The Supplementary Papers
The Evolution of the World
Some say that the world has evolved since creation, as it is the law of nature to evolve. And others say the reverse, seeing the conditions of the world falling back every day. When the Buddhists say that the universe is always progressing, the Hindus contradict this by pointing out that virtue and truth have been diminishing with the growth of the world, during the periods called Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and the present Kali Yuga, the golden silver, copper and iron ages.
There seem to be some who seeing the comfort and convenience of modern life together with its new inventions and wonderful researches, admire evolution. There are others who praise the past saying how great were the past ancestors who were so high in their morals and ideals and who had such a comfort and peace in their natural life, until gradually everything became so degenerated that all virtues have become a prey to the selfishness and artificiality of so-called civilization.
According to the standpoint of the Sufi, both are right, and yet both are wrong. For he applies the law of vibration in his understanding of the world, that each note has its finish at the octave. So there are an ascending and a descending scale. Each strong accent in anything has its weak part to balance it. The sun rises as well as sets and the new moon develops to the full and wanes until it is again new. Each wave of the sea which rises high is drawn back and each helpless child is again helpless when old. This is the nature of evolution. A certain direction of life develops for a certain period and before it has fallen back another direction of life begins to evolve.
An individual's view is deluded by seeing that evolution seems to him a straight evolution and every fall seems to be a continual fall. After a person has developed in his body and when that is finished perhaps the thought might begin its development. If he views the reduction of the body he will feel involution and if he notices the development of his thought he will realize his evolution. In fact in both ideas he is right which only depends upon his point of view.
One can study this fact by looking at a fountain where one jet of water is rising to reach its height, the other is returning from its utmost reach. Neither is the rise constant for the former, nor is the fall lasting for the latter. This is the way of progress and degeneration of science, art, race, religion and nation. Even the world as a whole has its circle to accomplish and everything therein has its own time of rise and fall. At the same time the rise is for the fall and the fall again is meant to rise.
As man is ideal among the lower and higher creatures among the visible as well as the invisible beings, his life is among all beings of the universe a great privilege to experience. Man goes in life through two periods, that of light and that of darkness. During the period of darkness he ceases to think wherefrom he has come and where he goes to, and why he is sent here to wander for a while, whether he is sent by someone, or whether he came of his own will, and whether he will be here forever, or if some day his life will be extinguished.
Where he was before he knew himself and where he will be hereafter. Man by his experience of life through his senses, binds himself by a spell of greed. What he enjoys once he wants to have it over and over again, and he develops this greed so much that he sacrifices others for neighbors and neighbors for surroundings and surroundings for the self. Thus he lives for self, works for self, until darkness overwhelms him so much that he can neither satisfy others nor himself.
The Masters of humanity have prescribed only one remedy to remove this darkness and that is by charity, by the practice of which a person's sympathy is broadened from his own self to the whole world. He then becomes the friend of all. In this way man journeys towards the light, and before his eyes the truth of existence is revealed. Every thing and being in life speaks with him and he knows the language of man, beast and bird and even of all things in the universe. Then he realizes the illusion of his self and of the universe. His enlightened soul wants to be purified from this illusion, therefore a Sufi by practicing wisely abstinence and control with the help of sound, journeys gradually towards the eternal goal.
A mureed has to journey from the human plane to the animal plane which he shows by his strength and power which he absorbs from the sphere. He feels much more vitality and experiences perfect health. He is naturally more inclined toward all material activities. A slight cause of annoyance causes him irritation and anger. He is ready to fight for what he considers true. Then he becomes like a herbivorous animal, he serves another like a horse or a camel, not asking by what right he is controlled, and then grows even like a sheep or a goat, living in a herd, hanging his head down by the weight of his thought, ready at any time to be sacrificed for the benefit of another. He then develops a bird-like nature and floats in the spheres of imagination quite unconscious of the earth and its surroundings.
He seeks the society of those of a like interest just as a bird would be with a bird, and makes his home on high, in the world of thought, just like the nest of a bird in the top of a tree. He advances still further and becomes as an insect, admiring the Immanence of God in nature and absorbing rapture from divine wisdom, just like a bee gathering honey from the flowers. And he like a moth concentrates on and hovers round the light until his self is sacrificed in the vision of his love. He in the end becomes like a germ, an object to be lying at the feet of the walker, anybody may walk upon him who may so choose. He cares for neither light nor knowledge for he has passed far beyond all that.
A mureed then carries on his return journey through the vegetable kingdom. He adopts harmlessness, usefulness, the medicinal and healing properties, and self-sacrifice for the purpose of another, all such qualities of the vegetable. He shows in his personality the sweetness of the fruit, the perfume, color, and delicacy of a flower, Then he acquires the quality of the rock when it has no effect upon him for what purpose he may be used, whether to crown a dome, or for the base of a building. Neither climate, nor day nor night can make any difference to him, neither sorrow nor joy can touch him, he becomes free from all affects. Then a mureed arrives to a condition where he sojourns in a star, planet, moon or sun, in other words he himself becomes soul. His star quality brightens him, his planet-quality produces within him a world of his own, his moon-quality becomes the receiver of all Divine Light and his sun-quality produces in his voice, word and glance the power of illumination.
The Sufi in his further journey also acquires the quality of Insan, for every man cannot be Insan until he realizes the nature of the world and the motive of life. Then he attains the life of Jinn, experiencing joy in knowledge, becoming free from lust. Afterwards he adopts the quality of Ghilman when he creates the vision of Heaven within himself. Afterwards he acquires the all-pervading quality of sound, communicating with all hearts and souls in the universe, with whom he would wish. He also becomes a spirit in all its aspects.
Then a Sufi acquires the quality of consciousness, conscious and awakened in every phase of life until he acquires the quality of unconsciousness when he can become unaware of all signs of life. Generally on the way of a Sufi stand many obstacles during his journey. The tendency for comfort and desire for lust, diseases, conceit and lunacy followed by an extreme interest in ecstasy besides a curiosity for phenomena, the desire for the world's attention, and adoration from the surroundings, a tendency for a spiritual appearance, a habit of foretelling and readiness in healing, all hinder a Sufi's progress.
A desire for name and many followers, a leaning upon the group of the faithful, a tendency for argument and discussion are most to be avoided for a Sufi. A simple abode in solitude and as few things to go through life as possible and most simple food which could be served among any number that may be present at the time, is necessary. The life of seclusion, silence, abstinence, and a less tendency for all earthly comforts is desirable. Charity, independence, forgiveness, indifference, tolerance and detachment are most useful attributes. Resignation to the will of God with fasting and contentment together with a continuous stream of love and a constant vision of God are the qualities most necessary during his journey towards the goal. An impartial justice, a sense of harmony and a real inclination for peace are the qualities necessary for the traveler on this path.
The Destruction of Ideals
The man who has never had an ideal may hope to find one; he is in a better case than the man who allows the circumstances of life to break his ideal. To fall beneath one's ideal is to lose one's track of life, then confusion rises in the mind, and that light which one should hold high, becomes covered and obscured, so that it cannot shine out to clear one's path. The fall of Napoleon may be dated from the day that he abandoned Josephine. With the breaking of the ideal, the whole life cracks and dissolves. As soon as a man begins to think, "I have done wrong to such and such a person, or such and such a principle," he ceases to be a king within, and cannot be a king without. This does not mean that the good succeed in life, and that the evil fail, but rather that man progresses alone through sincerity to his ideals, for the good of each man is indeed peculiar to himself.
Religion is the school that has developed man; and the ideals that religion presents, form a path that leads upward to perfection, that innate and yearning desire of every soul. The difficulty arises when man sees his principles as his goal and not simply as a means to his goal; for when he begins to worship his own principles he becomes a simple idolater, he destroys the essence and the life of his ideal.
Can anyone point to a date in history when man first gained wisdom? Wisdom is the property of humanity. The expressions of this wisdom differ at different times, to suit different peoples; and it is the differences that have always been noticed and not the similarity. Man is apt to insist on the external forms – "my religion, my scripture, my custom is different," he says; and thus in endeavoring to enforce his ideal, he departs from the very spirit which produced that ideal; and acts upon some primitive impulse which he despises himself, whenever he recognizes it. He may say, "I wish to reform and to reach,' when he is simply driven by a blind and animal impulse to inflict pain perhaps, or to tyrannize, or perhaps to assert his personal power. This element of falseness and treachery in human motives proves to many truthful observers, that there is nothing in life worthy of devotion, and no cause worthy of allegiance.
But the wise of all ages have taught that it is the knowledge of the Divine Being that is life, and the only reality. Although a human activity consists of a number of complicated motives – some of which are base and gross – it is the aspiration towards divinity, the desire towards beauty, which is its soul, its life, its reality. And it is in proportion to the degree of the strength or weakness of his aspiration towards beauty that a man's ideal is great or small, and his religion great or small.
Suppose we grant that cream is the reincarnation of milk, and butter is the third step of the reincarnation of milk, and its fourth reincarnation may be called ghee. The question arises, Whose reincarnation is the milk? There are chemical substances which form milk, and its chemical arrangement changes the name, savor, smell and effect. Butter cannot be called milk, nor is ghee cream. If there is any substance which seems to be existing through all the manifestation of the milk, it is the inner ruling current which groups and scatters atoms, compelling them to change, which may be likened to the soul.
God bless you.