This is a subject of very great interest for the person who searches in the path of Truth, because this subject makes a way toward the ultimate Truth. No one can point out what it is in a person that attracts sympathy and what it is in a person that attracts antipathy, although many will give a thousand reasons and out of those reasons have come the morals that we know. Yet never in the history of the world has it been perfectly given as a science, that certain things attract antipathy and certain things attract sympathy. Yes, this is true, that a person who attracts sympathy, attracts the sympathy of the majority, but not of all. We see this, for instance, in the lives of the prophets, in the lives of saints and sages, the powerful ones who could attract thousands and yet millions would not be attracted. No doubt a person who attracts antipathy may attract antipathy from a certain number of people, but there may be still some whose sympathy they will attract. Therefore, the attributes of the person who attracts sympathy and the defects of the person who attracts antipathy aside, we must discover what the causes are of individuals attracting sympathy and antipathy.
There is an old saying, and that saying has become faded as time has passed and materialism has grown. That saying was about the belief in what is called blood relationship. In many legends and stories, we read that people, not knowing one another, have felt attracted, and in the end, they have found that there was a blood relationship. Only a few months ago I was interested in an example. A Swedish person told me that he was visiting England and was going about in different places to see the country. There was a person following him, who came up to him and said, “Hello, Jack.” He turned back. The man said, “How do you do?” This Swedish man had never before seen him. The man said, “Excuse me, I thought you were my cousin. What is your name?” When he told his name, certainly it was the same name, the name of this man’s cousin, but he was not the cousin. When they talked together, they found out that perhaps more than three hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, this family used to live in England, and it was the same line of the family. What does it mean? It signifies that such a material thing as human blood can also have an attraction. However, blood relation does not always lead to such attraction; there are reasons beyond this for attracting sympathy or antipathy, and that makes it different.
There is a romantic story of Rustan, the great wrestler of Persia. He belonged to the court of the great king, the Shah of Persia, who was afraid of him. The Shah of Persia wanted to prepare someone to wrestle and to fight with Rustan, and to conquer him, but the Shah could not find someone to prepare. Before Rustan came to his lands, after having gone for a journey, the Shah of Persia took the son of Rustan, whom Rustan did not know, because he had been born in Rustan’s absence. He prepared him, putting him under the training of different teachers, doing everything to make this son of Rustan so great that he could conquer Rustan. Then Rustan was called with an order that he must come at once, that there was a great match to take place at the palace of the Shah. As soon as Rustan arrived the people of the Shah went to receive him, bringing him directly to the court. No one had told the son that he was to fight with his father. Therefore, both in their great strength began to fight. In the end Rustan won. The custom of the ancient fights was that the person who had won would kill the person who had been defeated if they did not accept defeat. An honorable fighter would not accept defeat, choosing to die rather than accept it. After the dagger was put in his breast the son of Rustan said, “Well, you have conquered me, but remember that my father will conquer you. Do not think therefore that you are safe. My father certainly will kill you.” “What is the name of your father?” said Rustan. He said, “Rustan” and died. This was such a blow to Rustan that he passed all his life grieving over his son. In the history of Persia in the Shahnameh, this story stands shining.
However, when we come to that attraction, which is above blood, that attraction, that sympathy or antipathy, is greater because we not only feel it, but we know it. No sooner does the glance meet than an awakened person feels whether someone will be their friend or whether they will be their enemy.
When a person says, “Yes, they are my acquaintance, they are my servant, they are my friend, they are my relation, yet I do not know why. I have to see them.” Certainly, that person is not yet awakened, they are going on in their sleep. The person who knows need not test the other. They see the person and they know. To talk with a person, or to judge their physiognomy and to examine their head by phrenology, these are merely games before the person, because they all belong to the head. The head intellectually sees what is wrong with a person in their form, in what is against or for them. It does not mean that this is not important. It is most important to know the art of physiognomy also, but that which brings sympathy or antipathy is the current that runs from one heart to another. Are they cross-currents, or are they sympathetic currents? It is simple and at the same time difficult, but very logical, that the currents running across certainly will create antipathy and the currents not running across will unite with one another.
Now there is the question of why sometimes a very good person is drawn to a person who is quite contrary to their character, or why an evil person is attracted to a person who is quite contrary to their character. This can be seen in another way: neither the good person nor the evil person is perfect in themself, and life is seeking continually after perfection. Therefore, perfection is adding all that is lacking there, good and bad. It is therefore natural that sometimes there is sympathy, and at the same time there is a great difference in the qualities in the two persons.
Then there is another law: the wise will attract the wise and the wise will attract the foolish, but there will be a cross-current running between the wise and the semi-wise. The reason is that the semi-wise person is falsely wise. Naturally the foolish person or the person void of wisdom is open to receive wisdom. The person who is void of wisdom will be filled with wisdom; therefore, the wise person has their mission there. For the semi-wise, there is no opening. They cannot accept the wisdom, there is something that blocks the way.
Another law is that an element attracts the same element, or an element attracts the contrary element. For instance, if there are two fires burning at a distance, the tendency will be for them to come closer and become one. The air, however, is quite a different element. The fire attracts it and the fire is drawn to it.
There is also another way of looking at it. The more a person is sympathetic, the more they attract sympathy, for naturally sympathy attracts sympathy. A person who has antipathy will naturally attract antipathy, because antipathy has the power to attract the same element. When we go deeper in it, we find that sympathy is the greatest form of love, for sympathy is the purest form of love. All tenderness, generosity, gentleness, forgiveness, tolerance—it is sympathy that is their origin. Besides, as I have always said, there are two ways; there is the way of the hammer, and there is the way of the water.
One person acts as a hammer. If a rock stands in their way, then they will break it in order to make their way. The other person acts like water. The water surrounds the rock and rises on the top of it, rising above the rock. Sympathy therefore surrounds; antipathy hits. It is a weakness to be drawn by sympathy and to return antipathy. The great power is to spread your sympathy independently of the sympathy of another, and to check that spirit of antipathy that is in people and that remains as the poison in the teeth of the snake.
Question: Can a person develop sympathy in a nature in which it does not exist?
Answer: There is somewhere in a person’s nature sympathy, either it is buried or it is as a seedling. The sympathy that is buried must be dug out. The sympathy that is like a seedling must be watered to rear it as a plant. For me, if there is any truth anywhere, it is to be found in this one thing that is perceptible as radiance, which is all-pervading, as the energy is found in the electric wire. How true it is that without your speaking one word, without your saying one thing, without your having done anything, your sympathy speaks aloud, your antipathy speaks aloud. If there is any evidence of Truth anywhere to be found, it is to be found in sympathy.
Question: Is hate strength or weakness?
Answer: I should say it is naturally a weakness.
Question: Antipathy might be drawn out of someone in certain surroundings. In other surroundings it might not be drawn out. Does it depend upon the people who surround a person?
Answer: In every case it cannot be called other than weakness for it is lack of self-control. It is a lack of fuller understanding. It is lack of self-discipline that allows antipathy to manifest. A person who has wakened in their soul, in them antipathy must not even be found. It must not even be traced there, because antipathy against a friend, acquaintance, stranger, even against a foe, it is against yourself. Yes, if a person says, “I have a greater sympathy with one person and less sympathy with another,” that is all right, for that is natural. But if a person says, “I have sympathy for one and antipathy for another,” that is like saying, “I have sympathy for my right hand and antipathy for my left hand.” Besides, a person who searches after Truth, a person who seeks after God, who does not see the art of the Divine Being in creation, then what is their worship? How do they understand God? However pious a person may be, however spiritual they may seem to be, if they say “I do not love human beings, I love God,” I will say that their claim is a false claim. They cannot love God if they do not love the Divine creation. It is just like a lover saying, “O, beloved, I like you so much but I do not like to look at your face.”
December 27, 1924
CW 1924, Vol. II, pp. 814-822.