Understanding the Deeper Side of LifeOct 09, 2020
There are persons who look at life picturing it as a school, and it is true that life is as a school. How much evolved one may be, there is not one day that one does not learn something new; from the most unevolved person to the most evolved one this can be seen. The more one realizes that life is a school, the more one learns from it, and if one does not learn from it then it is a school just the same. In this way one can justify the divine Spirit in letting every soul grow through different experiences: through the path of pain and pleasure there is something to be learned. One must not think that the divine Being does not teach the one who lives in pleasure. Therein is a teaching for him, and for the one who is in pain there is a teaching in pain.
Very often those who think that they can correct someone, that they can teach someone, that they can guide a person, that they can direct someone, are apt to forget that they may do quite the wrong thing. If a thief was told by his uncle not to steal, not to go and do his work and if he was held back, that only means that he would go and do it the next week. But if he goes and robs, if he is arrested by the police, if he is taken to prison and stays there for three years, then he has learned his lesson. His uncle could not teach him; it is life, it is circumstances that must teach him. It is the experience through which he has to go that teaches man.
Often one feels that it is unjust on the part of destiny to put one into conditions that seem very cruel, and one thinks that it would be kinder on the part of destiny to teach without troubling. But what, after all, is trouble? There are no such things as pleasure and pain; only the comparison between them makes them so. In other words, if there was no pain one would not be capable of enjoying pleasure, and if there was no pleasure one would not be capable of experiencing pain. If that is true, then to the degree to which one is capable to experience pain, to the same degree one is able to experience pleasure. The one who cannot experience pain cannot experience pleasure. The stone has nothing, it has neither pleasure nor pain. It is the relativity, it is the relation, the comparison between two experiences which makes them distinct, but the one cannot be distinct without the other. Therefore there is the necessity of both experiences.
Besides, it is very interesting to see that for one person it is necessary to go through pain and trouble and effort in order to come to a certain success or accomplishment, and for another to come to the same experience there is no pain, no trouble, it is easy. One might think, ‘Why is it easy for one person and why is it so difficult for the other one?’ It is difficult because the soul needs that difficulty; it is the need of the soul, it is the want of the soul. There is a belief that the nightingale sits on a thorn in order to cry so melodiously. If you look into the lives of those who go through troubles and sufferings, you will find that unconsciously they seek trouble, they look for it. Not consciously; consciously they would run away from it, but unconsciously they look for it, because it is good for their souls, it is meant for them. If they did not have it, they would not reach satisfaction.
It is so interesting to watch how every soul is looking for trouble. It is not so interesting that every person is seeking pleasure, but it is most interesting to see how everyone is seeking his pain, looking out for it. Tagore says: ‘When the string of the violin was being tuned it felt the pain of being stretched, but once it was tuned then it knew why it was stretched’. So it is with the human soul. While the soul goes through pain, torture and trouble it thinks that it would have been much better if it had gone through life without it. But once it reaches the culmination of it then, when it looks back, it begins to realize why all this was meant: it was only meant to tune the soul to a certain pitch.
Very often the foolish, those who have no responsibility, who have no sense of duty, who have no ideal, who have no principle, seem to enjoy life more than those with an ideal, with principles, with a sincere heart, with a faithful spirit. Those who desire to do good, those who desire to serve – it is they who go through pain and suffering. This only means that it is not the dead souls who are tried; their time is to come, their time will come. But the living souls are tried and tested according to the degree of their development and they are raised to a higher consciousness – even if it was necessary to stretch the string of their souls. In order to tune the string it must be stretched.
Then there is the point of view held by some spiritual persons that life is a puppet show – and that is true also. Today a person is rich, tomorrow he becomes poor; today a person comes to power, tomorrow he is thrown down; today he comes to great fame and position, tomorrow he is despised and forgotten. If we look at this world more keenly and with open eyes, we shall find that it is a puppet show. There is a hand behind it which makes one doll a king, another doll a queen or a servant; it is only a night’s play, in the morning they are all dolls.There is a story of a dervish who spoke with a young man who was very interested in his words of wisdom. The young man said, ‘If I come to your part of the world, I will come to see you. Will you tell me where you live?’ The dervish replied, ‘I live in the place of the liars’. This young man thought, ‘He is a wise man, he makes such a deep impression upon me. I cannot understand that he lives in the place of the liars. It seemed to me that every word he spoke was truth’. When he went to that country and asked for the dervish, the people said, ‘We do not know any place of liars, but there is a dervish living somewhere here’. So they took him near the graveyard where the dervish lived. The first question the young man asked was, ‘Why did you give me a name which is not the name of the place?’ The dervish replied, ‘Yes, this is a place of liars’. It was the graveyard. He said, ‘Come with me, I shall show you. This here is a tomb, they say, of a general. Where is his sword, where is his power, where is his voice, what is he now? Is he a general? Here, this one was called a prime-minister. Where is his ministry, where is his office, where is his pen, where is his power? In the same ground! This person was called a judge. Whom is he judging now? He is in the ground. Were they not liars? Did they not tell a lie saying I am so and so, and I am such and such?’ This is the point of view of those who look at life as being a puppet show.
Then there is a third point of view: to look at life as if it was a play going on on the stage, with the actors all dressed up as the king, the servant, the minister, the judge, but when they come away from the stage, they have only performed their part in the story. They are nothing, but while they are on the stage it is their duty to perform the role which they are meant to perform. So one understands that one is performing the role of a king, of a thief or of a judge, of a servant or of a prince. It only means that it is meant so; it is written in the story that it should be performed like this. It is a play that we all perform in the whole universe, and each takes part in this play, a certain part which is given to him maybe a desirable part or an undesirable part. Only the one who sees it in this light sees that it is a stage on which a play is performed, and the one who does not see it in this light thinks that it is really like this. His life is most difficult.
Then there is again another point of view – that of Hafiz – that every soul is drunken. It has drunk its ideal, its principle, its inspiration, its ambition, its thought, its feeling; it is all a drink. A person who despises another one – it is a drink he has in him; that intoxication makes him despise. A person who loves someone – it is a drink, he has drunk that bowl, he is in that intoxication. If one praises someone, one has drunk the bowl of beauty. If a man has revenge against someone, it only means that he has drunk the bowl of revenge. This life is a wine-press; from that wine-press each person takes that wine which is made for him. The one who looks at it all as a cafe where everyone is drinking, that person is called sober. He sees each person intoxicated, and he too chooses his wine – but he chooses it, he drinks the wine and at the same time knows that it is wine.
There is another point of view, the point of view of the majzub: that every head has a madness, a certain madness, be it of a higher or a lower kind. Why is it madness? Because it is unique, it is distinct and it is different: every head has a different thought, an idea different from others. We call mad someone who has an idea different from others. But every person has an idea different from others. Knowing this the majzub tries to act as mad, because he thinks, ‘When I am among the mad, then I too must act as mad’. But the one who tries to act as mad, is not mad; because he is acting as mad it is different.
Then there is still another point of view of the spiritual soul, and that is that humanity is to be pitied. The wrongdoer must be pitied for his doing wrong, and the welldoer must be pitied because he does not know how to do better. The foolish one must be pitied because he does not understand better, and the clever one must be pitied because he is not wiser. The spiritual soul thinks that humanity is a process of development of the lower creation, that all that exists in the lower creation is to be found in humanity – passion, anger, wrath, spite, vengeance – and that everyone does not only cause harm to others, but also to himself. One can only enjoy life when one has got rid of all these things and does not harm others by his character. Therefore the one who has this point of view, instead of concerning himself with others, concerns himself with his own being and tries to make himself free of all these things in order to experience the joy that comes from it, proving to the world the teaching of harmlessness.
This same principle is followed by some others who look at it in a different light. They think that to please man is to please God, and to please God is to please man. Therefore in speaking, in acting or in thinking they do all they can to avoid causing hurt or harm to another person. In trying to do everything to please and to serve mankind they think that it is a service to God.
What is lacking today in the world is idealism. Where does idealism come from? From deep thought. Today life in general keeps man so busy in his occupation, in his profession, in his work of everyday life, that he has no time to think deeply and better; he does not find his ideal. Among a thousand persons there is perhaps one person who has an ideal and knows what ideal he has. All the others do not know it, they do not have an ideal. Besides, it is not only to have an ideal, but it is necessary to know the ideal and to attain to the ideal, to develop towards it, to unfold oneself towards the ideal. It is that in which lies life’s fulfillment.
Ideals are of five different kinds. There is a certain principle which is a person’s ideal, and if he can live that principle he has lived his ideal. There is a certain action which is a person’s ideal; if he has accomplished that action then his ideal is fulfilled. There is a belief which is a person’s ideal, and if he is able to keep to that belief he has fulfilled his ideal. There is a certain height to which a person wishes to reach, and that mark which he wishes to reach is his ideal. The fifth ideal is a person in whom is a man’s ideal, and when all the attributes which that person has are attained then that ideal is fulfilled.
But all these five ideals are as five stepping-stones to the shrine of God. The greatest ideal, the highest ideal is the ideal of God. It is not necessary – and yet it is most necessary – that there should be a stepping-stone to go to the altar of God. Without this stepping-stone many are lost. It is often a very rigid soul who will say, ‘God is my ideal. I do not care for any other ideal’. It comes from his rigidness, for it only means that he does not wish for the ladder; he wishes to jump from the ground to the next floor. The ideal of God is the perfect ideal, and in order to reach it there must be a footstool, there must be a ladder, there must be a steppingstone which leads to it – be it a principle, be it a belief, be it an action, be it a position, be it a person.
It is the poetic nature that is inclined to have an ideal; it is the artistic nature that has the love of ideal; it is the musical tendency to look for an ideal. Therefore ideal is attached to higher intelligence. The lower a person’s evolution the less he is inclined to an ideal; the higher the person is evolved the more he is inclined to an ideal. If those great ones – kings, generals, writers, poets, musicians – have really accomplished something great and made an impression upon humanity, it was because of their ideal. Without an ideal, whatever one has done is nothing. In the first place one cannot accomplish something without an ideal. If one did so, it would be nothing. A machine has finished something: there is no ideal in it. Ideal therefore is like the breath of life; ideal therefore is the lift that takes you upwards.
Then there are some who say, ‘Yes, I have my ideal in a person, but that person does not come up to my ideal. I am sorry, but I shall turn my back upon him’. It will always be like that. What is a person? A person is limited. The ideal is perfect. Therefore in order to retain your ideal you will have to make the person out of your own devotion, out of your love, your sympathy. Give to the person what is lacking, then that ideal is made. For instance, the great teachers of humanity, Buddha, Muhammad and Christ, what are they to those who do not follow them? Nothing. But to those who follow them they are everything. Why? Because their followers have made them out of their devotion; they have taken the name and then they have made their ideal out of their devotion. When a Buddhist says, ‘Buddha was God, and Buddha was the Lord, and all beautiful attributes were in Buddha’, it only means that he has taken all the beautiful attributes of Buddha and has added all kinds of beautiful things. But how much can the idealist add? There is endless beauty. It is only for his own conviction, for his devotion, for his development that he makes his ideal as perfect as possible, and it is the same with the devoted followers of any teacher of humanity.
But if people said, ‘We are going to analyze what the teacher taught. What he said was this… . Another teacher says another thing and a third one says something else; so it is all different’. That again is another outlook. They never have an ideal. Now many study theology in colleges and universities. Do they have that ideal? Never. They say, ‘What Buddha said is quite right. But there is something else here in the Bible which is different from it. What Muhammad said, well, one cannot apply it to practical life, and he is of quite a different kind’. When they begin to analyze the ideal it is an analyzing of books. Their ideal is no ideal, their ideal is in the books, and one day they will get above it or beneath it. If they rise they rise above it, and if they fall they fall beneath it. But when one comes to the ideal – it belongs to devotion, it belongs to love. It is the same as what Majnun said about Laila, his beloved girl. When people asked Majnun, ‘What is Laila? She is not so beautiful, she is like any other girl’, Majnun replied, ‘In order to see Laila you must borrow my eyes’. That is what the ideal teaches.
Analyzing and idealizing are two different things. If you analyze you are in quite a different sphere. If you analyze something you can say it in words; if you idealize you rise above words. The whole world is going downwards because of the lack of an ideal, and if there is any hope of the betterment of humanity, it is not through better economical conditions; it is not so that, if political conditions were better, the world would be happy. No, never, because that thirst, that hunger for money and that avariciousness will want just the same. If the labor-man came in the place of the government, if the laborer became a capitalist, and the capitalist a laborer, if the whole world became aristocratic, or if the whole world became democratic, that would not take away the trouble of the world. If there is anything that will raise the world, it is the ideal. If the ideal is given in different directions and to different individuals, and if humanity wakens to a higher ideal – that only can be the source of the betterment of humanity.
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