Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
THE WILL, HUMAN AND DIVINE
The will is the same, whether it be human or divine. The only difference is that in one aspect it is the whole, in the other aspect it is a part. In one aspect it is almighty, in the other it has only a certain might, or a certain power; in one aspect it is unlimited, in the other it is limited.
The difference between the divine and the human will is like the difference between the trunk of a tree and its branches; and as from the boughs other branches and twigs spring, so the will of one powerful individual has branches going through the will of other individuals. In a tree there is a trunk, and there are some prominent or large branches, from these there spring many smaller branches. So there are powerful beings, the masters of humanity. Their will is God's, their word is God's word, and yet they are branches, because the trunk is the will of the Almighty. As the branches grow, so we too grow; as the branches develop, we develop; as the branches flourish, we flourish; as the branches bear fruit, we bear fruit; as the branches are capable of rising, we too rise. Whether the branch be large or small, every branch has the same origin and the same root as the stem. Therefore, whether a person be holy or wicked, wise or foolish, he has in his innermost spirit the same essence and the same power that the wise have.
There is no reason for anyone to feel discouraged by his weaknesses or deficiencies, or by his actions that have dissatisfied him, or by anything in life that has failed. He should forget the past that has failed him, and begin to construct and mold his future as he would wish it to be. Considering that as a branch is not separate from the bough, and the bough is not separate from the stem, so with all our limitations we are not separate from the will of the Unlimited One.
In Sufi terms these two aspects of will are called Qaza and Qadr. Sometimes we think, 'If I could see that friend it would be so pleasant', and at the same time there comes a desire, 'If I could have some nice flowers', and then a friend comes bringing a bunch of our favorite ones. Or we may desire to have fish to eat, and the cook brings a savory dish of fish. Sometimes this is due to the strength of one's own will, and sometimes it is the soul working in harmony with the divine will. One only knows when it is in harmony with the divine will and when not by noting the results, and the one who knows beforehand is the seer.
Sometimes things are accomplished without the least effort. When it is the divine will it is like something floating on water; it advances without effort. Problems and actions may be achieved in a moment then, whilst at other times the smallest problem cannot be solved without great difficulty. One finds that some persons are very clever and experienced in industrial work or in politics; and they have striven very hard to attain their goal, and yet have accomplished nothing; they are always a failure. And there are others who take up a thing, and without much effort, without much worry on their part they complete it and attain their goal.
All this is accounted for by harmony with the divine will. Everyone experiences such a thing at some time or other. When things are in harmony with the divine will, everything is there; we just glance towards a thing and it is found, as in the saying, 'Word spoken, action done.' When we strive with all the material in our hands and yet cannot achieve our desire, that is when the matter is contrary to the divine will. Our success or failure all depends upon the harmony or disharmony of our individual will with the divine will.
But if our individual will is a branch of the divine will, if its source is the same, how can it ever be out of harmony? Sometimes the hand sympathizes with the foot, at other times it does not. We hurt ourselves many times just because of disharmony; we may cut ourselves, our fingers for instance. If then, I, who am one with the divine person, can cause harm to myself, and suffer thereby, why should it not be possible that the human will should be out of harmony with the divine, so that the divine suffers thereby? It is possible to act in a way contrary to the divine will, even though one is only a branch of it. In a fountain there is a big stream which flows up and then breaks into many drops. The stream is like the divine will, and the different drops like the wills in us. One drop goes higher, another lower, one falls to the left, another to the right, one goes north, another south. But the source of all this activity is one; it is one thing that turns into so many, scattering in all directions. Thus from unity there has come variety.
The sages have therefore taught the part played by contentment. It is said, 'Resist not evil,' and yet how many give in to evil instead! The real meaning of the scripture is: suppose a person is angry with us, if we partake of his anger we resist him; the fire he sets alight in our minds we allow to become alight in ourselves, and we have resisted. Do not resist evil in that way. Do not partake of the evil of another. If you are quiet and calm, your calmness and quietness will have a greater effect on the other than his anger, so that true resistance is practice of contentment. Patience is the best quality that man can cultivate. We are always apt to become excited or annoyed when another person does not understand us. Why get excited if he cannot understand us? If a person is foolish or cannot do things right, by becoming excited we make him still more foolish, still more stupid. We cannot help him in that way, and we partake of his quality by allowing ourselves to oppose him. If we kept our mind tranquil, if we had patience, we should keep in harmony. Harmony is the greatest thing to learn in life. All the disagreement between couples, friends, people in business and politics, comes from lack of patience. If we just had patience and contentment, we could teach ourselves much better.
Contentment teaches resignation. But this resignation is not exactly what people mean by fate. The true recognition of fate is like the drop realizing that it is foolish to fight against the ocean. The drop is part of the ocean. Why want to fight it? If the drop does not resign itself, of what profit will it be? Why believe that what we think is right, and no one can be right who thinks otherwise? We should remember that another person does not see as we see, because each one sees only a reflection of the highest Ego that works in man though he is unconscious of it. To him it is right, but to the other it need not appear right. It is only right for that one person, for that one moment; later it may not appear so. The limited being cannot claim the perception of the Unlimited; thus we cannot regard our own will as being the universal Will unless our will is in harmony with the will of God. We should therefore practice harmonizing our will with that of our fellow men, by tolerance, patience, endurance; because in this world every ego is working for itself, however near or dear another may be. Everyone thinks, 'What can I make another person do for me?' He wants everybody to be in harmony with his way of life. That is why there is a world full of rebellion, like the thorns in the rose bush.
It may seem a great sacrifice and torment to practice patience, but it is the only way to get out of the whirlpool; it is the only way that one can conquer life's difficulties. If anybody has ever conquered, he has only done so by this means; never by the means of resistance, but always by the way of resignation. All teachers have taught this way, saying, 'Prostrate thyself on the ground; prostrate thyself before God; kneel down.' Some of us fail to appreciate this, but the messengers do not leave anything unspoken; it is we who do not understand what they say. People fight for their religions; if we were just to learn the one instead! The question should always be: have we learned our own religion? To have learned it means to practice it and see its benefit. However fast we may try to run away from it, we will still find this lesson to learn. We have to make ourselves strong and prepared to withstand all that befalls us. Therefore we must develop our will power first by such morals, and be able to harmonize our will with others.
One thinks one can develop will power by fighting (with others), but that is not so, because by fighting we make very little progress; by fighting with ourselves we progress a hundred times more. Our greatest enemy is ourself. Our weakness, our ignorance keeps us from the truth of our being, from all the virtues hidden in us and all perfection hidden in our souls. The first self we realize is the false self. Unless the soul is born again it will not see the kingdom of heaven. The soul is first born into the false self; it is blind. In the true self the soul opens its eyes. Unless the false self is fought with, the true self cannot be realized. Therefore endurance is necessary, patience is necessary.
If only we could fight with ourselves so that we became able to give pleasure to others! Sages are as harmonious with a pious person as with a wicked one, as harmonious with a wise man as with a foolish, with a rich as with a poor man. We feel friendly towards some, not towards others; we get on well with some, but with others there is always disharmony while with others again everyone feels peaceful and happy.
The lions could not harm Daniel because of the harmony of his will with the universal Will. The lions represent the destructive elements in the human mind. They represent wars, disappointments, rivalries, jealousies, envy, passions, and so forth, in different horrible guises. Our ego is the lion of lions, and if this is conquered, then these external lions - the different egos around us - are conquered also, and wherever we go, with anyone, whether foolish or wise, good or bad, we now have peace.
To learn the lesson of how to live is more important than any psychic or occult learning. Every day we think we have learned the lesson, but if we had the world would have become a heaven for us now. We may seek the higher knowledge or the higher things, but the very smallest thing, the control of all the creatures of the mind, which seems as nothing compared with the higher knowledge, once learnt and acted upon is greater than all. This is a great step; yet how difficult to gain this, how reasonless it seems! But when we pause to think of the difference between ourselves and animals, we see the greatness in this simple thing of yielding the will. If there is one animal in a place and another one comes to it, the first one wants to bite or bark, or even drive him out of his sight. A dog will do that even if he has finished his dinner and does not want to eat the food that has attracted the hungry dog to the place.
There is an Eastern parable of a dog going to a certain town. His journey was a very long one, taking two or three days as a rule, and yet he arrived before sunset of the same day. The dogs of that town were all very surprised to see him so soon. 'Yes, it was a very long journey,' the dog said, 'but I attribute my speed to the kindness and help of my fellow-dogs. Since I left home, Whenever I felt tired and tried to stop for a moment to rest, four or five would run up and bark at me and want to bite me. So I had to run on without staying to rest in that place, or to search for food. And so it went on at every place I came to, until in the end I have arrived here at my destination.'
This illustrates the animal nature. Man's selfishness shows itself in wanting to get the better of his fellow man. If we developed humanity we should do differently. We should be satisfied with a slice of bread if there were another in need, but as it is, it happens that even when we are fed ourselves, we do not wish anyone else to share the food. The human heart can only be really satisfied by knowing that the other person is happy. True pleasure lies in the sharing of joy with another. From the day that we realize this we begin to act as human beings; hitherto we have not done so even though we have human forms.
Sages have always repented of all things that make them animal. It is human beings that repent; the animals are pleased with everything that they do. The Bible says, 'Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.' This has to be done all day long. Once one has realized it, the kingdom of God is at hand. The sinner can become righteous at any moment if he makes up his mind; the difficulty is to make it up. The next thing is to carry it out. Revolutions and harmony, war and peace, are all parts of the whole being. But contentment and perfect resignation open up a harmonious feeling and bring the divine will into harmony with our own. Our blessing now becomes a divine blessing, our words divine words, our atmosphere a divine atmosphere, although we seem to be limited beings; for our will becomes absorbed into the whole, and so our will becomes the will of God.