Self-denial could be understood as a practice done with the desire to overcome undesirable tendencies, inclinations and fantasies - in which case self denial reveals itself as being master over the self.
The impression that tendencies, inclinations and fantasies are one's real nature is an illusion, because one is overlooking the fact that there are only an acquired reflection.
In order to gain sufficient strength to fight the struggles of life, the first step is to fight with those tendencies which have as consequence one's lack of success in daily affairs.
Self-pity is great poverty. Before even having expressed self-pity in words one has already diminished oneself to half of what one really is.
During life's journey, the further behind one has left the self, the further one has progressed toward a higher level of consciousness, because when the limited self is lost, the unlimited, real self is then discovered.
A machine reacts automatically to transmitted impulses, without considering consequences, but the wise person tries to consider the importance of exposing or veiling one's true feelings.
There are moments when it is preferable for laughter to be kept back, and perhaps expressed in tears, and there are times where it is preferable for tears to be withheld, and perhaps expressed in smiles.
The power of dominating one's reactions might have the appearance of hypocrisy to those who have not yet understood the importance of having mastery over the self.
Human nature is such that there is an inner urge to express one's thoughts and feelings and this energy may push out of oneself a word or an action. If, on afterthought, one realizes that one should not have behaved in such a way, it is already too late: the harm has been done. One has given in to a lack of will-power, and also hurt the feelings of others.
Every word that is said to one need not to be taken so seriously that it upsets one, disturbs one's balance, and robs one of one's will-power to control one's reactions. There are things that matter and there are things that do not matter, but one is often tempted to attach undue importance to unnecessary things.
Evaluating the importance or the non-importance of things said does not mean that one should be indifferent to what is said; it only means to have discrimination between that which is important and that which should not demand too much of one's attention.
There are some who feel obliged to either say or do something which has been asked of them, and in so doing overlook the importance of being able to evaluate for oneself what should really be said and done.
No principle, however good, would be followed blindly. It is not a virtue if, in so doing, harmony is disturbed, or the progress of one's undertakings is handicapped.
In character-building, the feeling for one's responsibility towards obligations and duties to others is a main issue. In other words, being true to the confidence of others is a sacred task.
To be loyal to those responsibilities entrusted to one is more important than even such experiences as piety and seclusion, in which no obligation is to be expected.
Everyone has faults, each one of us, our friends and our enemies. If one wishes, therefore, for one's own faults not to be disclosed to others, it is obvious that one should spare others from one's own judgement.
In life, the one is absorbed in pleasures and obsessed by ever-changing moods, whereas the other regards with consideration the pains and pleasures of others.
It is often preferable to express one's honest opinion to another rather than to accept the help of a third person as an intermediary. However, in all cases, tact is the only condition for a positive outcome.
The basic understanding of the term "Religion" is, to be conscious of one's duties regarding all relationships, making every possible effort for these to be harmonious. This is the understanding of the Hindu term "Dharma", which really defines "Religion" as devotion to a duty, a mission.
It is a natural inclination to react defensibly to every offense. However, when every effort is made to preserve one's inner equilibrium, the outcome of those efforts is finally a gain, although it might appear a loss.
A subtle nature shows the sign of intelligence, and as such, is comparable to running water, which has the ability to flow in every direction while retaining the shape of its container, and at the same time is receptive to all reflections.
Rock-like personalities, lacking subtlety, are closed to any input, isolating themselves from being enriched by the example that others may have to offer in their actions, thoughts, and feelings.
To the question, "Can everything be put into words?" one could answer: there could never be enough words available to be able to express an idea in accordance with the situation and the importance of what is being communicated, keeping in mind that what is said is not as important as the effect that it has upon others.
There is a saying that, "Lack of subtlety in word can turn truth into dogma," whereas subtlety can turn dogma into truth, depending upon whether one considers truth to be a logical fact or an abstract concept.
A simple idea might be expressed in a hundred words, in which case the depth of that idea is overlooked, or it could be said in just a few words which are inspiring to the listener, who then does feel the depth behind the words.
There are some who have the need to be outspoken and are always ready to tell the truth in a way which is like hitting another on the head, whereas others have the art of expressing truth in a subtle manner, which brings comport, harmony and peace to the listener. However, this subtlety of expression is judged by the unsubtle as being untruthful, although the subtle one offers it as a sign of consideration.
One need not make an outward display of thanksgiving if one really grateful. Gratitude, which is the nature of the heart, can be expressed without words, and is best communicated through the truthfulness of one's feelings.
One often meets people who are constantly complaining about everything - good and bad, right and wrong - and who do not realize that the more one complains, the more one becomes one's own enemy, because the tendency to see wrong in others robs one of that magnetism which is so much needed to protect oneself against negative influences.
The attitude of looking at everything with a smile is a sign of the wise: a smile to a friend, a smile to an enemy, a smile to oneself - all this enables the heart to unfold.
As the sunshine lights up the darkened sky, the light within lightens one's view of others in spite of all wrongs and limitations. This is the key to happiness.
There are many who are only concerned with themselves and their belongings, and who feel disturbed when confronted by the problems of others. It is advisable not to waste one's energy in expressing one's own point of view in such cases, because it would never be offered consideration, and if one were to do so it would only be thrown back upon oneself.
It has often been noticed that one is more successful when avoiding an unnecessary display of one's plans, because in so doing, the energy working behind one's ideal loses its strength.
A quiet way of working usually has a successful outcome. By making too much noise about things, one creates commotion, and a disturbance in the atmosphere, which has unsuccessful results.
In life there are so many responsibilities, so many duties, and there is so much to correct in oneself that it is regrettable if one wastes time correcting others, rather than concentrating on improving one's own deficiencies.
Often people give the impression of being deeply interested in other people's troubles, and although this could appear to be altruism, it might also be just simple inquisitiveness, with the true purpose of having the satisfaction of hearing and knowing about other people's misfortunes.
There are things that are worthwhile knowing and others that are not worth troubling about. In spending all one's energy to know what one need not know, one loses the opportunity to discover more about one's true self, and in discovering one's responsibilities as a human being resides the purpose of life.
Gossiping seems to be a natural tendency, but when one seeks to explain its cause one discovers that behind the need to gossip lies a sense of inferiority, which tries to hide its weakness by diverting the attention of oneself and others to a subject unrelated to oneself.
One's inner self is like a dome wherein everything thought, said, and done finds an echo, either creative or destructive, which has a consequent effect upon one's personality.
The more one is conscious of the consequence of one's dealings, the more one shall be able to use every moment in life to the best advantage.
Generosity could really be called "charity of heart". This charity can be expressed in so many little ways: in offering attention, in caring for others, sometimes just in a smile, a glance or a warm handshake; in making oneself accommodating, welcoming and thoughtful; and in making oneself generous in spirit.
No rank, position, or power can prove nobility. True nobility is the generosity of the heart.
Depression is often caused by either jealousy or envy, as well as by lack of consideration, tact or generosity.
Things appear to be good or bad according to one's own standard, which is usually formed by life's experiences. However, it is possible to distance oneself from one's opinion, creating space for research into the real cause of one's judgement.
To be a human being does not necessarily mean to be a person. To be a person means to have a personality, which is to say, characteristics developed according to one's ideals, besides those characteristics which one has inherited by birth and which can be modulated to the best advantage. The practice preparing the way for this ideal is called Character-Building, whereas the ideal itself is reached through an art, the Art of Personality.
The Art of Personality could also be understood as being the Art of Dancing in the Court of Indra, which means in other words, an art developed for the purpose of offering the beauty of one's personality to the Divine.
Gentleness plays a very important role in all arts: int he gentle tough of the musician on the instrument, the gentle touch of the paintbrush on the canvas, the gentle touch of the pen shaping thoughts into words, as well as the gentleness of the heart when it has discovered the beauty of the Art of Personality.
When seeking to accomplish a project at the cost of the feelings of others, or by sacrificing the qualities of one's own personality, that project can never bring happiness, because in so doing one has lowered one's personality to the level of the project.
A noble-minded person has a natural feeling for respect, which is not only expressed in the word but also in the attitude. Keeping one's word of honor under all conditions could be understood as having respect for the trust given to one.
In all circumstances of life, a virtue is really only a virtue as of the moment that it has been put to the test, a test which discloses the expression of a natural tendency coming from the heart.
A thoughtful person tries to spare others the energy of having to listen to one's speech on a subject for which they have no interest and which offers them no beauty, as the lack of response would represent a loss of one's own magnetism.
At times, hearing another speak can be the cause of continual tension, robbing one of time and energy, which is again a loss of magnetism.
The Art of Personality, which could be considered similar to all other arts, has no value without being true to the feeling of compassion for those who have not yet had the privilege of understanding the importance of that art.
The development of the sense of justice lies in unselfishness; one cannot be just and selfish at the same time.
It is in self-judgment that one learns justice, not in judging others, and in so doing one discovers so many faults and weaknesses in oneself that one hesitates to acknowledge them to others.
When insulting another, one places oneself upon the same level as the insult, thereby emphasizing the disagreement. What is more, when dwelling on the faults of others, one adopts those same faults oneself through the received impressions.
Complaining about the harm caused by others offers no remedy, whereas facing problems oneself offers a chance to right the wrong.
Rather than considering oneself to be above all remarks, it is wise to take advantage of the criticism of others, for it can help to correct one's mistakes.
One cannot be of any help by emphasizing the wrong-doings of another; it is only through one's own example that one can be of help. In any case, never allow oneself to turn a friend into an enemy, but make every effort to turn an enemy into a friend.
The same word spoken in different tones can express different meanings; just as one note can sound either bright or serene when played sharp or flat.
A continued inclination to produce beauty helps to discover the Art of Personality, which is the reflection of the heart.
Having once won the love and care of another, it is wise to consider carefully how far one is subject to following the guidance received and how far it might be preferable to use one's own judgement.
Never pride oneself of good deeds, for there is always someone else better than oneself, but praise others for their good deeds, because in doing so one really does a good deed.
It is wise to be as just as possible with others, overlooking any failure in their judgment.
Gracious conduct in others deserves to be graciously received; harsh conduct is preferably received with a smile, always keeping in mind that those behaving incorrectly know no better.
When thinking bitterly of another, own awakens unconscious, rebellious feelings which might not have been there before, and when thinking positively of the same person, friendly conduct on both sides might be experienced.
The Art of Personality is like music: it requires training; but to a person who is open to the music of life, that art comes naturally.
It is an art to see in each person a different attunement to life's puzzling ways, just like the many instruments in an orchestra, which create a variety of sounds although together they produce one music. Each person is recognizable from the mission allotted by Destiny.
Outer manners are meaningless when not prompted by an inner impulse.
One judges others on grounds of what one considers wrong, not realizing that one's judgement is based on that which one has learned from others, and overlooking the fact that wrong for one person could be very well be right for another. What is more, one's insight can also change from one day to the next, allowing one to see right and wrong from an angle quite different from before.
That which one wants to hide most are one's own faults, whereas when acknowledging them, one has the chance to master them, if one really wishes to be free from their domination.
Conditions in life are not always mastered by conflict. If peace can be brought about, this is certainly preferable to a battle. The next step, however, is to rise above all that results in misunderstanding and useless conflict.
While climbing the mountain, if constantly delayed by useless problems one might never reach the top. In the same way, in life, if one is constantly in strife over little things one loses the opportunity to accomplish important things, while others, on the same path, rise higher and higher.
Any role that one plays as actor in the game of life tends to become an intoxication. In that spell, one clings to the illusion of one's identifications, even when conscious that one is the victim of an illusionary image.
If one is a machine, one lingers on forever in mechanical irresponsibility, but if one is an engineer, one makes the best out of one's destiny, in which case one is even more responsible for any deeds that might weigh as heavy burdens on one's conscience.
Good is not necessarily something which is stamped as such, because all things appear different, depending on the angle from which they are considered, being only true to a certain extent in comparison to ultimate truth. Therefore, the main thing to consider in all cases is to make every effort in acting righteously according to one's own conscience.
Heaven and Hell are the worlds of one's own conscience, created within us in this life, where the laws of cause and effect are not illusionary, but are tangible realities.
The illusion of the false self seeks for happiness elsewhere, whereas happiness is found within one's own being, when the heart is open to that discovery.
Resignation of the self is the path of love and wisdom, feeling great happiness in offering to others without expecting anything in return. However, resignation cannot be a virtue if it is offered out of weakness or defeat, but only if it is the result of the mastery over the self.
Spirituality is the unfoldment of inner nobility, the divine heritage of every soul, through which the light of the soul is unveiled, expressing itself in modesty, kindness, graciousness and love.
Rather than forcing broad-minded ideas upon the small-minded, it is wiser to formulate those ideas in accordance with the level of understanding of the person involved in the conversation.
Self-assertion is sometimes found under the covers of humility and modesty, which are used like a mask to hide pride, conceit, jealousy and envy, qualities encountered as gross pebbles on the path of spirituality.
In Hindu mythology, "Garuda" is the symbol of sound, suggesting that when riding on the flying bird, which represents the power of the sacred word, one does not hear that which one does not wish to hear, one does not see that which one does not wish to see, and one does not express that which one does not wish to express, because the inner experience of the sacred word can never be expressed.
The beautiful side in another person' nature is only seen if one wishes to see it, but if one has no feeling of sympathy, one only sees shortcomings.
The reward or punishment for one's deeds is first felt within the heart before one comes under the judgement of others, who see right and wrong from their own point of view, lacking insight into the real cause behind the deed.
If there is any visible sign of progress on the spiritual path it is seen in the refinement of the feeling heart and in the humility of the attitude, which has become more dignified, showing beauty as an example for all.
There are some who express the desire to be corrected, but in reality make an indirect appeal for praise, and if one spoils the game by mentioning a fault, one only strengthens the root of the fault.
It is certainly a privilege if one can spare a moment to experience being recharged with spiritual strength, as well as it is best to offer all one's energy to those worldly activities where one expected to show responsibility and eagerness.
Happiness is the birthright of all beings, but it is only there when one becomes oneself a source of happiness for others, without expecting anything in return. This can be accomplished through trying to appreciate what is worthwhile recognizing in another, and overlooking that which disturbs; by respecting the point of view of another, even though it may be contrary to one's own; and by attuning oneself to the rhythm of all those whom one meets and in whose company a hidden guidance might be discovered.
If God is love and if love is sacred, one avoids degrading the value of that sacredness through vain utterances. Love is in itself a revelation, for which neither study nor meditation nor religious piety is required when once the sacred spark has been kindled. Seeking spirituality without love is a vain search, because if spirituality is to be found anywhere it is in the heart, once the spark of love has grown into a glowing flame which burns out the illusion of the false self.
Self-denial does not mean renouncing life's duties nor nature's sources of happiness. It means to deny that little self which creeps up at every possible occasion, eclipsing the bright light of the Divine Presence. Happiness means making the right use of those means which have been granted for the purpose of accomplishing the duties which are expected of us, even though our vision of right and wrong may not always be in line with that of others.
Happiness is a birthright, yet wisdom inspires the renunciation of projects which are either contrary to one's conscience, or obtained at the cost of the suffering of others. Seen from this angle, renunciation does not mean killing a desire, but rather realizing its true purpose, and recognizing that when obtained, both object and desire seem equally small. If one clings to the object of one's desire once obtained, one falls beneath one's own real values.
The training of the ego does not necessarily require a life of renunciation. It is rather a test of balance and of wisdom. Such a training implies the understanding of the reason behind a desire, of what might be the consequences of obtaining satisfaction, of whether or not one can afford the necessary price, and of whether it is a righteous or an unjust desire.
Under the spell of a desire, one's senses of justice, logic and duty are muted by the grip of the ego. In that state of mind, one judges according to one's perceived best interests, one reasons from the point of view of selfishness, and one adheres to standards of duty which are darkened by one's all-pervading image of self. It is then difficult to discriminate between right and wrong, between that which is really necessary and that which is not, and between that which brings happiness and that which leaves sorrow.
Self-consciousness displays endless facets, some reflecting inferiority complexes, such as the need for praise and admiration, and others arising from superiority complexes, such as the feeling of satisfaction in humiliating and dominating others, with an unquenchable thirst for self-assertion. The more one tries to dissimulate one's weaknesses behind a false mask, the more one's self-confidence collapses like a sand castle under the waves of the rising sea.
Life could be pictured as a building with doors smaller then one's own stature. At every attempt to go through, one knocks one's head against the door frame, leaving no other device than to bend the head when passing through the door. Modesty is not necessarily weakness; it is a feeling which rises from the living heart which is secretly conscious of its inner beauty, while at the same time veiling itself even from its own sight.
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.
The art of personality is like the art of music, wherein ear and voice training are indispensable in discerning the pitch of a tone and its interval from another for the purpose of establishing harmony in the melody. When relating this same ideal of harmony to human relations, it is clear that the beauty of the personality shines out in such tendencies as a friendly attitude in word and action, spontaneity in the art of offering one's love without any expectation of return, and in the awakening of the true sense of justice, all of which are the expressions of the heart.
The charm of the personality, which is expressed in beauty, is also deeply felt in the tone of sincerity. Polished manners without sincerity are not really beautiful, and frankness without beauty does not reveal the truth in all sincerity. A flower proves to be genuine by its fragrance, a fruit proves to be genuine by its sweetness, a jewel proves to be genuine by its radiance, and a person proves to be genuine by the beauty of sincerity.
One cannot excuse negative behavior by saying, "I was only born as a thorn and not as a rose", for unlike a plant we have all been granted the gift of free will to develop as a rose rather than just persisting as a thorn. All disagreements and misunderstandings fall away the moment that one's spirit has become noble. What use is religion, philosophy and mysticism if these do not awaken that spirit which is divine?
It is the gratification of the ego which builds up its strength, and the more satisfaction acquired, the greater becomes the desire, thereby enslaving one to one's own self, besides awakening the fighting spirit of others whose egos are consequently disturbed.
Among the various subjects pertaining to education it has become obvious that basic notions of behavior, discipline, concentration, communication and the attunement to sacredness tend to be disregarded under the reign of materialism in our time. It is therefore most imperative that all those who believe in the ideal of the art of personality realize that it is in self-respect that one awakens to the silent music of the heart, and that through offering sincere respect to others one forgets oneself, developing thereby inner security and self-confidence.
It would be wise to be aware of the human tendency to bring down to one's own level of understanding those concepts with which one is confronted, conditioning them through the screens of ready-made opinions and interpreting them according to arbitrary evaluation.
Truth does not need to prove itself; it is untruth which fights for self-assertion. What is said and done does not always reveal the true purpose; it is the attitude hidden behind the words and actions which can truly express the innermost intention.
What could we really do for others? This question is already answered when we realize that the first effort to be made is to vanquish our own shortcomings, doubts, fears, and worries, and to accommodate ourselves to all circumstances, becoming thereby an example for others, whether or not we appreciate their understanding of good and bad, so that they may some day pluck the fruits of our experiences.
Obviously, one can help others only insofar as one is able to solve one's own problems. Paradoxically, however, the more problems one is able to solve, the more difficult are the ones that arise, and yet one becomes at the same time more and more able to help others while solving one's own problems, inasmuch as one's example might inspire others to solve theirs.
The powerful steam engine serves no purpose without rails to roll on, and rails are worthless without an engine to roll on them. The rails symbolize that wisdom with which the ego can ultimately be directed, while the steam engine symbolizes that ego drive which can, in time be brought under control. The ego's energy varies from day to day and from moment to moment, in accordance with circumstances, conditioning thereby the success or failure of our relationships with others.
In all we do and all we say, and in all we think and feel, there is a tremendous power of suggestion constantly manifesting. It is up to us to realize this in all human relationships, where wisdom implies employing that great power for useful and uplifting purposes. When the ego is involved, however, and that power is used for negative purposes, sooner or later one inevitably becomes the victim of one's own selfish motives.
The Art of Personality is neither a claim of honors, nor is it a vain display of ranks, decorations and distinctions of false pride. It is a banner of wisdom around which persons of all convictions are united in one and the same ideal, dancing to - the divine music heard in the heart.
The personality of the mystic, called in Sufi terms, "Akhlak Allah" or divine manner, is seen in the attunement of thought, speech and action to the highest pitch. It is a manner freed from pride, inspiring godliness in all expression, a manner that springs forth as a divine blossom.
As workers in the cause of Love, Harmony and Beauty, it is our most religious duty to practice the Art of Personality, so that we might some day become living examples of these ideals while dancing the sacred dance in the Temple of the Divine found within our hearts.
2014 © Bowl of Saki