Will is not a power, but it is all the power there is. How did God create the world? By will. Therefore, what we call ‘will power’ in us is in reality ‘God power,’ a power that increases by our recognizing its potentiality and proves to be the greatest phenomenon in life. If there is any secret behind the mystery of the world of phenomena that can be learned, it is will power. It is by will power that all we do, physically or mentally, is accomplished. Our hands, with all their perfect mechanisms, cannot hold a glass of water if there is no will power to support them. If will power fails, a person seemingly healthy will not be able to stand.
It is not the body that makes us stand upright, it is our will power. It is not the strength of body that makes us move about, it is will power that is holding the body and making it go. Therefore, in reality, birds do not fly with their wings, they fly with their will power. Fishes do not swim with their bodies, they swim with their will power. And when man has the will to swim, he swims like a fish.
Man has been able to accomplish tremendous things by will power. Success and failure are its phenomena. It is only the phenomenon of will that will bring one to success; and when will fails, however qualified and intelligent the person is, he fails. Therefore, it is not a human power, it is a divine power in man. Its work with the mind is greater still, for no man can hold a thought in his mind for a moment if there is not the strength of his will to hold it. If a person cannot concentrate, cannot keep his thoughts still for a moment, then will power fails him, for it is will that holds a thought.
Now, coming to the question of what will power is made of, in poetic words, will power is love; in metaphysical terms, love is will power. If one says, ‘God is love,’ this means, in reality, that God is will. The love of God manifests after the creation, but the will of God caused the creation. So, the most original aspect of love is will. When a person says, ‘I love to do it,’ he means, ‘I will to do it,’ which is a stronger expression and means, ‘I fully love to do it.’
In the Quran it is said, ‘We said, ‘Be,’ and it became.’ This is a key to the world of phenomena. To the progressive world, to advanced thought, this is the key that shows how manifestation came into existence. It came into existence in answer to that Will which expressed itself by saying ‘Be’ – and it became. This phenomenon does not only belong to the origin of things, but it also belongs to the whole being of things, to the whole process of manifestation.
We are apt to look at this whole creation as a mechanism, and we do not stop to think how a mechanism can exist without an engineer. What is mechanism? It is only an expression of the will of the engineer who, for his convenience, made the mechanism. But as we do not see the engineer before us and only see the mechanism, we involve ourselves in the laws of the working of this mechanism and forget the engineer by whose command this whole mechanism is going on. As Rumi, the great inspirer and philosopher, has said in his Masnavi, ‘Earth, water, fire and air seem to us as things, as objects – but before God, they are living beings and they stand as His obedient servants and obey the divine Will.’
A part of that Will we inherit as our own divine heritage, and it is our consciousness of it that makes it greater. If we are not conscious of it, then it becomes smaller. It is the optimistic attitude towards life that develops the will. The pessimistic attitude reduces it, robs it of its great power. Therefore, if there is anything that hinders our progress in life, it is our own selves. It is proven a thousand times over that there is no one in the world who can be a worse enemy to us than ourselves, for at every failure we see ourselves standing in our own light.
The earth holds the seed, and the result is that a plant springs out and bears fruit. So it is with the heart. The heart holds the seed of thought, and there also, a plant springs out and brings the fruit of fulfillment. But it is not only the thought, it is the power of holding the thought that is of very great importance. Therefore, the factor of the heart, a factor which holds the thought, is of very great importance for the fulfillment of life’s purpose. Often a person says, ‘I try my best, but I cannot concentrate my mind, I cannot make my mind still.’ It is true, but it is not true that he tries his best. ‘Best’ does not end there. ‘Best’ really brings the purpose to its fulfillment.
The mind is just like a restive horse. Bring a wild horse and yoke it to a carriage. It is such a strange experience for it that it will kick and jump and run and try to destroy the carriage. So, it is a weight for the mind to carry when you make it take one thought and hold it for a while. It is then that the mind becomes restless because it is not accustomed to discipline. There is a thought that the mind will hold by itself, a thought of disappointment, pain, grief, sorrow or failure. The mind will hold it so fast that you cannot take it away from its grip, the mind holds it by itself. But when you ask the mind to hold a particular thought, then the mind will not hold it, it says, ‘I am not your servant, sir!’
When once the mind is disciplined by concentration, by the power of will, then the mind becomes your servant. Once the mind has become your servant, then what more can you wish? Then your world is your own, you are the king of your kingdom. No doubt, one might say, ‘Why should we not let the mind be free also, as we are free?’ But we and the mind are not two beings. It is like saying, ‘Let the horse be free and the rider be free.’ Then the horse wants to go to the south and the rider wants to go the north. How can they go together?
There are souls who would even say, ‘Let us be free, and the will be free.’ But what are we, then? Then we are nothing! Discipline has a place in man’s life. Self-discipline, however difficult and tyrannical to ourselves it may seem in the beginning, yet is that which in the end makes the soul the master of self. It is not in vain that the great sages and adepts led an ascetic life; there was a purpose in it. It is not something to follow, but something to understand – what use they made of it, what they accomplished through it. It was self-discipline, it was the development of will power.
Question: What is the best way to develop will power?
Answer: Sufis develop will power systematically by first putting the body into a certain discipline. It must sit in the posture that is prescribed to it; it must stand in a place where it is asked to stand. The body must not become restless, tired, fatigued by what is asked of it. The body must answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment he begins to discipline the body, he begins to see how disobedient the body has always been. Then he finds out that this body, which he has called, ‘mine,’ ‘myself,’ and for whose comfort he has done everything possible, having closed his eyes to everything else in order to give his body comfort, rest, nourishment – here this infidel seems to be most faithless, most disobedient. So, the body is trained by physical exercises, by sitting, standing or walking, by doing things to which it is not accustomed and which are yet for the betterment of this physical body.
Then comes the discipline of the mind. That is done by concentration. When you wish the mind to think on one thought that you have before you while the mind is thinking about something else, then the mind becomes very restless. It does not want to stand on one spot because it has always been moving about without discipline. As soon as you discipline it, it becomes like a wild horse. Very often people tell me that during the day they do not have such difficulty as at the moment that they want to concentrate; at that time the mind jumps, at other times it moves. This is because the mind is an entity. It becomes restive. It feels as a wild horse would feel, ‘Why should I be troubled by you?’ At the same time, this mind is meant to be an obedient servant. This body is meant to become your tool with which to experience life. If mind and body are not in order, if they do not act as you wish them to, then you cannot hope for real comfort, for real happiness in this world.
Question: Will you please explain the difference between concentration and silence?
Answer: Concentration is holding a certain thought before you. Silence is relaxing mind and body. It is repose. It is a healing.
Question: What is the difference between concentration and meditation?
Answer: Concentration is the beginning of meditation. Meditation is the end of concentration. It is an advanced form of concentration. The subtle working of the mind is called meditation. It is more profound than concentration; but once concentration is accomplished fully, it becomes easy for a person to meditate.
Question: Will power does not seem to depend upon ourselves. Is it not given to some as a grace, as a blessing?
Answer: It does not depend on ourselves, but it is ourselves. It is grace and blessing no doubt, but at the same time, it is to be found in ourselves, it is our very being.
Question: Are will and consciousness fundamentally the same?
Answer: Yes. It is the two expressions of one thing, and this makes them distinct. This duality comes out of unity. It is God’s own Being that in expression is will, in repose, consciousness. In other words, in action it is will, in stillness it is consciousness, just as fundamentally sound and light are one and the same thing. In one condition, the same vibrations are audible; in another condition, the friction of vibrations produces light. That is why the nature and character of sound and light are one and the same. So are the nature and character of consciousness and will because fundamentally, both belong to God’s own Being.
Question: Can the will be so strong that it controls the human body so as to make it perfectly healthy? What then is death?
Answer: Death is not something different from will power. Death is will just the same. Even death is caused by will power. One thinks that one does not invite one’s death. Yes, one does not invite it, but the personal will becomes feeble, and the greater Will impresses the feeble will, turning it into itself, for the smaller will belongs to the greater Will.
Sufis call the smaller will ‘Qadr’ and the greater Will ‘Qaza.’ They attribute the greater Will to God, and the smaller will to man. It is the smaller will that becomes feeble, and the greater Will reflects its command upon it. It is this command which the smaller will, unconsciously, accepts. On the surface, a person may still want to live, but in the depths of his will, he has resigned himself to die. If he had not resigned himself, he would not die. He has resigned himself to death before his life is taken away from him.
Question: Is it then by putting the human will in harmony with the divine Will that the world redeemers are made?
Answer: Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real crucifixion. After that crucifixion follows resurrection; but in order to attain to it, one should first try to seek the pleasure of God. This is not so difficult when one begins to seek it; but when one does not begin to seek it, then one does not know what is the pleasure of God.
Then there is another way that the Sufis have always taught – to seek the pleasure of one’s fellow men, and that is the very thing that man refuses to do. He is quite willing to seek the pleasure of God, but if one asks him to seek the pleasure of his fellow men, he refuses. In any case, either in seeking the pleasure of his fellow men, or of God, in both he is seeking the pleasure of one and the same being. It all begins very often with resignation. After having once resigned and when he is tuned to the divine Will, then a man need not resign anymore, for then his wish becomes divine impulse.
Question: Is the power of will the same as the power of the soul?
Answer: Yes. It is the power of the soul and of the spirit, and the power of man and God – all.