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Volume XIV - The Smiling Forehead

Part I - The Smiling Forehead

Chapter IV
The Path of Devotion

There are four paths by which man can attain to his highest goal. One is for the intellectual, the intelligent. By studying himself and the world, by understanding what he is, whence he has come and where he will ultimately go, man attains to perfection.

The second path is the way of abstinence. Those who follow this way detach themselves from all things in life; they renounce all the pleasures and comforts of life. They have no friendship, no attachment for anyone; they withstand all natural tendencies and inclinations. Those who have been in India may have seen some followers of this path, sometimes among the crowd, their body covered with ashes, sometimes in the solitude remote from all: by this their psychic power becomes very great.

The third way is that of those who live the life of the world and by their righteousness, by their piety become as a saint, a sage.

The fourth way is the path of love, of devotion. The whole universe has been made through love. The Intelligence itself in the next step towards evolution has become love. It is love that has directed the Intelligence; if not, the Intelligence would be spread all over, not directed in any direction in particular. All that is done in the world is done by love. One could not study the flower on the mantelpiece if love did not direct the intelligence towards the flower, to admire it and to know what it is. Therefore the mystics have understood that this power of love that has brought all into manifestation must be able to lead back from the seen world to the unseen.

Love is the sign of intelligence. Where there is no intelligence there is no love. Rocks have no intelligence and there is no love in them. Plants and trees have awakened to life and show some attachment. If we have a plant and care for it, it will respond to our care and flourish. Animals have more intelligence and show much affection and attachment. Pet animals in the house grow to have much affection and sympathy for their master; they are happy in his joy and become sad in his sorrow. Horses too show much affection. It is told that the horse of an Arab who had been wounded in battle stayed beside him for three days and nights, until his comrades came and rescued him. Man has the most intelligence, and he has the most love in his nature. Someone may say, 'But animals are cruel also'. So is man. Is man not far more cruel than the animals?

There are three sorts of mystics: Yogis, Buddhists and Sufis, 2 and most of these have chosen the path of devotion, because it has beauty and gives a satisfaction that nothing else can give. Sufis may take the way of renunciation, the way of wisdom, but most of them have especially chosen this path of devotion.

Devotion is like fire, it has a magnetism, a warmth like fire. When the atmosphere is so cold that our body is chilled, we like to turn to the fire and draw near to it. In this cold world where nothing but cold and selfish hearts are all about us, each person caring only for himself, where there is a heart that has love in it, it has such a warmth, such a radiance that all are drawn to it, all want to be near it. He who works through the intellect may have a little intellectual attraction satisfying the desire of the mind for a little explanation of things. I have traveled for eight years all over India and have been in remote and inaccessible places where there was danger of robbers. I traveled to see the sages and mystics, and I have seen what charm had the atmosphere of those who were devotees, what fragrance had their presence.

We all know love to some small extent. There are many who have begun to love and then say, 'I loved someone, but the one I loved did not prove to be my ideal'. They are disappointed, they cast love aside and by doing so they cast aside the only thing that could lead them towards God, they break off the bridge that could unite them with God. Love is the only thing that takes away the selfishness which is the only barrier between man and God. Love alone illuminates the heart. The heart is in the center of the being. When it is illumined the whole being becomes light; when it is dark the whole being is in darkness. The soul has its light, because the soul is light, but it cannot give its light to the external being if the heart that is between them is darkened, nor can the body give its experiences to the soul.

Then there are disappointed people who say, 'There is nothing on earth worth loving'. Of course it is true because the soul which is from God is perfect as He is perfect and seeks perfection. Man does not wish to prove himself perfect, but he seeks perfection in another. That perfection is only in God, the Unlimited, but man seeks it in the human being, in the limited being full of faults and imperfections.

Now you may ask, 'How can we love God whom we do not see, whom we have never known?' You cannot love God only because it has been said in ancient times that there is a God and that we should love Him, or because it is written in a book. If someone says that you should love God because he is the Creator, you cannot praise Him as Creator; for we have always seen that the piano is created by the piano manufacturer and Pears' soap is created by Mr. Pears, and we know that the carpenter creates the chair and the table. A person once said to me, 'I have a horror of the idea of God. When I think that God may suddenly seize me and call me to account for everything I have done, I have a horror. I have quite enough to interest me here. I do not want to think of God'. I was rather amused and I could not blame him. The mistake is that the ideal of God is given before idealism is developed.

A child wishes to give its doll a piano, a chair, a table, all kinds of things, and so much ado is made about the doll. When the child has grown up it has perhaps forgotten the doll. If the child has accomplished anything by this, if it has achieved anything in life, it is that idealism has been learned. One should have the ideal of devotion which one admires, to which one aspires, which appeals to one's own degree of evolution. If a person wishes to raise himself, to be powerful in the world, he should think of President Wilson who has raised himself from the position of a doctor to be President of the United States. If he wishes to be great in politics he should think of the Prime Minister who has raised himself from his small position to be Prime Minister.

We cannot love God in heaven if we do not love man on earth. Christ taught first love of our fellow man. Enemies apart, to love our fellow man is the first thing necessary. Those who take this way have devotion and love for the Murshid, or they may love a teacher, or a hero, a saint, a prophet, and that love must be kept. If you say, 'I have love for Buddha, but he did not believe in the soul and I do not like that – and he did this and that', such is not love or devotion. Keep the devotion for the ideal – with his disbelief in the soul and all! From this man rises to the degree of fana-fi-rasul, devotion for the unseen ideal, for the holiness, the goodness, the kindness of the being whom he has not seen. It is your idealization which produces in you the ideal. Buddha's body is lost in the earth long ago. You have made the Buddha.

But all this is idolatry as long as there is not the ideal of God. As long as there is devotion for the limited ideal there is idolatry and as long as man has not broken away from idolatry to the unlimited ideal, he has not reached his highest goal. The ideal has attracted, has drawn out your love by his holiness, his goodness, his saintliness, but then love itself springs forth and is for the Unlimited. Then a person will not say, 'I have seen injustice in God, I have seen unkindness in God'. He sees and loves Him with His kindness and unkindness, His power and justice and might, with all and everything and nothing.

When that is reached then this highest goal of attainment is reached; then man is perfect.

2. Three sorts of mystics: Yogis, Buddhists and Sufis: i.e. respectively ascetics, monastics, and mystics living life in the world rather than renouncing it.

checked 4-Nov-2006