A JOURNAL OF TRANS-ETHNIC SPIRITUALITY
VOL. 3, ISSUE 1
My Blessed Mureeds,
I would like to speak on the subject of the personalities of the servants of God on the path of truth. When we think about the great many teachers of humanity, who have even today in this world millions of people following their teachings, continuing for thousands of years back, in spite of the ever-changing quality of human nature, in spite of the love of novelty that man has--to take one thing and to throw another thing for it; in spite of it, their teachings have been handed down to ages and held in reverence and esteem even till now.
Think of the teachings of Zarathustra, that the followers of Zoroastrian religion have left their country and have forgotten their original language for many, many years; and if they have any sign of it, it is in the form, the words of Zarathustra which they still keep. Nothing of their origin they know, except this one thing, the teaching of Zarathustra, which was given to their souls. Brahmans hold their Gayatris of Vedanta and the words of Krishna in reverence, in esteem. And you cannot imagine to what extent they esteem it, that they would build a temple, a shrine, in order to keep that little book of Krishna. Muhammadans, no one can imagine what appeal the words of the Prophet make upon a Muslim.
A Muslim cannot read a Sura of the Qu'ran without shedding tears uncontrollably. He never hears the name of the Prophet without being deeply touched, without being deeply moved. And when we think about it a little more from a neutral point of view, and when we question to ourselves: Is it the teachings which are so valuable, or is it something else that has held them so many thousands of years? From a scientific point of view, from a literary point of view, they lack what a person today expects them to be.
Therefore as a book of poetry, as a book of prose, as a book of scientific, technical theories, as a book of philosophy, one cannot take it to be similar to such books of today. And at the same time many great poets and philosophers and scientists have written their books, and they have disapproved, and their books have disappeared, and they have been a thousand times contradicted, and will be contradicted again and again and again. And if one sees if there was any power behind it, what they have left in the form of a book, of a scripture, it was not only the teaching. It was the magic of their personality that has made an impression on earth which the earth holds and will hold for eternity. Their personality has been projected in the sky, which reflects it continually, even if thousands of years it is that they have passed.
And we on earth, with our limited conception of their lives and of the lives of the others distinguish them as "mine" and "thine;" take one and deny the other. If before a Christian, Buddha was very highly spoken, he will doubt. First of all he will deny, then will ignore if he was very just. And if before a Buddhist the same thing was spoken, he will have the same idea or perhaps more. For they are most devoted. When before a Jewish person you will speak about Muhammad in comparison to Moses, he will be horrified. And do you think a Muslim will stand a comparison of Moses to Muhammad? He will stand with sword: "How dare you say that these two personalities can be one and the same or equal!" The difference for them will be as between false and true. "One is true, the other is false. Mine is right, yours is wrong."
This has been the condition of the world all the time, and this is the condition of the world today. And however much we may think that we can progress without religion, it is impossible. That progress will always prove to be fatal. When there is an outer progress and absence of inner progress, it is not complete progress. We cannot progress without lifting cur religious ideal. And when it comes to lift it, then one says, "Yes, I will lift my religious ideal in my own faith." Well, that they had lifted already in the past, and yet they kept divided.
And they have always fought in the name of religion, abused their faith, and acted wrongly towards one another, being the creatures of the same God. And if we go still deeper we shall find that their teachings do not differ very much, and if there is a difference it i either that difference of terms or the difference of the way people have understood it. They have given guidance for that time and for the time to come till another such Message was to be given. So the difference is not in the teaching. And when we find the difference, it is because we want to find the difference. What we want to find we shall find. When we want to find a fault we can find a fault with the best person, and when we want to find some good we can find some good in the worst person.
And now coming to the personalities. If Solomon was king and Buddha was a beggar, if Moses rode on horseback and Muhammad sat on a camel, that makes little difference. For when a person judges a personality, he judges according to his ideas. Each person having his own ideas, there will be a thousand judgments about one person. And then when you trace back the legends and stories about the lives, sometimes they fit in with your ideas, sometimes they do not fit in with your ideas. Sometimes you hear them from their worst enemies, sometimes from best friends, sometimes it comes in such a poetry that you think there was never such a man, there never can be. And another time, when you hear it from an adversary, you think this was the worst person you can ever think of.
The more we shall widen our ideas, the more we shall see the wide world. The more we shall come to study life the more we shall see this fact: that those high personalities, we cannot take them from what history says. If a person who looks at it favorably says, "This is the best personality in the world; never God could have created another one like this." One says, "This was the son of God." The other says, "This was God Himself." But these differences belong to each individual as they think, as they conceive of it. In reality when we see what is behind it we see a divine magic, a divine personality which struck directly to so many and indirectly to those who were not struck directly.
And those who have come to understand their particular savior, master, teacher thoroughly, they have arrived at forgetting that outward distinction of the teacher, recognizing what is behind it--the divine personality which is One and the Same, whether in the past, present, or future. Be not therefore surprised if a Sufi recognizes that personality and names that personality with the name that may be taught to him, perhaps from his parents, in his family, as the great ideal of religion, and gives to the same personality all other recognized names which other people recognize in the same way. He gives the same personality those names; it is natural.
There was a time when the idealizing of the king was such that they gave the king the title of all the great heroes and kings who existed in history, recognizing in that particular king the greatness which is recognized by other people of their kings. But then you may say it is making our ideal the ideal of others. What does it matter? It all unites you with the others, and others are united with you. If this will go on that millions and millions of people are divided just now as they are, some as followers of one religion, others as followers of other religions, there will never come a real spiritual unity among men. They ought to unite in their ideal. But, you will say, can we not unite in God? Yes, we can unite in God.
But we do not unite in God. God for us is in the abstract; we want a personality in which to unite. And that personality, seen in its reality, is behind the veil of names and forms known to different creeds. If the Sufi Message brings Saum and Salat to be given in the world to Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu alike, that they can stand in the congregation shoulder to shoulder in the worship of God and may not miss the name of their teacher, one day they will waken to the truth, they automatically will come to that idea that the personality which is really divine has all these names and more names which are perhaps unknown. Therefore there was an argument once with a mureed who said, "There are some who can stand milk and there are others who can stand wine; and there are some who can read Saum and Salat, and there are others who are perhaps prejudiced against one name or the other.
What may be done for them?" This argument I bring before you because you will have to face this difficulty always, as I have to face this difficulty continually. In the first place by feeling the prejudice of that person you will keep him backward in progressing through the Sufi path. The sole object of this path is unity. But by arguing with him too much you will only antagonize him. Therefore in the case of an individual, as Sufism is freedom of thought, you will leave the choice to that person. Nevertheless, my workers and mureeds will remember that on Saum and Salat the whole building of the Sufi teaching stands. And if it has not that foundation of uniting all different faiths, this building will not stand upon partial and divided ideals. It wants a strong foundation, for this is not a question of a particular theory, a speculation or doctrine. This is a question of uniting the races and nations and people who are divided in their faiths. Nor in moral principle, nor . . . (philosophical basis) . . . nor in truth, only on the point of different personalities as their leaders.
Remember, my mureeds, at the same time, that your task in holding this ideal will be very difficult because of the pioneer work, and a number so small as ours. But has anyone grown without being an infant--man or movement? Everything grows as something small, it develops afterwards to that width and to that height which is destined for it. What is necessary for us is patient trust and a continual work to further the Message.
And now coming to the question of the two points of view which the workers of the Sufi Movement show. Some have a point of view that is: something which is of a sacred nature, of some value and importance, must be kept hidden, and must be brought slowly and thoughtfully and with a very great consideration to humanity. If not, it can be spoiled, it can be broken. And there are others who say, "What we value, what we think is important, must be spread, must be brought before the public. What does it matter if they believe in it; is this not enough?" Now there is some right and some wrong in both of these tendencies. The right is in this tendency that we must bring slowly and quietly before the world, that we can never be enough tactful and considerate in bringing something which is delicate and sacred, and which belongs to the inner truth. But they are wrong in thinking that it will be broken up.
What breaks cannot be true. What is true can never break, so they need not fear that it will be broken. If a thousand times it will be broken, a thousand times it will come right again. It will spring up; it cannot be cut. The tree of truth can never be cut. And therefore courage must be such that: "If everyone was against me, that I shall carry it out. " "I do not fear that it is something fragile, that it will break. No, the nature of this is that if it will break it will be made again. " The symbology of it is the phoenix, that when it is burnt then there is the egg of the phoenix from which it comes again.
Then alone the worker will be able to keep on furthering the Message, when he has that faith. No matter what difficulty comes along and sweeps it away, the Message will not be swept away. It is meant to be given, and will be given. And nothing can destroy it. Only the loss will be on the part of the worker who, in spite of having all his good will, will lose that opportunity when something could have been done for the Message. But fearing that perhaps it will not be the right thing, he loses his opportunity of serving the Cause.
And the wrong about the person who says, "Yes, it must be done," is this: that when he is impatient, when out of his love and devotion for the Cause he thinks that all the spreading and all the completing of the work, and all the finishing of it, must be done today, he does not know--like an enthusiastic child, he is enthusiastic, but he does not know--that it takes time to arrive at a certain result. And this something, the real result of it, is further than the time we may expect it to be, although every day there is a result manifesting in some form or the other.
Therefore we have to be patient with it, to work and never be concerned with results. We must work for the sake of the work. Then, of course, in outer working if a person urged upon his friend and upon his neighbors and his acquaintances, "Come here, listen to it, take it, believe it, follow it," he makes a person mad. For it requires great delicacy, a great tact and finesse. For the very people who today are great workers in the Sufi Movement, if they were not dealt with with due tact and consideration, would not even have come in the Movement. Today they are great workers.
And now there comes a question: "Then what course is it better to follow?" And my answer is: the course that is suited to your individual self. If you feel courage that the work must be spread, you will take that course tactfully; but do not blame the other who has the other inclination. And the one who will say, "I shall go slowly, I shall keep it back," if that person will try and do his best in that way, even that is of some value. If we shall not urge one another's principle on one another, then we can follow our own way of working in the Cause. Only we each must remember when working for the Cause that life is an opportunity.
God Bless You.
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produced by Post-Dogmatist Publications copyright 1997