Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals
DEITY AND DIVINITY
When distinguishing between these two concepts I should say that deity is God idealized and divinity is God personified. Deity has never been manifest on the physical plane except in the heart of man, but divinity has manifested in the physical form. Thus the secret of deity can be sought in the heart of divinity. Divinity is reduced God and enlarged man. The whole difficulty that has occurred in all periods of the world's history has been the difficulty of understanding divinity or apprehending the mystery of divinity. Man cannot think of man being God nor can man think of God being man. Therefore the claimant of divinity has sometimes been called God, but then he was kept remote and aloof from human beings. At other times the claimant of divinity has been brought to earth and called no better than man.
In reality divinity is the expansion of the human soul; divinity is human nature in God. That is why God is one, the only Being; but there are as many deities as there are human beings, for the deity is the enshrined God whom man has conceived by his thoughts and ideas. God is enshrined in his heart, and in that way the ideas about deity came to differ. Some say God is the Judge and some say God is the Father; some say God is the Creator while to others He is the Sustainer. Some say that God has three aspects, and that a Trinity makes God; some say Gods are many. The Hindus have conceived thirty-three score Devata, which means divinities. The Chinese conceived numberless Gods. The believers in one God have ridiculed them, but in fact it is one and the same conception looked at from different points of view. Somebody can be praised by one and hated by another, and ten people may all have a different idea of the same person, because each understands him according to his state of evolution.
Each sees that person according to his own point of view, each looks at him through his own eyes, and therefore the same person is different to each being. In the mind of one the person is a sinner, in the mind of another he is a saint. The same person who is considered gentle and good by one is considered the opposite by another. If this can be so in connection with a living being, it is equally possible that various ideas of the deity should be formed in each heart, and that each soul should mold his own deity according to his own evolution and according to his way of idealizing and understanding. Therefore the deity of every heart is different and is as that person has imagined; but the God of every soul is one and the same, whatever people imagine. It is the same God that they all imagine, but their imaginations are different and it is the lack of understanding of this that has caused the differences in religion.
We read in the books of the past that there used to be blood feuds, family feuds, because one family believed in one God and another family had another. They called Him a family God and these families used to fight with one another because of their separate Gods and they gave their lives for their God. It is not very different even now when nations fight against nations; for the time being the God of each becomes different, or at least the people think the hostile country is not doing the will of their own God. Man is very much the same down the ages; he only shows his evolution by degrees.
The deity is pictured sometimes as a spirit, sometimes as a person, sometimes as a king, sometimes as a master. The Hindus picture the deity as Creator, as Sustainer, and as Destroyer. The word 'divine' comes from Deva, God (fem. Devi), and the word Deva is derived from Div, which means 'light.' Every soul is itself a light, but a light which is surrounded by clouds, clouds which have risen from the earthly impressions and surrounded the human heart. These clouds keep the soul covered; but the Deva or Div is always there.
One reads in the Bible that no one should keep his light under a bushel. The hint to raise the light high shows us that Deva or the divine spark is within man. That divinity, even when it is human, is infinite. Only the expansion of this light and the disclosing of it are necessary. The prophets and great Avatars, the messengers who have come to the world from time to time, have been examples of the expansion of this divine spark, and what they gave to the world has been the outcome of this divinity.
Divinity is like the seed, which grows in the heart of the flower; it is the same seed, which was the origin of that plant, and it comes again in the heart of the flower. In a similar way the same God, who was unmanifested as the seed of the plant of this creation, rises again towards fulfillment; and in that fulfillment He produces the seed in the heart of that flower which is divinity. Some religious authorities have tried to recognize the divinity of Christ while ignoring the divinity of humanity. They have tried to make Christ different from what may be called human. But by doing so they have not been able to keep the flame alight, for they have covered the main truth that religion had to give to the world, which was that divinity resides in humanity, that divinity is the outcome of humanity, and that humanity is the flower in the heart of which divinity was born as a seed. And by this they have not done any good to religion; on the contrary they have harmed religion, trying to make man something different, not knowing that all is in man – angel, jinn, and animal.
There is nothing, which is not in man. For instance things belonging to the earth such as metals, gold and silver, iron and steel are all to be found in the body and mind of man. The one who knows alchemy can make use of it; he can make out of man a man of flesh, and he can make out of man a man of gold. That is what Christ wanted to do when he said to the fisherman, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' He wanted to perform that alchemy. And what stone is it, which is, called the philosopher's stone? It is the heart of the divine man: whomever it touches it turns into gold. All living beings, creatures high and low, creatures of the water, creatures of the forest, creatures that fly in the air, insects and worms, their nature, their character, their form, all can be found in man. The character of the bull, the character of the fish, the character of the insect, the character of all the animals can be seen in man. All that we can discover, by going through the forest for thousands of miles, we can find in one human personality. All is there, it only needs to be seen, and he can see whose heart's eyes are open. Many in this world have their external eyes open but yet are asleep; they are moving about and think they are alive, but there is something which is not awakened and so they cannot see the great treasure which is hidden.
Again, jewels, precious minerals, and pearls can all be found in man, in his character, in his external and inner being. All this is hidden; but we can discover a pearl in a person, we can see in the heart of man a diamond or an emerald, all the jewels of this world are there if only we can see it. And not only that, not only worldly treasures but also all the heavenly things are there. Man represents the planets, he represents the sun and the moon, and he represents heaven and its angels; what does man not represent? He represents God. In that sense one may call man a miniature God, and it is the development of humanity which culminates in divinity; thus Christ is the example of the culmination of humanity. It would be hiding the greatest human virtue to hide this secret, which is the key to the mystery of the whole universe.
No doubt, compared with God divinity is the imperfection of God, but it is still the perfection of man. It is just like a drop of water, which is entirely, and absolutely water, and yet it is a drop in comparison with the ocean. The ocean is God, but the drop is divine. If man had understood this secret of life, no wars, no differences would have arisen among the followers of the various religions, who in all ages waged wars against one another's religious ideas. No prophet or master at any time would have been rejected or tortured or refused if the world had only known this: that God always comes that He always shows himself through the heart of the godly. The comparison of the divine with God is just like a sun-glass (magnifying glass) placed before the sun. The sun-glass partakes of the heat of the sun and transfers the heat to the earth, and so the divine man, the messenger in all ages, comes and partakes of God's rays and hands them down to earth in the form of the divine message.
Although the sun-glass is not the sun, yet when it is exposed to the sun it partakes of the sun and begins to show the quality of the sun. And so it is with the souls who focus their heart on God, for then God becomes reflected in their heart. The beauty and power, which are to be found in God in their perfection, begin to show themselves in those souls, just as the sun-glass does with the sun. They express it in their lives. The Sufis call this Akhlaq-i Allah: the divine manner. One cannot teach this manner; it comes when the heart is focused on God, and then all that is in God becomes manifest in man. When this realization comes one cannot speak any more of the God within, then God is within and without at the same time. As soon as God is realized God does not remain within; it is before realization that God is to be found within, and this will help to find the perfection of God, but once God is realized He is in all.
There are ages of aristocracy, and there are ages of democracy of all kinds, not only in regard to government, but also in regard to religion. And as it is natural that aristocracy should be misunderstood, so it is natural that democracy should be demoralized by the ignorant who can only understand the outer meaning of democracy. Aristocracy of religion is belief in God, worship of God in a certain form, in the form of prayer or service, of ceremonial or ritual, what ever the form may be. And also its recognition and acceptance when it is given by an actual man: not only that, but the recognition of the illumination which completes its development in the soul of man. The Zoroastrians by their sun worship taught that the sun represents the light of the spirit, and so the sun of God represents the light of God; but others misunderstood it, and took it to mean something different. The Son of God is he who finds out and who is conscious of his inheritance from God, and not of that from man. One who is conscious of his earthly origin is an earthly man; one who is conscious of his heavenly origin is the Son of God.
Man is that which he is conscious of. Man's grade of evolution depends upon the pitch he has attained; it is a certain pitch, which makes him conscious of a certain phase of life. A person standing upon the earth cannot enjoy the purity of the air which exists at the top of the mountain; in order to enjoy it he must be there. That is why an insincere claim has no effect. A man who is standing upon the earth and is talking about the air is talking nonsense. It will have no effect, because he does not know what is in the air; he must rise to where the air is and then he must get the experience and talk from there of what he is experiencing. Then it will have an effect, because then his word is sincere. It is not by theory that a person can trace his origin; he can only do so by practice. It is not only knowing a thing but living it and being it, and this is not easy; but there is no need to separate Christ from other men for the very reason that one man is so far above the other. There is such a great gulf between the evolution of one soul and that of another, that if one were to say that one man is standing on the earth and another is in the sky it would be quite right.
There is, however, no doubt that the aristocratic form of religion has also been misused. This happens when the religious authority turns religion into a means, an instrument, to keep the people under a certain law for worldly purposes. Then naturally that aristocracy breaks down and there comes a time of democracy. And it is necessary that religious democracy should come, because it is in religious democracy that fulfillment of the religious ideal lies.
Religious democracy means that no one should ever think that he is human while someone else is divine, and that God is in heaven, unattainable, imperceptible, and far away from his soul. He must realize that divinity is in his soul, that God is within him, that he is linked with God and that God is linked with him, that his soul can expand because he is not different from God nor is God different from him. Only, the danger of democracy is that when it comes too soon, before a person is ripe, then it brings disaster. For man's natural progress is to follow his highest ideal. But when he is blinded by the spirit of democracy he becomes so agitated that he wishes to break that ideal. In this way he works to his own disadvantage. He comes down instead of going up, and so it has been in all ages and with all nations and races.
The ideal must be held before us that the main purpose of
life is to ennoble our soul, and that religion means to observe,
to appreciate, to recognize, to respect, and to heed the ennobled
soul; to learn not with the thought of following, but with the
ideal of becoming that which our soul recognizes as lofty and
beautiful; realizing the possibility of touching that point
which is attracting our soul as the light of the port attracts
those who travel on the sea, giving us hope, inviting us, and
telling us that the port is there.