In the previous instalment, Hazrat Inayat Khan speaks of the need to master one’s ego, and the consequent unfolding of the saintly nature. Here he comes to the question, how to make this a practical reality in our daily life?
But how can we walk along this path in the course of our practical life, with all the responsibilities inherent in life in the world? The servants take advantage of a saintly person; selfish people and those who are wicked and blind to justice take every advantage of a person who behaves kindly and considerately and helpfully towards people. Well, the answer is very simple. This development is really for yourself. Once you have attained, the course of action is in your hands. For example, suppose you are taking the part of a king on the stage, and your part calls on you to become angry with a servant – you do not really become angry. You just play the part of the king who is cross. You can be cross without being actually angry. It is just like that in the development of the saintly personality.
Once the nafs is crushed, you will never find it necessary to be angry. But you can act the part of an angry person, and pretend to be angry. So, if it is necessary to show anger, this does not mean the fire of hell for you as it would be for others, because you are only using an instrument, and that instrument is not your master. In the same way, you are justified in whatever course you find before you in life, as long as you have really freed yourself from control by the nafs.
Here is a story about a great Sufi Master who lived in Arabia. During a certain war, one day an enemy was fought. Now in those days, battles were hand to hand fights. This man’s enemy was in his hand, and he was about to kill him. But before he did so, the enemy spat in his face. The teacher immediately withheld his hand, and did not kill him. The enemy was greatly surprised at this, and said, “You were about to kill me. Why did you not do so?” He replied, “One reason is that you have done such an action that it would rouse my anger, and if I had killed you while under the influence of anger, I would have been acting against my principle. Therefore, as soon as I caught myself in this fault, I became unable to carry through my first intention.” This shows how a person can even fight and yet keep control over his anger and pain. As long as he is the master, he can be blamed for nothing.
But that is just the question – to be the master! Suppose a person is cross, and we get cross with him. It may bring a certain satisfaction to give outlet to that anger at the moment. But if only you discover the joy of being able to smile when the other person is cross – what a difference from the satisfaction of the other act! The joy is so much greater because you keep buoyant. It is just like not giving more fuel to a fire.
Sudden outbreaks of emotion are controlled by developing the habit of exercising one’s willpower suddenly, promptly. If we return anger or jealousy or hatred or prejudice or any other bitterness, we only keep the flame of that emotion lighted. It is just the same when one keeps love in another heart by adding a little affection and love all the time. If we withhold it, it will die, because there is nothing to stimulate it. When a person is always offended or dislikes this or that, he is keeping up the fire, whereas once you pass it by and smile, you raise yourself above it, and it will die out, for it has no more food to live on.
To be continued…