Physical Culture

There are two tendencies: the tendency towards activity, which has brought man from the unconscious to the manifestation, and the tendency towards inactivity, which takes him back there. It is a mistake, often made by ascetics, to give all attention to the inactive tendency and to neglect the physical altogether. Our physical body is our means of experiencing this world, and it is necessary to keep it in good order. To do this three things are needful: one is to keep the circulation in good order by physical practices, another is purification, and the third is development of the muscles.
It is very necessary to keep the circulation in good order. There must be balance: so much activity, so much sleep, so much eating, and so much activity. If there is too much activity the circulation cannot be good. There must be a balance of activity and repose, and there must be a balance of eating and work. I do not say, «Eat very little,» I say, «Eat much and do much work.»
It is a mistake to think out of an idea of delicacy that by eating little we shall become very wonderful. We should not think that we can only eat at certain hours. If it is wanted, we should be able to eat at any hour. We should not think that we cannot eat certain things. We should not think, «This is too heavy for me, I cannot eat it.»
We should do whatever movement occurs in the course of our occupations, not thinking, «I shall be tired,» but thinking that we are able to do it.
It is necessary to keep our life pure, and the five purifications should be done very carefully: the purification by air, the purification by water, the purification by earth, the purification by fire, and the purification by ether. A person is often inclined to neglect that which does not bring an immediate result that he can see with his eyes. But these purifications should be done very exactly. Washing face and hands is not enough: every tube and vein of the body must be kept clean. The postures and positions that are taught, the posture of the dhikr, of the fikr, of shaaqhl, have the effect of making the blood flow through certain veins. If this is done there is no disease.
The muscles develop during the whole of life, while the bones do not continue to grow. They become solid, while the muscles develop. Whatever your age may be, you should have ten minutes or quarter of an hour each day in which to do physical exercises. All physical practices, like standing on the hands or head, on both feet, or on one foot, taught by the Sufis, are taught for this purpose.

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