Volume VI - The Alchemy of Happiness
THE JOURNEY TO THE GOAL (2)
THERE ARE two different stages in human evolution; the minor and the major stage. In the Hindu Puranic symbology, characters belonging to the one or the other of these stages are called the younger and the elder brother.
Just as there is a stage of childhood when the child only knows what it wants and is only happy when it gets it, no matter what might be the consequences, so the minor stage of the soul is when man only desires what he can see, hear, perceive, or touch; when beyond that he does not care and does not wish for anything else. And the major stage is when man has experienced life to a certain extent, has known pleasure and pain, enthusiasm and disappointment, and has realized the variability of life; only then has he reached the stage of majority.
These minor and major stages do not depend upon a certain age, nor do they depend upon a particular education; they depend upon the inner life. When a man has penetrated into life as far as he can go, and when he has passed the limit of the minor stage, then he arrives at the major stage. In the East there is a custom that has become a kind of religious etiquette: not to wake a person who is asleep. In other words, one should treat the world according to nature and not go against nature. The man who is in the minor stage should not be forced into the major stage. He must first sleep well before he can awake.
On the spiritual path the man who is in the minor stage says, 'Yes, I would like to go on this path, but where shall I arrive?' Before he travels on this path he wants to know all about it. He wants to know whether his friends are going with him. And if they are not, he is not ready to go either. For he is not sure of the way. He will not go alone and wants to know when and where he will arrive, if it is safe to journey on that particular path. On his journey he looks back and at the same time tries to look forward, asking, 'Shall I reach the goal? Is it really the right path?' A thousand times doubt comes, or fear. He looks back, forward, around. If others could only tell him how far he has journeyed! He is restless. He wants to know how far he is from the goal. He really is still a child, although he has a desire to travel on. To him the mystical hints for mental research are toys which keep him busy looking at the map of the journey to see where he is going.
About the conditions of the major stage the Bible says, 'Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' If I were asked what the journey really is, and what its object, I would answer that the purpose of the whole of creation was for this journey, and that if it were not for this purpose there would be no creation at all. Before a person starts upon this journey he practices it in some form or other in play, although in reality he has not yet started. For instance a person desires to be rich, and he devotes all his time and energy, his life and his thoughts, to that object, and so to speak journeys towards that goal. If he desires power he makes for that and gets it. If he wants position he uses all his strength to reach that goal. But he does all this in play. And the proof of this is that every time he attains the object he desired and of which he was in pursuit, it only gives him the desire for something else. If he is rich he wants to be famous. If he is famous he wants something else. If he has one thing he strives for another and is never satisfied. It shows that man, outwardly busy in the pursuit of worldly things, is not satisfied but has a constant yearning in his soul for something more. And this keeps him uneasy. Rumi gives a good explanation of this in his Masnavi where he says, 'What is it in the reed flute that appeals to your soul that goes through you, pierces the heart?' And the answer is: it is the crying of the flute, and the reason of its crying is that it once belonged to a plant from which it was cut apart. Holes were made in its heart. It longs to be reunited with its source, with its origin. In another place in his book Rumi says, 'So it is with everyone who has left his original country for a long time. He may roam about and feel very pleased with what he sees, but there will come a moment when a strong yearning rises in his heart for the place where he was born.'
One sees that those in the world who have really suffered, who have been disappointed, who are broken-hearted, do not wish to tell anybody about their experiences, they do not want any company but wish to be alone. And then it is as if there were someone waiting with open arms, waiting for such a soul to come as a child comes to its mother. This shows that there is somewhere a consoler greater than any in the world, a friend dearer than anyone else, a protector stronger than any earthly one. Knowing that the world is not to be depended upon, the one who has gone through all this looks for that great one in himself.
The friend who is a friend in life and after death, in pleasure and pain, in riches and poverty, one upon whom one can always depend, who always guides rightly, who gives the best advice – that friend is hidden in one's own heart. One cannot find a better one. Who is this friend? Man's own being, his true inner being. That friend is the origin, source, and goal of all.
But the question arises: if that friend is one's own being, why then call him a friend, why not call him one's self? The answer is that no doubt this friend is really one's own being, but when the greater Self is compared with the present realization one finds oneself smaller than a drop in the ocean. Man cannot very well call that friend himself until he has forgotten himself until he is no more himself. Until and unless one has arrived at the state of perfection one had better be quiet and not insolent, talking about that which one has not yet become.
All occult schools all over the world prescribe as the first lesson quietude, no discussion, no dispute, no argument. The conditions for those on the path are altogether different from the conditions of the outer world. The true knowers of life have kept their lips closed about this subject. No method has been successful and profitable other than the method of the prophets of all lands, who gave man the first lesson of love for God.
Religious authorities of different times have kept humanity ignorant of the knowledge of God and have only given it a belief in God. And it is lack of this knowledge which has made the man of reason rebel against that which he could not understand. There remained no link between the two, knowledge and belief and that is how the reign of materialism came to the world, a reign which is still spreading. At such times of materialism chaos comes into the world. All is confusion and unrest. Many wish to do good, but do not know how. Such times Shri Krishna has called 'the decay of Dharma,' when the spirit is gone and only the form remains. No doubt at times warning comes in the form of intuition to the soul, but the intoxication of life, the mist, is so great that the message is not heard, not understood, not received until the messenger has disappeared.
What is the manner and the method of the journey? We see that when a person rises above all the things of the world such as power, wealth, possessions, all that gives pride and vanity, there comes a desire in his heart, a remembrance of his origin, of the perfection of love and peace, although no one in the world can pretend to have arrived at this stage. Every moment of a man's life speaks louder of what he says than of what he really is.
Man's first tendency towards humanity is a loving, a charitable attitude, to the extent that forgiveness dictates every action of his life. He shows patience in his actions, tolerance towards his fellow men, and considers that each one has his own stage of evolution. He does not expect a person to act in a better way than his stage of evolution permits. He does not make his own law wanting others to follow it. He follows the law for all.
When a man's attitude has become a loving attitude, a tendency to serve, to forgive, to tolerate, to have reverence for all, good and bad, young and old, then he begins his journey. To explain what path it is there is no better symbol than the cross. No one without courage, strength of will, and patience can follow this path. When a person has to live among people of every different kind, he must make his own character soft as a rose, make it even finer so that no one can be hurt by the thorns. Two thorns cannot harm each other. The thorns can hurt the rose, but the rose cannot tear the thorns. Think what the life of the rose between two thorns must be!
The journey begins with a path of thorns, and the traveler must go barefoot. It is not easy always to be tolerant and patient, to refrain from judging others, and to love one's enemy. It is a dead man who walks on this path, one who has drunk the bowl of poison. The beginning of each path is always difficult and uninteresting, hard for everybody. Ask the violinist about the first days when he practices scales and cannot even form the tones! Often he does not have enough patience to go on till he can play well enough to satisfy himself. The first part of the path is constant strife, struggle with life, but as one approaches the goal the path gets easier; the distance seems greater but the path is smoother and difficulties less. The journey is achieved by realizing in oneself the answer to the questions: what am I? Am I body, mind, or what else? Do I originate from the earth or if not from whence?
As soon as one has started on the journey one's lower nature rises up, and all one's follies and weaknesses want to drag one down to earth; and the struggle of breaking these chains requires the strength of a Samson. Then comes the struggle between the beauty of matter and spiritual beauty. Beauty in form and color is more realistic. Spiritual beauty is hidden in mist until one comes to a stage when spiritual beauty becomes the beauty, which is a shining light.
When man has acquired knowledge, power, magnetism, he becomes conscious of having greater power than others, of knowing more than others, of being able to achieve more than others. To use these faculties rightly is another struggle. He should not pride himself on these accomplishments. There is an enemy who starts with him on the journey and never leaves him: his pride and spiritual egotism and this enemy stays with him as long as he is on the path.
It is a great temptation to think, on having received inspiration and power, 'I can do, know, understand more than you.' It is a constant struggle until the end, and at any moment one may stumble and fall down. Only the steadfast traveler will persist in rising up every time, for without patience he may lose his way. But those who journey on this path will get help; as Christ said, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.' It is the goal which is important, and so is the right attitude of the soul towards it; not the things one meets on the path.