Page:Alchemy of Happiness - Field.djvu/12

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8
PREFACE

mystic, though his mysticism was strongly balanced by common sense. He had, as he tells us in his Confessions, experienced "conversion"; God had arrested him "on the edge of the fire," and thenceforth what Browning says of the French poet, René Gentilhomme, was true of him:

 Human praises scare
Rather than soothe ears all a-tingle yet
With tones few hear and live, and none forget.

In the same work he tells us that one of his besetting weaknesses had been the craving for applause, and in his Ihya-ul-ulum ("Revival of the Religious Sciences") he devotes a long chapter to the dangers involved in a love of notoriety and the cure for it.

After his conversion he retired into religious seclusion for eleven years at Damascus (a corner of the mosque there still bears his name—"The Ghazzali Corner") and Jerusalem, where he gave himself up to intense and prolonged meditation. But he was too noble a character to concentrate himself entirely on his own soul and its eternal prospects. The requests of his children—and other family affairs of which we have no exact information—caused him to return home. Besides this, the continued progress of the Ismailians (connected with the famous Assassins), the spread of irreligious doctrines and the increasing