Healing, Mental Purification, and the Mind World
by Hazrat Inayat Khan
PART III: Mental Purification
In as much as it is necessary to cleanse and purify the body, so necessary, or perhaps even more necessary, is it that the mind be cleansed and purified. All impurity causes diseases as well as irregularity in the working of the physical system. The same applies to the mind. There are impurities belonging to the mind, which may cause different diseases, and by cleansing the mind one helps to create health both in body and mind. By health I mean the natural condition. And what is spirituality but to be natural?
Very few think like this. So many people think that to be spiritual means to be able to work wonders, to be able to see strange things, wonderful phenomena; and very few know how simple it is, that to be spiritual means to be natural.
Mental purification can be done in three different ways. The first way is the stilling of the mind, because it is very often the activity of the mind, which produces impurities. The stilling of the mind removes impurities from it; it is like tuning the mind to its natural pitch. The mind can be likened to a pool of water. When the water in the pool is undisturbed, the reflection is clear; and so it is with the mind. If the mind is disturbed, one does not receive intuition, inspiration, clearly in it. Once the mind is still it takes a clear reflection, as the pool of water does when the water in the pool is still.
This condition is brought about by the practice of physical repose. By sitting in a certain posture a certain effect is created. Mystics in their science know of different ways of sitting in silence, and each way has a certain significance. And it is not only an imaginary significance; it produces a definite result. I have had, both personally and through other persons, many experiences of how a certain way of sitting changes the attitude of mind. And the ancient people knew this, and they found different ways for different persons to sit. There was the warrior’s way, the student’s way, the way of the meditative person, the way of the businessman, of the laborer, of the lawyer, of the judge, of the inventor. Imagine, how wonderful that the mystic should have found this out and have had the experience of it for thousands of years-the great effect that sitting in a certain posture has on a person and especially on his mind.
We experience it in our everyday life, but we do not think about it. We happen to sit in a certain way and we feel restless; and we happen to sit in another way and we feel peaceful. A certain position makes us feel inspired, and another way of sitting makes us feel unenergetic, without enthusiasm. By stilling the mind with the help of a certain posture, one is able to purify it.
The second way of purifying the mind is by way of breathing. It is very interesting for an Eastern person to see how sometimes in the West, in their inventions, people unconsciously apply the principles of the mystical realms. They have got a machine that sweeps carpets while sucking up the dust. This is the same system inside out. The proper way of breathing sucks up the dust from the mind and ejects it. The scientist goes so far as to say that a person exhales carbon dioxide. =
The bad gases are thrown out of the body by exhaling. The mystic goes further, saying it is not only from the body, but from the mind also. If one knew how to remove impurities, one could remove more than one would imagine. Impurities from the mind can be thrown out by the right way of breathing. That is why mystics combine breathing with posture. Posture helps the stilling of mind, breathing helps the cleansing of mind. These two go together.
The other way of purifying the mind is by attitude; by the right attitude towards life. That is the moral way and the royal road to purification. A person may breathe and sit in silence in a thousand postures, but if he does not have the right attitude towards life, he will never develop. That is the principle thing. But the question is, what is the right attitude? The right attitude depends on how favorably one regards one’s own shortcomings. Very often one is ready to defend oneself for one’s faults and errors, and is willing to make one’s wrong right. But one has not the attitude towards others. One takes them to task when it comes to judging them. It is so easy to disapprove of others! It’s so easy to take a step further and to dislike others, and not at all difficult to take a step further still and to hate others. And when one is acting in this manner, one does not think one does any wrong. Although it is a condition, which develops within, one always sees it without. All the badness, which accumulates within, one sees in another person. Therefore man is always in an illusion. He’s always pleased with himself and always blaming others. And the extraordinary =
thing is, that it is the most blameworthy who blames most. But it is expressed better the other way around. Because one blames most, one becomes most blameworthy.
There is beauty of form, of color, of line, of manner, of character. In some persons beauty is lacking, in other persons there is more of it. It is only the comparison that makes us think that one person is better than the other. If we did not compare, then every person would be good.
It is the comparison, which makes us consider one thing more beautiful than another. But if we looked more carefully we should see the beauty that is in that other one too. Very often our comparison is not right for the very reason that although today we determine in our mind what is good and beautiful, we are liable to change that conception in a month’s, a year’s time. That shows us that when we look at something, we are capable of appreciating it if its beauty manifests to our view.
There is nothing to be surprised at when one person arrives at the stage where he says, “Everything I see in this world, I love it all in spite of all pains and struggles and difficulties; it is all worth while.” But another says, “It is all miserable, life is ugly, there is no speck of beauty in the world”. Each is right from his point of view. They are both sincere. But they differ because they look at it differently. Each of these persons has his reason to approve of life or to disapprove of
it. Only, the one benefits himself by the vision of beauty and the other loses by not appreciating it, by not seeing the beauty in it.
By a wrong attitude, therefore, a person accumulates in his mind undesirable impressions coming from people, since no one in this world is perfect. Everyone has a side, which can be criticized and wants repairing. When one looks at that side, one accumulates impressions, which make one more and more imperfect because they collect imperfection, and then that becomes one’s world. And when the mind becomes a sponge full of undesirable impressions, then what is emitted from it is undesirable also. No one can speak ill of another without making it his own. Because the one speaking ill of others is ill himself.
Thus the purification of the mind, from a moral point of view, should be learned in one’s everyday life. By trying to consider things sympathetically, favorably, by looking at others as one looks at oneself, by putting oneself in their position instead of accusing others on seeing their infirmities. Souls on earth are born imperfect and show imperfection, and from this they develop naturally, coming to perfection. If all were perfect, there would have been no purpose in their creation. And manifestation has taken place so that every being here may rise from imperfection towards perfection. That is the object and joy of life and for that this world was created. And if we expected every person to be perfect and conditions to be perfect, then there would be no joy in living and no purpose in coming here.
Purification of the mind therefore means to purify it from all undesirable impressions. Not only of the shortcomings of others, but one must arrive at the stage where one forgets one’s own shortcomings. I have some righteous people who have accused themselves of their errors until they became error themselves. Concentrating all the time on error means engraving the error upon the mind. The best principle is to forget others and to forget ourselves and to set our minds upon accumulating all that is good and beautiful.
There is a very significant occupation among the street boys in India. They take the earth from a certain place and they have a way of finding in that earth some metal such as gold or silver, and all day long their hands are in the dust. But looking for what? Looking for gold and silver.
When in this world of imperfection we seek for all that is good and beautiful, there are many chances of disappointment. But at the same time if we keep on looking for it, not looking at the dust but looking for the gold, we shall find it. And once we begin to find it we shall find more and more. There comes a time in the life of a man when he can see some good in the worst man in the world. And when he has reached that point, though the good were covered with a thousand covers, he would put his hand on what is good, because he looks for good and attracts what is good.
THE PURE MIND
The pure mind does not create a phenomena, but it is a phenomena itself.
A man who wanted a certain bracket for his room did not know where to go in the city to find it. But he had a definite idea in his mind of what it should be like, and as soon as he went out the first shop that his eyes fell upon had the bracket in it. Perhaps throughout the whole city he could not have found another, but his mind brought him straight to the object he desired. What does this come from? It comes from purity of mind.
Mind can be likened to water. Even to look at a stream of pure water running in all its purity is the greatest joy one can have, and drinking the pure water is so too. And so it is with the mind. Contact with the pure-minded is the greatest joy. Whether they speak with one or not; there emanates from them a purity, a natural purity, which is not man-made but belongs to the soul and gives one the greatest pleasure and joy. There are others who have learnt to speak and entertain, and their manner is polish, their wit exaggeration, and their speech is artificial. What does it all amount do? If there is no purity of mind, nothing else can give exquisite joy for which every soul yearns.
There is a saying that a pure-minded person very often seems too good to live and appears to be devoid of common sense; that very often the pure-minded seem not to belong to this world. It is true; but it is not the fault of the pure-minded. It is the fault of the wicked world. The world has gone from bad to worse. Everyone who shows purity of mind begins by being an outcast and appears to be capable of doing whatever he may attempt. But what does it matter? One can just as well be pure-minded and wise at the same time. The pure-minded can also work in worldly matters as thoroughly, as capably as a worldly man; and the one without the pure mind may be able to make a success in the world, but not an everlasting success.
When we come to the question of success and failure, there is no principle upon which this is based. It is not true that one must be good and honest and pure-minded in order to make a success. Very often the opposite is more true. But at the same time one cannot say that one has
to be the opposite in order to be successful. Very often dishonesty and lack of purity of mind bring great failure upon one. If there be any rule pertaining to this, that rule is that the success of the one who achieves it through goodness, depends upon honesty and goodness. And the one who makes a success of something without honesty and goodness will have a failure the day he is honest and good. It is because their paths are different. The whole attitude of mind acts upon one’s life’s affairs. It is most wonderful to watch. The more you think about it, the more it will prove to you that the success and failure absolutely depend upon the attitude of mind.
I was very interested in what a friend who was a salesman in a big firm of jewelers once told me. He used to come to me to talk philosophy. He said, “It is very strange. I have seen so often on arriving at a house where I thought they were able to pay more than the actual price of things, that I was tempted to ask a much higher price than what I knew the value to be; but every time I gave in to this temptation, I did not succeed. And again I was encouraged to do the same when I saw my fellow salesmen selling a stone to someone who took a fancy to it for a price perhaps four times its value. Why did they succeed and why do I not succeed?” I told him, “Your way is different, their way is different. They can succeed by dishonesty; you can succeed by honesty. If you take their path you will not succeed”.
Thus sometimes he who is busy developing mentally by mental purification may have to undergo small sacrifices, minor failures. But these are only a process towards something really substantial, really worth while. If he is not discouraged by a little failure, he will certainly come to a stage when success will be his. Purity of mind sets free springs of inspiration which otherwise are kept closed. And it is through inspiration that one enjoys and appreciates all that is beautiful, and creates all that is good for the joy and pleasure of others.
Once I visited the studio of a painter who had died. I sat there for fifteen minutes, and such depression came upon me that I asked the widow of the painter, “what was the condition of your husband?” And she answered, “A terrible condition. His spirit was torn to pieces.” I said, “That is what his pictures show.”
The effect was such that whoever saw those pictures underwent the same influence. If we have purity of mind we create purity. In all we do, art, politics, business, music, industry, we pour out the purity of mind to such an extent even that those around us, strangers or friends, all have part in our joy. One says that diseases are infectious. But purity of mind is infectious too, and its effect creates purity in others. Some keep it for a long time, others keep it for a short time. It depends upon the mind.
The mind is a storehouse, a storehouse of all the knowledge that one has accumulated by studies, by experiences, by impressions, through any of the five senses. In other words, every sound, even once heard, is registered there. Every form that our eyes have seen, even a glimpse of it, is registered there. And when our heart is pure it projects the light of the soul just as the light is projected from a searchlight. And the most wonderful phenomenon is that the light is thrown by the power of will on that particular spot in the storehouse of the mind, which we are wanting to find. For instance, we saw a person once ten years ago and he comes before us and we look at him and say, “I have seen that person before, but where?” In that moment we will throw the light of our
soul on that picture that was made on our mind on one occasion ten years ago. It is still there. We had completely forgotten it, but the picture is there. The moment we desired to see it our soul projected its light on that particular spot; and the most wonderful thing is that there are perhaps a million pictures. Why should the light be thrown on that particular image? That is the phenomenon. It is that the inner light has a great power. It is a power, which is creative by nature. And therefore when it throws light, it throws it on that particular spot.
By the word mind I mean here what is often called subconscious mind. The storehouse I spoke of above is the subconscious mind. In that storehouse there are things and they live. All thoughts and impressions are living things. There is nothing in the mind that dies. It lives and it lives long; but when we are not conscious of it, it is our subconscious mind.
For instance, a person was told that he must go and see his friend on such a day at a certain time. He had written it in his notebook, but then he forgot it. During his daily occupations there came a moment when he thought, “I ought to be in that place! I have not gone there. I had quite forgotten. I should have been there. Why am I not there? Why did I forget it?” Now this idea that came to his memory was in his subconscious mind. And as his will wanted to know it came up. He knew without doubt that he had an engagement, that he was meant to be there. Only for the time being he had forgotten. Where was it? In that part of his mind which one calls the subconscious.
A pupil I once had who was very interested in spiritual exercises and metaphysical questions, left me and became a businessman. All his time was taken up with business. He forgot me altogether. For ten years he never did his practices. One day I happened to come to the city where he lived, and he remembered his old teacher who had returned. When he heard the lecture I gave, everything, which he was taught ten years before, became alive in a moment; it was only too eager to come. He said, “It is all living for me. Please tell me what to do.” He was so eager to do things now.
And so it is. All that is in the mind, all one has never thought about, all that one never troubles about, is there; and when one has leisure from worldly occupations, it all becomes living.
At death comes leisure. After death the mind comes to greater life, a life more real than here. Death is an unveiling, the removal of a cover, after which the soul will know many things in regard to its own life and in regard to the whole world which had hitherto been hidden. Therefore the realization of what is said about heaven and hell which have accumulated in our mind, in the hereafter will be our own. Today our mind is in us. In the hereafter we shall be in our mind. And therefore =
that mind which is mind just now, in the hereafter will be the world. If it is heaven, it will be heaven. If it is another place, it will be the other place. It is what we have made it. No one is attracted and put there. We have made it for ourselves, for our own convenience.
What we sought after, we have collected. A costly dress, if it was really important, is there. If we find out that it is not important, that it is foolish, it is there just the same.
Even useless things take a form in the mind, as everything has a form. But it has a form akin to the source of impression. For instance, not only a painting, a picture, has a perceptible form. Music also is a language. The eyes do not see it, but the ears see it. So the mind even accumulates all such forms as sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all the different tastes. We do not see them, but they are registered in the mind in a form distinguished by us. The eyes do not see the form, but the mind sees it actually in the same way as we had once tasted it. To the mind all these forms are intelligible in the same way, exactly the same as when they come through the different senses.
Various impressions remain in the mind after death. Because what is individual? Being individual is like being in a mist. When different physical organs cannot any longer hold the spirit then they fail, and the spirit has finished with them. The body departs, the spirit remains. The spirit is as individual as the person was individual in the physical body. After the physical body has gone, the nonphysical impressions are more distinct because the limitation of the physical body has fallen away. The physical body is a great limitation. When it has fallen away individuality becomes more distinct, more capable of working than on the physical plane.
It is most difficult to forget what one has once learned. Learning is one thing; and unlearning is another. The process of spiritual attainment is through unlearning. People consider their belief to be their religion. In reality belief is a steppingstone to religion. Besides, if I were to picture belief, it is just like a staircase that leads on to a higher realization. But instead of going up the staircase people stand on it. It is just like running water that does not flow anymore. People have made their belief rigid, and therefore instead of being benefited by their belief they are going backwards. If it were not so one would have thought that all the believers in God, in truth, and the hereafter would be better than the unbelievers. But what happens is that they are worse, because they have nailed their own feet to their belief.
Very often I am in a position where I can say very little, especially when a person comes to me with his preconceived ideas and wants to take my direction, my guidance on the spiritual path. Yet at the same time his first intention is to see if his thoughts fit in with mine and if my thoughts fit in with his thoughts. He cannot make himself empty for the direction given. He has not come to follow my thoughts, but wants to confirm himself that his idea is right. Among a hundred persons who come for spiritual guidance, ninety come out of the tap. What does it show? That they do not want to give up their own idea, but they want to have it confirmed that the idea they have is right.
Spiritual attainment, from beginning to end, is unlearning what one has learnt. But how does one unlearn? What one has learnt is in oneself. One can do it by becoming wiser. The more wise one becomes, the more one is able to contradict one’s own ideas. The less wisdom one has, the more one holds to one’s own ideas. In the wisest person there is willingness to submit to others. And the most foolish person is always ready to stand firm to support his own ideas. The reason is that the wise person can easily give up his thought; the foolish holds on to it. That is why he does not become wise because he sticks to his own ideas. That is why he does not progress.
Mental purification therefore is the only method by which one can reach the spiritual goal. In order to accomplish this one has to look at another person’s point of view. For in reality every point of view is one’s own point of view. The vaster one becomes, the greater the realization that comes to one, the more one sees that every point of view is all right. If one is able to expand oneself to the consciousness of another person, one’s consciousness becomes as large as two persons. And so it can be as large as a thousand persons when one accustoms oneself to try and see what others think.
The next step in mental purification is to be able to see the right of the wrong and the wrong of the right, and the evil of the good and the good of the evil. It is a difficult task, but once one has accomplished this, one rises above good and evil.
One must be able to see the pain in pleasure and the pleasure in pain; the gain in the loss and the loss in the gain. What generally happens is that one is blunted to one thing and that one’s eyes are open to another thing; that one does not see the loss or that one does not see the gain. If one recognizes the right, one does not recognize the wrong.
Mental purification means that impressions such as good and bad, wrong and right, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain, these opposites which block the mind, must be cleared out by seeing the opposite of these things. Then one can see the enemy in the friend and the friend in the enemy. When one can recognize poison in nectar and nectar in poison, that is the time when death and life become one too. Opposites no more remain opposites before one. That is called mental purification. And those who come to this stage are the living sages.
The third field of mental purification is to identify oneself with what one is not. By this one purifies one’s mind from impressions of one’s own false identity.
I will give as an example the story of a sage in India. The story begins by saying that a young man in his youth asked his mother, who was a peasant-woman living in a village, “What is the best occupation, mother?” And the mother said, “I do not know son, except that those who searched after the highest in life went in search of God.” “Then where I must go, mother?” he asked. She answered, “I do not know whether it is practical or not, but they say in the solitude, in the forest.” So he went there for a long time and lived a life of patience and solitude. And once or twice in between he came to see his mother. Sometimes his patience was exhausted, his heart broken. Sometimes he was disappointed in not finding God. And each time the mother sent him back with stronger advice. At the third visit he said “Now I have been there a long time.” “Yes,” said the mother, “Now I think you are ready to go to a teacher.” So he went to see a teacher. And there were many pupils learning under that teacher. Every pupil had a little room to himself for meditation, and this pupil also was told to go into a certain room to meditate. The teacher asked, “Is there anything you love in the world?” This young man having been away from home since childhood, having not seen anything of the world, could think of no one he knew, except of the little cow that was in his house. He said, “I love the cow in our house.” The teacher said, “Then think of the cow in your meditation.”
All the other pupils came and went, and sat in their room for fifteen minutes for a little meditation. Then they got tired and went away; but this young man remained sitting there from the time the teacher had told him. After some time the teacher asked, “Where is he?” The other pupils answered, “We don’t know. He must be in his room.” They went to look for him; the door was closed and there was no answer. The teacher went himself and opened the door and there he saw the pupil sitting in meditation, fully absorbed in it. And when the teacher called him by name, he answered in the sound of a cow. The teacher said, “Come out.” He answered, “My horns are too large to pass through the door.” Then the teacher said to his pupils, “Look, this is the living example of meditation. You are meditating on God and you do not know where God is, but he is meditating on the cow and he has become the cow; he has lost his identity. He has identified himself with the object on which he meditates.” All the difficulty in our life is that we cannot come out of a false conception.
I will give another example. Once I was trying to help a person who was ill, who had had rheumatism for twenty years. This woman was in bed. She could not move her joints. I came to her and told her, “Now you will do this and I will come again in two weeks’ time.” And when after two weeks I came, she had already begun to move her joints. And I said, “In six weeks I will come back.” And in six weeks she got up from bed and had still greater hope of being cured. Nevertheless her patience was not so great as it ought to have been. One day she was lying in bed and thought, “Can I ever be cured?” The moment she had that thought she went back to the same condition; because her soul had identified itself with a sick person. For her to see her own well being was impossible. She could not imagine that she would ever be quite well. She could not believe her eyes that her joints were moving. She could not believe it.
People can be well in their bodies but not in their minds. Very often they hold on to an illness which they could get rid of. And the same thing happens with misery. People who are conscious of misery attract miseries. They are their own misery. It is not that misfortune is interested in them, but that they are interested in misfortune. Misfortune does not choose people. People choose misfortune. They hold that thought and that thought becomes their own. When a person is convinced that he is going downward, he goes downward. His thought is helping him to sink.
Therefore the third aspect of mental purification is to be able to identify oneself with something else. The Sufis have their own way of teaching it. Very often one holds the idea of one’s spiritual teacher; and with that idea one gains knowledge and inspiration and power that the spiritual teacher has. It is just like a heritage.
The man who cannot concentrate so much as to forget himself and go deep into the subject on which he concentrates, will not succeed in mastering concentration.
The fourth mental purification is to free oneself from a form and have the sense of the abstract. Everything suggests to the eye a form, everything; even so much that if the name of a person whom one has never seen is mentioned, one makes a form of him. Even such things as fairies and spirits and angels, as soon as they are mentioned, are always pictured in a certain form. This is a hindrance to attaining the presence of the formless; and therefore this mental purification is of very great importance. Its purpose is to be able to think of an idea without form. No doubt this is only attained by great concentration and meditation, but once it is attained it is more satisfactory.
And the fifth way is to be able to repose one’s mind. In other words to relax the mind. Imagine, after having toiled for the whole day, how much the body stands in need of rest; how much more then must the mind stand in need of rest!
The mind works much faster than the body. Naturally the mind is much more tired than the body. And not every person knows how to rest his mind and therefore the mind never has a rest. And then what happens after a while is that the mind becomes feeble. It loses memory, the power of action. It loses reason. The worst effects are mostly brought about by not giving the mind proper repose. If such infirmities as doubt and fear happens to enter the mind, then a person becomes restless, he can never find rest. For at night the mind continues on the track.
of the same impressions. Simple as it seems to be, very few know the resting of the mind and how wonderful it is in itself. And what power, what inspiration, comes as a reaction from it, and what peace one experiences by it, and how it helps the body and mind! The spirit is renewed once the mind has had its rest.
The first step towards the resting of the mind is the relaxation of the body. If one is able to relax one’s muscular and nervous system at will, then the mind is automatically refreshed. Besides that, one must be able to cast away anxiety, worries, doubts, and fears by the power of will, putting oneself in a restful state. This will be accomplished by the help of proper breathing.
Great magnetism is produced by having stilled and purified the mind. And the lack of it causes lack of magnetism. The presence of those whose mind is not purified and stilled becomes a source of unrest for others as well as for themselves. And they attract little because the power of attraction is lost. Everyone is tired by their presence, and their atmosphere causes uneasiness and discomfort. They are a burden to themselves and to others.
Once the mind is purified, the next step is the cultivation of the heart quality, which culminates in spiritual attainment.
There is a verse in the Bible, “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.” So what we call living is subtle, what is dead is coarse. In other words, what is dense is coarse, and what is fine is subtle.
It is true as the Hindus say that there was a golden age, then a silver age, a copper age, and an iron age. Certainly, we are in the iron age. Never before in any period of history was there such grossness and denseness as mankind shows today. And it has come about by the law of gravitation. When the consciousness is absorbed in the gross matter then a person gravitates towards the earth. When the consciousness is released from the gross matter then it soars towards heaven.
I do not mean to say that people were not gross 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. But when we study traditions we find that they were also very fine and subtle in perception, more than we are today. Our contact with the earth and earthly things has made us more rigid. They were more placid. And if we want proof of this we have only to study ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Zend, Persian, Hebrew, and see the manuscripts of ancient times and the way they explain things. Maybe they are quite strange to our present day mentality and perception, yet their fineness is beyond words. And it seems we are going from bad to worse and are becoming coarser every day. If we only realized how far we are removed from what may be called fine perception!
When a person tries to understand subtle things by mathematical calculations alone, he has come into the dense sphere. He does not want to become fine, and he wants to make the spirit, which is the finest thing, gross and intelligible. Therefore it is of the greatest importance for spiritual attainment to develop fine perception. I have seen people go into a trance or dive into a deep meditation and yet lack fine perception. And then it is of no value. They are not really spiritual. A really spiritual person must have a mentality like liquid not like a rock; a mentality that is moving, not crude and dense.
This question has also a metaphysical side to it. There are two experiences in life. One realm of experience is sensation, the other realm is exaltation; and it is by these two experiences that one tries to experience happiness. But what is experienced by sensation or in the form of sensation is not necessarily happiness; that is pleasure. It might give the appearance of happiness for a moment, but it is only a suggestion of happiness.
Exaltation is something, which the mystic experiences. And those who are not mystics experience it also, but they do not know what it is. They cannot distinguish between sensation and exaltation. Sometimes exaltation may be the outcome of sensation. It is possible; but at the same time exaltation, which depends upon sensation, is not an independent exaltation.
There are different grades of exaltation. To the Sufi, the soul is a current that joins the physical body to the source. And the art of repose naturally makes it easier for the soul to experience freedom, inspiration, power, because it is then loosened from the grip of the physical body. As Rumi says in the Masnavi, “Man is a captive on earth. His body and his mind are his prison bars. And the soul is unconsciously craving to experience once again the freedom which originally belonged to it.” The Platonic idea about reaching the higher source is the same that by exaltation, the soul, so to speak, rises above the fast hold of the physical body. It may be only for a few moments, but it experiences in those moments a freedom which man has never experienced before.
A moment of exaltation is a different experience at every level. The supreme exaltation is hinted at in the Bible, “Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Many religious people will say that it is impossible for man to be perfect; but it is said in the Bible just the same. At all times the knowers and seers have understood that there is a stage at which, by touching a particular phase of existence, one feels raised above the limitations of life, and is given that power and piece and freedom, that light and life, which belong to the source of all beings. In other words, in that moment of supreme exaltation one is not only united with the source of all beings, but dissolved in it; for the source is one’s self.
The source is greater than we can put into words. We can try to conceive it by comparing it with a seed, which is the source of the flower, the leaves, the stem, the branches, and the fragrance. While if we take the seed alone we do not see all those in the seed; yet they were there all the time. On the other hand we cannot really compare even the seed with the source, for the seed depends upon the sun and water and earth for its growth. Whereas, the ultimate source does not depend upon anything. It is all that is strong and powerful. It is beyond words and beyond our limited conception even to think of the source except that when we get greater inspiration, peace, joy, and magnetism, we appreciate things much better. In this way we may understand a little how great the source must be. The greater we are the closer we reach to that source. As the great Indian poet Khusrau says, “When I become Thou and Thou becomest me, neither canst Thou say that I am different nor canst Thou say that Thou are different.”
The different grades of exaltation are as the different notes in music. As we distinguish lower and higher notes, so it is with the different grades of the experience of exaltation. Even reading a beautiful poem can produce exaltation. Good music gives exaltation, and a feeling of great joy does so too. It all breaks up congestion. There are fine cells of the nerves, which become free, and the body experiences relaxation.
There is a difference between sensation and exaltation, but when we come to words, there is always confusion. One can say that exaltation is the fusion of all sensation; but if one says that through sensation is exaltation, it is true also.
As much as we need sensation in life to make our experience of life concrete, so much or even more do we need exaltation in order to live life fully. The lower creation, such as birds and beasts, also has glimpses of exaltation. They do not only rejoice in grazing and in finding seeds, in making nests or in playing in the air, in singing and in running about in the forest. There are moments when even birds and beasts feel exaltation. And if we go into the subject more deeply, we shall understand what we read in a most wonderful verse of Islamic tradition: “There are moments when even rocks become exalted and trees fall into ecstasy.” If that be true, then man, who is created to complete the experience that any living being can have, must experience exaltation as much as he experiences sensation.
What I mean by sensation is the impression one has of line and color; the preference one has for softness in structure. It is the appreciation one has of fragrance and perfume; the enjoyment one gains by tasting sweet and sour and pungent; the joy one experiences in hearing poetry, singing, and music. All these experiences are manifest in the realm of sensation. The world of sensation is one world. The world of exaltation is another; and these two worlds are made for man to experience in order to live life on earth full. And yet, with this possibility and this opportunity in life, man continues to live a life of sensation, forgetting that there is another life as well, a life that can be experienced here on earth, and something that completes life’s experience.
There is a physical aspect of exaltation which comes as a reaction or a result of having seen the immensity of space, having looked at the wide horizon, or having seen the clear sky, the moonlit night and nature at dawn. Looking at the rising sun, watching the setting sun, looking at the horizon from the sea being in the midst of nature, looking at the world from the top of a mountain, all these experiences, even such an experience as watching the little smiles of an innocent infant, these experiences lift one up and give one a feeling which one cannot call sensation. It is exaltation.
A higher aspect of exaltation is a moral exaltation- when we are sorry for having said or done something unpleasant; when we have asked forgiveness, and humbled ourselves before someone towards whom we were inconsiderate. We have humbled our pride when: we felt a deep gratitude to someone who had done something for us, when we have felt love, sympathy, devotion, which seems endless and which seems so great that our heart cannot accommodate it, when we have felt so much pity for someone that we have forgotten ourselves; when we have found a profound happiness in rendering a humble service to someone in need; when we have said a prayer which has come from the bottom of our heart; when we have realized our own limitation and smallness in comparison with the greatness of God; all these experiences lift men up.
The moment we have these experiences, we are not living on earth but in another world. The joy of such experiences is very great, and yet they can be gained without paying anything, whereas sensations cost something. We have to go to the theater, to go to all kinds of entertainment. All these cost something. They cost more than they are worth; but exaltation, which is beyond price, comes of itself as soon as we have shown an inclination towards it. It is only a matter of changing our attitude.
Once I visited a great sage in Bengal. I said to him, ” What a blessed life is yours, which gives pleasure and happiness to so many souls.” but he answered, ” How privileged I am myself that a thousand times more pleasure and happiness come to me.”
Exaltation is a purifying process. A moment’s exaltation can purify the evil of many years, because it is like bathing in the Ganges, as Hindus say. It is symbolical. Exaltation is the Ganges, and if we bathe in it we are purified from all sins. It does not take much to make us exalted. A kind attitude, a sympathetic trend of mind, and it is already there. If we were to notice it, we would find that our eyes shed tears in sympathy with another. We were already exalted. Our soul has bathed in the spiritual Ganges. It comes by forgetting self and by destroying selfishness. But remember we can never claim to be unselfish. However unselfish we may be, we are selfish just the same. But we can be wisely selfish, and if we are to be selfish, it is just as well to be wisely selfish. It is the same thing as what we call unselfishness and it is profitable to be that instead of being foolishly selfish; because the former gains and the latter loses.
The third aspect of exaltation comes by: touching the reason of reasons, by realizing the essence of wisdom, by feeling the depth, the profound depth of one’s heart, by widening one’s outlook on life; by broadening one’s conception, by deepening one’s sympathies, and by soaring upwards to those spheres where spiritual exaltation manifests. Today a man of common sense or a person who is called a practical man is in the habit of laughing at the idea that someone has visions or =
experiences of ecstasy, that someone goes into what is called a trance. But there is nothing to be surprised at, nothing to laugh at. All these things are laughable, however, when done by the undeserving; and it is mostly such who make these claims and look for approbation from others for their experiences. Those who really experience these things do not need to tell people that they had this or that experience. Their own joy is their reward. No one else should recognize it. The less others know about it the better.
Why must we show ourselves to be different from others? It is only vanity. And the more vanity the less progress we make along the spiritual path. It is the worst thing on the spiritual path to try and show oneself to be different from others. Those, who are really evolved, are glad to act as everyone else acts. To novelists it seems beautiful to describe masters as living in caves of the Himalayas or moving about in the forest somewhere where one cannot go and find them, always keeping aloof and apart so that no one can reach them. But every soul has a divine spark, and therefore if there is any higher stage of human evolution it is for human beings, not for those outside the human world. If they are outside the human world, there is no relation between us and them. The great spiritual souls have lived in the world, in the midst of the world, and proved to be the greatest masters.
Imagine the life of Abraham, of Moses, the life of Jesus Christ; and again the life of Mohammad in war and battles, and yet as exclusive and remote, as spiritual as anyone could be. AndKrishna, picture him in Kurukshetra fighting in the battle, giving a world-scripture. If they had all lived in mountain caves we would not have been benefited by them. What is the use of those holy ones who never see, never experience from morning till evening the tests and trials of the dense world, where at every move there are a thousand temptations and difficulties, a thousand problems? What can they do, those who are outside the world, for us who are exposed to a thousand difficulties at every moment of our life? And these difficulties are increasing. With the evolution of the world life is becoming heavier, more difficult. No, the mastery, the holiness, the evolution must be shown here on earth. It is very easy to be evolved in the seventh heaven. But exaltation experienced and imparted to others here on the earth is exaltation, which is more worth while.
As to the grossness and subtlety of human nature, the heroes, kings, masters, prophets, those who have won the heart of humanity, have been fine in perception and in character. They have not been gross. Their fineness was simple. There was always a simple side to it, but at the same time it was subtle, which made it beautiful. A person who can say without saying and one who can do without doing is a subtle person and that subtlety is worth appreciating. The one who sees and does not see, knows and does not know; the one who experiences and does not experience at the same time, the one who is living and yet dead, that is the soul who experiences life fully.
The purpose of life is to attain to mastery. This is the motive of the spirit, and it is through this motive at the back of it that the whole universe is created. The different stages from mineral to vegetable and from vegetable to the animal kingdom, and from animal to man, are the awakening of the spirit towards mastery. By using the mineral and the vegetable kingdoms and controlling the animal kingdom for his service, man shows in the first place that in him is awakened that spirit by which the whole universe was created.
His power of knowing, of understanding, of utilizing to the best advantage, is the sign of mastery. But at the same time there is one enemy that man has, and that enemy is limitation; and the spirit of limitation is always a hindrance to realizing the spirit of mastery and practicing it. Those who at some time or other in their lives have realized this principal object, for which man is born, have then tried to develop that spirit of mastery in order to defend themselves.
The process of going from limitation to perfection is called mysticism. Mysticism means developing from limitation to perfection. All pain and failure belong to limitation. All pleasure and success belong to perfection. In one’s own surroundings, one will find that those who are unhappy and dissatisfied with life and who make others unhappy, are those who are more limited. Those who can help themselves and help others, who are happy and bring pleasure into the lives of others, are nearer to perfection.
What is meant by limitation and what by perfection? These are only conditions of the consciousness. When one is conscious of limitation, one is limited. When one is conscious of perfection, one is perfect. Because he who is limited in the limited consciousness is the same as he who is perfect in the perfect consciousness. To give an example: there was a son of a rich man who had plenty of money put in his name in the bank. But he did not know this; and when he wished to spend some money he found very little in his pocket. This made him limited. In reality his father had put a large sum in the bank, but he was not conscious of it. It is exactly the same with every soul. Every soul is conscious of what it possesses and is unconscious of what is put in its name. What is within one’s reach, one feels to be one’s own, but what does not seem to be within one=92s reach one considers to be outside. This is natural. But wisdom opens a door to look out and see if that which seems outside is not meant to be known too.
Sometimes, the mastery of life is known to a person. He may not be a mystic, but if his time comes, he knows it. One day I was interested when a man, who had done nothing but business all his life and made himself so rich that he was perhaps one of the richest man in the country, wanted to show me his park, a beautiful park he had around his house. While I was his guest we were taking a walk. He said, “It is wonderful to come here into my park in the morning and evening.” I asked him, “How far does your park extend?” And he said, “Do you want to know? Do you see the horizon from here?” I said, “Yes.” He told me, “All this land is mine and the sea besides. All that you can see.” It was a wonderful answer, and an example of the theory I have mentioned; he was not only conscious of what he possessed, but of all that was there. He did not make a dividing line between what was his own and what was beyond. It is a mystery, and it is difficult for anyone to look at life in this way. But this man who was in business, this man who never even thought of mysticism, could also arrive at the conception which the mystic discovers after years of meditation. It was a purely mystical conception.
When dervishes, who sometimes have patched sleeves or are scantly clad, who sometimes have food and sometimes not, address one another, they say, “O King of Kings, O Emperor of Emperors.” It is the consciousness of what is king or emperor, which is before them. The boundary of their kingdom is not limited. The whole universe is their kingdom. It is in this way that a soul proceeds towards perfection, by opening the consciousness and raising it higher. When the soul evolves spiritually, it rises to a height where it sees a wider horizon; therefore its possession becomes greater. You might say, “By looking at the horizon it does not become our possession; what we possess is what we call our own”. But Columbus first saw America. He did not possess it first. The possession came afterwards. The first thing is to see, afterwards we possess; but if we do not see how can we possess? And without seeing our possession it is not our possession.
There are two different ways, two different angles from which one should look at perfection. One way is likened to a perpendicular line and the other to a horizontal line. The way, which is likened to a perpendicular line, is the reaching of the knowledge within. How does one reach this knowledge? First of all by concentration one reaches the knowledge within, which means one, is able to see concretely and to be conscious of something, which is apart from one’s physical body. A person may be conscious of a poem, a word, a picture, an idea or something, and if he can be so conscious of it that he can lose the consciousness of his limited body for a moment, that is the first step.
Although it seems very easy, it is not so easy. When a person begins to do it, no sooner does he closes his eyes in order to concentrate than a thousand things come before him. Also his physical body becomes restive. It says, “This person is not conscious of me!” And then he gets nervous and twists and turns in order to be conscious of the body. The body does not like a person to be unconscious of it. It is like a dog or a cat; it likes one to take notice of it. Then a kind of nervous action arises in the body. It feels like moving, turning, scratching, or something. As soon as one wants to discipline the body, the body does not want to accept discipline.
The second stage is that instead of being conscious of a thought, one is conscious of a feeling, which is wider still; because thought is a form, and the mind even sees the form. But the feeling has no form, therefore to fix one’s mind on a feeling and to keep it with the intention of keeping it, is not an easy thing. If once a person has done it and has not given in to restiveness of mind, then he certainly feels uplifted.
This is the boundary of human progress and further than that is divine progress. What is divine progress? When one goes further still, then instead of being active one becomes passive. It is a state of consciousness, to be passive. There one does not need concentration, what one needs there is meditation. There one gets in touch with that power which is audible and visible within one and of which one is yet ignorant; that power, which is, busy moving towards the materialization of its intended object.
Once one comes into contact with this experience, one can no longer say in later life that there is such a thing as an accident. Then one will see that all that happens is destined and prepared, when one catches it in its preparatory condition before it has manifested on the earthly plane.
And if one goes further, there is consciousness in its aspect of pure intelligence. It is knowing and yet knowing nothing. And knowing nothing means knowing all things. Because it is the knowing of things that blunts the faculty of knowledge. In other words, when a person is looking in a mirror, his reflection covers the mirror and in that mirror nothing else can be reflected. Therefore when the consciousness is conscious of anything, it is blunted. At that moment it is blunted, or in other words it is covered by something that it is conscious of. The moment that cover is taken away, it is its own self, it is pure intelligence, it is pure spirit. In that condition its power, life, magnetism, force, its capacity, are much greater, incomparably greater than one can imagine. What it is cannot be explained except that by the help of meditation one reaches that condition. And if one goes higher still, it is not even consciousness, it is a kind of omniscient condition, which is the sign of inner perfection.
This is one direction of progress. There is another direction of progress; that is to see oneself reflected in another. When one is friends with another person, naturally one’s sympathy, love, friendship, make one see oneself in the other, and this gives the inclination to sacrifice. No one will sacrifice for another except when he is oneself. If this feeling develops it extends further, not only with the friend, with the neighbor, but with the stranger, with the beast and bird and insect; one is in at-one-ment with all living beings, and it gives one as much insight into another as the other person has into himself. One knows as much about him as he knows, even more. This is the simplest phenomenon of this consciousness; not to work wonders. It brings a quick proof that one knows as much about another person as he knows himself.
But there is another, moral proof; that one becomes friends with the wise and foolish, with the virtuous and wicked, more and more, as if one attracted them. One cannot help it. Sympathy is so powerful that even enemies are melted sooner or later. It is not just a tale that Daniel was sent to the mountain cave and the lions were tamed. In order to see this phenomenon one need not go to the mountains. In this world there are worse than lions: good natures and bad natures, possible and impossible people, and if one can subdue them, one has accomplished something; for it requires a greater power than calming lions. One can think of different ideas: agitated ones, antagonistic ones, blunted ones, ignorant ones, ideas full of falsehood or jealousy; how many swords and poisons there are in this world! And it is only one power, the power of one’s sympathy that assimilates all poisonous influences. It takes away their poison and it does not hurt oneself. One can sooner or later purify them, revivify them, melt them, mold them, and direct them towards the purpose of life.
The world seeks complexity. If I were to give lectures upon how to get magnetism in order to make people listen to you, and in order to draw them to you; if I were to give twenty exercises for doing these things, it might mean great success for me. But if I tell you simple things like this, that it is the deepening of your sympathy, the awakening of that sympathetic spirit in which is every power and magnetism, and the expansion of which means spiritual unfoldment, then there will be few to understand. For human beings do not want simple teaching, they want complexity.
And then there is another stage of expansion, and that is trying to look at everything from another’s point of view also, trying to think also as the other person thinks. This is not an easy thing because from one’s childhood one learns to think so that one stands upon one’s own thought. One does not move to another’s thought. The very fact that one has a thought oneself keeps one to it. It is therefore a sign of expansion to be able to see from the child’s point of view, or from the point of view of the foolish person, how he looks at things. And the most interesting thing is that it brings one to being tolerant and patient. In this way one extends one’s knowledge to a degree that no reading can give. Then one begins to receive from all sources; one will attract knowledge from every plane as soon as the mind becomes so pliable that it does not only stick to its point of view.
This process is called unlearning. If you say of a certain man, “This is not a nice person,” although you may be quite wrong the general tendency is to stick to that idea. But the greater evolution is to see from that man’s point of view also. He has a reason for being as he is. Maybe he is too unevolved to see, or he is more evolved and less interested in the other person. Yet, by seeing from his point of view you do not lose your own. Your point of view is still there; but the other point of view is added to yours, therefore your knowledge becomes greater. It means a greater stretching of the heart and sometimes the heart feels pain when you stretch it. But by stretching the heart and by making it larger and larger, you turn your heart into the sacred Book.
And the third aspect is to feel another person. A man is very often different from what he appears and from what he thinks. Sometimes he acts and speaks quite differently from his feelings; and if your feelings can know the feelings of another, this is a high aspect. You become a highly evolved personality when the feelings of another can tell you much more than his words and actions can; and sometimes they can give you quite a different opinion of a person from what you have had if you had only seen him and heard him speak. When one has arrived at this point, human evolution ends and divine evolution begins. Then no doubt one gets insight into what happens in the spirit of man; if he is going to succeed or not, if he is going to be happy or not, or what he is going to accomplish; because there is something going on within the person, preparing his plan of tomorrow. You begin to touch it and begin to get the impression of it, and that impression is as clear sometimes as anything visible and audible could be.
If you go further then you unite with everything. In this consciousness distance is no longer distance. If you can extend your consciousness so that your consciousness touches the consciousness of another, then not only the thoughts of that person but his whole spirit is reflected in your spirit. Space does not matter. Your consciousness can touch every part of the world and every person, at whatever distance he may be.
And if you go still further, then you can only realize that you are connected with all beings. That there is nothing and no one who is divided or separate from you, and that you are not only connected by chains with those you love, but with all those you have known and do not know – connected by a consciousness which binds you faster than any chains. Naturally one then begins to see the law working in nature. One begins to see that the whole universe is a mechanism working towards a certain purpose. Therefore the right one and the wrong one, the good and the bad, are all bringing about one desired result, by wrong power and by right power, a result meant to be, which is the purpose of life.
Then naturally one holds oneself back from that dogmatic spirit: “you are wrong” and “you are right,” and comes to the spirit of the sage: saying nothing, knowing all, doing all, suffering all things. This makes one the friend of all and the servant of all. And with all the realizations of the mystical truth and spiritual attainment, what one realizes is one thing, the only thing worth while, and that is to be of some little use to one’s fellow-men.
THE CONTROL OF THE BODY
Many people think that the physical has little to do with the spiritual. Why not, they ask, cast the idea of the physical aside in order to be entirely spiritual? If without the physical aspect of our being the purpose of life could be accomplished, the soul would have not taken a physical body and the spirit would not have produced the physical world. A Hindustani poet says, “If the purpose of creation could have been fulfilled by the angels, who are entirely spiritual, God would not have created man.” That shows that there is a great purpose to be accomplished by what is called the physical body. If the light of God could have shown directly, there would not have been a manifestation such as that of Christ. It was necessary, so to speak, that God should walk on the earth in the physical body. And the conception that the physical body is made of sin, and that this is the lowest aspect of being, will very often prove to be a mistake, for it is through this physical body that the highest and the greatest purpose of life is to be achieved. A person only calls it his physical body in ignorance. Once the knowledge has come to him he begins to look upon it as the sacred temple of God.
Our experience of life through the physical body has five aspects. The first aspect is health, the possession of which is heaven, and the absence of which is hell. No matter what we have in life, wealth, name or fame, power or position, comfort or convenience, without health it is all nothing. When a person is healthy he does not think about it, he does not value it. He cares about things he has not got. He tries to sacrifice his health for pleasures, for material wealth. He is ready to sacrifice his health for his intellectual fancies, for gaiety, for merriment, for a good time, for an ambition he wants to fulfill. But very often before the ambition or the desire is fulfilled the collapse comes and then he begins to realize what health means. Nothing can buy it; nothing can be compared with it. If we gather together all the blessings that can be received in life and weigh them on a scale, we will find that health weighs heaviest.
It is health, which enables man to be material as well as spiritual. Its lack robs him of materiality as well as of spirituality. It robs him of materiality because his condition is not in order and of spirituality because it is the completeness of health that enables man to experience spiritual life fully. I do not mean that it is a sin to be ill and a virtue to be well. I mean that health is a virtue and illness a sin.
Another aspect of the physical existence is balance. It is balance which gives control of the body. It is by balance that man is able to stand, to walk, and to move. Every action, every physical movement, is sustained by balance. And the lack of balance will always show some lack in the character of a person and at the same time in the condition of his life. In whatever form the lack of balance manifests, it always means that there is something lacking in the personality. If one studies the walk of a person, the way he moves or looks, everything he does, one sees that whenever balance is lacking something is lacking behind this which one may not have known but which one will find out in time. For instance, when a person is wobbling, do not believe that it is only an outside defect; it has something to do with that man’s character. As he is wobbling in walking, so he will be wobbling is his determination, in his belief. Just as the physician sees the internal condition in the =
eyes and on the tongue of the patient, so the wise see all that pertains to a man in his every movement especially by watching the balance.
Many Western readers of Oriental philosophy have asked me: “Why is it that your adepts in the East practice acrobatics, sitting in certain postures, standing on one leg, on their heads, sitting cross-legged in one position for a long time, and many other strange things that one would not think of a spiritual person doing? What spirituality is there to be attained by it? We consider that these things belong to acrobatics and athletics.” And I have answered that all such things as sports and athletic and acrobatic practices when done as a pastime abuse energy, time, and work. One does not get the full benefit out of them; but the adepts use them towards a higher purpose. There is nothing in this world, if properly practiced, which will not prove to be beneficial in spiritual attainment.
Do not think that going to church or temple and offering prayers, or sitting in silence with closed eyes, is the only way to spiritual attainment. But if we turn all things we do in our everyday life towards the spiritual goal, this will help us in our spiritual attainment. Besides, going to church once a week involves very little spiritual work. Even when we say our prayers every night before going to bed, very little spiritual work is done. For every moment of the day we live in illusion. Everything we do has the effect of covering our spiritual vision. That is why every moment of the day we should have a concentration. How can we do this if we have our business, industry, profession, and a thousand things to do in everyday life? The answer is that we should turn all things that we do into a prayer. Then whatever be our profession, work, and occupation in daily life, it will all help us to spiritual attainment. Then our every action will become a prayer. Every move we make towards the South, the North, the West, or the East will point to the spiritual goal. Not everyone realizes to what extent he lacks balance in his life. Among a hundred persons you can hardly find one really balanced. There is a spiritual balance also, but this spiritual balance is attained by first balancing the physical body and its movements.
The third aspect of our physical existence is the perfecting of our body, in other words the fineness, the sensitiveness, of the body. There is a spiritual temperament, and that temperament you can see from a person’s body. There are sensitive people, maybe a little bit nervous, and then there are dense people who have quite a different aspect. A sensitive person who can appreciate music, who can respond to the beauty of line and color, who can enjoy a salt and sweet, a sour and bitter taste fully, who can feel cold and heat, who can perceive fragrance, distinguish all these, it is he who is born with a spiritual temperament. The person who has no love for music, who cannot appreciate fragrance, who cannot understand the beauty of line and color that person is dense, and it will take time for him to develop. Therefore the experience of all the joy and pleasure that life offers is not in materiality, it is in spirituality. It is not the material person who experiences life fully; it is the spiritual person who does so.
One might ask, “Then what about these ascetics who lived the life of a hermit in solitude, who did not eat proper food, who kept themselves away from all comfort and beauty of life?” These are not for everyone to follow. At the same it is a mistake to criticize them. Such people are the ones who make experiments of life by the sacrifice of all the joy and pleasure that the earth can give. By their solitude they experiment, just as a scientist shuts himself up in his laboratory for years and years; and these ascetics who left everything in the world also attained a certain knowledge which they give us. It is not a principle for everyone to follow, for spirituality does not depend upon such things. Why are the eyes given if not to appreciate all that is beautiful? Why are the ears given if one may not enjoy music? Why has one been sent on to earth if one cannot look at the earth for fear of being called materialist? Those who make spirituality out to be something like this make a bogey of God, something frightening. In point of fact spirituality is the fullness of life.
With regard to the fourth aspect of our physical existence, man wrongly identifies himself with the physical body, calling it “myself.” And when the physical body is in pain he says, “I am ill,” because he identifies himself with something which belongs to him but which is not himself. The first thing to learn in the spiritual path is to recognize the physical body not as one’s self, but as an instrument, a vehicle, through which to experience life. This instrument is so equipped that one may be able to experience all that is worth experiencing outside oneself, and also all that is worth experiencing within oneself. When a child is born and brought up, its first tendency is to enjoy and experience all that is outside itself, and the man usually gets no chance to experience what is within himself. But at the same time the body is equipped with the instrument, with the means, by which to experience both the life outside and the life within. If a person does not use his hand or his leg for many years, the outcome will be that it loses its vitality, life, energy, and will no longer be of any use. We know the use of our hands and feet, which are outer parts of the physical mechanism. But there are inner and finer parts of the physical mechanism which mystics have called centers, each center having its particular object- intuition, inspiration, impression, revelation-which are all realized through the medium of these centers.
As the organs of our senses can experience life that is around us, so the nervous centers can experience life that is within us. But when these centers are not used for many years they become blunted, not destroyed but blunted, and can no longer be put to the use for which they exist. Many who embark upon spiritual work guided by a proper teacher begin to feel a sensation in the middle of the forehead, as if something is awakening there. After some time they begin more and more to notice a sphere of which they were quite ignorant. There are some who begin to notice a feeling in the solar plexus, which they did not have before. If that feeling is awakened they naturally become more intuitive. Some feel a certain sensitiveness on the top of their head, or in the center of their throat. With their growth they feel it more and more. Among these people there will doubtless be found some who are intuitive by nature.
The difference between those whose nervous centers respond and those whose nervous centers do not respond is that of rock and plant. The rock does not respond to sympathy, but the plant does. And so the ones whose intuitive centers are awakened to some extent begin to feel intuitive and then inspiration and revelation follow. But one should bear in mind that these things are not to be talked about. Those who know least talk most; and then if those who are not yet ready to know these secrets get hold of some theory or other of this kind, they speak about it to everybody. And then they write a book about their own wrong conceptions. They have never had the patience, perseverance, and right guidance to help them, and often they go astray; and many of them have damaged their health and got out of balance trying to awaken centers. They make light of something which is most serious, most sacred, and which leads to spiritual attainment. Others make fun it, those of the wrong quality who cannot perceive sympathy as a plant perceives it. They do not see the possibilities in themselves and mock at those who do not perceive; and in this way a science, which is the highest of all sciences, has been abused and laughed at.
In the East a teacher does not give guidance until he has full confidence in the pupil, so as not to allow that which is most sacred to be mocked and laughed at by others. When he gives an initiation the pupil takes an oath that he will not speak about these things before those unaware of their value, importance, and sacredness; and only then is he guided. Also, every individual is guided by the teacher separately.
Finally, there is the fifth aspect of our physical existence. There are two things: sensation and exaltation. Through sensation, one experiences pleasure. Through exaltation one experiences joy. There is a difference between joy and pleasure. What man is accustomed to experience by the medium of his physical body is pleasure; the pleasure of eating, the pleasure of drinking, the pleasure of looking at beautiful things. Therefore everything comforting he knows is that which is experienced by the physical senses. But besides that there is a joy which does not depend upon the senses, which only depends upon exaltation; and that exaltation is also achieved by the medium of the body.
How is that achieved? There is action and its result, and there is repose and its result. It is the result of action, which is called sensation, and it is the result of repose, which is called exaltation. In the Masnavi of Rumi, the most wonderful poet of Persia, we read about the blessing of sleep, where he says, “Oh sleep, there is no greater bliss to be compared with you. In sleep the prisoners are free from their prison, and the kings do not possess throne and crown. The suffering patients lose their pain or worries, and sorrows are forgotten.” This shows that sleep is a form of repose, automatically brought about at will, one will have an experience of mastery, for then one is not dependent upon an automatic condition. If this condition which raises us above our worries, troubles, sorrows, anxieties, pains, and suffering can be produced within ourselves, a great thing is accomplished. And the way of accomplishing it is by the practice of repose. The first thing an adept does in life is to master the five different aspects which I have mentioned, and having mastered them he is ready for the next step in the path of spiritual attainment.
THE CONTROL OF THE MIND
The tendency to be worried over nothing, to become anxious about little things, to be fidgety and restless, to be afraid, to be confused, the tendency of moving about without any reason, the tendency of speaking without purpose, the tendency of being sad without motive, all these things come through lack of control of the mind. Have they also any other effect besides the effect that is made upon one’s own personality? Yes; all weakness, errors, and mistakes that man makes against his own wish, all these come from lack of control over his own mind. And if there is a secret of success the key to it is the control of the mind. Intuition, inspiration, revelation, all comes when the mind is controlled. And all worries, anxieties, fears, and doubts come from lack of control.
What is the mind? One part of humanity considers mind as something inexplicable, and another part of humanity considers mind as an action of the brain. It is a very limited conception of mind. The voice reaches, through wireless, for thousands of miles, but the mind is much finer than the voice. It cannot be limited and restricted to the brain, although the brain is the medium by which thoughts are made clear. Mind according to the mystic is the real man; the body is only a garb which man wears. This word has a Sanskrit origin. In Sanskrit it is called mana, and from that is derived manu, which is nearly the same as the English word man. In other words, man means mind; and one sees that this is true when someone calls another person sad and downhearted or courageous and enthusiastic or well balanced, for all these attributes belong to the mind. Man is not his body, but he is his mind. There is a saying that what you are speaks louder than what you say. This means that the voice of mind reaches further than the spoken word and has greater effect.
It is mind, which creates atmosphere. One often wonders why it is that one feels uncomfortable in the presence of someone without his having done any harm; or that one feels excited in the presence of someone, or that one gets out of tune, or tired, or confused in the presence of someone else. Why is it? It is the effect of the person’s mind. The mind that is on fire creates fire in the atmosphere, and everyone within its atmosphere is burning too in the same fire. The mind, which is restful and peaceful, gives rest and peace to those who come within the atmosphere of the mind.
Once I asked my spiritual teacher how we could recognize the godly man. And my teacher replied, “It is not what he says and it is not what he seems to be, but it is the atmosphere that his presence creates. That is the proof. For no one can create an atmosphere which does not belong to his spirit.”
It is said in the Bible that first the earth was created and then, after the earth, the heavens, which means that the body was finished first and then the mind. An infant is born, so to speak, with a vision of mind, a skeleton of mind, and then the flesh and skin are put on it.
There is no mind without body; that is to say, before the body was made the mind was only an Akasha, an accommodation. The experience it has gained through the body as its vehicle has become its knowledge; and it is knowledge that makes mind. The Akasha, which becomes mind after the body has been born on earth, has already gathered some indistinct knowledge from several minds it has met while coming to earth; perhaps from one mind more than from other minds. In that case it has gained characteristics chiefly from one individual who has passed on from earth. Besides, through the parents this Akasha has gained the knowledge or the mentality of their ancestry, of their nation, their race, and of the particular grade of evolution of the whole of humanity at that particular time.
Some say animals have no mind. But that is a wrong conception. Wherever there is a body there is a mind. Even the tree has a mind. Luther Burbank once said to me in support of this argument, “You should watch the tendency of a plant, what is its inclination; for if you do not watch it the plant will not grow fully. I treat them as living beings. They speak to me, and I to them.”
The first thing we can learn about the mind is that the mind is independent of the body as far as its existence is concerned. But the mind is enriched by the experience man gets through his senses. There is no doubt that mind is within the body, but it is outside the body also, just like the light which is both within the lantern and without. The body is the lantern, in which there is the light, but the lantern does not obscure the light. The light is independent of the lantern. It shines out; and so does the mind. The brain is not mind, just as the piece of flesh in the breast is not the heart. Only, feeling is felt more deeply in the breast, and thought is made clearer in the brain. In other words, spectacles are not eyes; spectacles only enable one to see things more clearly. But the sight is independent of the spectacles, while the spectacles are dependent upon the sight. So the body is dependent upon the mind, but the mind is independent of the body. Body cannot exist without the mind, but mind can exist without the body. The mind is the invisible being of the body. It has its seat in the physical being; and it is that seat which is called brain, as the seat of feeling is the heart.
All that the senses can perceive is outward, but all that the mind can perceive is inward. This means that imagination rises from the mind and that the mind can perceive it: feeling, memory, concentration, reason, all these are perceptions of the mind. One can call the mind more the being of man than the body. When we compare body with mind it is just like the coat a person wears.
Mind has five different aspects. The first aspect is the power of thinking. And thinking can be divided into two parts: imagination, which is an outcome of the automatic action of mind, and thought, which is a result of intentional thinking. A thoughtful man, therefore is not necessarily imaginative, nor an imagination man thoughtful. Both qualities have their place. A person who is accustomed to think and who is capable of imagination is far removed from that beauty which is expressed in poetry and music, as these come from imagination. When the mind is given a free hand to do as it likes it dances as it were, and out of its gestures a picture is created. Call it art, poetry, or music. In whatever form it expresses itself it is beautiful.
Many people laugh at an imaginative person. They say, “He is in the clouds. He is dreaming.” But all works of art and music and poetry come from imagination, for imagination is the free flow of mind, when the mind is allowed to work by itself and bring out the beauty and harmony it contains. But when, it is restricted by a certain principle or rule, then it does not work freely. No doubt among artists and musicians you will find many who are dreamers and unpractical people. But that does not mean they are less gifted. Perhaps their unpracticalness in some way helps them to accomplish something that practical people cannot accomplish. One need not follow their example, but one can appreciate it just the same. Besides, no one has believed in God, no one has loved God, and no one has reached the presence of God, who has not been helped by his imagination. Those who argue with the believer and say, “But where is God? Can you show me? How can you conceive God? How do you explain God?” they are the ones without imagination; and no one can give his own imagination to them. Can anyone believe in the belief of another? If one can believe in anything one must do it oneself. And of what is that belief formed? Of imagination. It has been said: “If you have no God make one;” and no one has ever reached God who has not been able to make God. Those who trouble themselves about the abstract God have no God. They only use the word God. They have the truth, but they do not have God.
Truth without God is not satisfying. One ought to reach truth through God. It is that which gives satisfaction. If all the strength that one derives from food were given in one pill it would perhaps keep a person alive, but it would not give him the joy of eating. If one took the pill of truth, maybe a part of one’s being would be satisfied, but that is no real satisfaction. The idea of God feeds a person. He must first make it in himself, with his imagination. If he is only waiting for God to come to him, he will have to wait a long time.
When a person thinks, that is another kind of action. At that time he controls his mind, either consciously or unconsciously, and directs it according to his own will. He becomes reasonable, exact, and thoughtful. Both an imaginative and a thinking person may go to extremes and may fail. But, keeping the balance is what brings about desired results. A thinking person, also, may think so hard that he becomes confused by his own thoughts. There are many thinkers who think so hard but they become thoughtless.
The second aspect of mind is memory. The work of memory is not creative but perceptive. Its work is to receive impressions and to gather them together. Some scientists say that the cells of the brain are impressed by every impression that comes through the senses, and it is that which is kept in the brain, to be brought forth when one wants them. But it is not like that, although it can be taken as a symbolic explanation. The scientist has pictured it as it is in the inner plane, but because he does not recognize the inner plane he wants to explain it in physical terms and calls it brain-cells. It is true in essence; but it is not in the brain, it is in the mind.
Memory can be likened to a photographic plate. The impressions it takes remain there, and when a person wishes to recollect something this faculty helps him. It is within his reach. As soon as he wants to recall an experience he puts his hand, so to speak, on that particular plate which has received the impression of a certain experience. No experience received from sight, or smell, or hearing, or touch, or taste is lost. When people say, “My memory is not good, I cannot remember things, I am absent-minded,” the reason is that they have lost control over this faculty, but the impression is there all the same. Very often a person says, “I know it, but I cannot recall it to my memory.” In other words, in his mind he knows it, but in his brain it is not yet clear. For instance, when a person cannot remember the name or the face of someone he says, “I think I know it but I cannot find it for the moment.” That means that his mind knows it that it is there, but that he cannot make it clear in his brain.
Memory can also be divided into two parts. There are certain things we need not look for, but which are always clear in our memory. We have only to stretch out and put our hand on them, such as figures, names, and faces of those we know. We can recall them at any moment we wish. They are always living in our memory. But then there is the second part of our memory, which is sometimes called the subconscious mind, though in reality it is the bottom of the memory. In this part of the memory a photograph is made of everything we have seen or known, or heard, even once just like a flash, and it remains there. There we can find it at some time or other, either with difficulty or easily, as the case may be.
Besides these two aspects of the memory, there is still a deeper sphere to which our memory is linked, and that sphere is the universal memory. In other words the divine Mind, where we do not only recollect what we have seen or heard or known, but where we can even touch something we have never learnt or heard or known or seen. This can be found there also. Only for this the doors of memory should be laid open.
The third aspect of the work of the mind is mind-control, the concentrating power. This is done in two ways: with the help of memory and with the help of mind. The concentration that is performed with the help of memory is a negative or passive concentration. It requires little effort to concentrate with the help of memory. The Hindus taught this by placing certain Gods and Goddesses before a person and telling him to look at them and then to close his eyes and think about them. By looking at a certain object the memory reflected it, and that reflection was the concentration.
But those who do not practice concentration automatically retain things of great interest, things that impressed their mind most. It is for this reason that some carry with them a fear which, has perhaps been there from childhood. It is carried with them through life. Some save a sad impression of disappointment. They carry it throughout life. They retain it in their mind. The mind keeps an impression alive by revivifying it, an impression of revenge, of gratefulness, of success, of failure, of love, of admiration. It is kept there, and the mind cells give it food to keep it alive. Sometimes this is helpful and sometimes it works against one. Now the psychologist calls it a fixed idea and is always ready to call it a form of insanity, but it is not insanity. Everyone has got it. It is one of the attributes of mind. It is the faculty, the quality of retaining a thought. No doubt it may sometimes seem to be insanity, but insanity only comes from the abuse of the faculty. Any faculty can be abused and make a person unbalanced.
Then there is the positive concentration, which is creative. This concentration comes by thinking. When one thinks of a tree or a flower, the mind has to create atoms in order to make that form; therefore it is positive. It needs willpower; a greater action of mind, to concentrate upon an object which the mind has to make. The mind has to work. It is not only concentrating, but also creating and concentrating.
There are some that have a natural power of concentration, and there are others who lack it. But the mystery of success in all directions of life and the secret of progress is to be found in the power of concentration. It is not only progress and success, which are gained by it, but spiritual attainment is the result of concentration. And very often one sees that some make efforts to concentrate but cannot really concentrate, and others do not know that they concentrate but do it all the same. Prayer and meditation and various other exercises, religious or spiritual, are meant to develop the power of concentration.
In the East it is customary in the mosque for one man to lead the prayers and all the other worshippers stand behind him. Before offering their prayers they first focus their mind on joining the thought of their leader. Now there was a great mystic who would not go to the mosque to pray. He was always in prayer. He did not need to go to the mosque. But there was an orthodox king reigning at the time, who had decreed that everybody had to attend the prayers. So this man was compelled by the police to go and join in, but in the middle of the prayers he left, which was considered a great crime. When he was brought before the court to be judged he said, “I could not help it. The leader in his thought went to his house because he had forgotten his keys. So while I was praying I was left without a leader in the mosque, and that is why I went out.” This shows that as long as there is spirit in religious form, it is a beautiful form, which has life in it. But if there is no spirit behind it, however beautiful the form may be it is of no use. This is what is indicated by the saying in the Bible: “It is the spirit that quickneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.”
The fourth aspect of the mind is reasoning. This is a mathematical faculty, a faculty which weighs and measures and sees angles, whether they are right or wrong. And it is this faculty which makes man responsible for his actions. If he is not an individual he is nothing but an atom moved by influences. Whether conditions move him, or climatic influences, or personal influences, he is nothing but an instrument. But if he is held responsible for his actions it is because of this one faculty of mind that weighs and measures and reasons things out. Nevertheless, the reasoning of one person is not the same as the reasoning of another. And the reason of one moment is not the reason of the next moment. Something that is right just now may not be right tomorrow because reasoning will change. And they who dispute over reasoning do it in vain, for the reasoning of every person is different, and the reasoning of every person is good for him at that specific time. To urge and force one’s reason on the mind of another is useless. The best way to educate a person is to develop his reasoning instead of urging upon him one’s own reason, which is what many do.
It is very wonderful to watch the tricks of the reasoning faculty. When another person has done something reason says, “Because that person is wicked and has already done ten wicked things, now he has surely done another wicked thing.” And when a person himself has done a wicked thing, reason says, ” I have done it because I could not have done otherwise. I could not help it.” Reason takes the side of the ego. Reason is a slave and a servant of the mind; it is at its beck and call. The mind has only to turn its face to reason, and reason stands there as an obedient slave. It may not be right at all, but it is always there.
Reason is the most valuable thing that exists, but it is worthless when it is a slave of the mind. It gives the mind a reason to do either right or wrong. If one went and asked criminals in jail why they had done wrong, each one would have a reason. And if we look still closer at a reason we shall see that reason is nothing but a veil and a series of veils, one veil over another. Even when the veils are lifted, at the end there is reason just the same. But as one goes further one will find the more thorough and more substantial reason. It is the surface of reasons, which is unreliable, but the depth is most interesting; for the depth of reason is the essence of wisdom. The more one understands reason the less one will seek it, because then there is nothing to it. One knows the reason already. It is the unreasonable man who always accuses every person’s reason. The more reasonable a person is the more he understands everyone else’s reason. That is why the wise can get along with both the wise and the foolish. But the foolish can get along with neither the foolish nor the wise.
There is no doubt that there is always a reason behind a reason, a higher reason. And when one arrives at this higher reason one begins to unlearn, as the mystics call it, all that one has once learnt. One unlearns and one begins to see quite the opposite. In other words, there is no good, which has not a bad side to it and nothing bad which has not a good side to it. No one rises without a fall, and no one falls without the promise of a rise. One sees death in birth and birth in death. It sounds very strange, and it is a peculiar idea; but all the same it is a stage. When one rises above what is called reason one reaches that reason which is at the same time contradictory. This also explains the attitude of Christ. When a criminal was taken to him he had no other attitude towards him but that of the forgiver. He saw no evil there. That is looking from a higher reason. And if we penetrate the thousand veils of reason we can touch the reason of all reasons, and we can come to an understanding that the outer reasons cannot give. And by that we understand all beings: those who are in the right and those who are in the wrong. It is said that the Apostles in one moment were inspired to speak in many languages. It was not the English language, the Hindustani or Chinese language. It was the language of every soul. When a person has reached that state of mind in which it touches the essence of reason then it communicates with every soul. It is not a great thing to know thirty languages. A person may know a hundred languages, but if he does not know the heart of man he knows nothing.
There is a language of the heart. Heart speaks to heart, and that communication makes life interesting. Two persons may not speak, but their sitting together may be an exchange of lofty ideal and harmony. When first I became initiated at the hands of my spiritual teacher in India I was eager, as any man could be to assimilate, to grasp, as much as I could. Day after day I was in the presence of my Murshid, but not once did he speak on spiritual matters. Sometimes he spoke about herbs and plants, at other times about milk and butter. I went there every day for six months to see if I could hear anything about spiritual things. After six months the teacher spoke to me one day about the two parts of a personality, the outer and the inner. And I was over enthusiastic; the moment he began I took a notebook and pencil. But as soon as I did this, my teacher changed the subject and spoke about other things. I understood what that meant. It meant in the first place that the teaching of the heart should be assimilated in the heart. The heart is the notebook for it. When it is written in another notebook it will remain in one’s pocket, but when it is written in the heart it will remain in the soul. Besides one has to learn the lesson of patience, to wait, for all knowledge comes in its own time. I asked myself further if it was worthwhile to come to a place after a long journey, and go there every day for six months to hear of nothing but trees and butter. And my deepest self answered: yes, more than worthwhile, for there is nothing in the whole world more precious than the presence of the holy one. His teaching may not be given in theories, but it is in his atmosphere. That is a living teaching, which is real upliftment.
The essence of reason is the knowledge of God. Therefore, if there is any divine knowledge to be found it is in the essence of reason that one can find it.
And the fifth aspect of the mind is feeling. If this faculty is not open, then however wise and clever a person may be he is incomplete. He is not living. Mind begins to live from the moment that feeling is wakened in it. Many use the word feeling, but few of us know it. And the more one knows it the less one speaks of it. It is so vast that if there is any sign of God it is in feeling.
Today people distinguish intellectuality from sentimentality, but in point of fact intellectuality cannot be perfect without sentimentality. Neither can the thinking power be nurtured, nor the faculty of reasoning be sustained, without a continual outflow of feeling. In this age of materialism we seem to have lost the value of feeling. We speak of heart, but we do not see its real importance, although it is the principal thing, the root of the plant of life. The heart quality is something, which sustains the whole life. All virtues such as sincerity, respect, thoughtfulness, consideration, appreciation, all these qualities come through heart-quality. If he has no heart a person is not capable of appreciating, nor of being grateful, nor capable of expressing his own soul, nor of receiving goodness and help from another. A person without heart quality remains selfish, even foolishly selfish. If he were wisely selfish it would be worthwhile.
People very often say that they have no time to show their heart-quality, no time to allow the heart to develop. They are so busy. But we can be very busy every minute from morning till evening and at the same time do what we do with our whole heart, express it from the depth of our heart. When the heart-quality is shut out then all one does is lifeless. Feeling is such an important thing in our lives our whole life depends upon our feeling. A person once disheartened sometimes loses enthusiasm for his own life. A person once disappointed loses trust completely. A person who becomes heartbroken loses his self-confidence for the rest of his life. A person once afraid sustains fear in his heart forever. A person who has once failed keeps the impression of his failure all through life.
People love to watch a cock fight in the East. Two men bring their birds to fight, and as soon as one of them sees that the other bird will win he takes his bird away while it is still fighting, before it can expect defeat. He prefers to admit defeat while the two birds are still fighting than to allow his bird to be impressed by defeat, for once it is so impressed it will never fight anymore. That is the secret of our mind. And once one learns to take care of one’s mind just as in the case of the bird, to go to any sacrifice rather than give one’s mind a bad impression, one will make the best of one’s life.
One can read in the lives of great heroes and great personalities, how they went through all difficulties and sorrows and troubles and yet tried to keep their heart from being humiliated. That gave them all the necessary strength. They always avoided humiliation. They were prepared for death, wars, suffering, poverty, but not for humiliation. Once when I was in Nepal I wanted a servant. I sent for one, and he was of the warrior caste, the Kshatrias, brave fighters in the mountains. And when I asked what work he wanted to do, he said, “Any work you like, anything you like.” I said, “What about the pay?” “Anything you will give,” he answered. I was greatly amused to find a man willing to do any work I gave him and to accept any pay I offered. “Well,” I said, “Then there is no condition to be made?” He said, “One. You will never say a cross word to me.” He was ready to accept any money; willing to do any work; but not humiliation. I appreciated that spirit beyond words. It was that which made him a warrior.
Is there anyone in this world who will own that he has no feeling? And yet there are hearts of rock, of iron, of the earth, and of diamond, silver, gold, wax, and paper. There are as many kinds of hearts in this world as there are objects. There are some objects that hold fire longer. There are others that burn instantly. Some objects will become warm and in a moment they will grow cold again. Others disappear as soon as the fire touches them; while one can melt others and make ornaments out of them. And so are the heart-qualities. Different people have different qualities of the heart, and the knower of the heart will treat each differently. But since we do not think about this aspect we take every man to be the same. Although every note is a sound, they differ in pitch, in vibrations; and so every man differs in the pitch, the vibrations, of his heart. According to the vibrations of his heart he is spiritual or material, noble or common. It is not because of what he does, nor because of what he possesses in this world. He is small or great according to how his heart vibrates.
I have all my life had a great respect for those who have toiled in the world, who have striven through life and reached a certain eminence, and I have always considered it a most sacred thing to be in their presence. This being my great interest in life, I began, at first in the East, to make pilgrimages to great people. Among them were writers, sages, philosophers, and saints; but once I came in contact with a great wrestler. And this man, who had the appearance of a giant with his monstrously muscular body, had such a sympathetic expansive nature, such simplicity and gentleness that I was deeply surprised. And I thought, “It is not his size and strength that have made him great, but that which has melted him and made him lenient; it is that which makes him great.”
Feeling is vibration. The heart which is a vehicle, an instrument of feeling, creates phenomena if one only watches life keenly. If one causes anyone pain, that pain is returned. If one cause anyone pleasure, that pleasure is returned too. If one gives love to someone, love comes back. And if one gives hatred, that hatred comes back to one in some form or other- maybe in the form of pain, illness, health, or of success, joy or happiness. In some form or other it comes, it never fails. One generally does not think about this. When a person has attained a certain position in which he can order people about and speak harshly to them, he never thinks about those things. But every little feeling that rises in one’s heart and directs one’s action, word, and movement, causes a certain action and rebounds. Only sometimes it takes time. Could one think that one could ever hate a person and that that hatred does not come back? It surely comes, some time. On the other hand, if one has sympathy, love, affection, kind feelings, one need never tell anybody that one has it, for even then it returns in some form or other.
Someone came to me and said, “I was very sympathetic once, but somehow I have become hardened. What is the reason for it?” I said, “You tried to get water from the bottom of the earth. But instead of digging deep down you dug in the mud and you were disappointed. If you have patience to dig till you reach water, then you will not be disappointed.”
Very often a person imagines that he has feeling, that he has sympathy. But if he had it he would be the master of life. Then he would want nothing anymore. When this spring, which is in the heart of a man is once open, it makes him self-sufficient and it takes away the continual tragedy souls have to meet with in life. That tragedy is limitation. Very often it is lack of feeling that paralyses the four other aspects of mind. The person without feeling is incapable of thinking freely. Feeling is what makes one thoughtful. A man may be of powerful mind, but if he cannot feel the power of his mind is limited, for real power is in feeling, not in thinking.
Sometimes people come to me and say, “I have thought about it and I have wanted it, but I never got it.” And I have answered, “You have never wanted. If you had wanted you would have got it.” They do not believe this. They continue to think that they have wanted it. It may be so, but to want it enough is another thing. If a person went and stood before a bank and said, “Let all the money in the bank come to me,” would it come? He imagines that he wants it, but he has doubts, he does not believe it will come. If he believed it, it would come. Doubt is a destructive element. It may be likened to the shadow that produces dampness that hides the sun. The sun has no chance of reaching the place, which is covered by it.
There is a story of Shirin and Farhad, a very well known story of Persia. There was a stonecutter and he was laboring at a memorial for somebody. One day he saw a lady who was to be the future queen of the Shah; and he said to her, “I love you.” A stonecutter, a laborer in the street, asking for the hand of a lady who was to be the future Queen! He was a man without reason but not a man without feeling. Feeling was there, and the claim came with feeling. This lady said, “Very well, I will wait and see if your claim is true, and tell the Shah of Persia to wait.” And to try him she told him to cut a way through the mountains. He went one man with hammer and chisel. He did not ask if he was able to do it or not. There was no reason; there was no feeling. And he made the road which thousands of people would not have made in a year, because every time he hammered the rock he called out the name of Shirin, the one he loved. He made the way, and when the king heard that it was finished he said, “Alas, I have lost my chance, what shall I do?” Someone in the presence of the king said, “I will see what can be done.” He went toFarhad, the stonecutter and told him, “How wonderful is your love and devotion! It is phenomenal. But haven’t you heard that Shirin is dead?” “Is she dead?” he said. “Then I cannot go on living.” And he fell down lifeless.
The point of this story is the power of feeling. What is lacking at this time is the feeling quality. Everyone wishes to think with the brain, to work with the head, but not with the heart. One can neither imagine nor create beautiful art, nor think and make wonderful things, nor can one keep in one’s memory something beautiful, nor retain thoughts in concentration, if there is no feeling at the back of it. Besides, if there is no feeling behind all such words as gratitude, thanks, appreciation, these words are without spirit. They become mere politeness. Today fineness is so much misunderstood. People only learn the outward aspect. If there were feeling behind all they say, life would be much more worth living.
When the mind is troubled it is confused. It cannot reflect anything. It is the stillness of mind that makes one capable of receiving impressions and of reflecting them. In Persian the mind is called a mirror. Everything in front of the mirror appears in it but, when this is taken away the mirror is clear. It does not remain. It remains in the mirror as long as the mirror is focused on it, and so it is with the mind.
The quality in the mind which makes it still at times and active at other times, which makes it reflect what it sees at one time and makes it avoid every reflection at another so that no outer reflection can touch it, this quality develops by concentration, contemplation, and meditation. The mind is trained by the master-trainer by diving deep, by soaring high, by expanding widely, and by centralizing the mind on one idea. And once the mind is mastered a person becomes a master of life. Every soul from the time it is born is like a machine, subject to all influences, influences of weather and of all that works through the five senses. For instance, no one can pass through a street without seeing the placards and advertisements. A man’s eyes are compelled by what is before him. He has no intention of looking, but everything outside commands the eyes. So a man is constantly under the influence of all things of the outside world that govern him unknowingly. A person says, “I am a free man; I do what I like.” But he never does. He does what he does not like many times. His ears are always subject to hear anything that falls on them, whether it is harmonious or inharmonious, and what he sees he cannot resist. And so a man is always under the influence of life.
Then there are the planetary influences and the living influences of those around him; and yet a man says, “I have free will; I am a free man.” If he knew to what little extent he is free he would be frightened. But then there is one consolation, and that is that in man there is a spark somewhere hidden in his heart, which alone can be called a source of free will. If this spark is tended a person has greater vitality, greater energy, greater power. All he thinks will come true; all he says will make an impression, all he does will have effect. What does a mystic do? He blows this spark in order to bring it to flame till it comes to a blaze. This gives him the impression, the power that enables him to live in this world the life of free will. It is the spark that may be called the divine heritage of man, in which he sees the divine power of God, the soul of man. And to become spiritual means that by blowing upon this spark one produces light from it and sees the whole life in this light. And by bringing the Inner Light to a blaze one is more able to think, to feel, and to act.
THE POWER OF THOUGHT
There are some who through life’s experience have learned that thought has power, and there are others who wonder sometimes whether this is really so. There are also many that approach this subject with the preconceived idea that even if every thought has a certain power, yet it is limited. But it would be no exaggeration to say that thought has a power, which is unimaginable; and in order to find proof of this we do not have to go very far. Everything that we see in this world is but a phenomenon of thought. We live in it, and we see it from morning till evening, and yet we doubt if it is so. It shows that this, our beautiful world, itself gives us a pride and vanity, making us believe that we understand things better than we do. The less a person believes in the power of thought, the more positively he thinks he stands on earth. Nevertheless, consciously or unconsciously he feels his limitation, and searches for something that will strengthen his belief in thought.
Thought can be divided in five different aspects: imagination, thought, dream, vision and materialization. Imagination is that action of mind, which is automatic. From morning till evening a person is either working, or if he is resting his mind is working just the same through imagination. Thought is thinking with willpower behind it. In this way we distinguish between the imaginative and the thoughtful. These two kinds of people cannot be confused. For one is imaginative, which implies powerless thinking, automatic thinking. The other is thoughtful, which means his thinking is powerful.
When this automatic action takes place in the state of sleep, it is called a dream. This is distinct and different from imagination, because while a person is imagining his senses are open to this objective world, and therefore his imagination does not take a concrete form. But when the same automatic action of mind goes on in the dream, there is no objective world to compare it with. The mystic can always see the condition of the mind of a person by knowing how he dreams, for in the dream the automatic working of his mind is much more concrete than in his imagination.
There are some who are able to read the character or the future by knowing what the person imagines. They always ask him to name a flower, a fruit, something he loves or likes, in order that they may find the stream of his imagination. From that stream of imagination they find out something about the character of that person and about his life. It is not necessary to be a character reader or a fortune-teller. Any wise and thoughtful person can understand by the way someone dresses or by his environment how his thoughts run, what his imaginings are. But since the state of dreaming enables the mind to express itself more concretely, the dream is the best way to understand what state of mind a person has. When once this is understood, there is little reason left to doubt whether the dream has any effect upon the person’s life and future. Indeed, man does not know, man cannot imagine, to what extent thought influences life.
Vision can be said to be a dream which one experiences in the wakeful state. A person who is imaginative or capable of imagination is capable of creating a thought. And when this thought which he has created becomes an object upon which his mind is focused, then all else becomes hidden from him. That particular imagination alone stands before him as a picture. The effect of this vision is certainly greater than the effect of a dream. The reason is that the imagination, which can stand before one’s mind in one’s wakeful state is naturally stronger than the imagination which, was active in one’s state of sleep.
The fifth aspect of thought is materialization. And it is in the study of this subject that we find the greatest secret of life. No doubt a person will readily accept that it’s by the architect’s imagination that a beautiful building is built, that it is by the gardener’s imagination that a beautiful garden is made. But generally when it comes to matter and all things that are connected with matter, man wonders how far imagination or thought has power over them. Nowadays, as psychology is beginning to spread throughout the Western world, people will at least listen patiently when one speaks about it. But on the other hand there are many that take a medicine with great faith, but if they are told that a thought can cure them they will smile at the idea. This shows that with all the progress that humanity seems to have made, it has gone back in one direction, the higher thought. For man today generally does not believe in the power of thought and he believes still less in what he calls emotion.
In point of fact if one can speak the soul of a thought, that soul is the feeling which is in the back of it. One sees that people become confused when they hear only words behind which there is no feeling. What makes thought convincing is the power behind it, and that power consists of feeling. The general tendency is to wave aside what is called imagination. When someone says that a person imagines something it means that he amuses himself. One says to him, “Oh, you only imagine it; it does not exist in reality.” But in reality when one has imagined something, that imagination is created, and what is once created exists. And if it is thought that is created, it lives longer, because thought is more powerful than imagination. In this way man today ignores that power which is the only power and the greatest power that exists, calling it sentimentality, which means nothing. It is with this power that heroes have conquered in battles. And if anyone has ever accomplished a great thing in the world, it is with this power of the brain. The music of the most wonderful composers, the poetry of the great poets of the world, have all come from the bottom of their hearts, not from their brain. And if we close the door to sentiment, to imagination, and to thought, that only means that we close the door to life.
The Sufi sees both the Creator and the creation in man. The limited part of man’s being is the creation, and the innermost part of his being is the Creator. If this is true, then man is both limited and unlimited. If he wishes to be limited he can become more and more limited. If he wishes to be unlimited he can become more and more unlimited. If he cultivates in himself the illusion of being a creation, he can be that more and more. But if he cultivates in himself the knowledge of the Creator, he can also be that more and more.
With every kind of weakness, every kind of illness, every kind of misery, the more one gives in to them, the more they weigh one down. And sometimes this can happen even to the extent that the whole world falls on one’s back and one is buried beneath it. Another person however, will rise up from it. It may be difficult, but at the same time it is possible. Little by little, with courage and patience, he will rise up and stand upon that world which would otherwise have crushed him. The former is going down, the latter is rising. Both depend upon the attitude of mind. And it is the changing of this attitude which is the principal thing in life, either from a material or from a spiritual point of view. All that is taught in the Sufi esoteric studies and by the Sufi practices is taught in order to arrive little by little, gradually, at the fulfillment which is called mastery.
Mastery comes from the evolution of the soul, and the sign of mastery is to conquer everything that revolts one. That is real tolerance. Souls, which have attained to that spiritual mastery, show it not only with people, but even with their food. There is nothing that the soul, which has gained mastery, would not touch though, it may not like it or approve of it.
The entire system of the Yogis, especially of the Hatha Yogis, is based upon making themselves acquainted with something their nature revolts against. No doubt by doing this they may go too far in torturing and tormenting themselves, and these extremes are not right, but all the same that is their principle.
It is not the heat which kills a person, but the acceptance of the heat. It is the same with food and medicine, for behind every thing there is thought. Even now there are Yogis who could jump into the fire and not be burnt. One will find that intolerant souls are the most unhappy in the world, because everything hurts them. Why should they be so uncomfortable in the house and restless outside? Because of this tendency of disliking, of rejecting, of prejudice. It is this tendency which must be conquered. And when it is conquered great mastery is achieved.
I remember my teacher at school telling us that the leaves of the Nim tree had great healing qualities. That did not interest me very much, but what did interest me, as he told us also, was that these leaves were so bitter than one could not drink a brew of them. And the first thing I did was to gather some of these leaves, and nobody understood why I did it. But I made a tea of them and drank it, and to my great satisfaction I did not even make a face! For four or five days I continued this and then I forgot all about it. It is fighting against all that one cannot do that gives one mastery. But generally one does not do that. One fights against things that prevent one from getting what one wants. Man should fight only with himself, fight against the tendency of rejecting. This would lead him to mastery. As a general principle in life there is no use in forcing anything, but if we want to train ourselves, that is another thing. It is a process, not a principle.
One may say it is a great struggle. Yes, it is so; but there is struggle in both, in coming down and in going up. It is just as well to struggle and come up, instead of struggling and going down. Whenever a person goes down, it only means that he is feeble in his thought. And why is he feeble in his thought? -Because he is weak in his feeling. If feeling protects thought, and if thought stands firm, whatever be the difficulty in life, it will be surmounted.
To gain knowledge of concentration requires not only study, but balance also. Before touching this subject I would first like to explain what motive we have behind concentration. There are two aspects of life: the audible life and the silent life. By audible life I mean all experiences, all sensations that we experience through our five senses. This is distinct from the life, which I would call the silent life. And when one asks what benefit one derives from getting in touch with the silent life, the answer is that the benefit is as abstract as the silent life itself. The life of sensation is clear; its benefit is clear; and yet as limited, as is the life of sensation, so limited is its benefit. That is why in the end we find all our experiences of little value. Their importance lasts as long as we experience them. But after that the importance of the life of sensation is finished.
The value of silent life is independent. We are inclined to attach a value to something, which concerns our outer life. The silent life does not give us a special benefit but a general benefit. In other words, if there is a minor wound on the body an external application of a certain medicament can cure it. But there are other medicines, which can cure the general condition, and this is more satisfactory than the external cure, though it is less spectacular.
One cannot say exactly what profit is gained by concentration, but in reality every kind of profit is to be attained through concentration, in all directions. There are two kinds of concentration: automatic concentration and intentional concentration. Automatic concentration is found in many people who do not know that they concentrate and yet they do. They concentrate automatically, some to their disadvantage, some to their advantage. Those who concentrate to their advantage are the ones whose mind is fixed on their business, on their art, on any occupation they have. They are the ones who because of their concentration can work more successfully. Be it a composer, a writer, or a musician, according to his power of concentration so will be his success. I once had the pleasure of hearing Paderewski in his own house. He began to play gently on his piano. Every note took him into a deeper and deeper ocean of music. Any meditative person could see clearly that he was so concentrated in what he did that he knew not where he was. The works of great composers, which will always live, which win the hearts of men, whence do they come? -From concentration. So it is with a poet, so it is with an artist. It is concentration, which brings color, and line, which makes the picture. Naturally, whether it is an artist or a writer, a musician or a poet, or somebody who is in business or industry, in the absence of concentration he can never succeed.
Sometimes concentration works to a disadvantage. There are some people who always think that they are unlucky, that everything they do will go wrong, who think that everybody dislikes them, that everybody hates them. Then some begin to think that they are unable to do anything, that they are incapable, useless. Others out of self-pity think that they are ill. In that way even if they are not ill they create illness. Some by concentration cherish illness, always think of it. No physician could be successful with them. An old physician once said, “There are many diseases, but there are many more patients.” Once a person has become a patient through concentration, he is difficult to cure. And there are many such cases of automatic concentration to the disadvantage of man.
Thinkers, philosophers, and meditative people teach intentional concentration. The whole of mysticism, of esotericism, is based upon the idea of concentration. This mystical concentration can be divided into four different grades. The first is concentration, the next contemplation, the third meditation, the forth realization.
The definition of the first grade is the fixing of one’s thought upon one object. One should not concentrate upon just any object that comes along, for what one concentrates upon has an effect upon one. When one concentrates on a dead object it has the effect of deadening the soul. When one concentrates on a living object it naturally has a living effect. The secret of the teachings of all prophets and mystics is to be found in this.
This concentration is achieved in three different ways. The first way is by action. One makes a certain movement or performs an action, which helps the mind to concentrate on a certain object. Another way is with the help of words. By the repetition of certain words one learns to think automatically of a certain object. The third way is with the help of memory. Memory is like a builder’s yard. From this the builder takes anything he likes: tiles, pillars, bricks, whatever he wants. The man who concentrates in this way does the same as children who have bricks to build toy houses with. He collects things in his memory and with them he composes objects in order to concentrate on what he wishes.
As to contemplation, it is only when a person is advanced enough that he can contemplate. Because contemplation is not on an object, it is on an idea. No doubt a man can think that he is ready to do anything, and after concentration he can contemplate. But the nature of the mind is such that it slips out of one’s hands the moment one tries to hold it. Therefore before one really starts to think the mind has already thrown off the object of concentration like a restive horse. Mind is not always so unruly; it proves to be unruly when it wants to rule itself. It is like the body: one may feel restful sitting naturally, but as soon as one keeps quite still for five minutes, the body begins to feel restless. And it is still more difficult to make the mind obey. Mystics therefore find a rope to tie the mind in a certain place where it cannot move. What is that rope? That rope is breath. It is by that rope that they bind the mind and make it stand where they wish it to stand. It is like the bird, which uses its saliva to make its nest. So it is with the mystic who out of breath creates atmosphere, creates light and magnetism in which to live.
One characteristic of the mind is that it is like a gramophone record: whatever is impressed upon it, it is able to reproduce. And another characteristic of the mind is that it does not only reproduce something, but it creates what is impressed upon it. If ugliness is recorded, it will produce disagreement, inharmony. The learning of concentration clears the record, makes it produce what we like, not what comes automatically. In this world one is so open to impressions. One goes about with eyes and ears open, but it is not only the eyes, not only the ears that are open. The lips are open to give out what the eyes and ears take in. That is the dangerous part.
The third part of concentration is meditation. In this grade one becomes communicative. One communicates with the silent life, and naturally a communication opens up with the outer life also. It is then that a man begins to realize that both the outer and the inner life, everything in fact, is communicative. Then a man begins to learn what can never be learnt by study or from books, that the silent life is the greatest teacher and knows all things. It does not only teach, but gives that peace, that joy, that power and harmony, which make life beautiful.
No one can claim to be meditative. For a meditative person need not to say it with the lips. His atmosphere says so, and it is the atmosphere alone that can say whether it is true or false. Once I asked my spiritual teacher what was the sign of knowing God. He said, “Not those who call out the Name of God but those, whose silence says it.” Many go about looking, searching for something worth while, something wonderful, but there is nothing more wonderful than the soul of man.
Realization is the result of the three other grades. In the third kind of experience man pursued meditation; but in this, meditation pursues man. In other words, it is no longer the singer who sings the song, but the song sings the singer. This fourth grade is a kind of expansion of consciousness. It is the unfoldment of the soul. It is diving deep within oneself. It is communicating with each atom of life existing in the whole world. It is realizing the real “I” in which is the fulfillment of life’s purpose.
Words such as wish, desire, love, and their like mean more or less the same thing. But the word “will” has a greater importance than all those other words. And the reason is that will is life itself. The Bible calls God love. Love in what sense? Love in the sense of will. The Creator created the universe by what? -By love? By will, love came afterwards. Love is the will when it is recognized by its manifestation. Then it is called love. But in the beginning it is will. For instance, the Taj Mahal, the great building at Agra, is said to be the token of the love that the emperor had for his beloved. At the same time, when one looks at it objectively, one cannot call it an expression of love. One would sooner call it a phenomenon of will. For the beginning of the building at least, one may look at the spirit, the impulse which started it, as a phenomenon of the emperor’s will. After it was finished one can say it was the expression of his love. When a person says, “I desire it,” “I wish it,” it is an incomplete will; a will, which is not conscious of its strength; a will, which is not sure what it wills. In that case it is called a desire, a wish. But when a person says, “I will it,” that means it is definite. A person, who never can say, “I will it,” has no will.
From this we may conclude that will, is the source and the origin of all phenomena. Hindus have called the creation a dream of Brahma, the Creator. But a dream is a phenomenon of the unconscious will, when the will works automatically.
The will is the action of the soul. One can also call the soul the self of the will. The difference between will and soul is like the difference between a person and his action.
There is a difference between the thoughtful and the imaginative man and the difference is that one thinks with will, the other thinks without will. When a person knows the value of will; he then recognizes that there is nothing in the world, which is more precious than will. Naturally, therefore, the question arises in the mind of the thoughtful man, “Have I will in me? Have I a strong will or have I a weak will?” And the answer is that no one can exist without will. Everyone has a will.
The automatic working of the mind produces imagination, and the value of imagination depends upon the cultivation of the mind. If the mind is tuned to a higher pitch then, the imagination will naturally be at a higher pitch. But if the mind is not tuned to a high pitch then naturally the imaginations will not be at a high pitch.
Imagination has its place and its value. -But when? -At that time when the heart is tuned to such a pitch that the imagination cannot go anywhere else but into paradise. The heart, which is so tuned by love and harmony and beauty, without willing it, begins to float automatically. And in this automatic movement it reacts to whatever it touches, or expresses it in some form. When it is in the form of line or color or notes, then art, painting, music, or poetry is produced. It is then that imagination has value. But when it comes to business and science and all things, which are connected with our everyday life and the world, it is better to leave imagination aside and work with thought.
As both night and day are useful, as both rest and action are necessary, so both thinking and imagination have their place in our life. For instance, if a poet used his will to direct his imagination it would become a thought and would become rigid. The natural thing for a poet is to let his mind float into space, and whatever it happens to touch to let his heart express it, and then what is expressed is an imagination. But when a person has to attend to a business affair he must not let his heart float in the air. He must think of the things of the earth, and think about figures very carefully.
Then we come to the question of how we can maintain our will. The nature of the life we live is to rob us of our will. Not only the struggle we have to undergo in life, but also our own self, our thoughts, our desires, our wishes, our motives, weaken our will. The person, who knows how our inner being is connected with the perfect Will, will find that what makes the will smaller, narrower, and more limited, is our experience throughout life. Our joys rob us of our will, as do our sorrows. Our pleasures rob us of our will, as do our pains. And the only way of maintaining the power of will is by studying the existence of will and by analyzing among all the things in ourselves what will is.
It might seem that motive increases willpower. But, no doubt, in the end we will find that it robs us of willpower. Motive is a shadow upon the intelligence, although the higher the motive, the higher the soul, and the greater the motive, the greater the man. When the motive is beneath the ideal, then this is the fall of man. And when his motive is his ideal it is his rise. According to the width of motive man’s vision is wide, and according to the power of motive man’s strength is great.
Furthermore there is an English saying, “Man proposes, God disposes.” One is always faced with a power greater than oneself, which does not always support one’s desire. And naturally a person with will, faced with a greater power, must sooner or later give in and be impressed by the loss of his own will. This is only one example, but a hundred examples could be given to show how one is robbed of one’s will without realizing it. Very often a person thinks that by being active or determined he maintains his will, and that by being passive he loses his will. But it is not so. Where there is a battle there is an advance and there is a retreat. By a retreat one is not defeated and by an advance one has not always succeeded. A person, who exerts his will all the time, strains it and exhausts it very soon. It is like being too sure of a string that one has in one’s hand while rubbing it on the edge of a sharp stone. Very often one sees that people who profess great willpower fail much sooner than those who do not profess it.
There is also always a battle between willpower and wisdom. And the first and the wisest thing to do, is to bring about a harmony between wisdom and willpower. When a person says, “I wish to do this; I will do this.” And at the same time his sense says, “No, you cannot do it, you must not do it,” then, even with all his willpower he either cannot do it or he will do something against his better judgement.
This also shows us life in another light: that those who are wise but without will are as helpless as a person with willpower but without wisdom. There is no use keeping wisdom at the front and willpower at the back, nor is there any use in keeping willpower at the front and wisdom at the back. What is necessary is to make the two as one, and this can be done by becoming conscious of the action of both in all one does. At the same time one can practice it in one’s everyday life by depriving oneself of things one likes. If a person always has what he likes to have, no doubt he spoils his will, for then his will has no reaction.
A stimulus is given to the will when one deprives oneself of what one desires. Then the will becomes conscious of itself, alive. It wonders why it should not have it. For instance, a person wants to have peaches, but at the same time he is very much attracted to the flower of the peach. He thinks the flower is beautiful, and then the idea comes: why not let it remains on the plant? That will make him decide not to pick it. This gives him a stimulus, because first desire wanted to take hold of it, then sense wanted to work with it. And as the light comes from friction, so also does will come from friction.
The power of will is in controlling, in contrast with imagination, which works without control, for if one wants to control it one spoils it. Nothing in the world, either in the sphere of the mind or on the physical plane, can move without the power of will. But while with one thing the power of will is in absolute control, with the other it is working automatically.
There is another enemy of willpower and that is the power of desire. Sometimes this robs willpower of its strength. Sometimes willpower, by a conflict with desire, becomes strong. The self-denial taught in the Bible generally means the crushing of desires. It should not be taken as a principle but as a process. Those who have taken it as a principle have lost. Those who have taken it as process have gained.
The enemy of sense, of wisdom, is the lack of tranquility of mind. When the mind is tranquil it produces the right thought, and wisdom naturally rises as a fountain. The Sufis have therefore taught different exercises, both in physical and in meditative form; in order to make the mind tranquil, so that the wisdom which is there may spring up as a fountain. It is not in disturbed water that one can see one’s image reflected. It is in the still water that one can see one’s image clearly. Our heart is likened to water and when it is still, wisdom springs up by itself. It is wisdom and will together that work towards a successful issue.
Willpower is systematically developed by first disciplining the body. The body must sit in the prescribed posture. It must stand in the place it is asked to stand in. The body should not become restless, tired, by what is asked of it, but it should answer the demands of the person to whom it belongs. The moment the Sufi begins to discipline the body, he begins to see how undisciplined it always was. Then he finds out that this body which he has always called “mine,” “myself,” and for whose comfort he has done everything he could, that this infidel seems to be most disobedient, most faithless.
After that comes the discipline of the mind. This is done by concentration. When the mind is thinking of something else and one wishes it to think on one specific thought, then the mind becomes very restless. It does not want to remain in one spot, for it has always been without discipline. As soon as one disciplines it, it becomes like a restive horse that one has to master. The difficulty starts when one tries to concentrate. It begins to jump, while at other times it only moves about. This happens because the mind is an entity. It feels as a wild horse would feel: “Why should I be troubled by you?” But the mind is meant to be an obedient servant, just as the body is meant to become an obedient tool to experience life with. If they are not in order, if they do not act as one wishes them to, then one cannot hope for real happiness, real comfort in life.
The will can become so strong that it controls the body, making it perfectly healthy. But, one may ask, what about death then? Death is not something foreign to willpower. Even death is caused by willpower. One thinks one does not invite one’s death. Indeed, one does not, but the personal will becomes feeble and the greater Will impresses this feeble will, turning it into itself. For the smaller will belongs to the greater Will. Sufis call the former Kadr and the latter Kaza. Kaza reflects upon Kadr its command, and Kadr unconsciously accepts it. On the surface a man may still want to live, but in depth he has resigned himself to die. If a man did not resign himself to death he would not die. In the depth of his being he becomes resigned to death before his life is taken away from him.
Resignation of the human will to the divine Will is the real crucifixion. After the crucifixion, follows resurrection. One can come to this by seeking the pleasure of God. And it is not difficult, once one has begun to seek the pleasure of God. It is only when one does not begin to try that one does not know what is the pleasure of God. But apart from this there is another lesson, which the Sufis have taught: to seek the pleasure of one’s fellowmen. And this is the very thing that man usually refuses to do. He is quite willing to do the pleasure of God, but when one asks him to seek the pleasure of his fellowmen he refuses.
In either case, however, one is seeking the pleasure of one and the same Being. One begins with resignation, but once one has learnt to be resigned in life, and when one is tuned to the divine Will, one does not need to be resigned, for one’s wish becomes the divine impulse.
MYSTIC RELAXATION (I)
Mystic Relaxation is of great importance, for the whole spiritual culture is based and built upon this one subject. Yet there is so little spoken and written about it. It has been experienced and studied by the seekers after truth of all ages, and it is by the full understanding of this subject that they attained to greater power and inspiration.
Life is rhythm. This rhythm may be divided into three stages, and at every stage this rhythm changes the nature and character of life. One rhythm is mobile, another is active, and the third is chaotic. The mobile rhythm is creative, productive, constructive, and through that rhythm all power and inspiration are gained, and peace is experienced. The further stage of that rhythm, the active rhythm, is the source of success and accomplishment, of progress and advancement, the source of joy and fulfillment. And the third stage of this rhythm, the chaotic rhythm, is the source of failure, of death, of disease and destruction, the source of all pain and sorrow.
The first kind of rhythm is slow, the second kind is faster, and the third is faster still. The direction of the first is direct, of the second even, and of the third zigzag. When one says that a person is wise and thoughtful, it means that he is in the first rhythm. When one says that a person is persevering and successful, he is in the second rhythm. And when it is said that this person has lost his head and has gone astray, he is in the third rhythm. He is either digging his own grave or the grave of his affairs; he is his own enemy. Everything he wants to accomplish, however much he wants to advance or progress, all goes down in destruction because he has taken this third rhythm, the chaotic and destructive rhythm. Therefore it is up to us to tune ourselves either to the first, to the second, or the third rhythm, and accordingly this will become our condition in life.
Have planetary influences, then, nothing to do with our life? Yes, they have, but how do even planetary influences work on us? If we have put ourselves in a particular rhythm, these influences have no power to bring about success or failure. If we only put ourselves in that rhythm there will be a similar result, and also the environment will react in the same way. If we are in favorable or in unfavorable, in congenital or uncongenial surroundings, it all means that we have put ourselves in that particular rhythm. When we experience success, good luck or bad luck, good or bad fortune, it is according to the rhythm we have brought about.
Where is this power to be found, how is it to be realized? If a person thinks about it, he can very easily realize it physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is a time when the body is in a perfectly calm condition, and there is a time when the body is excited, when the beat has lost its rhythm, is irregular, uneven; that is a chaotic condition. And when the body has a regular circulation and proper rhythm and even breath, then a person is capable of doing things, accomplishing things. When the body is restful, comfortable, relaxed, we are able to think. Inspirations, revelations come, we feel quiet, and we have enthusiasm and power. In Sanskrit the first rhythm is called Sattwa, the second Rajas and the third Tammas. It is from the middle rhythm that the word Raja has come, which means the one who has persevered with his sword and made a kingdom. His rhythm is the middle rhythm. The first rhythm is sometimes called Sand, which makes one think of the English saint. From this rhythm comes goodness.
In our life at a certain time one rhythm prevails, at another the second rhythm, and at still another the third. And yet in our life one rhythm is predominating through all changes, whether a person has the third, the second, or the first rhythm.
One who has the first rhythm has always power to accomplish things. And as it is with the body, so it is with the mind. Body and mind are so closely connected that whatever rhythm the mind has, the body has. And the rhythm, which is predominating in body and mind, that same rhythm is the rhythm of one’s soul.
There was a king who when a certain problem was brought to him by his ministers, used to say, “Read it again;” and the minister would read it again. Maybe after four times he would stop him and say, “Read it again,” and the minister would do so. And after he had heard it three times, his answer would be perfect. But what do we sometimes do when we
converse with people? Before the conversation has stopped, we have answered them. So impatient are we, and eager to answer and excited about it, that only one in a hundred people stops to listen to what another has to say.
It is the wrong rhythm, the chaotic rhythm which brings about chaotic results. Where does war come from? From chaotic action. When there is chaotic action, nations become involved in war. By chaotic action the whole world may be involved in war. People doubt the religious belief of Christ having saved the whole world. They cannot understand it. They say that man saves himself. But they do not realize that one man can ruin the whole world and that one man can save it. It is by rhythm that he can save the whole world. When there is a chaotic influence it works like an intoxicating drink in thousands of people, like a germ of disease, spreading from one person to another through the whole country. If that is true mechanically, then psychologically it can be true that one person’s chaotic influence can put the whole world in despair, though it is very difficult for ordinary people to understand this.
The Turkish nation was greatly depressed on every side, and the wars had made the country very poor. With nothing but disappointment all the time it had gone down and down. And then there came one man, Kemal Pasha, and his rhythm put life into thousands and thousands of dead souls who were waiting for some result, hungry from lack of food, disappointed with every effort. And one man brought cheer to them all and picked up the whole country. We can see what happened in Italy, where every action was powerless because of so many different ideas and parties. There was no united effort, no concentration. After the fatigue of the war, there came one man, Mussolini, who lifted up the thoughts of the whole country. And this is only the outer plane. In the spiritual plane the effect is still more powerful, only those who work on the spiritual plane do not manifest to view. What happens in the political world is known, but in the spiritual world great things happen and they are not known; but their influence is most powerful; because of their rhythm.
We see this in the life of Napoleon. Some appreciate his life and some do not. But nevertheless during his wars he was the inspiration and power and backbone of the whole country. It was all Napoleon’s spirit. And always, even during the greatest anxieties of war, he used to have moments of silence, even sometimes on horseback. And while he was having this silence he would recuperate all strength lost in the continual responsibilities of war, and he would feel refreshed after having closed his eyes. What was it? He had the key of relaxation. It is tuning oneself to a desired rhythm.
We should not be surprised or laugh at sages who keep one hand raised up, or stand perhaps on their head with their feet up, or sit in one posture for a long time. There is some reason for it. Those artists who know the different ways of the art of relaxation know how to bring about a relaxed condition in the body and mind. I myself, continually for about twelve years, had only three hours sleep at night and sometimes not even that. And all those twelve years I was never ill. I had all the strength necessary and was perfectly well because of the practice of relaxation.
The question is how does one relax? It is not by sitting silent with closed eyes; for when the mind is giving attention to the body by thought or feeling, then the body is not relaxed, because the mind is torturing the body. And when feeling is giving attention to the mind, then the mind is tortured. And this torture, even if the eyes are closed, even if we are sitting in certain posture, does no good. With relaxation one should consider three points of view: the point of view of the physical body, the point of view of the mind, and the point of view of the feeling. The point of view of the physical body is that one must accustom oneself to get power over, or to have influence on, one’s circulation and pulsation. And one can do that with the power of thought and with the power of will together with breath. By willpower one can bring about a certain condition in one’s body so that one’s circulation takes a certain rhythm. It is decreased according to will. One can do the same in regulating one’s pulsation by the power of will. No sooner has the will taken in hand the circulation and the pulsation of the body, than the will has in hand a meditation for hours. It is for this reason that sages can meditate for hours on end, because they have mastered their circulation. They can breathe at will, slower or quicker. And when there is no tension on one’s nervous or on one’s muscular system, then one gets a repose that ten days sleep cannot bring about. Therefore to have relaxation does not mean to sit quiet. It is to be able to remove tension from one’s system- from one’s circulation, one’s pulsation, and one’s nervous and muscular systems.
How does one relax the mind? The method for relaxation of the mind is first to make the mind tired. He who does not know the exercise for making the mind tired can never relax his mind. Concentration is the greatest action one can give to one’s mind, because the mind is held in position on a certain thing. After that it will relax naturally and when it relaxes it will gain all power.
Relaxation of feeling is achieved by feeling deeply. The Sufis in the East in their meditation have music played that stirs up the emotions to such a degree that the poem they hear becomes a reality. Then comes the reaction, which is relaxation. All that was blocked up, every congestion is broken down. And inspiration, power, and a feeling of joy and exaltation come to them.
It is by these three kinds of relaxation that one becomes prepared for the highest relaxation, which is to relax the whole being: body in repose, mind at rest, heart at peace. It is that experience which may be called Nirvana, the ideal of thinkers and meditative souls. It is that which they want to reach, for in it there is everything. In that condition each person becomes for the time as a drop that is assimilated or submerged in its origin. And being submerged for one moment means that all that belongs to the origin is attracted by this drop, because the origin is the essence of all. The drop has taken from its origin everything it has in life. It is newly charged and has become illuminated again.
MYSTIC RELAXATION (2)
Mystic relaxation is really the same as meditation. Very often people are puzzled about the word meditation because it is used by so many people who sometimes have different ideas about it. By calling it mystic relaxation the meaning becomes simple and clear.
From a physical point of view, there is the practice of contracting and stretching, which enables a man to bring out his inner vitality, whereas relaxation is a contrary action. Energy is either brought on to the outer plane or energy is put to rest in its natural, normal condition. When a person is asleep the energy is put to rest. This energy is most valuable and precious. When it is used outwardly it brings external benefits and when it is used inwardly it brings about inner attainments.
Meditation is reached through two preliminary stages. The first stage is concentration and the next is contemplation. After these two stages comes the third, which is meditation. What comes after that is realization.
Nothing in this word can be thoroughly accomplished without concentration, whether in one’s business or profession, or in spiritual work. Those who cannot make a success in their business or profession are the ones whose concentration is not right. And many of those who have succeeded in life owe this to the fact that their concentration is good. They may not know it. There have been many great inventors in the West who have produced wonderful things, yet they themselves did not know that it was due to their concentration that they were able to do so. Some are born with this as a natural gift, and it is because of it that they have made a success of whatever they have undertaken. If one is an artist, with the help of concentration one can produce wonderful works. If one is a scientist one can achieve great results in science. If one is a poet, poetry will be easy to write. If one is a mystic, mystical inspiration will flow. But without concentration, however qualified a person may be, he will not be able to make the best use of his qualifications. He can hardly be called qualified at all. It is by the power of concentration alone that he can express himself fully.
Concentration is the beginning of meditation. Meditation is the end of concentration. Once concentration is fully acquired, it is easy for a person to meditate.
From a metaphysical point of view concentration can be regarded as having three aspects: reflecting, constructing, improvising. The first kind of concentration is to reflect any object that one has placed before oneself. This is the mirror-quality of mind that enables one to concentrate in this way. When one is impressed by a certain thing one has seen outside oneself, one tries to concentrate upon it, to hold it in mind. In other words, one focuses one’s mind on that object with which one is impressed, and one’s mind does nothing but reflect it.
The other kind of concentration is constructing or composing. For instance, when an artist has been told to make a very fanciful picture and he creates in his mind a creature with the face of a man, the horns of a buffalo and the wings of a bird. The material is there in his mind. He has only to put it together in order to produce a certain form. This
is constructive concentration, visualizing, in other words making the mind produce something under the direction of the will.
All that man sees or thinks he sees in his thought. Man can produce out of his thought an angel or a devil. He can produce God out of his thought. The building of the Tower of Babel is the making of the mind. Man’s thought has a great power. And when he comes to the realization that everything comes from one source and that everything is developing towards one goal, he begins to see that the source and the goal are God. Then the world of variety is no longer variety to him but unity; it is one.
The third aspect of concentration is improvising. If a poet is asked to write a poem on a rosebud he begins to improvise. He brings into it a dewdrop, and he produces the picture of dawn. He takes a gentle stream of water and builds a beautiful background to it. This is the third kind of concentration.
Very often people think concentration means closing the eyes and sitting still in church, and that only once a week. And when they do this, although they themselves are in the church they do not know where their mind is.
When a person allows himself to be disturbed, that shows that his concentration is not good. And if his concentration is not good, that shows that his willpower fails him. The best way, therefore, to protect oneself from disturbance is to develop the power of concentration, so that the willpower develops naturally and one is able to withstand all the disturbances, which arise when one has to live in the midst of the crowd.
The best remedy for a wandering mind is natural concentration. That means not forcing the mind. One should at first let the mind work naturally, thinking of things it is inclined to think about. Why should the mind think of something towards which it has no inclination? It is unnatural. It is like eating something one does not like. It will not be assimilated nor give good results. One should think about anything one loves, then one can learn to concentrate.
Sometimes one says that a person is out of his mind when he does not have it under his control. It means that his mind is working mechanically. The will has no control over it. For the will is the king and reason is the minister. When both work together the mind is under control. When reason does not help, when the will has lost control, then the mind is not one’s own anymore and one may say a person is out of his mind.
It happens that a person’s mind is not strong enough to hold the object, which he wants to accomplish, it gives way. And sometimes the body is not in a sufficiently fit condition to hold it. But that object, when unaccomplished, is unaccomplished only according to his mind. In accordance with the scheme of nature it has died a natural, peaceful death.
The Bible speaks of self-denial. People think it means not eating, not drinking, giving up all that is beautiful and good in life, going somewhere in solitude never to appear again. It is a wrong interpretation of a true teaching. Self-denial is self-effacement; it comes from self-forgetting. If one studies one’s surroundings one finds that those who are happy are so because they have less thought of self. If they are unhappy it is because they think of themselves too much. A person is more bearable when he thinks less of himself. And a person is unbearable when he is always thinking of himself. There are many miseries in life, but the greatest misery is self-pity. That person is heavier than rock, heavy for himself and heavy for others. Others cannot bear him. He cannot carry himself.
It is no easy thing to do, to forget oneself, but if one is able to, what a wonderful power one creates within oneself! It is a great mystery. It gives power over heaven and hell. Omar Khayyam says in his Rubayat, “Heaven is the vision of fulfilled desire. Hell is the shadow of a soul on fire.” Where is that shadow? Where is that vision? Is it not within ourselves? It is us who hold it. Therefore heaven and hell are what we have made for ourselves. It cannot be changed by anything else but concentration.
But concentration has an even greater significance than this, for it is that creative power which man possesses and which he has as a heritage of God. That creative power begins to work wonders. For instance, a person thinks, “I should like fish for dinner,” and when he comes home he finds that his housekeeper has cooked fish that evening. That is a phenomenon of concentration. He may not know it, but it worked in that way. The thought of the man struck the mind of the housekeeper, and the housekeeper served that dish to him. Imagine what a great power this is! One need not even think about one’s desires. The very fact of having the desire is enough. Concentration works it out and materializes it.
Such is the power of concentration. There are many stories told in the East about fakirs, dervishes, and sages, Mahatmas. Many people wonder if they are true, and if they are true, how they come about. They want a scientific explanation, and it may be that one day it will be discovered by science. Nevertheless, one finds as much falsehood as truth in this, for anything can be imitated. There is gold and there is imitation gold. There is silver and there is imitation silver. And so there is imitation of truth also. What appears to be most wonderful and surprising is not all so wonderful. But at the same time there are things, which are more wonderful than one can imagine, and they all belong to the power of mind. And where does this come from? From the source of all things, it is the power of God.
Even in the attainment of union with God, it is concentration, which helps. The appearance of stigmata on some saints is the result of concentration. If it were not so then what would be the meaning and use of concentration? It seems out of the ordinary because only very few know what real concentration means. Someone who has mastered concentration has not very far to go. His next step will be the purpose for which he concentrated.
Contemplation is the second stage of concentration. Contemplation is the repetition of a certain idea, and this repetition materializes the idea. Those who have been able to accomplish great works in the world have been contemplative people. Often they do not know it. It is the continual repetition of a certain idea, which creates that idea, which brings it into being in the physical world. For instance, those who can contemplate on health can bring about that perfect health which no medicine nor anything else can give. Those who contemplate upon inspiration will show great inspiration. Those who contemplate upon strength and power, develop strength and power. One cannot arrive at this stage until one has accomplished concentration, because concentration is the first stage, and one must proceed gradually towards the stage of contemplation. Coue’s idea, that one should say, ” Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better,” is something which has been known to the thinkers for thousand of years. Upon this the whole method of mysticism has been based. But he skips the first part, concentration. What he prescribes is contemplation, which is the second part.
One might ask to what extent contemplation can help. Nothing in the world is impossible for the contemplative person to accomplish if only he knows how to contemplate. No doubt this is gibberish to those who do not understand the subject. People wonder what relation man’s mind has to affairs outside. Perhaps one can heal oneself from illness, but if there is an affair outside, which is going wrong, a money matter or a business transaction, what connection has that with the mind? The answer is that all that exists, whether it is business or anything else, all that is visible or invisible seems to be outside, but in reality it is in our mind. It is outside because our eyes see it outside, but it is within us because the mind surrounds it. It is accommodated in our mind. Mind is an accommodation of the world, which is outside.
A Hindustani poet describes this wonderfully, “The land and sea are not too large for the heart of man to accommodate.” In other words, the heart of man is larger than the universe. If there were a thousand universes the heart of man could accommodate them. But man, unaware of his inner being, impressed by outer limitation, remains under the impression of his weakness, limitation, and smallness. And that keeps him from using this great power which he can find within himself, this great light with which he can see life more clearly. It is only because he is unaware of himself.
The third stage is meditation. This stage has nothing to do with the mind. This is the experience of the consciousness. Meditation is diving deep within oneself, and soaring upwards into the higher spheres, expanding wider than the universe. It is in these experiences that one attains the bliss of meditation.
Man ought to turn every day of his life into meditation. Whatever his work may be, he must do it, but at the same time he should meditate. Then he will get to know the secret meaning of his work, and in this way he will turn his life from a worldly life into a spiritual one. This applies to everyone, whether he works in a garden or in a factory, or elsewhere. As soon as he knows the appropriate meditation for the work he is doing he will develop, and all his work will become a meditation for him. And if he achieves this, the wages he earns will be nothing compared with the reward he will gain. When his mind is concentrated a person does his work well, and even better than others. In a station in Rajputana I once saw a telegraph clerk accepting telegrams. While he was doing his work he was meditating at the same time. When it was my turn I said to him, “I have come to give you this telegram, but I marvel at you, it is wonderful how you are keeping up your meditation during your work.” He looked at me and smiled; and we became friends.
If it were not for the spirit, work would be a nuisance at a time when life’s needs are so great and when people have so little rest. Thus the best thing for a man is to meditate in his everyday life. If it is done properly he will reap the benefit of it not only from the earth, but also from heaven. Meditation means the soul’s endeavor towards spiritual unfoldment, and this endeavor may be practiced in different ways in order to suit one’s profession and work.
People always ask what benefit they will get. And they are more concerned with benefit today than ever before. In no age have people been so anxious to make profits as today, and they will give their life for it. It does not mean that a man today is less inclined to make a sacrifice. He is as ready to make sacrifices as a thousand years ago or even more so; only, he must be sure of what he can get by it. He is so concerned with gain that he always has gain in his view. Even when there is something that does not show immediate profit, and when he does not quite know what or how much profit there might be, he thinks, “Well, perhaps this is something I can get without sacrifice.” It is strange. When people go to a voice-producer in order to develop their voice they work six, nine years and listen to everything the voice-producer says. They will do anything to develop their voice. But when they come to a spiritual man they ask him whether he can tell them something about concentration at the tea table; taking tea they ask, “What about meditation?” And they want the answer in one sentence!
But it is not gained in this way. This knowledge is attained in accordance with one’s ideal about it. It is greater than religion, more sacred than anything in the world. The knowledge of self is like union with God. Self-realization is spiritual attainment. Can this be gained by a shallow conception of it? It is the deepest thing one can reach, the most valuable thing to attain to. It is for this reason that in the East a person does not look for it in a book, nor does a real teacher write a book on these things. He will write about philosophy. He prepares minds to appreciate his teaching, but he does not tell how to
To my great surprise, while traveling in the west I saw people looking for books of this kind, wanting to buy books about Yoga, Yogis, and spiritual attainment. Many have lost their mind by reading such books. They cannot keep balance. Trying to do what is in the book is just like going into the drugstore to get some Yoga pills in order to attain spirituality! There are also many who look into the mirror to become clairvoyant, who gaze into a crystal in order to see the depth of life. They make light of something that is the highest and best and most sacred.
This path can only be pursued by those who are serious. The ones, who go first to some society, then to an institute, then to an occultist group, do not know what they are doing and what they are looking for. High knowledge is not to be got by going to twenty places and they will be disappointed in the end, because they went into it lightly.
There is a story of a Brahmin to whom a Moslem said, “I am a worshipper of God who is formless, and here you are praying to this idol of God.” The Brahmin said, “If I have faith in this idol it will answer me. But if you have no faith, even your God in heaven will not hear you.” If we do not attach ourselves seriously to things then those things laugh at us. Even as regards the things of the world, if we take them seriously we will achieve serious results.
There cannot be anything more serious than spiritual attainment. If a person takes that lightly he does not know what he is doing. It is better not to go into these things at all, rather than go and come back empty-handed. To come back disappointed from the spiritual path before reaching the final goal is the worst possible thing. To go bankrupt does not matter. One can pick up again what one has lost in the world. But the man who has embarked on the spiritual path and has turned back is to be pitied. It is the greatest loss and can never be repaired.
There is no great difference between magnetism and an electrical current. Scientists have never been able to give an answer to the question of what electricity really is. But one can say that to a certain extent electricity is magnetism and magnetism is electricity. Power of attraction is magnetism. Power that gives force and energy is electricity. It is essentially the same power. But interesting as the subject of magnetism is from a scientific point of view, as interesting, or even more so, is it from a mystical point of view.
A magnet and something, which is attracted to the magnet, have a relationship. The magnet represents the essence; part of, which is held by the object which, is attracted. Very often one does not find a trace of that essence in the object that the magnet attracts, but at the same time the essence is there, and that is the logical reason why it is attracted.
The ancients used to recognize that the relationship between two persons of the same blood was influenced by that magnetism and a deep study of this fact will certainly prove that there is an unknown attraction between two people who are blood relations. An incident that occurred lately is an example of this. A man from Stockholm was visiting London, where he thought he had no relations or, if any, they dated from perhaps a century ago. In the street one day someone called him by name. When he turned around, the man who had called him excused himself, saying, “I am sorry, I have made a mistake.” But he asked, “How did you know my name? The name you said is mine!” And when they spoke together they found that they were cousins, although very distant ones.
The more attention we give to this subject, the more proof we can find of one element being drawn to its similar element. Sa’di says, “Element attracts element, as a dove is attracted to a dove and an eagle is attracted to an eagle.” But do we not find the same thing in life every day? A gambler when he goes to another country, one does not how, attracts another gambler very soon. And it is not only that when two persons of a similar element meet they are attracted to one another, but even conditions, life itself, brings about their meeting. Life itself draws them together. And therefore it is natural that a person who is very sad attracts a miserable one to join him. The one with joy, with happiness, naturally attracts happiness. And in this way magnetism is working through the whole of creation. And in all aspects you will see the phenomena of magnetism, in the physical world as well as in the mental spheres. Of course, one cannot say that an element always attracts the same element, for the element also attracts what it lacks, what is opposite to it. When we think of friendship, we see that with some we feel inclined to be friends and from others we feel inclined to keep away. And the most interesting part is that those, whom we feel disinclined to be friends with, have also some who are drawn towards them in friendship. This leads us to the truth, which lies in musical harmony: how two notes have a relation to one another and their combination brings about a harmony.
Now coming to the question of the practical use of magnetism, whether you are in business or in industry, whether you are in domestic or in political work, in whatever situation, you will always find that magnetism is the secret of your progress in life. And as to qualifications, to which we give such great importance, you will find that numberless people who are most highly qualified do not make their way through life because of lack of magnetism. Very often there may be a highly qualified man, but before he speaks of his qualification the person to whom he has gone has had enough of him. Personality takes such an important place in life that even the absence of qualifications is
tolerated when the personality has magnetism. In these times, when materialism is so much on the increase that personality is given much less importance in society, and when heroism has no place in life, magnetism works automatically and proves to be the most essential thing even now, and it will always prove so. But people generally do not go deeply into the subject of magnetism and only recognize personal magnetism by the attraction that they feel.’
When we consider personal magnetism, we may divide it into four different classes.
One kind, the ordinary kind of magnetism, is concerned with the physical plane. And this magnetism has to do with nourishment, with hygiene, with regular living, with right breathing and the regulation of activity and repose. This magnetism also depends on the age, like the ascending and descending notes in an octave. It may be likened to the season of spring, which comes and goes. And at the same time this magnetism is dependent upon everything belonging to the physical world, since it is a physical magnetism.
Then there is the magnetism, which may be called mental. A person with a sparkling intelligence naturally becomes the center of his society. The person who has wit and a keen perception, who can express himself well, who understands quickly, that is the person who always attracts others around him and is likened by everyone. The person who has knowledge of human nature, who knows about things and conditions, naturally draws people towards him. If there is any qualification it is this. And without this qualification no other qualification can be of very great use. But a man is born with this sparkling kind of intelligence. It is he who becomes a genius, it is he who accomplishes things, and it is he who helps others to accomplish something, for on his mind others depend. It is this person who can guide himself and direct others. And with all our thought of equality in which we are so much absorbed, we shall find it is this person who will win the battle in life, and it is this person who stands above the masses, who leads, and without whom many are lost.
The question is how can this magnetism be developed? This magnetism is developed by study, by concentration, by a keen observation of life, and by the knowledge of repose. Very many intelligent persons, because they do not know how to concentrate and how to take repose in their lives, in time blunt their intelligence. Because there is a certain fund of energy which is preserved and which is limited, and when there is too much pressure put upon that limited energy in the end what happens? A person becomes less and less intelligent, and his power of mind diminishes every day. Whenever you find a very intelligent man becoming duller every day, it always proves that the amount of energy that was there has been spent. It is, therefore, by knowing how to preserve one’s energies by repose, and how to concentrate and sharpen one’s intellect, that this magnetism remains in a right condition. What generally happens is that great responsibility falls on the intelligent person. Much more is asked of him than of others who lack intelligence. If he does not give his mind a rest by knowing how to repose, and if he does not concentrate and thus sharpen his intellect, naturally, just like a knife which is continually used, it will become blunted. Naturally the continual use of intellect will make him short of words.
The third aspect of magnetism is perhaps a higher kind than the two, which have been described above, for this magnetism, is more profound and it affects another person more deeply. This is the magnetism of love, of sympathy, of friendliness. A person who by nature is sympathetic; a person who tolerates, who forgets, who forgives; a person who does not keep bitterness nor malice in his mind against anyone; a person who admires beauty, who loves it in art, in nature, in all its forms, and who goes out to friend and foe, to the acquaintance, the stranger, to all; the person who can endure and who can suffer, and who has the power to have patience through all conditions of life, who feels the pain of another in his heart and who is always willing to become a friend, it is that person whose magnetism is greater than all the other magnetism that we know of. We do not need to go far to see this. If only we look for good things in people we shall find this. Among our surroundings we can find many in whom we can appreciate this quality.
One day a man who had traveled very much saw an Indian mystic, and he said, “We have heard so much and we have read so much about the saints and sages and Mahatmas and masters who live in India, but when I went there I found no one.” And the mystic told him, “You need not have gone so far. The souls who are worth while, the souls who love one another, the saints and sages, are to be found everywhere.”
If we appreciate them, we can find them. But if we cannot appreciate them, even if an angel came we would not be able to find these qualities in him. Nevertheless, call him a saint or a sage, call him a prophet or a Mahatma, if there is anything that draws man towards man, it is the love element that he pours out.
Now the question is, how can one develop this quality? And the answer will be by one thing only. By studying, by knowing, by practicing, and by living the life of a friend. By contemplation on this thought from morning till evening: “Towards everyone I meet, towards those who love me and those who hate me, will I practice in my life that thought of friendliness, that outgoing, that pouring out of sympathy and love.” Apart from the magnetism that one acquires from this, when we consider life as it is, with all its limitations, with all the pain and troubles and responsibilities that it gives us, if there seems to be anything worth while, it is one thing only, and that is the thought and impression that we have done our best to be gentle, to be tender to those whom we meet in our everyday life. If there is any prayer, if there is any worship, if there is any religion, it is this. For in the life hereafter there is no one to please; if there is anyone to be pleased and whose pleasure it is worth while to earn, it is here, it is man. And it is in the pleasure of man, if one understands it, that the pleasure of God resides.
The fourth aspect of magnetism is magnetism itself. Lack of magnetism means that this aspect is hidden. This magnetism is the soul of man. To define what the soul is, it may be said that the soul is the self of man. But which self? That self of which he does not know. There is a humorous Indian story about some peasants who were traveling, but it was the first time in their life that they had done so. Therefore, being worried about each other, they decided the next morning to count if all the peasants were still there. They were very upset after having counted, for they counted nineteen, and it was understood that twenty
peasants had left home. And so each peasant counted and each said, “There are nineteen.” And they could not find who was missing, for everyone was there. In the end they found that all those who had counted had forgotten to count themselves.
That is the condition of the soul. It sees all selves, but it does not see itself. And the day when the soul realizes itself, that day a new life begins a new birth. It is the self-realized soul, which grows, which expands. So long as the soul has not realized itself, it does not develop, it does not grow. Therefore it is at the moment when the soul begins to realize itself that a man really begins to live in the world. But it must be understood that the magnetism of the self-realized soul is greater than any magnetism one could ever imagine. It is power. It is wisdom. It is peace. It is intelligence. It is all. It is this magnetism that heals, heals bodies and minds. It raises those who had fallen into difficulties, in pain and sorrows. It brings others out of their confusion, their darkness. It is by this magnetism that the illuminated souls spread out their love, thereby attracting all beings. It is of this magnetism that Christ said to the fishermen, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It is with this magnetism that the great ones, such as Buddha, Moses, Christ, Mohammed, came and attracted humanity. And humanity during the ages has not forgotten. It is their magnetism, which, after their having left this earth, has held millions and millions of people in one bond of brotherhood, sympathy, and friendship. The immense power that the soul-magnetism gives shows that it is divine magnetism. It is a proof of something behind the seen world.
THE POWER WITHIN US
One reads in the books from the East about the different miracles performed by great souls, and one wonders if there is some truth in them. One hears that there are people who know what is going on far away. That there are people who can send their thought from a very great distance. That there are people, who can create thing, produce things in
a moment without having any materials. That there are people, who can make things disappear. One even reads and hears that there are some who can command the rain to fall and who can make the multitude move according to their command, their will, and who can inspire the multitude in a flash. That there are those who can prevent plagues and who can perform wonders in war.
No doubt there are many jugglers among them, but whenever there is truth, there is falsehood on the other side to laugh at it. Nevertheless, the truth remains just the same. There are stories of the wonder-workings and phenomena which occur in the East. Many of those stories no doubt are of the jugglers who by sleight of hand or by some hypnotic influence can perform wonders. But there are others who are genuine. Wonders are performed during their lives, and people see them performed. But the genuine ones never say that they can perform wonders. Neither do they seek such powers. These powers come naturally. Man generally is not conscious of the power he has. When a man becomes conscious of that power, he is able to do things which people cannot ordinarily accomplish.
There are two powers: one is called in Sufi terms Kaza and the other Kadr. One is individual power and the other is God power. The individual power can work and can accomplish things as long as it is working in consonance with God’s power. But the moment the individual power works contrary to God’s power the man begins to realize that his strength is diminishing that he cannot accomplish anything. Therefore the first thing that masters seek is the pleasure of God, to be in consonance with the will of God. And just as a person who has practiced a gambling game or any kind of sport has learnt the way in which to practice it, so the man who has it continually in mind to do everything in consonance with God’s power is helped by the will of God.
Very often people have misunderstood the will of God. They think that what they consider good is the will of God, and what they consider not good is not the will of God. But their idea of good and wrong has nothing to do with the power of God, because God’s outlook is different from man’s outlook. Man only sees so far and no further, whereas God sees all things.
But one wonders, if we all belong to the body of God, if we are all as atoms of His Being, why do we not understand, why do we not readily know what is in consonance with the will of God and what not? And the answer is that each atom of our body is conscious of itself. If there is a pain in the finger, the ear does not feel it. If there is a pain in the toe, the nose does not feel it; only the toe feels it. But in both cases the man feels it because the man possesses the whole body.
Man lives in a narrow world he has made for himself. According to it he sees right and wrong, and his interests in life depend upon it. Therefore he is not always able to work in consonance with the will of God unless he makes it a habit to work in consonance with God’s will.
What is man? Is man only his body? No, man is his mind, man is the soul. And therefore the power of man is greater than the power of the sun, for the sun we see is only a body, but man is body, mind, and soul, his power becomes greater than the power of the sun. Because the sun is the material manifestation of the light, but man has all light within him. The body of man is radiance; a radiance, which is so great that all the invisible beings which live in space, are hidden by the glow of the human form. Nothing exists which is not visible; only one thing, which is more visible, hides the other, which is not so visible. It is the glow and radiance of the human body, which is so great that it hides the beings in space. In reality they are all visible. But the radiance or man’s form stands out and hides all that is less visible compared with it. When we look at life from this point of view, there is nothing that is invisible. It is only that there are things, which our eyes have no power to see, but this does not mean that they are formless.
Besides man’s mind has a still greater power, and that is the power of will, of mind, that can bring about change in conditions, in environments; it can have power over matter, over objects, over affairs; it can even work so wonderfully that one cannot explain it. The power of mind can work on the multitude, as the following story of Mohammad shows.
In one of the great wars that the Prophet had to fight the whole army was defeated, and there only remained ten or fifteen friends by the side of the Prophet and all the others ran away or were dead or wounded. Then the Prophet turned to his people and saw that they were all downhearted and despairing. So he said, “Look, before us there is an army and here are we, fifteen men. You do not see any hope; now you must retreat. But I, I will stand here whether I am to come back victorious or lose my life here on the battlefield. Now you go. Many of you have already left, so you go also.” They said, “No, Prophet, if your life is to be ended here on the battlefield our lives will be taken first. What are our lives after all! We shall give our lives together with you, Prophet. We are not afraid of this enemy.” And then the Prophet threw away the sword he had in his hand and bowed down and took a few pebbles from the earth and threw them at the army. And the army began to run for miles and miles. They did not know what was behind them. It was only a few pebbles. But what they saw were great missiles and they began to run.
That is called power; that is man’s power. It is not only that man has power over objects, but also man has power over beings. It is only a little touch of power that the master of the circus uses to make the elephants work and tigers and lions dance before him. When his power is greater, he has only to look at them to make them work as he wishes them to.
When it is told in the story of Daniel that he went into the lions’ den and made them all lie tamed at his feet, that is again the spiritual power. It shows what power man has; at the same time, not knowing of it, not being conscious of it, not trying to develop it, he debars himself from that great privilege and bliss that God has given; and with his limited powers he works in the world for money. In the end no money remains with him, nor has he ever known power. Power depends greatly upon the consciousness and the attitude of mind. A guilty conscience can turn lions into rabbits. They lose their power once they feel guilty; and so it is with man. When a man is impressed by what others think, if that impression is of disappointment or distress or shame, his power is the power of sincerity. Very few realize what power sincerity carries. A false man, however physically strong he is or however great is his willpower, is kept down by his falsehood; it never allows him to rise. It eats into him because it is rust. Those who have done great things in life, in whatever walk of life it be, have done them by the power of truth, the power of sincerity, of earnestness, of conviction; when that is lacking, power is lacking. What takes away man’s power is doubt. As soon as a person thinks, is it so or not? Will it be or not be? Is it right or not right? Then he is powerless. And this is so contagious that every mind catches it. You can go to a doubting person when you have great enthusiasm and hope; and he may so impress you with darkness that you end in the same boat. Doubt takes away courage and hope and optimism.
There are three grades of evolved human beings. In Sanskrit they are called Atma, Mahatma and Paramatma; in other words, a holy person, a divine soul and an almighty soul. In the case of the first, an illuminated soul can show five different powers. These powers are magnetic powers. The first aspect is the revivifying of the physical body. The next is brightening the intelligence. The third is deepening the love-element in the heart. The fourth is etherealizing and deepening insight; and the fifth aspect is uniting with God. With the fifth aspect the illuminated soul shows the greatest power.
The power can also be divided into two parts: one is the power of insight, the other is the power of will. The power of insight does not construct, does not make anything. It only sees; it is a passive power. The one who has the power of insight can see into human nature. He has an insight into the heart of another person, into the soul of another person, into his life, his affairs, into his past, present, and future. What inspires him in this way? What is it that he sees? He seems to understand the language of nature, the language of life. He seems to read the form, the feature, the movement, and the atmosphere, the thought and feeling. This is because everything has certain vibrations and a certain tendency. Therefore, to have insight is to know the language of life. And such a one can see to such an extent that the other does not know so much about himself as the one who sees. For everyone is blinded by his own affairs. When he is told he may know it, but if you do not tell him he does not know. It seems as if the knowledge of his own being is buried within himself.
Where does this science come from? Also from the knowledge of insight, at least at the beginning. Other things improve upon it; but this science which begins with intuition is insight. The great inventors of the world have insight into things. They may not believe this, but all the same they have it. They penetrate through the object and its purpose, and they utilize it towards its purpose. In that way they make use of insight for scientific inventions. If they knew, they could make use of the same insight a thousand times better.
The Mahatmas are different. It is not only that they have magnetic power but also they have divine instinct, divine inspiration. Stories are told about the constructive power of Mahatmas; one is very interesting as it shows what this power can achieve.
Once a prince was sent away from his country, his father having disapproved of his conduct. And he went and lived in the forest for a long time under the training of a Guru, a teacher, and developed spiritually. And when the time came that he should be given initiation into the higher power, the Guru asked, “My Chela, have you any relatives?” He said, “Yes, my father and mother.” The teacher said, “You must go to them and ask them first if you may take the initiation; because once you take it, you will have to live the life of solitude.” The teacher thought it was better that he should first go to his people and see all the possibilities of worldly life. Then, if he did not want such a life, he could come back. And the Chela was so developed at that time that he had no desire to go to his parents in that kingdom and see them again. But since the Guru told him to do it, he went. When he reached his kingdom, he went to the garden where he had lived before, and which had been neglected for many years. There was nothing left in the garden. He went there and sat down and was very sorry to see his garden so neglected. He took the water in his pitcher and sprinkled it on both sides; and the garden began to flourish.
And so it was made known to the whole kingdom that a sage had arrived; the place where he stayed for a few days had begun to flourish. The story goes on to relate that the king heard that his son was there; that he came and wanted him to take over the kingdom, to work for the country. But he refused and went away.
This story gives an example of the constructive power of the sage; it shows how constructive the soul of the Mahatma is. It is not true that Mahatmas can only be found in the caves of the Himalayas and that one cannot see them in the midst of the world. They can be found anywhere; they can be found in a palace, in the midst of riches, of comfort, and in remote places. They can be in any situation, in any position. But what cameos out of the Mahatmas is a continual spreading influence of construction. They are a protection against illnesses and plagues, wars and disasters. Their constructive power is working and helping people to flourish. Today, man is ready to believe that a Prime Minister or a great statesman can be such a help, that he can raise up the country, put the finances of the country in good order or guard the country against other nations. But a hidden soul, which is not known, can have a greater influence still on the whole country. It has been known and seen by millions of people in the East at different times when diving souls lived, that their influence spread through the whole country and uplifted it.
The third aspect of sages is Paramatma, the almighty one. He is still greater; he is no longer a person, he is God-conscious. We all are that of which we are conscious. A man in prison is conscious of the prison. A person, who has a lot of money in the bank and is not conscious of it, is poor in spite of his wealth. We only have that of which we are conscious. Therefore our greatness or our smallness depends upon our consciousness. Even to become an illuminated soul is only a difference of consciousness. It is not how much good a person has done. There are many good people, but they do not always know what they themselves are.
Besides there are some who believe in God and others who love God; and there are others who are lost in God. Those who believe in God, they are on earth and God is in heaven for them. Those who love God, for them God is before them; they are face to face with their Lord. And those who are lost in God have gained their real self. They are God themselves. I know of a God-conscious soul who was once walking in the city of Baroda where the rule was that no one should go about after ten o’clock at night. And this sage was wandering about unconscious of time. A policeman asked him,” Where are you going?” But he did not hear. Perhaps he was far away from the place where he was wandering. But when he heard the policeman say, “Are you a thief?” he smiled and said, “Yes.” The policeman took him to the police station and made him sit there all night long. In the morning the officer came and asked, “What is the report?” This policeman said, “I have caught one thief. I found him in the street.” When the officer went and saw this man, he knew that he was a great soul and that people respected him very much. He asked his pardon. “But,” he said, “when the policeman asked you that question, why did you say that you were a thief?” The answer was, “What am I not? I am everything.”
We try to become spiritual, to raise our consciousness. But when it comes to an insult, we do not like it. As long as everybody flatters us we are glad to attribute those things to ourselves. But as soon as it comes to an insult, we do not like it; then we say, “It is not me.” The Paramatma, the high soul, is united with God; he is God-conscious, all conscious. Everyone is his own self. Whether he is a good person or a wicked person, whether he is right or wrong, he is his own self; he looks at that person, as his own self. Even if he were given the name of a thief, he could say, “Yes. All names are my names.”
In conclusion, spirituality is not a certain knowledge. Spirituality is the expansion of consciousness. The wider the consciousness expands the greater is one’s spiritual vision. And when once the consciousness expands so much that it embraces the whole universe, it is that which is called divine perfection.
THE SECRET OF BREATH
It is clear even to those who do not know medical science that the whole mechanism of the body stops when the breath has departed. That means that however perfect the mechanism of the body may be, in the absence of breath the body is a corpse. In other words, what is living in the body, or what makes it living, is breath. And how few of us realize this fact. We go on day after day, working, busy with everyday life, absorbed in the thoughts we have, occupied with business, pursuing motives, and yet ignoring the principle upon which the whole of life is based. If someone says, “Prayer is a very important thing,” people may think, “Yes, perhaps.” If one says, “Meditation is a great thing,” people may say: ” Yes, it is something.” But when one says, “Breathing is a great secret,” the reaction is: “Why, I have never thought about it. What is it really?”
As far as science goes, breathing is known to be air breathed in and breathed out. When it is breathed in one gets oxygen from space, and when it is breathed out one throws carbonic acid into space. When one goes still further one knows that breathing keeps the lungs and the organs or breath going, that digestive gases are drawn in, and that one gets a greater digestive power. On the basis of that principle people are beginning to use breathing in physical exercises to make the body healthier. For some years now voice-producers have given greater importance to breath. In reality the breathing itself is voice, and the whole voice-construction depends upon breathing. Then again some physicians are beginning to see that many illnesses of the nerves, of the lungs, or of different nervous centers, can often be helped by breathing. There seems to be a general awakening to the science of breath. And those who have practiced breathing in connection with physical culture or for the improvement of their particular condition, illness, or weakness, have found wonderful results. It is thus far that the science of breath has reached.
But when we come to the mystery of breath, it is another domain altogether. The perceptible breath, which the nostrils can feel as air drawn in and air going out, is only an effect of breathing. It is not breath. For the mystic breath is that current, which carries the air out and brings the air in. The air is perceptible, not the current; the current is imperceptible. It is a kind of ethereal magnetism, a finer kind of electricity, the current of which goes in and comes out, putting the air into action. This is what the mystic calls Nafs, which means the self. Breath is the self, the very self of man. Also Atman means the soul, and in German the same word is used for breath. This shows that if there is any trace of the soul, it is to be found in breath.
Naturally, breath, being the self, it is not only the air which one exhales, but it is a current, which, according to mystics, runs from the physical plane into the innermost plane. It is a current, which runs through the body, mind, and soul, touching the innermost part of life and also coming back, a continual current perpetually mowing in and out. This gives quite a different explanation of the breath. It shows the importance of something which very few people consider important; and it makes one understand that the most important part of being is breath, which reaches the innermost part of life and also reaches outwards to the surface, which means touching the physical plane. But the direction of breath is in a dimension, which the science of today does not recognize, a dimension that is recognized by mystics as being the dimension “within.”
One day I was lecturing in England and among the audience was a well-known scientist. After the lecture he came to me and said, “I am very interested, but there is one thing that puzzles me. I cannot understand the word “within.” What do you mean? Within the body? We can only understand inside the body.” This shows the difficulty of reaching a common understanding between science and mysticism. One day it will be overcome. It is only a temporary difficulty.
To give a philosophical explanation of this dimension, one can take as an example the simile of the eyes: what is it in these eyes of ours that can accommodate a horizon of so many miles? The size of the eyes is so small, and they can accommodate such a large horizon. Where is it accommodated? It is accommodated within. That is the only example one can give. It is a dimension, which cannot be measured, but which is accommodating, which is an accommodation. The accommodation of the eye is not a recognized dimension, yet it is a dimension. In the same way there is a dimension of mind. One can think deeply and feel profoundly; one can be conscious of life and be more deeply conscious still; but one cannot point to it, because this dimension is abstract. If there is any word, it can only be called “within”. And through that dimension a current runs from the innermost plane to the physical plane and there it keeps life living. That is why one can say that breath is the soul and soul is the breath. It is important to understand that one does not inhale like a straight line going in and coming out the same way, as one imagines it to be. The real action is that of a wheel, a circle; from the nostrils it makes a circle and the end of the circle is again in the nostrils.
The third point to understand about breath is that: just like an electric wire, it shows a glow. As the heat and light are not confined to that glow, but are around it too, in the same way the radiance of this circle of breath which goes on through the body, touches every part of the body.
Another rule to be observed is that with every direction in which the current of breath goes, it causes a different action and a different result. For instance, contracting, stretching, blinking, all these actions are the play of the breath going in different directions. So it is with every natural action one does during the day. Also coughing, yawning, heaving a deep sigh, all these are different actions of breath. Besides, the ability to eat and drink, the ability to expel all that one has in the body, are all results of different directions through which breath works. And if the breath does not work in one direction, then that particular activity of the body is stopped. It is a science that has yet to be explored by scientists and physicians. And the more it is explored the less necessity there will be for operations and many other dreadful things that doctors have to do or to give to their patients. Also the tendency to lung diseases, the pain of child-birth, and early death, all these will be avoided when the science of breath is well understood by the scientists of the day, and practiced by the generality.
The picture of God and of souls is that of the sun and its rays. The rays are not different from the sun; the sun is not different from the rays. Yet there is one sun and many rays. The rays have no existence of their own; they are only an action of the sun. They are not separate from the sun, and yet the rays appear to be many different rays. The one sun gives the idea of one center. So it is with God and man. What is God? The Spirit projects different rays. Each ray is a soul. Therefore the breath is that current which is a ray, a ray which comes from that Sun which is the spirit of God. And this ray is the sign of life. What is the body? The body is only a cover over this ray. When this ray has withdrawn itself from this cover, the body becomes a corpse.
Then there is another cover, which is the mind. The difference between mind and heart is like the surface and the bottom. It is the surface of the heart, which is mind, and it is the depth of the mind, which is heart. The mind expresses the faculty of thinking, the heart of feeling. This is an inner garb; a garb worn by the same thing which is called breath. Therefore, if the ray, which is the breath, has withdrawn itself from the body, it still exists, for it has another garb, it has a garb within. The outer garb was the body; the inner garb is the mind. The breath continues to exist, and if it is lost in that garb, which is called mind, then there is another garb finer still, called the soul. Because breath runs through all three: body, mind, and soul.
Seen from this point of view one will realize that man has never been separated from God; that with every breath man touches God. He is linked with God by the current of breath. Just like people drawing water from a well, the rope in their hands and the jug of water in the well. The jug has the water, but the rope is in the hand. In so far as our soul is in the spirit of God, it is the ray of the divine sun, while the other end of it is what we call breath. We only see it reaching so far and no further, because it is only the higher part of the physical body that touches different planes. The breath goes there, but we do not see the action of breath. The action of breath in our body is limited; but in reality this current, this breath, connects the body with the divine Spirit, connecting God and man in one current.
The central current of our mind is also breath. That is why we do not only breathe through the body, but also through the mind, and through the soul too. Furthermore, death is only the departing of the body from this main current which we call breath. But when the body has departed the mind still adheres to it, and if the mind is living, the person is living also. This is what gives us the proof of the hereafter. Many will say, “How uninteresting to live after death not as an individual, a body; but as a mind!” But it is the mind, which has made this body; the mind is more self-sufficient than we can imagine. The mind is in a sphere in which it has its own body, just as this physical body belongs to the physical sphere. The body of the mind is as sufficient and even more concrete than the body we have in the physical world, for the reason that the physical body is very limited and subject to death and decay. The body of the mind, which is ethereal, lasts long, being less dependent upon food and water; it is maintained more by breath than by anything else. We are maintained even in this physical world chiefly by breath, although we recognize bread and water are not even a hundredth part of our sustenance compared with what breath does in our life! We cannot exist five minutes without breath; we can be without food for some days
Since breath has such great importance, the greatest possible importance, it is clear that the way to bring order and harmony to our body, to bring order and harmony to our mind, to harmonize mind with body, and to harmonize body and mind with soul, is by the breath. It is the development of breath, knowledge of breath, practice of breath which help us to get ourselves straightened out, to put ourselves in tune, to bring order into our being. There are many who without proper guidance and knowledge practice breath. Year after year they go on and very little result is achieved. Many go out of their minds, and very often the little veins of the brain and chest are ruptured by wrong breathing. There are many, who have experienced this by not knowing how to breathe. One has to be extremely careful; one must do breathing practices rightly or not do them at all.
One cannot speak fully of all that can be accomplished with the help of breath. If there are men living in the world today, who while standing on the earth, witness the inner planes of existence, if there are any who really can communicate with the higher spheres, if there are any who can convince themselves of the life in the hereafter and of what it will be like, it is the masters of breath. It is not the students of intellectual books.
The Yogis have learnt very much about the secret of breath from the serpent; that is why they regard the serpent as the symbol of wisdom. Shiva, the Lord of Yogis, has a serpent around his neck as a necklace. It is the sign of mystery, of wisdom. There are cobras in the forests of tropical countries, especially in India, which sleep for six weeks; and then one day the cobra wakens, and it breathes because it is hungry; it wants to eat. And its thoughts attract food from wherever it may be; food is attracted from miles away by its thoughts. The breath of the cobra is so magnetic that the food is helplessly drawn; a fowl, or a deer or some other animal is drawn closer. It is so strongly drawn that it even comes down from the air, and falls into its mouth. The snake makes no effort. It just breathes; it opens its mouth, and its food comes into its mouth. And then it rests again for six weeks.
The serpent, too, is so strongly built that without wings it flies and without feet it walks. Also if there is any animal which can be called the healthiest animal of all, it is the serpent. It is never ill. Before it becomes ill it dies, yet it lives a very long time. It is said by those living in tropical countries that the cobras can take revenge after as much as twelve years. If you once hit a cobra, it will always remember. That shows its memory, its mind. Music also appeals to the cobra as music appeals to intelligent men. The more unintelligent the man, the less music appeals to him; music is closely related to intelligence. This shows that every sign of intelligence, of wisdom, and of power is to be seen in the cobra.
The mystics have studied the life of the cobra and they have found two wonderful things. One is that it does not waste energy. Birds fly until they are tired; animals run here and there. The cobra does not do so. It makes a hole where it lives and rests. It knows the best way of repose, a repose which it can continue as long as it wishes. We cannot do this. We human beings, of all creatures, know least about repose. We only know about work, not about repose. We attach every importance to work, but never to rest; this is because we do not find anything in rest but everything in work. The work of rest we do not see.
Besides, the natural breathing capacity of the cobra is such as no other creature shows. That capacity goes as a straight line throughout its body. The current which it gets from space and which runs through it, gives it lightness and energy and radiance and power. Compared with the cobra all other creatures are awkwardly built. The skin of the cobra is so very soft and of such silky texture, and in a moment’s time it can shed its skin and be new, just as if born anew. The mystics have learnt from it. They say, “We must go out of our body just as the cobra goes out of its skin; we must go out of our thoughts, ideas, feelings, just as the cobra does with its skin.” They say, ” We must be able to breathe as rhythmically, to control our breath as the cobra does. We must be able to repose and relax in the same way as the cobra can. And then it will be possible to attain all we desire.” As Christ has said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…and all things shall be added unto you.” The same things that are added to the cobra, all that it needs, could be added to man also if only he did not worry about them. As Sa’di has said, “My self, you worry so much over things that you need, but know that the One who works for your needs is continually working for them. Yet you worry over them because it is your disease, your passion that makes you worry all the time!”
When we look at life more keenly, we see it is the same. Our worry about things seems to be our nature, our character; we cannot help it. It becomes such a part of our nature to worry that if we had no worry we would doubt if we were really living! Mystics, therefore, for thousands of years have practiced control of the breath, its balance, its rhythm, the expanding, lengthening, broadening, and centralizing of the breath By this great phenomena have been accomplished. All the Sufis in Persia, in Egypt, in India, have been great masters of breathing. And there are some masters who are conscious of their spiritual realization with every breath they inhale and exhale. With every breath comes the consciousness of their plane of realization.
For a person who really knows how to work with breath, if he is not lazy, there is nothing he cannot accomplish; he cannot say of anything that it is impossible. Only it requires work; it is not only a matter of knowing the theory, but it requires the understanding of it. That is why the adepts, the mystics, do not consider breathing only as a science or as an exercise; they consider it as the most sacred thing, as sacred as religion. And in order to accomplish this breathing a discipline is given by a teacher.
But there is a great difficulty. I have found sometimes in my travels, when I have been speaking about these things, that people come with preconceived ideas. They are willing to learn, but they do not want discipline. But in the army there is discipline; in the factory, in the office there is a certain discipline; in study at the university, everywhere there is discipline; yet in spiritual things people do not want it; when it comes to spiritual things they make difficulties. They think so little of it that they do not want to make any sacrifice. Because they do not know where it leads to, they have no belief. Besides there are false methods which are taught here and there, and people are commercializing that which is most sacred. In that way the highest ideal is brought down to the lowest depth; and it is time that the real thing should be introduced, seriously studied, experienced, and realized by practice.
THE MYSTERY OF SLEEP
It is very difficult to point out exactly what condition it is that may be called sleep. For, when one thinks about this question, one finds that one is always asleep and always wakeful. The difference is that of the particular sphere which man is conscious of when he is awake; in one sphere he thinks, ” I am awake”, and when that sphere is not before his consciousness he thinks, ” I am asleep”. In reality sleep and the wakeful state are nothing but the turning of the consciousness from one side to the other, from one sphere or plane to another; and therefore according to the mystical idea man is never asleep. Although the soul is much higher than the physical body, it is the character and nature of the soul, which the physical body expresses.
When a man is looking at one side he is unconscious of the other. This shows that the faculty of seeing and being conscious of what one sees can only engage itself fully with one thing at a time. A conception of musical sound which has been held for a long time in the East, and which today is recognized by scientists in the west, is that man’s ear can only hear fully one sound at a time, not two or three. This indicates that each sense is capable of looking at one side only; the other is absent from the consciousness; and in order to see a particular side one has to turn one’s face to it. In other words, one has to expose one’s faculty of seeing to that side.
This is not only the nature of the body but also the nature of the mind; the mind cannot think of two things at the same time. Also, when the mind is at work and fully absorbed in a certain thought, a certain imagination, the outer senses may be open, but they are not fully at work. When a poet is thinking of a verse, the verse is before his mind. His eyes are open, but he does not see; and if it happens that he sees anything when he is thinking, then it is just like a moving picture. So many different pictures coming one after the other that they seem to be continuous. When the mind stops the eyes work, and when the eyes work the mind stops; and in the end it seems to make one picture, but in reality it is a separate action of the mind and of the senses. It is also true that the wakeful state of every individual is different and peculiar to himself, just as the sleep of every individual is different and peculiar to himself. One person will be what is called fast asleep, that is to say in deep sleep. Another will be half-asleep. Another knows what is going on around him, and yet he is asleep. This shows that the extent of sleep is different in every experience, and no one can classify this extent of sleep.
The wakeful state also differs in every individual. Many people may be sitting in a room, but one is more conscious of what is going on in that room than another. Five people may be hearing music, and each will apply his consciousness differently to what he hears. Each will enjoy and receive the effect of the music differently, and this shows that the body and the mind are vehicles or instruments through which the soul experiences life, the soul being that part of our being which is capable of being conscious by means of mind and body. Therefore to the mystic it is that part of one’s being which witnesses life through vehicles such as the mind and body which is the real being, and he calls it himself or his soul. In Sufi terms it is called Ruh, and in the Sanskrit or Vedantic terminology it is called Atman, the real being of man. By experience of life, with the help of the mind and body, this Atman or soul becomes deluded. The delusion is that it loses consciousness of its pure self, as it is natural that when a person is poorly dressed he thinks he is poor; he never thinks it is only his dress that is poor. When he is moving in a beautiful palace he is a big man. He does not think it is the palace, which is big, rather than himself.
This shows it is not what a man is, but what he believes he is, that he is related to. The soul is never ill, but when it is conscious of the illness of the body the man says, “I am ill.” And the reason is that he cannot point out to his own consciousness his own true being; as the eyes cannot see themselves though they are able to see the whole world, so the soul cannot see itself except when it is conscious of all that is reflected in it. The soul is neither poor nor rich; it is neither sorrowful nor joyous. These are reflections, which fall upon it. And as it cannot realize itself, it considers itself to be that which is reflected in it and therefore man lives his life in his consciousness. He is at every moment that which he is conscious of; in cheerful surroundings he is pleased; in miserable surroundings he is sad. No sorrow or joy can make an everlasting impression on the soul, for the nature of the soul is like a mirror, and while all that stand before the mirror is reflected in it, nothing can stay there. When the person who stood before the mirror is removed, then the mirror is as clear as ever; and so it is with the soul.
For the sake of convenience the mystics have divided the experiences of the consciousness into five different phases. The particular phase the consciousness is most failure with is the wakeful state in which the soul experiences through mind and body. This state in Sufi terms is called Nasut, and in vedantic terms it is called Jagrat. As the soul only considers what it experiences through the senses with the help of the mind, the reason that many are not yet ready to believe in the soul or in the hereafter or in God is that he soul is acquainted with one sphere only. That is the sphere, which it experiences with the help of the body and mind.
An intellectual person also develops consciousness of another sphere, which is called Malakut in Sufi terminology and Swapna in terms of the Vedanta. This state is experienced in two ways. When a person is absorbed in thought and is not aware of his surroundings, all he knows at that moment is the thought or imagination in which he is absorbed. This state is not dependent upon the body for its joy or its experiences of sorrow.
A person who can experience joy and sorrow by raising his consciousness to that plane can make his heaven in himself. The great poets, thinkers, writers, who have lived through difficulties, through poverty, through circumstances in which people did not understand them, opposed them, and even despised them. They have lived a most happy life for the reason that they have been able to raise themselves to that plane where they could enjoy all the beauty, comfort, and joy that the ordinary man can only enjoy if it is given to him on the physical plane. And when the key of this plane comes into the hands of a man, then he is the master of his future life.
When a man’s consciousness reflects heaven, that man is in heaven; and when a man is conscious of torture, pain, and suffering, he is in the place of suffering. Man makes his heaven or his hell for himself. How many in this world you will find who keep their illness by thinking about it all the time, by being conscious of it. One sees many who might become well after having suffered pain for some years were it not for the consciousness of the pain being held by them, not as something new but as something which has always been there.
Nothing belongs to a man unless he is willing to hold it. But when he becomes accustomed to holding a certain reflection without knowing the nature of it, in time that reflection becomes his master and he becomes a slave of that reflection. And so it is with the worries and anxieties and sorrows which people have on their minds. Many say, “I cannot forget”, because they imagine it. It does not mean that that person cannot forget, but that he is holding on to something, which he does not wish to throw away. If a man would only realize that it is not that someone else is holding something before him; it is he himself who holds it. Some memory, something disagreeable, something sorrowful, some severe pain, anxiety, worry, all these things a man holds in his own hands and they are reflected in his consciousness. His soul by nature is above all this. It is an illusion whose place is beneath the soul, not above, unless a man, with his own hands, raises it and looks at it.
When one considers the psychology of failure and success, failure follows failure. And why is it? Because the consciousness reflecting success is full of success, and the activity, which goes out from that consciousness is creating productive activity; so if the consciousness has success before its view, then the same reflection will work and bring success. Whereas if the consciousness is impressed with failure, then failure will work constantly, bringing failure after failure.
Very often pessimistic people speak against their own desire. They want to undertake some work, and they say, “I will do this, but I don’t think I shall succeed in it.” Thus they hinder themselves in their path. Man does not know that every thought makes an impression on the consciousness and on the rhythm with which the consciousness is working. According to that rhythm that reflection will come true and happen; and a man proves to be his own enemy by his ignorance of these things. The mistake of one moment’s impulse creates a kind of hindrance in the path of that person all through his life.
This state of consciousness is also experienced in the dream; for the dream is the reaction of man’s experiences in his wakeful state. The most wonderful thing which man can study in the dream is that the dream has a language, and a true knowledge of dream experiences teaches one that every individual has a separate language of his dream peculiar to his own nature. The dream of the poet, the dream of the man who works with his hands, the dream of the king, the dream of the poor man, they all are different. There are many differences and one cannot give the same interpretation of his dream to every person; one must first know who has dreamed it. It is not the dream, which can be interpreted by itself. It is the person to whom the dream came that one must know; and the interpretation is according to his state of evolution, to his occupation, to his ambitions and desires, to his present, his past, and his future, and to his spiritual aspirations.
Thus the language of dreams differs; but there is one hint which may be given, and that is that in the wakeful state man is open to outward impressions. For instance, there are moments when the mind is receptive, and there are moments when the mind is expressive. And during the moments when the mind is receptive, every impression from any person is reflected in the consciousness. Very often one finds oneself depressed and cannot find a reason, and then one finds oneself full or mirth and again cannot find the reason. As soon as a person has a certain feeling he at once looks for a reason, and reason is ready to answer him, rightly or wrongly. As soon as a person thinks, “What makes me laugh?” there is something which his reason offers as the reason why he laughed. In reality that impression came from someone else. But he thinks the reason is something different. So very often in the dream it happens that the reasoning faculty answers the demands of the inquiring mind, and frames and shapes the thoughts and imaginations which are going on so freely when the will-power is not controlling the mind in sleep. The mind behaves at that time just like an actor on the stage: free, without control of the will. When that happens there may be a moment when the mind is in a receptive condition, when it receives an impression from other persons, from those who are friends or from those who are enemies, from anyone who may think of the dreamer or with whom he is connected in any way.
Those who are spiritually inclined or who are connected with souls who have passed away also feel the impressions reflected upon their souls, sometimes as guiding influences, sometimes as warnings, sometimes as instructions. They also experience what are known as initiations, and sometimes have deluding, confusing, experiences; but all takes place on that particular plane where the consciousness is experiencing life independently of the physical body and of the senses.
The third experience, which the consciousness has, is called in Sufi terms Jabarut. In Sanskrit or vedantic terms it is called Sushupti. In this state, the consciousness is not very well connected with the world. It does not bring its experiences to the world except for a feeling of joy, of renewed strength or health; and all one can say after this experience is, “I have had a very good sleep, and feel much better for it.” In point of fact, the cause is that the consciousness was freed from pain and worry and any activity or limitation of life. Even prisoners can enjoy the blessing of this state when they are fast asleep; they do not know whether they are in a palace or in a prison. They reach the experiences of that plane which is better than a palace.
Man does not realize the value of this state until the time comes when for some reason or other he is unable to receive this blessing. He cannot sleep; then he begins to think there is nothing he would not give to be able to sleep soundly. This shows that it is not only sleep he needs, but also a blessing behind it. It is something, which the soul has touched which is much higher and deeper, for this experience is greater than one can imagine. In this experience the consciousness touches a sphere from whence it cannot get an impression of any name or form. The impression it gets is a feeling, a feeling of illumination, of life, of joy. What message does it give? It gives a message of God, which comes directly to every soul. And what is this message? God says to the soul, “I am with you, I am your own being, and I am above all limitations, and I am life, and you are more safe, more living, more happy and more peaceful in the knowledge than in anything else in the world.”
Besides these three experiences there comes a fourth experience to those who search after it. Why does it not come to everybody? It is not that it does not come to everybody, but everybody cannot catch it. It comes and slips away from a person, and he does not know when it came and when it went. In the life of every man there is a moment during the wakeful state, a moment when he rises above all limitations of life, but so swiftly does it come and go, in the twinkling of an eye, that he cannot catch it, that he does not realize it.
It is just like a bird, which came and flew away, and you only heard the flutter of its wings. But those who wish to catch this bird, who wish to see where this bird goes, and when it comes and when it goes, look out for it and sit waiting and watching for the moment when it comes; and that watching is called meditation. Meditation does not mean closing the eyes and sitting; anyone can close his eyes and sit, but he may sit for hours, or he may sit all his life, and still not know what came and what went. It is looking out for what comes, and not only looking out for it, but preparing oneself by making one’s senses keen, by making one’s body and mind a receptacle for the vibrations, so that when the bird makes a vibration one feels that it has come.
It is this, which is expressed in the Christian symbolism of the dove. In other words, it is the moment which approaches one’s consciousness rapidly of such bliss that one, so to speak, touches the depths of the whole of life and reaches above the sphere of action, even above the sphere of feeling. “But,” one will say, “what does one’s consciousness receive from it?” It receives a kind of illumination which is like a torch lighting another light; this inner life, touching the consciousness, produces a sort of illumination which makes man’s life clear. Every moment after this experience is unveiled because of this moment. It charges man’s life with new life and new light. That is why in the East Yogis sit in Samadhi, in a certain posture for so many hours, or go into the forest and sit in the solitude; and they have always done so in order to catch this light which is symbolized by a dove.
There is one step even higher than this, which in the terms of the Sufis is Hahut, or Samadhi in Vedantic terms, the fifth sphere which consciousness experiences. In this the consciousness touches the innermost depth of its own being; it is like touching the feet of God. That is the communion, which is spoken of in the Christian symbolism. It is just like touching the Presence of God, when one’s consciousness has become so light and so liberated and free that it can raise itself and dive and touch the depths of one’s being.
This is the secret of all mysticism and religion and philosophy. The process of this experience is like the process of alchemy, which is not given freely except to those who are ready and who feel there is some truth in it. It takes time for a person to become familiar with things of this nature or even to think there is some truth in them and that it is not only talk and imagination. Even one who has felt the truth of the mystical state may question if it is worth while to go on with this quest. But if he does so he must accept the guidance of someone, who has knowledge of this matter, in whom he can put his trust and confidence. But it must be understood that the path of discipleship. The path of initiation, is not such that the teacher gives some knowledge to his pupil, tells him something new which he has not heard before, or shows him some miracle; if he does he is not a true teacher. Man is really his own teacher; in himself is the secret of his being. The teacher’s word is only to help him to find himself. Nothing that can be learned from books, nothing that can be explained in language, nothing that can be pointed out with a finger, is truth. If a man is sure of himself he can go further, but when he is confused in himself he cannot go further, and no teacher can help him. Therefore, although in this path the teacher is necessary and his help is valuable, self-help is the principal thing; and the one who is ready to realize his own nature and to learn from himself, is he who is the true initiate. And it is from that initiation that he will go forward, step by step, finding the realization and conviction that he seeks; and all that comes to him throughout his life will but deepen that realization of truth.
There is a saying that words are valuable but silence is more precious. This saying will always prove true. The more we understand the meaning of it, the more we realize its truth. How many times we find during the day that we have said something, which would have been better left unsaid! How many times we disturb the peace of our surroundings, without meaning it, by lack of silence! How often we make our limitations, our narrowness, our smallness come out, which we would rather have concealed, because we did not keep silent! How very often, though desiring to respect others, we cannot manage to do so because we do not keep silent! And a great danger lies in wait for a man in the life of this world, the danger of confiding in a person in whom he did not wish to confide. We run that danger by not keeping silent. That great interpreter of life, the Persian poet Sa’di, says, “What value is sense, if it does not come to my rescue before I utter a word!” This shows us that in spite of whatever wisdom we may have; we can make a mistake if we have no control over our words. And we can easily find examples of this truth; those who talk much have less power than those who talk little. For a talkative person may not be able to express an idea in a thousand words which those who are masters of silence express in one word. Everyone can speak, but not every word has the same power. Besides, a word says much less than silence can express. The keynote to harmonious life is silence.
In everyday life we are confronted with a thousand troubles that we are not always evolved enough to meet, and then only silence can help us. For if there is any religion, if there is any practice of religion, it is to have regard for the pleasure of God by regarding the pleasure of man. The essence of religion is to understand. And this religion we cannot live without having power over the word, without having realized the power of silence. There are so very many occasions when we repent after hurting friends, which could have been avoided if there had been control over our words. Silence is the shield of the ignorant and the protection of the wise. For the ignorant does not prove his ignorance if he keeps silent, and the wise man does not throw pearls before swine if he knows the worth of silence.
What gives power over words? What gives the power that can be attained by silence? The answer is: it is will power, which gives the control over words; it is silence, which gives one the power of silence. It is restlessness when a person speaks too much. The more words are used to express an idea, the less powerful they become. It is a great pity that man so often thinks of saving pennies and never thinks of sparing words. It is like saving pebbles and throwing away pearls. An Indian poet says, “Pearl-shell, what gives you your precious contents? Silence; for years my lips were closed.”
For a moment it is a struggle with oneself; it is controlling an impulse; but afterwards the same thing becomes a power.
And now coming to the more scientific, metaphysical, explanation of silence. There is a certain amount of energy spent by words; and breath, which has to bring new life in the body, is hindered in its regular rhythm when man speaks all the time. It is not that a nervous person speaks too much, but much speaking makes him nervous. Where did the great power attained by Yogis and fakirs come from? It was gained by having learned and practiced the art of silence. That is the reason why in the East, in the houses where fakirs meditated, and even at the court, there was silence. There were times during different civilizations of the world when people were taught, whenever they were collected together for a feast, to keep silence for a certain time. It is the greatest pity that at this time we have so neglected that question; we think so little about it. It is a question, which affects health, which touches the soul, the spirit, life. The more we think about this subject, the more we see that we are continually involved in a kind of action. Where does it lead us and what is the result of it? As far as we can see, it leads us to greater struggle, competition, and disagreeableness. If we think of the result, we see that it leads us to greater care, worry, and struggle in life. There is a saying of the Hindus, “The more one seeks for happiness, the more unhappiness one finds.” And the reason is that when happiness is sought in a wrong direction, it leads to unhappiness. Our experience in life is sufficient to teach us this, yet life is intoxicating, it absorbs us in action so that we never stop to think of it.
It seems that the world is awakening to spiritual ideals, but in spite of this there is more activity; not only outer activity, but also activity of mind. In reality mankind has shattered its nerves by the lack of silence, by the over-activity of body and mind. When the body is resting, man calls it sleep. But his mind is going on, on the same record as during the day. In this world of competition every man is a hundred times more busy than he ever was. Naturally his life needs rest and quietude and peace more than that of people who live in the forest, who can call all the time their own. When activity is increased and the art of silence is lost, then what can we expect?
Where do we learn thoughtfulness? In silence. And where do we practice patience? In silence. Silence practiced in meditation is something apart, but silence means that we should consider every word and every action we do; that is the first lesson to learn. If there is a meditative person, he has learned to use that silence naturally in everyday life. The one who has learned silence in everyday life has already learned to meditate. Besides a person may have reserved half an hour every day for meditation, but when there is half an hour of meditation and twelve or fifteen hours of activity, the activity takes away all the power of the meditation. Therefore both things must go together. A person who wishes to learn the art of silence must decide, however much work he has to do, to keep the thought of silence in his mind. When one does not consider this, then one will not reap the full benefit of meditation. It is just like a person who goes to church once a week and the other six days he keeps the thought of church as far away as possible.
A very devout Persian king was asked by his Prime Minister, “You are spending most of the night in meditation and all day long you work. How can that go on?” The Shah said, “During the night I pursue God; during the day God follows me.” It is the same with silence: he who seeks silence is followed by silence. So it is with all things we wish for, when we seek after them sufficiently, they follow us in time by themselves.
There are many, who do not mind if they hurt anyone as long as they think they have told the truth. They feel so justified that they do not care if the other one cries or laughs. There is, however, a difference between fact and truth. Fact is that which can be spoken of; truth is that which cannot be put into words. The claim, “I tell the truth,” falls flat when the difference is realized between fact and truth. People discuss dogmas, beliefs, and moral principles, as they know them. But there comes a time in a man’s life when he has touched truth, of which he cannot speak in words and at that time all dispute, discussion, argument ends. It is then that the man says: “If you have done wrong or if I have done wrong, it does not matter. What I want just now is to right the wrong.” There comes a time when the continual question which arises in the active mind: what is what and which is which? comes to an end, for the answer rises from the soul and is received in silence.
The general attitude of man is that of listening to all that comes from outside; and not only are the ears open to the external world, but even the heart is attached to the ears. The heart which is listening to the voices coming from the external world should turn its back on all that comes from there, and wait patiently until it becomes capable of hearing the voice from within.
There is an audible voice and an inaudible voice, from the living and from those who are not living, from all life. What man can say in words always expresses little. Can one speak about gratefulness, about devotion, about admiration? Never, there will always be a lack of words. Every deep feeling has its own voice; it cannot be expressed in outer words. This voice comes from every soul; every soul is only audible to the heart. And how is the heart prepared? Through silence.
We need not be surprised that some have sought the mountains and the forest, and preferred the wilderness to the comforts of worldly life. They sought something valuable. They have passed on something of the experience gained by their sacrifice. But it is not necessary to follow them to the forest or to the cave of the mountain. One can learn that art of silence everywhere; throughout a busy life one can maintain silence.
Silence is something which consciously or unconsciously we are seeking every moment of our lives. We are seeking silence and running away from it, both at he same time. Where is the word of God heard? In silence. The seers, the saints, the sages, the prophets, the masters, they have heard that voice which comes from within by making themselves silent. I do not mean by this that because one has silence one will be spoken to; I mean that once one is silent one will hear the word, which is constantly coming from within. When the mind has been made still, a person also communicates with everyone he meets. He does not need many words: when the glance meets he understands. Two persons may talk and discuss all their lives and yet never understand one another. Two others with still minds look at one another and in one moment a communication is established between them.
Where do the differences between people come from? From within. From their activity. And how does agreement come? By the stillness of the mind. It is noise which hinders a voice that we hear from a distance, and it is the troubled waters of a pool which hinder us seeing our own image reflected in the water. When the water is still it takes a clear reflection; and when our atmosphere is still then we hear that voice which is constantly coming to the heart of every person. We are looking for guidance, we all of us search for truth; we search for the mystery. The mystery is in ourselves; the guidance is in our own souls.
Very often one meets a person whose contact makes one restless, nervous. The reason is that that person is not restful, not tranquil, and it is not easy to remain calm and to keep one’s tranquillity in the presence of a restless, agitated person. The teaching of Christ is, “Resist not evil,” and that means, “Respond not to the troubled condition of a restless person.” It is just like partaking of the fire which will burn one.
The way to develop the power in oneself to withstand all disturbing influences in everyday life is to quiet oneself by means of concentration. Our mind is like a boat in the water, moved by the waves and influenced by the wind. The waves are our own emotions and passions, thoughts and imagination; and the wind is the outer influences which we have to cope with. In order to stop the boat one should have an anchor, an anchor to make the boat lie still. Now this anchor is the object we concentrate upon; if it is heavy and weighty then it will stop the boat, but if this anchor is light the boat will continue to move and not be still, for it is partly in the water, and partly in the air.
But in this way we only control the boat; utilizing the boat is another question again. The boat is not made to remain motionless; it is made for a purpose. All of us do not seem to know this, but finally this boat has to be made to go from one port to another. And for the boat to be able to sail, various conditions must be fulfilled; for instance, that it is not more heavily laden than its capacity. Thus our heart should not be heavily laden with the things that we attach ourselves to, because then the boat will not float. Also the boat should not be tied to this one port, for then it is held back and will not go to the port for which it is bound.
Furthermore, the boat must have that responsiveness to the wind which will take it to that port; and this is the feeling a soul gets from the spiritual side of life. That feeling, that wind, helps one to go forward to the port for which we are all bound. Once it is fully concentrated, the mind should become like a compass in a boat, always pointing in the same direction. A man whose interest takes a thousand different directions is not ready to travel in this boat. It is the man who has one thing in his mind, and who considers all other things secondary, who can travel from this port to the other. This is the journey, which is called mysticism.
DREAMS AND REVELATIONS
Although dreams are something, which is known to everybody, the study of them leads to the deeper side of life. For it is from the meaning of the dream that one begins to realize two things: that something is active when the body is asleep, and to the deep thinker this gives faith in the life hereafter. For the dream is the proof that when the body is not active, a person is active all the same, and seems to be no less active than in the physical body. If one detects any difference, it is a difference of time, for in dreams a man may pass from one land to another in a flash instead of taking a month. In no way is he hindered as on the physical plane. In dreams he flies.
The facility of the plane of dreams is much greater. There is no difficulty in changing one’s condition from illness to health, from failure to success, in one moment. People say it is only imagination, a working of the mind. But what is mind? Mind is that in which the world is reflected. Heaven and earth are accommodated in it. Is that a small thing? What is the physical body compared with the mind, which is a world in itself? The physical body is only like a drop in the ocean.
It is only because of ignorance that a man does not know the kingdom in himself. Why is he not conscious of it? Because he wishes to be able to hold something; only then does it exist for him. He does not wish to admit to himself the existence of sentiment: he says that it is of no account, there is nothing to it; and so of the dream, it is only imagination, it is nothing. But science and art spring from imagination, from the mind, not from a rock, not from the physical body. The source from which all knowledge comes is the mind, not an object. Mind means “I.” It is the mind, which identifies; the body is an illusion. When the mind is depressed, we say, “I am sad.” Not the body, but the mind was depressed; so the real identification is with the mind, not the body.
When in a dream man is able to see himself, what does that show? That after what is called death, man is still not formless; that nothing is lost, but only that freedom is gained which was lost. The absence of this knowledge makes man afraid of losing this physical body, makes him have a horror of death. But what is death? Nothing but a sleep: a sleep of the body, which was a cloak. One can take it away and yet be living. Man will realize after all talk about death that he is alive, that he has not lost but gained. Man is in the physical world to learn, and the dream teaches that a low is working; that all that seems surprising, accidental, a sudden happening, was not sudden, not an accident. It seemed accidental because it was not connected with the conditions.
Nothing happens which does not go through the mind. Man has turned his back to it; he is open only to manifestation. Did they not say in every country when the war came: we did not know? Yes, it was so for those who slept, but the awakened ones had seen the preparation. In all things we see this. Every accident, pleasant or unpleasant, is preceded by a long preparation. First it exists in the mind, then on the physical plane.
A dream shows the depths of life; through a dream we see things. Has every dream a meaning? Yes; only there are always people in a country who do not know its language, and so it is with minds. Some minds are not yet capable of expressing themselves, so the dreams are upside-down, a chaos. One sees a goat with the ears of an elephant. The mind wants to express itself. There is a meaning in what the child says, but it has not yet learned to speak, it has no words; it can only cry or make a sound; yet this has a meaning. So it is with dreams which are not expressed correctly. There is nothing without meaning; it is our lack of understanding of its meaning that keeps us in darkness.
But what about the quite meaningless dreams one sometimes has? They are due to the condition of the mind. If the condition of the mind is not harmonious, if its rhythm is not regular, then the dream is so mixed up that one cannot read it. It is just like a letter written in the dark, when a person could not see what he was writing. But all the same it is a written letter, it has an idea behind it. Even if the very person who wrote it in the dark room is not able to read it, it still remains a letter. When man cannot understand the meaning of his dream it is not that his dream has no significance; it only means that his own letter has become so confused that he cannot read it himself.
One may say, how can the mind learn to express itself? It has to become itself. Often the mind is disturbed, inharmonious, and restless. When a person is drunk he wants to say yes, and he says no. So is the expression of the mind in a dream. It is a marvelous thing to study the science of dreams. How wonderful that the dream of a poet should be poetical, of a musician harmonious. Why is this? Because their mind is trained. Their mind has become individual. Their mind expresses itself in their own realm. Sometimes one marvels at the dreams one hears experienced by poetic souls; one sees the sequence from the first act till the last, and that every little action has a certain meaning.
More interesting still is the symbolical dream: to see the meaning behind it. It is wonderful to think that a simple dream comes to a simple person, but when the person is confused then the dream is confused. And in the straight dream, in the dream with fear, with joy, with grief, one can see what a person is. Then the dream does not seem a dream; it is as real as life on the physical plane. But is this life not a dream? Are the eyes not closed? The king has forgotten his palace. We say, “Oh, it is only a dream, it is nothing.” But this dream can show our whole past life; this dream can be tomorrow. It is only on the physical plane that it is a dream; it is made a dream by the condition in which the mind is.
We say, “Yes, but when we awake we find a house; that, therefore, is reality. If we dream of a palace, we find no palace.” This is true and not true. The palaces which are built in that world are as much our own, are really much more our own. When the body dies, these remain; they will always be there. If it was a dream of pleasure, the pleasure will cone. If it was a dream of light, of love, then all is there. It is a treasure you can depend upon; death cannot take it away. It gives a glimpse of that idea of which the Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We can find glimpses of it too when we compare dreams with the wakeful state. Whatever we hold, the longer we have held it the more firmly it is established; then we create a world to live in. This is the secret of the whole of life. But how can words explain this?
Another form of dream is the vision. Therein a person sees clearly what will happen, or what has happened perhaps many years ago. It is like a flash. When does one get this? When the heart is focused to the divine mind. For all is there like a moving picture. There was a poet of Persia, Firdausi, who was asked by the king to write the history of the country. The king promised him a gold coin for every verse. Firdausi went into the solitude and wrote down the traditions of centuries: characters, lives, deed, he saw it all as a play and he wrote of it in verse. When he returned to the court, the king was most impressed; he thought it wonderful. But there are always many in the world who will reject such things. The truth is only accepted by the few. At the court he was much criticized and many showed skepticism. It went so far that they told the king that it was all Firdausi’s imagination. It hurt him terribly. He took the one who had spoken most against him and held his hand upon his head, and said to him, “Now, close your eyes and look.” And what this man saw was like a moving picture and he exclaimed, “I have seen!” But the poet’s heart was wounded and he would not accept the gold coins.
What was the message given by the great ones, by the prophets and masters, by Rama, by Krishna? It was not imagination. It was that record which can be found by diving deep, that prophecy given to the world as a lesson, living in the world, like a scripture. It is direct communion given by all masters.
A vision is more clear in the sleeping state than in the wakeful state. The reason is that when a person is asleep he lives in a world of his own, but when a person is awake he is only partly in that world and mostly in the outer world. Every phenomenon needs accommodation. It is not only the sound, which is audible, but also the ears make it possible to hear the sound. The mind is the accommodation to receive the impressions, just as the ears are the accommodation to receive the sound. That is why a natural state of sleep is like a profound concentration, like a deep meditation; and that is why everything that comes as a dream has significance.
Lastly there is another step forward, and that is revelation. It needs a certain amount of spiritual progress to believe that there is such a thing as revelation. Life is revealing, nature is revealing, and so is God; that is why God is called Khuda in Persian, which means self-revealing. All science and art, and all culture known to man have come originally, and still come, by revelation. In other words a person does not only learn by studying, but he also draws knowledge from humanity. A child not only inherits his father’s or his ancestors’ qualities but also the qualities of his nation, of his race, so that one can say that man inherits the qualities of the entire human race. If one realized profoundly, that storehouse of knowledge, which exists behind the veil, which covers it, one would find that one has a right to this heritage. This gives one a key, a key to understand the secret of life: that knowledge is not only gained from outside but also from within. Thus one may call knowledge that one learns from outer life learning, but knowledge that one draws from within may be called revelation.
Revelation comes from within. It makes the heart self-revealing; it is just like a new birth of the soul. When one has come to this state, then everything and every being is living; a rock, a tree, the air, the sky, and the stars, all are living. Then a person begins to communicate with all things and all beings. Wherever his glance falls, on nature, on characters, he reads their history; he sees their future. Every person he meets, before he has spoken one word with him he begins to communicate with his soul. Before he has asked any question, the soul begins to tell its own history. Every person and every object stand before him as an open book. Then there no longer exists in him that continual “why” one finds so often in people. “Why” no longer exists, for he finds the answer to every question in himself. And as long as that answer is not created, in spite of all the learning of this world that is taught to man, that continual “why” will exist.
Again one may ask, how does one arrive at this revelation? And the answer is that there is nothing in the whole of the universe, which is not to be found in man if he only cares to discover it. But if he will not find it out no one will give it to him, for truth is not learned; truth is discovered.
It is with this belief that sages of the East went into the solitude and sat meditating in order to give that revelation an opportunity to arise. No doubt as life is at present here is hardly time for a man to go into the solitude. But that does not mean that man should remain ignorant of the best that is within himself. For compared with this great bliss which is revelation, all other treasures of the earth are nothing; they cannot be compared. Revelation is the magic lamp of Aladdin; once discovered it throws its light to the right and to the left, and all things become clear.
Insight may be likened to the view one obtains through a telescope. From a distance one can see a wide horizon. By getting this smaller horizon things become clearer because one sees them in detail. When there is a larger horizon things are not seen in detail but then there is a general outlook. And the same law can be applied to insight. When one looks at a person one gets a glimpse of his character, and when one looks at an assembly one gets a feeling of the assembly.
The heart is the telescope of the soul, and the eyes are the telescopes of the heart. Just as when seeing through spectacles it is the eyes that see, not the spectacles, so when seeing through the heart and through the eyes, what sees is the soul. The eyes have no power to see; the eyes have only the power to help the soul to see. The moment the soul departs the eyes do not see. And so even the heart is a telescope, which helps one to perceive and to conceive, all that one seeks. Yet at the same time the heart does not see; it is the soul that sees.
Just as there are some who have short sight and others who have long sight, so there are some who see things at a far distance with the eye of their mind but who cannot see what is near them. They have long sight. Then there are others who have short sight; they see all that is near them, but they cannot see further. It is said that there is a third eye that sees. It is true, but sometimes that third eye sees through these two eyes and then the same eyes see things more clearly than they would otherwise. By the help of the third eye one’s eyes can penetrate through the wall of physical existence and see into the minds of people, into the words of people and even further. When one begins to see, what happens first is that everything one’s eyes see has a deeper meaning, a greater significance than one knew before. Every movement, every gesture, the form, features, voice, words, expression, atmosphere, all become expressive of the person’s nature and character. Not knowing this secret, many people want to study physiognomy or phrenology, handwriting or palmistry. But in comparison with the clear vision all these different sciences are limited. They have a meaning, but at the same time when one compares these limited sciences with the insight that man has; they prove to be too small. Besides character reading is not learnt, it is discovered. It is a sense that awakens. One does not need to learn it. One knows it.
This is one kind of insight, but there is another insight, which is insight in affairs. Be it a business affair, a professional affair, a condition, a situation in life; once the insight is clear one has a grasp of the situation. For what makes things difficult in life is lack of knowledge. There may be a small problem, but when one does not know it, it becomes the heaviest and worst of all problems, because one cannot understand it. And one may analyze a problem and reason it out, but without insight it will always remain puzzling. It is the development of insight that gives one a clear vision in affairs, conditions, and the problems of life.
The faculty of seeing needs direction. For instance, in order to look to the right or left, or before or behind, one must direct the eyes; and this directing is the work of the will. In the twenty-four hours of the day and night it is perhaps at most for five minutes or fifteen minutes that one sees under the direction of the will; all the rest of the time one sees automatically. In other words one’s eyes are open, one’s heart is subject to all that can be seen, and one catches unknowingly the different things that attract the eyes and mind. All that one sees during the day and night is not what one intended to see, but what one is compelled by the life around us to see. That is why the thinkers and sages of the East in ancient times used to have mantles put over their heads, so that they did not see anything or anybody and could control their sight. The Sufis of ancient times used to keep their heads covered like this for many years, and in doing so they developed such powers that their one glance would penetrate rocks and mountains. It is only control of the sight. Yogis in all ages have worked not only with their minds but even with their eyes, attaining such a stability of glance that they could direct their sight to anything they wished to examine or penetrate. Eyes, therefore, are the representatives of the soul at the surface, and they speak to a person more clearly than words can speak; to one who can read they are the signs of the plane of evolution a person is on. A person does not need to speak to one; his eyes tell one whether he is pleased or not, willing or unwilling, whether he is favorably inclined or unfavorably inclined. Love or hate, pride or modesty all can be seen in the eyes; even wisdom and ignorance, everything, manifests through the eyes. The one who can trace the condition and character in the eyes certainly communicates with the soul of another person.
Not very long ago in Hyderabad there was a mureed, rather an intellectual pupil, and he liked to talk. His teacher was interested in his intelligent inquiries, and so he encouraged him to talk, whereas it is the custom in the East for the pupil to remain silent before his teacher. One day the teacher was in a condition of exaltation and his pupil as usual wanted to discuss and argue, which was not agreeable to the teacher t that time. He said in Persian, “Khamush,” which means silence. And the pupil became silent; he went home and remained silent. And no one heard him speak after that, no one in the house nor outside; he never spoke anywhere. Years passed by and the man still kept silent. But there dame a time when his silence began to speak aloud. His silent thought would manifest and his silent wish would become granted; his silent glance would heal, his silent look would inspire. His silence became living. It was the spoken words, which had kept him dead all this time. The moment the lips were closed the silence in him began to live. His presence was living. In Hyderabad people called him Shaikh Khamush, the king of silence, or the silent king. By this I wish to imply that everyone has eyes, but to make the eyes living takes a long time. For eyes see so far and no further. It is the heart connected with the eyes that can see further, and if the soul sees through them it sees further still.
An entirely different question is how to get the eyes focused. If one wishes to look at the moon one must look at the sky instead of looking at the earth; and so if one wants to seek heaven one must change the direction of looking. That is where many make a mistake. Today in the West, where there is a very large number of students eagerly engaged in looking for the truth, many among them are mistaken in this particular respect; in order to see what can be seen within they want to look without. It is, however, a natural tendency. As a person looks without for anything he wants, he naturally looks for inner attainment also on the outside.
How can we look within and what shall we see? In the first place, to a material person “within” means in the body, inside the body. In reality “within” means not only inside, but also outside the body. This can be seen by the light inside a lamp: the light is inside the globe, and it is outside the globe too. So is the soul; it is inside and outside too. So is the mind; it is inside and outside, it is not confined inside the body. In other words, the heart is larger than the body, and the soul is larger still. At the same time the soul is accommodated within the heart, and the heart is accommodated within the body; this is the greatest phenomenon and is very difficult to explain in words. There are intuitive centers; and in order to see into the intuitive centers one has to turn the eyes back, turn the eyes within; then the same eyes which are able to see without are able to see within. But that is only one phase of seeing. The other phase of seeing within cannot be seen by that way, the pain and pleasure and joy and sorrow of every person that comes before one manifest in one’s own heart; one actually sees it. One sees it even more clearly than one’s eyes can see. But that is the language of the heart. The eyes do not know it.
Sages in the East used to be called Balakush, which means “He who took the draught of all difficulties.” They regarded the difficulties of life as a wine to drink; once you drink, they have gone. They were not afraid of it; they did not want to keep out of it. They said, “If we keep out this time, next time it will meet us; it will meet us one day. If we escape one moment, another moment it will meet us. So let it come such as it is and let us drink it as wine.” The principle of Mahadeva, of the dervishes, of the great fakirs of all ages is this one principle: to drink all difficulties as a wine, Then there is no more difficulty. When one is in tune with life, life becomes revealing, for then one is friends with life. Before that, one was a stranger to it. Attitude makes a great difference, and it is the difference of attitude that makes a person spiritual or material. Nothing else need be changed only the attitude.
The lesson we learn from the developing of our insight is not to become excited by any influence that tries to bring us out of rhythm, but to keep in rhythm under all conditions of life; to keep our equilibrium, our tranquillity under all circumstances. It is sometimes very difficult to keep our equilibrium when the influences of life are shaking us, and to keep our poise through it all, it is difficult in the face of influences, which are opposed to keeping a friendly attitude. But at the same time, because it is difficult it is a great attainment. To attain anything valuable and worth while we have to go through difficulty. But we do not pay for it; we learn without paying for it. It is something that we can practice in everyday life because from morning till evening we are continually among jarring effects from all side. There is plenty of opportunity for practicing this lesson of keeping a friendly attitude towards everyone, of meeting every condition courageously, and of taking upon ourselves all influences that come along. It is in this way that a greater insight into life is attained.
If there is anything that can make our comprehension clear, it is reason on one side and feeling on the other. A man in whom feeling is not awakened is awake and asleep at the same time. That which is living is not reason, it is feeling. Many think when the brain is working it is something tangible; one does not notice it working in feeling. But in reality feeling takes the part of the engineer and the brain is like the mechanism. The mechanism cannot work without the engineer; so the brain cannot work without the feeling behind it. These two things are needed to make knowledge clear. When a person cannot understand himself, his own imagination, and his own problems deeply, then how can he understand the problems of others? Then there is no communication between one person and another. Today friendship often means only a professional interest; human relations are formed by certain interests, worldly interests. Therefore man does not know what feeling is. The alliances of nations, the unions of working men, all these things are being formed on the basis of self-interest. I am your friend if you defend my case! Therefore when feeling, which alone is divine in man, which is the proof and sign of the spirit, and which is a divine heritage, becomes blunted, then naturally whatever life may be it cannot be civilization, even if one calls it civilized.
The day will come when man will live a fuller life, a more complete life of high ideals and great principles, when feeling in man will be as much awakened as reason. When that day comes the knowledge will be spiritual knowledge, not booklearning. One can feel everywhere, in colleges, in societies, in clubs, in any of the professions, that every person is seeking directly or indirectly for some knowledge; man feels that here is a knowledge, which is more real. Every person seems to be disappointed with his experience of life. He may be most successful in the world, it does not matter. He may be a rich man, he may have a high position, but he is disappointed, he is longing for something, which will satisfy him. What is it? It is not outside. It is within himself. He will find it on the day when he awakens to the reality of life. Once a soul is awakened to the reality of life, all other things matter little. What matters is that he understands clearly that what satisfies is within.
Besides, when once the heart begins to live, another world is open for experience. For generally what one experiences in one’s everyday life is only what the senses can perceive and nothing beyond it. But when once a person begins to feel and experience the subtle feelings of the heart he lives in another world, walking on the same earth and living under the same sun. Therefore be not surprised if you find beings who are living in another world while walking on this earth. It is as natural as anything can be for man to live in his heart instead of only living on the earth. The people in the East call it Saheb-e-dil, that is the mastermind.
And then if one goes still deeper within, one begins to live in the soul. Inspiration, intuition, vision, revelation are natural to this person. The soul begins to become conscious of its own domain. And it is the same kingdom of which it is said in the Bible: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God….” It is the soul, which begins to see.
And one can see still further, What enables one to attain to this stage is the way of meditation under the guidance of the right teacher.
The first thing to do is to get control of the glance. The next is to get control of the feelings. And the third is to get control of the consciousness. If these three things are attained then one begins to look within. Looking within helps a person very much in looking outside; then the same power with which the heart and eyes are charged begins to manifest outwardly. And the one who looks within finds, when he looks without, that all that is within manifests without. His influence is healing and consoling, uplifting and soothing. His sight, too, becomes penetrating, so that not only human beings but also even objects begin to disclose to him their nature, character, and secret.
Insight shows itself in different aspects: in impression, intuition, inspiration, dream, and revelation.
How does one get impressions? All impressions reach the brain through the nerve centers. They are mostly taken in by the breath; but by this one does not mean the breath inhaled through the nostrils. He who is able to get an impression of a person need not wait to see how he will turn out; he knows it instantly. Very often one may have a feeling at first sight, whether someone will be one’s friend or prove unfriendly.
When someone comes and tells me, “I am very interested in your philosophy, but before I take it up I want to study it.” He may study for a thousand years and he will not get to that insight. It is the first moment: either you are my friend or not my friend. When two persons meet a confidence is established; one does not need years in order to develop friendship.
Everyone receives an impression on seeing a certain person or looking at a certain situation. One may not believe that impression, but all the same it is there. The first impression tells a man whether he will be successful or not, whether a person is right or not, whether there will be friendship between two people or not. And when this faculty is developed, a person can get an impression of a place and of persons and of conditions. Impressions come to those whose mind is still; those whose mind is active cannot take impressions. For the mind is like water: when the pool of water is disturbed, one cannot see any reflection in it. Thus purity of mind is necessary. In which sense? All that is called wrong is not necessarily wrong; some things are called wrong because of a certain moral, a certain principle, originated by the mechanical action of the mind. When the mind is kept pure from all activity that disturbs it, then it becomes like pure water. Very often the water of the mind is polluted, but when the mind is in its pure condition, then naturally it can take impressions.
The mind may be likened to a photographic plate. If several impressions have been made upon it, then there can be no other impressions. That is why the mind should be kept pure from all undesirable impressions in order that every impression may be clear.
Intuition is still deeper, for by intuition one gets a warning. Intuitively one feels: this person will one day deceive me, or turn against me; or he will prove faithful to me, sincere, to be relied upon. Or in this particular business I will have success or failure. One knows it. But the difficulty is in distinguishing. The right intuition; that is the great question; or as soon as intuition springs up, reason, its competitor, rises also and says, “No, it is not so.” Then there is conflict in the mind and it is hard to distinguish, because there are two feelings at the same time. If one makes a habit of catching the first intuition and saving it from being destroyed by reason, then intuition is stronger and one can benefit by it. There are many intuitive people, but they cannot always distinguish between intuition and reason and sometimes they mix them up, for very often the second thought, being the last, is more clear to one than the first. Therefore, the intuition is forgotten and reason remembered. Then a person calls it intuition and it is not so. Reason and intuition are two competitors, and yet both have their place, their importance, and their value. The best thing would be first to try and catch the intuition and distinguish and know and recognize it as intuition; and then to reason it out.
Besides, those who doubt intuition, their in tuition doubts them. In other words, the doubt becomes a wall between themselves and their intuitive faculty. And there is a psychological action: as soon as intuition has sprung up, doubt and reason have sprung up too, so that the vision becomes blurred. One should develop self-confidence. Even if one proves to be wrong once or twice or thrice one should still continue; in time one will develop trust in one’s intuition and the intuition will be clear.
Women are naturally more intuitive than men. The reason is that a woman is more responsive by nature and more sympathetic; therefore she can perceive intuition more clearly. Very often a man may reason and think and yet not come to a conclusion, to a clear understanding, while a woman, or any more intuitive person, in one moment is clear about a certain question, a certain point. That comes from intuition. Intuition is a faculty of the heart that feels deeply, be it of a man or a woman; the quality of intuition belongs to a sympathetic heart.
The intuition of dogs and cats and of horses sometimes seems to be more clear than that of man. They know when there is going to be an accident, when death is going to occur in the family. They know beforehand and give people warning. But people are so busy in their daily occupations that they do not respond to the intuition of the animals. People in the East believe that small insects know about happenings and give a warning to those who can understand it; and it is true. Besides, birds always give a warning of storm and wind, and of rain and the absence of rain. Mankind naturally is more capable of intuition, but because his mind is absorbed by a hundred things, his deep feelings become so blunted in everyday life that he ignores the existence of intuition or inspiration, and so this faculty itself becomes blunted and he feels and knows less than the animals. The human body is a vehicle, a telescope, an instrument by which one can perceive the knowledge of one’s self within, of conditions, of others, and of everything outside.
The question is how does one develop this faculty of intuition? The first thing is self-confidence. When there is no self-confidence one cannot develop this faculty of intuition, because it comes more and more by believing in it. When a person doubts and says, “Is this an intuition, will this really help me, or shall I be deceived by my own intuition?” then naturally reason produces confusion in the mind and intuition is destroyed. There are many intuitive people, and their intuition has been destroyed only by this doubt which arises in their mind, whether their intuition is right or wrong. That is why they lose this faculty of intuition. Every faculty needs nurturing; if it is not nurtured it becomes blunted and destroyed; one can make no more use of it. Besides, a person may underestimate the value of this faculty in his life; he then naturally destroys it; and this faculty disappears also by a too speedy action of the mind. When a person thinks of a thousand things in a short time, the mind becomes too active and then one cannot perceive intuition, which needs a certain rhythm, a certain concentration.
A further aspect of insight is inspiration. The difference between inspiration and instinct is that what we recognize in the lower creation as instinct is the same as that which works through the human mind in the form of intuition or inspiration. One may say from a biological point of view that the lower creatures are born with a certain instinct such as the inclination to fly, to defend themselves with their horns or to bite with their teeth. All the faculties they show are born with them; they are not only the heritage brought from their ancestors, they do not belong to their family only, they are a property of the spirit. And from the spirit all living beings get guidance in the form of an inclination. What we recognize as instinct in the lower creations is inspiration in mankind. Today, as science is increasing and as materialism prevails, man is forgetting the heritage that he has from the spirit, and attributes all knowledge and experience to the material existence of the physical world. In this way he deprives himself of those gifts which could be called his own and without which man cannot live a fuller life.
Inspiration comes to poets, writers, inventors, and scientists. Where does it come from, what is its source? Why does not the inspiration of a musician come to a poet, why does not a poet’s inspiration came to a musician? Why should it reach the person to whom it belongs? The reason is that there is a mind behind all minds. There is a heart, which is the source of all hearts, and that here is a Spirit, which collects and accumulates all the knowledge that every living being has had. No knowledge or discovery that has ever been made is lost. It all accumulates and collects in that mind as an eternal reservoir. This is what is recognized by the seers as the divine mind. From this mind all vision can be drawn. The mind of the poet is naturally exalted, that is why it becomes enlightened by the divine mind. From the divine mind all that is needed manifests. It may be that a poet works without inspiration for six months on a poem, and it gives satisfaction neither to the poet nor to others, who find it mechanical. Land there is another one who receives the inspiration in a moment and puts it down. He can never correct what he has written; he can never change it. No one can change it. If it is changed, it is spoiled. It is something that comes in a moment and it is perfect in itself, it is a piece of art, it is an example of beauty; and it comes so easily. That is inspiration.
Many have tried to imitate inspired people, in poetry or in scientific inventions. They tried, but they never reached that perfection which came in a moment’s time. Those who were inspired never searched after it, it came in a mood. All that comes from inspiration is living; it always keeps its value. There are writings of such poets in the East as Rumi of Persia, as Kalidasa of India; and now, after thousands of years, their writings are read by people and they are never old and people never tire of them. It is the same with Shakespeare. He has made a living world. The more time passes, the more it lives, and the more it is appreciated. It is forever living. That is the character of inspiration; and it only comes to the one whose mind is still and whose thought is absorbed in the beauty of the work upon which he is contemplating. The mind of the musician, who knows little of this world except music, is concentrated and focused on the beauty of his art. Naturally he will draw inspiration. So it is with the poet. But when the mind is absorbed in a thousand things, then it is not focused, then it cannot receive inspiration.
How is inspiration developed? By concentration. An inspired poet is he whose mind is fully fixed on the idea he wishes to express; he is floating, so to speak, in the beauty of it; his mind becomes focused and inspiration mechanically comes to him. A person who troubles about inspiration, who wants to drag it towards him, cannot get it; it does not belong to him. In order to get it he must float in the idea, he must merge all his heart in its beauty. He must be so positively focused to that spirit of beauty that inspiration may naturally flow into him.
The dream or vision is another aspect of insight. Very often people consider a dream as an automatic action of the mind. But this is not always the case. There is no movement in the mind, which is meaningless. Every motion and action has a meaning behind it, every motion is directed towards something either with intention or without. There is no movement; there is no action, which is not directed from some source or other.
There are three kinds of dreams. In the first a person sees his mind working along the same lines as it did during the day, at the same time suggesting the past, present, or future. Then there is another kind of dream when the mind sees in everything quite the opposite of what is going to happen. And there is a third type of dream in which one sees something out of the past actually happening, or what is going to happen in the future. This proves that everything on the physical plane is first formed in the inner planes and then registered on the mind in the dream. When one is concentrated one sees the happening more clearly.
There is also a state of dream in which one sees a vision. This happens in a meditative condition. A vision is more communicative, more expressive; it may be a warning, which is given for the future, or an incident of the past may be made known. In the vision one can go still further and communicate with the unseen world. But a vision only comes to those who are born with that faculty or have developed that faculty in the mind by brimming fully concentrated.
A dream may be symbolical, and this is the most interesting type of dream. The greater the person, the subtler the symbolism of his dream will be. When someone is gross the symbolism will be gross. The more evolved the person is, the more fine, artistic, and subtle the dream will be. For instance, for a poet there will be poetic symbols; and the dream of a musician will have musical symbols; in the dream of the artist there will be symbols of art.
In the realistic dream one actually sees what is going to happen. All that we call accident is only our conception; because we did not know it beforehand we call it accident. This also gives us insight into what we call fate. But there is a plan; it is all planned out and known beforehand to the spirit and to those who know. There are sages who know of their death a year before. There is no such thing as accident. When a person does not know, it means he does not see; but is there.
Revelation is till greater. It is the perfection of insight. It means a higher development when one has revelation, and it begins when a person feels in tune with everybody, everything, and every condition. But in order to come to that stage one must develop according to it. The heart must be tuned to the stage and the pitch where one feels at-one-ment with persons, objects, and conditions. For instance, when one cannot bear the climate, it only means that one is not in harmony with the climate; when one cannot get on with persons, that one is not in harmony with them; when one cannot get on with certain affairs, that one is not in harmony with those affairs. If conditions seem hard, it shows that one is not in harmony with the conditions.
Revelation came to the saints and saviors of humanity. It is not just a tale when we hear that the saints spoke with trees and plants in the wilderness, that a voice from the sea rose and the saints heard it, that masters talked with the sun, moon, and stars. For the deeper a person dives into life, the more he is convinced that all is living, whether beings or objects, whether art or nature; whatever he sees, whatever he perceives through the senses, whatever he can touch, all that is intelligible to him. It may not be seen and it may not be known by anybody else, but everything is communicating. Once a person begins to communicate with nature, with art, he begins to have the proof of this, for everything begins to speak. Las the great poet of Persia, Sa’di, has said, “Every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the Book when once the heart is opened and it has learnt to read.”
When revelation begins, a man does not need to converse; before talking, he knows what the other wishes to say. The condition of the person or the persons before him is revealed; it is like reading a letter. The person may speak to him, but without speaking he knows. This is not thought reading, not telepathy, not psychometric or clairvoyance as people think. Revelation is all the phenomena there are. What is it? It is a fuller development of inspiration. When the intuitive faculty is fully developed, man receives revelation. All dumb creatures and mute things begin to speak. For what are words? Are they not covers over the idea? No feeling can ever be expressed in words, no idea be put fully into verse. A true glimpse of ideas and feelings can only be perceived in that plane which is feeling itself.
Revelation depends upon purity of mind. Very often someone who is worldly-wise is not really wise. Intellectuality is one thing, wisdom is another thing. Not all the knowledge learnt from books and from experiences in the world and collected in the mind as learning is wisdom. When the light from within is thrown upon this knowledge, then the knowledge from outer life and the light coming from within make a perfect wisdom; and it is that wisdom which guides man on the path of life.
Those who received revelation have given us sacred books such as the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita; hundreds and thousands of years have passed and their sacred teachings have remained alive even now. But at the same time we must know that what they have given in the form of preaching, in the form of teachings, is the interpretation of the living wisdom which cannot be fully expressed in words. One can only know that living knowledge when one has experienced it oneself by the opening of the heart. It is then that the purpose of life is fulfilled.
THE EXPANSION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The consciousness is the intelligence; the intelligence is the soul; the soul is the spirit; and the spirit is God. Therefore consciousness is the divine element; consciousness is the God-part in us. And it is through consciousness that we become small or great, and through consciousness we either rise or fall, and through consciousness we become narrow or we expand. One finds in Greek mystical symbology and also elsewhere the two wings of an eagle, and this symbol is the symbol of consciousness. When the wings are open it means the expansion of consciousness, which can also be called the unfoldment of the soul. In any path you take, when you wish to go further in the spiritual journey, be it religion, occultism, philosophy, or mysticism, you have to come to the expansion of consciousness.
What is consciousness? When we say: ” a loaded gun,” we mean that there is a bullet in it. Consciousness means the loaded intelligence, intelligence charged with knowledge, with impressions carrying ideas. When we speak of moving pictures, where are they? On the screen; but we do not see the screen, we see moving pictures. Consciousness is pure intelligence, which is impregnated with some idea, which is conscious of something. And what is intelligence? Intelligence is the soul; there is no other trace of the soul to be found except the intelligence. Very often people, not understanding, say the seat of the soul is in the heart, or in the right or left side of man; but in reality there is something more expressive than any side of man’s body, and that is intelligence.
There is a story, which demonstrates the idea of the universal or general consciousness apart from individual consciousness. There was a magician who imagined that he was fluid, liquid, moving, rising and falling, and turning into the sea. Then he imagined, “Now I am solid.” Atoms grouped together, froze and turned into ice. Then he thought, “I am not so cold. I can try and be stable, and will not melt;” and he turned into stone. Next he said, “Now I want to change. I do not want to remain stone.” And he became a tree. “But,” he said, “still I am not moving, not working;” and he twisted and moved, and turned into an insect. But the magician thought, “How helpless it is to live as an insect! I should like to play and sing;” and he turned into a bird. Then he said,” I want to be more gross and dense, and feel myself more intelligent;” and he turned into an animal. Finally he said, “I want to stand on my hind legs, to stretch my spine;” and he turned into man.
This is the phenomenon of a magician who wanted, who imagined, something and who became it. One finds this idea also in the scriptures. In the Qur’an it is said, “Be, and it became.” It was the magician’s work: what he was conscious of, he became. First there was the consciousness, and then the idea it held turned into something.
But there is another question: if the magician was so powerful as to think and turn into something, then why did he himself become obscured? The answer is this, that when a man has said, “I would like to rest, to go to sleep,” naturally he has lost his activity. Turning into something made that consciousness, which is divine or universal consciousness, limited; and this limitation robbed it of its own consciousness. This is the deepest point of metaphysics. For instance, when the consciousness thought, “I will turn into a rock, I am a rock,” it became a rock. The consciousness did not lose its fluid substance, but intelligence no longer knew its own existence. And yet when the magician thought, “I will turn into a rock,” what went into the rock? Just one little thought of the magician. Only, because of that thought he could not express himself, nor feel as he felt in the condition of being a magician, When he turned into a rock he did not feel through this thought, he felt nothing.
The more we understand this idea, the more we shall see that consciousness is to be considered in two different aspects. In one aspect the consciousness is buried under the dense forms of creation such as mountains, rocks, trees, plants, earth, and sea; and yet the tendency of consciousness is, even through these dense forms, to come out, to express itself. One can see that tendency by getting in touch with nature. For instance, those who sit before the rocks, in the caves of the mountains, in the midst of the forest, and those who get in touch with nature and whose mind is free from the worries and anxieties and troubles of the world, they get a sort of peace first; and after having experienced peace and rest, the second thing that comes to them is a kind of communication between themselves and nature. And what does nature express to them? With every action, with the rising and falling of the waves, with the upward reaching tendency of the mountains, with the moving of the graceful branches of the tree, with the blowing of the wind and the fluttering of leaves, every little movement of nature seems to whisper in their ears. That is the consciousness that wants to emerge; through trees and rocks, water and plants it wants to unfold itself, to express itself; because it is not dead, but living, though buried in the rock, in the tree, in the plant, in water, earth, and air. Every living being tries to make itself audible and intelligible; it wants to communicate, truing for years and years to break through this dense imprisonment, to emerge towards its original source, just like the magician who wanted to break through, to come out and see himself. And what did he turn into? Into man.
There is a saying of the Sufis that “God slept in the rock, God dreamed in the tree, God became self-conscious in the animal, but God sought Himself and recognized Himself in man.” That denotes clearly man’s main purpose: that whatever be his occupation, whatever may please him, whatever he may admire, there is only one motive, the one motive which is working towards his unfoldment, and that is to feel, “What I have made, how great it is, and how wonderful. How beautiful it is to recognize it, to see it.” It is that inclination which is working through every soul. Whether a person wants to become spiritual or not, yet unconsciously every soul is striving towards the unfoldment of the soul.
As to human consciousness, naturally when consciousness has turned into something it has limited itself. Although in comparison with trees and plants and rocks and mountains the consciousness of man is fully awakened, yet every human being is not awakened; most are still in captivity. As Rumi says in the Masnavi, “Man is captive in an imprisonment;” and his every effort, his every desire, is to break through in order to realize inspiration, greatness, beauty, happiness, and peace, independently of all things of this world.
Everyone comes to this sooner or later, but there is a continual yearning; wise and foolish, everyone is striving for it consciously or unconsciously. There is one person who is perhaps very interested in himself, his health, his mind, his thoughts or feelings, or his affairs; his consciousness does not go any further than that little horizon. It does not mean that in that way he is not right. He occupies that much space in the sphere of consciousness. There is another person who has forgotten himself; he says, “There is my family, my friends, I love them,” and so his consciousness is larger. Another will say, “I work for my fellow citizens, for my country, for the education of the children of my country, for the good health of the people in my town;” his consciousness is larger still. It does not really mean that his consciousness is larger, but he occupies a larger horizon in the sphere of consciousness. And so do not be surprised if a poet like Nizami says, “If the heart is large enough, it can contain the whole universe. “That consciousness is such that the universe is small compared with it. The sphere of that consciousness is the Absolute.
There is no piece of consciousness cut out for man, but man occupies a certain horizon, as far as he can expand; for him the Absolute can be his consciousness. Therefore on the outside he is individual, but in reality one cannot say what he is.
It is this idea that is hinted at in the Bible when it is said, “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” What does it mean? That the absolute Consciousness is the sign of perfection, and we are not excluded from it. All move and live in it. But we occupy only as much horizon as is within our consciousness, or as much as we are conscious of. This shows us that every individual has his own world; and the world of one individual is as tiny as a grain of lentil, and that of another as large as the whole world. Yet on the outside all human beings are more or less equal in size, one somewhat taller than the other. But in his own world there is no comparison, so different can one person be from another. There can be as many varieties of worlds in human beings as there are of creatures from ant to elephant.
There is the question of what has been called in the scriptures heaven and hell. What are they? Heaven and hell are our world, our consciousness, that in which we live day after day and year after year, and which continues in another world. Whatever we have made our world, we are experiencing it today. And what is said by the prophets, that after death all will be brought into evidence, only means that in this earthly plane we are so little conscious of our world, so absorbed in the outer world, that we do not know what world we have created within ourselves. We are so much occupied with the outer world, with our desires, ambitions, and striving, that we hardly know out own world, like the man who works in the factory: he is tired at night, and when he comes home he reads his newspaper.
It is the same with everyone. In every person’s life there is so much of the outside world all day long to attract him, thousands of advertisements, shops sparkling with electricity. There will come a time when his eyes will be closed to the outside world, which now occupies all his mind, to become conscious of the world within. This is the meaning of the saying of the scriptures, “One will find what one has made.” One need not say, “What will become of me tomorrow?” If one can direct one’s mind into oneself, one can see what is within the consciousness, what it is composed of, what it contains; then one will know today what the hereafter will be.
The Sufis in all ages have tried their best to train their consciousness. How did they train it? The first training is analysis, and the second training is synthesis. The analytical striving is to analyze and examine one’s own consciousness, in other words one’s own conscience. To ask one’s conscience, addressing it, “My friend, all my happiness depends on you, and my unhappiness also. If you are pleased, I am happy. Now tell me truly if what I like and what I do not is in accordance with your approval.” One should speak to one’s conscience as a man going to the priest to make his confession, “Look what I have done. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right; but you know it, you have your share of it; its influence on you and your condition is my condition, your realization is my realization. If you are happy, only then can I be happy. Now I want to make you happy; how can I do it?” At once a voice of guidance will come from the conscience, “You should do this, and not that; say this and not that. In this way you should act, and not in that way.” And conscience can give you better guidance that any teacher or book. It is a living teacher awakened in oneself, one’s own conscience. The teachers, the Gurus, the Murshids, their way is to awaken the conscience in the pupil; to make clear what has become unclear, confused.
Sometimes they adopt such a wonderful way, such a gentle way that even the pupil does not realize it. Once a man went to a teacher and said,” Will you take me as your pupil?” The teacher first looked at him, and then said, “Yes, with great pleasure.” But the man said, “Think about it before you tell me yes. There are many bad things in me.” The teacher said, “What are these bad things?” The man said, “I like to drink.” The teacher said, “That does not matter.” “But,” the man said, “I like to gamble.” The teacher said, “That does not matter.” “But,” he said, “there are many other things, there are numberless things.” The teacher said, “That does not matter.” The man was very glad. “But,” the teacher said, “now that I have disregarded all the bad things you have said about yourself you must agree to one condition. Do not do any of these things which you consider wrong in my presence.” The pupil said, “That is easy,” and went away.
As the days and months passed, this pupil, who was very deep and developed and keen, came back beaming, his soul unfolding every moment of the day, and happy to thank the teacher. The teacher said, “Well, how have you been?” “Very well,” he said. The teacher said, “Have you done your practices I have given you?” “Yes,” he said, “very faithfully.” “But what about the habits you had of going to different places?” the teacher asked. “Well,” he said, “very often I tried to go to gamble or to drink, but wherever I went I saw you. You did not leave me alone; whenever I wanted to drink I saw your face before me. I could not do it.”
That is the gentle way in which teachers handle their disciples. They do not say, “You must not drink, you must not gamble;” they never do. The wonderful way of the teacher is to teach without words, to correct a person without saying anything. What the teacher wants to say he says without saying: when it is put into words it is lost.
Then there is the most important subject of the expansion of consciousness. There are two directions or dimensions in which to expand. The one is the outward, the other the inner dimension. One dimension is pictured as a horizontal, the other as a perpendicular line. These two dimensions together form a cross, the symbol of the Christian religion. But before the Christian religion it existed in Egypt and Tibet; and in the ancient Buddhist and Tibetan symbolical pictures you will also find the symbol of the cross.
The way of expanding within is to close the eyes and mind from the outer world, and, instead of reaching out, to try to reach within. The action of the soul is to reach out and upwards and straightforward or sideways or backwards or in an ellipse. It is like the sun; its light reaches out in all directions, it sends currents out. So the soul sends currents out through the five senses. But when the five senses are controlled, when the breath is thrown within, the ears do not hear any more and the mouth does not speak. Then the five senses are directed within. And when once the senses are closed by the help of meditation, then the soul, which has been accustomed to reach outward, begins to reach within; and in the same way that one gets experience and power from the outer world, one gets experience and power from the inner world. And so the soul can reach further and further and further within until it has reached its original source, and that is the Spirit of God. That is one way, the way of reaching within.
Then there is the way of reaching without; that is expanding which comes by changing the outlook. Because we are narrow our outlook is narrow. We think, “I am different, he is different.” We are making barriers of our own conceptions. If we lived and communicated with the souls of all people, of all beings, our horizon would naturally expand so much that we would occupy the sphere unseen. It is in this way that spiritual perfection is attained. Spiritual perfection, in other words, is the expansion of consciousness.
The question is sometimes asked; what is cosmic consciousness, what is the nature of that state? It is a state, which cannot be very well explained in words. And if an explanation can be given, it is only by saying that when we see we do not hear and when we hear fully we do not see. In this way every sense is only doing its work fully when that sense alone is active. When we are seeing something while somebody is speaking to us, we do not see fully. I have known a child most interested in music, who used to close its eyes when music was played; then only it could enjoy hearing fully. But to listen to music while drinking lemonade and eating ice cream is something different.
The condition of meditation is different from that; it is not limited by a rule. When meditating every sense is evenly balanced. In meditation every sense is awakened and yet every sense is asleep. To be closed from outside and yet to be awakened evenly, that experience is something which cannot be told in words; it must be experienced.
Practice of meditation is prescribed individually; the method for one may not be good for another. There is an Oriental symbol, a kind of toy, three monkeys, one covering its eyes, the other its ears, and the third its mouth. This is the keynote to meditation, the key to inner expansion. But also in everyday life we can see this symbol ethically, from a moral point of view, and that is hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. And if one can take that vow it can achieve a great deal; it can take one very far on the way if these three things are practiced in everyday life; never speak against anyone, never see any evil. If we close our eyes without closing our ears and without closing our lips, we cannot accomplish anything.
Does the development of the inner consciousness, one may ask, tend to personal isolation, to separation from the world? We are in the world, therefore, however much we try to run away to spiritual spheres, and we are thrown back to earth again. We are bound here as long as we have this earthly body. And so the best thing is to follow the process in another way: to gain inner expansion of consciousness, and no doubt at that time one must go within, one must close oneself to the outer world. But at the same time one should strive to practice the outer expansion of consciousness. In this way there is balance.
Those who only evolve spiritually become one-sided; they expand only the inner consciousness and not the outward one. Then they become unbalanced. Maybe spiritually they have extraordinary powers, but they have no balance. For this reason many people think of a spiritual person as somebody who has something wrong with his brain. If that is the understanding of the world, we should be most conscientious in order not to give the world a wrong impression. If we have a profession, if we are in business, in industry, we should do it fully, proving to the world that we can be as practical as everybody else, and also economical, regular in every way, systematic, persevering, and enthusiastic. All these qualities we must show and at the same time evolve spiritually; but it is these qualities which must give the proof of our spirituality.