PART III: THE POWER OF THE WORD
The Power of The Word
We find in the Bible the words: ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was God,’ and we also find that the word is light, and that when that light dawned the whole creation manifested. These are not only religious verses; to the mystic or seer the deepest revelation is contained in them. Here is a thought, which may be pondered over for years, each time with fresh inspiration. It teaches that the first sign of life that manifested was the audible expression or sound: that is the word.
When we compare this interpretation with the Vedanta philosophy, we find that the two are identical. All down the ages the Yogis and seers of India have worshipped the Word-God, or Sound-God, and around that idea is centered all the mysticism of sound or utterance. Not alone among Hindus, but among the seers of the Semitic, the Hebraic races the great importance of the word was recognized. The sacred name, the sacred word, were always esteemed in the Jewish religion. Also in Islam, that great religion whose mysticism the West is only beginning to discover, one finds the doctrine of Ismahismwhich, translated, is the ‘doctrine of the mystical word’. The Zoroastrians, who had their religion given to them long before the time of Buddha or Christ, and who have lost many of their teachings through the changes of time and conditions, have yet always preserved the sacred words. Sanskrit is now considered a dead language – but in the Indian meditations called Yoga, Sanskrit words are still used because of the power of sound and vibration that is contained in them
The deeper we dive into the mystery of life the more we find that its whole secret is hidden in what we call words. All occult science, all mystical practices are based upon the science of word or sound. Man is a mystery in all aspects of his being, not only in mind and soul, but also in that organism which he calls his body. It is his body, of which the Sufis say that it is the temple of God. This is not a mere saying or belief, for if man studies his body from the mystical point of view, he will find it to be much more subtle and for-reaching, and much more capable of doing, understanding and feeling, than he believes it to be.
There are faculties of the soul which express themselves through certain centers in the body of man. As there are parts of lands to which water never reaches – and therefore they never become fertile soil – so it is with these centers when the breath never reaches them. They are intuitive, they are full of peace and balance, they are the centers illumination, yet never have they been awakened, for man has breathed only in those parts of his body by which he can eat, and live, and perform action. He is only half alive, if his existence is compared with the fullness of life that can be obtained by spiritual development.
It may be compared to living in a great town and not knowing that there are many beautiful things that one has never seen. As there are many people who travel to distant hands and do not know their own country, so it is with man. He is interested in all that brings beauty and joy, and yet does not know the source of all such things in himself.
Man breathes, but he does not breathe rightly. As the rain falls on the ground and matures little plants and makes the soil fertile, so the breath, the essence of all energy, falls as a rain on all parts of the body. This also happen in the case of the mind, but man cannot even perceive that part of the breath that quickens the mind; only that felt in the body is perceptible, and to the average man it is not even perceptible in the body. He knows nothing of it, except what appears in the form of inhalation and exhalation through the nostrils. It is this, alone which is generally meant when man speaks of breath.
When we study the science of breath, the first thing we notice is that breath is audible; it is a word in itself, for what we cal a word is only a more pronounced utterance of breath fashioned by the mouth and tongue. In the capacity of the mouth breath becomes voice, and therefore the original condition of a word is breath. Therefore if we said: ‘First was the breath’, it would be the same as saying; ‘In the beginning was the word’
The first life that existed was the life of God, and from that all manifestation branched out. It is a manifold expression of one life: one flower blooming, as so many petals, one breath expressing itself as so many words, the sacred idea, attached to the lotus flower, is expressive of this same philosophy. It is symbolizing the many lives in the one God, and expressed in the Bible in the words: ‘In God we live and move and have our being’. When man is separated from God in thought, his belief is of no use to him, his worship is but of little use to him; for all forms of worship or belief should draw man closer to God, and that which makes man separate from God has no value.
What is it that makes a word sacred or important? Is not every word as sacred and important as another? That is true- but for whom is it sacred? For the pure and exalted souls to whom every word breathes the name of God, but not for the average man. There are souls who are at that stage of evolution in which every word is the sacred name. But when a teacher gives a method, it is not given to the exalted souls but to beginners, and therefore words are selected and given to pupils by the Guru or teacher, as a physician would give a prescription, knowing for which complaint and for what purpose it is given. Hafiz says: ‘Accept every instruction thy teacher giveth, for he knoweth which is thy path and where is thy good’.
Great importance, is given by the mystics, to the number of repetitions, for numbers are a science and every number of repetitions has a value. One repetition means one thing and a few more mean something quite different, as in medicine one grain of a drug may heal and ten may destroy life. When Christ commanded to abstain from vain repetitions he was not, as is often thought, referring to the sacred name as used in worship or religious practices. There was a custom among the Semitic peoples, and it still exists in the East, of the constant use of the name of God by people in the street or market place. They world bring it continually into commerce or business, into quarrels and disputes, and it was against this abuse of the most holy name that Christ was speaking.
In repetition lies the secret of power, therefore it is a great mistake when people take the ways of spiritual culture lightly as an everyday interest, as a little hobby, and learn from a book or from some slight instruction given to them. If they attempt to practice from such knowledge only, they are risking their lives. Imagine a center, which should be awakened at a certain time of evolution being awakened before that time is reached. It world be a disaster!
There are certain words, which attract a certain blessing in life. Some attract power, some bring release from difficulties, some give courage and strength. There are words, which can heal, others, which give comfort and ease, and again others, which have greater effects still. Now when a person in need of peace and rest uses words that bring courage and strength, he will become even more restless. It is just like taking medicine, which is a tonic to cure a high fever.
Then there is another question, namely: what makes a word powerful? Is it the meaning, the vibration, the way it is used, or the knowledge of the teacher who teaches the pupil to repeat it? The answer to such a question is that some words have power because of their meaning, others because of the vibration they produce, others for their influence upon the various centers. And there are some words given by saints, sages and prophets which have come inspirationally from God. In them is all blessing and the mystery of how to acquire all that the soul desires in life. If there exists any phenomenon or miracle it is in the power of words. But those who know of this power and who possess it never show it to others. Spiritual attainment is not a thing to be brought before people to prove that it is real, or as a show. What is real is proof in itself, what is beyond all price or value does not need to be made much of before people. What is real is real, and the precious is precious in itself: it needs no explanation, nor pleading.
The greatest lesson of mysticism is to know all, gain all, attain all things and be silent. The more the disciple gains, the more humble he becomes, and when any person makes this gain a means of proving himself in any way superior to others, it is a proof that he does not really possess it. He may have a spark within himself, but the torch is not yet lighted. There is a saying among the Hindus that the tree that bears much fruit bows low.
Words have power to vibrate through different parts of man’s body. There are words that echo in the heart, and there are others that do so in the head, and again others that have power over the body. By certain words definite emotions can be quickened or calmed. There is also a science of syllables, which has its own particular effect.
Wagner did but repeat the teaching of the mystics of the East, when he said that he who knows the law of vibrations knows the whole secret of life.
The Power of The Word (continued)
The mystic who knows the value of the word finds that word first in himself; for the secret of all knowledge that one acquires in the world, whether worldly or spiritual, is the knowledge of the self. For instance, music is played outside oneself. But where is it realized? It is realized within. A good word or a bad word is spoken form outside. But where is it realized? It is realized within. Then where is the realization of the whole manifestation, of all this creation that stands before us in all its aspects? Its realization is within.
At the same time the error of man always continues: instead of finding realization within, he always wants to find it without. It is just like a man who wants to see the moon and looks for it on the ground. If a man seeks for the moon for thousands of years by looking on the earth, he will never see it. He will have to lift up his head and look at the sky. So it is with the man who is in search of the mystery of life outside himself; he will never find it for the mystery of life is to be found within; there are the source and the goal, and it is there that, if he seeks, he will find.
What is sound? Is sound outside, or is it something within? The outside sound only becomes audible because the sound within is continued, and the day when the sound within is shut off, this body is not capable of hearing the outside sound.
Man, living today the life of externality, has become so accustomed to the outside life that he hardly thinks of just sitting alone. When he is alone he busies himself with a newspaper or something else, always working with the life which is outside, always occupied with the life outside himself. In this way man loses his attachment to the life which is within. So his life becomes superficial, and the result is nothing but disappointment. There is nothing in this world in the form of sound, visible or audible, which is so attractive as the sound within: for all that the senses touch and all that is intelligible to the mind of man has its limitation. It has its limitation in time and effect; it makes no effect beyond its own limits.
Life’s mystery lies in the breath; it is the continuation of breath and pulsation that keeps the mechanism of the body going. It seems that people of ancient times had a greater knowledge of this mystery than man has today. For what is meant by the lute of Orpheus? It means the human body; it is a lute, it is meant to be played upon. When this lute is not realized, when it is not understood, when it is not utilized for its proper purpose, then that lute remains without the use for which it was created, because then it has not fulfilled the purpose for which it was made.
The breath goes not merely as far as the man of material science knows. He knows only the vibrations of the air, going out and coming in, and he sees no further. Besides this there is pulsation: the beating of the heart and head, the pulse, all these keep a rhythm. Man very rarely thinks about what depends upon this rhythm. The whole life depends upon it! The breath which one breathes is certainly a secret in itself; it is not only a secret but the expression of all mystery, something upon which the psychology of life depends.
The science of medicine has for thousands of years to some extent depended upon finding out the complaints of the body by its rhythm and by the breath. Ancient medicine knew that health depends upon vibrations. And now again a time is coming when in the Western world physicians are striving to find out the law of vibrations upon which man’s health depends.
If the human body is a lute, then every word man speaks, every word he hears, has an effect upon his body; it not only has an effect upon the body, but also upon the mind. For
instance, if a person hears himself called by the name ‘foolish’ and repeats it, even if he were wise he will in time turn foolish. And it is also true that if one calls a man who is simple wise, in time he will become wise.
The effect of a man’s name has a great deal to do with his life, and very often one sees that a man’s name has an effect upon his fate and career. The reason is only that he is so often in the day called by that name. Is it not true that a man saying a humorous thing bursts out laughing, and a man saying a sad thing breaks into tears? If that is so, then what effect has every word that one speaks in one’s everyday life upon oneself and upon one’s surroundings!
One can see by this that the ancient superstitions about not saying an unlucky word, an undesirable word, has a meaning. In the East a child is trained to think before he utters a word, since it has a psychological meaning and effect. Very often people reading a poem or singing a song with great love, a song of sorrow or tragedy, are affected by it, and their life may take a turn and be affected by it too.
A person who speaks of his illness nourishes his illness by speaking of it. Often I have heard people say, that if a pain exists it is a reality, ‘and how can one deny it’?’ It is so amusing to hear them say this, because reality is so far away, and our everyday life is such that from morning till evening we do nothing but deny it. If one could only know where the truth lies, if one could only know what truth is – if one only were to know it and see it – one would understand that in reality all else is non-existent.
When one studies the secret behind this idea, one must admit the power of the word. This is a metaphysical science, which should be studied. The depth of the word of each person is very different. If a person has spoken a hundred words in one day, do you think that every word has the same power? No, the power and effect of a particular word depend upon the state in which that person was, and from what depth the word rises. Upon this depend the power and light of that word. For instance, with a person who has a habit of telling a lie, who is insincere, you will always find that his words are dropping down. His words have no force, while the one who speaks with conviction, who is sincere, who tells the truth – his word has a light, his word penetrates. Sometimes, from a person full of sadness and heartbroken, a voice comes, a word, full of sincerity; it has all the power to penetrate; it has such an effect upon the listener! Then there is another person who is lighthearted, who is not deep, not serious enough in life; everything he says and does is always on the surface; he inspires no one with confidence, for he himself has no confidence
Besides this, the word will have power in accordance with the illumination of the soul, because then that word does not come from the human mind, that word comes from the depth, from behind; that word comes from some mysterious part that is hidden from the human mind. And it is in connection with such words that one reads in the scriptures of ‘swords of flame; or ‘tongues of flame’.’ Whether it was from a poet, or whether it was from a prophet, when that word came from his burning heart, then the word rose as a flame. In accordance with the divine Spirit, which is in the word, that word has life, power and inspiration. Think of the living words of ancient times, think of the living words that one reads in the scriptures, the living words of the holy ones, illuminated ones! They live and will live forever. It is as a music, which may be called magic, magic for all times. Whenever such words are repeated they have that magic, that power.
Those words, which the illuminated souls of all ages have spoken, have been preserved by their pupils. In whatever part of the world they were born or lived, what they let fall as words has been gathered up like real pearls, and kept as scriptures. Therefore, wherever one goes in the East one finds that the followers of different religions keep the words of the illuminated ones whenever they pray, and they do not need to put them into their own language. Words spoken by the great ones have been preserved for ages, in order that they might be used for meditation.
There is a more scientific and still greater mystery in the word. It is not only what the word means, it is not only who has said the word, but the word in itself has also a dynamic power. The mystics, sages and seekers of all ages, knowing the mystery of the sacred word, have always been in pursuit of it. The whole meditative life of the Sufis is built upon the mystery of the word. For the word ‘Sufi’, according to the explanation of the initiates, is related to Sophia which means wisdom. But not wisdom in the outer sense of the word, because worldly cleverness cannot be called wisdom. The intellect which man very often confuses with wisdom is only an illusion of it. Wisdom is that which is learned from within; intellect is that which is acquired from without.
Wisdom is a form, in which the souls that have come to realization, have tried to perceive and interpret to themselves the word they found in life. Wisdom is the interpretation of life, made by someone whose point of view has become different by looking at life in the sunlight. One arrives at this point of view not by study alone, but by association with those who have that particular point of view. Besides, by diving deep into life, one comes to the realization of truth, and for diving deep into life there is a way or process. It is possible that either with some difficulty or with ease, one finds a place one is looking for in a town. One may look for it in different directions and at last find it; but by asking somebody who knows, one can find it sooner.
The source of wisdom is above, the source of intellect is below, and therefore it is not the same method, it is not the same process which one adopts in order to attain wisdom, as that which one adopts to acquire intellect. In short: the attainment of that wisdom is achieved in various ways by various people, but the great mystery of attaining divine wisdom lies in the mystery of the word.
The Power of the Word (continued)
The idea of the power of the word is as old as the Vedas of the Hindus. The modern world is now awakening to it through what is called psychology, and since there is an interest in psychology there is a possibility of exploring that ancient treasure which seekers after truth have developed for a thousand years in the East.
Man today looks at psychology as a side issue and as something that can help medical science. But there will come a day when mankind in this modern world will look upon the science of psychology in the same way that the people in the East have looked upon it: as the main thing in religion and spiritual development.
As to power of the word, a new idea has been coming from various places under different names, and it is that the repetition of a certain word or phrase is of great use in curing oneself of certain illnesses. Psychology in the Western world is discovering this today. But what about the Buddhists who, for so many centuries have repeated the different mantras, sitting in their temples, repeating them two thousand, three thousand times a day? And what about the Hindus who have preserved their age old sacred Mantras and chants? Even though the language is extinct, they have preserved these ancient chants up till now. And what about the Jewish people, who still preserve the sacred songs, which they inherited from the prophets of Beni Israel? And what about the Muslims, who for ages have repeated the Qur’an daily for so many hours, and who still continue to repeat the verses of the same book today? And think what secret there is behind the repetitions of the priests and Catholic mystics!
The Zoroastrians , the Parsis, whose religion dates from perhaps eight thousand years ago, have still maintained even up to the present time their sacred words, and they chant their prayers several times a day, repeating the same words every day. But modern man, who reads a newspaper today, throws it away tomorrow, he will ask for another newspaper!
No doubt there is great value in the fact that these millions of people have been clinging to those mantras, repeating them day after day perhaps all their life and never becoming tired of doing so. If it were, as it is sometimes called, a religious fanaticism, then nobody could continue those repetitions, as no intoxication can continue longer than its influence lasts; then it goes and a person is disillusioned.
This shows that behind the repetition of words a secret is hidden, and the day when man has fathomed it he will have discovered a great secret of life. One way of understanding this mystery is to keep in mind that as a reflector is needed behind the light in order to direct the light fully, so a reflector is needed for the voice, as every voice producer knows. The voice producer will always give exercises to his pupil to repeat and repeat, in order to get this reflector into the right condition, so that all the possibility of producing a full voice may be brought out.
That is the material side of the question, but then there is the psychological side of it. This is that not only the organs of the physical body have this quality of reflection, but the mind, or what we call feeling, can also be a reflector. We very rarely explore this question; we cut it short every time we are faced with it. For instance, when a person is telling a lie it is natural that it is wicked, and we cannot readily believe it. However loud his voice may be, however strongly he emphasizes his lie, since it is a lie, we feel it is wicked. Because psychologically, the power of mind must act as a reflector, but in these circumstances it does not act as this person wishes, for his mind is not really behind it.
Also, take an ordinary phrase such as ‘thank you’ or ‘I am very grateful to you’. If during the day, ten people say it to you, each one of them will have a different power of conveying it. Because if the reflector is not giving power from behind, a person may say a thousand times ‘I am so grateful to you’, but it will make no effect.
There is another way of looking at the same question: one person may tell you something, and you readily believe it, and another person may tell you the same thing fifty times over, and you do not feel inclined to believe it. What does this show? It shows that we must prepare ourselves before we say anything. It is not always what we say, but how we feel it, how we express it, and what power is hidden behind our expression, what power pushes it out, so that the word may pierce through the heart of man.
Then there is the question as to how one can best prepare oneself to utter a certain word effectively? Symbolically speaking, a person may pronounce the same word a hundred times before people, but it is an iron word. A person may say it fifty times, but it is a copper word. A person may say it twenty times, but it is a silver word. And another person may say it only once, and it is a golden word. For instance, a person may talk and talk and talk in order to convince you, he may dispute and discuss and argue and show a thousand examples to make you believe him, but the more he wants you to believe him, the less he convinces you. Yet, there is another person who tells you something perhaps only once, and you cannot help saying: ‘Yes, I believe it, I understand it I am convinced’.
How does one prepare oneself? How does one prepare the reflectors ready in order to make the impression of the word? Yogis and Sufis have found certain practices by which a kind of psychological development is brought about. Through these a person becomes naturally more and more sincere and earnest, and everything he says bears that influence, that power. Perhaps these practices have no value according to the science of voice production, but they have a very great value according to the psychological point of view. It is such practices, which have been considered as concentration, meditation, contemplation and realization.
Regarding ancient words, any student of ancient languages will find that these words can be traced back to one and the same source. The closer you approach the ancient languages the more you will find a psychological significance in them, and the language of today will seem like corruption’s of them. It is surprising how many words in the languages spoken today come from the ancient languages, and many names of persons are derived from them.
In the ancient languages these words were formed by intuition. Modern languages are based on the grammar one learns. Certainly, words, that have come purely from intuition, and that form a language, which is in an action and reaction of man’s experience of life, are more powerful than the words of the languages we speak today. Thus they have a greater power when repeated, and a great phenomenon is produced when a person has mastered those words under the guidance of someone who understands that path.
Every vowel, has its psychological significance, and the composition of every word has a chemical and psychological significance. The Yogis use special words, which they repeat in the morning or in the evening. And by this they reach a certain illumination or come to a certain state of exaltation. It is this very science which was called by the Sufis of ancient times dhikr (zikar). This means a science of bringing about desirable results by the repetition of the proper words or phrases. A chemist may have all the medicines, but if every person went and got whatever medicine he wanted, he might cure himself or kill himself.
Even more difficult and more responsible is the work of using the repetition of certain psychological words or phrases. It is the physician’s responsibility to give a certain person a proper medicine necessary for his condition, for his purpose. In the East one searches for aGuru, or a Murshid as the Sufis call him, who has the experience of psychological prescription, and one takes what the Murshid has prescribed as an instruction. First the Murshid makes a diagnosis of the person’s condition, and according to that he prescribes a word or phrase by the repetition of which that person may arrive at the desired goal. Those, who have some experience of voice production will know that in the beginning the teacher does not give any songs; he gives certain words, and a special way of practicing by which the voice is developed.
In Sufism there are certain words, which are considered sacred, and a person of simple faith will only know them as such. But besides being sacred, that they have psychological significance, and by repeating them, a certain effect is produced.
It is very interesting to note that science shows every inclination of awakening in the direction of vibrations and their phenomena. The modern systems are not yet very much developed, but the aim is the same, to find out the conditions of the vibrations in the physical body, in order to treat the body in a scientific way.
When we see, that similar systems were developed by the ancient mystics and occultists, and tried for thousands of years by numberless people, all their life, it is clear that those systems must bring about satisfactory results, and give to many a treasure which has always been kept sacred by the seekers after truth.
The Sufi Movement therefore has made a facility for the people of the West, for those who wish to reach that treasure, that source, to obtain by a serious study and practice of Sufism some glimpses of the truth wish the ancient mystics possessed.
The Power of the Word (continued)
There is nothing more important as a means of raising one’s consciousness and nothing that can be of greater use and importance on the path of spiritual attainment than the repetition of the right word. When we look at the traditions we find that, from the time of the ancient Hindu teachers who lived thousands of years before Christ, repetition of a sacred word was practiced. And so we find that, in all the great periods, when a religious reform came to a country, the power of the word was considered to be of immense importance: for instance, at the time when the Jewish religion was given, and also in the early period of Christianity.
Mystical words may be used in different languages, but they do not exclusively belong to any language. Take, for example, the phrase used in the practice of dhiker (zikar). It is found today in the Arabic language, it came from Arabia. But then it is used in the Persian language also; one who does not know its existence in Arabia might think that it came from Persia. It also exists in the Hindu language, and one who does not know of its existence in the other languages, might think that it was Hindu. It also exists in the Hebrew language. It consists of the same words, which was repeated by Christ himself as his last words. Even those who came before Christ, mystics whose origin was the ancient school of Egypt, also repeated the same phrase. There are sufficient proofs of this fact: during the time of Abraham, who was initiated in the school of Egypt, these words were already in use.
One might ask what it is in a word that helps, and why it helps. In answer to this, I would say that there is no expression of life more vital than words; because the voice is an expressive manifestation of breath, and breath is life itself. Therefore, the spoken word not only makes an effect upon another person, but also upon oneself. And, every word one says has its effect not only upon one’s body, but also upon one’s mind and spirit. If one utters a tactless or foolish word it not only offends another, but can prove to be of great disadvantage to oneself.
Often a person in a pessimistic mood, in a kind of disturbed condition may wish for death, wish for failure, wish for anything. If he only know what an effect it has, he world be frightened. Even in pain, if a person could refrain from saying: ‘I am in pain’, he would do a great deal of good to himself. If a person who has met with misfortune would even avoid saying: ‘I am experiencing misfortune’, it would b a great thing. For when a person acknowledges the existence of something he does not want, he only gives it a greater life. And when a person says: ‘Oh, I have waited and waited and waited; my ship will never come’, he is keeping his ship back; his ship will never arrive in the port. But the one who does not even see the ship, but says: ‘It is coming, it is coming’ – is calling it and it will come.
Now, what I have said concerns the meaning of the ordinary word. But the mystical word has a greater value than the words that one uses in everyday language. Mystical words have come from three distinct sources: intuitive, scientific and astrological. Intuitive words have come as sudden expressions from God-realized souls. Whatever word or phrase comes from souls, which are tuned to the whole universe, is something which has a much greater power than the words in common use. But apart from spiritual people,
There may perhaps be someone among our friends or acquaintances, whose one word has weight and power, Whereas another person says a thousand words that go in at one ear and out at the other. And this is because in one person his mouth speaks, in another person his heart speaks, in another his soul speaks. There is a great difference.
One might ask: ‘How can a spiritual person intuitively bring forth a word which has power’? The answer is that a soul may become so much in tune with the whole universe that he hears, so to speak, the voice of the spheres. Therefore, what he says is like the echo of the whole universe. The person, who is in tune with the universe, becomes like a radio receiver through which the voice of the universe is transmitted. This is the personal aspect.
As to the scientific aspect, a deep study of human anatomy will explain that there are delicate nerve centers that can only be affected by certain vibrations, and upon which the equilibrium and the health of mind and body depend. Very often people have even been cured of illnesses by the use of resounding scientific words, because this has given to a certain center that vibration, which was needed to give life to it. If one goes deeper into the science of the word, one will find that every vowel and every consonant has its own specific effect upon one’s mind and body. Very often you will find, before seeing a person, you get a kind of impression of what that person is like. It shows that the name makes such a great difference in a person’s character.
The astrological aspect, it is a very vast subject and it is connected with every art and science. Vowels and words have their connection with the astrological science. By invoking a certain word one invokes a certain planet, either in order to diminish its influence if it is unfavorable, or to increase its power if it is a favorable. Therefore, in India, every name given to a person is given in accordance with the astrological science.
Many holy scriptures give evidence of the power of the word. But where has the knowledge of that science gone, so well know to the prophets of all times. The science of the word has been lost to most of mankind. The reason for this is that man engaged himself in the things of the earth, and so has lost the ancient art. By losing that great science, that mystical secret, what has the soul attained? The soul has attained an increasing deafness, and this deafness increases as the more material life prevails. Nevertheless, in every period there have been some thinkers, some servants of God, working knowingly or unknowingly , to whom it was always clear that the word was lost, which means that the secret of the whole of life was lost..
This, of course, is an exaggeration. The word which exists cannot be lost, but man has lost his capability of knowing, of hearing that word. Man no longer heard the word from the sky: he heard it from the earth. The result was the great awakening and progress of material science. All these great inventions are the answer from the earth to the communication of these great minds with matter. Thus, the word was not lost, but the direction was lost.
Man learned continually from the objective world things that he could touch, and make intelligible, and he is always disbelieving in matters which are not intelligible. In this way he has become far removed from the main part of life’s mystery. Nevertheless, if at any time in the world’s history man has probed the depth of life, he has found what he sought by communicating with the inner life, an artistic expression, and by communicating with the heavens. And what is that communication? It is the word.
When the Prophet Muhammad, felt the need to communicate, he went away from the town and remained in solitude on the top of a mountain; sometimes fasting, sometimes standing, and staying there night and day for two or three days. What did he find in the end? He found that a voice began to speak to him, a voice in answer to his soul’s cry. His soul, so to speak, went forth, pierced through all the planes of existence, and touched the source of all things. How did the answer come and in what form? The answer came from everything: from the wind, the water, the sphere, the air – everything bringing the same answer.
This experience is not limited to a certain person or to a certain time. In our everyday life there are times when sadness comes, and it seems as if everything in the world, even the voices of beasts and birds, cause sadness. Then again comes the hour of profound joy. At that time the sun helps to give joy, and clouds covering the sun also give joy. The cold, the heat, the friend, and the enemy, all help to give joy.
This world to a mystic is like a dome, a dome that re-echoes all that is spoken beneath it. What is spoken from the lips reaches only as far as the ears, but what is spoken from the heart reaches the heart. The word reaches as far as it can; and that depends from what source it has come and from what depth it has risen. The Sufis of all ages have therefore given the greatest importance to the word, knowing that the word is the key to the mystery of the whole life, the mystery of all planes of existence. There is nothing that is not accomplished, there is nothing that is not achieved or known through the power of the word. Therefore in esotericism or mysticism is the word.
But what is the word? Is the word just what we speak? Is that the word? No, that is only the surface of the word. Our thought is a word, our feeling is a word, our voice, and our atmosphere is a word. There is a saying: ‘What you are speaks louder than what you say”. This shows that even when man does not speak, his soul speaks. And, how do the fortune-teller read the future? They hear it. They say that they read it from the lines of the hand, by astrology, or from the actions of men. But what is all this? It is all a word. For word means expression, expression in voice, in word, in form, in color, in line, in movement: all are united in one thing and that is the esoteric side of mysticism. Of course, many people in the West have said it is very difficult to lead a meditative life in the activity of their world; they have so many responsibilities and occupations. My answer to this is that for every reason they need more meditation.
I have heard many persons say that they have the greatest desire to give their time and thoughts to spiritual things, but because they have not attained a manner of living that leaves their mind free to attend to these things, they believe they cannot take up anything spiritual. I saw the reason of their argument. Because it is quite true that in this world, as life is today, it is difficult to move without money. Material things apart, even in spiritual things one cannot do without money. If I were to give a lecture and I had no room to give it in, it could not be done. And if there were no advertisements in the newspapers no one would know about it and perhaps two or three persons would be kind enough to come and listen to me. It is therefore natural that a person should think like this, and he is not to be blamed. But at the same time, when we look at it from a different point of view, we still see that every moment lost in waiting for spiritual attainment is the greatest loss conceivable. And besides, one may go on thinking: ‘The day will come when I shall change my life and give in to something higher, something spiritual’, and that day will never come! One has to do it today, just now, instead of saying: ‘Tomorrow I will do it’. Otherwise one repents.
Life is assimilating; time passes. Hours, months, years slip by before one realizes that they have slipped by. To the one who understands the value of time, spiritual attainment comes first. As Christ said: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.’ I do not say: ‘Let all things go in order to pursue spiritual things’. Spiritual attainment does not deprive one of material gains. One has only to fix the spiritual things before one first. In order to become spiritual it is not necessary to give up worldly things, or all that is good and beautiful and valuable from the point of view of the material world. Solomon, with all his wealth, was not less wise. One need not give up all one has in order to become spiritual. If one should think that, it is a great pity. But to wait and say: ‘I shall wait till my ship comes. Then I shall become spiritual’ – who knows when the ship will come! It is never too late to go onto the spiritual path, but it is never too early. The best thing, therefore, is that, the moment you think that it is already too late, you should begin and go through all the tests and trials of this path, confident that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished once the spiritual path is taken.
A person may say that he would have to overcome many weaknesses. But the way of getting above weaknesses is by meditation. When there are many responsibilities in life, one’s very reason tells one that it is better to meditate and make the responsibilities lighter. It is not getting worried over one’s responsibilities that helps one. It is being responsible, but at the same time being strong enough to shoulder one’s responsibilities. There are words, which are known to the mystics, which do not belong to any language, yet the words of many languages seem to have sprung from these mystical words. And it is by the help of these words that one develops two faculties: seeing and hearing. By seeing, I do not mean seeing with the eyes, but penetrating. It is the penetrating quality of seeing that makes man a seer, and which is the real meaning of the word, clairvoyance. Nowadays, people have misused this word so much that one does not like to use it anymore. But then there is no word left in the world that has not been misused. If one were so sensitive about words, one would have to reject all language.
By hearing I do not mean listening. I mean responding; responding to heaven or earth; responding to every influence that helps to unfold a soul. Through the response and the penetration, which one gains by the power of the word, in the end one attains the goal; the goal, which is the yearning of every soul.
The Power of the Word (continued)
A time is coming in the present age when both spiritual and material people are realizing the power of the word. For instance, Coueism is talked about among spiritual and material people and they are beginning to see what a word can do. But when one goes a step further one will find that a sacred word has a greater importance and a greater phenomenon. Everyone who discovers some new idea feels at the time that he is the discoverer of it, but when we look back we find in the history of the world that it had been known already. Thus we come to realize and believe in the saying of Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun.
A great Persian poet has said that the repetition of the sacred name will not add sacredness to the Sacred, but it will make your own soul sacred. Those who understand from a psychological point of view the value of autosuggestion and the value of repetition, and how this works upon their body and their mind, are beginning to understand the elementary aspect of it. But before them is a large world of sound and mystery which is still closed, because they do not know that by repeating one word or one thing this may bring about a particular result – but it may do harm to something else.
The secret of language is that in all different languages that we find today in the world there seems to be a central one that can be traced as the mother language of them all. No doubt it is difficult to distinguish that language as such or such, but the relation that exists between one language and another shows that the human race had only one to begin with. Many linguists have said that it was Sanskrit. there are others who say that before Sanskrit there was another language.
Historians will have different opinions, but metaphysics teaches us that there was a language that was the one language of the human race, then many others came from it. An historian cannot be an historian if he does not give a name to a certain language as being the first; for a metaphysician this does not matter. He only understands, he knows for certain that there was one language. He does not mind if he does not know its name.
When we come to that language we understand that it was much more natural than the languages we know today, which are most complicated. Take for instance the language of birds and animals. These languages are not made from grammar, they are not mechanical; they are natural expressions of their real sentiments, of their real needs. It is by that natural expression that other animals of the same kind understand the warning they give to move, the warning they give to protect themselves, to leave their places; the warning of death or danger, or of a change of climate, of storm or rain coming. They have a certain way of expressing affection, passion, wrath, anger, and yet it is not a mechanical language, it is a natural expression, a natural language.
The primitive language of mankind was a language of feeling, of natural expression, just like the primitive figures. If we trace back thousands of years we shall find that the name of every object was written in a sort of picture which suggested that object. Now that thousands of years have passed those figures and forms have changed. Yet the one who can see into life can trace back at least some forms and some sounds and words that come from the origin of the human race.
The outcome of the language, which was the original language of humanity, was that every word, every sound that was expressed not only conveyed a meaning to the mind of the person who said it. It also created a sensation in the person who heard it, a sensation of a particular expression, of a particular feeling or sentiment. As the ancient people cultivated this domain of science they began to understand that sound, which is called voice, is the main principle in man’s life.
It is the voice of man, which shows whether a person is hard or tender, willful or weak-willed. Every characteristic of man can be perceived through his voice. The grade of the person’s evolution, his tendency and his condition at that moment can be realized by his voice. This shows that, before the face, the expression or the movement, the word can convey a feeling or a condition. It shows that the real being of a man, the central point of his life is to be found in the breath, for voice is only an expression of breath. When this voice is expressed outwardly, it is in the form of words.
This expression has a kind of reaction inwardly which has an effect on a person’s body, upon his mind, upon his soul. There are certain parts in the human body, which may be considered as factors of intuitive senses, and when by voice, by word, by breath these parts are brought into action, brought to life, man begins to experience a fuller life. If that person is an artist, a musician, a writer, a creative genius, whatever he is, by cultivating all the natural faculties which are within him he can express his art or his science to the full.
It is by taking this secret into consideration that the ancient people developed the science, which they called yoga. By the repetition of certain vowels, of certain words and of a particular way of breathing they touched within themselves those centers which are connected with intuitive faculties. This is not only a story of the past. The schools of the Sufis, whose origin is the ancient school of Egypt where Abraham was initiated, still exist and there are words you use, which have that power. But these schools have not made of this sacred idea an ordinary thought. They have not spread it among people who would take it and abuse it, because if you give a sharp sword into the hands of a child, the consequences will be fatal. A person who has not yet risen above his angers and passions, who has not yet risen above greed and above pride and conceit – if all the power there is is given to him, how will he use it? It is therefore that the schools first arranged that people might be taught moral culture and the attitude they should have towards their fellowmen. For they believed – and they still believe, that any power that is ever attained must be used for one purpose only and that purpose is nearing God. If it is not used for that purpose, if it is used for selfish ends, then it is just as well that man remains without powers. Therefore, in the ancient schools, which have tradition behind them and which are meant to serve humanity, initiations must be taken.
What does initiation mean? Initiation means confidence on the part of the teacher and trust on the part of the pupil. Initiation is not given to the one who is curious, who comes to examine the teacher, or who comes to find out if in this particular culture, in this cult, there is truth or not. If by any chance such a person received an initiation, he would go through it all and come back by the same door that he had entered without having found anything. For this treasure house, which is so great a treasure, is a magic house; a house wherein is every treasure, and yet the thief cannot find it. He will go through the house, he will go all around it, he will not see anything and he will go back with his hands empty. For truth is the portion of the sincere one. It is the one who is hungry who must be given food; it is the one who is thirsty who must be given water. He who is not hungry, to him food will do no good, and he who is not thirsty, water will not satisfy his need.
If a person wants to know these things in order to develop magnetic power, to accomplish his way, to gain power, or a name, or more things than he can get in his daily life, it is useless. For the word, and especially the sacred word, is the key. As it is said in the Bible that first was the word, so the last key is also the word. It is the word, which was the beginning of creation, and it is the word, which opens the mystery of creation. The different centers of intuition, of inspiration, of evolution are touched by the sacred word.
If nowadays science has discovered how the wireless can reach through space without any intermediary, one day the truth will be discovered, which has been known to mystics for thousands of years. This truth is that man himself is the instrument, the receiver and the sender of that wireless which is above all other ways of wireless. The wireless can explain to us many of the possibilities, which are otherwise difficult to comprehend, for it explains to us that every word once spoken is not lost. It is there and it can be taught. This supports what I have brought today before you: that the sacred word has such power that nothing, whether distance, space, air, or sea can keep it back from entering and reaching the hearts that can catch it. Only the difference is that the wireless is known to those who communicate from one country to another country. But this mystery of the word is known to those for whom communication with the world is nothing. Their aim is the communication between this world and the other world. For as the word was first and was at the beginning, therefore at the beginning there was not this word or that word. There was only one life, there was only one existence.
In reality there is one life and there is one existence. What we call this world or that world is for our convenience. It is our speculation. It is our way of distinguishing between the different dimensions. What is a dimension in reality? A dimension is rather a conception. There is only existence. It is just the same with time. There is no such thing as time; it is we who have a certain conception of it. But there is only existence, there is an eternal continuity of life. In the same way ‘this world and that world’ is only our conception of all that which hides the other world from our material physical eyes with which we have always been accustomed to look at life.
There is one existence, there is one life, eternal, everlasting. In short, if by the wireless words can be transferred from one place to another, this gives us the proof that, if there is one existence and one life, then in this world or in that world, here or in the hereafter, communication is possible for us. It is possible only if man has tuned himself, has wound himself, as it were, to that condition where he lives fully.
Since the world contains so much falsehood, every good thing is imitated and every writing is falsified. And as there is such a great desire in the mind of every person to do and to know something about reality, it seems that many different institutions, societies and groups wish to try and speak of things about which they themselves do not know. We could count today hundreds of institutions working in order to give belief in God by teaching what they call spirit communication. By doing this they spoil that sacred science and that great phenomenon which one realizes by attaining to the kingdom of God.
THE WORD THAT WAS LOST
‘The Word that was lost’ is a symbolical phrase, a paradox of the mystics, which has existed in the East and among the wise for ages. Many schools of spiritual or mystical cult have been formed in order to understand this particular problem, but what happens is that whoever wishes to solve the problem says very little about it after he has solved it.
There is an ancient story in the East, which tells that there was a wall of mystery. The tradition was that whenever anyone tried to climb upon the wall to look at the other side, instead of coming back he smiled and jumped over and never came back again. So the people of that country became very curious to know what mystery lay behind that wall. They thought they would arrange something so as to pull the person back when he looked at the other side of the wall and wished to go there. When the person tried to climb upon the wall, curious to see what was on the other side, the people who saw him climb put seven chains on his feet and held him so that he would not go over. When he looked at the other side he too was delighted with what he saw and smiled. Those standing at their side, curious to know what he had to say, pulled him back, but, to their great disappointment, when he came back they found he had lost his speech.
The mystery of the whole life has a great charm. Every soul is curious about it, but when one wants to explain the mystery of life words are not adequate. There are many reasons for this speechlessness, for this silence. The first is that the man who has seen the other side of the wall finds himself among children when he returns. To him all the things to which people attach great importance and value seem nothing. For that person truth and fact are two things; for everybody else truth and fact are the same.
The followers of different faiths and religions, of different opinions and ideas dispute and argue and differ from one another. Do they dispute and differ in the realization of truth? No, all differences and disputes are caused by the knowledge of various facts, which are different from one another. There are many facts and one truth. There are many stars and one sun; when the sun has risen the stars pale. The one before whom the sun has risen, to whom the truth has manifested – for him facts make little difference. The light of truth, falling upon facts, makes them disappear.
It is very interesting to observe that there are many people who are deaf and dumb at the same time. This shows that deafness and dumbness are connected, and according to a certain point of view it is the same thing to be deaf and to be dumb. It is just like two ends of one line: when you look at the ends you may say ‘deaf and dumb’; when you look at the line it is one. In the same way perception and expression are the two ends of one line. In other words, the faculty of speaking and the sense of hearing are the same. If one is lost the other is lost.
The difference between science and mysticism is very light; the difference is only that one goes so far and the other goes farther still. Considering the idea of creation from a material point of view a scientist goes as far as realizing that there are certain elements which cause the creation, and form it into various objects. When he goes farther still, he goes as far as atoms, molecules, electrons, and then he comes to vibrations, and at this he stands still. He says that the basis of all creation must be movement, and the finest aspect of movement is called vibration. The mystic is not much different from the scientist who says that movement is at the basis of the whole creation. The difference is that the mystics of ancient times did not put a limit at the end, which they called movement or vibration: they traced the source in the divine Spirit.
According to the point of view of a mystic, what existed before creation was the perfect Being. Perfect not in the literal sense of the word, but in the sense of the spirit of the word; for, in our everyday conversation, the word perfect is used for many things, which are limited, and the spirit of the meaning of perfection is beyond words. By divine perfection a mystic means the perfection of beauty, of wisdom, of power, the perfection of love, the perfection of peace. But at the same time when there are eyes there must be an object to look at, to admire; that is wherein the purpose of the eyes is fulfilled. When there are ears there must be a sound to be heard in order to enjoy its beauty; therein lies the fulfillment of the existence of the ears. Therefore it was necessary for the perfect Being, in order to realize His own perfection, to create a limited perfection of His own Being. This is accomplished by the One being divided into three aspects, which is really the secret behind the idea of Trinity: the seer, the seen And the sight.
It is the work of the biologist to explain in detail the gradual development of the creation. But the outline that the mystics of all ages have made is that first was the creation of the mineral kingdom, then that of the vegetable, then that of the animal kingdom, and then that of man. And that through all this process of development there has been a certain purpose that has led the creation on to the fulfillment of a certain object. But when one studies the whole process – the mineral, the vegetable, the animal kingdom and then man – the seer finds something which was missing and which then appears as the development goes on further. And what is it that was missing? It is expression and perception, and it is this, which the mystics have pointed out in their symbolical expression: ‘‘The word that was lost’’ What made them say that the word was lost, was that in the beginning the word was there; there was movement, vibration, and there was the consciousness of the perfect Being. The rocks were not made – even from a scientific point of view – before vibrations manifested. First there was vibration, and then followed the rocks. The difference between the mystical and the scientific point of view is this, that the scientist says that from the rock intelligence developed by a gradual process, and the mystic says: ‘No, the rock was only a grade of intelligence; intelligence was first, and the rock came later’.
The whole process of manifestation suggests that it is working towards some object, and that object is one and the same. Yes, there are two points of view to look at it. One may say, ‘A mountain will some day turn into a volcano.’ Or, ‘A tree will some day bear fruits, and therein the object of its being is fulfilled.’ But then there is another point of view, which is perhaps more perfect: that the stone and tree and animal and man all are working towards one object, and that the whole process of the creation is working towards it. And what is that purpose towards which every aspect of this creation is working? What is it that the silent mountains are waiting for in the wilderness? What is it that the woods, the trees, are silently waiting for? What moment? What object? What is it that all the animals are seeking and searching after – besides their food? And what is it that is giving importance to man’s every activity, and after the fulfillment of each activity draws him on to another? It is one object, but covered under many forms. It is the search after that word, the word that was lost. The further the creation develops, the greater is the longing to hear this word.
As there is a gradual process from the mineral to the human kingdom, so is there also a gradual process from a certain state of human evolution to a state of human perfection. What is it that gives man the inclination to hear a word of admiration, a word of praise that satisfies him? What is it that pleases him in hearing the voice, the word of his friend? What is it that charms him in music, in poetry, and gives him joy? It is the same word that was lost appearing in different forms.
Creation – I mean the material creation – in its beginning seems to be deaf and dumb. Who feels that pain of realizing himself to be deaf and dumb? It is that spirit of perfection, which once was perfect in perception and expression. The explanation of the soul, which the great poet Jelal-ud-Din Rumi gives in the Mathnavi, expresses this idea in a poetic form. He says, ‘The soul is a bird in a cage, deprived of that freedom and that joy which it was accustomed to experience.’ This also explains the main tragedy of life. Although every man, every soul will describe the cause of that pain to a certain degree, and every soul will describe the cause of that pain differently, yet behind the various causes there is one cause, and that cause is the captivity of the soul. In other words: that the word was lost.
Souls at different stages of evolution wish to search after this word that was lost, in the form in which they are accustomed to search. Ways have been made to search for this word, which have become right ways and wrong ways, sins and virtues. It is therefore that the wise are tolerant to all, for they see that every soul has his own way to follow, his own purpose to accomplish. But in the accomplishment of all these purposes is the one purpose, and that is the finding of the word that was lost.
No soul, however, will obtain satisfaction unless he touches that perfection which is spoken of in the Bible: ‘Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect’. This means that the Spirit of God itself has gone through different phases to realize that perfection which has limited the perfection of God’s own Being, but which is intelligible. Therein lies the satisfaction.
Now one may ask: ‘What explanation can be given of this perfection? What is it? What experience is it?’ This perfection is what words can never explain, except by saying that the eyes of the soul become open, and that from all sides that word which was lost comes to the ears of this soul. The poets of the East have pictured it in a beautiful imagery in the stories like that of Rama and Sita. They have explained the joy of this perfection as a lover who, having lost his beloved, has found her again. No imagery can better explain this idea than this picture of a man who has lost his soul, and has found it again.
Wisdom cannot be called truth. Wisdom is a form in which the souls who have realized have tried to perceive the word in life, or to interpret it to themselves. It is this wisdom which is called in the Greek language sophia, and in Persian Sufi. Wisdom is the interpretation of life made by someone whose point of view has become different by looking at life in the sunlight. By Sufi message is meant the message of wisdom. It is more a point of view than any teaching or dogma or theory. One arrives at this point of view not only by study, but by association with those who have that particular point of view. Besides, by diving deep into life one comes to the realization of truth and for diving deep into life there is a way or process. It is possible that either with some difficulty or with ease one may find a place one is looking for in a town. One may look for it in different directions, and at last find it. But by asking one who knows one can find it sooner. The Sufi Movement therefore gives the facility of studying, of coming into contact with those who have the same point of view, and of knowing the ways through which one comes to the realizations that are necessary on the path. The idea of the word that was lost belongs to the inner cult and the secret teaching of all ages. Very few at present know, or at least seem to know, the meaning of it. There is not much difference in belief between the mystic and the materialist, but there is very much difference in their ideal. For instance, a materialist who seeks for the source of the whole creation comes to the same conclusion as the mystic: that there is only one source of the life of variety. And both mystic and materialist come at the end of their path to the same thing: truth.
It is chiefly in their ideal that they differ. The materialist thinks that all the consciousness and intelligence that one sees in man is the natural development of life. The mystic says that this consciousness or intelligence is the same as the unlimited consciousness or intelligence which is put into different channels, and that from this intelligence that existed in the beginning all manifestation has come. Picturing the unlimited consciousness or intelligence as the ocean, the consciousness or intelligence of man is like a drop. Thus the materialist sees the intelligence of man as the natural development of humanity, while the mystic sees it as the divine essence, as one, as the source of all things.
In the belief of the mystic it is not only man who is seeking for something; plants, animals, even rocks and mountains, are all looking for something. Man who analyses life, distinguishes one object as a thing, another entity as a being. In this way he divides life into so many aspects, so many things, but in reality life is one. Therefore he sees intelligence only in living beings. Although intelligence is especially developed in man, there is mind also in animals, in plants, in trees; each mind is a particle of the unlimited intelligence. Often an animal thinks more than a man; one can only say that the animal is not as much developed as man. According to the mystic, mind exists also in plants and trees; in rocks and mountains mind is hidden somewhere. Mind is working imperceptibly in all things, in things that man only recognizes as objects.
Comparison between two minds shows that there is a vast difference between them, but it is difficult to define it. Some persons may have experienced in life how plants often respond to influences, especially to the human beings around them, how they often wither in a home where there is distress, disturbance, or disharmony, and how they often live longer where there is harmony. When their owners understand plants they become responsive to love, harmony and sympathy; often plants feel the absence of these qualities. The condition of a person’s mind can be seen in its effect on the plants in his surroundings. The human being is so much absorbed in his own affairs that he sees no further than he can see. Generally mankind is too unaware of the condition of others; often man does not even know the condition of those who are near and dear to him. If it were not so, some nations could not be happy and comfortable while people in other countries are starving and dying by millions. Man is unaware of the secret of his own being. What he needs is to interest himself in the life of beings in another phase of evolution, before he can come to the fundamental basis, the consciousness of his own being.
If you have ever been far away in the forests or the mountains, far away from all the population, you will know that there comes, consciously or unconsciously, a feeling of romance. The wind that repeats the sound coming from the trees, the rocks, the murmur of water running – all tell you that they are wanting to get back something that has been lost. This feeling comes to human beings even during the pleasures of everyday life, for then there is a joy that opens up something in them, and then comes this yearning, and this yearning one feels on every side, in the wilderness, in the forest. There comes a feeling of longing, of deep yearning of the heart, the searching for something that has been lost. When we look at the beings living around us we see the same thing. For instance, look at the birds and contemplate their restless flight, the ceaseless roaming of animals in the forest. The first thought that might come is that they are searching for food, but he who has a deeper insight into nature will certainly feel their restlessness, their searching for that which is lost.
There is a tendency in human beings, although the human being has much interest in life through his various occupations and moods. He finds a thousand and one excuses for his restlessness, for his depression, and illusion is so much developed in man that a reason always comes at his command. There is always someone who will say to a poor man: ‘It is sad for you that you are not rich’, or someone comes and says: ‘You look depressed; I know there is so much sorrow, that is the reason’. But reason is always at man’s command and is applied outwardly, so man cannot find the real reason, which is within. That reason is suppressed beneath all the reasoning, and man seeks – more than the animal kingdom does – to get back something that has been lost. Nowadays life never gives man a moment in which to be quiet, to ponder upon the true cause of his constant unhappiness. Also it keeps him in an illusion; always looking outwardly he can never find the cause outside himself. It is as if he were looking for the moon on the earth!
Now you may ask: ‘What has man lost?’ The answer is: God himself, that perfect intelligence that is in every being, that intelligence that the Vedanta calls light. In the Qur’an it is said that God is light, which means that the light of God is immanent in the world of names and forms, in all that exists in this world of variety. In this world of variety different forms of activity are producing different results. Yet man in this life of illusion has the same intelligence, the perfection of which he can realize in that state of consciousness where he is aware of his own perfection.
The religions, the mystics, the philosophers of all ages have given the key to this secret, and that is what the Sufi message is bringing back to humanity. Christ has said it so beautifully: ‘Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect’. The yearning of every soul is for the realization of that perfection; that is the longing, consciously or unconsciously, of every thing, of every being in this world. There is something in the whole creation, which is like an alarm-clock set for a certain time to make a sound, so that one may awaken. That clock sounds through all the activity of evolution, and when a certain point of evolution is touched man is awakened by the alarm: that is the word that was lost. It has its echo in the longing.
Now you may ask: ‘How can one listen, how can one find that word?’ That word rises from one’s own heart, re-echoing in everything in this universe. If it does not rise from one’s own heart it cannot be heard in the outer world. You may ask: ‘What is the sign? What makes it rise? Who can hear it?’ The answer is: as soon as this word rises in your own heart, you touch God, you touch perfection, and then you begin to understand the divine tongue, and the secret that was closed for so long seems to be revealed.
Ancient stories, stories in the Bible, tell of men speaking with trees, with running water, of sounds coming from the rock. A man without patience will not stop to listen, he hurries on. He is ready to laugh at such things, but there is nothing surprising or impossible in it. This world which is around us sounds continually; the word re-echoes in all things. Only man must be aware of his privilege, of this underlying oneness of all life. The whole treasure of the universe is in the understanding of the mystical idea. This lack of religion of today, this increasing materialism – what is its cause? It is caused by the lack of knowledge of religion; it is the spirit of religion that is lost.
Mankind cannot all be turned one way. Form does not matter; form is nothing without spirit. What is needed is the understanding of each other’s faith, respect for each other’s ideal, regard for that which is dear to our fellowmen and other creatures. The attempt to make the whole world believers of one faith would be – if it could succeed – as if all men had the same face. It would become a very uninteresting world.
The work that the Sufi message has, therefore, to accomplish is to bring forward this idea of the mystics that it is the spirit, not the form, that matters. One should understand the belief of others, and come to the realization of the word that was lost, which is seeking of every soul; that one should reflect that picture of oneness in order to hear again the word that was lost, to hear it sounding in one’s own heart.
What is it that makes some people know beforehand the coming of floods, the coming of rain, the change in the weather, all the different changes in nature? No doubt there are signs beforehand, signs which become words for those who read them, and by those signs they understand the coming events of nature. For them, therefore, these are the language of nature; for others who do not know this language it is gibberish.
What is it that makes those who understand astrology know about people, their past, their present and their future from the change of the planets and the stars? It is only that there are signs, which indicate to them the past, present and future just as words do, and from these signs they learn of coming events. There are phrenologists who can see signs in the muscles of the head. Those who know physiognomy can see, from the face of a person, things that no one has told them, but which they read from his face. There are others who know a science such as palmistry, of a small part of man; even in that case the signs of the hands are for them just as loud words, just as is the form of the face.
Then there are the natural conditions, such as the mother knowing the language of the little child who is not yet able to speak. His tears and his smiles, his looks explain to the mother his moods, his pleasures and displeasure, his aspirations and his wants. It is also known that the heart of the lover knows the pleasure and displeasure, the change of moods in the beloved without one word having been spoken. There are physicians who, through their experience in life, have become so advanced that before the patient has spoken one word they have already found out what is the complaint, what is the matter with the person. There are businessmen who are so engrosses in business that, as soon as a person has come to their shop, they know whether he will buy or whether he will go away without buying. What does this tell us? It shows us that, whatever be our walk in life, whatever be our profession, our business, our occupation – through it there is a sense within us, a sense which can understand language without words.
There is also another point closely connected with this, and that is that everything in life is speaking, is audible, is communicative, in spite of its apparent silence. What we call ‘word’ is only the word that is audible in our everyday language. What we consider hearing is only what we hear with our ears, and we do not know what else there is to hear. In point of fact there is nothing that is silent. All that exists in this world – whether it seems living or not living – it is all speaking, and therefore the word is not only what is audible to us, but the word is all. This is supported by the Bible where it is said: ‘First was the word, and the word was God’. But it is not only that the word was first, but always when there was anything it was the word, and always the word will be.
The real meaning of the word is life, and is there anything that is not life, whether silent objects or living beings? For instance a person not knowing the secret of the planets, not knowing their influence, their nature, their character – what do they say to him? Nothing. He knows that there are planets, and that is all. As far as the science of astronomy goes, a person who has studied it may say that the planets have a certain influence upon the weather and upon the season. But the astrologer will perhaps hear a louder sound from the planets; he can say that the planets have a certain influence upon the individual and upon his life. What do we understand by this? That to one the planet does not speak, to another it speaks whispering, and yet to another it speaks loudly.
It is the same with physiognomy. To one a person is a mystery; another may know something about him, and to a third he is like an open letter. For one physician it is necessary to make an examination of a patient with all kinds of machines and mechanisms; another physician likes to ask the patient about his condition, a third physician looks at the patient and knows perhaps more about him than the patient does himself.
It is not the same thing with art, when we see that one person goes to a picture gallery, looks at different pictures and thinks that there are different colors and lines? He is pleased to see the colors, and that is all; he knows nothing more about it. There is another person who sees the historic facts behind the picture, and is more interested in it, because the picture has spoken a little more to him. Then there is a third person for whom the picture is living. The picture, which he sees, which he appreciates, is communicative. He reads in it the meaning, which was put into it by the artist; it is revealed to him by looking at it. Therefore through the medium of the picture the thought, the ideal of one person is made known to the other. In the same way to one person music is a noise, or perhaps a harmonious group of notes. For him it is a pastime, a certain amusement. To another person there is some joy coming from it; he is enjoying some pleasure, he feels the music, which is coming to him. There is a third person who sees the soul of the artist who is performing the music, who sees the spirit of the one who wrote the music. Even if the music were written a thousand years ago he hears the spirit in the music.
Is it not everything communicative? In art or in science, or in whatever form, life expresses its meaning, if only man is able to understand it. The one who does not understand this will not understand life’s meaning. His inner sense is closed; it is just like being deaf. In the same way his sense of communication with things has become dull, he does not understand them. But if a person does not hear he may not say that life is not speaking. In the same way, if a person cannot sense the meaning of life, he may not say that life has no meaning. The word is everywhere, and the word is continually speaking.
There is an ancient belief that the word was lost, and then found again. Out of this belief was made a great mystery, a mystery which exists up till now among people of old civilizations. Up till now they are looking for that word which was lost, and they consider that in gaining that lies the fulfillment of their life. There are many, who have tried to mystify the idea, so much so that a person may go on and on and never come out of it again. But the truth is not found in mystification; the truth is to be found in simplicity, for there is nothing more simple that the ultimate truth. The idea is simply that all that exists has come out of the word, and goes back to the word, and it its own being all is a word.
By word is not meant a word which is audible only to the ears; by word is meant all that is conveyed to you, all that is expressed and comes to you as a revelation. It means that what you taste, what you touch, what you perceive through all the different senses and through all that becomes intelligible to you – that is a word. It is life’s mission to convey something to you, and everything that it conveys to you is a word. Through whichever sense you experience it, through whatever sense it is conveyed to you, it is a word.
It is not only upon the five senses – taste, hearing, seeing, smelling and touching – that the word depends; we call them five senses because we experience them through five different organs. In reality there is only on sense, a sense which experiences life through the vehicle or the medium of the five external senses. As life is experienced through these five different directions, the experience of life becomes divided into five different experiences, for the word – or life – becomes visible to us, tangible, audible, it can be smelled and it can be tasted. But besides these five aspects in which we are accustomed to hear the word there is another aspect of hearing the word, independently of the five senses, and this way of hearing the word is called the intuitive way.
When a person comes before you, you cannot say – by only seeing or hearing him – that you have recognized him, whether you are satisfied with him or dissatisfied, whether you feel sympathy for him or antipathy; you can only say that you had a certain impression of that person. This shows that there is a language, which is beyond the senses, a language we are capable of understanding if the inner sense is open to a certain degree. There is not one person who has not experienced this; maybe some have experienced it more, others less. Some are conscious, some are unconscious, but when a disaster is coming, a sorrow, a failure, a success, then a feeling comes. No doubt a person with a tender heart, with a greater sympathy, which love awaked in his heart is more capable of experiencing this sentiment. It is this feeling which may be called intuition, something which does not depend upon senses. A woman feels it more perhaps than a man. Often a woman will say to a man: ‘I feel it. I feel that it is going to be a success’, or: ‘It is going to be a failure’. And when he asks her what is the reason – for a man is very reasoning! – she will still say: ‘I feel it’. There is a language that she understands; the man has not heard it.
Then there is another experience. It is not only an experience of spiritual or most advanced people, but it is also known to a scientist, to a material person, and to an inventor. He may not believe it, but this experience comes all the same. It is a sense of how to work out his invention, or how to form his system, how to make a plan, or how to arrange something he wants to arrange. One may say that these great inventors have studied mechanics and technique, that it is the outcome of this study that gives them their ability, but there are thousands of students who have studied mechanics and not every one of them is an inventor.
The one who accomplishes something surely accomplishes it through the help of inspiration. You may ask all kinds of artists – a painter, a drawer, a singer, a dancer, a writer, a poet -: ‘Can you always do the work you wish to do so perfectly, so excellently as you are able to sometimes?’ The answer will be: ‘No, I never know when it will be done. It comes, and sometimes I am able to do it; I do not know when nor whence it comes’. A poet may try for six months to write a poem – the poem that his soul is longing for, his soul’s desire – and yet never finish it. But it is finished in six minutes if that time comes, if the moment comes. The poet cannot imagine how such a thing could come in the space of six minutes, something, which is wonderful, which is complete in itself, which gives him the greatest satisfaction, which is living. The great musicians have not written their most beautiful compositions, their masterpieces over a period of six months. What has taken them a long time to write is of little importance; it is what they have written at moments and finished in five minutes which is living and which will always live. It is the same thing with all aspects of art: creative art depends upon inspiration. Mechanical art may be developed, and a person may most qualified in it, but it is a dead art. The only living art is the art, which comes from a living source, and that living source is called inspiration.
What then is inspiration? Inspiration is that same word which comes from within. A person hears it and expresses it in the form of line, color, notes, words, or in whatever other form. The most interesting and the most wonderful thing in connection with this subject is that the same inspiration may come to four persons. It is the same word which comes to four persons: one draws it in the form of lines, another puts it in the form of notes, a third writes it as words, and a fourth paints it as colors. This shows that artistic inspiration, inventive genius – whatever form in which the meaning of life wishes to express itself within – has another aspect different from what we see in the life outside.
Where does this inspiration come from, the soul of which we know to be the word? It is beauty in itself, it is energy, wisdom, harmony in itself. It is energy because it gives the greatest joy when expressed by an artist, or by an inventor. It is wisdom because it comes with the under standing of accomplishment; it is light because the thing that one wants to make becomes clear to one – there is no sign of obscurity; it is harmony because it is by harmony that beauty is achieved.
There is another form of inspiration, a form which a person attains greater enlightenment, by a greater awakening of the soul. This can be pictured as a person going through a large room where all things are exhibited, but where there is no light except, in his own hand, a lantern with a searchlight. If he throws his light on music, music becomes clear to him, notes and rhythm become clear to him. If he throws his light on words, the words become clear to him; if he throws his light on color, all colors come near to him; if he throws his light on line, all lines in most harmonious and beautiful forms come near to him.
This searchlight may become greater still and may reach still further. It may be thrown on the past, and the past may become clear, as it was clear to the prophets of ancient times. It may be cast on the future, and it is not only a sense of precaution that a person may gain, but a glance into the future. This light may be thrown upon living beings, and the living beings may become as written letters before him. This light may be thrown on objects, and the objects may reveal to him their nature and secret. And when this light is thrown within oneself, then the self will be revealed to a person; he will become enlightened as to his own nature and his own character. It is this form of experience, it is this way of knowing which may be called revelation. It is by knowing revelation that one accomplishes the purpose of life, and that the word which was lost – as the mystics have said – is found.
Every child is born crying; his crying conveys that he has lost something. What has he lost? He has lost the word. This means that all he sees conveys nothing to him. He knows not what it is, he seems to be lost in a new country to which he has been sent. As he begins to know a little – his mother, those around him, the colours and the lines, and all things of the world – these begin to communicate a little with him. He begins to know things a little with the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and in this way he begins to know the word which is within. It is this communication which is the sustenance of life. It is not food or drink which keeps man alive, it is this communication through the different senses to the extent that he understands what they have to say. It is this that makes man live.
When we think of our life, and when we compare the pain that we have in our life with the pleasure, the portion of pleasure is so small. Besides, what little pleasure there is, it costs also, and therefore it resolves into pain. If that is the nature of life, how could we live in this life if there were not this communication, if there were not that word which to a smaller or greater extent we hear from all things, from nature herself? It is the fulfillment of this communication that no wall nor any barrier should stand between us, nor between the life within and without. It is this, which is the longing of our soul, and it is herein that revelation comes. It is in this that lies the purpose of our life.