By Hazrat Inayat Khan
A very important thing in character-building is to become conscious of one's relationship, obligation, and duty to each person in the world […] One must consider that everything that is entrusted to one by any person in life is one's trust, and one must know that to prove true to the confidence of any person in the world is one's sacred obligation. In this manner a harmonious connection is established with everyone; and it is this harmony which attunes the soul to the infinite.
It requires a great study of human nature, together with tact, to keep on harmonious terms with everyone in life. If one has an admiration for someone, or a grudge against someone, it is better to express it directly instead of mixing it up with many connections and relationships in the world. Friends apart, even in an acquaintanceship such consideration is necessary, to guard carefully that thin thread that connects two souls in whatever relation or capacity.
Dharma in the language of the Hindus means religion, but the literal meaning of this word is duty. It suggests that one's relation to every person in the world is one's religion; and the more conscientiously one follows it, the more keen one proves in following one's religion. To keep the secret of our friend, our acquaintance, even of someone with whom for a time one has been vexed, is the most sacred obligation. The one who thus realizes his religion would never consider it right to tell another of any harm or hurt he has received from his friend.
It is in this way that self-denial is learned; not always by fasting and retiring into the wilderness. A man conscientious in his duty and in his obligations to his friends is more pious than someone sitting in solitude. The one in solitude does not serve God, he only helps himself by enjoying the pleasure of solitude; but the one who proves trustworthy to every soul he meets, and considers his relationships and connections, small or great, as something sacred, certainly observes the spiritual law of that religion which is the religion of all religions.
Faults? Everyone has faults. Oneself, one's friend, and one's enemy are all subject to faults. The one who wishes that his own faults should not be disclosed must necessarily consider the same for the others he meets. The one who knows what the relation of friendship is between one soul and another, the tenderness of that connection, its delicacy, its beauty, and its sacredness, that one can enjoy life in its fullness, for he is living; and in this manner he must someday communicate with God. For it is the same bridge that connects two souls in the world, which, once built, becomes the path to God. There is no greater virtue in this world than proving kind and trustworthy to one's friend, worthy of his confidence. The difference between the old soul and the young soul is to be found in this particular principle. The young soul only knows himself and what he wants, absorbed in his own pleasures and displeasures and obsessed by his ever-changing moods. The old soul regards his relation to every soul; he keenly observes his obligation toward everyone he knows in the world. He covers his wounds, if he happens to have any, from the sight of others, and endures all things in order to fulfill his duty to the best of his ability toward everyone in the world.
(Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Art of Personality [The Sufi Message vol.3])
URL of Part 46: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/the-sufi-message--excerpts-from-hazrat-inayat-khan’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--on-cheerfulness-and-spirituality-–-46/d/14162