The purpose of life is to attain to mastery. This is the
motive of the spirit, and it is through this motive at the back
of it that the whole universe is created. The different stages
from mineral to vegetable and from vegetable to the animal kingdom,
and from animal to man, are the awakening of the spirit towards
mastery. By using the mineral and the vegetable kingdoms and
controlling the animal kingdom for his service, man shows in
the first place that in him is awakened that spirit by which
the whole universe was created.
His power of knowing, of understanding, of utilizing to the
best advantage, is the sign of mastery. But at the same time
there is one enemy that man has, and that enemy is limitation;
and the spirit of limitation is always a hindrance to realizing
the spirit of mastery and practicing it. Those who at some time
or other in their lives have realized this principal object,
for which man is born, have then tried to develop that spirit
of mastery in order to defend themselves.
The process of going from limitation to perfection is called
mysticism. Mysticism means developing from limitation to perfection.
All pain and failure belong to limitation. All pleasure and
success belong to perfection. In one's own surroundings, one
will find that those who are unhappy and dissatisfied with life
and who make others unhappy, are those who are more limited.
Those who can help themselves and help others, who are happy
and bring pleasure into the lives of others, are nearer to perfection.
What is meant by limitation and what by perfection? These
are only conditions of the consciousness. When one is conscious
of limitation, one is limited. When one is conscious of perfection,
one is perfect. Because he who is limited in the limited consciousness
is the same as he who is perfect in the perfect consciousness.
To give an example: there was a son of a rich man who had plenty
of money put in his name in the bank. But he did not know this;
and when he wished to spend some money he found very little
in his pocket. This made him limited. In reality his father
had put a large sum in the bank, but he was not conscious of
it. It is exactly the same with every soul. Every soul is conscious
of what it possesses and is unconscious of what is put in its
name. What is within one's reach, one feels to be one's own,
but what does not seem to be within one's reach one considers
to be outside. This is natural. But wisdom opens a door to look
out and see if that which seems outside is not meant to be known
Sometimes, the mastery of life is known to a person. He may
not be a mystic, but if his time comes, he knows it. One day
I was interested when a man, who had done nothing but business
all his life and made himself so rich that he was perhaps one
of the richest man in the country, wanted to show me his park,
a beautiful park he had around his house. While I was his guest
we were taking a walk. He said, 'It is wonderful to come here
into my park in the morning and evening.' I asked him, 'How
far does your park extend?' And he said, 'Do you want to know?
Do you see the horizon from here?' I said, 'Yes.' He told me,
'All this land is mine and the sea besides. All that you can
see.' It was a wonderful answer, and an example of the theory
I have mentioned; he was not only conscious of what he possessed,
but of all that was there. He did not make a dividing line between
what was his own and what was beyond. It is a mystery, and it
is difficult for anyone to look at life in this way. But this
man who was in business, this man who never even thought of
mysticism, could also arrive at the conception which the mystic
discovers after years of meditation. It was a purely mystical
When dervishes, who sometimes have patched sleeves or are
scantly clad, who sometimes have food and sometimes not, address
one another, they say, 'O King of Kings, O Emperor of Emperors.'
It is the consciousness of what is king or emperor, which is
before them. The boundary of their kingdom is not limited. The
whole universe is their kingdom. It is in this way that a soul
proceeds towards perfection, by opening the consciousness and
raising it higher. When the soul evolves spiritually, it rises
to a height where it sees a wider horizon; therefore its possession
becomes greater. You might say, 'By looking at the horizon it
does not become our possession; what we possess is what we call
our own'. But Columbus first saw America. He did not possess
it first. The possession came afterwards. The first thing is
to see, afterwards we possess; but if we do not see how can
we possess? And without seeing our possession it is not our
There are two different ways, two different angles from which
one should look at perfection. One way is likened to a perpendicular
line and the other to a horizontal line. The way, which is likened
to a perpendicular line, is the reaching of the knowledge within.
How does one reach this knowledge? First of all by concentration
one reaches the knowledge within, which means one, is able to
see concretely and to be conscious of something, which is apart
from one's physical body. A person may be conscious of a poem,
a word, a picture, an idea or something, and if he can be so
conscious of it that he can lose the consciousness of his limited
body for a moment, that is the first step.
Although it seems very easy, it is not so easy. When a person
begins to do it, no sooner does he close his eyes in order to
concentrate than a thousand things come before him. Also his
physical body becomes restive. It says, 'This person is not
conscious of me!' And then he gets nervous and twists and turns
in order to be conscious of the body. The body does not like
a person to be unconscious of it. It is like a dog or a cat;
it likes one to take notice of it. Then a kind of nervous action
arises in the body. It feels like moving, turning, scratching,
or something. As soon as one wants to discipline the body, the
body does not want to accept discipline.
The second stage is that instead of being conscious of a
thought, one is conscious of a feeling, which is wider still;
because thought is a form, and the mind even sees the form.
But the feeling has no form, therefore to fix one's mind on
a feeling and to keep it with the intention of keeping it, is
not an easy thing. If once a person has done it and has not
given in to the restiveness of mind, then he certainly feels
This is the boundary of human progress and further than that
is divine progress. What is divine progress? When one goes further
still, then instead of being active one becomes passive. It
is a state of consciousness, to be passive. There one does not
need concentration, what one needs there is meditation. There
one gets in touch with that power which is audible and visible
within one and of which one is yet ignorant; that power, which
is, busy moving towards the materialization of its intended
Once one comes into contact with this experience, one can
no longer say in later life that there is such a thing as an
accident. Then one will see that all that happens is destined
and prepared, when one catches it in its preparatory condition
before it has manifested on the earthly plane.
And if one goes further, there is consciousness in its aspect
of pure intelligence. It is knowing and yet knowing nothing.
And knowing nothing means knowing all things. Because it is
the knowing of things that blunts the faculty of knowledge.
In other words, when a person is looking in a mirror, his reflection
covers the mirror and in that mirror nothing else can be reflected.
Therefore when the consciousness is conscious of anything, it
is blunted. At that moment it is blunted, or in other words
it is covered by something that it is conscious of. The moment
that cover is taken away, it is its own self, it is pure intelligence,
it is pure spirit. In that condition its power, life, magnetism,
force, its capacity, are much greater, incomparably greater
than one can imagine. What it is cannot be explained except
that by the help of meditation one reaches that condition. And
if one goes higher still, it is not even consciousness, it is
a kind of omniscient condition, which is the sign of inner perfection.
This is one direction of progress. There is another direction
of progress; that is to see oneself reflected in another. When
one is friends with another person, naturally one's sympathy,
love, friendship, make one see oneself in the other, and this
gives the inclination to sacrifice. No one will sacrifice for
another except when he is oneself. If this feeling develops
it extends further, not only with the friend, with the neighbor,
but with the stranger, with the beast and bird and insect; one
is in at-one-ment with all living beings, and it gives one as
much insight into another as the other person has into himself.
One knows as much about him as he knows, even more. This is
the simplest phenomenon of this consciousness; not to work wonders.
It brings a quick proof that one knows as much about another
person as he knows himself.
But there is another, moral proof; that one becomes friends
with the wise and foolish, with the virtuous and wicked, more
and more, as if one attracted them. One cannot help it. Sympathy
is so powerful that even enemies are melted sooner or later.
It is not just a tale that Daniel was sent to the mountain cave
and the lions were tamed. In order to see this phenomenon one
need not go to the mountains. In this world there are worse
than lions: good natures and bad natures, possible and impossible
people, and if one can subdue them, one has accomplished something;
for it requires a greater power than calming lions. One can
think of different ideas: agitated ones, antagonistic ones,
blunted ones, ignorant ones, ideas full of falsehood or jealousy;
how many swords and poisons there are in this world! And it
is only one power, the power of one's sympathy that assimilates
all poisonous influences. It takes away their poison and it
does not hurt oneself. One can sooner or later purify them,
revivify them, melt them, mold them, and direct them towards
the purpose of life.
The world seeks complexity. If I were to give lectures upon
how to get magnetism in order to make people listen to you,
and in order to draw them to you; if I were to give twenty exercises
for doing these things, it might mean great success for me.
But if I tell you simple things like this, that it is the deepening
of your sympathy, the awakening of that sympathetic spirit in
you which is every power and magnetism, and the expansion of
which means spiritual unfoldment, then there will be few to
understand. For human beings do not want simple teaching, they
And then there is another stage of expansion, and that is
trying to look at everything from another's point of view also,
trying to think also as the other person thinks. This is not
an easy thing because from one's childhood one learns to think
so that one stands upon one's own thought. One does not move
to another's thought. The very fact that one has a thought oneself
keeps one to it. It is therefore a sign of expansion to be able
to see from the child's point of view, or from the point of
view of the foolish person, how he looks at things. And the
most interesting thing is that it brings one to being tolerant
and patient. In this way one extends one's knowledge to a degree
that no reading can give. Then one begins to receive from all
sources; one will attract knowledge from every plane as soon
as the mind becomes so pliable that it does not only stick to
its own point of view.
This process is called unlearning. If you say of a certain
man, 'This is not a nice person,' although you may be quite
wrong the general tendency is to stick to that idea. But the
greater evolution is to see from that man's point of view also.
He has a reason for being as he is. Maybe he is too unevolved
to see, or he is more evolved and less interested in the other
person. Yet, by seeing from his point of view you do not lose
your own. Your point of view is still there; but the other point
of view is added to yours, therefore your knowledge becomes
greater. It means a greater stretching of the heart and sometimes
the heart feels pain when you stretch it. But by stretching
the heart and by making it larger and larger, you turn your
heart into the sacred Book.
And the third aspect is to feel another person. A man is
very often different from what he appears and from what he thinks.
Sometimes he acts and speaks quite differently from his feelings;
and if your feelings can know the feelings of another, this
is a high aspect. You become a highly evolved personality when
the feelings of another can tell you much more than his words
and actions can; and sometimes they can give you quite a different
opinion of a person from what you have had if you had only seen
him and heard him speak. When one has arrived at this point,
human evolution ends and divine evolution begins. Then no doubt
one gets insight into what happens in the spirit of man; if
he is going to succeed or not, if he is going to be happy or
not, or what he is going to accomplish; because there is something
going on within that person, preparing his plan of tomorrow.
You begin to touch it and begin to get the impression of it,
and that impression is as clear sometimes as anything visible
and audible could be.
If you go further then you unite with everything. In this
consciousness distance is no longer distance. If you can extend
your consciousness so that your consciousness touches the consciousness
of another, then not only the thoughts of that person but his
whole spirit is reflected in your spirit. Space does not matter.
Your consciousness can touch every part of the world and every
person, at whatever distance he may be.
And if you go still further, then you can only realize that
you are connected with all beings. That there is nothing and
no one who is divided or separate from you, and that you are
not only connected by chains with those you love, but with all
those you have known and do not know – connected by a consciousness
which binds you faster than any chains. Naturally one then begins
to see the law working in nature. One begins to see that the
whole universe is a mechanism working towards a certain purpose.
Therefore the right one and the wrong one, the good and the
bad, are all bringing about one desired result, by wrong power
and by right power, a result meant to be, which is the purpose
Then naturally one holds oneself back from that dogmatic
spirit: 'you are wrong' and 'you are right,' and comes to the
spirit of the sage: saying nothing, knowing all, doing all,
suffering all things. This makes one the friend of all and the
servant of all. And with all the realizations of the mystical
truth and spiritual attainment, what one realizes is one thing,
the only thing worthwhile, and that is to be of some little
use to one's fellow men.