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Volume XI - Philosophy, Psychology and Mysticism

Part III: Mysticism

Chapter XVIII

The mystic, when his heart is about to mature in the mystical spheres, need not have an inspiration once and a while; his every thought imagination and dream have a meaning; it is all inspirational. Thus even a joke of a mystic has a meaning to it. Perhaps the joke is symbolical, maybe it expresses something that is going on somewhere, or may be that it will produce something in the future. And even as the joke of the mystic has meaning, influence and effect, so every thought and imagination of a mystic has an effect. When he thinks of something it may materialize the week after, or next month or next year, or perhaps after many years, but all that a mystic says or thinks is fulfilled sooner or later.

People speak about truth and falsehood, but once the mystic has reached the truth all is truth to him; then everything is a phenomenon of truth, a picture of truth. For instance a person looking at a picture may distinguish light and shade, but another instead of speaking of light and shade, will say, 'This is a portrait of so and so, it is a very good picture, exactly like him.' Truth is like this; and so to a mystic the whole of life is a picture of the divine Beloved. He appreciates the picture as it is, accepting both its light and shade. He does not ask, as some would, why God who is perfect has not made everything perfect; he sees the whole as a perfect whole, and every imperfection is something that goes to make the perfect whole. Therefore the mystic does not look at imperfection as imperfection, but as something that leads to perfection. And if one wonders whether a mystic sees only the outline of this existence and not the details, one may ask who can see more details than the mystic who sees the reason behind reason, the cause behind the effect, and again another cause behind every cause. He sees every object in detail, and even in that he sees the divine perfection.

A mystic can know the thought of another person even better than can that person who is thinking, and he can feel the feeling of another even more deeply then he. One may call this natural or supernatural. The mystic knows the attitude of a person, of which he himself is often unaware. While others go one step forward physically or mentally, the mystic goes ten steps forward; that is why he sees what is there before the other has arrived. To a mystic space is no hindrance; space is his means of communication. A longer or shorter distance, in the physical sense of the word, is not the same from the mystical point of view. It takes no time for the soul of a mystic to reach any part of the world. As soon as he has had the thought he is there. The three dimensions are no obstacle, no hindrance to him; all three dimensions are a capacity, an accommodation for the mystic to realize life's phenomena.

We hear stories about faqirs sticking knives into their cheeks and hairpins through their tongues, piercing their muscles, jumping into the fire, swallowing flames, eating thorns, but all this is juggling compared with the power of the mystic. People are often apt to compare a mystic with a juggler, but they are two different beings altogether. This does not mean that these jugglers have no power; they are powerful too. But their world is different, their object in life is different, and they have another sphere, another destiny, another destination. A mystic may not do any of the things that jugglers do, and yet the mystic may accomplish far greater things than the jugglers. A so-called man of common sense, who considers himself to be practical, cannot imagine the power that is at the command of the mystic. Only the non-mystic boasts of his power and shows off to people, whereas the mystic neither speaks about it nor does he exhibit his powers before others.

Once I met a great scientist in New York, who said to me, touching his pen lying on the table, 'If there is really a spiritual power, a mystic power, I would like to know if it is possible to lift this pen by this power.' I said, 'Do you really think that a mystic will waste his energy in making this experiment, raising a pen in space? And if he did it, what would he have gained? Would he not sooner raise a soul higher, bringing him to another sphere, raising his ideals, his aspirations, instead of trying to raise this little pen lying on the table? What will he get for it? Praise? He does not want it. That people will believe in him? He does not care. Praise is not his object nor does he care if people believe in him. Why should he trouble about these things?'

Then I told him a story of a juggler I myself had seen in the streets of India, in Baroda. A man used to sit on a corner with his mantle spread on the ground, and he had little horses and elephants and camels and dogs and cats cut out of paper and painted. They were lying on his mantle, and the man had a tambourine in his hand; people crowded round him to see the phenomena he was going to show. He would begin to sing, and after his song of introduction was ended it would seem that some life was coming to those animals. Then he would sing, 'Horses, run,' and as long as he repeated this the horses ran. Then he would say, 'Camels, walk,' and the camels would begin to walk. When he would say, 'Elephants move,' the elephants would move.

Those who eat thorns or swallow different colored balls and then take them out again to show them, what has it got to do with mysticism? It has no connection. Some of these jugglers are most powerful, but their kind of power does not belong to the higher spheres; it belongs only to their world. It is from the mystics that destiny chooses those who have to accomplish a certain work for the multitude, for humanity, for certain races; and most unassumingly, quietly, they accomplish that work without the world knowing anything about it.

In the East there is a belief that a mystic should not be judged by what he says or what he does, because for all we know what he says may be only a cover over that which he is accomplishing. One might sometimes think that a mystic is very attached, but in point of fact the mystic can be the most detached person there is. At other times one may think that the mystic is most detached, but there is no doubt that the mystic can be exceedingly attached. One might think that a mystic lives in his dream, but one should know that the mystic can be more wide-awake than anybody else. If someone thinks that the mystic is very wakeful in his everyday life, he should realize that behind that wakefulness there is perhaps a deep dream, which not everyone can understand. In my play The Bogeyman there is a description of the strange ways of a guru, who seems to be one thing and in reality is something quite different. It is not easy for anyone to realize the truth of this; and if people try to realize the truth they will only confuse themselves still more. Is then a mystic's view open to his friends? It is, as the Bible is to its readers. Those who read the words of the Bible read its words; and those who get sense out of what they read, get sense. It is available to both. Will there always remain this distance between the mystic and the unevolved? The unevolved are distant from the mystic, but he mystic is not distant from the unevolved. The mystic remains close to the evolved and the unevolved. And the most wonderful characteristics that one can observe in a mystic are on one side extreme simplicity, and on the other side extreme subtlety. Both of these characteristics are true in themselves; in the mystic his subtlety and complexity are as real as is his simplicity. The subtlety is the depth; the simplicity is the surface. This means that wisdom is covered by innocence.

Is a mystic religious? He is religious in the real sense of the word, even more so than an ordinary religious man. Yet mysticism is deeper than religion. In other words, mysticism is the soul of religion. A person who follows a religion follows its form; the one who touches mysticism touches the spirit of religion. Religion with mysticism is living, without mysticism it is dead.

The great teachers and inspirers of humanity in all ages were mystics. One only has to study their lives. Whether they came as a king or as a beggar, whether they lived in the thick of worldly life or were wandering about in the forest as ascetics, whether they lived in caves or played the role of a commander, a warrior, or a statesman. In every case they were different from the others. And from their childhood, from the beginning to the end of their lives, they have shown their mystical tendencies. Thus all the saints and sages and masters and prophets come from among mystics; and if any soul rises, it is the mystical soul which rises to the higher planes of realization.

checked 3-Aug-2006