The Supplementary Papers
The difference between a scientist and a mystic is that the former analyzes the things he is interested in, studying them by different methods in order to ascertain as much information about them, the ways in which they can be of benefit, their uses, and their nature. The mystic does the same, but instead of using some technical instrument or special scientific process, he first aims at lighting that light within himself by which he can see in this world of darkness and illusion. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." Therefore his first task is to light the candle within.
The story of Aladdin illustrates this truth. Aladdin could only attain to the princess when he first obtained the lamp or candle which she desired. He goes out into the world but cannot find the candle there. So he goes into the forest, and there he meets with someone who is able to show him the way to reach it. This person cannot himself give it to him. This means that just emotion does not suffice to bring it. No, he is told to go to a certain mountain, and repeat certain words which will cause the side of the mountain to open. He does this, and the caves open up, but when he is within them he begins to suffocate because there is no air. Nevertheless he goes on into the caverns perseveringly, and in time he comes upon the lantern.
It is with this "candle" that the mystic gains the knowledge within himself. As soon as he has possession of this candle all things disclose their secret, and he gains a wisdom greater than that possessed by any scientist. It may be thought that a mystic could not find out all the scientist knows. Yes, the details found by the scientist may appear different, and yet the mystic perceives the same truths which the scientist is seeking for. He does not use the same words or terms; he does not know about the same processes in the same way as the scientist, yet he finds the outlines of the whole of what the scientist gets to know by his laborious methods.
It has happened that some scientists are Sufis, Avicenna was one, Lokman the Greek was another, and their knowledge was greater because of their having the candle. Perhaps even without the technical information, the mystic may have more knowledge. He may not know exactly how to make a chemical substance like the scientist may claim, but he can see the secret behind every object, and the purpose which underlies every object.
The mystic can analyze the whole world very easily and understand it through the vehicle of one individual body. It is true he cannot realize all things at once, but if he sets about knowing some particular thing he will do so much sooner than anyone else can, because he has the light within him.
His method is meditative. It is like opening oneself; opening the vehicles – the senses and the various unseen faculties of the mind, the abstract faculties which are beyond the perceptive faculties. These vehicles are opened by way of meditation and now the soul works through all parts – seen and unseen – instead of only blindly through one part of the being, as hitherto. Even the bodily senses become more sensitive.
The sense of touch becomes more acute; the sense of sight becomes more keen, as also the sense of hearing. Taste becomes more keen. In fact, activity as a whole, vigor of action, enthusiasm, all increase after meditation. When the bodily energy and its sensitiveness are greater, it shows that the other faculties which are not seen are also increased – reason, imagination and its power of creation, memory and its power of retaining thought. The ego is also developed. Then after all these have developed, development of a still higher part of the being begins – the abstract being, which is linked up with the others. The person's mind becomes the mind of another person, his thought becomes the thought of another person, and the mystic is now beginning to work through objects and not merely through the people around him. From this time on, the objects work as he desires them to work.
The mystic's experiences are now more than phenomena; his dreams are a phenomenon and so when a thought comes to him, it grows to something more than mere imagination, and is a force acting through his mind to achieve an effect – be it constructive or destructive. Whatever arises in his mind becomes a reality. The further he develops the more real does his kingdom become.
It is better to receive personal help than to practice yoga; there can be no system of training in which each pupil receives the same, for each needs a different method which is adapted to his condition of life, his type of mind, his environment, his age (young or old), his education, the spiritual development to which he has attained, and his devotional tendency. Is devotion the best method, or is study, or is a practice best? This depends on the pupil's needs and capabilities. It is exactly as when a physician prescribes for a person, he must use different medicines according to the individual type and personality. Patent medicines will not do!
Man must realize that he has a power in him which is greater than all other powers – and this power is his will. Anger is a power, for it is a part of the energy that manifests as anger. Excitement, passion, and other emotions are manifestations of one energy, yet all such powers are in the hands of one single power – namely the will. They are ruled, controlled, and utilized by it. A person cannot be angry unless his will is at the back of it. He has to have the will power to defend himself, otherwise the anger would be helpless. The anger is there, but the will power is greater. If the will power is not behind it, the faculty will not work, even if not suppressed. As long as the will power does not help, the faculty, though present, is ineffective.
This one power, the will power, is within. Should the power work with the consent of wisdom, everything becomes allowable – anger, calmness, war, fighting, peace, love, hate. For instance, there is a time when anger helps; there is a time when peace helps, when calmness helps. We have to understand the rhythm, for, as in music, if we do not keep the time right it is because we do not understand the rhythm. But when we understand that, it will not matter what we do, things will come out all right. All is right when wisdom, counsel, and will power are harmonious.
But if the will is under the control of anger, passion, etc, so that they manifest regardless of wisdom, and come into play at their own time (which depends on the person's habit) then a person will get cross every day! He gets cross because he has made it a habit, and his will has submitted. If this happens every day for eight days, it will happen on the ninth, or else perhaps he may fall ill. The power which should be obedient to the will controls it instead, and so the will works without wisdom in spite of the fact that wisdom is the only reliable power which God has given man.
There is a passage in the Quran which says: "awake in the midst of the night, before the dawn, or at the dawn when the sunrise is not near, and repeat the name of the Lord. Then the word will be taken and thy enemy will be crushed. Thou wilt then be taught that which thou hast never before known." What speculation this passage has aroused!
The solution of its mystery is this: desire for comfort controls the will so much. The will power has become so subjected to the desire for comfort that comfort controls the will. The will is a slave to the experiences of the joy and pleasure that we obtain out of all manner of kinds of comfort. The joy and sense of pleasure make the will into a slave. For instance, there is no greater comfort than sleep. So when you have to get up before dawn, you do not wish to get up to repeat the name of the Lord; you fight the greatest comfort you can experience each day. Once you begin to fight you begin to crush the power (that is, pleasure, comfort) on the surface. It is I his ego, fed on pleasures and comforts of all kinds which is your enemy. Therefore, once you crush this ego, your will becomes the ruler over your pleasures, and when the will is master, you are master. The variety of your past life is now submitted to the unity of your being. There is one part of your being which you can call "myself,'' and that one part must control the many beings – the nose, eyes, ears, etc – which belong to you. Once they have come under control you can proceed without interference by them; you can keep them out whenever you please. From that time, light comes, and you come to know and understand all the things you never knew before. The light has become disclosed to you by God!
Imam Al-Ghazali has said, in his "Alchemy of Happiness," that "the spiritual path is like shooting an arrow into the darkness." You cannot know where it falls or what it strikes. You are going along blindly, knowing not what you really seek, or what you have achieved. There is only one commendable procedure. If your walk along the spiritual path makes you feel stronger on your feet, you will be able to realize what can be accomplished by patience and by hope. If you only paid attention to this all your life long, and you watched what you do, you would see your own progress, and what encouragement that would be! Another person keeps complaining that nothing is ever manifested to him on his spiritual path – no forms, no "ghost," no color, no voice, no word. Even if he had had such manifestations they would have been no help to him, but he is discouraged because of not having received any. His teacher might easily lead astray from the Path, simply because he is aiming for things that do not matter, and a real teacher will not encourage him to seek such things.
The words "no, it does not matter" form a sort of principle to adopt in one's life. Of course there are things which obviously do matter. It matters a great deal if you do not follow your ideal; if you make a slip of the tongue, or any other shortcoming. But it does not matter if somebody else is not following the same ideal. You cannot alter his plan of life or his opinions, so they cannot matter to you!
The spiritual path may be natural, and it may be unnatural. When man attaches his thought and mind to the external world, he comes to partake of earth rather than of heaven, of matter rather than of the spirit. By partaking of the qualities and habits and limitations of matter, he forgets all the qualities of the spirit. Whatever qualities he partakes of, those qualities draw man to the substance to which they belong, and such a man is therefore drawn more to earth than to heaven as he proceeds. Such persons would not go to heaven, but would prefer to stay on earth, in spite of all its struggles, difficulties, and illnesses that belong to life on earth. Man is so attached to it! He does not know the joy, the peace, pleasure and happiness and comfort of the other side, because he has no experience of the spirit whatsoever.
All the same, there are some people who feel a kind of a call from the spirit, and yet they are attached to the objective world in so many ways. It is as if they are woven into the web of this world so intimately that it is very difficult to get away from it. For every step that he takes towards heaven, he is drawn backwards ten steps to the earth. Whoever sets out on this path is therefore in a constant warfare. He has to encounter trouble from his relatives, from his friends and acquaintances; he experiences troubles from those who misunderstand his aims; they misuse him they misjudge him, and blame him for doing things and thinking in a manner for which he is in reality justified.
Think of Christ, whose thoughts were so contrary to the religious thought of that time. What a difficulty to pass from the thought of an ordinary person to the thought of Christ. What difficulties there are to face! But once you fight this difficulty, and the further you advance, the more you are drawn to the Spirit by the Spirit. This goes on up to a certain limit, and all this time the difficulty is so great. Once you reach the limit, everything becomes easy. If only the will power is under control, it will overcome the inertia. Here is an anecdote about dervishes, who sometimes do humorous things. There was a certain dervish sitting in the shade of a tree, who was always very kind and helpful to those who came to see him. But one day a young man, a soldier, was passing by and he said something to the dervish which made him cross. So they had a few words. From that the soldier began to bully him, and give blows on his back and neck, without the dervish making any protest. The soldier then went on his way.
A wise man sitting near by was thinking to himself: "what a funny thing, for this dervish is always good and kind and hospitable. So why should that soldier be so cross as to punch him in the neck and over the body." So he observed attentively, and noticed the dervish saying to himself, after several blows, "is it enough, or do you want some more?" Then the wise man asked himself: "what does he mean by: 'do you want more?' " The explanation is that the ego always wants feeding, and the more you feed it the more energy it has. What are you feeding him with?
You feed him by your inclinations, by getting praise from people, attention from people, benefits, help, love. Whether these come justly or by injustice, rightfully or not, this ego is never satisfied; it keeps on wanting attention. As a result it begins to rule over the higher faculties of inspirational power, spiritual power, wisdom, reason, justice – all the beautiful faculties. This nafs or ego or Satan (for the ego is Satan) governs all these faculties, and a man cannot become saintly until he has crushed it. The only way to crush it and annihilate it is by starving it. There is no other way than this whatever. The saintly personality cannot come into being until all this is achieved.
But how can we walk along this path in the course of our practical life, with all the responsibilities inherent in life in the world? The servants take advantage of a saintly person. Selfish people and those who are wicked and blind to justice take every advantage of a person who behaves kindly and considerately and helpfully towards people. Well, the answer is very simple. This development is really for yourself. Once you have attained, the course of action is in your hands. For example, suppose you are taking the part of a king on the stage, and your part calls on you to become angry with a servant, you do not really become angry.
You just play the part of the king who is cross. You can be cross without being actually angry. It is just like that in the development of the saintly personality. Once the nafs is crushed, you will never find it necessary to be angry. But you can act the part of an angry person, and pretend to be angry. So, if it is necessary to show anger, this does not mean the fire of hell for you as it would be for others, because you are only using an instrument, and that instrument is not your master. In the same way, you are justified in whatever course you find before you in life, as long as you have really freed yourself from control by the nafs.
Here is a story about a great Sufi Master who lived in Arabia. During a certain war, one day an enemy was fought. Now in those days battles were hand to hand fights. This man's enemy was in his hand, and he was about to kill him. But before he did so, the enemy spat in his face. The teacher immediately withheld his hand, and did not kill him. The enemy was greatly surprised at this and said: "you were about to kill me. Why did you not do so?" He replied: "one reason is that you have done such an action that it would rouse my anger, and if I had killed you while under the influence of anger I would have been acting against my principle. Therefore, as soon as I caught myself in this fault, I became unable to carry through my first intention." This shows how a person can even fight and yet keep control over his anger and pain. As long as he is the master, he can be blamed for nothing.
But that is just the question – to be the master! Suppose a person is cross, and we get cross with him. It may bring a certain satisfaction to give outlet to that anger at the moment. But if only you discover the joy of being able to smile when the other person is cross – what a difference from the satisfaction of the other act! The joy is so much greater because you keep buoyant. It is just like not giving more fuel to a fire.
Sudden outbreaks of emotion are controlled by developing the habit of exercising one's will power suddenly, promptly. If we return anger or jealousy or hatred or prejudice or any other bitterness, we only keep the flame of that emotion lighted. It is just the same when one keeps love in another heart by adding a little affection and love all the time. If we withhold it it will die, because there is nothing to stimulate it. When a person is always offended or dislikes this or that, he is keeping up the fire, whereas once you pass it by and smile, you raise yourself above it, and it will die out, for it has no more food to live on.
"Resist not evil," the scripture says. The resistance to evil lies in the other person. Do not become angry with him. When you foster the same evil emotion, you add to his, and also increase the same fire in yourself. It is like taking a contagious disease into yourself instead of curing it. Anger and bitterness will die out in time.
There was a small group of people in London who were working along spiritual lines. They felt a sort of rivalry against my little society and began to try and do harm by telling stories against us, and setting others against us. My helpers came to me to tell me how we were being damaged in this way, and asked: "shall we not do something to stop this?" But I answered, "the best thing is indifference." "Take no notice." But they insisted "still, it will do us great harm." The answer to this was: "not at all; the only harm it could do would be if we allowed this to enter in. It is we who allow the harm! Let them do as they like and let us go on doing what we are doing." As the years went on, they never heard us say a word against them. On the contrary, we welcomed them, we helped them, we served them in whatever way we could. In time this resistance all vanished. We have been going on, and they still stand where they were. Just a little indifference was enough!
We cannot expect all people to be just. When they are children, how can we expect them to behave as the grown-ups? We cannot expect all kinds of fruit to ripen at once. It takes time. In time, they will be sweet. So wait with patience and it will be plain to them in time. Why blame others when they are not up to our ideal? How can this disagreeable person be agreeable, if his evolution prevents him from being otherwise, and wisdom does not permit him to act differently? Help him in whatever way you can without expecting him to be different. Why should you ruin your own life over it? Your own life is very precious. When you do not worry about others, or judge them, you can meditate, think, be silent, and be serviceable to the world. There is plenty in our own selves to judge, enough to keep us fully occupied all our life long!
"Mansions": "many mansions," places of being, paths of attainment, roads to travel on. Once you are on the real road, you will keep on learning every moment of your life – not only during sleep (in dreams) but at any time. An owl cannot see in the daytime; it is in the night that he learns of this and that. But that is only a partial inspiration. The mystic gains experience in every aspect of life – when eating, sitting, walking; in all actions. All these are channels of learning. The real road is to be followed at all times, and it is the one who has seen the Master who is really the one being taught. Once you have linked yourself with love, a flood of inspiration is revealed to you – whatever the subject, whatever the problem in life may be. Whatever it be that your eye casts its glance on, it will disclose itself. Then you are on the real road. What a joy that is!
A breadth of heart is what is needed for all this. The weapon is the thought "nothing matters." It takes bravery to say "nothing matters." It is the breadth of his heart that makes a man great, whereas it is narrowness of heart that makes him small. The great heart does not think "how troublesome that person is," "Why should I be bothered like this?" It is only the narrow heart that thinks "I will cause him some trouble." It may be right, but still it is a narrow thought. The one of broad heart thinks: "this is a small thing, I can put up with this; there won't be much harm coming from it."
Nizam wrote this verse; "the width of the land and the water cannot be compared with the width of man's heart. If man's heart is wide enough, there is nothing greater than that." The heart becomes wide by forgetting self, but narrow by thinking of the self and pitying one's self. To gain a wide and broad heart you must have something before you to look upon, and to rest your intelligence upon – and that something is the God-ideal. This is the prescription for killing the self. Then, keeping your self before your consciousness, and by resting your consciousness on God, God, who is unlimited, will come to you. And so your knowledge, and your powers, will become unlimited also.
God bless you.