I would like to speak on the subject of personal power. By personal power what do I mean: the power of thought, the power of will, and the same expressing itself outwardly. It is therefore that the sages, in order to develop personal power, give one key, and that key is the whole mystery. This key is the control of impulse—every impulse, whatever it may be. And especially in order to practice this control, one must check a wrong impulse, even as small as the thought of eating something that one likes, the wish to drink something that one wishes, an impulse to talk back to a person who insults, an impulse to pinch a person by saying a word, an impulse to hurt a person by cutting words, an impulse to get into the secrets of others, to find out the secret of another, the impulse to criticize; all such undesirable impulses can be mastered. And it is not that one has mastered them, but one has gained a power over himself. That is another advantage.
In the court of Akbar—you know Akbar was the wisest Emperor in the Mogul dynasty—because he was witty and appreciation of all wisdom and beauty, he had chosen nine persons to keep close to him. You might think: an emperor who could have at least fifty persons in his presence! No, no, through the whole empire of so many millions of people he had nine persons selected to be around him. What were they? They were personified wits*, a wit which is personified in a human being.
The power lies in refraining from the impulse of speaking. Often one gives one’s secret to another uselessly; afterwards one repents for it. Sometimes one uselessly has a quarrel with another; neither the other has gained nor he himself. Sometimes one criticizes another before someone, and then it goes to a third one and fourth one; everybody knows about it. Nothing is gained, only lost. Sometimes also there is a desire for food, a desire to drink, to sleep, to walk, or a desire to sit. Every one of these little desires can be checked, and by checking them, by keeping them back, by controlling them, one can attain to this power of personality. By power of personality your words become living; by glance, by touch, by speech, by every move you make an effect.
Very often people like to find by occultism or by psychic science the way of developing will power. But will power is only developed by refraining from impulse. A person who restrains his impulse can be free from all insolence. And what is insolence? Insolence is the germ of bad luck. An insolent person will always have bad luck, because insolence is a kind of cloud. It always brings a person down. Very often an insolent person is a slave to his impulse; it is his impulse at the time. He cannot help it. And afterwards he repents. Especially when a person is not able to keep his secret, he has much to suffer in life, because that power is most helpful, the power of keeping secrets. Besides that, if there is a desire, an ambition, an expression, if it is kept in secret it flourishes, it grows, it rises, it becomes fruitful. But if it is spoken about it, is lost.
Q.: Murshid, what is the difference between inspiration and impulse.
A.: Inspiration is something which comes in the form of beauty: poetry, music, some idea; and impulse is that there are grapes on the table and when I look at them I feel like taking one at once; or there are two persons speaking about something and there jumps up a desire that I should answer it too, I should join in. Or there is someone a little sympathetic, more sociable to you and then the impulse is: I shall pour out all my heart to him and be empty. Then he feels lighter, he feels lighter then, but lighter how? Lighter without treasure, an empty purse, the purse he had is empty. But there are strong impulses, such as if a person makes an insult, that there is an impulse to speak back, or if a person tells a lie, there is the impulse to tell the truth, or if a person does wrong, there is an impulse to correct him. But it is an impulse just the same.
Q.: What is the origin of impulse?
A.:Impulse is a reaction of something which is going on outside. You react; that is an impulse. As I have said, when you look at grapes, what do grapes suggest to you? That suggestion comes again as an impulse, that you must have them.
*Hazrat Inayat here uses the word ‘wit’ in an unusual sense, to mean knowledge or wisdom.