The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

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Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



Love, Harmony, and Beauty

Nature's Religion

The Personality of God

Silent Life

The Will, Human and Divine

Mind, Human and Divine


Developing Will-Power

Personal Magnetism

Love, Human and Divine


The Effect of Prayer

The Mystery of Breath

Character and Fate

Gain and Loss

Stilling the Mind

The Knowledge of Past, Present, and Future

The Planes

Spirits and Spiritualism

The Desire of Nations


The Freedom of Soul (1)

The Freedom of the Soul (2)

The Freedom of the Soul (3)

The Ideal Life

The Journey to the Goal

Intellect and Wisdom

Simplicity and Complexity


Friendship (1)

Friendship (2)

The Four Paths Which Lead to the Goal

Human Evolution



Two Journeys

The Presence of God

The Spiritual Hierarchy

Sublime Knowledge

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

The Journey to the Goal

Two Journeys

The word journey may be applied to life. As life has two aspects, it may either be called a journey or a goal.

Why should life be called a journey? Because there is a change in nature and a change of experience. One goes from one experience to another, and that is also the meaning of the word journey: going from one place to another, passing from one experience to another. The whole of the external life is nothing but a succession of experiences, one after the other, night and day. That is why it is called a journey.

Yet there is a part of life from which this life of changes has sprung; the life which is everlasting, which is eternal, the life to which all things return; and that life is the goal. Therefore life is not only a journey, it is a goal. The goal is the stable part of life, the source of life; the manifested life called creation is the journey.

In this way we see there are really two journeys. There is the journey from the goal to the life in the world, and there is the journey from the life in the world to the goal. And both journeys are natural. As it is natural to go forth from the eternal goal, so it is necessary to go from the changing life to the life which is unchangeable.

Which is the most desirable thing in life, to seek for the goal or to dwell in this changing life? The answer is that every person's desire is according to his evolution. That for which he is ready is desirable for him. Milk is a desirable food for the infant, other foods for the grown-up person. Every stage in life has its own appropriate and desirable things. The desire to attain to a goal must be there before reaching it; when he does not feel the desire, it is not necessary for a man to seek it.

All things are worth while when we seek after them; then only do we appreciate their value; then only are we happy to have them. We do not need the things we do not know and do not desire. We need them when we know them and desire them. The law of nature is that this "external life develops gradually, stage by stage, through rocks, through vegetables, through animals, through man. Its depth is intelligence, which is named "Ilm by the mystic. The joy of the whole life is the fullness of intelligence, and intelligence comes to its fullness in the human kingdom. It is there that life and the primitive intelligence have their eyes opened to see and understand and think. "God slept in the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable, woke in the animal, and became self-conscious in the human." But in the human stage we find that not everyone has the same capability of thinking and understanding and knowing. It is his thinking quality that distinguishes man, that is why the real man is the thinker, he who is capable of thinking. The more thoughtful, the more awakened the mind, the more can be found in man the fullness of that attribute for which the whole world was created.

When he begins to think, the question arises why all this was created. And the answer is that all this gradual development is towards one single development, that of human life; and in human life towards the development of mind. Throughout the whole universe that which has really developed is the mind, which begins to know the use of all things and all forms, their secret and the way in which all things and all forms are controlled.

Another question comes to the thinking mind, after realizing the secret of all things and all forms, and after knowing the way in which all forms and all things are utilized, and that is, "Is this enough? Is there not something else that man desires?" Then he the will find that there are four different desires: the desire to know, desire to love and be loved, the desire for joy, the desire for peace.

After the toil of the day there is a desire to rest and be away from people. Then there is the desire to get a certain amount of pleasure or joy in things one feels delighted in, such as going to museums and theaters. Another finds comfort and happiness in loving and being loved. The scholarly mind who wishes to know and understand things, has happiness and joy when he understands them. If any of these four desires is absent, one is unhappy.

Four Occupations

The world is engaged in four different kinds of occupations. To one person some of them may be repellent and undesirable, while to another they seem desirable. Everyone has his own occupation in which he seems to be happy, but that of another seems to him useless, foolish or undesirable. In Sanskrit these occupations are called Kama, Artha, Dharma, and Moksha.

  1. The occupation of Kama is love, affection, attachment, or infatuation, to such an extent that nothing else matter in life neither money nor position, nothing. Kama is the thing he wants; it is his one occupation.
  2. Artha is the occupation in which a person pursues money; he wishes to be rich, to have property, to make trade prosper. Love does not appeal to him. He calls the lover crazy, foolish, out of his mind. He believes that everybody will like him if he has money, and that it is crazy to pursue love!
  3. Dharma is the occupation of pursuing duty. Such a person says, "These things are not right. The right thing is to do one's duty." Perhaps he is interested in his family, in family duty to mother, father, wife, or children, saying, "This is my virtue"; or in the people, the nation, the poor, or the rich. Whatever he considers his duty he gives his life to. He may be a soldier, a teacher, or a merchant; but he feels justified according to the way he does his duty. The person who is after money thinks he is a fool. The lover thinks he is a fool too. For him the first thing is to convert people to his Church; to do something good for his nation, city, or village.
  4. The fourth occupation, Moksha, is different again. This means to work for paradise, for heaven, for heavenly peace. What is the use of bothering about one's duty? The whole aim is heaven; that is the happiness to look for. All things will change, all will pass -- wealth, earthly love -- they are all changeable. But paradise, the happiness one can get in the hereafter after all the suffering here, that is the unchangeable. A man who thinks thus is pious. He suffers all his life; he goes through all kinds of pain; he is seeking for that paradise. The lover may say, "How foolish; my paradise is on earth. My beloved is my love. What a foolish person to sacrifice all this, and who knows what will come hereafter?" But the other says, "I can create my own paradise with my wealth."

These four paths are diverse; and everyone considers his own the best and wisest. The Sufi looks on all with tolerance, and knows that there is a path for everyone. The path of the lover is for him, the path of the one seeking for wealth is for him, the seeker after paradise is following his path, it is all a journey. It is simply that there are four different routes by which the journey is made. The Sufi sees the same goal at the end of each; the lover has to meet the seeker after wealth, and both have to meet the one who has done his duty. Therefore at the end of their journey there is a place where they can meet.

What does it matter if one does not go by a certain path? Let each choose the way that belongs to his own temperament and tendency. Therefore the Sufi does not worry. He gives no preference to one or to the other. He sees the journey of life being made along one or other of these roads. The saying of Buddha, "Forgive all", comes true. Forgiveness does not come by learning, it comes by understanding that a person should be allowed to travel along that path which is suited to his temperament. As long as he is journeying with open eyes, let him journey.

One Single Desire

The great thing is that one should journey with one single desire. There should be the single desire: whether to love a beloved, to collect wealth, or to do some good for the world of humanity, or to attain paradise; there should be the desire to journey to the goal. So many do not know which is the goal or what it is. One thinks wealth is the goal, another paradise, another the beloved. They do not see that there is a still further goal. They are naturally prompted by the desire to get to the goal, and yet are not conscious of the further goal.

As it is said in the Bible, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you."

The real desire is for that kingdom of perfection, the goal of everything, but how can a person desire that of which he does not realize the meaning? Desire comes by knowing the thing to be desired. If we do not know what the goal is like, how can we be attracted to it?

Rumi, the great Persian poet, speaking about this, says, "Every soul is a captive on earth."

And this captivity is in the limited physical body, which man calls his individuality or personality; while the nature of the soul is peace and joy and freedom. In this captivity it lacks these things. That is why the soul begins to-feel it, wants this or that: paradise, duty, a beloved, wealth. Reason may suggest, "This is it", and the soul goes after it, but having acquired it, it begins to feel, "No, this is not the thing that I wanted."

All this shows that there is a constant desire of the soul to find its own nature; and until it finds it, it is always looking for something, though what, it does not know. Is it not true of every individual in this world that, whatever may be his desire, as long as he has not attained it he is unhappy, and eager and anxious to achieve it? He is longing and suffering and doing all he can to attain it; but when he has succeeded, he does not feel happy. At once a new desire arises; if he has a thousand he wants a million; if he has done one duty there is another, and after that another. So it is with love affairs; so it is with paradise. He will never feel contented and satisfied, became fundamentally it is not the desire that he is really concerned with. Though he crosses the boundary wall of the desire he funds himself again with a new desire. And this itself proves the fact that there is only one fundamental desire underlying all others: the desire for spiritual perfection.

One is not capable of setting out on the journey to the eternal goal unless the four desires and occupations have been surmounted. In the first place the motive limits one to certain lines of accomplishment; and it does not allow one to accomplish anything beyond the scope of that particular motive. As long as a person has the desire to attain to something with a particular motive, he cannot go further.

That is why the sages have said, "Rise above the earthly motives. Accomplish all you wish to accomplish in life, whatever be the motive, and then that itself will lead you to a stage from which you can rise above them, and above the earthly desires of the body."

They have never said, "Stop, and go into the jungle, and see life from our own point of view." Everybody's path is for himself. Let everyone achieve the fulfillment of his own desires so as to be able to rise above them to the eternal goal.

There are four different paths recognized as leading to the attainment of that goal. The Yogis call them Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Bhakti Yoga.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is the path of abstinence. This is a form of self control, achieved by practicing different postures, sitting quietly and trying to slow down the circulation or follow a certain rhythm, or quieting the nerves by a certain kind of breathing. This is all a process of mastery of the body and mind. Sufis call this mastery Vilayat.

It is practice rather than study that helps in controlling the nerves of the body, the rhythm of the circulation, the mechanism of the body. The adepts are able to stop every pulsation of the body at will, for a few seconds at a time. There have been experiments made by doctors verifying this power. However surprising it may seem for the external pulse to be controlled in this way, what would it seem like if we could see still more deeply into the life of the adept! The control of mind is so much greater; words can never explain it; one must experience it oneself. The control of the self means the control of everything.

What does it mean when we see a person fail time after time, or another person succeed time after time? It is just a matter of holding the reins of our affairs in our hands. When there is no rein there is failure. Failure means that there has been lack of self control, whether it is a failure in affairs or in health. Illness always comes when a person has lost the control of self. It is because this is the main theme of metaphysics that Hatha Yoga has been considered of the greatest value. All the miracles and all the wonders that have ever been known in this world have been done by those who have been able to control themselves by abstinence, and therefore to control life. However much were said upon this subject, it would still not express it. To begin with a person is puzzled by it, and he wonders whether he should believe it or not. That is why in the East the adepts never speak of their experiences in the spiritual life. They only tell their disciples to lead it and practice for years. "That will make it clear to you", they say.

Raja Yoga

The other path on the spiritual journey is that of Raja Yoga. This is the path of life, going through all life's experiences and accepting its responsibilities. On this path there are four stages.

  1. Brahmacharya-shrama is that path where a person works with the intellect. He wishes to know about things, reason about them, and understand them. It is the intellectual attainment of knowledge.

  2. Gruhastha-shrama is the attainment of knowledge through the experience of the responsibilities of life, of home, children, servants, neighbors, friends, and enemies; the experience of living among them, doing one's duty to them, loving them, being kind to them, and taking upon one's shoulders every kind of responsibility; the experiences of welcoming the neighbor, the friend, with a smile even when in distress and despair, or in any difficulty. This itself becomes a lesson.

  3. Wanaprastha-shrama is the service of the world, of humanity. This means considering not only one's own family as one's responsibility, but also one's townsfolk, one's race, the world at large.

  4. Sannyasa-shrama is retirement, love of solitude, silence, contemplation, and resignation in regard to all the things of this world.

By these four stages of development perfection is gradually attained.

Mantra Yoga

Mantra Yoga, strictly speaking a system of Yoga based on the repetition of and meditation on sacred words, aims at the attainment of perfection by means of wisdom, understanding life, and seeing through it. The best word to use for such a person is "seer." He sees into life, into the depth of life, through a person, through an affair, through a thing. He sees not only the outside, the surface, but by means of concentration he sees through things as with a torch that illuminates whatever is seen. This seeing is called Jnana. The journey through life is made by that means.

In Mantra Yoga a person comes in touch with the mysticism of sound when he begins to see and understand; he begins to see that he gains power by sound, that in every vowel, word, composition, a certain effect or element is hidden, because life and the whole of manifestation is the outcome of what may be called vibrations. The scientist today says that life is motion, but the mystic has said so for thousands of years. At the same time he has worked with what the Hindus call Nada Brahma: sound-God or vibration-God. He has worked with life according to the law of vibrations, and has seen what great power vibration has. The whole of Mantra Yoga is based on this law of sound or vibrations. But this is a very big subject.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the most important yoga, especially for those who have the quality of love and kindness, because all the beauty that there is in life is after all what we call love. From it all the virtues spring. The whole beauty of life is in it, and it is as the English song says, "The light of a whole life dies, when love is done." Life's light is love; and when the heart is empty of love, a man is living and yet not living; from a spiritual point of view he is dead. When the heart is asleep, he is as though dead in this life, for one can only love through the heart.

But love does not mean give and take. That is only a trade; it is selfishness. To give sixpence and receive a shilling is not love. Love is when one loves for the sake of love, when one cannot help but love, cannot do anything but love. Then one is not forced to love; there is no virtue in that. One does not love because another does. It is simply there; it cannot be helped. It is the only thing that makes a person alive. If a person loves one and hates another, what can he know of love? Can you love one person fully if at the same time you cannot bestow a kind glance on some other person? Can you say you love one person fully when you cannot bear him to be loved by someone else as well? Can you hate a person when love is sprinkled like water in your heart? Love is like the water of the Ganges; it is itself a purification.

As the Bible says, "God is love."

When love is awakened in the heart, God is awakened there. When a man has journeyed, he reaches the goal as soon as his heart has reached love.

The Sufi says, "The Ka'ba, the divine place, paradise, is the heart of the human being."

That is why he has respect for every heart. Every heart is his Ka'ba, his shrine. The human heart is the place toward which he bows, for in this heart is God.

The Presence of God

Speaking about the presence of God, I begin by saying that everything present seems to us real, and that which is absent seems to us less than real; and therefore the conditions in life which are facing us at the moment seem to be real, and have their fullest effect on us. Whether they are joyful or sorrowful, whether they bring us happiness or unhappiness they are the ones that are real at that moment; when they are not present they are only like a tale that is told.

During the night while a person is dreaming, whether it is a dream of horror and fear, or one of joy, it is real to him for that moment. When the morning breaks and his eyes are open, then he calls it a dream. The experience has vanished. It was only during the presence of the experience that he took it to be real. Once it has passed, he calls it a dream.

When we think of our disappointments, our sorrows, and our pleasures and happiness and joy at different times in the past, are they nothing to us now? At the moment of experiencing intense pain it seems as if we cannot live a moment longer; but when it is past and the pain gone, and we look back on it later, it is only like a tale that was told. Today it is only a dream, a story. True, there is some impression left; but that which is past is past. What counts with us is the present; what is here just now is the only thing that counts.

People have different ideas about God. To some He is the Creator. This means He was present when the world was created, but now He is absent. To some He is the Judge; He belongs to the Day of Judgment. Therefore He must be absent just now, since they perceive there is no justice in the world. To such persons there is a hope that some day they will be placed before the Judge of the world and then perhaps they will know that God is really there; at present He is not. Then there is another who may think, "God was present when He created me, but He is not before me now. He is not present where I am, for He is in heaven and I am on the earth. Therefore I am not in the presence of God.'

Thus it is clear that not only unbelievers in God, but even the believers, who look upon Him as a heavenly Being who dwells in heaven, are both absent from God to the same extent. Then, coming to the philosophy of Presence, we find that what we see and hear and experience with our senses around us is what we call "present." That which our senses cannot perceive seems to be absent. But in reality there is something else present besides all that we perceive; and in spite of the presence of all that brings comfort or pleasure or happiness, man is generally unhappy because of an unconscious longing for it. One can be in great agony living in a palace, surrounded by pleasures, and in spite of the wealth and attentions one receives one may yet be unhappy. And it is possible for a person to be very happy even in the absence of all the means of pleasure, happiness, luxury, and comfort.

What is the meaning of this? It is that in reality the world outside is more distant from us than the world within, and that there is a world within which is immediate to our being and the first we are conscious of. Because we are in the presence of the outer world, we do not recognize that world within, yet its effect is just the same. This means that a person who lives in happy surroundings with luxuries and sources of pleasure and comfort, may be envied and imagined to be a very happy and lucky man. In reality, however, he may be very unhappy. The external world has given him all he wished, but the inner world, the inner being, is unhappy. There is something absent, and he wants it to be present; there is something missing inwardly. This shows that the inner presence is required; the external presence is not the only comfort.

But we may ask, the inner presence of what? Many will say, "We know we are unhappy sometimes in spite of wealth, comfort, happiness, friends, or beloved." But perhaps they will not believe that it is another lack, the lack of a divine ideal, that makes them unhappy. Others consider that life requires scope for progress, and that it is the lack of scope that causes the greatest unhappiness. Such persons think that they cannot prosper in the work that they are doing, that they cannot be any better off than the others. Such a thought is worse than death. Life is unlimited, and it wants scope to expand and rise. Without that scope life is unhappy. One finds this not only among human beings, but also in nature. Look at the constant progress of sun and moon, rising and reaching the summit, the zenith, and then setting. See the rising of the crescent, and how it progresses till it becomes a full moon. That means there is scope between the crescent and the full moon. This progress is the only thing that gives happiness or pleasure or joy in life; its absence means nothing but death.

However disappointed a person may be at not being in a particular profession or in a particular calling or rank in life, he develops enthusiasm and energy as soon as he sees some scope for progress. His disappointment is only there when he sees no more scope. Even if he were in the depths of the earth, it would not matter as long as he could think that he would some day rise to some height.

Another wonderful thing we see, which supports this philosophy, is the tendency of everything in nature to rise. The tendency of earth is to rise as mountains and hills. When we see the mountains and hills, and how high they are, our heart also seems uplifted; when we climb them then our heart becomes uplifted; as we look up to them from below, it seems as if the earth itself is desiring to rise and go upward.

Then when we look upon the perfection of water, of the ocean, we see that it also rises as waves; and every wave, as it rises up, seems to be stretching its hands upward as if saying, "Take me up, take me up, higher and higher." It is the same desire that is behind all nature, making it strive to rise upward and to reach something higher.

So it is with fire. They called the ancient people of Persia sun-worshippers, or fire-worshippers. In reality this is only a symbol to show how in its blaze the fire wants to ascend. It shares the desire of all things to go upward.

So it is in our own life. A person who seeks wealth desires to be richer and richer, to do better and better; the person who is in a high position desires to rise higher and higher. Whatever the goal, every heart's desire is to reach higher. But these are all external desires. The external surroundings cannot fulfil the purpose of man, because there is a higher world. We may call someone wicked because he always delights in doing evil, in causing another person harm, and in being unkind; but if we were to study his nature we should find that he too has a dislike for evil and wickedness; it is only that his sense of justice has not yet awakened. If evil is done to him he feels it; it is only the evil he does to another that he does not feel. He is intoxicated by doing evil, and therefore does not feel it. That he does not like it when another does it to him shows that he too really seeks goodness.

There is a desire for goodness in every heart. When a person thinks of goodness, loves goodness, admires goodness, and looks for goodness in everyone in the world, that person so to speak collects good. When we recognize the goodness in any person it is like collecting the seeds of goodness and sowing them in our hearts. But when a person looks for evil, then he can see nothing but evil in every person. In this way he grows so accustomed to it that his world becomes full of evil. He has contemplated it and looked for it and created it. We will always find a complaining person complaining about this one or that one having done wrong. We will find perhaps he has a record of a thousand people having done wrong. The world is a record in his heart, a record of all those who have done wrong or evil. But if we study him we will see that he has as much evil as he has recorded, perhaps even more; because if a man has evil in him, he collects a thousand evils; he becomes a storekeeper of evil, although he is really discontented with evil.

When someone tells another about some evil, he thinks that he himself is so good, so free from all evil. This side of human nature we see even in children. One child will come and tell how naughty the other is, thinking, "I must be called good." Such a tendency grows and develops; life gathers the wickedness in people; the heart becomes impressed; in time the evil is stored up. That which is the store becomes the treasure, the world within. He who stores evil cannot see good; because there is no good in this world that has not a little spark of evil in it; there is no evil in this world that has not a little spark of good. If a person only tried to find the spark of good, he could find it; but if a person seeks to find a little spark of evil in every good, he can do that also. Someone may say of another, "He is very good", but the neighbor says, "Yes, he is good, but you do not know this about him: I will just tell you what he does'! Is there anyone who will never contradict when somebody praises another? There has never been anyone in history about whom somebody has not spoken evil.

What is really good? The answer is, there is no such thing as good or evil; there is beauty. That which is beautiful, we call good. That which is ugly compared with the beautiful, we call evil, whether it is manner, custom, idea, thought or action. This shows that this whole phenomenon of the universe is the phenomenon of beauty. Every soul has an inclination to admire beauty, to seek for beauty, to love beauty, and to develop beauty; even God loves beauty.

In all ages the various religions have given different standards of good and evil, calling them virtue and sin. The virtue of one nation has been the sin of another; the virtue of the latter the sin of the former. Travel as we may through the world, or read the histories and traditions of nations as we may, we shall still find that what one calls evil, another calls good. That is why no one can succeed in making a universal standard for good and evil. The discrimination between good and evil is in man's soul. Every man can judge that for himself, because in every man is the sense of admiration of beauty. But he is not satisfied with what he does himself, he feels a discomfort, a disgust with his own efforts. There are many people who continue some weakness or some mistake, or who are intoxicated by some action which the world calls evil or which they themselves call evil, yet go on doing it; but a day comes when they also are disgusted. Then they wish for suicide. There is no more happiness for them. Happiness only lies in thinking or doing that which one considers beautiful. Such an act becomes a virtue, goodness; that goodness is beauty.

What is beauty? One sees beauty of form, and beauty without form; beauty of thought, beauty of feeling, beauty of ideal. Not only does one see beauty in flowers and fruit and trees, but one sees still greater beauty in imaginations and thoughts. One feels one could give all one's wealth or life for a beautiful thought or a beautiful dream.

A great many rewards were given in ancient times to the poets, the writers, the thinkers, expressing their beauty in poetry and writing. Yet one comes to the realization that sufficient reward can never be given for beauty of thought or beauty of imagination. But there is a still greater beauty: the feeling of kindness, of self-sacrifice, of devotion, of love. The beauty which has been so impressed upon the world that it never dies, the beauty which is seen in the life of Christ, the forgiveness, the love for humanity, the gentleness, the humility, nothing can be compared with it, it is so great. Therefore it cannot be limited to name or form or to the external world.

There is beauty of thought, and great beauty of feeling, of sentiment, of kindness, of self-sacrifice, of selflessness. And yet there is a still greater progress that a soul can make: the seeking of the source of beauty. It is said, "The gift is nothing without the giver." There is no doubt a beauty in listening to the composition of a great musician, but there is at the same time a desire in the heart to meet that composer and thank him personally. What a satisfaction, when we have not only heard the music but seen the composer! We can say how delighted we are, and how much his music has pleased us. Or there is a very good picture which we have admired; but it would be a still greater delight to be able to tell the painter how much we have enjoyed it. So it is with the love of goodness: that constant gathering of goodness, the constant comfort of looking for goodness in everybody, the constant consciousness of doing good to another, the constant delight in one's own goodness. There is no limit to such progress. One may say, "This goodness belonged to my father, to my mother, to my beloved, to my friend, to my acquaintance, to a stranger." But when it is all summed up, to whom does it belong? Is there nobody whom one can thank for it?

A person may see different places and palaces, beautiful gardens and museums, and meet people of all kinds; but would that be his final desire? No, it would be to meet the king! "If only I could greet him, since all that I have seen and admired makes me wish to see the sovereign!'

One may have corresponded for a long time with someone at a great distance. In every letter one reads delightful things and admires his thoughts. Will not one's greatest pleasure be to see him, and be face to face with him? So in the end it is the desire of every soul to be face to face with the Owner of beauty, to whom all beauty and goodness belong.

Whether we look at this subject religiously, philosophically, or scientifically, from whichever point there is no difference. There is only one conclusion: that the whole of life, with all its manifestations and variety, is simply the manifestation of one life. The believer and the unbeliever will both agree that there is one life behind it all, one source of all manifestation; one constant life which is a stimulus, a food, a source and goal for the whole of manifestation. No one who sees this with sentiment, thought, feeling, and admiration, could deny that it would be the greatest happiness to discover that source of all beauty and goodness which one has admired and sought for all one's life in one's progress along the path.

No doubt there may be some who are so absorbed in their daily wants and pursuits as not to feel inclined to search after this source; yet an unconscious yearning to get to that source is always present. If it is not to be face to face with the Lord, it will be an ideal: if one is fond of music, to see the composer; if fond of painting, to see the artist; if interested in reform, to see the leader of reform; if admiring great people, to see the greatest man there is. Whatever attracts a man, he will always be very glad to see the person whom he can identify with what he admires.

But how can one be face to face with the Deity, the Formless, the Nameless, whom one can never picture, never dream of? This is a question, and unless it is solved, a person who claims to be face to face with his Lord is a pretender. But one can only answer this question after having found out whether the Deity is a separate being, or is formless, nameless, above all limitations.

No doubt it is the desire for the presence of God that accounts for man's tendency to make idols and worship them. It was the desire to see the Deity and worship Him that made man stand before the sun and worship it, to stand before a tree and worship it. But this could not satisfy, because it was worshipping a limited thing. In reality the first lesson about the presence of God is, as a philosopher says, "If you have no god, make one for yourself." How true it is that before one comes to the real conception of God, the first thing is to build Him in one's heart. The word God has the same origin as the word good, but its original in the old Hebrew means "ideal."

What is ideal? Ideal is something we make. When we believe a person is very good we think of that goodness; it surrounds that person, and our artistic and idealistic tendencies help to paint his goodness as beautifully, as well as we can. We can crown it by our artistic faculty; that is called an ideal. When a man wishes somebody to be wicked, he paints his wickedness and all the badness that is there; he makes him an ideal of wickedness. When he thinks of his mother or friend he paints till he makes the ideal of goodness. No one can paint it for you as well as you can for yourself.

There is a saying of Majnun, the great lover of Persia. "Oh, Majnun", they said, "your girl is not as beautiful as you think. You are sacrificing your life; you grieve for ages and ages for that girl; but she is not so beautiful." Majnun answered, "You should see my Leila with my eyes; it is the eyes of my heart you need. My heart has made my Leila." That is called an ideal; and the ideal of perfection makes it beauty.

The ideal of perfection is the ideal of God, and we will turn to it in our troubles or worries or fears. If we are afraid of death, yet have that ideal by our side; we feel protected. If we are disappointed in anything, still there is that ideal by our side, to reassure us; we say, "I do not mind, I am not really disappointed; for Thou art present in my heart; I feel Thy presence; Thou hast become my ideal." In trouble, in pain, in poverty, in difficulty, or friendless, in all these things which no one in the world can escape, there He is beside us. The older we grow, the more we feel, "As long as I can be of use to the world, so long will the world want me. As soon as I can be of no service, of no use, then the world will get tired of me, it will not want me. The world wants that which is not myself. If I am wealthy, the world is after my wealth, not me; if I am in a high position, the world is after me because of my position, not because of me. The world goes after false things. The world is false. The only protection from it is to have that ideal of God alive and constantly present. With that ideal I can be satisfied, and have rest and peace; not only on earth but even in the hereafter I shall be in the arms of the Divine!"

No one can ever be so dear, so close, neither children, husband, wife, nor friend as that perfect Ideal. That Ideal will never fail. He will always be with us here and hereafter. We belong to Him. From Him we came; to Him we return. By feeling the presence of that Ideal always in our hearts, we feel the springing up of every kind of beauty, of every impulse, thought and imagination, of everything that comes out of ourselves or that we see all round us. We identify it all with God in the end. To the person who creates the presence of God the whole life around becomes one single vision of the Immanence of God.

The Spiritual Hierarchy

In the Qur'an we read that God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth. This explains to us that if the Creator is the light of the heavens and of the earth, if the Creator Himself is light, then the, whole creation is His light also. Therefore if we wish to know the secret of the nature of the heavens or of the earth, we can learn it by studying the nature of light. There is nothing more attractive to our eyes than light, nothing more elevating. Every heart feels full of delight in the light of the sun.

The nature of light is to throw out its rays. The nature of the Light of God is the same. If we study the rays minutely we shall see that from whatever angle we view them there is one central ray shooting forth with more intensity and with much more light than all the others. That means there is a central ray. Actually the emblem of the cross, which is most ancient, is derived from the study of light. The first glance shows the one central ray; the second glance develops that ray into a horizontal line, and the two lines then form a cross.

But light is everywhere. Whether electricity, or gas, or candle, it is all the same; though light in its perfection, as in the sun, can be observed better than the smaller forms of light. Science has come to understand that the light of the sun is in all things, but all religions have understood this from the beginning. The Hindus and Egyptians taught it. All over the East the worship of the sun was the first to come into existence. Only later were the sun-worshippers considered infidels, or heathens, or pagans. But as sun-worship is the natural religion, it is true that every religion can be traced to it. The external light was the first thing that impressed the heart of man with the idea of God. No doubt the inner light helped, but that too is light. Therefore both the external and the inner light reveal the mystery of the source and secret of all religions.

We can see the same thing in different aspects of life. For instance the falls and springs of water, the different channels, all show one big central current of water, which scatters as it falls. It touches different rocks, spreads into many streams, and yet ultimately unites again. In vegetable life we see the same. A tree with fruit and flowers and so many leaves and branches has yet one central part of its being: its stem. The life of the stem is the life of the whole tree. It is not so much that the fruits and other forms appear upon the tree as that the stem itself is repeated over and over again. Every branch is a stem to smaller branches. This again shows how the light which we call life takes a main channel for its expression, and spreads through all the different organs, the small channels or boughs.

We see it in man's form. There is the spine which is the stem. The breath runs through the center of man's body, although the hands and legs and face and various organs have different directions. This central life is more important than any other part of man.

Then we see it in the life of people. Perhaps in every house there is someone whose sorrow means sorrow to the whole family, whose pleasure or happiness means some pleasure or happiness to all the others. Perhaps a whole town acts through the strength, energy, enthusiasm, and initiative of one person. A whole nation may move through the man of the day. However many wise people there are, however intelligent and capable they may be, there is still one person like the stem, through whom the whole activity is kept going. It has never been otherwise, whether the age was aristocratic or democratic. Even if the age was one of democracy, a democrat has nevertheless represented that stem, just as in the age of aristocracy an aristocrat held that place. No nation, no town, no city, no family exists without that one soul on whom the happiness, unhappiness, degeneration, or evolution of the whole depends.

Once, on being asked whether one person's influence or understanding could be better than that of five people, it was evident to me that the questioner thought that in these days one individual is no better than another. But the answer is, "Five people? That is very few. There are some persons who know and understand more than five thousand!" In all ages we find musicians, poets, and others of the greatest repute, who were seen by thousands of people who yet did not understand them. Millions of people may have adored them after they were gone. Poets, reformers, scientists have been considered crazy for thinking out something impossible. Yet they have been the greatest men in the world. Is not such a man equal to fifty thousand people? Surely.

Even today we can see in everyday life how people argue and dispute without coming to a conclusion. Then perhaps another comes and sets the whole thing right. The discord of thousands of people could be resolved, and thousands of people could be united into one harmony by the presence of one who unites them all.

Whether the democrat accepts it readily or not, it does not matter. Even in a democratic land like Russia there is the influence of a leader just the same. Whatever nation one goes to there will be one person who equals thousands.

This natural condition is the basis of ancient civilization. We see it in the reverence and honor which was given to age: the old person has experience. However intelligent someone may be, it is the older person's experience of life, the life he has seen, that tells.

Honor has been paid to learning. The learned person was respected because he understood more. Honor was paid to goodness. If a person showed goodness to his family, proved to be honest, virtuous, and good to his neighbor, they had respect for him also and made him a leader of the village or town. The social life was based on the appreciation of virtue, intelligence, and experience. Thence came the idea of the king, raja, chief, pasha, or sultan; whatever name he received, he received it by virtue of his goodness, kindness, education, experience, or bearing. He became the leader of those who wished to become like him.

Those who believed in religion had faith in their Church; they believed in their tradition. They had a regard for it. Others had faith in their king. In the story of the dervish and the procession of the king we see how easy it is, under the delusion of democracy, to go against all tradition, education, authority, experience, and age. But if we avoid that delusion then we find the real democracy, that which comes from showing an ideal to others and honoring and respecting that ideal ourselves. It is a crude spirit which says; "I do not care about your education, your experience, your age, not care if you are thousands of years old." That is the false democratic spirit. The true democratic spirit feels within itself that there is nothing one cannot be, and at the same time appreciates, respects, and understands all that it sees in age, experience, goodness, righteousness, piety, or virtue. To follow such a spirit means evolution; not to follow it means degeneration.

So we come to the idea of the religious hierarchy. It is natural for those who admire art to admire those who have painted beautiful pictures. Those who have a taste for music naturally admire the composers of the past, who dedicated their lives to the study and contemplation of music, and have benefited us by that deep pursuit of music, and enabled us to start from the point at which we begin today. This inclination is inherent: to admire, respect, and feel grateful to the masters of the past. We feel the desire to be near them, to get still closer.

It is the same in all directions of life. There is always the desire to get near to those lives which have helped humanity in music, science, reform, philosophy, or religion. Whatever we know today is the result of thousands of years of experience. No country or nation can say, "We were the only discoverers of this, or that." No, the discovery of the very least thing is the discovery of the whole of humanity. How could we understand language, if we were not taught? Books, reading, civilization, seeing life, all have helped so much that no one can say that something is only due to a particular person or nation. The whole of humanity has shared in everything that we think new today.

In the case of the spiritual cults, we find that all the mystical and occult schools gratefully recognize the masters of the past who have given their experience, sometimes by dedicating their efforts, sometimes by surrendering their happiness, sometimes leading a very hard and restricted life, sometimes renouncing all the happiness and wealth and possessions of this world, rejecting all the temptations of life by going to live in mountain caves or forests.

Every cult of mystics has used certain names. There are certain names in the cult of the Hindus, under which they recognize certain masters. We find them also in the Semitic races, mentioned in the Bible, the Kabala, and the Qur'an. Naturally, the human mind has its limitations. If we had no limitations we should be perfect. So it has always been that man has recognized as masters only those who are found in his own tradition. He only recognizes the spirituality or greatness or blessedness of those whose names he finds in his own tradition. In the Hebrew tradition there are the names of Abraham and Moses; in the Christian tradition there is the name of Jesus Christ, and after him those of the saints; in the tradition of Islam there are other names again, Mohammed and many Muslim saints; and in India there are, for instance, Rama, Shiva, Vishnu, and Krishna. And as there was little means of communication in ancient times, it was only natural that the tradition of one country should not be known to the others, and that it should become corrupted as it passed to another.

The names used in one nation thus came to be different from those in another. Brahma, Abraham, Bahram in Persia, are all related names. If we tell some people that one name is really the same as another, they will not accept it, because they do not wish to think another tradition is the same as their own. Those of their own tradition are the only ones!

There is no blame in this, seeing the tendency in man to revere, appreciate, be grateful, and to link himself with their piety, virtue, goodness, spirituality, or power. It does not matter as long as the greater thing is recognized. If he does not recognize it now, he will perhaps do so later. In just the same way no particular school or group of scientists has been the only help. When we look deeply into life we see that every person in this world has been helped in his evolution, and all have helped each other. We see how one person is illuminated by another, how one learns from another. Whatever the name of the teacher, there is still the one stem of life and light. As long as the tree of this manifestation exists, the stem will exist. The names are all names of one current of life and light that runs through the tree. The one Spirit of life is given different names, the sacred names; and we more easily recognize the current by the particular name to which we are accustomed. So far we are right, but the mistake we make, and it is to our loss, is to ignore or deny the same truth because it is given to us in another form and under another name. We limit it. We say the truth existed only in that period when certain teachers came to the world, and that after that it stopped. But the spirit of illumination can never stop as long as life goes on. Illumination has continued from the beginning, and will always continue until the manifestation ends; so long will the spirit of illumination continue to spread out its rays.

We accept some forms and ignore others. It is the natural tendency of mankind. It is this that accounts for so many religions. Even if a person cannot see things in this light, he can at least be tolerant of other people's religions. He can respect the religion because he sees others respect it, even if he himself has no respect for its teacher. After all, spirituality means respect, advancement. Man shows his evolution according to his respect, his consideration, his thoughtfulness. If we could only develop that faculty in our mind, it would not matter not believing or recognizing the Spirit of Guidance shown in different human forms. If we held our own teacher or master in the greatest esteem it would do a great deal of spiritual good. The disharmony of the world is usually caused by religious differences, as were the wars of ancient times, and the differences are caused by men failing to understand that religion is one, truth is one, God is one. How can there be two religions?

It is natural to regard highly the teachers who have passed away, for when a person has passed he is unapproachable, and the goodness of his spirit can be recognized. When the spirit is in physical form, it is more difficult to recognize spirituality in him and give him the same esteem as one who has passed. Sages and teachers in all ages have usually been recognized after they have died; in their lifetime they were neglected and even met with opposition.

The mystic understands that illuminated souls, guiding souls, are on earth today too. They were not only in the past; they are here now also. Were there none on the earth now, how could illumination be continued? It is the present that is the best, not the past. What is present today will be the past tomorrow, so the mystic does not lose the opportunity of recognizing the spirit in the present as well as in the past. The Sufis use such terms as Wali, Nabi, Ghous, Rasul, Qutub. But names do not matter, though the grades are necessary. The influence of one soul may be felt in a village, of another in a county, of another in the whole country.

What is the sign of such souls? In the East it is believed that some people bring good luck, some child in the house, a guest, or a friend. The good luck may be brought to one person, or it may be brought to ten or fifty. This shows that there is some influence, and we can recognize it as something which is beneficial, good, harmonious, to five, ten, a hundred or even more. The soul is as great as the circle of its influence. Human beings are all in limited form; they are so tall or so short, but the soul is much wider. One person's influence may hold a thousand people.

There is a saying in Gujerati, "It is possible that the world may be saved by the virtue of one; it is possible that whole ship may sink by the sin of one."

We see this also in practical life. An incapable foreman in a factory will bring nothing but disappointment; an inefficient manager in an office or shop will bring nothing but bad luck. One person's influence, capability, knowledge, enthusiasm, initiative, strength of mind, will-power, are perhaps far greater than those of a thousand people. When we look at it from a spiritual point of view one person's soul is emitting a blessing and goodness to thousands.

There are two forms of this. Firstly there may be a soul in a very humble guise, so that nobody would think that soul could possibly be very spiritual, or pious, or good; it may be a soul working as a servant, one who scrubs the floor; yet there is such great influence of goodness and light and blessing in that soul, that unconsciously wherever it goes it brings some blessing, some goodness, light, harmony, joy, and peace. In the East this has always been believed and still is. Therefore a child is taught to be careful not to offend anybody, however humble or weak he seems. We do not know what is hidden in his humbleness or weakness. He may be uneducated, or possess no money, position, or sign of high birth, or anything noticeable to the eyes of the world; and yet a beautiful soul may be hidden there like a precious gem lying for thousands of years under a rock, until someone finds it and puts it in a crown to be worn by a king, where everybody can see it. A person who welcomes everybody, who sees virtue in everybody, who is faithful and considerate to everybody, his soul develops so that in time others perceive his light. Wherever the light is, it can be perceived.

But it is not necessary for the jewel to be so hidden. Sometimes it is not. It is not hidden where there is a special task in life that a soul has to do.

  • There may be a task to give a divine message.
  • Or to uphold a country or nation that is becoming degenerate. Such a soul may have to guide it through its difficulties,
  • and preserve its harmony and peace.
  • As in the days of Noah, there may be need of a warning. That soul comes to give it.
  • The light that is usually hidden now comes forward to bring something to view that was buried in the depths of life.

At one time such a soul was called a prophet, or teacher, or godhead, or incarnation. Others claimed to be prophets, healers, or warners.

But in the time of man's maturity, of the whole world's maturity, such things are no longer called by these names, and yet the work is needed. The personality has been the sign, the evidence; the message has been the sign, the evidence of its truth or falseness. There was a time when the world was not capable of seeing. Humanity did not have enough realization to recognize the message, that is why the claim of prophecy had to be made. But now the world can recognize, sooner or later, what is right and what is wrong. The warner, the master, the messenger of today will not claim; he will only work. He will leave his work to prove for itself whether it is true or false.

Those who view life mystically consider that they are not only at one with the teachers of this or that tradition of the past, but that in every soul there is a spark of that teacher. No soul is without the light of that spiritual teacher. Therefore they have regard and respect not only for the spiritual hierarchy, but also for the spark of that light which has made every soul a part of the spiritual hierarchy. So they regard with respect and reverence every human being in the world.

The whole vision of life, the whole of manifestation becomes one single evidence of the sublimity of God.

Sublime Knowledge

The result of spiritual attainment is so vast and great that words can never explain it, for the very reason that all that words can explain is limited, is learnt and taught, or bought and sold; but something that is higher than that cannot be put into words. With spiritual attainment, however, the first thing one begins to see in oneself is that thoughts such as "I cannot" or "It is impossible" or "I am helpless" or "It cannot be done", cease to exist. A soul naturally becomes positive and will say, "If it is difficult today, tomorrow it will be easy; if it cannot be done just now, it can be done later." This optimism is not only in the imagination, but it springs from the spirit; its root is in the spirit, and it strengthens man immensely in accomplishing things. The fear of death that everyone has, more or less, disappears, and when fear of death disappears there is nothing else that really frightens a man, for that is what frightens him most. Many say that they are not frightened of death, but they will not continue to say that when death is before them.

A story is told in India of a woodcutter who, when he was overcome with self-pity after having worked all day long, used to say, "O, what a life! What a terrible life, having to work all day long in the hot sun cutting wood; I wish I were dead." And sometimes he used to say, "O death, why do you not come? I would rather die than live such a life!" And one day Death took pity on him and appeared before him. But the moment he looked at Death, he was so frightened that he began to beg him to leave him in this world a little longer; he said he would never invoke his name again, that he would very much like to live a few more days on earth. So it is with everyone. They call death when death is not present, but when death comes, then they are frightened.

It is the spiritual soul who as a result of spiritual attainment begins to rise above all fear. As Ali has said, "Fear no longer remains in the heart of the spiritual ones." For fear is like the darkness, and the illumination is light. When illumination comes obscurity disappears. When a person has arrived at spiritual attainment, his doubts cease to exist. But without spiritual attainment, however intelligent a man may be, he still has doubts; and very often the more clever a person, the more doubts he has. And there are many among the most intelligent ones who cannot make a decision: they cannot make up their minds, for they doubt; and doubt is the decay which destroys every action. There is only one thing that raises a man above doubt, and that is not belief, but conviction; and conviction comes by spiritual attainment.

We will very often hear a learned man who has studied many books and who is most intelligent say, "I suppose it is so," or, "It can be so", or, "It may be so." The mystic never says that. The mystic says, "It is so", or, "it is not so." There is conviction. It is spiritual attainment that gives conviction to a person.

Have the prophets and sages said, "There may be a hereafter, there may be a soul", or, "Perhaps there is a Judgment Day", or, "Maybe there is a God'? No, they have said, "It is so." They knew. Besides the soul which begins to see a way to immortality does not doubt or fear. It looks with open heart to what is coming.

Spiritual attainment also makes the sight penetrating. In other words, before the eyes of the spiritual person objects and people unfold themselves; they reveal their nature and character and secret. It is just like a master chemist; whatever drug there is, he knows how to utilize it, how to make medicine out of it. In the same way everyone stands before the spiritual soul with the record of his nature and character, together with his past and present and future. Every person is like a written letter, although a letter is not really a good comparison; for a letter is dead, and here is something living, something communicating and most revealing. A letter can reveal very little, but a person reveals a thousand-fold more. All that words can never express is confided to the spiritual soul in the twinkling of an eye.

Very often people are deluded by the great compassion, by the graciousness, fineness, saintliness of spiritual souls. They perhaps see in their negativeness a lack of power; but it is not really so. On the contrary, behind the refinement, behind that saintliness and that sympathetic and compassionate attitude, a great power is hidden, a power of resistance, a power of accomplishment.

Only, they do not make the most of their powers. The greater, the more spiritual they are, the less they use their powers. It is like a child-soul and a ripened soul: if you give money into the hand of a child-soul, that person will go to the shops and market places and will buy things that attract him; he will waste that money and in a short time he will have nothing left; but a ripened soul who has got the same amount will use it more slowly, more thoughtfully, and make the best of it, giving happiness to himself and to others with it.

And so the spiritual person does not make use of his inspiration or of his power for small, worldly things. He uses it more economically than the same power or one-hundredth of that power would be used in the hands of an unrefined soul. For instance, if an ordinary person knew all about his surroundings he would abuse that insight if he were still inquisitive and so small as to speak to everybody about what he saw. And this is what most people do. Man is most inquisitive if it concerns another person, but he cares very little to know about himself. Therefore the smallness of his nature must first be shaken off. When one rises morally above the tendency to devote one's time and thought to other people's affairs which do not concern one in any way, speaking about them, forming opinions about people, when all this is given up, then a person becomes entitled to spiritual attainment. And a person who is childish enough to use his powers, if he has any, in performing miracles or in accomplishing things of an everyday worldly nature, abuses spiritual power too.

Once a scientist asked me if there was any way of raising a pen, which was lying on the table, by spiritual magnetism. I said, "Nothing is impossible to a mystic. But why spend time in raising a pen, when there are so many human beings waiting to be raised higher? This would bring about a much better result than raising a pen!"

What people want to do today is to get spiritual insight and power and use it for their material advantage. They think that if they can make things more profitable in their worldly life, it is worth doing. This is like spending pearls to buy pebbles. They would do better to pay for pebbles with pennies than to spend spiritual pearls on pebbles. Business and industry and all other concerns require effort, perseverance, qualifications, intelligent work. If one does it that way one is successful. But the belief that spiritual attainment should only be used for worldly success would make of it a very small aim to be accomplished. Spiritual attainment is success itself, all things come to the spiritual person. If he is a business man, he will be more successful; but he should not try to attain spiritually in order to succeed in business. The accent must be on spiritual attainment and all things will follow as a matter of course. As Christ has said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you." Therefore whatever a man's profession, be he a writer, a poet, a politician, or an inventor, whatever the profession, spiritual attainment will always help, in every direction.

There is no greater success than spiritual attainment, because it is the finer success, a success which is reflected in everything one does and which brings about fruitful results. That is why people of old have called it the philosopher's stone, for whatever the philosopher's stone touches, whether it is iron or copper or brass, it turns it into gold. In other words, whatever the heart of the spiritual person touches, it turns it into life.

A person who has spiritual attainment need not cultivate sympathy morally, for sympathy comes as a matter of course without his cultivating it. A spiritual person cannot be otherwise than sympathetic. It is a continual outflowing of love that manifests by spiritual realization. It goes out both to the wise and foolish, to the good and to the wicked, just as Christ's forgiveness was always ready for the wicked, his affection for the good.

It is love manifesting in different aspects as compassion, forgiveness, kindness, graciousness, as affection, as sympathy; it is one and the same. And in the end a spiritual person does not see in another person a separate entity. His realization makes him feel, "It is myself", and once he begins to see the other person as himself he cannot wrong him any more. No one in the world seems to him to be different and distinct from himself, but he sees in everyone the various aspects of his own being. It is in this way that the spiritual soul expands and attains to perfection.