It is said that every patient carries a doctor within. If so then every sinner must be carrying a saint within. Rose and thorn are the outcome of the same plant and come from the same root. Saint and sinner both come from one source, God, the Creator of the whole humanity. It is only that the beauty, fragrance and color in the root have expressed themselves in the rose, and have not expressed themselves in the thorn.
The difference between the plant and the human being is free will. A human being cannot make the excuse, I was born a thorn, how can I become a rose? Man has his free will, he is responsible if he is a thorn, and it is to his credit if he is a rose. Man must know that as the color, fragrance and beauty are hidden in the root, so goodness and beauty both spring from the same source. The ego (Nafs) is like the rose and also like the thorns which surround the rose. It takes the place of the thorns when it is not cultivated, and it becomes a rose when it is refined. And the way to make it refined is to humble oneself and to crush one’s desires. It is by the process of crucifixion that a person refines the ego. It is a hard grain, and it must be ground till it becomes a fine powder, out of which a paste is made.
When the ego remains in the condition of a thorn, more thorns come; and more and more, till it increases its thorns to such an extent that everyone who touches that person is dissatisfied. We all have friends to whom we should be most grateful if they would keep away from us. We love them, we like them, but we would be very glad if they would keep away. What is it? It is the thorns that hurt.
In what way do these thorns manifest? They manifest in the form of words, of actions, of desires, in the form of manner. Why does one feel annoyed with certain people in life, even before they have uttered one word? Because the thorn is pricking. Perhaps that person will say, ‘But I have not said anything, I have not done anything,’ but he does not know that he has thorns; there are perhaps so many that even before he utters one word, before he moves, his presence pricks us. It is a natural outcome of the ego. Either the ego develops thorns, or it develops into a rose; and when it develops into a rose, then everyone is attracted to it because of its beautiful petals, its delicacy, its fragrance, its color, its softness, its structure. Everything about it is attractive, appealing, and healing.