PART II - THE DEEPER SIDE OF LIFE
The Deeper Side of Life
LIFE CAN be looked at from two points of view: from the point of view which sees the outline and from the point of view which sees the detail. With the point of view by which one sees the general outline of life one soars upwards continually and one attains to the knowledge of life’s synthesis. This is the view of life of the one who is looking from the top of a high mountain. As to the one who sees into life’s details, naturally his horizon becomes smaller, his outlook narrower. He makes the analysis of life and so becomes acquainted with the details of life.
The former point of view gives insight into a wider horizon and lifts the consciousness to a higher realization, whereas the latter point of view gives knowledge in the details of life, which one calls learning. Therefore learning is one thing, knowing is another thing. Learning without knowing is incomplete knowledge, knowing without learning is not satisfactory either. The knower can best explain his knowledge if he has learning.
The mystics of all ages have raised their consciousness to view the outline of life in the wide horizon and have felt upliftment being raised high above all the miseries of life. Those who have ever reached that stage of consciousness have only reached it by right meditation under the guidance of masters of spiritual culture.
In these modern times people consider an intellectual life or a life of manual labour a normal life. A practical man is considered a man of common sense, and common sense reaches no further than its limited boundaries. A practical man is the one who knows best how to guard his material interests in the continual struggle of life. Common sense sees no further than it sees. Many call it positivism only to believe in all that proves to be realistic to our higher senses and in all that can be perceived, felt and experienced by our mind.
For this reason, in spite of great and unceasing progress in the material world, we have closed the doors to another world of progress, a progress that can only be made by opening the doors to the deeper side of life. Man, by his form and features, by his physical construction, looks at one side and covers the other side with his own self. Man sees before him, but not behind him. As he is made so by nature and it happens to be his nature, he therefore cannot look into the deeper side while absorbed in the life on the surface.
Since there is faith these days, but absence of inner life, there seems to be a greater need of the inner life than there has ever been before. It is the head quality which is developed and it is the heart quality which needs to be developed in order to bring balance in life. Life, so balanced, is then prepared for the inner culture or spiritual life. Many consider sentiment something quite unimportant, something that should be kept aside from the central theme of life to-day which is intellectuality. No one who has given a thought to the deeper side of life will deny for one moment the power and inspiration that manifest themselves once the heart is kindled. A person with heart quality need not be simple, he need not discard intellect; only, the heart quality produces that perfume in the intellect which is as fragrance in a flower. Morals learned from logic are dry morals, a fruit without juice, a flower without fragrance. It is the heart quality that as a course of nature produces virtues which no one can teach; a loving person, a person with sympathy in his heart, teaches morals through himself. It is the balance of mind and heart, or the balance of thought and feeling that makes the ground ready for sowing the seed of the inner life.
There are three steps which one must take in order to come to spiritual life.
The first step is knowledge of the nature and character of man. A seeker takes his first step in the path of truth when he is able to understand his fellow-man fully and when he is able to find the solution to his problems.
The next step is to have insight into the nature of things and beings, to understand cause and effect and to be able to find the cause of the cause and the effect of the effect, to be able to see the reason of the reason and the logic of the logic. When a person is able to see the good of the bad and the bad side of the good, and when he is able to see the wrong side of the right and the right of the wrong, then he has taken the next step on the spiritual path.
The third step is to rise above the pains and pleasures of life, to be in the world and not of the world, to live and not to live at the same time. Such a one becomes a living dead person, in other words: a dead person living for ever. Immortality is not to be sought in the hereafter; if it is ever gained it is gained in one’s lifetime. In this third stage of development one is able to attain happiness, power, knowledge, life and peace within oneself, independently of all things outside.
The spiritual knowledge which has always been sought by the wakened souls will always be sought by them. In ancient times the seekers looked for a guide on this path, the guide who initiated them into the mysteries of the deeper side of life, and once the secret was revealed it no longer remained a mystery for them. The man who is not yet awakened to the inner side of life has not experienced life fully. He has only seen one side of life -perhaps the more interesting side, but the less real. The one who has experienced both sides of life, the outer and the inner, has certainly fulfilled the purpose of his life on earth.
Man the Seed of God
THERE ARE various ideas and beliefs as to the relation between God and man, and it is natural that there should be various beliefs, for every man has his own conception-his own conception of God. There is no comparison between God and man. The reason is that man, being limited, can be compared with another being; God, being perfect, is beyond comparison. The prophets and masters in all ages have tried their best to give man some idea of God’s Being, but this has always been difficult, for it is impossible to define God in words; it is like trying to put the ocean into a bottle. However large a bottle, it can never accommodate the ocean. The words that we use in our everyday language are the names of limited forms, and for our convenience we give a name to God – the one who is above name and form. If there is any possibility of understanding God and His Being-it is only possible by finding the relation between man and God.
Why is this lecture called “Man the seed of God”? Because it is this picture which gives to some extent that idea of the relationship which exists between man and God. There is a root, there is a stem, there are branches and there are leaves – there comes a flower. But in the heart of the flower there is something which tells the history of the whole plant. One might say that it is for the flower that the plant was purposed, but really speaking it is the seed coming into the heart of the flower which continues the species of the plant. It is that seed which is the secret of the plant, which is the source and the goal of that plant. It is that seed which was the beginning; it is from out of that seed that the root came, that the seedling came out – and so it became a plant. Then that seed disappeared, but after the coming of the leaves and branches and the flowers it appeared again. It appeared again-not as one seed but as several seeds, in multiplicity, and yet it is the same, and it is this seed which told us the story that first was the seed, and then the whole plant appeared. Towards what goal? For what result? In order to come again as the result of the whole plant.
The man of simple belief, the man who believes only in his particular idea -for him there is no relation between God and man. But the man who wishes to understand the relation between man and God – for him the proof of this argument is to be found in everything. It is this idea which is spoken of in the Bible in the words where it is said, “In Our image We have created man”. If the seed out of which the plant came and which appeared in the result had said, “Out of my own image I have created the seed which will come forth from the heart of the flower”, it would have been the same thing. Only that seed out of which the plant came could have said, “I shall appear in plurality, although in the beginning I am one grain”.
It is this idea again which tells us the reason why it is said, “We have created man in Our image “, when the whole of manifestation, the whole of creation has come from God. The leaf, the branch, the stem – all have come out of the seed, but they are not the image of the seed. The image of the seed is the seed itself; and not only this, but the essence of the seed is in the seed. No doubt there is some energy, some power, some colour, some fragrance in the flower, in the leaves and in the stem, but at the same time all properties that are in the stem, flower, petal and leaves are to be found in the grain. This shows us the result: that man is the culmination of the whole creation, and in him the whole universe is manifested. The mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom are all to be found in the being, in the spirit of man. It not only means that the different properties such as mineral and vegetable are to be found in the physical body that is made for man, but also his mind and his heart show all the different qualities.
The heart is just like a fertile soil or a barren desert: it shows love or lack of love, the productive faculty or destructiveness. There are different kinds of stones; there are precious stones and there are pebbles and rocks, and so among human hearts there is a still greater variety. Think of those whose thoughts, whose feelings have proved to be more precious than anything the world can offer: the poets, the artists, the inventors, the thinkers, the philosophers, and then the servants of humanity, the inspirers of man, the benefactors of mankind. No wealth, no precious stone, whether diamond or ruby, can be compared with these, and yet it is the same quality. Then there are rocklike hearts: one may knock against them and break oneself – yet they will not move. There is a waxlike quality in the heart and there is the quality of the stone; there are melting hearts, and hearts which will never melt.
Is there anything in nature which is not to be found in man? Has he not in his feelings, in his thoughts, in his qualities the picture of running water, a picture of a fertile soil and a picture of fruitful trees? Is there not in the heart of man the picture of plants, of fragrant flowers? The flowers that come from the human heart live longer, their fragrance will spread throughout the whole world, and their colour will be seen by all people. How delicious are the fruits that human hearts can bear; they immortalize souls and lift them up!
There are other mentalities wherein nothing springs up except the desire to hurt and harm their fellow-men, thus producing the fruits and flowers of poison, hurting others by thought, speech or action – and they can hurt more than thorns. There are some whose feelings, whose thoughts are like gold and silver and there are others whose thoughts are just like iron and steel. The variety that one can see in human nature is so vast that all the objects one can get from this earth are too small in number if compared with it.
Does man show in his nature, in his qualities, in his body, in his thought and feeling only the heritage of this earth? No, he also shows that of heaven. Man has the influence of the planets, he has the influences of the moon, of the sun, of heat and cold, of air, water and fire: of all the different elements which make this whole cosmic system. All these elements are to be found in his thoughts, in his feelings, in his body. One can find a person with warmth, representing fire; another person is cold, he represents water. There are human beings who in their thought, in their feeling represent the air element; their quickness, their restlesness show the air element in them.
Does not man represent the sun and moon in his positive and negative character, and does not duality of sex show this? Not only this, but in every man and in every woman there is the sun quality and there is the moon quality, and it is these two opposite qualities which give balance to the character of man. When one quality is most predominant, and the other not to be found, then balance is lacking somewhere.
If one goes still further in the thought of mysticism one will find that not only all the visible manifestation is to be found in man, but also all that is invisible. If angels or fairies or ghosts or elementals – anything that man has imagined can be found anywhere, it is in human nature. In all times one finds pictures of angels in the image of man.
If all that exists in the world and in heaven is to be found in man, then what remains? God Himself has said in the scriptures, “I have made man in My own image”. In other words, “If you wish to see Me, I am to be found in man”. How thoughtless on the part of the one who, absorbed in his high ideals, begins to condemn man, to look down upon man, however low and weak and a sinner man may be! Since in man there is the possibility of rising so high as nothing else in the whole manifestation can rise – whether something on the earth or any being in heaven-none can reach that height which man is meant to reach. What point of view, therefore, had the mystics, the thinkers of all ages? One can see their point of view in their manner: a respectful attitude to all men. In the example of the life of Jesus Christ, the master of mankind – what compassion one can see when a sinner was brought before him, someone who had done wrong – what forgiveness the master showed! There was tolerance, there was understanding. A man can be called religious or pious, but he cannot be called truly spiritual or wise when he has contempt towards his fellow-man, whatever be his condition.
The man who has no respect for mankind, has no worshipful attitude towards God – he may be the most religious person. The man who has not recognized the image of God in man, has not seen the Artist who has made this creation; he has deprived himself of this vision which is sacred and most holy. A person who thinks that man is earthly does not know where his soul comes from. The soul comes from above; it is in the soul of man that God is reflected. The man who has hatred, contempt, whatever be his belief, faith, or religion, has not understood the secret of all religions which is in the heart of man. And certainly, however good a person, however virtuous he may be, if at the same time he has no tolerance, no forgiveness, if he does not recognize God in man, he has not touched religion.
No doubt there is another side to the question. As man evolves, so he finds the limitations, the errors and the infirmities of human nature, and so it becomes difficult for him to live in the world and to withstand all that comes. Also it becomes very difficult for man to be fine, to be good, to be kind, to be sensitive, and at the same time to be tolerant. What then comes as a tendency is to push away everything, and to find oneself away from everybody and every being. But the purpose of being born on earth is different. The purpose of being born on earth is to find that perfection which is within oneself. And however good and kind a man may be, if he has not found the purpose for which he is born on earth, he has not fulfilled the object of his life.
There are as many different aspects of that purpose as there are people in the world, but behind all these different aspects there is one purpose. It is that purpose which may be called the purpose of the whole creation. That purpose is accomplished when the inventor looks at his invention working. When the great architect builds the house which he has designed, and enters it and sees how nicely it is achieved, the purpose is accomplished. When a producer of a play has produced the play he desired and looks at it, that is the purpose.
Every man seems to have his purpose, but this purpose is nothing but a step to that which is the one purpose, which is the purpose of God. Our small desires, if they are granted today, to-morrow we will have another wish. Whatever be the desire, when it is granted, next day there is another desire. This shows that the whole of humanity, that every soul, is directed towards one desire, and that is the object of God: a fuller experience of life within and without, a fuller knowledge of life, the life above and below. It is the widening of the outlook: that it may be so wide that in the soul, which is vaster than the world, all may be reflected; that the sight may become so keen that it may probe the depths of the earth and the highest of the heavens. It is herein that lies the fulfilment of the soul. And the soul who will not make every effort possible, with every sacrifice for the attainment of this, that soul has not understood religion. What is the Sufi message? It is esoteric training, working and practising through life towards that attainment which is as the fulfilment of the object of God.
Man the seed of God-it is in this secret that man finds the key that has been lost. This loss shows why the religions of the world seem to be losing their hold upon people, in the Eastern part of the world as well as in the West. Why is there an increasing number of ungodly? Why is materialism ever on the increase? The answer is that man has lost the key which opens the secret of life. It is God who is the key to this secret. During my travellings of some years throughout the Western world I found in every part of the civilized world people getting tired not only of religion but also of belief in God. It seems that the deity’s name is repellent to an advanced thinker. He thinks that this is something which was a creed of the past: “The ancient people who did not know life better had some certain idea and now we are too advanced to hold on to the ideas of the past”. Very few admit it and many will not say it, but almost all know it. In the East perhaps it is different, but the whole world moves on in the same direction. If the direction of humanity is a material one then the whole world goes in this material direction; if it is a spiritual direction naturally the whole world must go in the spiritual direction.
In spite of all material progress which has raised the value of civilization so high in the eyes of the new generation, it could not keep to its pedestal; it fell down during the war. It has made the thinking world consider, at least for a moment, that the civilization it had thought to be the best has not proved to be the best. No just person, a person with some thought, will deny the fact after having reflected upon it. If we ask ourselves, “Has the world advanced?, no doubt the answer will be, “Yes”. The new inventions which have brought about the miraculous phenomena that have brought all countries closer in communication by telegraphy, telephone and wireless all show that humanity has progressed-but only progressed in a certain direction, a progress which cannot bring all satisfaction. It can only bring outer happiness and pleasure, but the inner happiness remains to be found. It might seem to be the saying of a simple believer that in belief in God is the remedy of all diseases, but I should declare that even the wisest person can claim the same after having arrived at a certain realization of life’s secret.
Now coming to our subject “Man the Seed of God”. If we ask ourselves what is the definition of the seed, we find that the seed is not only the beginning of the plant, but the seed is the end of the plant’s destiny too, because the plant is meant to bring out the seed. When we consider the whole manifestation as a plant then in all the different grades in which it has manifested we find that the final thing was the bringing out of man. One may say in connection with a plant that the stem sprung up first, then the leaves, then came the flower, and from the flower came the seed. One may say the same thing in connection with the whole manifestation: there was the mineral, then the vegetable, then the animal, but in the end it finished in man.
Scientists to-day say to have discovered that human life comes from the animal life, but hundreds of years earlier, in the scriptures of Persia, we can find statements which give the proof of them having known this idea. What does this idea tell us? It tells us that this whole creation was intended to bring about a certain purpose, one purpose. But because every man is not capable of understanding this purpose this incapability brings about life’s catastrophes. If a majority understands the purpose then the minority follows, but if those who know the purpose are in minority then the majority may have their thought.
If I were to explain the picture of the material conditions of the world which directed man to such occupations as war and disasters and bloodshed, besides the hatred between nations and races, one would understand that these all come from the lack of understanding of that one secret. Knowing this the great souls like Buddha and Krishna have all tried their utmost to explain it. For instance in the Lord’s Prayer one reads, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. If only one could understand the meaning behind these words! It is the whole of philosophy, for it makes one know and understand that this only means that, if every man has his purpose separate from that of another, there will always be lack of order and peace, both outwardly and inwardly. Why do wars come? Why do differences arise? Because of the differences of purpose. When nations have their different purpose, when every individual has his different purpose then there will be no unity. At the same time it is unnatural too, for the purpose of every tree is to bring about the seed, and so the purpose of all nations and of each individual – the final purpose – is to bring about that seed which is the source of this whole manifestation.
It is not the trees which have declared God, nor the mountains; neither have the birds taught the gospel, nor the animals preached religion. If ever this has been taught, if ever God has been brought to the idea of mankind, it has been brought by man. It is not only one man’s right, but it is the right of everyone to bring about that source, the source out of which all has come. Do not think that I mean by this that one must not carry out one’s occupations in life. What I mean is that one must think with every occupation, everything one does, that the finishing of it is not the only aim. Man’s aim is to bring forth in his life that seed which is the source of his whole life.
The modern psychologist says, “Well, any idea like this is acquired”. It must however be remembered that teaching has made this idea clear, but the God-ideal is the inborn tendency of man. The best explanation of the word God is to be found in the Persian word Khuda, because this is not only a name, but it is the meaning of the idea: it means selfrevealing. This itself shows that, if God is self-revealing, then man is not always depending upon the teaching of another; his natural longing is for God.
Very often I have met people without belief in God, but I have always found that there is some craving behind. In spite of their denying it the craving is there all the same. Besides this, man by nature is vain and once his vanity has taken up the idea of disbelief it is very difficult to make his vanity believe what his soul craves for. A person sometimes feels proud to think, “I do not believe as everybody believes, because I am more intelligent and I am different from others”. At the same time many among those who all their life denied the idea of God, after having a kind of sorrow, a heartbreak, a disappointment, or after having gone through life, in the end have begun to search for something somewhere. I was much interested to see how a great materialistic scientist often depended upon his wife who was a believer in the God-ideal. She was a kind of healing during his illnesses, and during his fits of depression she was a consolation. Whenever she said, “You do not believe in God, so how can you be happy?”, his answer was, “But you believe in God and I believe in you; so that is the same”.
By this I do not mean that belief in God is sufficient for our lives. Belief in God is only a first step; it is the first step towards the accomplishment of the purpose for which this whole universe is formed. If a person with his belief in God is content – there are millions and millions who believe in God and who are not all saints, nor are they the best of people. One may find perhaps among those who seem to be unbelievers more true and just people than among those who have such belief. Nevertheless, for a thinker, for a wise person, the God-ideal is the key to life’s secret. The person who only stands on his belief is like a man standing on a step instead of walking on the staircase. But the person who climbs the stairs is the one who is reaching to a realization which can only come by belief in God. Therefore there are many people whose feet are, so to speak, stuck in the path of truth. Neither are they in the world nor in heaven; they become stuck in their belief and do not move from there.
The first thing we have to learn by belief in God is to know the source. As soon as we know the source we begin to feel differently from the average person. The difference between the person who is wise in God and the person who is worldly wise, if both happen to be good, is this: the person of the world will say, “If I do good to another it is a pleasure for me and the other one will learn to do good too”. But the man who is wise in God will say, “When I do good to that person it means that I am doing good to myself”. This makes a great difference, for when a person realizes the source he becomes one with another, and when he does not meet with another in the realization of that source then another person is another. There are two ideas in this: there is an idea of unity and there is an idea of duality. The idea of unity comes from the realization of God which is the ultimate truth. The idea of duality comes from the absence of this knowledge, and if one has not attained, through the idea of God, that idea of unity, one’s realization is not complete. If one has belief in God, but has not arrived at the idea of unity, one has not accomplished the purpose of life.
Therefore the destination of the Sufi movement is to serve humanity towards this end. It is not a new religion, it is not a certain cast or creed. It is only awakening people of all different religions or of no religion to the divine ideal; to awaken humanity to the understanding of truth, which is to be learned by the understanding of God – especially after such a time as humanity has gone through, while the hatred that exists in the heart of men for one another is ever on the increase. People know about different diseases, but they do not know that the worst disease of the world is the disease of the heart, and it seems that this plague is vastly spreading: the bitterness in the heart. If one could only think what psychological effect the thought of prejudice, of hatred, of bitterness has on man! It is not only outward reasons that make persons ill, but a great many illnesses come from inner reasons. To take in bitterness and to keep it in the heart is worse than keeping a drop of poison in the body.
Now the time has come that humanity, after its contemplation on material gain, must contemplate on another gain. Material gains are taken away in a moment’s time and leave man in his grave alone without any of them. This earth has not even kept the wealth of the Pharaos, so near to their heart; after so many years the wealth which was buried with them has been taken from them. It shows that this world has never allowed anyone to have his belongings for ever. It is a disappointing world; the true consolation of man does not belong to the earth or its knowledge. This does not mean that the knowledge of the world is useless, but the knowledge of the world does not suffice the whole purpose of life. There is only one thing from which true satisfaction can come, and that is the knowledge of the deeper side of life, the knowledge of the source and goal of all things. It is the realization of that knowledge which can be called divine light, and if there is any happiness, any peace ever to be found, it is in this; in the absence of it all the good that the earth can offer will not suffice man’s life’s purpose. Whether a man is young or old, whether he is wise or not, every person’s life has a need of spiritual guidance, and the only object that man has to accomplish to-day is to become acquainted with his own self by knowledge of himself in belief in God.
THE ABSOLUTE in its manifested or unmanifested condition is intelligence and the different manifestations of this intelligence may be called light, life and love. It is the dense form of the intelligence which is light. As the sun is the source of the moon, of the planets, of the stars, of fire, of the flame, of the glow – of every aspect of light – so the supreme Spirit is the source of all aspects of manifestation.
The sun is the centralizing of the all-pervading radiance. In other words the all-pervading radiance has gathered itself together in order to centralize in one spot, and this has become the source of the creation, the whole physical manifestation. So the omniscient Spirit by centralizing in one spot has become the source of the whole seen and unseen manifestation. It is therefore that in all ages the wise have worshipped the sun as the symbol of God, although the sun is only the outward symbol of God.
A minute study of the formation of the sun and its influence in all things of life illuminates us so as to understand the divine Spirit. Heat, gaslight, electric light, coal fire, wood fire, the burning candle, the flame rising from an oillamp, all these different manifestations of light have their source in the sun; it is the sun which is showing itself in all these different forms. Often we separate the sun from all other aspects of light. So it is with the supreme Spirit which is manifested in all forms, in all things and beings, in the seen and the unseen worlds, and yet stands remote as the sun stands remote from all other forms of light. The Qur’an says, “God is the light of heaven and of earth”, and in reality all forms, however dense they may be, are a certain degree of radiance belonging to that Spirit which is all light. All the differentcolours are different degrees of that light.
The supreme Spirit, the source of all things, has two aspects: audible and visible. In its audible aspect the Spirit is the Word, as the Bible says, or sound, as the Hindus say calling it Nada. In its physical aspect the supreme Spirit is the light, in its finer aspect the light of intelligence, and in its dense aspect the radiance of all objects. The manifestation is the phenomenon of light playing in three directions. This is really the meaning of Trinity. One direction is the light that sees, the other is the light that is seen, and the third is the light that shows all things. More plainly speaking: the eyes which see and the object that is seen and the light that enables the eyes to see the object – all three are different plays of one and the same light. In the Hadith it is said, “I have made your light and by your light I create the universe”. In other words, the all-pervading Spirit says to the centralized aspect of Himself, “I made you first, and of you I have made the whole universe”. In this is the key to the whole creation.
The process of manifestation is like the projecting of rays out of the sun. Why does the sun shoot out its rays? Because it is its nature. And to the question, “Why does the supreme Spirit manifest?”, I will give the same answer: “Because it is its nature”. No sooner has the all-pervading light centralized in one spot and formed the sun, than the rays begin to shoot out. In the same way, the moment the omniscient light centralized itself in one spot, it began to shoot out its rays. These numberless rays shot out are the various souls – the souls of the good and the wicked both coming from the same source.
As these rays go forward the first plane they strike is termed the angelic plane; the second plane they strike is termed the plane of the genius and the third plane is called the physical plane. Now rises the question, “Have these rays left the supreme Spirit in order to come to the angelic plane, have they left the angelic plane in order to come to the plane of the genius and have they left the plane of the genius in order to come to the physical plane?” No, they have passed through, but while passing through they have received all that is to be received from there, learned all that is to be learned there, gathered all there was to be gathered on their way – and they still are in those planes. They do not know it, they are only conscious of that plane in which the ray has opened its eyes. In other words, we are sitting in this room, we see what is before our eyes, but we do not see what is behind our back. Thus every soul has behind its back the angelic plane and the plane of the genius, but before its eyes there is this physical plane. Therefore the soul is only conscious of the physical plane and unconscious of the planes from which it has turned its eyes.
The souls who have opened their eyes fully to the angelic plane and became interested in that plane have remained there, and the inhabitants of that plane may be called angels. The souls who did not open their eyes fully there only passed through it, and if they became interested in the plane of the genius they remained there. The ancient people called them jinn or genii. The souls who went still further towards manifestation and reached the physical plane, the ultimate call of their destiny, opened their eyes there and became interested in the physical plane. Among all living beings human beings are the most widely awake.
A person who has left America for Europe and has gone from Europe to the Orient has brought something from America with him to Europe and has taken something from Europe to the Orient. So every soul who has come on earth has brought with him something of the angelic plane and something of the plane of the genius, and he shows in his life on the physical plane that which he has brought from these two planes of existence. Innocence, love of beauty, deep sympathy, love of song, a tendency to solitude, love of harmony, all these belong to the angelic plane. Inventive genius, intellectuality, reasoning, law, justice, love of poetry, of science, all these belong to the planes of the genius. It is therefore that, without knowing this, people say of those who show any of these qualities, “Here is an angelic person”, or “Here is a genius”.
Now coming to the subject of gravitation: gravitation known to science is the material gravitation. All that belongs to the dense earth is attracted to the dense earth -but it is the same theory to say that all that is attracted to the spirit belongs to the spirit. Therefore man is pulled from both sides. Man is pulled more so than any other creature, for he is closer to the spirit. On one side the earth demands his body, on the other side the spirit asks for his soul. If man gives in to the attraction of the earth then the body drags the soul towards the earth. If man gives himself to the attraction of the spirit then the spirit drags the body to the spirit. In this way man is subject to the law of gravitation from both sides, from the earth and from the heavens.
As to the subject of perfect assimilation, I have just explained how the soul passing through the different planes has borrowed from each of them things that belong to that plane: qualities, tendencies, ideas, thoughts, feelings; impressions, flesh, skin, bone and blood. That which the soul has borrowed he must give back when it has done its work; it was borrowed for a certain time and for a certain purpose. When the purpose is fulfilled, when the time is finished, then every plane asks for that which the soul has borrowed from it, and one cannot help but give it back to that plane. It is this process which is called assimilation. Since man is born greedy and selfish he has taken all things willingly, enthusiastically – he gives them back grudgingly and calls it death.
Assimilation therefore is to give back the physical matter which one has used on this physical plane – to give it back to the earth. It becomes assimilated by the earth and the soul becomes free of that burden which it once carried. It begins to experience a greater liberty and a greater ease, for going beyond is only releasing the soul of limitation and of a great captivity.
Life in the world of the genius is longer compared with life on the physical plane. It is this life which may be called the life in the hereafter. But there comes a time when all that was borrowed from the plane of the genius has to be given back to that plane too, for it did not belong to the soul. It is according to the same theory that our body will not have what does not belong to it; it will throw it out or, if the body cannot throw it out, it will be thrown out of life. So no one can carry the substance of another plane beyond. Each substance has its own plane and must be returned to that plane. This is the only way the soul can be freed from that plane in order to rise above it.
When the soul soars higher it must also give up the angelic qualities. They will be assimilated in the angelic plane before the soul can dissolve into the great Ocean, the supreme Spirit: that dissolving which is called merging into the real Self. One most important thing is to be learned from this process: every soul coming from the source towards manifestation gives what it brings from the source to the souls who meet it – the souls returning from the manifestation to the source – and receives from these souls certain impressions to which it is attracted. It is this exchange which is the cause of the various conditions of life in which a man is born on coming on earth. One is intelligent, another is simple, one is born in a rich family, another in a poor family, one is healthy, another weak, one will have a great purpose, another does not know what he must do. It is all determined. By what? A soul coming from the source has collected impressions on its way from souls returning to the source.7
For instance a business man was going to Jerusalem in order to lead a retired life. He met someone in Europe who, coming from the East, was going to the United States, and he said to him, “For forty years I have been in business in the United States. If you are going there to do some business I can tell you of my experience. I have a business established there, I can give you my heritage, I can give you all help if you continue that business. I will give you letters of introduction to help you to find sympathetic surroundings”. Another man, also coming from the East, met someone who never had luck and who said to him, “Are you going to the United States? I have been there for sixty years without one friend, with nothing but ill luck”. This disappointed the man. He came there and found the same ill luck of the person he had met, while the first one came in the midst of friends; all was prepared for him, he had only to continue the thing he was sent for.
Now we come to the final question: what must be the purpose of the whole creation? Is there anything to be gained by it? Yes, what is to be gained by it is the realization gained by the experience of life. What does divine experience mean? It means the soul’s experience when this experience has led it to that height where it is no longer only an individual soul, but where it is conscious of all planes of existence, of the source and of its limitation both. When all the inspiration and power latent in man are within his reach, then that realization is called perfection and it is that perfection of which Jesus Christ has spoken in the Bible, where it is said, “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”.
Question: Are not those planes rather mental conditions than places?
Answer: Yes, they are. But what we call a place also is a mental condition. Because it has a rigid physical appearance we think of it as a place, but really speaking it is a mental condition. Therefore those who have understood this have called it an illusion.
Question: Is one direction better than another?
Answer: One thing leads to another. As in life one success brings many times more success and one failure brings more failures, so the interest in one direction leads to a deeper interest in the same direction. People say that nothing succeeds like success and that it is money that can make a person rich. That law always is the same; if a person has knowledge then he is directed to greater knowledge. In the same way if a thief goes to a large city he will be the first to find thieves. Another person who is perhaps ten years in a large city will not find one thief, but I would not be surprised if the first man the other person met was a thief. Like attracts like, every impression gathers with that same impression. If a person goes towards happiness, success, riches, knowledge, wisdom, he goes deeper and deeper into it because it interests him. It is the same with all wickedness when a person is attracted to it. A little inclination towards wickedness, towards evil, leads him more and more towards it. Whether he loves it or not he gets accustomed to it and goes on in the same direction.
Question: Does cremation free the soul more than decomposition?
Answer: No, the condition of the body has nothing to do with the freeing of the soul. Only, cremation can shock the soul more than burying in the earth; since the body is made of clay it belongs to the earth.
If a person says that a body belongs to water too – water is in the depth of the earth; it belongs to earth just the same.
Sufism is religion, philosophy, science, art and mysticism at the same time. The greatest scientists of to-day will agree with the Sufi conception that the origin of life is motion. The Sufi sees this motion in two aspects: audible and visible. Motion is first audible, then visible. Therefore we read in the Bible – which hints at this idea – that first was the Word and then came light. From a metaphysical point of view it means that motion or vibration originating in the Absolute first became manifest as the Word, audible, and after that became visible in the form of light.
What is the sun? The sun is the centralization of the allpervading radiance; the light which was spread all around functioned in one spot. There it became more radiant, more glowing, more powerful than the radiance that was left in space. This light again functioned in the moon; its different currents functioned in different planets and stars. This is exactly the picture of the origin of the creation: the allpervading light of intelligence first centralized itself, thus making itself the Spirit of the whole universe, and from there it began to manifest. The reason why in ancient times people worshipped the Sun-God was that the sun is the exact simile of God, the Spirit of the whole universe; this Spirit of the whole creation formed itself in the same way as the sun.
As there are many rays of the sun, so there are many rays of the Spirit of intelligence, in other words of God, the real Self, and each of these rays is a soul. The ray therefore is the manifestation of the sun; man therefore is the manifestation of God.
The rays spread forth and reach far, yet they are still connected with the sun. The law of gravitation, compared with the law which governs the relation between the sun and the ray, is a similar law. The ray never leaves the sun; its inner tendency is to reach far and to withdraw and to come towards the sun, in other words to merge into the sun. The same is the inclination of the soul. However much the body depends upon the dense earth and the mind revels in the intellectual spheres, the soul’s continual inclination is to withdraw itself to its origin. Since the physical manifestation speaks loudest and the mind makes its own noise, the gentle cry of the soul remains unheard. Nevertheless, as it is said in the Qur’an, “All have come from God and to God is their return “.
Coming from its origin towards the manifestation and going back to the goal is the soul’s journey. In order to come to the physical plane the soul has to pass through two principal planes: first the angelic and then, before it reaches the physical plane, the plane of the genii. The condition of each of these planes is that, in order to pass through or to exist in it, the soul must borrow a body belonging to that particular plane. So the soul cannot pass through, cannot exist in the angelic plane unless it adopts an angelic form, and the soul has to adorn itself with a body from the plane of the genii in order to exist there. On coming to the earthly plane the soul has to adorn itself with the earthly body. This means that the soul has put on an inner garb and an outer garb, and the mantle that it puts over it shapes the soul completely as a human being belonging to the physical plane.
One garb is hidden in another garb. One might think that the garb of the plane of the genius must be smaller in size than the physical garb and that the garb of the angelic plane, covered under the garb of the plane of the genius, must be still smaller, but this is not necessarily true. All that is visible to our physical eyes must have a certain rate of vibration: the physical vibrations of matter make it visible to our eyes. The vibrations of the garb of the plane of the genius are so subtle that our physical eyes cannot see it, but therefore it is not necessarily an undergarb; as much as it might be an undergarb, so much is it an outer garb. Its size need not be as small as the size of our physical form or frame. Its size is incomparably larger.
It is the same with the garb that the soul has adopted from the angelic plane: it is not necessarily so small as to be covered by the two garbs just described, but it is even larger and finer. Only, the eyes of this plane cannot see it; its rate of vibration is greater. We see things because of their vibratory rate; if they are invisible it is not because they are invisible by nature, but because they are invisible to our sight. Since we are dependent upon our physical eyes in order to see, that which the physical eyes cannot see we naturally say is unseen. It is only unseen because we cannot see it as a form.
So it is not an exaggeration to say that man is at the same time genius and angel, for he has passed through these two planes. He does not know it, but he shows the qualities of these two planes. The love quality in man, love of beauty, joy, aspiration, all these tendencies, besides the innocence of human nature, come from the angelic plane. The purity in the face of an infant gives us proof of its having just arrived from the angelic plane; its smiles, its friendliness and its readiness to appreciate everything beautiful, its love of life, all these things show the sign of the angelic spheres.
As a soul remains longer on earth he loses the angelic qualities and adopts new qualities. An infant shows the angelic quality, and a child the quality of the genius by his love of knowing names and forms, by asking questions to his parents with great curiosity. When that stage is passed he seems to be full of miseries, worries, helplessness.
Do we not see in some people the angelic quality predominating? They are good, kind and innocent, forgiving, pure-hearted, righteous, virtuous, lovers of beauty, always inclined to high aspirations. If we studied human nature more keenly we would find a great many examples of the angelic nature. Also there are poets, composers and intellectual people, writers and inventors who show the quality of the genius – in an Eastern language called jinn.
Those who show the human quality are still more in number. They can be divided into three classes: there is the humane quality, there is the animal quality and there is a devilish quality. This is shown by the rate of their vibrations and their rhythm. Intense rhythm produces the devilish quality, moderate rhythm shows the animal quality, even rhythm shows the humane quality. The form of these rhythms may be explained thus: the humane quality is mobile, the animal quality is uneven, the devilish quality is zigzag.
Death is nothing but the taking off of one garb and giving it back to the plane from which it was borrowed, for the condition is this: one cannot take the garb of the lower plane to the higher plane. The soul is only released when it is willing – or compelled-to give its garb to the plane it has taken it from. It is this which releases the soul to go on in its travel. And as it proceeds to a higher plane, after its stay there it must again give its garb back and be purified from it in order to go further.
If people knew this they would look at life from a different point of view; they would understand the meaning of the moral: you cannot get away with anything that does not really belong to you. And they would come to realize after the study of philosophy that even their body does not belong to them; it is a borrowed property and must be returned one day. Therefore the wise disown it before they are obliged to give it up. All the spiritual exercises given by teachers are practised for this purpose: that we may begin to disown our body from to-day, that we may not have the remorse of having lost something we thought to be most precious.
This knowledge also throws a light upon the question of death. Death is not really death; it is only a passing stage, it is only a change, as changing clothes. One might think, “Do we not become less by dying?” It is not so. We become more by dying, not less, for once the physical garb has been thrown away the soul enjoys a greater freedom, a greater liberation for the reason that the limitation of the physical body is great. The physical body weighs heavy on the soul and the day when this burden is taken off, the soul feels lighter, its faculties, tendencies, inspiration and power, all manifest more freely. Therefore death is no loss.
Now we come to the question: what is it that brings about death? Either the body, owing to weakness, is not capable of serving the soul properly, or the soul has finished its mission in that plane; it no more wants it. The body clings to the soul and the soul holds the body: that is the position. When the body is too feeble it naturally loses its grip on the soul and gradually loses it more and more till it can no longer hold the soul. Or the soul holds the body as long as it has to accomplish something, and when the soul sees no purpose then it loses its hold upon the body and so gradually the body drops out of the hands of the soul. It is by this process that death is brought about.
What about birth? Human bodies are the clay needed to make a body for the soul. The soul has to knock at the door of the physical plane and a body is given to it. Cupid is the symbol of this idea, of this philosophy.8
There is give and take in the two planes through which a soul has to pass, a give and take between the souls who are going from the source towards manifestation and the souls who are returning from manifestation towards the goal. As a traveller coming from Asia to America and a traveller going from America to Asia who meet in Europe exchange money and thoughts with one another, so those souls take upon themselves the debts of one another, the knowledge of one another, the happiness, the misery of one another. In the same way we experience our life on earth. One soul, without knowing it sometimes, may take a route which leads him to riches, to success. Another soul may take a route that leads him to failure, to errors. It all depends upon what route they have taken from the beginning. Hafiz has described this idea in a beautiful way, saying that each person has his own wine, and his love is according to the wine he has taken. If it is the wine of happiness, if it is the wine of joy, if it is the wine of sorrow, if it is the wine of misery, if it is the wine of courage, of fear, of trust, of distrust, of faith, of disbelief, it is in the intoxication of this wine that he acts, presenting the effect of the wine to the world. So we each have our own wine.
In this exchange of souls going from the source to manifestation and souls coming back from the manifestation to the source, one takes the wine of selfishness, another of unselfishness. A Persian poet says, “Before dawn the wine was poured out. No sooner I opened my eyes than a glass of wine was given to me. O Saqi, thanks for whatever wine you gave, for it intoxicated me and made me lose myself”. The dawn that the poet expresses as birth is the time when the soul began its journey from the angelic plane. The first cup it drank determined its life afterwards.
It is not true that, as they say, a man when he goes higher in evolution is richer in knowledge. No, higher evolution itself is a knowledge. The knowledge one gains from earthly sources is not a coin that is current in other planes. The coin of this plane, a plane so small, is as limited as this plane – and man makes so much of it! It is amusing when a person comes to me and says, “I have read so many books on occult science, I think I am quite ready to be initiated”. It amuses me very much. Imagine! Reading occult science should entitle someone to spirituality! The language of that country is different and intellectual knowledge is not current there. Learning that language is unlearning what we have learned here. Therefore the question of spiritual attainment is quite different and must be dealt with from quite a different point of view.
What I have to say in conclusion about Sufi philosophy is that what we call individuality is a momentary state, and this conception of individuality as it is found to-day-do not think that it will be the same to-morrow.
Omar Khayyam says,
“O my beloved, fill the cup that clears
to-day from past regrets and future fears.
To-morrow, why to-morrow I may be myself
with yesterday’s seventy thousand years.”
As soon as the soul has awakened, it no more gives much importance to individuality – a thing made of garbs borrowed from different planes; it is a doll of rags. All importance we give, we should give to the soul which is real, which comes from the real and seeks after the real.
Question: Is the soul not attracted by action?
Answer: The condition of the soul is likened to a mirror: it mirrors so long as it reflects the object which is standing before it. Yet that object is not engraved in the mirror, it occupies it at the moment it veils it. So the soul is covered by experiences. In other words, our experience may delude the soul, cover it, bury it, but at the same time cannot penetrate it.
The Gift of Eloquence
WHEN WE consider the four kingdoms-the mineral, vegetable, animal kingdoms and mankind – we see that not man alone but also every other being has the gift of expression. The rock expresses least and we feel least for it; we strike it and break it and quarry it. We make use of it in every way and we do not sympathize with it at all, because it does not speak to us; it tells us very little. We sympathize much more with the plant. We love it, we give it water, we tend it, and because it has more expression we care more for it. Among the stones there are some that speak more to us; the diamond, the ruby, the emerald we prize very much. We pay thousands of pounds for them; we are glad to have them, to wear them.
The animal has much more the gift of expression than the plant or the rock, and we feel that animals are much nearer to us. The dog by wagging his tail, by jumping about, by every movement says, “I love you”, and we care much more for him. We do not want the plant on the chair next to us, but if the dog sits on the chair it is all right. The cat has no words, but by its voice it speaks to us. All the poets of the East have spoken of the nightingale because of its voice, its expression. There are many birds in the forests of which we never think because they have no voice, but the song-birds we all know and we like to have a parrot because it speaks. Allah has made man the khalifa, the chief of creation for this one thing, his tongue: man alone has the gift of eloquence.
Among men we see that some are like the rock, others like the plant or like the animal and some have the human quality. The man who is like a rock has not much expression; he has no magnetism. He has only that which is in his appearance, just like the stones have, the emerald, the ruby; when that appearance is gone nothing is left. The man who is like a plant has no intelligence, only some feeling, some personality. Either is there some fragrance of the personality, some beauty, or he is like a thorn, or there is poison. When man is like an animal he has feelings, passions, but he cannot give them expression. Only that man is a human being who has the gift of expression, who speaks out what he feels.
The gift of eloquence is called by the Hindus Vak Devi, the goddess of speech. They have distinguished three sorts of beings, Rakshasa, the monster, he who is without speech and without feeling, Manusha, the man who has feeling but lacks expression, and Devata the godlike man, he who has eloquence. It is his eloquence alone that makes him godlike.
The word was in the beginning before the creation of man. Neither the rock, nor the plant, nor the animal could speak out that word which was from the beginning. It is only man who expresses it; he gives expression to that which existed first. When he expresses it he becomes the pen of the divine Being. Therefore in him the creation is perfected and he is the highest of all beings.
To speak and by speech to hurt, to wound the heart, the feelings of another, is the misuse of eloquence. There is a Persian verse, “Zaban-i-shirin mulke girin. A sweet tongue wins the world”. The tongue, like a sword, has two aspects: it wins and it slays. A sharp tongue kills and a sweet tongue conquers the world. The same idea is expressed in the Gospels, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”.
The world is like a dome in which whatever is spoken comes back to us. If we say, “How beautiful “, “how beautiful” comes back to us. If we say, “You stupid”, the echo comes back, “you stupid”. A man may think, “I have so many servants, I am such a great person, I shall say what I please”. But some day the echo of his bad words will come back to him.
Sometimes a person does not wish to speak badly to his friend so as to hurt him, but without wishing to speak badly, he does so, because his mind is full of the bad impressions he has stored there. Therefore we should store up only good impressions, and not keep the others with us, that only good may come from us.
There are two ways of speaking on a subject. Before speaking a person may ponder upon a subject and then speak with all the reasonings that come to him. This is parrotspeaking a person may ponder upon a subject and then speak with all the reasonings that come to him. This is parrotspeech; he repeats what he has learned, as the parrot says some words because he has been taught them.
The store of eloquence, knowledge, is always ready within, and the other way of speaking is to depend upon that store, that knowledge. Then the tongue speaks out what is always there in readiness; the knowledge, eloquence, is always there but it is shut off from us. In order to open up that knowledge an arrow is needed. The arrow is the deep feeling that pierces through to that knowledge. If we see a crooked person walking in the street it is very easy to laugh; it is so absurd. But a little feeling will produce pity, and a deep feeling will bring the expression of pity and compassion.
Why do Hindus call eloquence devi? Why goddess, why not god? Because the speaker is responsive to the creator, the god within.
Evolution of the World
SOME SAY that the world has evolved since the creation, as it is the law of nature to evolve. Others say the reverse, seeing the conditions of the world falling back every day. When the Buddhists say that the universe is always progressing, the Hindus contradict this by pointing out that virtue and truth have diminished with the growth of the world during the periods called Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and the present Kali Yuga – the golden, silver, copper and iron ages. There seem to be some who, seeing the comfort and convenience of modern life together with its new inventions and wonderful researches, admire evolution. There are others who praise the past saying how great were the ancestors of the past who were so high in their morals and ideals and who had such a comfort and peace in their natural life-until gradually everything had become so degenerated that all virtues became a prey to the selfishness and artificiality of so-called civilization.
According to the standpoint of the Sufi both are right and yet both are wrong, for the Sufi applies the law of vibration to his understanding of the world: each note has its finish at the octave, and so there are an ascending and a descending scale. Each strong accent in anything has its weak part to balance it. The sun rises as well as sets, the new moon develops to the full and wanes until it is new again. Each wave of the sea which rises high is drawn back; each helpless child is helpless again when old. This is the nature of evolution.
A certain direction of life develops for a certain period, and before it has fallen back another direction of life begins to evolve. An individual’s view is deluded because evolution seems to him to be a straight evolution, and every fall seems to be a continual fall. After a person has developed in his body and that is finished, perhaps thought might begin its development. If he views the reduction of his body he will feel involution, and if he notices the development of his thought he will realize his evolution. In fact in both ideas he is right; it only depends upon his point of view.
One can study this fact by looking at a fountain where one jet of water is rising to reach its height and another is returning from its utmost reach. Neither is the rise constant for the former, nor is the fall lasting for the latter. This is the way of progress and degeneration of science, art, race, religion and nation. Even the world as a whole has its circle to accomplish, and everything therein has its own time of rise and fall. At the same time the rise is for the fall and the fall again is meant to rise.
7. Two lacunae in the shorthand report of this paragraph have been completed by the editors. These concern the words: “and receive from these souls certain impressions to which it is attracted” and in the last sentence the word “impressions”.
An explanation of the phenomenon of exchange is to be found in Hazrat Inayat Khan’s “The Soul Whence and Whither”-Ed. Nekbakht Foundation, Suresnes, 1984-Chapter 40:
`The soul on its return from the goal, while in the sphere of the djinns, has some riches which it collected during its life on earth in the form of merits, qualities, experiences, convictions, talents, attitude and a certain outlook on life, although on its passing it has returned the belongings of the earth to the earth. These riches the soul in the spirit world offers, allows them to be taken from it, and imparts them to the souls coming from their source who are on their way to the earth. The souls on their way to the earth, full of heavenly bliss but poor in earthly riches, purchase the current coin of the earth in the djinn plane. Guarantees, contracts, mortgages and all the accounts that the spirit had left unfinishied on the earth these they undertake to pay or to receive when coming on the earth.’
8. Cupid-In “The Soul Whence and Whither” we read, `What is Cupid? It is the soul which is being born. Before it appears on the physical plane it is pictured by the wise as Cupid, an angel’. Desiring to manifest on the earth, Cupid brings man and woman together. And Hazrat Inayat Khan continues, `Duality in every aspect of life is creative and its issue is the purpose, the outcome of the dual aspect of nature’.