Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
OUR GOD PART AND OUR MAN PART
NOT ONLY in this age but also in past ages, the first thing realized by man has been his own limited existence formed of matter, which he called 'I'. This is not his fault; it is because religions have been interpreted with the intention of dominating the people, of holding them in the grasp of those who understood their meaning. The priests have only allowed people to understand very little, and all the rest they have kept for themselves. They have said, 'You are ordinary beings. God is much too high for you to understand. We can communicate with Him, we can understand Him, but you must stay where you are.'
All his life Buddha fought hard against this. When someone spoke to him of a spirit, of God, or made a show of a holy, a spiritual life, he said, 'I do not believe in it.' But this was very extreme, for it led people into another error; it led them to say that there was no God, no spirit.
Another reason for this separation was that it has always been the tendency of those who had the same way of thought, the same belief or faith, to come together in one group, in one society, in order to have the encouragement of each other's thought. By this they separated themselves from the rest of humanity.
The mystic has never believed with a blind belief. In fact he does not believe, he experiences. He experiences that he is himself the whole Being. There is a verse of a Hindustani poet which says:
Behind the human face God was
It is a very beautiful verse, and it has a deep meaning. All of us have our God part and our man part. Man is made of two things, spirit and substance. The spirit is the finer part and the substance is the grosser part; the finer part, the spirit, has turned into the grosser part. One part is the external, limited self that we see, and the other is the unlimited being.
Man's external self is composed of the five elements, but in reality man is much larger and extends much further than we generally believe. For instance, when someone stands before an audience he appears to be of a certain size; but when he speaks he is as large as the area to which his voice carries. Although a friend or a beloved may be thousands of miles away he will feel our attachment, our affection. The feeling originates here, but manifests over there; this shows that in our feelings we are larger still.
The breath goes still further; by the breath we can send our thoughts wherever we wish, and we are able to know the thought and the condition of every being. The thought of someone who wishes to accomplish a certain thing reaches out in order to prepare it. Man is like a telescope: at one end there is the man part, the limited existence; and at the other end there is the God part, the unlimited Being. At one end we are so small; at the other we are so vast that we are the whole Being.
If each of us is so great, as great as the whole Being, we might ask how there can be room for so many of us. Are there then several whole Beings? There are not. Through our ignorance we see many and make distinctions, saying: 'This is I, that is you, this is a friend, that is an enemy, I like this one, that one I do not like.' But in the hereafter all are connected; there we are all the same.
Man has two natures: Firishtagi, the angelic, and Hayvanat, the animal. Hayvanat means man's body and that part of his nature which needs food and drink and sleep and the satisfaction of all its passions. His anger and his jealousy are animal, also his fear of one who is stronger than himself and his envy of someone who is better than himself. In all these man is the same as the animals.
Firishtagi is the part of his nature that goes back to its source. It is not man's intelligence; the animals also have intelligence, though the animals cannot ask, 'From whence have I come? For what purpose am I here?' When man knows this, when he recognizes his origin, then he is a divine being. This angelic nature is his kindness, his love, his sympathy, and his desire for knowledge. A great Hindustani poet has said, 'We created man for feeling; for Our praise, the angels in Heaven were enough.'
In his worship man, thinking that he glorifies God, in reality reduces God. We take a part and call it 'I'. We occupy this part and thereby deduct this part from God. I remember that my murshid when he met with any difficulty used to say with a deep sigh, 'Bandagi bi-charagi', which means, 'By coming here, He has become helpless'.
What connection is there between Allah and Banda, between God and man, and what connection is there between man and God? What we call 'I' is formed by the impressions of the external world, of the world of illusion, which have fallen upon the soul. An infant will never say, 'I'. If it has something in its hand and one takes it away, it does not care. It does not distinguish between old and young. Whoever comes near to it, friend or enemy, is the same to the infant. The intellect that recognizes things by their distinctions and differences has deluded the soul.
We can see that that which we call 'I' is not the true nature of our soul because we are never really happy. Whatever we do, whatever we have, whatever power we possess, we can never be happy. We say that this or that makes us unhappy, but it is only the distance that makes us so; the soul is unhappy in its separation.
A person sees that his coat is worn and poor, and he says, 'I am poor'. He sees that his coat is grand and he thinks: 'I am grand'. It is not he who is grand, it is his coat. Whatever is before the soul, the soul recognizes as 'I'. But what is 'I'? The coat is not 'I', because when the coat is taken off, the self remains. When we are not experiencing through the senses the consciousness still remains.
The Sufi, by the inactivity of the senses, by different postures and practices, produces stillness; and then by the repetition of the name of God he merges his consciousness in the whole Consciousness, in God. This has been understood by the Greek philosophers; it has also been understood by the Vedantists. The Sufi keeps to the adoration, the reverence that he has for God; he bows and prostrates himself before God. And he gives the beautiful name of Beloved to God. He understands that by saying, 'This too is God', he glorifies God; he does not reduce Him. With all his humility, with all his devotion, he realizes his oneness with the highest Being.
It is difficult to separate God from man; in reality there is no separation. God's action and man's action are the same; only, God's action is perfect and man's action is imperfect. We upon earth are dependent upon so many things. First of all we must eat. If he did not need to eat, man would not have to work; he could sit with his friends and think of God or of something else. Then he must sleep; and there are so many other necessities.
There is a verse of Zahir which says, 'The seekers have lost themselves before they sought Thee.' And the great poet Amir says, 'Do not say that man is God for he is not God. And do not say that man is separate from God, for he is not separate.'
It is not difficult to have occult or psychic powers; to be virtuous is not difficult, nor to keep our life pure. But to be merciful, to be compassionate, to be human, is difficult. God has many names: the Great, the Almighty, the Sovereign, but He is mostly called the Merciful and the Compassionate. In these qualities we are never perfect, and we never shall be. One should go into one's room at night and repent of what one has done, of all the thousand bad thoughts one has had of friends and enemies. A Persian poet says, 'The whole secret of the two worlds is in these two words: with thy friends be loving, with thy enemies courteous.'
If we have understood this then this world is nothing; and if we have recognized that it is a passing thing, why not let others enjoy themselves while we look on? Why not let others put on a beautiful dress, while we look at it? Why not let others eat a good dinner, while we watch or stay in the kitchen and cook it? Why not let others sit in the carriage, and we pull it, instead of sitting in it ourselves and making others draw it? Keeping our life noble means being merciful and compassionate. But it is the tendency of every man to take what is best from another; even in friendship there is that tendency. All are seeking their own enjoyment and want to leave the worst to another; but if one is a seeker of God one should take the opposite way, even if it is contrary to all the world.
There are three courses: the first is renunciation; this is the way of the saints and the sages. It means following in the ideal and accepting whatever troubles and sorrows and ill-treatment may result. The second is selfishness, which means being more selfish than the rest of the world. The third is the greatest and the most difficult. It means having all the responsibilities, all the cares of life, friends and everything, and being as unselfish, as good as possible and yet just selfish enough not to be trampled upon.
If a person is turning round in a circle, the first time he goes slowly, the second time he goes faster, the fourth time he goes faster still, and the fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth time he will fall down. The first time he experiences the joy of turning, the second and third and fourth times he experiences it more and more, till at last he is drunk with it and falls down and experiences it to the full. This is what the universe has been doing, night and day, from the creation till now. In every activity there is an intoxication. Whatever we do we wish to do more and more, whatever the action may be. If a man is a patriot he will be more and more patriotic. A singer will sing more and more songs until he loses his voice. If a person gambles he will want to do it more and more. If a person has been drunk or drugged he will want more and more of whatever the drink or drugs may be.
Hafiz says, 'Before sunrise the wine was poured out. The wine was borrowed from the eyes of Saqi, the wine-giver.' Saqi is the manifestation which so intoxicates us that we believe that this is all that exists until we have become so enslaved by it that we cannot free ourselves any more.