Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Aim of Life
Beloved ones of God,
I ask your indulgence to my subject of this evening which is the Aim of Life. As to the main object of life there cannot be but one object; and as to the external object of life, there are as many objects as many beings. There is one object of life for the reason that there is one life. In spite of many apparently appearing, in spite of many lives outwardly appearing, there exists one and only life. It is in this thought that we can combine and it is from this thought that true wisdom is learned. No doubt that main object of life cannot be at once understood and therefore the best thing for every person is to pursue his object in life first, and in the accomplishment of his personal object some day he will arrive to accomplish that inner object. When man does not understand this he thinks there is something else to accomplish and all this is before him that is not accomplished and therefore he remains at a failure. The person who is not definite about his object has not yet begun his journey in the path of life. The first thing therefore is for a person to definitely determine his object before himself. However small that object is, when he has determined it he has begun his life.
We find in the lives of many people sometimes all through their life, they do not happen to find their vocation of their life and what happens? In the end they consider their life a failure. All through their life they go in one thing or another; yet not knowing their life's object they can accomplish so little.
When people say: Why I do not succeed? In answer to that I always say: Because you have not yet found your object. As soon as a person has found his life's object he begins to feel in this world at home. Before that he feels in a strange world. No sooner a person has found his way, he proves to be fortunate, because all things he shall want to accomplish, they come to him by themselves. If the whole world was against him, he gets, got such a power that he can stand on his object against the whole world. He gets such a patience then, when he has, he is on the way to his object that whatever unfortunate happens, it does not discourage him. No doubt as long as one has not found it, then one goes in one thing and then in a second and he thinks that life is against him. Then he begins to find faults with individuals, conditions, planets, climate; with all things. Therefore what is called fortunate, what is called succesful, that is to have the right object. When a person is not wearing the clothes made for himself, then he says it is loose or too short. When they are his clothes he feels comfortable, they are his. Real thing therefore is to give freedom to every soul, to choose his object in life and if he finds in his object at home, to know that he is on the right path.
When a person is on the path, then also there are certain things to be considered. When a person has a knot to unravel, to loosen, in the meantime a person gives him a knife to cut it, he has lost a great deal in his life. It is a small thing, but by not accomplishing it a person has gone back. It is a kind of taking a back step. This is a little example I have given, but in everything one does, if one has not that patience and confidence to go forward, then one loses a great deal. However small a work a person has undertaken, if he accomplishes it, he has accomplished something great. It is not what work a person has accomplished, it is the very fact of accomplishing which gives him the power.
And now coming to the question of this object, which is the object of every soul; that object may be called the spiritual attainment. A person may go all his life without it, but there will come a time in his life when he may not admit, but he will begin to look for it. Because spiritual attainment is not only an acquired knowledge, it is the soul's appetite. And there will come some day in life that a person will feel the soul's appetite more than any appetite. No doubt every soul has an unconscious yearning to satisfy this soul's appetite, but at the same time one's absorption in everyday life that keeps one so occupied that one has no time to pay attention to the soul's appetite.
Now, the definition of spiritual attainment can be found in studying human nature, for the nature of man is one and the same, might he be spiritual or material. There are five things that man yearns for: life, knowledge, power, happiness and peace. Now the continual appetite which is felt in the deepest self yearns for either of these five things.
Now in order to answer his appetite what does man do? In order to answer the desire to live, one eats and drinks and protects one's self from all dangers of life. And yet the appetite is not fully satisfied because all danger he may escape, but the last danger he cannot escape, which man calls death. In order to answer the next thing which is called power, a man does everything in order to gain the physical strength; power by influence; rank; every kind of power he seeks in order to be powerful. And he always knocks against disappointments, because he always sees that if there is a power of ten degrees, there is another power of twenty degrees to knock against it. Just think of the great nations, ones whose military powers so great, one could not have thought that in one moment they will fall down. One could have thought that if they will fall down it will take thousands of years for them to fall down, so great was their power. We do not need to look for it in their history, we have just seen in these past few years; we have but to look at the map.
Then the third kind of appetite is the happiness. Man tries to answer it by pleasures, not knowing that pleasures of this world do not answer for that happiness which his soul really seeks after. Man attempts are in vain. He finds in the end that every effort he made for pleasure, he made with a greater loss than gain. Besides that which is not enduring, that which is not real in its nature is not satisfactory.
Then that desire of knowledge. That knowledge gives a tendency to study. And man might study and study all through his life. If he read all the great libraries, all the books, there will still remain that question, "why?" That "why" will not be answered by books he will study, by exploring the facts which are outside the life. In the first place the depth of nature is so profound that man's limited life is not long enough to probe the depths of life. Yes, comparatively or relatively you might say one is more studied than another, but no one by the outer study of life comes to the satisfaction of life.
And then there is the appetite for peace. In order to find peace one leaves one's environments which trouble him. One wants to go away for people. One wants to sit quiet and rest. But even a person not ready for this peace, even if he went in the caves of Himalaya, away from the whole world, even there he would not find peace.
By the explanation of these five aspects of appetite, the deepest appetite of man, one finds that all efforts of man made to satisfy these appetite seem to be in vain. And how can these five desires be satisfied? They can be satisfied by spiritual attainment, for that is the only thing which answers these five different appetites.
And to explain how these five appetites are answered by spiritual attainment. The desire to live can only be satisfied when the soul realizes its eternal life. For mortality exists rather in conception than in reality from a spiritual point of view. Mortality is the lack of soul's understanding of its own self. For instance, a person always thought that his coat was himself; he lived all his life in that conception and when that coat was torn he thought that he died. The same one experiences in life. It is a kind of illusion that the soul gets from this physical body and identifies itself with this mortal being. It is just like identifying oneself with one's overcoat. And by the loss of the coat one thinks that: I am lost.
Nevertheless an intellectual knowledge of this is but of a little use. Because when the inner self has identified itself with the body and when in imagination the person thinks: No, no, the body is but my overcoat. It is therefore that the meditations are done by the wise people of all times in order to give a chance to the soul to find itself independent of the physical body. Once the soul has begun to feel itself, its own life independently of its outer garb, it is beginning to have confidence of its life, it is no longer afraid of what is called death. No sooner these phenomena once vouchsafed, a person no longer calls death a death, he calls death a change.
And now coming to the idea of the power. The true power is not in trying to gain the power. The true power is in becoming power. But how to become it? It requires an attempt to make a definite change in oneself and that change is a kind of struggle with one's false self and when that false self is crucified, then the true self is resurrected. Apparently before the world that crucifixion is the lack of power; in truth, all power is attained by that resurrection.
As to the knowledge, there are two aspects. One knowledge is that which one learns by knowing the names and forms of this life, what we call learning. This cannot be the answer of that appetite. This is only a step-stone to that appetite, it cannot satisfy this appetite.
This, only the outer learning helps one to go to the inner learning, but this inner learning is quite different from the outer learning, and how is it learned? It is learned by studying self. One finds that all the knowledge that one strives to learn and all that exists to study, it is all in oneself. Therefore one finds a kind of universe in one's self and by the study of the self one comes to that spiritual knowledge which is the soul's appetite.
And then comes the question of happiness. One thinks, that: If my friend is very kind to me then I will be very happy; when people respond to me, or when I will get my money I will be happy. But that is not the way to become happy. It is a mistake, because the lack of happiness makes one blame others, because they are in the way of that person to be happy. But really speaking, that is not so. True happiness is not gained; it is discovered. Man's soul himself is happiness. That is why he longs for happiness. What keeps happiness out from one's life is the closing of the doors of the heart. When the heart is not fully living, then the happiness is not living there. Sometimes the heart is not fully living, but a little living. And it expects the life from the other heart. And that is gained by spiritual attainment. The person who has found his peace within himself, that person may be in a cave of the mountains or amidst the crowd; in every place he will experience his peace.
The question is how these five things can be gained. As I have said, the first necessary thing is for the person to accomplish the object which is immediately standing before him. However small, it does not matter. It is by accomplishing it that one gains the power. As one goes on further through this way in this life, always seeking for the real, one will come to reality. Truth is attained by the love of truth.
The person who runs away from truth, truth runs away from him. If not, truth is more near to the person than what is without truth. There is nothing more precious in life than truth itself, and in loving truth and in attaining to the truth, one attains to that religion which is the religion of all people and all churches. It does not matter then what church he belongs, what religion he professes, what race or nation he belongs; when once he realizes the truth, he is with all, all because he is with all. It is the disagreement and misunderstanding which is before a person has attained the truth. When once a person has attained to the truth there is no misunderstanding. It is those who have learned the outer knowledge, the disputes come among them. But those who have attained to the truth, whether he comes from north pole or the south pole, what country, it does not matter. When they have it understood, the truth, they are atonement. And it is this object that we should keep before us in order to unite the divided section of humanity. For the real happiness of humanity is in that unity which can be gained by rising above barriers which divide man.
Thank you all for the most sympathetic and patient response. May God bless you.
(Hazrat Inayat Khan. Rue de Loxum, 22 May 1924)