(A lecture given in New York, 26 May, 1926)
Just as there are some who have short sight and others who have long sight, so there are some who see things at a far distance with the eyes of their mind, but who cannot see what is near them. They have long sight. Then there are others who have short sight; they see all that is near them but cannot see further. It is said that there is a third eye. It is true, but sometimes that third eye sees through these two eyes, and so the same eyes see things more clearly than they would otherwise. With the help of the third eye our eyes can penetrate through the wall of physical existence and see into the minds of people, into the words of people, and even further. When one begins to see, the first thing is that everything one's eyes see has a deeper meaning, a greater significance than one knew before. Every movement of a person, every gesture, his form, feature, voice, words, expression, atmosphere, all become narrative of the person's nature and character. Not knowing this secret many want to study what they call physiognomy or phrenology or handwriting or palmistry. But in comparison with the clear vision all these different sciences are limited. They have a certain meaning, but at the same time, when you compare these limited sciences with the insight that man has, they prove to be too small. Besides, character-reading is not learned, it is discovered. It is a sense that awakens. You do not need to learn it, you know it.
That is one kind of insight. Then there is another insight, which is insight in affairs. Be it a business affair, a professional affair, a condition, a situation in life, once the insight is clear one has the grasp of the situation. For what makes things difficult in life is lack of the knowledge of things. There may be a small problem, but when you do not know about it, it becomes worse, it becomes a very heavy problem. You cannot understand it and that makes it worse. You may analyse a problem and reason it out, but without insight it will always be puzzling. It is the development of insight that gives you a clear vision in affairs, in conditions and in the problems of life.
There is impression, there is intuition, there is inspiration, there is dream and there is revelation. In these different aspects insight shows itself.
The one who can get an impression of a person need not wait and see how that person comes out. He knows it instantly. Very often many have a feeling at first sight, whether a person will be a friend or unfriendly. When someone comes and tells me, "I am very interested in your philosophy, but before I take it up I want to study it", he may study for thousand years and will go on studying and not arrive at that insight. It is at the first moment that either you are my friend or not my friend. For friends it does not take many years to develop friendship. When two persons meet, a confidence is established, no need of years in order to become friends - it is foolish.
If one has to make a person one's business partner or one's colleague in a profession, one has an impression. If in that impression one feels that it will not go right and one does not listen to it, in the end there is failure. If one took to the impression first, one would be safe. It comes in an instance.
Intuition is still deeper, for by intuition you get a warning. Intuitively you feel that a person will one day deceive you or turn against you, or that he will prove faithful to you and sincere, that he can be relied on. Or you know that in a particular business you will have success or failure. The difficulty lies in distinguishing the right intuition. That is a great question. For as soon as intuition springs up, reason, its competitor, rises also and says, "No, it is not so". Then there is conflict in the mind and you cannot distinguish, because there are two feelings at the same time. If a person makes a habit to catch the first intuition and save it from being destroyed by reason, then intuition is stronger and one can benefit by it. There are many intuitive people, but they cannot distinguish between intuition and reason, and sometimes they muddle them up, because very often the second thought, being the last thought, is clearer before their vision than the first. So intuition is forgotten and reason remembered. And one calls it intuition which it is not.
Moreover, those who doubt intuition, their intuition doubts them. In other words, the doubt becomes a wall between themselves and their intuitive faculty. There is a psychological action: as soon as intuition has sprung, doubt and reason have sprung, so that the vision is bleared.
The intuition of dogs and cats and horses sometimes seems to be clearer than that of man. They know if there is going to be a certain accident, if death or disease is going to occur in the family, or fire in the house or an accident. They know it beforehand and give people warning. But people are so busy in their daily occupations that they do not respond to the intuition of animals. People in the East believe that even small insects know about happenings and give warning to those who can understand it. It is true. Also birds give warning of a storm or wind and rain and drought.
Inspiration comes to few, especially to artists, painters, sculptors, singers, poets, musicians, thinkers, writers, inventors. Inspiration is a gift. It is like a room opened to a person in which all beautiful things are to be found, everything one wants is at hand. Therefore, for a poet, a musician to get an inspiration no striving is necessary. No effort is needed; he must only feel inclined to it and he just reaches it. You might ask, "What is this storehouse?" It is where inspiration comes from. It is the divine Mind which has in it all knowledge. One has only to reach it and the knowledge comes in one's grasp. A person may make efforts to produce something worthwhile for a long time and not accomplish it, and by the help of inspiration he can accomplish it at once. A poem one has not been able to finish in six months' time, in an inspirational mood is finished in a moment. And that which is made inspirationally is greater than that made by effort. All things made in inspiration have made the greatest impression upon people. All things produced by inspiration are living and have their charm for ever. One is never tired of these things.
Now as to dreams, we have different kinds of dreams. There is one kind which is an automatic action of the mind. Whatever one experienced in the day, over the same line the mind goes at night. So it is reproduced in the dream.
Then there is another kind of dream that shows the contrary to what must happen. If one is going to be happy one sees oneself unhappy, if one is going to be successful one sees oneself fail. It is contrary to everything that is to happen. It is a kind of upset condition of the mind. Just like, when looking in a certain glass, a thin person sees himself stout and a thick person sees himself thin. Everything looks contrary to what it is.
The third kind of dream is a symbolical dream and this is the most interesting dream. The greater the person, the subtler the symbolism of his dream; with the grossness of the person the symbolism is gross; the more evolved the person, the finer, the more artistic and subtler the dream. And that is the most interesting part of the dream. To a poet there will be poetic symbols, and the dream of a musician will have musical symbols, in the dream of an artist there will be symbols of art.
Then there is the realistic dream; one sees actually what is going to happen. This also gives us insight into what we call fate: that all that we call accident is only our conception. Because we did not know it beforehand, we call it accident, but there is a plan, it is all planned out and known beforehand to the Spirit and those who know it. There are sages who know of their death a year before. So there is no such a thing as accident. When a person does not know, it means that he does not see. But it is there.
Revelation is still greater. It is the perfection of insight. It is a greater development when once revelation begins. A person feels in tune with everybody, everything and every condition. But in order to come to that stage one must develop towards it. The heart must be tuned to that stage, to that pitch where one feels at-one-ment with persons, objects and conditions. For instance, when one cannot bear the climate, it only means that one is not in harmony with the climate; when one cannot get on with persons, it means that one is not in harmony with persons; and when one cannot get on with circumstances, one is not in harmony with circumstances.
Sages in the East used to be called balakush, which means "who take the draught of all difficulties". They called the difficulties of life a wine to drink. Once you drink, it is gone. They were not afraid of it, they did not want to keep out of it. They said, "If we keep out of it this moment, next moment it will meet us, it will meet us some day. If we escape one moment, another moment it will meet us. So let it come such as it is and let us drink it as a wine". The principle of Mahadeva, of the dervishes and great faqirs, of all sages is this one principle: to drink all difficulties as a wine. Then there is no more difficulty. When one is in tune with life, then life becomes revealing, because then one is friends with life. Before that one was a stranger to it. Attitude makes such a difference, and it is the difference of attitude that makes a person spiritual or material. Nothing need be changed, only the attitude.
Very often people ask, "What is Sufism? Is it a religion? Is it a philosophy? It is not a religion because it has no dogmas. It is not a philosophy because it has no particular theories. It is an outlook, a certain outlook on life, an attitude towards life that makes you a Sufi. It is not holding a theory or to be subject to a certain dogma. One might ask, "What attitude?", and in short I will say: a friendly attitude, toward friend and foe alike, to things agreeable and disagreeable, to all conditions; when you are rising and when you are falling, when you are successful and when you have failed, in pain and in comfort, to be in tune with all. The great person is he who is always friendly inclined to all persons and to all conditions that he meets with in life. That develops revelation, then things and beings in life begin to reveal themselves and one gets a greater knowledge.
What do we learn from this? It is to develop insight; not to become excited by any influence that tries to take us out of our rhythm, but to keep in rhythm under all conditions of life; to keep our equilibrium, our tranquillity under all conditions of life. Sometimes it is very difficult to keep our equilibrium, when influences of life are shaking us and to keep our poise through it all. It is difficult in face of influences which are opposed to keeping a friendly attitude. But at the same time, because it is difficult, it is a great attainment. To attain anything valuable and worthwhile one has to go through difficulties. But one does not pay for it; one learns without paying for it. It is something one can practise every day in life, because from morning till evening one is continually among jarring effects from all sides. There is plenty of opportunity of practising this lesson of keeping a friendly attitude towards everyone and meeting courageously every condition and of taking upon oneself all influences that come along. It is in this way that a greater insight into life is attained.
Question: When a person is guided by reason in life, what becomes of intuition?
Answer: Reason and intuition are two competitors, and yet both have their place, their importance and their value. It would be best first to try and catch the intuition and then to reason it out.
Question: How can one develop intuition without reason interfering?
Answer: As I have said, one must develop self-confidence and trust in one's intuition. Even if once, twice or thrice it proved wrong, still to continue. In time one will develop trust in one's intuition and so intuition will be clear.
Question: Can one attain unlimited knowledge without a scientific foundation?
Answer: Scientific knowledge is never a foundation. Scientific knowledge is always an outcome of intuition. It seems a foundation, but it is never that. Science has never been learned from science, it has been learned from intuition. On the foundation of science another science has been formed, but the foundation of science is intuition. No doubt, what is built today as something higher, an improvement, is built upon science. But the foundation is not science, the foundation is the human faculty.
Question: How is stability of mind attained?
Answer: By love of all that is stable. A person without a stable mind is worthless. Whatever he is to you, your friend, your assistant, your servant or your master, if you cannot rely on him, in any capacity he is worthless. Stability is the sign of the everlasting life shown in the midst of this life of changeability.
Question: If a person is killed by a train, was it his destiny to die?
Question: If all is mapped out, how does free will come in?
Answer: It is always mapped out by the free will.
Question: Are accidents prepared by unseen teachers or by our own karma?
Answer: Unseen teachers are not interested in accidents. Why should they? If you say "our own karma", even that I would not emphasize. I would give in answer to this question the words of Christ "All is done that God's actions may be known". In other words, if one says, "Why should there be a drum in the orchestra, why should there be a trumpet in the orchestra?" I would say, "In order that the music may be played as the composer wished it to be played". Maybe that from our mind's standpoint it is disagreeable, but the composer has written music which required a drum and a trumpet. In the same way all that seems useless, is all there for some purpose, all making the divine symphony. We say, "Why is this?" And this is what our limited mind sees in it. In reality everything has its place and its purpose. Someone asked the Prophet in jest, "Why were mosquitoes created?" And the Prophet said, "That you may not sleep all night long, but devote some of your night to prayers".
Question: How to distinguish between automatic and other forms of dream?
Answer: By the dreams themselves.
Question: What about being in tune with bad habits?
Answer: One could not correct bad habits if one were not in tune with them. Not the one who reproaches a person who smokes can correct him, but the one who sits with him and tells him naturally to get rid of that habit. The woman who says, "My husband drinks, I cannot go near him", will not cure him. But the one who will go in the street and pick him up and not feel ashamed of it, it is she who is in tune with him and will raise him, will cure him and help him toward evolution. It is not by thinking, "Because it is a bad habit, or because a person is bad and wrong I have nothing to do with him". It is by our friendliness, by our sympathy, by our understanding that we get closer to the person.