God – an ocean of all consciousness
God is described as the one supreme being, the unmanifest-manifested, the eternal verity, the conscious spirit pervading all forms that emanate from Him – He upholding all creation, but is immanent in every form.
God is nameless, absolute, but when He wished to become from one to many, His power came into expression. That power is known as Naam in the terms of the Masters. It is also known as Shabd, as Kalma, as Word, and other names. That power is the creator of all things, it is controlling all things.
God is an ocean of all consciousness. We are of the same essence as that of God: a drop of the ocean of all consciousness.
Sant Kirpal Singh
This is the first of four talks given during Sant Kirpal Singh’s First World Tour in Philadelphia
What is God, and how can we know Him?
“He is One, He is the First. He is all that is. His name is Truth. He is the Creator of all,
fearing naught striking fear in naught. His form on lands and waters is Eternity; the One Self-existent.
Through the grace of His true servant, continually repeat His Name. He was in the beginning; He is through all ages,
And He shall be the One who lives forever more.”
Let me introduce myself, I have come to you as a man to man. I am just as any of you are. Of course, each man has got the same privileges from God. I developed in a way that concerns my own Self. What I learned at the feet of my Master about my own Self, the real Self, I will put before you so that those who are seeking after Truth may find some guidance.
As a child, I had that awareness in me: “What is the mystery of life?” I sought to find the solution in books. I may tell you that I had the opportunity of going through almost two libraries and also going through the holy scriptures of almost all the religions, or the majority of them, I would say. There were very good descriptions given there, but I could not find the practical solution of my problem.
What I came to know at the feet of my Master, I will be putting before you in the course of four talks. The subject of each talk will be a little bit different.
Today we will deal with “God and Man.” The next three talks will deal with “Higher Values of Life,” “Kingdom of God,” and lastly “The Most Natural Way to Enter the Kingdom of God.”
From a careful and unbiased study of the sacred books of the world, we find that there is one Reality, which is our goal. That Reality is termed God and by various other names.
God made man and man made worldly religions. Such religions were made for the uplift of man. We have to make the best use of them so that ultimately we may know ourselves and then know God.
Religion has two aspects: One is the social side, or the outward side. The other aspect is the inner religion, the spiritual side. We have to start with outer forms of religions. Man is social; he must remain in some society.
Each society has its own various ceremonies and rituals, its own scriptures, its own mode of saying prayers. This is the non-essential side. We have to remain in’ some social religion because man is a social being – and to remain in some social religion is a blessing. But that is an elementary step – our going to churches or other holy places of worship, saying prayers, reading the scriptures, observing certain ceremonies, and rituals. All these go to create love in us for God.
But if our performance of rituals, reading of the scriptures or attending the churches or other holy places of worship does not even create in us love of God and constitutes mere mental gymnastics, these lead us nowhere. That does not mean that you are not to live in any social religion. You are to do so. If you revolt against it, you will have to form another society.
Suppose there are ten thousand people of your views. Then you will have to form a separate society and make certain rules to go by. After some time you find that a certain rule has proved defective and must be amended. So you go on amending the rules.
All the same this has to do with your outer selves. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Similarly, social religions were made for man, but man was not made for social religions. The purpose of remaining in any social religion is just to know oneself and then to know God. That is one aspect of religion. The other aspect is the observance of certain rituals and ceremonies. These vary in different religions, but you will find their purpose is nearly the same.
For example, in some churches to sit bareheaded is a mark of respect. In India, to sit with one’s head covered is a sign of respect. That is a custom there. Apparently, there is a difference between the two observances, but the purpose is the same. Both signify that whenever you sit in the presence of God, just remembering Him, you should sit in a respectful posture.
These are, however, non-essentials. The purpose is the same, no doubt. Apparently, some differences exist, but those differences do not affect in any way the purpose of the church.
Those who follow the letter of the rule, simply forget the spirit and fight only for the apparent differences. In Arabia, where there is a dearth of water, there is a custom that whenever you say prayers, you should just wash your hands, feet, face, and then sit for prayers. In other countries where there is an abundance of water, they say that until you take a bath, it will not be right to sit for prayers. That is only an apparent difference on account of the climatic or geographical conditions of the place.
We have to live in some social religion. So it is better to remain where you are. Do not change, if it can be helped. While there, what should you do? Just read the holy scriptures – the sayings of the Masters – you have, and try to understand what they say, and live up to them.
This is what you find: All Masters who came in the past were the children of Light, and came to give Light to the world. They did not come for any special religion or special country. They came for all humanity.
It is now time to cast aside the trivial differences that exist – the non-essentials. We should just look to the purpose for which they were made, and open our eyes to the Reality that we are all worshipping the same God. These were meant to represent that Reality which exists.
Now you will find, from the standpoint of all religions, that God the absolute is beyond what is known and manifested. That is something even beyond what is supporting and creating all creation. That Reality is at the back of everything. Can we search Him or find Him? No. He cannot be searched. He is unsearchable.
Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty? The Almighty is inexpressible and cannot be expressed in words.
Names are simply given by the Masters to express that Reality, which is really inexpressible. He is the Changeless One. You find: “Forever more, O Lord, Thy Word existed in Heaven.” Forever more – that is the lasting Reality and that is the Changeless One. Ultimately, it is unconditioned and undivided. He is the Nameless One.
All names are holy. We have respect for all names, although God is the Nameless One. By whatever name you call Him with devotion and faith, He will make an appearance and you will come in contact with Him. But names refer to a Reality that cannot be expressed in words.
All Masters have tried to express that Reality, each defining in his own way. Almost all definitions of God are parallel. They all say that God is the first and the last, from which nothing can be excluded, and to which nothing can be added. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and the primal cause – the causeless cause – the seat of all things; existence in itself. That cannot be created. That is is already in existence.
In the Koran, the Prophet Mohammed says: “There is no variableness in God, since He is eternal, immortal, infinite.”
That is unchangeable permanence and everlasting Reality. These words only seek to express, however imperfectly, the great Reality that is at the back of all.
Ever since the Masters first came, they have been trying to express that Reality and chanting praises of the Lord – these have formed the subject of our holy scriptures. But still they say He is as unsaid as ever. For thousands of years, the Masters have been explaining in their own words whatever is possible.
How can the inexpressible be expressed in words? That is the subject of experience you may have, through contact with that Reality. But if even our outer emotions cannot be described in words, how can that Reality be expressed in words? That is why it has always been said that God is inexpressible. There is the same Reality working throughout all creation. Until we have had some experience of that Reality, we will not know what it is like. What we now know is only what is given in books: we have had no first-hand experience of it.
All Masters say: It is the beginning and the end. In Isaiah it is stated: I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.
Again, we find: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.., which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
These are definitions given to show that Reality is unchangeable permanence, which has no beginning and no end. God has no beginning and no end.
But until we have an experience of Reality, we cannot be convinced. Ever since the world began, Masters have been coming and giving explanations to the best of their ability to the people. But with all that they always said that He is as unsaid as ever.
Guru Nanak has put it very aptly:
He is One, He is the First. He is all that is.
His name is Truth. He is the Creator of all,
fearing naught striking fear in naught.
His form on lands and waters is Eternity; the One Self-existent.
Through the grace of His true servant, continually repeat His Name.
He was in the beginning; He is through all ages,
And He shall be the One who lives forever more.
You see that he says the same thing. All Masters, as they have said, had experience of that Reality. Of course, when they gave their descriptions, they expressed It in their own language and in their own way. But you will find that the salient features of whatever they expressed are the same.
Then further Guru Nanak says:
He is beyond thought.
No thinking can conceive Him.
Now the question is: Can we search for Him within the finite pale of our intellect? No, He is beyond thought, no thinking can conceive Him. Not even if the minds of men should think for ages and ages. Then how can we know God? Our bodies, emotions and intellects should first be stilled. Only then the revelation will dawn, you will then know who you are. When you know who you are, you will be able to know and see what God is. That is why Guru Nanak said if you want to grasp Him within the pale of your finite intellect, He cannot be seen.
It is something like the story of the tortoise of the river, who went into a pond. There was another tortoise there. The river tortoise said, “Look here, the sea is very great and has no end.” The tortoise in the pool just stepped back and said: “Is it so much?” “No,” said the other, “It is still greater.” Then again he stepped back a little more, and questioned: “Is it so much?” And the other answered, “No, it is still greater.” Then, he went around the whole pool of water and said, “Is it so much?” The other said, “No, it is still greater.”
The tortoise of the pool was all wrong, you see, because his experience only extended to that pool of water, nothing more. Similarly, the Masters have always been saying that Divine Knowledge was limitless and they cannot expect to do justice to the subject.
The Lord is God. If you call Him anything, you simply want to bring Him within the finite ambit of your intellect. When that Reality is infinite, how can we express It in finite terms? This is what all Masters have been saying. Further, Guru Nanak says: He cannot be conceived.
The Upanishads say: To grasp that Reality within the pale of your intellect is as impossible as trying to quench your thirst by drinking wine. At another place, it is said: . . . or just as if you can squeeze out oil from sand. Both are impossible. Similarly, to bring Him within your intellect, and understand Him fully is not possible.
The Masters did give us something to understand That which could not be expressed in words. By their grace, we can just form some idea about Him. They bring us in contact with that Reality when we enter into the Kingdom of God. Then we have some experience of Him. After that we can say there is something.
Guru Nanak says: I am just like a fish in the ocean. I do not know which is one end or the other. Similarly, we cannot grasp Him within our finite intellects.
Nor can He be known by gaining the worlds, for man’s desire is never
satiated, even though all the worlds laden with gold fall to his share.
No human thoughts can carry man far.
The movements of his mind, the thousand acts of wisdom of the world leave him dark, nothing avails.
Vain are the ways of man. How then to find Him? Man feels helpless.
Ever since the world began, all Masters have been saying the same thing. We have so many scriptures at our command, so many pages of the books of God that have been written. There will be many more as each Master comes and describes his contact with God or Reality. From their God intoxication, they pour out whatever comes, of high inspiration, just to give us the knowledge of Reality they have seen. Man has been trying to follow that but has failed.
Then, how can we see Him? Ever since the world began, this has been the fate of man. Unless we see God, the question remains, what is God?
Kabir says there is one Reality in all, supporting all creation, immanent in every form. With That immanent in every form, why do we differ? Why are there so many wars, so many religions everywhere?
The reason is that when a Master came he had some experience of that Reality. To the people who met him, he simply gave them a first-hand experience of that Reality. When he left the scene – to err is human, you see – some persons gathered together and they had their own way of thinking. So changes occurred.
Again, another Master came, he found dross was added to Reality, to the teachings of the earlier Master. He thrashed out that dross and again let the people know the truth about Reality, to some extent. Again, another religion started.
The Masters never started any creed. They only gave out to the people: There is one God and you should love Him. How can you love anybody until you see him, get some good out of him? Mere feelings or emotions are simply inferences arrived at by intellectual wrestling. They will not give you any definite satisfaction. They will be wavering. Sometimes you may accept these inferences, but they are all subject to error. Unless you see Reality, come in contact with It first-hand and derive the bliss of It, ineffable and direct, enjoy happiness within – only then will you have love for Him, after having tasted the elixir of that Reality.
When the Masters come what do they tell us? St. John says: God cannot be seen with thine eyes. But then you find that some Masters said they saw God. The question was put to Guru Nanak: “Do you see God?” He replied: “I see God. He is everywhere.” Christ also said: “Behold the Lord.” He pointed to the Lord, saying: “There, behold Him.” No reasoning.
The same question was also put by Swami Vivekananda. He was initially an atheist and challenged everybody: “Is there a God? Is there any man who has seen God?”
In those days, there was a man of realization, Paramahansa Ramakrishna, and he was asked to go to him. Vivekananda went to him and asked: “Master, have you seen God?” The sage replied: “Yes, my child, I see Him as I see you, even more clearly than that.” And he came in time to be a great theist. In the latter days of his life, Vivekananda confessed: “Because of that Godman I was saved.”
You will find that those who profess to be theists are, truly speaking, not so. We have simply learnt in our scriptures that there is God. We have heard this many times, but we have not seen Him. Unless we see something, we cannot be convinced.
When difficulties arise, the vicissitudes of life come up and we have to pass through them, we are bewildered and ask “Is there a God?” We become skeptics. But once you have seen, you have had some experience of Reality, you cannot have any doubt.
The Masters say: “We see Him.” But what are those eyes with which He can be seen?
Shams-i-Tabrez, a Muslim saint, tells us that we should be able to see God with our own eyes and hear His voice with our own ears. You find in the Bible: We have eyes and see not.
What are those eyes? Guru Nanak was asked: “You say you see God everywhere.” He replied: “Those eyes with which you see God are different.” What are those eyes with which you can see God? Those are not outer eyes, but that eye is within each one of us. That eye is called by Christ the “Single Eye.” The eye is the light of the body. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. The Hindu scriptures and sayings of other Masters tell us of the Third Eye, or the latent eye. That eye is within each one of us. That one eye is not of the flesh and bone, as those we have outside on our faces.
Guru Nanak defines a blind man as not the one who does not have eyes on his face, but one whose inner eye is not open to see the Light of God.
God cannot be expressed. That absolute state can be had only when you rise into that Reality. But when this Supreme Power is the cause of all creation, immanent in all forms, supporting and maintaining them, It expresses itself in two ways – Light and Sound – and that expression of the God-power is an actual experience of Godmen within. It is said, God is Light. The Mohammedans also say that God is “Noor,” i.e., Light. They say that one who goes above and beyond the physical body and sees the Light of God within is a true Muslim. The Christian can also be defined in the same way; one who sees the Light within is a true Christian. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs says the same thing: Those who see the effulgent Light of God within are true Sikhs, or true “fakirs.” They are pure ones. You will find the same definitions given in all religions, in all the holy scriptures: Have you seen the Light within you? Again, they have said: If you shut the doors of the temple of the body, you will see the Light of Heaven. It is a possibility.
All the scriptures tell us of the Light of God within. The Voice of God also reverberates in each one of us. There is a way in which we may have an experience of that Reality and its expression. That is the way back to God. Has our closed inner eye been opened or not? That is the question. Unless that inner eye be opened, we cannot see the Light of God within us. It is a question of introversion and inversion.
The ultimate goal of all religions is God, and that we should be able to see God. Leaving the non-essentials, what do they tell us? They say, Love thy God. This is said by all religions. When you see and come in contact with God, only then, truly speaking, can you love God. At present, your loving God is practically impossible. Simply on the emotional side, you sometimes say certain things, but you have no contact with that Reality, and true love does not arise, and does not last.
When the Pharisees and the Sadducees went to Christ they returned in silence, because an intellectual man speaking to a man of realization cannot stand before him. While the latter sees certain things and then speaks, the intellectual man simply quotes verses from the holy scriptures which he has read, and afterwards he cannot reconcile things.
Naturally, when they came to Christ, they became quiet. Then they gathered together and came up to Him.
“Now, Master, what is the greatest commandment in the law?” What did he say? Jesus said unto them:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy
soul and with all thy might. This is the first and greatest of all
commandments. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all
the law and the prophets.
The ultimate teaching of all social religions is just to love God. As God resides in every heart, love all humanity, all creation. For the love of God, you are to love all humanity. If we have love for all humanity, all other commandments follow. He whom you love, are you going to kill him? Are you going to rob him of his property? Are you going to bear false witness against him? No, not in the least.
So on these two commandments hang all other commandments. The Sermon on the Mount, the Eightfold Path of the Buddha, the Niyama Yama and Sadachar of the Hindus all speak of the same thing, in their own languages and, of course, in their own ways.
If we live up to what the scriptures say, there will be peace on earth, and the Kingdom of God will surely come on earth. Then there will be no danger of any war. What a pity: these things are given in our holy scriptures, but we follow, if at all, the letter of the law at the cost of the spirit. That is the cause of discord.
All Masters came to unite men, not to separate man from man. They were the lovers of God, and they taught men how to love all humanity. You will see, this is one side of the thing that we have before us. We are to love all humanity because God resides in every heart.
The holy scriptures, with all the rest of the sayings about the various aspects of God, have not been able exactly to say what God is. Some phase of it, some part of it they did express, out of loving devotion. But from there we can only deduce some idea of God.
Man’s highest thought of God never has and never can measure the Eternal, but it constitutes self-revelation. Your highest thought of God is not the measure of God, but the measure of our own hitherto unknown propensities. Each Master has been saying the same thing: When I attempt to speak of the highest, I cannot. I become as one dumb. How then can we express it? Even out of the love and intoxication they have of Reality, they give out something, but it still remains as unsaid as ever.
This is what the scriptures lay down. I told you this is the outer aspect of religion – social religions. When you think that God resides in every heart, you will not kill anyone. You will respect each man, when you know for certain that God resides in every heart.
When we live up to what the scriptures say, we should all love God. Naturally, we will have respect for all others, for all living things.
The human body is a true temple of God, in which God resides. The body is the true temple of God. All Masters say so. If the body is the true temple of God, how then can we destroy or kill it?
Wrong preachings are given by ministers of the various religions instead of giving out the truths which are already in our scriptures. They have been simply proclaiming that their religion, their fold, is the highest and others are in the wrong. The result is, division between man and man and, of course, clashes between class and class. They will be ready, excuse me, just to destroy so many true temples of God-human bodies – for the outer temples which we raise with our own hands.
God resides in temples not made with hands. He resides in the true temple of the body that you are carrying. Of course, we are to maintain our outer temples (bodies) and keep them clean and chaste. These bodies are the temples of God. If the right preaching is given you will see love between man and man. Paid services, in almost all religions, I would say, have gone to make matters worse.
Now, some people think that they have special privileges. Well, God gave equal privileges to all. You see the outer form. Each has two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, a mouth, two arms, two feet and two legs. The outer construction is the same, and the inner construction is also the same. Each man has lungs, stomach, brain. God has given equal privileges to all. They are born the same way; they die the same way.
When men suffer from fever, irrespective of whether they belong to one religion or another or one country or another, they suffer the same way, and there is the same remedy to cure their fever. When you go to a doctor, an adept in medicine, and tell him that you have fever, he gives you some medicine. He will give the same treatment to anyone else for the same trouble.
I mean that the outer expression, the outer privileges, are the same for each man, as given by God. The inner privileges are also the same. We are souls. God is a limitless Ocean of All-consciousness. We are conscious entities, drops of the Ocean of Life. Of course, our conscious self is hemmed in by mind and matter. It is given over so much to the organs of sense and identified with the body that we cannot now differentiate ourselves from the body.
The inner disease is also the same. Masters are physicians of the souls which have been given over to the influences of mind and matter. They tell us how to analyze the soul from the outgoing faculties, from the organs of sense, and rise above body-consciousness to know oneself, enter into the Kingdom of God and know God. All mankind suffers from the same disease.
Well, for God there is no East or West, no North or South. All creation is one. God is One.
Where do we stand now? We are all one. All Masters, all the holy scriptures say that we are the children of God. Prophet Mohammed says that we are members of the same family of God. The Sikh Masters also say that we are all brothers and God is our Father. The Christian scriptures and all others say the same thing.
Mankind is one, and God is One. We are worshippers of the same God. When we are worshippers of the same God the archers may be many, but the target is the same then, naturally we should have love for one another. You will find that two drunkards will embrace each other irrespective of whether they are of the east or the west, or belong to one religion or the other. But do you find that among those who profess to be lovers of God – between followers of one religion and those of another? They are lovers so far as their own faith is concerned. If they are lovers of God, they all should sit together and love one another.
The heads of the various religions are supposed to have contact with God. Whether they reach Him or not, that is another question altogether. But they are supposed by their followers to have seen God and to be one with God. They also profess that they are Godmen themselves. If so, why should they not love and embrace each other? There is one God overhead. It is all one humanity. We all are the same soul – conscious entity.
Man made social religions for the uplift of man. We have to make the best use of them. The best we call have out of the social religions is to know ourselves and to know God. Of course, we have to lead an ethical life. An ethical life is a stepping-stone to spirituality. These are the teachings of all Masters who came in the past.
As lovers of God, we should love all humanity. Having been born in any religion, it is a blessing to remain in it. Nevertheless, we should rise above so that we become lovers of God, and then all mankind will have one religion.
Guru Nanak was once asked: “What is the highest form of religion in your opinion?” He replied: “Well, look here. I take all humanity, all men, as reading in the same class, seeking God. We are all classmates and I consider men the world over as classmates for the same ultimate goal.” We should love one another.
The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, was asked: “What do you think about man?” He replied: “All mankind is one – I tell you the whole truth – whether he is wearing a hat or a turban or is a recluse in a yellow or a black gown.” That makes no difference. These are the outer forms.
Excuse me if I ask you: What is the religion of God? He is all-consciousness. He made all men equal. Did He stamp anybody that he was such and such? No. When you know yourself, you will analyze yourself from the body and discover who you are. When you rise above body-consciousness then you will find out. Religions pertain only to the outer forms of our life. We have to make the best use of them.
I have love for all social religions. That is all right. But the point is these social religions should go to help us on the way, to love God and to love all humanity. This is our ultimate goal. And further, to know ourselves and to know God, and have a first-hand experience of that Reality. Although that Reality cannot be expressed in words, still it can be experienced.
True religion is the first-hand experience of oneself, with his own Self and with God. That is the only true religion you have before you. There is the outer religion, and here is the inner religion. When you think everyone is all equal, then you will have love for all.
Our ultimate goal is to have love of God. Those persons or human beings whose souls came in contact with God, became the mouthpiece of God. They spoke as inspired by God. They are called Masters, or Godmen. We love them also for the sake of our love for God.
What did Christ say? He said:
No man knoweth the Son, but the Father;
Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son,
And he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.
That is why your love goes to them especially. They have had a first-hand experience and they are competent to give us a first-hand experience of that Reality within. They tell us how to rise above body-consciousness, to know ourselves and to know God.
Then we see with our eyes, no testimony is required. That is why we love all Masters who came in the past – whether they came here or anywhere else. You have to love God “with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind.” Those who have loved God that way have merged their will in the Divine Will; they become the mouthpiece or conscious co-workers of the Divine Plan. Therefore, we love all Masters who came in the past.
Further, we revere all scriptures. What are these scriptures after all and what is their value to us? They are the recorded experiences of the past Masters, the experiences that they had in knowing themselves and those they had of God within themselves. They also revealed to us the things that helped them on the way and things that retarded their progress. In short, they gave us an account of their journey Godward. A description of all that formed the subject of all the holy scriptures. All saints deal with their pilgrimage to God. They tell us of the Godway, the halting stations, the various regions they passed through and what they found there; their pilgrimage on the way and their first-hand experiences at each place. They have thus left for us a fine record for our guidance.
All holy books from ages past are but footprints on the sands of time for the love-borne seekers after God. Those who are lovers of God naturally have love for all the scriptures. Kabir, the great Saint of the East, tells us: Say not that the scriptures are false, for he who does not see Truth in them is in the wrong. It is a pity that though we can read the scriptures, we cannot follow their true import until we see for ourselves what those Masters experienced within themselves, or until these are explained to us by one who has had that first-hand experience with himself and with God as those Masters had. Only then will we be following the true import of the holy scriptures. Otherwise, reading of the scriptures from morn till night, without following what the scriptures say, will lead us nowhere.
That does not mean that you should not read the holy scriptures. Read them by all means, but try to understand them rightly. When you have understood them, try to have those experiences in your own self. Only then will you be fully convinced of what they say. They may be likened to records of different persons visiting the same place – say Washington or Philadelphia – and describing it, each in his own language and in his own peculiar way.
We can read all these holy scriptures, but we cannot follow their true import until we seek the help of someone who has seen and had the experience these describe.
I would say that today in the twentieth century, we are rather fortunate. Why? We have all the fine records of the experiences of the Masters who came in the past. Had we come five hundred years ago, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs would not have been with us. Had we come, say 1500 years earlier, the holy Koran would not have been with us. And if we had come before 2000 years, the Bible would not have been with us. If we had come before the time of Zoroaster or the Buddha, or anyone else, their scriptures would not have been with us. What I mean is that today we are fortunate in having with us these valuable records of the Masters who came in the past. They tell us what they experienced with themselves and God. The only thing needed now is to have someone who has had that experience which is given in those holy scriptures. He will be able to tell us the true import of things, and also he will be able to give us a first-hand experience of these things.
So for the love of God, we love all Godmen. For the love of God, we love all the holy scriptures. There are so many pages of the book of God that have been written to guide the erring humanity. Many more may be written whenever any Master comes.
Further, we love all holy places of worship. Why? Because there, people gather together to sing the praises of the one and the same God – in their own ways, of course. If we love somebody and someone happens to be praising him, we stand and hear how he describes him. So we have love for all holy places of worship for the love of God. Also, we love all places of pilgrimage, for they are the spots where once lived some Master, some Godman, who was one with God, who became the mouthpiece of God. It is for that alone that we have respect for all holy places where such Masters lived.
We love God first; God resides in every heart; therefore we love all humanity. For the same reasons, we love all Godmen, for they have known God. We love all holy scriptures because they speak of Him and are valuable records of the experiences of the past Masters. Again, for the same reason, we love all holy places of worship, whether temples or mosques, churches or synagogues. They are meant for chanting the praises of the Lord.
You remember, when Christ came, he entered the Temple in Jerusalem and turned out those who misused or defiled it. He told them: “You have made the house of my Father a business house.” Such a man, who is a lover of God, what will he say’? He will say what the Vedas say. The Yajur Veda says: Well, O people, let us all sit together and sing the praises of the Lord and worship the same God. But there are false ways of preaching that separate man from man. There is no common place where we can all sit together and worship the same God.
Again the Rig Veda says: Gather ye in thousands, and worship God and chant His praises. We are all lovers of the same Reality. We are all for the same Truth. There are thousands of lovers, but the Beloved is only one. We may call Him God, or by any name we like. We are lovers of the same Reality. Outwardly speaking, we have different social religions. Blessed you are. Remain where you are. To live in some social religion is a blessing. That is a helping factor. As with a midwife who helps at the birth of a child, so with social religions which help us in that way towards spirituality, in knowing ourselves and in knowing God.
Whenever Masters came, they never touched the outer forms, but simply said: Remain where you are. By changing your outer forms, rituals, this and that, you will not be able to have a first-hand experience of God. Those are only helping factors on the way, paving the road to spirituality. Make the best use of them.
Real religion starts where world philosophies end. All these outer forms of the social religions are limited only to the man’s material existence. The Kingdom of God, if you know yourself and know God, will open of itself when you rise above body-consciousness. There the alphabet of the teachings of the Masters begins. The true religion starts from there. That is transcendental. That is above the organs of sense. When you come above, you will rise above the senses. It requires practical self-analysis, to know yourself and to know God.
This is the goal before us. The subjective side of all religions is the same. On the objective side, you will find some slight differences in non-essentials, but you will find their purpose is the same.
The question remains the same for all humanity – to know our Self and to know God. We have said so much about the outer things, the outer holy places of worship. God made man after His own image, and man made all these holy places of worship after the image of man. Churches are either nose-shaped or dome-shaped. And so are temples of other religions. In mosques, we find places of worship in the form of semi-circular arches whose shape resembles the human forehead.
The true temple of God is the man’s body and that you have. We just have to tap inside. When you transcend the body, there the ABC of true religion starts. That is the one destiny for all humanity. It has never been different.
The Masters, whenever they came, taught two things: ethical life of clean and chaste living with love for all men and all creation. Be chaste; don’t think evil of others even in thought, word or deed. Be truthful and love all humanity – hatred for none and selfless service for all. This is the first part which they take up for all mankind, irrespective of whether they belong to one religion or another.
No religion commends hatred for anybody. The question was put to Christ: “How should we behave with others?” He inquired: “What did Moses say to you?” He was told: “A tooth for a tooth and a nail for a nail.” He said: “That was only because of your hard-heartedness.” They asked: “What do you say, Rabbi?” Christ answered: “Moses also said, love thy neighbor as thyself.” They further asked him: “What about those who are our enemies?” And what did he say?He said: “Love thine enemies.”
Now, we all are embodied souls. The lover of God has love for all souls. The soul is a conscious entity of the same essence as of God. In fact, we form a true brotherhood. We are one with God, one ill God, and those who are lovers of God, naturally will have love for all humanity. Outward things will not matter. When you know yourself and know God, you come in contact with God, and then you will find Him immanent in every form and naturally you will have love for all. That is the permanent rock, I would say, on which humanity should stand, never to fall. The outer self sometimes gives way and we fall into the error that we preach against. There have been two great wars so far. Fought by whom? By those who were in name the followers of the same Savior and followed the same religion. Then, it comes to this, that they were not living up to what the scriptures of the Masters say. They simply say: “I profess this religion or that.”
If we but live up to what the scriptures say, irrespective of country or religion, we will get ready to see God. After all, man is man. All religions are comprised of men, and men are the same everywhere. This is just like being students in any school or college. Why do you study? For the sake of gaining knowledge. You may join this college or that, that makes no difference. When you get your degree, you are seldom asked from which college you got your degree. They call you a graduate.
Similarly, all the social religions were made to turn out perfect men believing in the oneness of God. The word university simply means having one purpose in view. And the purpose to have in view is to understand man: who he is, what he is, and what is his relation to God. But this goal has been lost sight of. The means have become the end, and outer knowledge, instead of leading us to inner knowledge, is being studied for its own sake.
The preaching done by paid men in all religions has made matters worse. Otherwise, the men of realization say: “The true temple, if any, is man’s body itself.” All the scriptures bear this out. All is holy where devotion kneels. Wherever you have devotion, sit down in sweet remembrance of the Lord and say your prayers.
My Master used to emphasize the need for a common ground where seekers of Truth, irrespective of their faiths, could gather together. There should be no social forms or rituals, there should be no temples or anything of the sort. Let them remain in their own social religions. The purpose of a man’s life and the ultimate goal of social religions is to know oneself and to know God. How to analyze yourself from the body, open your inner eye and enter the Kingdom of God. Those subjects should be dealt with there.
In India, we have an Ashram in Delhi, and we have no temple there. People come to me and ask: “Well, what particular temple have you raised?” I always tell them: “Man’s body is the true temple of God. I have love for all temples of the social religions, but here I have none.” And for the other temple, the whole world is the temple of God, the earth below and the sky overhead. We have a grassy ground over there where we can accommodate 25 to 30 thousand people. Of course, we have a long shed to give us protection from rain or sun, if necessary. We have all the scriptures over there, for the reason that they speak of the same valuable experiences which the Masters had in their lives.
Men come there. They are seeking after Truth. To follow certain outward observances is not the be-all or the end-all. They are only the means to an end. Make the best use of them.
But until you rise above body consciousness and know yourself and know God, there is no liberation, no return to the True Home of the Father.
These are the elementary steps we take. That is all right. But take a step further from where you are. Rise above the body consciousness, open the inner eye and see the Light of God within and enter the Kingdom of God, reach your True Home, the home of your Father. This is the ultimate goal of all religions.
But there are wrong ways of preaching, I would tell you. Instead of uniting man to man, they are separating man from man; since the ministers themselves have no first-hand experience of that Reality, they must tell their people that man is man and God is God.
All men are equal for God, and the same God is worshipped by us all. Naturally we have love for one another. But we find that social religion is like a golden watch, studded with gems and jewels, which does not give us any time whatsoever. We have our social religions. Each social religion has the work before it to turn out perfect men: Be ye perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect. But instead of turning out perfect men, they are simply strengthening their own folds. Naturally, when you say this fold is higher than the other, there is a clash between class and class, and we sec no true progress.
My point is, we have one God, the same God. Each religion does not have its own God. The same God is worshipped by all of us. Let us embrace each other and sit in amity, love and accord, to sing praise of the Lord as one family. Since we are lovers of God, we have to love all Godmen, Masters who came in the past or who may come in the future. Our respect goes out to all of them. We have love for all the scriptures because they speak of the same God and record the experiences that the Masters had with themselves and with God. And we have love for all holy places of worship, because they are meant for singing praises of the Lord.
So all mankind is one, and we are worshippers of the same God. We have different forms, outer forms, we belong to different religions outwardly, but our Beloved is the same. If we only keep that in view before us, we will be at peace, we will have peace on earth and goodwill among men. There will be no danger of war or anything of that sort.
Today’s subject was “God and Man.” I have put it before you briefly. Next, we will see that ultimately we have to know God. But until we know ourselves, how can we know God?
It is the soul that has to have experience of God, because God is All Consciousness, and our souls are also conscious entities. It is the soul that has to experience God, and for that purpose we will have to know the inner man, who we are, what we are. “Know thyself” has been the motto set forth by all sages. They never said “Know others.” First, if you know yourself, only then will you be able to know the Overself.
That will be the next subject and along with it, we will compare the higher values of life – physical, intellectually, and spiritual. Next, we will take up the Kingdom of God: where it is, how we can reach that Kingdom, and how to open the inner eye to see. The sages say that God is Light. How can we see God, see the Light of God? That will be the subject of our third talk. After that, we will determine which is the most natural way for having that experience: what other Godmen said, how the scriptures speak of the Godmen, that will be the subject of our last talk.