WHEN WE look at life and the process of its development
either from a mystical or from a scientific point of view,
we shall find that it is one life developing itself through
different phases. In other words, there is one vital substance
– call it energy, intelligence, force or light, call it
God or Spirit – which is forcing its way out from the most
dense aspect of nature towards the finest aspect of nature.
For instance, by studying the mineral kingdom we shall find
a life in it which is forcing its way out. When we look
at it scientifically we shall find that from the mineral
kingdom come substances such as gold and silver and precious
stones, which means that there is a process by which the
mineral becomes finer, finer and finer, until it begins
to show that the spirit is radiance, intelligence, beauty,
and that it even manifests through the precious stones.
This is a scientific point of view. When we come to a
mystical point of view we see that if we go among the rocks,
if we stand in the mountains, if we go into the solitude
where there is no one else, we are alone and begin to feel
an upliftment, we begin to feel a sense of peace, a kind
of at-one-ment with the rocks, hills and mountains. What
is it? It is that the spirit which is in us is the same
in the mountains and rocks. That spirit is buried in the
rocks and less buried in ourselves. But it is the same spirit,
and that is why we are attracted to mountains. Mountains
are not as living as we are, and therefore we are more attracted
to them than they to us.
Besides, what can we give to mountains? Our lack of peace,
discord, our inharmony, our limitations. What can the mountains
give us? Harmony, peace, calmness, quietude, a sense of
patience, of endurance. What do they inspire us with? The
idea that they have been waiting perhaps for thousands of
years for an unfoldment which comes by the development of
nature from rock to plant, from plant to animal, from animal
It is this whole gradual unfoldment of the spirit which
is buried in all these different aspects of nature and at
each step from rock to plant, from plant to animal, and
from animal to man – the spirit is able to express itself
more freely, is able to move more freely. In this way the
spirit finds itself in the end. What does it show? It shows
that there is one purpose working through the whole creation.
The rocks are working out the same destiny as man, the plants
are growing towards the same goal as man. What is that goal?
Unfoldment. The spirit is buried in the creation and wants
to make its way out. At each step of evolution there is
a new unfoldment, a greater opening.
From the animal, Darwin says, man has come. It might
have seemed at the time that it was a new scientific discovery,
but it was not so. There are proofs of this in books of
Persian poets. A poet who lived seven hundred years before
Darwin says in his poetic terms, in a religious form, that
God slept in the rock, dreamed in the plant, awoke in the
animal, and realized Himself in man. Perhaps this poet has
not said in detail from where man has come, but he has given
his outlook so many years before. And twelve hundred years
ago the Prophet Muhammad in giving the Quran has expressed
the same: that first was the rock, from that came the plant,
afterwards the animals and from them man was created.
Now the difference between the scientific or biological
point of view and the mystical or prophetic point of view
is this: a materialistic scientist says, 'Here is a rock.
By a process of development a kind of life has come to it.
Then vibrations increased. From animals came man; man is
a developed animal. So from perfect denseness intelligence
has developed'. The mystical conception is different. A
mystic does not trace the origin of life in the rock; he
traces it in spirit. One may ask, 'What is spirit?' Spirit
is intelligence. One might think, 'We do not see intelligence
in a rock, in animals'. The answer is that we must first
distinguish between spirit and matter, understand what difference
there is between the two. Spirit is finer matter, matter
is dense spirit. In other words, water is snow and snow
is water. When water is not frozen it is water and when
frozen it is snow; when heated again it becomes water. It
is the same with spirit and matter. There are many in this
world inclined to say, 'Matter does not exist'. It is easy
to say, but difficult to prove. Besides, is that not only
a conception? Others say, 'Spirit does not exist'. What
is needed is to understand the relation between the two
and the difference between the two.
When I was traveling to America there was a young Italian
with me on the ship. Looking at me he thought that I was
a priest, and being himself an atheist he began to ask me,
'What is your belief?' I said, 'Nobody can tell his belief,
it cannot be put into words. But may I ask what is yours?
Perhaps you can explain it better'. 'Well', said he, 'I
believe in eternal matter'. 'Then my belief is not very
far from yours. What you call eternal matter, I call eternal
spirit. The dispute is over words; if you do not stick to
preconceived words there is no difference'.
Many in this world argue over words. If one reaches the
sense no dispute is left. If someone sees the eternal aspect
in matter which is ever changing, let him call it eternal.
It does not matter, it is the eternal aspect of life we
are looking for.
Now we come to the idea of the mystic's conception of
the soul. The mystic sees a development of material life
from rock to plant, from plant to animal and from animal
to the human physical body. That is one thing, it is a part
of the mystical conception. Then there is something else:
the divine Spirit, the Light, the Intelligence, the All-Consciousness.
The first part makes the earth, the other makes heaven;
it is that Sun, the divine Spirit shining and projecting
its rays – and each ray becomes a soul. It is therefore
not true to say that man has come out of a monkey. One is
degrading the finest specimen of nature that God has created
by calling it an improvement of a monkey. It is a materialistic,
limited conception. The soul comes direct from the divine
Spirit, it is intelligence itself, it is consciousness.
But it is not the consciousness we know, for we never experience
the pure existence of our consciousness. What we know of
our consciousness is what we are conscious of; so we only
know the name consciousness and do not know what it is in
There is no difference between pure intelligence and
consciousness. We call pure intelligence consciousness when
that intelligence is conscious of something. But what we
are conscious of is something that is before us. We are
not that: we are the being who is conscious, not that which
we are conscious of. The mistake is that we identify ourselves
with what we see, because we do not see ourselves. Therefore,
because he does not know himself, man naturally calls his
body himself; as he cannot find himself, what he identifies
himself with is his body. In reality man is not his body,
man is his soul. The body is something man possesses; it
is his tool, his instrument with which he experiences life,
but the body is not himself. Since he identifies himself
with his body, he naturally says, I live', I die', I am
happy', I am unhappy', 'I have fallen', 'I have risen'.
Every condition of his limited and changeable body makes
him think, 'I am this'. In this way he loses the consciousness
of the never-changing aspect of his own being.
The soul is the ray which in order to experience life
needs this instrument: the vehicles of body and mind. The
soul with its two vehicles, body and mind, could be called
spirit – that other word we use for soul. Through the body
it experiences outward conditions, through the mind it experiences
inner conditions of life. So the soul experiences two spheres,
the physical and the mental sphere: the mental sphere through
the mind, and the physical sphere through the body with
its five senses.
When we come to the evolution of the world according
to the point of view of the mystic, we shall see that it
is not man who has come from the plant, the animal and the
rock. But man has taken his body, his physical instrument,
from the rock, from the animal, from the plant. He himself
has come direct from the spirit and is directly joined to
the spirit. He is, and always will be, above this instrument
which he has borrowed from the earth. In other words, man
is not the product of the earth but man is the inhabitant
of heavens. It is his body which he has borrowed from the
earth. Because he has forgotten his origin, the origin of
his soul, he has taken the earth for his origin, but this
is only the origin of his body and not of his soul.
Now we come to the law of gravitation, of which many
say that it is a theory which was not known to the ancients.
I say that the law of gravitation was already explained
thousands of years earlier, even by Buddha, and in the Quran
we find a Sura saying that the soul has come from God and
is bound for Him. What science tells today is that the body
of clay which has come from the earth is attracted to the
earth because of the law of gravitation: earth attracts
earth. But prophets and mystics and seers and sages always
knew and taught that the soul is attracted to the Spirit.
In other words, by the law of gravitation the body is attracted
to the earth and the soul to the Spirit. When a person is
unaware of this he only knows of one attraction which is
of the earth. Then he does not know of the other attraction,
and that does not help to give release to the soul, for
the soul is attracted to the Spirit.
If it were a virtue to be spiritual – if it were only
a virtue – I would be the first person to refuse it. But
it is the greatest necessity of the soul; we cannot help
it. Very often people think, 'Is it necessary to be spiritual?
What do we gain by it?' We do not need to gain anything
by it, it is a natural attraction, we cannot help it! Those
who are conscious of it begin to look for it. Those who
are not conscious of it are unconsciously attracted to something
which they do not know.
During my travelings of so many years through East and
West I have met most intelligent people, maybe not at all
religious, not interested in spiritual subjects, and at
the same time, after having become more familiar with them,
what have I found? There was a secret seeking. Outwardly
it is out of fashion to think about spirituality, but inwardly
they were all the time seeking for it. In schools the name
of God and any mention made of religion has been erased
from the textbooks. Nevertheless, scientists come who after
all the research of science begin to think about these things.
They themselves would like to avoid it, but they cannot
help it. When people ask, 'Did you find response during
your travelings in the Western world?', I say, 'Whether
it is West or East, North or South, there is response from
every man. Maybe he does not know it, but every man in the
world is my customer'.
Every man has interest as soon as one tells him about
life and its deeper side. No doubt some are sleeping, some
are half awake, and some on the point of awaking. It is
those on the point of awaking who must be helped. Those
who are half awake – let them awake; they will see. Those
who sleep – after their sleep is over they will wake up
and look for it. It is cruel to wake up a person. If he
does not care for food, let him sleep; when he awakes he
will feel hungry, he will ask for food. That is the time
to give it to him.
Now we come to the question of the soul's natural unfoldment
towards spiritual attainment. Spirituality apart, at every
stage in one's life – infancy, the time from infancy to
childhood, from childhood to youth, from youth to middle
age – at every step further there is a new consciousness.
Childhood is quite a new consciousness compared to infancy;
youth is quite a different consciousness compared to childhood.
If that is true then every soul, no matter in what stage
of life he is, has gone through so many different unfoldments
which have given him a new consciousness every time, whether
he knows about it, whether he thinks about it, or not.
There are experiences such as failure in business, or
misfortune, or illness, or a certain blow in one's life,
whether an affair of the heart or of money or a social affair,
whatever it may be – there are blows which fall upon a person
and a shell breaks, a new consciousness is produced. Very
few will see it is an unfoldment, very few will interpret
it as such, but it is so. Have you not seen among your acquaintances
how a person with a disagreeable nature, a most uninteresting
man to whom you were never attracted, perhaps after a blow,
a deep sorrow, after some experience, awakened to a new
consciousness and suddenly attracted you, because he had
gone through this process? As we unfold at every step in
our life, so we do with every experience. The deeper the
experience touches us, the greater the unfoldment. In this
way we unfold gradually towards that which is called perfection.
Spiritual unfoldment is the ultimate goal of every person.
It comes at a moment when a man begins to be more thoughtful,
when he begins to remember or to realize this yearning of
the soul. Then consciously or unconsciously a feeling comes,
'Is this all I have to do in my life: to earn money? Whether
I have a high rank or a position, it is all a play. I have
become tired of this play. I should think of something else.
There is something else I have to attain'. This is the beginning;
it is the first step on the spiritual path. As soon as a
person has taken this first step his outlook has changed,
the value of things becomes different and things to which
he had attached great importance become of less importance;
things with which he concerned himself so much he no longer
concerns himself with. A kind of indifference comes. Nevertheless,
a thoughtful person keeps to his duty just the same; he
is even more conscientious and this brings about a greater
harmony, because he begins to pity others.
When he goes another step forward there comes bewilderment.
He begins to wonder, 'What is it all? Much ado about nothing!'
It gave me much to think about when once I saw in India
a sage whom I knew to be very deep, a man of high attainment,
who was laughing at nothing. I wondered what he was laughing
at. Then I stood there and looked around myself, thinking,
'I must see from his point of view what makes him laugh
so much', and I saw persons hustling and bustling. For what?
Was it not laughable? Every person thinking his particular
point of view to be the most important, pushing others away
because he finds his action the most important! Is it not
the picture of life? It is the way of the evolved and the
unevolved. And what do they reach? Nothingness! Empty-handed
they leave this world; they come without anything, and they
go without anything. It is this outlook which gives the
soul bewilderment. He does not feel proud to laugh at others,
but it is no doubt amusing. As much as he is amused at others,
he is amused at himself.
When a person goes another step forward an understanding
comes that changes his outlook and manner. Generally what
happens is this: from morning till evening he reacts against
every good and bad thing. But good he sees very rarely and
bad things he always sees, or he meets someone who is nervous
and excited, or dominant or selfish, and so all the time
a continually jarring effect comes from everyone he meets.
Then without knowing it his continual reaction is of despise,
of hatred; the thought to get away is all the time before
him. If he can say, 'I don't like', 'I dislike', he can
say it from morning till evening with everyone he meets,
for there is rarely one person about whom he will not say
such words. And this reaction he expresses in words or thought,
by feeling or action.
When one reaches this third stage, the stage of understanding,
one begins to understand instead of reacting. Then there
is no reaction: understanding comes and suppresses it. It
is just like a boat which is anchored; it produces tranquility,
stillness, weight in the personality. It does not move with
every wind that blows, but stays like a heavy ship on the
water, while a light ship moves with every wave that comes.
That stability a person reaches in this third stage of unfoldment;
he is ready to tolerate, to understand both the wise and
the foolish – all.
Is it not amusing to think that the foolish person disagrees
more with others than the wise? One would think that he
knows more than the wise one. The wise one agrees with both
the foolish and the wise; he is ready to understand everybody's
point of view. It may not be his idea, his way of looking,
but he is capable of looking at things from the point of
view of others. It is not one eye that sees fully; to make
the vision complete two eyes are needed, and so the wise
one can see from two points of view. If we do not keep away
our own thoughts and preconceived ideas, if we cannot be
passive and desirous of seeing from the point of view of
another, we make a great mistake. This third stage gives
a tendency to understand every person we meet.
Then again there is a fourth stage of unfoldment. In
this stage we not only understand, but sympathize; we cannot
help but sympathize, for we can see that life in the world
is nothing but limitation. Whether a person is rich, in
a high position, or in a wretched condition – whatever condition
he is in, or whatever he is – he has to experience this
limitation and that itself is a great misery. Every person
therefore has his problem before him, and when we begin
to see that every person on this earth has a certain problem
and weight to carry through life, we cannot help but sympathize.
The one who can awake to the pain of mankind, whether
it is his friend or his foe, cannot help sympathizing with
him. Then he develops an outgoing tendency; he has always
a feeling that he should go out to every person he meets
and then, naturally, by his sympathy he looks for good points,
for when one looks at a person without sympathy one will
always touch his worst point.
When one goes a step further still, then a way is open
to communicate. Just as there is a communication between
persons who love each other very much, so the sympathy of
a person whose soul has unfolded itself is so awakened that
not only every person but even every object begins to reveal
its nature, its character and secret. To him every man is
a written letter.
We hear stories of saints and sages who talked with rocks
and plants and trees. They are not only stories; it is reality.
It is also told of the apostles that at the moment when
the Spirit descended upon them they began to speak many
languages. When they understood so many languages, they
understood the language of every soul. It means that the
illuminated soul understands the language of every soul.
And every soul has its own language. It is that which is
All the teachings that the great prophets and teachers
have given are only interpretations of what they have seen.
They have interpreted in their own language what they have
read from the manuscript of nature: that trees and plants
and rocks spoke to them. Did nature only speak to those
in the past? No, the soul of man is always capable of that
bliss if he only realized it. Once the eyes of the heart
are open, man begins to read every leaf of the tree as a
page of the sacred Book.