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Volume XIV - The Smiling Forehead

Part II - The Deeper Side of Life

Chapter XXIV
Spiritual Circulation through the Veins of the Universe

WHEN ONE observes keenly the nature of this life of variety, one finds that behind the world of variety there is one life, the source and goal of all things. It is that life which may be called the blood of the universe circulating through the veins of the universe. It is substance or spirit or life: something out of which all that is seen and all intelligence is molded, kept alive and in working order. It is this life which is so to speak the veins of the universe and we know it as what we term intelligence.

No doubt we often confuse intelligence with intellect, but intelligence is something which is to be found even in the lower creation. It can be traced in plant life and sensed even in the heart of the rock. The difference between modern psychology and ancient thought is that according to the former the intellect is a development which manifests in the life of man as mind, but that animals have no mind, that mind is a development of matter, the work of the brain. The idea of the mystics of all times, of the prophets and all meditative souls is different. They say, 'What was, is, and will be; if that is the same substance or life it is not subject to change, nor does it develop'. Yet a different grade which we are capable of grasping gives us the feeling that it is a development rising from matter. The great ones, the meditative souls who sat in the wilderness and the forests and communicated with the life around them, realized this truth, and very often they experienced a greater harmony, peace and upliftment where there was no visible life. Life is intelligence, even in the rock, and the more one communicates with life, the more one feels that even the rock is not without life, that through it pulses the blood of the universe.

Someone said to a Brahmin, 'O Brahmin, how absurd it is for you to worship a God made of stone, an idol! The true God is the formless one, the one above all things of the world'. The Brahmin replied, 'Do you know the phenomenon of faith? If you have faith in the God of rock, you will get your answer, but if you have no faith in your formless God even He will not communicate with you'. Life seen from this point of view tells us that there is no place, no object which is not sacred, that even in a rock one sees the source and goal of all things in that particular form.

Many who are experienced in plant life know how responsive plants are to the sympathy of a man who loves nature and looks after them. I was much interested in meeting a scientist in California who devoted his life to research into plant life.12 How true it is that through whatever channel one pursues truth one arrives at an experience which shows truth. I was especially interested when he said, 'I regard plants as really living beings. I work with them always feeling that they are living creatures, that they have their own trend of mind. They show obstinacy, they feel your sympathy, and if you learn to understand them you can manage to derive a great deal of benefit from them. All through my life I have talked to plants as I would talk to men'. Here again is the blood of the universe in circulation – in a higher grade than in the rock.

Another scientist, Professor Chandra Bose of Bengal, has devoted much time and thought to prove that plants breathe. If breath is to be found in plant life, certainly there is intelligence too. I once happened to see a stone whose owner called it a magic stone. In reality it was quite ordinary, but it often changed its color; especially when in the hand of a particular person it showed a different color and shade. So a stone can respond to a person's mind, and this teaches that there is a great deal to explore in the mineral kingdom. This is not a discovery of today; it was known to the people of ancient times. We read in the Persian poems of  Jalaluddin Rumi that God slept in the mineral, dreamed in the vegetable, became conscious in the animal, and realized Himself in the human being.

But this one life is to be seen more pronounced in human beings, in the intellect they show, in the work they do, in the magnetizing of the atmosphere, in the thought power they exercise, in the influence of healing. Although one person is separated from another, although there may be no outer connection, yet even from a distance the influence of thoughts and feelings is felt. There were many instances of this during the war, when mothers and wives of soldiers in times of sorrow, illness and death felt their trouble without any outer source of communication. How often when people are in close touch do they feel each other's condition, not only by thought waves but in the realm of feeling also. This shows that there is one body, and in that body is one life which continually circulates, as does the blood in the veins.

This gives a logical explanation of the law of cause and effect. A wrongdoer may escape earthly witness, but he cannot escape this one life in which he lives and moves and has his being. A person who has done good to another may never see that other again, yet good must return to him because there is one body and one life. Just as with the circulation in the physical body all we eat is absorbed as essence in the blood, so our every thought, word and action affects the one life.

Often people wonder about certain superstitions and ridicule them, saying, 'How can past, present and future be read from cards?' This, the science of astrology and crystal-gazing may be explained by the understanding that there is one life in which the circulation is always pulsing, one music, one rhythm. A person only needs to be acquainted with the theme of the music – then he can read and understand. Not only by cards and crystal-gazing can he read the past, present and future, but by all means. If a person is able to communicate with even one vein of this one life he is in touch with the veins of all the universe. Some means are better, some are worse, but through any medium he can understand, thus proving that there is one life behind all.

Man may be taught to do good, to learn righteousness, but this is virtue forced upon him as the result of a certain teaching. Real virtue only comes by understanding the oneness of life, binding man to friend or enemy. Jesus Christ teaches, 'Love your enemies'. While it is often difficult to love our friends, we are not able to love our enemies, unless we realize the secret of the one life behind all – in spite of the world of variety which continually creates illusion.

If by religion, philosophy, or mysticism this realization is attained, then the secret of life is touched and without any wonder-working a mighty power is gained. This lesson is easy to learn intellectually, but that is not enough. This truth can be taken – like food – in a moment, but to digest it the whole of life is not sufficient, for truth is mixed with facts, and when truth becomes a fact it has no importance. Absorbed in the world of variety we are apt to forget truth, for we are always absorbed in facts. Therefore meditative people who spend much time in meditation try to think of the oneness of being, try to meditate on the ultimate truth of being. It works like the winding of a clock: it only takes a minute to wind and all day long it goes on. So in meditation the same thought goes on, and in everything one does or says one uses this same truth.

What effect is caused by the lack of understanding of this truth? All disasters such as wars, floods, earthquakes, famines, all the things that cannot be helped by man, come from disorder in the body: the only body that exists. When the blood is disordered all goes wrong, and although sometimes it seems that what is disadvantageous to one part is advantageous to another, yet in the long run one sees that all suffer; the after-effect is felt by the whole world as strain and pain and all kinds of suffering. The soul of the whole creation is one, the life behind all these ever moving phantoms is one. Meditation on this and awakening to this truth will harmonize the condition of the world.

The prophets and great mystics have come to the world from time to time as the physician comes to help the patient whose health is in disorder. And each time the great ones have come they have brought to the world another life, a new life brought to the whole organism of the universe to help it to run smoothly. The Sufis who in all times have existed as mystics, whose lives have been devoted to meditation and spiritual practices – what have they learned from these meditations? They have learned the essence of all, the oneness or unity, and in unity – in thinking it, realizing it and living it – one fulfills the purpose of life.

12. Hazrat Inayat Khan refers to Luther Burbank, an American plant cultivator (1849-1926) whom he had met in Santa Rosa in 1923. He wrote in his autobiography:

'I was most delighted to see that not only fine arts and spiritual culture, but even the work with the earth can elevate a man to that serenity and simplicity and love which this scientist's soul expressed. This was a proof added to many other proofs I had in my life of seeing glimpses of divine perfection in the souls who in some form or other have touched perfection in their life's vocation whatever it may be.

This notion to me was as a bridge between science and mysticism; at the same time it was a promise that science in its full rise will some day be completed by mysticism. He told me he was busy at the time trying to take away thorns from the cactus, and asked me what I was doing. I humbly answered – My work is not very different from yours, Sir, for I am occupied taking away thorns from hearts of men – Thus we came to realize how a real work, through matter or spirit, in the long run brings about the same result which is the purpose of life.'

       (from Biography of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, East-West Publications, London, 1979).

checked 13-Nov-2006