First of all I shall explain why I call personality art. One may think of art as something inferior to nature, but I do not think so. I think art finishes nature, that in art there is something divine, that God Himself, through man, finishes this beauty which is called art. In other words, art is not only an imitation of nature, art is the improvement upon nature, be it painting, drawing, poetry, or music. But the best of all arts is the art of personality. This must be learned in order to use it in every walk of life. It is not necessary for everyone to become a painter, nor is it necessary to become a musician, to become a drawer or an architect, but it is necessary for everyone to learn the art of personality.
Once a person came to me and said with great contentment and satisfaction, "I was grown and brought up by my parents just like a plant in the forest, growing naturally". I answered, "It is a pity. If your parents wanted you to grow naturally they ought to have kept you in the forest. It is a pity that you are in the midst of the world. The world is made by art; in order to be in the world you ought to know the art of personality".
Very few of us distinguish between individuality and personality. Individuality is that which we have brought with our birth. We are born as a separate entity; that itself makes us individual. But personality is something that is acquired; it has not come with us, it is something we gain. Therefore in ancient times they did not consider anything else as education but learning and practising the art of personality. That was the culture of ancient times; today it is passing examinations. As long as a person has a degree he thinks he is safe: now he can go into the world and will get on. But that is not enough.
Besides, examination is becoming every day more difficult. The other day I met a man who had passed a sea captain's examination. He told me, "Within ten years the examination has become so difficult, and when we look at what we have to study, there are unnecessary books and things we never use in the work we do. And why? In order to make as few captains as possible". I saw a man studying for doctor of philosophy. When I asked him what study he had to do, he said he had taken the mystical line and was reading some German philosophers. "But", said he, "at the same time there are so many books on language and grammar; so every year more and more are added and it is more and more difficult to pass the examination". By the time the student has passed the examinations his nerves are wrecked and he has lost the best time of life. Even when he has passed it is difficult to obtain a job. And if you ask him, "What have you learned?", he says, "I have read so many books". That central theme of culture, that something which alone can be called education - the art of personality - seems to be totally forgotten. That is why generally in the midst of the crowd there is lack of manner, of ideal. An external qualification is different. The inner qualification, the inner culture, these can only be obtained by development of personality.
Coming now to the idea of the use of personality, we see that in a business the salesman has success according to the power of his magnetism. His influence solely depends on his personality, it is his personality that attracts. Whether he goes to other offices or is in a shop, it is his personality which stands out, which gives you the thought of buying or selling or dealing with him, and the lack of it causes you to go away and never come back. A statesman, a politician, a teacher, a solicitor, a barrister, a lawyer, all require personality. A physician may be a great physician, most qualified, and yet if his personality is not agreeable, if he is rude, crude, unsympathetic, however many patients he may have, his medicines make them feel bad and his personality makes them worse. Very often a doctor with a sympathetic personality, good manner and wisdom can cure a person by a word of consolation before his medicine reaches him. It is the same with a barrister, a lawyer who can dishearten a person in one visit.
When a person has lost courage and hope then naturally there is little hope for healing or success, because there is no power of mind. If the power of mind is strong then a doctor or lawyer can succeed. Therefore in all walks of life what counts is the personality. The one whose personality is against him the world is against him.
There are four categories of personality. The first is likened to a walnut, another is like a grape, yet another like a date and the fourth is like a pomegranate. The date-like personality is soft outside and hard inside. As soon as one puts a date in the mouth and the seed comes between the teeth one has a horror of it. Then there is another personality which is walnut-like. There is a hard shell, hard to penetrate; but when you know the person more it is like breaking the walnut and then comes a nut which is soft. Then there is a pomegranate personality, hard outside and hard inside. The pomegranate is hard, the cover is hard and the seed inside is hard too. And then there is the grape personality, soft outside and soft inside. You will always find these four classes of persons.
The personality of the one who is hard outside is repellent at first, but in the end you will become his friend. Therefore in the beginning he always loses friends. You understand him only when you come to the inner being of this man. The one whose personality is soft outside and hard inside will at once attract people, but they will not stay with him. They will stay for some time and then leave; when they know him they go away from him. The person whose personality is hard outside and hard inside is isolated in this world; this is not the place for him. Everyone will want to keep away from him, and after some time he will find himself in difficulty. The one whose personality is soft outside and soft inside naturally will be the most magnetic. The grape is the most attractive fruit.
But then there are stages in the evolution of man, and at every stage there is a different kind of magnetism. There are four different aspects of magnetism : physical magnetism, intellectual magnetism, sympathetic magnetism which is sometimes called personal magnetism, and spiritual magnetism.
Freshness, newness, good health, cleanliness, harmonious movements, regular form, all these help physical magnetism, but endure for a short time. Next is intellectual magnetism. Keen perception, ready conception, clear vision, wit and the art of expression, all these things create magnetism in man and that is intellectual magnetism. This lasts longer. Then comes the sympathetic or personal magnetism. Everyone who is loving, affectionate, kindly, gentle, who has developed a sympathetic nature, will always attract, without knowing it, because sympathy has the greatest power. This magnetism is lasting. Whatever your relationship may be to a person, if there is no link of sympathy, there is no attraction because there is no magnetism. Often a person may be very qualified, very intellectual, imposing in appearance and at the same time, without feeling, he greatly lacks magnetism. In many cases he fails to succeed because of his lack of sympathy.
The fourth kind of magnetism is spiritual magnetism. It can be recognized, it can be seen in the innocence of a man, in the purity of a person, in the simplicity of a being. One might think a spiritual person is most evolved, but in his appearance the spiritual person is the most simple one, the innocent one. If not ignorant he is less complicated, broader in outlook, keen in perception, with lofty ideals, with raised consciousness, and yet humble and democratic in the true sense of the word.
What many understand today as democracy is a wrong ideal. The principle "I am as good as you" is a wrong principle of democracy. It takes away humbleness, gentleness, the high ideal. Besides, to think that camphor and bone and chalk and sugar are all equal because they are white! It is a very sweet idea that everybody is equal, but when you tune the piano so that all notes are the same you need no more music. When a person has a wrong conception of democracy he tunes the whole piano to the same note. Thereby the music of his soul becomes dull. It is more obsession with democracy than democracy itself. Real democracy is raising oneself, raising oneself by appreciating the ideal one meets. In this way one rises to a high ideal; it is to be equal on a higher plane, instead of being ignorant. Pulling a high person down to earth and then to speak of democracy is wrong democracy.
The high ideal is not appreciated by many. They appreciate the spirit of the revolutionary, of people who make revolutions, mad about one particular idea, regardless of anything else, as has been done in many places. For instance, when a revolt came against the Catholic Church, what happened? It was not only against the church, but against the ideas of the church. Every good thing about it was disregarded too, because the revolt was not only against what was not desirable but against everything to do with it. It is from that time that the sense and depth of religion which existed in the Western world seems to have been diminishing, and diminishing more and more every day. In spite of the many churches there is less ideal : it has been drowned - the ideal which in some form or other is necessary for every soul. It is being drowned because of the revolt against something, regardless of what is good about it.
When a person disregards the God-ideal the tendency is to disregard everything that belongs to it - not only that which is undesirable. But as soon as he goes against it he goes against everything about it. And so it is with the world today that the art of personality has been lost in the obsession of democracy, instead of having been realized in a higher spiritual evolution. It is spirituality alone, a spiritual outlook alone, that gives man real democratic feeling: for every person any other is his parent, be he brother, enemy or great friend. According to the spiritual outlook a person sees everyone as himself. He sees his own spirit, his soul reflected in the other one. That is the real democracy: when one sees oneself in a higher and in a lower person. That is the highest ideal of spiritual attainment, and it is that which makes man really democratic.
No doubt, by degrees one rises to such an ideal. The first degree towards this high ideal is gentleness. In the English language therefore the word gentleman is used. Why gentle? Because a gentle man has taken the first step towards accomplishment, towards the art of personality. It is not necessarily because he is rich or in a good position or occupying a high rank. That does not necessarily make a person gentle; with all the position and rank one may have one may not be gentle. Once a person has become thoughtful his first step is to become gentle. As soon as this one thing, thoughtfulness, is developed in a person, he takes his first step towards real evolution.
One might think that everyone tries to be thoughtful. And yet when we consider two things in our daily life, the necessity for silence and that for speech, we may find that we make a thousand mistakes. Often we speak more than we need to speak, or we give our confidence to someone to whom it had just as well not be given, or we spoke to someone while we should not have done so. But it is too late afterwards. Sometimes in a mood of haste, or opposition, or in a distressed condition a person might say something hurtful without meaning it; he says it and then he repents. By saying it he has not gained anything but has lost much. Very often there is no gain in speaking except that it is a pastime or has released a desire to say something. Afterwards this has a result. The heart of man, just like fragile glass, is so delicate that once broken it is very difficult to mend. It is never really mended; every hurt and harm once given is never mended. One can apologize and ask forgiveness, but what is done is done, what is said is said. The word is not lost. Every word we speak remains somewhere: in the heart of one listening, in space, in the ground. It stays and results in something.
Then very often a person makes a habit of being talkative. He loses his own time, his own thought and the time of others, and often it ends in confusion. One accomplishes nothing by useless arguments, and it is amusing to see that often a person argues because he does not know. He goes on arguing because he does not know and wants to learn from the other fellow what he knows. Besides, what you cannot understand by your own wisdom, by intuition within, how can you understand it by discussing, by arguing? It is very often a loss of time.
There are others for whom talking is a kind of fashion, a kind of amusement, a pastime. The end of it is that they exhaust themselves, they become nervous and nothing is gained. Silence sometimes seems very hard to keep, but at the same time it has its great benefit. Very often disagreement is avoided, inharmony is avoided. Silence is good for both the wise and the foolish. For the wise man it is good because it avoids unnecessary talk; he can keep his precious thought within himself well cherished, and so he rears the good thought as a plant. And the foolish one, as long as he keeps silence, covers his stupidity - and so much the better. Silence raises the dignity of the wise one and covers the stupidity of the foolish one.
Besides, the more you evolve the more you will see the different grades of persons, just like the different keys on the piano : one is lower, another is higher. So every person has a different grade of evolution. Then, the higher you evolve, the more you will find that you cannot drive everyone with the same whip; you have to talk to everyone differently. In other words, you have to speak to every person in his own language. If you speak in another language that he does not understand, it is gibberish, he will not understand you. If he is less evolved he will abuse the words you have spoken. If he is highly evolved and you say something which does not reach up to his evolution, it will make you small in his eyes. What is the use ? Besides, you will always find that inharmony is unnecessarily caused by words. There is no need for it. However inharmonious the atmosphere of other persons may be, if you have the word of wisdom you can dispel the clouds of inharmony.
I will tell you an amusing story of my own experience. Once when travelling I met a man of a very dense evolution, a soldier who had always lived in the military and who had his own ideas. A modern educated man in the East understands differently and is sometimes criticized by uncultured men. When we were talking together I happened to say, in order to harmonize, "Well, we are brothers!" He looked at me with great anger and said, "Brothers! How dare you say such a thing!" I said, "I forgot. I am your servant, Sir". He was very pleased. I could have argued which would have created disharmony without reason. The foolishness of the one arose just like fire. I put water on it and extinguished it. It did not make me small - we are all servants of one another - and it pleased and satisfied him.
There is also a story of a wise healer. A woman went to him and said, "I have a difficult time with my husband. Can you tell me how this can be avoided? Every day there is a quarrel at home". He said, "That is very easy". "I would be so grateful", said she. "I give you these lozenges, these sweets, You keep them in the mouth when your husband comes home and all will be well. They are magnetized sweets". Every day she experienced that there was no quarrel any more. After ten days when the sweets were finished she went back to the healer and said, "I would give you anything if you could give me more sweets. They were wonderful". The teacher said, "My friend, now you must understand after ten days of having the sweets that your husband after toiling all day is nervous, tired and weary when he comes home. Naturally he is not in tune, and you made him worse by talking. By your keeping silent he had nothing to quarrel about and your home became more harmonious. This must teach you a lesson: that silence is the key to harmony".
Many of the sages in the East keep silence either for some hours or perhaps all day long. One might think that it is very difficult, but once a person gets into this habit then it is not so difficult. The atmosphere these sages create and the healing power they show and the harmony they spread all over is so wonderful that sometimes one sage in a whole village has his atmosphere of peace spread all over the village. He is just like a peacemaker of the whole village. Silence has silent power that spreads around and brings about wonderful phenomena. Besides this, everything odd, whether a movement, words, action or thought, takes away magnetism and hinders harmony. Therefore the wise always avoid all that is odd.
In order to understand the law of harmony one must compare it with the harmony in music. Sometimes there are two notes of the same kind which harmonize. And so the wise will harmonize with wise and foolish. The foolish could have harmony with the wicked, for it is the same note with the difference of an octave; there may be this difference of octave, yet it is the same note.
There is another law of harmony: a note may harmonize with another note. It is not the same note but it harmonizes with the other one, it responds to it. It is a question of positive and negative. If one is positive the negative will harmonize; if one is negative then the positive will harmonize. Two persons who are negative will not harmonize, and two persons who are positive will not harmonize.
Then there is a third law to be observed: there may be two notes of music which are quite different, but if you add a third note, they will make a chord. In this way two persons may not harmonize, but a third will create harmony between them. But at the same time when two persons are most harmonious together, a third will perhaps create inharmony.
And there is still another law: the wise will be in harmony with the foolish one, but he will not be in harmony with the semi-wise.
The law of attraction and repulsion depends upon the law of the harmonious blending of persons. If they do not blend harmoniously then there is repulsion; if they blend harmoniously there is attraction. It is just like different colours: used according to the law of harmony they harmonize, and if not they do not harmonize; it is not the colours that are not harmonious, it is the blending. All persons do not harmonize; whether they blend or do not blend is all according to the law of the notes in music. You will always find that this is similar to the law of notes.
In India the Brahmins believed that there are four kinds of persons: the angelic person whom they called deva, the human person, manusha, the animal person, pashu and rakshasa, a monstrous person. Whenever there was a marriage people used to consult the Brahmin, who said that he would make the horoscope and would advise them accordingly. But he did not always advise according to the horoscope but to a psychological idea. The Brahmin's intuition was more developed and he had insight into the law of harmony, the law of attraction and repulsion. He knew that if the boy was rakshasa and the girl angelic this would not do. Then he said that it was against the horoscope, but most often it was his own conception. The same thing applies to friendship and also in marriage: neither friendship nor marriage lasts if there is a difference of this kind.
In order to develop the art of personality no study nor any particular practice is required. If anything is most necessary it is first to acquire a right attitude of body and of mind: the body working regularly, rightly and steadily, the mind working steadily and rightly. Perhaps you know or have read in books that in the East adepts sit in a certain posture for hours on end in order to get the attitude of the body right, and then we hear that they concentrate for hours on end to get the mind right. When the attitude of body and mind is right, then naturally the personality becomes right. Right living, right thinking develops the personality, but the principal thing is the development of the heart quality. Many people develop intellectually, but the more sympathy is developed in a person, the keener is his perception. He develops in himself an outgoing nature so that his atmosphere embraces all those in his presence.
The spiritual magnetism which finishes the art of personality is gained by meditation, by realization of the oneness of all, by union with God, by having high ideals and high aspiration.