The Supplementary Papers
The Life of the Sage in the East (1)
The life of a sage in the East would be, I think, the most astonishing thing to a European, because in Europe, if any saintliness has been recognized it has been recognized in the garb of religion. In the East the saints and sages have been in the garb of religion and without it. Then, too, the West is the sphere of uniformity. All who are doctors, for instance, have the same medical diploma, all practice in the same way, even in their manner of living there is uniformity. In the East this is not so. The saints and sages appear in every guise and in every way of life.
The sage may be a religious person, a priest or an ascetic, he may be a king with crown and throne, he may be a speaker or a singer, he may be a poet, he may be a saint in the guise of a beggar, or the man who sweeps the street. Whatever he may be, he is a saint all the same. Therefore in the East humility, modesty, consideration is shown towards everyone, for they think that they do not know under what guise there may be an illuminated soul. Therefore I have wished to speak upon this subject before you few, who tread the path of spirituality, in order to show this moral of meekness, gentleness, humility.
There are in the East three sorts of sages, the Buddhist, the Hindu and the Sufi. The Buddhist sage is mostly, or always, a religious person, a priest. He lives in or near the temple, and there he teaches. He is always very humble, very mild. He is not sociable and does not care to associate with other people, but his presence sheds light and peace. Often someone speaks to us and we wish that he would be quiet. If the presence of someone gives peace and illumination, is that not better than that he should be sociable and talk very much? He is very considerate, and among some of them, the Jains, a very great consideration is shown even to the smallest lives.
In these times when man is standing against man with the sword in his hand, those among you who value civilization in humanity will think that they too had some civilization in them. The Buddhist wears a yellow silken robe. He has no wife or children, no home, often no property of any kind, nothing belonging to him. He goes from place to place, everywhere welcomed and revered. People do not bother him with questions, they think it enough to have his presence. A kind glance from him is a blessing to them.
Among the Hindus there are many different sorts of sages. There are the followers of Shankaracharya, there are those belonging to some sect of before the time of Shankaracharya, and there are those belonging to different groups that have arisen among them later. Some are priests, some are ascetics. Some live far away, in a remote seclusion, others are seen in the crowd, their bodies covered with ashes, with hair reaching sometimes to their knees, sometimes beyond. We have a saying in Hindustani "Khilvat dar anjuman" - seclusion in the crowd. They are among the crowd, but they are not of it. Those who have been in India may have seen some of them, and written of what they have seen, and have not understood at all.
Sometimes they may be seen always standing, some with one arm stretched upwards, without moving. As I do not in any way represent the Yogis here, I may say that they have their reasons for everything that they do. By this they gain command of their body. Their thought is that they should rule their body, not be ruled by it. And the body is the first kingdom of God. By this they gain that bliss that is spoken of by Christ. They wear yellow robes, or apricot colored, as you see me wear, or white.
Some are always silent; they are called Muni. Of course their power is very great. Some are silent for some hours in the day. Some speak for two hours in the day. There are the Sanyassi, the Vairagi, those who have renounced. They have renounced family, relations, all desires, all that could bind them. They are as much revered by them and more revered than their priests. Shankaracharya, after giving his message with all his great inspiration and power, after his great work of years and years, when the inward wish for renunciation had become very strong, went to his teacher and asked him whether he might now lead the life of renunciation.
His teacher said, "First go and ask your mother whether she consents to your renunciation." He went to his mother and asked her consent, and when she gave it, he then renounced all. Often after years of home life they ask their family, their mother, their wife, whoever it may be, for their consent to their renouncing all, and when they give it then they say, "Yes, we understand your wish, you are free, from this moment you are nothing to us, we are nothing to you." From that moment their family is nothing to them, they have nothing in the world, then they are ready to serve humanity.
Among the Sufis, whom I represent here, there are different schools, called Qadiria, Naqshibandia, Chishtiyya, and Suhrawardia, but in the manner of their life they are of two kinds, the Rind and the Salik. The life of the Rind would be the most astonishing to a European. The life of the Hindu sages has some religious appearance, but that of the Rind has none at all. He appears in every guise, in any company, he thinks no-one too bad. He is found in the cafes, in the wineshop, in the places where they are gambling, anywhere. He is the enemy of orthodoxy and of a pious semblance. And with all this he is a sage all the same.
The Salik is not so extreme, though he too is not bound to one way of life, but all are open to him. Some lead the life of renunciation, others have family, friends and all things, because renunciation is always for a purpose. It is to kindle the soul, that there may be nothing to hold the soul back from God, but when the soul is kindled the life of renunciation is not a necessity. Some are with crown and throne like Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, Nizam of Hyderabad, whom I have seen, a great sage with both power and inspiration.
Others are beggars, their livelihood dependent upon what they beg, or the man who sweeps the street, and in all these guises he is a sage all the same. One may be given to silence, living in retirement, one may be a speaker, a teacher, a singer, some without property or possessions, dervishes. And if anyone could go among the dervishes, he would find the most perfect likeness with the life of Christ. That toleration of all that there was in Christ, that forgiveness for all, that readiness to be in all companies, among all associates, calling no-one wicked, condemning none, all this that you read in the life of Christ can be seen in their life. And wherever he goes every honor is paid to him, and he is never in need, because in the East, everyone before he himself eats, looks to see whether there is not someone in his neighborhood whom he should call, for he does not like to eat while another is without food.
There is always someone who brings the dervish some food or a few flowers, some offering, and says, "Maharaj, will you not eat this? Will you not take this?" And there is nothing they will not tolerate from a sage. If he comes in the house and his feet are dirty from walking in the dust, the ladies of the house think it an honor to pour water over them. There is nothing, nothing at all, that they would not tolerate. Friends, everything in the world is changing in all countries, but this little glimpse of spirituality in the East is still maintained and it is this that I have wished to show to you, not with the thought that you may follow this, but with the view that you may understand.
The question at once comes, "If there are so many sages there why are they not the greatest people in the world?" When they reach that evolution their ideal is quite different from that of the ordinary person. We look at things from our own point of view. They do not desire any worldly gains or greatness. There are many of them to whom all mankind is equally near, all the world is their brother, a European is just as near to them as their countryman, a Chinese is just the same as one from their own home.
The Power of the Word
There is nothing more important as a means to raise one's consciousness than the repetition of the right word. It is therefore that we read in the Bible that: "First was the word and the word was God." There is nothing that can be of greater use and importance in the path of spiritual attainment than the repetition of the word. When we look in the traditions we find that from the time of the ancient great Hindu teachers, who lived many thousand years before Christ, the sacred word was in practice. And so you will find in all the great periods when a religious reform came to different countries, that the power of the word was considered to be of immense importance; during the Jewish religion at the time when it was given, and also in the Christian religion when it began.
It is the misunderstanding of certain words of Christ which has confused many followers of the Christian religion in understanding the importance of the word. For instance, when it is said to keep from vain repetitions, a person in the Western world when he reads repetitions, just makes a literal translation, he does not know what is meant by it. The condition was this, that the word God had become so much used in common affairs that in everything that one wanted to convince another person of, whether true or a lie, he used the word God. If one wanted to buy or sell to anybody, in order to convince of his own idea, he used to attach the name of God to the object he wanted to sell.
And when anyone did not believe the custom was to tell him, "By the name of God it is true." It is therefore that this phrase was said, "Do not make vain repetitions of the sacred name; it is too sacred to be used in trade or business." But then those who could not understand the idea behind it, they said that it was the repetition that Christ did not want. If they would only think that even at the last moment the Master has used the repetition of the sacred name. And it is the same sacred words which from the ancient times till now are given from one Teacher to his pupils.
Mystical words may be used in different languages, but they do not belong to any language. Now for instance, some of you have been given the practice of Zikr. It is to be found today used in the Arabic language; one might think that it is from Arabia. But then it is used in the Persian language also; one who does not know its existence in Arabia might think that it comes from Persia. But then it is used in the language; one who does not know its existence in two languages might think that it is Hindu. It also exists in the Hebrew language. It is the same word which has been repeated by Christ himself as the last word. But also those before Christ, mystics whose origin was the ancient school of Egypt, they also repeated the same. There are sufficient proofs to prove this fact, that during the time of Abraham, who was initiated in the school of Egypt, this word was used.
Now coming to the Buddhistic and Vedantist religions and philosophical schools, we find the words that have been used for many thousands of years, the same words even today are used. For the Hindus it has been a kind of science, the science which they called Mantra Yoga, the science of the word, the dynamic power, the vital power that lies in the repetition on certain words. I have spoken about it in the "Mysticism of Sound," yet it is never sufficient, there is so much that can be spoken on the subject.
And now the modern psychology is beginning to waken to the same idea, although it is searching for something in darkness and it has not yet found the secret of it. Nevertheless, what little it now perceives, when it believes in the power of word and its repetition, that gives a hope that some time it will come to the realization that the ancient people have realized.
Now the work of the Sufi Order, therefore, is to give the combined theory of the Hebrew line of mystics and of the Hindu line of mystics joined together. By Hebrew I mean not only the line of Moses, but also Christ included. But there are two distinct mystic lines; and both those distinct lines are joined in what is called the Sufi Message; besides this, to interpret in the modern form; that is the meaning of the Message.
Now one might want to know, "What is it in the word that helps, and why does it help?" In answer to that I should say that there is no expression of life more vital than words, because the voice is an expressive manifestation of breath, and breath is the very life. Therefore the effect of the word that one says does not only make an effect on another person, but it also makes an effect upon oneself. Every word that one says has its effect not only upon one's body but upon one's mind and one's spirit. A tactless word does not only offend another, but a foolish word uttered can prove to be of a great disadvantage to oneself.
Many times a person in a pessimistic mood may, in a kind of disturbed condition, wish for death, wish for failure, wish for anything. If they only knew what an effect it has they would be frightened. I would advise a person that, even in pain, if he can refrain from saying, "I am in pain," he would do a great good to himself. If a person who has met with a misfortune, would even avoid saying, "I am experiencing a misfortune," it would be the greatest thing. For when a person acknowledges the existence of something he does not want he only gives it a greater life. In the same way when a person acknowledges something that he wants he gives that also life. But when a person says, "Oh I have waited and waited and waited but my ship will never come," he is keeping his ship back in the sea, his ship will never arrive in the port.
But the one who does not even see it, but says, "It is coming, it is coming," he is calling it, it will come. Now that is the part of the meaning of the word I have said. But then the mystical word has a greater value than the word that one uses in one's everyday language or mystical words have come from three distinct sources: scientific, astrological and intuitive. Intuitive words have come as sudden expressions from God-realized souls. Souls that have become tuned to the whole universe, whatever comes from their mouth, that word or that phrase is something which has a much greater power than the words that everybody says. But a spiritual person apart, even in your everyday life, do you not see that one person perhaps among your friends, among your acquaintances there is, his one word has a weight, has power, another person says a thousand words that go in at one ear and out at the other? Because in one person his mouth speaks, in another person his heart speaks, in another his soul speaks.
There is a great difference. One might say: "How can a spiritual person intuitively bring out a word which has a power?" And the answer is that there is a possibility of a soul's becoming so much in tune with the whole universe that he hears, so to speak, the voice of the spheres. Therefore what he says, it comes like the reecho of the whole universe. For instance, why should any little thing not serve as a wireless machine, why has one to have a wireless machine. In the same way the person who is in tune with the universe becomes like a wireless instrument, what comes from him is the voice of the universe.
Leaving the personal aspect aside, coming to the scientific and astronomical aspects, I should like to say that a deep study of human anatomy will explain to a person that there are delicate nervous centers that can only be affected by certain vibrations upon which centers the equilibrium and the health of mind and body depend. Very often by such scientific words used by people they have been cured even of illnesses, because it has given that vibration to that certain center which was wanted to bring about that life which was necessary. If one goes deeper in the science of the word one will find that every vowel and every consonant has its certain effect upon one's mind and body. Very often you will find that, before seeing a person, by knowing his name you get a kind of impression what that person is like. It all shows that the name makes such a great difference in a person's character.
Besides, when we come to the astronomical subject it is a very vast subject and it has a connection with every existing art and science, and vowels and words have their connection with the astronomical science. By invoking a certain word one invokes a certain planet; either in order to diminish its influence, if it is unfavorable, or to increase its power, if it is favorable. Therefore in the astronomical science of the Hindus whenever the name is given to a person, it is given according to the astronomical science.
Now only a few words of advice that I would like to give to my mureeds: that it is most essential that initiation in the Order be not mentioned before others. Besides, all the exercises given to them, they are given individually and must not be told to another. Its action upon you, upon your life, upon your character, even, must not be spoken before the others. For others cannot understand it and it would be of no advantage in any way. The mystical path is a secret path, and a mureed is more and more trusted on his proving to be worthy of the trust, which he can prove by developing the power of keeping secret. Because with every desire of the Teacher to help a mureed, he cannot do much if the pupil does not show depth in himself. Therefore the two great qualifications necessary to be developed are to keep secret all the teachings that are given, and to be sincere in the path every day more and more. For as I have always said: Truth is the portion of the sincere ones.
God bless you.