THERE ARE persons who look at life picturing it as a
school, and it is true that life is as a school. How much
evolved one may be, there is not one day that one does not
learn something new; from the most unevolved person to the
most evolved one this can be seen. The more one realizes
that life is a school, the more one learns from it, and
if one does not learn from it then it is a school just the
same. In this way one can justify the divine Spirit in letting
every soul grow through different experiences: through the
path of pain and pleasure there is something to be learned.
One must not think that the divine Being does not teach
the one who lives in pleasure. Therein is a teaching for
him, and for the one who is in pain there is a teaching
Very often those who think that they can correct someone,
that they can teach someone, that they can guide a person,
that they can direct someone, are apt to forget that they
may do quite the wrong thing. If a thief was told by his
uncle not to steal, not to go and do his work and if he
was held back, that only means that he would go and do it
the next week. But if he goes and robs, if he is arrested
by the police, if he is taken to prison and stays there
for three years, then he has learned his lesson. His uncle
could not teach him; it is life, it is circumstances that
must teach him. It is the experience through which he has
to go that teaches man.
Often one feels that it is unjust on the part of destiny
to put one into conditions that seem very cruel, and one
thinks that it would be kinder on the part of destiny to
teach without troubling. But what, after all, is trouble?
There are no such things as pleasure and pain; only the
comparison between them makes them so. In other words, if
there was no pain one would not be capable of enjoying pleasure,
and if there was no pleasure one would not be capable of
experiencing pain. If that is true, then to the degree to
which one is capable to experience pain, to the same degree
one is able to experience pleasure. The one who cannot experience
pain cannot experience pleasure. The stone has nothing,
it has neither pleasure nor pain. It is the relativity,
it is the relation, the comparison between two experiences
which makes them distinct, but the one cannot be distinct
without the other. Therefore there is the necessity of both
Besides, it is very interesting to see that for one person
it is necessary to go through pain and trouble and effort
in order to come to a certain success or accomplishment,
and for another to come to the same experience there is
no pain, no trouble, it is easy. One might think, 'Why is
it easy for one person and why is it so difficult for the
other one?' It is difficult because the soul needs that
difficulty; it is the need of the soul, it is the want of
the soul. There is a belief that the nightingale sits on
a thorn in order to cry so melodiously. If you look into
the lives of those who go through troubles and sufferings,
you will find that unconsciously they seek trouble, they
look for it. Not consciously; consciously they would run
away from it, but unconsciously they look for it, because
it is good for their souls, it is meant for them. If they
did not have it, they would not reach satisfaction.
It is so interesting to watch how every soul is looking
for trouble. It is not so interesting that every person
is seeking pleasure, but it is most interesting to see how
everyone is seeking his pain, looking out for it. Tagore
says: 'When the string of the violin was being tuned it
felt the pain of being stretched, but once it was tuned
then it knew why it was stretched'. So it is with the human
soul. While the soul goes through pain, torture and trouble
it thinks that it would have been much better if it had
gone through life without it. But once it reaches the culmination
of it then, when it looks back, it begins to realize why
all this was meant: it was only meant to tune the soul to
a certain pitch.
Very often the foolish, those who have no responsibility,
who have no sense of duty, who have no ideal, who have no
principle, seem to enjoy life more than those with an ideal,
with principles, with a sincere heart, with a faithful spirit.
Those who desire to do good, those who desire to serve –
it is they who go through pain and suffering. This only
means that it is not the dead souls who are tried; their
time is to come, their time will come. But the living souls
are tried and tested according to the degree of their development
and they are raised to a higher consciousness – even if
it was necessary to stretch the string of their souls. In
order to tune the string it must be stretched.
Then there is the point of view held by some spiritual
persons that life is a puppet show – and that is true also.
Today a person is rich, tomorrow he becomes poor; today
a person comes to power, tomorrow he is thrown down; today
he comes to great fame and position, tomorrow he is despised
and forgotten. If we look at this world more keenly and
with open eyes, we shall find that it is a puppet show.
There is a hand behind it which makes one doll a king, another
doll a queen or a servant; it is only a night's play, in
the morning they are all dolls.
There is a story of a dervish who spoke with a young
man who was very interested in his words of wisdom. The
young man said, 'If I come to your part of the world, I
will come to see you. Will you tell me where you live?'
The dervish replied, 'I live in the place of the liars'.
This young man thought, 'He is a wise man, he makes such
a deep impression upon me. I cannot understand that he lives
in the place of the liars. It seemed to me that every word
he spoke was truth'. When he went to that country and asked
for the dervish, the people said, 'We do not know any place
of liars, but there is a dervish living somewhere here'.
So they took him near the graveyard where the dervish lived.
The first question the young man asked was, 'Why did you
give me a name which is not the name of the place?' The
dervish replied, 'Yes, this is a place of liars'. It was
the graveyard. He said, 'Come with me, I shall show you.
This here is a tomb, they say, of a general. Where is his
sword, where is his power, where is his voice, what is he
now? Is he a general? Here, this one was called a prime-minister.
Where is his ministry, where is his office, where is his
pen, where is his power? In the same ground! This person
was called a judge. Whom is he judging now? He is in the
ground. Were they not liars? Did they not tell a lie saying
I am so and so, and I am such and such?' This is the point
of view of those who look at life as being a puppet show.
Then there is a third point of view: to look at life
as if it was a play going on on the stage, with the actors
all dressed up as the king, the servant, the minister, the
judge, but when they come away from the stage, they have
only performed their part in the story. They are nothing,
but while they are on the stage it is their duty to perform
the role which they are meant to perform. So one understands
that one is performing the role of a king, of a thief or
of a judge, of a servant or of a prince. It only means that
it is meant so; it is written in the story that it should
be performed like this. It is a play that we all perform
in the whole universe, and each takes part in this play,
a certain part which is given to him maybe a desirable part
or an undesirable part. Only the one who sees it in this
light sees that it is a stage on which a play is performed,
and the one who does not see it in this light thinks that
it is really like this. His life is most difficult.
Then there is again another point of view – that of Hafiz
– that every soul is drunken. It has drunk its ideal, its
principle, its inspiration, its ambition, its thought, its
feeling; it is all a drink. A person who despises another
one – it is a drink he has in him; that intoxication makes
him despise. A person who loves someone – it is a drink,
he has drunk that bowl, he is in that intoxication. If one
praises someone, one has drunk the bowl of beauty. If a
man has revenge against someone, it only means that he has
drunk the bowl of revenge. This life is a wine-press; from
that wine-press each person takes that wine which is made
for him. The one who looks at it all as a cafe where everyone
is drinking, that person is called sober. He sees each person
intoxicated, and he too chooses his wine – but he chooses
it, he drinks the wine and at the same time knows that it
There is another point of view, the point of view of
the majzub: that every head has a madness, a certain madness,
be it of a higher or a lower kind. Why is it madness? Because
it is unique, it is distinct and it is different: every
head has a different thought, an idea different from others.
We call mad someone who has an idea different from others.
But every person has an idea different from others. Knowing
this the majzub tries to act as mad, because he thinks,
'When I am among the mad, then I too must act as mad'. But
the one who tries to act as mad, is not mad; because he
is acting as mad it is different.
Then there is still another point of view of the spiritual
soul, and that is that humanity is to be pitied. The wrongdoer
must be pitied for his doing wrong, and the welldoer must
be pitied because he does not know how to do better. The
foolish one must be pitied because he does not understand
better, and the clever one must be pitied because he is
not wiser. The spiritual soul thinks that humanity is a
process of development of the lower creation, that all that
exists in the lower creation is to be found in humanity
– passion, anger, wrath, spite, vengeance – and that everyone
does not only cause harm to others, but also to himself.
One can only enjoy life when one has got rid of all these
things and does not harm others by his character. Therefore
the one who has this point of view, instead of concerning
himself with others, concerns himself with his own being
and tries to make himself free of all these things in order
to experience the joy that comes from it, proving to the
world the teaching of harmlessness.
This same principle is followed by some others who look
at it in a different light. They think that to please man
is to please God, and to please God is to please man. Therefore
in speaking, in acting or in thinking they do all they can
to avoid causing hurt or harm to another person. In trying
to do everything to please and to serve mankind they think
that it is a service to God.
What is lacking today in the world is idealism. Where
does idealism come from? From deep thought. Today life in
general keeps man so busy in his occupation, in his profession,
in his work of everyday life, that he has no time to think
deeply and better; he does not find his ideal. Among a thousand
persons there is perhaps one person who has an ideal and
knows what ideal he has. All the others do not know it,
they do not have an ideal. Besides, it is not only to have
an ideal, but it is necessary to know the ideal and to attain
to the ideal, to develop towards it, to unfold oneself towards
the ideal. It is that in which lies life's fulfillment.
Ideals are of five different kinds. There is a certain
principle which is a person's ideal, and if he can live
that principle he has lived his ideal. There is a certain
action which is a person's ideal; if he has accomplished
that action then his ideal is fulfilled. There is a belief
which is a person's ideal, and if he is able to keep to
that belief he has fulfilled his ideal. There is a certain
height to which a person wishes to reach, and that mark
which he wishes to reach is his ideal. The fifth ideal is
a person in whom is a man's ideal, and when all the attributes
which that person has are attained then that ideal is fulfilled.
But all these five ideals are as five stepping-stones
to the shrine of God. The greatest ideal, the highest ideal
is the ideal of God. It is not necessary – and yet it is
most necessary – that there should be a stepping-stone to
go to the altar of God. Without this stepping-stone many
are lost. It is often a very rigid soul who will say, 'God
is my ideal. I do not care for any other ideal'. It comes
from his rigidness, for it only means that he does not wish
for the ladder; he wishes to jump from the ground to the
next floor. The ideal of God is the perfect ideal, and in
order to reach it there must be a footstool, there must
be a ladder, there must be a steppingstone which leads to
it – be it a principle, be it a belief, be it an action,
be it a position, be it a person.
It is the poetic nature that is inclined to have an ideal;
it is the artistic nature that has the love of ideal; it
is the musical tendency to look for an ideal. Therefore
ideal is attached to higher intelligence. The lower a person's
evolution the less he is inclined to an ideal; the higher
the person is evolved the more he is inclined to an ideal.
If those great ones – kings, generals, writers, poets, musicians
– have really accomplished something great and made an impression
upon humanity, it was because of their ideal. Without an
ideal, whatever one has done is nothing. In the first place
one cannot accomplish something without an ideal. If one
did so, it would be nothing. A machine has finished something:
there is no ideal in it. Ideal therefore is like the breath
of life; ideal therefore is the lift that takes you upwards.
Then there are some who say, 'Yes, I have my ideal in
a person, but that person does not come up to my ideal.
I am sorry, but I shall turn my back upon him'. It will
always be like that. What is a person? A person is limited.
The ideal is perfect. Therefore in order to retain your
ideal you will have to make the person out of your own devotion,
out of your love, your sympathy. Give to the person what
is lacking, then that ideal is made. For instance, the great
teachers of humanity, Buddha, Muhammad and Christ, what
are they to those who do not follow them? Nothing. But to
those who follow them they are everything. Why? Because
their followers have made them out of their devotion; they
have taken the name and then they have made their ideal
out of their devotion. When a Buddhist says, 'Buddha was
God, and Buddha was the Lord, and all beautiful attributes
were in Buddha', it only means that he has taken all the
beautiful attributes of Buddha and has added all kinds of
beautiful things. But how much can the idealist add? There
is endless beauty. It is only for his own conviction, for
his devotion, for his development that he makes his ideal
as perfect as possible, and it is the same with the devoted
followers of any teacher of humanity.
But if people said, 'We are going to analyze what the
teacher taught. What he said was this... . Another
teacher says another thing and a third one says something
else; so it is all different'. That again is another outlook.
They never have an ideal. Now many study theology in colleges
and universities. Do they have that ideal? Never. They say,
'What Buddha said is quite right. But there is something
else here in the Bible which is different from it. What
Muhammad said, well, one cannot apply it to practical life,
and he is of quite a different kind'. When they begin to
analyze the ideal it is an analyzing of books. Their ideal
is no ideal, their ideal is in the books, and one day they
will get above it or beneath it. If they rise they rise
above it, and if they fall they fall beneath it. But when
one comes to the ideal – it belongs to devotion, it belongs
to love. It is the same as what Majnun said about Laila,
his beloved girl. When people asked Majnun, 'What is Laila?
She is not so beautiful, she is like any other girl', Majnun
replied, 'In order to see Laila you must borrow my eyes'.
That is what the ideal teaches.
Analyzing and idealizing are two different things. If
you analyze you are in quite a different sphere. If you
analyze something you can say it in words; if you idealize
you rise above words. The whole world is going downwards
because of the lack of an ideal, and if there is any hope
of the betterment of humanity, it is not through better
economical conditions; it is not so that, if political conditions
were better, the world would be happy. No, never, because
that thirst, that hunger for money and that avariciousness
will want just the same. If the labor-man came in the place
of the government, if the laborer became a capitalist, and
the capitalist a laborer, if the whole world became aristocratic,
or if the whole world became democratic, that would not
take away the trouble of the world. If there is anything
that will raise the world, it is the ideal. If the ideal
is given in different directions and to different individuals,
and if humanity wakens to a higher ideal – that only can
be the source of the betterment of humanity.