Volume I - The Way of Illumination
Section IV - The Purpose of Life
The secret behind the whole manifestation is vibration; vibration which may be termed movement. It is the differences of vibration, which when divided by lines, form planes of existence, each plane being different in the rhythm of these vibrations. When we take life as a whole we can draw one line, the beginning and the end, or spirit and matter, or God and man. And we shall find that the rhythm which begins the line is fine and without disturbance, and the rhythm which is felt at the end of this line is gross and disturbing. And these two rhythms may be named the life of sensation and the life of peace.
These are two opposite things. The life of sensation gives a momentary joy. The life which is the first aspect of life gives peace and culminates in the everlasting peace. The joy, however great, is rising and falling. It must have its reaction. Besides, it depends upon sensation. And what does sensation depend upon? Sensation depends upon the outer life. There must be something besides you to cause the sensation. But peace is independently felt within oneself. It is not dependent upon the outer sensation. It is something that belongs to one, something that is one's own self. If one were to ask someone who lives continually in a kind of excitement of worldly pleasures, whom Providence has granted all pleasures imaginable, if that person were asked, 'What do you wish besides all this that you experience?' He will say, 'To be left alone.' When madness comes, when he is out of balance, he will crave for sensation, but when that passion has gone, what he is longing for in reality is peace. Therefore, there is no pleasure in the world, however great, no experience, however interesting, that can give one that satisfaction which peace alone can give. A sovereign may be happy sitting on the throne with his crown, with many attendants before him, but he is only satisfied when he is alone by himself. All else seems to him nothing. It has no value. The most precious thing for him is that moment when he is by himself.
I have once seen the Nizam, a great ruler, in all his grandeur, enjoying the royal splendor all around him, and then again I saw the same sovereign sitting alone on a little carpet. It was at that time that he was himself. It is the same thing with everyone. Delicious dishes, sweet fragrance, music, all other pleasures of line and color, beauty in all its aspects, which seem to answer one's life's demands, fail in the end when compared with that satisfaction which a soul experiences in itself, which it feels its own property, its own belonging. Something that one need not seek outside oneself, that one can find within oneself, and something which is incomparably greater and more valuable than anything else in the world. Something which cannot be bought or sold, something which cannot be robbed by anyone, and something which is more sacred and holy than religion or prayer. For all prayer and devotion is to attain to this peace.
A man good and kind, a person most learned and qualified, strong and powerful, with all these attributes, cannot be spiritual if his soul has not attained that rhythm, which is a natural rhythm of its being, a rhythm in which alone exists life's satisfaction. Peace is not a knowledge, peace is not a power, peace is not a happiness, but peace is all these. And besides, peace is productive of happiness. Peace inspires one with knowledge of the seen and unseen, and in peace is to be found the divine Presence. It is not the excited one who conquers in this continual battle of life. It is the peaceful one who tolerates all, who forgives all, who understands all, who assimilates all things. The one who lacks peace, with all his possessions, the property of this earth or quality of mind, is poor even with both. He has not got that wealth which may be called divine and without which man's life is useless. For true life is in peace, a life which will not be robbed by death. The secret of mysticism, the mystery of philosophy, all is to be attained after the attainment of peace. You cannot refuse to recognize the divine in a person who is a person of peace. It is not the talkative, it is not the argumentative one, who proves to be wise. He may have intellect, worldly wisdom, and yet may not have pure intelligence, which is real wisdom. True wisdom is to be found in the peaceful, for peacefulness is the sign of wisdom. It is the peaceful one who is observant. It is peace that gives him the power to observe keenly. It is the peaceful one, therefore, who can conceive, for peace helps him to conceive. It is the peaceful who can contemplate; one who has no peace cannot contemplate properly. Therefore, all things pertaining to spiritual progress in life depend upon peace.
And now the question is what makes one lack peace? The answer is, love of sensation. A person who is always seeking to experience life in movement, in activity, in whatever form, wants more and more of that experience. In the end he becomes dependent upon the life which is outside, and so he loses in the end his peace, the peace which is his real self. When a person says about someone, 'That person has lost his soul,' the soul is not lost; the soul has lost its peace. Absorption in the outer life, every moment of the day and night, thinking and worrying and working and fighting, struggling along, in the end robs one of one's soul. Even if one gains as the price of that fighting something which is outside oneself, someone who is a greater fighter still will snatch it from our grasp one day.
One might ask if it is not our necessity in life that
keeps us absorbed in the outer life and does not give us
a moment to experience peace. In answer to this I must say:
suppose the outer life has taken ten hours of the day, you
still have two hours. If sleep has taken ten hours of the
day, you still have two hours to spare. To attain peace,
what one has to do is to seek that rhythm which is in the
depth of our being. It is just like the sea: the surface
of the sea is ever moving; the depth of the sea is still.
And so it is with our life. If our life is thrown into the
sea of activity, it is on the surface. We still live in
the profound depths, in that peace. But the thing is to
become conscious of that peace which can be found within
ourselves. It is this which can bring us the answer to all
our problems. If not, when we want to solve one problem,
there is another difficult problem coming. There is no end
to our problems. There is no end to the difficulties of
the outer life. And if we get excited over them, we shall
never be able to solve them. Some think, 'We might wait.
Perhaps the conditions will become better. We shall see
then what to do.' But when will the conditions become better?
They will become still worse! Whether the conditions become
better or worse, the first thing is to seek the kingdom
of God within ourselves, in which there is our peace. As
soon as we have found that, we have found our support, we
have found our self. And in spite of all the activity and
movement on the surface, we shall be able to keep that peace
undisturbed if only we hold it fast by becoming conscious