Advice About Sincerity
This article covers sincerity.
O my brothers of the Hereafter!
You should know-and you do know-that in this world sincerity, is the most important principle in works pertaining to the Hereafter in particular; it is the greatest strength, and the most acceptable intercessor, and the firmest point of support, and the shortest way to reality, and the most acceptable prayer, and the most wondrous means of achieving one’s goal, and the highest quality, and the purest worship
There are many obstacles before great works of good. Satans put up a powerful struggle against those who assist those works. One has to rely on the strength of sincerity in the face of these obstacles and Satans. You should avoid things, which harm sincerity the same, as you avoid snakes and scorpions. Do not let egotism and the soul deceive you! You should take as your guide the following rules, in order to gain sincerity and preserve it:
Your First Rule
You should seek Divine pleasure in your actions. If Almighty God is pleased, it is of no importance even should the whole world be displeased. If He accepts an action and everyone else rejects it, it has no effect. Once His pleasure has been gained and He has accepted an action, even if you do not ask it of Him, should He wish it and His wisdom requires it, He will make others accept it. He will make them consent to it too. For this reason, the sole aim in this service should be the direct seeking of Divine pleasure.
Your Second Rule
This is not to criticize your brothers who are employed in this service of spiritual healing, and not to excite their envy by displaying superior virtues. For just as one of man’s hands cannot compete with the other, neither can one of his eyes criticize the other, nor his tongue object to his ear, nor his heart see his spirit’s faults. Each of his members completes the deficiencies of the others, veils their faults, assists their needs, and helps them out in their duties. Otherwise man’s life would be extinguished, his spirit flee, and his body be dispersed.
Similarly, the components of machinery in a factory cannot compete with one another in rivalry, take precedence over each other, or dominate each other. They cannot spy out one another’s faults and criticize each other, destroy the other’s eagerness for work, and cause them to become idle. They rather assist each other’s motions with all their capacity in order to achieve the common goal; they march towards the aim of their creation in true solidarity and unity. Should even the slightest aggression or desire to dominate interfere, it would throw the factory into confusion, causing it to be without product or result. Then the factory’s owner would demolish the factory entirely.
Your Third Rule
You should know that all your strength lies in sincerity and truth. Yes, strength lies in truth and sincerity. Even those who are wrong gain strength from their sincerity in their wrongdoing. Evidence that strength lies in truth and sincerity is this service of ours. A small amount of sincerity in our work proves this claim and is evidence for itself.
Your Fourth Rule
This is to imagine your brothers’ virtues and merits in your own selves, and to thankfully take pride at their glory.
We shall briefly explain two or three of the truly numerous things that destroy sincerity and drive one to hypocrisy.
Rivalry in regard to material advantages slowly destroys sincerity. It is also detrimental to the results of our service. So too it causes the material benefits to be lost. This nation has always nurtured respect for those who work for reality and the Hereafter, and assisted them. With the intention of actively sharing in their genuine sincerity and in the works they carry out devotedly, it has always showed respect by assisting them with material benefits like alms and gifts so that they should not become preoccupied with securing their material needs and wasting their time. But this assistance and benefit may not be sought; it is given. It may not even be sought through the tongue of disposition by desiring it with the heart or expecting it. It should rather be given when unexpected; otherwise sincerity will be harmed.
This is to flatter the ego and give high status to the evil-commanding soul through attracting attention to oneself and public acclaim, driven by the desire for fame, renown, and position. This is a serious spiritual sickness, so too it opens the door to the hypocrisy and self-centeredness called ‘the hidden association of partners with God,’ and damages sincerity.
This is fear and hypocrisy.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi