Second talk in Philadelphia (PA) during Sant Kirpal Singh’s First World Tour (1955)
(The Night is a Jungle, chapter 2)
In the previous talk we came to the conclusion that God made man and man made all social religions and that the purpose of social religions was the uplift of man.
We dealt with the outer side of man; we said that man was born with equal privileges from God, irrespective of whether he belonged to one country or another or one religion or another. We have to make the best use of all social religions so that we may know all about man.
Our ultimate goal is to know God. First, we must know ourselves and then we will know God. All scriptures say that we should love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our might. As we are lovers of God — and God resides in every heart — we must love all humanity. Those who came into contact with God became the mouthpiece of God — God-in-man or Godmen, because of their love of God. We love all scriptures because they are the treasures of the experiences of the Masters with themselves and with God. We also love all holy places of worship because they are the places meant for singing the praises of the One Lord. We love all holy places of pilgrimage too, for the reason that there lived some lover of God, someone who became one with God and became the mouthpiece of God. Thus, for the sake of love of God, we love all others. If we just love God and hate one Master or the other, or hate one holy book or the other, or if we hate other men, do we truly love God? Surely not; because God resides in every heart, and our ultimate goal is God. The ultimate goal of all religions too is God. Then, how can a follower of one religion or another hate anyone else? If we would live up to what the scriptures say, that looks an impossibility at first sight.
If we live up to these two commandments —
Love God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might and,
love all humanity since God resides in every heart
— the Kingdom of God will descend on earth. All other commandments hang on these two commandments. All prophets have laid stress on these commandments. They are all one on these two fundamental tenets.
We would like now to probe further into: What is man? Unless man knows himself, he cannot know God. All scriptures which we have with us today say: Man, know thyself. They do not say, “know others.” Why?
Who are you? What are you? Are you this five or six foot high body that you have? That is not knowing yourself. You will see for your own self; the time does come when you have to cast away the physical body you are carrying — this muddy vesture of decay. The body remains like a clod of earth and is cremated or buried underground.
If you know so much about your physical self, that is not truly speaking, knowing yourself. The Greeks and the Egyptians had inscribed on their temples these very words — Gnothi Seaton. The Upanishads say so: Know thyself. Christ also said, know thyself. Guru Nanak too said:
Unless you know yourself, you are not in a position to know God.
All this delusion through which you are passing cannot easily be set aside. Is it not true that you are deluded? You see bodies like the body you have. You have seen with your own eyes that something left such bodies and they were cremated or buried. You too are carrying a similar body. If you know so much about your physical self it does not follow that you know your own self.
This question has been before us ever since the world began. We have known so much about our outer self — maintaining our bodies, supporting our families, living socially and politically. We have given rather too much thought to the body and bodily relations, but we have never tapped inside to see the inner man, the inner Self, who we are and what we are.
Unless the student opens his own consciousness, the teacher can impart nothing. He can only direct, counsel and define. But understanding cannot be imparted. That must come from within, and through self development. Of course, he gives you some experience of how to know yourself, how to analyze yourself from the body. You have to start with that, no doubt. But working that way, in accordance with the guidance and the help given by the Master, you will one day come to realise that Reality is within you.
Souls are all divine in nature. They are so many drops of the Ocean of Divinity, but are hemmed in by the mind and matter. They cannot, as they are now, know themselves, differentiate themselves.
What is the greatest study of man? Is it theology? I would say no. Is it knowing the law of Blackstone and other great men who came in the past? Even then the answer will be no. Is it the study of works of men like Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Burns? No. Is it occultism or Buddhism or Christianity or Sikhism or any other social religion that we may study? Are such works the greatest aim of man’s study? Again I would say that the answer is no. Why?
If you become conversant with all the scriptures left by the Masters, what do they speak of? They speak of man. “Man, know thyself.” So, knowing man, both his outer and inner aspects, is the greatest study for us. The greatest study of man is man. Pope, the English poet, has said:
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man.
Until you know man, all else is mere ignorance and superstition. The more you study the outer phase of the scriptures, the more you realise that it is all nothing but accumulation, hoarding up of ideas and opinions expressed by others.
Suppose you become fully conversant with all the scriptures we have today. What does it matter? As I have said, we in the twentieth century are fortunate in that all Masters who came in the past left for us their experiences with themselves and with God. What particular things helped them on the way, and what stood in the way of realization? That forms the subject of all scriptures. Even if you know all that, are you satisfied? That is only having something, merchandise just hoarded in your brains — such and such a Master said this, such and such a book said that, such and such scriptures said so. That is not divinity. That is only knowing facts about divinity, about our divine nature the Masters had experienced themselves and with God. Even if you study all the books, you will not be able to know yourself. Of course, you will get some information, you will be able to quote so many things from various books. But will you be able to know yourself? No. Eliot, the poet, says:
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
Knowing the self is a result of self-analysis, in practice, not in theory. We see many people asserting emphatically: “I am not the body. I am not intellect. I am not the vital airs or pranas. I am not the sense organs.” That is all right. But have we ever analyzed ourselves practically by transcending body consciousness and seeing for our own selves that we are something besides the physical body, the intellect, the vital airs and the sensory organs all of which go to make the outer man apart from the inner Self? Have you ever risen above body consciousness, had a first-hand experience of your own Self? You will find very few persons who have really accomplished this.
So your study of man just consists in hoarding certain information in your brain. Sometimes you read the scriptures. The purpose is that by reading the scriptures you get enough information from the study that the Masters made of themselves and of God to help you in just finding your own Self, and nothing more. The reading of those scriptures will create some interest in you to know yourself and to know God.
I do not mean that the scriptures are not to be read. They should be read, and read intelligently. The reading of the scriptures is the first elementary step that goes to create interest in us that such and such Master saw divine light within him. Can we also see the same? Yes, we can also see, for what a man has done, another can do; of course, with proper training and guidance.
I quoted you also that Masters did see the Light of God. Those who followed them, and lived up to what they said, also had the very same experience in varying degrees in their own lives. You should be able, while possessing human life, to see the Light of God. When you have seen that Light, your whole life will be changed. And that you can see only when you rise above body consciousness. It is a practical question.
Now what is to be done? What can be done by understanding the truth, i.e., by just knowing our own Self and having a first-hand experience of the Self and Overself? That alone will make us free. These things we can have only when we really have risen, we have been born anew. Christ says:
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
He then goes on to clarify:
Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter
the Kingdom of God.
In Corinthians we have:
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
St. Paul explains:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,
by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
It is clear that unless we are born anew, we can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God, nor can we inherit it. In other words, we cannot have a first-hand experience of our own Selves nor of God. We cannot have our inner eye — called the Third Eye or Single Eye — opened, enabling us to see the Light of God.
Reading the scriptures alone will not help. But study the scriptures carefully because they speak of the practical experiences that the Masters had with themselves and with God. Unless we study these scriptures under the guidance of someone who has had actual experiences himself as are recorded therein, we will not be able to follow the right import.
What does Plutarch say? He says:
The same experiences that the soul has at the time of leaving the body
are had by those who have been initiated into the mysteries of the Beyond.
You have to leave the body, of course, some day. That is, I think, a very clear proof or testimony that you are not these bodies about which you have known so much. By “knowing the Self” is meant knowing the inner Self, the spiritual Self, the spiritual entity which leaves the body at the time of death. You may say that this physical body may be knocked down by death — the great final change. But you do not die. You must one day leave the body and all things connected with the body, whether you wish it or not.
So the greatest wisdom lies in what? In knowing your Self, who you are, what you are. Unless you know your Self, you cannot know God. He who knows himself comes to know God, too, because it is the infinite soul alone that can know God and not the finite intellect. One cannot grasp Him within the finite intellect.
How can the less the Greater comprehend?
Or finite reason reach Infinity?
We cannot see Him. He is unsearchable with our intellect, with our sense organs, with our outward faculties. With all the imagination, the highest stretch of imagination, He cannot be grasped. It is soul alone to which God reveals Himself. Unless we analyze ourselves, see our own Self — know ourselves — we cannot see God.
Self-knowledge precedes God-knowledge. For that let us see what help may be had. Looking from without we notice that the body lives as long as soul, the indweller of the house, is with it. But the time does come when we have to leave the body. That is the day of the great final change, or death. But do not be frightened of death; it is no bugbear.
I have told you that the greatest study of man is man. All the scriptures came from where? Of course, from man — a man of realization, no doubt. Great indeed is man. All inventions came from where? From man. Godhood, which gave us a first-hand experience of God, working through the human poles called Masters, also was expressed through man.
Man is great and the greatest study for a man is man himself. Who are you? What is it that enlivens this body and what is it that leaves it? While that inner Self or the spiritual Self is fixed in the body and working through the body, you are alive, you are moving. But the time does come when you have to leave the body. That is the fate awaiting each one of you, no exception to the rule. All kings and subjects, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant and even the Masters have to leave the body. How can there be an exception in your case? If so, are you prepared for that final change? If not, you must prepare yourself. And for that, you must solve the mystery of life while there is still time. You must examine your own Self. Who is the real man in the body? Unless you know that, you cannot be at peace.
Buddha, who was first called Gautama, was a prince brought up in a princely way amid luxury and opulence. Once he was visiting the town which was decorated tastefully to welcome him. As he passed through the city in a chariot, he saw an old man with haggard face, sunken eyes, and tottering frame. The old man staggered along with the help of a stick. Looking at the old man, the prince asked his charioteer, “What was that?” . . . “Old age, my lord; the body must grow old and weak,” the charioteer replied. That shocked him greatly. Proceeding further, he saw a dying man, gasping for breath, and again asked what it was. The charioteer replied: “Well, Master, we must die and leave the body. He is dying. He is gasping for breath.” That made him still more sad and pensive. The prince wondered if that was the fate of our lovely bodies. The charioteer took him out of the city to avoid ugly sights. But outside the city, the prince saw four men carrying a corpse. He naturally asked what it was, and was told: “Well, Master, we have to leave the body.” This made the prince all the more gloomy and he exclaimed: “It is strange that we must some day leave our beautiful bodies; but what is it that leaves?“
That was the greatest day in Gautama’s life. He was awakening, wondering what it was that enlivened the body.
We too have the same sort of bodies. We have witnessed so many cremations and burials. We have attended a great many funerals of our friends and relatives, but the mystery of life has never struck us, as it struck Gautama.
Gautama went home. He had a son. That is generally a very happy day. But he was absorbed with that mystery of life. He left his home, wife and son to seek the solution of the mystery of life — “What am I? Who is it that leaves the body?“
As long as the inner Self is working in this physical body, we are alive, we are talking, we are thinking, we are moving about. But when that leaves the body, it is cremated or buried. No one keeps the dead body in the house. It is disposed of as soon as possible.
This is the problem before us. We have to consider it very calmly, with due deliberation. We have to look into it to discover what it is: “Who am I? What am I?” Those who know and have fathomed the mystery of life, have done wonderful work. Wherefrom came the scriptures? From within, from within man. All the inventions we have, came from where? From within man; not from without.
The greatest thing before us is “to know oneself,“ who is the Self and what is the Self. We have seen that the fate of this physical body is death. At the time of this final change, the indweller leaves the house of the body. We are not the body, the dwelling house. We are the indweller of the house that we are enlivening by our presence.
From our very birth, the first companion that we have had is the physical body, now developed and grown up. When we depart, it is left behind; it does not accompany us. Then, how can other things which have come into our contact through our body, accompany us to the other world? If we remember this, the entire angle of vision will change.
Now we see from the level of the body. If we know ourselves — who we are and what we are — that we are the indwellers of the body, the whole angle of perception will change. You will see from the level of the soul and not from the level of the body.
At present, we are working from false premises. We are laying up treasures on earth. We are making so many houses, buildings and gathering other possessions, and hoarding up as much money as we can, never thinking for a moment that we have to leave the body and all earthly possessions. That is why, when Masters come, they simply direct our attention to this most important reality — the inevitability of death — about which we are quite oblivious and ignorant. With all our intellectual attainments, we act as if we never would have to leave the world or the body. That is why, Christ says: Lay not up for yourself treasures on earth. Why? Where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. What should we do?
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt
and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
What have we done for the other world? We are going to leave this body some day. Have we ever thought of that? If we leave the body what else can accompany us?
We are told that when Queen Noor Jahan was about to die, the physicians in attendance told her: “Well, your Majesty, you now have to leave for the other world.” Perhaps she had never known what the other world was. She simply said: “All right, if I have to go to the other world, then how many people will accompany me?” The physician told her, “Your Majesty, none can go along with you. You have to leave all alone.” Just mark the ignorance. Intellectually, we all know that death is inevitable, that it overtakes all, yet have we ever truly realized that we ourselves will also die? Have we ever calmly considered who is it in us that leaves the body and where does it go? All saints have been stressing the great need to “know thyself.” If you know the inner man which leaves the body, you know something; and that will change the entire plane of perception.
I have come here from India. I know I have to go back. Well, on the airplane I can take only forty pounds of luggage. Anything beyond that limit I will have to leave behind. Then what shall I do? Shall I then hoard up too many things to carry along with me? How can I take them? I cannot carry more than forty pounds. Likewise, when going to the other world, even this body does not accompany us; what to speak of all the other possessions.
So, there are two aspects we must remember. First, that we are pilgrims on this earth where we have to spend a certain span of time, be it less or more. After all, it is only a temporary abode and we have to leave it some day. It is something like being on your way to a destination. Night falls on the way, and you stop in some hotel to pass the night, and early in the morning you leave for your destination. Have you ever considered that you live as though you were going to stay in this world for ever? Have you ever thought of death?
Secondly, man is composed of the physical body, the intellect and the soul. We know so much about our physical bodies. We know so much about how to maintain them. We know so much about our family relationship, our children, our social life, etc. We have advanced so wonderfully in the intellectual way. We have television, we can fly in the air. All this makes the world like a house. It only takes about 24 hours from India to reach America, from one end of the globe to the other. All these countries are so many rooms in the mansion of my Father, you may say. We have the atom bombs, the hydrogen bombs, etc. I mean to say that our advance in intellect and technology has been wonderful.
But what do we know about our own Self — the real Self — that gives vitality to the physical and intellectual aspects of our life? It is the spirit or soul which we really are. Most of the physical side and the intellectual side has the background of our soul. We have developed only in two ways, and know nothing about our own Self.
A Muslim Saint says:
How long will you go on playing with the clay like a child
and besmearing yourself with it?
When the soul leaves the body, what remains? Clay.
Dust thou art,
and unto dust returneth.
How long will you continue like that?
We are wonderfully developed in two ways, but about our soul we know nothing or next to nothing. We know only so much as is given in the scriptures. We know only that much which we can grasp by our finite intellect. If we want to understand the true import of the scriptures, we must sit at the feet of someone who has practical knowledge of the Self and the Overself, because all scriptures speak of the same thing.
Even if we come across a Master who is a practical adept and he explains to us all the things concerning our own Self and the Overself, still, until we have that experience on our own and for ourselves, we cannot be satisfied.
If at all we read the scriptures, the pursuit in the domain of Self-knowledge is restricted mainly to reading one scripture or the other, attending some holy place of worship, and that is all.
These, however, are but elementary steps and by themselves lead to no worthwhile results. Moreover, we will find that many of us go to churches or to holy places of worship, but how many are there who really do so for the sake of having knowledge of God? Very few indeed. Most of us are there to pray for our livelihood or our children or for some other material benefit. We are reading the scriptures for the reason that other circumstances may be adjusted satisfactorily. The majority of us are religious only in that way.
But will such people, by going to the holy places of worship, find God?
Ask and it will be given unto you.
Knock and it shall be opened.
But if we ask just asking for worldly things, how will we have God instead? Lord God is kind and what ye ask of Him, that shall He give unto you.
The story is told of a Persian prince Majnu, who fell in love with the princess Laila. So fervent was his adoration that he kissed the earth she trod. Once people told him: “Look here, God wants to see you.” He replied: “All right; if He wants to see me, let Him come in the shape of my Laila.” Do you think that such a man will ever find God? He will find Laila, no doubt; but not God.
Similarly, like so many Majnus, we go to the temple seeking not God but the idols of our hearts. How then can we have God? Only they can have God who seek God. For them the way is open; for them there is some Godman to put them on the Path.
So our pursuit of the spiritual way is restricted to that one thing. Those who have a real desire in them to search and find God, He makes arrangements for them to be put on the way.
The elementary step in order to know oneself is to read the holy scriptures we have with us. But they tell us:
Whosoever shall lose his life shall save it,
and whosoever shall save his life shall lose it.
What does that mean? Whosoever is merely living the physical life through the organs of senses, knowing little or nothing about his own inner Self, naturally he will be losing his everlasting life all along. Those who transcend this physical life, know themselves and know God, will have everlasting life.
The scriptures say that very clearly in very simple words. But the intellectual people who have had no practical knowledge of self-analysis, experience with their own Selves and with God, have made it hard to understand. That is all. Otherwise, the truths are very simple.
Again, Christ says:
Unless you be born anew, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Be born anew? How? Nicodemus, a very learned man, met Jesus and inquired: “Well, Master, how is it you say we must be born again? How can we be born again? How can we re-enter the womb again and be born again?“
What did Christ say?
Look here, you are a learned man, a very wise man.
People sit at your feet, worship you like anything.
Don’t you see, flesh is flesh, and you are to be born of the spirit?
This has been a personal problem for all of us. The Masters who came and were capable of giving us the practical solution, gave us the firsthand experience of how to rise above body consciousness and know ourselves.
The whole thing is just topsy-turvy, I would say. We are the indwellers of the house. We have to know and lay up something for where we have to go. But we have identified ourselves with the body so much so that we cannot differentiate ourselves from it.
Now we are working from the level of the body, knowing nothing but our physical self. We are only considering this outer world and its possessions, as if these were the only be-all and end-all of life. The whole thing is topsy-turvy. That is why Masters have been laying stress:
What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
Then, they ask: What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? You see how important it is.
It is we who have to leave the body, and we know little or nothing about our own Self. We know only so much as is given in the scriptures. But even if we read them for years and years, all through our life, do we have any experience at all?
Of course, we fill our brains with so many facts and theories and the records of the experiences of others. But do they help? It is just like a man going to be married. Afterwards the couple drive away all joyous. But besides them there are many others who join in the festivities; they get nothing thereby. As an Indian proverb goes: There are two to have a marriage and the rest stand by.
It does not in any way mean that we should not read scriptures. We should. That is an elementary step. They are valuable records, worth tons of gold and rubies and emeralds, for those who would like to just peep inside, to know themselves and to know God.
We are now merely identified with the body. We are working in the body, behaving from the level of the body, and we are attached to the body and all its environments. The more we are attached, the more we are away from the life everlasting. That is why it is said: Strive to withdraw from the love of all visible things and direct your attention to the things invisible. The more we are attached to the outside, to the physical things, the more we are away from our inner Self, our higher Self. Until we withdraw for a while from that place and rise above body consciousness, know ourselves, we cannot know God or come near God or come in contact with God.
When we know for certain that we have to leave the body, why get attached to it? As I just told you, I have to leave for India in a few days, leave the United States and go back to India. I know I will have to go back. I will be leaving you all, of course. I will not be too much attached to the possessions, this and that thing; I have to leave. I have to simply pass my days and go back, that is all.
For this reason, man’s life consists not in possessions, not in the abundance of things he possesses:
The life is more than the meat,
and the body is more than the raiment.
You see how we behave in worldly ways; suppose you are wearing a costly costume or apparel. You meet some accident and that apparel is just spoiled and torn. You say: “Never mind, I am saved.” Again, when you are sick and the doctors declare there is little hope of your life. What do you say? “All right, I will spend all the money I have, even all the possessions I have, so that I may be saved.” Our bodies are more valuable than all other material possessions. When another accident comes, in which you break your arm or leg, what do you say? “Well, never mind: I am saved.” And that which is saved is your own Self, more valuable even than the body.
The Masters have been bringing home to us the fact that the inner Self is the true jewel in the body, the most priceless treasure. We have never known this inner Self. Until we know it, the life being more than the meat, we will not be doing anything for that life.
At present, we consider that our bodies are more than everything, knowing full well that we have to leave them. That is no bugbear, I tell you. But the wise man is he who prepares himself for the change that awaits each one of us; no exception to the rule. The man who “knows himself” is really the wisest man.
We have not cared for that way. Our pursuit has been restricted only to reading the scriptures, and to attending outward observances of certain rituals, ceremonies or forms. Of course, these are the elementary steps we have to take; but that is not the main purpose of our life. What should we do? Just understand the true purpose of life. What is the highest mission of a man? Man is the highest in all creation. He is next to God. That is what Prophet Mohammed in the Koran says: God made man and bade the angels bow before him. So man is higher than even the angels themselves. This is the body, this is the temple of God, in which God resides and you reside. But we have never thought that way. We have simply been looking at the outer man, having outer cleanliness, having good houses to live in and very luxurious furniture. But we have done little or nothing to clean these temples of God (our bodies) from within. We have defiled these temples of God. And whosoever defiles the temples of God is punished by God: There can be no cleanliness with an unclean heart.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, of course. We should maintain our bodies clean from outside as well as from inside. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. We must lead ethical lives, pure lives.
What was given out by Christ in his Sermon on the Mount is parallel to the Eightfold Path of the Buddha; and that is parallel with the Yama, Niyama and Sadachar rules of the Hindus. That is the first step that we have to take. Therein we will also find the Inner Way. He said:
If thine eye be single,
thy whole body shall be full of light.
We have not understood the teachings of the Masters who came in the past. If we but learn how to live up to what the scriptures say, we will have peace on earth and peace hereafter, too. We will have the Kingdom of God on earth and also the Kingdom of God in the other world, too.
What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world,
but loses his own soul?
How do we act in our daily life? From morn fill night we are concerned only with the maintenance of the physical bodies of ourselves and of our families. We rise in the morning, answer the call of nature, take some exercise, have a bath, take food and then some go to business, others to their offices, and still others to some sort of labor. The whole day is spent in these pursuits. In the evening we come home. Those married have to take care of their families. Some are sick and need other necessities of life. Some go shopping. At night we take our food and go to sleep. Still others simply eat, drink and make merry. They also go to sleep. That is the usual daily routine we generally have. The next morning the same milling process starts anew. This is how our precious life is frittered away in secondary pursuits. We have no time to attend to the problem and mystery of life.
Masters say: Well, look here, you have to leave this body one day; it is inevitable. What have you done for that? We are in great agony. When death overtakes us, we are in agony. If we have seen the fate of a dying man, we must have witnessed the agony of death: crying, having convulsions, etc. No one can help him then. Had he solved the mystery of life, how to leave the body at will, had he known himself by Self-analysis, he would have while alive gone through the experience of death, learned how to rise above body consciousness at will, and he would have just risen to the occasion without any agonizing pain.
Prophet Mohammed says when the soul leaves the body, the pain that man feels may be likened to the dragging of a thorny bush from the rectum through the nostrils. Some Indian scriptures liken the death pangs to a thousand scorpions stinging together. You have witnessed, all of you, how difficult it is to leave the body. Excepting certain cases — very rare cases — say of heart failure, all others have to pass through that agony. If you know how to leave the body at will, a hundred times a day, the Masters say, then death can have no sting.
We ask people: “Look here, dear friend, how have you developed in the spiritual way?” The answer is: “Well, there is no need of it. We will see when we grow old. Let us eat, drink and be merry.“
First of all, where is the certainty that you will reach old age? There may be some accident; some disease might overtake you and end your life. Suppose you do reach old age; what then? Your body gives way; your faculties give way; sometimes eyesight is not good; sometimes you are hard of hearing; sometimes you cannot move; sometimes you are bed-ridden. If you had solved the mystery of life while young, when you had a resolute mind in a strong body, you could have learnt much better.
But you will find you have not paid any heed to this whatsoever. This is the most important, and mostly ignored. A Muslim divine says: The highest purpose o a man’s life is to know himself and know God. Well, what have you done? If you have known so much of your physical and intellectual things, have you paid any heed to know your inner Self? He says: “Well, what fruit does all that yield? You are a fool. You are not a wise man.” A wise man always tries to understand and prepare himself for tomorrow. He prepares for what is going to happen.
Once in India when a certain young man died, his body was carried to the cremation ground. There were about three or four hundred people there, and I was one of them. They wanted me to give a talk, most opportune for the moment.
I told them: “Well, the subject of the talk is lying before you. Something left that body, but that something is still in you. But are you prepared for this change? If not, prepare yourself. Just solve the mystery of life, how to leave the body, how to rise above body consciousness.” If death overtakes you, you will be prepared. You will have no sting. That is how you can have victory over death. All of you have to leave your bodies.
The fifth Guru of the Sikhs said: “You see yourselves that such physical frames as ours which others carried, had to be left behind. Where are your forefathers? Where are all those Masters who came in the past? They all had bodies and left them. There can be no exception in your case.“
If the government issues an eviction order, that order is carried out, whether you like it or not. There may be some delay in the execution of the order; you might approach somebody and have some concession made. But when the order is issued from God, there is no concession. You have to leave the body and go.
It is wise to learn how to leave the body. What is it that leaves the body? If you have solved that problem, you have conquered the fear of death.
In the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, we have an episode of Yaksha and Prince Yudhistra. When the latter went to a fountain to quench his thirst, Yaksha asked him to desist on pain of death and answer his question first, “What is the most curious thing going on in the world?” Yudhistra answered, “We daily see that people leave behind their bodies which are cremated or buried. We have attended such funeral ceremonies. But we do not believe in the least, nor do we ever take into our head, that we also have to leave the body. People are dying, but we never think that we too shall die.” We carry these dead bodies on our shoulders, we cremate them with our own hands. And with all that, we do not have the least thought in ourselves that we have also to leave the body. This is the strangest of all things.
Where are your brothers, your forefathers, and others? They all lived like you and departed; you too have to leave some day. The wise man is he who prepares himself to leave the body.
That will be the subject for my next talk. In this talk we have dwelt on the higher values of life. The physical body has its own value. This body is a temple of God; maintain it. God resides in every heart; Visible and invisible too would meet in man. You have your families as the reaction of the past; maintain them. Love all humanity; that is the second of the greatest commandments that you have in hand. You have intellect; develop it by all means. But even that must perish with the body. Life is more than meat, the body is more than raiment and all possessions. But you are acting in quite a contrary way. You consider that the bodies and outer environments are the alpha and the omega of life.
Some people come to me and say: “We do appreciate what you say. We want to know about the mystery of life. We have been in search of that.” But when they are asked to attend the discourse, they say: “I have to attend to my job. I cannot come.“
I mean to say that for your urgent affairs you have to re adjust your engagements. When anyone falls ill at home, you take some time off your job. But the highest truth has not taken possession of your hearts. That is the most important thing in life and you have no time for it.
When you leave the body, who is going to help you? If you know your Self, how to leave the body, only then at that time will you be able to leave the body without pain. Somebody who knows that mystery and is competent might be able to help you; but no one else, not even your nearest kith and kin, not even the greatest physician can be of any service.
This is the most important problem of our life. But we only postpone it to the last. The pigeon may shut his eyes at the sight of an approaching cat; but that does not save him. We too cannot solve the problem of death by turning our faces away from it. We must grapple with it and conquer death or else death shall conquer us.
The end of life must come. That is what the scriptures tell us, that is what all the Masters tell us. But we just do not care. Guru Nanak says: “You are either a child with intellect yet undeveloped or you are stark blind.“
The question now arises: Who is it that can help you on the Way? Well, the one who has solved that mystery for himself and is competent to give you an experience of how to rise above body consciousness, opening the inner eye and seeing the Light of God — call him by any name you like.
If you just sit at his feet with a receptive mind and a loving heart, you will succeed in solving this mystery of life. The highest mission of a man’s life is to know himself and to know God. But he is engaging in frivolous pursuits. This is seen by those who are awakened and enlightened.
We take the physical aspect as the most precious thing in life. But the awakened one says: “What are they doing? They are not caring for their own real Self. They are not sparing any time for that, and just spending all their hours for the physical body and its environments and intellectual accomplishments.“
The reply may be, we have to leave this body, but we are doing everything to maintain it, to procure for it or for its relations every convenience possible. Well, who will tell us what to do then? For that we will have to sit at the feet of somebody who has solved that mystery of life for himself. It is a practical subject.
In the Gospels, we have:
Think not that I am come to destroy, but to fulfill the law.
This fulfillment of the law has ever been, and shall ever be, the mission of all true prophets. This is what all the scriptures tell us. We have been reading all these things. Whenever Masters came, they did not give any thing new to the world. Excellent observers as they were, they saw things in the right perspective and awakened people to Reality. Their clarion call always is, “Awake, O man — what are you doing?“
The Vedas say:
Awake, arise and stop not till the goal is reached.
We are sleeping, as it were. Our superficial life is nothing less than sleep. We are identified with the bodies. We have been receiving impressions from the outside, through the organs of sense, so much so that when we close our eyes we see the same impressions reproduced. When we go to sleep, those very impressions are again reproduced within us in the form of dreams. We live a sort of superficial life, blind to Reality.
We are in physical bodies. We are conscious entities. We are so much tied up with mind and matter that we cannot differentiate ourselves. We have to leave the physical, transcend the astral, go further beyond the causal, super-causal, and reach the true home of our Father. That is the true destination for each one of us.
What have we done for it? We have simply devoted ourselves to the physical bodies and its relationships. This is what the Masters are always telling us. They do not say we should leave the world altogether and sit in the wilderness and follow the life of a recluse. Not the least. They say: “You have physical bodies. Maintain them. These are the temples of God. Keep them clean and tidy from outside and inside.”
Again, they say: “All right, you have an intellect. Develop intellectually as well. But, remember, you are souls, the indwellers of the bodies. Just know yourself so that you may know the Over-self. You will know yourself only when you rise above body consciousness.” We are now, as it were, identified with the body. We cannot differentiate ourselves.
So there are different values of life. The physical body has its own value, the intellect has its own, but the spiritual life has the highest of all.
Out of the 24 hours of the day, we pay so much attention and spend so much time for the development of the physical side and its environments and intellectual attainments. We should also devote some time to our development in the way of knowing our own Selves. This is what all Masters have stressed.
Now the question remains: How? All the scriptures speak of the Kingdom of Heaven; and they say that it is within us. How to enter the Kingdom of God? How to open the inner eye to see the Light of God? We will now touch the inner aspect of man. The higher inner possibilities, when we transcend body consciousness, enable us to enter the Kingdom of God.
There are many mansions in the house of my Father. There are planes and planes. How to traverse them? That is the subject we will deal with next. How to open the inner eye to see the Light of God of which all the scriptures speak?
I am not advocating any particular religion. You remain where you are. To live in some social religion is a blessing, because without it there would be corruption in the world. In the absence of it you will have to form another society. Just follow the right import of the scriptures, what they teach us.
They all tell us to love God, to love all humanity. If you love all humanity, we cannot rob them, we cannot kill them; other things follow of themselves. Along with that, we must follow ethical lives. We must know ourselves, who we are.
The Sermon on the Mount deals with the outer way of living with your fellow man. Christ also referred therein to the inner light, how to enter the Kingdom of God which is within us. Christ also warns us against the false prophets. They come like lambs, but inwardly they arc ravening wolves.
The Masters, who have had that experience with their own Selves, give out all these gifts of God free. They do not charge anything; they are granted free. God’s gifts are all free. It is man who sells, not God. This is what has been said by all Prophets and Masters who came in the past.
With all the force of your intellect, you will not be able to follow the right import of sacred writings until you come to someone who has practical experience of this and who is competent to give you a first-hand experience. When you have some little experience that way, then you can go ahead.
Today’s subject is over. Next we will take up the Kingdom of God: how to open the inner eye to see it and enter therein. We will see what all the Masters and scriptures have to say on the subject. Lastly, we will deal with the most natural way. There are so many ways and means for that, but we will turn to the most natural way, which even a child can follow.