Volume V - Spiritual Liberty
Part V: PEARLS FROM THE OCEAN UNSEEN
THE SEEN AND THE UNSEEN
All religions and philosophies speak of the seen and the unseen, perhaps understanding something about them, but always differing in the explanation they give. The Christian explanation of the soul differs from the Muslim explanation, while the Vedantic explanation differs from that of the Buddhist, and these differences are very confusing to the student. The confusion, however, arises from the variety of names and forms. In other words, it is due to differences of words, not of meanings. To the illuminated soul these differences mean nothing. He sees the one truth underlying all, for he listens to his soul for the truth. And he compares what he learns with all scriptures and finds his conception of truth in harmony with all.
Many different beliefs are held by the followers of various religions and philosophies about life after death, manifestation, liberation, and reincarnation. Some people believe in one God and some in many gods, and others do not believe in the existence of God at all. But in all these beliefs, the mystic sees the same truth. For he can look at it from different points of view. Just as a photographer realizes, when taking photographs of a large palace from the four points of the compass, that each photograph shows a different view of the palace, yet that they are all views of one and the same palace.
The real teaching comes from within, and when the holy ones received illumination from the original Source, their souls understood it, but the words in which they gave the message differed, for one spoke in Zend, one in Hebrew, another in Sanskrit, and another in Arabic. This explains why the same truth is told in different words. The sense and meaning are the same, the only difference being in the explanation, for it was meant to be given at different times to different peoples, of different evolutions. The study of the unseen is the most important study in life, but it cannot be pursued in the same way as the study of the seen.
The study of the seen is always disappointing, as it is ever changing. Therefore, one should look from the seen to the source of all things. In the study of the unseen one must not look for signs. The spiritual pursuit, as Al-Ghazali says, is like shooting an arrow into the dark: you cannot see whither it has gone, or what it hits. The two important things in life are the praise of God and the pursuit of God.
The praise of God is important, and it gives bliss in life, but it is not the real attainment. The all-important work in life is the attainment of God. God cannot be explained. Any attempt to do this always ends in failure. The knowledge of Him can only be attained in the silence and in solitude, and how to do this cannot be explained better than in the words of the Urdu poet, Zahir, 'He who attaineth best the peace of God, his very self must lose.'