The Sufi mystic search for silence

Let me talk to you about a topic, which has a vital bearing on your everyday life. We are, to a great extent, bearing on our everyday life. We are, to a great extent, governed, not only by our thoughts, but also by the environment and atmosphere in which we live and work. Home atmosphere deeply affects an individual. Nobody can claim to be unaffected by his home atmosphere.

The neighborhood atmosphere is another dynamic force which moulds and shapes our life.

Besides our desires, our ambitions and our aspirations create and generate noise, which, for most of us, is difficult to resist. This type of noise created within, robs us of inner harmony, peace, and may I say, of happiness.

Thus, we have noise within and noise around. In fact, we are living in an Age of Noise. An individual finds it difficult to avoid noise.

The Industrial Age has also its share in creating noise. The modern inventions like the radio, the television, the cinema and the loudspeaker have further surcharged the atmosphere with noise.

No one can validly claim to be immune from the harmful effects of noise. Noise in the home is more harmful. It leads to a deterioration of health and mental vigour. Conflicts and quarrels between the members of the family are generally due to the noise in the home. Which creates tension. Those exposed to noise are more exposed to diseases, like ulcers, Fatigue and irritability are the other depressing effects of noise.

As opposed to noise, silence is conducive to harmony, peace, poise, solace, comfort, calmness and inner strength. The Sufi mystics have emphasized silence and tried to avoid noise.

The mystic zest for life is expressed in their search of silence, which they preach and practice. According to the mystics the one eager and anxious to evolve morally and to develop spiritually, must guard his tongue, which is more venomous and poisonous than a serpent. One should speak only when he must.

Tongue, indeed, creates most of the mischief of the world.

Like an arrow, which once shot cannot be brought back, likewise, a word once uttered, cannot be brought back.

To use tongue recklessly to become a prey of the serpent of the tongue. Reckless words, frivolous words and abusive words make a person, uttering them, a prisoner of the tongue.

There is a Japanese proverb, which says that:

“The tongue is but three inches long, yet it can kill a man six feet high.”

Wisdom lies in controlling tongue.

Uncontrolled tongue is the mark of the lack of self -control.

When speaking, we should keep a vigilant eye, on what we say, to whom we speak, what we speak, how to speak, when to speak and what we should speak when and where.

A man, having a developed mind, and possessing self-control, is marked out as one, who is man of a few words, but of manifold actions and deeds.

The Sufi Mystic warning against idle chatter, needless gossip, aimless talk and frivolous conversation, is undoubtedly, a reasonable code of conduct against waste of energy, which too much talking implies, and against loss of too much inner strength, which living in noise signifies.

There can be no doubt, that such an ideal human outlook and mystic search for inner peace, is more needed now than ever before.

A Sufi mystic is very cautious in his speech and in his choice of words. He speaks little, but he speaks well and speaks at an appropriate time and at a proper place, before persons whom he considers fit and otherwise deserving.

The speech of man, like the dress of a man, proclaims the man. As soon as the man utters a word, one can know his inner feeling and his likes and dislikes.  The words, uttered by a man, show whether the man is vain, or boastful, or thoughtful.

Aimless talk leads nowhere. It entails loss of time and waste of energy, which could have been better utilized in better pursuits and in some constructive work.

Thomas Carlyle emphatically lays down that:

This is such a serious world that we should never speak at all unless we have something to say.”

Silence implies rest of the mind. Silence deserves to be cultivated. It has its own inherent merits. It gives tranquility, peace physical and mental vigour, just like calmness to our nerves. It covers our folly. It keeps out secrets intact. It avoids deputes. It prevents many evils, like slander and backbiting.

According to Carlyle:

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic into the delights of life, which they are thenceforth to rule.”

There can be no doubt, that, judicious silence averts many troubles and tribulations. Heart induces us to speak.

Wisdom teaches us to be silent. Judicious silence is better than ostentatious piety.

The Sufi mystics treat unrestrained and indiscriminate talk as morally wrong and spiritually dangerous.

Silence prepares an individual for the spiritual life, having as its goal, the attainment of self-realization, leading to the union with God.

Self-realization is and arduous search.

Self cannot be realized by those, who want to realize it by knowledge, study, or by intelligence. Self is realized in silence. It can be realized, when mind is still and outer senses are clam and quiet. The voice of silence speaks and guides the individual keen on self-realization. For this, one has to do many things. Before closing his tongue, to be opened only when absolutely necessary, one has to exercise self-control, give up vice and get rid of negative thoughts. Moreover, one has to try to have a still mind. A distracted mind is a hindrance towards the attainment of inner peace and self-realization. One should be at peace within. Silence, thus, is an aid to the achievement of desired goal.

We can hear the voice of God only in silence. Needless talk is detrimental to spiritual development, and morally, it is unbecoming of an individual to talk and to speak without rhyme and reason.

To be silent implies to conceal and to hide one’s own imperfections, and to hear and to see and to observe the limitations and drawback of other people, with whom we may come in contact.

Silence is the safeguard of the fool and an ornament of the ignorant and untutored.

In time of stress, in time of trial, in time of suffering and in adverse circumstances, it is always better to be silent instead of groaning, moaning, complaining, shrieking and weeping. Instead of shrieks and curses, one should observe silence, in silence a solution can be found for the difficulties and hardships besetting an individual. In silence, one can gain strength enough to cope and to overcome the unfavourable circumstances surrounding an individual. #

One can draw strength from within and be courageous and bold to overcome evil and to encourage good.

The Corner of Silence is the dwelling place of the highest, the purest, the best and the choicest positive thoughts.

Silence is necessary for intuition and inspiration. Silence leads to concentration. Sufi Meditation is a way of regulated silence.

The four mystic commandments, namely talk less, eat less, sleep less and mix less with the people, show us the way to the life of bliss, where moderation is the rule and where excessive indulgence is an exception.

It has been said that safety lies in silence and danger lies in speech. But, occasions arise, when not to speak is moral guilt.

To be helped and to help may assume different forms. It may, at times, be informal and other times, it may be professional. Help may come in the shape of advice, suggestion, counsel and guidance. Sympathy is a type of help.  Empathy is a type of better and superior help. A doctor helps a patient by prescribing medicine. A teacher helps his pupil by imparting to him knowledge. A priest helps people by giving them a discourse. A spiritual guide helps his disciples by showing them the path, which leads to better life, and better living and which gives them the vision of harmony, beauty, truth and peace.

Life without guidance is, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.

With inner change and transformation, and individual is capable of understanding the real cause of tension and upheavals, with which he often suffers. Ultimately, he will come to realize, that, the fault is in himself that he talks recklessly, aimlessly and talks too much.

We have been given one tongue, so that, we may talk less. We have been given two ears, so that, we may hear more, and thus learn more.

Like the three monkeys, one should not speak evil, hear evil and see evil.

Control of the tongue is an expression of self-mastery. One cannot control his tongue without controlling his thoughts and thoughts cannot be controlled without self-control.

Our tongue invites most of the sins as compared to other parts of out body.

Telling a lie is one of them. Backbiting is another. Slander, perjury and false evidence are all sins, committed by our tongue.

We waste our energy in criticizing others. We should refrain and ignore things which do not concern us. Instead of criticizing others, we should try to concentrate upon our own foibles, faults and follies. Self-criticism is a better part of wisdom, but, criticism of others is the reflection of the debased nature inherent in man. Criticism may be constructive or destructive. It may be positive or negative. Destructive and negative criticism is induced by evil intention and is due to malice, envy, or enmity or it may be with intention of discouraging a person in his noble and loft pursuits. Whereas, constructive or positive criticism constitutes a piece of good advice, or a suggestion, aiming at the reformation of the individual.

In our social relations, it is not praiseworthy or wise to blame others. Our influence, knowledge and power should not be used to abuse or to blame others. But, on the contrary, it should be harnessed in the service of man, and to help and assist men

Talking about yourself will not secure respect or consideration for you. People are not interested in your health and hopes, ambitions and aspirations, tours and travels, exploits and erudition, in your fears and fancy and in your rise and fall, in your accomplishments and achievements and in your wrongs and worries.

To talk about oneself is an indication of the spirit of self-love, to which, the mystics cannot reconcile themselves. Self-praise is egoism enlarged.

Self-praise is not and can never be praiseworthy. Self-conceit prompts a man to be self-centered.

When we talk to others we should observe and ethical social norm and standard. We should not place the load of our own ills and troubles upon their shoulders. Instead of crushing others by our tale of suffering told in a sad tone, we should speak to them in a way, which may not be boring to them. Our words should be brief and our tone should be soft and melodious.

Conversation should be such as not to lose the lustre of words.

Word has power. It embodies human thought. Through words we express ourselves and our words convey our sentiments, our feelings our opinion and our judgement. The effect of the word, that we utter, persists. It exercises an influence for good or evil. If we utter a good word, its effect is good, and if we utter a word which injures others, then we are doing gross injustice. Such injuries are not healed, unlike the injuries of the bullet and the knife, which can be cured.

There are some people who act and behave as an Iago, appearing to be sincere and sympathetic, but, inwardly, using crooked ways and adopting tactics bordering on deception and treachery.

Life is a serious proposition. Our words are not like snowballs which melt and disappear. Every word, that we utter, may be a source of blessing or may serve as a curse. We are all architects. We build, brick by brick, with words, the edifice of life. Our words may serve as adornments or may serve as a pick-me-up to the person to whom they ae addressed.

Let us, then, not sow the seed of dissension, disunity and hatred by our words, but, use words, giving hope, happiness, encouragement, comfort and courage.

Words are capable of changing destinies. Coarse and vulgar conversation, whether it be idle gossip, hurtful strictures, prejudiced criticism, and boastful pedantry, is not and cannot be, fine building material to be used in the building of human lives.

There are people, who do not tolerate other people’s opinion. They insist on their own opinion and judgement. Intoleration thus leads to mutual bickering’s and bitterness, talk and discussions.

The mystics do not enter into the arena of arguments, discussion, recriminations, feuds and quarrels.

Knowledge versus love

Knowledge and love are two powerful forces, which exert great influence.

It is true, that, knowledge is power. But, knowledge without love, is like a flower without fragrance. It is live, which gives knowledge the desired cohesion, security and vitality.

Knowledge insists on speech, talk or conversation. In other words, knowledge is vocal. Whereas love is silent.

Knowledge lacks the skill to make the life of others good and beautiful. Love makes life a bouquet of multi-coloured flowers of devotion, suffering and patience.

Knowledge does not spare criticism. Its arrogance and austerity make it cold and cruel. On the other hand, love is calm and placid. Knowledge is assertive but love is submissive.

Knowledge seeks perfection. Love tolerates human foibles and the mistakes of omission and commission. Knowledge is indifferent. It shows no sympathy and pity. Love insists on service and devotion. Love, unlike knowledge, grows fragrant flowers in the path of life.

Knowledge has no forbearance, whereas, love is forbearing. With its cloak of generous disposition, it covers and hides the faults of others.

Knowledge is concerned with what ought to be. Love is content with what it is.

Knowledge divides. Love unites. Knowledge is selfish. Love is ever willing to make sacrifice. Unlike knowledge, success is not the watchword of love.

Love is silent and mute. In silence, it lends beauty to life. Its breath serves as an inspiration. Its language of silence gives hope, vigour, strength and courage. What-ever it touches, it adorns.

Its silent words are like drops of rain on the parched and dry land. Love seeks peace and serves as benediction. Love grows, develops and flourishes in silence.

Mysticism interprets silence in different ways. The subtle extensions of meaning and feeling, which the mystics do not hesitate to give to silence, do not admit of easy definition. They are to be experienced. They, in silence, carve, plan and prepare a path, which leads them to peace, progress and purification.

A Sufi mystic is a landscape in the universe. In silence, he puts lasting and imperishable things in the life of those, who come in contact with him.

A Sufi mystic is a watershed embodying the human efforts towards perfection. In silence, he has tried to know himself. In silence, he has discovered other profound truths. In silence, he has solved the riddle of life.

Types of Silence

Silence may be of different types. It may be classified

  1. Silence of tongue;
  2. Silence of heart;
  3. Silence of will;
  4. Silence of mind;
  5. Silence of soul;
  6. Silence of passions;
  7. Silence of desires; and
  8. Silence from wandering thoughts.

Silence of tongue is an ordinary type of silence.

Silence of heart means slow heartbeat prolonging life.

Silence of will implies “Thy will be done”.

Silence of mind is necessary for creative living.

Silence of soul implies loss of self.

Silence of passions confers tranquility.

Silence of desires is to gain self-control

Silence from wandering thoughts gives silence to heart, mind and will. It leads to internal harmony and promotes calmness and tranquility.

Foot Prints

Silence is self-discipline.

Silence creates inner harmony and gives inner strength.

Silence is conservation of energy.

Fewer wants, fewer desires and fewer ambitions result in less talk and greater silence.

Silence saves the soul from strain and stress.

 When a person earns the Grace of God, he becomes more and more quiet and silent.

When our outer senses are dumb, coolness comes in as a balm.

On the outer senses and the inner senses becoming silent and inactive, a person undergoes a feeling of peace, which is, in fact, a state of bliss.

The wrong use of tongue constitutes an acknowledgement of our imperfections, and limitation.

Restraint is better in moments of emotions.

To generate gloom and depression by talk is an encroachment upon the peace of others.

Words should come out from a mouth, as if, they are stars, appearing after sunset.

To search for dirt and mud in a mine is a waste of energy but to try to find gold, diamonds and other precious stones is, indeed, a commendable effort.

Discretion is not only a better part of valour, but also, a better part of conversation, howsoever eloquent it may be.

A man talks most about the things and person, which he likes best and loves best.

The talk of a man reveals the inner man.

The pursuit of spiritual life does not allow too much talking.

Spiritual life is like a mighty stream which flows best when not clogged. Likewise, spiritual life need not be tarnished by idle chatter, frivolous talk and empty gossip.

Conversation, rightly directed, is an acknowledgment of the Grace of God, and a distinct service to fellow-men. Unrestrained indulgence in talk is to give birth to many evils. Best talk is that, which promotes virtue, and which promotes the legitimate interests of the masses and the classes.

To know oneself is a difficult thing. But, to find faults in other people is quite an easy thing.

Avoid self-conceit.

Egoism belittles a man.

Selfishness degrades a man.

Greed humiliates a man.

Pride lowers a man.

Boast exposes a man

Vanity robs the lustre of man.

Thoughts reflect the character of man.

Low thoughts point to a shallow man.

Lofty thoughts refer to marks of altruism in man.

To seize opportunity in silence is luck.

To make the capricious chance favourable in silence is, no doubt and achievement.

One should not be an empty vessel, making much sound.

Morals are best cultivated in silence.

Better is to resist rather than yield to the temptation of talking when there is nothing to talk about.

Like you purse, take care of your words.

Words are precious pears and require to be guarded.

Guidelines

Silence is potent for the development of spiritual power. There can be no inner harmony and a balanced mind without the practice of judicious silence.

Hence it is necessary to find some time to practice silence every day. Look before you leap into the area of talk, arguments and discussions. Be discreet and courteous. The best time to observe silence is at the time of sunrise and sunset.

To banish all thoughts, all talk, all ambitions and all desires every day, for some time, constitutes the preparation for inner purification.

To give rest to mind is to gain power.

Ignore trifles of everyday life.

To show patience in an unpleasant situation is self-mastery.

To practice silence everyday, even for a short time, is a part of self-discipline and self-control.

To search in silence, the avenues of peace, is an effort towards self-realization and self-knowledge.

To close the lips-tight is to wait for the Divine mysteries to be revealed.

Find some time everyday for silence and be an empty vessel. Self-restraint, if accepted as a watchword, will save the tongue from uttering many undignified words.

Once seized by the desire to speak when there is nothing to speak, it is better to overcome the temptation, by reciting some poetry, some hymn, or better still, to engage oneself in prayer. Such words as “I repose my trust in Thee”, “I submit myself to the Will of God”,  “ I want to be saved from vanity, show and ostentatious display”, “I expect better things to happen”, “I have no fears and no cares and no tears”, etc. are powerful words, which can change the pattern of life.

It is always better to be occupied with one thought. The object that one wants to achieve and the vision of life that one wants to adopt, should occupy one’s attention, not leaving any time for idle talk.

It is wise to be silent, in matters which do not concern you.

It is wise decision not to assert from within, in order to avoid inner tension and conflict.

Practice of silence should be gradual and regular. Measured words and brief talk are effective and pleasing.

Silence is a reliable ally. It leads to the development of personality and willpower. It gives peace, poise, bliss, freedom and perfection.

The life of a mystic is a declaration of the sanctity of silence.

The Citadel of Silence is impregnable. When one wants to be saved from tears, fears and cares, or to be protected from envy, enmity and malice, or to serve as an example of modesty, humility or sincerity, or when it comes to self-knowledge and self-realization or when it comes to renouncing all alliance with the evil forces, and when it comes to entering into a truce with the inordinate passions and vile and vicious inclinations, all roads lead to the Citadel of Silence.


This is a series of postings to come, on the subject of Sufi Mysticism. The postings will give in-depth knowledge in the complete world & ultimate sphere of Sufi spirituality. The postings are enlisted in Categories: ‘Sufi’s Spirituality’ (Tasawwuf )  & in ‘Tasawwuf ‘(Path of Mysticism). Alternatively, you can subscribe to our blog for updates.

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The Spirit of Sufi Mystic Toleration

The Spirit of Toleration

As I write this blog we are going through a Lockdown due to the Coronavirus epidemic. Not only is the whole nation in Lockdown it appears the whole world is on Lockdown.

I have nothing to offer you except a tender heart, the pleasures of a simple and dedicated life, and above all, encouraging words of comfort and cheer.

To the Sufi mystics, the words of cheer and comfort are the words which give a better vision of life. And what are those words? They are, undoubtedly, Hope, Belief, Faith and Toleration.

Words, though appearing to be mute in the pages of book or on a piece of paper, yet, speak, Warn, guide, inspire and teach.  They exert powerful influence over every one of us.

A certain word serves as a balm. Another word serves as an arrow. It is through the medium of words, that, praise and abuse are conveyed. It is through words again, that we open our heart to others.  We choose words to convey our feelings,  our emotions, our sentiments, and our love, our hatred and our likes and our dislikes.

Some words appear as sharp as the edge of a sword. Some words appear as sweet as candy. Some words in spire us. Some words depress us. Some words encourage us. Some words discourage us.

A word once uttered does not return. Words are enough to injure the feelings of others. More men have been wounded, injured or bruised by words than by an explosion, fire, bomb, gun, or sword or powder.

According to the mystics, a person should speak only when he must. His tone should bear harmony. His voice should be gentle, and his words should bear harmony. His voice should be gentle, and his words should be few, giving a sense of direction.

The scriptures have influenced and are influencing the people to the extent, that they have, undoubtedly, changed human destiny. The Koran, the Bible, the Vedas, the Gita and the Ramayan contain words, and those words have moulded and shaped the life of myriads of people.

Why is it that people fight over mere words? Morbid words, couched in morbid tone, giving morbid feelings, make life morbid, dreary and dull, and hence, they are resented by other people. According to the advice of Kabir, a renowned mystic and a poet, one should speak such a word, which may please the heart and make him and others happy.

If somebody may abuse somebody, he will surely retaliate and quarrel.

Why is it so? The reply is simple and obvious. He feels injured by the words. It is his thought, which gives the word a bad connotation. If he does not feel, then he will be saved from resentment. And above all, it is because, he has not the right sense and the spirit of toleration.

The mystics have exhibited the spirit of toleration in their day-to-day life, in such a manner, and to such a degree, that, they came to be identified with mutual goodwill, mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual esteem. They have come down to us as an epitome of a noble life and as an epitaph of universal brotherhood and as a savior of mankind, protecting the rights of the people and their self-respect, giving them what they could give, and, accepting from them their love and affection. They ignored their foibles and follies, and tolerated their shabby and ignoble treatment.

Toleration has been so much preached and practiced by the mystics, that toleration has come to be looked upon as one of the planks in the mystic code of conduct.

Man seeks pleasure and avoids pain. Pleasure and pain are the two sides of a coin. They are relative terms. What may appear to be a pleasure for one, may be pain for another. Man does not realize the hidden good. He only sees the surface of the sea of life, not knowing, that, beneath the surface, there are oysters containing valuable bright pearls which may give added luster to his life.

Life is a complex phenomenon. Evil and good live side by side. After every winter comes the spring. After every pain comes the joy.

It is laid down in the Koran that:

“So, verily, with every difficulty there is relief.”

The procession of life does not call for posters, pamphlets and processions. It demands toleration, patience, perseverance, and the spirit of give and take.

The storm-tossed man has still much to learn. He has much to learn from his own experience, and, he has, undoubtedly, much to give, that which he has learnt from the ripe experience of others.

Our intellectual development has led us to accept without murmur or grudge the technique of acquiring knowledge through another vital source, which is the process of depending upon our experience for further acquisition of knowledge.

According to the Sufi mystics, there is harmony in the universe and whatever happens is good for man. Man does not realize this secret, and hence, he, in desperation, curses his fate and tries to resist the so-called suffering. He curses his fate and tries to resist the so called suffering which has seized him. He does not exhibit the spirit of toleration, with the result that he aggravates the suffering, catastrophe or misfortune, whatever it may be. To the mystics, this constitutes a wrong approach towards life. This distorted vision, the mystics hold, lands a man in a sea of worries and anxieties. Their poet Alexander pope suggest thus:   

“All nature is but art, unknown to thee;

All chance, direction which thou canst not see;

All discord, harmony not understood;

All partial evil, universal good;

And spite of pride, in erring season’s spite,

One truth is clear, whatever is,

Is right.”

Types of Toleration

Toleration may be free, or it may be compulsory. Free toleration is better than compulsory toleration. It is enduring and lasting. Free toleration comes from within. It has not outer force to sustain. It is dictated by conscience and sustained by the ethical standards that person has set before himself. Free toleration rises above prejudices, whims and fancies, and gives recognition without reservation to the rights of others. It makes allowance for human weakness.

Compulsory toleration, on the other hands, is under some duress of influence, or force, or under some pressure. The underlining idea of compulsory toleration is “what cannot be cured must be endured”. Compulsory toleration is dictated by fear, necessity or expediency or by some exigency. It is not voluntary, and not based on what one believes to be true. It implies lack of courage and want of determination.

Individual toleration is trait of character of the Sufi mystics. It derives its sanction from the old adage, “Live and let live.” It gives due recognition to human dignity and constitutes a source of happiness of others, and serves as a fountain of bliss, and acts as a guardian of the legitimate interests and rights of other people. It denounces parochialism, racialism, communalism, sectarianism, regionalism, clan conflict, and religious confrontation.

The point of View

The mystics hold and believe that suffering, in whatever shape and form it may appear, is meant for our training and discipline.

The beauty of character lies, indeed, in bearing the suffering, hardships, and trials and tribulations of life with patience and fortitude and without shrieks and curses.

To suffer and to be strong is not the lot of every man. It is reserved for those persons, who evince the spirit of toleration in their day-to-day life.

A tolerant person comes to assume, eventually, a creative personality, which is, without any doubt, a great gift of Gracious God

A creative personality derives solace and satisfaction from his disinterested service to the people. He shares their afflictions and troubles and participates in their joys. The spirit of toleration has taught him to be benevolent to his friends and kind to his foes and to understand and appreciate the intricacies and contradictions besetting the human life.

They hold and firmly assert and sincerely believe, that, to ignore the conflicts and contradictions and the weaknesses and the limitations, appearing in various guises and assuming different forms and shapes, is to disregard the realities of life and the complexities of man.

Types of people

There are different types of people. There are people, who do neither good nor evil. They are like stones. They belong, in fact, to the mineral kingdom.

There are again some people, who do evil but not good. They are wild animals. They belong to animal kingdom.

There are, however, some people, who do good and no evil. They are the people, who can lay a valid claim to belong to the category of human beings.

They are the people, who are tolerant, just and creative. The mystics belong to this class. They want to make the world more beautiful and better place to live in and work. They are endowed with moral and spiritual talent and the spirit of toleration. To them, creative work is possible everywhere and in every sphere of life. A house can even be turned into a home.

Advancement of human happiness and well-being is itself a creative activity.

The vital source

Toleration is the keystone to happiness, peace, prosperity and progress of mankind. Without it, life remains to be what it was in the state of nature.  Life in the state of nature has been described as “poor, nasty, and short”. It is no doubt true, that, without the spirit of toleration, life is burden and evokes perpetual conflict.

Personal happiness, safety and security do not depend upon material acquisitions and possessions. People of initiative, imagination and inspiration have always disputed the undue importance given to material things. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson,

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than material force, that thoughts rule the world.”

It is not wise to run after cheap popularity. What is better than to insist on an exaggerated degree of popularity, is, to earn and to secure, by means of the spirit of toleration, the invaluable jewels of confidence and trust, regard and respect, and love and esteem of the people.

To win hearts is better than to rule over heads.

It is mere idealism to search and to find all-round perfection in human beings. It is a futile attempt to find a man free from some handicaps, limitations and defects. As we have our own defects and shortcomings, so others have. Let us, then voluntarily and sincerely show our spirit of toleration. This gesture of goodwill and this silent message of sharing their limitation is sure sign of magnanimity.

Suffering should be tolerated in a way that it ceases to be suffering. Calamities come and go. It is the human lot to suffer. Toleration is the mystic device to escape the rigours of the suffering, for they  lose their severity if not given due importance, and if not concentrated upon.

To seek morality of a high order in human affairs is beyond the dream of practical realization. It remains a goal to be attained. It is good guiding principle, but the fact is, that circumstances and environment determine, in a great degree and to great extent, the human conduct, human actions, human behavior and human social relations.

There are some people however, who are “willing to wound but afraid to strike.” Their code of morality is governed and dictated by their insistence on self-preservation.

Our troubles and our sufferings, however severe and exacting they may be, disappear into the dim past, as soon as they are judged in their true perspective. So it does not behove human dignity to complain of them.

Those troubles and sufferings, when buried deep in the past, add to our experience, show us light, give us direction, save us from many pitfalls and protect us from many hardships.

Our Distorted mental outlook and our nursing a grievance, or bearing resentment, or lamenting the past, revive our troubles and our suffering, long dead and gone into oblivion.

Instead of lamenting on the spilt milk, it is better for us to seek and to find happiness and peace within, by invoking the spirit of toleration.

The standard of morality and spiritual development differs from man to man, for the obvious reason, that the people are not given equal possibilities and they do not enjoy equal opportunities.

To expect a uniform standard of morality will be an expression of our fantastic desire to see all flowers of same colour and of the same smell, or to see plants and trees of the same colour or of the same size, or to see all birds of not different feathers, but of the same feather.

When judging the standards of morality, we have to take into account the heredity and environment also. 

The spirit of toleration is a sheet-anchor in life, and is capable of securing for man the coveted material comforts, and much desired happiness, security, safety and peace. Moreover, the spirit of toleration is also conducive to spiritual development.

It is good to act on the injunction “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.”

There are some people, however, who insist that “Others should do unto us as we would do unto them.”

Those, who are advanced in spiritual evolution go further and advise us to act in a better way. They say, “Do unto them better than they expect or hope to the done by.”

The spirit of toleration implies sympathy, adaptability, to see things in their proper perspective and above all, respect for the rights of others. The spirit of toleration stands for human happiness. To the Sufi mystics, it is an antidote to violence, upheaval, social disequilibrium, social confrontation and economic rivalry.

The mystics emphasize, that without the spirit of toleration, the world will not be beautiful place to live in. Let us then be guided by the spirit of toleration, which is capable of giving us happiness, peace and security.

The spirit of toleration is consistent with human dignity.

It is not toleration to bear things and situations favorable to us. The crucial test is to show the spirit of toleration when our personal interests are at stake, and when we are involved in a situation which is to our disadvantage. Toleration is born in the midst of strife and criticism, whether it is social or individual. Toleration need not be treated as fear or weakness. The spirit of toleration acts as a teacher, explaining to us, that the criticism of people should be tolerated. Loss should be recompensed by the spirit of toleration. Vindictive attitude towards our foes and opponents is inconsistent with our dignity and self-respect.

Let us then through the medium of toleration, try to secure the respect of people, if wecannot obtain their love.

Intolerance

Intolerance is weakness of human will. Religious intolerance, political intolerance, social intolerance, groupism, sectarianism and racialism divide mankind into watertight compartments.

Intolerance is the result of prejudice, prompted by jealousy, envy, greed fear, rivalry and the clash of personal interest.

The mystics believe, that, “what cannot be endured must be cured.” To them, it should be cured by toleration, patience and fortitude.

Differences of opinion are inevitable in society. They need not give vent to hatred and contempt.

To the English poet Shelly:

“It is not a merit to tolerate, but, rather a crime to be intolerant.”

Nobody can validly claim to be immune from the sense and feeling of intolerance. But, a person would exercise control over his likes and dislikes. It is not wise to be an extremist. Safety lies in moderation. It is better to avoid coercion.

Intolerance spreads the gospel of ill-will, discontent, dissatisfaction, hatred, suspicion, mistrust and conflict. It is quite possible, that modern facilities for mutual contacts and education and emphasis on emotional integration, will change and broaden the outlook of modern man.

Balanced living

The spirit of toleration should be acquired if we want to live in peace and enjoy the good things of life. Due allowance should be made for human nature and human weaknesses. It should be realized, that social good is weaknesses. It should be realized, that social good is more important than individual good. What is good for others is also good for a particular individual. Strict vigilance should be kept on enemies within.

One should try as best as he can to replace negative thoughts by positive thoughts.

Good books should be read. Good poetry should be enjoyed. Good friends should be valued. To forgive is divine. To forget is fine!

It is not wise to be over ambitious. Legitimate desires and few wants are enough to save a person from indulging in rivalry. Exploiting others for one’s own personal ends constitutes intolerance. The unfoldment of the mystery of the universe is possible through meditation. Sports and games are also useful to overcome intolerance.

The spirit of toleration has been labelled as the mother of many virtues. The spirit of toleration implies self-mastery, self-control, patience, self-discipline, mercy, benevolence, forgiveness and exercise of charity. 

Self-discipline implies self-conquest. Self-conquest leads to self-realization. Self-realization is to be sovereign in life.

A man, who has an ideal before him, a man of wide vision and positive thoughts, and a man endowed with trained mind, does not care what is said of him, and what comes before him.  To him, the smiles and the frowns of the people are a passing phase. He looks around and laughs, and scoffs and mocks at the trifles of life.

The Golden Key

Toleration is the spirit of accommodation, adaptability, mutual help and self-adjustment.

Intolerance is an ugly monster seeking dominance and showing haughtiness.

Intolerance rests on the lopsided view of life.

Toleration prompts us to accept a different society, a different situation and a different environment.

The Sufi mystic way of life is not only to tolerate, but totally ignore mischief and persecution.

Toleration is mental discipline.

 The spirit of toleration is a stepping stone to greatness; greatness not thrust but achieved.

Return of good for evil constitutes the expression of the ethical aspect of toleration.

Toleration is an escape from egoism and perverted outlook.

The spirit of toleration is enough to save us from vengeance, discord and disunity Toleration takes us to the fountain of Bliss. It is the extension of human personality.

According to the mystics, as God tolerates our foibles and failings and our ingratitude, so we should extend toleration to his creatures.

Toleration implies the acquisition of inestimable virtues like patience, perseverance and above all humanism. It constitutes a measuring rod of our sense of proportion and perspective.

A wise man ever avoids coercion, confrontation and conflict.

Let the spirit of toleration lead and serve as a guide to human conduct.

Intolerance implies the dissipation of energy, and loss of self-control. On the other hand, toleration stands for conservation of energy for constructive work.

Of the tolerant person, it may be said, that what he touches, he adorns, whereas, and intolerant person makes ugly the things that he touches.

Intolerance is the result of contempt and false notions of personal power and prestige.

Human nature being what it is, it is too much to expect common people to be tolerant on all occasions. There are few people indeed, who may be “peace-at-any price men.” It requires moral training, education, an inspiring atmosphere and a good environment.

Intolerance is rigid and fails to take into consideration the shortcomings and limitations besetting the people.

Tolerance is message of humility in behavior, meekness in dealings, adaptability in social relations, and humbleness in everyday life and moderation in all things.

Man is a theatre, one to another. Our short life “rounded with a sleep” presents a drama itself. The pattern of thoughts determines what our life should be, a comedy or tragedy.

Let us be silent spectators, seeing the spectacle enacted on the human stage. Let us be willing and prepared to give and to extend our co-operation and our sympathy to the actors, marking an ocular proof of our undiminished spirit of toleration and mutual collaboration.

We need not bring a no-confidence motion against ourself. It is better and feasible and proper, if we keep it reserved for some other occasion.

Let it be brought, if and when the occasion calls for; against our own ministry of senses and feelings to save us from tension and turmoil, generated by the world of caste, colour and custom, in which we live.

Let us live in the garden of the world like a flower, giving fragrance and tolerating the weather.


This is a series of postings to come, on the subject of Sufi Mysticism. The postings will give in-depth knowledge in the complete world & ultimate sphere of Sufi spirituality. The postings are enlisted in Categories : ‘Sufi’s Spirituality’ (Tasawwuf )  & in ‘Tasawwuf ‘(Path  of Mysticism). Alternatively you can subscribe to our blog for updates.

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