The Art of Being and Becoming
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Art of Being and Becoming gathers Inayat Khan’s teachings on what the Sufis consider the fruit of the whole creation—the divine art of creating the human personality. This volume gives methods for training the ego, tuning the heart, and developing willpower, all to help one develop and perfect a natural way of being in the world.
Read an excerpt from The Art of Being and Becoming:
“The ego is like a rose, and also like the thorns that surround the rose. It takes the place of the thorns when it is not cultivated, and it becomes a rose when it is refined. The way to make it refined is to humble oneself and to crush one’s desires. It is by the process of crucifixion that a person refines the ego. It is a hard grain, and it must be ground till it becomes a fine powder, out of which a paste is made.
When the ego remains in the condition of a thorn, more thorns come, and more and more, till it increases its thorns to such an extent that everyone who touches that person is dissatisfied. We all have friends to whom we should be most grateful if they would keep away from us. We love them, we like them, but we would be very glad if they would keep away. What is it? It is the thorns that hurt.
In what way do these thorns manifest? They manifest in the form of words, of actions, of desires, in the form of manner. Why does one feel annoyed with certain people in life even before they have uttered one word? Because the thorn is pricking. Perhaps that person will say, ‘But I have not said anything, I have not done anything,’ but he does not know that he has thorns. There are perhaps so many that even before he utters one word, before he moves, his presence pricks us. It is a natural outcome of the ego. Either the ego develops thorns or it develops into a rose, and when it develops into a rose then everyone is attracted to it because of its beautiful petals, its delicacy, its fragrance, its color, its softness, its structure. Everything about it is attractive, appealing, and healing.
For every soul there are four stages to pass through in order to come to the culmination of the ego, which means to reach the stage of the rose. In the first stage a person is rough, thoughtless, and inconsiderate. He is interested in what he wants and in what he likes; as such he is naturally blind to the needs and wants of others. In the second stage a person is decent and good as long as his interests are concerned. As long as he can get his wish fulfilled, he is pleasant and kind and good and harmonious, but if he cannot have his way, then he becomes rough and crude and changes completely. There is a third stage, when someone is more concerned with another person’s wish and desire and less with himself, when his whole heart is seeking for what he can do for another. In his thought the other person comes first and he comes afterwards. That is the beginning of turning into a rose. It is only a rosebud, but then in the fourth stage this rosebud blooms in the person who entirely forgets himself in doing kind deeds for others.”