When he concluded his lecture on harmony, posted here and here, Hazrat Inayat Khan took the following questions from his listeners. His answers are more informal and conversational than the transcribed lecture, but his meaning is clear.
Q. At what age would you begin to develop in a child the feeling of harmony?
A. At the very beginning of a child’s growth.
Q. By which means do you develop in children this sense of harmony?
A. I would develop in a child in his manner, in his action, in his speech first, believing that naturally he has got love for harmony. And disharmony that he shows is not in his nature. And therefore it is not difficult to put out that which is not in his nature.
But if personally you ask me this question to answer with my experience, not only with children, but in persons of all ages of a great deal of variety, I should like to say, I never for one moment think that anything wrong belongs to anyone’s nature. I only think that it is something outside, which has got hold of him, and which can be taken off some day or other. And therefore I believe that there is a hope for every person. And if a person was accused to have been the very worst person yesterday, today I would look at him with hope, and think it has all gone from yesterday.
Another thing I consider: that to accuse a person of a fault, or to think of a person with the thought that a person is wrong or inharmonious, that that creates in that person that which one is thinking of. But I must tell you that it is a difficult thing, even for me. It is denying something which is before you, and it is not only standing still, but being active. It is just telling a person who is cross by nature, and who is cross with you, to say, “No, he is not cross.”
Q. That will change it?
A. Surely. It is the same thing which Christian Science says for the physical; it is in the mental. Of course, a person who practices Christian Science wants to put his science so much into words that he makes people revolt against him. But as far as the idea goes it is a most splendid idea : denying a thing is destroying a thing, and to admit a certain thing is giving it a root. Even if a person says: “I have that enemy, and he is so bad to me,” it is really giving that enemy a strength from one’s own spirit. But when you forget it from your mind, “Well, I have a good wish for everyone, I do not wish to look at anything that is disagreeable,” it does not give that strength.
Q. How does Murshid propose to deal with criminals?
A. I would suggest those accused of a certain fault, before being brought to a judge, they should be brought to a jury of psychologists to see what is the matter with him first. And if a person is judged, he must again be taken to the jury, in what way can they be cured of the fault they have in themselves? Then, instead of being sent to prison one should think they should be sent to a school which is intended for criminals.
Q. Could you give us a more definite idea, a way of development of children in speech and action?
A. For instance, in speech there are two faults that a child makes without knowing of the fault. One fault is that it wants to speak sometimes in the way that a child must not speak, where there is no consideration of manner. And in that way it creates disharmony – when it has spoken something in the form that ought not to be spoken in. Well, the unknown fault is that from childhood they will get into a habit of saying something which is psychologically not right, without good results. Of course, this idea is very much considered in the East. But it is an idea that must be considered wherever humanity exists. For instance, there are many words which have power behind them, there are many words which cause a bad effect psychologically. And a child in play does not consider what it says. It simply says it. It does not feel backward to speak about death, or somebody’s illness, which perhaps is psychologically wrong. Besides, it is suggestible. If one child says to another, “I shall cut your head,” the other perhaps takes the knife and does it.
Now, to action. The child is full of activity, and one child in a room is like a hundred children. He is always active, he does not know what to do. Therefore he is destructive. He may spoil things. If you stop him from one thing, he goes to another, and in order to awaken in him that sense of what is destructive, what would make things wrong, one will waken in him that desire for harmony. Besides, for a child to consider others, the comfort of others the importance of the work of others, these are all necessary things. There is a saying in the East that, “A good manner in the child means good luck, bad manner means bad luck.” And one can easily see the reason of it. That good manner attracts love, affection, and good will from all sides, and it helps the child to grow.
Whenever a grownup person sees a child with good manner his first impulse is, “May he be blessed, may he succeed in life.” And that good-will that comes from the grownup people is not taken by a child who disturbs them; he is deprived of that blessing. And to me it seems that the first lesson of religion is to teach them to consider the mother, the father, the elderly people in the home. And if the children are not trained in that, then when they grow up they cannot understand religion. Religion, I mean in the sense of the word, not a special form of religion. And what is really needed in the world today is the bettering of the soul. A good time will only come when the coming generation will try and strive after the improvement of the soul.
Q. What must one do before an advancing army of Germans and Bolsheviks?
A. I think that this saying must be blown in a trumpet, through all the parts of the world – I say, “Fight with another is war, and struggle with oneself is peace.”