The further you go on the spiritual path, the more secrecy you must have. Without having secrecy, you can stand nowhere. And for many people, it is easy to laugh at the sight of secrecy; they say: “What necessity is there, if it is something true, right or good, for it to be secret?” That is because what one is accustomed to know as secret is something which is not worth mentioning, and which is untrue, false, worthless, and undesirable. But you must be aware that your pebbles you will keep before your house in the street, and your jewels you will keep in the safe. If that is true, then all that is valuable you will keep secret. All that you value you will not bring before others. Very often people are surprised at the idea of secrecy: “Why in the Sufi Movement you must have so much secrecy?” I say, “Without the control of your lips you will not be able to develop inspiration.” As a poet has said, “When the shell closes its lips, then the pearl develops in it.” A person who pours out all that is in his heart to everyone he meets, he is not a person to rely upon. You can not trust that person with your secret, nor can that person trust himself with his secret. The more experience you will have in life, the more you will find the worth of secrecy.
And are the out-spoken people always wise? They may be truthful, and many I have heard boasting over their way, saying, “I tell the truth. I do not mind how anybody takes it.” Is it the truth, or is it a whip? Truth must be healing. Truth must be soothing. Truth must be illuminating. Truth must be uplifting. And if Truth is such a bad thing that as soon as you have said something to someone he gets displeased, he then goes to another who gets displeased. And by your one truth perhaps twenty persons get displeased. What value does that truth have? However true it may be, it is not Truth. What is it? It is foolishness. Besides, the more you are able to keep your secret in your heart the greater you become. You have more weight; your personality becomes more reliable, more dependable. As it is said in Vadan, “It is best to say something without saying.”
Q. : Murshid, how can one develop a quality of knowing when one can speak and when one cannot speak?
A.: The first lesson is to seal the lips. And when this is well practiced a sense of discrimination will develop, making one see when to speak and when not to speak. In the first place, whatever you say, there is a time and there is a place for it. And when you say it at the time when it should be said, and when you say it in the place it should be said, it is right. And then there is the right person; when you say it to that person, then it is right. And when you say the same truth to another person, then it is wrong. So that you can understand: first begin by keeping secret, absolutely secret. Then you develop discrimination.