difficult to deal with. They will not understand, still they have the desire to understand.
A.: You must go with them very slowly. Now I shall tell you one instance; I had many instances, but I will just give you one instance, that a lawyer came to see me who had heard about me from an adversary, and as many bad ideas as could be given were given to him about the Cause, and then he was a materialist, he had never believed in God or soul or the hereafter, and he always thought that anything that has the slightest appearance of religion or sacredness is nothing but humbug. And a friend, a mureed, brought him to see me, thinking that all his arguments, perhaps Murshid will answer, if there is anybody to answer them. And when this man came his whole atmosphere was throwing knives before he spoke. His eyes, through his glance, you could see that spears were going towards me. Then he asked me questions. And every question he asked me was rooted out with a soft touch of a sharp knife in three words. I did not ask him one question. And what was the end of it? After his fifty questions he began to smile, and after twenty-five questions more he began to feel comfortable, and after a hundred questions, would you believe that he shook hands with me and said, “I feel sympathetic towards your Cause.” In that way he went out.
Do you think I said how beautiful our Cause is? How wonderful our work is, how right we are and how you are all wrong, how strong we are in our argument, our dogmas, principles, tenets, are so wonderful, so true? Nothing of it.
Do you think that I contradicted any question that I was asked? Never. Then, what did root it out? Just a soft, gentle reasoning. That is the idea. There are two ways. There is the way of the hammer to open a way. When there is a rock standing, the hammer breaks it, breaks it, breaks it; then it makes its way. If the rock is too strong, then the arm breaks, the hammer breaks and the rock still stands. There is the other way, of the water. It rises, it goes, it makes an attempt, perhaps after a hundred attempts it reaches the rock. Instead of breaking the rock, it sweeps over it and surrounds it and drowns it in the end. That is the soft way. The way of the mystic must be the soft way. If our way will not be soft, then whose way will be soft?
Many thanks dear Nawab. Very inspiring words.
Dear Nawab, As often is the case, the guidance of Murshid is so relevant to many aspects of life. So often I find it difficult when interacting with others holding different points of view. This reminds me not to attempt to teach or change, but to step outside my emotional response and simply tolerate and wait with patience and hope – that is enough. Thank you.
Thank you my dearest Nawab for posting this beautiful teachings on dealing with people who are very rigid in their opinions about the Message.
I loved the practical example, Murshid gave on dealing with the person of 100-questions. His Modus Operandi of “Going Slow” or “Soft Way” with the metaphor of “Water” vs “Hammer” to deal with the “Strong Rock” is so beautiful and powerful “Sufi Way”, it is really heart rendering! Buddha, Jesus or Muhammad, in all of their living examples, I can now see, why they did certain things in response to certain situations.
Again many thanks for posting such a powerful teachings, on how Murshid himself lived by it.