THE FIRST question to be considered in reference to the subject of divine impulse is: where does every impulse come from? Every movement, every vibration, every motion has one source. One sees a hint of this in the Bible where it says, “The word was God”. The word means vibration and vibration means movement. In the Vedanta nada Brahma means sound. Vibration was the first or original aspect of Brahma, the Creator. In the Qur’an we read, “Be – He said -and it became”. Every impulse, every action on any plane of existence has its origin in the one source. It is also said in the Qur’an, “God is all power; there is no power but God’s”. In all that is done, what is done is by His power.
Now the question arises: If all the scriptures say this, where does Satan come in? What is the meaning behind the power of Satan? Another power is suggested besides the power of God, and sometimes the power attributed to Satan seems mightier than the power attributed to God. This is a puzzle to many who wonder where the action of Satan comes in. The explanation is to be found in the understanding of metaphysics and of the laws of nature. There is one law, the natural law, and all that comes directed by nature’s law is harmonious. The gardens that man has made may seem for a moment to improve upon the forests, but in the end, on examination, the garden with its artificial structures proves limited in beauty and harmony. The inspiration one gets in the forest, in the wilderness is much greater than in the manmade garden, for there man has made inspiration limited, because the life he radiates is limited. Man makes a law and finds he cannot keep it; so he makes another law and is never satisfied, for he takes no account of nature’s laws of peace and harmony.
Men say that nature is cruel; yes, but man is far more cruel than the animals. Animals have never destroyed so many lives as man has. All the apparent cruelty of nature cannot compare with the cruelty, ignorance and injustice of man. Jesus Christ said, “Thy will be done”. There is much for us to learn in this. Man makes another world in which he lives, a world different from the plan of God, from the laws of nature, and so the will of God is not done. The prayer teaches man that he must find what is the will of God. It is not necessary for the animals and birds to find out the will of God, for they are directed by nature’s impulse, they are closer to nature than man. The life of man is so far removed from the life of nature, and so every movement is difficult. We do not see this at present; with all our knowledge we make life more and more complicated and so the strife becomes greater and greater. For every person, old or young, rich or poor, life is a difficult struggle, for we go further and further from the impulse which comes direct from the source whence every impulse comes.
From the metaphysical point of view there are different rhythms describing the condition of man; they are spoken of in the Vedanta as sattva, rajas and tammas. Sattva is a harmonious rhythm, rajas a rhythm which is not in perfect harmony with nature and tammas is a rhythm which is chaotic by nature and destructive. Every impulse that comes to man while he is in this chaotic rhythm is followed by destructive results. Any impulse coming to a person when he is in the rhythm of rajas is accomplished, but the impulse that comes when he is in the rhythm of sattva is inspired and is in harmony with the rhythm of the universe.
The active life of man gives little time for concentration and for putting mind and body into the condition in which he can experience the rhythm that gives inspiration and meets with the will of God. This experience comes in answer to the prayer of Christ, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. By producing this condition of mind and body one tunes oneself to a certain pitch which is harmonious and heavenly and in which the divine will is easily done, as it is in heaven. It is in this rhythm alone that the will of God can be done.
It was not any prejudice against the world that made the great ones leave the world and go to the forests and caves; they event in order to tune themselves to that rhythm in which they could experience heaven. Heaven is not a country or a continent; it is a state, a condition within oneself, only experienced when the rhythm is in perfect working order. If one knows this, one realizes that happiness is man’s own property. Man is his own enemy: he seeks for happiness in the wrong direction and never finds it. It is a continual illusion. Man thinks, “If I had this or that I should be happy for ever”, and he never arrives at happiness because he pursues an illusion instead of the truth. Happiness is only to be found within, and when man tunes himself he finds all for which his soul yearns within himself.
The nature of every impulse is such that it goes through three stages and after the process of these three stages it is realized as a result, whether it is right or wrong, beneficient or disadvantageous, as soon as the impulse springs from within. There is no impulse which in its beginning is wrong or purposeless or inharmonious, for in the total sum of all things every impulse has its purpose. It is our limited outlook that judges. The justice behind is so great that in the ultimate result everything fits into its proper place. But in the process through which the impulse passes it becomes right or wrong – not in the beginning or in the end, for the beginning has a purpose and the end has answered the demand.
This is a question of metaphysics and one must study it from different points of view or one will be very much confused. Man with his little knowledge is ready to condemn or to admire, and thousands of times he fails to judge rightly. All great souls have realized this in their attainment. Christ says, “Judge not”. Then tolerance comes, and when one realizes what is behind the impulse one says very little.
The first process through which the impulse rises takes place in the region of feeling, and in this region the impulse is either strengthened or destroyed. The feeling may be love or hatred, kindness or bitterness, but whatever the feeling may be where the impulse rises, it gains strength to go forward or it is destroyed. For instance, a person may have a great feeling of kindness; then the impulse of revenge may rise, but it is destroyed. Another person has a great feeling of bitterness, and if the impulse is to forgive it will be destroyed before it ever touches the reason. Or a person is most kind and, when the impulse towards revenge has arisen, he feels very uncomfortable; he will not have to call on thought to judge the impulse, for his feeling will destroy it. Or a person has a great feeling of bitterness and the impulse of doing a service of kindness comes, but it will be destroyed before it reaches the realm of thought. Or if the impulse rises till it reaches the realm of thought, then one reasons, “Why should I help? Why should I serve? Does he deserve it? Will he benefit by it? Is it right?” All these problems are settled in this region. Then thirdly comes the realm of action. If the mind consumes the impulse it goes no further, but if the mind allows it, it comes into the region of action and is realized as a result.
Now one may ask how sages and thinkers have distinguished the divine impulse among the different impulses that arise in the heart of man. First we must understand what the word divine means. Divine means: in a state of perfection. This state is experienced by God through man. In other words, when man has risen to the stage of development where he can be the perfect instrument of God, when nothing of his own being stands in the way of the direct impulse that comes from within -that spirit may be called perfect. That which is most precious, that which is the purpose of man’s life is to arrive at that state of perfection when he can be the perfect instrument of God.
Once a man has risen to this stage he at first begins to realize at moments; then, as he develops, for a longer time, and those who develop still further pass most of their time in that realization. Then feeling and thought no longer hinder the divine impulse, for it rises freely and results in a divine purpose. The message of the prophets and teachers of all times has been to teach man how to make peace with God. The fulfilment of life’s purpose is in harmonizing with God, and this is done by distinguishing the divine impulse.
How can one distinguish the divine impulse? Just as in music one can distinguish the true note from the false, the harmonious chord from the discord; it is only a matter of eartraining. When the ear is trained one can find out the slightest discord; the greater the musician, the more capable he is of finding out harmony and discord, the true and the false note. Many think that what we call right or wrong, good or bad, is something we learn or acquire. That is true when it is man-made right or wrong, but of nature’s right and wrong every little child has a sense. The child feels a wrong vibration at once; the infant feels if its surroundings are harmonious or inharmonious, but man confuses himself so that he can no longer distinguish clearly. For man to learn to know for himself is a great advance along the spiritual path. When man is clear as to the feeling he gets from every impulse, he has advanced far. There are some who say after the result, “I am sorry”, but it is too late then, it was not true ear-training.
The divine impulse is an impulse full of love, it gives happiness, it is creative of peace. The difficulty is that not every man observes the beginning of the impulse, he only observes the result. He is like an intoxicated person and so in time, as in the condition of a drunken man, he becomes confused and depressed, and there is struggle and strife. But man was not born for this. He is born for happiness. Peace, love, kindness and harmony are parts of his own being, and when a person is unhappy it means that he has lost himself, he does not know where he is.
Man is seeking for phenomena, he wants wonderworking, communication with ghosts or spirits, he is looking for something complex, and yet the simplest thing and the most valuable thing in life is to find one’s true self.
The Symbol of the Cross
THE CROSS which is usually taken as the symbol of the cross on which Christ died has many mystical meanings. It shows a vertical line and a horizontal line: everything that exists extends vertically and horizontally. This may be seen in the leaf: it has length and breadth. All that exists has come from these two lines, the vertical and the horizontal. The cross therefore, in its first meaning, is the symbol of manifestation.
Then, whenever someone begins to speak, to act for the truth, his way is barred, there is a cross against it. Speak the truth before the nation and there comes the cross, the bar from the nation. Speak the truth in the face of the world and the cross comes from the world against you.
You may ask, “If all comes from the One, the Same, why is one thing truth and one falsehood?” Truth is that which lives, which remains, which stands upright. False is that which falls, which is dead. While we are alive we stand upright; when we are dead we have fallen down. What is dead? This false self, this mortal self. This is fana, destruction. The cross shows that in fans – in the ending of the mortal, of that which is changing, dying every moment, which lives upon mortal food in mortal surroundings is the immortal life. What is not fani the Sufi calls baqi. This I can explain as ba yaki, oneness. In the death of the mortal there is life, immortality, the one immortal life.
There is another great mystery of the cross which is very little understood. Everywhere without us there is space. We call space that which can accommodate, which can contain. Within us there is space too; the space within extends in another direction. It is always a puzzle for the materialist when he hears of the two worlds, this world and the other, the next world. He says, “This world I know, but the other world I do not know. Where is the other world?” Our eyes can give us an idea, a picture of the other world. These little eyes, not an inch in length, contain so many miles of country, such vast tracts, the sun, the moon, the whole cosmos, millions upon millions of miles. These are not contained in the physical eyes but in the eyes within. The space within is much vaster than the space without; it can contain hundreds and thousands of times all that is in the world without. In this meaning the cross signifies the two worlds.
People have thought that the next world is above the sky, beyond the stars. It is not above but within. This world is contained in it.
Many think that this symbol has existed from the time of Jesus Christ, and no doubt it became better known after the time of the master, but in fact it is an old symbol known at different times and at all times known by the mystics. The mystery of the symbol contains a great truth.
There are two sides to this mystery. One side is the journey towards a spiritual ideal, the reaching of a spiritual ideal, and if any picture of this can be given there cannot be a better picture than a cross. The other side of this mystery represents the destiny of a teacher, the life of a teacher, signifying what he has to meet with when delivering the message of truth.
Besides this, the cross is a natural sign that man has always made from his artistic or from his reasoning faculty. It is the nature of light to spread rays, especially when the light is in its perfection. For instance, sometimes by looking at the sun – at the setting sun in particular – one finds lines forming on the sky and on the earth: first there is one straight line and if one watches that first line minutely a horizontal line develops out of it. By keen observation of light one can find that it is in the nature of light to form one perpendicular and one horizontal line. If it is the nature of the external light to form a cross it is also the nature of the inner light: the external light is the reflection of the inner light, and it is the nature of the inner light that is expressed in the outer light. So one can see that not only the inner light is manifest in the outer light, but that the outer light is the picture of the inner light.
We can also see by observing nature’s forms – the form of a tree, of a plant, of a flower, the forms of the animals and birds, and in the end the most developed and finished form of the human being-that they all present a cross. One cross may be seen by observing the formation of man’s head, the other cross can be seen by the whole form of mankind: it is ever a horizontal and a perpendicular line which suggest the symbol of the cross. There is no form that does not have a horizontal and a perpendicular line, and it is these two different aspects or directions which form the cross. In this way one can understand that in the mystery of form the cross is hidden.
Now coming to the first mystery mentioned above, namely that man’s journey towards spiritual ideal can be pictured as a cross: in the first place man’s ego, man’s self is his enemy and stands as a hindrance to his progress. Feelings such as pride, conceit, selfishness, jealousy, envy and contempt are all feelings which hurt others and which destroy one’s own life making it full of the misery which springs from that selfish personal feeling, that ego of man. The more egoistic, the more conceited he is, the more miserable a life he has in the world, the more he makes the lives of others miserable. It seems that this ego, which in Sufi terms is called nafs, is a natural development in man’s life or heart. The more he knows of the world, the more egoistic he becomes; the more he understands and experiences the world, the more avaricious he becomes.
It is not that man brings his faults with him. He comes with innocence, with the innocent smiles of the infant, the friend of everyone who comes to him, ready to smile and ready to throw his loving glance on everybody, regardless of whether he is rich or poor, friend or foe; attracted by beauty in all forms. It is this in the infant which attracts every soul. This shows that the soul which comes with such purity of heart, purity of expression in the countenance, beauty in every movement it makes – that this same soul develops in his nature, as he grows up in the world, all that is hurtful and harmful to himself and others. This also shows that it is in the world that, growing up, he creates all this and this creation is called nafs or ego. Yet at the same time in the depth of the heart there is that goodness which is the divine goodness, that righteousness which man has inherited from the Father in heaven.
A longing for joy and rest and peace is in him, and this shows that in man there are two natures: one which is in the depth of his heart, another which has developed from his coming on earth. A conflict arises, a struggle between these two natures, when the nature which is in the depth begins to feel that it yearns for something, longs for something and feels it must have it: it must have goodness from other people, it must have peace in life. And when it cannot find these the inner conflict begins.
Man creates his own disharmony in his soul and then treats others in the same way; therefore he is not satisfied with his own life, nor is he satisfied with others because he feels that he has a complaint against others, although mostly it is caused by himself. What he gives he receives back, but he never sees that. He always thinks: what the depth of his being yearns for-love, goodness, righteousness, harmony and peaceeverybody must give to him. But for him when it comes to giving he does not give because he lives in the other life he has created. This makes it plain that in every man a being is created; that being is called nafs and is the same as the conception of Satan which has always existed in the scriptures and traditions.
People have many times divided the world between two spirits: a small part of humanity for God and a great part of humanity for Satan, thus making the control of the Satanspirit larger perhaps than the control of God. But if only one could understand the meaning of the idea of Satan, one would understand that it is this spirit of error which has collected and gathered in man after his coming on earth; it is nafs and stands as Satan, always guiding man astray and closing the eyes of his heart to the light of truth.
But when a revolution comes in the life of a man, as soon as he begins to see deeply into life, to acquire goodness-not only to get but to give – as soon as he begins to enjoy not only the sympathy of others but giving sympathy to others, then comes a period when he begins to see this Satan-spirit as apart from his real original being, standing before him constantly in conflict with his natural force, freedom and inclination. Then he sees that sometimes he can do what he desires, and that sometimes this spirit gets hold of him and does not allow him to do what he desires. Sometimes he finds himself weak in this struggle and sometimes he finds himself strong. His experience is that when he finds himself strong in this battle he is thankful and satisfied, and when he finds himself weak in it he repents, he is ashamed of himself and wishes to alter himself.
This is the period in which another epoch begins in man’s life; from this time there is a constant conflict between himself and that spirit which is his ego. It is a conflict, it is a kind of hindrance to his natural attitude, to his natural inclination to do good and right. He constantly meets with that spirit because it was created in his own heart and has become part of his being. It is a very solid and substantial being, as real perhaps as he understands himself to be, and mostly more real: something real in the depth of his being, which is covered by it. This constant conflict between his real original self and that self which hinders his spiritual progress is pictured in the form of a cross.
This cross a man carries during his progress. It is the ugly passions, it is the love of comforts, and it is the satisfaction in anger and bitterness that he has to combat first. When he has conquered these, the next trouble he has to meet is that still more subtle enemy of himself in his mentality: the sensitiveness to what others say, to the opinion of others about himself. He is anxious to know what anybody holds as an opinion about him, what anybody says against him, or if in any way his dignity or position is hurt. Here again the same enemy, the nafs, takes another stand, and the, crucifixion is when that thought of self, that nafs, is fougt with- until there comes an understanding that there exists no self before the vision of God.
It is this which is the real crucifixion, but with this crucifixion there comes still another, which has always followed and which every soul has to experience; the perfection of every soul, the liberation of every soul lies in this crucifixion. It is that part of his being which he has created in himself, that false part of his being, which is crucified, not his real self, although on the way it always seems that he has crucified his own self.
This is not self-denial, it is the false self that is denied. The mystery of perfection lies in annihilation – not in annihilation of the real self, but of the false self, of the false conception which man has cherished in his heart and always has allowed to torture his life. Do we not see this with our friends and acquaintances? In those who attract us and whom we deeply love and admire there is only one quality which can really attract us: apart from our other interests in life it is man’s personality alone which attracts us. It is not only that selflessness and the extent of that selflessness attract us, but what repels us in the life of others is nothing else than the grossness of their nafs – or one might call it the denseness and hardness of that spirit.
The teaching of Christ when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, is little understood. He does not mean poor in divine spirit, but poor in this self-created spirit. Those who are poor in this self-created spirit are rich in divine spirit, and those who are rich in divine spirit are poor in this self-created spirit. The word which is used in the scriptures for nafs is that spirit of grossness or spirit – but the better word is ego.
There have always been two tendencies: one of sincerity and the other of insincerity and falsehood. They have always worked together; the false and the true have always existed in life and in nature. Where there is real gold there is false; where there is a real diamond there is an imitation diamond; where there are sincere people there are insincere ones. In every aspect of life in the life of spirituality, in the acquisition of learning, in the arts and sciences-we can see sincerity and insincerity. And the only way to recognize real spiritual development is to understand to what extent there is selflessness.
However much a person pretends to spirituality and wishes to be godly or pious or good, nothing can hide his true nature, for there is the constant tendency of that ego to leap out. It will leap out without man’s control, and if he is insincere he cannot hide it. Just as the imitation diamond, however bright it may be, is dull compared with the real one and when tested and examined will prove to be an imitation, so real spiritual progress must be proved in the personality of ‘, soul. It is the personality that should prove that he has touched that larger Self where self does not exist.
Now coming to the next and still greater mystery of the cross: this mystery can be seen in the life of the messengers, the prophets and holy beings. In the first place no one has entrance into the kingdom of God, into the abode of God, who has not been so crucified as I have said just now. There is a poem by the great Persian poet Iraqi in which he tells, “When I went to the gate of the divine Beloved and knocked it the door, a voice came and said – Who art thou?” When he had told, “I am so and so”, the answer came, “There is no place for anyone else in this abode. Go back to whence thou hast come”. He turned back and then, after a long time, after having gone through the process of the cross and of crucifixion, he again went there -with the spirit of selflessness. He knocked at the door; the word came, “Who art thou? “, and he said, “Thyself alone, for no one else exists save Thee”. And God said, “Enter into this abode for now it belongs to thee”. It is such selflessness, to the extent that the thought of self is not there, it is being dead to the self, which is the recognition of God.
One finds this spirit to a small extent in the ordinary lover and beloved, when a person loves another from the depth of his heart. He who says, “I love you but only so much, I love you and give you sixpence but I keep sixpence for myself, I love you but I stand at a distance and never come closer, we are separate beings”- his love is with his self. As long as that exists, love has not done its full work. Love accomplishes its ,Fork when it spreads its wings and veils man’s self from his own eyes. That is the time when love is fulfilled, and so it is in the life of the holy ones who have not only loved God by professing or showing it, but who have loved God to the extent that they forgot themselves. It is that state of realization of being which can be termed a cross.
Then such souls have a cross everywhere; every move they make is a cross, a crucifixion. In the first place, living in the world, a world full of falsehood, full of treachery, deceit and selfishness, every move they make, every act they perform all they say and think, prove that their eyes and hearts are open to something else than that at which the world is looking. It is a constant conflict. It is living in the world, living among people of the world and yet looking at a place different from that which the world sees. If they tried to speak they could not. Words cannot express the truth; language is too inadequate to give a real conception of the ultimate truth. As it is said in the Vedanta, and as it was said in ancient times, the world is maya. Maya means something unreal, and to these souls the world becomes most unreal as soon as they begin to see the real, and when they compare the world with this reality it seems even more unreal. No one in the world can imagine to what an extent this world manifests itself to their eyes.
Think of people who are good-yet not having arrived at spiritual perfection -who are sensitive, tender and kind, and see how the world treats them, how they are misunderstood. See how the best is taken by the selfish, how the generous one has to give more and more, how the one who serves has to serve more and more, and still the world is not satisfied. He who loves has to love more and more, and the world is not satisfied. How jarring life is to these! Then think of those who have arrived at such a stage of realization that there is a vast gulf between the real and the unreal. When they arrive at that realization their language is not understood; they are forced to speak in a language which is not their own and to say something different from what they are realizing. It is more than a cross. It is not that Jesus Christ alone had a cross, but every teacher who has a portion of the message has a cross.
But then you may say, “The masters of humanity who have come at all times and had such a cross to bear, why did they not go to the forests, to the caves, to the mountains, why did they stay in the world?” There is a beautiful picture that Rumi has made. He tells why the melody of the reed flute makes such an appeal to your heart. It is, he says in his poetry, because first it is cut away from its original stem, then in its heart holes are made and, since the holes have been made in the heart, the heart has been broken and it begins to cry. So it is with the spirit of the messenger, with the spirit of the teacher: by bearing and by carrying his cross his self becomes like a reed, hollow. There is scope for the Player to play his melody when it has become nothing; then the Player takes it to play his melody. If something was still there the Player could not use it.
God speaks to everyone, not only to the messengers and teachers. He speaks to the ears of every heart, but it is not every heart which hears it. His voice is louder than the thunder, and His light is clearer than the sun – if one could only see it, if one could only hear it. In order to see it and in order to hear it man should remove this wall, this barrier which he has made of the self. Then he becomes the flute upon which the divine Player may play the music of Orpheus which can charm even the hearts of stone; then he rises from the cross into the life everlasting.
The Mystical Meaning of the Resurrection
WHAT IS exactly meant when the resurrection is spoken of in the Bible?
The resurrection is that moment after death when the soul becomes conscious of all its experience. As the soul is connected with everything in the universe, the individual resurrection is a universal resurrection.
Now I will explain two passages from the Bible.” In one of them it is said: “Now is Christ risen from the dead and gone unto the Father, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept, and whosoever believeth in him should not die but live”. The dead are those who have not realized their immortality. from which he rises who realizes his immortality. “He is gone unto the Father”, means that he has gone from the personal being, which was meant for his message to be delivered upon earth, to that unlimited existence. “He hath become the firstfruits of them that slept”, means: he has become an example to those who sleep, to those who are unconscious of their divine being.
“Whosoever believeth in him” has been interpreted to mean: who believes in his limited personal being. It means: who has the knowledge of God, of immortality, shall never die, and those whom the world calls dead, but who have the belief in God, which is knowledge, are not dead.
In another passage it is said , “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead”. Man alone understands what death is; beasts and birds feel the inactivity, the absence, but they do not realize what death is.
I have seen a bird, when its mate fell dead shot by hunters, settle beside it, feel it with its beak and, when it felt the stillness and lifelessness, before the hunter could approach, it dropped its head and its life was gone. I have also seen a dog die instantly when its companion dog with whom it had spent its life was dead. But still, animals feel only the inactivity, the absence of the friend. They do not realize the true nature of death.
It is only man who has understood the real nature of death in its full extent. Therefore Sufis in the East often make their houses, their cottages in the jungle or else near cemeteries: that by seeing the dead they may realize that now is the time to awaken, to conquer death, to realize their immortality.
And it is again man, as the holy being, who awakens man to the knowledge of his immortality.
If the resurrection merely meant that Christ after his death rose again, it would be a story to be believed or disbelieved. If it were believed as a belief, how long would this last? Its lesson is much greater than that. It means the resurrection from this mortal life to immortality.
Christ said, “The children of this world marry and are given in marriage, but they who are accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more; they are the children of the resurrection, being the children of God.”11 Those who have arisen to that immortal One Being where there is no distinction of husband and wife, brother or sister, father, mother, or child they are the sons of the resurrection.
The story is that, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb where Christ had been laid, they found the stone that was before the tomb rolled away, and looking in they saw the clothes (i.e. the wrappings and the head-cloth.) lying there, the turban lying by itself. But the body of Christ was not there. The stone is the same stone that is spoken of in the Hindu myth. Krishna is called Giridhar, he who holds the stone, who lifts it up. Under this stone, the stone of the external self, every individual soul in the world is suppressed. When it is lifted up, then man rises to immortality. From what does he rise? He rises from the body and above the mind. The clothes and the head-cloth lying separately, symbolizing the body and the mind, show this.
Great poets, great musicians, great writers often rise above the body. They do not know where they are sitting or standing, they are lost in their imaginations, unconscious of the physical existence, but they do not rise above the mind. When the consciousness rises above the mind, above the thoughts, then it is free, it is active in its own element, and then this consciousness can give of itself to the mind.
The rising to that consciousness in which there is no distinction is the highest degree of resurrection. There are other degrees, just as in the lift one cannot arrive at the seventh floor without passing by the second, third, fourth and all other floors.
There is that resurrection in which there is the exact counterpart of the physical body which walks, sits down, and can do all that the physical body can do. This is called by Sufis alm-e-mithal. There are mystics who have mastered this so completely that they can act independently of the physical body; death is nothing to them for they remain alive after death. This is done by amal. Someone who had been studying this wrote to me the other day, “I have lost all fear of death, because death has tied a turban on me”. There is no death when this is mastered.
If a poet is writing his poetry and his wife, his servant, a hundred people pass before him, he does not see them, he does not know whether anyone has been there. If a little love of poetry can do this, how much more can the love, the absorption in the life within draw the consciousness within!
It is told in the Gospel that Christ after his resurrection was seen by the disciples several times. It is the experience of every person who has practised concentration, who has meditated, that he sees that which he has held in his consciousness not only inwardly but outwardly before him. This is the first experience that every mystic has. The disciples were lost, absorbed in the thought of Christ – how should thev not see him?
Christ’s words are, “Handle me, and see that it is myself, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me having”. And he said unto them, “Children, have ye anything to eat?” And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and he took it and did eat before them. The word spirit is used in many different meanings. It is used for ghost, or for the soul, but really it means the essence which is the opposite pole to substance.
All that the eye has seen resurrects in the eye. If someone mentions a certain person -though you had forgotten the person altogether – he rises up in your eye: in that house, in that place where you had seen him. It is not in this physical eye, but in that eye which is beyond. The materialist may say, “it is all in the brain”. How could the brain contain so many thousands and millions of things and beings!
Of course without training a person does not see the spirit, but I will say that in the dream you see yourself, you experience yourself, in different surroundings, in the company of different people. If you say, “It is a dream”, I will answer: When do you call it a dream? You call it a dream when you wake up. When you see the contrast with your surroundings in waking condition, then you say, “It was a dream. If not, it would have remained with me, but everything is different”. But if, while you are dreaming, someone comes to you and says, “It is a dream”, you will never believe it.
The resurrection is the rising to that real life, that true Friend on whom alone we can lean- upon all other things and beings upon which we think we can lean, we cannot rely that Friend who alone is always unchanged, who has always been with us and will always be with us.
Spiritual Circulation through the Veins of the Universe
WHEN ONE observes keenly the nature of this life of variety, one finds that behind the world of variety there is one life, the source and goal of all things. It is that life which may be called the blood of the universe circulating through the veins of the universe. It is substance or spirit or life: something out of which all that is seen and all intelligence is moulded, kept alive and in working order. It is this life which is so to speak the veins of the universe and we know it as what we term intelligence.
No doubt we often confuse intelligence with intellect, but intelligence is something which is to be found even in the lower creation. It can be traced in plant life and sensed even in the heart of the rock. The difference between modern psychology and ancient thought is that according to the former the intellect is a development which manifests in the life of man as mind, but that animals have no mind, that mind is a development of matter, the work of the brain. The idea of the mystics of all times, of the prophets and all meditative souls is different. They say, “What was, is, and will be; if that is the same substance or life it is not subject to change, nor does it develop”. Yet a different grade which we are capable of grasping gives us the feeling that it is a development rising from matter. The great ones, the meditative souls who satin the wilderness and the forests and communicated with the life around them, realized this truth, and very often they experienced a greater harmony, peace and upliftment where there was no visible life. Life is intelligence, even in the rock, and the more one communicates with life, the more one feels that even the rock is not without life, that through it pulses the blood of the universe.
Someone said to a Brahmin, “O Brahmin, how absurd it is for you to worship a God made of stone, an idol! The true God is the formless one, the one above all things of the world”. The Brahmin replied, “Do you know the phenomenon of faith? If you have faith in the God of rock, you will get your answer, but if you have no faith in your formless God even He will not communicate with you”. Life seen from this point of view tells us that there is no place, no object which is not sacred, that even in a rock one sees the source and goal of all things in that particular form.
Many who are experienced in plant life know how responsive plants are to the sympathy of a man who loves nature and looks after them. I was much interested in meeting a scientist in California who devoted his life to research into plant life.12 How true it is that through whatever channel one pursues truth one arrives at an experience which shows truth. I was especially interested when he said, “I regard plants as really living beings. I work with them always feeling that they are living creatures, that they have their own trend of mind. They show obstinacy, they feel your sympathy, and if you learn to understand them you can manage to derive a great deal of benefit from them. All through my life I have talked to plants as I would talk to men”. Here again is the blood of the universe in circulation – in a higher grade than in the rock.
Another scientist, Professor Chandra Bose of Bengal, has devoted much time and thought to prove that plants breathe. If breath is to be found in plant life, certainly there is intelligence too. I once happened to see a stone whose owner called it a magic stone. In reality it was quite ordinary, but it often changed its colour; especially when in the hand of a particular person it showed a different colour and shade. So a stone can respond to a person’s mind, and this teaches that there is a great deal to explore in the mineral kingdom. This is not a discovery of today; it was known to the people of ancient times. We read in the Persian poems of Jelal-ud-Din Rumi that God slept in the mineral, dreamed in the vegetable, became conscious in the animal, and realized Himself in the human being.
But this one life is to be seen more pronounced in human beings, in the intellect they show, in the work they do, in the magnetizing of the atmosphere, in the thought power they exercise, in the influence of healing. Although one person is separated from another, although there may be no outer connection, yet even from a distance the influence of thoughts and feelings is felt. There were many instances of this during the war, when mothers and wives of soldiers in times of sorrow, illness and death felt their trouble without any outer source of communication. How often when people are in close touch do they feel each other’s condition, not only by thought waves but in the realm of feeling also. This shows that there is one body, and in that body is one life which continually circulates, as does the blood in the veins.
This gives a logical explanation of the law of cause and effect. A wrongdoer may escape earthly witness, but he cannot escape this one life in which he lives and moves and has his being. A person who has done good to another may never see that other again, yet good must return to him because there is one body and one life. Just as with the circulation in the physical body all we eat is absorbed as essence in the blood, so our every thought, word and action affects the one life.
Often people wonder about certain superstitions and ridicule them, saying, “How can past, present and future be read from cards?” This, the science of astrology and crystalgazing may be explained by the understanding that there is one life in which the circulation is always pulsing, one music, one rhythm. A person only needs to be acquainted with the theme of the music -then he can read and understand. Not only by cards and crystal-gazing can he read the past, present and future, but by all means. If a person is able to communicate with even one vein of this one life he is in touch with the veins of all the universe. Some means are better, some are worse, but through any medium he can understand, thus proving that there is one life behind all.
Man may be taught to do good, to learn righteousness, but this is virtue forced upon him as the result of a certain teaching. Real virtue only comes by understanding the oneness of life, binding man to friend or enemy. Jesus Christ teaches, “Love your enemies”. While it is often difficult to love our friends, we are not able to love our enemies, unless we realize the secret of the one life behind all – inspite of the world of variety which continually creates illusion.
If by religion, philosophy, or mysticism this realization is attained, then the secret of life is touched and without any wonder-working a mighty power is gained. This lesson is easy to learn intellectually, but that is not enough. This truth can be taken -like food – in a moment, but to digest it the whole of life is not sufficient, for truth is mixed with facts, and when truth becomes a fact it has no importance. Absorbed in the world of variety we are apt to forget truth, for we are always absorbed in facts. Therefore meditative people who spend much time in meditation try to think of the oneness of being, try to meditate on the ultimate truth of being. It works like the winding of a clock: it only takes a minute to wind and all day long it goes on. So in meditation the same thought goes on, and in everything one does or says one uses this same truth.
What effect is caused by the lack of understanding of this truth? All disasters such as wars, floods, earthquakes, famines, all the things that cannot be helped by man, come from disorder in the body: the only body that exists. When the blood is disordered all goes wrong, and although sometimes it seems that what is disadvantageous to one part is advantageous to another, yet in the long run one sees that all suffer; the after-effect is felt by the whole world as strain and pain and all kinds of suffering. The soul of the whole creation is one, the life behind all these evermoving phantoms is one. Meditation on this and awakening to this truth will harmonize the condition of the world.
The prophets and great mystics have come to the world from time to time as the physician comes to help the patient whose health is in disorder. And each time the great ones have come they have brought to the world another life, a new life brought to the whole organism of the universe to help it to run smoothly. The Sufis who in all times have existed as mystics, whose lives have been devoted to meditation and spiritual practices – what have they learned from these meditations? They have learned the essence of all, the oneness or unity, and in unity – in thinking it, realizing it and living it -one fulfils the purpose of life.
The Divine Blood circulating through the Veins of the Universe
OFTEN MAN has vague ideas as to the meaning of the word divine. The divine has become his ideal, but this ideal is first to be made a reality. An ideal can only serve its proper purpose when it is made into reality and if it is not made into reality its purpose is not accomplished. In the first place we must inquire what it is that reminds us of the divine. What brings us a feeling of the existence of the divine Being? It is what may be called beauty: the beauty, delicacy, and colour in the flower, the brilliancy and life of the precious stone; for what is beautiful in all this is intelligence – even manifest through material objects.
The secret of fragrance, the secret of the brilliancy of the diamond, the beauty of the pearl, the secret beneath all that appeals to man and attracts him is intelligence. Only, the intelligence in all things is so to speak imprisoned, covered. In living beings it begins to manifest itself. In man is the greatest possibility for the manifestation of this intelligence. Therefore, either in things or in beings, if anywhere a trace of the divine is to be found, it is in intelligence.
As many degrees may be found in beautiful flowers – one more beautiful than the other -and many different degrees between pebbles and a diamond, a million more degrees may be found between man and man. At this present time when man disregards that beauty and value which are hidden in the human personality, he disregards that divine substance which is hidden in man. To-day there is no place, no recognition for human culture, whereas every other object is classified, its value fixed. There are different studies and practices, different degrees in the universities and colleges, there are ranks and divisions in all other parts of life, but there is no distinct place for the understanding, for the intelligence of man in its true aspect. There is no loss for the person who possesses this wealth; only before the world there is nothing to distinguish him from others, and not for everyone is there a chance to find out what is behind the veil. If one could explain the real meaning of education, of true education, it would be from the beginning to the end of man’s life the realization of the circulation of the divine blood through the veins of the universe for there is no limitation of time for the study and practice of this: it is endless!
The secret behind magnetism which has its different aspects is one and the same. No doubt personal magnetism is of several distinct kinds. There is a physical magnetism which comes with youth, with energy, with the healthiness of the body. The more healthy a person is, especially at the time of youth, the more he begins to show a certain energy in every action and in his every movement; by this he expresses magnetism.
Then there is a greater magnetism: the magnetism of mind. A person with a living mind is like a light, and as light attracts and its warmth comforts, so comfort comes out of this person as radiance. Besides this there is a magnetism of culture. When a person is well trained and has a certain culture, his action, word and thought all become rhythmic.
A fourth kind of magnetism is that of the soul, the soul that is living, which means that it is not closed or covered by a grave, but manifests outwardly as well as inwardly. It is that soul which has another, a still greater magnetism, the greatest of all other aspects of magnetism. Now the question rises: how can one attain to this highest magnetism which alone is endurable? It is by watching the divine essence, by noticing the divine essence in all things. When comparing two persons of different temperaments you will always find that one of them is appreciative of music, poetry and art, respondent, ready to admire all that is good and beautiful, while the other closes himself; he is not open to appreciate anything, nor ready to respond or willing to admire. When the door is closed to the divine manifestation which is in all things, then the continual source of attracting that new life and magnetism is closed and the soul dies of poverty.
As to the physical body, since it is limited, its sustenance is also limited. But as the soul is not limited, so its sustenance is not limited. The soul is not satisfied with one moment’s meditation only, nor is the soul satisfied by one good action in the week, nor by attending one prayer in perhaps a week’s time. The soul’s hunger is greater than the hunger of body or mind. Its hunger is satisfied by beauty, beauty in all aspects, beauty of colour, beauty of thought and imagination. Therefore the soul of the artist, the poet, the musician, of a thinker naturally is always living. But at the same time the one who is fond of beauty and derives that nourishment from beauty also has only a limited food, for perfect satisfaction only comes when one knows all beauty to be one beauty, and that one beauty to be the divine beauty.
Very often man questions the idea of divine communication, but it is not impossible, it is the most desirable thing there is. But the person who thinks that divine communication can be made by going to heaven and leaving this earth may well wait for some time. We have no lack of examples in the world, if only we can see. For instance, to a true musician, a real musician music is not only an art, a symphony, it is something which speaks to him, with which he communicates. When a musician arrives at this stage he may strike one chord and the continual striking of this one chord will bring him to ecstasy. For another person it is only striking a chord, but for him it is speaking with the piano, conversing with it.
Besides all the great men I have seen in my country I have met the great pianist of the Western world Paderewski and I valued my privilege of hearing him at his house when there were not many people, while he was himself. When he began to play it seemed as if there was a question of his soul and an answer of the piano. The whole time it was a question of his soul and an answer of music and in the end it seemed as if the soul of the player and the music became one and perfect.
Now this is one example, but there are many others. In order to attain this perfection one need not be a musician. The whole life before us can speak to us from morning to evening if we are able to speak to it, if we establish a communication with life. When man is not open he is not even open to himself, he cannot communicate with life; then he is lonely. The man who is in communication with himself may be in the forest, in the wilderness, yet he is in the world, the whole universe is around him. How many souls are among our friends who living in the world of crowds are yet lonely, while it is so natural and possible that a man outside that world keeps in connection with the whole Being.
A scientist has discovered that by touching an electric current, or by attaching oneself to it, one can obtain more energy in a certain part of the body where there is less energy. If this material aspect of electricity can give a new life, a new vigour to the body then, if one could come in contact with that continual battery of life, could one not obtain from it all one desires? An energy which is everywhere and with which one can get in touch everywhere, if only one knew how to communicate with it; an energy which is not without intelligence, but the perfection of intelligence. Mind and soul can become more and more intelligent by coming into contact with it.
Now one might ask, “How can we attain to it?” As it is necessary in order to sing well to cultivate the voice and as it is necessary in order to get muscular strength to make physical exercises, so it is most necessary in order to get in touch with the divine life which is all around and about us, which is within and without us, to practise getting in touch with it and to keep in touch with it. We see this in all different occupations of life, whether they concern scientific inventions, industry or business: one must be absorbed in it in order to do something worthwhile! The same law applicable to material work can be applied to spiritual work. Concentration is the main thing and, when concentration is not attained, whatever a person will do will not bring about worthwhile results. In all different occupations the cause of failures in ninety-nine among a hundred cases is lack of concentration. When a student fails in his examination, when a businessman fails in making a real success, when an industrialist fails to bring about success, in all these cases it is lack of concentration which causes the failure.
Spiritual or religious attitude apart, even from a material and selfish point of view one cannot deny the great value of concentration in life. When we come to realize that there is one energy, an energy which is not only energy but intelligence itself, which is divine and all over, then we have come face to face with the object we are searching. Then all that remains is to know that intellectual knowledge does not satisfy our purpose. What remains is to try to find out hove we can communicate, how we can come into touch with this all-pervading energy. The answer is that one has to mould oneself, one has to prepare oneself in order to become a fitting instrument, in order to fit in with this all-pervading energy. If one asks how we have to prepare ourselves, the answer is that every soul has been made to respond in this symphony of the whole universe as a certain note. When a person will not give that note he will not fulfil his life’s purpose, and thereby he will always feel dissatisfied with himself and others.
How will he be able to attain that note or to tune himself to it? By ear training in symbolical expression; plainly speaking, by studying the law, the nature and the secret of harmony in life. And how will he fit in with the rhythm? All distress, all misunderstanding, all the tragedy one experiences is also the lack of keeping a certain rhythm which life asks of man. Does this not teach us that there are two important things to remember: developing the sense of harmony in our everyday life and developing the sense of rhythm in everything we do? If one has developed the sense of harmony and yet does not know the secret of rhythm, he still will have difficulties. If one knows the rhythm of the universe and how to fit in with it and yet has no sense of the nature and secret of harmony, he also will meet with failures. It teaches us that the whole of life is as music and in order to study life we must study it as music. It is not only study, it is also practice which makes man perfect.
If someone tells me that a certain person is miserable or wretched or distressed, my answer will be that he is out of tune. Distress, disappointment or failure is caused by falling short of answering one’s own duty in playing one’s part in the symphony. Often people ask, “Here is a good man-why must he suffer? Here is a very nice person, a religious person-why has he distress?” There are others who will answer with a thousand different reasons. They will say that in a former life the person perhaps has done something wrong and therefore has to pay his debts, or some people will say that goodness must always suffer. But coming to the practical side of the question the answer is simple: man-made goodness is not nature’s goodness. Nature demands, life demands a certain standard of understanding, of thinking, of living, and this can be learned by learning the tune and the rhythm – not only learning it, but putting oneself to that tune and setting oneself to that particular rhythm which make the music of life. It is in this manner that happiness is attained-that happiness which is the seeking of every soul-and it is in this manner that one will progress continually until one touches the divine Spirit, the Spirit that pervades all and is everywhere.
(Hazrat Inayat Khan lived in London during and immediately after World War I. Several of his addresses and lectures given between 1916 and 1921 were noted down without indication of place and date. These are referred to below as “manuscripts from the early London period.”)
PART I: The Smiling Forehead
THE SMILING FOREHEAD-London, 18th June, 1922
THE HEART QUALITY 1- Suresnes, France, 6th September, 1925
THE HEART QUALITY 2-Suresnes, 22nd August, 1926
THE HEART, APHORISMS-those aphorisms which were not published in Volume XI of this series are taken from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s personal notebooks and from a collection of one of his disciples; the last item is a “phrase to be repeated”. (Phrases to be repeated- See “The Value of Repetition and Reflection” in Volume 11 (2nd revised edition) of this series.)
THE PATH OF DEVOTION -a manuscript from the early London period
LOVE-IDEAS, STORIES, ANSWERS AND APHORISMS-taken from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s personal notebooks, from reports by his disciples, from questions and answers exchanged in Suresnes, Summer 1923; the last two items are “phrases to be repeated”.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WILL, WISH AND DESIRE- Suresnes, 27th June, 1926
DESTINY AND FREE WILL-New York, 19th January, 1926
FREE WILL AND DESTINY -Suresnes, 12 July, 1925
KISMET-England, 1st July, 1917
FREE WILL, APHORISMS-same documents as mentioned for “The Heart”
THE SEER 1- a manuscript from the early London period
THE SEER 2- Suresnes, Summer 1923
DOES THE CONSCIOUSNESS SEE WITH THE PHYSICAL EYES? -a manuscript from the early London period
SEEING- Suresnes, 30th August, 1926
THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT- Suresnes, 9th August, 1925
THE PROPHETIC TENDENCY- THE PROPHETIC MISSION- a manuscript from the early London period
POINTS OF VIEW HELD BY SPIRITUAL PERSONS-original title: The Different Points of View of Spiritual Persons, Suresnes, 8th August, 1926
HIGHER SPIRITUALITY-England 1920, reported by Dr Gruner as “a partial paraphrase from a short discourse”.
THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL UNFOLDMENT- New York, 12th January, 1926; this lecture has been reconstructed from incomplete shorthand notes
THE AWAKENING OF THE SOUL 1 – Paris, December 1924
THE AWAKENING OF THE SOUL 2-Detroit, 12th May, 1926
THE AWAKENING OF THE SOUL 3-New York, 26th January, 1926
THE DANCE OF THE SOUL 1 -London, 11th May, 1921
THE DANCE OF THE SOUL 2-Paris, June 1921
PART II: The Deeper Side of Life
THE DEEPER SIDE OF LIFE 1 -New York, December 1925, an article destined for newspapers
THE DEEPER SIDE OF LIFE 2-an article from “The Sufi Quarterly”, December 1925
MAN, THE SEED OF GOD 1- Geneva, 15th October, 1923
MAN, THE SEED OF GOD 2-Brussels, 16th December, 1923
SUFI PHILOSOPHY 1-Los Angeles, 22nd March, 1926
SUFI PHILOSOPHY 2-San Francisco, 5th April, 1926
THE GIFT OF ELOQUENCE-London, probable date December 1916
EVOLUTION OF THE WORLD-a manuscript from the early London period
EVERY MAN HAS HIS OWN LITTLE WORLD-manuscripts from the early London period
MARRIAGE -Suresnes, 20th September, 1926
SPIRITUALITY, THE TUNING OF THE HEART 1 -Oakland (Calif), 20th February, 1926
SPIRITUALITY, THE TUNING OF THE HEART 2 -San Francisco, 9th April, 1926
OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM- Suresnes, 6th August, 1922
CONSCIENCE- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS- The first two items and the last one, Los Angeles, 25th March, 1926; the other items, Suresnes, 20th July, 1923
JUSTICE AND FORGIVENESS- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS- Suresnes, Summer 1923
PAIRS OF OPPOSITES USED IN RELIGIOUS TERMS- Paris, 14th November, 1925
What do you mean by God has no opposite? – Suresnes, 17th July, 1923
God is not kind only to a few-from early London period
How could God allow bloodshed?-from early London period
As evil cannot come out of good – Suresnes, September 1924
Why do people who do evil succeed-Paris, 29th November, 1923
INSIGHT -Suresnes, Summer 1922
THE LAW OF ATTRACTION-England, February 1917
THE LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE POINT OF VIEW – Suresnes, 30th July, 1922
THE ATTITUDE -Suresnes, December 1922
THE LAW OF LIFE- 28th March, 1924
THE LAW OF ACTION- a manuscript from the early London period
THE SOUL, ITS ORIGIN AND UNFOLDMENT-Chicago, 28th April, 1926
THE UNFOLDMENT OF THE SOUL-Paris, 8th November, 1925
DIVINE IMPULSE-London, 26th January, 1924
THE SYMBOL OF THE CROSS 1-from the early London period
THE SYMBOL OF THE CROSS 2-England, 1920
THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF THE RESURRECTION 1, 2-manuscripts from the early London period
SPIRITUAL CIRCULATION THROUGH THE VEINS OF THE UNIVERSE-London, 28th January, 1924
THE DIVINE BLOOD CIRCULATING THROUGH THE VEINS OF THE UNIVERSEParis, 9th December, 1923
11. Hazrat Inayat Khan quoted these Bible texts from memory. They read:
-(1 Corinthians 15: 20) `But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept’.
Here Hazrat Inayat Khan adds two thoughts which are not part of this Bible text but very closely related to it:
“And gone unto the Father” “And whosoever believeth in Him”
(See the explanation in the lecture)
- (Luke 20: 35) `But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage, neither can they die anymore: for they are equal to the angels and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection’.
12. Hazrat Inayat Khan refers to Luther Burbank, an American plant cultivator (1849-1926) whom he had met in Santa Rosa in 1923. He wrote in his autobiography, “I was most delighted to see that not only fine arts and spiritual culture, but even the work with the earth can elevate a man to that serenity and simplicity and love which this scientist’s soul expressed. This was a proof added to many other proofs I had in my life of seeing glimpses of divine perfection in the souls who in some form or other have touched perfection in their life’s vocation whatever it may be.
This notion to me was as a bridge between science and mysticism; at the same time it was a promise that science in its full rise will some day be completed by mysticism. He told me he was busy at the time trying to take away thorns from the cactus, and asked me what I was doing. I humbly answered-My work is not very different from yours, Sir, for I am occupied taking away thorns from hearts of men-Thus we came to realize how a real work, through matter or spirit, in the long run brings about the same result which is the purpose of life.”
(Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, East-West Publications, London, 1979).