The first thing most necessary for a student is to try to keep up the spiritual exercises which are given, without any break. If you are tired, if you were occupied too much, if conditions were not favorable, I do not mean that it is urged upon you, but I mean that it is for your betterment to keep those exercises without a gap between them.
Would you believe, if I may say so, that the effect of certain practices comes even after ten years or twelve years? A person without patience might think, “I did not have immediate results after two, three months.” But he may not think so. If they are seeds which you sow in the ground, they take root and a plant comes. But in order for the plant to be fruitful it takes ten years. This is the spiritual sowing. It might take a much longer time in some cases. In some cases, the next day the result might show. There are some plants which come quicker, others which take time to bear fruit. But still the spiritual sowing has its result, and a sure result. Never therefore to doubt, to be discouraged, to give up hope; but to continue, persevering in this path.
Now the second necessity for the student is the study part. It must not be a study only as the reading of a book: it must be a study of engraving upon one’s heart the Sacred readings, all the literature that is given, however simple it might seem to grasp it. Because you will find that it is creative in itself. It is a phrase just now; after six months, the same phrase will flourish, there will come branches, flowers, and fruits in that phrase. It is a simple phrase, but it is a living phrase. The more you study and grasp it, the more your heart will be creative. Therefore, do not consider it a study only, but a meditation, even in your studies.
The third important thing in the life of a student is to live a life of balance between activity and repose, of regularity. Not too much work, nor too much rest: a balance between activity and repose. Because when we put the idea before the world we shall be responsible to show it in our lives. Therefore, our lives must be as balanced as possible. Besides that, in eating, in drinking, there must be a kind of moderation, which I am sure many of us have. And a kind of consideration from the meditative point of view. Because for the spiritual growth a certain food is more recommended than another. Therefore, we in the spiritual path cannot always be neglectful of that question.
And now there comes the fourth question, how must our attitude be towards others? Towards the students our attitude must be affectionate sympathy. Towards non-students our attitude must be tolerant sympathy.
The best thing in the world is not to force upon others what we understand and what we believe. By forcing it upon others we only spoil them. By discussing, arguing with them, we do not accomplish anything.
Besides, for a student it is most advisable that he must keep his conversation limited so as not to say things which might seem to the others too occult, too mystical, too spiritual. Our conversation must be like an ordinary conversation. Things about spirits and ghosts and elementals, apparitions and all sorts of things — people like to talk about their past and present and next incarnation, what they were and what they will be. We must not commit ourselves in talking about these things. These things are for every individual to find out for himself. By talking we neither do good to ourselves nor good to the others.
If we can only talk about simple things of everyday life, there are so many things that we shall have enough subjects to speak over with others. Ideas of the air must be left in the air. Standing on the earth we must talk of everyday life, leaving every individual free for himself as we like to be left free ourselves.
Besides, the Sufi does not give a definite idea of these things because Sufism is freedom, freedom of conception, of belief. It does not give people any dogmas: that you must believe this or that. It does not present before humanity particular dogmas, and very often for the same reason Sufism is accused of being against certain dogmas. But it is not so. If we do not speak about them it is not that we are against them, but because we do not like to speak about them. We prefer being silent to talking too much about them.
These are things of intimate conversation. When a student is conversing with his teacher, with his fellow student, perhaps one talks about it. These are not the things to talk about at the tea table. It would make the inner laws of life and nature ridiculous. When nature, when life itself covers its laws, then it means that they are best covered. When we uncover them we certainly commit a fault against the hidden nature of things. It is therefore it is called Sufism. By the word Sufism is meant keeping the cover over the hidden laws of nature which are meant to be covered. As soon as one uncovers them it means in the first place one does not know their value. Then he goes no further; he cannot go any further. It is the one who knows their value who will go further. Who has no respect for them, who brings them to the market, cannot go any further; he has a setback.
As we go further we shall have to face a great trial. As soon as people know that we are interested in these things, they will ask us a lot of questions. They will want us to make a prophecy, want us to say uncommon things that will interest them. We shall be put to test. So you can quite see that it is the path of silence. The more we keep our lips closed the more the way is open, the more doors are open for us. The attitude itself opens them. We do not need to open them. We only need to expect them. What is not common, is not common. When you want to make them common that means putting down Heaven on the earth, instead of raising the earth towards Heaven.
Our attitude with others must therefore be humble, unpretentious, and ordinary.
Now the fifth thing. We must not leave our meditation and prayers just to those fixed times when we do, because that is only the winding of the thing. But in our everyday life we ought to bring the sense of it into our action, in everything we do at home or outside. We must use that latent power and inspiration aroused by our meditations; we should make use of it. By practicing to make use of it we shall benefit ourselves and others by all we are doing.