Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
THE EFFECT OF PRAYER
Keen study of life enables us to perceive that every individual is dependent upon every other. This is true of all aspects of life. The rich are dependent upon the poor, the strong upon the weak, the wise upon the foolish. When we see how limited man is even at his best, we see that it cannot be otherwise than that each one must depend upon another in order to obtain the needs of life.
It is evident that the servant is dependent upon the wages that are paid him, that the worker is dependent on the money he receives. But there are needs which money cannot meet, and then he who receives repays by love or kindness or care. Times come when money is too poor, when influence is powerless to buy or take. When this is so, the natural thing is to pay respect and give adoration to the one to whom money cannot be given and who cannot be influenced. It does not matter whether the respect and adoration are given with a selfish or an unselfish motive; in either case there is the same dependence. One is dependent upon one's beloved, or upon one's wife, or upon one's neighbor, even upon one's servant. How many troubles and difficulties begin if that servant happens not to be at home! Whether one pays money, or whether one can only show love and adoration, one is dependent just the same. From the time when one first opens one's eyes as an infant, one's life is nothing but dependence all through.
Those who watch keenly will see what is real dependence, and how far-reaching that dependence is in our lives. Those who need money, are they not dependent on people who have money? Those who desire position, are they not dependent upon someone who has position, such as a Secretary of State, a lord, a duke, a high official? The more a man reflects, the vaster does he find this web of dependence to be. It becomes more and more clear that all the sources upon which people depend exist for the use of the different individuals. One individual desires or needs wealth; and therefore there are people who have it, and he can be dependent upon them. Another may desire or need a rise in position; therefore there is someone who is in a high position, who can distinguish him or place him in a higher position. He will bow to this one; he will respect him; he will do anything to gain his favor and kindness.
When we discern that every individual has some different source of power before which he bows, to which he turns, on which he is dependent, we begin to ask whether there is any one source which is supreme above all these other sources of power. These various sources depend on one another; is there one which reigns over all? And the answer is that there is one; there is a source which reigns over all other sources of power, and it is this one source which we idealize and name God.
Those who idealize this source call upon Him, pay all their respect to Him, turn to Him in every difficulty, in every trouble, in every case of need. There is no one else who will suffice to console them, there is no means of assistance, no help to be obtained but this one ideal on which they fix their eyes, this ideal which is not known nor seen, yet is idealized in the mind. How poor all other sources are compared with that one source! Whereas all the various sources before which men bow and on which men depend are so uncertain that today they are kind and tomorrow they are not yet that one source is all-sufficient, never changing, and almighty. From that source all things can be obtained. All other sources are only apparent powers; for after all, even if they do succeed in giving any help, it is still really the one source that has given them the power to provide our needs.
The Nizam of Hyderabad was a great mystic and a very good man. He used to say to those who had obtained access to him and had made a complaint of not having yet received help, 'Have you got an order from There? If you have got one from There I will give you help, but if have not got it from There, I will not help you.'
In the Quran there is a sura which says, 'God alone is rich, and all are poor.' The more we study life, the more we see the truth of this sura. People may live in palaces endowed with all manner of wealth and comfort, and yet they can still feel, 'If only I had that, I would never be unhappy again.' People may have their motorcars, their furs, their wealth of millions, and yet cannot truthfully say they are perfectly happy. Can they say they have all that they need in life? Is there anyone who can say this? You are more likely to find such a one among the poor than among the wealthy.
This shows that God alone is rich. Whoever has need is poor. Poverty means need. As long as there is need there is poverty. Since man's life is full of needs, he must be in poverty. He is still in darkness if he does not realize that there is only One who is rich.
Undoubtedly we all of us have our needs through life. How often do we experience disappointment regarding them! How many are disappointed in love, in money, in help, in service! How apt is the heart to be discouraged, disappointed, broken, feeling, 'O, this is my brother, my only brother, and yet he has not helped me in this hour of need.' – 'I looked on her as my sister, and yet she has failed me at this crucial time.' People meet so many disappointments in life. One depends, depends on limited sources, never reflecting that these sources can only sometimes be helpful, and that often they are quite unable to help, however much they may desire to do so.
There remains the one source which is always helpful, and can always help. It is only because man does not see Him, does not realize Him, that he doubts whether there is such a being as God. However religious or pious he is, he always looks to a material agent for help. However religious or pious, he cannot explain God; not even a mystic or philosopher can explain Him. The ideal of God is the first lesson that must be learnt; and it cannot be learnt by analysis. Therefore the intellectual mind which seeks for an analysis of God is always sure to be disappointed. The philosopher spoke truly when he said, 'To analyze God is to dethrone God.' Analysis can never portray even the ideal of God. That is why every messenger, Muhammad, Christ, Moses, Abraham, emphasized the one word: faith.
But one should not think that these seers and holy ones and teachers who had such power and realization, wanted the world to imagine that this faith should be blind. They themselves learned the first lesson that it is no use beginning with the idea that if one analyzes God, one will come to believe in Him. Such a one will never believe. The first step is faith, and not reasoning or intellectual perception. Can one explain why it is that a diamond is worth twenty thousand pounds? Is there any reason for this? 'Yes,' a person will say, 'it is because it is sold in the market for that price. There is no other explanation; it is a precious stone.' But another may say, 'Yes, it is a bright stone; no doubt it is better than glass and it is certainly brighter than a crystal; but why twenty thousand pounds?'
The answer is just this, that it is worth twenty thousand pounds because our ideal has made it so. What we call an ideal is only another way of saying that there is no explanation. We have to accept it that twenty thousand pounds is its value. It is the same with every ideal, even with the ideal of God. An ideal is beyond explanation.