Balance in Greatness

One way of being great is to take all we can. The more we take the greater we become, and all the world will call us great. Another way is to give all we can. In the Bible we read, «If a man takes away your coat, give him your cloak as well.»
The question arises: how much can we give? The more we give the more will be taken from us. When Shams-e-Tabriz had given his skin, the worms and germs also took his flesh and blood. They did not say, «This man has given his skin, let him have the comfort that he may still have;» they took all.
We who are giving the message of liberty cannot give a message from which the world will run away. If we say, «Give all,» the world will run away from such a message. The world will say, «If I give all, I shall have nothing to eat, I shall have nothing with which to cover myself. I must at least have something to eat and I must be covered.»
There is a story told of our Murshid Farid Shakr Ganj who was worshipping in the jungle. His was of worship was the ascetic way. He hung himself up in a well by his feet, head down, and in this way he practiced. The animals did not come near him, but the birds came and ate his skin and flesh. He let them eat, because he was practicing this moral, but when they came near his eyes he warded them off with his hand and said, «O bird, I would also give thee mine eyes, if thou wouldst bring them first in the presence of the Beloved, that they might have a glimpse. Then thou couldst eat.»
We must not give away the soul, the intelligence, and the power of distinguishing. If we give these, we are like the tree: everyone may eat of its fruits. Our arms were not given to us that we should fold them, but that we should work. Our feet were not given to us that we should be motionless, but that we should walk. Our power of distinguishing is given to us that we may distinguish, and by distinguishing we also may learn not to distinguish. We must take a middle course: we must distinguish when to give when not to give, to whom to give, to whom not to give.



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Reflection

How few realize that the heart is like a dome, within which all, whether good or bad, re-echoes, creating thereby either uplifting or disturbing influences that become in time the characteristics of one's own personality. The finer the go, the less disturbing it is to others, although life's trials become much harder to endure. A thorn does not harm its likeness, but it can destroy the frailty of a delicate rose. Nevertheless, life is better lived as a rose, with its inspiring colour and fragrance, than as a thorn among other thorns. This is what is understood as the art of personality.

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