Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The privilege of being human
The Art of Being
Chapter 17
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


Tact is a thread which connects heaven and earth making them one. Tact, therefore, is not learned by worldly cleverness. Earthly qualifications do not make a man really tactful; he may imitate a tactful person, but polish is different from gentleness. Where does tact come from? Tact comes from the profound depth of the human heart, for it is a sense which is developed by human sympathy. A selfish person, therefore, cannot prove to be tactful to the end. He will perhaps begin by being tactful but will end in losing that spirit, because false tact will not endure. It is the real alone-object or person - that can endure.


Tactfulness comes from our consideration for one another, and that consideration comes from our feeling, our sympathy for one another. What is consideration? Consideration is feeling "all that is displeasing, distasteful, disagreeable to me - I must not cause it to another". From this sense tact develops as wisdom. A man may be most learned, most capable, most influential, and yet not be tactful. Tactfulness is the sign of the great ones; great statesmen, kings, leaders, heroes, the most learned men, the great servers of humanity were tactful. They won their enemies, their worst adversaries, by their tact; they accomplished the most difficult things in life by the power of tact.


One never can say, "I have enough tact". It is never enough. A real tactful person, having proved not to be tactful enough in his everyday life, finds more faults with himself than a tactless person. As one becomes more tactful so one finds more fault with oneself, because there are so many shortcomings: actions manifest themselves automatically, words slip off from the tongue, and then the tactful one thinks and sees that he did not do right. But as Sa'adi says, "Once it is done then you, thoughtful one, repent of it. This is not the time to repent, you ought to have controlled yourself first".


One becomes tactful through self-discipline, one develops tact by self-control. A tactful person is subtle, fine, poetic; he shows real learning and fine intelligence. Many say, "How can we be tactful and at the same time truthful?" Many look at the fineness of the tactful person saying, "Hypocritical!" But what is the use of that truth which is thrown at a person's head as a big stone, breaking his head. A truth which has no beauty - what kind of truth is it? The Qur'an says, "God is beautiful", therefore truth must be beautiful. If it were not beautiful then beauty-seeking souls and intelligent beings would not have sought after truth.


It is not always necessary to say things which could just as well have not been said. Very often it is weakness on the part of a person to drop a word which could have been avoided. It is the tactful soul who becomes large, because he does not always express himself outwardly. So his heart, accommodating wisdom, becomes larger; it becomes a reservoir of wisdom, of thoughtfulness. It is the tactful person who becomes popular, who is loved; it is the tactful person whom people listen to. Besides, it is by tact that we maintain the harmony of our lives. If not, life turns into a stormy sea. The influences coming from all around in our everyday life are enough to disturb the peace of our lives, and if we were tactless in addition to it what would then become of us? There would be one continual storm in our lives and there could never be peace. It is by tact that we make a balance against all inharmonious influences which have a jarring effect upon our spirit. When inharmony comes from all sides and we are creative of harmony, we counterbalance it, and this makes life easy for us to bear.


What is goodness, piety, or orthodoxy without wisdom, without tact? What will a good person accomplish by his goodness, if he is not able to give pleasure and happiness by what he says or does? Of what use his piety or spirituality will be, if he is not creative of happiness for those who come in contact with him? It is, therefore, with tact that we begin our work of healing ourselves and others.


The Sufis of all ages have been known for their beautiful personality. It does not mean that among them there have not been people with great powers, wonderful powers and wisdom. But beyond all that, what is most known of the Sufis is the human side of their nature: that tact which attuned them to wise and foolish, to poor and rich, to strong and weak - to all. They met everyone on his own plane, they spoke to everyone in his own language. What did Jesus teach when he said to the fishermen, "Come hither, I will make you fishers of men"? It did not mean, "I will teach you ways by which you will get the best of man". It only meant: your tact, your sympathy will spread its arms before every soul who comes, as mother's arms spread out for her little ones.


The Sufis say, "Neither are we here to become angels", nor to live as the animals do. We are here to sympathize with one another and to bring to others the happiness which we always seek". Yes, there are many thorns on the path of life, but looking at ourselves we see the same faults, if not more, as those of others which prick like stings, like thorns. Therefore if we spare others the thorn that comes out of us, we will give that much help to our fellowmen-and that is no small help! It is by being tactful that we accomplish our sacred duty, that we perform our religion. For how do we please God? We please God by trying to please mankind.




Retour au texte en français


Présentation La Musique du Message Accueil Textes et Conférences Lexique