The other day I lectured in Paris and after my lecture a very able man came to me and said, 'Have you got a scheme?' I said, 'What scheme?' 'Of bettering conditions.'
I replied that I had not made such a scheme, and he said, 'I have a scheme, I will show it to you'. He opened his box and brought out a very large paper with mathematics on it and showed it to me saying, 'This is the economic scheme that will make the condition of the world better: everyone will have the same share'.
I said, 'We should practice that economic scheme first on tuning our piano: instead of saying D, E, F, we should tune them all to one note and play that music and see how interesting that would be -- all sounding the same, no individuality, no distinction, nothing.' And I added, 'Economy is not a plan for construction, but it is a plan for destruction. It is economics which have brought us to destruction. It is the heart quality, it is the spiritual outlook which will change the world'.
Very often people coming to hear me say afterwards, 'Yes, all you say is very interesting, very beautiful, and I wish too that the world was changed. But how many think like you? How can you do it? How can it be done?'.
They come with that pessimistic remark, and I tell them, 'One person comes into a country with a little cold or influenza and it spreads. If such a bad thing can spread, can not an elevated thought of love, kindness and goodwill towards all men spread? See then that there are finer germs, germs of goodwill, of love, kindness, and feeling, germs of brotherhood, of the desire for spiritual evolution, which can have greater results than the other ones. If we all have that optimistic view, if we all work in our little way, we can accomplish a great deal'.
Many have been cross with God for having sent any misery in their lives -- but we always get such experiences! Becoming cross one says, 'Why, this is not just', or 'This is not right', and 'How could God who is just and good allow unjust things to happen?' But our sight is so limited that our conception of right and wrong and good and evil is only for us -- not according to God's plan. It is true that, as long as we see it as such, it is so for us and for those who look at it from our point of view, but when it comes to God the whole dimension is changed, the whole point of view is changed.
The Sufi therefore, finds the only way out of the distress of life ... He rises above it, taking all things as they come, patiently. He does not mind how he is treated. His principle is to do his best, and in that is his satisfaction. Instead of depending on another person to be kind to him, the Sufi thinks if he were kind to another person, that is sufficient. Every wise man in the long run through life will find in this principle the solution of happiness. For we cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves.
Excerpted from "Sangatha II, Path To Perfection" (more here and here).
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the example of applying economics to music? Can you share a personal story around infectious goodwill? What helps you to keep doing your best regardless of how you are treated?