“Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity. When I give, I give myself.”
– Walt Whitman
My heart of dedication echoes and re echoes with Whitman’s throbbing utterance. At the same time, I wish to add something more to my own dedication. I give lectures. I give lectures not because I have something special to offer to humanity, but because I wish to expand my mind’s horizon, my heart’s love and my body’s service so that I can become totally one with God’s Divinity in humanity. Once I have done it, once I have become one with God’s Divinity in humanity, I shall have to make no effort to offer myself to God’s children, for I shall have become consciously one with them. Together we shall sing the song of God’s unity in His multiplicity.
Princeton University, a flood tide of enthusiasm and joy sweeps over me now. In 1902 Woodrow Wilson became the president of this university. For eight long years he served this university and carried out a good many reforms of this institution. I am all admiration for him, for his heart cried for human unity. The world remembers him as the chief architect of the League of Nations, a step toward human unity. In his inaugural Address, on becoming President of the United States, he said, “This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here muster not the forces of the party, but the forces of humanity.” This message of his can serve as a safe harbour for humanity’s life boat.
Woodrow Wilson, once the president of this university, said something striking with regard to the university and its students, “The use of a university is to make young men as unlike their fathers as possible.” This means that the past, no matter how grand and significant, must be surpassed, transcended. The message of yore need not be and cannot be the ultimate seal for humanity’s ever progressing march toward the Absolute Fulfilment.
I hope it will not be out of place to say a word about his daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson. But before I invite her into the picture, let me invite Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy said, “To say that you can love one person all your life is just like saying that one candle will continue burning as long as you live.” This is true in the case of a flickering candle, and it may be true in the case of fleeting human love, but it was definitely not true in the case of Margaret Woodrow Wilson. In 1938 she joined a spiritual community, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India, and sat at the feet of her spiritual Master, Sri Aurobindo. She declared, “Here is one on earth whom one can love all one’s life and in whom one can lose oneself.” She received the name Nishtha from her master. He wrote this about it: “Nishtha means one pointed, fixed and steady concentration, devotion and faith in the single aim -the Divine and the Divine Realisation” (November 5, 1938). Both father and daughter embodied faith, the divine quality, in full measure- the father in humanity’s cause, the daughter in divinity’s cause. Once when a physical ailment of hers tended to be serious and it was suggested to her to return to America and consult her family doctor, she flatly refused, saying, “They can take care of my body, but who will take care of my soul?” Margaret Woodrow Wilson passed away on February 12 1944. Her tombstone in the cemetery of Pondicherry, the small town in South India that is the home of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, bears the simple inscription: “Ci-git la dépouille mortelle de Nishtha, Margaret Woodrow Wilson, 16 avril 1866-12 février 1944.”
Our faith in God, more so in ourselves can alone lead us into the Life of the Beyond.
Men say that they do not know the Beyond. I say that they have forgotten the Beyond. They say that the Beyond has been stolen away. I say that they have unconsciously hidden the Beyond. They say that it is easier to realise the Beyond than to live in the Beyond. I say that God and the Beyond are One, indivisibly One. Once you have realised God, the Beyond itself will live in you, grow in you and be fulfilled in you.
The Beyond is for him alone who aspires. A man without aspiration does not see in the nights of ignorance. A man with desires does not see either in the nights of ignorance or in the knowledge dawn. But a man of aspiration sees through and beyond the adamantine wall of ignorance and the luminous windows of knowledge. He takes ignorance and knowledge as one. His is the heart that pines to imbibe the Nectar-Truth of the Upanishads with a view to entering into the fulfilment of the Beyond . . . He takes ignorance and Knowledge as one. Through ignorance he crosses beyond death: through Knowledge he crosses the boundaries of Immortality.
Do you want to see the face of the Beyond? Do you want to know what the Beyond looks like? If so, then launch, sooner than at once, into the sea of spirituality. Spirituality is self development. Self-development eventually leads man to self realisation. True spirituality is practical, extremely practical. It is not satisfied with the existence of God only in heaven. It wants to prove to the entire world that God’s existence can also be seen and felt here on earth. God is the Life of the Beyond. Earth is the Heart of God. He who wants to live without air is a fool. He who wants to live without food is a greater fool. He who wants to live without the Truth, Light and Life of the Beyond is the greatest fool.
I know that I have to love God and be loved by God, since I wish to live in the Beyond. I asked God what He does with His Love. God said that He protects me, He illumines me and He liberates me with His Love. God asked me what I do with my love. I said that like a child I bind Him, my Eternal Father with my love. God cried with joy and I cried with gratitude.
When I see the Truth of the Beyond in me, I am something. When I see the Truth in others, I am someone. I wish to be both something and someone, if it is the Will of the Supreme. If not, I wish to be nothing. I wish to be no one. I want only to obey His express Commands. To become one with the Will of the Supreme, to fulfil the Will of the Supreme, is to possess the breath of the Beyond. To live in the Beyond is not to build castles in the air. The Beyond, the reality of the Beyond, can and does breathe in the immediacy of today, in the heart of now. Meditate! Let us meditate on the Beyond. Lo! Ours, forever ours, is the Beyond.
There is only one Time and that Time is the Eternal Now. There is only one Truth and that Truth is that we are God’s and God’s alone. There is only one Realisation and that Realisation is that we represent everything, earthly human and heavenly divine.
January 13th, 1969.
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey