In the first instalment of this series, Hazrat Inayat Khan described four sorts of interest and indifference. He now considers whether one is more desirable than the other.
Each person we see in everyday life has either the one or the other, interest or indifference: either one of the four kinds of indifference or one of the four aspects of interest mentioned above. One might ask which is desirable and which is undesirable. All that is natural is desirable, and all that is unnatural is undesirable.
When one is interested in something but says, ‘I do not want it. I do not like to take an interest in it although it captivates me, although I am attracted by it,’ that is not right. Or when a person feels that he should look after himself, feed himself, look as nice as he can, and he says that in principle it is not good to pay attention to oneself, that also is wrong. When a person says that all earthly things are unimportant and valueless compared with spiritual ones and that one should not heed them, and yet at the same time is inwardly attracted by the world, then he should not say such things. His interest is preferable to his indifference.
One should evolve naturally. One should not think that to take an interest in the things of the world is wrong because in principle it is greater to be without worldly interests. But if one is indifferent to them by nature, even if the whole world reproaches one for this it does not matter. One should say, ‘I am indifferent to your opinion too.’
Sometimes interest is required, sometimes indifference is profitable. For instance you may be in a situation where you want to accomplish something, and people laugh at you, or perhaps people do not like you or are apt to criticize you. If you are interested in all these things, you will lose your way; in that situation you should be indifferent. But if you have a business, and in order to promote it you have to see someone to get connections, all this will only succeed according to your interest. If you are indifferent about it, you will defeat your own ends.
I was very much amused once when visiting a certain town in India. I went into a shop to buy something, and the owner was sitting cross-legged on some cushions, smoking his pipe. I asked him whether he had a certain thing I wanted. He thought for a minute or two and said, ‘I don’t think so.’ I asked, ‘Where can one get such a thing?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ He would not budge. He remained sitting quite comfortably where he was. I saluted him and thanked him for his kind silence and indifference.
It is all right, indifference, when one sits in meditation in the forest. But if one has a shop, what is needed is interest.
To be continued…