The first question to be considered in reference to the subject of divine impulse is: where does every impulse come from? Every movement, every vibration, every motion has one source. One sees a hint of this in the Bible where it says, "The word was God". The word means vibration and vibration means movement. In the Vedanta nada Brahma means sound. Vibration was the first or original aspect of Brahma, the Creator. In the Qur'an we read, "Be - He said -and it became". Every impulse, every action on any plane of existence has its origin in the one source. It is also said in the Qur'an, "God is all power; there is no power but God's". In all that is done, what is done is by His power.
Now the question arises: If all the scriptures say this, where does Satan come in? What is the meaning behind the power of Satan? Another power is suggested besides the power of God, and sometimes the power attributed to Satan seems mightier than the power attributed to God. This is a puzzle to many who wonder where the action of Satan comes in. The explanation is to be found in the understanding of metaphysics and of the laws of nature. There is one law, the natural law, and all that comes directed by nature's law is harmonious. The gardens that man has made may seem for a moment to improve upon the forests, but in the end, on examination, the garden with its artificial structures proves limited in beauty and harmony. The inspiration one gets in the forest, in the wilderness is much greater than in the man-made garden, for there man has made inspiration limited, because the life he radiates is limited. Man makes a law an finds he cannot keep it; so he makes another law and is never satisfied, for he takes no account of nature's laws of peace and harmony.
Men say that nature is cruel; yes, but man is far more cruel than the animals. Animals have never destroyed so many lives as man has. All the apparent cruelty of nature cannot compare with the cruelty, ignorance and injustice of man Jesus Christ said, "Thy will be done ". There is much for us to learn in this. Man makes another world in which he lives, a world different from the plan of God, from the laws of nature, and so the will of God is not done. The prayer teaches man that he must find what is the will of God. It is not necessary for the animals and birds to find out the will of God, for they are directed by nature's impulse, they are closer to nature than man. The life of man is so far removed from the life of nature, and so every movement is difficult. We do not see this at present; with all our knowledge we make life more and more complicated and so the strife becomes greater and greater. For every person, old or young, rich or poor, life is a difficult struggle, for we go further and further from the impulse which comes direct from the source whence every impulse comes.
From the metaphysical point of view there are different rhythms describing the condition of man; they are spoken of in the Vedanta as sattva, rajas and tammas. Sattva is a harmonious rhythm, rajas a rhythm which is not in perfect harmony with nature and tammas is a rhythm which is chaotic by nature and destructive. Every impulse that comes to man while he is in this chaotic rhythm is followed by destructive results. Any impulse coming to a person when he is in the rhythm of rajas is accomplished, but the impulse that comes when he is in the rhythm of sattva is inspired and is in harmony with the rhythm of the universe.
The active life of man gives little time for concentration and for putting mind and body into the condition in which he can experience the rhythm that gives inspiration and meets with the will of God. This experience comes in answer to the prayer of Christ, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". By producing this condition of mind and body one tunes oneself to a certain pitch which is harmonious and heavenly and in which the divine will is easily done, as it is in heaven. It is in this rhythm alone that the will of God can be done.
It was not any prejudice against the world that made the great ones leave the world and go to the forests and caves; they went in order to tune themselves to that rhythm in which they could experience heaven. Heaven is not a country or a continent; it is a state, a condition within: oneself, only experienced when the rhythm is in perfect working order. If one knows this, one realizes that happiness is man's own property. Man is his own enemy: he seeks for happiness in the wrong direction and never finds it. It is a continual illusion. Man thinks, "If I had this or that I should be happy for ever", and he never arrives at happiness because he pursues an illusion instead of the truth. Happiness is only to be found within, and when man tunes himself he finds all for which his soul yearns within himself.
The nature of every impulse is such that it goes through three stages and after the process of these three stages it is realized as a result, whether it is right or wrong, beneficent or disadvantageous, as soon as the impulse springs from within. There is no impulse which in its beginning is wrong or purposeless or inharmonious, for in the total sum of all things every impulse has its purpose. It is our limited outlook that judges. The justice behind is so great that in the ultimate result everything fits into its proper place. But in the process through which the impulse passes it becomes right or wrong - not in the beginning or in the end, for the beginning has a purpose and the end has answered the demand.
This is a question of metaphysics and one must study it from different points of view or one will be very much confused. Man with his little knowledge is ready to condemn or to admire, and thousands of times he fails to judge rightly. All great souls have realized this in their attainment. Christ says, "Judge not". Then tolerance comes, and when one realizes what is behind the impulse one says very little.
The first process through which the impulse rises takes place in the region of feeling, and in this region the impulse is either strengthened or destroyed. The feeling may be love or hatred, kindness or bitterness, but whatever the feeling may be where the impulse rises, it gains strength to go forward of it is destroyed. For instance, a person may have a great feeling of kindness; then the impulse of revenge may rise, but it is destroyed. Another person has a great feeling of bitterness, and if the impulse is to forgive it will be destroyed before it ever touches the reason. Or a person is most kind and, when the impulse towards revenge has arisen, he feels very uncomfortable; he will not have to call on thought to judge the impulse, for his feeling will destroy it. Or a person has a great feeling of bitterness and the impulse of doing a service of kindness comes, but it will be destroyed before it reaches the realm of thought. Or if the impulse rises till it reaches the realm of thought, then one reasons, "Why should I help? Why should I serve? Does he deserve it? Will he benefit by it? Is it right?" All these problems are settled in this region. Then thirdly comes the realm of action. If the mind consumes the impulse it goes no further, but if the mind allows it, it comes into the region of action and is realized as a result.
Now one may ask how sages and thinkers have distinguished the divine impulse among the different impulses that arise in the heart of man. First we must understand what the word divine means. Divine means: in a state of perfection. This state is experienced by God through man. In other words, when man has risen to the stage of development where he can be the perfect instrument of God, when nothing of his own being stands in the way of the direct impulse that comes from within -that spirit may be called perfect. That which is most precious, that which is the purpose of man's life is to arrive at that state of perfection when he can be the perfect instrument of God.
Once a man has risen to this stage he at first begins to realize at moments; then, as he develops, for a longer time, and those who develop still further pass most of their time in that realization. Then feeling and thought no longer hinder the divine impulse, for it rises freely and results in a divine purpose. The message of the prophets and teachers of all times has been to teach man how to make peace with God. The fulfilment of life's purpose is in harmonizing with God, and this is done by distinguishing the divine impulse.
How can one distinguish the divine impulse? Just as in music one can distinguish the true note from the false, the harmonious chord from the discord; it is only a matter of ear-training. When the ear is trained one can find out the slightest discord; the greater the musician, the more capable he is of finding out harmony and discord, the true and the false note. Many think that what we call right or wrong, good or bad, is something we learn or acquire. That is true when it is man-made right or wrong, but of nature's right and wrong every little child has a sense. The child feels a wrong vibration at once; the infant feels if its surroundings are harmonious or inharmonious, but man confuses himself so that he can no longer distinguish clearly. For man to learn to know for himself is a great advance along the spiritual path. When man is clear as to the feeling he gets from every impulse, he has advanced far. There are some who say after the result, "I am sorry", but it is too late then, it was not true ear-training.
The divine impulse is an impulse full of love, it gives happiness, it is creative of peace. The difficulty is that not every man observes the beginning of the impulse, he only observes the result. He is like an intoxicated person and so in time, as in the condition of a drunken man, he becomes confused and depressed, and there is struggle and strife. But man was not born for this. He is born for happiness. Peace, love, kindness and harmony are parts of his own being, and when a person is unhappy it means that he has lost himself, he does not know where he is.
Man is seeking for phenomena, he wants wonderworking, communication with ghosts or spirits, he is looking for something complex, and yet the simplest thing and the most valuable thing in life is to find one's true self.