IN EVERY SCRIPTURE it is mentioned that man is the ideal
of creation. In the Quran it is said, 'We have made man
the Caliph of the whole creation', in other words, the master
of creation. The deeper we study life the clearer we see
that life, under all its aspects, under all its names and
forms, is constantly working towards the plane of the human
being, helping the human being in his life's purpose which
is to become God's instrument. One can see that camels,
elephants and horses yield to the will of man. One sees
that animals like dogs and cats, that birds like parrots
and many singing birds, such as canaries, in time become
satisfied even when imprisoned in a cage; in their captivity
they can enjoy the companionship of man.
It is said that saints and sages in ancient times knew
the language of animals. That was not only true in the ancient
days, it is true in all times. One can hear what the animals
say, one can understand their language. It is a matter of
opening the heart, it is the ears of the heart that can
hear their language, which cannot be understood in any other
way. What one hears is a word, coming from the heart of
the animals, which is expressed most in their glance that
says not only, 'I love you', or, 'I adore you', but, ' I
would like to be like you'. When the dog and the cat look
at man, they do not only say, 'I love You', it is more than
that; it is, really speaking, the perfect desire. Desire
has its stages, there is a stage of desire where one wishes
to be like another. That desire reaches its highest stage
when one wants to become another, and herein lies the secret
of the mystics and the mystery of life.
When a sculptor wishes to create an object he needs clay,
and with it he makes different models in order to produce,
to bring forth the perfect object he desires. So all God's
creation, in all its stages from animal and bird to man,
and in all the different aspects of names and forms which
we see before us, is a preparation to fulfill the desire
of God which is man. God's words in the Quran are, 'We have
made man that he may enjoy the creation'. If there is any
form of life that pleases God it is man.
No doubt man, through his ignorance, has exaggerated
this ideal and has gone a little astray. He does not recognize
divinity in man, he wants to separate the divine from man.
Christ did not. He did not say, ' My father in heaven';
he said, 'Our Father in heaven'. But when man in his ignorance
separates Christ from God and Christ from man, man from
Christ and man from God, he misinterprets that most beautiful
idea of God given by Christ: the Fatherhood of God and the
blessed sonship of man.
Through all the different processes of life evolution
has progressed and man, as the ideal of creation, has risen
higher than all, which shows that man represents divinity
to the whole universe. For instance, the mineral is in man,
the vegetable kingdom is in man, the angel is in man, and
there is no being of the heavens and of the earth that man
does not reflect. No one has ever pictured an angel as different
from man; whenever man's imagination produces an angel it
sees the angel which is in man – as it also finds a devil
in man. Man embraces in himself all the different classes
of beings, and at every step he develops and becomes greater
than those. If he develops the animal nature, he is more
animal than the animals, if he develops devilishness he
becomes greater than the devils, and in developing the angelic
nature he becomes greater than the angels, for after all
angels have bowed at the feet of man. Thus every spirit,
every element throughout the whole world, is to be found
in man – and yet man is puzzled as to the purpose of his
The moment man realizes this, the soul begins to open
its eyes to truth, but until then, man is asleep. His soul
is not yet born. No doubt the answer to man's questions
comes in time. Perhaps a thousand answers will come one
after another. Every answer will explain something
and yet something will be left unexplained. Every veil we
lift gives an answer, yet not the answer. Another answer
is still waiting to come in time.
When we observe the purpose of the lives of the different
beings in the world we shall surely find a distinct purpose
in the life of the human being. For instance, man is very
much inclined to pleasure, food, drink and play. Now if
he was born for that, how is it that the animals also have
those tastes? They are also fond of food and play, but gaining
those necessities of life – those animal necessities – causes
great disturbance in the case of man, whereas with animals
they cause very little of it. If food and sleep and free
dwelling can give happiness, then the animal is much happier
than man. Man, after the toil of the day, thinks, 'How can
I find the means to satisfy my desire for pleasure?' He
can never be so peaceful, so contented as the animals. If
food, drink and play were the purpose of his life,
man would be the most miserable of beings.
Then arises the question: is man born to cause all the
falsehood, deceit, treachery and harshness that he inflicts
upon others? The answer is that, no doubt, he makes life
easy for himself by falsehood and by doing harm to others,
but at the same time he often is very miserable and cannot
avoid the result of everything he does. All the hurt and
harm he causes to others must return to him some time or
other a thousandfold.
If it were purposed that man should be an angel and lead
a pious, good and retired life in the wilderness, in the
forest, or in the caves of the mountains, there would have
been no necessity to create him. The angels would have been
sufficient, for through the very nature of his being a man
cannot live as pure, pious and spiritual a life as the angels
who are not burdened with the material world. This shows
that man was born neither to become an angel nor to be an
animal, living the life of an animal. The whole universe
is for man.
How can we find out the qualities which may be considered
to be human qualities? They will be apart from the angelic,
devilish and animal qualities, and there chiefly is one
which can be called a distinct quality of man: sympathy.
A great poet has said in Hindi, 'Sympathy is the root of
religion, and so long as the spirit of sympathy is living
in your heart, it is illuminated with the light of religion'.
This means that religion and morals can be summed up in
one thing and that is sympathy, which in the words of Christ,
as interpreted in the Bible, is charity. All beautiful qualities
as tolerance, forgiveness, gentleness, consideration, reverence
and the desire to serve – all these come from sympathy.
Another poet has said in Urdu that it was for sympathy that
man was created, and the day when man discovers this special
attribute in himself, he is shown his first lesson of how
life should be lived.
First we find how many things there are in life that
we should be grateful for, but in our troubles and in the
miseries around us the things for which we should be grateful
are forgotten, and instead of thankfulness we develop an
ungrateful nature. The more complaining a person, the less
gratitude he shows in his nature, and the more his gratitude
develops, the more he will begin to understand. Sadi says,
'The sun, the moon, the planets, the air, the water and
the earth are all serving you, aiding life's purpose and
preparing for your food. Yet you regard all this unthankfully,
absorbed in your own little troubles which are as nothing
before the great forces of nature, always working, night
and day.' Our little troubles overwhelm and disorder our
life, and by our absorption we are robbed of the knowledge
of God's perfection and greatness.
The first lesson given to man was to be grateful for
his daily bread, because that was the greatest necessity
of his life. Now that has become so simple and life has
changed so much that man forgets to be thankful. He even
thinks, 'Why should I give thanks?' He forgets that behind
his own personality he covers God. His own toil seems more
to him than the toil of every atom of nature that is preparing
blessings for him.
Self-pity is the worst poverty; it is the source of all
unhappiness and blinds man to all he should be thankful
for. The constantly complaining habit and the tendency to
demand sympathy from others bring the greatest thorn into
man's life: he becomes dependent upon the sympathy of others.
The best thing is to give sympathy. The food of which every
soul is in need is the understanding and sympathy of another.
Man's greatest enemy is his ego which manifests itself
in selfishness. Even in his doing good, in his kind actions,
selfishness is sometimes at work. When he does good with
the thought that one day it may return to him and that he
may share in the good, he sells his pearls for a price.
A kind action, a thought of sympathy, of generosity, is
too precious to trade with. One should give and, while giving,
close the eyes. Man should remember to do every little action,
every little kindness, every act of generosity with his
whole heart, without the desire of getting anything in return
making a trade out of it. The satisfaction must be in doing
it and in nothing else.
Every step in evolution makes life more valuable. The
more evolved you are, the more priceless is every moment;
it becomes an opportunity for you to do good to others,
to serve others, to give love to others, to be gentle to
others, to give your sympathy to souls who are longing and
hungering for it. Life is miserable when a person is absorbed
in himself; as soon as he forgets himself he is happy. The
more he thinks of himself, his own affairs, work and interests,
the less he knows the meaning of life. When a person looks
at another he cannot at the same time look at himself. Illness,
disappointments and hardships matter very little when one
can look at them from a higher standpoint.
Besides this moral point of view there is the mystical
aspect, and when looking from the mystical point of view
one sees that God's greatest purpose is accomplished by
man. In explaining this philosophy I should like to give
you the simile of an artist who has produced a beautiful
picture. The dogs have looked at it and the cats have looked
at it, but that is not enough. When a man who has not understood
the idea of the picture, the art, the feeling of it, comes,
looks at it and says, 'There is nothing in it', then the
purpose for which the artist painted the picture is not
attained. At last some one else comes, looks at the picture
and says, 'Oh, what a beautiful idea! It suggests something
to me, I can read something from it, it tells me something,
it is living'. It means that this man has not only understood
the picture, but has understood the soul of the artist.
The whole beauty of creation – the dogs have seen it,
the cats have seen it, the peacocks and other birds have
seen it and in their way they have been delighted, they
have enjoyed it, they have danced and rejoiced over it.
They have admired it in their own way, but man – besides
admiring – sees beyond, his sight penetrates all he sees,
and he touches God, the Creator. It is not only praising
God, but it is knowing and understanding God which gives
the greatest satisfaction to the Deity, because that is
the purpose of the creation of man: that he may understand
and know. And it is only by seeing the sublimity of nature's
beauty, by being impressed by it, by understanding it, by
knowing its language, by hearing its voice, that this can
be done. The man who is living, who can hear and see and
whose heart can feel, has risen above ordinary humanity.
It does not mean that man has to become an angel: he needs
to live a fuller life, a really human life.
What a great thing is understanding! It is priceless.
No man can give greater pleasure to his fellow man than
by understanding him. The closest friend in life is the
one who understands most. It is not your wife, brother or
sister, it is the one who understands you most who is your
greatest friend in the world. You can be the greatest friend
of God if you can understand God. Imagine how man lives
in the world – with closed eyes and closed ears! Every name
and every form speaks constantly, constantly makes signs
for you to hear, for you to respond to, for you to interpret,
that you may become a friend of God. The whole purpose of
your life is to make yourself ready to understand what God
is, what your fellow man is, what the nature of man is,
what life is.
Now coming to a still greater secret of life I want to
answer the question: how can we grow to read and understand
the message that life speaks through all its names and forms?
The answer is that, as by the opening of the eyes you can
see things, so by the opening of the heart you can understand
things. As long as the heart is closed you cannot understand. The secret is that, when the ears and eyes of the
heart are open, all planes of the world are open, all names
are open, all secrets, all mysteries are unfolded.
The question arises: what is the manner of opening the
heart? The way to it is a natural life, the life of the
child, smiling with the smiling one, praying with the praying
one, ready to learn from everyone, ready to love. The child
has enmity against no one, he has no hatred, no malice,
his heart is open. It is in the child that you can see the
smiles of angels; he can see through life.
When the grown-up person is made ready, when he has acquired
the attributes of the child, then he creates heaven within
himself, he understands. The child with his innocence does
not understand, but when a man with understanding develops
the childlike loving tendency, the purity of heart of the
child with the desire to be friendly to all – that is the
opening of the heart, and it is by that blessing that he
can receive all the privileges of human life.