By Hazrat Inayat Khan
It is very often the attitude of mind which makes right and wrong. At the same time, it is the attitude of mind which draws friends to one or gives one a repelling influence. Also, it is the attitude of mind which brings happiness or unhappiness. It is true that there is the influence of time. There is a certain time in our life which has an influence for good or bad, for rise or fall, for happiness or unhappiness. Yet it is our attitude which either controls it or is controlled by it. If our attitude is controlled by it, then the situation at that time conquers us. But if our attitude is under control, then there is a chance of conquering the situation.
Mostly our failure, our unhappiness, and our disagreements with friends come from a wrong attitude. When a person starts an enterprise and doubts whether he will have success or not, doubts whether his partners in business will help him or not, his attitude will create in that situation all that he imagines. His partners in business will act wrongly and perhaps unjustly towards him, and the situation will follow the attitude. For the attitude is the current which molds the situation. Therefore, however promising a business or a work may be, if our attitude is not right it must go wrong. It cannot come right. It is a hidden influence, and yet a most powerful influence underlying all circumstances of life.
It is the same with our attitude towards our friends. Whether we feel that our friend will prove to be kind and faithful and constant, or whether we think, 'I doubt if I can hold his friendship. I feel this friend will one day deceive me. I think he will disappoint me one day,' in either case we are creating that thought in the friend, we are inspiring him. And the friend without knowing it will act accordingly. In any enterprise or in anything we wish to accomplish, what is most wanted is the right attitude.
If a person thinks, 'Everything I touch and everything I do and everywhere I look, it is all wrong,' certainly it is wrong, there is no doubt about it. But it is his attitude that is wrong, and therefore whatever he does is wrong. It is just like taking a red lantern and throwing its light upon everything: every object in that light will appear red, and one will become frightened oneself and see danger everywhere. But the danger is in one's own hand. It is the red lantern.
Sometimes, a person gets into a wrong attitude out of humbleness. By correcting oneself one can arrive at correcting too much, and then one calls oneself wrong. With every move such a person then makes he thinks that he has done something wrong, something dangerous, and that may result in a great danger too. Very often people do not progress in their lives because of their attitude towards life. They are their own enemies, and they themselves are the hindrance to their progress. They might think that one thing or another is the reason: lack of money, unkindness of friends, lack of acquaintances, a thousand things. They may say that the planets are against them. But what is most against them is themselves. They cannot progress. Once one has analyzed and understood attitude, and has controlled oneself so as to be able to take any attitude one wishes, then the latent influence in man naturally begins to manifest.
There are three gifts of God given to some in this world, and these gifts are greater than jewels, gems, wealth, or anything else in the world, and nothing can buy them. One may be born with them, yet not know it. One gift is the influence to progress, another gift is the influence to attract, and the third gift is the influence to make difficult situations easy.
Nothing in the world can keep back a soul who has the gift of progress, in other words of flourishing, of prospering. There is a story about a poor man whose job was to sell empty bottles in Bombay. He came to a merchant and asked a certain salary to do this work for him, and from the day the merchant engaged him he steadily became more prosperous. So one day he thought, 'I have worked for twenty years in this shop, and it is only since this young man has come that I have prospered.' He did not tell this to the young man, but the next day he made him a partner in his business. And from that time he began to flourish a hundred times more. After six months he was flourishing and prospering in every way, and in the end, as he had no children, he gave his business to this young man, who in time became the wealthiest man in the whole country.
This is not a spiritual influence, and yet it is the influence of spirit, there is no doubt about it. It cannot be a material influence, as influence is never material. An influence that works from within and works towards perfection, in whatever form, is a wonderful influence. Whether people like the man in the story act alone or whether they act with someone else, in whatever they do there is progress. It cannot be helped. Whatever they touch flourishes.
The effect of the next influence is that a person will never be without friends. If he left the whole of humanity and went to live among lions, tigers, bears, and rhinoceroses, they would be his friends. Let him go among the educated, illiterate, wise, or foolish, wherever this person goes he will attract friends. He will never be alone, in riches, in poverty, in health, in sickness. At all times he will attract friends from every side. This person is born with that gift. Other people may have perhaps three or four or five or six relations or friends, but when a person possesses this influence, every man is his friend.
Not only human beings, but even animals such as cats, dogs, wolves, or foxes will all come to him. Very often dervishes without one penny, wandering here and there, have that influence. And if they sit in a place, in the desert, in a forest, or somewhere in the country, people are attracted to them. Maybe at first after having been away for six months or one year or two years only the animals of the country know such a man, only the birds recognize him. But then the time comes when human beings begin to come, when they too are attracted.
Sometimes people say that a certain place has an attraction because of its beautiful nature, splendid mountains, rivers, seashores, forests. But man has a greater influence than all these places. The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca, a place in the Hejaz of no special interest. There was no industry, there were no gold mines, there was no coal and no oil. Even nature was not beautiful, there was nothing to be had from that country, no art, no science, no literature; there was nothing. There was only a soul which was interesting – a soul which was a magnet and attracted the people of the whole world. And after the Prophet had passed away, then the tomb of the Prophet attracted. It attracted millions. In his lifetime thousands were attracted and after his death millions, to this same spot without any interest.
Then there is a third influence, and through this influence, however difficult a situation may be, when a certain person handles it, it becomes easy. For instance there may be a strike going on of thousands of miners and workmen, and after everyone has tried to make peace without success one man comes along who has some of that influence given to him by God. It is neither intellect, nor knowledge, nor psychology, but with this influence he goes among them and puts everything right.
If one wanted to develop this influence one could not do it; it is God's gift. A man who has it is called 'the man of the day.' That man may be in politics or in industry or business, it does not matter in what form of activity; the influence is there. But no doubt any of these three great gifts may belong to a person, and yet if his attitude is not right it is just like a lantern which is burning dimly. It could burn much better if the attitude were right.
There are many examples of those who are born with this influence. The gift is there for anyone to see and yet they never use it, they do not know they possess it. The reason may be that their attitude is wrong. A person may have the greatest opportunities to progress in life and to flourish, and yet in spite of this and in spite of having all the power to make things easy for himself, he may fail because of his wrong attitude.
One might wonder what is meant by the right attitude, and how it can be acquired. One can have the right attitude by right thinking, and by keeping one's mind focused on what is just and true. Wrong always attracts wrong, and right always attracts right. What is right and what is wrong? What you think to be right at the moment is right for you. And what you think to be wrong at the moment is wrong for you. It does not mean that what another person says is wrong for you is wrong, or that what another person says is right for you is right. The real basis is what you are thinking yourself at the moment. Never for one moment think that those who do wrong believe it to be right. It is not true; they do not believe it. They know it is wrong and yet they do it, out of weakness, lack of power, or lack of discrimination. They are not clear in their minds. There are not many who do wrong thinking that it is right. But the one who thinks that it is right today, may tomorrow think that it is wrong. Well then, tomorrow it will be wrong, though it is right today.
All one says, does, and thinks comes from an impulse; one end of it is in one's own mind and the other end is in the mind of God. Therefore, whatever people think about it, whether they think it right or wrong, one end of every impulse is in the heart of God. It is the spark that manifests in the heart of God first. Then it manifests outwardly.
One might say, 'God cannot guide a person wrongly, because God is just and good and perfect.' God's justice and goodness and perfection cannot be compared with what we consider just and good and right. It may be that God's justice and what is considered right and perfect by God is thought imperfect and unjust by man, for the horizon of his vision is very narrow. He cannot imagine what God means by every action that takes place. In the Quran it is said that there is not one atom that moves without the command of God.
All things are wrong or right, perfect or imperfect from our point of view. But our point of view is a narrow, small, limited point of view; we see and hear according to our eyes and ears; our ears cannot hear more than they can, our eyes cannot see farther than they can. If from our limited point of view we judge God's right and wrong, it is the greatest pity. On the other hand, we cannot say that we should let everything happen as it does because everything happens according to God's right point of view. As individuals we have a certain responsibility, towards ourselves and towards others. And since the idea of justice and of what is right is given to us, we are responsible for acting in accordance with that idea. It may be that tomorrow there will be a greater light given to us so that we shall act still better. And in this way, by acting thus every day, we shall prove a better instrument for the work of God.
Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Alchemy of Happiness [“The Sufi Message”, vol. VI]
URL of part 70: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/hazrat-inayat-khan/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--70---the-development-of-personality/d/98875