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Guarding the Dignity of Others

compiled by Rev. Mikail Davenport

Hindu: Bhagavad Gita 3.19-20 
"Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal in life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind. It was by such works that Janaka attained perfection; others, too, have followed this path."

Buddhist: Santideva, Guide to the Boddhisattva's Life 8.126-128 
"If, for my own sake, I cause harm to others, I shall be tormented in hellish realms. But if for the sake of others I cause harm to myself, I shall acquire all that is magnificent. By holding myself in high esteem, I shall find myself in an unpleasant realm, stupid & ugly. But should this attitude be shifted to others, I shall acquire honors in a joyful realm."

Zoroastrian: Zend Avesta, Yasna 60.5 
"May generosity triumph over meanness, may love triumph over contempt, may the true-spoken word triumph over the false-spoken word, may truth triumph over falsehood.

Taoism: Chuang Tzu, 23 
"He who can find no room for others lacks fellow feeling, and to him who lacks fellow feeling, all men are strangers." 

Judaism: Talmud, Sanhedrin, 27b 
"All men are responsible for one another." 

Christianity: I Corinthians 10.23-24 
"Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. Let no man seek his own good, but rather the good of his neighbor." 

Islam: The Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi 12.p.505 
"Happy is the person who finds fault with himself instead of finding fault with others." 

Gayan of Hazrat Inayat Khan 
"My thoughtful self! Reproach no one, hold a grudge against no one, bear malice against no one; be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite and kind to all." 
"He who makes room in his heart for others, will himself find accommodation everywhere."

Additional Material 
(compiled by Rev. Hamid Cecil Touchon) 

There is a humorous story told by Jallaludin Rumi on this subject;  

Four Muslims from India go to a mosque to say their daily prayers. They begin their prostrations and are deep in concentration and sincerely when the man who does the call to prayer walks in front of them. One of the Indians looks up at him and says, 'Oh, are you going to give the call to prayers now? Is it time?', thus breaking his concentration and invalidating the power of blessing of his prayer.  

The Muslim next to him says under his breath, 'You spoke. Now your prayers are invalid.'  

The one next to him says, Uncle, don't scold him! You have done the same thing. Correct yourself!'  

The fourth one says out loud, 'Praise be to God! I haven't made the same mistake as these three.'  

So all four prayers were interrupted, with the three fault finders more at fault than the first one.  

Rumi goes on to say, 'Blessed is one who sees his weakness, and blessed is one who, when he sees a flaw in someone else takes responsibility for it.  

Because, half of any person is wrong and weak and off the path. Half! And the other half is dancing and swimming and flying in the Invisible Joy.' 

From; 'The Sayings of Mohammad' by Abdullah Suhrawardy 

88. "O Apostle of God ! Inform me, if I stop with a man, and he does not entertain me, and he afterwards stops at my house, am I to entertain him or act with him as he did with me?" Muhammad said, "entertain him."  

91. Abuse nobody, and if a man abuse thee and lay open a vice which he knoweth in thee; then do not disclose one which thou knowest in him. 

'Let your fellow man's honor be as dear to you as your own (Ethics of the Fathers 2:15). Is it possible [to be as concerned about anothers person's honor as about one's own? Rather] this teaches that just as one looks out for his own honor, so should he look out for his fellow man's honor. Just as he desires that there should be no smear on his good name, so must he be anxious not to smear the reputation of his fellow man.'  

The Fathers according to Rabbi Nathan 15:1

Related Writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan 
Charactor-Building part iv 

A very important thing in character-building is to become conscious of one's relationship, obligation, and duty to each person in the world, and not to mix that link and connection which is established between oneself and another with a third person. One must consider that everything that is entrusted to one by any person in life is one's trust, and one must know that to prove true to the confidence of any person in the world is one's sacred obligation. In this manner a harmonious connection is established with everyone; and it is this harmony which attunes the soul to the infinite.  

It requires a great study of human nature, together with tact, to keep on harmonious terms with everyone in life. If one has an admiration for someone, or a grudge against someone, it is better to express it directly instead of mixing it up with many connections and relationships in the world. Friends apart, even in an acquaintanceship such consideration is necessary, to guard care, fully that thin thread that connects two souls in whatever relation or capacity.  

Dharma in the language of the Hindus means religion, but the literal meaning of this word is duty. It suggests that one's relation to every person in the world is one's religion; and the more conscientiously one follows it, the more keen one proves in following one's religion. To keep the secret of our friend, our acquaintance, even of someone with whom for a time one has been vexed, is the most sacred obligation. The one who thus realizes his religion would never consider it right to tell another of any harm or hurt he has received from his friend.  

It is in this way that self-denial is learned; not always by fasting and retreating into the wilderness. A man conscientious in his duty and in his obligations to his friends is more pious than someone sitting in solitude. The one in solitude does not serve God, he only helps himself by enjoying the pleasure of solitude; but the one who proves trustworthy to every soul he meets, and considers his relationships and connections, small or great, as something sacred, certainly observes the spiritual law of that religion which is the religion of all religions.  

Faults? Everyone has faults. Oneself, one's friend, and one's enemy are all subject to faults. The one who wishes that his own faults should not be disclosed must necessarily consider the same for the others he meets. The one who knows what the relation of friendship is between one soul and another, the tenderness of that connection, its delicacy, its beauty, and its sacredness, that one can enjoy life in its fullness, for he is living; and in this manner he must some day communicate with God. For it is the same bridge that connects two souls in the world which, once built, becomes the path to God. There is no greater virtue in this world than proving kind and trustworthy to one's friend, worthy of his confidence. The difference between the old soul and the young soul is to be found in this particular principle. The young soul only knows himself and what he wants, absorbed in his own pleasures and displeasures and obsessed by his ever-changing moods. The old soul regards his relation to every soul, he keenly observes his obligations towards everyone he knows in the world. He covers his wounds, if he happens to have any, from the sight of others, and endures all things in order to fulfil his duty to the best of his ability towards everyone in the world.  

Subtlety of nature is the sign of the intelligent. If a person takes the right direction he does good with this wealth of intelligence, but a person who is going in a wrong direction may abuse this great faculty. When someone who is subtle by nature is compared with the personality which is devoid of it, it is like the river and the mountain. The subtle personality is as pliable as running water, everything that comes before that personality is reflected in it as clearly as the image in the pure water. The rocklike personality, without subtlety, is like a mountain, it reflects nothing. Many admire plain speaking, but the reason is they lack understanding of fine subtlety. Can all things be put into words? Is there not anything more free, more subtle than spoken words? The person who can read between the lines makes a book out of one letter. Subtlety of perception and subtlety of expression are the signs of the wise. Wise and foolish are distinguished by fineness on the part of the one and rigidness on the part of the other. A person devoid of subtlety wants truth to be turned into a stone; but the subtle one will turn even a stone into truth.  

In order to acquire spiritual knowledge, receive inspiration, prepare one's heart for inner revelation, one must try to make one's mentality pliable like water rather than like a rock; for the further along the path of life's mystery a person will journey, the more subtle he will have to become in order to perceive and to express the mystery of life. God is a mystery, His knowledge is a mystery, life is a mystery, human nature is a mystery; in short, the depth of all knowledge is a mystery, even science or art.  

All that is more mysterious is more deep. What all the prophets and masters have done in all ages is to express that mystery in words, in deeds, in thoughts, in feelings; but most of the mystery is expressed by them in silence. For then the mystery is in its place. To bring the mystery down to earth is like pulling down a king on to the ground from his throne; but allowing the mystery to remain in its own place, in the silent spheres, is like giving homage to the King to whom all homage is due.  

Life's mysteries apart, in little things of everyday life the fewer words used, the more profitable it is. Do you think more words explain more? No, not at all. It is only nervousness on the part of those who wish to say a hundred words to explain a thing which can quite well be explained in two words; and on the part of the listener it is lack of intelligence when he wants a hundred words in order to understand something which can just as well be explained in one word. Many think that more words explain things better; but they do not know that mostly as many words as are spoken, so many veils are wrapped around the idea. In the end you go out by the same door through which you entered.  

Respect, consideration, reverence, kindness, compassion and sympathy, forgiveness and gratefulness, all these virtues can be best adorned by subtlety of expression. One need not dance in thanksgiving; one word of thanks is quite sufficient. One need not cry out loudly, 'I sympathize with you, my dear friend!' One need not play drums and say, 'I have forgiven somebody!' Such things are fine, subtle; they are to be felt; no noise can express them. Noise only spoils their beauty and takes from their value. In spiritual ideas and thoughts subtlety is more needed that in anything else. If a spiritual person were to bring his realizations into the market-place, and dispute with everyone that came along about his beliefs and disbeliefs, where would he end?  

What makes a spiritual person harmonize with all people in the world? The key to the art of conciliation which a spiritual person possesses is subtlety both in perception and expression. Is it lack of frankness, is it hypocrisy to be subtle? Not in the least. There are many people who are outspoken, always ready to tell the truth in a way which is like hitting another person on the head, and who proudly support their frankness by saying, 'I do not mind if it makes anybody sorry or angry, I only tell the truth.' If the truth is as hard as a hammer may truth never be spoken, may no one in the world follow such a truth!  

Then where is that truth which is peace-giving, which is healing, which is comforting to every heart and soul, that truth which uplifts the soul, which is creative of harmony and beauty, where is that truth born? That truth is born in subtlety of intelligence in thought, speech, and action, of fineness which brings pleasure, comfort, beauty, harmony, and peace.