It is most essential for my mureeds to think what motive, what object they have in their working with the teachings and meditations given in the Sufi Order*. Is it that they wish to develop any powers? Such powers are not promised. Is it that they wish to learn very much? But there is not much study given here. Is it that they want to be good? No special principles of goodness are taught here. If they want to be spiritual, we have not yet made solitudes and seclusions as they have on the top of Himalayas and in the caves of the mountains, that we may give up our life in the world and retire; neither do we wish for it. Then what is the motive that keeps us busy in the Sufi Order? What is our object in taking this path of initiation? Our object in this is to become human: to understand the way how to become human, how to live a human being’s life to its fullness, how to live a life of love, harmony and beauty. If anyone calls it a religion, let him call it that. If anybody says, “This is spirituality,” let him say it. If anyone says, “This is the thing we have to study, “ so much the better. If anyone says, “That is the thing we have to achieve by meditation or seclusion or silence,” that is really the object.
Now, in order to achieve this aim of ours, what must we do? What is expected of us? Are we expected to study much, or to meditate much, or to become very good—as they say, too good to live? Or to attain to it, are we supposed to be too pious? No. It is attained by the understanding of life. The understanding of life is in the understanding of human nature, and it is the very thing that many in the world neglect. What is the reason that everyone neglects it? The reason is that one is so interested in one’s own life, absorbed in one’s own affairs, and busy in pursuing the object that outwardly a person sets before himself, that he neglects the most essential thing to be done in life. So to speak, a person starts to build a house without building a foundation. One might ask how is it to be learned? The answer is that every intelligent person begins it, but does not finish it. The first thing that an intelligent person does is that he weighs and measures the other person, and so he judges another person. Besides, what impression he gets from the other person, he unconsciously reacts to it, and therefore he partakes of the fault of the one whom he weighs and measures and judges. We remember the words of Christ, “Judge ye not, lest ye be judged.” That was the lesson to understand human psychology in the right way. It is to see and not see at the same time. It does not mean that one must close one’s eyes to the faults of the others; that would be a wrong thing also, because then one will not become fully acquainted with human nature. If one is a student of human nature, if one is seeking after truth, one need not close his eyes to the faults of others, but study them, and instead of reacting, one must find those faults in oneself. It is very amusing when two persons discuss another person’s lacks, they become such great authorities, as if each of them never knew that wrong which the third person has done. One talks with the other as if they were faultless for the whole life. By finding in oneself that which is lacking in the others, one corrects oneself, and at the same time one studies human nature.
The next step towards the understanding of human psychology is to find out the cause behind the faults people have, for an average person sees only the fault; he does not see the cause which is behind the fault. Sometimes the cause is in the mind of the person, sometimes the cause is in the body of the person, sometimes the cause is deeply rooted in his spirit. As soon as one realizes these causes, then one sees in oneself also the same cause hidden behind one’s own faults. And by reaching the cause and by correcting oneself, one is able to understand another person better. It is not by thinking that we must be tolerant that a person can be tolerant, because knowing of the virtues is not necessarily living a virtuous life. It is by seeing the cause of every fault in oneself that one is able to have an insight into human nature. It is possible that another person had perhaps ninety nine degrees of the same fault of which we have one grain, but generally what happens is that when we accuse another person of a lack, perhaps there is one grain there and ninety nine in us. One must not be surprised to see this phenomenon, because it is generally the case. It is the person who has ninety nine degrees of the same fault who is most inclined to find one grain of the same fault in another person, and is very happy to find it. The one who has recognised even one grain of the fault in himself, of which the other person has ninety nine grains, that person does not speak about it. He is so sorry about the one grain that he has, that he keeps his lips closed, his eyes downcast.
And there is a step further in understanding the psychology of human nature: to see the delicate light and shade in the picture of human life. This only comes when a person has acquired fine perception, keen insight into human nature. It is then that the most interesting study of psychology begins. A fine person, a person with fine perception, is really a spiritual person. Even if he was not so outwardly, inwardly he is so. He may not appear outwardly religious, spiritual, or godly, but by the very fact that he has a fine perception, he is certainly spiritual. A person who sees cause and effect of every word, thought and action, every movement, every change of expression, that is the person who reads between the lines. That is the person whose glance is like an x-ray, it sees through a person. No doubt, it is this person who will find more faults, lacks, wants, in human nature naturally. And it is this person who will be less affected by it, or at least react less upon it, overlook it, and rise about it. The person who sees the most complains the least; the person who sees the least complains the most. The reason is that the one with finer perception sees; he does not see the lack, but he sees the cause. And when he sees the cause he sees the effect. Is there any study—history or geography or chemistry or science—any study more interesting than this study of human nature? The study of human nature builds a bridge between man and God.
To my mureeds therefore a word of advice that I have to give is, to waken to the subtleties of human nature. Cultivate and make your perception keen, so as to get an insight into human nature. It is by this that you will probe the depth of life’s secret, and in understanding this secret that all the mystery is revealed, a mystery which is mysticism. It is to find this mystery that we take the path of initiation. It is in this revelation that the purpose of our spiritual pursuit is accomplished.
*’Sufi Order’ is the name of the Inner School Activity of the Sufi Movement.