The Power within us-
(A lecture given in New York, 20 May, 1926)
My subject of this evening is the power within the self. One reads in books from the East about the different wonders performed by great souls, and one wonders if there is some truth in them. One hears that there are people who know what is going on at a distance; that there are people who can send their thought from a very far distance; that there are people who can create things, produce things in a moment without having anything; that there are people who can make things disappear. One even reads and hears that there are some who can command the rain to fall and who can make the multitude move according to their command, to their will, who can inspire a multitude just in a flash, who can prevent plagues from coming and who can perform wonders in war.
No doubt, there are many jugglers among them, but whenever there is truth, there is falsehood on the other side to laugh at it. Nevertheless, the truth remains just the same. There are stories of the wonder-workings and phenomena which take place in the East. Many of those stories, no doubt, are of the jugglers who by a sleight of the hand or by some hypnotic influence can perform "wonders". But there are others who are real and do not come forward to perform; but wonders are performed in their lives, and there are those who see their wonders. The real ones never say that they can perform wonders, neither do they pursue such powers; these powers come naturally. Man generally is not conscious of the power he has. When he becomes conscious of that power, he is able to do things which ordinary people cannot accomplish.
There are two powers: one is called qaza in Sufi terms and the other qadr. One is individual power and the other is God-power. The individual power can work and can accomplish things as long as it is working in consonance with God's power. But the moment the individual power is working opposite to God's power, man begins to realize that his strength diminishes, and he cannot accomplish. Therefore, the first thing that masters seek is the pleasure of God, to be in consonance with the Will of God. Just like a person, who has practised the game of gambling or any kind of sport, has accustomed himself to know the manner in which to handle it, so the man who is constantly in the thought of doing everything in consonance with God's power is helped by the Will of God.
Very often people have misunderstood this Will of God. They think that what they consider good is the Will of God, and what they consider not good is not the Will of God. But their good and their thought of wrong have nothing to do with the power of God, because God's outlook is different from man's outlook. Man only sees so far and no further, whereas God sees all things.
But one wonders: if we all belong to the body of God, if we all are as atoms of His Being, why do we not understand, why do we not readily know what is in consonance with the Will of God and what is not? The answer is that each atom of our body is conscious of itself. If there is a pain in the finger, the ear does not feel it. If there is a pain in the toe, the nose does not feel it; only the toe feels it. But in both cases, in the case of the toe or of the finger, the person feels it, because he possesses the whole body and feels it.
Such is the narrow world of man. Man lives in a small world that he has made for himself. According to it he sees right and wrong, and according to that exists his interest in life. Therefore, he is not able always to work in consonance with the Will of God, unless he makes a habit to work in consonance with God's Will.
Now coming to understand what is man: is man only his body? No, man is his mind, man is the soul. Therefore the power of man is greater than the power of the sun. For the sun is only a body, but man has a body, mind and soul. Once man has become conscious of his body, mind and soul, his power becomes greater than the power of the sun. For the sun is the material manifestation of the light, but man has all light within him. The body of man is radiance, a radiance which is so great that all invisible beings which live in space are hidden by the glow of the human form. Nothing exists which is not visible; but one thing which is more visible hides the other which is not so visible. So it is the glow and radiance of the human body which is so great that it hides the beings in space. In reality they are all visible, but the radiance of man's form stands out and hides all that, compared to it, is less visible. And when we look at life from this point of view, there is nothing that is invisible. Only there are things which our eyes have no power to see, which does not mean that there are things which are formless. All have form, all have existence.
Man's mind has a still greater power; it is the power of will of the mind that can bring about change in conditions, in environments. It can have power on matter, on objects, on affairs; it can even work so wonderfully that one cannot explain it. The power of the mind can work on the multitude.
Not very long ago there was a sage living near the palace of the Maharaja of Kashmir. Many thought that this man was insane, not in his right mind. Still the Maharaja had great respect for him and allowed him to wander about in the garden of the palace. A miniature cannon was kept in this garden, and there used to come a time once a year that this man, just like a child, would play with the cannon, turning it to the East or to the West, to the North or the South. Playing with that cannon he would become very excited, making noises imitating gun-fire. The Maharaja said, "Tell me whatever he does". He would say that where he pointed the cannon, from that side, the North or the South, there would be an invasion, and before that came he should be ready. Whenever one inquired about it, an invasion was really entering from that side and the Maharaja was ready in time to face it.
The story of Muhammad's life is not a tradition, it is history. Muhammad being the last prophet, Arabia has his history. In one of the great wars that Muhammad had to fight the whole army was defeated. There only remained ten or fifteen friends by the side of the Prophet; all others ran away or were dead or wounded. The Prophet turned to his people and saw that they were all down-hearted and disappointed. He said, "Look, before us here is an army and here we are, fifteen persons. You do not see any hope, you must retreat. But I, I will stay here whether I am to come back victorious or lose my life here on this battlefield. Now you go. As many have gone, so you go also". They said, "No Prophet, if your life is to be finished here on this battlefield, our life will be taken first. What is our life after all! We shall give our lives together with you, Prophet. We are not afraid of this army". Then the Prophet threw away the sword he had in his hand; he bowed down, took a few pebbles from the earth and threw them at the army before him. And the army began to run for miles and miles. They did not know what was behind them. There were only a few pebbles, but what they saw were bullets and they began to run. That is called power, that also is man; it is man's power.
It is not only that man has power over objects, but man has power over beings. It is only a little touch of power with which the master of the circus makes elephants work and tigers and lions dance before him. As his power is greater, he has only to look at them and make them work as he wishes them to work.
When it is told in the story of Daniel that he went into the lions' den and found them all tamed at his feet, that is again the spiritual power. It shows what power man has. At the same time, not knowing of it, not being conscious of it, not trying to develop it, he debars himself of that great privilege and bliss that God has given; and with his limited powers he works in the world for pennies. In the end no pennies last with him, nor has power ever been known to him. The power greatly depends upon the consciousness and the attitude of mind. A guilty conscience can turn lions into rabbits. People lose their power once they feel guilty. When a man thinks and is impressed by what he thinks, and if that impresses him with disappointment, distress or shame, that diminishes his power. But when he is inspired by a thought, a feeling, by an action he performs, then he is powerful. That is the power of truth that makes one stronger.
Apart from those who know truth, even those who do not know truth, if they think they are in the right, even they have some power, the power of sincerity. Very few realize what power sincerity carries. A false man, however physically strong he is or however great is his will-power, if there is falsehood it keeps him down, it never allows him to rise. It eats him because it is a rust. Those who have done great things in life, in whatever walk of life it be, have done them by the power of truth, the power of sincerity, of earnestness, of conviction. When that is lacking, power is lacking there.
What takes away man's power is doubt. As soon as a person thinks, "Is it so or not? Will it be or will it not be?", then he is powerless, and this is such a disease that every mind catches it, it is contagious. You can go to a doubting person when you have great enthusiasm and hope, and he may so impress you with darkness that you end in the same boat. Doubt takes away courage and hope and optimism.
There are three grades of evolved human beings. In Sanskrit they are called Atma, Mahatma and Paramatma, illuminated souls. In other words: a holy person, a divine soul, an almighty soul.
In the case of the first, an illuminated soul can show five different powers. These powers are magnetic powers. The first aspect of it is the revivifying of the physical body. The next aspect of it is brightening the intelligence. The third aspect of it is deepening the love-element in the heart. The fourth aspect of it is etherializing and deepening insight. And the fifth aspect is uniting with God.
With the fifth aspect the illuminated soul shows the great power, which power can be divided into two parts: one is the power of insight, the other the power of will. The power of insight does not construct, does not make anything; it only sees, it is a passive power. The one who has the power of insight can see into human nature. He has an insight into the heart of another person, into the soul of another person, into the life of another person, into his affairs, into his past, present and future. What inspires him in that way? What is it that he sees? He seems to understand the language of nature, the language of life. He seems to read the form, the feature, the movement, the atmosphere, the thought and feeling, because everything has certain vibrations, a certain tendency. Therefore, to have insight is to know the language of life which is without words. And he can see to such an extent that the person whom he reads does not know so much about himself as the one who sees, because everyone is blinded by his own affairs. When he is told, he knows it, but if you do not tell him he does not know. It seems as if the knowledge of his own being is buried within himself.
Where does this science come from? Also from the knowledge of insight, at least at the beginning. Other things improve upon it, but this science begins in intuition which is insight. The great inventors of the world have insight into things. They may not believe this, but all the same they have it. They penetrate through the object and its purpose and they utilize it towards its purpose. In that way they make use of their insight and knowledge for scientific inventions. If they realized this, they could make use of the same insight a thousand times better.
Where does the science of medicine come from? From insight. Those, who have studied in the forests the lives of animals, found out that among them the bear knows more about herbs than any other animal. Whenever he is ill, he knows what herb to take; he cures himself by taking a certain herb. The ancient people, who investigated the tendency of animals, invented medicine and cured themselves. This shows that man has not only invented it, but that it has also come by intuition. All other sciences have come in the same way.
The Mahatmas are different. It is not only that they have a magnetic power, but they have divine instinct, divine inspiration. There are stories told about the constructive power of Mahatmas, and one story is very interesting as it shows what this power can do.
Once a prince was sent away from his country, his father having disapproved of his conduct. He went away and lived in the forest for a long time under the training of a guru, a teacher, and developed spiritually. When the time came that he should be given initiation into the higher power, the guru asked, "My chela, have you any relatives?" He said, "Yes, my father and my mother". - "Then you must go to them and ask them first if you may take the initiation; for once you take it, you will have to live the life of solitude". The teacher thought it was better that he should first go to his people and see all the possibilities of worldly life. If he did not want it, then he could come back. The chela was so far developed by that time that he had no desire to go to his parents in that kingdom and see them again. But since the guru told him so, he went. When he reached his kingdom he went to the garden, where he had lived before and which had been neglected for many years. There was nothing left in the garden. He went and sat there and was very sorry to see his garden so neglected. He took some water from his pitcher and threw it to both sides, and the garden began to flourish. So it was made known to the whole kingdom that a sage was there; that the place where he stayed for a few days had begun to flourish. Then the story goes on that the king learned that his son was there and wanted him to take over the kingdom, to take up the work of the country. But he refused and went away.
This story only gives an example of the constructive power of the sage, how the soul of the Mahatma is constructive. And it is not true, as people say, that Mahatmas can only be found in the caves of the Himalayas and that one cannot see them in the midst of the world. They can be found anywhere, they can be found in a palace, in the midst of riches, of comfort, as in remote places. They can be in any situation. In any position they can be a Mahatma just the same. But what comes out of the Mahatma is a continual spreading influence of construction. In whichever country or place they are, there is a kind of construction. They are a protection against illnesses, and plagues, wars and disasters. Their constructive power is working and helps those people to flourish. Today people are ready to believe that a minister, a Prime Minister or a great man in a country can be of such a help that he can raise a country, make the finances of the country in good order or guard the country against other nations. They can believe that, but a hidden soul which is not known can have a greater influence still on the whole country. It has been known and seen by millions of people in the East at different times, when divine souls lived, that their influence spread through the whole country and lifted it.
The third aspect of sages is Paramatma, the almighty one. He is still greater in that this sage is no longer a person, he is God-conscious. We all are that of which we are conscious. A man in prison is conscious of the prison; a person who has a lot of money in the bank and is not conscious of it is poor in spite of his wealth. We only have that of which we are conscious. Therefore our greatness or smallness, our high or low reach, depends upon our consciousness. And even to become an illuminated soul is only a difference of consciousness. It is not how much good a person may do. There are perhaps many good people, but they do not know what they themselves are. They may be quite content with the good they have done, but not accomplish much.
Besides that there are some who believe in God and others who love God, and there are still others who are lost in God. Those who believe in God are on earth and God is in Heaven for them. Those who love God, for them God is before them; they are face to face with their Lord. And those who are lost in God have gained their real self. They are God themselves.
I know of a God-conscious soul who was moving about in the city of Baroda where the rule was that no one should go about after ten o'clock at night. Not knowing time this sage was wandering about. A policeman asked him, "Where are you going?", but he did not hear. Perhaps he was far away from the place where he was wandering. But when he heard the policeman say, "Are you a thief?", he smiled and said "Yes". The policeman took him to the police station and made him sit there all night long. In the morning the officer came and asked, "What is the report?" The policeman said, "I have caught a thief. I found him in the street. He talked foolishly". When the officer went and saw this man, he knew that this was a great soul and that people respected him very much. He asked his pardon. "But", he said, "when the policeman asked you that question, why did you say that you were a thief?" The answer was, "What am I not? I am everything".
We try to become spiritual, to raise our consciousness, but when it comes to an insult we do not own it, we do not like it. As long as everybody flatters us we are glad to attribute those things to ourselves, but as soon as it comes to an insult we do not like it, we say, "That is not me". But the Paramatma, the high soul, is united with God; he is God-conscious, all-conscious. Everyone is his own self. Whether the other is a good person or a wicked person, whether he is right or wrong, he is his own self; he looks at that person as his own self. Even if he were called a thief he could say, "Yes. All names are my names".
In conclusion, spirituality is not a certain knowledge, spirituality is the expansion of consciousness. The wider the consciousness expands, the greater is one's spiritual vision. And when once the consciousness expands so much that it embraces the whole universe, it is that which is called divine perfection.