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Volume XIII - The Gathas

Part II
Kashf: Insight


1.   Reason Is Earth-born

Mind is most capable of expressing itself in a fitting form. Very often man expresses his thought in any conversation that may be going on, which perhaps has nothing to do with his thought. And as his nature is, man looks for a scope for expression of his thought, and he easily gets it. In a serious conversation one can find scope for a joke, even in tragedy one can find comedy. And in comedy one can find tragedy, if one's mind happens to dwell on sad thoughts. This shows that the mind always seeks for a scope for expression, and situations outside generously offer the scope.

The same thing one finds with the mind. In every situation, every condition, man easily finds out a reason for it from the mind. The one who does right and the one who does wrong both find the reason for their action. Two people disputing against each other both have reason at the back of their discussion. This shows that the mind provides reason, as the sun shines and the rain falls, for the sinner as well as for the virtuous. Not knowing this fact, man always reasons with another. But it is not a dispute between reason and no reason, it is a dispute between two reasons contrary to one another. This shows that reason has not sprung on the soil of heaven, reason is earth born, upon which man so confidently fixes his argument.

Therefore, every conversation is not always on a pre-designed plan. Most often it is an outcome of instantaneously arising impulses. It is most interesting when one can get to the back of a conversation and find out what it is founded upon. And it is still more interesting to find what a very obedient servant reason is, which is ready to respond to the call of its master, although the truth is coined by itself. It is when the seer begins to look behind reason that he begins to get a glimpse of truth upon which he can depend. Insight makes life interesting. One who drifts along with the waves of insight will not enjoy life so much as one who has insight into life and yet stands firm on his own feet.

2.   The Word and the Idea

The word is a body of the idea and the idea is the soul of the word. As the body represents the soul so the word represents the idea. The idea can only be expressed in the word, so the soul can only be seen in the body. And those who deny the existence of the soul must also deny the existence of the idea. They must say that only the word exists, without an idea, which in reality is impossible. Behind every word there is an idea veiled in one or a thousand veils, or clearly represented by the word. However, the word is a key to the idea, not the idea itself. It is not the word, which is in itself an idea, but only an expression of it. The ears hear the word, the mind perceives the idea. If the idea were not there, the word would not convey anything to the listener. If one said to a child, 'Sarcasm is an abuse of the intellect', what will the innocent child understand by it? The word 'sarcasm' will be known by the one who is capable of being sarcastic. This opens up another idea, that those who accuse others with authority of some fault must necessarily know the fault themselves. Man, however evolved, will now and then show childishness in expressing his opinion about another, proving thereby guilty of the same fault in some proportion. No one can tell another, 'You told a lie', who did not tell a lie himself once at least in his life.

No doubt the idea is vaster than the word, as the soul is wider than the body. Every idea has its breadth, length, height, and depth. Therefore, as a world is hidden in a planet, so a world of idea is hidden in a word. Think, therefore, how interesting life must become for the one who can see behind every word that is spoken to him its length, breadth, height, and depth. He is an engineer of the human mind. He then does not know only what is spoken to him, but he knows what is meant by it. By knowing words you do not know the language. What you know is the outside language, the inner language is known by knowing the language of ideas. So the language of ideas cannot be heard by the ears alone, the hearing of the heart must be open for it. The seer must understand from a word spoken to him what even the one who speaks does not know, for every human being thinks, speaks, and acts mechanically, subject to the condition of his body, mind, and situation in life. Therefore, as a physician finds out more about a complaint than the patient himself, so the mystic must comprehend the idea behind every word that is spoken to him. One might think with the continual growth of such perception the life of a Sufi must become very much troubled, for when the average person would be seeing a yard's distance a Sufi may be seeing the distance of a mile. Yes, there is no doubt it could be troublesome if the mystic did not develop all around. The elephant's strength is required to carry the load of an elephant. It is not enough to become a seer alone, but what is needed is to develop that strength which takes all things easily, the power that endures all things, and the might which enables one to surmount all difficulties in life.

3.   The Expression and the Idea

Actions such as a smile, or staring, or frowning, or nodding, or moving the eyes or the head, have ideas behind them. Externally it is a slight movement. Behind it there is a mountain of thought. No movement is possible without a thought at the back of it. Sometimes it is known to the person and sometimes the person himself does not know why he smiled. The eyes express more than anything else, by their movements, the idea behind them. Very often intuitive people say, 'I perceived from that person's look pleasure,' or 'displeasure,' or 'his favorable' – or 'unfavorable – attitude.' And yet many do not know what movement, what expression, suggested to them what they perceived. Every expression of the eyes, the eyes, which change their expression so many times in one minute, suggests the idea behind. This shows that the mind is an engineer and the body is a mechanism, which it works. If the engineer becomes conscious of his working he brings about desirable results, but by unconscious working the engineer also becomes a mechanism.

There used to be courtiers in the ancient times in India who at every moment would know the state of mind and the attitude of the king, even to such an extent that very often everything was arranged as the king liked without him having uttered one word about it. There were nine courtiers attached to the court of Akbar. Every one of them knew the state of mind of the Emperor at every moment. The Sufi, whose duty in the world is to live in the presence of God and who recognizes His presence in all His creatures, His personality especially in man, he fulfills his duty of a courtier with every man. A person who lives as dead as a stone among his surroundings does not know whom he has pleased, whom he has displeased, who expects of him thought, consideration, who asks of him sympathy or service, who needs him in his trouble or difficulty. People think insight comes by psychic development. Yes, it does come, but it comes most by the development of the heart quality. A loving person is a living person. No doubt the more living one is, the more difficult it is to live, and yet no difficulty is too great a price for living a real life.

The method which a mystic takes to perceive the mentality of another, is that he takes the movement of the person and his expression as a guide to arrive at his thought, and he takes his thought as a guide to his nature. By realizing the nature of man, he comes to know about the very depth of his being, and instead of having a part of the knowledge about a person he gets to know all about him. To know that one has done right or wrong, to know that one is wise or foolish is not sufficient. To have a complete knowledge of a person one must know if he does right why he does right, and if he does wrong, why he does wrong. If he is wise, what makes him wise, if he is foolish what is the reason of his being foolish. Not only this, but also if there were a possibility of making the best of what the person is and trying to improve the person without him knowing it. A foolish person cannot get along with his own friend whereas a wise person can get on even with his enemy. The difference is that one knows life, understands human nature and acts according to it, whereas the other, even if he wanted to act rightly, always fails and becomes disappointed in the end.

4.   The Power of Words

There are two kinds of men, one who speaks subject to his impulse, the other who speaks just like hitting a target. This first one may strike a wrong note, and may work against his own interest, but the other one will become the master of his own destiny. The one who knows while speaking to whom he is speaking, the capacity of mind of his hearer, the lines on the mind of his hearer, he will speak the words which will pierce through the mind of the listener. It is just like looking for a track before running the cart in a given direction.

Many, content with their honesty, speak just as they like at the moment. They do not mind what effect it will produce as long as they are sure that what they say is true. The truth that strikes like a hammer on the head of the listener is not desirable, one would be better off without it. This shows that it is not only a thing to consider that what one says is true, there is another consideration which is most necessary, and that is what effect it will make on the other. The seer sees the lines made on the mind of the one to whom he speaks and makes his words suitable to run over that line. If he likes to make another road in the mind of his listener he first takes the road which is already made there, and when once he has entered the mind of his listener then he will make another road, not before. It is just like the person is going to buy something in a shop and saying before entering, 'I have not got more than four pence', instead of going into the shop and finding out what he can buy with his four pennies. Action is one thing, and prudence is another thing. Even the animals are active, even they work for what they need in life. What one expects in man is prudence. Man must have forethought, before he utters one word about its effect upon another. Some say spiritually wise is not worldly-wise, some think that these two worlds are different. But it is not so. The worldly-wise is capable of being spiritually wise, but spiritually wise is already worldly-wise. He may not care for worldly things, therefore, he may be lacking in experience in worldly affairs. Yet for him, worldly wisdom is not a foreign thing, he has only to open his eyes and see. Those who know nothing of the world and those who are called spiritual, are known more for their goodness than for their balance. The complete spiritual life is not a dreamy one, but wide-awake, full of thought and consideration.

The word has a magic in it, it can turn friends into your enemies, and it can make your enemies your friends. The mystery of all success in every direction of life is in the word. The word has power to turn the mind of the listener warm or cold. The word can produce the effect of earth, water, fire, air, or ether. The word can produce depression or joy. The one who knows the chemistry of the word does not need drugs or herbs. He has medicine for every disease in the world, not only for bodily disease, but also for the disorders of the mind, which still remain unexplored by science. By a constant study of life, by special thought given to one's word, by careful watching of the effects of one's speech upon others, one arrives at a state of realization where one can heal hearts.

5.   The Re-echo of the Past

One can easily trace the past of man from what he says and from how he expresses it. The past is ringing in the heart of man like a bell. The heart of man is a talking-machine record, which goes on by itself or, if it has stopped, one has only to wind the machine, then it goes on again. Man's present is the re-echo of his past. If he has been through suffering, even if he is better, he will vibrate the same. Outer conditions will not change his inner being. If he has been happy, even in troublous time his heart will vibrate the past. People, who have been against one another, if by chance they become friends, will still feel in themselves the beating of the pulse of hostility of the past. Great kings who have been dethroned, imprisoned – still one can feel their past vibrating in their atmosphere.

The past lives and one cannot easily destroy it, however greatly one may wish to close it. It gets hold of the human tongue to express itself. As every heart is eager to tell its story, so the past is most eager to sing its legend. It only seeks the way how it shall express itself. A Sufi, therefore, does not need spirit communication to learn the past, or astrological science to discover what has happened. To him every person explains his past without even one word spoken. But by the speech of a person about the past, the Sufi can tell what is hidden behind, what is being said and what remains unsaid. He need not trace the past in history or in traditions. He who can read has but to open his eyes and all is written before him.

6.   Interest in All Things

As there is a shadow of every form and as there is a re-echo of every sound and as there is a reflection of every light so there is a re-impression of everything one sees, hears, or perceives. But as it wants the musician's ears to sense the overtone of a sound and an artist's eyes to recognize the form from its shadow, and as it requires a keen sight to distinguish the degree of the reflection of light, so it wants the soul of a seer to see thorough all things in life. The seer's eye is in the heart of every soul, but it is the attitude that keeps every man looking down to the earth instead of raising his eyes upwards. The average tendency is to see on the surface.

It is not true that the average person cannot see any further. But the average man does not think that there is anything further, so he does not give himself the trouble to see any further. There are many who are intelligent enough to perceive all that is behind things, but he first thing that makes their view limited is the narrow range of their interest. They are not enough interested to take trouble about things they neither know nor believe. They would be glad to have intuition if it came without them taking any trouble. There are many who can think, but they do not wish to take the trouble of thinking.

There are two things necessary in order to perceive: one thing is openness, the other thing is effort made in that direction. When contemplating upon anything the mind must be free from all else that stands in the way; that is called openness. Also one must arrive, by the help of concentration, at focusing one's mind on a certain object. The next thing is to be interested enough in all things that one comes in contact with and one cares to know about, that one may penetrate below the surface and find out what is hidden in all things.

7.   Vairagya

The presence of man speaks of his past, present, and future. When a visitor comes to your house he brings to you either his joy or his sorrow. He brings you the effect of his good or bad deeds. He brings you the influence of his high or low mind. He tunes the vibration of the sphere of your home to his pitch. He charges the sphere with his own vibrations. If you can only perceive – he need not tell you one word about himself – you can know if he is experiencing heaven or hell. For one need not wait for heaven or hell in the hereafter. It is here also, only after death it will be more felt. Therefore the contact of a heavenly person can bring to you the air of heaven and the contact of the other can give you the taste of the other place.

This shows that every individual is a tone, a rhythm. And a tone which draws the tone of every other person to its own pitch, a rhythm which compels every other person to follow the same rhythm. That is where one feels the pull in life. That is what scares the sage from the life of the world and makes him feel inclined to run away from this world and take refuge in a forest or in a desert. Why the average person does not feel it is because, just like children absorbed in play, the people in the world are pulling each other's rope. Therefore they do not feel much. For they are pulled, but they also pull the rope of another. But the one who is tuned to a different pitch altogether from the average person and whose rhythm in life is quite different from the other's naturally must feel the pull too much. And the only way how the sages manage to protect themselves from this is by the practice of Vairagya (the word Vairagya means independence and indifference both in one), which cannot be learned or taught, it comes by itself. It is not lack of love, or bitterness, it is only rising above love and hate both.

8.   A Silent Music

Every soul radiates an influence which charges the atmosphere all around. The more powerful the influence the wider it spreads, forcing its way even through walls. There is no barrier of water or space, which can keep that influence from spreading. The stronger the influence the longer it lasts. It is not difficult for a sensitive person to perceive, on coming into a room or in a house what influence it has, or to perceive, on sitting on a chair, who was sitting there before him. The character of this influence is just like light or heat, which silently spreads its warmth according to its power of radiance. It is not that man's influence is felt in his presence only, but even after he has left the place his influence remains. The influence of some persons can remain for hours, of some for days, of some for weeks or months or even years. Atmosphere is a silent music. It has its effect upon the listener, exciting or peaceful, whatever it may be. The atmosphere remains not only in the place but also in objects, such as a chair, or a sofa, or a cushion, or a carpet, or a mat. An influence can remain with the clothes that one has worn in one's life. It is something real, not tangible but perceptible. Music comes through the ears to the heart, but atmosphere comes direct. A walking stick can have the atmosphere of the person who held it. A rosary, a necklace, brooch, or a ring can have atmosphere. A pen or an inkstand can have an atmosphere of the person who has used it. Everybody perceives it, consciously or unconsciously, but the more sensitive a person, the more he can realize it.

It is not easy for everybody to break anybody's influence, although it is possible to rise above it. A person who is fine of nature and sensitive, pure and good, for him the influence from all around in this world can become so troublesome that he would always find himself in the midst of the battle going on constantly around him. Therefore, it will not do for a person to become fine and sensitive, and yet not learn how to combat all influences around him. The more one studies this question the more one comes to realize that life is not only a battle outwardly but also inwardly. And there are two things that can be done for self-defense, either to become a most well equipped fighter, to fight out all influenced attacking one with the power of one's own influence, or to rise above all influences; which means, to live and not live, to be and not be, to come down to act and to rise up to keep in security.

9.   Three Ways to Develop Insight

There are three important things to be considered in the development of insight. The steady gaze of the eyes and of the mind, which helps one in penetration. Another thing is losing everything else from one's sight except the object through which one wishes to penetrate; and that comes by sufficient interest in the object of penetration. But the third thing, which helps most is losing for the moment the thought of one's self. When one's body and mind are not before one, it is then that one has the proper insight into things one wishes to know and understand. Sufis therefore have different concentrations by which they are helped not only in keeping their gaze steady, but standing firm upon one thought. When a person cannot take interest in any object or being, then his mind is not steady, for there is nothing that it takes interest in; it is the interest which makes the mind steady. A certain thought which is inspiring or helpful in some way, or a certain form which is inspiring when once one has concentrated upon it then the mind becomes steady also, then it can easily hold an object before it without wavering.

The character of the mind is as the character of the eyes, the eyes which take in all that comes under their horizon. So the mind jumps from one thing to another, upon all thoughts which may be standing within its horizon. And as it is not always easy to keep the gaze steady so it is with the mind. To keep the mind firm upon one thought, form or image is not easy. But the third thing is the most difficult, and that is to lose oneself in the thought of the object that is before one. In this way the self, which stands in the way between the soul and its object of penetration, is lost from view for the time being. Thus the person is able to penetrate through all things, knowing thereby the nature, character and secret of all things.

There is no other cause of all depression and despair than the inability of seeing through life. There may be many reasons apparently seeming to be the different causes of unhappiness, but this one is the greatest reason, the reason of all reasons. Even animals in whose nature is the tendency of fighting is pronounced become friends when they come to know one another by association. Many troubles in the life of individuals and of the multitude might be avoided if keen insight were developed, for all confusion is caused by misunderstanding. Not only human beings, but all things of this world which seem of use or of no use, which seem to be easy or difficult to obtain, all are for the use of man. Therefore, penetration into things is the secret of the success of science, art, philosophy and religion, all.

Questions and Answers

Q : Suppose a person has had for years some interest very near to his heart, which has developed his power of concentration. And that interest ceases. Is that person more capable of strong concentration on a new interest, because of his previous experience?

A Yes, certainly. All our experiences are nothing but preparation for something else. Nothing that belongs to this world, however precious, must hinder one's path of progress. For every step in the direction to that spiritual gain must be the aim of every soul. And the concentration upon the object is just a step.

Q A feeling of deadness seems to come....?

A Here is the question of concentration, and not of its effect. The question of effect is quite a different subject again. Then the question comes: of what object? Something to steady the mind. It may be a tree, a flower, the sun or a star. Of course, according to the object a reaction is produced. And according to the reaction an object is produced. Every belief and every experience for a wise person is a step of a staircase. He has taken this step, there is another step for him to take. The steps of the staircase are not made for one to stand there. They are just made for one to pass, to go further. Because life is progress. Where there is no progress there is no life. One should go on. Death and disappointment; two things are one. And if there is a hereafter, then the death was a passing stage; and so is disappointment. It only has made one more steady, more wise, more......

Q Does the staircase never end?

A The end is not very desirable. The interest is in the staircase, in going on.

Q ... when a soul has reached perfection?

A After perfection there is no interest. If there is no self, there is no interest, there is perfection.

10.   Tranquility

The most important thing in life is the opening of that clear vision which is opened by the help of insight. The effect of every emotion covers the insight, just as clouds cover the sun. It is therefore that even most clever and qualified people often do things, especially at the moment of passion or anger, which they would not have done otherwise. The reason is that the mind loses its rhythm under the strain of passion or emotion, and so it upsets the rhythm of the body, it makes man perplexed and unable to see any condition or situation clearly.

It is therefore that the seers, the sages, try to keep their tranquility at every cost, for life in the world brings up many things everyday and hour to disturb that tranquility which is the secret of insight. Every little noise or disturbance in oneself and outside can upset a person who keeps the rhythm of his whole being in the proper order. It is therefore that the sages have chosen solitude and a life away from the world. But the best way of keeping one's tranquility is to keep this rhythm under the control of one's own will. By doing this one preserves one's tranquility in the midst of life's greatest turmoil. In the terms of Vedanta life is likened to the sea, where there is a continual rising and falling of the waves. Every man by nature seeks peace and in peace alone is his satisfaction. But often he seeks it wrongly, therefore instead of producing peace he creates more struggle in life. The secret of peace is in the will power. Instead of resisting the forces, which jar and disturb one's life, if one would only stand firm against them, then one can attain to that tranquility which is most necessary to have a greater insight into life.

Man is made of atoms gathered together around the intelligence, physical atoms and mental atoms which make his body and mind. The power which has gathered them and which controls them and which uses them for their best purpose is the will power. When this power is absent the body and mind both go to pieces, broken by every jarring effect coming from whatever direction. This is the reason hidden under most of the illnesses and weaknesses. Every mistake, failure, and every disappointment in life has this reason behind it: the lack of control, the lack of steadiness and strength against the disturbing influences, which come from within, and without.

The great lesson which one learns, which helps most in keeping that tranquility in life which helps insight, is to be able to become like the ebb and flow. When the first is needed then to become the ebb, when the next thing is needed then to make oneself in that way. When it is necessary to express then to express, when it is necessary to respond, then to respond, at will. In this manner one will always manage to preserve tranquility in life.

checked 26-Jan-2006