Volume VI - The Alchemy of Happiness
IN THE Quran it is said that God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused, being unable to bear it; and then God offered His trust to man who did accept it. Trust in this case is responsibility. The value of man is as great as his responsibility, for what mountains cannot bear mankind has carried through life; and that is why a responsible man naturally shows a spiritual quality in all connections, in all relationships. Be he our friend or our master or servant or relative, if he is responsible for the trust we give him, it is that which gives him value. Be he a minister or a king or a president of the state, his greatness, his value, is according to his responsibility, and according to the power with which he carries it out through life.
But there is another point of view from which to look at it: that man may become great by his responsibility. And at the same time he may fall, for there is a stumbling block: the more conscious man becomes of his responsibility, the less he recognizes the power of wisdom which is working beside him. It is because of this that at this time of materialism there are great personalities who accomplish many things, and yet in the end they show their limitation. This limitation comes from being drowned in the responsibility they have taken upon themselves and from having forgotten God, the other power that is working beside them. However great man may be in wisdom, in power, yet he is limited. And if his wisdom and power are compared with divine wisdom and power, they are not even as much as a drop compared with the sea. Sadi, the Persian poet, has made a remark in his Rose-garden in simple words. He says, 'The Constructor of this whole universe is active in constructing even my affairs. But my anxiety about my affairs is my illness.' By this he means, 'It is something I cannot help, but at the same time I recognize that all that I wish to accomplish is already done by someone else, who is far greater, more powerful and wise than I.'
Jalaluddin Rumi points out in his Masnavi that the smallest insect receives its proper nourishment. Either it is attracted to its nourishment or the nourishment is sent to it. Man, who is responsible for himself and who takes the responsibility upon himself for other living creatures, would never even think of the small insects living at the bottom of the wall of the house, under the earth, hidden under leaves, covered by grass. But they receive what is needed to keep them alive; and so birds and animals all receive their nourishment and everything they need to build their nests without the help of man. The unfortunate task falls upon man of toiling and of earning his living, but it is the price that he pays for self-reliance, for self-dependence, for the responsibility that he takes upon himself. In so far as he takes a responsibility upon himself he undoubtedly does a great work for humanity. But, if he becomes so absorbed in that responsibility, that he relies only upon his own limited resources, forgetting that source from whence his help comes, and, if he is unaware of that power and wisdom which is beside him, then, no doubt, with his very great responsibility he will fail in the end, notwithstanding all the power and might he may have.
When a man asks today if there is not an energy, a force, working which is devoid of wisdom, the answer is, that there cannot exist a quality, an attribute, without the possessor of that quality, of that attribute. Energy cannot exist without the energetic, to whom energy belongs. Might cannot exist without the mighty one whose attribute it is. Intelligence cannot exist without the intelligent one to whom that intelligence belongs. And then a person may say, 'Well, is it not energy, a force, a power from which all this comes?' But he does not call himself energy, or force, or power. He says, 'I am I, an ego, a being.' If this being is produced from an object he can not be a being; he should not claim himself to be a being. This shows that a being comes from a being; that there is a being behind it all. And that Being is perfect in His power and wisdom. But then a person is inclined to wonder if that being is a larger being than himself for his ego compares that being with himself. He wants to see that other being, how it stands in comparison with himself. And the answer to this is, that it is a Being that includes everyone and all things. And therefore there is nothing else that one can compare this Being with, nor can it be explained, for neither is His wisdom like our wisdom nor His power like our limited power.
Those who have tried to learn the life of dependence upon that Being have been saints and sages. They have practiced the recognition of the divine power and of divine wisdom by becoming passive to it, by becoming responsive to it. And by this practice their load of responsibility was taken away from them and their lives were made easy for them, and they experienced a great ease and peace.
Very often a thoughtful man envies a little child, who is so happy, without care, without anxieties. He realizes that the child represents the divine kingdom. It is as if all that is there belongs to it, all that is good and beautiful. But now the question arises as to how far one should depend upon divine power and wisdom, and how far one should feel responsible for oneself and for those who depend upon one. What sometimes happens is that man takes a principle and practices it. But in order to practice that principle one must prepare oneself. If one is not prepared for that principle one should not practice it. If a man who toils every day for his livelihood sits down and says that God must provide for his livelihood, the supply will not come so soon and he will be disappointed. In order to practice it he must first of all prepare himself to acquire faith. It is confidence and faith which will bring the supply. But confidence and faith should first be cultivated gradually, and the principle should not be practiced at once. If one has a business affair somewhere, and one says, 'Well, it will all be done by itself, I shall not go there,' that will be wrong, because that man has started by being responsible for it. He cannot suddenly take himself away like this. At the same time he should practice every day that principle of recognizing the wisdom and power which is beside oneself.
I would never advise anyone to give away one's responsibility in recognition of the might and wisdom of God. But one should be full of courage and confidence in the face of difficulty and seeming trouble, by recognizing that there is a mighty power, that there is a perfect wisdom behind one, and that all will be well. Through this a person will rise above his limited power and wisdom, and will be able to draw power and wisdom from that unlimited source which in the end will lead him to success. Then even in the case of failure this recognition of a perfect power and wisdom working beside oneself will give one the strength to bear it, and to be resigned to the will of God.