Volume VI - The Alchemy of Happiness
MAN, THE MASTER OF HIS DESTINY (I)
IT IS said in the Gayan, 'The present is the reflection of the past, and the future is the re-echo of the present.' Destiny is not what is already made. Destiny is what we are making. Very often fatalists think that we are in the hands of destiny, driven in whatever direction in life destiny wills; but in point of fact we are the masters of our destiny, especially from the moment we begin to realize this fact. Among Hindus there is a well-known saying that the creation is Brahma's dream; in other words that all manifestation is the dream of the Creator. I would wish to add to this, that destiny means the materialization of man's own thought. Man is responsible for his success and failure, for his rise and fall. And it is man who brings these about either knowingly or unknowingly.
There is a hint of this in the Bible, in the principal prayer taught by Christ, in which it is said, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' It is a psychological suggestion to mankind to make it possible that the will of God, which is easily done in heaven, should also be done on earth. And the English saying that man proposes and God disposes supports this. It suggests the other side of the same truth. These seem to be two contrary ideas, yet they explain the same theory: that what is meant by destiny is changed by man, but that destiny also changes man's plans.
The more we study life the more we understand that it is not only qualifications, enthusiasm, and energy that count, but also the design, the plan already made. And according to that plan man has to go through his destiny. No doubt one should not use this to support the argument of some fatalists who think that they can sit back comfortably and wait for better times to come. They may just as well wait for the rest of their life and not accomplish anything.
The question of destiny can be better explained by the picture of an artist meditating on a certain design he has in his mind. The first stage is to create the design in his mind. The second is to bring it on to the canvas. And when he draws this picture on the canvas, it may suggest something to him that he had not thought of when he made the design in his mind. And when the artist has finished his picture, he will see that it is quite different from what he had originally thought of.
This shows that our life stands before us like a picture. When all that has been designed beforehand begins to happen, our soul will receive a totally different suggestion from the picture. Something that was lacking may have been put in, and in this way the picture is improved. For there are two kinds of artists: one who paints the plan which has been made in his mind on the canvas. And the other who takes suggestions from the picture itself as he goes on painting. The difference is that the one is merely an artist and the other is a master. The latter is not bound to the plan. The former has designed something and is bound to what he has designed; he is limited.
One sees the same thing with a composer of music. He composes a certain melody in his mind; he ponders over it and wishes to put it on paper. But when he plays his composition on the piano, the music suggests improvements to him. He plays the same musical idea that he first had, but he is able to perfect and complete it when he has heard it with his own ears.
That is a picture of our life. There is one man who is driven by the hand of destiny, he does not know where he comes from, he does not know where he is going. He is placed in certain conditions in life. He is busy with something, occupied with something, and he cannot see any other way of getting on. He may desire something quite different, he may have difficulty in putting his mind to what he is doing, but he still thinks he must go on. That is the man who has not yet understood the meaning of this secret. But there is another man who even after a hundred failures is still determined that he will succeed at the next attempt. That man is the master of his success.
There are two parts in man. One part is his external self, which the soul has borrowed from the earth; and the other part is his real self, which belongs to his source. In other words an individual is a combination of spirit and matter, a current which runs from above and attracts to it the earth from below, shaping it in order to make it a vehicle. The human body is nothing but a vehicle of the soul which has come from above and has taken the human body as its abode. Thus an individual has two aspects of being: one is the soul, the other is the body. It is the meeting of the soul and the body which makes the mind; and these three together make an individual.
The external part of an individual can be likened to the outer form of a globe, while the mind takes the place of the finer inner machinery. This is the mechanical part of being. There remains the soul, which is the divine heritage, a spiritual current shooting forth from that Spirit which is the source of all things. Therefore the soul has in it a potentiality, a creative power as its divine heritage. On the one side man is limited and imperfect. On the other side he represents the unlimited and perfect. That is why Christ has said, 'Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' It means: one not only inherits from one's earthly parents, but, one also inherits that creative power, which makes one's life from the Father in heaven.
A soul is born with a mechanism which one calls mind and body. From infancy a soul naturally finds itself limited in captivity. All the tragedy of life comes from limitation. If you ask a hundred people what is the difficulty in their life, each one will name a different struggle that he is facing at the time. But in reality it will be the limitation of life which has caused the tragedies in every form. Man grows up in limitation, and this limitation suggests to him at every step that he is imperfect, handicapped, weak, captive, incapable. And it is because of this constant suggestion of imperfection that he begins to say, 'I cannot endure it, I cannot stand it, I cannot bear it, I cannot forget it, I cannot forgive.' A man begins to think all these things because he is imperfect, because of all the continual suggestions which arise in life and convince him that he is limited. Naturally, therefore, as the man goes on, whether he is successful or unsuccessful, whether he is more qualified or less, whatever his condition may be, his mind holds the thought that his power and inspiration, his knowledge and capability are limited. He cannot understand anything else but that, and he remains totally unaware of that spark which continually shines in his heart and which may be called his divine inheritance.
Is there a possibility of changing, or of improving our destiny? We in our material life become so rigid in our thinking that we cannot imagine something existing and at the same time improving and changing. We are only capable of recognizing change as far as we can see it, and the moment we cannot see that change any more we call it destruction or death. In other words what we call destruction or death is only a change. We cannot follow, we cannot see the link. It is not visible to us, we cannot fathom it, and therefore we say that it is the end. But is there anything that ends, that is destroyed, or anything that has ceased? Nothing. All these words are our own illusion, our own conception, a conception which is only true as long as we have not seen the continuity. As soon as we understand this mystery, we no longer continue to have that conception. When we see life end suddenly, we call it death. We say a word, in this case 'death,' and once that word is spoken it is the end of the matter for us. But the word is never silent, it continues, if not in this then in another sphere.
So it is with thought. We have a thought and then we say, 'I have forgotten.' Yes, the mind has forgotten, but the thought is not dead. It is going on. It never ends. Is there anything that ends? Nothing. Such words as 'beginning' and 'end' are our conceptions, and the further we go in studying life the higher the realization we get of those conceptions. It is this principle which is called unlearning. People are proud and satisfied with what they have learned, but the further one goes the more one finds that learning ends in unlearning.
Then another learning begins. It is like turning life inside out. We are walking on the same earth under the same sun, but we are looking at a different world with different eyes. Life is a different life to us then and the meaning of every word is different. Those who have realized in themselves the possibility of improving their lives, do improve them. But the one who thinks, 'I cannot help it. I am what I am. I get angry, I cannot help it. I get annoyed, I cannot help it. I cannot understand, I cannot bear it.' That person comes under his own suggestion and he naturally becomes weaker every day and cannot accomplish things. But the one who realizes that life begins with spirit, says, 'What does it matter; if I fail today I will succeed tomorrow. The present limitation does not discourage me.'
It is never too late in life to improve. There is always scope for the man who wants to improve himself. But the man who is content with himself, or so discouraged that he does not want to improve, falls flat. There is no way for him to accomplish anything in life. The spirit of those who went to mountain caves or lived in the forests was a meditative one. One might think it was an undesirable life. Yes, perhaps undesirable to follow, but in relation to what they reached the experience they gained was most desirable. There is much that could be exchanged between East and West. The West has improved and cultivated and invented many things which should go to the East. And the experience of those in the East who went to the forests and sat in meditation under the shade of trees should be taken to the West. It is this that will bring East and West closer, to the best advantage of the whole of humanity.
There is a story of Timurlenk, the great Mogul emperor, a man whom destiny had intended to be great. Yet he was not awakened to that greatness. One day tired of the strife of daily life and overwhelmed by his worldly duties, he was lying on the ground in a forest waiting for death to come and take him. A dervish passed by and saw him asleep and recognized in him the man that destiny had intended to become a great personality. The dervish struck him with his stick and Timurlenk woke up and asked, 'Why have you come to trouble me here? I have left the world and have come to the forest. Why do you come to trouble me?' The dervish said, 'What gain is there in the forest? You have the whole world before you. It is there that you will find what you have to accomplish, if only you realize the power that is within you.' He said, 'No, I am too disappointed, too pessimistic for any good to come to me. The world has wounded me. I am sore, my heart is broken. I will no longer stay in this world.' The dervish said, 'What is the use of having come to this earth if you have not accomplished something, if you have not experienced something? If you are not happy, you do not know how to live!' Timurlenk said to the dervish, 'Do you think that I shall ever accomplish anything?' The dervish answered, 'That is why I have come to awaken you. Wake up and pursue your duty with courage. You will be successful; there is no doubt about it.' This impression awakened in Timurlenk the spirit with which he had come into the world. And with every step that he took forward, he saw that conditions changed and all the influences and forces that he needed for success came to him as if life, which before had closed its doors, now opened all to him. And he reached the stage where he became the famous Timurlenk of history.
In all walks of life it will be proved to the seeker after truth that there is a key to success, a key to happiness, a key to advancement and evolution in life. And this key is the attainment of mastery. The question is, how does one attain mastery? There are three stages. The first stage of mastery is the attaining of self-control. And when once self-control is gained, then the second stage is to control all the influences that pull one away from the path which one wishes to take. And when one has been victorious in this second stage, then there is a third stage, which is the control of conditions, of situations. The man who is responsible, the man who has control over conditions and situations is greater than a thousand men who may be otherwise well qualified but do not have this. The one who is able to control them may sit in his chair appearing to do nothing, but he will accomplish more than one who is doing things all day long. Very few can imagine to what an extent a man can gain power, especially as life today is a continual strife for nothing, a busy life without much accomplishment. We cannot imagine to what an extent the power of the master-mind can accomplish things. But it is done behind the scenes. Those who do little come forward and say they can do so much, but those who really do something say little.
There are three aspects of the master mind, or Sahib-i Dil as he is called in Persian. These three aspects are connected with three different temperaments. One is the saintly temperament, another is that of the master, and the third is the temperament of the prophet.
When a person has attained mastery, it may be called an inner initiation. From that time he is consciously used to fulfill a certain purpose. Every soul is here on earth in order to fulfill a certain purpose in the scheme of life. But when one has reached mastery, from that moment one is chosen by Providence to he used as a tool, an instrument, to accomplish a certain purpose. Humanity, every single human being, is a kind of raw material which destiny uses. The master-mind, however, is a finished instrument which destiny handles to accomplish its purpose.
The saintly temperament is the negative temperament, resigned, perfectly resigned, to the will of God. The saint has learnt patience, confidence, endurance, tolerance. He has carried the cross, he is crucified a thousand times in his life. He knows what love means. He has taken a path of devotion. He leads a life of service; he has effaced himself; he has crushed his personality. He has dissolved the rock out of which he was made into water. His way is not the way of the hammer but of the water. The hammer breaks a rock but the water surrounds it and makes its way. That is why the saintly personality gives peace and harmony and comfort to those who come in contact with it. It is such a personality which heals and lifts up those who are groping in darkness, who are touching the depths of the earth. He has developed the love that one sees in a mother and father but he has that love for every person, for every soul. It is not just a fable that the trees and plants and rocks spoke to the saints. It is the truth. When a person has developed that sympathy, he is sympathetic to rock and plant and tree. Everything in nature opens up before him. It is through that at-one-ment that he is able to communicate with every form of life, whatever it is. Therefore it is not necessary that he should leave the world. Whether he is in the forest or amidst the world's strife, the soul of man is always capable of rising to the greatest heights, if only he wishes to attain to them.
The other aspect is the aspect of the master. Resistance against all that increases his weakness, that appeals to his weakness, the tendency of continual perseverance, courage and boldness, firmness and steadiness, all such qualities manifest in the master. That is the difference between saint and master. One is active, the other passive. One is resigned, the other persistent. But at the same time both are going forward. Only their ways are different. One is the positive way, the other the negative way. One is the way of power, the other of gentleness. Nevertheless, both have their purpose to accomplish in the scheme of nature.
In the master's path the will is used mostly in regard to outer things. In the saintly path the will is used to control one's own self. In other words it is used for the time being against one's own self. The saint is resigned to Qaza, and the master has regard for Qadr. But in order to know the will of God it is wise first to take one's own will in hand and use it in the knowledge that it is given for some great purpose in life.
And the third aspect is the aspect of the prophet in whom these two qualities are balanced. On one hand the prophet is power, on the other hand gentleness itself. On the one hand the prophet is courage, on the other he is the personification of divine sympathy. On the one hand the prophet is enthusiastic in his desire to change the condition of humanity, on the other hand the prophet has retired from all things of life. All these opposite qualities are balanced in the spirit of the prophet.
The work of the prophet is a greater work than that of the master or saint. They can remain behind the scenes, but the prophet is before the world to awaken humanity, to raise mankind to a higher consciousness, to inspire it, and to voice the truth so that it may have its echo on the earth, in the sky, everywhere. Do not be surprised, therefore, when you hear that the words of Buddha or Muhammad are still being cherished after so many years, or that the personality of Christ still has power after two thousand years. They have won humanity; they were prophets because that part of their experience, which we know in history, was real and will always remain real. Mastery is not only a means of accomplishing the things of the world, but it is that by which a person fulfills the purpose of his life.
Everything to be found on earth, such as gold and silver, gems and jewels, is all for mankind. And all that gives happiness such as power, intelligence, harmony, peace, inspiration, ecstasy, joy, also belongs to man. Man can make a heavenly experience his treasure, just as well as an earthly possession. It is not necessary for man to leave all the things of the world and go into retreat. He can attend to his business, to his profession, to his duties in life and yet at the same time develop this spirit in himself which is the spirit of mastery. The spirit of mastery is like a spark: by blowing continually upon it, it will grow into a blaze, and out of it a flame will rise.
Man does not need to trouble about what is lacking outside, for in reality all is within himself. And if he will keep this idea before him and blow on the spark of mastery by constant contemplation, then one day that flame will rise and his life will become clear and his power will indeed be great.