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Volume XI - Philosophy, Psychology and Mysticism

Part III: Mysticism

Chapter X

Brotherhood seems to be an inner inclination of man, although he continually shows the opposite inclination, just as goodness is a natural inclination of man though the opposite of goodness is more frequently found. Mysticism need not teach brotherhood, for a mystic becomes a brother by nature. Mysticism culminates in brotherhood, a brother hood which is unlike any other institution of brotherhood in the world.

There are several kinds of brotherhood. First there is professional brotherhood, which is seen in the unionizing of some profession or other. In appearance it is a brotherhood, but on fact the members have become brothers only because of their mutual interest in the profession. One may call them brothers but they are certainly not twins! They have become brothers for earthly benefit, with the good motive of furthering their particular profession as much as possible. But there is another side to it, that all those who are outside that profession are not brothers, they are only cousins and it would not be wrong to profit by them. The brothers will meet to figure out how best to profit by the cousins. We find this idea in the Mahabharata, the ancient Hindu scripture, where a war is described between brothers and cousins. It is symbolical.

There is another brotherhood, which may be called a federation. Those who have the same business will unite in their common interest against all those who depend upon their business or upon what they sell. As long as they can agree among themselves as to how to make their efforts profitable they are brothers, but the moment the profit of one is endangered by the other their brotherhood breaks up; for it is only profit which makes them brothers.

Then there is brotherhood in the political field, calling itself one party or another. This brotherhood can even be seen in the form of nations. The parties are formed in order to be brothers in the fight against the cousins of the other party. Nations will remain united as brothers as long as their own interest is not harmed by the other nation. As soon as their interest is interfered with this brotherhood can immediately break up. It does not take long to break the bonds of alliance. As soon as a question of national interest arises there is only their own benefit which comes first. Brotherhood is a word that was adopted in order to strengthen themselves in their own interest.

In still another type of brotherhood people become brothers because they belong to a certain Church, a certain religion. Those who attend that particular Church, those who follow a particular principle which was given to them, are brothers. Any other people who are perhaps following better principles are outcasts, for the very reason that they do not belong to that particular Church. No doubt this brotherhood extends more widely then the other forms.

Maybe there will arise other forms of brotherhood, but as long as a brotherhood is formed by an earthly interest divisions will always arise. It is human nature to divide into sections, into parties, yet at the same time it is the inner most nature of man to unite with others. Thus the brotherhood of the mystic is not limited to a certain section or a certain division. His brotherhood, like the human brotherhood, envelops all. To him it does not matter what Church a person belongs to or what business, what profession a person has, or what his political opinion is. He does not mind, for the mystic sees brotherhood as the source of all things. Just as the children of the same parents see themselves united in the parents, so mystics see all members of one brotherhood above and beyond every section of cast, nation, or religion.

A nation is a family, a race is a family, but the brotherhood of family bonds has diminished in these days. There remain hardly any families now such as there used to be in ancient times. The family bonds were often so strong that feuds developed between rival families. For years and years families caused bloodshed, taking revenge perhaps for some wrong that somebody's grandfather had done, or for what somebody's great-grandfather has said to somebody's great-great-grandfather. We have improved since then; we have become such a large family that whereas a family feud used to cause three deaths in fifty years, they now cause the death of millions of people. This is because we have advanced in the organization of families, without first knowing how we should form a family. The loosening of the family bonds is one of the things that make modern life so unnatural, although the word 'unnatural' is a very strange word. What is natural and what is unnatural? Natural is that to which we are accustomed, unnatural is that to which we are not accustomed. Sometimes centuries makes something natural. Sometimes a few years make a thing natural or sometimes a few months. We call something natural because we are accustomed to see it as it is, but we do not realize that it has taken perhaps many centuries, many years, or many months to make it natural to us.

Moreover, what is natural to us need not be what is natural to others. The present condition of the world is not to be blamed for lack of consideration for what is called the family bond. This is a kind of development, and although it does not have perhaps the beauty which the family had, yet it has its own beauty, it has its own ways. Only, too much of any good thing is wrong. When there was such a strong family bond that it resulted in fights going on for many years, this was not a good thing, but now a kind of restaurant life has begun which will end in hotel life, and this also is going to far. Imagine thousands of people living in a hotel, their food never of their choice, their living organized by the hotel authorities, and when they are ill they are immediately sent to a clinic, that is their life! When they go out they go out by fifties or hundreds in large cars, and they all travel in the same ship across the sea. There is none of the joy that existed in the ancient times for those who traveled in freedom. Even when people traveled in caravans, on foot, on horseback, on a camel, or on an elephant, it was something; it was a different experience. In ancient times a family lived perhaps in a small hut, but they showed one another sympathy in their time of need.

It is not that this or that is not good, it is not that this is beautiful and that has no beauty. Every period has its own conditions. Whether for earthly interest or for spiritual interest, brotherhood is nothing but the forming of a family, it only depends in whose name we form the family. It was for this reason that Jesus Christ always pointed out God as being the father. Which means, do not unite because of your earthly forefathers and ancestors and fight with one another because you are from different families, but think of that father who is the father of all men, unite in Him. No doubt people will establish the same idea in another form depending on the times.

Mysticism makes the mystic tolerant towards other peoples opinions. Mysticism makes him rise above divisions. Mysticism makes him assimilate all that he sees and hears, and mysticism gives him love for God whom he sees in all beings. Mysticism gives him the sympathy by which he is attracted to every person he meets, and mysticism helps him to understand and to admire all things and to appreciate all beings, and in that way come nearer to all that exists.

This ideal of brotherhood develops, taking different forms. In the first stage the mystic becomes respectful to all beings, both to the saint and to the sinner, to the wise and to the foolish. In the next stage his sympathy goes out to everyone he meets, no matter who it is. In the third stage he understands the conditions of every person because of his sympathy and respect. The fourth stage is when he tolerates and forgives, he cannot help doing it for the very reason that he understands. One who cannot tolerate, who cannot forgive, is not able to understand, tolerance and forgiveness come from understanding. The fifth stage is that he sees himself united with all, not only in God but even in himself. In each being he sees himself. No one can sympathize more then one sympathizes with oneself, and so it is natural that, when the self of the mystic is at the same time all people, he can then sympathize with everyone as he would himself.

Mysticism is thus the lesson of brotherhood. All this destruction which has been caused by wars and revolutions, by the continually rising sections of humanity, fighting against one another, calling themselves federations or communities, or parties, or divisions, this is all caused by lack of mystical understanding. What the world needs today is not so much teaching or religious preaching, what the world needs most is a mystical outlook, to look upon the world with a mystic's attitude, and to see the whole of humanity as One, the single Being, the only Being. To bring this idea to the world it is not only necessary that there should be esoteric centers, but also that the message of universal brotherhood which is essential to mysticism should be given freely to all people. To those who sympathize as well as to those who are not yet ready to understand it. It is by bringing this idea to every soul one meets and can speak to that one will be able to accomplish the work which many institutions in the world today are trying to accomplish, calling themselves peace leagues and various other names. Man may have a good motive, but a good motive can only give good results with right methods. Whenever there is a good motive but no right method, the good motive will be of no avail. On the contrary, the good motive can bring very bad results. Throughout world history whenever real brotherhood has been taught to humanity, it has always been conveyed by the mystical ideal.

checked 18-Oct-2005