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Sufi Wisdom on Optimism

Hazrat Inayat Khan

"Optimism represents the spontaneous flow of love; optimism also represents trust in love. This shows that it is love trusting love which is optimism. Pessimism comes from a disappointment, from a bad impression which continues to be a hindrance on the path. Optimism gives a hopeful attitude to life, while with pessimism one sees darkness on one's path."

The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan

Optimism comes from God, and pessimism is born of the human mind.

Optimism is the result of love.

"The pessimist stands in his own light, and defeats his own object here, and even more so in the hereafter, where the desire is the seed which is sown in the soil of the spirit world. Optimism is the water which rears the plant; but the intelligence at the same time gives that sunshine which helps the plant to flourish on the earth as well as in the spheres of the jinn."

"When optimism is exhausted, pessimism springs up."

"Man who is conscious of God Almighty, and who in the contemplation of God loses the consciousness of his own self, inherits the power of God, and it is in this power and belief that the spirit of optimism is born."

The psychological effect of optimism is such that it helps to bring success, for it is by the spirit of optimism that God has created the world. Optimism comes from God, and pessimism is born from the heart of man. By what little experience of life he has, man learns, 'This will not succeed, that will not do, this will not come right'. For the one who is optimistic it does not matter if it does not come right in the end; he will take his chance. For what is life? Life is an opportunity, and to the optimistic person this opportunity is a promise, while for the pessimistic person this opportunity is lost. It is not that the Creator makes man lose it, but it is man himself who fails to seize the opportunity.

"With all progress that humanity makes, idealism neglected will show at each step towards progress a great lack, and nothing can substitute that lack. If there is anything that fills the gap, if there is anything that makes a bridge between God and man, it is the ideal. Naturally optimism comes when there is an ideal. Pessimism vanishes when there is an ideal. A new hope springs, and that hope brings a new life, when there is an ideal. And when there is a hope, willpower naturally develops. There is no hope without desire, and there is no desire without a will. All things change in one's life as soon as one has placed before oneself an ideal."

"The result of spiritual attainment is so vast and great that words can never explain it, for the very reason that all that words can explain is limited, is learnt and taught, or bought and sold; but something that is higher than that cannot be put into words. With spiritual attainment, however, the first thing one begins to see in oneself is that thoughts such as "I cannot" or "It is impossible" or "I am helpless" or "It cannot be done", cease to exist. A soul naturally becomes positive and will say, "If it is difficult today, tomorrow it will be easy; if it cannot be done just now, it can be done later." This optimism is not only in the imagination, but it springs from the spirit; its root is in the spirit, and it strengthens man immensely in accomplishing things. The fear of death that everyone has, more or less, disappears, and when fear of death disappears there is nothing else that really frightens a man, for that is what frightens him most. Many say that they are not frightened of death, but they will not continue to say that when death is before them."

A man with optimism will help another who is drowning in the sea of fear and disappointment; while on the contrary, if someone who is ill or downhearted comes to a pessimistic person, that pessimist will pull him down and make him sink to the depths together with himself. On the side of the one is life, on the side of the other is death. The one climbs to the top of the mountain, the other descends to the depths of the earth. Is there any greater helper in sorrow or misfortune, when every situation in life seems dark, than the spirit of optimism which knows that all will be well? It is no exaggeration to say that the very spirit of God comes to man's rescue in the form of the optimistic spirit.

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well"

"It does not matter how hard a situation in life may be, however great the difficulties, they can all be surmounted; but a person's own pessimistic spirit weighs him down when he is already at a low ebb. Death is preferable to being weighed down in misery by a pessimistic spirit, and the greatest reward there can be in the world is the spirit of optimism, while the greatest punishment that can be given to man for his worst sin is pessimism."

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