Two aspects of Sufi psychology are the law of attraction and repulsion and the science of magnetism. The law of attraction and repulsion is to be considered from two different points of view. The first view is that similarity causes attraction and repulsion. As it is said, “Like attracts like.” A learned person is attracted to a learned person, an illiterate person is attracted to an illiterate person; a good person is naturally attracted to a good person; and a wicked person is attracted to a wicked person. The molecules of thought and of feeling attract the same kind of molecules, and therefore there is always an affinity among the wise and the foolish, among the good and the wicked.
Now we come to another point of view, that opposites attract each other. The foolish person is attracted by the wise; the wicked person is attracted by the good. This occurs because the quality that one person is missing can be found in the other. The negative person is attracted to the positive person, because in the positive personality the negative person finds what they are lacking. Very often we find friendship and relationship among the opposite natures. They get along in life very well because of the exchange that balances the lives of the two persons.
Looking at this subject from the third point of view, a wise person is not happy with the half-wise; they prefer a foolish person to the half-wise. A person with a positive nature prefers a person with a negative nature, but not one with a half-positive nature, because the person who stands in the midst of the two extreme poles annoys both. The half-wise will not attract the foolish person enough and will annoy the wise. The strong person naturally feels a sympathy with the weak person but not with the person who is half- strong. The person who is half-strong annoys them, and the weak person also dislikes the person who is half-strong.
There is, yet, a fourth point of view in the law of attraction and repulsion. As in music, two notes can sometimes be harmonized by putting in a third note, forming them into a chord. Where there is a lack of harmony between two people, let a third person who harmonizes with one or the other come in at that time, and the atmosphere will at once be changed. Sometimes the third person will bring about understanding between the two people who cannot understand each other. This third person often brings sympathy among people who hate each other just by forming a complete chord. Therefore, the law of attraction and repulsion works according to the law of harmony in musical notes.
There are persons whose qualities are definitely fixed and there are others whose qualities remain unfixed. At one moment a person of the unfixed sort is positive, at another moment negative. At one moment they act wisely, at another time foolishly. At one moment this person proves to be good, at another moment the same person proves to be wicked. This is a mixed-up condition of personality that is a sign of imperfection. Such a person one moment will attract someone, the next day they will repel the same person; or they will be attracted to someone one moment, and the next moment they will feel repulsion to the same person. This only means that the personality is not yet stabilized. In other words, the personality has not yet developed, because the developed personality has its distinct qualities; therefore, the life of a person who has developed their personality becomes well balanced in connection with others.
Now coming to the question of magnetism. There is no soul who does not yearn to possess some magnetism, and at the same time there is no person who does not possess some magnetism. It is only that one person has their magnetism at work while the magnetism of the other person has been buried. The person who is conscious of their magnetism develops it, while the person who is unconscious of it allows it to become buried. It becomes buried under their own ignorance. The phenomenon of magnetism depends upon self-confidence. When a person has great magnetism but no self-confidence, they will not be able to maintain magnetism. Also, a person may increase magnetism by self-confidence and may lose it by losing self-confidence. A person who meets with misfortune in life, who finds out their own errors, who feels their own weaknesses, and who is conscious of their mistakes, naturally loses self-confidence. With the loss of self-confidence, they lose magnetism.
There is a story of a king. Once a slave looked in his eyes boldly when answering a question, and the king went into his palace and abandoned his kingship. He said, “I see by the very fact that the slave dared to look at me boldly that I have lost that power of magnetism by which I control my subjects. I no longer maintain it. I am no longer fit to be a king.” A person may have great magnetism and power and may lose it in one moment. It is the same with all things. To gain something worthwhile takes a long time and a great effort, but you may lose it in one moment.
There are four aspects of magnetism: physical magnetism, mental magnetism, moral magnetism, and spiritual magnetism. Physical magnetism is the outcome of freshness, of purity, of energy. It belongs to youth, it depends upon the circulation of the blood, upon the regular rhythm of pulsation. It belongs to the preservation of physical energy. It is maintained by the sun, by the air, by the food you eat, by the comfort you experience, by the beautiful surroundings you dwell in. Its manifestation is in form, in feature, in movement, in action. This magnetism does not endure. As time goes, the magnetism fades away like the radiance of the rose. Nevertheless, the person who maintains it, keeps it longer than the person who allows it to be wasted.
The next aspect of magnetism is mental magnetism. Intelligence, quick thinking, clear memory, wit, a gift of speech, all these show the sign of mental magnetism. By learning, by reading, by writing, by talking, by discussing, by advising, by reciting, a person can show a great magnetism, because this magnetism belongs to the living mind. You will see it in the college, at the university, in the club, in the cabinet. The one who wins the game is the bright one who has wit, who thinks quickly, who has clear thought, who has imagination, who understands readily, and who speaks thoughtfully. Imagine, everyone speaks, and yet, among a hundred people, you can hardly find one who speaks thoughtfully. Ninety-nine out of a hundred speak automatically. They are sorry after they have said something, but before saying it they never think about it.
The third aspect of magnetism is moral magnetism. Its root is sympathy, its branches are kind acts, its leaves kind words, its flowers loving deeds. A person cannot be loving and at the same time unsympathetic. Very often you will see a person who has not possessed the least magnetism. Yet after one blow has fallen upon them, they become magnetic, because what was keeping their heart congested was broken by this blow. The congestion breaks and the person becomes most sympathetic after that.
No one attracts to themself more than a loving soul who is outgoing, who pours out, so to speak, their heart to those they meet. A person cannot pretend to be so. No politeness, no refined manners, no loving words can prove a person different from what their heart is. It is a living phenomenon, and it depends on a loving heart. This magnetism has no end to it. It becomes greater and greater without any limit, and when it is great it is healing. Not only human beings are attracted, but also the animals are attracted to the loving person. Even plants feel the sympathy.
How little it takes for a person to change from being a loving person to an embittered personality! It is just like sweet milk turning sour. A person came to me and said, “I was very interested in what you said about a loving, a kind, a sympathetic person. I was also once loving and kind, but I have lost it. I cannot find it any more.” I said, “There must be a reason. You may be looking for water and in order to find water you began to dig and, instead of finding water you found mud. All your enthusiasm for finding water has been lost, because instead of water you have found mud. If you had had patience and if you had persevered still more, you would have found water beneath the mud. It is only that you did not persevere enough.”
There is a selfish love that is the shadow of love. It is not love. The true love is to forget oneself. As an Indian poet says, “The first lesson in the school of love that I learned was, ‘I am not.’” When a person says, “If you will be kind, I will be kind to you. If you will assist me, I will help you.” It is like saying, “If you will give me twenty cents, I will give you twenty-five.” It is a business of love. Love knows no taking, it knows giving. Is love an amusement, a pastime, a merriment, a gaiety? No. It is devotion, it is selflessness. It is sacrifice. It is the regard for the pleasure and displeasure of those we love.
The fourth aspect of magnetism is spiritual magnetism. When a person has found the soul within, when they have become conscious of the ocean of the spirit, they begin to live again because they are born again. The magnetism of this person becomes still greater and lasts much longer, for it gives life, not only to living beings but also to objects. The atmosphere of a spiritual person is flourishing, growing, prospering. The reason for this is that a spiritual soul has the same quality that the sun has. The sun gives light and brightness, and at the same time it helps the plants to grow and minds to think and hearts to be beloved. So, the spiritual soul, like the sun, helps human beings to develop, to grow, to flourish, to prosper.
A spiritual personality need not heal. The presence of the spiritually-conscious person is healing. They need not correct a person, “You must act so, you must be so.” Their presence is correction. Those who really evolve spiritually need not teach much; their voice, their word, their expression, their atmosphere is teaching, uplifting, inspiring, illuminating. They need not make laws and rules and regulations; they create in the hearts of those around laws and regulations suitable to their own lives. The Prophet Daniel went into the cave on the mountain. There were lions in the cave, and the lions were tamed by his presence. This is the sign of the spiritual personality. To tame a lion is not so difficult as to tame human beings—they are still worse to tame, still more difficult to tame. The spiritual personality that can disarm those on the warpath shows spiritual magnetism and its power.
Now for the conclusion. Is it necessary for us to develop magnetism? I should think it is very selfish. It is right for us to understand it, but to grow spiritually is our object, and not to seek magnetism and power. It comes by itself. If we grow spiritually in order to gain magnetism and power, it only makes us selfish. There is nothing that can be such a great hindrance on the spiritual path as the thought of self. The knowledge of magnetism must help us to understand life better; the knowledge of attraction and repulsion must give us insight into life. At the same time, we must grow naturally without any goal of attaining this power or that power. We must grow because we wish to grow, because we like to grow, and we must let all things come naturally as they come. The less we regard them the more we are enriched by them. In this way life becomes a blessing.
March 23, 1926
CW 1926 Vol. II, pp. 72-81.