The Process of Spiritual
It is not so that only a certain soul who is meant to unfold evolves. Every soul evolves in its own time; only the rhythm of the soul's progress depends upon the speed with which it evolves. Whether a person is inclined to evolve or not, the inner inclination of his soul is to continue its process of unfoldment. Therefore, if among a thousand persons only one can be seen taking the spiritual path, the remaining ones are evolving just the same. It is before our eyes that we see such distinctions as some people going upwards and some downwards, some going forwards and others backwards; in reality all are going forwards, some slowly, others more rapidly.
There are four different ways in which people evolve. One form of evolution is advancing like a drunken man who does not know where he is going, whether he is on the right or on the wrong path. He does not look around, he is enjoying his drink; he is joyful, just passing through life. It is the condition of souls who do not know where they are going and where they have come from. They do not see what is beautiful and what is not beautiful, they do not try to distinguish between right and wrong. Drunken by life's absorption they journey along life's path and, falling down a thousand times, they arrive one day at the same destination.
It is wrong to think that sinners and wrongdoers - whom we make so by our man-made laws - are deprived of the bliss of spiritual attainment. They attain it just the same, only they arrive in their own time, and sometimes a drunken man walks more quickly and may arrive before another person who is not drunken. We cannot always judge who is going to arrive first. Nevertheless, the drunken man may have his own joy, the joy of intoxication, but he is deprived of the other joy that the sober one experiences, the joy of seeing all the beauty that can be noticed on the way, and the bliss of taking every step in life with open eyes. Intoxicated with the wine he has taken and caring little for anything else he is deprived of that bliss. Such is the picture of life: many go along the path of life like drunks without admitting it. Even a drunken man will not say, "I am drunk". He is quite sure of his feet.
Another one is taken to the goal while asleep. Imagine! This person was journeying through a beautiful nature, but instead of looking at the beauty he is asleep. He will arrive at the same destination but has not taken the opportunity of enjoying all the beauty there is to be seen. Nevertheless, he will arrive where he is bound to.
The third form of evolution is that of the person who goes along this path indifferent to it. He also will arrive at the same destination, but because of his indifference he forgets and is unable to experience many things that he could have experienced with sympathy. Many do not notice the beauty that is to be found in the world.
The fourth way is that of the person who journeys with open eyes and heart, enjoying everything he sees. His coming to the goal is a great benefit: he has fulfilled the purpose of life. Therefore it is this particular way that may be called the spiritual path. It is the path one can tread with open eyes and heart, with sympathy and trust. Whether there is sorrow or joy or happiness, one can enjoy all things in life, everything has its beauty.
However much a person seems uninclined to spiritual attainment, yet there is a continual craving going on in the depth of his being. When he feels that irritation he thinks, "What is the matter? Perhaps I have not enough money. That is my trouble." He then goes and works, he wants to collect money in order to be happy. Another one feeling that irritation thinks, "I am lonely, I must find a friend who will make my life happy". A third one thinks, "I should have a big position, a high office. That is what troubles me. If I had it, I would be happy".
No one of them knows the real reason of that irritation and, as by scratching irritation grows more and more, so by trying to satisfy the craving they feel in their soul -the craving to attain something without knowing what they want -it grows too. They have one thing and another and then see that they are more and more dissatisfied; the further they go in the pursuit of satisfaction, the more dissatisfied they become. This is not the case of one or two persons; there is hardly one person among a thousand who, having realized the pursuit of all these different things and having attained them, feels satisfied. These are perhaps means of going forwards, but they are not the goal, they bring no satisfaction. Do you think that a poor man, if money was left to him, would be contented? His irritation would grow more and more in some way or other, because it is caused by something else: it is the craving of his soul to attain a harmonious condition.
There is a story in Arabia of a dervish who came before Alexander the Great asking, "Will you fill my little cup with golden coins?" Alexander thought the little cup was a small thing to fill with gold coins. He asked his treasurer to fill it, but as the treasurer began to do so, the more coins were poured into it the wider the cup appeared. It seemed that it would never be full, always a place was left open to be filled. Alexander was much surprised and thought, "If this continues all my treasure will be taken". He asked, "Oh dervish, what magic cup do you have here? What is it?" The dervish answered, "This is the cup of the desire of man. This cup is always empty and the more you fill it the more empty it becomes; it is never filled".
Desire for wealth, power, position, for pleasure and comfort, for all things belonging to this world, is continuously there. The irritation felt in the soul man attributes to desire, thinking, "The restlessness, the dissatisfaction I feel comes from lack of this or that". and so he spends his time going on from one thing to another. He is wrong, for wherever he arrives, whether he is successful or not, in both cases the irritation never ceases. It continues when a person begins his progress in the spiritual line.
Many people may say today, "Oh, but I am practical", which means that they do not believe in dreams or in anything spiritual. Yes, they can say it today, but tomorrow they will not say it. It is a condition; one says it when one is drunk, when one is intoxicated, but the moment a person becomes sober he begins to feel a craving which remains unsatisfied. Have I not seen during my travels throughout the whole world how scientists -after having made a great name and after having seen much of the world -understanding the realm of reason and logic were still trying to discover something they did not know, some experience they had not made, to find something they had not explored?
There is a beautiful story of an old scientist who never believed in God, but whose wife had religion. When the scientist became ill and old and his reasoning faculties and the stiffness he had against spiritual things became loosened, he said to his wife, "I wonder if there is anything. I will not believe it, but I should like to know if there is anything else. You never lacked religion, do you think there is something? You are so happy." She said, "I am happy in the belief I have". "I cannot have that belief", answered he, "but I have you and what I can share is your happiness". If one cannot believe directly, belief is taken indirectly. Not only mankind but even birds and beasts are attracted to an illuminated soul. A soul who radiates spirituality, who has realized the meaning of life, can impart his conviction even to the unbeliever who has never believed in soul or hereafter. Even the soul of the unbeliever becomes satisfied, even such a soul is blessed through contact with a person who has realized truth.
When the time comes that the intoxication of life begins to diminish and man begins to look at life differently, what comes first is a kind of depression, a kind of disappointment in things and beings. He thinks that all he had considered valuable has lost its value and importance. He begins to see falsehood behind all he had thought was so real and a kind of depression, of disappointment and bitterness begins to come over him. Be not surprised if a thoughtful person shows disappointment and changes his point of view about things he once considered valuable and important. His looking at things from a different point of view is natural. No doubt those who surround him begin to say, "These are the dishes you enjoyed so much, these the things you valued so much a few months ago. What has happened? Some change has come over you!" It is so, a change has come and the person has taken a step forwards. This change, this sort of disappointment he may show more or less. The more thoughtful the person the less he shows it, and the less thoughtful the more he shows bitterness: it is according to his evolution. One person shows his disappointment in tears, another in smiles. The one who shows it in smiles is superior; it is the way one should take in life.
Another step leads to the stage of bewilderment. He who has arrived at that stage is no more depressed or disappointed, but amazed at things about which ordinarily no one would be amazed. He is amazed because his eyes are open. Others see the same things, but their eyes are closed, so the same experience does not touch them. This person feels it and wonders about it. There is a continual bewilderment, and what causes it most is human nature, every aspect of human nature, its every turn and twist and its many phenomena. He looks at life, and it becomes so interesting. He need not seek solitude, he stands in the midst of the crowd and yet may enjoy every rub and knock. Every experience, all things amaze him and only make him smile and wonder. All such words as kindness, goodness, love, infatuation, connection have a different meaning for him. One might ask, "Does he become critical and cynical?" No, since he understands, he is much beyond cynicism and criticism, but there is bewilderment, continual amazement at his every experience from morning till evening.
Then there is a third stage: as the soul evolves further a man begins to see reason behind reason. So he sees several reasons, one hidden behind the other. There is a reason for everything, whether agreeable or disagreeable, right or wrong. Naturally he then can no more blame one soul in this world; he cannot blame the worst sinner, behind everything he sees its reason. If he sees a thousand reasons in support of someone, whether it is right or wrong, there is nothing for him to say. This makes him naturally tolerant, compassionate, forgiving - not because he thinks that it is kind to forgive, or good to be compassionate or because it is his principle to be tolerant. He is obliged to be so, his inner inclination cannot help being compassionate, cannot but forgive, as in the case of Jesus Christ. When people brought those who were accused of wrongdoings according to the law before the Master, he said, "God will forgive you". There is not one instance in the life of Christ when he took revenge on anyone, or blamed a person.
When a man has understood the reason of all things and develops still further, then comes the realm of sympathy. Then naturally he has no blame for anybody, and that attitude culminates in harmlessness. Buddha says, "The essence of religion is harmlessness, and the moment you have become harmless, you have understood religion". What is harmlessness? People know so little about it. They think that being harmful means killing someone. But everyone has a meaning of his own for every word. There was a soldier who heard people speaking about kindness and asked, "What is kindness?" They explained to him that it is an attitude and he said, "Once I practised kindness; my horse was ill and I killed it. A feeling of kindness came over me and I killed it".
When one rises above this realm of forgiveness there comes a natural outpouring of sympathy. At that time a person becomes really sympathetic, for then to feel sympathy is no more his moral, it is his nature; it is not felt intentionally but automatically. There will be an outpouring of sympathy towards everyone who comes into the radiance and atmosphere of such a person.
Many people say, "Is it not a weakening of the character to become so gentle and sympathetic? Is it not against practical life where we have to be vigorous, hard and crude in order to stand the hardness of life? Is it advisable to be so fine, kind and gentle that everyone can get the better of us?" Education today is quite contrary to this idea. The tendency of education is not to let our affairs or ourselves be shaken by the selfish ones of this world among whom we move and who might get the better of us. This is right, but at the same time if each person prepares himself in this way and harms others, without intervention it must end in battle. The manifestation is not made for battle, but we have made it a battleground.
The meaning of Adam's exile from paradise, when he was sent into the world of toil, is the same. Man was born to enjoy the harmony and beauty of life, to experience what life means, but he has made paradise into a battlefield, into this world of conflict. It is not so that Adam was exiled, Adam turned paradise into a battlefield. Is it not so that we have made life difficult for ourselves? Is it the pleasure of God that life should be so difficult for us? In professional life, in the life of science or art, of business, commerce or politics, in all aspects there is nothing but continual struggle. If one looks with open eyes, one sees that every new born child will have to find this trouble. It is a struggle!
There will come a time before long when it will be difficult to live in this world. Only some few people, very well equipped for strife and struggle and most inclined to conflict, will be able to exist. When today we look with wide open eyes we see this aspect more keenly. There is no direction of life where it is smooth; it is more and more difficult every moment of the day. There is nothing but competition and conflict, and when there is one manner of action and one rhythm going on throughout the whole of manifestation, those few cannot help having to go through this same way, because life in the world is a mechanism; we have to run in the same way. Besides, even if we know how disadvantageous life proves to be at the present time, do you think that we can strike another line? Life is put into a mechanism; we cannot make another way out of it.
The number of lives that has been made miserable and disturbed is so enormous that if we thought about it we would be most unhappy to see their condition. There are many who think that a better time may be brought about by making unions, communities and different brotherhoods. But this cannot be brought about by small efforts. Besides, in such unions and parties struggle again begins, one being against the other. What is most necessary at this time is spiritual awakening of the generality, and every effort should be made to awaken this ideal, to lift the spiritual ideal, to bring peace that will remain and last. It is a mission that can be worthwhile. Everyone of us can do it if we think sufficiently about it. In our own lines -be it in business, in politics, or in education -whatever small service we can do we should always render. The main thing we can do is to awake; to awaken ourselves and those around us to a high ideal, to a greater realization of life, and a deeper understanding of truth.