(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 26
Abraham, whose name seems to come from the Sanskrit root Brahma, which means the creator, was the father of four great religions of the world. For it is from his descendants, who were called Beni Israel, that came Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, besides Zoroastrianism.
Abraham was the first to bring the knowledge of mysticism from Egypt, where he was initiated in the most ancient order of esotericism. And the place, which, on his return, he chose to establish as a center, with the idea that some place must be the world center, was Mecca, whither not only in the age of Islam did people make pilgrimage, but at all times the sacred center of Mecca was held in esteem by the pious who lived before Muhammad. The family of Jesus Christ is traced in the ancient tradition from the family of Isaac, and Muhammad came from the family of Ishmael.
The prophecies of Abraham have always been living words, though various people made their different interpretations according to their own ideas, but to the mind of the seer the prophecies of Abraham have a very deep meaning.
With his great knowledge of esotericism, he has been a great patriarch among his people. He was interested in everybody's trouble and difficulty. He was thrown in the midst of worldly responsibilities, to learn all that he has learned from it, and then to teach his knowledge and experience to those who looked to him for the bread of knowledge. No doubt, the stories of the ancient times very often strike our modern ears as most childish. But it is the way they were told, and by the people that they were told, that makes a great difference. In the first place, there was such a scarcity of lettered people in those days, therefore the stories were told by the unlettered, and certainly they must have improvised upon every legend they told, and pictured it according to the artistic development of their particular age. Nevertheless, truth is there, if we only knew how to lift the veil.
Abraham's life does not only make him a prophet, but a Murshid at the same time. He was a mystic, he gave counsels to those who came to him in need. He examined them, treated their minds healed their souls according to their needs. The most remarkable thing one notices in Abraham is, that besides him being a prophet and mystic, he lived the life of an ordinary human being, one with his fellow men in their times of pleasure and sorrow.
One story of the life of Abraham has been the source of great argument in the East, which is the sacrifice of Isaac. It is not only an argument in the Past, but alarming to a western mind. They can put a thousand questions, to give a proper reason and justification to such an act. But at the same time, if we looked from the ideal point of view, no sacrifice for a beloved ideal can be too great. There are numberless souls whose dear ones, their beloved mates, husbands or sons, have been sacrificed in this recent war. They could do nothing else, they had to surrender their will to the ideal of the nation, and offer the sacrifice for the cause of the nation, without thinking for one moment that it was unusual.
When we think deeply on the problem of life, there is no path in the world, whether spiritual or material, which we can tread successfully without a sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice is great, and sometimes small, sometimes the sacrifice is made first, before achieving the success, and sometimes afterwards. As sacrifice is necessary in life, it is made by everyone in some form or the other, but when it is made willingly it turns into a virtue. The greater the ideal, the greater the sacrifice it demands, and if one saw wisely the process of advancement through life in any direction of life, it is nothing but a continual sacrifice, and happiness comes from the understanding of this nature of life, and not being hurt or troubled by it, but by knowing that it is by sacrifice made to the end that man attains to the desired goal.