The Supplementary Papers
Answers to Questions
Q. If evil is only a shadow, then, in reality, God might be said to be the one thing which is all good and no bad. A. That is so. God is real, and evil unreal; God is existent, and evil is non-existent; good is real, and evil unreal. God is beyond good and bad, but still you can say that good is reality and evil unreality.
Q. May a soul be serving in the spiritual capacity of a Wali, and yet not be aware of it? A. No. A soul may be as great, as spiritual, and as evolved as a Wali, and may not be aware of it. But Wali is not a grade of the spiritual hierarchy alone, Wali is a special service. And a servant certainly knows for what work he is appointed; if he were unaware of it, he could not perform his duty. It is the knowledge of the purpose which gives him all the strength with which he stands in the midst of all the opposing forces of life.
Q. Is personality not an illusion? Therefore how can God have a personality? A. Yes, to the person to whom personality is an illusion, to him even presence is an illusion. But the one who accepts human personality and rejects God's personality, he does not know what he says.
Q. Personality is distinction, and God has no distinctions. Therefore one can very well say "God is," but not, "God has." A. "God is" is more true than "God has," because all that God has is God Himself. The only thing is that there is a part of one's being which possesses, controls and utilizes. Only in that sense one can say, "God has." But in reality it is true that God is, and that is sufficient.
Q. What is the meaning in the worship of the brahman, of putting rice at the feet of the deity? A. That all the love and light that they will gain from the deity they will spread in the world, as seeds thrown in a furrow.
Q. What is meant by joy and pain in the presence of God? Why is it? A. If there was no pain one would not enjoy the experience of joy. It is pain which helps one to experience joy. Everything is distinguished by its opposite. The one who feels pain deeply is more capable of experiencing joy. And personally, if you were to ask me about pain, I should say that if there was no pain life would be most uninteresting to me. For it is by pain the heart is penetrated, and the sensation of pain is deeper joy. Without pain the great musicians and poets and dreamers and thinkers would not have reached that stage which they reached and from which moved the world. If they always had joy, they would not have touched the depths of life. But what is pain? Pain, in the real sense of the word, is the deepest joy. If one has imagination one can enjoy tragedy more than comedy; comedy is for children.
Q. Is there, in relation to Qaza and Qadr, a difference in the path of the saint and the master? A. Certainly. The saint is resigned to Qaza, and the master has regard for Qadr. Qaza is the will of God, and Qadr free will of an individual.
Q. How do you explain the contradiction between your two sayings, "Creating is more difficult than destroying." and "Shiva is the destroyer; his power is considered greater than that of Brahma, the creator?" A. Creating is difficult. Creating takes a great deal of patience and persistence. In order to make a building so many people are busy to make all perfect. For destruction what is needed? Just a little fire, and just put it on, and burn it up. But at the same time, all the courage and the strength and the power that all the people had who have been building, that much power is necessary to destroy. So it is power. Therefore the power of Shiva is greater.
Question Class (1)
Q. What is the attitude of true prayer? A. The attitude of a prayerful person toward God is that of a lover towards his beloved, of a child to his parents, of a servant to his master, of a pupil to his teacher, and of a soldier to his commander.
Q. Can you tell us something about the great Sufi saint Shams-i-Tabriz? A. If I were to tell his story I could not answer any other questions. But in short I can say that Shams-i-Tabriz was an example of a soul who had fully attained God-consciousness, who had arrived to a stage where even mentioning the name of God limited his power, as name limits God. And his life proved that the realization of truth stands above words. People say he experienced ecstasy. But I say he himself was ecstasy. And to the seekers of truth, even today his words move them to ecstasy.
Q. How does it come that saints bleed out of the wounds where Jesus was crucified? A. That was the result of concentration. What does concentration mean, and what is the use of concentration? It seems to everybody out of ordinary, for the reason that everybody does not know what real concentration means. Concentration is to turn oneself into the object of concentration, which is not within the power of everyone. A person who has once mastered concentration he has not very far to go. Then his next step will be the realization of the purpose for which he concentrates.
Q. If one would ask you if the Message is given in plain words, or in symbols, or something else, what would you answer? A. In all things, in all manner.
Q. Will you please tell us something about the condition of the soul when it first leaves the body? A. The condition of the ordinary soul is confusion. For before death it has realized that it is dying, and after death it realizes that it lives. And the condition is as that of a person who is still living, and says, "I am dead." As long as this confusion remains, the soul goes no further. It is this state which I would call purgatory. When the soul has recovered itself, and realizes it is living still, then the clouds of confusion are broken, and the soul finds itself in the atmosphere which belongs to it.
Q. Is the Roman Catholic Church with their knowledge of symbols nearer to the truth than the Protestants? A. I think the knower of the truth will find it in the symbols of the Catholic Church and will find the same truth in the absence of the symbols of the Protestant Church.
Q. Can we blame those who do not see the wonder and mystery of life because of their ignorance? A. We can blame no one, blameless or blameworthy.
Q. Will you explain to us the meaning of the different signs of the zodiac, and the special influence of each of them? A. In order to know the meaning of the signs of the zodiac, and the special influence each one has, one must study astrology. It is a science itself. But if I have to say anything about it, I shall only say that the soul is light, the mind is light, the body is light. It is the light of different grades. And it is this realization which connects man with the stars and planets. And the influence of the stars and planets works upon the person, for the reason that the person is connected with that planet, by the reason of the time and its influence upon the planets and souls. Plainly speaking, there are certain times when a certain planet has its influence; at that time a child is born. Then the child is born under that planet. Then the child has that character. The signs of the zodiac are expressive of the symbolical meaning of the influence of that. There is a special science of astrology, known to the Sufis, a science which is called ramman, and the study of it gives one insight into that question.
Q. What is the best way to protect oneself not to be disturbed in silences? A. This is a question of esoteric teaching. When a person allows himself to be disturbed this shows that his concentration is not good. And if the concentration is not good, that shows that his will power fails him. The best way therefore is to develop the power of concentration, so naturally the will power will develop, and one will stand against all disturbances, which naturally come up when one has to live in the midst of the crowd.
Q. Do plants and animals, mountains and streams, have a being or an apparent individual existence in the higher planes, as human souls do? A. All that exists in the lower plane has its existence in the higher planes also. But the word 'individual,' this word itself is a puzzle. Every thing and being which stands distinctly separate may be called an entity. But what we call "individual," it is a conception in our imagination. And the truth of that conception is realized on the day when the ultimate truth will throw its light upon life. And then one will no more speak about "individual." He will say "God," and no more. There are beings, but there is One Being. There are many, but there is only One. Therefore, if one says, "Are all objects such as the streams and the mountains, and the plants, and animals, are they all living (beings)?" Yes, it is true, they are all living (beings). Have they a separate existence? Yes, only to our outer vision. But if our inner vision is open, the separateness is gone. The separateness is a veil. Then there is one vision, and that is the single Immanence of God.
Q. What happens to animals, such as dogs, when they die? If they retain their individuality? A. Yes, they do retain their individuality until they reach a point.
Q. What is outside the akasha in which the universe is contained? A. Intelligence, which is the light of life, the life of life, which is the essence of the Whole Being.
Q. Can love exceed wisdom, or can wisdom exceed love? What happens in either case? Is love measured according to wisdom, or is wisdom measured according to love? A. It is true that wise is loving, and loving is truly wise. Although in one person wisdom may be predominant, in another person love may be predominant. But both love and wisdom are needed (related). The cold-hearted man is never wise, and a really warm-hearted person is never foolish. Yet, both these qualities, love and wisdom, are distinct and separate; and it is possible that a person may be loving, but lacking wisdom, and it happens that a person who is wise may be lacking to some extent love. But no-one can be wise if love is absent. Call him clever. And no one will be truly loving if wisdom has not illuminated his heart. For love comes from wisdom, and wisdom comes from love.
Q. What is the meaning of Joseph being put in the well? A. The meaning is a trial. For every promising soul, every righteous soul will have opposition and envy and jealousy. And the righteous and good, wise and beautiful will shine out some day.
Q. What is the meaning of Moses raising the serpent's image to cure the people from a plague? A. The serpent is also the sign of death. When death is controlled, when the serpent is controlled, then one has risen above the plague. It is only the sign of conquering death.
Q. Why are some people more liable to have accidents than others? A. Because their life is not rhythmic.
Q. And why are some warned beforehand and others not? A. They are warned from above who look for warning. And they naturally do not seem to have any warning who do not care for it.
Q. What is the relation between the devas and nature? A. Devas are at home with nature.
Q. Where there is a beautiful and peaceful feeling, is a deva there? A. The soul of the deva is creative of beauty and peace.
Q. What is a deva's part in the contribution of life? A. A deva's part in the scheme of life is loving, forgiving, and serving God and humanity.
Q. But what is a deva? A. The divine soul.
Q. In one of your books you said that the mineral kingdom developed into the vegetable; the vegetable into the animal; the animal into the human. This was much contradicted by biology and theosophy students. Can you tell us about it? A. There are two aspects of this question which must be considered. One aspect is biological aspect. One sees how from the vegetable kingdom the animal kingdom is born in the insects, in the germs and worms. Then one sees the primitive man. As the scientist today cannot find the link between man and monkey, the missing link. But many races have come and been destroyed, and several races even now live in places which the geographical society has not yet found. Therefore if the geographical society has failed to find the missing link, it is not that it does not exist. The difference is: the mystic puts it in a beautiful form, the scientist writes it naturally. A mystic vaguely tells, without presenting a natural history museum to see. But when we read the traditions, and when we read at the time of Hanuman, and his army who went to help Rama. The word "monkey" was used because we have no word for that missing link between man and animal. It is a very bad thought that man has come from animal. But at the same time, yesterday is not today.
But that is not the only process. Another aspect of this question must be looked at from quite a different point of view. And unless this question is seen from a different point of view, it will always be difficult to understand it fully. If one watches the work of the potter, he kneads the clay, and out of different cups he takes different colors to color the clay, and then out of those colored clays he makes the different cups and saucers. As long as the different colored clays are before him he does not need to begin his work from the first process. He already has something to go on with, and so one sees that from vegetable comes the animal, from the animal man.
Every living being or object has as its source a certain material. And when one sees from this point of view, the other point of view looks different. By looking at the question from that point of view, one sees that this is natural also, when the different colors were not ready to make out of it a substance to make something. But when he has made the substance, then he has different substances to work with. For instance, the work of the chemist and the artist. The work of the chemist is to make different colored clays; the artist does not have to make that process. He just goes to the chemist and takes them. He does not need to work again as the chemist. It is not necessary that every person must come through as the stone, vegetable, and animal, all the different aspects. Therefore there is no reason for a distress.
Q. When one has the intention to do a thing, and a friend wants one not to do it, is it better to listen to one's own intuition or to follow the friend's advice? A. The answer depends upon which friend, whether a wise or a foolish friend, whether a true or a false friend, and what understanding that friend has, compared with one's own. Whether his intuition is greater than one's own. One cannot take it as a principle to always follow a person's advice. It might seem a virtue, but sometimes it will prove to be otherwise.
Q. Can coming volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and
disasters in nature be felt by sensitive people in advance?
A. Yes, there is an action and reaction, the action of nature
upon people, and the action of people upon nature. This
storm and wind has a certain effect upon us, in our word
and speech and action. But this is also caused in some way
as a reaction of the conditions of people. And therefore
all wars and storms and floods and volcanic eruptions, very
often they are caused by human beings, by the action or
attitude or condition of humanity in general.
Question Class (2)
(Pir-o-Murshid asked those present each in turn to give an interpretation of the play "Una." It was a few days after the play had been performed. After many views on the subject Pir-o-Murshid said, to complete what had been said:
"One thing that we must remember is that Una, as a type of soul, has reached a stage of the soul's development, and has come almost face to face with the ideal of God. Therefore we cannot take her as a type of all souls. Because all souls have not come to begin to fathom that. She is a soul approaching the.... of the...., and coming face to face. The statue says, "By finishing me, thou fulfillest the purpose of thy life." When she takes the bowl of poison she is passing an initiation, not as an ordinary being, but as a disciple who tries to build up her own life.)
Q. Is there any danger for us in working for brotherhood? A. We have our brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God. In God, we are secure; danger awaits him to whom it belongs.
Q. Is there any mystery attached to our Brotherhood Movement? A. No mystery; simply truth of our being. When not known, it is a great mystery; while it is being known, it becomes a small mystery; when once known, it is no longer a mystery. We do not connect with our brotherhood work any mysteries. It is in the path of initiation in the Sufi Order that life's mystery is solved.
Q. Must we study the Hegelarian philosophy? Must we practice communism to the best advantage of our work? A. We are at liberty to study and practice all we think best, but we must first seek the kingdom of God.
Q. Must we keep our mind free from all disturbing influences while we are on the path? A. Certainly; you, I, each, and all. Many forces from the seen and unseen work to pull one away from the line to which we are destined. And in guarding against it lies our test, whether we keep on our track or lose it. However, he who pulls a soul away from the path is first lost.
Q. Are ancient truths dead? Must we make new mysteries
now? A. Truth is the very being of God; truth who is Alpha
and Omega. The one who considers the truth dead is dead
himself. Neither the truth is old nor is it new as Solomon
said, "There is nothing new under the sun." How dare we
say that we shall make new mysteries, if we had a bit of
sense? Is the truth that Christ gave lost? Or what Krishna
has given, has it gone? Is the truth which Moses gave forgotten?
Has Muhammad's teaching disappeared? Is the teaching of
Buddha not known? It is all but one truth. Once a person
has solved the mystery of himself, he has solved the mystery
of the whole life. It is towards this that the Sufi Movement
Cont. of Social Gatheka No. 3, on "Optimism and Pessimism."
When talking about optimism and pessimism I should like to say that there are times when the conditions do not allow man to be hopeful, even if by nature he is being optimistic. The one who is placed in a situation where everything seems to stand against his prospects in life cannot keep his eyes open, see the condition, and at the same time have an optimistic view.. When the conditions in life go against and everything stands in opposition, it is most difficult for one to have a hopeful attitude in life. Outwardly the conditions stand against belief; inwardly the reason supports the conditions. For reason is a slave to all that stands before it. Therefore, if under such circumstances an optimistic person shows no longer optimism, he is not to be blamed.
No doubt, the one who, in spite of all conditions against and in spite of his reason being helpless to find a way, still strikes the path of hope is much more advanced than the optimistic soul. For he, if he knows or does not know, is holding the rope which is attached to Heaven, and which is the only source of safety. This rope is the faith and trust in the greatness and power of God, which is within. And however much things may seem to be against, yet his faith in God can turn all things in time in his favor. It is denying what one does not wish to happen; even to the moment that the happening is knocking at the door, and still denying it.
That person will turn that happiness into something he desired. Misfortune will turn into good fortune, disease will turn into health, and death will turn into life. There is no such thing as impossible; all is possible. Impossible is made by the limitation of our capacity of understanding. Man, blinded by the law of nature's working, by the law of consequences which he has known through his few years' life on earth, begins to say, "This is possible," and, "This is impossible." If he were to rise beyond limitations his soul would see nothing but possible. And when the soul has risen high enough to see all possibilities that soul certainly has caught a glimpse of God. They say, "God is Almighty." And I say, "God is all-possible." Possibility is the nature of God; and impossibility is the art of man. Man goes so far, and cannot go any further.
Man makes a flower out of paper, giving it as natural a color as possible; yet he says it is not possible to make it fragrant. For he has his limitations. But God, Who is the Maker of the flower, and who is the Giver of the Fragrance, has all power. And man, who is weakened by this limitedness, becomes more and more limited the more he thinks of it. In this is created the spirit of pessimism. Man who is conscious of God Almighty, and who in the contemplation of God loses the consciousness of his own self, inherits the power of God. And it is in this power and belief that the spirit of optimism is born.