The whole of manifestation, in all its aspects, is a record upon which the voice is reproduced; and that voice is a person’s thought. There is no place in the world, neither desert, forest, mountain nor house, town nor city, where there is not a voice continually going on — a voice that was once engraved upon it and that since then has continued. No doubt every such voice has its limit. One voice may continue for thousands of years, and another voice for several months, and yet another for some days and another for hours or moments. Everything that is created, intentionally or unintentionally, has a life, it has a birth and so it has a death. Plainly speaking, it has a beginning and an end.
One can experience this by feeling the atmosphere of different places. Sitting upon the rocks of the mountains, one often feels the vibrations of the one who has been sitting there before. Sitting in a forest, in a wilderness, one can feel what has been the history of that place. It may be that there was a city and a house and that people lived there, and now it has turned into a wilderness. One begins to feel the history of the whole place, it communicates with one.
Every town has its own particular voice. It is, so to speak, telling out loud who lived in the town and how they lived, what their life was. It tells of their grade of evolution, it tells of their doings, it tells of the results produced by their actions. People perceive the vibrations of haunted houses because the atmosphere is stirred; and therefore, it is often felt distinctly. There is no house, there is no place that does not have not have its own voice. The voice has been engraved upon it so that it has become a record, reproducing what has been given to it, consciously or unconsciously.
When Abraham returned from Egypt after his initiation into the mysteries of life, he arrived at Mecca. A stone was set there in memory of the initiation that he had just received from the ancient esoteric school of Egypt. The voice that was put into the stone by the singing soul of Abraham continued and became audible to those who could hear. The prophets and seers have, since that time, made pilgrimages to this stone of Ka’ba. This continued and is still going on.
A place like Mecca, a desert with nothing of interest — the ground is not fertile, the people not very evolved, no business or industry is flourishing, no science or art developed — it still has had an attraction for millions of people who have gone there for only one purpose, and that was pilgrimage. What was it, and what is it? It is the voice that has been put into the place, into a stone. A stone has been made to speak, and it speaks to those whose ears are open.
Every place where a person sits and thinks for a moment on any subject takes in the thought of man. It takes the record of what has been spoken so that no man can hide his thought or feeling. It is recorded even in the seat where he has been sitting and thinking. Many persons, by sitting in that place, begin to feel it. Sometimes, the moment a person sits on a certain seat, he may feel a thought quite foreign to him, a feeling that does not belong to him, because on that seat that thought was vibrating. As a seat can hold the vibrations of the thought for a much longer time than the life of the person who has thought or has spoken, so an influence remains in every place where one sits, where one lives, where one thinks or feels, rejoices or sorrows. This voice continues for a time incomparably longer than the life of the person who spoke or thought there.
Question: When many people have lived somewhere for a long time, would there not be a confusion of voices, or would one voice predominate?
Answer: There is a dominating voice which is more distinct than the other voices. At the same time, as one feels what a composer wishes to convey through the whole music he writes, through all the instruments, so even the different voices which are going on together make one result, and that result comes as a symphony to the person who can hear them together. A collective thought comes when one can perceive it, especially in a town, in a new city. It is a kind of voice of the past and a voice of the present, the voice of all as one music. It has its peculiar and particular effect.
Question: Would the thoughts of people coming afterwards prolong the initial thought?
Answer: No, it would add to it. For instance, if there is a flute, then a clarinet, a trumpet or a trombone added to it will make up the volume of sound; however, there is always one instrument that plays the first part. The main voice stands as a breath, and all the other voices attracted to it build around it a form. The breath remains as life. The form may be composed and decomposed, but the breath remains as life.
Question: Does the duration of the impression that Abraham made upon the Ka’ba stone depend upon its intensity, or upon the sacredness of the thought?
Answer: When the thought comes from an evolved person, this has a greater power than the thought itself, than what the thought contains, because the person is the life of that thought. The thought is the cover over that life. Perhaps Abraham would not have been able to engrave any other stone with that same power he had when he came with his fresh impression after his initiation. At that time, the impression was, perhaps, more intense than at any other time of his life, before or after.
Abraham said, “This stone I set here in memory of initiation, as a sign of God to be understood as One God. This stone will remain forever as a temple.” He was not a king or a rich man. He could not build a temple, he could only put up this one stone. However, this stone has remained for a much longer time than many temples built with riches.
This is only one example, but there are numerous examples to be found. There is the atmosphere of Benares, and there are the vibrations of Ajmer, where Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti lived, meditated and died. There is the tomb of the saint, where a continual voice is going on, a vibration so strong that a person who is meditative would sit there and would like to sit there forever. It is in the midst of the city, and yet it has a feeling of wilderness because in that place the saint sat and meditated on sawt-e-sarmad, the cosmic symphony. Through his hearing that cosmic music continually, cosmic music has been produced there.
There was a wonderful experience during the lifetime of the Khwaja of Ajmer. To visit this saint, a great master, Khwaja Abdul Qadir Jilani, who was also an advanced soul, came from Baghdad. A remarkable meeting took place between them in Ajmer. Now, the latter was very strict in his religious observances, and the religious people would not have music. So, naturally, in order to respect his belief, the Khwaja of Ajmer had to sacrifice his everyday musical meditation. But when the time came, the symphony began by itself. The great master felt that, without anyone playing, the music was going on! He said to the saint, “Even if religion prohibits it, it is for others, not for you.”
Question: What is the character of remote places that have always been uninhabited, or very little inhabited? Is the attraction that such places possess due to the absence of distracting voices?
Answer: In remote places, sometimes the voices have become buried, and there is a kind of overtone that is most gentle and soothing, for the voices have gone and the vibration remains as an atmosphere. If the place has always been a desert, it is still more elevating because it has its own natural atmosphere that is most uplifting. If some travelers have passed through it and if this brings their voice to us, even that is much better than what one perceives and feels in cities and in towns because in nature, man is quite a different person. The more he approaches nature, the more that is artificial falls away from him. He becomes more and more free from the superficial life and more at one with nature. Therefore, his predisposition, which is nature, truth and goodness, all comes up and makes life a kind of dream for him, a romance, a lyric. So, even his thought there, as a human thought, begins to sing through nature.
Question: Does a tomb keep the voice of the person who is buried there?
Answer: No, not the tomb, but the place where the person lived. In ancient times, people made a mark where a person had lived, they made a tomb where the vibrations of that person had been recorded. Ancient tombs were mostly made in places where the person sat, thought and meditated. In this case, the tomb is an excuse, it is only a mark that shows that here the person sat.
In India, where cremations take place, they often make a seat to mark the place where the one who died meditated and produced his vibrations. He may not be buried there, but a mark has been made just to keep that seat, that place.
The secret of the idea of a blessing to be found in holy places lies in the principle that the holy place is no longer a place, but it has become a living being. The prophets, having proclaimed for ages the name of God and the law of the divine Being in the Holy Land, make it still living, and it has attraction for the whole world.
It is said that for ages, roses have sprung up on Sa’adi’s grave and that his grave has never been without them. It is credible, for in “The Rose Garden,” he has written from the thought of beauty, and that beauty of his thought, once voiced, is still continuing, though the mortal body of Sa’adi has perished. If this maintained roses in the place of his burial for centuries, it is not astonishing.
People often wonder why the Hindus, with their great philosophical minds, with their deep insight into mysticism, should believe in such a thing as a sacred river. Besides being symbolical, there is another meaning to it. The great Mahatmas live in the heights of the Himalayas where the Ganges and the Jumna streams rise and then take different directions until they unite again and become one. This is really a phenomenon, deep in its symbolism as well as in its actual nature. It is symbolical that the rivers begin as one and then turn into duality, that after the two streams have been separated for miles, they are attracted to each other. Then they meet in a place at Allahabad, called Sangam, which is a place of pilgrimage. This gives us, in its interpretation, the idea of the whole manifestation, which is one in the beginning, then manifests as dual and unites in the end.
Besides this, the thoughts of the great Mahatmas flow with the water and come into the world combined with this living stream of the Ganges. This brings the vibrations of the great ones and speaks as a voice of power, of awakening, blessing, purity and unity to those who hear it. Nevertheless, those unconscious of the blessing have also been blessed by bathing in the sacred river, for it was not only water, but also a thought besides, a most vital thought, a thought of power with life in it. Those who have perceived this have perceived its secret.
In many poems in the Sanskrit language, one reads how, in the waves of the Ganges and the Jumna, the seers heard the voice of the evolved souls and felt the atmosphere of those advanced beings as a breath current coming through the water.
There is a tank in Mecca called “Zemzem,” from which the prophets of all ages have drunk. They did not only drink water, they received from it what had been put into it, and then they charged it with what they had to give to it. Even now, pilgrims go there and receive that water as a blessing.
I once had an amusing experience during my travels in India. I happened to arrive at the place of the tomb of a most powerful person. I learned that often when this person visited this tomb, he came down with a fever. This amused me. I asked, “What is the reason for this?” I was told, “This great personality was hot tempered. Although most spiritual, he could not tolerate anyone. He would keep everyone at a bamboo’s distance. So now, anyone going near this tomb gets a fever.” I thought, “I must bow from a distance and leave!”
I also happened to see a place where a great healer, Miran Datar, used to sit. Throughout his life he healed thousands of patients, and many he healed instantly. In that same place, his grave was made, and till this day people are attracted to his tomb. Those who touch this place are healed instantly.
There is a story in the East of five brothers who were travelling and arrived at a place where they found that each one had lost his merit, for each was gifted in something. They were confused and disappointed, and they were wondering about the reason for such an experience. The wise one amongst them found, in the end, through the power of concentration, that it was the effect of the place. The place had lost its life, it was a dead place, and everyone who came there felt as if he had no life in him. The inner life had gone. We see this in land which, after having been used for many thousands of years has lost the strength, the vitality of the earth. If outwardly the land can lose it, then inwardly the vitality, the breath of the land, can also be lost.
Often one feels most inspired in one place, and in another, most depressed. In one place they feel confused, in another place, dull. One finds nothing of interest, nothing to attract. One might think it is the effect of the weather, but there are places outwardly most beautiful in nature with wonderful climates, yet one does not feel inspired there.
If an artist is born in a dead country, then his talent cannot be developed there. There is no nourishment, his artistic impulse will become paralyzed. Even a plant cannot live on itself, it must have air, sun and water. Yet a prophet can inspire a dead land just by passing through it.
Jelal-ud-Din Rumi said centuries ago that before everyone fire, water, earth and air are objects; before God they are living beings that work at His command. The meaning of what Rumi said is that all objects, all places, are as gramophone records. What is put into them, they speak. Either one’s soul hears it, or one’s mind, according to one’s development.
It seems that people are now beginning to believe in what they call “psychometry.” What is it? It is learning the language that objects speak. Apart from the color or form an object has, there is something in it that speaks to one. Either this belongs to that object, or it belongs to the one who has used it, but it is in that object. Sometimes one may bring an object into the house and the moment one has brought it in, the other objects begin to break. As long as that object is there, then there is always a kind of loss. It can bring disharmony to the house, or an object can bring illness, or it can bring bad luck.
Those who knew the psychological effects that come from objects therefore always avoided getting old objects, however beautiful and precious. They always bought a new object for their use. Of course, one cannot do this with jewels. They have to be old; but most often one finds that jewels have more effect upon a person, on his character, life, affairs and environment, than anything else. One may obtain a pearl that could bring good luck of every kind, from the moment the jewel was bought, or it may produce a contrary effect. Very often, a person does not think of it, yet the effect is just the same, it is continual. Besides this, what one wears has an effect upon one’s health, on one’s condition of mind, on one’s feeling. If it is a jewel, it may have the voice of thousands of years. As old a jewel as it is, it has so much tradition behind it, and it explains it. Intuitive persons who are sensitive and feeling can easily perceive the vibrations of old stones, and it seems as if they speak to them.
Also, with all one gives to another in the form of food, sweets, drinks, fruits or flowers, one gives one’s thought, one’s feeling, and it has an effect. Among the Sufis in the East, there is a custom of giving to someone either a piece of cloth, a flower, a fruit, or some grains of corn. There is a meaning behind it — it is not what is given in that object, but what is given with it.
How little we know when we say, “I believe in what I see.” If one can see how influence works, how thought and feeling speak, how objects partake of them and give them to one another, how thought and feeling, life and influence, are conveyed by the medium of an object — it is most wonderful.
Question: Can any object be charged with good vibrations when, in itself, it is a bad omen?
Answer: There are certain bitter things which can be made sweet; but at the same time, the bitterness is there. There are eatables in which people put different things in order to take away a certain smell, but the smell is still there.
Question: Can the bad influences attached to places and beings be gotten rid of and turned to good?
Answer: Certainly, since at the depth of all things and beings there is goodness.
Question: Is it in the power of a human being to change the influence of an object?
Answer: The answer to this is given in the first four lines of the Gayan:
“When a glimpse of Our image is caught in man,
When heaven and earth are sought in man,
Then what is there in the world that is not in man?
If one only explores him, there is a lot in man.”
There are many ancient places where one finds stones engraved and woods carved with some artistic designs. Sometimes there are letters engraved on the rock of a mountain, or on a stone, letters, which today no one can read. Yet one endowed with the gift of intuition can read them from the vibrations, from the atmosphere, from the feeling that comes from them. Outwardly, they are engravings; inwardly, they are a continual record, a talking record that is always expressing what is written upon it. No traveler with intuitive faculties open will deny the fact that in the lands of ancient traditions he will have seen numerous places that, so to speak, sing aloud the legend of their past.
One sees the same in the atmosphere of the trees in the forests and in the gardens. This also expresses the past — the impressions that have been given to them by those who sat under them. Often people have superstitions about a tree being haunted, and this one finds much more in the East. Actually, a vibration has been created, consciously or unconsciously, by someone who has lived there who has taken shelter under the tree and pondered upon a certain thought, upon a certain feeling that the tree has taken on and that the tree is expressing. Perhaps the person has forgotten about it, but the tree is still repeating the thought that has been given to it, for the tree can express the voice that was put into it more clearly than a rock.
In tropical countries where, in ancient times, people used to travel on foot through the forests and woods and take shelter under a certain tree, all that they thought and felt had been taken up by the tree. Those with intuitive faculties open heard it more clearly than if they had heard it from a living person.
One finds the same thing among the animals, the pet animals who live and partake of thought and feeling through their contact with people. There especially exists a superstition about horses. Those who know horses are very particular in buying one that has good vibrations, apart from considering its health and breed. Often, a horse of a very good breed and perfectly sound may prove to be unlucky. The reason is that the disappointment of someone who has been riding upon this horse has been left there, recorded upon the heart of the horse. Perhaps the condition of the person has changed, but that which the horse has kept is still continuing.
I, myself, was once very impressed in Nepal by seeing a horse and an elephant who were kept only for the Maharaja of Nepal to ride upon. It seemed as if those two animals were conscious of their rider. One could see from their dignity that they knew they belonged to the Maharaja. In every movement of the horse, in the look that the elephant gave, one would feel the presence of a Maharaja. Not only that, but all that belonged to the Maharaja, as pain or pleasure, as life and experience, all seemed to have been recorded upon the horse and the elephant. The most surprising thing was that the elephant was not larger than other elephants, but was even smaller, and most often it is the size that gives dignity to the elephant. Nor was the horse any larger than other horses, but the size did not count. It was the spirit in those animals, a life that one could see, expressing the feeling they possessed in their heart.
This wakens us again to another field of thought, and that is what association can create in us — the association of a sad person or of a happy one, of a foolish or a wise person, the association of a noble-minded person or one who is low. The associate partakes of the one he associates with and vibrates what he partakes of. You can almost hear it spoken in the atmosphere of that person, in his expression, in his thought, speech and actions. A person, however happy, will have a line of melody of wretchedness if he has associated with someone who is miserable. It continues, it sings its song separate from the whole symphony. It has its peculiar tone, one can always distinguish it. A wise person who has associated with a foolish one has kept a line; it is quite a different melody, it is in a different key, it has a different pitch from his original song. In a person who has associated with someone who is noble-minded, someone of high quality, in spite of all his shortcomings, one will see a line marked, distinctly audible to the hearts who listen.
It is not a thing of little importance to consider association. It is of great importance; and from a psychological point of view; it makes all the difference. For a wise person is not always positive against a foolish person, nor is a good person always positive against a wicked one. The one who is positive cannot always be positive; he has his times when he must be negative for a change. Therefore, association certainly brings to one that which is received by the contact, and there is a great wisdom in the saying that a person is known by his associates.
In the East, much thought has been given to this, especially from a spiritual point of view. For those who seek after spiritual truth, association with friends on the same path is more precious than anything in the world. Everything else comes after. Association is held as the first and most important thing.
Question: How can we overcome the disagreeable vibrations of people in our immediate surroundings with whom we daily have to live?
Answer: By being positive. It is true that one cannot always be positive. At such times, one may retire from one’s associates. However, as one evolves, so one’s contact becomes more powerful than the influence of the other person. Therefore, the other person receives more benefit from you, while the harm you receive is less. If, by receiving a little harm, you are able to do more good for the other person, it is just as well. It is only a matter of self-discipline, and love can conquer all things. In every person, however wicked, there is a good string somewhere, and you must know where to find it. If one always thought about it, one could always touch the best point of the other person and overlook the other points. Nevertheless, it is a struggle!
Question: How can we protect ourselves from association with a wicked person?
Answer: In order to answer this, we must go into the law of harmony. A person harmonizes with his like, and he harmonizes with his opposite. A wise person may harmonize with a thoughtful person, and he may harmonize with a foolish person. The half wise is a greater trouble for him than the foolish one because the half wisdom makes a barrier. The foolish person is open, so a harmony can be established at once. The wisdom of another wise person makes him closer, and there is a kind of response between the two, so there is harmony. It is not surprising that one often finds two persons becoming most harmonious or great friends in whose evolution there is so vast a difference that one cannot understand how it can be possible.
However, as said before, association must have an effect. However thoughtful and wise a person may be, there can come a cloud upon his thought and wisdom through association. Perhaps that cloud may be dispersed after a time, but it can cover the light of the sun. The cloud is much smaller compared to the sun, but often it can cover the whole sun from our sight. The influence of a wicked person may cover the light of a good and wise person, and this may remain until the clouds have dispersed.
THE MAGNETISM OF BEINGS AND OBJECTS
In preparing a thing, one not only puts one’s magnetism into it, but also the voice of one’s soul is produced in the thing one prepares. For instance, it is not difficult for an intuitive person to feel in the food that comes before him the thoughts of the cook. It is not only the grade of evolution of the cook that is produced in it, but also what the cook was thinking at that particular time. If the cook is irritated while cooking, if he or she is grumbling or sighing, if he or she is miserable and wretched — then all that is prepared in the food that comes before you.
It is the knowledge of this fact that made the Hindus accept a high-caste Brahmin as a cook. That person, whose evolution was great, was taken as a cook. That person’s life was pure, their thoughts were elevated. It is not a custom of the past, it is a custom even of today. The Brahmin who is sometimes the Guru, the teacher of other castes, may also be the cook.
Besides this, in ancient times when human psychology was keenly observed in all one did, every person, whatever his rank or position in life, was equipped for cooking and preparing dishes for himself and for his friends. A great mark of appreciation and affection was shown by people who invited some relations or friends to their house by placing before them dishes that they, themselves, had prepared. It was not the dish, it was the thought that was put into it.
Life these days seems to have taken away many considerations of psychological character. There was a time when, whether in the East or in the West, knitting or weaving clothes was known to every little girl. To give to one’s brother, sister, beloved or relation some little thing made by one’s own hand was a custom. Now, a thing is easily bought at a shop, and no one knows who made it or whether it was made grudgingly or without grumbling, or how! Especially at this time when the working man is in revolt, what the workman has put into the objects he has made for you is open to question. In sewing for the person one loves, a thought has gone naturally with every stitch that one has made. If it is done with love and affection, then every stitch produces a new thought and completes that living thought of love, thus giving inwardly that great help that every soul is in need of.
Also, the wagons, carriages and ships that are used at the risk of man’s life, by whom are they made? Who knows what the condition of the mind of the builders of the Titanic was. Was there a peacemaker teaching them to keep a certain rhythm of mind while making her? Everything that is made has a magical influence upon it. If it is made with a thought quite contrary to what is needed, then it only means dangers awaiting the ship, the train, the wagon, the car. Often, without apparent cause, you will find a boat in danger, something breaking without substantial reason. This is because in its make-up, the thought of destruction has been given. It is working through it; it is something more living than the object, itself. So it is when a house is built. The thoughts given to it by the one who was building it, or by those who worked on it, all count. In short, we understand by this that there is a thought attached to all things prepared either by an individual or by a multitude, and that thought must give results accordingly.
In all things there is God; but the object is the instrument, and the person is life, itself. Into the object the person puts life. When a certain thing is being made, it is at that time that a life is put into it, which goes on and on as a breath in a body. This also gives us a hint that, when we take flowers to a patient and we have a healing thought with them, the flowers convey the thought of healing. As the patient looks at the flowers, he will receive from them the healing that was put there. Any eatable or sweet, anything that we take to a friend with a thought of love — its use must create a harmonious, happy result for him. Therefore, every little thing given and taken in love, with a harmonious and good thought, has a greater value than the object, itself; for it is not the object, but what is behind the object. Does this not teach us that it is not always doing or preparing things in our everyday life that counts, but that it is giving these things a life with a harmonious, constructive thought so that our work may become a thousand times greater in effect and real value?
This also teaches us that while doing a small thing we should be accomplishing something very great, and doing it with this attitude, with this idea at the back of it — that we are not only making a thing, but we are making it living. Does this not open before us a vast field of work that we could do easily without much cost or effort? In its result, that work could be of a much greater importance than anyone could think of or imagine. Is it not, at the same time, a great blessing to be able to do a thing of great importance without any outward pretense?
Even while writing a letter, a person sometimes puts in it what words cannot explain — and yet the letter conveys it. There may be one word written with a living thought behind it; that word will have a greater effect than a thousand pages. Do we not almost hear a letter speaking? It is not always what is written in it; the letter brings the one who wrote it to us, what mood he was in, his evolution, his pleasure, his displeasure, his joy and his sorrow. The letter conveys more than what was written in it.
Consider the great souls who have come on earth at different times. Conditions opposed them, and they found difficulties at every move in accomplishing what they wanted to. Yet they have produced the voice, a living voice. That living voice continued long after they had left; and in time, it spread throughout the whole universe, accomplishing what they had once wished. The effect of their one moment of thought took perhaps centuries to build something, but it was something worthwhile, something beyond man’s comprehension.
If we could only understand what spirit is, we would esteem the human being much more than we do now. We trust man so little, we believe in man so little, we respect man so little, we esteem the possibilities he has so little. If we only knew what was at the back of every strong and weak soul, we should know that there is every possibility, and we should never underestimate anyone, or fail to respect people in spite of all they may lack. We should recognize that it is the Creator who creates through all the different forms. But it is one Creator; and all that is built, prepared, made and composed is all made by that one Being working through this world of variety.
Question: Does the life and influence put into things decrease with the passing of time?
Answer: Its life is according to the intensity of the feeling. A note resounds according to the intensity with which you strike it. You may strike a note on the piano and it will continue to resound for so long. If you strike it with less intensity, it resounds for a shorter time. But it is, at the same time, according to the strength with which you strike it and according to the instrument on which you strike. There may be one instrument, the string of which will continue to vibrate for a very long time; and there may be another instrument whose string will vibrate for not very long and then will quiet down. So, it is also according to the medium that you take in striking vibrations that the effect is created.
Question: Is the thought attached to things a vibratory power?
Answer: It is a life power, but in order to define it I would call it a vibratory power. From a mystical conception, vibrations may be considered to have three aspects: audible, visible and perceptible. Now the vibrations put into an object are neither audible nor visible, they are only perceptible. Perceptible to what? To the intuitive faculty of man. But it is not meant by this that the one who lacks intuitive faculty does not perceive it. He perceives it, too, but unconsciously.
THE INFLUENCE OF WORKS OF ART
In works of art that have been made — independently of the skill that has been put into them and the ideas they convey to us — there is a feeling that is in them and behind them. When I was visiting Berlin, I saw statuary set around the Kaiser’s palace. Everywhere around it was some work of art suggestive of horror, terror or destruction. As soon as I saw it I thought, “No wonder things happened as they did, for this statuary was produced beforehand.”
A work of art may be beautiful to look at, it may have great skill in it, but with it the mind of the artist is working. The effect that the picture will have is not what it suggests outwardly, but what it speaks aloud of as the voice of its heart. In every picture, in every statue, in every artistic construction, one can see this. There is a voice hidden in it continually, telling for what purpose the work of art was created.
Sometimes an artist is unaware of what he is creating; he is following his imagination. He may be working against his own work of art, or he may be bringing about an effect that he had not desired for himself nor for the person to whom the work of art was to be given.
Once I went to see a temple. I could not call that temple beautiful, but it was wonderful, unique in its kind. No sooner did my eyes fall on the color scheme and the pictures that stood there as its prominent features than I was surprised, thinking, “How could such a temple have existed for so long!” Not long afterwards, I heard that the temple had been destroyed. The idea is that the constructor of the temple was so absorbed in his scheme that he forgot the harmony of the spirit who had to make its plan, and so it resulted in failure.
A friend once took me to see the pictures made by her husband. I no sooner saw them than they brought to me the whole history of that person, how his soul had repeated throughout his life the agonies he had undergone. The whole thing was expressed in those pictures. What was the condition of the possessor of those pictures? Nothing but sorrow and depression.
It is the same with poetry. Among the Hindus there is a psychology of poetry that is taught before one is allowed to write poetry. For it is not only the rhythm and the swing of mind and thought that should be expressed, but to write poetry means to construct something, to make something or to mar something. Poetry has sometimes the effect of bringing prosperity or decline to great ones in whose praise it has been written. There is a science attached to it. A poet may speak highly of a personality in his poetry, yet the construction of his words or the idea behind it may be harmful. It does not only harm the person for whom it was made, but sometimes — if that personality is strong — the effect falls back upon the poet, thus destroying him forever.
So it is with music. It seems a very good idea for a musician to imagine in a kind of magical music that a flood came and a city was destroyed and everybody who lived in that city was drowned. For the moment, it might seem amusing to him, a queer imagination — but it has its influence!
The most interesting thing is that through art, poetry or music, or through the movements one makes in dance, a thought or feeling is created, the effect of which is the outcome of the whole action. The art is, so to speak, a cover. How wonderful it is to notice that art, in its every aspect, is something living, something speaking. It is either good or evil, but it is not without meaning.
One sees in frescoes in old houses in Italy and in the art produced in statuary in ancient times that these works of art almost speak to us of the history of the past. They tell us of the person who made them, of his stage of evolution, his motive, his soul, and of the spirit of that time.
This teaches us that unconsciously, our thoughts and feelings are produced upon all things we use — a place, a rock, a tree, a seat, upon the things we prepare. However, in art, an artist completes the music of his soul, of his mind. It is not produced automatically, it is very often a conscious effort, an effort that results in a certain effect. This shows that it is not enough to learn art or to practice art. In order to complete art, one must understand the psychology of it through which one accomplishes the purpose of one’s life.
Question: Would not an artist be afraid of making a work that might produce something undesirable?
Answer: It is better that he should be afraid, for then he will be careful.
Question: But if he does not know the effect it may have?
Answer: If he will try to know the effect, then he will know it.
One day a person brought me a record and took the trouble of explaining it to me. In the absence of his master, the pupil of a magician called the forces of water and then found he could not stop the flood. Afterwards, the teacher came and stopped it. On that idea, the music was made. I said, “It is an interesting idea, but please, don’t play it!” It is very easy to enjoy a picturesque idea, but one never stops to think that it is not the idea that is important, but that it is the outcome of it that will be destructive or constructive.
Another example one sees in steamers, especially in the Channel. As soon as one goes into one’s cabin, the first thing one sees is a picture of a person about to sink and putting on a life belt. It is the first thing one is impressed with as the first omen. Certainly it is instructive, but it is not a psychological instruction. Even if the person in the picture is not drowned, the impression is not a good one. If such an instruction is needed, then it would be better to distribute picture cards after the ship has started, after people have become accustomed to it.
Question: Is it not unwise to fill a schoolroom or chapel with scenes of death, even of saints and masters?
Answer: It is more than unwise. I could use some other word for it — especially when it is in connection with saints and masters who never died.
Question: Does the idea of beauty and ugliness account for the constructive or destructive nature of art?
Answer: Certainly. Harmony is beauty, and lack of harmony is ugliness. Harmony is constructive, and disharmony is destructive.
Question: Is it not a mistake of modern art to take its subjects from the earth instead of making a reproduction of the higher worlds?
Answer: Artists would do it today, also, if they could reach the higher worlds; the condition is to be able to reach them. The same old wine that was before is here now. The one who drinks it will obtain the same intoxication that people in the past used to experience. If a man becomes more earthly, it is not the fault of heaven. The past did not hold any bliss that is not to be found in the present. The bliss that is the most valuable is eternal, it is always there. It is for us to prepare ourselves to obtain it.
Question: Do not drama and tragedy do harm?
Answer: There are many things that harm us, but there are many things which, at the same time, are interesting. Besides this, there are minds that are more attracted to tragedy than to anything else. It is natural, for when there is a sore, that sore feels alive for the moment, a sensation, which is perhaps agreeable. It may be called pain, but it is an agreeable pain when the sore is scratched. Tragedy has that effect. No doubt too much tragedy is not desirable for anybody, but an artistic nature, a person who loves poetry, finds something in tragedy. It would be depriving oneself of a great joy not to read Shakespeare. But when people write poetry in connection with some personality, a king or a sovereign, or anyone, then there is a direct effect. Whereas, the poetry of Shakespeare is general. However, a play has an effect, and a serious effect, too!
The above is according to the psychological point of view, it is not meant to say that it is the point of view of the Sufi. For Sufis are very fond of poetry, and their passion for poetry goes sometimes very far in expressing the sentiment of longing, yearning, heartbreak, disappointment. However, that is not psychological; according to psychology, it is not right!
Question: How does one learn the inner meaning of a certain piece of music?
Answer: Once you have read, “The Soul Whence and Whither,” you begin to feel that in every plane, the cover of that particular plane is required in order to experience the life in that plane. So, music being a world, poetry being a world, and art being a world, a person who lives in the world of art, in the world of poetry, in the world of music, knows music, poetry or art and he appreciates it. In order to have an insight into music, one must live in it and observe that world most keenly. It is not sufficient that a person should be musical and that he should occupy his heart and soul with music. He should also develop intuition that he may see music keenly.
THE LIFE OF THOUGHT
God is omniscient, omnipotent, all-pervading and the Only Being. This suggests to us that the absolute is living being — the Only Being — and that there is no such thing as death, that there is no such thing as an end, that everything, every being, every particle, has a continuity because life is continuous.
End or death is only a change. Therefore, every thought that has once crossed the mind, every feeling that has once passed through the heart, every word that was once spoken and perhaps never thought about any longer, every action, once done and forgotten, is given a life and it continues to live. It is just like a traveler who is journeying and who, on his way, has some seeds in his hands, which he throws on the ground. When the plants grow in that place, he never sees them. He just threw the seeds, and they are there. The earth has taken them, the water has reared them, and the sun and the air have helped them to grow.
This life is an accommodation and in it, everything — thought, word, action and feeling — once given birth, is taken care of, is raised and brought to fruition. One would hardly think that it could be so. One thinks, it is spoken and gone, or done and finished with, or it was felt and now it is no longer there. But it is only a change, and it is the change of which we are conscious. We know of something and then it is no longer before us. We think it is gone, but it is still there. It remains, and it pursues its course, for it is life. In everything, there is life, and life lives. As all is life, there is no death.
No doubt birth and death, beginning and end, are the names of the different aspects of this mechanical working of the whole universe. It is a kind of automatic working that gives us an idea of something beginning or ending. When we ring a bell the action takes only a moment, but the resonance lasts. It lasts, to our knowledge, as long as it is audible. Then it passes on farther and is no longer audible to us, but it exists. It exists somewhere, it goes on.
If a little pebble thrown into the sea puts the water into action, then one hardly stops to think to what extent this vibration acts upon the sea. What one can see is the little waves and circles that the pebble produces before one. One sees these, but the vibration that has been produced in the sea reaches much father than man can ever imagine. What we call space is a much finer world. If we call it sea, it is a sea with the finest fluid. If we call it land, it is a land which is incomparably more fertile than the land we know. This land takes everything in it and brings it up, it rears it, it allows it to grow; our eyes do not see it, our ears do not hear it.
Does this idea not make us responsible for every movement we make, for every thought we think, for every feeling that passes through our mind or heart? There is not one moment of our life wasted, if we only know how to utilize our activity here, how to direct our thought, how to express it in words, how to further it with our movement, how to feel it, so that it may make its own atmosphere. What responsibility! The responsibility that every man has is greater than a king’s responsibility. It seems as if every man has a kingdom of his own for which he is responsible — a kingdom which is in no way smaller than any kingdom known to us, but incomparably larger than the kingdoms of the earth. This teaches us to be thoughtful and conscientious and to feel our responsibility at every move we make. When a man does not feel this, he is unaware of himself, he is unaware of the secret of life. He goes on as a drunken man walking in a city. He does not know what he is doing, either for himself, or against himself.
Now one might ask, “How can a thought live? In what way does it live? Has it a body to live in, has it a mind, has it a breath?” Yes. The first thing we should know is that a breath that comes directly from the source seeks a body, an accommodation in which to function. A thought is as a body. The breath that runs from the source — as a ray of the spirit that may be likened to the sun — makes the thought an entity. It lives as an entity.
It is these entities that are called, in Sufi terms, “muwakkals,” which means elementals. They live, they have a certain purpose to accomplish. They are given birth by man, and behind them there is a purpose to direct their life. Imagine how terrible it is if, in a moment’s absorption, a person expresses his wrath, his passion, his hatred! A word expressed at such a moment must live and carry out its purpose. It is like creating an army of enemies around oneself. Perhaps one thought has a longer life than another; it depends upon what body has been given to it. If the body is stronger, then it lives longer. On the energy of the mind, the strength of the body of that thought depends.
Elementals are created by man. When the winds blow and the storms rage, creating all destruction, one looks on it as a mechanical action of nature. But it is not only mechanical action, it is directed by man’s feelings, by the intense feelings of human beings. These feelings turn into huge lives. They push as a battery behind winds and storms, floods and volcanoes.
And so other thoughts that call for blessing, such as rainfall, must bring the mercy of God upon the earth. In the East, they call the rain, “the divine mercy.” The sunshine, when the sky is clear, and all other blessings of nature — the pure air that is exhilarating, the spring, good crops, fruits, flowers and vegetables, all different blessings from the earth or heaven which are given to us — are also directed by forces behind them.
As the mechanical working of nature raises the vapors to the sky, which all form together in clouds and cause rain, so the thoughts and feelings, words and actions, also have their mechanical work to do. That work directs the action of the universe. This shows to us that it is not only a mechanical work of nature, but human intelligence, mechanically working, which directs the whole working of nature.
This gives us an idea that man’s responsibility is greater than that of any other being in the world. It is told in the Qur’an that God said, “We laid our trust on the mountains, and they could not bear the load; we laid our trust on the trees, and they were unable to take it; we then laid our trust on man, and it is man who has borne it.” This trust is our responsibility; not only our responsibility to those around us, to those whom we meet in everyday life, or to the work that we are engaged in, or to the interest that we have in life — but also our responsibility towards this whole creation and what we contribute to this creation, whether it is something agreeable to bring about better and harmonious conditions in the sphere, in the world, on the earth. If we do so, then we know our responsibility. If we are unaware of it, then we have not yet learned the purpose of our being here.
There is childhood, when a child knows nothing. He destroys things of value and beauty, owing to his curiosity, his fancy. However, when he grows up, the child begins to feel his responsibility. The sign of maturity is the feeling of responsibility. So, when a soul matures, it begins to feel its responsibility. It is from that moment on that a person begins his life. It is from that moment that the soul is born again. So long as the soul is not born again, it will not enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is here. As long as man is not conscious of his responsibility, he does not know the kingdom of God. It is his becoming conscious of his responsibility that awakens him to the kingdom of God, in which is the birth of the soul.
Furthermore, in support of this idea, there is a word that in Sanskrit language is used for the God-conscious people. That word is “Brahman,” meaning, “Creator.” No sooner has a soul realized this idea than he begins to know that every moment of his life is creative, either automatically, or intentionally. If he is responsible for his creation, then he is responsible for every moment of his life. Then there is nothing in life that is wasted. Whatever be the condition of man, however helpless or miserable, his life is still not wasted. The creative power is working through every move that he makes, every thought that he thinks, every feeling that he has. He is always doing something.
There is another word in Sanskrit for Brahman which is, “Duija,” meaning, “the soul who is born again.” For, the moment one has realized all of this, the soul is born again. One’s realization of life is different then, one’s plan of life becomes different, one’s action becomes different.
Now, going a little farther, sometimes there are souls who seem to be doing nothing, and one thinks, “Yes, they are most spiritual people, I suppose, but what do they do?” For what we know about doing is hustling and bustling, being busy all the time. However unimportant the activities, something is done! That is the thought. But when a person is evolved, even if outwardly he may not seem to be doing something, he is doing and can do much greater works inwardly than can be noticed outwardly.
There is a story of a madzub. A madzub is someone who is not considered to be an active person in the world. Many think of him as someone who is not quite balanced. In the East, there are some who know about such beings and they have regard for them. There used to be a madzub in Kashmir some centuries ago who was allowed by the Maharaja to roam about in the palace and the gardens wherever he wanted to go, and he was given a piece of ground where he could dwell. He used to walk in every corner of the Maharaja’s gardens that he was allowed to enter. There was a miniature toy cannon in the garden, and sometimes this madzub got a fancy to play with it. He used to take this gun and turn it, either towards the south or towards the north or elsewhere. Then he would turn it again and make all sorts of gestures. After making those gestures, he would be delighted. It seemed as if he were fighting and as if after that fighting he was now victorious and delighted. It was at such times that the Maharaja Ranjit Singh used to give the order to his army, “Now prepare for fight!” and there was success. The war had been going on for many many years, and it was going on slowly. Nothing had happened; but every time the madzub played with the cannon, the results were achieved.
I, myself, have seen in Hyderabad a madzub whose habit it was to insult everybody, to call people such names that they would go away from him. Still, one man dared go there in spite of all the insults. The madzub said to him, “What do you want?” He said, “My case is coming on in the court six days from now and I have no money, no means. What shall I do?” “Tell me what is the condition,” said the madzub, “but tell me the truth.” So, the man told him all. The madzub listened to it, then he wrote on the ground, “There seems to be nothing in this case, so it must be dismissed.” Then he said, “Go, it is done.”
The man went to the court. On the opposite side were many barristers and pleaders. On his part, there were none because he was a poor man. The judge heard the case from both sides, and then spoke the same words that the madzub had written on the ground.
What does this mean? It only explains to us the words that Christ spoke, “Enter the kingdom of God,” meaning that every soul has in himself a kingdom of God. To become conscious of this mystery of life is to open one’s eyes to the kingdom of God, and then whatever one does has meaning and influence. It is never lost. If it is not materialized, it does not matter, it is spiritualized. Nothing is gone, nothing here is lost. If it has not been produced on this plane, then it is produced on another plane; then it is reflected on this plane because there is always an action and reaction between both planes. It only means that what one does, if it is not materialized on this plane, is reflected from the other plane on this plane and then materialized. That is all. If a person thinks, “I have thought and thought on a certain subject, yet it has not been realized,” it only means that the time and the conditions have not allowed it to materialize. But if it is once sent out, it must ultimately be materialized.
THOUGHT AND IMAGINATION
The mind has five aspects, but the aspect that is best known is that for which we use the word, “mind.” Mind means, “The creator of thought and imagination.” The mind is a soil upon which, in the form of thoughts and imaginations, plants grow. They live there; but, as they are continually springing up, only the newly created plants are before one’s consciousness, and those plants and trees that were created before are hidden from one’s eyes. Therefore, when thoughts and imagination are forgotten, then they are no longer before one and one does not think about them anymore. However, whenever one wishes to find a thought that has once been shaped, it can immediately be found, for it still exists in the mind.
That part of the mind which our consciousness does not see immediately is called, “subconsciousness.” It is called this because the consciousness remains on the surface, making clear to us the part of our thoughts and imagination that we have just shaped and are busy looking at.
Nevertheless, once a person has had an imagination, a thought, it still exists. In what form does it exist? In the form that the mind gave it. As the soul takes a form in the physical world, a form borrowed from this world, so the thought takes a form, borrowed from the world of mind. A clear mind, therefore, can give a distinct body, a distinct form to the thought. A mind that is confused produces indistinct thoughts.
One can see the truth of this in dreams. The dreams of the clear-minded are clear and distinct, and the dreams of those whose minds are unclear are confusing. Besides, it is most interesting to see that the dreams of artists, poets and musicians, who live in beauty and who think of beauty, are beautiful; whereas the dreams of those whose minds contain doubts, fears or confusion are of the same character.
This gives proof that the mind gives a body to the thought. The mind supplies form to each thought, and with that form the thought is able to exist. The form of the thought is not only known to the person who thinks, but also to the one who reflects the thought, to the one in whose heart it is reflected. That is why there is a silent communication between people, with the thought-forms of one person reflecting in the mind of another. These thought-forms are more powerful and clearer than words. They are often more impressive than the spoken word because language is limited, while thought has a greater scope of expression.
Someone asked me what elementals look like. I answered, “Elementals are exactly like your thoughts. If you have the thoughts of human beings, then the elementals have human form. If you have the thoughts of birds, then the elementals have the form of birds. If your thoughts are of the animals, then the elementals have the form of animals, for elementals are made of your thoughts.”
There is another most interesting aspect in studying the nature of the mind. Every mind attracts and reflects thoughts of its own kind, just as there is a part of the earth which is more suitable for flowers to grow in and another part of the earth more suitable for fruits, and yet another part where weeds grow. Thus, a reflection that falls from one mind to another mind only falls upon the mind that attracts it. This is the reason why like is attractive to like. If a robber or a thief goes to Paris, he will certainly meet with another thief. He will easily find out where the thief lives, and he will recognize him at once because his mind has become a receptacle for thoughts of the same kind. As soon as their glances meet, a communication is established, as their thoughts are alike.
One sees in everyday life how like attracts like. The reason is that the mind has developed a certain character, and the thought-pictures of that particular character appeal to it. It is so very interesting for a person who sees this phenomenon in everyday life that there is not one moment when he does not see the truth of it.
High minds will always reflect and attract higher thoughts; from wherever it comes it will come to them. It will be attracted to the mind the ground of which is prepared for it. An ordinary mind is attracted to ordinary thoughts. For instance, a person who has a habit of criticizing people is very eager to open his ears to criticism because that is the subject which interests him, his pleasure is there. He cannot resist the temptation of hearing ill of another because this is most dear to his heart, for he speaks ill of others himself. When that thought does not belong to a person, it is a foreign note to his ears, and he does not want to hear it. His heart has no pleasure in it and wants to throw off anything that is inharmonious. Therefore, the mind-world is man’s kingdom, his property. Whatever he sows, he reaps. Whatever he keeps that property for, that is produced in it.
Now, going into deeper metaphysics, what is it that forms the thought-picture? It is a very subtle question. A materialistic scientist will say that there are thought-atoms that group and make the form. Joining together, they compose the thought-form. If he wants to make it more objective, he will say that in the brain there are little thought-pictures, just like moving pictures, and that, moving successively, they complete the form. For this person does not see further than his body, and so he wants to find out the secret of the whole life in his body and in the physical world. In reality, the brain is only an instrument to make thoughts clearer. Thought is greater, vaster, deeper and higher than the brain.
There is no doubt that the picture of thoughts is made by the impressions of the mind. If the mind has had no impressions, then thoughts will not be clear. For instance, a blind person who has never in his life seen an elephant will not be able to form an idea of an elephant because his mind has no form ready to compose it at the command of his will. For the mind must know it first in order to compose it. Therefore, the mind is a storehouse of all forms that a person has ever seen.
One might ask, “Cannot a form be reflected upon a blind person’s mind?” Yes, but it will remain incomplete. If a thought is projected onto a blind person, he takes only half of it, for he will not have that part that he should give from his own mind and so he only takes the reflection which is projected upon him. Therefore, he has a vague idea of the thing, but he cannot make it clear to himself because his mind has not yet formed that idea.
The form of a thought which the mind holds is reflected upon the brain and made clearer to the inner sense. By inner sense we mean the inner part of the five senses. For it is outwardly that these five organs give us an idea of five senses; but in reality, there is only one sense. Through the five different outer organs, we experience different things, and this gives us the idea that there are five senses.
There are visionary people who have conceptions of the different colors of thoughts, imaginations and feelings. This is symbolical rather than astral. The color of a thought corresponds with the condition of the mind. It shows the element to which the thought belongs. It shows whether the thought belongs to the fire element, to the water element or to the earth element. This means that it is the feeling that is behind the thought that produces its color around it as an atmosphere surrounding it. When such visionary people see the thought-form in the form of color, it is what surrounds the thought, it is the atmosphere of the thought, and this is according to the element belonging to that thought.
A thought connected with earthly gain is of the earth element. A thought of love and affection represents the water element, it is spreading out sympathy. A thought of revenge and destruction, hurt and harm represents fire. A thought of enthusiasm, courage, hope and aspiration represents air. A thought of retirement, solitude, quiet and peace represents ether. These are the predominant characteristics of thought in connection with the five elements.
The form of a thought is also its effect, its effect upon the form and expression of a person. For a thought has a particular language that manifests as a kind of letter, if one could read it. This language can be read in the face and form of a person. Everyone reads this to a certain extent, but it is difficult to define the letters, the alphabet of this language. There is one mystery that opens a door into the thought-language, and that is the vibrations, what direction the vibrations take. A thought works upon and around a person’s form and becomes manifest to the eyes upon his visible being. There is a certain law that governs its work, and that law is the law of direction — whether the forces are going to the right or to the left, upward or downward. It is this direction of the vibrations of thought that produces a picture so that a seer can see this picture as clearly as a letter.
No doubt for a seer it is not necessary to read the thought from the visible form of a person because he cannot be a seer if he is not open to reflection. Every thought is reflected in him, and this makes things even clearer. Besides that, he need not see the picture of the thought on its visible form in order to know it, as the atmosphere tells him. The thought, itself, calls out, “I am this thought!” — whatever it may be, for thought has a language, a voice, a breath and a life.
Question: What is imagination?
Answer: Imagination is uncontrolled thought.
Question: Is it good to have a strong imagination?
Answer: It is good to be strong oneself. If one has strength, then imagination is strong and thought is strong and one is strong oneself. Furthermore, a strong imagination means a strength going out from oneself, reaching out without control. Therefore, strong imagination is not always promising. It is strength of thought that is desirable. For what is thought? Thought is a self-directed and controlled imagination.
Question: If thought has a body, is it bound to a place, or does it spread throughout the whole universe?
Answer: This is a subtle question. One could ask, “If a person is in prison, is his mind in prison, too, or can it reach beyond, can it go out of prison?” Certainly it can. It is the body of the man that is in prison. His mind can reach everywhere. Perhaps a thought produced in the mind-world is made captive by its object or motive, by its source, or by its application in a sphere, within a horizon where it is working out its destiny. Nevertheless, it is a thought, and it is capable of reaching every part of the universe in a moment’s time.
Question: How should undesirable thoughts be destroyed? Must this always be done by the person who created them?
Answer: Yes, it is the creator of the thought who must destroy it, and it is not in every person’s power to do it. Yet, the mind that has reached mastery, that can create as it wishes, this same mind can destroy.
Question: Would you explain further what role the brain plays in thinking?
Answer: The brain may be likened to a photographic plate. The thought falls upon the brain, just as a reflection falls upon the photographic plate — both one’s own thought and the thought of another. Then there is another process, and that is that the thought is developed like the photographic plate. What is it developed with? Is there some solution in which the photographic plate is to be put? Yes, and that is the intelligence. Through one’s own intelligence, it is developed and made clearer.
Question: Has one element superiority over another? For instance, is a thought colored by fire superior to a thought colored by another element?
Answer: There is no superiority of one element over another. The superiority of a thought is according to the outlook of the mind. For instance, one person standing on the ground sees the horizon just before him — this is one outlook. Another person stands on the top of a tower and from there, he looks at the wide horizon — his outlook is different. It is according to the outlook that the thought is superior or inferior. Besides, no one can take a thought, any thought-picture before himself and say, “This is an inferior thought,” or, “This is a superior thought.” Thought is not an earthly coin, which can be inferior or superior. What makes it inferior or superior is the motive behind it.
Memory is a mental faculty, a distinct aspect of the mind. It is a recording mechanism that records all that falls upon it through any of the five senses. What one sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes is recorded upon the memory. A form, a picture, an image, once seen, sometimes remains in the memory for the whole of one’s life, if it is well recorded. In the life of the world, one hears so many words during the day, yet some words that the memory has recorded remain for one’s whole lifetime, as living as ever.
So it is with music. Once a person has heard wonderful music and it is recorded upon his memory, it remains forever and ever. Memory is such a living machine that one can produce that music at any time, it is all there. A good perfume, once experienced, once perceived, is remembered. The feeling of taste remains, also the feeling of touch. Memory holds it all.
It does not remain in the memory as in a notebook, for as the notebook is dead, so what remains in the notebook is dead; but memory is living. Whatever is recorded upon the memory is also living and gives a living sensation. A record of a pleasant memory is sometimes so precious that one wishes to sacrifice this objective world for such a record.
I was very touched once by seeing a widow whose relatives wished me to tell her to go into society, to mix with people, to live a more worldly life. I went to advise her on that subject. She told me gently, “All experiences of this world’s life, however pleasant, do not afford me pleasure. My only joy is in the memory of my beloved. Other things give me unhappiness, other things make me miserable. If I find joy, it is in the thought of my beloved.” I could not say one word to change her mind. I thought it would be a sin on my part to take her away from her joy. If her memory had been a misery for her, I should have preached to her otherwise; but it was happiness for her, it was her only happiness. I thought that here was a living Sati. I had only a great esteem for her, and could not speak one word.
In the memory, the secret of heaven and hell is to be found. As Omar Khayyam said in his Rubayat, “Heaven is the vision of fulfilled desire, and hell, the shadow of a soul on fire.” What is it? Where is it? It is only in the memory. Therefore, memory is not a small thing. It is not something that is hidden in the brain. It is something living, and it is something so vast that a limited mind cannot conceive of it. It is something that is a world in and of itself.
People may ask, “What is it then, if a person has lost his memory? Is it caused by disorder in the brain?” In the first place, no one really loses his memory. A person may lose it, but his memory does not lose him because the memory is his own being. What happens is that the disorder of the brain makes him incapable of distinguishing what the memory contains. Therefore, a person who has lost his memory in his lifetime, owing to a disorder in the brain, has memory just the same. That memory will become clearer to him after death. Also, if he were to lift himself off of his objective being, he would find his memory intact. Only, the memory cannot function in a brain that is out of order.
To have a good memory is not only a good thing, it is a bliss. It is a sign of spirituality because it shows that the light of the intelligence is clear and is illuminating every particle of the brain. A good memory is a sign of great souls. Besides, memory is the treasury where one’s knowledge is stored. If a person cannot draw the knowledge that he has collected from his memory, then dependence upon books is of little worth.
One day, six months after I had been received by my Murshid as his pupil, he began to speak on metaphysics. Being metaphysically inclined myself, I jumped at the thought of it. During those six months I was never impatient, I had never shown any eagerness to know something more than what I was allowed to know. I was quite contented at the feet of the master. That was everything to me. Nevertheless, it was a great stimulus to my mind to hear from him something about metaphysics. However, as soon as I took out my notebook from my pocket, my Murshid ended the subject. He said nothing. From that day I learned a lesson: By this he meant that my notebook must not be the storehouse of my knowledge. There is a living notebook, and that is my memory, a notebook that I shall carry with me all through life and through the hereafter.
No doubt, we always write down on paper things belonging to the earth — the figures of 10, 20 and 100 — but things pertaining to the spiritual order of things, to the divine law, are of much greater importance. The notebook cannot contain them, it is not made for them. It is in the memory that they must be treasured, for memory is not only a recording machine, but also a fertile ground at the same time. What is put there is continually creative, it is doing something there. So, one not only possesses something that one has deposited, but also its interest.
Sometimes memory is weakened by too great a strain put upon it. When one tries to remember, this puts a strain upon a process that is natural. It is the nature of memory to remember; but when you put a strain upon it that it must remember, then it will forget. The very fact that you have strained it will make it forget. One must not try to impress one’s mind more deeply than it naturally becomes impressed. One’s attention is quite enough. Will power must not be used to remember things. It is a wrong method that people are applying at present when they say that in order to remember things, one must will it. By willing it, one weakens the memory. Besides, a balance between activity and repose is necessary.
Memory is never lost. What happens is that, when the mind is upset, then the memory becomes blurred. It is the stillness of the mind that makes one capable of distinguishing all that one’s memory contains. When the mind is upset, when a person is not tranquil, then naturally — in spite of all the record the memory has — one is not able to read it. It is not true that memory gives away what is stored in it. It is only man who loses the rhythm of his life by over-excitement, nervousness, weakness of nerves, anxiety, worry, fear, confusion. It is that which causes a kind of turmoil in the mind, and one cannot distinctly find the things that were once recorded in the memory. One need not work with one’s memory in order to make it clear. What is required is to make oneself tranquil, rhythmical and peaceful in order to make the memory distinct.
Question: Should one then not use the brain when trying to remember something?
Answer: It is not necessary to use the brain when trying to remember something because by using the brain, one only strains it. The memory is at the command of the person. If he wants to know about something instantly, without his straining the brain, then it must come. It is an automatic mechanism and it must bring before him automatically all that he wishes to know.
Question: What should a person do who cannot easily learn by heart?
Answer: He should make his mind tranquil. This is the first thing. It is the mental way of making memory better. A physical way of making the memory better is to eat less and sleep normally. One should not work too much, not worry very much, and keep all anxiety and fear away.
Question: Through what vehicle does the memory function after death?
Answer: The mind is distinctly different from the body. It is something apart, standing independent of the body. The mind depends upon the body for perceiving the outer experiences, which it takes in through the senses. However, the mind is independent of the body for holding its treasures that it has collected through the outer world and retaining them. As we are accustomed to experience everything through the vehicle of the body — even our feelings — this makes us dependent for some time upon the body. This does not mean that we cannot experience all that belongs to the mind without the help of the body.
Question: Is there not a danger in losing oneself in the memory of that which lies behind us?
Answer: There is an answer to this in the Gayan, where it is said, “If you live in the vision of the past, dream on, do not open your eyes to the present. If you live in the eternal, do not worry about the morrow. But if you live for the time to come, do all you can to prepare for the future.”
Question: How should one erase from the record a living memory of something of the past?
Answer: That is what we learn on the Sufi path. It is the work which we accomplish by concentration and meditation. It is not an easy thing to do; it is the most difficult, but also the most valuable thing there is. That is why we keep our teachings free from speculations, beliefs, doctrines and dogmas, for we believe in actual work with ourselves. What if you were told a thing one day and you believed it one day, and the next day you doubted and did not believe it anymore? If you were told that there is a house in the sixth heaven and palace in the seventh, what would that do for you? It would only answer your curiosity; it would take you nowhere. It is, therefore, by the way of meditation that we attain to this, that we can erase from the memory what we wish to. In this way, we are able to make our heaven ourselves.
The whole secret of esotericism lies in controlling the mind and in working with it as an artist would work on a canvas producing whatever he likes. When we are able to produce on the canvas of our heart all that we wish and to erase all that we wish, then we arrive at that mastery for which our soul craves. We fulfill the purpose for which we are here. Then we become the masters of our destiny. It is difficult, but that is the object that we pursue in life.
Will is not a power, but it is all the power there is. How did God create the world? By will. Therefore, what we call, “will power,” in us is, in reality, “God power,” a power that increases by our recognizing its potentiality and proves to be the greatest phenomenon in life. If there is any secret behind the mystery of the world of phenomena that can be learned, it is will power. It is by will power that all we do, physically or mentally, is accomplished. Our hands, with all their perfect mechanisms, cannot hold a glass of water if there is no will power to support them. If will power fails, a person seemingly healthy will not be able to stand.
It is not the body that makes us stand upright, it is our will power. It is not the strength of body that makes us move about, it is will power that is holding the body and making it go. Therefore, in reality, birds do not fly with their wings, they fly with their will power. Fishes do not swim with their bodies, they swim with their will power. And when man has the will to swim, he swims like a fish.
Man has been able to accomplish tremendous things by will power. Success and failure are its phenomena. It is only the phenomenon of will that will bring one to success; and when will fails, however qualified and intelligent the person is, he fails. Therefore, it is not a human power, it is a divine power in man. Its work with the mind is greater still, for no man can hold a thought in his mind for a moment if there is not the strength of his will to hold it. If a person cannot concentrate, cannot keep his thoughts still for a moment, then will power fails him, for it is will that holds a thought.
Now, coming to the question of what will power is made of, in poetic words, will power is love; in metaphysical terms, love is will power. If one says, “God is love,” this means, in reality, that God is will. The love of God manifests after the creation, but the will of God caused the creation. So, the most original aspect of love is will. When a person says, “I love to do it,” he means, “I will to do it,” which is a stronger expression and means, “I fully love to do it.”
In the Qur’an it is said, “We said, ‘Be,’ and it became.” This is a key to the world of phenomena. To the progressive world, to advanced thought, this is the key that shows how manifestation came into existence. It came into existence in answer to that Will which expressed itself by saying, “Be,” — and it became. This phenomenon does not only belong to the origin of things, but it also belongs to the whole being of things, to the whole process of manifestation.
We are apt to look at this whole creation as a mechanism, and we do not stop to think how a mechanism can exist without an engineer. What is mechanism? It is only an expression of the will of the engineer who, for his convenience, made the mechanism. But as we do not see the engineer before us and only see the mechanism, we involve ourselves in the laws of the working of this mechanism and forget the engineer by whose command this whole mechanism is going on. As Rumi, the great inspirer and philosopher, has said in his Mathnavi, “Earth, water, fire and air seem to us as things, as objects — but before God, they are living beings and they stand as His obedient servants and obey the divine Will.”
A part of that Will we inherit as our own divine heritage, and it is our consciousness of it that makes it greater. If we are not conscious of it, then it becomes smaller. It is the optimistic attitude towards life that develops the will. The pessimistic attitude reduces it, robs it of its great power. Therefore, if there is anything that hinders our progress in life, it is our own selves. It is proven a thousand times over that there is no one in the world who can be a worse enemy to us than ourselves, for at every failure we see ourselves standing in our own light.
The earth holds the seed, and the result is that a plant springs out and bears fruit. So it is with the heart. The heart holds the seed of thought, and there also, a plant springs out and brings the fruit of fulfillment. But it is not only the thought, it is the power of holding the thought that is of very great importance. Therefore, the factor of the heart, a factor which holds the thought, is of very great importance for the fulfillment of life’s purpose. Often, a person says, “I try my best, but I cannot concentrate my mind, I cannot make my mind still.” It is true, but it is not true that he tries his best. “Best” does not end there. “Best” really brings the purpose to its fulfillment.
The mind is just like a restive horse. Bring a wild horse and yoke it to a carriage. It is such a strange experience for it that it will kick and jump and run and try to destroy the carriage. So, it is a weight for the mind to carry when you make it take one thought and hold it for a while. It is then that the mind becomes restless because it is not accustomed to discipline. There is a thought that the mind will hold by itself, a thought of disappointment, pain, grief, sorrow or failure. The mind will hold it so fast that you cannot take it away from its grip, the mind holds it by itself. But when you ask the mind to hold a particular thought, then the mind will not hold it, it says, “I am not your servant, sir!”
When once the mind is disciplined by concentration, by the power of will, then the mind becomes your servant. Once the mind has become your servant, then what more can you wish? Then your world is your own, you are the king of your kingdom. No doubt, one might say, “Why should we not let the mind be free also, as we are free?” But we and the mind are not two beings. It is like saying, “Let the horse be free and the rider be free.” Then the horse wants to go to the south and the rider wants to go the north. How can they go together?
There are souls who would even say, “Let us be free, and the will be free.” But what are we, then? Then we are nothing! Discipline has a place in man’s life. Self-discipline, however difficult and tyrannical to ourselves it may seem in the beginning, yet is that which in the end makes the soul the master of self. It is not in vain that the great sages and adepts led an ascetic life; there was a purpose in it. It is not something to follow, but something to understand — what use they made of it, what they accomplished through it. It was self-discipline, it was the development of will power.
All the lack that we find in life is the lack of will, and all the blessings that come to us come by the power of will.
Question: What is the best way to develop will power?
Answer: Sufis develop will power systematically by first putting the body into a certain discipline. It must sit in the posture that is prescribed to it; it must stand in a place where it is asked to stand. The body must not become restless, tired, fatigued by what is asked of it. The body must answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment he begins to discipline the body, he begins to see how disobedient the body has always been. Then he finds out that his body, which he has called, “mine,” “myself,” and for whose comfort he has done everything possible, having closed his eyes to everything else in order to give his body comfort, rest, nourishment — here this infidel seems to be most faithless, most disobedient. So, the body is trained by physical exercises, by sitting, standing or walking, by doing things to which it is not accustomed and which are yet for the betterment of this physical body.
Then comes the discipline of the mind. That is done by concentration. When you wish the mind to think on one thought that you have before you while the mind is thinking about something else, then the mind becomes very restless. It does not want to stand on one spot because it has always been moving about without discipline. As soon as you discipline it, it becomes like a wild horse. Very often people tell me that during the day they do not have such difficulty as at the moment that they want to concentrate; at that time, the mind jumps, at other times it moves. This is because the mind is an entity. It becomes restive. It feels as a wild horse would feel, “Why should I be troubled by you?” At the same time, this mind is meant to be an obedient servant. This body is meant to become your tool with which to experience life. If mind and body are not in order, if they do not act as you wish them to, then you cannot hope for real comfort, for real happiness in this world.
Question: Will you please explain the difference between concentration and silence?
Answer: Concentration is holding a certain thought before you. Silence is relaxing mind and body. It is repose. It is a healing.
Question: What is the difference between concentration and meditation?
Answer: Concentration is the beginning of meditation. Meditation is the end of concentration. It is an advanced form of concentration. The subtle working of the mind is called meditation. It is more profound than concentration; but once concentration is accomplished fully, it becomes easy for a person to meditate.
Question: Will power does not seem to depend upon ourselves. Is it not given to some as a grace, as a blessing?
Answer: It does not depend on ourselves, but it is ourselves. It is grace and blessing, no doubt; but at the same time, it is to be found in ourselves, it is our very being.
Question: Are will and consciousness fundamentally the same?
Answer: Yes. It is the two expressions of one thing, and this makes them distinct. This duality comes out of unity. It is God’s own Being that in expression is will, in repose, consciousness. In other words, in action it is will, in stillness it is consciousness, just as fundamentally sound and light are one and the same thing. In one condition, the same vibrations are audible; in another condition, the friction of vibrations and light are one and the same. So are the nature and character of consciousness and will because fundamentally, both belong to God’s own Being.
Question: Can the will be so strong that it controls the human body so as to make it perfectly healthy? What, then, is death?
Answer: Death is not something different from will power. Death is will just the same. Even death is caused by will power. One thinks that one does not invite one’s death. Yes, one does not invite it, but the personal will becomes feeble, and the greater Will impresses the feeble will, turning it into itself, for the smaller will belongs to the greater Will.
Sufis call the smaller will, “Qadr,” and the greater Will, “Qaza.” They attribute the greater Will to God, and the smaller will to man. It is the smaller will that becomes feeble, and the greater Will reflects its command upon it. It is this command which the smaller will, unconsciously, accepts. On the surface, a person may still want to live, but in the depths of his will, he has resigned himself to die. If he had not resigned himself, he would not die. He has resigned himself to death before his life is taken away from him.
Question: Is it then by putting the human will in harmony with the divine Will that the world redeemers are made?
Answer: Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real crucifixion. After that crucifixion follows resurrection; but in order to attain to it, one should first try to seek the pleasure of God. This is not so difficult when one begins to seek it; but when one does not begin to seek it, then one does not know what is the pleasure of God.
Then there is another way that the Sufis have always taught — to seek the pleasure of one’s fellow men, and that is the very thing that man refuses to do. He is quite willing to seek the pleasure of God; but if one asks him to seek the pleasure of his fellowmen, he refuses. In any case, either in seeking the pleasure of his fellowmen, or of God, in both he is seeking the pleasure of one and the same being. It all begins very often with resignation. After having once resigned and when he is tuned to the divine Will, then a man need not resign anymore, for then his wish becomes divine impulse.
Question: Is the power of will the same as the power of the soul?
Answer: Yes. It is the power of the soul and of the spirit, and the power of man and God — all.
When we analyze the word, “reason,” it opens before us a vast field of thought. In the first place, every doer of good, and every evil-doer, has a reason to support his doing. When two persons quarrel, each says he is in the right because each has a reason. To a third person, perhaps the reason of the one may appear to be more reasonable than that of the other, or perhaps he will say that both have no reason and that he has reason on his side. All disputes, arguments and discussions seem to be based upon reason; yet reason, before one has analyzed it, is nothing but an illusion and keeps one continually in perplexity. The cause of all disharmony, all disagreement, is the perplexity that is caused by not understanding one another’s reason.
One might ask, “What is reason? Where does it belong?” Reason belongs to both earth and heaven. Its depth is heavenly, its surface is earthly; and that which, in the form of reason, fills the gap between earth and heaven is the middle part of it that unites them. Therefore, reason can be most confusing, and reason can be most enlightening. In the language of the Hindus, reason is called, “Bodhi,” or “Buddh,” from which comes the title of Gautama Buddha. But what reason is this? It is the depth of reason, the most perfect reasoning, which belongs to heaven.
There is another reasoning that belongs to the earth. If a person says to someone who has taken another person’s raincoat, “Why did you take it?” he may answer, “Because it was raining.” He has a reason. Another reason is the need to think, “Why should I take another person’s raincoat? Although it is raining, it is not my raincoat.” That is another reason altogether. Do you think that thieves and robbers, or the great assassins, have no reason? Sometimes they have great reasons, but reasons that are on the surface. Can a thief not say, in order to justify his actions, “What is it to that rich person if he lost so much money? Here I am, a poor man, I could make better use of it. I have not robbed him of every penny. I have just taken as much as I wanted. It is useful, I can do some good with it.”
Besides, reason is the servant of the mind. The mind feels like praising a person, and reason at once brings a thousand things in praise of him, in his favor. The mind has a desire to hate a person, and at once reason brings perhaps 20 arguments in favor of hating him. So, we see that a loving friend can find a thousand things that are good and beautiful in his friend, and an adversary will find a thousand faults in the best person in the world — and he has reasons.
In French conversation they say, “Vous avez raison,” but one can say that everyone has reason. It is not sometimes that one has a reason, for everyone always has a reason. Only it depends upon which reason it is. Is it the earthly reason, or is it the heavenly reason? It is natural that heavenly reason does not agree with earthly reason.
Now, coming to the essence of things, where do we get reason, where do we learn it? The earthly reason we learn from our earthly experiences. When we say, “This is right, and that is wrong,” it is only because we have learned on the earth that this is right and that is wrong. An innocent child who is just born on earth and who has not yet learned to distinguish between what we call right and wrong — to that child, it is nothing, the child has not yet acquired that earthly reason.
Then there is a reason that is beyond earthly reason. The person who has taken someone’s raincoat has a reason — “Because it was raining.” But there is a reason beyond that — the raincoat did not belong to him. He should have gotten wet in the rain rather than having taken someone’s raincoat. That is another reason that is reason behind reason.
Then there is the essence of reason, which is heavenly reason. It is that reason which not everyone understands. It is that reason which is discovered by the seers and sages, by the mystics and prophets, within themselves. It is upon this reason that religions are founded. On the ground of this reason, the ideas of mysticism and philosophy spring up as plants and bear fruits and flowers. When a pupil is expected to listen to the reason of his teacher instead of disputing over it, it is in order to regard that heavenly reason behind it and to know that there comes a time in one’s life when one’s eyes are open to the essential reason. It is that reason which is called, “Bodhisatva: Bodhi or Buddh,” meaning reason, and “satva,” meaning essence.
How is one to arrive at that reason? By arriving at that rhythm which is called, “satva.” There are three rhythms: tammas, rajas and satva. A person whose rhythm of life is tammas knows earthly reason. He whose life is rajas knows beyond earthly reason, a reason that is hidden behind a reason. The one who begins to see or live in the rhythm of satva begins to see the cause of every reason, which is in the profound depths of the whole being, and that is God’s reason.
No doubt, in the present time, education is a great hindrance to children. The children are taught to reason freely with their parents. By reasoning freely, when they come to a certain age, they do not stop to think. Before they think, they argue, they dispute, and they ask, “Why not? Why?” In this way, they never attain to the heavenly reason. For in order to arrive at that heavenly reason, a responsive attitude is necessary, not an exacting attitude. What a child learns today is to be assertive, he learns an exerting attitude. He exerts his knowledge upon others. Through the lack of that responsive attitude, he loses his opportunity of ever touching that essence of reason that is the spirit of Bodhisatva.
Once a Murshid went to the city, and on his return, he said, “Oh, I am filled with joy, I am filled with joy! There was such exaltation in the presence of the Beloved!” Then his mureed thought, “There was a beloved and an exaltation. How wonderful! I, too, must go and see if I cannot find one.” He went through the city and came back saying, “Horrible! How terrible the world is! All seem to be at one another’s throats! That was the picture I saw. I felt nothing but depression, as if my whole being was torn to pieces.” “Yes,” the Murshid said, “you are right.” “But explain to me,” the mureed said, “why you were so exalted after going out and why I should be so torn to pieces. I cannot bear it. It is horrible!” The Murshid said, “You did not walk in the rhythm that I walked in through the city.” This walking means not only the slow rhythm of the walk, but that rhythm with which the mind is moving, that rhythm with which the observation is gained. It is that which makes the difference between one person and another. It is that which brings about the difference between the reasoning of one person and another.
The person who says, “I will not listen to your reason,” no doubt has his reason, as everybody has a reason. But he could have a better reason still if he were able to listen, if he were able to understand the reason of another. The rhythm of a person’s mind is just like making circles. One person’s mind makes one circle in a minute; another person’s mind makes a circle in five minutes; his reason is different. And another person’s mind makes a circle in 15 minutes, and his reason is different again. The longer it takes, the wider is the horizon of his vision, and so more keen is his outlook on life.
Reasoning is a ladder. By this ladder, one can rise, and by this ladder, one may fall. For if one does not go upward by reasoning, then it will help one to go downward, too, because if for every step one takes upward there is a reason, there is also a reason for every step downward.
No doubt this distinction is made to enable us to understand the three different aspects of reason. In reality, there is one reason. One may divide the human body into three parts, but it is one body, it is one person. Reason is a great factor and has every possibility in it of every curse and of every blessing.
Question: What may we call the middle part of the reason? Is it the sense of discrimination?
Answer: Yes. Reason is attached to an impulse, and reason is attached to a thought. The reason that is attached to thought is the middle part of reason; the reason that is attached to impulse is the lower part of reason. But the reason that is inspiring, that is revealing to the soul, is heavenly reason. This reason unfolds divine light; it comes by wakening to the reason that one finds in the heart of God.
There is a story told about Moses. He was passing with Khidr through a country. Khidr was the Murshid of Moses when Moses was being prepared for prophetship. Moses’ first lesson of discipline was to keep quiet under all circumstances. While they were walking through the beauty of nature, both teacher and pupil were quiet. The teacher was exalted in seeing the beauty of nature, and the pupil also felt it. So, they arrived on the bank of a river where Moses saw a little child drowning, and the mother crying aloud, for she could not help. Here Moses could not keep his lips closed. He had to break that discipline and say, “Master, save him! The child is drowning!” Khidr said, “Quiet!” and Moses was quiet. However, the heart of Moses was restless, he did not know what to think. “Can the Master be so thoughtless, so inconsiderate, so cruel, or is the Master powerless?” He could not understand which was which. He did not dare to think such a thought, and yet it made him feel very uncomfortable. As they went farther, they saw a boat sinking. Moses said, “Master, that boat is sinking, it is going down!” The Master again ordered him to be quiet, so then Moses was quiet, but he was still more uncomfortable. When they arrived home, he said, “Master, I thought that you would have saved that little innocent child from drowning and that you would have saved the boat that was going down in the water — but you did nothing. I cannot understand, but I should like to have an explanation.” The Master said, “What you saw, I also saw. We both saw. So, there was no use in your telling me because I saw. You did not need to tell me what was happening, for I knew. If I had thought that it was better to interfere, I could have done it. Why did you take the trouble to tell me, and spoil your vow of silence?” He continued, “The child who was drowning was meant to bring about a conflict between two nations, and thousands and thousands of lives were going to be destroyed in that conflict. When he was drowned, this averted the other danger that was to come.” Moses looked at him with great surprise. Then Khidr said, “The boat that was sinking was the boat of pirates. It was sailing in order to wreck a large ship full of pilgrims and then to take what was left in the ship and bring it home. Do you think that you and I can be judge of it? The Judge is behind. He knows what He is doing, He knows his work. When you were told to be quiet, your work was to keep your lips closed and to see everything, as I was doing, silently, in reverence.” There is a Persian verse that says, “It is the gardener who knows which plant to rear and which to cut down.”
You might ask me, “Shall we all take the same attitude? If a person is troubled or in difficulty, shall we not go and help?” Yes, you may help — but at the same time, if a spiritual person does not seem to do what you expect him to do, you do not need to trouble about it, for you must know that there is some reason. You do not need to judge him, for the more you evolve, the more your reason becomes different. So, no one has the power to judge another, but one may do one’s best oneself.
Question: Is that why the great ones have been misjudged, because the little ones tried to judge them?
Answer: This has always been the great difficulty in the lives of evolved souls. What happened with Jesus Christ? In the one place, there was earthly reason; in the other place, there was heavenly reason.
I shall tell you a story of my insolence that will interest you. Once I looked at my Murshid, and there came to my restless mind a thought, “Why should a great soul such as my Murshid wear gold embroidered slippers?!” I checked myself at once; it was only a thought. It could never have escaped my lips, it was under control. But there, it was known. I could not cover my insolence with my lips; my heart was open before my Murshid as an open book. He instantly saw into it and read my thought. Do you know what answer he gave me? He said, “The treasures of the world are at my feet.”
When we think of that sense, that feeling, or that inclination that makes us affirm the word, “I,” we realize that it is difficult to point out what this “I” is, what its character is. For it is something that is beyond human comprehension. That is why a person who wishes to explain, even to himself, what it is, points to what is nearest to him, declaring, “This is the one whom I have called, ‘I’.” Therefore, every soul who has, so to speak, identified itself with anything has identified itself with the body, its own body, because that is the thing that one feels and realizes to be immediately next to one and that is intelligible as one’s being.
So, what a person knows of himself, as the first thing, is his body. He calls himself his body, he identifies himself with his body. For instance, if one asks a child, “Where is the boy?” he will point to his body. That is what he can see or can imagine of himself.
This forms a conception in the soul. The soul conceives this deeply, so that after this conception, all other objects, persons or beings, color or line, are called by different names. The soul does not conceive of them as itself, for it already has a conception of itself — this body, which it has first known or imagined to be itself. All else that it sees, it sees through its vehicle that is the body and calls it something next to it, something separate and different.
In this way, duality in nature is produced. From this comes, “I” and “You.” But as “I” is the first conception of the soul, it is fully concerned with this “I,” and with all else it is only partly concerned. All other things that exist, besides this body which it has recognized as its own being, are considered according to their relation with this body. This relation is established by calling them, “mine,” which is between “I” and “you.” As, you are “my” brother, or “my” sister, or “my” friend. This makes a relationship, and according to this relationship, the other object or person stands nearer to or farther from the soul.
All other experiences that the soul has in the physical world and in the mental spheres become a sort of world around it. The soul lives in the midst of it, yet the soul never for one moment feels with anything that it is, “I.” This “I” it has reserved and made captive in one thing, only — the body. Of everything else, the soul thinks that it is something else, something different, as, “It is near to me, it is dear to me, it is close to me, because it is related. It is mine, but it is not me.” “I” stands as a separate entity, holding, attracting, collecting all that one has and which makes one’s own world.
As one becomes more thoughtful in life, so this conception of “I” becomes richer. It becomes richer in this way, that one sees, “It is not ‘my’ body only, but it is also the thought that I think that is ‘my’ thought; the imagination is ‘my’ imagination; my feelings are also a part of my being. Therefore, I am not only my body, but I am my mind, also.” In this next step that the soul takes on the path of realization, it begins to feel, “I am not only a physical body, but also a mind.” This realization in its fullness makes one declare, “I am a spirit,” which means: body, mind and feeling, all together with which I identify myself — it is these that are the ego.
When the soul goes farther on the path of knowledge, it begins to find that, “Yes, there is something that feels itself, that feels the inclination to call itself ‘I.’” There is a feeling of “I-ness,” but at the same time, all that the soul identifies itself with is not itself. The day when this idea springs up in the heart of man, he has begun his journey on the path of truth. Then analyzing begins, and he begins to find out, “When this is ‘my’ table and this is ‘my’ chair, all that I can call mine belongs to me, but is not really myself.” Then he also begins to see, “I identify myself with this body, but this is ‘my’ body, just as I say ‘my’ table, or ‘my’ chair. So the being who is saying, “I,” in reality, is separate. It is something that has taken even this body for its use; this body is only an instrument.” And he thinks, “If it is not this body which I can call ‘I,’ then what else is there that I can call so? Is it my imagination with which I should identify myself?” But even that he calls “my” imagination, “my” thought, or “my” feeling. So, even thought, imagination or feeling is not the real “I.” What affirms “I” remains the same, even after having discovered the false identity.
We read in the tenth Sufi thought that perfection is achieved by the annihilation of the false ego.* The false ego is what does not belong to the real ego and what that ego has wrongly conceived to be its own being. When that is separated by analyzing life better, then the false ego is annihilated. A person need not die for it. In order to annihilate this body, in order to annihilate the mind, a person has to analyze himself and see, “Where does ‘I’ stand? Does it stand as a remote, exclusive being? If it is a remote and exclusive being, then it must be found out.” The whole spiritual process is to find this out.
Once this is realized, then the work of the spiritual path is accomplished. As in order to make the eyes see themselves, one has to make a mirror to see the reflection of these eyes. So, in order to make this real being manifest, this body and mind have been made as a mirror, that in this mirror this real being may see itself and realize itself as being independent. What we have to achieve by the path of initiation, by the way of meditation, by spiritual knowledge, is to realize this by making ourselves a perfect mirror.
In order to explain this idea, the faqirs and dervishes have told a story. A lion roaming through the desert found a little lion cub playing with the sheep. It so happened that the little lion had been reared with the sheep and so had never had a chance or an occasion to realize what he was. The lion was greatly surprised to see a young lion cub running away with the same fear of the lion as the sheep. He jumped in among the flock of sheep and roared, “Halt, halt!” But the sheep ran on and the little lion ran also. The lion pursued only the cub, not the sheep, and said, “Wait, I wish to speak to you.” The cub answered, “I tremble, I fear, I cannot stand before you.” “Why are you running about with the sheep? You are a little lion yourself!” “No, I am a sheep. I tremble, I am afraid of you. Let me go. Let me go with the sheep!” “Come along,” said the lion, “come with me. I will take you and I will show you what you are before I let you go.” Trembling, yet helpless, the lion cub followed the lion to a pool of water. There the lion said, “Look at me, and look at yourself. Are we not closer, are we not near? You are not like the sheep, you are like me.”
Through the whole spiritual process, what we learn is to disillusion this false ego. The annihilation of this false ego is its disillusionment. When once it is disillusioned, then the true ego realizes its own merit. It is in this realization that the soul enters the kingdom of God. It is in this realization that the soul is born again, a birth that opens the doors of heaven.
Question: Must the true self have mind and body in order to be conscious of itself?
Answer: The true self need not have mind and body for its existence. It does not depend upon mind and body for its existence, for its life, just as the eyes do not depend upon a mirror to exist. They only depend upon the mirror to see their reflection. Without it, the eyes will see all things, but they will never see themselves.
Another example is intelligence. The intelligence cannot know itself unless it has something intelligible to hold; then the intelligence realizes itself. A person with poetic gift who is born a poet never realizes himself to be a poet until he has put his ideas on paper and his verse has struck a chord in his own heart. When he is able to appreciate his poetry, that is the time that he thinks, “I am a poet.” Until then, there was a gift of poetry in him, but he did not know it.
The eyes do not become more powerful by looking in the mirror. Only, the eyes know what they are like when they see their reflection. The pleasure is in realizing one’s merits, one’s gifts, what one possesses. It is in realizing that the merit lies. No doubt it would be a great pity if the eyes thought, “We are as dead as this mirror,” or, if in looking into the mirror, they thought, “We do not exist except in the mirror.” So, the false self is the greatest limitation.
Question: Is not our Murshid our mirror?
Answer: No. The Murshid stands in the place of the lion in the fable. But the pool of water is necessary.
Question: Though the soul feels apart from the different bodies, does it not feel one with God?
Answer: Not even with God. How could it? A soul that is captive in a false conception, who cannot see a barrier lifted up between itself and its neighbor, how can this soul lift its barrier to God whom it has not known yet? For every soul’s belief in God is a conception after all — because it is taught by a priest, because it is written in scripture, because the parents have said that there is a God. That is all. That soul knows that somewhere there is a God, but it is always liable to change its belief, and unhappily, the farther it advances intellectually, the farther it goes from that belief. A belief that is pure intelligence cannot always hold, will not go far with a person. It is by the understanding of that belief that the purpose of life is fulfilled. It is said in the Gayan, “The uncovering of the soul is the discovering of God.”
Question: How does the true self dismiss mind and body in death?
Answer: It is not easy for the true self to dismiss mind and body, when a person cannot dismiss in life his thoughts of depression, sorrow and disappointment. The impressions of happiness and sorrow in the past one holds in one’s own heart — prejudice and hatred, love and devotion, everything that has gone deep in oneself. If that is the case, then even death cannot take them away. If the ego holds its prison around itself, it takes this prison with it, and there is only one way of being delivered from it and that is through self-knowledge.
Question: Does a person immediately after death identify himself with his mental body, or still with the dead corpse?
Answer: The mental body is just as the dead corpse. There is no difference because the one is built on the reflection of the other. For example, one does not see oneself different in the dream when the mind is in a normal condition. If the mind is abnormal, then one can see oneself as a cow, or as a horse, or as anything. But if the mind is normal, one cannot see oneself different from what one knows oneself to be. Therefore, the mental being is the same as one sees oneself in the dream. In the dream, one does not see the loss of the physical body. One is running or eating or enjoying in the dream; one does not realize the absence of the physical body. The same thing is in the hereafter. The hereafter does not depend upon a physical body to experience life fully. The sphere, in itself, is perfect, and life is experienced perfectly.
Question: Is the ego completely destroyed by annihilation?
Answer: The ego, itself, is never destroyed. It is the one thing that lives, and this is the sign of eternal life. In the knowledge of the ego, there is the secret of immortality. When it is said in the Gayan, “Death dies, and life lives,” it is the ego that is life, it is its false conception which is death. The false must fall away someday; the real must always be. So it is with life. The true living being is the ego, it lives; all else that it has borrowed for its use from different planes and spheres, and in which it has become lost, all that is put away. Do we not see this with our own body? Things that do not belong there do not remain in it, in the blood, in the veins, anywhere. The body will not keep them, it will repel them. So it is in every sphere. It does not take what does not belong to it. All that is outside it keeps outside. What belongs on earth is kept on earth, the soul repels it. The destroying of the ego is a word; it is not destroying, it is discovering.
Often people are afraid when reading Buddhist books, where the interpretation of Nirvana is given as annihilation. No one wants to be annihilated, and people are very much afraid when they read “annihilation.” But it is only a matter of words. The same word in Sanskrit is a beautiful word, “mukti.” The Sufis call it, “fana.” If we translate it into English, it is annihilation; but when we understand its real meaning, it is “going through” or “passing through.” Passing through what? Passing through the false conception, which is a first necessity, and arriving at the true realization.
MIND AND HEART
Thought, memory, will and reason, together with the ego as the fifth and principal factor, constitute the heart. It is these five things that may be called the heart; but in definitely naming the different parts of this heart, we call the surface of it, “mind,” and the depth of it, “heart.”
If we imagine this heart as a lantern, then the light in the lantern makes it the spirit. We call the heart a lantern when we do not think of the light. However, when there is a light, then we forget the word lantern and we call it light. When we call the heart spirit, it does not mean spirit void of heart, as it does not mean light without lantern, but light in the lantern.
The right use of the word, “spirit,” however, is only as the essence of all things. The essential light and life from which all has come — that is the spirit. But we use the word spirit also in a limited sense, just as light is the all-pervading light of the sun and at the same time the light in the lantern, which we call light, also.
People call a part of the breast, “heart.” The reason is that there is a part in this body of flesh that is most sensitive to feeling; and naturally, as man cannot grasp the idea of a heart outside of the body, he conceives this idea of the heart as being a part of his physical body.
The ego stands separate from the four faculties of thought, memory, will and reason. It is just like four fingers and thumb. Why is the thumb not called a finger? Because the thumb is the whole hand. These four are faculties, but the ego is a reality. It holds and accommodates within itself the four faculties; and in order to distinguish it as different from them, we call it, “ego.”
As the surface of the heart is known by the imagination and thought, so the depth of the mind, which is heart, is known by feeling.
The difference between thought and imagination is that imagination is an automatic working of the mind. If the mind is fine, then there is a fine imagination. If the mind is gross, then there is a gross imagination. If there is a beautiful mentality, then the imagination is beautiful. Thought is also imagination, but imagination held, controlled and directed by will. Therefore, when we say, “He is a thoughtful person,” it means that this person does not think, speak or act on impulse, but behind everything he does, there is will power that controls and directs the actions of his mind.
There are nine principal feelings that can be distinguished as mirth, grief, anger, passion, sympathy, attachment, fear, bewilderment and indifference. Feelings cannot be limited to these nine; but when we distinguish numerous feelings, we may reduce them to these nine distinct feelings that we experience in life.
There are six diseases that belong to the heart: passion, anger, infatuation, conceit, jealousy and covetousness.
The more one thinks on the subject of the heart, the more one finds that, if there is anything that can tell us of our personality, it is the heart. If there is anything through which we feel ourselves or know ourselves — know what we are — it is the heart and what our heart contains. Once a person understands the nature, the character and the mystery of the heart, then he understands, so to speak, the language of the whole universe.
There are three ways of perception. One way of perception belongs to the surface, to the mind. It is thought. Thought manifests to our mind with a definite form, line and color.
The next way of perception is feeling. It is felt by quite another part of the heart. It is felt by the depth of the heart, not by the surface. The more the heart quality is awakened in a person, the more he perceives the feelings of others. That person is sensitive because to him, the thoughts and feelings of others are clear. The one who lives on the surface does not perceive feelings clearly. Also, there is a difference between the evolution of the two, of the one who lives on the surface of the heart and the other who lives in the depths. In other words, the one lives in his mind, and the other lives in his heart.
There is still a third way of perceiving that is not even through feeling and that may be called a spiritual language. This perception comes from the deepest depths of the heart. It is the voice of the spirit. It does not belong to the lantern, it belongs to the light — but in the lantern, it becomes clearer and more distinct. This perception may be called intuition; there is no better name for it.
In order to study life fully, these three perceptions must be developed. Then, alone, is one able to study life fully; and it is in studying life fully that one is able to form a judgment upon it.
Question: Could you explain further how the mind is the surface of the heart, and the heart, the depth of the mind?
Answer: There are five fingers, but one hand. There are several organs of the body, but one body. There is a universe full of variety, but one Spirit. So, there is one heart that feels the various thoughts and imaginations that spring up and then sink into it. The bubbles are to be found on the surface of the sea. The depth of the sea is free from bubbles. The commotion is to be seen on the surface, the depth of the sea is still. The mind is the commotion of that something that is within us, that something which we call heart.
The happiness, knowledge, pleasure and love that is stored in our innermost being is in our profound depth. Changing emotions and passions, dreams, ever-rising thoughts and imaginations, all belong to the surface, as the bubbles belong to the surface of the sea.
Question: Can we say that the heart is nearer to the soul, and the mind, nearer to the body?
Answer: Yes, in a certain way. But at the same time, the soul experiences through the whole being, through the body, through the mind, through the heart, as it happens to be in different planes of existence.
Question: Is the heart one of the soul’s bodies?
Answer: Certainly. The heart is one of the bodies of the soul, the finest body. It goes a long way with the soul, even on its return journey.
Question: Is the heart the same as the angelic body?
Answer: Yes, quite true.
Question: Is it, therefore, that the Catholics have a special devotion for the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
Answer: Of course. The heart is the shrine of God. If God is ever to be found anywhere, it is in the heart of man, especially in the heart of that man in whom the divine manifests.
Question: Is the heart the home of the soul?
Answer: Yes, one may call the heart a home of the soul, but I would call it a temporary hotel.
Question: Is the world of feelings higher than the world of thoughts?
Question: What is indifference?
Answer: This is a word that I always find difficult to explain, and I have made many people angry by talking about indifference. They say, “Where is the love that you have come to preach to us? Indifference is quite contrary to love, to the message and the teaching.” When people read in Buddhism and Yogism about renunciation, nirvana, vairagia — which in Sufi terms of the Persian poets is, “fana,” — they begin to ask, “Have they all taught to become indifferent, have they taught such cruelty?” In reality, it is quite a different thing. Indifference is not lovelessness nor is it lack of sympathy. Indifference is most useful at the time when a soul has arrived at that sensitiveness when every little thing hurts. Then it is only indifference which keeps it alive.
You might say that it is not good to be sensitive. Yes, but without being sensitive, you cannot evolve. Sensitiveness is a sign of evolution. If you are not sensitive, then you cannot feel in sympathy with your fellowmen. If you do not feel the feelings of your fellowmen, then you are not yet awakened to life. Therefore, in order to become a normal human being, one has to develop sensitiveness, or at least to arrive at sensitiveness. When you are sensitive, then life becomes difficult to live. The more sensitive you are, the more thorns you will find on your way. Every move you make, at every turn, at every step, there is something to hurt you. It is only one spirit that you can develop, and that is the spirit of indifference; yet, not taking away the love and sympathy you have for another — that is the right indifference. To say to a person, “I do not care for you because you have been thoughtless,” that is not the right kind of indifference, that is not the indifference that mystics relate as being vairagia. The mystical indifference is that a soul retains sympathy and love, even at the thoughtlessness of a person, and expresses it as forgiveness. In the Bible, we read the words of Christ, “Turn the other side of your face if a person has struck you on one side.” What else is this than the lesson of indifference? How can a sensitive person, a person of feeling, a spiritual, tenderhearted person, live in this world if he is not indifferent? He cannot live here one moment! There is only this one thing that protects him from the continual jarring influences that come from all sides.
Question: Why not call it detachment?
Answer: Detachment is not really the right word. We cannot be detached, we are never detached. Life is one and nothing can separate it. Detachment is only an illusionary aspect of life. There is no such thing as detachment in truth. How can there be detachment when life is one!
Often, in order to make it clearer, I have said that “indifference” and “independence” are two meanings of that one word, “vairagia.” Indifference, alone, explains it only halfway.
Intuition rises from the depths of the human heart. It has two aspects: one is dependent upon an outer impression, and the other is independent of any outer impressions. The former is called, “impression,” and the latter, “intuition.” Intuition is a fine faculty. As it comes by responsiveness, it is a feminine faculty. Woman, therefore, is more intuitive by nature than man.
Often one says, “This person gives me such and such an impression,” but there is no reason to prove it. One is perhaps not capable of finding any reason to prove it; nevertheless, one’s impressions are right. There are some people who are naturally intuitive. For someone who is intuitive, it is not necessary to wait until he, so to speak, finds a person out. All he needs is one moment. As soon as his eyes fall upon the person, this instantly gives rise to an impression, which is the former kind of intuition. Someone with a fine mind and with a still mind generally has intuition. Someone with a gross mind and a restless mind lacks it.
Intuition is a super sense. It may be called a sixth sense. It is the essence of all senses. When a person says he sensed something, it does not mean that there were objective reasons to prove that it was so. It means that, without any outer reasons or objective signs, he has sensed it.
Intuition that is independent of impressions is of a still deeper nature, for it comes before one wishes to begin a thing and so one knows what will come out of it. Before the beginning of an enterprise, one senses the results of it. Intuition is sometimes a kind of inner guidance, and sometimes it is a kind of warning from within.
How does one perceive intuition? It is first expressed in the language of feeling. That feeling, spreading within the horizon of the mind, shapes itself and becomes more narrative of its idea. Then the mind turns it into a form, and then language interprets it. Therefore, it is the feeling heart to which intuition belongs.
In order to become clear so that it can be distinguished, intuition turns into three different conditions — into a feeling, into an imagination, or into a phrase. The person who hears the voice of intuition, even when it is in its first process of development, is more capable of perceiving intuition and it is he who may be called intuitive. Another person distinguishes it when it expresses itself in the realm of thought. Then there is a third person who can only distinguish his intuition when it is manifest in the form of a phrase.
It is the kind person, the loving person, the pure-hearted person, the person of goodwill, who is intuitive. Intuition has nothing to do with learning. An unlettered person can be much more intuitive than one who is most qualified, for intuition lies in another domain of knowledge and comes from quite another direction.
Very often, an intuitive person makes a mistake in catching the right intuition, for the intuition comes from one side while his mind reacts from the other side, and he does not know which is which. If he takes the action of his mind for intuition, and is once disappointed, then he loses faith in himself. So, naturally, he no longer gives thought to intuition, and that faculty diminishes in him more and more every day. To catch an intuition is the most difficult thing, for in a moment’s time, both are working — intuition on the one hand, and mind on the other. It is as if two ends of a stick placed in the center upon another stick were to move up and down, and one did not notice which end rose first and which end rose after.
Therefore, one needs to take a very keen notice of the actions of the mind, and this ability is gained by a thorough practice of concentration. One must be able to look at one’s mind just as at a slate placed before one. While looking at it, one must be able to shut oneself off from all sides, fixing one’s mind solely upon one’s inner being. By developing concentration, by stilling the mind, one can be tuned to the pitch that is necessary to perceive intuition.
If one has once been disappointed in perceiving one’s intuition, then one must not lose courage, one must go on following it even if it continues to be a mistake. If one continually follows one’s intuition, then one will come to the right perception of it.
The dream is another wonder, a phenomenon of the mind. In the dream, it is not only imagination and thought that work, but also intuition. Intuitions that arise in the waking state arise in the dream state and become clearer, for at that time a person is naturally more concentrated, his eyes being closed to the outer world. However, then, also, there is the same problem — no sooner has intuition risen from the depths than imagination rises from the surface, and one does not know which is which. That is why many dreams are confused. A part of the dream is expressive of some truth, and a part of the dream is confused.
There is no dream that has no meaning. If the dream has nothing to do with intuition, then it is a purely automatic activity of all that the mind has gone through in one’s work during the day. The same activity goes on automatically, just like a moving picture before one. Yet, even behind that there is a meaning, for nothing is projected on the curtain of the mind that does not take root in the soil of the heart, producing similar flowers and fruits. If, in the dream, intuition is working, then the dream is narrative of something in the past, present or future.
There is, however, a kind of dream that shows everything upside-down, just like a mirror that shows a fat person thin and a thin person fat, a tall person short and a short person tall. So, there also comes a condition of the mind where everything shows quite the contrary to what it is. This fault can be traced as the fault of the mind. The mind has been turned upside-down; and therefore, all that a person sees looks upside-down, especially in that dream state. Sometimes this dream shows quite the opposite to what was, what is, and what is going to be. If a person did not understand this nature of the dream, then he would interpret it quite contrarily to its real nature.
There are dreams that may be called visions. They are reflections — reflections of persons, of their minds, of worlds, of planes on which the mind has become focused. If the mind is focused on a certain world, then the dreams are of that world. If a person is focusing his mind upon himself, then his own thoughts come to him. If the mind is focused on a certain person, then that person and what is within him is reflected in the dream. If the mind is focused on a certain plane of being, then the conditions of that plane are reflected upon the mind.
The deeper one goes into this subject, the more one finds that in the understanding of the dream, in its nature, its mystery, its character, one understands the secret of the whole life.
Question: Could you please tell us about the difference between impulse and intuition?
Answer: The impulse of an intuitive person is often guided by intuition; but the impulse of a person who lacks intuition may come from another direction; it may come from the surface. Impulse directed by intuition is desirable.
Impulse is just like a little straw floating on the surface of the water. This straw becomes an impulse when it is pushed by a wave that is coming from behind. For a right impulse, man gets credit; for a wrong impulse, he is blamed. Yet, if one saw what was behind the impulse, one would be slow to express an opinion on the subject.
Question: How do you explain symbolical dreams?
Answer: The symbolical dream is the working of a subtle mind and it is a most wonderful working. As subtle as is the mentality, so subtle is the symbol in which the intuition or the thought is expressed. Therefore, it has been very easy for the mystics to see the evolution of a person from his dreams. The subtler his dreams, the subtler the person is in his evolution. Nevertheless, the virtue is not only in subtlety; the virtue is in simplicity. Poets, musicians, thinkers, writers, people of imagination, have wonderful dreams, and the splendor of their dreams is in their marvelous symbology.
Question: Is it the study of symbols that develops intuition?
Answer: Not at all. It is intuition that develops insight into symbolism.
Question: Are conditions in dreams the same as the conditions after death?
Question: Are dreams of suffocation, drowning and inability to walk and speak a result of one’s health?
Answer: No, they are results of impressions that have been held in the mind. It is a kind of psychological disorder of the mind, a disease of the mind. The mind must be cured from it.
Question: What about dreams that are inspired by a stimulus from the physical body, as for instance a dream inspired by a feeling of pain in the body?
Answer: The mind has a reaction upon the body, and the body has a reaction upon the mind. Therefore, it is natural that a bodily disorder may throw its shadow upon the mind and produce the same disorder in the mind.
Question: What about dreams of flying? Many people say that they are a bad sign.
Answer: I think this is the most interesting thing in the world. You do not need airplanes! Dreams of flying have much to do with biology. Psychologically, they are expressive of the soul’s continual effort of rising above the imprisonment and limitation that it experiences in this earthly life. Also, dreams of flying signify a journey awaiting one in the future.
Question: Will you please tell us what makes a person sing in his sleep?
Answer: The dance of his soul.
Question: What is the condition of the mind of people who nearly never dream? Are they not imaginative?
Answer: I think that they are better than imaginative — they are happy! The truth is that either a very advanced person does not dream much, or a very dense person who never troubles his brain to think. He is quite happy and content without troubling to think. He does not have many dreams. Do not think that you seldom find such souls. You often meet with souls to whom thinking is a trouble, and they would rather not trouble themselves about it.
Question: What is the difference between the dream that may be called a vision, and the real vision?
Answer: Vision is vision. The more one knows reality, the less one uses the word, “real.” There is one vision that is seen in the dream, and there is another vision that is seen in a state of trance, a state between dreaming and wakefulness.
Inspiration is a higher form of intuition, for it comes as an idea, as a complete theme with its improvisation, as a phrase creative of a poem. Inspiration is a stream, a stream of wonder and bewilderment. The really inspired person — whether a writer, a poet, a composer, or whatever may be his work — when once he has received an inspiration, he has found satisfaction — not with himself, but with what has come to him. It gives his soul such a relief, for the soul was drawing from something and that object from which it was drawing has yielded to the soul, has given it what it was asking for. Therefore, inspiration may be called the soul’s reward.
It is not by being anxious to receive something that one is able to receive it. It is not by straining the brain that one can write poetry. It is not by worrying for days that one can compose a piece of music. One who does so cannot receive inspiration. The one who receives inspiration is quite tranquil and unconcerned about what is coming. Certainly, he is desirous of receiving something, he is passionately longing to conceive it. It is by focusing his mind to the divine mind that, consciously or unconsciously, man receives inspiration.
This phenomenon is so great and so wonderful that its joy is unlike any other joy in the world. It is in this joy that the inspirational genius experiences ecstasy. It is a joy that is almost indescribable. It is an upliftment. One feels that one is raised from the earth when one’s mind is focused on the divine mind — for inspiration comes from the divine mind. What the great musicians, poets, thinkers, philosophers, writers and prophets have left to the world is always uplifting, although it is not every soul who comprehends their work fully, and therefore not every soul can enjoy it fully. But imagine their own enjoyment of what came to them; there are no words to express it! It is in inspiration that one begins to see the sign of God, and the most materialistic genius begins to wonder about the divine Spirit when once inspiration has begun to come to him.
One might ask, “Does inspiration come as a finished picture? Does it come as a written letter?” No, it comes to an artist as if his hand were taken by someone else, as if his eyes were closed and his heart were open. He has drawn something, he has painted something, and he does not know who painted it, who drew it. Inspiration comes to a musician as if someone else were playing or singing and he were only taking it down — a complete melody, a perfect air. After he has written it down, then it enchants his soul. To a poet, inspiration comes as if someone were dictating and he were only writing. There is no strain on his brain, there is no anxiety in receiving it.
It is, therefore, that many confuse inspiration with spirit communication. Many inspirational people are glad to attribute inspiration to a spirit, knowing that it does not come from themselves — but it is not always spirit communication. It is natural that inspiration should come from a being living just now on earth or from someone who has passed; yet the most profound inspiration comes always from the divine mind, and to God, alone, the credit is due. Even if an inspiration comes through the mind of a person living on earth or through a soul who has passed on to the other side, it still has come from God, for all knowledge and wisdom belong to God.
It is a fault on the part of mankind to attribute inspiration to some limited being who is nothing but a shadow covering God. When a person believes that an old Egyptian comes from the other side to inspire him or that an American Indian comes to lead him on his way, he builds a wall between himself and God. Instead of receiving directly from the source that is perfect and all sufficient, he is picturing his limited idea, making it a screen between himself and God.
The best way for the genius is to make himself an empty cup, free from pride of learning or conceit of knowledge, to become as innocent as a child who is ready to learn whatever may be taught to him. It is the one who becomes as a child before God, at the same time longing and yearning to express music through his soul, who becomes a fountain of God. From that fountain divine inspiration rises and brings beauty before all those who see the fountain.
There is one step further, and that is when the person no longer remains a poet or a musician or a philosopher but becomes God’s instrument, only. Then God begins to speak to him through everything, not only in music or verse, in color or line, but he begins to communicate with God in all forms. Everything he sees, above or below, before or behind, right or left, either heavenly or earthly, is communicative. He then begins to speak with God, and it is this step that is called, “revelation.”
There is a story of Moses, relating that when he was looking for fire to bake bread, he happened to see a light on the top of a mountain. So, in order to take this fire, he climbed to the top of the mountain, but there the fire became lightning. Moses could no longer withstand that great flashing and he fell to the ground. When he awoke, he began to communicate with God.
This story is allegorical. The idea is that Moses was looking for light to make it his life’s sustenance, but he had to climb onto the higher planes. It was not possible to get it on earth where he stood; it was necessary that he should climb to the top. And then there was not only a light, but it was lightning. It was a light that was beyond the power of Moses to withstand, and he fell down. What is this falling down? To become nothing, to become empty. When he reached that state of emptiness, then his heart became sonorous and he found communication with God through everything in the world — in the rock, tree or plant; in the star, sun or moon; in whatever he saw he found communication with his soul. So, everything revealed its nature and secret to Moses. It is in connection with this revelation that Sa’adi says that every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the sacred scripture once the soul has learned to read.
Question: I quite understand that inspiration comes from God, but would you kindly explain how one receives inspiration from a person on earth whom one does not know?
Answer: Inspiration comes through the mediumship of a living being in three forms: when you are in the presence of someone who is inspiring; when you are in the thoughts of someone who is inspiring; and when your heart is in a state of perfect tranquillity and inspiration that is flowing through the heart of an inspirational genius comes into your heart. It is just like the wireless. Sometimes you connect it with a certain station from which you are to receive the music, and sometimes you do not connect it, but it remains a wireless machine. If anything passing through is not received, it is not heard, but the sound is there just the same. In the same way, one receives inspiration from these three different sources.
Question: When inspiration comes originally from the Divine Mind, must it always be vehicled by someone who has passed on, or who is on earth?
Answer: There are different processes. It all depends upon how the heart of the person is focused on the Divine Spirit. There is a person whose heart is focused directly on the Divine Spirit, and there is another to whom the Divine Spirit is too remote. His heart is focused on a center, and this center is focused on the Divine Spirit from where it receives the message. So, it all comes from the Divine Spirit just the same.
PHRASES TO BE REPEATED
The following sentences were composed by Hazrat Inayat Khan to be used, according to the needs of each person, as ‘phrases to be repeated ten or twenty times’ at fixed times every day.
Bless, Lord my life with Thy divine blessing.
I am well and happy in the life and light of God.
Guide me to the purpose for which I am born on the earth.
My balance is secure in the hands of God.
Grant me, Lord, Thy wisdom, joy and peace.
Providence has blessed me.
Success is my birthright.
Bless my life with every bliss.
Help my life to fulfil its purpose.
Complete my life by the grace of Thy divine perfection.
My body, heart and soul radiate the healing spirit of God.
Balance my life, that I may know and act right.
May my life become powerful and harmonious.
I seek my supply in God.
Grant me to have all power and wisdom, that I may best fulfil my life’s purpose.
Give me, Lord, Thy divine influence which I may spread among my dear ones.
Help me to serve Thy cause.
O Spirit of Guidance, throw Thy divine light on my path.
Open my heart, that Thy spirit it may reflect.
My mind is still, my thought is steady, my sight is keen, my life is balanced.
Harmonize my soul, Lord, with all people and with all conditions.
My body is healed, my mind is fortified, and my soul is illuminated by the grace of God.
Fortify my heart. Give me a new life and new inspiration, that I may see in life Thy divine inspiration.
Make my heart Thy divine temple.