Volume VIIIa - Sufi Teachings
IN REALITY wisdom is love and love is wisdom, although in one person wisdom may be predominant and in another love. The cold-hearted man is never wise, nor is the really warm-hearted person foolish; yet both these qualities, love and wisdom, are distinct and separate, and it is possible that a person may be loving but lacking in wisdom. It may also happen that a person who is wise is lacking in love to some extent; but no one can be wise if love is absent from his heart, and no one will be truly loving if wisdom had not illuminated his heart, for love comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from love.
It is very difficult to say what love is, and how one should love. Is it embracing people and running after them and saying pleasant things to them? Not everyone finds it easy to show his love. One person perhaps has a love hidden in his heart, and another person's love comes out in his words. The love of one person changes the whole atmosphere, and that of another is like a spark hidden in a stone. To judge who has love and who has not is very difficult. There is love for instance which seems as if it comes from a cracker, calling out, ' I am love', but it burns out and is gone. There is also love like a spark in a pebble; it may never manifest, and if you hold the pebble it feels cold, but at the same time it is there, it is dependable and it lasts; therefore one can never judge.
In the East there is a well-known story about a young man called Hakim and a princess who was renowned for her beauty. There were many who loved her and wanted to marry her, but she had made a condition: that the one who brought her a certain pearl which she longed to possess would be accepted. There was one lover of this princess who loved her perhaps more than anybody else, but he could not find a way of getting that pearl. Now Hakim's task in life was to roam about from country to country doing what he could for those who needed his services. He met this lover who was very unhappy; and Hakim consoled him and said, 'Continue in your pursuit of love even if it be difficult, and remember that I shall go on until I have brought rest to your heart by finding for you the pearl you are looking for'. Hakim went in pursuit of the pearl, and the story goes on to tell what difficulties he had in obtaining it. At last he got it and brought it to the palace, and then the princess was so impressed by Hakim that she declared that she wanted him as her husband. But Hakim told her of the promise he had made to his friend, who was her real lover. He himself was the lover of those in need.
The explanation of this story is that the princess represents God, and the pearl the knowledge of God. And the lover in the story is a lover of God who, however, does not want to take the trouble which is necessary to obtain the pearl. But there was someone else ready to delve deeper, even if it were not for himself but for others, in order to get the knowledge and give it to them. Thus there are two types of workers. The first type is the one who works for himself, but at a higher stage is the one whose task is doing work for others; he brings into the life of others that blessing which is their need.
Why is it, one may ask, that as love grows difficulties arise from all sides? This happens because before one fell in love one was unconsciously linked with the source alone; but when once love has awakened on the physical plane, one becomes attached to someone on earth. It is like Adam and Eve being exiled from the garden of Eden. This naturally causes every influence to work against one; even the throne of God is shaken by love's outburst, for by a sincere link on earth, which is very powerful, every other influence is automatically pulled and pushed, thereby causing a commotion in the world of the heart. The soul of man is happiness; yet man is never really happy since he is occupied with the world of woes. It is only love that can bring about that happiness which is spoken of in legends, that happiness which is beyond all the pleasures of this mortal world. And those who see or feel, consciously or unconsciously, the happiness experienced by the lover and the beloved, naturally either knowingly or unknowingly react against it.
The love of God is everywhere in nature; yet we see destruction and misery and inequalities all around us. It is a difference of focus. If we focus our mind upon all that is good and beautiful we shall see God's love in spite of all the ugliness that exists in nature and especially in human nature. In doing so we will spread a cover over it; and by collecting everything beautiful in us we will be able to give to whatever lacks beauty from the supply in our own heart. But if we focus our attention upon ugliness it will grow in us, and there will come a time when we shall not be able to see any good anywhere; everywhere we look we will only see cruelty, unkindness, wickedness, and ugliness.
One may ask if in focusing one's mind on beauty alone, one is not in danger of shutting one's eyes to the ugliness and suffering one might otherwise alleviate. The answer is that in order to help the poor one needs to be rich, and in order to take away evil from a person one needs to have so much more good. That goodness has to be earned as money is earned; and that earning means collecting goodness wherever we find it. What happens is that man becomes agitated by the abundance of goodness that he sees; being himself poor he cannot add to it, and then he is drawn towards evil. Although he may unconsciously develop in his own nature a craving for the goodness he sees, that does not help him in his agitation; his looking at evil only adds another wicked person to the whole.
The one whose eyes are focused on beauty in time will join the good; he is getting the same impressions but the result is different. Besides, by criticizing, by judging, by looking at wickedness with contempt, one does not help the one who needs it. The person who is ready to overlook, forgive, and patiently tolerate all those disadvantages that he may have to meet with, is the one who can help.
One should love for the sake of love, not for a return. When one serves, one should serve for the sake of serving, not for acknowledgment or appreciation in any shape or form. In the beginning such a person may perhaps seem a loser, but in the end he will be the gainer, for he has lived in the world while yet holding himself above the world; the world cannot touch him. Yet if one asks whether one can separate jealousy from love, it is like asking whether one can separate the shadow from the body. Where there is human love there is jealousy.
Furthermore, the tendency to doubt, the tendency to distress, the tendency to fear, suspicion, and confusion, where does it all come from? It all comes from the thought of getting something in return, anxiety as to whether anyone will give one back what one has given him. That is the thought behind it. And as to doubt, what is doubt? Doubt which gathers round the soul is like a cloud passing before the sun, keeping its light from shining out. But the unselfish one has good reason for his trust; he looks through the clouds and says, 'What do I care if I am not rewarded, I don't mind. I know what to do: give service; that is all the satisfaction I want. I do not look for anything in return. This is where my duty ends.' He is blessed because he has conquered; he has won his battle.
It is through lack of knowledge of divine justice that man doubts. He always wonders whether he will get his right portion or whether another will get it, or whether someone will get the better of him. If one would only look up and see the perfect Judge, God Himself, whose justice is so great that in the end every portion is made equal and even! Inequality is only a question of the beginning, not of the end. If man saw the justice of God he would become brave, he would trust, and he would not trouble about a return; for if man will not return something, God is responsible for returning a thousandfold what one has given.
Sometimes a person cannot give the love which friends require, and he even forgets his friends when absorbed in work and his occupation. One may wonder whether this is lack of charity. But the question is, what work and occupation? There are kinds of work and occupation of a high character which ask one's whole attention, and such work requires sacrifice. And that is no lack of charity, because everyone likes to love, but if one can manage to love and be loved at the same time, it is better.
A person who is able to help others should not hide himself but do his best to come out into the world. 'Raise up your light high', it is said; all that is in you should be brought out; and if the conditions hinder you, break through the conditions! That is the strength of life.
If there is any power that will attract, it is the power of one's love. The only question is, is there anything one loves more than the ordinary things of life? And if there is one should strive for that.
Love can take many forms, even that of indifference. I remember I went once, for a relative, to the house of a physician, an Indian physician who had a very ancient method of writing his prescriptions. Each took him nearly ten minutes. I was shown into a small room where fifteen to twenty people were already waiting, and I sat down among them. He continued to write prescriptions for all who came; and when he had finished with those who were before me, he began to write prescriptions for those who had come after me. I had thought that the physician, as a friend of the family, would have seen me first, but he went on until he had seen everyone, and I was the last.
Finally he said to me, 'Now tell me what you want.' I told him, and he wrote out the prescription without any haste; and when I was leaving he said, 'I hope you understand that I did not want to see you while all the other patients were still there. I wanted to see you at leisure'. He was doing me a favor, and though he tried my patience it was still a majestic sort of favor. It gave me a good example of love in the form of indifference.
If somebody truly loves one person, he will end by loving everybody. The one who says, 'I love this person, but hate that other one', does not yet know what love is. For love is not limited; it is divine and therefore unlimited. By opening the love element in oneself, one opens the divine element in oneself; and when the fountain of love begins to rise in the heart, then divine realization will rise like a fountain. The great saints, who had love for even the smallest beings, came to divine realization without great study or meditation. Their love taught them.
Love is divine from its beginning in all aspects. Rumi says, 'If you love a person or if you love God, by journeying on the path of love in the end you will arrive in the presence of the Sovereign of love.' Love is a conqueror who in the end will always conquer. It is not only the one we love whom love will conquer; love's conquering is the conquering of the kingdom of God. The power of love is penetrating; nothing can resist it in the end. And by giving love and kindness we never lose anything; love is an element that is never lessened, it is a treasure that is divine.
When we stop to consider whether a person is worthy or unworthy, then we confine our love within a channel; but when we allow that feeling to flow it will develop into a continually flowing condition; then it will work out its own destiny without any intention on our part.