A free culture has filled the world with differences, which leads to negative thoughts about others, but the art of living in such an environment is to transcend our differences and convert every difference into something positive, says MAULANA WAHIDUDDIN KHAN
Everyone likes a house surrounded by green trees. Verdant foliage beautifies our world. It is this idea that has brought farmhouses ― houses in gardens ― into being. But it is difficult to find anyone who is able to listen to the silent message of the trees or who tries to adopt the culture of the tree in his own life.
The culture of planting trees is widespread but adopting the culture of the tree is seldom in evidence. Trees beautify our homes but they do not beautify the person living in that house.
A tree lives in the same world as the one in which we live. But, there is a difference. People’s lives are marred by tension, malice, hate and violence, whereas all these negative features are totally missing from the tree culture. Man is like a walking tree, but he fails to follow the culture of the tree in his own life.
Trees share our world. But while, for man, this world has become a source of complaint, hate and stress, this same world has a different meaning for a tree. The beauty we see in the tree has come from this very world ― it has not been imported by it from outer space.
How was this possible for the tree? The reason is that the tree, by nature, has adopted the art of conversion: converting things to one’s own advantage.
What does the tree do? It takes minerals and water from the soil and converts them into food for itself. The tree, through the process of photosynthesis, takes light energy from the sun and converts it into chemical energy, which is then used to fuel its activities.
This is the result of the art of conversion. In doing so, every tree gives a silent message to man: Learn the art of real conversion and the whole world will become a means of spiritual food for you. Make the whole world a global source of your personality development. You will then be able to live in this world as a complaint-free person.
For example, if someone says something that goes against what you think, then turn it into a point for discussion. If somebody speaks ill of you, then make that a source of Self-discovery. If you are discriminated against, then draw the lesson from this instance that you need to develop in yourself that missing quality on the basis of which you have been discriminated against.
If someone provokes you, you should defuse the issue through unilateral avoidance. If someone makes you angry, you should calm yourself down by forgiving him. If a person differs from your point of view, then enter into a discussion with him and thus increase your own intellectual development.
There is a story which tells us that once someone hit Ashok with a stone. In return Ashok embraced the person and in this way he made the throwing of a stone a means to inculcate in him a positive quality, that is, love for humanity.
This story teaches us a lesson on how to adopt the culture of the tree in one’s own life. If you throw a stone at a tree, it will give you a fruit in return. This is the highest kind of positive behaviour. By adopting this positive behaviour, you can make the whole world turn in your favour, just as the tree does.
Everyone is free. This free culture has filled the world with differences. It is these differences that lead to negative thoughts about others. Then what is the art of living in such an environment? The art lies in transcending these differences and converting every difference into something positive.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, 95, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who has adopted peace as the mission of his life. Author of more than 200 books, he is known for his Gandhian views, and considers non-violence as the only method to achieve success.