THERE IS a custom prevalent everywhere in the Western
world of proposing toast, which is significant of a psychological
truth behind it, which is to wish for a certain thing to
happen at a time when one's own wish is being granted, in
a smaller or greater form. This shows that the moment when
one's wish is granted is that moment when one is satisfied.
We should not, therefore, wonder why people go to spiritual
souls for their blessing. Those who are spiritually blessed,
their innermost wish has been satisfied, and a wish made
by them acts as a quick blessing in the life of everyone.
But this also teaches one to catch the opportunity of
getting the good wish of every person at the moment when
his wish is being granted. Having known this psychological
law, the people in the East look for such an opportunity
of offering food to the hungry or a gift to the one who
needed it, for the wish that naturally rises from the heart
of a person while accepting it will certainly be granted.
Very few in the world know that great power is hidden
in the wish of a person whose heart is in the state of dancing,
so to speak – full of joy. We read in the legends of old
of sages calling upon their friends, pupils or followers
at a certain time and asking them to make a wish, for they
knew the moment when the wish could be granted. There is
a story of Hafiz, that near the home of the Shaikh there
were eleven pupils whose name was Hafiz, but among them
there was only one who use to engage himself in his night
vigils, and the others used to rest all night. One evening
the Shaikh called, 'Hafiz'! There was only one Hafiz awake,
all others asleep. The Shaikh was holding the bowl with
the thought of the wish to be granted. With his eyes closed
he gave it to Hafiz. But then as he knew there were ten
more, he again called 'Hafiz'! and as all others were asleep,
the same Hafiz came again and received the bowl. Eleven
times the teacher called, and the same Hafiz went again
and again. In the morning ten were disappointed and that
one Hafiz was found blessed with eleven-fold blessings.
It would not be an exaggeration if one said that even
God has a time when He grants wishes. And if one knows that
time one certainly becomes benefited and blessed. Since
Sufism teaches, look for God in the heart of man, the wise mureeds therefore see the pleasure and displeasure of God
in everyone they meet, and they carefully regard the pleasure
and displeasure of those they come in contact with, knowing
that in doing so they regard the pleasure and displeasure
Besides having one's wish granted, the joy of giving
another happiness, that itself is greater than a wish granted,
if one has risen to that plane of human evolution when one
can enjoy pleasure with the pleasure of another, when one
can feel satisfaction in the satisfaction of another, when
one can be happy in bringing happiness to another. No one
will give another happiness and will not have the same come
to him a thousandfold. There comes a stage of evolution
in the life of man when he feels more satisfied by seeing
another person satisfied with food than by his having eaten
it himself, when he feels comfortable in seeing another
person comfortable, when he feels richly adorned by seeing
another person clothed nicely; for this stage is a stepping-stone
to the realization of God.
Questions and Answers (August 10th, 1923)
Q Would we receive the curses of people as well as the
A Yes. One should always think that life is an opportunity.
Every moment is an opportunity. Sometimes one can do good
by not troubling much oneself; it is just by seizing the
opportunity. If one is attentive and brings some pleasure
and happiness, it is not always that it costs. What it costs
is attention. If one keeps one's attention fixed upon that
idea, and is constantly seeking where one can do some little
good to another. By giving one's place in a bus or tramcar;
by just having a little consideration for the aged, a little
consideration for someone who is perhaps not honored or
respected, if one can offer what a person is lacking in
his life without him knowing, that is always a great ....
To do good is the work of the sage. Sometimes people become
over-enthusiastic, which does harm. It is a spell, a fit
of goodness. That does no good. The real goodness is that
which comes spontaneously. A thief is always on the look-out
to rob something; so a good person is always looking for
an opportunity to do good; he will always find it.
Q Can you tell something more of the time that God grants
A God grants wishes at two times. One time is when your
heart is free from every thought, or feeling, or emotion;
in the most peaceful and tranquil condition; at that time
every wish that is sown is just like a seed sown in fertile
soil. If one had the patience to wait in the great power
of God, whatever be the wish, it will certainly be granted.
The other time when the wish is granted is when somebody
is satisfied, has been made happy by you, and naturally,
out of his heart, springs a kind of fountain which pours
upon you a kind of blessing. It will be just like rain from
above, which in time will bring its fruits and flowers.
Q Has one the right to wish for oneself?
A Yes, as long as the conscience says that the wish is
right. But there is another stage, when a person has so
advanced spiritually that he thinks: 'God's wish is my wish
God knows better than me. I may wish something wrong'. The
one who gives his life in that way in the hands of God is
Q When a man is poor, but can just live with the means
he has, is it then good when he gives away material things,
and so makes himself dependent upon others?
A You see, the question what is good is a very difficult
question to decide. Good is peculiar to a person. It all
depends upon what that person thinks. When he thinks it
is right, it is good. That is the only question.
The story of Saint Alias, he was an ascetic, and for
his food only a loaf of bread was enough every day. He would
not keep anything for tomorrow. If he was given four people's
food in one day he would distribute it. If he had still
more, he shared it all. Next day he was without. If one
said, why did he make himself dependent upon people for
the next day? he would say that: 'We live in this life interdependent.
As long as I do not go to anybody, do not force upon anybody
– only people brought it – what does it matter? It is from
Him. It is not depending upon others. It all comes from
God. It all goes to the creatures of God. What does it matter'?
It all depends upon the person and how the person looks
Q The great creative spirits, which at this moment are
so necessary for working in the world, if they have in their
soul a longing for spirituality, how can they keep balance
between their busy life and the concentration which is a
necessity for the spiritual path? What must they sacrifice?
A In the first place I should say that if one object
is the seeking of one's soul, and the other object is life's
necessity, and if one object is to be sacrificed, it is
better the one which is necessary, but keep to the soul's
There is another point of view; in order to become spiritual,
we should not become unworldly. We can just as well be in
the world and yet not be of the world. We can be active
in our everyday life, and yet be concentrative. A person
who can concentrate well can manage the affairs of the world
better. Those who have attained success in business, in
worldly affairs, they had their concentration better. Therefore
concentration is in no way a hindrance. A success gained
through the power of spirituality is more secure and has
a stronger foundation. Furthermore, there is one rule of
life, which must be understood. That the success is gained
by two ways; by the right way and by the wrong way. Wrong
way means that which is against the spiritual idea. And
when a person has started by one path, he must keep that
path, in order to be successful. And if he finds that perhaps
the other path will be better for the success, he will lose.
A person who is going the wrong way, if he thinks that the
right way will be better, he will lose. The person who is
going the right way, he will not lose. His success will
perhaps be slow, but it is secure, and he will all through
be successful. The other had no danger, but his greatest
danger is going into the right path; that is his loss.
2. Wedding Customs
There are superstitions and customs connected with the
wedding observed in Europe, such as throwing an old shoe
after the newly married couple as they go away, and throwing
rice. The rice signifies flourishing, multiplication, prosperity,
and Providence, whereas old shoes are the old times passed
in life and a new life begun. The rings that bridegroom
and bride put on each other's finger is the sign of bond,
which is the real meaning of marriage. The hands of the
two joined by the priest is the possession of one another,
suggesting that each holds the other.
The custom of the Greek church, where wreaths are put
on the head of the bride and bridegroom is the exchange
of thoughts and feelings and walking three times round the
altar is suggestive of God between them, uniting them both
in a divine link, the link which is everlasting as God Himself.
And the custom of the bride's kissing the hand of the bridegroom,
which is still continued at the time when the rhythm of
the world is quite changed, only explains the response from
the side of the bride, in which is the secret of nature's
harmony, although what generally happens later is just the
opposite, but that brings about the happy medium.
3. Funeral Customs
The human body represents the five elements, and nature's
law is that every element returns to its own origin. Naturally
therefore the being which is the air part turns into air,
the heat is absorbed by the heat – the fire-element has
left already. The body belongs either to earth or to water.
But the body, which is born on earth, not in the water,
and has sought its comfort on earth, not in water, and has
also been afraid of the water, an element foreign to it,
had better be saved from it and had better be buried.
Another point of view is that every living being, whether
man or animal, has a fear of fire. A powerful animal like
the lion is afraid of the fire; the elephant with all its
large body and strength runs away from fire. If that is
the nature of all living beings, to be afraid of fire, then
imagine for a person who is not yet dead to know that as
soon as he is dead his body will be put in the fire. Although
his mind is separate from the body, yet his mind will have
a shock just the same.
The reason of mummies is to suggest that if the body
which is dead can be kept along, then the life, which is
real life, is eternal. Besides among the ancient Egyptians
there was a custom (the same tendency exists in the East)
that at every banquet or feast a mummy was brought in. It
was brought for a moment and taken away, in order to waken
man in the midst of his great joy and enthusiasm and pleasure
to the consciousness that there is such a thing as death,
that there is something awaiting him and that he must not
keep ignorant of that truth, absorbed in all the pleasures
of the world. But at the same time they put the mummies
also in the grave.
4. The Swansong
They say the swan sings once, just before it dies. The
meaning of this is that a fuller expression given to one's
joy puts an end to life, for in the fullest expression lies
life's purpose. In the life of an artist one finished work
of art, and in life of a musician his best piece of music,
brings to him the warning of his departure. Sadi says, 'Every
soul is born with a purpose, and the light of that purpose
is kindled in his heart'. It applies not only to the soul
of every person but to every living creature, however small
and insignificant; even to every object this rule can be
There is a saying in the East that the elephant dies
at the sight of fever. This explains that death robs one
of that which one had made oneself. If this be explained
in other words, one makes one's death while making oneself.
The heavy flesh that the elephant gathers around itself naturally
gives power to the fever that becomes the cause of its death.
The same is to be seen in the life of man. Every difficulty,
even death, man makes with the making of himself. It is
to suggest this idea that Christ has said, 'spirit quickeneth,
the flesh profiteth nothing'.
The soul was born to be immortal, but mortality it usually
earns for itself. There is nothing that man would have been
afraid of if he did not possess something which he is afraid
of being robbed of. When the hermit Manchandra said to Gaurakha
on their journey through the wilderness. 'Gaurakha, I feel
afraid.' Gaurakha answered. 'Throw away the fear.' Manchandra
answered, 'How can fear be thrown away?' Gaurakha
said, 'Throw away that which causes you fear.' Manchandra took out from
his wallet two bricks of gold and said, 'These bricks of
gold, must I throw them away?' 'Yes', said Gaurakha, 'What
are they?' Manchandra threw them away, and as he went on
his face turned pale. Gaurakha looked at him and said,
'Why are you sad?' Manchandra said, 'Now we have nothing'. Gaurakha
said, 'We have everything. Look before you, what do you
behold?' And he beheld mountains of gold. Gaurakha said,
'Take as much as you can, if that is your soul's striving.' Manchandra's soul awoke, and he said, 'Nothing will I take
for I know the riches of possessing nothing.'
5. Customs at the Birth of a Child in India
For three days from the time that the child is born,
and sometimes for six days, no friends are allowed to enter
the room where the child is, only some relations who are
most esteemed in the family. The meaning in this custom
is that the mind of the newborn child is like a photographic
plate and the first impression that it receives goes deeper
in it and other impressions have less effect. Therefore
the impressions of early childhood make the foundation for
the whole life.
The mother does not appear before friends for the first
six days, even some relations are kept away. The meaning
of this custom is that in the negative state in which a
mother is at that time, she is too sensitive to be exposed
to inharmonious and coarse vibrations. In the case of the
child it is not only that his mind is affected, but the
first impression even influences the construction of his
face and form.
At the birth of a son the occasion is celebrated by the
beating of drums and gunfire. This custom no doubt comes
from the ancient Rajputs, whose Dharma or sacred
duty, was warfare. This first noise of drums and gunfire
was meant as the child's first experience, or as a first
lesson in warfare. An entertainment is given in celebration
of the birth of a child, at which there is singing, playing
and dancing. It is meant by this that a joyous atmosphere
works as a push given to a swing in the life of a child
on earth at its commencement.
6. The Superstitions of the Days Existing
in the East
In the East the influence of the days of the week is
considered by all, learned or illiterate. Every time has
its peculiar influence and particular purpose. The mechanism
of the cosmos has a certain action and again its reaction
on the part of the planets, producing a certain effect in
every hour of the day, in every day of the week, in every
week of the month, in every month of the year, and in every
year of a cycle.
The characteristic of Sunday is Godliness. Anything spiritual
can alone be successful. Anything else, besides a spiritual
thing, something of a worldly nature, begun on Sunday, or
continued on that day, must come to naught.
Monday is a negative day, a day for things of a passive
character. To receive teaching, to obtain information, to
search for anything, this is the auspicious day.
Tuesday is a day of enjoyment, for amusement, joy and
pleasure. For picnic, feast and wedding, for music and dancing,
and for sports, this is a fitting day.
Wednesday is a day for business. It is a day for taking
an initiative, and undertaking. All that is done on this
day must bear fruit.
Thursday is a central day, to make a determination, to
decide things, to settle in a new place. It is a day of
inspiration, of revelation, because the influence of this
day touches the summit.
Friday is a day of power and a day of aspiration. On
this day prayer is granted and wishes are fulfilled, thoughts
are materialized, and dreams become realized. However, this
is not the day of sowing, it is the day of reaping. Friday
is a day of exaltation.
Saturday is a winding day. If loss is wound it continues
for days and days, if the mechanism of gain is wound it
continues for weeks. It is a day of upliftment to those
who raise their soul to a higher pitch, so that the machinery
of the spirit may be wound and continued for a long, long
time. Every planetary influence that begins on Saturday
must always continue its effect upon one's life.
The influence of the day is unavoidable upon every mortal,
except upon souls to whom day and night is the same, those
who are beyond the laws of this mortal world.
7. Unlucky Numbers
According to the Orientals, 3, 13, 9, and 18 are numbers
which must be avoided in beginning some profitable act.
There are some psychological reasons which prove these numbers
to be best avoided.
Three denotes all. All means everything, and everything
means nothing in particular. Things of the world, which
are profitable, are something in particular. Three therefore
annuls the distinction, for 3 resolves into 1. One is 3,
and 3 is 1.
Thirteen destroys balance by unbalancing the rhythm,
as it cannot be evenly divided. Besides, 12 hours of the
day and 12 hours of the night complete the day and night.
So the thirteenth has no place either in the day or in the
night. Besides, after 12 o'clock comes 1, and it marks 13.
Thirteen is a number which has no accommodation. Among Western
people there is a superstition that the thirteenth person
at table must die within the year. This also explains that
the number 13 has no accommodation. That a person dies,
means that the earth accommodates him no longer.
Nine falls short of perfection. Besides it is 3 times
And so is 18 for 8 and 1 are 9. It has the same effect
All numbers besides 3, 13, 9, and 18 are considered in
the East fit to be used.
8. The Mysteries of Omens
The secret of what we call omen is to be found in the
law of impressions. For instance there is a belief that
if you are going to do something, if a cat crosses your
way you meet with ill-luck. It is easy to understand. In
the first place the swift action of the cat makes a great
impression upon a person; it forms a line before you, a
line of action, and that line impressed upon you gives you
the thought of a cross. You are intending to go straight,
and your line is crossed by a horizontal action against
your vertical action, which means in action one's hands
nailed and feet tied. It gives the picture of the idea.
The whole mystery of omens, which used to be believed
by the ancient people and are now considered to be superstitions,
has behind it this mystery of impression. Naturally when
a person is starting to accomplish a certain work and he
happens to see beautiful flowers or fruits that gives a
promise of his desire being fulfilled, of its bearing flowers
for him – the sign of success. A person going forward with
this impression will certainly meet with success. Whereas
if a person sees burning wood, or a sack of coal, which
all show destruction – fire which burns up – a person going
to do something impressed by this certainly loses.
There use to be a custom that when someone in a family
was going out to accomplish something, no one must say any
word that would hinder his success. They did not even ask
the person, 'Where are you going?', because even asking
raises a question. The question stands before one, Why?
Where? A person would become discouraged even in answering.
The strength of will with which he is going may be exhausted
in answering Why, and Where, and then he may not find the
energy and power to accomplish what he is going to accomplish.
This is the inner psychology of mind, the knowledge of
which makes things easy. One must not become impressed by
holding different beliefs, but one must know the science,
the mystery which is hidden behind all such things, which
may seem small and little, but their result sometimes is
9. The Influence of Time
It has been a custom among the people in the East to
start every enterprise with the waxing of the moon, in order
to follow the course of nature and to join forces with the
increasing power and light of the moon. The sun represents
divine light, the moon represents the human heart. To join
forces with the waxing of the moon is like drawing divine
light and power in one's own heart to accomplish a certain
thing. It is also considered lucky to rise with the sunrise,
and better still to begin an enterprise with the rising
of the sun. This is again an indication to follow nature's
tides. The sun represents divine power; therefore any spiritual
action, a prayer-offering or a meditation, a devotional
worship, it is more desirable to perform with the sunrise.
However, the night vigils are performed by the seers
and the knowers of truth in the midst of the night, when
the old day ends and the new day begins; for that is a time
of Kamal which offers to the soul a perfect stillness. When
the sun is at the zenith that is Kamal also, but it has
not the quiet of midnight; and therefore it is considered
by those who know things inauspicious for taking up any
enterprise. As time has influence upon weather, upon the
sea, upon the trees and plants, so it has a subtle influence
upon living creatures. Man appears to be most independent
of the influences and yet man is most under the influence
of time; not only his body and mind, but with all affairs
of life. Verily the one who knows the influence of time
knows the secret of life.
10. Planetary Influences
Belief in planetary influences has been maintained in
all ages by man. However many times a person may have been
disappointed in finding truth in the horoscope, yet no one
can be thoughtful and deny the fact of the influence that
the planets have upon people's lives. It is possible that
every method is not a correct method of making a horoscope,
every book on astrology is not the right book, and every
astrologer is not a prophet; nevertheless there is as much
truth in the influence of planets upon the lives of men
as there is truth in the effects of drugs upon one's physical
body. The whole cosmic system is based upon a certain rhythm,
a rhythm which relates planets, multitudes, and individuals,
and manifests as a hidden law governing the action of the
whole creation and yet silent and covered.
There are two aspects that constitute an individual:
spiritual and material. The spiritual aspect remains untouched,
while the material aspect is moved and turned by conditions
brought about by planetary influences. The spiritual aspect,
which remains untouched in every man, is as a witness of
his life, a soul from within who knows not what it itself
is, who identifies itself with this other aspect and therefore
takes as a reality that which it witnesses, that which goes
on before it as a course of life. When once this real aspect
of man's being is awakened then it begins to see that it
has a voice in the matter too, and then it sees that it
must fight for its rights, in order to gain liberty. It
therefore fights with its own kingdom, which is the other
aspect of man's being which it so long witnessed; and so
it gains that strength which enables it in the long run
to battle with outer conditions caused by planetary influences.
It might take one a lifetime to combat, and yet it would
be short to gain the mastery which belongs to the soul.