The Seeker’s Four Lives
The Seeker’s Four Lives
Four thousand years ago the Indian seers of the hoary past, the vedic seers and sages taught us this sublime truth: Nayam atma bala hinena labhyo. “The soul cannot be won by the weakling.” Only the strong can face the teeming ignorance night and transform it into wisdom day. He who lacks strength will never dare to enter into the spiritual life.
When we enter into the spiritual life we become fully conscious of our four simultaneous lives. It is only in the spiritual life that we become aware of our animal life, human life, divine life and immortal Life. Before we enter into the spiritual life, these lives are practically unknown to us, simply because we are not conscious of their existence.
What do we mean by the animal life? The animal life is the life of jealousy, doubt and destruction or conscious annihilation. The animal life is like a strong and binding rope. Although the propensity of the animal life is to fight and destroy, there is something in the process of evolution that tries to curb this destructive tendency. That is why from the animal life we enter into a higher form, the human life.
In the human life we still notice a half-animal life. That is to say, we still quarrel, fight, destroy and do many other undivine things. But in the human life we also notice something very meaningful and fruitful, which is called hope. We cherish and treasure an illumining hope. Hope is not something vague and tempting yet millions of miles away from the actual blossoming of reality. No, hope is something that is pushing us forward, pulling us upward to a sublime Reality. Hope is constantly helping us and energising us to run toward the destined Goal.
At times we see that our hopes are smashed into millions of fragments. Why does this happen? It happens precisely because we do not feed our hope with aspiration, with our inner cry. We hope for something, but when difficulties arise we just calmly and peaceably give up our hope. Instead of hope’s deserting us, very often we desert hope. We do not give hope a full chance to continue its journey.
In the spiritual life we become aware not only of the animal and the human life, but of the divine life as well. In the divine life we get constant opportunities. We are told that opportunity does not often knock at our door, but when we try to live the divine life, we come to realise that opportunity knocks at our door at every second. We are told that God’s choice Hour dawns once in a blue moon, but this is not true. When we enter into the spiritual life we see that God’s Hour strikes at every moment. We have only to avail ourselves of each glowing opportunity and of each golden moment.
When we follow the spiritual life we have to make friends with joy. God is constantly offering us this joy, but we are rejecting it ruthlessly at every moment. We prefer to wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. Now, there is an easy and effective way in which we can inundate our being with real joy. It is through our constant inner cry. Outwardly we cry for name and fame, outer achievements and material possessions. But when we cry inwardly, when we cry from deep within, from the inmost recesses of our heart, what we are crying for is Light, Delight, divine Illumination, divine Perfection. The inner life tells us that Delight in infinite measure is at our disposal, that it is our birthright. But because we do not consciously try to claim it as our very own, Delight is still a far cry.
Now what is the difference between pleasure and Joy or Delight? Pleasure is something that is bound to be followed by frustration, and inside frustration what looms large is destruction. We can confidently say that today’s pleasure will be tomorrow’s frustration and the destruction of the day after tomorrow. But when we follow the spiritual life we see deep within us the fountain of Joy and Delight. This Delight continuously increases in our awakened being. The seeker in us knows perfectly well that our origin was Delight. Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante . . . “From Delight we came into existence. In Delight we grow or expand our consciousness. At the end of our journey’s close, into Delight we retire.” Delight is our origin, and our goal is to go back consciously to the Source, which is all Delight.
What is Delight or Bliss? It is inner freedom, nothing else. This inner freedom, when properly used, brings to the fore the outer freedom. If the inner freedom does not energise or instruct or illumine the outer freedom, the outer freedom will often act like a mad elephant. In today’s world we see how freedom is misused by millions and millions of people. But when the inner freedom comes to the fore and inspires the outer freedom, the outer freedom will reach the destined goal safely and, at the same time, most convincingly and most satisfactorily.
The immortal Life is the life that contains the divine life in its fullest measure. At the same time, it has destroyed the binding rope of the animal life and energised the human life to enter into the divine life. When we enter into the immortal Life, the animal in us is either destroyed or totally transformed, as night is transformed into day. Our human weakness is transformed into strength. Our imperfection is transformed into perfection. All human frailties are illumined and transformed into an ever growing, ever fulfilling Light and Delight.
How can we make steady progress, convincing progress, in our spiritual life? We can make satisfactory, conscious and fulfilling progress only by smiling-smiling at the world, smiling at our reality, smiling at Heaven. Each time we smile at any particular reality, if it is a divine reality, our smile immediately increases our capacity, and if it is something undivine, then our smile weakens or destroys its undivine possibilities and potentialities. Now, this smile is not just an ordinary human smile. This smile comes directly from the depths of our heart and from the full awakening of our soul. It immediately makes us feel that we have pleased and fulfilled our Inner Pilot.
We get this inner smile through prayer and meditation. When we pray, we feel that sooner or later God will come to us and fulfil our prayer. Or very often we go to God through our prayer, and then God fulfils us. Either we go to God or God comes to us. Here in the Western world, we give more importance to prayer than to meditation. There is nothing wrong with this. If I like my right eye more than my left eye, and if you like your left eye more than your right eye, there is nothing wrong in it. Prayer and meditation are like two eyes. Both eyes are eager to show us the Light and offer us the Light.
There are many people in the West who go to churches, synagogues and other spiritual places to pray. But their prayers have become mechanical. They are a monotonous routine. You have to eat your breakfast; you eat it, but there is no joy in it. It has become a daily routine. But I wish to say that when we pray, we must pray with a feeling of intensity, with the idea of working for the thing we want to have. If we do this, there is every possibility that our prayers will be sanctioned and granted. We have to envision the result while praying. If we do not envision the reality we are praying for, then immediately there will be a yawning gap between our prayer and the result we are seeking, between the dream and the reality.
But it is only the beginner who will pray in this way, always wanting what he calls satisfactory results from his prayers. When we grow in the spiritual life, in the process of our inner evolution there comes a time when we see that what counts most is not the fulfilment of our prayer at all. We want good results, but if good results come in the form of defeat or failure, so to speak, we accept them with equal joy. In fact we get enormous joy when we can offer our so called defeat at the Feet of God. In the spiritual life, victory and defeat are like the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. This is the second stage of our development, when we can offer the same joy to God whether our prayer is fulfilled in our own way or not.
The third and last stage is when we pray to God constantly, but do not care for the result whatsoever. We feel that our business is only to pray, and the rest is God’s business. We have the inner urge to pray unconditionally, and we feel that it is the divine responsibility of our Inner Pilot to sanction our prayer or not. If He does not sanction it, we do not mind at all. When we can pray unconditionally we make the fastest progress.
There is another way to make the fastest progress, and that is through conscious and constant surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Now, surrender is a very complicated word. An idle human being surrenders to ignorance, to the world. He does not want to make any progress. He has surrendered to his fate, and he will not lift a finger. But that kind of surrender is no surrender. That is only self deception, and self deception is nothing other than self destruction.
Then again, there is the surrender of a slave to his master. A slave surrenders to his master out of fear or outer compulsion. But in the spiritual life there is no outer compulsion, none whatsoever. It is our inner being that compels us from deep within to offer our surrender to the Supreme Pilot. It makes us feel an inner urge to surrender. We feel that we are right now just an iota of the infinite Truth. But when this little iota of truth merges into the Sea of Truth, it loses its individual personality and becomes the Universal Reality, the Universal Individuality, the Universal Immortality.
In the spiritual life, we have to offer our aspiration, our prayer, our concentration, our meditation and our contemplation consciously to God. We have to make a conscious personal effort and, at the same time, we have to offer our inner surrender to God. We must feel that we can sincerely say, “Lord, this much I can do with my hands. This much I can do with my eyes. This much I can do with my physical capacity. The only thing more than that which I have is the capacity to surrender, and this I am giving to You.”
In the spiritual life, conscious and divine surrender is the only way to realise the Highest, to grow into the Highest, to reveal the Highest and to manifest the Highest-the Transcendental Reality. When we consciously try to offer all our capacity to God, and to offer Him also our divine unconditional surrender, then in return He will offer us His infinite Joy, Light, Peace and Power. At that time He offers us the message of His divine Victory and gives us the capacity to become His chosen instruments to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
June 25th, 1973
University of Zurich