THE JOURNEY TO THE GOAL
People have different motives for attaining knowledge.
Some attain it to gain power, occult or psychic, some for
inspiration, and some out of curiosity, to see if there
is really something behind the wall that stands between
human perception and the life unseen.
In reality, none of these motives are true ones to have
for spiritual attainment. Life in the world may be likened
to a journey, and the real desire of the soul is to reach
the goal. The soul is the point whence life starts and where
it ends. All religions at different times have taught man
the way that seemed most desirable, the way to make his
journey easy and joyful. One person goes to Mecca on horseback,
the other riding on a camel, another traveling on foot.
The experience and joy of each is different, though all
journey to the same goal. So it is with us. All the virtuous
and wicked and wise and foolish among us tread the same
path and reach the same goal in the end. The difference
being that some go with closed eyes and some with open,
some on the back of an elephant, and some, weary and worn,
journey on foot.
The mystics, therefore, try by the study and practice
of the deeper side of life to make this path of life's journey
smooth. Amir says, 'Beware, O travelers, the path has many
charms. Men and robbers and thieves are all along this path.'
The real robbers and thieves are our attachments and temptations
that rob us of our life, every moment of which is an invaluable
privilege, thus bringing to us all disappointments and sorrows,
which are not natural and do not belong to us. The path
of this journey is within ourselves. Just like the wide
space, beheld by the eyes, which do not seem more than an
inch wide, yet miles of horizon can be reflected in them.
So is the true nature of the soul. It is so wide, and
there is a path that runs from the body to the soul, from
man to God. A person sitting at the gate will perhaps sit
there for a thousand years, and never get to the goal, but
he who leaves the gate behind and proceeds further will
arrive at the goal by contemplation and meditation.
The Sufi's aim is not power or inspiration, though both
come as he proceeds. His only aim is to tread the path until
he can arrive at the end. He does not fear how long it may
take, he does not worry about what sacrifice he will have
to make. He desires one thing alone, be it God or goal,
the attainment of which is his perfection.
THE JOURNEY TO THE GOAL (continued)
Though one sees different desires in different people,
yet when one studies them keenly one finds they are all
different paths leading to one common goal. When one realizes
this one's accusations, complaints, and grudges cease at
once. However, there is also a natural tendency in man to
find the easiest and quickest path to reach the desired
goal, and there is also the tendency to share his pleasure,
happiness, or comfort with others, and it is this that prompted
the prophets and reformers to help mankind on its journey
to the goal. Those that follow in their footsteps, forgetting
that moral, drag people by the neck to make them follow
them, and this has brought about the degeneration of religions.
Christ said, 'In my Father's house are many mansions.'
The Prophet has said, 'Every soul has its peculiar religion.'
There is a Sanskrit saying, which perhaps deludes those
who do not understand it, but which yet means the same thing:
'As many souls as there are, so many gods are there.'
The Sufi, therefore, never troubles which path anybody
takes, Islam or Kafir. Nor does he worry which way anyone
journeys, the way of evil or of righteousness. For every
way to him seems leading to the goal, one sooner and one
later, one with difficulty, and one with ease. But those
who walk with him willingly, trusting in his comradeship,
are his mureeds and call him Murshid. He guides them, not
necessarily through the same path he has chosen for himself,
but through the path best suited to them.
In reality, the goal is already there where the journey
begins. It is a journey in name; it is a goal in the beginning
and in the end. It is absurd to say, 'How wicked I am...'
or 'How undeveloped I am for reaching the destination!'
or to think, 'How many lives will it take, before I shall
be ready to arrive at the goal?' The Sufi says, 'If you
have courage and if you have sense, come forward. If now
you are on earth, your next step will be heaven.' The Sufi
thinks, 'From mortality to immortality I will turn as quickly
and as easily as I change sides in sleep.'
THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
A deep study of anything shows the seer that there is
a purpose beneath it all. Yet, if one could look beyond
every purpose, there would seem to be no purpose. This boundary
is called the Wall of Smiles, which means that all purposes
of life, which seem at the moment to be so important, fade
away as soon as one looks at them from that height called
the Wall of Smiles.
But as deeply as the purpose of life can be traced, there
seems to be one ultimate purpose working through all planes
of life and showing itself through all planes of existence.
That is as if the Knower, with His knowing faculty, had
been in darkness, desiring to know something. And in order
to know something He created all things. Again, it is the
desire of the Creator that has been the power which created;
and, too, it is the materialized substance of the spirit,
a part of Himself, that has been turned into a creation,
yet leaving the Creator behind as the absolute Spirit, constantly
knowing and experiencing life through all different channels,
some developed, some undeveloped for the purpose.
This Knower, through His final creation, man, realizes
and knows more than through any other channel of knowledge,
such as bird, beast, worm, germ, plant, or rock. This one
Spirit, experiencing through various channels, deludes Himself
with the delusion of various beings; and it is this delusion
which is the individual ego. He experiences, therefore,
two things in His delusion: pain and pleasure; pleasure
by the experience of a little perfection, and pain by the
lack of it. As long as the cover of this delusion keeps
His eyes veiled He knows, yet does not know; it is an illusion.
He experiences all things, and yet everything is confusion.
But as time goes, when this veil becomes thinner and He
begins to see through it, the first thing that comes to
Him is bewilderment. But the next is knowledge, culminating
in vanity, which is the purpose of life.
Life, which is omnipresent and all pervading, divides
itself as it proceeds towards manifestation in the same
way that light divides itself when it projects its rays.
Although there is originally no purpose in it, every activity
and all activities when summed up make a purpose or purposes.
In other words, it can be said that purpose comes after
the activity, not before. When it seems to come before,
it is the result of previous activity. For instance, it
is true that the eyes are made to see, but in reality it
is because the eyes can see that seeing is the purpose of
the eyes. It is of course a poor example, for nothingness
of purpose cannot be traced in objects visible and intelligible.
It can only be traced in the origin of things.
The outcome of the whole of manifestation seems to be
its knowledge. Therefore it is knowledge alone that can
be called the purpose of the whole creation. It is not the
knowledge of why and where that can be the
purpose of life. It is the knowledge that gives complete
satisfaction. There remains no part of one's being that
is hungry. There is a feeling of everlasting satisfaction
in knowing something that the knower can never put into
It is this knowledge that mystics call self-realization,
and that is recognized by some religious-minded people as
God consciousness, and by philosophical minds as cosmic
consciousness. It is a knowledge which is self-sufficient;
and in the moments that a soul holds this knowledge before
its view no pain, or suffering, or weakness, or sorrow,
or death can touch it. For this knowledge the whole world
was created, and with this knowledge the soul's purpose
on earth is fulfilled.
THE DIVINE LIGHT
The mystical conception that all life is the divine light
and the whole creation is made of that light, which is the
light of God, has its evidence in all forms of Creation.
In the mountains and rocks there are not necessarily separate
and detached rocks. This shows that in the mineral kingdom
life evolves collectively. Evolution may show singleness
in the vegetable kingdom, and as every tree may be called
single, so every leaf, flower, and fruit may be called single.
A flower may be called single, trees and plants attached
together may be called single, such as reeds and grass.
The development is collective, and yet it shows singleness.
Singleness can be noticed among animals and birds, but
individuality is found among men. All this shows the nature
of the light: that at the source from which the rays of
light start they do not start singly, separate from one
another. It is a very collective light. At every step forward
it separates, until at its end it takes the form of a separate
Light has two tendencies: to open itself, and to withdraw,
which may be likened to birth and death. Also it has a tendency
to narrow itself and to expand. This is like the first tendency,
only in a different direction. The former is in the perpendicular
direction and the latter activity takes the horizontal direction.
It is this idea which is symbolized in the cross.
These tendencies can be seen in every form, in its length
and breadth. There is a certain time in life during which
youth grows tall. After that limit, growth will spread in
another direction. Therefore, the soul is that point of
the collective light, which stands separate and aloof from
other points. But the withdrawal of each ray within naturally
enables it to merge into that collective light and life.
The word 'soul' is used by different people in different
senses. But the manner of its connection with the body proves
it to be divine. Therefore, the Sufi conception of the soul
is that it is the divine part in man. The fire that comes
from coal or wood is in reality the part of the sun that
is in them. When the soul qualities arise in the heart of
a man and show themselves, this proves that it is the divine
part in him that rises, like the flame in the fire.
Soul is in all objects, both things and beings, but when
it is recognized as soul, then it becomes a soul. It is
of the soul that a Persian Sufi has said, 'God slept in
the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable kingdom, awoke
in the animal kingdom, and became self-conscious in man.'
It is the description of the soul, starting in manifestation
as one and manifested in variety.
The reason why one cannot see the soul is that it is
the soul that sees all things, and the soul has to become
two in order to see itself, and this can never be. As consciousness
is realized by being conscious of something, and as intelligence
is realized by the knowledge of things, so the existence
of the soul can be proved by one's very existence. That
part which exists in one, or which makes one existent, that
part which sees, conceives perceives, and is conscious of
all things and yet above all things is the soul.
THE DESTINY OF THE SOUL
The destiny of the soul with the mind and the body is
a momentary experience when compared with the everlasting
life of the soul. The soul with the mind and body are like
three persons traveling together. The difference between
them is that one depends for his life upon the other two
– that is the body; and one depends upon one for its life
– that is the mind; and one does not depend upon either
for its life – that is the soul. That is why the spiritual
person, who realizes being not as body and mind alone, but
as soul independent of body and mind, attains to everlasting
life. But for the experience of the external life the soul
depends upon the mind, and the mind depends upon the body.
There is no object or being that has no soul, but the
word, 'soul' is used in ordinary language only for that
entity which is conscious of its individual being. The soul
is the light, the mind is the furniture, and the body is
the room. The furniture could be anywhere, and the room
is a fitting place for it. But without light, neither room
nor furniture is of any use, nor would life exist without
The mind is created by the soul, yet the soul is independent
of the mind. Just as the body is created by the mind, but
the mind is independent of the body for its life. It is
the life of the body, which we call life on earth, and it
is the life of the mind, which we call the hereafter. It
is the life of the soul that we call the life everlasting.
Who lives with the body, dies with the body. Who lives with
the mind will live long with the mind, and will die with
the death of the mind; but who lives with the soul will
live and live forever. Who lives with his individual self
will live so long as his individual self lives, here and
hereafter, and who lives with God will live the everlasting
life of God. There is a saying of Nanak that, as a grain
is saved from being ground in the mill by being in the center,
so the worshipper who lives with God is saved from mortality.
THE CONNECTION OF THE SOUL WITH THE MIND AND THE BODY
The soul is the originator and producer of the mind,
and the mind is also the originator and producer of the
body. The soul produces the mind out of its own self. Yet
the mind is constructed fully after the formation of the
body, and the soul becomes a spirit after the formation
of the mind. The soul holds the mind and the mind clings
to the soul, as the mind holds the body and the body clings
to the mind. The soul holds the mind as long as its activity
is constructive, in other words, the soul holds the mind
as long as it is engaged in the creative purpose.
When the activity of the soul takes another direction
it withdraws itself from the mind. As long as the mind has
power, it still clings to it, though it becomes exhausted
as there is no hold on the part of the soul. This can be
seen when the aged and ill begin to lose their memory and
become uninterested in thinking, speaking, or hearing.
In the same way the mind works with the body. When the
mind for some reason or other withdraws its activity, the
body becomes disconnected from it, for it loses its hold
of the mind. But if the body is still strong and healthy
it clings to the mind; soon however it becomes exhausted
and this causes death and disease.
Death is mostly caused by the withdrawing of the soul
and the mind. It seldom happens that it is cause by the
body, its weakness or disorder. When the activity of the
soul and the mind is constructive and drawn within, the
body with a disease or a disorder continues to live. The
cases where people lie for years with disease and pain are
proof of this.
THE RADIANCE OF THE SOUL
The phenomena of the radiance of the soul are apparent
to the student of the human body. The body with its perfect
mechanism loses power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness,
when the soul departs from the body. This shows that the
power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness belong to the soul.
But since they are expressed through the body, man attributes
all this to the physical body.
When we consider power, we see that the hand is not so
powerful in weight and strength compared with the weight
it can lift. This itself shows that it is not the hand that
lifts the weight. It is something behind it. And one can
notice that physical power is not the only power, but real
power is something else.
As to magnetism, there is no object nor any living creature
that has as much magnetism as man. The magnetism of objects
attracts man, but a keen study of life would show that objects
are more attracted to man than man is to the objects. If
they had only intelligence to show their attraction this
fact would be clear to everybody.
There is a superstition in India that some people can
light fires better than others, in other words, that fire
responds to some more than to others. With plants and flowers
one can see the truth of this even more. The touch of some
people's hand will make them fade sooner than that of others,
and certain people's touch or even glance, would make them
die. Certainly, no living creature can feel man's magnetism
as much as man, and yet even animals and birds are attracted
to man sometimes more than to their own element. This magnetism
of man is not necessarily of his physical body. It is his
It is the same with what we call radiance or brightness.
It is a light, something, which is quite apart from the
physical body. No illness, weakness, or age can take away
this brightness. Although it must be understood that illness
is always caused by the withdrawal of the soul to a certain
extent from the body, or by the incapacity of the body to
a certain extent to hold the light of the soul.
Sometimes by stretching one's hands and body one feels
renewed strength, and brightness come to one's mind and
body. Sometimes, without reason one feels depression and
pain in general, and laziness besides, for which no one
can suggest a cause, except that the light of the soul closes
and discloses itself. When disclosed, brightness, freshness,
and strength come. But when closed, depression, darkness,
and weakness come. By knowing this, we can realize that
those who have sacrificed every pleasure, wealth, comfort,
or power in life in their pursuit after the soul are justified.
For a loss in pursuit of a greater gain is not necessarily
a loss. Those who become independent of the physical body
by meditation no doubt experience the state of the highest
bliss and attain the everlasting life.
THE RADIANCE OF THE SOUL
The heart of man is like a globe over the light of the
soul. When the globe is dusty, naturally the light is dim.
When it is cleaned, the light increases. In fact, the light
is always the same. It is the fault of the globe when it
is not clear. When this radiance shines out, it shows itself
not only through the countenance and expression of a man,
but even in the man's atmosphere. The soul-power, so to
speak, freely projects outward, and the surroundings feel
it. The radiance of the soul is not only a power, but it
is an inspiration too. A man understands better; there is
less confusion; and if he is absorbed in the contemplation
of something, be it art, science, music, poetry, or philosophy,
he can get inspirations clearly, and the secret of life
and nature is revealed to him.
Love is the best means of making the heart capable of
reflecting the soul-power – love in the sense of pain rather
than as pleasure. Every blow, it seems, opens a door in
the heart whence the soul-power comes forth. The concrete
manifestations of the soul-power can be witnessed in the
depth of the voice, in the choice of words, in the form
of a sentence or a phrase, in every movement, pose, gesture,
and especially in the expression of the man. Even the atmosphere
speaks, though it is difficult for everyone to hear it.
The heart may be likened to soil. Soil may be fertile
or a barren desert, but the soil which is fertile is that
which bears fruit. It is that which is chosen by living
beings to dwell in, although many are lost in the soil of
the desert, and lead in it a life of grief and loneliness.
Man has both in him, for he is the final manifestation.
He may let his heart be a desert where everyone abides hungry
and thirsty, or he may make it a fertile and fruitful land
where food is provided for hungry souls, the children of
the earth, strong or weak, rich or poor, who always hunger
for love and sympathy.