Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
MAN, THE SEED OF GOD
THERE ARE various ideas and beliefs as to the relationship between God and man; and it is natural that there should be various beliefs, because every man has his own conception of God. There is no comparison between God and man: for man, being limited, can be compared with another being, but God, being perfect, is beyond comparison. The prophets and masters in all ages have tried their best to give man some idea of God's being; but it has always been difficult, for it is impossible to define God in words. It is like trying to put the ocean into a bottle. However large the bottle, it can never accommodate the ocean. The words that we use in our everyday language are the names of limited forms, and we give God, who is above name and form, a name for our convenience. If there is any possibility of understanding God and His being, it is only possible through finding the relationship between man and God. The reason for calling man the seed of God, is that this picture gives, to some extent, an idea of the relationship which exists between man and God.
There is a root, there is a stem, there are branches, there are leaves, and there comes a flower; but in the heart of the flower there is something which tells the history of the whole plant. One might say that it is for the sake of the flower that the plant was created, but in point of fact it is the seed in the heart of the flower which continues the species of that plant. That seed is the secret of the plant, and it is its source and goal. It is that seed which was the beginning, it is from out of that seed that the root came; then the seedling emerged, and so it became a plant. After that the seed disappeared; but after the coming of the leaves and branches and the flowers it appeared again. It appeared again, not as one seed, but as many seeds, in multiplicity, and yet it was the same. And towards what goal, for what result did this happen? In order that the seed should come again as the result of the whole plant.
To the man of simple belief, who believes only in his particular idea, there is no relationship between God and man; but for the man who wishes to understand this relationship, the proof of it is to be found in everything. This is the idea which is spoken of in the Bible, where it is said that God created man in His own image. It is the same as if the seed out of which the plant comes were to say, 'Out of my own image I have created the seed which will come forth from the heart of the flower. I shall appear as many, although in the beginning I am one grain.'
This idea again explains to us why it is said that man was created in God's image, when the whole of manifestation, the whole of creation has come from God. The leaf, the branch, and the stem have all come out of the seed, but they are not the image of the seed. The image of the seed is the seed itself. Not only this: the essence of the seed is in the seed. Of course there is some energy, some power, some color, some fragrance in the flower, in the leaves, and in the stem; but at the same time all the properties that belong to the stem, flower, petals, and leaves are to be found in the seed.
This shows us that man is the culmination of the whole of creation, and that in him the whole universe is manifested. The mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the animal kingdom are all to be found in the being, in the spirit of man. It not only means that the different properties such as mineral and vegetable are to be found in the physical body that is made for man, but his mind and his heart also show all the different qualities. The heart is like either a fertile soil or a barren desert: it shows love or lack of love, the productive faculty or destructiveness.
There are different kinds of stones; there are precious stones and there are pebbles and rocks, but among human hearts there is a still greater variety. Think of those whose thoughts, whose feelings, have proved to be more precious than anything that the world can offer: the poets, the artists, the inventors, the thinkers, the philosophers, the servants of humanity, the inspirers of man, the benefactors of mankind. No wealth, no precious stone, whether diamond or ruby, can be compared with these; and yet it has the same quality. And then there are rock-like hearts: one may knock against them and break oneself, and still they will not move. There is a wax-like quality in the heart, or there is the quality of the stone. There are melting hearts and there are hearts which will never melt. Is there anything in nature which is not found in man? Is there not in his feeling, in his thoughts, in his qualities, the aspect of running water, of a fertile soil, and of fruitful trees? Is there not in the heart of man the image of the plant and of fragrant flowers? But the flowers that come from the human heart live longer; their fragrance will spread through the whole world, and their color will be seen by all people. How delicious are the fruits that human hearts can bear; they immortalize souls and lift them up!
There are on the other hand mentalities in which nothing springs up except the desire to hurt and harm their fellow men, producing poison through their fruits and flowers, hurting others by thought, speech, or action; and they can hurt more than thorns. There are some whose feelings and thoughts are like gold and silver, and there are others whose thoughts are just like iron and steel. And the variety that one can see in human nature is so vast that all the objects that one can obtain from this earth cannot equal it.
Man not only shows in his nature, in his qualities, in his body, in his thought and feeling, the heritage of this earth, but also that of heaven. Man is subjected to the influence of the planets, of the sun, of the moon, of heat and cold, of air and water and fire, and of all the different elements of which this whole cosmic system is composed. All these elements are to be found in his thoughts, in his feelings, in his body. One can find a person with warmth representing fire; another person who is cold represents water. There are human beings who in their thought and feeling represent the air element; their quickness, their restlessness, show the air element in them.
Does not man represent the sun and moon in his positive and negative character? Does not duality of sex show this? In every man and in every woman there are both the sun quality and the moon quality, and it is these two opposite qualities which give balance to the character. When one quality is predominant and the other is completely missing then there is a lack of balance somewhere.
And if one pursues the thought of mysticism still further, one finds that not only all visible manifestation is present in man, but also all that is invisible. If the angels, the fairies, or the ghosts, elementals, or any other of man's imaginings can be found anywhere, it is in human nature. Angels at all times have been pictured in the image of man.
If all that exists in the world and in heaven is to be found in man, then what remains? God Himself has said in the scriptures, that He has made man in His own image. In other words, 'If you wish to see Me, I am to be found in man'. How thoughtless then on the part of man when, absorbed in his high ideals, he begins to condemn man, to look down upon man! However low and weak and sinful a man may be, there is yet the possibility of his rising higher than anything else in the whole of manifestation, whether on earth or in heaven; nothing else can reach the height which man is destined to reach. Therefore the point of view of the mystics and the thinkers of all ages has always been reflected in their manner, which was a respectful attitude to all men.
In the example of the life of Jesus Christ one can see what compassion, what forgiveness, what tolerance, what understanding the Master showed when a sinner was brought before him. A man who shows contempt towards his fellow men may be called religious or pious, but he can never be called truly spiritual or wise, whatever be his condition. The man who has no respect for mankind has no attitude of worship towards God. The one who has not recognized the image of God in man, has not seen the Artist who has made this creation; he has deprived himself of this vision which is most sacred and most holy. A person who thinks that man is earthly does not know where his soul comes from. The soul comes from above; it is in the soul of man that God is reflected. A man who feels hatred and contempt, whatever be his belief, faith, or religion, has not understood the secret of all religions which is in the heart of man. And certainly, however good, however virtuous a person may be, however tolerant or forgiving, if at the same time he does not recognize God in man, he has not touched religion.
There is, however, another side to the question. As man evolves, so he finds the limitations, the errors, and the infirmities of human nature; and so it becomes difficult for him to live in the world and to face all that comes. Also, it becomes very difficult for man to be fine, to be good and kind and sensitive, and yet at the same time to be tolerant. Then the tendency comes to push everything away, and to keep himself away from everybody else. But the purpose of being born on earth is not that. It is to find that perfection which is within oneself. However good and kind a man may be, if he has not found the purpose for which he was born on earth, he has not fulfilled the object of his life.
There are as many different aspects of that purpose as there are people in the world; but behind all of them there is one purpose, which may be called the purpose of the whole of creation. And that purpose is accomplished when the inventor looks at his invention working, when the architect builds a house which he has designed, and he enters it and sees how well it is made; the purpose is accomplished when a play is produced, and the producer watches it, that is the fulfillment of his purpose. Every man seems to have his own purpose, but all these purposes are nothing but steps to the one and only purpose which is the purpose of God. If our small desires are granted today, tomorrow there is another wish; and whatever be the desire, when it is granted there is next day another desire. This shows that the whole of humanity is directed towards one desire, the desire which is God's object: the fuller experience of life within and without, the fuller knowledge of life above and below. It is the widening of the outlook: that it may become so wide that in the soul, which is vaster than the world, all may be reflected; that the sight may become so keen that it may probe the depths of the earth and the highest of the heavens. In this lies the fulfillment of the soul; and the soul who will not make every possible effort and every sacrifice for its attainment, has not understood religion. What is the Sufi Message? It is the esoteric training, practicing and working throughout life towards that attainment which is the fulfillment of the purpose of God.