The Supplementary Papers
The Ideal of God
Some have said that God is the good, all the good. If we ask them, "What is evil?" they say, "Satan." Then there are two, and the power of evil is greater. We see evil always stronger in the world. Then God gives us the spell of virtue, and when His power is finished, then comes the spell of evil. They have divided the absolute into two; they have made a split.
A question comes, "Is all that we see God, all the trees, and flowers, and rocks, and birds and animals; or is God that infinite, invisible state, the invisible Being, the Artist Who creates all this?" The God that is worthy of admiration, worthy of praise and worship, is not good or bad. He is not one part. The mystics, the prophets have never come to teach the split: they have come to teach that there is one Being, the whole Being.
In early times, when there was a man so strong that he could kill ten or fifteen people in his lifetime, he was admired, he was looked up to, he became king. The others said, "You are strong. If a robber comes you will kill him. We put ourselves under your protection. We will go with you with our sticks." The early kings were wrestlers. Even as late as the time of Muhammad, the uncle of Ali, Hamza, was a wrestler. He wrestled with the strongest wrestlers, and wherever he conquered it was in that way. Then later they said, "You are merciful, you are kind." This ideal arose. He Whom they adored said, "There is mercy in you, there is mercy in me. This shows that there is one mercy, one power." They said, "What shall we call it?" He said, "You may call it Allah."
But in telling the truth to others, the mistake was made, because there are always two things, the truth and the mistake. They said, "If there is a God of mercy and power and goodness and kindness and affection, then there are five Gods. I will take the God of mercy, and you can take the God of power." He said, "There is not mercy only. Mercy is different, kindness is different, favor is different, affection is different." They said, "Then there are ten gods. I will take the god of favor." And one who was very cruel said, "I will take the god of war." In this way the father had a different god, the son had a different one, the brother, the sister, the mother, each had his own god. There came innumerable gods all over the world; especially among the Mongolian races there were millions and billions of gods and goddesses.
It was a degeneration and it was the preparation for an ideal. Both things are always going on, degeneration and evolution. When they said, "What do these gods look like?" it was their imagination that made the picture. In New York there is the figure of Liberty, a woman with outstretched arms, holding up a torch and lighting the way to liberty. Before you reach New York, you see the Statue of Liberty, and all over the United States the figure of Liberty is like this. The goddess of war has a mouth wide open, the tongue hanging out, greedy for blood, the teeth projecting. This goddess, Kali, was worshipped for a thousand years all over Bengal, because at that time they were always in the fight, in the quarrel. Those who did not want the fight said, "I want the god of comfort, Vishnu." He is shown in the picture with his wife Lakshmi, wealth, because comfort cannot be without wealth. He is sitting on a snake with seven mouths; the hoods of the snake make a shelter over his head. There must be the destructive element that protects the comfort. In this way they were taught, "You worship, you want comfort, wealth. Yes, but the god of comfort, the goddess of wealth must be sheltered by strength, by defensive power."
The tendency to idealize exists in the whole of nature. When the tendency of idealization reaches perfection, this is the ideal of God. The animals, the dogs and cats and cows, show affection to their surroundings and to their master. The dog comes and sits at the feet of his master, and looks up into his face, and moves his tail, and does all he can to show that he likes, he loves his master. A Hindustani poet has said, "The pir is not great, the mureeds make him great."
A material person says, "Show me something more valuable than gold, more precious than diamonds, something that I can weigh and measure, then I will say, that is God." He understands the brightness of the diamonds, the value of the gold. But the gold has only the value that we give it. In itself it has no more value than the iron: we can make more things of iron. But we like it, we like its color, it has a radiance. It is the same with all things. The prophets, the illuminated souls have not come with their merits from there. Their value is made here. The same person may be admired, liked by one person, and not liked at all by another. The first likes him and so he sees his merits; the other, because he does not like him, sees his faults.
When Christ was in his own country, the people would not listen to his words, he had to go to another country to be valued. When Muhammad was away from his country, the people followed him on the pilgrimage, ready to lay down their lives for him. In his own country, they would not even let him speak. God is in the ideal of God, the ideal we have of what is most perfect. He cannot be called by any name. Names are to distinguish one thing from another, one person from another. The whole cannot be distinguished from anything. God in the infinite state does not know that He is God. The elephant does not know that he is an elephant. It is the miniature elephant who knows. It is man who realizes that he is not this miniature man, but that there is one Being.
You will ask, "When we have recognized that the self is all, whom should we praise, admire, worship, and love? To praise, worship, admire, and love brings the idea of another. We cannot worship our self, praise our self, admire our self." I will say that you are born with a tendency to worship. There is someone whom you admire, someone before whom you bow, someone of whom you ask help. If we want someone to do something for us, we bow before him. If we want his money, his favor, we bow before him. The beauties that are beautiful for one day, and tomorrow the beauty may be gone, we admire. Why should we then not admire, why should we not love and worship that Being Who is sufficient to supply all our needs, Whose beauty never changes, and Whose beauty is all that there is?
Man is born with the wish to praise and I will say that it is by praise that man has made God. When children admire their parents, it is not usually because their parents teach them to, it is their wish to praise. They admire their parents' face, their ways, their goodness, their love and kindness. Then comes the thought that the parents take care of them. It is man alone who praises. When the rocks were made, they did not praise. When the trees and birds and animals were made, they could praise much less than man can. Therefore man was made ashraf al makhlaqat, the chief of creation. And if he forgets his place as ashraf al makhlaqat, it is man's fault.
This was exaggerated by the religions. They made man praise, worship and adore. Often, by misunderstanding the praise of God, a mistake has been make. People have praised God, and disliked the world, not understanding that the world is God's face. That Invisible Being can show no sign or mark for your praise. His perfection is shown in manifestation. Therefore, it is best to praise whatever in the world is most worthy of praise. This was taught in different ways in the different stages of the world's evolution. But in the time of Muhammad, who was the seal of prophecy, it was taught that all praise belongs to God. They said, "Al-hamdulillah ar-rahman ar-rahim. All praise to God, the most merciful and compassionate."
Q. Shall I see God after my death? A. You may see Mr. Asquith a thousand times in the park, driving in a motorcar, but if you do not know him and cannot recognize him, if you are asked, "Have you seen Mr. Asquith?" you will say, "No." God's faces are everywhere. There is nothing on the earth, in the sky, in the sea, where He is not seen; but if we do not recognize Him we do not know that we see Him. A great Indian poet, Amir, says, "O eyes, that are longing to see the Beloved, why do you complain of His absence?" This means, the Beloved is before you, He has not run away, but your eyes must recognize Him. The Quran says, "Who is blind in life is blind after death." This is the time to see God. This physical existence was made that man might recognize God. This life is the most important time, and the only chance of seeing God.
Q. How can we keep our thought on God only and away from earthly things, when God manifests to our eyes through earthly forms? A. Shams-i-Tabriz says, "Make clear your path of another, if you desire that I should walk there." The Quran says, "Say, Allah, Allah, and Allah thou wilt be. Again I promise thee, for Allah that Allah thou wilt be." Again Shams-i-Tabriz says, "Make clear thy path of another, if thou desirest to see Me. Cast not thy glance on another, if thou wishest to see Me." This means, do not recognize anyone as another than God, if you would see God. This is a very difficult, a very subtle thing.
You will say, "Is God jealous, that He cannot walk where another goes?" Who is another if all is God? It means, do not let your recognizing power recognize anyone as another. See God in all, in everybody with whom you come in contact. If we welcome the person whom we like and say to the one whom we do not like, "God, you are not pleasing to me," we do not see God in the one, we see what is pleasing to us; and we do not see God in the other, we see what is unpleasing to us.
I was once in the presence of a very great saint and mystic. He was a classmate of my murshid. He did many miracles and he was much revered for his great love of humanity, and he advised everybody. Someone came and said to him, "Please tell me the way to concentrate my mind. When I am in my meditation a thousand thoughts come." He said, "What thoughts, my brother?" The man said, "I have so many things to do. There is my house, my business, my office. All these thoughts come when I wish to think of God." The mystic said, you cannot give an hour to God, as if that were a business, and give the rest to your office."
When we are in meditation, if the thought of a horse comes, or if the thought of a motorcar comes, or if the thought comes of two persons quarrelling, we must see that thought as the manifestation of God. When a person is in meditation, he at once expects to see a phenomenon. The world of phenomena is much further away from us. It is of much less use than this world. It is here that we have to live. It is here that we should see God. If we go into our room, and hold out our hands and say, "O God, all my veneration, all my devotion, all my worship is to Thee. I do not know where Thou art or who Thou art, but all my love and worship is to Thee," it serves a little, because it produces the melting of the heart, but it does not serve much.
If, when we see something done that we dislike, that seems to us bad, we hang down our head and say, "O God, this is Thy manifestation, and I venerate and worship Thee, and I should like to turn away from me all the bad thoughts that arise in me;" if, when we see some person who seems to us wicked, we hang down our head and say, "O God, this is from Thee. There is no other than Thee from Whom this can be manifested. I recognize Thy manifestation in this;" if we can see the presence of God, not only where we like to be but also where we do not like to be, then we shall see God in all without distinguishing friend or enemy, good or bad.
Q. Why should we recall to our mind the thought of God? A. This is a question very natural for an Indian to ask, because in India, many times a day, in the Namaz, and also in speech, they repeat the name of God. They say the Namaz so many times a day. If you play or sing, and they show their appreciation, they say, "Subhan Allah; God is pure, beautiful." They say, "Al-hamdulillah: Praise be to God." "Allahu akbar: God is great." They say, "Insha'allah: If God pleases." "a'udu billah: I take refuge in God." "Bismillah: In the name of God." It is very necessary to call to mind the thought of God, because all day long everything and everybody reminds us of ourselves, nothing in all the day reminds us of God. Everything makes us think that we have a separate existence, that there is something substantial in us.
A king had a slave called Ayaz, whom he held in high esteem and made him treasurer. The courtiers who were envious of Ayaz and jealous, thinking that one who had been a slave would have risen so high, told the king that every day Ayaz goes to the treasury at a certain time, and spends some time there alone and that that could be for no good. The king had a hole made in the wall, and he stood and looked through the hole. He saw Ayaz in the treasury go to the cupboard, and take out something from there. He held it up, and the king saw that it was his slave's dress. Ayaz pressed it to his eyes and to his forehead, and said: "O Ayaz, remember that you were a slave and in this dress, and from this the King raised you. Remember, if you should use your power to harm another, to trouble another, to be tyrannical to another, that you yourself were a slave and helpless." When the king heard this, he was very much touched. He made Ayaz minister.
This is an example to us, to remember that we at first had nothing. We were only the consciousness. Later on there are so many things that we call ours: our name, our power, our possessions, our friends. Nothing is ours. All has been clothed upon the consciousness from the external world. We, as an infant were helpless, and since then all our needs have been supplied by His nature. And as soon as we began to know and recognize things we called that ours which in fact did not belong to us, and loaded ourselves with responsibilities and needs of life, forgetting ungratefully the favors of the Creator. Blessed among us is he who like Ayaz remembers his helpless state and then the gifts of God. For this he is promoted to a higher place.In what manner prayer be offered matters little if only the sentiment be right. The orthodox world has fought with each other, each claiming that, "Our manner of prayer is the best. Our church is the best. Our temple is the best. Our sermon is the best. The others are astray;" not knowing that in the house of God it is not asked, "To which church do you belong? To which temple do you belong?" but it is asked, "How sincere were you in your prayer?"
God bless you.