(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 45
There is a phrase in the Bible, 'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you'. The Message of God is an answer to the cry of humanity. Now, as to the instrument of the message, in reality the whole universe is an instrument, and every object and every being in it is an instrument; through whichever instrument He chooses He gives His message. One sees in one's life, and especially at times when one is deep down in depression and sorrow, some answer coming to the difficulty of that situation. It may come from a friend, from a brother, from parents, from a beloved; even from one's enemy one may get what was necessary at the moment.
But you will say, 'Why should a message come in the life of an individual in the time of pain, or after a great sorrow? Why should not a message come every day for one's guidance? And there are two reasons for it: One reason is that there is constantly a guidance from above, but man, so absorbed in his life's activities, does not open his heart to listen to that message and to see where it comes from. And the other reason is that the deeper the sorrow the higher the voice of the heart rises, until it reaches the throne of God; and that is the time when the answer comes, when a person is drowned deep in the sorrow and grief.
Now, the question what is pain may be explained thus: that pain is the fullest aspect of life. And this is the reason why, however greatly afraid man is of pain, yet he always enjoys little pinpricks, he likes the tragedy of his own life, or the tragedy, even performed on the stage, rather than a comedy. Plainly speaking, man's real being is his heart, and in pain the heart becomes living and without pain man seems to be living on the surface. You will often see in life that people with an intolerable nature and manner, after having gone through the agony of pain in life, develope in them a finer nature. It softens their personality, just as raw vegetables are softened after they are cooked. There are also characters who are pictured in the Eastern language as sandalwood or incense. When the sandalwood or the incense is on the fire its perfume rises, and there are characters in the world whose good qualities and whose merits are hidden, just as the perfume is hidden in the incense and sandalwood; and they come out in the agony of pain.
There is a story in the great traditions of India called Ramayana, that the two sons of the Lord of Hindus, Rama, were dwelling in the forests and in the mountains, and they happened to arrive, accompanied by their mother, in a town where they settled, and the younger boy went to see the town alone. This lad while going about in the town, saw a beautiful horse which was allowed by the State to run about. And he became so fascinated at the sight of the horse that he asked the people whose it was. And they said, 'It is the custom of our State that whenever a king is needed for the State a horse is allowed to run about the town, and whoever first catches the horse becomes king of the kingdom.' This lad ran after this horse the whole day; and often he thought he had caught it, but as he approached, the horse slipped from his hands. Many times he thought that he had nearly caught it, but it always slipped away from him; and the time of sunset approached. His mother became anxious as the evening approached, and she asked the elder brother to go into the city, and find where his brother had gone and had been lost for the whole day. When the elder brother came, he saw the lad running after the horse, – the whole day he had been running after it. He said, 'What are you doing?' His brother said, 'I will not come home until I have caught the horse.' The elder brother said, 'It was the work of a moment, and you have taken all day. Instead of running after the horse, you ought to meet it.' He told him how, and in a moment the brother caught the horse. Both brothers were brought before their father, on receiving this great glory; and the father was proud to see them both having come to victory.
This story is the picture which represent the father, God, and the horse is this life in the world. And the younger brother is the one who is in search, or in pursuit, of getting the victory over this ever-changing life of the world. And the elder brother is the one who has had experience of it. And he comes and tells the other brother, 'That is not the way, this is the way.' And all that man has ever learned he has always learned from his elder brother. If one is fond of art, or is a lover of science, or wishes to learn a language or anything in the world, he is successful only then when he can go to a friend who knows about it, and can ask him; what is your experience? And that which he could not have learned in many years he has learned in one minute. We all act in the stage of the world as younger brothers, and at times as elder brothers. In regard to things that we do not know and things that we wish to know we act as the younger brother, and in regard to things which we know and show to others we act as the elder brother. Each one of us has the elder brother and younger brother in him, and superiority belongs only to the father, whose pride and whose satisfaction it is that the elder brother and the younger brother should both be victorious.
As the number of the aged and the very aged is few among us, so the number of the elder brothers also is rare in all aspects of life. And in some souls there is a faculty, there is a spirit of elder-brotherhood born, just as even in a little girl who has no experience of life it seems as if the mother-spirit exists. It seems that in all different aspects of life and in all different creatures this spirit of the elder brother exists. Even among birds and animals one sees that one leads the flocks and the others follow. If he goes to the north and the others follow and go to the south. And, at the same time, even among the lower creation this tendency of elder-brotherhood is not without purpose and is not without wisdom. In a flock of birds the one who leads knows when there will be a storm or a change of weather or when there will be abundance of food. The most interesting instance is that when a few elephants in the forest walk together, there is one elephant who takes the lead, and this elephant has in it s trunk – held by its trunk a stem of some tree, just like a staff, and it walks examining the ground, if there be a pit or a danger, and if it so happens it gives a signal and all the other elephants run away.
This tendency is pronounced and fulfills the greatest purpose of human life in man. There is a man who is conscious of his own pain and pleasure, to whom his home is the only care. There is another man who feels responsibility not only for himself, but for his children, for his family, perhaps even for his friends, for his neighbors. And there is a man who even feels for everybody in his little village or town. In their distress he is distressed, in their happiness he is happy; the children of his village are like his own children, and he seems to live with his village. Then there are souls who are conscious of the condition of their nation, there is nothing they would not wish to sacrifice for their people. There are others who are conscious of their race. There are other souls, blessed by God, who are conscious of the happiness, the peace of the whole humanity; the general good only can be happiness to them. And this expansion must come naturally, and man must experience it naturally.
If one pretends to be so expanded, he cannot prove it when the time of test comes. For instance, humanity has always recognized with gratitude that Jesus Christ stood the test through his life to the last hour; in other words, gave his life in order to give life, and to continue giving life, to humanity. And whoever in this world has had this consciousness, that love for humanity, and has been taken by God as an instrument for His love and light, has stood the test to the last moment of his life. And therefore no one can falsely claim to bear the Message.