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Volume XII - The Divinity of the Human Soul

Part II: Confessions

Chapter 7

All that I, as a Sufi, a universal being, have learned from my experience in both East and West is that I can now appreciate the merits and also understand the defects of both impartially.

Although the East has progressed to an inconceivable extent in certain aspects of life, this has never been fully recognized. In other words it has not been sufficiently fruitful, because its progress has been individualistic and not general. Also self-satisfaction, linked with laziness and recklessness, retard it from material advancement to a great degree. It is sad to see that Eastern students usually adopt the most undesirable qualities of the West, such as extravagance, excessive gaiety, and exclusiveness, instead of its courage, power of organization, and its most wonderful knowledge of administration.

In many cases Westernized Orientals grow indifferent towards their own people, owing to the varied direction of thought which retards their unity. The present unbalanced condition of the East is such that the man with intellect is, as it were, unbalanced in body, while the sane in body are unstable in mind. The spiritual person is lost in the spirit, and the material person is absorbed in matter; thus the one is an angel while the other is an animal. No doubt the unbalanced state of the East has deprived it for the present of both the world and God.

The East can learn a lesson of order from the West, for the lack of this is at the root of its downfall. She can also learn balance and moderation in most things, and cooperation among all classes regardless of caste or creed. Although the East has taught the lesson of brotherhood to the world, yet her children seem to forget to practice it among themselves; the brother drags his brother down and selfishness is on the increase, especially in India.

The East should also imitate the regularity of Western methods of work and rest, as well as its commercial activity, together with its love of research.

The independent spirit of the West is most praiseworthy among women as well as men. Their love of travel, the neatness and convenience of their homes, and the companionship of man and wife – all these are very praiseworthy, and especially at the present time when two extremes, either a great adoration or the complete subordination of woman, exist in the Orient.

'Man is placed in the prison of the earth, to prove him bankrupt towards God.'
   - Rumi

On the other hand, the West should adopt the East's adaptability to circumstances and its simplicity of living. At a time when modern civilization is increasing the needs of artificial life to such an extent, and the richer a man gets the more avaricious he becomes, then the most worthy and needful lesson for the West is the Eastern code of morality, which European travelers often overlook under its mantle of simplicity.

Eastern morals extol tolerance, renunciation, confidence, faith, and trust, together with innocence, contentment, patience, modesty, sympathy, hospitality, and a love for humanity which can even rise to the utmost heights of self-sacrifice. These merits, although they are to be found all over the world, are especially idealized and reach their highest culmination in the East. If the above truths could be fully understood by those students who are busied with the interchange of ideas and thought-forms in either part of the world, the Great Harmony which is prophesied for us all upon the morrow would assuredly come today!

'Love is the net of Truth.'
   - Abu Said

The rapid evolution in material life seems to have brought the West to such a pitch that its religion seems lost in its bigotry and narrow-mindedness. At the same time, its progress being one-sided, the number of unbelievers has increased. As well as a few believers there exist many who are interested in mysticism but are only actuated by ignoble curiosity while remaining absolutely regardless of faith or belief, of God or apostle. These are constantly delving and diving into mysticism and the secrets of phenomena, which they desire to use in place of more materialistic media in order to accomplish their worldly ends and aspirations.

I have also found some religious enthusiasts who extol Christianity as a purely Western faith, forgetting that Christ himself was from the East, and that the East has understood and adored him much more than is generally known, although the Christian Church may not be established everywhere and the East may worship in other houses of the Lord.

Fain for salvation I would come to Thee,
The guide to cross the forest-wilds of life;
Wilt thou not heed when Passion's robber-band
Would snatch from me Thy Treasure's Trinity?
   - Jain Hymn

There seems to be a growing yearning for esoteric studies in Europe represented by different so-called mystical and spiritual societies and institutions for mental healing, but I found most of these to be on a purely commercial basis. Still, I would not blame them, seeing that the commercial trend of the age would surely not allow even Christ to preach as he did formerly. Also, this new awakening has produced one good result, which must not be overlooked. It has aroused the interest of the people in something higher than the world of flesh, and a door is opened in the West to allow the Eastern winds of divine wisdom to bear its spirit on towards an ideal end.

But although this wave of thought has created a longing for the golden paths of mysticism, yet is has in a way degenerated, owing to its abuse in two directions: the desire to attain the requirements of daily life through mysticism, and the placing of the higher aspirations on a lower level.

Among those who are interested in mysticism there are some who have various objects of gain in view, and thereby, in the place of the true goal of mysticism, they direct all their energies to experimenting with phenomena. Some desire psychic powers, others wish to reach the planets, some hanker after glorious reincarnations in return for their virtuous acts. Some depend on spirits to guide them, and some do not rise above their undeveloped ego. Others dabble in mysticism out of inquisitiveness, some for a pastime, others as a profession, and yet others relish the notoriety their association with the unseen brings to them. I have met some who never knew what they were seeking, and yet were inordinately enthusiastic.

With the exception of a few chosen ones of God, who were inspired by the light and glory of truth, I found great difficulty in turning the interest of the people from the objective to the subjective world; in other words from illusion to stability, and from egoism to self-negation. It was like steering a ship against the tide. It is the same even in the East; otherwise every Oriental would be a saint. Still, the environment and training of the East surely help them in smoothing the path towards the ideal life.

checked 18-Oct-2005