Unpublished papers from the Nekbakht Foundation Archives
As reported by Nuria Best, 1920
Life is full of inconstancy, at least so much of life as we can see. It is constant changing activity. A mystic calls life motion. It is constant motion in every aspect, both fine and gross, and in all its planes. Where there is motion there must be change and diversity. If there was no motion there would not have been creation and without change there could not be diversity.
The first two aspects of nature are male and female and the significance of them we can notice by keen observation in all objects and even plants, so that we may see the outcome of motion and diversity in life.
Colors and sounds are due to rays of light and the changes of vibrations. The diversity of sounds come from uneven and invisible vibrations, while those of colors are even and visible. So that all that is visible and perceptible in form is constantly changing. It is nature which makes them intelligible and we recognize them as life.
However there is no doubt that we admire constancy as a virtue, but from a metaphysical point of view the whole of life is constant change, grouping and dispersing of vibrations and atoms.
That which we call composition and decomposition and construction and destruction of things, all those are due to change, one thing turning into another. There is no such thing as death or real decomposition or destruction. It may be destruction of that particular object, but although that part which appeared in certain form or color has changed, it is not the true elements of the thing which have changed. Therefore birth and death, composing and decomposing form the constant changes in the appearance of things of life.
If there was no change and things were standing still, life would be very monotonous. If the sea were always calm and there were no tides, if the sun neither rose nor set and the moon was always the same, if it was always summer or winter and we ourselves stood still in the same conditions of life all the time, life would not be of interest to us. it would be worse than death and we could not endure it. Why? Because it would not be nature, for nature means change.
Now consider the other side of this. In all the changeability of this life, if there is anything during these changes of form and condition which we experience that we can depend upon, and which we admire, it is the opposite to this: it is constancy. We do not wish to build houses on sand. We have to have rocks and stones, so that the house will stand, because we recognize durability as of great merit and great worth. We judge the false and true by the durability of things. Real gold is that which lasts. That which is plated is imitation or false. We call things real which are stable, and false when they are inconstant.
Our whole life is in constant change; body mind, conditions and environment and even our attitude towards life. Every experience of life . . . . . . . . . . .
But for this change we should not be able to appreciate life or to live. Yet that which we like and value is constancy, its opposite. Now we come to the whole secret of religion, mysticism and philosophy. If the secret of God is traced we shall find that it is constancy. We live in the life of change, but we seek that which is constant. It is this search after constancy which has brought man back to God. If it was not for this desire man would not have discovered the God Ideal. However materialistic man is and however much he disbelieves in God, he leans on constancy just the same. He does not want the servant who works today and not tomorrow, nor the house in which he cannot stay for a definite time, nor does he want dealings with men who change and are deceitful. He values constancy, therefore there is the innate desire to find that which is constant.
The more he experiences life, the more he will realize the changeability of life and therefore his yearning will be for something which he can lean upon and to attain that which would last and give pleasure so that he may count upon it after the great diversity of life. Certainly there is no doubt that life is intoxicating and in its spells of intoxication he does not care for constancy, but only experience. But after these spells - although they may be only for hours or days or even for years, still they are but spells of intoxication - he realizes they are illusions.
The Hindu calls these illusions "Maya". When in Maya the changes are very interesting, at least for a time it is pleasant and agreeable, so he enjoys the changes. But as soon as the spell is past he begins to realize that it is not stable. He may have enjoyed reputation, love or high life and in that enjoyment he thinks it is the only source of joy and he does not think of anything else. It is like the moving picture which fixes his attention for the time being, then he realizes that these spells are dreams. He thought them real - friendship, power and enjoyment - but he found them false.
Then perhaps one spell, or even a thousand, will not make him realize the inconstancy of these changes. A man may be drunk one day and in consequence is unwell, but the next day he repeats his foolishness, while another man becomes ashamed and leaves it alone. Even so he may seek another spell, but sooner or later he will become tired of these changes and his only relief will be in finding something upon which he can depend and which will last.
In the Bible it is said: "Blessed are they who mourn". It is not those who mourn over what they have lost, but who feel the absence of something and wish to realize it, something they have lost and wish to regain. Having lost that which is changeable and then seeking for that which will be constant.
No doubt the changeability of life is very exciting, delightful end joyful, for without it life would be monotonous and not worth living. Even so a person wants work which will be constant and a house in which he can stay. When anyone gives a promise he wonders whether it will he kept, whether the word will be constant. Everybody thinks thus. If we have happiness in life we wonder if it will stay, because we enjoy it.
From changes joy comes, yet we want it to be constant. Can it last therefore? Love of life is such, for the smallest creature unto mankind, However unhappy, ill or old he may be, his only wish is for life to last . There is a story in the East of a mother who said that if she could see her son grown-up she would he happy. Then she wished to see him married, then she wished to see his children. After that she wished to see his children married. She then said she would he happy if she could see his grandchildren. The point is, we may have different hopes and ambitions and wish to achieve this or accomplish that, but the real idea behind it all is to continue to live. The natural inclination of the mind is to find some reason to justify it, but the inclination is to live and it therefore seeks some cause or object to fulfill. The real underlying object is to live. It is not only in man, but in birds, animals and insects. They all wish to escape death and to protect their life from dangers.
In this manner man begins to find out the truth. When his heart is awakened by despairs he sees that the end of his spells and changes of life is heart breaking. He then becomes a philosopher. Philosophy is not learned from books but it comes from experience. When the heart is broken by finding itself dependent on environment, people and affairs of life, it realizes that these were inconstant, and that which it hoped to accomplish has not come to pass. Then man becomes a philosopher.
If the spells become constant, he will not have time to reflect thus, but life will then be a series of hopes and miseries and not true happiness. But there must come a time when there is an interval between the spells, and that time is when the person is very deep down in despair, that nothing else matters, then the heart awakens.
The heart is like a being which is asleep and receiving a sharp blow it awakens. Also the heart is like a stone and the fire which is hidden within it can only he brought to life when it is struck by a hard material. Then the fire appears. So it is with the heart. The fire which is life, love and feeling and which is the most sacred thing in us, is hidden in the heart as the fire in the stone. When it is struck hardly the fire appears. That is why we receive great blows in life. The person becomes thoughtful as soon as the fire appears. And he looks at things differently. But of life’s changes and great blows the wise realize that joy, rest and peace come.
How to attain these things? We find that the first process was wrong, When we thought that physical things would give happiness, they only gave it for some time, but they were changeable and failed. We thought other people should be constant and our relatives also in their love and friendship for us. But they failed, because however good a person may be, he has his good and bad points. If one person was perfect, man would not see perfection in God and there would not be the ideal in life. Therefore as we are disappointed, we must seek love elsewhere.
The wise begin to find that all the knowledge obtained through reading, writing and discussing does not bring them to the goal. Therefore the constant source of knowledge must be somewhere else. Yet we see that everybody, in spite of wealth, power and position is liable to death. We see that all those things we love in life pass away.
Therefore there is no doubt that this mortal self must have an end, yet man finds an innate yearning to protect his life and to live. However he sees that peace only lies in getting away from all that is around. Not only friends, but even our body and mind become a burden upon us. They constantly bring about a feeling of depression, unhappiness and despair.
When we have thought of these things we come to realization; we come to the realization that externally we have not realized one of these things, but only recognized them as peace, love, knowledge, life and happiness. What we thought happiness was only pleasure, what we called knowledge was only limited impression, love was passing infatuation and life was really death! Rest was only an idea of rest, the real rest lies in the great peace within.
Therefore the attitude of man seeking these things outwardly must change and become inward. Somewhere we must find them, because they are innate qualities of life and are the only salvation and goal of life.
By self-realization an self-control and self-observation we realize this and all these three things may be accomplished by the God Ideal which makes it easy. Man must have something to aim for. When the army marches it follows the national flag and it must bring victory to the flag or die for it. So we must have our flag, which is God.
The method of attainment is to endeavor always to make others happy and by experiencing happiness in the happiness of others. In the terms of the Sufi it is "Suluk". Any selfishness prevents us from appreciating another’s happiness and therefore we shall be kept back, for the happiness of others is the gate to our own happiness. Real happiness is entering the gate. We must feel satisfaction in another’s satisfaction and our appetite must be satisfied even when the food is eaten by another. That is the first lesson that sages learn. But it is not necessary for us to be saints and sages to learn it. If we only knew what happiness it is when we have given joy to others, we would then realize . . . . . If a person needs a certain thing and we can supply it, we should be happy, however small the thing may be.
From the Nekbakht Foundation Archives, courtesy of Sharif Munawwir Graham