Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
THE FIRST question that arises when one reflects upon the subject of divine impulse is, where does every impulse come from? Every movement, every vibration, every motion has one source. The Bible hints at this when it says, 'The Word was God'. The Word means vibration, and vibration means movement.
Vibration was the first or original aspect of Brahma, the Creator. Every impulse, every action on any plane of its existence has its origin in the one source. In the Quran it is said, 'God is all power; there is no power but God's.' All that is done is done by His power.
If all the scriptures state this, then where does Satan come in? What is the meaning behind the power of Satan? Another power is suggested besides the power of God, and sometimes the power attributed to Satan seems mightier than the power attributed to God; this is a puzzle to many. The explanation is to be found in the understanding of metaphysics and of the laws of nature. There is one law which is the natural law; all that happens and is directed by nature's law is harmonious. The gardens made by man may seem superficially to be an improvement upon the wild countryside, but eventually, on closer examination, the garden with its artificial layout appears limited in beauty and harmony. The inspiration one can get in the woods, in the countryside, is much greater than in the man-made garden, for there man has limited the possibilities of inspiration, as the life he radiates is limited. Man makes a law and finds he cannot keep it, so he makes another law, and is never satisfied; for he does not take into account nature's laws of peace and harmony.
It is said that nature is cruel; yes, but man is far more cruel than the animals. Animals have never destroyed lives on the scale that man has. All the apparent cruelty of nature cannot compare with the cruelty, ignorance, and injustice of man. Jesus Christ said, 'Thy will be done'. There is much for us to learn from this. Man makes the world in which he lives different from the plan of God and the laws of nature, and so the will of God is not done; this prayer teaches man that he must find out what is the will of God. It is not necessary for animals and birds to find out the will of God, for they are directed by nature's impulse; they are closer to nature than man, but man's life is so far removed from the life of nature that every movement is difficult. At the present time we do not realize this; with all our knowledge we make life more and more complicated, and so the strife becomes greater and greater. For every person, old or young, rich or poor, life is a difficult struggle, for we go further and further from the impulse which comes direct from the source from whence every impulse comes.
From the metaphysical point of view there are different rhythms describing the condition of man, and these are called in the Vedanta Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Tamas is a rhythm which is chaotic, destructive, and every impulse that comes to man while he is in this chaotic rhythm is followed by destructive results. Any impulse coming from a person who is in the rhythm of Rajas will be accomplished, but the impulse that comes when he is in the rhythm of Sattva is inspired and is in harmony with the rhythm of the universe.
The active life of man gives little time for concentration, and for getting mind and body into the state in which he can experience the rhythm which gives inspiration and meets with the will of God. This experience comes in answer to the prayer of Christ already mentioned, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. By producing that condition of mind and body, one tunes oneself to a certain pitch which is harmonious and heavenly, and in which the divine will is as easily done as it is in heaven. It is in this rhythm alone that the will of God can be done.
It was not because of any prejudice against the world that the great ones left the world and went into the forests and caves; they went in order to tune themselves to that rhythm in which they could experience heaven. Heaven is not a country or a continent, it is a state, a condition within oneself, only experienced when the rhythm is in perfect working order. If one knows this one realizes that happiness is man's own property. Man is his own enemy; he seeks for happiness in the wrong direction and never finds it. It is a continual illusion. Man thinks, 'If I only had this or that, I should be happy for ever', and he never arrives at it because he pursues an illusion instead of the truth. Happiness is only to be found within; and when man tunes himself he finds everything which his soul yearns for within himself.
The nature of every impulse is that it goes through three stages; and having done so it is realized as a result, whether right or wrong, beneficent or harmful, as soon as the impulse springs from within. There is no impulse which in its beginning is wrong or purposeless or out of harmony, for in the sum total of all things every impulse has its purpose. It is our limited outlook that judges. The justice which is behind everything is so perfect that in the ultimate result everything fits into its proper place. It is during the process through which the impulse passes that it becomes right or wrong, but not at the beginning or the end; for the beginning has a purpose, and the end has answered the demand. This is a question of metaphysics, and one must study it from different points of view or one will be very much confused. Man with so little knowledge is ready to condemn or to admire, and thousands of times he fails to judge rightly. All great souls who have attained illumination have realized this. Christ says, 'Judge not'. Then tolerance comes, and when one realizes what is behind the impulse one says very little.
An impulse first rises in the region of feeling, and in this region it is either strengthened or destroyed. The feeling may be love or hatred, kindness or bitterness; but whatever the feeling may be, the impulse which has risen either gains strength to go forward or is destroyed. For instance a person may have a great feeling of kindness; then the impulse of revenge rises but it is destroyed before it can materialize. Another person has a great feeling of bitterness, but while the impulse is to forgive, it will be destroyed before it ever touches the reason; he will not have to call on his thought to judge, for his feeling will destroy it. Or a person has a great feeling of bitterness and the impulse rises to do a kind service, but it is destroyed before it reaches the realm of thought, which is the second region through which the impulse rises. Or if the impulse rises till it reaches that realm of thought one may reason, 'Why should I help? Why should I serve? Does he deserve it? Will he benefit by it? Is it right?' All these problems are settled in this region. Then thirdly comes the realm of action. If the mind consumes it, it goes no further; but if the mind allows it, it comes into the region of action and is realized as a result.
One may ask how sages and thinkers have distinguished the divine impulse among the different impulses that arise in the heart of man. First we must understand what the word 'divine' means. Divine means a state of perfection. This state is experienced by God through man; in other words, when a man has risen to the stage of development where he can be the perfect instrument of God, when nothing of his own being stands in the way of the direct impulse that comes from within, that spirit may be called perfect. That which is most precious, that which is the purpose of man's life is to arrive at that state of perfection where he can be the perfect instrument of God.
When a man has reached this stage, he at first begins to realize God only at certain moments; then as he develops he does it for a longer time; and those who develop still further pass most of their time in that realization. Then their feeling and thought no longer hinder the divine impulse, for it rises freely and reveals the divine purpose. The message of the prophets and teachers of all times has been to teach man how to make peace with God. The fulfillment of life's purpose is in harmonizing with God, and this is done by distinguishing the divine impulse.
One can distinguish a divine impulse from others just as in music one can distinguish the true note from the false, the harmony from the discord. It is only a matter of training the ear. When the ear is trained one can distinguish the slightest discord; the greater the musician, the more capable he is of distinguishing harmony and discord, the true and the false note. Many think that what we call right or wrong, good or bad, is something we learn or acquire. That is true when it is man-made right or wrong; but every child has a sense of what is naturally right and wrong. The child feels the wrong vibration at once. The infant feels whether its surroundings are harmonious or not; but man confuses himself so that he can no longer distinguish clearly. For man to learn to know for himself is a great advance along the spiritual path. When a man is clear as to the feeling he gets from every impulse, he has advanced far. There are some who say after a bad result, 'I am sorry', but then it is too late, it was not true 'ear-training'.
The divine impulse is an impulse full of love; it gives happiness, it creates peace. The difficulty is that not every man observes the beginning of the impulse; most men only observe the result. They are like an intoxicated person, and so in time, as with a drunken man, they become confused and depressed, and there is struggle and strife. But man was not born for this; he was born for happiness. Peace, love, kindness, and harmony are parts of his own being, and when a person is unhappy it means that he has lost himself, that he does not know where he is.
Man is seeking for phenomena; he wants miracles, communication with ghosts or spirits, he is looking for something complex; and yet the simplest thing and the most valuable thing in life is to find one's true self.