(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 20
In the first place we must see whether it is an affair of individuals, or a work that can be done collectively. To see the truth as a whole is beyond the power of the generality. The ordinary point of view of life would be like that of a man in a forest who would see into the horses running about, one to the north, another to the south. If one can see the purpose behind things every little coincidence in life proves this, that man very often thinks about his free will, and sees a kind of freedom and pride in what he calls free will, and the more deeply he thinks about it, the more he finds that, 'man proposes and God disposes.' Man, individually and collectively, tries to get all that is best in life, all happiness, wealth, comfort, power, all that seems to him worthwhile, and if free will really existed, everyone would have these things.
Yes, there seems to be free will, man feels it, because it springs from his heart, and as long as he understands that it is his own impulse that has come to manifestation, he cannot understand the real meaning of free will. But the more one studies life, and the deeper one sees into life, the more one sees that all things adjust themselves. And perhaps it would confuse many, and would seem exaggeration if I said, as any mystic would say, that all is truth, and that truth is all, of course it is a deep question, and difficult to be understood by an explanation, unless one rises above the generality, and looks at life from another point of view. Sadi, the great poet of Persia said that each soul is created for a special purpose and that to fulfill this purpose a light is in his heart. This may confuse many, of course. Some may say, 'If I am created for a certain purpose what is the use of progress? Why not stay where I am since it is my destiny?' One can help others to understand, but one cannot make them understand.
If someone thinks he is a chair, or a table, he will remain such, but if he thinks he is a living being, he will feel that action is the object of life, and that everything adjusts itself to that, and that every part is made for a purpose, as for instance the parts of a table or a chair. And if we think of life and the whole world, and see into it deeply we shall find that we live and move, and have our being for a certain purpose. A person may say it is the idea of a fatalist that everything must go through to its destiny. It is not the idea of a fatalist, it is the idea of a seer, of a mystic. Because the fatalist makes human beings as chairs and tables, the mystic makes even chairs and tables living beings.
Jalaluddin Rumi says,
The fatalist makes the living dead, and the mystic makes things into living beings.
Now coming to the point of view of the subject, what is after all the purpose of life? No doubt when we take an individual there is a separate purpose in his life, and when we take the multitude we see that there is a common purpose, and looking at the whole we can see that there is a purpose for the whole of humanity. Every purpose, whether for an individual or collectively, has a certain value, but the purpose of all beings is beyond value, and when every individual is engaged in a certain purpose, and a group of individuals also, the whole is also accomplishing a purpose, and this is under a direction, which is called a Hierarchy.
What does a person who has not yet seen the four walls of his own village know of the North Pole? If we talk with him he cannot understand. How can one understand what the ocean is like if one has before one only a little tank of water? Friends, to see the planets we must raise our heads, and therefore that spiritual direction that is working in the whole, cannot be imagined by one whose whole life has been spent in worldly things. This is a subject which is studied by initiates who are trusted with life's mysteries. They are plain things, but called mysteries because the sneering world is always ready to laugh at what it does not understand.
And again what is this direction? And how may one call it? It is the same direction that one may call Christ. But it has its work in all parts of the world, and if the people of some parts call it by another name, are they wrong? It is only another name. You may ask me what determines the destiny of man to be included in this direction: his birth, or his rank, his inheritance or a special education? Perhaps some may give you the reason of many years continual development from life to life. But to avoid complications, and make things simple, as is always the tendency of the mystic, I would say.
What determines one piece of wood to be made into the floor under one's feet, and another piece of the same wood as the ceiling over one's head? Or if the keys of the pianoforte complained of their unequal places in the octave, what would answer? Jesus Christ gave a beautiful answer when asked why a person was blind, whether for his faults or the faults of his parents. He answered 'For neither, but that the works of the Lord may become manifest.' The Quran says that man is egoistic, and asks a question of the Lord of the Universe, why this or that is so, being unjust, and himself a slave of the law. It is as though a child watched a painter who had painted all his life, and criticized him, the painter would answer,' I have done this all my life, you judge me according to your little experience, but I know what I am doing.'
Of course the wise are forgiving, and tolerant, and do not hurt the childish tendency in man, but always try to explain. Once an Indian child asked me, 'Why should we bow our heads to the earth, when God is in Heaven?' Could I answer with metaphysics or philosophy? I said that the head of the Lord was in Heaven, but His feet are on the earth. And so the child understood, and thus humanity has been consoled and comforted, through the ages. But the knowledge that consoles, and comforts, is only a step towards the knowledge that gives real peace.
There are different views about the Hierarchy. Some people think it must be either in Heaven, or in the Himalaya, or in Tibet. Now where is this Himalaya or Tibet? It is that place, that sphere, which is beyond the understanding of ordinary people. Friends what is precious and inspiring, what elevates you, and helps you cannot be far from you. If it were, it would be the worst injustice. If the agency of conveyances such as steamers, and ships and trains exists in all parts of the world, how is it possible that the agency of the conveyance to the peace for which every soul yearns is not also everywhere? The spiritual Hierarchy is constituted of those who are seen, and those who are unseen – and they live among you in the crowd like everyone – but people want a sign. 'If you are a king show me your crown, if a millionaire show me your check book.' Man lives from morning till evening in this life of illusion, and his eyes cannot see the truth.
There is great expectation all over the world just now, that the Teacher is coming. And the expectation is such as though the Teacher will becoming direct from the sky, and as though the whole world will be already accepting and expecting him on their knees, that the lawyers, scientists, materialists, and teachers of the different sects will all agree at once, and He will come. If we will only think of the coming of Jesus Christ in that humble garb, and that no one accepted Him during life. In His unassuming life, preaching to some fishermen was he accepted as Christ, or is he not Christ today? In looking at the lives of different Prophets and Teachers, were they ever accepted at once? Muhammad was three times chased out of Mecca, and had to go in the night and Buddha had to leave India, and go to China and Japan, and during the whole life's struggle of Moses in the end he could only work because of the permission of the King. Krishna passed his whole life in Vrindavan unknown until, in the war of Mahabharata, Arjuna asked for his blessing and fought. It was only then that the moment of his Message had come.
But does the Messenger care whether the world recognizes him or not? The messenger is dead, it is the message that lives in him. It is the dead harp that gives the music, and not the living dog or cat, when one tries to play on them. The Cross is the symbol of annihilation, and it is after the annihilation of the false personality that the message of God comes. The messenger never claims. Thousands will listen to those who claim to be messengers, but the wind of the Spirit will destroy all that is false. It is not the claim that makes the messenger, it is the message that does it.