Teachings Teachings
Winged Heart

Commentaries on the “Silver Rules” of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan

by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

Silver Rule 4

My conscientious self, be no more to anyone than you are expected to be.

This might take us aback because we feel that it seems stingy to be only what we are expected to be. We might feel we should exceed others’ expectations. And yet it is important to reflect on our motivation. What drives our need to be more than we are expected to be? We believe our intentions to be good—but is that what is really wanted, what is really needed? Does our gesture really have to do with the other person, or does it have to do more with what we wish to project? There are many causes concerned with saving the world and saving souls, and yet many such causes pay little heed to what the people they propose to save really want and need. This is presumption, well intended though it may be. This rule asks us to pause and seek to know from the other what is wanted, and only then, if one can help, to help.

Call to mind a situation where you’ve felt pressured and jostled by someone who, in their heart-of-hearts, perhaps genuinely intended to be of service, but didn’t know how and as a result caused more harm than good.

Then switch positions and put yourself into the shoes of someone in your life who might not be ready for what you’re offering them. Consider a different stance so as not to withdraw your sympathy, but to care in a different way, to introduce in your attitude and behavior a note of independence and patience—a readiness to be of service when the opportunity arises but with no compulsive need to do anything.

My conscientious self, be no more to anyone than you are expected to be.