Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
There are three different ways in which a person depends upon another. One way is that of a child which has been given into the care of its parents. The child has not sought it, it has not asked for it, it does not know even that it depends upon them; and yet it is put in a situation where it depends upon the parents.
And there is another aspect of dependence, where one depends upon someone to whom one has given one's confidence, one's trust. This way of depending is different; it is one's own choice. In order to depend in that way one must have some reason also. One says, 'Because my friend is sincere,' 'because I trust him,' 'because this is my relative,' or, 'because this is someone whom I know I can depend upon.' It is just like depending upon a ship to carry one over the sea. There is every reason for one to depend upon the ship. One knows that this ship has sailed perhaps a hundred times from this port to the other port and has always come back safely; everyone knows it. Therefore this is a dependence acquired by reasoning. This dependence is the one we generally see in life.
Then there is a third kind of dependence, known better by the ancient peoples. In this world, in this age of materialism and commercialism, this dependence seems to have disappeared. It is dependence upon the unknown. When one reads in the Bible, that even the lilies are clothed by nature and when one reads in the Masnavi that even the smallest insect is taken care of by Providence, one should believe that if we did not do anything today, we should still be taken care of just the same. But then a person thinks, 'Bread is going up in price; what will become of me tomorrow?' And that person cannot believe in dependence upon the unknown. Today people think, 'If the lilies are clothed, I should be clothed according to the latest fashion!'
All this shows that we have become too artificial, and that is why, far from following this principle we cannot even believe in it. There is a great deal of pessimism in all parts of the world, and the more civilized the country, the greater the pessimism and the greater the strife. It is not that the support of the Unknown has been taken away from man, but life is so difficult today that, far from his depending upon the unknown, it is difficult for even the idea of the unknown to reach him.
When we think of the hundreds and thousands of men at this time not knowing from one day to the next what they should do, anxious about how they can get on in life, we see that there is no progress. A progress that can make a person worried and anxious so that he cannot depend upon life, how can we call it progress? Progress means ease, relief, peace, happiness, less strife, less struggle; that is progress. Progress does not mean greater struggle, greater uneasiness, greater anxiety, and greater worry. A good example of this was the case of a man whose father had enormous wealth, so that he and his family could live for many generations quite comfortably; and this man was anxiously looking for some work. He came to ask me about it, and I said, 'I am very surprised that you are looking for work, and want to do something. What are you looking for?' He said, ' Some business, some industry, something to produce. That is the only real field of activity: where you can produce money.' I said, ' Is there no other field where you can produce something better than money? You have enough to live on.' 'But what will people say? I must do something,' said the man, ' and I can only think of doing that, and nothing else!'
There is much in the world that can be done for the poor, the needy, the ignorant, and for those who are not yet awake but are still asleep; for the conflicts which exist between nations, for the prejudice between races. There is no end of work one can give one's thought to instead of thinking, 'No, I must produce some money.' Yet that is the only activity which is accepted by the world. If a person does not do that, people think that there is something wrong with him! And what has it done? It has wrecked the nervous system of the present generation. After a hundred years we shall see that the race will begin to suffer tremendously from it. Working beyond the limit, from morning till night, what do people gain? Some of them perhaps may make money, but many have only a loaf of bread in the evening. After a whole day's toil that is all they can get.
For mankind there is no other ideal left except money; and wherever there is a lack of it people feel it strongly because they do not believe in anything else. If you go to the capitalist, his god is the same; if you go to the socialist, his ideal is the same: money. All the different morals and arguments and theories and discussions aim at civilizing the world; but how can one civilize the world as long as money remains the ideal of the people? There is a very large number of people who do not wish to make a home and do not have a family for the one reason that they are waiting for money. Imagine, hundreds and thousands and millions of examples of this, waiting for the time when there will be enough money to live in a society as artificially as is done today!
The ideal of a home in ancient times was quite different. The home of each man was a palace for him. It might have been a home of straw, reeds, bamboo, brick, earth, or marble, but everyone's home was a palace. If they had simple bread and water, they were thankful to have it. The did not think that because another person had a home of marble they should not marry unless they had a home of marble too; that they should wait all their lives until they had a marble home. And this attitude is destroying the happiness of the world. It is spreading discontent; and lack of money, without any real reason, is felt more keenly. What must come as a result of this is the desire to snatch the money from the hands of others. All the different ways of improving the economic conditions of the world will not prove satisfactory as long as man does not look at the spiritual ideal as something greater and more worthwhile, forgetting for a moment the things of the earth.
A pessimistic person will object and say, 'Suppose I went and sat before the City Bank and raised my hands in prayer and said, 'Million francs, million francs, million francs, I depend upon you, million francs!' will it come?' To such a person the Prophet Muhammad gave a very good answer. When the man said, 'I depend upon God,' the Prophet said, 'Yes, but first tie your camel to the tree. Do not let your camel walk loose, and then depend upon God..' This was a practical hint the Prophet gave, but at the same time when we come to think about dependence upon the unknown, we go into a much deeper subject, a subject of the greatest value in our everyday life. It is true to say, 'Tie your camel to a tree,' but do we not see that very often with all his strife, struggle, worry and anxiety a person gets nothing in the end? And very often we see that to a person who does not strive and struggle the hand of Providence comes naturally and shows him, 'Here you are. Here is what you want.' In the East there is a saying, 'When God gives, He pours it through the roof, so that it comes into the house;' and this is true also. We cannot see it because we do not want to see it, because we do not open our eyes; but it happens in everyday life.
Do you think that strife brings money? Or struggle the things that you want in life? Do you think that anxiety produces what you wish for? Never; it is quite the contrary. Very often a person tosses about in his bed for months on end and says, 'Million dollars, million dollars,' and he does not get it. Or a person may go out and work from morning till evening to gain a million dollars, and he does not get it; yet there is another one who gets it very easily. America is the best example of this philosophy; people with nothing at all have gone there and worked, and have got everything. This shows that when it comes, it comes amply; when it does not come, it does not come. Does that not show that somewhere there is a key to it, a treasure house from which one can draw? It shows that there is a hand of wisdom working behind all things. And the one who does not look for it, does not depend upon it, does not recognize it, makes a great error, for all through life he lives with the treasure and yet he does not know of it.
But if one looks at it from a metaphysical point of view, one will find that some action is necessary; not only depending, but also some development in one's own self. Even among the spiritual people of today, those who are engaged in so-called occult sciences or psychic practices, many have intellectual ideas, but when it comes to dependence, that is an idea they do not know of.
In order to depend upon anyone, we should have faith in that person; and our dependence upon him is a mechanism, which gives him a responsibility. When we look at nature's phenomena we find most beautiful examples of this. When the little sparrows do not yet know how to fly and depend upon their parents, not only the mother but also the father brings grain in its beak and gives it to them. It is a most wonderful phenomenon to look at from this point of view of dependence. The young cannot fly, they depend upon the parents, and the day they begin to fly and collect grain themselves, then neither the mother nor the father has any inclination to share their grain with the little ones. From that day they leave them alone. This shows that if we look for the grain while saying, 'My mother and father must look for me also,' it cannot be and it will not be. The day we have awakened to the realization that we are looking for our own grain the mother and father have lost their responsibility.
Our relation with the unknown is exactly the same. As soon as we begin to depend upon the known source and on our own faculties to get all we wish, the unknown becomes still more unknown. Just as the parents of the sparrows withdraw and do not appear any more to the young ones, so God Himself disappears more and more. The more we look after ourselves, the more the known source disappears. It is not that it is disappointed or angry; it is an automatic process. Naturally a mother, whose heart is always focused upon her little ones, is watchful at every move her child makes, in case it might tumble. But for how long? As long as the child has not gained control of itself. The moment the child has control of itself and looks where it is going, then the mother puts her mind to something else. It does not mean that her love has lessened; it only means that the moment the child is able to move about without depending upon the mother, then that much responsibility is removed from the heart of the mother. It is exactly the same thing with the Heavenly Father.
When a man is poor, but can just live with the means he has, one may wonder whether it would be right for him to give away all his belongings and in that way make himself dependent upon others. But what is good? This is very difficult to decide, for good is peculiar to every person. There is a story of the great Indian composer Sayn Aliyas. He was an ascetic, and for his daily food a loaf of bread was enough. It happened that people gave him more; but he would never keep anything for tomorrow; he would always give away what he had not eaten that day. And if one asked him why he made himself dependent upon other people, he would answer, 'We are all interdependent. As long as I do not force myself upon others, it all comes from God and it all goes to God's creatures.' So it all depends on the point of view, on how one looks at it.
Sufis are the best examples in the world of dependence upon God. One will find numberless examples in the history of the Sufis of how they have practiced that dependence upon God as something spiritual. How have they practiced it? Not only for their food but, for everything in life they have developed dependence in their nature. While everybody has looked for independence they have practiced quite the opposite, dependence, and the wonderful results that they have achieved by practicing this are worth studying: dependence on life with food and without food; dependence on health while considering it and without attending to it. And in this way they have not only made themselves independent of the world but, they have made the unknown known to them. It is in this way that they have found the nameless, the formless, the unseen, the unknown God. In the terms of the Sufi this is called Tawakkul, which means dependence upon God.