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Hazrat Inayat Khan on Faults and Shortcomings

The following quotations have been collected from the Lectures of Hazrat Inayat Khan. They are organized by book, according to the order of the original 'orange books' These quote were collected by Rev. Hamid Touchon through key word searches of the CD available from the Sufi Order International Secretariat


 In spite of the justice and injustice we see on the surface of this world, a keen insight into one's own life will teach that there is no comparison between our faults and our good actions. The good actions, in comparison to our faults, are so few that if we were judged we should not have one mark to our credit. It does not mean that justice is absent there. It only means, what is behind law? Love. And what is love? God. And how do we see God's love, in what form? In many forms; but the most beautiful form of the love-of God is His compassion, His divine forgiveness. Considering these things, we realize that we have a duty towards God.

 And it is, therefore, in the knowledge of self that there lies the fulfillment of life. The knowledge of self means the knowledge of one's body, the knowledge of one's mind, the knowledge of one's spirit; the knowledge of the spirit's relation to the body and the relation of the body to the spirit; the knowledge of one's wants and needs, the knowledge of one's virtues and faults; knowing what we desire and how to attain it, what to pursue and what to renounce. And when one dives deep into this, one finds before one a world of knowledge which never ends.


 Question: Why is it - if music is rhythm - that so often musicians are temperamental and easily disturbed. Answer: But is it not beautiful to have a little temperament? Life is unmusical when there is no temperament. A person who does not get angry once in a while does not live! It is human nature to have all kinds of minor faults. The joy is in overcoming these faults. Music is not all sadness. There are higher octaves and lower octaves. Music is all. That is why music is even greater than heavens.

 He overlooks the fault of others, considering that they know no better. He hides the faults of others, and suppresses any facts that would cause disharmony. His constant fight is with the naf, the root of disharmony and the only enemy of man. By crushing this enemy man gains mastery over himself; this wins for him mastery over the whole universe, because the wall standing between the self and the Almighty has been broken down.

 Besides, reason is the servant of the mind. The mind feels like praising a person - reason at once brings a thousand things in praise of him, in his favor. The mind has a desire to hate a person - at once reason brings perhaps twenty arguments in favor of hating him. So we see that a loving friend can find a thousand things that are good and beautiful in his friend, and an adversary will find a thousand faults in the best person in the world - and he has reasons.


 Crime is natural. If crime were not natural, from where would it come? All men are subject to fault; their very virtues develop into faults. The great teacher has therefore taught patience, which means to be patient, and not to expect patience. He has taught respect, which means to show respect, not to demand it.

 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 some day communicate with God.

 Free will is given to attend to one's own duties, to gain one's own objects, to attend to one's own affairs, and when that free will is used in trying to find out about others, the weaknesses of others, the lacks of others, the faults of others, one certainly abuses free will.

 To want to know about another is very often a lack of trust. One who trusts does not need to unveil, does not need to discover what is covered. He who wishes to unveil something, wishes to discover it. If there is anything that should be discovered first, it is the self. The time that one spends in discovering others, their lives, their faults, their weaknesses, one could just as well spend in discovering one's soul. The desire to know is born in the soul. But man should discern what must be known, what is worth knowing. There are many things not worth troubling about.

 How often man forgets that although he is talking about someone in his absence, yet it is spoken in the presence of God. God hears all things and knows all things. The Creator knows about His creatures, about their virtues and faults. God is displeased by hearing about the fault of His creature, as an artist would be displeased on hearing bad remarks made by anyone on his art. Even though he acknowledged the defect of his art, he would still prefer finding it himself, and not anyone else. When a person speaks against someone his words may not reach the other, but his feelings reach him. If he is sensitive he knows of someone having talked against him; and when he sees the person who has been talking against him, he reads all he has said in his face, if he be sensitive and of a keen sight. This world is a house of mirrors, the reflection of one is mirrored upon another. In this world where so many things seem hidden, in reality nothing remains hidden; everything some time or other rises to the surface and manifests itself to view.

 For those who really learn to be just, their first lesson is what Christ has taught: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.' One may say, 'If one does not judge, how can one learn justice?' But it is the one who judges himself who can learn justice, not the one who is occupied in judging others. In this life of limitations if one only explores oneself, one will find within oneself so many faults and weaknesses, and when dealing with others so much unfairness on one's own part, that for the soul who really wants to learn justice, his own life will prove to be a sufficient means with which to practice justice.

We must give our every day's account to God, our divine Ideal; lay before Him our shortcomings, humbly repentant, without missing a day, and ask for help from Him who is almighty, to give us strength and courage to do better tomorrow.

 Sometimes by constantly dwelling on the faults of the enemy one impresses one's own soul with the same faults, and focuses them upon the soul of the enemy;if he lacks these faults, they may by reflection develop in him and cause him to become a still more bitter enemy.

 When we see with the brain we see so many faults in others; but when we see through feeling, we can only try to reason out how we can justify their having done as they did, or at least tolerate their having done so, through weakness or by mistake, which is natural to every man since Adam, the father of humanity, was liable to faults.

 The more feeling develops in the heart of man, the more forgiving he becomes. For to him the world's inhabitants appear as little children, just as small as they appear to him who flies in an aeroplane; and as one is ready to forget the faults of children, so the wise are ready to forgive the faults of men.

There are cases where one cannot show kindness; but yet one can be tolerant. There are cases where one cannot forgive; and yet revenge, for a humane person, is an unnatural thing. One can overlook the faults of another; and by that one will give less occasion for disagreement and still less occasion for enmity.


 The third way of purifying the mind is by attitude; by the right attitude towards life. That is the moral way and the royal road to purification. A person may breathe and sit in silence in a thousand postures, but if he does not have the right attitude towards life, he will never develop; that is the principal thing. But the question is, what is the right attitude? The right attitude depends on how favorably one regards one's own shortcomings. Very often one is ready to defend oneself for one's faults and errors, and is willing to make one's wrong right. But one has not that attitude towards others. One takes them to task when it comes to judging them. It is so easy to disapprove of others! It is so easy to take a step further and to dislike others, and not at all difficult to take a step further still and to hate others. And when one is acting in this manner, one does not think one does any wrong. Although it is a condition which develops within, one only sees it without; all the badness which accumulates within, one sees in another person. Therefore man is always in an illusion; he is always pleased with himself and always blaming others. And the extraordinary thing is, that it is the most blameworthy who blames most. But it is expressed better the other way round: because one blames most, one becomes most blameworthy.

   Purification of the mind therefore means to purify it from all undesirable impressions; not only of the shortcomings of others, but one must arrive at that stage where one forgets one's own shortcomings. I have seen righteous people who have accused themselves of their errors until they became error themselves. Concentrating all the time on error means engraving the error upon the mind. The best principle is to forget others and to forget ourselves and to set our minds upon accumulating all that is good and beautiful.


 Some believers in God say in support of reincarnation, 'God is just. There are many who are lame or blind or unhappy in life, and this is the punishment for the faults they have committed before, in a former incarnation. If it were not so, that would be injustice on the part of God.' That makes God only a reckoner and not a lover, and it restricts Him to His justice like a judge bound by the law. The judge is the slave of law, the forgiver is its master. In fact we ourselves, limited as we are, have mercy in us, so that often if someone has done something against us we would forgive. If he only bows before us we say, 'He has humiliated himself, I will forget.' Even if a son has caused his mother much sorrow, when he is in trouble, he only needs to say, 'Mother, I have done this, but you are the one to whom I can come for sympathy', and she will say, 'My child, I forgive you, though at the time it made me sad.' If we, who are full of faults and errors, have in us that little spark of mercy inherited from God and can forgive, how can we think that God, the most Merciful, will reckon our faults like a judge? We are as little children before Him. Regarding God as a personal being, how can we think that He, whose being is love, whose action is love, who is all love, can weigh our actions as a judge would?


It is of no use to praise God for His beauty, and then to criticize and find faults in His creation; for one's life to be prayerful one must always seek the good in man.

 The second aspect of prayer is laying one's shortcomings before the unlimited Perfection of the Divine Being, and asking His forgiveness.

Everybody has an ideal in life, and that ideal is the religion of his soul, and coming short of that ideal is what we term sin. The thoughtful and serious-minded man repents in tears for his shortcomings, and thus proves himself to be alive, while the shallow man is angry at his fall, and is ready to blame those who seem to him to have caused it. He is apparently dead. This shows that it is blessed to mourn over our imperfections, and by so doing we are striving after perfection, and thus fulfilling the command of Christ, 'Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'

When one does not realize the attitude is wrong it means that at that time one closes one's eyes. The eyes do not fail one; one closes them. Man does not like to admit his wrong attitude to himself; he is afraid of his own faults. But the man who looks his own error in the eye, the man who criticizes himself, has no time to criticize others. It is that man who will prove to be wise. But human nature is generally such that one does something quite different. Everyone seems to be most interested in criticizing another. If one would criticize oneself, there are endless faults, however saintly or wise one may be; there are no end of faults in a human being; and the consciousness of correcting one's faults, of making oneself better, of taking hold of the right attitude, is the only secret of success, and by it one attains to that goal which is the object of every soul.

 For with all the errors and mistakes and shortcomings we find in our external life, we see a perfect hand working behind it all. And if we looked at Life a little more closely than we generally do we would certainly find that all the lacks and errors and mistakes and faults add up to something, making life as complete as the wise hand which is working behind it wishes it to be.

The worldly struggle is outward struggle. The struggle on the spiritual path is inward struggle. No sooner does one take the spiritual direction than the first enemy one meets is one's own self. What does the self do? It is most mischievous. When one says one wants to fight it, it says, 'I am yourself. Do you want to fight me?' And when it brings failure, it is clever enough to put the blame on someone else.

 Do all those who have failed in life accuse themselves? No, they always accuse another person. When they have gained something they say, 'I have done it.' When they have lost something they say, 'This person got in my way'. With little and big things, it is all the same. The self does not admit faults; it always puts the blame on others. Its vanity, its pride, its smallness, and its egotistical tendency which is continually active, keep one blind.

 I remember a Persian verse made by my murshid which relates to the self: 'When I feel that now I can make peace with my self, it finds time to prepare another attack.' That is our condition. We think that our little faults, since they are small, are of no consequence; or we do not even think of them at all. But every little fault is a flag for the little self, for its own dominion. In this way battling makes man the sovereign of the kingdom of God. Very few can realize the great power in battling with and conquering the self.

 But what does man generally do? He says, 'My poor self, it has to withstand the conflicts of this world; should I also battle with this self?' So he surrenders his kingdom to his little self, depriving himself of the divine power that is in the heart of man.

 When we blame another person, when we dislike somebody, we overlook the same element in ourselves. There is no soul in the world who can say, 'I have not this in me'. If only he were just! For mostly it is the unjust person who blames another. The more just we become, the more silent will we be in all circumstances. If outwardly we see faults in others, inwardly there is the sum total within ourselves. For instance the little child cannot help loving. If a thief comes, or a robber, the child wants to love him and smiles at him. Why is it? Because a thief is not awakened in the child. The child is from heaven, the thief from the earth. There is no place for him there; that is why he is no thief to the child. We accept something because we already have it in us. If we consider our knowledge, a thousand things we seem to have experienced, we find that other people have told us most of them and we believed them at once. As soon as a person tells us about someone wicked, we think, 'Now we know, we can be quite sure about it'. But when a person comes along and says, 'I have seen a most wonderful thing; this man is so good', everyone thinks, 'Is it really true? Is it possible to be as good as that? Is there not anything bad in him?' Good is unnatural to many people.

 The further one goes, the more difficulties there are; one finds greater faults in oneself as one advances along the spiritual path. It is not because the number of faults has increased; but the sense has become so keen that one regards differently faults which formerly one would not have noticed. It is like a musician: the more he advances and the better he plays, the more faults he notices. He who does not notice his faults is in reality becoming worse. There is no end to one's faults. To think of them makes one humble.

 To say, 'God is in me' before one has realized this other, metaphysical aspect of truth, is not humble but profane. God is in the depth of the heart, but to know this is of no use when the doors of the heart are not open. It is the realization of the innumerable faults which makes one humble and effaces the little self from one's consciousness. And it is in the effacement of the self that real spiritual attainment lies.

 Man's contact with the outer world is such that there is a continual mechanical interchange going on; every moment of his life he is partaking of all that his senses allow him to receive. Therefore very often the man who is looking for faults in others, who is looking for evil, even though he may not be a wicked person, is yet partaking unknowingly of all that is evil. Once deceived, a person is always on the look-out; even with someone who is honest he will look for deceit, as he holds that impression within himself. Thus a hunter who, comes from the forest where he has just received a blow from a lion, will shrink even from the caress of his mother; and when we consider how many impressions, agreeable and disagreeable, we receive from morning till evening, we realize how someone may become wicked without meaning to.

 What is it to have self-discipline? It is to be able to say, 'I can' and not 'I cannot'. No doubt the words 'I cannot' are often used when a person does not think it would be wise or just to do a certain thing. In that case it is different. But when there is something he believes to be just, to be good, to be right and he still thinks, 'I cannot', it is then that self-discipline is lacking. When a person says, 'I cannot tolerate, I cannot endure, I cannot bear, I cannot forgive', these are all signs of lack of self-discipline.

 Some people say, 'I cannot rise above my faults.' The only way to overcome one's faults is by struggle, struggle in the spiritual path. Such a struggle is faced for instance by a person who during a disagreeable conversation has an inclination to retort; he does so, but at the same time the power to fight, to give back, has left him. By dispersing his force in returning insult for insult he has lost his power. By controlling this inclination his power would have been a thousandfold greater, although at the moment when something like this happens, and one humiliates oneself and crushes one's pride and one's self, one feels crushed both ways: by not answering and then by the crushing of one's self. And to be able to say, 'I have answered him back!' gives one a certain pride, a certain satisfaction.

 There is still another side to it: how much our favor and disfavor play their part in discerning right and wrong. In someone whom we love and like and admire we wish to see everything wrong in a right light. Our reason readily comes to the rescue of the loved one. It always brings an argument as to what is right and what excuses his wrong. And how readily do we see the faults and errors of the one whom we disfavor; and how difficult it is for us to find a fault, even if we wanted to, in someone we love! Therefore, if in the life of Christ we read how he forgave those who were accused of great faults or great sins, we can now see that it was natural that the one who was the lover of mankind could not see faults; the only thing he could see was forgiveness. A stupid or simple person is always ready to see the wrong in another and ready to form an opinion and to judge. But you will find a wise person expressing his opinion of others quite differently, always trying to tolerate and always trying to forgive still more. The present is the reflection of the past, and the future will be the echo of the present; this saying will always prove true.

Then he rises to the state in which he feels that all that is done to him comes from God, and when he himself does right or wrong he feels that he does right or wrong to God. To arrive at such a stage is true religion. There can be no better religion than this, the true religion of God on earth. This is the point of view which makes a person God-like, divine. He is resigned when badly treated, but for his own shortcomings he will take himself to task, for all his actions are directed towards God.

 The Sufis of Persia have classified the evolution of personality in five different grades. The first is the person who errs at every step in his life and who finds fault with others at every moment of his life. One can picture this person as someone who is always likely to fall, who is on the point of tumbling down; and when he falls he at once catches someone else and pulls him down with him. This is not rare if we study the psychology of man. The one who finds fault with another is very often the one who has the most faults himseIf. The right person first finds fault with himself; the wrong person finds fault with himself last; only after having found fault with the whole world does he find fault with himself. And then everything is wrong, then the whole world is wrong.

 The next grade of personality is that of the one who begins to see the wrong in himself and the right in the other. Naturally he has the opportunity in his life to correct himself because he finds time to discover all his own faults. The one who finds fault with others has no time to find fault with himself. Besides he cannot be just; the faculty of justice cannot be awakened unless one begins to practice that justice by finding the faults in oneself.

 The third person is the one who says, 'What does it matter if you did wrong or if I did wrong? What is needed is to right the wrong.' He naturally develops himself and helps his fellow-men also to develop.

 Then there is the fourth man, who can never see what is called good without the possibility of its becoming bad, and who can never see what is called bad without the possibility of that bad turning into good. The best person in the world cannot hide his faults before him and the worst person in the world will show his merit to his eyes.

 But when man has risen to the fifth grade of personaLity, then these opposite ideas of right or wrong, good or bad, seem to be like the two ends of one line. When that time has come he can say little about it, for people will not believe him, while he is the one who can judge rightly, yet he will be the last to judge.

 A man may not always be able to tell when an action is right in regard to particular circumstances, or when it is wrong; but he can always remember this psychological principle, and judge as to whether the action or word robs him of that inner strength and peace and comfort which form his natural life. No man can judge another;it is a man's self that must be his judge. Therefore it is no use to make rigid standards of moral or social purity. Religion has made them, schools have taught them, yet the prisons are full of criminals and the newspapers are daily more eloquent about the faults of humanity. No external law can stop crime. It is man himself who should understand what is good for him and what is not; he should be able to discriminate between what is poison and what is nectar. He should know it, measure it, weigh it and judge it; and that he can only do by understanding the psychology of what is natural to him and what is unnatural. The unnatural action, thought, or speech is that which makes him uncomfortable before, during, or after it has taken place; for his sense of discomfort is proof that in this case it is not the soul which is the actor. The soul is forever seeking something which will open a way for its expression and give it freedom and comfort in this physical life. In reality the whole life is tending towards freedom, towards the unfoldment of something which is choked up by physical life; and this freedom can be gained by true purity of life.

 We have seen what it means to purify the life of the body and of the mind; but there is a further purity which is the purity of the heart, the constant effort to keep the heart pure from all the impressions which come from without and are foreign to the true nature of the heart, which is love. And this can only be done by a continual watchfulness over one's attitude towards others; by overlooking their faults, by forgiving their shortcomings, by judging no one except oneself. For all harsh judgments and bitterness towards others are like poison; to feel them is exactly the same as absorbing poison in the blood: the result must be disease. First disease in the inner life only, but in time the disease breaks out in the physical life; and these are illnesses which cannot be cured. External cleanliness does not have much effect upon the inner purity; but inner uncleanness causes disease both inwardly and outwardly.

 What should we acknowledge? That which we always escape from acknowledging, that is to say our faults. By acknowledging our faults we shall kill them. But it is the one thing we want to hide, that we want to keep hidden even from our own sight. To look one's own fault in the face is the best thing one can do; to analyze it, to weigh it, to measure it, and to understand it better. By this one either destroys it or understands it, or one turns the same fault into a merit.


 We may think many people are doing wrong, yet we do not know what is wrong for them and what is not wrong; we do not know what is right for them and what is not right. We ourselves may be doing many things that we think right, but really are wrong to others; and others do things that appear to us to be wrong, and yet are acting rightly in their case. It is just a matter of looking at it from the other person's point of view.

 How few there are in this world who stop to think whether the actions of another are right for him! We are so ready to accuse another, and we are so ready to hide our own faults. Did we but took at right and wrong from his standpoint, we should find that the meaning of right and wrong would change.

 There are two aspects of our being: the will-power or governing power, and the vehicles, the mind and the body. Both are governed and controlled by that one governing power. In one aspect of our being we are king, in the other aspect we are minister, and in a third aspect we are servant. We are minister when our mind works, and we are servant when the body works. We are king when the will-power works.

 When this power loses its control over the mind, then our thoughts become disordered; they dwell in any regions and wander on any lines, even those which our moral standard has perhaps not drawn for them. And our body also works in a disorderly way when the power of the will is lost. Therefore all illnesses, all failures, all disappointments and faults in life are caused by just one thing: weakness of will-power.

And no one would do wrong if his will-power helped him to do right, for how could he do something which the scripture of his own heart tells him to be wrong, had not his will-power failed him? Therefore those who repent after their crimes, faults, and failures show thereby that it is not that they wanted to do or have these things, but that their will-power failed them. The will-power was not strong enough to help them to carry out their own standard of good, as it should help all men through the journey of life.

Life in general is like a plant with thorns. Wherever we wish to take hold, there we find a thorn. The more our eyes are opened, the more, wherever we put our hand, do we get thorns, the thorns of selfishness; for every ego wants what is best for itself and is not ready to give. Yet if we tried out of curiosity to become a rose instead of a thorn, we would make our life worth while.

 When we begin to see our own faults, then we see how much more we should deserve the name of human beings.

The Qur'an says that Allah taught man by the pen of His nature. It is our nature to create and by creating our art in harmony with nature we can prove our skill. The art we produce is according to the nature of ourselves, for we are the creator.

 Secondly, the picture appears on the paper; this is the present stage. Thirdly, the picture itself inspires the painter. As it progresses he sees that in a certain place there ought to be a different color; this is not right, that is not right, and so on. And as he looks at the picture, he sees its faults, and so he alters it here and there. So it is with each life. One stage of our life is predestined, the next part is that which we perform, and a third part of our life is that which is the effect of our actions. As we sow, so we reap. All that we do, we see in its reaction, and the reaction changes our life. The painter sees he must finish the picture differently, and so our actions tell us whether we ought to act differently.

For friendship changes man's point of view. An unfriendly man, as soon as he sees another person, sees him from his own critical point of view. He has his preconceived ideas, and therefore he is not allowed by Providence to see the good side of the other. But the one in whom the friendly spirit is awakened always overlooks little errors, faults, mistakes; his sympathy and his love naturally help him to rise above the faults of man. That is the story of Jesus Christ, the friend of humanity, before whom the greatest sinners were brought; but the attitude of the Master was always forgiving. Those who brought them were unfriendly; the Master was friendly.

 Life is as we look at it. If we wish to find faults we can find faults in the best person in the world, and if we wish to find good points we can fund good points in the worst person in the world. It is as we see life

 And the third important thing in friendship is overlooking. No man in the world is faultless, no soul in the world is perfect. If on our part there is no desire to overlook our friends' shortcomings, there can be no more friendship. Friendship is maintained by recognizing that a human being is imperfect, that he has his faults and shortcomings. There is always something in him to overlook, and if we go on doing so, there is always the possibility that he may develop those very qualities which are lacking, for we may add to our friend qualities that are wanting in him.


The person who sees the good in others will see more and more good. The person with a fault-finding tendency will see so many faults that at last even the good seems bad in his eyes; the eyes themselves are bad.

 Overlooking is the first lesson of forgiveness. This tendency springs from love and sympathy; for of whom one hates one notices every little fault, but of whom one loves one naturally overlooks the faults, and very often one tries to turn the faults into merits. Life has endless things which suggest beauty, and numberless things which suggest ugliness. There is no end to the merits and no end to the faults, and according to one's evolution is one's outlook on life.

 One never can say, "I have enough tact". It is never enough. A real tactful person, having proved not to be tactful enough in his everyday life, finds more faults with himself than a tactless person. As one becomes more tactful so one finds more fault with oneself, because there are so many shortcomings: actions manifest themselves automatically, words slip off from the tongue, and then the tactful one thinks and sees that he did not do right. But as Saadi says, "Once it is done then you, thoughtful one, repent of it. This is not the time to repent, you ought to have controlled yourself first".

 The Sufis say, "Neither are we here to become angels", nor to live as the animals do. We are here to sympathize with one another and to bring to others the happiness which we always seek". Yes, there are many thorns on the path of life, but looking at ourselves we see the same faults, if not more, as those of others which prick like stings, like thorns. Therefore if we spare others the thorn that comes out of us, we will give that much help to our fellowmen - and that is no small help

 Besides, when one idealizes a person one wishes to cover one's eyes from all his shortcomings, one wishes to see only what is good and noble in him; but there come moments when the other side of that person is also seen, for goodness cannot exist without badness and beauty cannot exist without the lack of it. Very often beauty covers ugliness and ugliness covers beauty, very often goodness covers evil and evil goodness; but both opposites are always present. If not, man would not be man.

 When one sees among one's friends, one's relatives, something which attracts one most it is perhaps the side of their nature which is innocence. People forgive those who are dear to them, they tolerate their faults. They say, "He is wrong, but he is innocent". There is a purity which is divine and which attracts everyone. Innocence is like a spring of water purifying all that is foreign to heart and soul.

 How can we attain innocence? Innocence is not foreign to our nature; we have all been innocent, and by being conscious of that nature we develop it. By admiring, by appreciating that nature we develop it too, for all things which we admire become impressions. Those who have a bad nature but have collected good impressions will in time turn their nature.

Question: How to attain peace when our life is often so difficult?
Answer: No doubt, life is difficult for many of us, but very often we make it even more difficult for ourselves. When we do not understand the real nature and character of life we make our own difficulties. I can assure you that in every man's life five percent of his difficulties are brought about by the conditions of life, and ninety-five percent are difficulties caused by himself.

 Now you will ask: When the difficulties come from ourselves, where do they come from? We do not like struggle in life, we do not like strife, we only want harmony, we only want peace. It must be understood, however, that before making peace war is necessary, and that war must be made with our self. Our worst enemy is our self: our faults, our weaknesses, our limitations. And our mind is such a traitor! What does it? It covers our faults even from our own eyes, and points out to us the reason for all our difficulties: others! So it constantly deludes us keeping us unaware of the real enemy, and pushes us towards those others to fight them, showing them to us as our enemies.

 All our errors and faults come from impatience. It is not that the soul wants something which is wrong, but we do not stop to weigh our acts. We seize upon the first thought that comes to us without weighing or considering it. Nowadays the wish for variety has grown so strong that we always wish for new surroundings, new friends, new faces, and our thoughts change every moment. If we could hold our thought, we should increase its power. We think, "It is only a thought, it will pass". In reality, by our thought we create a spirit, a jinn, a genius, that acts and works and achieves. The more patiently we think a thought, the stronger the thought becomes.


 Friends, love is a great inspirer of law, and the one who has not love, he may read a thousand books of law, he will always accuse others of their faults and he will never know his own faults. But if love has wakened in your heart, then you do not need to study law, for you know the best law, for all law has come from love and still love stands above law.

 People say that there will be justice in the hereafter and we shall all have to show the accounts of our deeds. In the first place, we ourselves do not know the account of our deeds. Besides, if God is so exacting as to ask you of every little evil everyone has committed, then God must be worse than man, because even a fine man overlooks his friend's faults, a kind man forgives a person's faults. If God is so exacting as that, He must be an autocratic God. It is not true; God is not Law, God is Love. Law is the law of nature, but God's Being is not Law, God's Being is Love. And therefore the right conception of life and insight into right and wrong, good and bad, is not learned and taught by book-study. As the Sufi says: all virtues manifest by themselves once the heart is wakened to love and kindness.

 The question arises in the inquiring mind: If God is within man, all our troubles and difficulties, our feelings and our attitude towards Him, our faults, are known to Him--what need is there to express them in prayer? It is like saying, "Because I love a certain person, why should I show it?" Expression is the nature of life. When every part of man's mind and body expresses his feeling, his thought, his aspiration, then it produces its full effect.

 To ask forgiveness of another produces a proper sense of justice in one's mind. He perceives the need for asking God to pardon his faults. When he asks for forgiveness, that forgiveness develops in his nature too, and he becomes ready to forgive others. Christ says in His prayer, "Forgive us as we forgive others." The virtue, the secret, is in that. By asking forgiveness of God, you give up the desire to demand forgiveness from your fellow man, and you desire to give forgiveness to him.

 And then the question of the forgiveness of sin. Is not man the creator of sin? If he creates it, he can destroy it also. If he cannot destroy, his eider brother can. The one who is capable of making, he is capable of destroying. He who can write something with his pen, can rub it with his eraser from the surface of the paper. And when he cannot do it, then that personality has not yet arrived at completeness, at that perfection to which all have to go. There is no end to the faults in man's life, and if they were all recorded, and there was no erasing of them, life would be impossible to live. The impression of sin, in the terminology of metaphysics, may be called an illness, a mental illness. And as the doctor is able to cure illness, so the doctor of the soul is able to heal. And if people have said that through Christ sins are forgiven, that can be understood in this way, that love is that shower by which all is purified. No stain remains.

 What is God? God is Love. When His mercy, His compassion, His kindness are expressed through a God-realized personality, then the stains of one's faults, mistakes, and wrongdoings are washed away, and the soul becomes as clear as it has always been. For in reality no sin nor virtue can be engraved or impressed upon a soul; it can only cover the soul. The soul in itself is Divine Intelligence; and how can Divine Intelligence be engraved either with sin or virtue, or happiness or unhappiness? For the time it becomes covered with the impression of happiness or unhappiness; and when these clouds are cleared from it, then it is seen to be divine in its essence.


 One person will perhaps learn nothing all his life, whereas another will learn all five lessons in a short time. There is a story of a person who went to a teacher and said to him, 'I would like to be your pupil, your disciple.' The teacher said, 'Yes; I shall be very glad.' This man, conscious of so many faults, was surprised that the teacher was willing to accept him as a disciple. He said, 'But I wonder if you know how many faults I have?' The teacher said, 'Yes, I already know your faults, yet I accept you as my pupil.'--'But I have very bad faults,' he said, 'I am fond of gambling.' The teacher said, 'That does not matter much.'--'I am inclined to drink sometimes,' he said. The teacher said, 'That does not matter much.'--'Well,' he said, 'there are many other faults.'

 The teacher said, 'I do not mind. But now that I have accepted all your faults, you must accept one condition from your teacher.'-'Yes, most willingly,' he said. 'What is it?' The teacher said, 'You may indulge in your faults, but not in my presence; only that much respect you must reserve for your teacher.' The teacher knew that all five attributes of discipleship were natural to him, and he made him an initiate. And as soon as he went out and had an inclination to gamble or to drink he saw the face of his murshid before him. When after some time he returned to the teacher, the teacher smilingly asked, 'Did you commit any faults?' He answered, 'O no, the great difficulty is that whenever I want to commit any of my usual faults my murshid pursues me?

Nevertheless a disciple will often feel that since he became a disciple he finds many more faults in himself than he had ever seen before. This may be so, but it does not mean that his faults have increased; it only means that now his eyes have become wider open so that every day he sees many more faults than before.


 The knowledge that the mystic seeks after is self knowledge, the knowledge of one's self, within and without, the only knowledge that is worth attaining. It is contrary to the general tendency of man; man always wants to know what is before him, and that is why he sees more faults in another and less in himself. He think that if anyone is wrong it is the other, because he is less conscious of his own mistakes.

The more one understands oneself, the more one finds that everything that is lacking in others is also lacking in oneself. Does a person become less by finding faults in himself? No, he becomes greater, for he not only finds that all the faults which are in others are also to be found in him, but that all the merits of the others are also his own merits. With faults and merits he becomes more complete; he does not become less.

 What a great treasure it is when a man has realized that in him are to be found all the merits and all the faults which exist in the world, and that he can cultivate all that he wishes to cultivate, and cut away all that should be removed! It is like rooting out the weeds and sowing the seed of flowers and fruits. One finds that all is in oneself, and that one can cultivate in oneself what one wishes.

The difference between the wise and the foolish is only this, that the foolish looks at another whereas the wise looks at himself. Besides it is most wonderful to see how the person who is most at fault sees many faults in others. Because he looks at others he has not yet been able to look at himself, but the moment he begins to look at himself he does not look at others any more; he then has so much to look at in himself that both his hands are full.


 Overlooking the faults of others with politeness, tolerance, forgiveness, and resignation is regarded as a moral virtue in the East. Man's heart is visualized as the shrine of God, and even a small injury in thought, word, and deed against it is considered as a great sin against God, the Indwelling One. Gratitude is shown by the loyalty of the Orient and by being true to the salt; the hospitality of a day is remembered throughout all the years of life, while the benefactor never forgets humility even in the midst of his good deeds. There is an Eastern saying, 'Forget thy virtues and remember thy sins'.


Respecting another, enduring a person or an action which is uncongenial to oneself, tolerating all, overlooking the faults of others, covering the weaknesses that one finds in one's fellow-men, willing to forgive, all these things are the first lessons in self-denial.

 The ego is trained by a Sufi as a horse is trained by man.  A bridle is put upon it and man holds the reins in his hand.  This training is called by the Hindus Hatha Yoga, which means to gain the control of one's self by means of abstinence.  Often, when man does wrong, it is not that he likes to do wrong, but that he is not able to prevent himself from acting in that way.  In the first place, wrongdoing is almost always the consequence of the appetites and passions, or for the gratification of vanity.  Fasting and special postures are often practiced by the mystics for the same reason.  The more man gives way to the appetites and passions the more he is enslaved by them, until he reaches a state where he speaks and acts against his own conscience.  Such faults as treachery, flattery, falseness, and all others of the kind come from lack of will-power and from giving way to the passions.

 For training the ego it is not absolutely necessary to abstain from all physical desires; the idea is to master the desire instead of allowing it to master one.  The complaint of every soul and the remorse of every soul is always of the same thing, the enslavement of man through yielding to his desires.  One allows the desire to master one when one identifies oneself with the desire; and one pities oneself, which makes things worse.  And the desire for the momentary joy becomes an excuse for having given way.  For instance, a person who gets up later makes the cold an excuse; he had to, he says, because it was cold.  Reason always supplies an excuse for everything.  But one cannot escape the consequences, and the remorse that follows proves that a fault has been committed.

 And once a person has accustomed himself to his faults, the sense of his fault becomes less keen; then he no longer troubles about them.  Then he becomes a slave to his faults, he is like a worm, and his faults become his life.  That is why in the language of the Hindus the word for hell means a place full of worms.  In other words, he feeds on his faults and his faults find their nourishment in him.  To a keen sight such cases are not rare.  There are some cases that everyone can see, others are hidden.

 Those who know its value consider the training of the ego the most important thing in life.  The first lesson in this training is to ask, "Why must I have a certain thing?  Why must I not have it?  If it is not good for me why should I have it?  And if it is good for me why should I not have it?"  What a person has acquired the habit of speaking with his ego in this way about every physical appetite, he will always be able to do what he ought to do.
GATHAS 2 MORALS - The Ego Is Trained As a Horse

Verily, blessed are the innocent, who do not notice anybody's fault, and the greater credit is to the mature souls, who, recognizing a fault, forget it and so forgive.  How true are the words of Christ, "Let those throw a stone who have not sinned."  The limitations of human life make man subject to faults; some have more faults, some have less, but there is no soul without faults.  As Christ says, "Call me not good."

 A good person proud of his goodness turns his pearls into pebbles.  A bad person, full of remorse for his faults, may turn his pebbles into jewels.

 There is generally a tendency seen in those treading the spiritual path to feel discouraged at having bad impressions upon their heart of their own faults and shortcomings.  And they begin to feel that they are too unworthy to have anything to do with things of a sacred nature.  But it is a great error, in spite of all the virtue humility has in it.  When one acknowledges something wrong in oneself one gives that wrong a soul out of one's own spirit, and by withdrawing from all that is good and beautiful, spiritual and sacred, instead of developing the spirit of rejecting all errors, in time one becomes a receptacle of what is wrong.  He goes on disapproving and yet collecting errors, so producing within himself a perpetual conflict that never ends.  When man becomes helpless before his infirmities he becomes a slave to his errors, he feels within himself an obedient servant to his adversary.
The greater the purity developed in the heart the greater becomes the power of man.  As great the power of man within himself so great becomes his power on others.  A hair's breadth can divide power from weakness, which appear to have as wide a gulf between them as between land and sky.
GATHAS 3 - EVERYDAY LIFE - Reject the Impression of Errors and Shortcomings

 Every step one takes in evolution changes one's ideal.  In your stage, if you love a jasmine today, it is possible that in your next step in evolution you may have grown above it and you love a rose.  And it is not necessary that you should keep to the jasmine when your evolution brings you to the love for the rose -- thus one is kept from progressing.  Contentment is a great virtue, but it is a virtue only when you have mastered the thing and risen above it.  But if you are contented before you have mastered, then contentment, in that case, is a weakness.  Things in themselves are not merits --  neither are they faults -- but they become so by their proper or improper use.  Thus merits may become faults and faults become merits.  Therefore let the wise choose the path of wisdom, and by that torch they may journey through life.

 Prayer is a concentration and fear is a concentration, and as prayer brings things that are desired by the prayerful, so fear brings things that are feared, and in both cases mastery is absent.  In the first case there is weakness owing to dependence upon another, and the other case, still greater weakness that makes one fear.  Mastery lies in creative concentration of mind.  The mind impressed by one's faults and by one's weaknesses becomes feeble and meets failures, and cannot hold a desired thought with hope and trust.  In that case prayer alone comes to his rescue, when he thinks, "I am wicked and weak, but Thou art forgiving and almighty, my Lord.  I have no power to accomplish my desire, but Thou are most powerful."  In this way one can keep alive the flame of trust and hope, in spite of one's faults and weaknesses.  Sometimes one can, and sometimes one cannot.  One cannot when one's mind is too much impressed by one's weakness and faults, and when one thinks, "It is impossible that I shall be forgiven," and when one thinks, "God is too far away to listen to my prayers.  I, the sinner, am living in the wicked world, and God, the Holy of Holies, is in Heaven."

 Still worse is the condition of that person whose mind is impressed by his faults and weaknesses and has no God-Ideal to hold on to.  He is neither here nor there.  But when man arrives at this conviction that he himself and God are not two, and if God is the sun that his soul is the ray, and if God is the root that he is the fruit, and if God is the sea, that he is its bubble, then he becomes part of nature's government.  He is no more a machine, he is a man.  He has a will of his own, which is not apart from the will of God, and according to his self-expansion and according to his self-confidence, and according to his power of concentration, he accomplishes things, even such things that appear above human limited power.

 There are five principal stages of evolution recognized by the Sufis, named as five conditions of Nafs, the ego.  Every condition of the ego shows its pitch of evolution.  As there are five elements, and five notes recognized by the ancient musicians, so there are five egos, each showing a certain pitch.

 Ammara is the condition of ego when it is blinded by passions.  This shows the animal in man, and it is its fullness which is meant by the word "devil."  Man absorbed in his passions and emotions is a kind of drunken person.  He cannot always see the right, the right way in thinking, saying, or doing.  No doubt there are moments when every drunken person is sober, when he realizes his follies.  But very often the longing for being intoxicated again sounds louder in his head, above the soft murmuring of his follies.

 Lawwama is the condition of the mind which is full of thoughts, good and bad, over which the ego reigns, self covering the truth.  He has bitterness or spite against another, or he has his ways of getting all he desires cleverly, or he finds fault with the others.  He is worried about himself, anxious about his affairs, troubled about unimportant things; he struggles along through life, being confused by life itself.  It is not that his passions and emotions trouble him, what troubles him is his own thoughts and his feelings.

 Then there is the third, Mutmainna, the person who, after his troubles and struggles through life, has arrived at a certain state of balance, of tranquility, and, by having arrived at this stage, is beginning to enjoy, to some degree, the happiness which is within.  He then concerns himself little with the others for his own happiness.  He then troubles little with the others for their faults.  He knows then how to throw off oneself the load of anxieties and worries that life in the world puts upon one's shoulders.  He is then able to harmonize with others, to agree with others, and thus he brings harmony within himself, in his own atmosphere, and spreads harmony around and about him, harmonizing the whole atmosphere.

The fourth is Salima, who has arrived at a point where, though he be in the midst of the life of the world, yet he can rise above it.  So life does not trouble him so much as it can trouble others.  To him life is of no importance.  Yet he fulfills his obligations, his duties in the world in the same way as everyone else.  He is the one of whom it maybe said that he is "in the world but is not of the world."  His love embraces every soul that seeks refuge under his influence.  His peace stills the mind of all he meets, regulating it to the same rhythm as his own.  When the soul has arrived at this point, it becomes a blessing to oneself and to the others.

 And then there is the fifth, Alima, or God-consciousness.  His language becomes different.  You cannot understand what his "no" means, what his "yes" means.  You cannot very well comprehend the meaning of his smiles or of his tears.  He may be sitting before you, but his is not there.  He may be speaking with you, and yet communicating somewhere else.  He may be among all and yet absent.  You may think you hold him; he is not there.  It is this soul which proves the fulfilling of that purpose for which it came on earth.

 The soul has not come to the earth to die the death of helplessness or continually to suffer pain and miseries.  The soul has not come on earth that it may remain all through life perplexed and deluded.  The purpose of the soul is that for which the whole creation has been busied, and the fulfilling of that purpose it is which is called God-consciousness.

When we consider faults, every person has his faults; you will find unlimited faults even in your Murshid.  And if that is the condition of life, we shall be always in agitation about another because of the faults of the other.  If your Murshid himself admits having numberless faults, you can naturally expect many more faults, or at least as many, in the mureeds.  In order to meet with such conditions in life, the only thing is to tolerate, to endure, and to forgive.  And that one can do by thinking, "I am subject to faults also, and therefore if I will endure, tolerate and forgive the trespasses of the others, I shall be forgiven also."  That you can do, not only with your co-workers, also with your Murshid.  For you know that Murshid does not claim to do it, but tries it just the same.

Among us we have our brothers and sisters in this family of the Sufi Order.  Everyone may have some faults, as none of us can say that he is without them.  But what is the duty of real brothers and sisters?  To cover the faults of one another.  When this tendency is not awakened, there is no sympathy in that person.  There is no oneness in that person who does not see in the faults of another his own faults.  It is the message of brotherhood that we are working for.

 That was the lesson to understand human psychology in the right way.  It is to see and not to see at the same time.  It does not mean that one must close one's eyes to the faults of the others; that would be a wrong thing also, because then one will not be acquainted with human nature fully.  If one is a student of human nature, if one is seeking after Truth, he need not close his eyes to the faults of the others to study them; and instead of reacting, one must find those faults in oneself.  What generally one does is that one sees the fault of another and one never traces that fault in oneself.

 It is very amusing that when two persons discuss another person's lacks, they become such great authorities, as if each of them never knew that the wrong that the third person does, he does.  One talks with the other as if they were faultless for the whole life.  By finding in oneself that which is lacking the others one corrects oneself, at the same time one studies human nature.

 The next step toward the understanding of human psychology is to find out the cause behind the faults people have.  For every person sees only the faults, he does not see the cause which is behind the fault.  Sometimes the cause is in the mind of the person; sometimes the cause is in the body of the person; sometimes the cause is deeply rooted in his spirit.  And as soon as one realizes these causes, then one realizes in oneself also the same cause hidden behind one's own faults.

 And by reaching the cause and by correcting oneself, one is able to understand another person better.  It is not by thinking, "We must be tolerant," that a person can be tolerant; because knowing of the virtues is not necessarily living a virtuous life; it is by seeing the cause of every fault in oneself that one is able to have an insight in human nature.

 A person who sees cause and effect of every word, of every thought, of every movement, of every change of expression, that is the person who reads between the lines, that is the person whose glance is like an X-ray; it sees through a person.  No doubt it is this person who will find more faults, lacks, wants in human nature naturally, and it is this person who will be less affected by it or at least less react upon it, overlook it and rise above it.  The person who sees the most complains the least, the person who sees the least complains the most.  The reason is that he does not see the lack, but he sees the cause; and when he sees the cause he sees the effect. Is there another study, history or geography or chemistry or science, another study more interesting than this study of human nature?  The study of human nature builds a bridge between man and God.

One need not trouble about anybody's fault.  And how far one is advanced, one must know that the more advanced you are, the more faults one will find with oneself.  I do not mean that advancement adds faults; I only mean that advancement makes your sight so keen that at every stage further, more faults manifest before you which were perhaps unknown to you before.  The attitude of the treader on the spiritual path toward the wrong-doer must be tolerance, of forgiveness, also of indifference.

 It is that person who will cover the faults of another.  It is that person who will screen the lacks of another, who out of the sense of honor will have respect for another.  It is that person who out of the sense of dignity will appreciate the sense of dignity in another.

 We learn in life much by our faults and mistakes. If a person falls, he learns by his fall.

Q. Does the practice of not blaming others mean that we must not see the faults of anyone, that we rise above it? A. No. In the first place it is a question of self-restraint or self-control, politeness, kindness, sympathy, graciousness, of a worshipful attitude toward God, the Creator of all beings, Whose children we all are, good or bad. If any person's child happened to be homely in appearance, would it be polite to say before the parents "Your child is homely?" Then the Father-Mother of all beings is there, comprehending and knowing what is going on in every person's heart. He creates all, with their faults and merits. When we are ready to judge, it is certainly before the Artist Who has made them, not behind His back, but in His Presence.

 If we realized this, it would not be difficult to feel the Presence of God everywhere. Besides this, there is always one's favor and disfavor connected with it. If we see more faults, it means we close our hearts to the favorable attitude, and we open our hearts to the unfavorable attitude in order to criticize them. Yes, there comes a time after a continual practice of this virtue when we see the reason behind every fault that appears to us in anyone we meet in our life; we become more tolerant, we become more forgiving.

Another thing, the life of the individual is not in his control. Every rising wave of passion or of emotion or of anger or of wrath or of affection carries away his reason, blinds him for the moment, so that he can easily give in to mistakes, and in a moment's impulse can give way to an unworthy thought or action. Then comes remorse. But still, a man who wishes to learn, who wishes to improve himself, a man who wishes to go on further in his progress, at the thought of his faults and mistakes will go on, because every fault will be a lesson, and a good lesson. Then he does not need to read in a book or learn from a teacher, because his life becomes his teacher.

 However one should not for one's personal experience wish for the lesson. If one was wise, one could learn the lesson from others, but at the same time one should not regard one's fault as one's nature. It is not one's nature. A fault means what is against one's nature. If it was in one's nature, it could not be a fault. The very reason that it is against one's nature makes it a fault. How can nature be a fault? When one says, "I cannot help being angry and I cannot help saying what I want to say when I feel bitter," one does not know that one could if one wished to. I mean to say, that he does not wish to, when he says, "I cannot help." It is lack of strength in a man when he says, "can't." There is nothing which he can't. The human soul is the expression of the Almighty and therefore the human mind has in his will the power of the Almighty, if only he could use that power against all things which stands in his way as hindrances on his journey to the goal.

 By regarding some few things in life as faults, one often covers up little faults, which sometimes are worse than the faults which are pointed out by the world. For instance, when a younger person is insulting to an elderly person, people do not call it a very great fault. Sometimes such a little fault can rise and make a worse effect upon his soul than the faults which are recognized faults in the world. A person by a sharp tongue, by an inquisitive nature, by satiric remarks, by thoughtless words, can commit a fault which can be worse than so-called great sins.

 A man becomes a gentleman, not by becoming rich or in a high position. No, when the rough edges of his character are ut, just like a diamond, then he becomes a gentleman. and if one judged oneself, and did not judge the others, one will find how very difficult it is to become a gentleman. No doubt man keeps on in a kind of intoxication, not knowing his own faults.

 He is always busy finding fault with the others, always he is complaining that the rough edges trouble him from the others, and so the whole life goes, the life which is the greatest opportunity to rise and to become better. And that one who feels, after having the rough edges of the other hurt, that says "the rough edges on my part must also hurt the others," when he begins to cut those rough edges, then he begins to learn the art. For other arts cannot be compared with the art of personality. The character is not born with man's birth, the character is built after coming here. But even if a person can call himself a human being, still he has not yet known that greater art still, which may be rightfully called a true religion.


Those who try to make virtues out of their faults grope further and further into darkness.

We give way to our faults by being passive towards them.

Worrying about the faults of others is an unnecessary addition to the worry we have over our own faults.

I have learned more by my faults than by my virtues; if I had always acted aright, I could not be human.

Faults and merits both serve as steps to those who go up as well as to those who go down.

Great people have great faults, but their greatness is their greatest fault.

A great person is great with his faults and merits.

The lover is blind to the faults of the one he loves, and the hater is blind to the merits of the one he hates.

Even the faults of the meritorious soul become merits, and
even merits of the faulty one turn into faults.

One's own self has the right to accuse oneself of one's faults, rather than anyone else.

When we find faults and see no excuses, we are blind to the Light which can free a person from his faults and give rise to that forgiveness which is the very essence of God, and which is to be found in the human heart.

Love is the shower by which sin is purified; no stain remains. What is God? God is love. When His mercy, His compassion, His kindness are expressed through a Godrealized personality, then the stains of sins, faults, and mistakes are washed away and the soul becomes clear.

Meet your shortcomings with a sword of self-respect.

O Thou, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty! All-powerful Creator, Sustainer, Judge and Forgiver of our