Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
THERE ARE two aspects of the question of the evolution of man through the different kingdoms of creation. One is the biological aspect. One sees that from the vegetable kingdom the animal kingdom is born in the form of germs, worms, and insects. As matter evolves, it is used by higher entities, and thus it evolves still more. But the law of evolution is difficult. Matter as a whole is evolving towards a much better and fresher condition.
Then there is primitive man. Modern science has not been able to find the link between man and monkey, but there have been many races which have come and have died out; even now several races still live in regions where science has not yet discovered them. But if the missing link is not yet found it does not matter. It is after all a mystical conception as well as a scientific one. The difference is that science speaks about it plainly, although it cannot get any exact proof, while mysticism mentions it vaguely in the beautiful form of legends and poetry; for instance in the story of Rama and the monkey army, where the word 'monkey' is used because there is no other term for that missing link.
But this is not the only process which goes on. Every aspect of a question must be looked at from a different point of view; unless one does so from at least two points of view, one will always have difficulty in understanding it fully. If one watches the work of the potter one sees that he kneads the clay, colors it, and then molds it into the different vessels he wants to make. As long as he has enough different clays and colors at hand he does not begin his work every time by again fetching clay and then kneading and coloring it. In the same way one sees that vegetable matter comes from the vegetable kingdom and that man comes from man.
By looking at this question from both these aspects one comes to understand that both processes are needed. For instance there is the work of the color-merchant and that of the artist. The task of the color-merchant is to have different substances and to mix them and produce the desired color. The artist does not need to go through that process; he gets his colors ready-made from the color-merchant. In other words, it is not necessary for every person to pass through all the mineral, vegetable, and other aspects of creation, so there is no reason for distress!
God grants us our wishes at two different times. One is when our heart is free from every thought and feeling and maintained in a most peaceful and tranquil condition. At that time every wish we may have is just like a seed sown in the right season. And if we have the patience and strength to wait and trust in the great power of God, whatever the wish may be it will certainly be granted. The other time is when we are satisfied, when we are very happy. Whatever wish we have during that period will be granted, just as the rain coming from above at the proper time will bring with it fruit and flowers.
If one of our objects is what our soul is seeking and the other is life's necessities, it is preferable to sacrifice the necessities and keep to the object which the soul is seeking. But another point of view is that in order to become spiritual we need not become unwordly; we can just as well live in the world but yet not be of the world.
Everything in creation has an opposite. There is the sun and there is the moon. There is man and there is woman. There is night and there is day. The colors are distinguished by their variety and so are the forms. To distinguish anything there must be opposites; where there is no opposite one cannot distinguish. There must be health to distinguish it from illness.
In ancient times many have tried to help the imagination of those who sought goodness by teaching them belief in Satan, saying that God is all goodness and Satan all badness. This was in order to explain to those who could not understand where badness came from. In reality badness is only the shadow of goodness; and as a shadow is non-existent so evil is nonexistent. Good is always going forward; what is left behind is less good, and what is gained on the journey forward is more good. But when we compare things then we call one thing evil and the other good. Therefore people have called the devil, on whom we should turn our back, all evil; and God, to whom we should give our faith, all goodness. It was simply a method of teaching the people of ancient times. In reality God is beyond comparison, though of course we compare God with something when we call Him good, as many do. What is our own goodness? It is very small; it is not something to judge God by.
There is a stage in the evolution of a man's life when every question is answered by the life around him. He may have a living being before him, or be surrounded by nature; he may be awake or asleep, but the answer to his question comes as an echo of the question itself. Just as certain things become an accommodation for the air, turning it into a sound, so everything becomes an accommodation for each thought of the sage, helping it to resound; and in this resonance there is an answer. In point of fact the answer is contained in the question itself. A question has no existence without an answer. It is man's limited vision that makes him see only the question without the answer.
While all things have their opposites, it is also true that in each the spirit of the opposite exists. In man the quality of woman exists; in woman the spirit of man. In the sun the form of the moon exists, in the moon the light of the sun. The closer one approaches reality, the nearer one comes to unity. The evidence of this realization is that no sooner has a question arisen in the heart, than the answer comes as its echo either within or without. If we look in front of ourselves, the answer is before us; if we look behind the answer is behind; if we look up the answer awaits us in the sky; if we look down the answer is engraved for us on the earth; and if we close our eyes we will find the answer within us. It is like climbing a mountain, a mountain whose name is Why? When we have climbed it, then we are face to face with our ideal. It is not study which brings us to this realization; it is reached by rising above all that hinders our faith in truth.