The first thing is to be man. It is not enough to have
the form of man, we must be man. If we think that we eat
and therefore are men – the animals and birds also eat.
If we think that we sleep and therefore are men – the animals
and birds all sleep. If we give way to our anger and passions
– the animals all have their anger and passions. All that
is not enough to make man human.
It is told in India that there were two majzubs
at Lahore. Majzubs are those whose interest in spirituality
is so great that they quite forget their physical self and
even their garb. We in India know them and pay respect;
if they pass, having forgotten their clothes, we just turn
our eyes away. These two majzubs were a man and a
woman; when they met in the street it was seen that the
man tried to avoid the woman, and the woman tried to avoid
the man, and they showed signs of confusion while usually
they showed no consideration at all.
A priest walking behind the man majzub followed
him for three days thinking, 'I must find out why he behaves
thus.' At last, after three days, the majzub said
to him, 'Why do you follow me? What is it you want from
me?' The priest replied: 'I saw that when you met the woman
majzub you covered yourself. Why was it?' The
majzub laid his hands upon the priest's head and said
to him, 'now go and look at the world; then come back.'
The priest went into the city and, looking at every person,
he saw upon the body of a man, the head of a dog, or upon
the body of a woman the head of a cat or of a camel or some other animal.
Only the woman majzub had a human head. He went back
to the majzub and told him what he had seen. The
majzub said to the priest, 'This must never be told,
because the world would be offended. Now you have seen how
the world is, and why it does not matter to me to appear
as I am before the world. Do you wonder that I cover myself
before the majzub only?' this shows us how careful
we should be to become at least human first.
If we cannot be trustworthy with our surroundings, with
those who rely upon us, we are not human. If we cannot be
self-sacrificing with our surroundings, our relations, we
are not human. If we compare ourselves keenly with the animals
we surely shall see what we must be in order to be human.
We must have tolerance; the animal has no tolerance. We
must be true; the animal has no truth. We must have
shame; the animal has no shame. We must keep our
promise; the animal cannot do it. We must share with others;
the animal does not share, it sits beside its plate of food
and, even if it has eaten enough, it will not let others
come near. We must be accommodating; the animal does not
accommodate others. We must have sympathy; the animal has
no sympathy. We should give up those actions that give us
a momentary joy, but of which we repent afterwards. Sometimes
we do things of which for the moment we are glad, and then
for years we repent. We should check the animal passions
that carry us away. There is a great reward for it; for
every little attempt to overcome, for every little check,
there is a great reward.
How many times do we become troublesome to ourselves
and others by our lack of human qualities? How many times
are we annoyed with our own self? To become human is the
most difficult thing. Hali, a great Indian poet, says, 'What
can there be easy when it is even difficult for man to become
man?' how much do we have to learn before we can say that
we are truly human!
It is by his quality of sympathy, by his kindness to
others that man becomes human. When the animal-self, which
is called nafs is before him, he wants to take everything
for his own benefit. When he develops his sympathy, when
he can sacrifice his self for the benefit of another, he
realizes that moral which the cross symbolizes. Then he
becomes firishta (an angel who is sent on earth),
then he becomes God.
In order to reach the next stage, to become an angel,
we must become a soldier and make another our colonel: we
must make God, our self within, our colonel and thereby
learn discipline. We must please Him. If we have a need
we must ask Him. We must not ask anyone else; we must not
tell anyone else. If we have a sorrow we must tell Him;
if we have a joy we must tell Him. A listener is there for
our sorrow and joy. Why should we humiliate ourselves by
bringing our joy and sorrow and want before others? If we
feel an obligation, let us be obliged to Him. If we want
to complain, let us complain to Him. Why should we complain
to others who cannot help us?
We must become a lover and idealize God, our self within,
as our Beloved, thinking of His mercy and compassion, admiring
the sublimity of His nature, bowing most humbly before His
almighty power, and considering Him at every move we make,
lest He should be displeased with us. Then at every step
astray we are warned from within, 'This is not right for
you.' At every right step we are cheered from within.
The higher we rise, the more particular we should be,
for if one goes into society a very small impoliteness disgraces
a person, while a man from the slums may fight and box in
his eating house and the next day, when people meet, they
say, 'Hello, good morning,' and are ready to be as before.
The day we think, 'I am good, I am perfect,' our eyes
are veiled. The day we think, 'I am wise,' darkness has
come upon us, and all the progress we have made is lost.
We must always be ready to learn: from a child, from a drunkard,
from a foolish person, from everyone, from all those who
Perfection does not lie in the innocence of a child,
nor does it lie in being a jinn or a fairy; it lies
in going through all vibrations, from the highest plane
to this one, in experiencing all. A child is friends with
the enemy because it does not know that he is its enemy.
To know that the enemy is an enemy and yet to be kind –
that is to be truly kind. To know the badness of the world
and then to become harmless – that is innocence.
In India there are many such holy persons. Their innocence
is so great that it shines out from them – much more than from
a child. Their presence is peace and joy. I knew a sage
who was very much revered. His humility was so great that
when little boys came to see him, before they could bow
to his feet as is the custom or kiss his hand, his head
was on their feet and he said, 'I am your servant, I
slave.' You are much greater than me.' Those sages always
think that every other is much greater than they.
It is very difficult for a person of a certain
evolution to like those of another evolution. If a
person goes and sits in a cafe and always speaks of God
or Christ, and says, 'Christ was great, Christ said this
or that,' the other people would say, 'Please go to the
church if you wish to speak of God and Christ.' And if a
person who wishes to drink goes to the church, they will
say to him, 'Go to the cafe if you wish to drink, here
it is not the place.' I myself
have sometimes been told, 'Please, do not mention the name
of God in our society, or the name of Christ. Say what you
please about science, about the planes, but do not speak
the name of God here.'
That is why the Sufi takes the other way. He sees the
good in everything. He sees the face of God everywhere.
He is in all companies. One Sufi always recognizes another,
wherever he is, in whatever religious or social garb the
other may be. That is the Sufi message of friendship. Unless
each one of us bears this message into the world, peace can never
come to the world.
Self-realization has been taught by all religions as
it is their spirit. The underlying truth is the same in
all, though their principles may differ. What is this self-realization,
this knowledge of the self?
We all know the self that we see, we know: I am tall
or short or of medium height, I am fat or thin. We know
the name that has been given to us, whether John or Jacob
or Henry. We know also: I have a temper, or: I have my clever
ways, I have these merits and these faults, I have this
work or this particular way of enjoyment in life, I have
responsibilities and cares and sorrows and joys, I have
friends and acquaintances and enemies. But all this is not
enough. We should consider whether that which we are doing
from morning to night, which we are striving after, to which
we give a great importance, will remain with us – be it
money, fame, name or whatever it may be. Does it make us
happy? Does it give us the knowledge of what we were and
what we shall be? We should know what we were before, whence
we came and whither we shall go, from what all this world
has come and into what it will turn.
If I were to explain from what all this manifestation
has come, how it has been produced and into what it will
turn, it would take a very long time. It is a long subject,
but in a few words I can say: how could there be room on
this earth for all the people that ever have been, if this
matter remained as we see it? Even for the people living
on earth where they are many, often famines come, diseases,
plagues and wars. If all that matter did not return by various
processes to the unseen from which it has come, there would
be no room left on earth, nor in the water, nor in space.
Matter is all destroyed, annihilated, and nothing can save
it when the call of annihilation comes.
If you think that fame and name can live, I will say:
do you suppose that Beethoven and Wagner were the only musicians
of their time? There have been many, many others who have
come and gone about whom no one knows anything, and a day
will come when those names that are known today will also
be wiped off from the world's memory.
The aim of all religions and philosophies is the understanding
and the realization of unity. The Vedanta philosophy teaches
advaita: there is no such thing as 'two;' the whole
is one and the same being. In the Bible it is said, 'I and
my Father are one,' which means unity, and then, 'Be ye
perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,' which shows
that in this unity lies perfection. When we come to the
Hadith we read, 'By knowing himself, man can know God,'
which means that by realizing himself he realizes God.
Supposing that there are some people who believe this
and ask, 'If we ourselves are the Whole Being, why
should we not do whatever we please? Whom should we
fear? Before whom should we pray?' – I would say to such
a person, 'If I take all you possess, will you let me
have it?' He at once will say, 'No, it is mine.' But then he is not the
Whole Being, he is a limited being. He recognizes 'you and
I': separate beings. By learning this philosophy of 'I am
all' intellectually people have many times been led astray.
It is not enough to have read a few books of philosophy
and to think, 'Now I know all.' That is not mastery. By
books one can learn intellectually that we are all one,
but books cannot give us realization, the realization by
experience in which we are sure, in which no doubt can remain
in the soul.
Self-realization can be learned only in one way, in three
grades. For this one needs no books, no study; one can learn
it only from life. If a least little insult makes one vexed,
and a least little praise makes one feel so flattered –
if that is one's condition – how can one call oneself God-conscious?
The self-realized ones are those to whom insult or praise,
rise or fall are indifferent. They will deserve to be called
so whom neither sin nor virtue can touch. Heaven and hell
are the playgrounds of their imagination. They are, although
on earth, yet above the earth.
It is then that self-realization comes, fana.
When does it come? When there is no thought, no idea at
all anywhere touching the breath of one's existence as a
limited being. When all idea of this external being is gone,
then comes the consciousness of the unlimited Being, of
God. This is annihilation, fana, which is shown by
the cross. Christ's words have always taught renunciation,
annihilation. This can be learned by the three grades of
which I have spoken: first to be man, then to be angelic,
then union with the Divinity.