Volume XII - The Divinity of the Human Soul
Part I: The Vision of God and Man and other Lectures
THE MYSTERY OF TELEPATHY
TO SOME, telepathy is a mysterious phenomenon, but to those who understand it, it is as easy and natural as ordinary conversation in our everyday life. Everyone can understand that thoughts have existence, and many scientists nowadays perceive that thoughts are made of vibrations, which mystics and sages have understood throughout the ages.
As the physical body is made up of physical atoms, so our mind is composed of vibrations; every activity of the mind is thought. Now thoughts are of two kinds. First there is imagination. This is an activity of the mind as well as thought, but in imagination the activity is not controlled by the will. When a person is resting in a chair without thinking about anything in particular, the mind has a habit of wandering. In this respect it is like a wild or untamed horse that runs off into the jungle at will. It goes off without knowing whither or why, for it is its habit just to wander about. So the imagination is not specially directed and wanders about on various lines just as it pleases, yet at the same time following the lines to which the mind is accustomed. This is why a musician's imagination naturally dwells on music and on musical things, and an artist's imagination on artistic things. A thief's imagination will dwell on how to rob and that of a writer on what he has been writing about. All this is imagination; that is, it is not controlled by the will.
This is what takes place in the average mind. From morning till evening the will is actively working on the lines to which the mind has become accustomed, the lines which the mind has already formed. For example, consider a person who is always thinking of construction, of how to construct a factory or how to build up a certain type of business. During this time he has been forming lines in this area of his mind or mental being. These lines are open to the imagination, and so the mind goes on working along the same lines which his thought has previously been following, even when he is not thinking specially of those subjects. He still follows the same line he has been thinking on.
The lines, which the will has made in the mind, are the directions along which the imagination unconsciously travels. As it is said, 'Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'
Secondly there is thought proper, when the power of the will is directing the activity of the mind. This explains the words 'thoughtful' and 'thoughtless'. The thoughtful person is he whose will directs his mind, whether he is doing something or speaking or thinking. It is he whom people will call a thinker. But the one who does not control his action, speech, and thoughts by will is thoughtless; his thought is really imagination, his speech does not make sense, his actions become thoughtless and inconsiderate. In brief, these three things – thought, speech, and action – reveal the character of the thought. If they are controlled by the will they show thoughtfulness, but if they are not so controlled the person is called thoughtless.
Now we have been given two main faculties of perception: the senses of touch, smell, and taste, which form the lower senses, and the hearing and seeing faculties called Sami and Basir in Sufi terms, which are the higher or principal senses. These two groups both work with the physical body, the latter with the ears and eyes, but in reality they work in the mind; it is the mind which listens and sees. The mind is listening when it is aware of things without people telling us. We notice when a person is displeased. A person may say, 'Thank you', and yet the mind perceives that he is not really thankful but is using these words as a formality, or even out of sarcasm. So it is the mind which discriminates; the ears of the mind listen. The more developed the mind is, the more it can listen even without the help of the ears; it listens to another person's thought without the utterance of a sound. The mind can see the form of the thoughts and discriminate between them, and this is what a seer does; however, it is easier for the mind to perceive by hearing than by seeing.
This brings us to the subject of concentration. A person who is sitting with closed eyes is not necessarily concentrating; he may just be resting or he may be asleep. If he is dreaming, that is not concentration either. Concentration is an act of the will during which the mind actually sees, during which the seeing faculty of the mind acts as well as the hearing faculty. To concentrate well one should think of a hot pan in which the oil is always fluid, so that things cook quickly in it. Do not let that pan cool through extraneous occupations. If one's mind is strongly concentrated on one thing, whatever else comes in the way will be done as well.
Whereas our physical being uses five senses to perceive things, our mental being uses only two: seeing and hearing. When we visualize we see things with the help of the mind. It is not everyone who can visualize. When there is no power to visualize it is because things seen that way seem so vague and insubstantial compared with the things we see in the external world. It is difficult for us to think of such visualized things as real. Everything that is before our eyes and ears we consider to be real, whereas whatever comes before the mind's eye we regard as imagination, as something passing, as a dream. It is the same mind that perceives and hears the things of everyday life, yet what it perceives in the other way we think of as being just imagination, although it is actually these things which are the true realities.
To a mystic the reality of the external world is not more real than the reality on the mental plane, for just as the first is subject to change so all things on the mental plane are subject to change too.
Two conditions must be fulfilled before external vibrations can become audible. You hear me speak because there is no wall between you and myself. A wall prevents communication. Then when a person is speaking out in the open with the same pitch of voice as I use at this moment, you cannot hear his voice as well as mine, for the house we are in gives the sound a place to echo in and become clearly audible. Thus these are the conditions: first a current must be established, a channel or opening through which the sound or the words can reach another person; and secondly the sound must not be able to scatter in all directions, but it must be directed and concentrated towards the other, so that it can reach the inner or mental process which we call thought.
If we wish to retain thought, or transmit thought, we must learn the process of 'throwing the ball' to hit a certain goal. We must direct our aim right, and we must put enough force in it to enable it to reach the goal. It is the force of the will that sends the thought to reach another person, and the aiming, whereby one focuses one's mental eye upon the other in telepathy, is concentration. In brief, two things are necessary for telepathy: strength of will and power of concentration.
There used to be a sage living in Hyderabad, and people went to him for help. But he never came out to see them unless he was in a mood to do so. So after a while people came to think of him as so disagreeable that they would not seek an interview unless they had great confidence in his power.
One day a man came and said, 'My case is coming before the court, but I have no money, and so if I lose the case it will go hard with my children.' Thereupon the sage wrote on a piece of paper the words, 'I see nothing in this case; I will dismiss it', and he told the man to go home and not trouble himself further about the matter. In due time the man went to court, and he answered all the questions put to him. The judge also asked various questions of the barrister on the opposite side, and finally he wrote down his opinion, using the exact words, which the sage had written down. What had the sage done? He had engraved on the mind of this judge the selfsame words that he had used.
What a wealth of power is latent in man, and yet his lack of confidence bars him from it! Sometimes he is afraid to offend his religious belief, sometimes he is afraid of unknown dangers, sometimes he may think he is offending friends, enemies, people in high places. But we are in this world not just to roam about and eat and drink and sleep and amuse ourselves, without ever getting to know and understand this world around us, to understand ourselves, to understand life and the powers latent in us, the inspiration and unused power. We may have become wholly absorbed in some power in our daily life, but this does not mean that we are to go no further towards the realization of our real self. No, if on the road along which we pursue our real self we meet with some realities and powers not before suspected, surely it is worth our while to take notice of them, to understand them, and to use them for a good purpose.
Mystics know that a certain moral evolution is necessary before a person can attain a certain power, so they do not teach it indiscriminately; this is not out of a desire to reserve a monopoly or to hold back something which they possess, but what will a child do if you give it a loaded rifle to play with? It does not understand what killing means. Yes, if we stop to examine our aims, our aspirations, the pursuits in life to which we attach such great importance, perhaps we shall discover that we are not very far removed from children. The world as a whole is not prepared or ready to use spiritual powers. The sages and mystics ask of someone, 'Will he do real justice to the power if he has it?' This explains why they select a few awakened souls and leave the children to go on playing. They think it is a sin to take little children from their play when they wish to continue to play; why make them grave, serious, anxious, sorrowful? Surely it is better for the present to give them more toys, more of the occupations they are so engrossed in, more of the sports they love so much.
In the East it is regarded as a sin to awaken a person from his sleep. Let him rest; he is comfortable; it is not yet time for him to wake up. So if one went and woke him up one would make him unhappy and even resentful. Let him go on sleeping till the time comes when he will wake up naturally. A person is asleep when he says that there is no such thing as telepathy, no such thing as heaven, no such thing as God. Let such a one be; he is not ready.
So the mystics do not talk openly about mysticism but keep their knowledge for the few who have awakened. And when a person wakes up he will see for himself. The only purpose which the sage or the mystic fulfills is to take this person's hand when this happens, when he thinks 'It is now his time to awaken; I must give him help.' This is called initiation, and from that time a person is ready to enter into the mysteries of life.
Should everyone learn mysticism? The only difficulty in learning mysticism is man-made; it is not of God's making. The higher life is so much simpler than life on the surface of the earth, but man does not know what he is. He does not know that he is a drop on the surface of the ocean, and yet an ocean himself in his innermost part; that there is nothing that is not within him. A person who says to himself, 'I do not possess this faculty', 'I cannot put up with this', 'I am sorry but I could not think of such a thing', and so forth, well, all these ideas are his imagination, part of the confusion of his thought and lack of understanding of what he is. If a person understood what he is he would never say, 'I cannot do this.' Instead he would become a real man, that which a man ought to be. The mystic only says, 'I cannot' or 'I have not' very seldom, and he believes these words still less often. When God is with you everything is with you; when God is in you everything is in you. Inspiration, knowledge, light, all are then within you. But if you find joy in confusion, if you confuse yourself and keep yourself in darkness, you may do so. However, you have inherited from the heavenly Father His inspiration, His Light, His power. You have inherited might from the Almighty God; you have inherited light from the Light of the universe. Therefore you are blessed with all these things, if you can only open your eyes and see the blessing.
What is the sign that one is ready to awaken from sleep? It is when a person begins to think, 'All that I have learned and understood seems so unreal; there are some realities of which I am vaguely aware, and yet compared with them all I have studied and done seems to be of no account.' As the dawn comes after the night of darkness, so he sees light appearing; but he has not yet seen the sun; he is only beginning to awaken.
People think that life is simple: the things that seem good to them they believe to be good; the things that seem bad they just think are bad, and so on. But the time comes when a person asks himself in a bewildered manner whether these things are really good or bad, whether the ideals of his people are really high or low. He is beginning to see things in a different light; he sees joy in sorrow and sorrow in joy, right in wrong and wrong in right, low in the high and high in the low. And at this point he does not know where to turn, so he has to speak to himself and unlearn what he has learned all his life. He discovers that there is a knowledge in the light of which everything appears the opposite to its previous appearance. In fact everything is different. It is like a person who admired a theatrical performance and found how different everything was the next morning. On awakening to the day, how different the view of the world becomes!
Before the awakening, man with his little knowledge thinks he knows so much, but now his pride is broken. He finds that all he has known hitherto is useless, that he has to begin all over again. But this is the very time when inspiration and power come. The power of concentration is the means by which to acquire not only the power of telepathy, but will power, moral power, inspirational power, moral courage, mental strength, physical strength, and all the different kinds of development in life. It is the first stage, and maybe it is the last stage, when a person's eyes open to real light.
There are three different steps in concentration: observation, concentration, and vision. Observation is developed by singleness of glance. For instance, if I look at a person I can see that one person much better than if I look at many people and it is thus with everything in life. The first step in learning mysticism is just this: to develop our observation. We are always looking at a hundred things around us, and hardly ever study one thing properly at all. To understand and know a thing better we must keep looking at it; if we keep looking at everything we look at nothing. Such is the law of observation.
The next step, concentration, implies steadiness of mind. We cannot concentrate until we have made the external part steady. Just think: can we keep our eye fixed on one spot for some time without moving it? Can we sit in one posture without fidgeting? Why, many people cannot sit still even for a photographer! This shows us that the vehicle given us to control and utilize is not completely in our power, and if the lowest vehicle we have is not in our power, though this is the simplest thing to control, how then can our mind be in our control? How can we acquire more pure and more powerful thoughts?
Various postures have been recommended to enable us to acquire control. The body has to be made our obedient servant first, and when the body has been subdued the mind will learn obedience from it, for order teaches order. The inner self cannot be in order if the external self is not in order, for our mind is always affected by the body. In order to learn to control the mind we must therefore first learn to control the body.
The third step is vision. When concentration has been mastered the vision becomes clear, and when the vision is clear we can aim clearly, like one who has learned to aim a ball at a certain spot and hit it. If he does not throw the ball properly how can it reach the goal? To hold the ball in our hand and aim it at and hit the desired goal we must master three things: observation, concentration, and vision.