The mystic who knows the value of the word finds that word
first in himself; for the secret of all knowledge that one acquires
in the world, whether worldly or spiritual, is the knowledge
of the self. For instance, music is played outside oneself.
But where is it realized? It is realized within. A good word
or a bad word is spoken from outside, but where is it realized?
It is realized within. Then where is the realization of the
whole manifestation, of all this creation that stands before
us in all its aspects? Its realization is within.
At the same time the error of man always continues: instead
of finding realization within, he always wants to find it without.
It is just like a man who wants to see the moon and yet looks
for it on the ground. If a man seeks for the moon for thousands
of years by looking on the earth, he will never see it. He will
have to lift up his head and look at the sky. So it is with
the man who is in search of the mystery of life outside himself;
he will never find it for the mystery of life is to be found
within. Both the source and the goal are within, and it is there
that if he seeks he will find.
What is sound? Is sound outside, or is it something within?
The outside sound only becomes audible because the sound within
is continued, and the day when the sound within is shut off,
this body is not capable of hearing the outside sound.
Man, living today the life of externality, has become so
accustomed to the outside life that he hardly thinks of just
sitting alone. When he is alone he busies himself with a newspaper
or something else, always working with the life which is outside,
always occupied with the life outside himself. In this way man
loses his attachment to the life which is within. So his life
becomes superficial, and the result is nothing but disappointment.
There is nothing in this world in the form of sound, visible
or audible, which is so attractive as the sound within: for
all that the senses touch and all that is intelligible to the
mind of man has its limitation. It has its limitation in time
and effect; it makes no effect beyond its own limits.
Life's mystery lies in the breath; it is the continuation
of breath and pulsation that keeps the mechanism of the body
going. It seems that people of ancient times had a greater knowledge
of this mystery than man has today. For what is meant by the
lute of Orpheus? It means the human body; it is a lute, it is
meant to be played upon. When this lute is not realized, when
it is not understood, when it is not utilized for its proper
purpose, then that lute remains without the use for which it
was created, because then it has not fulfilled the purpose for
which it was made.
The breath goes not merely as far as the man of material
science knows. He knows only the vibrations of the air, going
out and coming in, and he sees no further. Besides this there
is pulsation: the beating of the heart and head, the pulse,
all these keep a rhythm. Man very rarely thinks about what depends
upon this rhythm. The whole life depends upon it! The breath
which one breathes is certainly a secret in itself; it is not
only a secret but the expression of all mystery, something upon
which the psychology of life depends.
The science of medicine has for thousands of years to some
extent depended upon finding out the complaints of the body
by its rhythm and by the breath. Ancient medicine knew that
health depends upon vibrations. And now again a time is coming
when in the Western world physicians are striving to find out
the law of vibrations upon which man's health depends.
If the human body is a lute, then every word man speaks,
every word he hears, has an effect upon his body; it not only
has an effect upon the body, but also upon the mind. For instance,
if a person hears himself called by the name 'foolish' and repeats
it, even if he were wise he will in time turn foolish. And it
is also true that if one calls a man who is simple wise, in
time he will become wise.
The effect of a man's name has a great deal to do with his
life, and very often one sees that a man's name has an effect
upon his fate and career. The reason is only that he is so often
in the day called by that name. Is it not true that a man saying
a humorous thing bursts out laughing, and a man saying a sad
thing breaks into tears? If that is so, then what effect has
every word that one speaks in one's everyday life upon oneself
and upon one's surroundings!
One can see by this that the ancient superstitions about
not saying an unlucky word, an undesirable word, has a meaning.
In the East a child is trained to think before he utters a word,
since it has a psychological meaning and effect. Very often
people reading a poem or singing a song with great love, a song
of sorrow or tragedy, are affected by it, and their life may
take a turn and be affected by it too.
A person who speaks of his illness nourishes his illness
by speaking of it. Often I have heard people say, that if a
pain exists it is a reality, 'and how can one deny it'?' It
is so amusing to hear them say this, because reality is so far
away, and our everyday life is such that from morning till evening
we do nothing but deny it. If one could only know where the
truth lies, if one could only know what truth is – if one only
were to know it and see it – one would understand that in reality
all else is non-existent.
When one studies the secret behind this idea, one must admit
the power of the word. This is a metaphysical science, which
should be studied. The depth of the word of each person is very
different. If a person has spoken a hundred words in one day,
do you think that every word has the same power? No, the power
and effect of a particular word depend upon the state in which
that person was, and from what depth the word rises. Upon this
depend the power and light of that word. For instance, with
a person who has a habit of telling a lie, who is insincere,
you will always find that his words are dropping down, his words
have no force; while the one who speaks with conviction, who
is sincere, who tells the truth, his word has a light, his word
penetrates. Sometimes, from a person full of sadness and heartbroken,
a voice comes, a word, full of sincerity; it has all the power
to penetrate; it has such an effect upon the listener! Then
there is another person who is light-headed, who is not deep,
not serious enough in life; everything he says and does is always
on the surface; he inspires no one with confidence, for he himself
has no confidence
Besides this, the word will have power in accordance with
the illumination of the soul, because then that word does not
come from the human mind, that word comes from the depth, from
behind; that word comes from some mysterious part that is hidden
from the human mind. And it is in connection with such words
that one reads in the scriptures of 'swords of flame; or 'tongues
of flame'.' Whether it was from a poet, or whether it was from
a prophet, when that word came from his burning heart, then
the word rose as a flame. In accordance with the divine Spirit,
which is in the word, that word has life, power and inspiration.
Think of the living words of ancient times, think of the living
words that one reads in the scriptures, the living words of
the holy ones, illuminated ones! They live and will live forever.
It is as a music, which may be called magic, magic for all times.
Whenever such words are repeated they have that magic, that
Those words which the illuminated souls of all ages have
spoken have been preserved by their pupils. In whatever part
of the world they were born or lived, what they let fall as
words has been gathered up like real pearls, and kept as scriptures.
Therefore, wherever one goes in the East one finds that the
followers of different religions keep the words of the illuminated
ones whenever they pray, and they do not need to put them into
their own language. Words spoken by the great ones have been
preserved for ages, in order that they might be used for meditation.
There is a more scientific and still greater mystery in the
word. It is not only what the word means, it is not only who
has said the word, but the word in itself has also a dynamic
power. The mystics, sages and seekers of all ages, knowing the
mystery of the sacred word, have always been in pursuit of it.
The whole meditative life of the Sufis is built upon the mystery
of the word. For the word 'Sufi', according to the explanation
of the initiates, is related to Sophia which means wisdom.
But not wisdom in the outer sense of the word, because worldly
cleverness cannot be called wisdom. The intellect which man
very often confuses with wisdom is only an illusion of it. Wisdom
is that which is learned from within; intellect is that which
is acquired from without.
Wisdom is a form in which the souls that have come to realization
have tried to perceive and interpret to themselves the word
they found in life. Wisdom is the interpretation of life, made
by someone whose point of view has become different by looking
at life in the sunlight. One arrives at this point of view not
by study alone, but by association with those who have that
particular point of view. Besides, by diving deep into life,
one comes to the realization of truth, and for diving deep into
life there is a way or process. It is possible that either with
some difficulty or with ease, one finds a place one is looking
for in a town. One may look for it in different directions and
at last find it; but by asking somebody who knows, one can find
The source of wisdom is above, the source of intellect is
below, and therefore it is not the same method, it is not the
same process which one adopts in order to attain wisdom, as
that which one adopts to acquire intellect. In short: the attainment
of that wisdom is achieved in various ways by various people,
but the great mystery of attaining divine wisdom lies in the
mystery of the word.
Additional paragraphs from a different edition:
The word is in itself mystery in every sense, and all scriptures
have considered the mystery of the word - even compared to all
other secrets of life - as the most profound. In the scripture
that is best known to the Western world we read that first was
the word, and the word was God, and then again one reads that
it was the word which was first and then came light. These sentences
convey to us two things. The first conveys to us that, if anything
existed, and if we can express what existed, we can only express
it by the term 'word'. And when we come to the second sentence
it explains another phase of the mystery which is that, in order
to enable the soul surrounded by the darkness of the world of
illusion to come to the light, first the word was necessary.
This means that the original Spirit was in the mystery of the
word, and that by the word the mystery of the Spirit was to
When we come to the Vedantic scriptures, which existed many
thousands of years ago, there also we realize the same thing.
For instance, there is a phrase in Sanskrit: Nada Brahma, which
means: the mystery of creation was in nada - in the word. In
the Quran one reads in the Arabic words Kun fa yakun
that first was the exclamation 'Be!', and it became. The One
who said 'Be'- and it became - was not a mortal being. He was
and is, and will be all the life there is. If that is so, then
the word was not the mystery of the past, but the word is a
continual and everlasting mystery. And at this time, when man
has engaged himself in the material phenomena and has progressed
very far, compared with the past, in industry and commercial
activities, this aspect of discovering the might which lies
hidden under the word is still unexplored.