Every Man has his own little World
EVERY MAN has his own little world, so little sometimes that it is like a doll’s house, and in that little world he is not concerned with the world outside or with the universe; he just lives in his small world so full of illness, misery and ill luck. He cannot come out of it, for he has built a little shell for himself in which he lives, a shell of misery. He likes to live in it for it is his own home.
Human beings living in their shells are mostly unaware of the privilege of life and so are unthankful to the Giver of it. In order to see the grace of God man must open his eyes and raise his head from his little world. Then he will see – above and below, to the right and the left, before and behind – the grace of God reaching him from everywhere in abundance.
If we try to thank God we might thank for thousands of years and it would never be enough. But if man stays in his own little shell he does not find the grace of God; he finds misery, injustice, ugliness, coldness.
When one looks down one sees the mud; when one looks up one sees the sun, the moon, the planets. It all depends how we look: upwards or downwards.
Every day we should have a time in the evening or in the morning to think of what we have experienced during the day, to consider how many mercies and gifts of God we have received, and how less worthy we are of them; to think what we have done wrong – not wrong in the sense of religion, but how we may have hurt the feeling of another by inattention, by a kind of insult, by not doing what he wished when it was in our power to do it. We should never say that we are beyond this. We should say that, whether we are a prophet or a saint, we are liable to all mistakes. If you say that you believe in God, there is the wish for a higher path, for a higher knowledge. If you say, I do not believe in God, I do not care for anything”, then it does not matter, because then your experience will be your teacher. But if you believe in God, this is what you should do.
MARRIAGE IS the most sacred of all things. It is certainly not in the first place a contract, a business. When we look at marriage from a higher point of view it appears that marriage is the fulfilment of life.
From a physical point of view this life which is full of struggle and strife can be met with greater strength and greater courage and greater capability, when two harmonious forces are united together. There is a saying of a Persian poet, “When two hearts unite, they become powerful enough to remove mountains”. Life is a continual struggle, and in order to become capable of meeting this struggle it is necessary to be strong and powerful. When two hearts are united they are more capable, more powerful and greatly blessed.
Looking at marriage from a mental point of view, no matter how wise, how strong, how courageous, how powerful a person may be, he still lacks something. Every individual, after all, has defects. No matter how many merits he has, he needs something better: at the time of doubt, conviction; at the time of anxiety, support from another source; at the time of confusion, a little light; at the time of sorrow, a word of consolation, of happiness. No matter what a person has – wealth, power, rank, position – this will not balance his life. If there is anything that will balance his life it is another soul to provide that which is missing at the moment when he needs it. Therefore from a physical point of view marriage is a power, and from a mental point of view it brings balance.
Lastly there is the spiritual point of view. Among the ancient people the wise gave an answer to the ever-recurring question as to why the world was created. This answer was that God felt lonely. And no matter how many rays of the light of wisdom we may throw upon life, we shall always receive this one answer as the reason for the creation. If anything exists it is only one Being, and that is God. Therefore the whole of manifestation which is created by Him is in Himself. If God created it, it was only because He felt lonely. It is the same idea that can be seen symbolically in the belief of the ancient people that Eve was created out of the rib of Adam. It only means that this world was created out of God himself, that it is God’s own manifestation. He wanted to see in order to remove the monotony of being alone and, if it was the need of God to create something and put it before Himself to remove the monotony of being alone, it is natural that every human being has this inclination too. But this inclination leads to what? To greater perfection-because an individual man is limited, no matter how powerful, how great, how wise and learned he may be, and in order to become greater he must become another person.
Marriage is the first step to becoming another person. The one who formerly thought that he would attain pleasure, comfort, happiness in life and enjoy it for himself, from the moment he is married thinks first of his wife and of how he can give her comfort, for without her he can no longer enjoy life.
When this outlook comes to a person his consciousness changes; it rises and expands and becomes the source of all revelation and bliss. Why is it so? Because by this expansion the spirit of God becomes awakened in man. It removes what stands between his limited and his unlimited self and gradually raises him to a stage where he fully realizes the one who is the source and goal, who is the essence of his being. As Rumi says, “Whether you have loved man or whether you have loved God, if you have loved enough you will be brought in the end into the presence of the supreme Love itself”.
From a spiritual point of view therefore marriage is a step forward on the path to perfection, that path by which the ultimate purpose of life is attained.
Spirituality, the Tuning of the Heart
BEFORE SPEAKING of spirituality I must first explain what I mean by it. There are people who consider spirituality as orthodoxy or piety: to be religious, to be a priest, a monk, a hermit, to fast, or to live a life of a certain discipline, to adopt a certain form of worship. A person may have all these outer forms without being spiritual, and a person may have nothing of these and be spiritual. Those who seek spirituality in such outer forms are mistaken, for it is more than that: real spirituality is spirit-consciousness. To be spiritual means to be conscious of spirit, just as a material person means a person who is conscious of matter. So it is not religion, orthodoxy, outer forms, or a certain kind of life which means spiritual life: it is to be conscious of the spirit that makes one spiritual.
There are others who think that those who perform phenomena, miracles, who work wonders are spiritual. It is not so. Many who are capable of performing phenomena are not different from a magician. Then others say that to be spiritual means to tell fortunes, or to be clairvoyant, to see wonderful things. It is not necessary to do or to see wonderful things in order to be spiritual. Others imagine that to be spiritual means sitting in the caves of mountains, or roaming about in forests, or to appear and disappear. All these things are but fancies of the imaginative. To be spiritual means to be one’s self, to be one’s natural self.
How many of us are our self? If we were our self we would all be spiritual. We are not our self, we are far from it! A great Indian poet expresses this idea in this way, “Apart from accomplishing things, for man to be a man is the most difficult thing”. It means that for a human being to be human is the greatest difficulty. He is born a human being; yet the first thing he ought to be is what he is not, he is anything but a human being. He is willing to be a sollicitor, a doctor, a professor, but to be a human being – that is the thing he thinks of last, and mostly he does not even think of it at all.
People say that nowadays there is a great tendency in the world to discover spiritual truth, that there is an inner spiritual awakening. Yes, I admit it, but what direction does it take? Very often it takes wrong directions. Those searching after truth often think that the best way to find belief in the spirit and the hereafter is mediumship: to become a medium themselves, or to go to a medium andwhen they have found proof-to communicate with the dead. Then they think they have found proof of the spiritual. They wreck their nervous system, many go out of balance. In this manner the way that would lead to spirituality leads to destruction.
There are others who wish to pursue the spiritual in the same way as a person in a university or college. They want to read all things in a book. They think, “If there is anything like spiritual attainment one book must tell us about it”. If they go to the library and read throughout their whole life all the books there are, they cannot touch spirituality, because it does not come from books. Reading helps one sometimes to awake; yet every person does not know how to read. What is happening to-day is that there are thousands and thousands of people who read one book, then another and still another, until their mind is so confused that they do not know what to believe and what not to believe. Among them there are many who think that the best way is the intellectual way. But what is intellectual? Is reading really intellectual? Are all books the same? Many times they only confuse a person. Very often books with ten errors on the same line puzzle a person’s mind so much that he does not know where he is.
Often people come to me and tell me – in order to help me – to have confidence in them, because for ten years they have been reading my books. Instead of having confidence I have to guide them on the path and to erase what they have learned first. Perhaps they are not willing to erase; they think that they have gained this knowledge by reading a hundred books. What knowledge? Is it spiritual?
Besides, very often intellectual pursuit gives them the idea that there are such masters and such mahatmas and saints in the Himalayas, in the caves of the mountains. They never think that such a person can be in the crowds. It interests them most when he is in a place where nobody can reach him. They think he cannot be in a restaurant taking his dinner; he must be in a cave of the mountain. Imagine! Why was this world created? Why are we born in this world, in the midst of this world, if this world were not a school to develop the soul and to arrive at the stage which is life’s purpose? Man has lost confidence in his fellowmen. He expects spirituality from the dead, from the trees-not from men. He has no confidence in his brothers.
Others are interested in the meaning of symbology: this particular symbol means this, another gives a great revelation, another is a great mystery. Where is spirituality to be found? Is it not in the heart of man? Instead of in their own heart people want to look in different places, or in certain symbols. Yes, symbols are expressive of it, but the direct way is within oneself.
I had an amusing experience one day. Travelling in England near Bournemouth I was brought to a place where they said I should speak. They said it was an important place; so I went there. The man who brought me there said, “Now here in this corner-you can feel that here is the secret”. Imagine, in that place was spirituality, not in man!
Those who make their occupation of spirituality take advantage of people’s ignorance. They cater for them, they feed them, they say to every person, “You are a medium”. So those who take this as a profession tell everyone, “Come along. Be more fanciful, more imaginative, more superstitious “. They feed curiosity. Does it lead anywhere? In this way people get lost and will never be spiritual. This is to be found everywhere.
Now coming to the actual subject, the difference between spirit and matter: once a young Italian who did not believe in God or soul was travelling with me in the same ship, and he thought that perhaps I was a priest. He asked, “Do you believe in anything?” “Yes”, I said. “What is your belief?” I answered, “It cannot be said”. Since he was antagonistic he said, “1 do not believe in anything. If there is anything in which I believe, it is in eternal matter”. I replied, “My beliefis not far from yours. What you call eternal matter I call eternal spirit. What you have named matter I have named spirit”.
It is a dispute over words, the understanding is the same. The difference has come by disputing over words. What is spirit is fine matter and what is matter is dense spirit. In other words, there are two names and there is one subject: call it water, call it snow. When it is crystallised it is snow, and if you do not like to call it water, call it snow. If you wish to distinguish you may call it by two names, there is no objection to it, it is a question of choice. If you choose that there is no matter, as Christian Science also says, then matter is spirit just the same. And if you choose to call spirit matter, then spirit is matter just the same. If you say both things that is right too. Truth is in understanding, not in expression.
People have strengthened their truth, they have taught and fought and arrived at nothing. Very often those who do not understand a subject argue for the reason that they want to know about it, but they do not honestly want to know about it. Their way is to argue; then they know the other’s idea also. They oppose the other to hear what he has to say; it is a kind of robbery. They have a thirst for argument. He who will not understand will never understand, however much it is true. He who understands-you tell him and he will understand. It is a matter of evolution.
Besides, there is a tendency in everyone to think, “The other one must look at things as I do. If it is a friend, if it is a wife, a husband, a brother, a sister, or a companion, they must understand things as I do”. But that is impossible. May be they are at different stages of evolution, they cannot understand. Leave them alone! For some it is good to sleep, for others it is good to awake. It is no virtue to awake everybody; it is the greatest crime to awake those who ought to sleep. To make everyone spiritual is not a right mission. The best thing is to help a person wherever he is and not to try to bring him to a certain pitch. He will come naturally; to put him on the right track is enough. Often people who are interested in spirituality urge it on those in their surroundings. They are mistaken; those urged are sometimes more spiritual. Man is a great mystery and we know so little about it.
I have travelled in India for nine years in the pursuit of the illuminated ones, the living wise men of the East. You would be surprised to know how various illuminated souls live under the guise of an ordinary person, so that no one can ever distinguish them as different from others. Many of them bear themselves in the same way as everybody does, sitting in the same places, saying the same things that anyone else would say; neither do they show any difference in outward appearance, in speech or claims. At the same time – if you could see behind those great beings – they are as different from others as the sky is different from the earth.
I will tell you something about my own teacher. Once I met a learned man, a doctor of philosophy with a great many degrees. I spoke to him on the deeper side of life and he became so interested in me that he thought much of me. So I thought, “If I were to tell him about my teacher, how much more interesting that would be for him. If I make such an impression upon this man, how much more my teacher will be for him, and how much will he appreciate my teacher”, and I told him, “There is a wonderful man in this city, he has no comparison in the whole world”. “Yes?”, said he, “Are there such people? I would so much like to see him. Where does he live?” I told him, in such and such a part of the city. He said, “I live there too. Where is his house. I know all the people there. What is his name?” So I told him, and he said, “For twenty years I have known this man, and you are telling me about him!” I thought, “In a hundred years you would not have been able to know him”. He was not ready to know him.
If people are not evolved enough they cannot appreciate persons, they cannot understand them, they cannot understand the greatest souls. They sit with them, they talk with them, there is a contact of the whole life, but they do not see. Another person in one moment, if he is ready to understand, makes a benefit out of it. Imagine, the learned man had known my teacher for twenty years and did not know him. I saw him once, and became his pupil for ever. One might ask, “Was this man not learned, not intellectual?” Yes, he was. Then what was lacking? He saw my teacher with his brain, I saw him with my heart. People pursue spirituality with their brain: that is where they are mistaken. Spirituality is attained through the heart.
What do I mean by the heart? Is it the nervous centre in the midst of the breast, the small piece of flesh that doctors call the heart? No, the definition of the heart is that it is the depth of the mind, the mind being the surface of the heart. That in us which feels is the heart, that which thinks is the mind. It is the same thing which thinks and feels, but the direction is different: feeling comes from the depth, thought from the surface. When thought is not linked with feeling it is just like a plant rising up from the earth, the root of which has not gone deep. A thought without feeling is a powerless thought; it is just like a plant without a deep root. A tree the root of which has gone deep into the earth is stronger, more reliable, and so the thought deeply rooted in the heart has greater power. The heart therefore is the factor through which spirits and spirituality are to be attained.
In man’s being three aspects can be distinguished: body, heart and soul. The heart is a globe over the soul and the body a cover over the heart. One might ask: Is the soul so small as to be covered by the heart and is the heart so small as to be covered by the body? It is not so. The soul is within and without. For instance, a light is covered by a globe and the globe by another cover-and yet, is the light covered? It shines out just the same. The light is not under the cover; it seems to be under the cover, but it shines out. Such is the soul. The globe does not shine out, but the light takes the colour of the globe. It is the soul that is larger; at the same time the light is within the globe and the soul within the body. It is exactly like the light within the globe and the globe within the cover. The light is outside the cover, and the power of the globe shines outside the cover. So the power of the heart is greater than the power of the body, and the power of the soul is greater still. As long as one is ignorant of this, one does not realize truth.
Imagine what a power the heart quality has. The little hen, when it is with its young ones and a horse comes or an elephant, is ready to fight them. Otherwise it would run away, but with its young ones it is ready to fight with the elephant. The heart quality is blooming at that time, it is feeling; at that time its power is so great that the little hen is ready to fight with anyone. In India a hunter’s story is told about a she-deer that was pursued by a hunter and ran far away into the woods. When she came near her young ones who were waiting for her she did not run further, she forgot the hunter. As soon as the heart quality was awakened in the presence of her little ones she had no fear.
There is nothing one will not sacrifice, accomplish, or face when the heart quality is awakened. All cowardice and weakness, misery and wretchedness come when the heart quality is covered and man begins to live in his brain. Lions turn into rabbits when they are not lion-hearted. Very few understand the power of the heart. Once the heart is awakened there is nothing that one does not accomplish. Besides inspiration and illumination it gives all the force and power one needs to attain anything one wants.
One might ask: Is it not natural to attain spirituality? Does it not come without any effort on our part? And if it is not natural, then what is the use of attaining spirituality? These are right arguments, and my answer is that spirituality is not only for human beings, but also for the lower creation, for every being: not spirituality in the sense we understand, but in that of being tuned to one’s natural pitch. Even birds have their moments of exaltation. At the setting and rising of the sun, the breaking of dawn, in the moonlight, there come times when birds and animals feel exalted. They sing and dance, they sit on the branches of the trees in exaltation. Every day they feel this exquisite joy. If we go still further and have eyes to see life in those forms in which others do not see it, in the rock, in the tree, we find that there are times when even the trees are in a complete state of ecstasy. Those who move in nature, who open the doors of their heart, whose soul comes in contact with nature, find nature singing, nature dancing and communicating.
It is not only a legend, a story of the past, that saints used to speak with trees. It is an actual fact, and it is the same to-day as in the past. Souls are of the same nature, they are the same. The only difference is that we have become unbelievers, we have no confidence in life, we have become material, we have closed our eyes to what comes before us. To-day souls can become saints and sages just as before. Are the stars not as before? They communicate also to-day with the one who is able to respond to nature. But we have turned our back to nature, we live in an artificial world; there is no selfconfidence in us, no belief. Naturally we have not only become materialistic, we have become matter! Therefore those who ever have attained to spirituality have attained by awakening the quality of heart.
Sufis in all ages, mystics of India, Persia, and Egypt have considered the awakening of the heart quality to be the principal thing in life. For all the virtues that the priest can teach and prescribe, the virtues that one is told to practise in life, come naturally when the heart opens. Then one need not learn virtue, virtue becomes one’s own. All virtues as taught by people- how long do they last? If there is any virtue it must come by itself: spirituality is natural. And if animals and birds can feel spiritual exaltation, why not we? But we do not live a natural life. We have tried in our civilization, in our life, to be as far removed from nature and natural life as possible, breathing an artificial atmosphere to withstand climatic influences, eating food that we have prepared and improvised, turning it into something quite different from what nature had made and given us.
Besides that, the deeper we go into the life of the community, the more we find that we are not on the track as we ought to be. We seem to have lost our individuality. We have called it progress – a progress towards a certain condition. And there we begin to feel that we are in a maze. Now has come the time – and more and more so every day -that thoughtful people, wise people who are just and honest realize, “We are not progressing, we are in a maze and we are looking for the door.” I spoke with a great scientist, and in spite of all his knowledge what did he say? “We do not know where we are. We have made inventions, but we do not know how to control them to the best advantage of life”.
Invention apart, the first question is how to make the best of our life, how to make the best of this opportunity which is passing us by. Every moment lost is incomparably more valuable than the loss of money. As man will realize this he will more and more come to the conclusion that he has gone on and on thinking he was progressing, but that he has been moving around in the same maze. If only he found the door, that door which is called by the wise spiritual attainment! However well educated one may be, however much progress one has made, however much one has collected or accomplished, however much power and position one has gained, only one thing is everlasting and that is spiritual attainment. Without this there will always be dissatisfaction, an uncomfortable feeling. No knowledge, power, position or wealth can give that satisfaction which spiritual attainment can give.
There is nothing easier and nothing more difficult in the world: difficult because we have made it difficult, easy because it is the easiest thing possible. All other things we have to buy and pay for -even water. For spiritual attainment we do not need to pay a tax, it is ours, it is our self, it is discovering our self, finding our self. Yet what one values is what one gets with difficulty. Man loves complexity so much! He makes a thing big and says, “This is valuable”. If it is simple he says, “It has no value”. That is why the ancient people, knowing human nature, told a person when he said he wanted spiritual attainment, “Very well; for ten years go around the temple, walk around it a hundred times in the morning and in the evening. Go to the Ganges, take pitchers full of water during twenty or fifty years, then you will get inspiration”. That is what must be done with people who will not be satisfied with a simple explanation of the truth, who want complexity.
Often having been asked, “Show us a tangible truth”, I asked myself how it would be if I wrote TRUTH on a little brick and gave it to people saying, “Hold it fast. Here is tangible truth”. Fine people, when they write a letter, expect their friend to read between the lines. Even subtle feelings of the human heart cannot be expressed in words. How then can anyone expect truth to be spoken in words? That which is spoken in words can never be truth. People do not distinguish between the meaning of fact and of truth; they always muddle truth with fact.
Often the greatest error is made when a person who has a crude or insolent nature or a brain of stone says, “What do I care how anybody takes it? I simply tell the truth. It does not matter whether a person is hurt”. But truth is the finest thing and most beautiful. If one tells the truth must it hurt? If it hurts anybody can it be truth? Truth must raise a person, must illuminate him, it must be the most beautiful thing on earth, harmonizing, uplifting, inspiring, it cannot be hurtful. If it is truth it is the greatest healing there is. But people interpret truth in the form of facts, and muddle truth with fact, just as they confuse pleasure with happiness.
When people are pleased they say, “I am happy”, and when they are happy they say, “I am pleased”. But pleasure is far from happiness. A small thing can give pleasure, but in order to be happy one ought to arrive at that pitch where there is everlasting happiness. Pleasure comes and goes; it is the shadow of happiness, it is not happiness.
In the same way people muddle cleverness with wisdom. Of a wise person they say, “What a clever man”, and of a clever man they say, “How wise is he.” A worldly person is not wise, he is clever, and a wise man is not necessarily clever, although he is perfect wisdom. Cleverness is a shadow of wisdom. Wisdom is light.
In the East no doubt seekers after truth in all ages have sought the direction of those who had already acquainted themselves with the path, in order to tread the path under their guidance. To-day a man comes and says, “I do not wish to follow any guidance or advice. If a book can tell me something I shall read it. Tell me just now what I should do, and I shall do it”. Imagine! In order to develop your voice you go to a teacher of voice-culture and do a thousand practices with open mouth and make a thousand kinds of grimaces you would never like to make. In order to develop the voice you have to do a thousand things which sound foolish in order to sing one day. What comparison is there between spiritual attainment and singing? If singing rightly takes so many years’ practice and so much concentration and discipline under the orders of a teacher, how can a spiritual teacher tell at the dinner table what spirituality means? People ask, “Would you tell us in one word how we can attain spirituality?” Is it such a simple thing?
Who then can tell it and how can it be told? It is something to discover for oneself. The teacher can only put one on the track to attain to that realization which is called spirituality. No doubt according to the idea of the people of the East the responsibility of the spiritual teacher is still greater than that of parents towards their children. From the time of his birth the parents’ thought is centred on the well-being of the child. Even when he is grown-up the child is the same in the heart of the parents; they are interested in everything he does. The child may not care for them, but they will understand. He may be far away, yet from a distance the heart of the mother will always be craving for the welfare of her child. So it is with the teacher. The spiritual teacher under whose guidance a pupil places himself will fulfill to him the place of both father and mother, and even more. His welfare is the teacher’s religion, it is his spiritual responsibility; for the spiritual teacher there is no other religion. He is not necessarily a priest; all the duty he has is to be anxious about the welfare and well-being of those who sought his guidance, who come under his direction.
It is therefore that the service of the great ones such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, or any others who came from time to time to serve humanity in a small or in a great way, has been a service of love and affection in order to raise humanity by their own example, their own ideas, their own love. What they have taught is not so important as what was given beyond words as love and light. That is the sacrament in the church, the same in the form of love and wisdom. What has come in words, or from the lips, is very little – so simple.
There is no comparison between the Bible or any such spiritual book and a writer of to-day, because the value of the book is not in the capability of the writer; its value lies in the personality of the teacher. The wonderful souls who from time to time served humanity helping it to progress – whether known or unknown, whether mankind has forgotten them or still holds them-have done their duty and always do so. Those who take such an opportunity of benefiting by their teaching, by their thought, are blessed ones.
Spirituality is not necessarily intellectuality, nor is it orthodoxy or asceticism. Orthodox, ascetic or intellectual pursuit after truth-all these are the ways people have taken in order to reach a spiritual goal, but the way is not the goal. If there is a definition of spirituality it is the tuning of the heart.
In this material age of ours the heart quality is totally forgotten and great importance is given to reason and logic. When we argue with a person, he says, “Argue with reason, be logical”. Sentiment and idealism have no place; it is therefore that humanity is getting further and further from spiritual attainment. The main quality, the best in man, is ignored and by ignoring that quality it becomes dead. For instance, if a poet happens to live in a village where no one understands poetry, if an artist lives in a town where no one cares for his pictures, if an inventive genius has no opportunity of bringing out his inventions, these faculties become blunted and in the end they die. So it is with the heart quality: if it is not taken notice of, if it has no opportunity to develop, if it is ignored, then this quality becomes blunted and in the end it dies. As it is said in a song, “The light of life dies when love is gone”.
When feeling has become blunted then what remains? Nothing. Then there is no sign of life. What remains is intellectuality expressing itself by the power of egoism. It is difficult to live in the world because selfishness is ever on the increase. Business and industry apart, even in friendship, in relationship the give-and-take has the greatest importance, worldly interest takes part in it. There is a certain fineness that belongs to human nature, a certain nobleness, a certain independence, there is a certain ideal, a certain delicacy, a certain manner that belong to human nature, and all these become blunted when the heart quality is left undeveloped.
I have been travelling for many years seeing people busy in the pursuit of truth and to my very great disappointment I have found many of them, although interested in higher things, yet arguing, discussing, “Do you believe what I believe”, or, “Perhaps my belief is better than yours”- always that intellectual side. They said, “We have so many things connected with our life in the world in which we can use our intellect: business, industry, domestic affairs”. In seeking God, in attaining spirituality we do not need to use so much intellect, because this does not come by the intellect: it comes by the tuning of the heart.
People will say, “Yes, but all the same there are emotional persons, affectionate and loving people”. But I do not always call emotional people loving people. They may be so outwardly, but very often the more emotional they are the less loving, for one day their love is on the rise, next day it is on the fall, one day very loving, next day just moved with emotions like clouds. One day the sky is clear, next day it is covered. One cannot depend upon emotions, they are not love. It is the feeling nature that is to be developed, the sympathetic nature.
Besides, there exists, especially in the Western world, a false conception of the strength of personality. May be many have understood it wrongly; under the guise of strength they want to harden their hearts. For instance, many men think that for a man to be touched or moved by anything is not natural or normal. On the contrary! If a man is not touched or moved it is not natural; he is still in the mineral kingdom and not yet in the human kingdom. To be human and not be touched or moved by something touching or appealing only means that the eyes of the heart are closed, its ears blocked. This heart is not living. It is a wrong understanding of a high principle. The principle is that man must be feeling and at the same time so strong that as much feeling he has, so much strength he must have to cover it. It does not mean he must not be feeling; man without feeling is without life. Those who are afraid of feeling think that the right, the normal thing to do is to keep away from feeling. However much they study psychology, theoretically and methodically, they will not attain to spirituality. Spirituality does not belong to intellectuality, it has nothing to do with it. In connection with spirituality intellectuality is in so far useful that an intellectual person can best express spiritual inspiration.
Many people say, “I had a deep feeling, but that feeling is all gone, it is lost. Now I have no more feeling”. That means that something in them has died. They do not know it, but something of great importance has died, for they were affectionate, loving, kind. Perhaps they have met with the disappointing qualities of human nature and have become disappointed, and so the feeling heart has taken the bowl of poison and died. Or perhaps some began to dig the ground in order to find water, but before they could reach water they saw mud. Having no patience to go on digging still they became disappointed with the mud and lost their enthusiasm to dig. There are others who, out of self-righteousness or keen perception of human defects or out of their critical tendency, begin to hate before they can love someone, and so hate comes first giving no chance to love.
What is necessary is to develop a sympathetic nature and to sustain its gradual growth. As it is difficult for the student of voice-culture to practise his voice and not to let it be spoiled-for even practice may spoil it-so it is with the sympathetic person: while developing the faculty of sympathy there is a chance of spoiling it. In other words, the more loving a person, the more chance he has to be disappointed. The greater the love, the finer the fragility and the more susceptible to everything; therefore the greater the love, the more fragile the heart – at any moment it can break. The one who walks in the path of sympathy therefore must take great care that his way may not be blocked. It is his own perseverance that will keep him from everything that is trying to block his way.
There is one principle to be remembered in the path of sympathy: we must do all we can with regard to the pleasure of those whom we love and whom we meet, but we must not expect the best from those whom we love and meet, for we must know that the world is as it is. We cannot change it, but we can change ourselves. The one who wants others to do what he wishes them to do will always be disappointed. That is the complaining soul; all day long, every day of the month, that soul is complaining. He is never without a complaint; if not about a human being, then it is the climate; if not about the climate then about the conditions; if not about someone else then about himself. Something is hurting that person all the time.
He must remember that self-pity is the worst poverty. The person who takes life in this way, saying, “My poor self, crinkled, forgotten, forsaken, ill treated by everybody, by the planets, even by God” – that person has no hope; he is an exile from the Garden of Eden. But when one says, “I know what human nature is, I cannot expect any better, I must only try and appreciate what little good comes from it, I must be thankful for it and try and give the best I can to others”- that is the only attitude that will enable man to develop his sympathetic nature. The one who keeps justice on the foreground is always blinded by it; he is always talking about justice, but never knows it. As to the one who keeps justice in the background – the light of justice falls on his way and he only uses justice for himself. When he has not done right to others he takes himself to task, but if others do not do right towards him he says that this is justice also. For the just person all is just, for the unjust everything is unjust. Remember that the one who talks too much of justice is far from justice; that is why he is talking about it.
One may think, “Is there any reward in sympathy if it leads only to disappointment?” I shall answer, “Life’s reward is life itself”. A person may suffer from illness or disease, be most unhappy and sad, but ask him, “Shall I turn you into a rock?”, and he will say, “No, let me live and suffer”. Therefore life’s reward is life; the reward of love is love itself. Loving is living, and the heart that closes itself to everyone closes itself to its own self.
The difference between human love and divine love is like that between drill and war. One has to drill in order to prepare for war. One has to know the phenomenon of love on this plane in order to prepare to love God who alone deserves love. The one who says, “I hate human beings, but I love God”, does not know what love means; he has not drilled, he is of no use in war. A loving person, whether he loves a human being or whether he loves God, shows no trace of hatred, and the one who has hatred in him loves neither man nor God, for hatred is the sign that the doors of his heart are closed.
Is it not a great pity that we see to-day among the most civilized nations one nation working against the other, lack of trust between nations and this fear of war? It is dreadful to think that humanity which appears to be progressing so much is at the same time going backward to such an extent that never in the history of the world such bloodshed has been caused as during the last war. Are we evolving or going backward?
What is missing is not intellectuality, for people are capable of inventing things and imagining governments every day better and better. Then what is missing? It is the heart quality. It seems it is being buried more and more today. Therefore the real man is being destroyed and the false part of his being is continuing. A better condition can be brought about by the individual who will realize that the development of the heart and nothing else brings about better conditions.
The other day I lectured in Paris and after my lecture a very able man came to me and said, “Have you got a scheme?” I said, “What scheme?” “Of bettering conditions.” I replied that I had not made such a scheme, and he said, “I have a scheme, I will show it to you”. He opened his box and brought out a very large paper with mathematics on it and showed it to me saying, “This is the economic scheme that will make the condition of the world better: everyone will have the same share”. I said, “We should practise that economic scheme first on tuning our piano: instead of saying D, E, F, we should tune them all to one note and play that music and see how interesting that would be – all sounding the same, no individuality, no distinction, nothing.” And I added, “Economy is not a plan for construction, but it is a plan for destruction. It is economics which have brought us to destruction. It is the heart quality, it is the spiritual outlook which will change the world”.
Very often people coming to hear me say afterwards, “Yes, all you say is very interesting, very beautiful, and I wish too that the world was changed. But how many think like you? How can you do it? How can it be done?”. They come with that pessimistic remark, and I tell them, “One person comes into a country with a little cold or influenza and it spreads. If such a bad thing can spread, can not an elevated thought of love, kindness and goodwill towards all men spread? See then that there are finer germs, germs of goodwill, of love, kindness, and feeling, germs of brotherhood, of the desire for spiritual evolution, which can have greater results than the other ones. If we all have that optimistic view, if we all work in our little way, we can accomplish a great deal”.
There are many good, loving and kind people whose heart goes out to every person they meet, but are they spiritual? It is an important question to understand. My answer is that they are just close to spiritual attainment, but unconsciously spiritual. They are not spirit-conscious. Often we meet a mother, a father or a child in whom we see a deep loving tendency; love is pouring out from them, they have become fountains of love. They do not know one word of psychology, of mysticism, but that does not matter. After all what are these names? Nothing but nets for fishes to be caught in, which remain in those nets for years. Sometimes these are big names with little meaning to them, of which much is made by those who want to commercialize the finer things. Very often it is a catering on the part of so-called spiritual workers to satisfy human curiosity and to create sensation even in the spiritual world. But truth is simple. The more simple you are and the more you seek for simplicity, the nearer you come to truth.
The devotional quality needs a little direction; that direction allows it to expand. The loving quality is just like water. The tendency of water is to expand, to spread, and so the loving quality spreads. But if a person is not well directed, or if he does not know how to direct himself then-if instead of deepening that quality flows-it is without root and it becomes limited. The love quality must be deepened first before it spreads out. If not, what generally happens is that those who set out to love all human beings end in hating all human beings. Because they did not first deepen themselves enough they did not have all the strength to draw more.
The Sufis have therefore considered the development of the heart quality as a spiritual culture, and have called it the culture of the heart. It consists of the tuning of the heart. Tuning means changing the pitch of the vibrations. Tuning the heart means changing the vibrations, bringing them to a certain pitch which is the natural one where you feel the joy and ecstasy of life, which enables you to give pleasure to others even by your presence because you are tuned. When an instrument is properly tuned you need not play music on it; just by striking it you will feel a great magnetism coming from it. If an instrument well-tuned can have that magnetism, how much greater should be the magnetism of hearts that are tuned. Rumi says, “Whether you have loved a human being or whether you have loved God, if you have loved enough you will be brought in the end into the presence of the supreme Love itself”.
Question: Is there a science of culture of the heart?
Answer: The science of the Sufis teaches that in the mind and in the body a blockage is produced by the lack of development of the sympathetic nature. In the physical body are some nervous centres which are awakened by sympathetic development and by lack of sympathy they are closed. It is therefore that a butcher is less intuitive: everything that keeps man away from sympathy robs him of intuition, because sympathy develops a life in the finer centres, the nervous centres, and the absence of sympathy takes away that life.
So it is in the mind; when the heart is not sympathetic something is missing in the mentality of man, and it is sympathy which opens it. Sufis have the medicine for this disease: it is the practice of a certain art which in our language is called dhikr (zikar) or mantram. By practising that particular art in the right way one works with vibrations on these fine centres. It is a process of vibrations by the help of certain mystically prescribed words; by the repetition of these mystical words the centres begin to vibrate. Very often after six weeks’ practice a person feels quite different. Then with that vibration a thought is held in the mind and so concentration is developed at the same time. It helps the love nature or sympathetic nature to be deepened and centralized in the person. As the love nature develops it begins to flow out, and its outflowing creates an atmosphere, a spiritual atmosphere.
That is why in the East you will always find that the presence of a Sufi is sought by Hindus and Muslims, by people of all different creeds, because the Sufi is all. He is not solely a Hindu or a Muslim, he has not any other religion, he is all, and this comes from the development of feeling. During my pilgrimage to the holy men of India I have seen some whose presence could illuminate you more than reading books for your whole life, or than disputing over any problems a thousand times. They do not need to speak, they become living lights, fountains of love. And if there is infection in disease so there is also infection in spiritual attainment. It is infectious, a person feels uplifted, he feels full of joy, ecstasy, happiness, enlightenment.
Of course the one is more impressed than the other; upon one the influence is much greater than upon another. It all depends upon the person. I will tell you an amusing instance. I remember a lady telling me, “Since you have come my husband is very, very nice”. I said, “Yes”. But eight days after I had left that town she wrote to me that the man was just where he had been before. The effect of influence is very different, because it is just like the effect of fire. The effect of fire on stone, on iron, on wax, on paper, on cloth, on cotton-upon every object-is different. So on every person the effect of a spiritual personality is different.
Optimism and Pessimism
OPTIMISM REPRESENTS a spontaneous flow of love; optimism also represents trust in love. This shows that it is love, trusting love which is optimism. Pessimism comes from disappointment, from a bad impression which is there of some hindrance in the past. Optimism gives a hopeful attitude in life, whereas by pessimism one sees darkness on one’s path. No doubt sometimes pessimism shows conscientiousness and cleverness -and pessimism also shows experience. But in point of fact can weever be conscientious enough if we only think what difficulties we have before us in our life? It is trust which solves the problems in the end. Very often the wise have seen that cleverness does not reach far; it goes a certain distance and there it stands, for cleverness is a knowledge which belongs to the earth. As to experience – what is man’s experience? One is only proud of one’s experience in life as long as one has not seen how vast the world is. In every line of work and thought no mountain of experience is needed, and the further man goes in experience the less he realizes that he has none.
The psychological effect of optimism is such that it helps to bring success, for it is by the optimistic spirit that God has created the world. Optimism therefore comes from God, and pessimism is born out of the heart of man. From what little experience of life he has man feels, “This will not be done, that will not succeed, this will not go, that will not come right”. For the optimistic one, if things will not come right in the end, it does not matter; he will take his chance. And what is life? Life is an opportunity. To the optimistic person the opportunity is a promise, and for the pessimistic person this opportunity is lost. It is not that the Creator makes man lose it, but it is man who withdraws himself from the possibility of seizing the opportunity.
Many in this world prolong their illness by giving a pessimistic thought to it. Mostly you will find that for those who have suffered for many years from a certain illness their illness becomes so real that its absence seems unnatural. They believe this illness to be their nature and its absence something they do not know. In this way they keep the illness in themselves. Then there are pessimistic people who think that misery is their share in life, that they are born to be wretched and cannot be anything else but unhappy, that heaven and earth are against them. In fact they – and nobody else – are against themselves, they themselves are their own misery and their pessimism is their misfortune.
Man’s life depends on what he concentrates upon. If he concentrates upon misery he cannot but be miserable. If he has a certain habit or a certain nature of which he does not approve, he thinks he is helpless before it because it is his nature, his own. Nothing is man’s nature, except that which he makes for himself. As the whole of nature is made by God, so the nature of each individual is made by himself. As the Almighty has the power to change His nature, so the individual is capable of changing his nature – if only he knew how. Among all the creatures of this world man is most entitled to be optimistic, for man represents the nature of God on earth: God as judge, as Creator and as the Master of all His creation. So is man master of his own life, master of his affairs – if only he knew it.
A man with an optimistic view will help another who is drowning in the sea of fear or disappointment. A pessimist, on the contrary, if somebody comes to him who is ill or downhearted by the hardness of life, will pull that person down and let him sink to the depths with him. So on the side of the one there is life, on the side of the other there is death. The one climbs to the top of the mountain, the other goes to the depth of the earth. Is there any greater helper in one’s sorrow, in misfortune, at moments when every situation in life seems dark, than that spirit of optimism which knows, “All will be right”. Therefore it is no exaggeration if I say that the very Spirit of God comes to man’s rescue in the form of the optimistic spirit.
It does not matter how hard a situation in life may be, however great the difficulties, they all can be fought, they all can be surmounted. But what matters is that his pessimistic spirit weighs a person down low, when he has already come to low waters. Death is preferable to being weighed down in misery by a pessimistic spirit. The greatest reward there can be in the world is the spirit of optimism, and the greatest punishment that can be given to man for his worst sins is the spirit of pessimism.
Verily, hopeful is the one who in the end will succeed.
Questions and answers
Question: What is the origin of conscience?
Answer: Conscience is the cream of the mind. The best that the mind has produced is conscience. It is a product of the mind, and therefore the conscience of a person living in one nation is quite different from the conscience of a person in another nation: it is built in another element. For instance, in ancient times there were communities of robbers. Now there are nations. The robbers used to think that they were entitled to rob the caravans passing by; they had a moral principle and an ideal. If a person said, “All I have I give you, let me go”, they said, “No, I wish to see blood from your hand”. They did not let him go without hurting him. What was their principle? They thought, “We do not accept anything from you, we are not beggars, we are robbers. We risk our lives for our profession, we defend ourselves risking our lives, we are brave, we are entitled to it, we are courageous”. It was the same with the sea pirates; they thought what they did was virtue, and from that thought they became kings. The same people when small were robbers, when great became kings.
Conscience therefore is what we have made. At the same time it is the finest thing we make; it is like the honey made by bees. Beautiful experiences in life, tender thoughts and feelings gather in ourselves and make a conception of wrong or right. If we go against it, it brings and produces discomfort. Happiness, success, comfort in life, peace – they all depend upon the condition of our conscience.
Question: Does not each person make his own law for his necessity?
Answer: That would be nice, but we are living in a community; we are not entitled to live in a community and to disregard its laws. If we wish to benefit, to entitle ourselves to all its advantages we must adhere to its laws. No doubt if we have better ideas than the community has produced, we can make them see that our principle is the right one, but we must not disregard the principle in which the whole community lives, saying, “We make our laws for our individual being”. We can go to the mountains and forests saying, “We live according to our own law”; then we can be entitled to do so. In ancient times there were spiritual people who went into the caves of the mountains and into the forest and lived according to their own laws. But if we say, “As members of the community we must have its privileges”, then we must also adhere to the laws of the community.
Question: Is not the disapproval of the conscience due to the soul’s memory of unpleasant consequences of actions in the past, added to conventionalities and accepted ideas as to what is right at the present time?
Answer: Does “past” mean yesterday or the day before yesterday, this life or the life before? If no more explanation is given I might say that the whole life of the world is built of conventionalities and accepted ideas, and nothing else. Therefore I do not mean to say that conscience is truth. When we come to the absolute truth there is nothing to be said-but the conscience is made of accepted ideas. The world is maya and nothing else. If we accept something as being right, to another it is wrong. What the modern German philosopher Einstein says about relativity is the same thing which many years before the Hindus have called maya, illusion: illusion caused by relativity, for everything exists by our acceptance of it. We accept a certain thing to be right, good, or beautiful; once accepted it becomes our nature, our individual self-it is all acceptance. If we do not accept it then it is not. A mistake, if we do not accept it as such, is not a mistake, but once accepted it is a mistake.
Question: But we do not always know if it is a mistake.
Answer: Do we not know it from the painful consequences ensuing? That also is acceptance.
There are dervishes who work against accepted facts, for instance the accepted fact that fire burns. They jump into the fire and come out unharmed. So they give a proof to the religions, saying, “hellfire is not for us. When we can prove that here for us it does not exist, certainly for us in the hereafter it does not exist”.
Question: Is not the conscience really the result of the soul’s respect for the accepted ideas of a community? If left to oneself would there be any reaction in one’s conscience?
Answer: But there is action and reaction in oneself. The reason is that a human being has had different phases of existence. In one phase he is less wise; if he dives deeper in himself he is wiser; if he dives still deeper in himself he is wiser still. What he does in one sphere he would reject in another sphere. Therefore a man has so much in himself to combat and to reject that he has action and reaction even without contact with others.
Sometimes in his mood a person is a devil, sometimes a saint. There are moods, there are times when a person is quite out of reason; there are fits of goodness and fits of badness-that is human nature. Therefore one cannot say that an evil person has no good in him, nor a good person no evil. But what concerns the conscience most is one’s own conception of what is right and wrong, and the second influence is the conception of others. Therefore a person is not free.
Question: Is not the role of the conscience very difficult?
Answer: The best way of testing life is to have conscience as a testing instrument with everything – whether it is harmonious or inharmonious. If it is inharmonious, then to think that it will upset the whole environment; if it is harmonious then to think that it is all right.
Question: How can a feeling be controlled by the conscience?
Answer: The conscience -like everything else-if it has become accustomed to handle one’s thought, speech or action becomes stronger. If it is not accustomed to do this then it becomes weaker and remains only as a torture, not as a controller. The conscience is a faculty of the heart as a whole which contains reason, thought, memory and heart.
Question: But who is it in the conscience who judges?
Answer: In the sphere of conscience the soul of man and the Spirit of God meet and become one.9
Question: In what manner do the soul of man and the Spirit of God meet in the conscience and become one?
Answer: The heart in its depth is linked with the divine Mind. Therefore in the depth of the heart there is a greater justice than on the surface, and a kind of intuition comes, inspiration, knowledge as the inner light falling upon our own individual conception of things, and both then come together. In the conscience is the throne of God; there God Himself sits on the throne of justice.
A person condemned by his conscience is more miserable than the one who is condemned by the court. A person whose conscience is clean, if he is exiled from his country or sent to prison, still remains a lion – even in a cage, for even in a cage there is his inner happiness. But when his conscience despises a person then that is a bitter punishment, more so than any the court can give.
Sa’di says it very beautifully. He sees the throne of God in the conscience and says, “Let me confess my faults to Thee alone that I may not have to go before anyone in the world to humiliate myself”.
Question: Why can we only have knowledge of God through the heart? What part of the mind does the heart represent?
Answer: The heart is the principle centre – not the heart in the body, but the heart which is the depth of the mind, for the mind is the surface of the heart. The heart and the mind are one, as one tree: the root is the heart, the branches, the fruits and the flowers represent the mind.
Question: What is the relation between conscience and truth?
Answer: I distinguish between truth and facts. Conscience is made from the cream of facts, but not from truth, because truth stands above all things; it has nothing to do with conscience. It is facts which have to do with conscience. When we come to understand truth – the understanding of truth is just like a spring which rises and expands into an ocean, so that we come even to such a degree of understanding that we say, “All is true, and all is truth”.
9. This Question-and-Answer is added here in order to introduce the next one. It is extracted from a lecture on “Conscience” published in Volume XIII of this series: Gatha Metaphysics, III, No. 6. The question as well as the answer are Hazrat Inayat Khan’s own words.