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Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden


The mind is not the brain, but that faculty, that intangible and imperceptible activity of which the brain is merely a vehicle. Man limits things that are unlimited and beyond his power of measurement, and therefore he has pictured God in human form or given sacredness to the forms of animals. A person of larger mind has a larger view, and perhaps sees good in everybody, whereas one with a mind always wanting to find some evil will be able to find a trace of evil even in a good person. That means that man is accustomed from childhood to measure and understand things according to his way of understanding, and to examine them in the limited way peculiar to himself.

The Vedantas, which represent the ancient philosophy of the Hindus, using Sanskrit, the mother of languages, employ the word Manu or Manushi for 'man.' Mana is mind, and the English word 'man' has the same origin. This shows that the origin of man's being is his mind; and his external form is so much before his eyes that it hides the other aspect of his being, which seems, in comparison to this, to be invisible. His body is here, but his mind may be in China; the real he is not here.

In the story of the Prophet's life his journey to heaven is related. It is said that a heavenly animal came down to earth and took the Prophet to heaven. This means that the Prophet visited heaven in his mind. It is the state of mind which is heaven; it is the state of mind which is hell; it is the state of mind that makes one great, or feeble, or insignificant, strong or weak. In the Hindu writings it is said, 'Your success or failure depends entirely on your mind. If your mind has failed, no one can bring success; but even if everything has gone wrong, and your mind is set on success, the success is there!'

The more we think of the mind, the more we understand the nature of the human being. The tendency to sin or virtue, the temperament, the attitude towards right and wrong, failure and success, in fact all changes in life, are entirely dependent on the condition of the mind. The dream tells the state of the mind at the time; the mind is in full play when a person is asleep. It is not free during the waking hours because of the occupations of the day. The dream will show the state of a patient's mind. It is a disturbance of the mind that produces coma.

Whatever a man desires, that desire informs us of the state of mind he is in, and those who understand the mind well, know the mind of another simply by studying the desires and tendencies of his life. Love of a rose, a lily, a jasmine, of sweet, sour, salt, or savory things, expresses the particular tendency of a person's mind, the mood he is in. Modern education omits the study of the truth which teaches us that unity comes from nature's variety, whereas the sole aim of the mystic is to keep near to the idea of unity and to find out where we unite.

There is an Arabic saying, 'If you wish to know God, you must know yourself.' How little man knows while he is in the intoxication of individualism! He thinks, 'I am a separate being; you are another; there is no connection between you and me, and we all have our own joys and free will.' Did man but know it, his life is dependent not only on the objects and things that keep the body alive, but also on the activity of a thousand minds in a day. Every time a man laughs it is the reflection of his mind, controlled by the power of another person's mind. Why does he feel sometimes sad, sometimes glad, sometimes cheerful, sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes tired without reason, sometimes depressed and exhausted? We meet so many minds throughout the day and night which are reflected in our own mind; and so the thoughts are changed, seemingly without reason, yet the whole activity of life depends on these thoughts and is changed according to them.

Who then can say, 'I am an individual, independent and free, I can think as I wish, and I can do what I wish?' We are not doing what we wish; we are not thinking what we wish. There are various thoughts around us in the form of men and animals and entities which influence our mind and feeling and thought; we cannot escape them. No one can escape being affected by another person's mind. There is always some person stronger that us, and always someone weaker than ourselves. We are connected with one another. Our lives are tied together, and there is a link in which we can see one current running through all. There are many globes and lamps, and yet one current is running through all.

The mystic seeks to realize this constantly and to impress it on his mind in whatever he may see. What, for him, are the waves of the sea? Are they not the sea itself? Their individuality exists only in so far as one wave rises and falls. It rises and falls, but it merges into the sea. The new wave is a different wave altogether. What, for him, is the tree? There is one stem; the leaves spring from it, change their color, and drop off. But at the same time the life of the whole tree depends on the root and stem, and any damage done to either of these affects every branch and bough, every part of the tree. What, for him, is the body? Eyes, nose, head, which of them is his self? The hand has a separate name, the fingers have separate names; every part has a different name. Myriads of thoughts, myriads of imaginations, myriads of feelings! Can we ever number their variety? The different emotions, the different kinds of sorrows, the different grades of joy, can we ever distinguish them or classify them? Our being has so many aspects, but what is it after all that calls itself 'I,' 'me?' It is one, not many. It is simply that if we had no body or mind, we could not realize that we exist. Through all this variety one realizes, 'I am one.'

The same ideas work further in the mind, until man finds that oneness which exists behind all these numerous names and forms, and in which he will unite with his Lord. This shows that the experience of individuals, the thoughts, feelings and knowledge of individuals and the experience of nations, of races, throughout all ages and periods of history, have not belonged only to individuals, not even to the multitude, to the nations, the races, but have always gone back till they came to that depth where they were assimilated with what is called the divine mind.

All the different minds are the different leaves of one tree. Some minds are branches, some are boughs of the tree, and there is only the one source to which all are attached. No object or life can exist without one central point in which everything meets and joins together; and that meeting-ground is the divine mind. The Brahmins therefore taught people to bathe at the place where rivers meet; the purification of life was symbolized by bathing at Sangam. Those who really understood knew that this pictured the divine mind, that in life purification lies in touching that depth of life's sea in which the myriads of forms and names all join. The activity of all beings is directed from that center. The Quran says that no single atom moves independently of the hand of God. That is, no activity of any kind takes place, either here or in the starry space, without the impulse from within, from that depth of life where all minds and the effects of all activity unite.

Coming now to the moral side of the subject, we may ask in what way we should carry on our life. Should we be satisfied by depending on one power working? That would be just like paralysis of a part of the body. The hand would not move. Just think, where have our thoughts and impulses come from?

Should we then act upon every impulse that comes? Should we not take action in every case, seeing they all come from God? No, for it is the realization of the mind that makes things right or wrong, good or bad, spiritual or material. It is your own thought; not the action. It is as you make it. Although the impulse is from within, if it is wrong, you have made it wrong; if it is right, it is because you make it so. The law justifies you. There is no other law. It is your law.

Every mind whether stupid or wise, wicked or virtuous, loves goodness and beauty. What is good? Good is that which is beautiful, what you admire, what you cannot help admiring. You admire the beauty of a person's kindness, beauty of action, feeling, and thought. Nobody tries to see ugliness or to follow the path of evil. Is there anyone who will say, 'Please do not be kind to me; please deceive me?' No one likes to be fooled. Wickedness is to seek to gain and not to give; but even the wicked person is still awake to beauty.

The mystic is guided by his own mind. That which we seek in life we must give to another; if it is kindness, give it; if goodness, give it; if service, give it. The whole secret of happiness in life lies in this. When we seek happiness in the kindness of another, it means that we depend on the kindness of another person to make us happy; and as long as we look to another to make us happy, we keep expecting that which we ought ourselves to have given. Not till then do we know what justice is.

The world is a dome, where every action is the echo of another. Do good, it will come back. If not from one person, it will come from another. That is the echo. You do not know from which side it will come. It will come a hundredfold more than you give.

If we give love, will we get coldness? If we do good, can we get evil? We cannot be a judge of the action of another until we ourselves are selfless. Only then will justice come to us; only then will we understand the nature of justice. Self is the wall between us and justice. There is only one thing that is truly just, and that is to say, 'I must not do this.' But when we say this to another we may be wrong.

The mystic develops his mind in this manner, purifying it by pure thought, feeling, and action, only following this one line of thought. Pure means free from sense of separateness. Whatever difference in principles of right and wrong religious faith may show, no two individuals will ever differ in this one natural principle. Every soul seeks after beauty; and every virtue, righteousness, good action, is nothing but a glimpse of beauty.

Once having this moral, the Sufi does not need to follow a particular belief or faith, to restrict himself to a particular path. He can follow the Hindu way, the Muslim way, the way of any Church or faith, provided he treads this royal road: that the whole universe is but an immanence of beauty. We are born with the tendency to admire it in every form, and we may not blind ourselves by being dependent on one particular line of beauty. We will not get it from another. Give it. Let us make our action, our thought beautiful, and let others profit by it.

How is the perfection of mind reached that we have to touch? It is reached through contemplation, through realization and understanding of the one current running through the whole of life. We begin to contemplate on that. The mind, which we call in religious language the Almighty, and in mystical terms the divine mind, is the depth of life, the depth of activity, with which all activity and every activity is connected.

Therein lies the whole of religion. The mystic's prayer is to that beauty, and his work is to forget the self, to lose himself like a bubble in the water. The wave realizes, 'I am the sea,' and by falling into the sea prostrates itself before its God. As it is said, 'Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'

checked 18-Oct-2005