It is harmony which makes beauty; beauty in itself has no meaning. An object which is called beautiful at a certain place and time is not beautiful at another place or at another time. And so it is with thought, speech and action: that which is called beautiful is only so at a certain time and under certain conditions which make it beautiful. So if one can give a true definition of beauty it is harmony. Harmony in a combination of colours, harmony in the drawing of a design or a line is called beauty, and a word, a thought, a feeling, an action that creates harmony is productive of beauty.
The question arises from where comes the tendency to harmony and from where comes a tendency to disharmony. The natural tendency of every soul is towards harmony, and the tendency towards inharmony is an unnatural state of mind or affairs. The very fact that it is not natural makes it void of beauty. The psychology of man is such that he responds both to harmony and inharmony. He cannot help it, because he is naturally made so; mentally and physically he responds to all that comes to him, be it harmonious or inharmonious.
The teaching of Christ, "Resist not evil", is a hint not to respond to inharmony. For instance, a word of kindness, of sympathy, an action of love and affection finds response, but a word of insult, an action of revolt or of hatred creates a response too, and that response creates more inharmony in the world. By giving way to inharmony one allows inharmony to multiply. At this time one sees in the world the greatest unrest and discomfort pervading all over. Where does it come from? It seems to come from ignorance of this fact that inharmony creates inharmony and will multiply inharmony.
A person who is insulted, has the natural tendency to think that the proper way of answering is to insult the other person still more. By this he gets the momentary satisfaction of having given a good answer, but he does not know what he has done by his good answer. He has given response to that power which came from the other and these two powers, being negative and positive, create more inharmony. "Resist not evil" does not mean: receive evil into yourself. "Resist not evil" only means: do not send back the inharmony that comes to you, just as a person playing tennis would send back the ball with his racket. But at the same time it does not suggest that you should receive the ball with open hands. The tendency toward harmony may be likened to a rock in the sea: through the wind, through the storm the rock stands in the sea; each wave comes with all its force and yet the rock remains still, it stands, it bears all, letting the waves beat against it.
By fighting inharmony one increases it, by not fighting it one does not give fuel to the fire which would rise and cause destruction. No doubt the wiser you become, the more difficulties you have to face in life, because every kind of inharmony will be directed at you for the very reason that you will not fight it. However, with all these difficulties you must know that you have helped to destroy that inharmony which would otherwise have multiplied. This is not without advantage, for every time you stand against inharmony like the rock in the sea, you increase your strength, although outwardly it may seem a defeat. But the one who is conscious of the increase of his power will never admit that it was a defeat, and as time passes the person against whom he has stood firm will realize that it was he who was defeated.
Life in the world has a constantly jarring effect. The finer one becomes the more trying it will be, and the time comes when, if a person is sincere and good-willing, kind and sympathetic, life becomes worse for him. If he is discouraged by this, he goes under. If he keeps his courage, then he will find in the end that it was not disadvantageous, because his power will some day increase to that stage, to that degree at which his presence, his word, his action will control the thoughts and feelings and activities of all. He will get that heavy rhythm, the rhythm that will make the rhythm of everybody else follow it. This is the attribute which in the East is called the quality of the master-mind.
In order to stand firm against the inharmony that comes from without, one must first practise to stand firm against all that comes from within, from one's own self; for one's own self is more difficult to control than other people, and when one is not able to control oneself and one has failed to do so, it is most difficult to stand firm against the inharmony from without.
Now the question arises: what is it that causes inharmony in oneself? It is weakness; physical weakness or mental weakness, but it is always weakness. Very often, therefore, one finds that it is bodily illness that causes inharmony and inharmonious tendencies. Besides, there are many diseases of the mind which the scientists of to-day have not yet discovered. There are two cases: a person, who is perhaps very ill, is considered insane, and, on the other hand, illnesses of the mind are not taken into account. Persons who suffer from these illnesses are considered sane, and no attention is given to the defects which come from these diseases of the mind. So they never have a chance to notice the disease in themselves, and they are continually finding faults with others. If they are in an office, if they are in a good position, if they are at home, everywhere they cause inharmony. Nobody understands the cause, for to be treated as insane the person must first be recognized as insane.
Health of the mind is so seldom discussed. In fact, as there are more solicitors, more lawyers, more barristers, more courts and more judges, so there are more cases. Consequently prisons increase, and what is the outcome? After a person has gone to prison and has come out of it, he has forgotten where he was; he follows again the same path, for the disease has not been found out. In court a person is judged, but what is the matter with him psychologically, what caused him to do what what he did, is not discovered. There are thousands of people in prison, because something is wrong in their mind. If they were kept in prison for a thousand years they would not improve. Nothing but injustice is awarded to them by putting them in prison. It is just like putting a person in prison because his body is ill.
The cause of every discomfort and of every failure is inharmony. What would be the most useful thing in education at the present time is to give the sense of harmony to children, and to develop it in them. It will not be so difficult as it appears to bring harmony to their notice. What is necessary is to point out to the youths the different aspects of harmony in the different aspects of life's affairs.
The work of the Sufi message, a message of love, harmony and beauty, is to awaken in humanity the consciousness of the true nature of love, harmony and beauty. The training which is given to those who become initiated in the inner cult is to cultivate these three things which are the principal factors in human life.
Question: How should we deal with criminals?
Answer: I would suggest that those who are accused of a certain fault should first - before being brought before the judge - be taken to a jury of psychologists in order to see what is the matter with them. Then, after a person is judged, he should again be taken to this jury.
Question: In what way could they be cured of their fault?
Answer: Instead of being sent to a prison, I think that they should be sent to a special school intended for criminals.
Question: At what age should we begin to develop harmony in a child?
Answer: At the very beginning of a child's growth.
Question: By what means does one develop the sense of harmony in a child?
Answer: I would develop harmony in a child's manner, in his action, in his speech, first believing that he naturally has love for harmony. The inharmony he shows is not in his nature, and it is not difficult to put out what is not in his nature. With my personal experience - not only with children but with persons of all ages and of great variety - I should like to say that never for one moment I think that anything wrong belongs to anyone's nature. I think that it is only something outside which has got hold of him and which can be taken off some time or other. Therefore I believe that there is hope for everyone, and if a person were accused of being the very worst individual yesterday, today I would look at him with hope and think he had gone far from yesterday.
Besides, I consider that to accuse a person of a fault, or to think of a person that he is wrong or inharmonious, creates in him that which you are thinking of. But I must tell you that it is difficult even for me. It is denying something which is before you, and which is not only standing still but active. It is just like saying of a person, who is cross by nature and who is cross with you, "No, he is not cross".
Question: That will change it?
Answer: It is the same with Christian Science. Of course a person who practises Christian Science likes so much to put his science into words that he makes people revolt against him. But as far as the idea goes, it is a most splendid idea. Denying a thing is destroying a thing, and to admit a certain thing is giving it a root. Even saying, "I have an enemy, and he is so bad to me", is really giving that enemy a strength from your own spirit. But when you put it out of your mind thinking, "Well, I have a good wish for everyone, I do not wish to look at anything that is disagreeable", it does not give the other that strength.
Question: Could you please give us a more definite idea about the way in which harmony in reasoning and action should be developed in children?
Answer: There are two faults that a child commits in speaking, not knowing that they are faults. One fault is that it sometimes likes to reason in a way in which a child should not reason: when there is no consideration of manner. In that way it creates inharmony, because it says something in a form in which a child ought not to speak. Secondly the child gets into a habit of saying something which psychologically is not right, which has no good results. This idea is very much considered in the East, but it is an idea that should be considered wherever humanity exists. There are many words which have power behind them, there are many words which cause bad effects. A child in its play does not consider what it says. It simply says things and does not feel backward to reason about somebody's death or illness, which psychologically may be wrong, besides being suggestive. If in play a child says to another child, "I shall cut of your head", another will perhaps take a knife and do it!
Now as to action - a child is full of activity, and in a moment one child is like a hundred children. He is always active, without knowing what to do. So he is destructive, he spoils things. If you stop him from doing one thing, he goes to another, and in order to stop that in him which is destructive and would make him do wrong things, you should awaken the desire for harmony in him.
Besides, for a child to consider others, the comfort of others, the importance of the word of others, are all necessary things. There is a saying in the East: good manner in a child means good luck, bad manner means bad luck. One can easily understand the reason of it: good manners attract love, affection and goodwill from all sides, and that helps the child to be good. Whenever a grown-up person sees a child with good manners, his first impulse is to think, "May he be blessed, may he succeed in life". That goodwill coming from grown-up people is not taken by a child if he disturbs them; he is deprived of that blessing.
It seems to me that the first lesson of religion should teach children to consider another, the friend, the well-beloved people at home. If children are not trained in this, they cannot understand religion when they grow up. I mean religion in the true sense of the word, not a special form of religion. Religion in the world of to-day is the betterment of the soul. A good time will only come when the coming generations will try to strive after the improvement of the soul.