Volume VI - The Alchemy of Happiness
THE INNER LIFE
THERE IS one aspect of life which is known to us, our everyday life in which we are conscious of all that we do, and this aspect may be called the outer life. There is another part of our life of which we are very often unconscious and which may be called the inner life. To be without inner life is like being without an arm or a leg or an eye or an ear. But even that does not really illustrate the idea of the inner life. The reason is that the inner life is much greater and nobler and much more powerful than the outer life. Man gives great importance to the outer life, being absorbed in it from morning till evening and not being conscious of the other aspect. Thus all that matters to man is what happens to him in his outer life, and the occupations of his outer life keep him so absorbed that he has hardly a moment to think of the inner life.
The disadvantage of not being conscious of the inner life is incomparably greater than all the advantages that one can gain by being conscious of the outer life, for the inner life makes one richer, the outer life poorer. With all the riches and treasures that the earth can offer man is poor. And very often the richer he seems the poorer he is for the greater the riches, the more limitation he finds in his life. The inner life makes one powerful, whereas the consciousness of the outer life makes one weak because it is the consciousness of limitation. The consciousness of the inner life makes one powerful because it is the consciousness of perfection. The outer life keeps one confused. However intellectual or learned a person may be, his mind will never be clear, for his knowledge is based upon reasons which in turn are founded upon the outer things that are liable to change and destruction. That is why, however wise this person may seem to be his wisdom has limitations.
The inner life makes the mind clear, for it is that part of one's being which may be called divine, the essence of life, the pure intelligence. And wherever the light of pure intelligence is thrown things become clear. Absorption in the outer life, without that which the inner life can give, makes one blind. All that one says, thinks, or does is based upon outer experiences. And one cannot realize to what extent the power gained by the inner life enables one to see through life. There is such a thing as belief in a third eye. In reality the third eye is the inner eye, the eye that is opened by one's awakening to the inner life.
Inner life may also be called spiritual life. One can see it in the forest where it is the rain from above that makes the forest beautiful. This means that the forest alone does not have all that it needs, but that it needs something that comes from above: the light and the rain. It is the sun and the rain that make the forest complete. In the desert there is no rain, and therefore it is incomplete. There is the earth, but there is no water nor is there water from above. The water that gives life to the forest is not to be found in the desert. The desert is unhappy, and the man in the desert is unhappy too, looking for shade from the hot sun. For the desert is longing, and the man in the desert is longing too for something he cannot find. Whereas in the deep forest there is joy. There is inspiration, the heart is lifted up because the forest is a picture of the inner life – not just the earth, not just the trees and plants, but because something which it needs has been sent down to it. And so it is with man: man who is solely occupied with the things of the world is in the midst of the world, but he is in the desert. It is the inner life which produces in him, not artificial virtues and man-made qualities, but those virtues which can only arise from the inner life, and also the insight which makes the eyes see more than mortal eyes can see.
The question is, how are we to be sure that there is an inner life, what proof is there? And the answer is that there is not one moment in our life when we do not see the proof of the inner life. Only, we do not look for it. All the different means of communication such as telegraphy and telephone and radio, all the new machines and inventions which make people marvel at what mankind has accomplished are, if man would only realize it, nothing but a poor imitation of what this human body is! Man is the center of joy, of happiness, of peace, of power, of life, and of light. Man is a phenomenon far greater than any other mechanism, if only he had the patience and perseverance to explore himself. But what we do is to explore others. We think it is very important to analyze things, and the analysis of human nature we call psychology. Man analyzes everyone except himself and therefore true psychology is never reached. Because the real psychology is to analyze oneself first, and when one's self is analyzed, then one is able to analyze others.
If man only knew that besides what he says or does or thinks, and the effects which are manifest to him, there is another kind of action which also creates things in a person's life and which makes his world! And perhaps in a week or in a month, or perhaps in a year or ten years, that which he has thus created one day comes before him as a world, as a world created by him. Such is the phenomenon of life. How insignificant a human being appears to be, just like a drop in the sea, yet what effects does he create by every thought, by every feeling, by every act! And what influence they spread what influence they have on the lives of others! If one only realized this one would find that the results of all one thinks, says, or does in the outer life are incomparably smaller than the results produced by what one thinks, says, or does in the inner life. Thus the consciousness of the inner life makes man more responsible than that of the outer life. The responsibilities of the outer life, compared with the responsibilities of the inner life, are much smaller. For the moment they might appear to be heavy burdens, but they are nothing compared with the responsibilities one has in one's inner life. If one sees what one creates, the responsibility becomes much greater. There is a saying in the East that the donkey seems to be much happier than the Chakor, which is supposed to be the most intelligent bird. Man seems quite pleased in outer life, because his responsibilities are less, his outlook small, his horizon narrow, and what he sees of the world is very little. But when the horizon is opened up, when the heart has penetrated through the barrier that divides the here and the hereafter, when he begins to see behind the veil and all that appears on the surface becomes a screen behind which something else is hidden, then he experiences life quite differently.
The view of the one who stands on top of the mountain is quite different from the view of the one who stands at its foot. Both are human beings, both have the same eyes, but their horizons are different. Inner life, therefore, means the widening of the horizon and the change in direction of seeing. A mystic is often called a seer. And a great Yogi has said, 'In order to see what is before you, you must first see within yourself.' This means that within oneself there is a mirror, and it is that mirror which may be called the inner world, the inner life. It is in this mirror that all that is before one is reflected. When the eyes are looking outward one turns one's back to the mirror, which is inside. But when the eyes are turned inward then one sees reflected in this mirror all that is outside. By this process all seeing becomes so clear and manifests to such fullness that compared with it the outer vision is a blurred or confused vision.
Two persons may live together for twenty-five years, for forty or for fifty years, and may still not be able to understand one another because of the lack of inner life. Yet the inner life would enable them to understand one another in a moment. When it is said that the twelve Apostles began to understand the language of all nations, did they learn the grammar of all nations at that moment? No, they learned the language of the heart. The language of the heart speaks more loudly than words can speak. If the ears of the heart were open to hear that language, outer words would not be necessary.
Humanity, in spite of all its progress, is still most limited. And the more one sees the limits of this progress the more one finds that it is because of the absence of inner life. When one reads in stories and histories of the past how many thieves and robbers and highwaymen there used to be, and how many murders were committed, one feels that it was a dreadful time. And yet when one thinks more deeply about it one sees that the situation at present is much worse and that the days of robbers and highwaymen were much milder. Then one or two persons in a village were murdered. Now towns and countries are swept away. War has swept away a large part of humanity. Imagine if another war comes what will be the result? They say people have progressed, that they are more thoughtful, but with all this thoughtfulness they seem only to have progressed in order to cause destruction and disasters to a much greater degree. Does it mean that humanity is not progressing? It is progressing, but in which direction? Downward.
It is a condition of taking the path of the inner life that one should first be free. If the feet are pinned and the hands are nailed by beliefs, by preconceived ideas, by one's thoughts, then one stands still. One may have every desire to go on, but one is not going on, because one is holding on to something. When a person is holding on to certain beliefs, he is not going forward. And with many good qualities and high ideals, with religious tendencies, with a devotional temperament, with all the spiritual qualities that one may have, yet one can still remain standing in the same place. Either these ideas are holding the feet as if with nails, or the hands are somewhere holding on to the railing and not letting one go further.
What the inner life requires first is freedom to proceed. The old meaning of freedom is very little understood, although everyone is seeking freedom. So much is said about freedom, but one can be free of everything except one thing, and that is the self – the last thing one thinks about. The conception of freedom is quite different at this time, and although seeking freedom man is anything but free because he is caught in the trap of his own self. This is the greatest captivity there is. There he remains like the jinn in the bottle.
The inner life also requires sacrifice. Man considers that his learning, his qualifications, everything in his life, are there in order that he may gain everything he can in the world – power, possessions, wealth, anything – and believing that sacrifice is quite contrary to gain, he thus develops in himself a nature for gaining instead of sacrificing. Besides sacrifice requires a large mind, it requires deep sympathies, great love. Sacrifice is the most difficult thing. Inner life is something which is within oneself. It has been called a chamber of divine light in one's heart. The door remains closed until an effort is made to open it, and that effort is sacrifice. The Bible speaks of self-denial. But this is often misinterpreted. Self-denial according to general belief means denying oneself all that is good and beautiful, all that is worth attaining. But in reality self-denial does not mean denying oneself all that is good and beautiful, it means denying the self. And that is the last thing one wishes to deny. And the automatic action of this denial is to open the door to the inner life.
The sages who have realized the inner life have realized it by contemplative means. Man from his infancy is unaware of that something in him which is more than a faculty. By experiencing life only through the outer sense this faculty, which is the faculty of inner life, becomes closed through not being used, and this is just as if the door of a chamber of joy and light and life were closed. And as from infancy one has not experienced the joy and life and light of this chamber, which may be called a celestial chamber in the heart of man, one remains unaware of it.
Nevertheless one may sometimes have this feeling unconsciously. And sometimes when one is deeply touched, when one has suffered deeply, when life has shown its hideous side, or after an illness, or by the help of meditation, this feeling which is unconsciously working as a longing to unfold itself, becomes manifest. In what way? In love of solitude, in sympathy for others, in a tendency towards sincerity, in the form of inspiration coming from all that is good and beautiful. It may manifest in the form of emotion, love, affection, in the form of inspiration, of a revelation, of a vision, or as art, poetry, or music. In whatever form one allows it to express itself, or with whatever one happens to be occupied, it begins to manifest in that form.
Everything becomes spiritual once this door of the chamber of the heart is open. If a man is a musician, then his music is celestial. If he is a poet, then his poetry is spiritual. If he is an artist, then his art is a spiritual work. Whatever he may do in life that divine spirit manifests. He need not be a religious person, he need not be a philosopher, he need not be a mystic. It is simply that what was hidden in him and thereby was keeping his life incomplete begins to manifest to view, and that makes his life perfect. That enables a man to express life in its fullness. Every attempt made today to better the condition of humanity through politics, education, social reconstruction, and many other ways, all these, however excellently planned, can only be fulfilled if this something which was missing is added to them. But in the absence of this, all the efforts of many, many years will prove to be futile. For this something which is missing is the most essential of all. The world cannot remain a world without rainfall. The world cannot progress without a spiritual stimulus, a spiritual awakening. It need not be the first thing, it is natural that it should not be so. But it should at any rate be the last thing, and if it is not even the last then it is most regrettable.
How are the meditative souls awakened, how do they experience the inner life? In the first place the adept values his object of attaining the inner life more than anything else in life. As long as he does not really value it, so long he remains unable to attain it. That is the first condition: that man should value the inner life more than anything else in the world, more than wealth, power, position, rank, or anything else. It does not mean that in this world he should not pursue the things he needs. It means he should value most something which is really worthwhile.
The next thing is that when one begins to value something one thinks it is worthwhile giving time to it. For in the modern world it is said that time is money, and money today means the most valuable thing. So if a person gives his precious time to what he considers most worthwhile, more so than anything else in the world, then that is certainly the next step towards the inner life. And the third thing is that the condition of his mind should be relieved of that pressure which is always in a person's heart, when he thinks that he has not done what he ought to have done towards his fellow men, be it father, mother, child, husband, wife, brother, friend, or whoever it is.
If that pressure is troubling the mind, then that mind is not yet ready. A person may give his valuable time to contemplation, to a spiritual life, yet at the same time his mind is disturbed, his heart is not at rest, for he feels he has not done his duty, he has a debt to pay to someone. It is an essential point that the adept takes care that any debt to be paid in life does not remain unpaid. When we look at life, is it not a market-place? The give and take is to be seen in everything, and if one does not pay now the bill will be presented afterwards. And if one thinks that one has gained something without paying, in the end one will realize that one has to pay with added interest.
Man does not know in what form he has to pay, nor in what form he does the taking. Very often he does not know when he takes or what he gives. But every moment of his life is occupied in give and take, and all the injustice of the world adjusts itself in the end. A clear understanding of this condition will show that it all balances. If there were no balance the world would not exist. This ever-moving world, turning round and round, what holds it, what makes it stable? It is balance. And not only the world, but everything else too: the whole of life in its own way. Being occupied by our worldly life, we are not aware of that balance, but when the inner eye is open and one sees life clearly, one will find that there is a continual balancing process going on, and that we as particles of one mechanism are constantly busy keeping this balance. When once the heart is at rest through the feeling that one has paid, or is paying, one's debts, then one comes to a balanced condition in life. Then the heart, which is likened to the sea, is no longer restless as it is during the storm, but like calm, undisturbed water; and it is that condition which enables man to experience inner life more fully.
Do we not often notice the disturbing presence of people who have not got that tranquility, that peace, that calmness? It is a terrible influence upon themselves and a disastrous influence upon others. One can realize this in one's everyday life. One may be sitting in an office with someone, one may be standing in a certain place, one may be staying in a house where other people are, and one can realize by their atmosphere whether they have reached a state of balance, tranquility, calm, and peace, or whether they are out of rhythm, unbalanced. This shows that what we call happiness and unhappiness is a question of a balanced or an unbalanced state. When a person's mind and heart are in the state in which they ought normally to be, he need not seek for happiness. He is happiness itself, he radiates happiness. When that state is disturbed he is unhappy. It is not that unhappiness comes to him, but that he himself is unhappiness.
The Hindu idea is that self means happiness, that the depth of the self is happiness. This means that all this outer structure, the physical body, the breath, the senses of perception, all of which help to make man, are most important; but his inner being can be called by only one name, and that is happiness. It is natural, therefore, that everyone should be seeking for happiness, though not knowing where to get it and always seeking for it outside himself. And instead of finding the happiness which is his own, he tries to get the happiness of another. But what happens is that he can neither get happiness from another nor can he give it. By trying to get it from another he causes sorrow to that one, and the sorrow comes back to him.
The robbers who go into other people's houses to steal are few in number, but there are many robbers of happiness, and they seldom know that they are robbing others of their happiness. The robber of happiness is more foolish than the robbers who go after wealth, for when they are successful, they at least get something. But the robber of happiness never gets anything. He only gives sorrow to others.
Inner life, therefore, must not be considered, as many have thought it to be, a life which is spent in the forest or in a cave of the mountain or in retirement. Naturally certain people need to seek solitude – those who prefer to be away from the turmoil of the world, whose inspiration is stimulated and who find themselves by being alone. But it is not a necessity for attaining happiness. One can be in the midst of the world and yet stand above the world. Life has many woes, and the only way to get rid of them is to stand above them all; and this can be attained by one thing and one thing only – by the discovery of the inner life.