The Supplementary Papers
The Work of the Sufi Brotherhood
When one does at this time see so many different movements working for brotherhood, one might ask what is the Sufi Brotherhood doing among all those movements of Brotherhood. And in answer to this question I say: "if there were 20,000 more movements of Brotherhood it would not be enough for the need of today." Besides, to the point of view of the Sufi Brotherhood, whatever is the form, whatever the society, this form, this society is our ideal. We think it a privilege to give our humble service in the great Cause of the World-Brotherhood. We do not think our brotherhood superior to others, there is only one Brotherhood. No doubt one service will be done by different souls; we work according to our own individual method; so we are best able to serve humanity. We consider it absurd to say: "Your method is wrong, ours is right." As long as we are doing our best, that is all we want and all we do.
And now I should like to speak a few words on the work and the ideal we have before us. There is no doubt that everywhere in the world seems to be wakened a desire toward spirituality, and there is no doubt that all over the world lives a desire for Brotherhood, for cooperation. That being the case every effort is made to answer the call of humanity, every effort is made by right and by wrong. And as there is no apparent proof, as the proof is in the result, the right and the wrong naturally are confused. For an instance, instead of Brotherhood communities, have come trade – and business – communities, and thereby fight and opposition, because of their thinking differently. They say: "we are against war," making a financial war. Besides they have only the name of the thought or the ideal, mostly they fight each one another.
They have a disposition to fight. This has occupied our thought for a long time, what is the way to avoid it? We have tried our best till now and will try always to avoid forming a community. Yes, we could not help forming a nucleus; as it is necessary to sail in the sea to have a ship, it is necessary to have a form by which you are best able to serve humanity. We tried to do our best to remain without a name, but even cats and dogs have names. People called it old, higher, new thought, and that became their name. But is there any new thought? Can there be an old thought? Every old thought is new. Besides it is difficult to discriminate between the higher and the lower thought. We have tried to do our best not to give an importance to name.
As long as one has sentiment for humanity we stand by his side. But the question comes: how must brotherhood be taught, what can help to become brothers? In every house the parents teach their children to be brothers, and it is not even in their power to produce brotherhood in their own house. And preachers go out and say: "become brothers." But it is not only by preaching that you become a brother, because you have thousand arguments against it, even poetical ones, and grudges and prejudices. When each one will remember what has been done, how can they become brothers? It is useless to preach even for years and years, it cannot suffice. Only one thing is necessary: to produce understanding. And what does give understanding?
Not the knowledge of a fact, but eternal Truth; through it we unite. So we come to the essence of religion, to the thought of uniting in Truth. The central thing is that Truth. In order to make one tolerant to another, we must not say, but waken, that he may understand. This reminds me of an amusing incident. Once I had a new pupil to whom I was giving instructions, and the last thing was, that before retiring every night he had to send thoughts of love and compassion to all living beings. This pupil was instantly horrified at the idea, and said: "yes, all, but not my neighboring country." I did not resist, took it tolerantly, understanding his sore heart. Would arguing have helped? No. So I said: "you are quite right. Forget the neighbor while thinking of humanity." The pupil smiled, he had expected an argument. Yet he felt not satisfied, and after six months he was able to think of the whole humanity. It is not preaching that is needed, but the hammering on the hearts, so that they naturally will understand.
Another abuse of this ideal is the desire to be spiritually awakened. But how do they want to be awakened? Do they want to see psychic phenomena, to have occult powers? But have we not seen great countries, ancient countries as Egypt and Northern India, possess magic, occult and mystical conceptions? What did that do? The same in their way as the scientific inventions during the war, as they used the magic powers for the benefit of their own ego. Therefore being absorbed in the attainment of the material world, trying to do things with magic to one another, has been the cause of ruined nations, of great distress to humanity in all ages.
Prophets and Saints of all ages have warned against it, in their words one finds simple things as could be taught to children. Therefore today to the intellectual seeker of complexities, the ancient Scriptures mean nothing. The accustomed thought of today is the thought of the purse of gold, and if the cabinet is favorable with one. Imagine what a great scope to evil, to lead astray. It hinders true service, respect, love, consideration for one another. But in spite of the difficulties are we not trying to do our best? I am thankful to say that in different countries we have joined together in this humble activity, an activity nearer to our heart than anything else.
Now the question is: what is the way of attaining to that Truth which teaches by itself brotherhood? That Truth is pictured in the symbol of the cross. The perpendicular line suggests diving deep in oneself, from the outer in the innermost consciousness, man reaching from the point of human to that point of the divine. And what does the horizontal line suggest? Expansion. That is the thought: "I and my neighbor are not only friends, we are only one." Then there is no doubt that the same interest exists for the neighbor as for oneself. No doubt, without rising to that conception it is very difficult to understand this. Man must realize it by meditation. When he touches the innermost self of his being, then he sees in another person himself.
And it is only then that real sympathy comes. It is as the love from a mother for her child. The mother naturally rises to that conception. She does not only know the child as her own, but sees in him her own being. And she lives in the pleasure and the happiness of the child; in the absence of happiness of the child there is no pleasure and happiness for her. What is it after all, the love of the mother, developed without consciousness: it is the realized oneness with the child. From love and continual devotion is born unity, is born oneness.
Now there is another question: a person may say, 'must we teach that, must we lecture about that, which is difficult to learn'? The answer is: the outer knowledge is not enough. It is not sufficient to say: "my neighbor and I are one," that is only imagination. There are two things: conception and conviction. Conception is the crescent, conviction is the full moon. What is learned by study is conception, but that is not sufficient. The conception must be deepened as the moon rises. As conception is deepened it results into conviction. The working of the Sufi Movement with students and workers is the idea of deepening the conception till conviction results.
The World Brotherhood
A few words I would like to say to say to explain to you a little more about this our activity which is called the World Brotherhood. Today it is more than necessary that the activities in bringing about a brotherly feeling in humanity are of more value than any other activity in the line of culture. And although there are many societies and institutions which are established and working along this line of Brotherhood yet our contribution to this great service of God and humanity has its peculiarity owing to its ideas being based on spiritual ideals. We believe that the brotherhood brought about by coming to an understanding of exchanging the good of one another in the interest of one another is not sufficient. The reason is that the nature of life is changeable, where there is a day there is a night, and there is light and darkness, and therefore the interest in life is not always even. If two persons are friends to one another and they make a condition that we shall be friends and we shall love one another, if each wishes to regard justice, they will quarrel a thousand times a day. Because who is to be the judge?
When two people quarrel both are just, both think they are on the right. And a third person has no right to interfere. Therefore brotherhood cannot be brought about to satisfactory results only by teaching the law of reciprocity based upon self-interest. Because even if they said: "I will give you a pound in gold and you will give me in return a pound" and the exchange is made there is a dispute. Because, "I gave you the pound in gold and you gave me the pound in notes." A friendship which is based upon selfishness is not secure, it is not dependable. Because seemingly they may be friends, in reality each is wanting for himself. They are not the friend of the other, they are the friends of themselves.
However they greatly show friendship to one another, in reality they are showing friendship to themselves. No, the brotherhood from spiritual point of view that may be learned is the brotherhood of rivalry in goodness, in kindness. It is not weighing what good have they done to me, but it is trying to do more for another and not thinking what he will do for me. The ideas of the Sufis in all times have been different from the man in the world and yet not too different for a man to practice. The Sufi ideas are that when one does an act of kindness to another it is because he wishes to do it. Because the action itself is his satisfaction, not a return even in the form of appreciation. Any form of appreciation or any return he thinks consumes, takes away that act of goodness or kindness that one has done. And when one thinks that one does some good expecting that another must return it then it is a business. And a person who thinks that 'perhaps I shall do twice more good to another from whom I received half from the good I do for him' he is in a very bad situation, for sooner or later he will be disappointed because he shares goodness which cannot be shared in this way. As soon as man begins to think that 'has another person treated me like a brother, why should I treat him as a brother', he does not know what brotherhood is, he will never be able to act as a brother.
The Sufi point of view is that man must be concerned with himself, if he does right that is what he is concerned with and not whether another person takes it right. The trouble at this time when humanity is so vastly divided is that brotherhood seems so very difficult to bring in practice. And yet I do not think, if we saw the idea of brotherhood in this light, that it would seem very difficult. For no sooner man says: "If another person will do as I wish," he creates his displeasure, but the one who says: "I will do what I think right and good and I am not concerned with the other person, whether he takes it rightly, I have determined to do what I can", that is quite sufficient.
Universal Brotherhood of Humanity
Although the word 'brotherhood' seems to be easy, there are several points of view. If it were as simple as it seems the world would not have gone through the great catastrophe which it has gone through. The cause of all the troubles is the Teachers of humanity. If the great Teachers have given a Message to humanity it is no doubt the Message of Brotherhood. In plain words: "God is love; you must love your enemies."
No doubt simple things to human beings are too simple; too many people who have studied think that they must no longer learn anything. It is too easy; yet if they would study it closely they would see it is the most difficult thing in the world. The necessity of life is a spiritual necessity from a metaphysical point of view. In other words brotherhood is the nature of man, and the secret of brotherhood is centered in the idea that like attracts like. Some animals go in numbers; they are attached to each other, and they abide in harmony.
But other animals, such as lions, tigers, do not like to be together; their passion is their own enemy; they are never contented, because they have not that spirit of harmony for which every soul longs. Human beings show that tendency of harmony more pronouncedly by living together in villages or cities, by recognizing people of their own nation; and, no doubt in this way are born virtues, like family pride, which sometimes engaged families in long quarrels. In the traditions of East and West humanity is the same, and has shown virtues which seem right and wrong (both are so close together), so that it is very difficult to distinguish which is which. Family pride developed into national quarrels.
The old tradition of Persia explains those quarrels between men, tribes, and so on; for instance, if the chiefs of two different tribes were struggling together, the stronger one became chief of the two tribes, yet as long as the feeling of brotherhood remained, it was a virtue in itself, and it was living. All that is moving is living, and that which is still is dead, and that which is dead is useless in life because it brings about death. In the great war we have gone through, there was a dead element; the patriotic spirit, so long as it was progressing it was a virtue, but when it ceased to expand itself then it became contrary to what brotherhood should be.
Any individual in society has to trouble himself about his own interests; a greater virtue is the care for a whole family, the endeavor to do all one can to please one's friends. But that virtue is surpassed by the individual who does not only think of himself and his family, but also of the people in his own village or town. One may even see a man considering himself as nothing, because his outlook is greater and he considers the nation first. As long as that heart-quality is progressing there is a great blessing in society; but as soon as that spirit becomes still and is not given a chance to progress, then it ceases to fulfill its purpose; it is hindering the progress of human life; and, if it cannot expand it brings about the greatest catastrophes that have been experienced in the world.
From a philosophical point of view the whole world is one family; and if we look at the way in which the world is working, we see that everybody is seeking his own interests. Men, however, are interdependent. A man, living in a family cannot expect to be happy so long as one member of the family is unhappy. According to a mystical point of view the whole world is one body; and, if there is a weakness in any part of a body, the whole body will be affected by it. Life, at the present time, is like a child's game; every child is trying to get the other child's toy, but he does not know how to keep it. Things in the world are changeable; they are not to be relied upon.
Man sees the vanity of the world; but if he does not see a reality in contrast, he remains intoxicated by the unreality, and tries to get some pleasure from his life, even for a moment. The happiness of this world is something we cannot keep; it is just like the horizon – the nearer you go, the farther it goes. As soon as you get it, you see it is not the thing you wanted. That discontent continues its work till we have found and understood the manifestation of God, in which is hidden the Divine Spirit. God cannot be found in temples, for God is Love; and love does not live in temples, but in the heart of man, which is the temple of God. The true religion would be to recognize it so and to tolerate, to forgive and to love each other. No doubt there are difficulties; we are not angels and we cannot expect to act like them. Many have no clear vision before them as they are indulging in the life of intoxication. Perhaps the time will come when everything we depend upon will be taken from us; the best would be to consider life from a philosophical point of view. Then we really should be able to smile at life; today this thing is most necessary.
The Work for the Cause of Brotherhood
I have a great pleasure and happiness in opening today the Brotherhood section in Geneva. I would like to tell my mureeds what responsibility it is and what an opportunity it is to be on the soil of Geneva to work for the Cause of Brotherhood. This place, the soil of Geneva, is not only the place which is chosen by all the nations to form a League of Nations to work for the humanity and for peace, but also destined by God that the center of this universal harmony and peace from a spiritual point of view may also be formed here. It is therefore our privilege, which is our blessing, to be here together and to think of forming this league of friendship beyond all the differences and distinctions of faiths or beliefs.
What is the meaning of the word Geneve? The meaning of the word Geneve in Sanskrit language is the sacred thread. And who must prove the meaning and the value of this sacredness? It is us who are serving in this sacred Cause to bring about harmony and peace for humanity. We unite here on the soil of this land, coming from different countries, born in different lands, and yet come here with that brotherly love to do good for one another, and we are welcomed by the people of this land with open arms to discuss the affairs of the world and the affairs of humanity for the benefit of which all the people are anxious and eager.
Now what benefit there is in store for our Movement? From the spiritual point of view it is destined, it is promised, that the Message must spread, that the Message must reach all the parts of the earth. But the other benefit which is attached to the center being here on the soil of Geneva is that people coming from all different nations with the idea of uniting the world, bringing about better understanding, harmony or peace, the atmosphere that we shall create of love and of sacredness and of spirituality will envelop all the souls coming here or passing here from the North to the South, or from the South to the North. Therefore, however small the number of our group, still its responsibility, its privilege and its blessing is indeed great. But from a mystical point of view number is not counted, it is the depth, it is the sincerity, it is the solidarity of the faith which is the thing and which is counted.
Now I should like to explain a little more what work we have to do in the Movement of Brotherhood. Is it political work? Not at all. We have the League of Nations here to discuss it, we do not need to discuss that matter. Our love for humanity, our good will, our desire for fraternity, that itself will spread as an atmosphere congenial to those who will come to discuss matters in the League of Nations. Then are we to discuss socialism? That is also not necessary. There are several unions and there are various movements working on that question. That is not our purpose, that is not our work.
Then are we to discuss the difference of the faiths and religions? Not even that. The problem that is before us is that problem, that when that problem is solved, the Divine Light will manifest. And that problem is what purpose is behind this whole creation, what purpose is behind the life of an individual. And how we can best solve this problem, that is the subject of our study, and it is the work of our practice. When a person has studied perhaps for his whole life, what result, in the end, does he come to? He arrives at one stage, and that stage is the stage of brotherhood. What does it show? It shows that the first lesson that we have to learn in this world is brotherhood, and the last lesson, after learning all philosophy and mysticism and after all our efforts, is brotherhood.
Then remember my friends, that if you studied Sufism for twenty years, all the problems of metaphysics and philosophy, and if that spirit of brotherhood were not developed in you, you must be sure that progress has not been made. Or if you meditated for thirty years in a solitude, and if you communicated with God, and yet if the spirit of brotherhood is not developed in you, no progress is made. A person who is loved by everybody in the world, and yet if he has not loved anybody, he has done nothing. A person who has possessed the wealth of the whole world, but if he has given nothing, he has not earned. A person honored by everyone in the world, but if he has not respected, he has not lived.
What does it mean? It only means that what we gain is nothing, it is what we give that counts. It is nothing what has been done to us, if only we did all we wished to do, that is what counts. Either learning or wisdom, position or power, or wealth, all these things gained are very small compared with what one can give to the others. Therefore, my friends, it is not talking about brotherhood, nor discussing about this subject, that does much good. It is living that brotherhood, and realizing that one Source of all which is the Father, and in whose Fatherhood we observe brotherhood. Let us therefore all unite together in silence with the intention of doing what little we can in endeavoring to serve and promote the good work of Brotherhood; and let us pray to God to bless us all to do our little part in this big scheme of life.
God bless you.