Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
When the mind inquires into the nature of will power, it becomes a question whether it is a power of the mind, a power of thought, or a power of the brain. Those who cannot see beyond the power of the brain, call it brainpower; those who cannot see beyond the mind, call it a power of the mind. Those who cannot conceive of the existence in man of anything above the feelings, consider will power to be a power of feeling. A Sufi understands it to be the divine power.
It is the Divine Will that is manifested throughout the whole universe, which has created the whole universe; and it is part of the divine will that manifests itself through us. Everything we do in life is governed and directed by that power. Were it not that there is but one power to govern and direct, how would it have been if one foot determined to go to the North, and the other to the South? Our two eyes might have turned in opposite directions, one to the West, the other to the East, had there not been one will power behind them to direct their gaze towards one object. When lifting a certain thing, one hand might have gone up and the other down, had there not been one will power to govern both, and cause them to join in the one movement. This shows that each individual has one will power which governs several organs of our physical existence as well as our thoughts and imaginations; all are directed consciously or unconsciously by the one power. We could not have accomplished one single thing in life had will power not been at work.
But there are two ways in which the will power works: firstly, when it is lighted with the light of intelligence; secondly, when it is not so lighted, but works by itself. When it works by itself, we call it accidental. We do things accidentally which we have not intended to do. But when will power makes our mind and body work consciously, then the light of intelligence is followed and the will power is acting consciously. This is the difference between various happenings. In the one we are conscious of what we are thinking, we are conscious of what we are speaking and of what we are doing in proportion to our will power and to the light that is thrown upon it from the light of our intelligence. But we have acted without will power when we have to say, 'I have done something I should not have done; I have said something I should not have said; I have thought something which I should not have thought.' When a person says, 'What I did is terrible, I said something I should not have said,' it means that during the time he said or did it the will power was there, but the strength and light of intelligence had not fallen upon it to the extent to which they should.
There are two aspects of our being: the will power or governing power, and the vehicles, the mind and the body. Both are governed and controlled by that one governing power. In one aspect of our being we are king, in the other aspect we are minister, and in a third aspect we are servant. We are minister when our mind works, and we are servant when the body works. We are king when the will power works.
When this power loses its control over the mind, then our thoughts become disordered. They dwell in any regions and wander on any lines, even those which our moral standard has perhaps not drawn for them. And our body also works in a disorderly way when the power of the will is lost. Therefore all illnesses, all failures, all disappointments and faults in life are caused by just one thing: weakness of will power.
Man, not knowing this, sometimes considers the will power to be a power of thought and mind. He does not know that behind mind there is something else. When the will is behind it, the body is powerful too. There was a well-known Indian faqir who was able to lift an elephant. How can a man lift an elephant? However strong he may be, what comparison can there be between the two? What power is at work? It was his will power that was greater than the elephants.
The great and wonderful things that man has done in this world that we see around us, are all the outcome of man's will. Animals, with all their strength, have not that will. Therefore puny man stands before the elephant and says, 'Sit down,' and the elephant sits down; 'Stand up,' and the elephant stands up. With all the strength in its body, still the elephant listens to him. That is how the faqir lifted the elephant. Man makes tigers, lions, horses work; he even makes his thought and will act through inanimate things; even through objects his will power can be manifested. But when man does not realize its effect upon living creatures, how can he experience his power over objects?
Jalaluddin Rumi, in his Masnavi, speaks of fire, air, water, earth, and ether as beings, while man calls them things. To man they are things, to God they are beings, obedient servants. Whatever He wishes, they do. As the servant acts according to his master's desires, so these elements act as God desires. Further, not only does the will of God work through elements, but the will of man also, in proportion to the power of his will. A loaf of bread given with will power can cure a man's disease more successfully than a medicine, if there is enough will power with it. The lesson of Christ, that if one has faith even as a grain of mustard one can remove mountains, can be understood after one has realized that it is the will power which does the work.
In the East there are superstitions which have a mystical meaning. When a person goes into a new business, or goes on a journey, his relatives give him flour or rice in his hand, or some betel nuts, with the wish that he may meet with success. The token itself is nothing; but behind it there is will power, and the person who received it has believed; therefore he has responded to the will power attached to the gift. There is a harmony. The one who wishes to have good luck receives it.
Nevertheless, it is not to be inferred from this that a man should be prepared to believe in superstitions or become superstitious. It is to show that he must know the value of will power, and use it in his profession, his business, his home, in all things. Is it not a desirable thing to have will power; is it not desirable to have physical strength? If we are satisfied with feebleness of body, it may be that we are also satisfied to be without will power.
All light is for us, inspiration is for us; why not use it as long as we know how to use it to make the best of life? If one wishes to abuse power, one may abuse bodily power, fighting everybody, boxing and wrestling. But that is another part of life. Power is necessary and should be developed; but when man is anxious to develop power, either of body or of mind, he ought to remember that the will power is behind it all; that if the will is developed the physical and mental power can easily be obtained. The will power governs the body and the mind.
Now coming to the question of the will of man as opposed to the will of God: which is which? We understand the difference when we perceive that the nature of will power differs only according to whether it exists in its fullness, or whether it is limited. The will power in its fullness is divine power; the will power in its limited state is the individual will. And if there is anything that can be called the source of the whole creation, it is the divine will, it is the will of the absolute Being. If we do not desire to call it will, we may call it force, strength, or might. But force, strength, might, energy, are all dead words. Force can be without intelligence, energy without intelligence, mind without intelligence; but will means force, energy, might, with intelligence. Therefore it is called divine will instead of divine energy. A person with a materialistic mind would call it energy. But why energy? Is our intelligence energy? It is beyond energy. Is our will only energy? It is energy with intelligence. Therefore divine will is energy, but with divine intelligence. In all there is intelligence.
If we observe nature keenly, we see how divine wisdom is working. The animals and birds of tropical countries have fur and feathers which differ from those one finds in the Himalayas and other cold regions. They have suitable bodies, suitable skins; their life, their whole existence is adjusted to the place where they live.
Man's desire, the desire of his senses, is matched by the possession of every sense, every organ of sense, each suited to gratify the desire of his being. The eye meets the requirement of the sense of sight. With all our intelligence and great research no one can make a new eye so adaptable and fitted for the purpose. This wisdom makes us understand and believe that behind all this there is an intelligent God and Creator, not only a life or energy or force. It makes us ask why anyone should want to call Him force or energy, and not God.
The light which we see of the stars and planets is not their own. It is the light of the sun which illuminates the planets and is reflected from them. It is the same light that they receive which they reflect. So it is with man. It is the will of God that is reflected in man. Although every star is not necessarily a sun, yet its light ultimately comes from a sun.
If man has divine light in him, why should he commit sin or do evil, and why should there be anything that we call wrong or a sin? If it is God's will, how can it be sin? We understand this when we consider the difference between wrong and right, sin and virtue, good and evil. These differ with different people. It depends upon the standards of each one's evolution; it depends on the goal or ideal which each one has placed before him. That is why the Prophet said, 'The religion of each person is peculiar to himself.' It is a great fault on our part when we accuse another person of an untrue or false belief, an untrue or false religion. We do not know that perhaps he has a religion which is suited to himself. His evolution or attainment in life, his temperament, his standard of morals are different. Therefore we ought, if only we could, to keep to our own religion. The standard that we believe in for our own good is quite enough.
Our intelligence and experience of this life on earth create within us a world of experiences; and these experiences teach us, by comparing one with the other, that this one is for our happiness; that one is not. That which is for our happiness, we call virtue; and that which does not contribute to our happiness, we call vice. In this way the world which we make into our own is a world of personal experiences, either in our own lives or seen through the lives of others. Therefore it is quite natural that a person in Tibet should have a different religion from a person in France; and a man in Persia a different one from a man in Colombo. Although mankind is the same everywhere, a man's religion is his experience in life, and therefore his own evolution, his own experience, added to the temperament of the people with whom he lives. He can see what is good for him, and what is not; what is right and what is not right; what gives him happiness, and what keeps him from it. The world itself becomes a scripture or book to the soul. If he does not consult it, he is thoughtless. But the one who consults with the world that he has created within himself, is wise. Sometimes, in his world he has decided a certain thing is a sin or evil, and yet when it comes to an action, thought or speech, he cannot follow the moral he has already made for himself, either because of the weakness of his mind or body, or because of the weakness of his will. He fails to fulfill the law of his own world, of his own scripture that he has written. Thus he falls, and that is considered by him to be sin. It is the same with virtue. We have our own sins, our own virtues, which we have made from our own experiences.
If a child throws a knife at somebody, it has not committed a crime, because it has not yet set that action down as a crime in its world of experiences; it has not gathered it into that world. It only becomes a crime when the child knows it to be criminal. After that it becomes responsible for its deed. Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged. We judge others according to our world of good and bad; the same world, the same scripture that is our religion judges us also, when we do wrong. And no one would do wrong if his will power helped him to do right, for how could he do something which the scripture of his own heart tells him to be wrong, had not his will power failed him? Therefore those who repent after their crimes, faults, and failures show thereby that it is not that they wanted to do or have these things, but that their will power failed them. The will power was not strong enough to help them to carry out their own standard of good, as it should help all men through the journey of life.
How can will power be developed? Are there any exercises by which it can be developed? Are there any rules to follow? Is there any knowledge to acquire? All these three are required.
The first exercise to help the will power to develop would be to check every act, word, and thought which we do not wish to occur; to avoid unintentional actions, speech, and thoughts. The other exercise that is necessary for the development of the will power is that of seeing that neither our mind nor our body rules us, but that we rule our body and our mind. Desires such as appetite, thirst, sleep, even the desire of moving or standing or walking, all these desires should be under control. There should be a time in every day when every desire of the body is checked. See if you can do it; and then as long as you can let the body go without listening to it, do so. It takes a great deal of trouble to rule the body, for it is not willing to be ruled.
Yogis, faqirs, Sufis may be seen sitting, standing in one posture for hours together. All the postures adopted are to control and govern every atom of the body, so that it may be under the control of the will. I do not mean that one should devote all one's time to these things, or even that one should have certain exercises for this. When one understands the matter, and carries it out in one's everyday life, then one's life becomes a continual progress.
Next, there is the control of the mind. The mind sometimes does not listen. We want to think of our business, and perhaps the mind thinks of the state of our health, or about a neighbor. It insists on thinking of something else. It may be as unruly as a wild horse which cannot be controlled. So the next step to gain control of it is by concentration, by absorption, by meditation. Concentration should be practiced in everyday life. It is necessary that our bodies and minds should act according to our will in our profession, in our office, in our ordinary life.
There is a tradition of the Brahmins that Rama had two sons, Kusha and Lahu. They went with their mother to a city, where they dwelt with a great hermit of the time. Lahu, a young lad, went out to wander through the town and look at its beauty. To his great surprise he found a beautiful horse running without a rider. And when he enquired whose horse it was, people said, 'This horse is let loose with the intention that anyone who can catch it shall be crowned as king of this country'.
The lad, with the enthusiasm of growing strength and hope in life, thought, 'What a good thing it would be if I could catch this horse'. So he ran after it and tried to catch it; but every time he approached the horse, it slipped away. Again he ran after it. And again when the horse was only a little distance away, he was just able to touch it but again it slipped away. This went on for a long, long time. He was away so long that his mother became uneasy about him, not knowing where he had gone. So she told Kusha that his young brother had gone out and not returned. Kusha went out and discovered that Lahu was after this horse. He was very glad to note his brother's ambition. He knew, however, that he would never catch the horse unless he were instructed what to do. Finally, Lahu, knowing now how to catch the animal, succeeded and was able to bring it before the authorities, who declared him to be their king.
This story tells us about will power. The mind is just like a wild horse, and the will is the only thing which can catch it. The thoughts and imaginations are all so unruly that we cannot think or feel what we wish. If we were able to do so, then neither could sorrow touch us again, nor could unhappiness come near, because it is the thoughts and imaginations which bring sorrow. If we could think what we wished to think, if we could feel what we wished to feel, life would be a heaven for us. When we do not feel what we wish to feel, when we do not think what we wish to think, it is just because of lack of will power. That which is the governing power cannot hold it.
The elder brother of the story is the teacher who shows the path to his younger brothers who are groping in darkness. He is sent with a message from God, the Father and Mother of His children on earth, to guide his younger brethren. Those who are seeking after the power to control this vehicle, and have the ambition or desire to obtain the crown of life, to them will be granted the inheritance of the kingdom of their country.