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 Quran 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, trying 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
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 our 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 than
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
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
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
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 hear what is spoken
against anyone, and never see any evil. If we close our eyes
without closing our ears and without closing our lips, we cannot
Does the development of the inner consciousness, one may
ask, tend to personal isolation, to separation from the world?
We are in the world, and therefore, however much we try to run
away to spiritual spheres, 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.