Will is not a power, but it is all the power there is. If one asks me with what God created the world, I will say, "By His Will". Therefore, what in us we call will-power in reality is a God-power, a power which by our recognizing its potentiality increases and proves to be the greatest phenomenon in life. If there is any secret that can be learned behind the mystery of the world of phenomena, it is will-power; and it is by will-power that all we do, physically or mentally, is accomplished. Our hands with all their perfect mechanism cannot hold a glass of water, if there is no will-power to support them. A person may seem to be healthy - if will-power fails him, he will not be able to stand. It is not the body that makes us stand upright, it is our will-power. It is not the strength of body which makes us move about, it is will-power which holds the body, which makes it go. In reality birds do not fly with their wings, they fly with will-power; fishes do not swim with their body, they swim with their will-power. And when man has the will to swim, he swims like a fish.
Men have been able to accomplish tremendous things by will-power. Success and failure are its phenomena. It is only the phenomenon of will which will bring one success, and when the will fails, however qualified and intelligent the person, he fails. Therefore, it is not a human power; it is a divine power in man.
Its work with the mind is still greater, for no man can hold a thought in his mind for a moment, if there is not the strength of will to hold it. If a person cannot concentrate, cannot keep his thought still for a moment, it means that will-power fails him, for it is the will that holds a thought.
Now coming to the question what will-power is made of, in poetical words will-power is love; in metaphysical terms love is will-power. If one says, "God is love", it really means "God is will", for the love of God manifests after the creation, but the will of God caused the creation. The most original aspect of love, therefore, is will. When a person says, "I love to do it", it means, "I will to do it", which is a stronger expression and means, "I fully love to do it". It is said in the Qur'an: "We said 'be', and it became". This is such a key to the world of phenomena, to the progressive world, to the advanced thought. This is the key which shows how the manifestation came into existence. It came into existence in answer to that Will which expressed itself in saying 'Be'. And it became. That phenomenon does not only belong to the origin of things; that phenomenon belongs to the whole being of things, to the whole process of manifestation. We are apt to look at this whole creation as a mechanism, as a man today looks at it, and we do not stop to think how a mechanism can exist without an engineer. What is mechanism? It is only an expression of the will of the engineer, an engineer who for his convenience made the mechanism. As we do not see the engineer before us and only see the mechanism, we involve ourselves in the laws of the working of the mechanism and forget the engineer by whose command this whole mechanism is going on. Rumi, the great inspirer and philosopher, has said in his Mathnavi
The earth, water, fire, air seem to us as things, as objects
A part of that Will we inherit as our divine heritage, and it is our consciousness of it that makes it greater. If we are not conscious of it, it becomes smaller. It is the optimistic attitude towards life which develops will; the pessimistic attitude reduces it, robs it of its great power. So if there is anything that hinders our progress in life, it is our own selves. It is proved a thousand times over that there is no one in the world who can be our worse enemy than ourselves, for in every failure we see our own selves standing in our own light.
The earth holds the seed and the result is that a plant springs out of it and bears fruit. So is the heart. The heart holds the seed of thought. There also a plant springs and brings the fruit of fulfilment. It is not only the thought, but the power of holding the thought which is of a very great importance for the fulfilment of life's purpose. Often a person says, "I try my best, but I cannot concentrate my mind, I cannot make my mind still". It is true, but it is not true that he tries his best. 'Best' does not end there; 'best' really brings the purpose to fulfilment.
The mind is just like a restive horse. Bring a wild horse and yoke it to a carriage, it is such a strange experience for it that it will kick and jump and run and try to destroy the carriage. So for the mind it is a weight to carry, when you make it take one thought and hold that thought for a while. It is then that the mind becomes restive because it is not accustomed to discipline. By itself the mind will hold a thought. A thought of disappointment or a pain or a grief, a sorrow or a failure the mind will hold so fast that you cannot take that, which it holds by itself, away from the grip of the mind. But when you ask the mind to hold a particular thought, then the mind says, "I will not hold it, I am not your servant". When once the mind is disciplined by concentration, by the power of the will, then the mind becomes your servant, and once the mind has become your servant, then what more do you wish? Then your world is your own, you are the king of your kingdom.
No doubt, one might say, "Why should we not let the mind be free also, as we are free?" But we and the mind are not two things. It is like saying, "Let the horse be free and the rider be free". Then the horse wants to go to the south and the rider wants to go to the north. How can they go together? There are souls who would even say, "Let us be free and the will be free". But what are we then. Then we are nothing. Discipline has a place in man's life and self-discipline, however difficult and tyrannical to ourselves it might seem in the beginning, yet it is that which in the end makes the soul the master of self. It is not in vain that the great sages and adepts led an ascetic life. There was a purpose in it. It is not something to follow but it is something to understand: what use they made of it, what they accomplished through it. It was self-discipline; it was the development of will-power. All the lack we find in life is the lack of the will, and all the blessing that comes to us comes by the power of will.
Question: What is the best way to develop will-power?
Answer: Will-power is systematically developed by Sufis by first applying discipline to the body. It must sit in the posture that is prescribed to it, it must stand in the place where it is asked to stand. The body must not become restless, tired, fatigued by what is asked of it. The body must answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment one begins to discipline the body, one begins to see how disobedient this body has always been. One then discovers, "This body I have called my, myself, and for its comfort I have done everything possible, closing my eyes from everything else in order to give it comfort, rest, nourishment, and here this infidel seems to be most faithless, most disobedient". So the body is trained by physical exercises, by sitting or standing or walking, doing things to which it is not always accustomed. Yet these are the things which are for the betterment of this physical body.
Then there is the discipline of the mind. This comes through concentration. When the mind is thinking about something and you wish the mind to think one thought that you have before you, then the mind becomes very restless. It does not want to remain on one spot, because it has always been moving without discipline. As soon as you discipline it, it becomes just as a wild horse. Often people tell me that at the moment they want to concentrate it jumps, at other times it moves. It is because the mind has an entity. It becomes restive, it feels like a wild horse will, "Why should I be disciplined by you?" At the same time this mind is meant to be an obedient servant, this body was meant to become your tool to experience life with. If they are not in order, if they do not act as you wish them to, then you cannot hope for a real comfort, for a real happiness in this world.
Question: What is he difference between concentration and silence?
Answer: Concentration is holding a certain thought before you. Silence is the relaxing of mind and body. It is repose. It is a healing.
Question: Can the will become so strong that it controls the body perfectly, making it perfectly healthy? What is then death?
Answer: Death is not something different from will-power. Death is will just the same. Even death is caused by will-power. But one thinks that one does not invite death. One does not invite it, but the pulse becomes feeble, and the greater Will impresses this feeble will, turning it into itself, because it belongs to the greater Will. The smaller will belongs to the greater Will. Sufis call the smaller will qadr, the greater Will Qadha. They attribute the greater Will to God, the smaller will to man. It is the smaller will which becomes feeble, and the greater Will reflects upon it, it commands it. It is this command which the smaller will unconsciously accepts. On the surface a person will still want to live, but in the depth of his will he has resigned. If he had not resigned he would not die. He has first resigned in the depth before his life is taken away from him.
Question: Are will and consciousness fundamentally the same?
Answer: Yes, they are two expressions of one thing which make them distinct. This duality comes out of unity. It is God's own Being in expression which is will; in repose it is consciousness. In other words, in action it is will, in stillness it is consciousness. It is just like light and sound which fundamentally are one and the same thing. In one condition the same vibrations are audible, in another condition the friction of vibrations produces light. Therefore the nature and the character of sound and light are one and the same, and so it is with the nature and character of consciousness and will. Both fundamentally belong to God's own Being.
Question: How to distinguish between practices for concentration and meditation?
Answer: Concentration is the beginning of meditation; meditation is the end of concentration. It is an advanced form of concentration which is called meditation. It is a subtle form of concentration which is called meditation. Meditation is more profound than concentration, but once concentration is accomplished fully it makes it easy for a person to meditate.
Question: Power of will does not seem to depend on ourselves; is it given to some as a grace, a blessing?
Answer: It does not depend on ourselves, but it is ourselves. It is grace and blessing, no doubt, but at the same time it is to be found in ourselves, it is our very being.
Question: Is it by putting the human will in harmony with the divine Will that the world redeemers are made?
Answer: Certainly. Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real crucifixion. After this crucifixion follows resurrection. But first, to attain to it, one should try to seek the pleasure of God. This is not so difficult once one has begun to seek the pleasure of God. One might ask one's whole life long, "What is the pleasure of God?", and one might not know it. The Sufis have always adopted another way: "Seek the pleasure of your fellow-man", and that is the very thing man refuses to do. He is quite willing to seek the pleasure of God, but if he is asked to seek the pleasure of his fellowman he will not do it. Either in seeking the pleasure of one's fellow-man or of God, in both cases one is seeking one and the same thing, for very often there is resignation to begin with. When man has resigned, and when he is tuned to the divine Will, then he need no more resign, because then his wish becomes the divine impulse.
Question: Is the power of will the same as the power of soul?
Answer: Yes, it is the power of soul and spirit, and the power of man and God, all.