Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals
THE MASTER, THE SAINT, AND THE PROPHET
There are three roads to spiritual attainment, which meet in the end at one junction. One road is that of the master. Another comes from quite a different point and is the road of the saint. The middle path between the two is that of the prophet. The path of the master is a path of war, war with those outer influences, which prevent one from making one's way through life. The path of the master requires self-discipline and will power to make headway through life. He conquers himself. He battles with life. He is at war with destiny. He crusades against all that seems to him wrong. He finds the key to the secrets unknown to him. He turns all conditions, all things, all people, into the shape that he wishes, and molds as he likes the personalities that come in touch with him. He tunes personalities to the tone, which will suit his orchestration.
It is a path of accomplishment. All that the master takes up, he accomplishes. All that the master desires, he attains, sooner or later. Yet the master's one desire is spiritual attainment at its fullest. Therefore to him all other attainments, spiritual or material, are nothing but many steps on a staircase. The struggle on the path of the master is great. He has to struggle all the way. Every condition that he has to face on the way to accomplishment is harder to cope with than the one before. No doubt, as he advances on the path of attainment, he gains power through struggle. The greater the struggle through life, the greater his power. He has command over objects. He produces effects in objects, which are not naturally there. He can even rise to a state where he can command nature.
The spiritual hierarchy is made up of the masters. The world is ruled and governed, and although the spiritual hierarchy is different from outward governments, it is nevertheless an inner government. In the East such masters, whose thought, whose feeling, whose glance, whose impulse, can move the universe, are called Wali. The master may advance gradually through the five principal stages of attainment, and may even arrive at the stage of Rasul in the end.
The path of the saint is one of love, harmony, and beauty; ready to give, ready to sacrifice, ready to renounce, ready to give in and to yield. The saintly soul accepts all insults as a purifying process. He is resigned to every loss, for there is no loss without some gain and there is no gain, which is without any loss. There is always a hidden loss in the gain and a gain in the loss. Renunciation is not difficult for that soul, for in renunciation it finds its freedom. No sacrifice is too great for the saintly soul, for it gives it happiness. It need not learn generosity, for this is its nature, its character. Modesty, humility, tolerance, and forgiveness are part of the saint's being. He cannot do otherwise, for he knows no other way.
No doubt in the beginning the saintly soul finds difficulty on this path. The path of the saint is a constant battle with the self, for there is no end to the world's demands. In this world no one can be too good or too kind. The better one is the more good is asked of one. The kinder one is, the more kindness is expected from one; and so it goes on through life. The happiness a saintly soul finds, through all the continual sacrifices that he makes as he goes through life, lies in the fact that his will is gradually becoming harmonized with the will of God, so that God's will and his will in time become one. And no one can imagine that happiness except the souls who have experienced the feeling of resignation to all the crosses that one has to bear in life.
The spirit of a saint at last becomes tuned to the whole universe. He is in tune with all climates, with the weather, with nature, with the animals and birds. He becomes in tune with the trees and plants, in tune with all atmospheres, with all human beings of various natures, because he becomes the keynote of the whole universe. All harmonize with him. The virtuous souls, the wicked souls, angels and devils, all become in tune. He is in harmony with every object, with every element. He is in tune with those who have passed from this earth, with those in the other spheres as well as with those who live on earth. The moral of a saint is very difficult, but the spirit of the saint is a benediction to himself and a blessing to others.
The work of the master is to protect individuals and to safeguard the world, to keep away disasters that might be caused by the inharmony of the nature both of individuals and of the collectivity. It is to help those who are feeble but in the right, who are weak but just, when they are opposed by a powerful enemy. The work of the saint is to console the wretched, to take under the wings of mercy and compassion those left alone in life, to bless the souls that he meets on his path.
The way of the prophet is more balanced, for in the life of the prophet there is a balance of these two attributes: the power of attainment and the patience to be resigned to the will of God. So the prophet is at the same time both a warrior and a peacemaker. This way is Kamal, that is, perfect or balanced. The work of the prophet is not only in his own spiritual attainment, but he has a service of great importance to perform. As the prophet goes through the five stages on his way towards the fulfillment of his life's mission he acts as a warner, a healer, a reformer, a lawyer, a teacher, a priest, and as a preacher. Such service keeps the prophet away from what his soul always craves for, and that is the solitude of the wilderness. He longs for one place, and he is put in another place. The very soul who constantly yearns to flee from the crowd, because of his mission is put in the very midst of the crowd. Thus the work of the prophet in the world becomes as hard as if a person were asked to jump into the water and then come out dry. He must live in the world and not be of the world. However, it is very often the prophetic soul whose life's mission is to serve humanity in time of need, and it is the fulfillment of this service which makes Rasul, the messenger.
The prophet is the message-bearer. The prophet is both master
and servant. The prophet is a teacher and at the same time a
pupil, for there is a great deal that he must learn from his
experience in life; not in order to make it possible for him
to receive the message, but in order to make himself capable
of giving the message. For God speaks to the prophet in His
divine tongue, and the prophet in his turn interprets it in
the language of men, making it intelligible to them, trying
to put the most subtle ideas in the gross terms of worldly language.
Therefore not all that the prophet comes to give to the world
is given in words, but that which cannot be given in words is
given without words. It is given through his atmosphere, it
is given by his presence. It is given by the great love that
gushes forth from his heart. It is given in his kind glance,
and it is given in his benediction. And yet the most is given
in silence that no earthly sense can perceive. The difference
between human language and divine words is this, that a human
word is a pebble. It exists, but there is nothing further. The
divine word is a living word, just like a grain of corn. One
grain of corn is not only one grain. In reality it is hundreds
and thousands, for in the grain there is an essence which is
always multiplying, and which will show perfection in itself.