Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
SPIRITUAL CIRCULATION THROUGH THE VEINS OF NATURE
WHEN ONE observes keenly the nature of this life of variety, one finds that behind the veil of variety there is only one life, the source and goal of all things. It is this life which may be called the blood of the universe, circulating through the veins of nature. It may be called either substance or spirit, it is something out of which all that is seen and all intelligence is molded and kept alive and in working order. It is this life which we know as intelligence.
Intelligence, which is often confused with intellect, is something which is to be found even in the lower creation. It can be traced in plant life, and sensed even in the heart of the rock. People often think that the intellect is a development which manifests as mind in the life of man, and that the lower animals have no mind, that mind is a development of matter depending upon the brain. But the mystics of all times, the prophets and all meditative souls, say that what was is and will be, and that as it is all the same substance life is not subject to change, nor does it develop. It is a different grade of evolution which makes us capable of understanding, and which gives us the feeling that mind is a development proceeding from matter. The great ones, the meditative souls who dwelt in the wilderness and the forests and communicated with the life around them, realized this truth; and very often they experienced a greater harmony and peace and upliftment where there was no visible life. Life is intelligence, everywhere, and the more one communicates with life, the more one feels that even the rock is not without life, that through it pulses the blood of the universe. And when we look at life from this point of view, we see that there is no place, no object which is not sacred; that even in a rock one may find the source and goal of all things in that particular form.
Many who are experienced in plant life know how responsive plants are to the sympathy of the person who lives with them and looks after them. It has been proved that plants breathe; and if breath is to be found in plant life, certainly there is intelligence too. I once happened to see a stone whose owner called it a magic stone, but in reality it was quite ordinary; only it often changed its color and shade, especially when a particular person held it. So even a stone can respond to a person's mind, and this teaches us that there is a great deal to explore in the mineral kingdom. This is not a discovery of today; it was known to the people of ancient times. We read in the Persian poems of Jalaluddin Rumi that God slept in the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable, became conscious in the animal, and realized Himself in the human being.
But this one life is to be seen in a more pronounced form in human beings, in the intellect they show, in the work they do, in the magnetizing of the atmosphere, in the thought-power they exercise, in the influence of healing. Although one person is separated from another, although there may be no outer connection, yet even at a distance the influence of thoughts and feelings is felt. There were many instances of this during the war when mothers and wives of soldiers, in times of pain, illness, or death, were conscious of their distress without any other source of communication. How often when people are in close touch do they perceive each other's condition, not only by thought-waves, but in the realm of feeling also; this shows that there is one body, and that in that body there is one life which continually circulates as the blood does in our veins.
This gives a logical explanation of the law of cause and effect. A wrongdoer may escape earthly witnesses, but he cannot escape this one life in which he lives and moves and has his being. A person who has done good to another may never see that other again; yet the good must return to him as there is only one body and one life. Just as with the circulation in the physical body the essence of all we eat is absorbed in the blood, so our every thought, word, and action affects the one life.
Often people question or ridicule certain superstitions; they ask for instance how past, present, and future can be read from cards. But this, and also the science of astrology and crystal-gazing, may be explained by the fact that there is one life in which the circulation is always pulsing; one music, one rhythm; a person only needs to be acquainted with the theme of the music to be able to read and understand it.
Not only by cards and crystal-gazing can one read the past, present, and future, but by many other means; if we are able to communicate with even one vein of this one life, then we are in touch with all the veins of the universe. Some means are better, some are worse, but through any medium we can reach understanding, thus proving that there is one life behind all. Man may be taught to do good, he may learn righteousness, but this is virtue forced upon him as the result of a certain teaching; real virtue only comes by understanding the oneness of life, thus binding man to friend and enemy alike. Jesus Christ teaches, 'Love your enemies', and while it is often difficult to love our friends, we are not able to love our enemies unless we realize the secret of the one life behind everything, in spite of the world of variety which is continually creating illusion.
If by religion, philosophy, or mysticism this realization is attained, then one touches the secret of life, and a mighty power is gained without any wonder-working. This lesson is easy to learn intellectually, this truth can be consumed like food in a moment, but this is not enough; to digest it the whole of one's life is not sufficient, for truth is mixed with facts, and when truth becomes a fact it loses its importance. Absorbed in the world of variety we are apt to forget truth, for we are always engrossed in facts. That is why people who spend much time in meditation try to think of the oneness of being, and try to meditate on the ultimate truth of being. It works like the winding of a clock: it only takes a minute to wind but it goes on all day long. So in meditation the same thought goes on, and in everything one does or says one uses the same truth.
How much harm is caused by the lack of understanding of this truth! All such disasters as wars, floods, earthquakes, famines, all the dire events that cannot be controlled by man, come from disorder in the body of the universe; when the blood is disordered everything goes wrong, and though sometimes it seems that what is harmful to one part is helpful to another, yet in the long run one sees that every part suffers. The after-effect is felt by the whole world as strain and pain and all kinds of suffering.
If one raised one's eyes from this world of illusion and looked up, and asked God to tell one the secret and the mystery of His creation, one would hear in answer that every thing and being is put in its own place, and each is busy carrying out that work which has to be done in the whole scheme of nature. Life is a symphony; and the action of every person in this symphony is the playing of his particular part in the music.
When the war was going on all the people were called to arms, and were placed, regardless of their profession, qualifications, or moral standards, where they were most needed; the reason was that the 'call of the purpose' was to be the first consideration. If there is anything which will bring peace to the thinker, it is the understanding of this idea. The thought that one is suffering now because of one's sins in a past life may bring an answer to the enquiring and reasoning of the mind and stop it from rebelling for the moment, but will it take away the irritation that the misery is causing in the heart? Will that mind ever excuse God for having judged him so severely? He may own to his past mistakes, but will he ever believe in God as a God of love and compassion, as a God of mercy, or as a God of forgiveness?
If God were separate from man, and if He rejoiced in the suffering of man, then one might blame Him. But as the Sufi realizes, He is the sufferer and the suffering; yet at the same time He is beyond all suffering. This fact can be understood by not merely believing in God, but by knowing Him. Suppose our hands dropped a heavy weight on our feet and hurt them, are our hands to be blamed? No, for they share the pain with the feet, and although the feet seem to be hurt, yet that which feels the hurt is our being, our absolute being, and therefore the hand shares the hurt with the foot.
So it is with God: all our lives are His and He takes part in every feeling of joy and pain which we feel, but at the same time His perfect being keeps Him above all earthly joys and pains, where as our imperfection limits us, so that we become subject to all joys and pains, however small they are.
People often ask why should man suffer and make sacrifices for God. When his suffering and sacrifice is over he will find that though he began to do so for God, in the end it proved to be for himself. It is the foolishly selfish man who is selfish; the wisely selfish man proves to be selfless. This consciousness is attained by self-realization; first man must realize himself and find out of what he is composed. He is composed of spirit and matter. He consists, in himself, of the mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds, the jinn and the angel; and it is his task to balance all these, knowing that he has been created neither to be as spiritual as an angel, nor to be as material as an animal. When he strikes the happy medium he will certainly tread the path which is meant for a human being to tread, the path which leads straight to the goal. 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way', narrow because any step taken on either side will lead to some other path. Balance is the keynote of spiritual attainment.
The soul of the whole of creation is one, the life behind all these ever-moving phantoms is one. Meditation on this truth and the awakening to it will harmonize the condition of the world. And when the soul begins to see the truth it is born again; to such a soul all that seems truth to an average person appears false, and what seems truth to this soul means nothing to the average person; all that seems to the average person to be important and precious in life, has no value nor importance at all for this soul. Thus he naturally finds himself alone in a crowd which lives in a world quite different from that in which he lives. Imagine living in a world where nobody speaks our language! Yet he can live in the world, for he knows its language, although life in the world is as unprofitable to him as the world of children playing with their toys is to a grown-up person.
Prophets and great mystics have come to the world from time to time, as the physician comes to help the patient whose health is disordered; and when the great ones have come they have brought a new life to the world, given to the organism of the universe to help it to run smoothly. The Sufis have always existed as mystics, and their lives have been devoted to meditation and spiritual practices. What have they learnt from these meditations? They have learnt the essence of everything, the oneness or unity; and it is by thinking about unity, by realizing it, and by living it that man fulfills the purpose of life.