III / II
The Kingdom of God
After all, we have to leave the body. When? Nobody knows. No time is fixed that we know. The sooner we solve the mystery of life, the better, because who knows when the time may come for us to leave the body? Each one of us has to leave the body. That is no bugbear, I assure you. Certainly, it is a change but is no calamity. I assure you it is only for the better, if we know how to leave the body.
These are the things we read in the religious books, all our life, but we have not cared about them because we have had no knowledge of their Inner Meanings so far. Our social religions teach us only to observe certain rituals, certain ceremonies, the daily recitation of hymns, offering prayers, and adopting particular modes of life. These are the elementary steps, no doubt. We cannot ignore them. But these are only meant to pave the way to Spirituality, and not spirituality in its true sense.
What then is spirituality? To know oneself – who you are, what you are. Are you this five or six-foot high physical frame of flesh and bones or something else? Certainly you are not the body nor the senses nor the vital airs, all of which constitute the outer man. You are the indweller of the body. You possess the senses and the vital airs as aids in your physical existence. The time does come when you have to leave the body, and all the rest. You must know the Inner Man that you are. Until you know the Inner Man, you are lost.
That is why it has always been stressed:
Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keeps my sayings, he shall never die,
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
How can we destroy the all-powerful death? By knowing how to leave the body while alive, at will; this is what all the Masters stress.
What is death? It is simply leaving the body. If you know how to rise above body consciousness, naturally the sting of death is gone, all fear of death is vanished.
The Holy Books of the Sikhs say:
If you are afraid of death, just go to the feet of some Master. He will tell you how to die while living. He will give you an experience of death in life.
Everybody wants to live on. Guru Amar Das, the third Master of the Sikhs, tells us:
Everybody is afraid of hearing the name of death. Why? First, we do not know how to die. Secondly, we do not know after death where to go. And third, we do not know ourselves that we have to leave the body. These are three things which awe us, and cause us to dread dying.
God gave us different vestures of the body – physical, astral, causal and super-causal. We find that the macrocosm is in the microcosm, on a miniature scale in the body. At present we are identified with the physical bodies so much so that we cannot differentiate ourselves. We pass our lives in the enjoyment of the senses, never given to understand what it is to die while alive.
In our places of worship, this ought to be the most important subject to be taught, but this point is never even touched upon. We are simply told to observe certain rituals, certain rites, certain forms, this and that; and we shall be saved.
But with all this, we are still where we were. If we acquired great learning, will we retain it after death? If not, we remain as ignorant after death as when alive. Death by itself does not mean Heaven. It does not make gods of us all.
Now what should we do to conquer death?
Guru Amar Das tells us:
Just sit at the feet of a Master-Soul by Whose favour you may learn how to transcend the body.
When you have learned to transcend the body at will, you become a Conscious Co-Worker of the Divine Plan. If you know how to die while living, if you know this much, you will have Life Everlasting.
So this is what our scriptures say – this is the way by which we can overcome death. If we know it, we are prepared for it. I know I have to leave Philadelphia, I am prepared for it, and ready to leave at any moment.
During the last war, an Indian Air Force pilot was given six hours notice to prepare himself for the front. In panic he came to me and said:
Well, please tell me how to die.
He was panic-stricken for he was not prepared for death.
My point is, if we are prepared in advance, then there is no danger. Fore-warned is fore-armed. After all, we have to leave the body one day. When death overtakes us, can we do anything at that hour? If you are prepared for death, there is no fear, no panic.
I will tell you of an instance in India in 1919.
There was a friend of mine in Peshawar. At that time influenza was sweeping the country. I went to see him. He was then reading a book on Yoga. When I asked him what he was doing, he said since death was overtaking everybody, he was reading that book to find the Yoga way.
I may as well learn something about life after death and am reading a book on Yoga,
I told him:
Is it not too late now? How can you begin to dig a well when you are dying of thirst?
A week after this conversation I went to see him again. It was Sunday and the gentleman lay on his deathbed. My words had proved true. It had indeed been too late.
This is the most important thing in life, the most important subject, but we have ignored it altogether.
Seek ye first,
say the Masters and we have not even made it the last. We have simply been ignoring the great importance that all the scriptures attach to this subject.
A Saint of the East has said:
All must die at the time of death; but thou, my friend, learn to die while living.
If you are prepared in this way death may strike at any moment and you are prepared for it. Once you have traversed the Inner Planes, you know where to go after leaving the body.
Maulana Rumi says:
Look here, be not afraid of death, for death is not the end of life, and thou hast bodies more than just the physical.
We are at present working through the physical bodies and sense-organs. We feel that outer life is the only reality. If we learn to leave the physical body, work in the astral body through astral sense-organs, we will come in contact with the astral world, just as we are with the physical world. He who can transcend that way, why should he be afraid of death?
This is no miracle I am telling you about. This is a practical subject, which can be learned just as any other science. And I think this is by no means a very difficult one. Why? In other things, when you have to learn, you have to begin with some hypothesis and then work up to the solution. But this way – an adept giving you a first-hand experience of transcending physical consciousness – is direct. Who are the True Masters – Their qualifications and Their competence – and how can we distinguish the genuine from the spurious? This subject will be discussed in my next talk.
Coming back to our present theme, all that I say is how the scriptures have put it.
Don’t be afraid, because you have another body to live in.
Again, He lays much stress on it. He says:
Look here, poor friend. Die while you are alive, if you would like to have the True Profit of a man’s life.
That we also find in the scriptures.
What does it profit a man if he gains the possessions of the whole world and loses his own soul?
I do not mean that you should leave the world and go to the wilderness and lead the life of a recluse.
God has given you physical bodies. Maintain them. These are the temples of God. Maintain your families. Fulfil your duties. God resides in every heart. Others, as members of your family, have come in contact with you as a result of your past karmas about which you are not aware. God brought you together. Maintain your relationships. By Love serve one another. Do all that you can do in that way. This is an essential step.
Earn your livelihood by honest means, by the sweat of your brow. This is also part of the show. You must maintain your physical frame. It is the temple of God, wherein you may discover Him – a rare privilege indeed.
The Masters have said:
You have intellect. Develop it, become intellectual giants. But you are souls. You must know about your own Self as well.
They simply say, out of 24 hours of the day, you should devote some part of it in search of your own Self. Man’s greatest search is man. Just search your Self. When you know your own Self, only then can you know the Overself.
Is there any Reality, other than God, which we can understand, which is defined by the name of God and so many other names? Truly speaking, we are not really theists. How? When we talk of God, we do so on hearsay or from our knowledge of the scriptures. We have no first-hand experience of it.
Unless we see and experience for ourselves, unless we have a first-hand experience of our own Selves, and come in contact with that Reality, unless our Inner Eye is opened and we see the Light of God within us, we cannot be convinced. We may read the scriptures. We may come across a Master and hear His words of wisdom on the subject, yet we will not be really convinced. We may accept what They say, and make it the basis of our search for God. But till we see and experience God within ourselves, we can never be fully convinced, and thus become Real Theists.
But who is to know God? It is our own Selves. Self-knowledge precedes God-Knowledge. Until we know ourselves, how can we see God?
This is why so much stress is laid on self-knowledge. In all the scriptures, ever since the world began, the Masters have always been emphasising know thyself. Unless we know a drop of water, we cannot know the ocean. We may not get full knowledge, but we will have some idea of what the ocean is.
It is the soul that can know God, not intellect, nor physical body, nor sense organs. God is an ocean, a limitless Ocean of All-Consciousness. Our souls are a drop of that ocean. We are conscious entities, conscious beings. Unless we know our Selves, we cannot know God. God will be known only when we know our Selves by a process of self-analysis; who we are and what we are.
Learn to die at will, a hundred times a day. Transcend body consciousness and enter the Kingdom of God.
This is a regular way.
All Masters have laid stress on this point, but we have been ignoring it altogether. We think that by observance of the outer forms, rituals and ceremonies we can reach God. They are helping factors, no doubt; but self-knowledge is the Real Road that leads to God. Only then shall we come to know God.
Let me give a concrete example. Once in Lahore, there was a man who loudly proclaimed God, His generosity, His Love and His Infiniteness. However, he had not had any practical experience of God and what he taught was mere hearsay from the scriptures. Then came the partition of the country into India and Pakistan, entailing great hardship on the people.
He lost all his possessions and many of his relations were killed. When he met me again in Delhi, he asked me if there really was a God, after all. And how many of us are like him?
When misfortunes overtake us, we begin to question the existence of God.
But if we have had a first-hand experience of God, then how can we doubt His existence? You see how important it is to have practical experience of Reality, and that you can have only by self-analysis, by knowing your Real Self. Unless you do that, you cannot see nor enter the Kingdom of God.
The question again and again arises:
How can we know the Self?
You have seen the difference in faith born of first-hand knowledge and that arrived at by belief in hearsay. Seeing is believing. Direct perception is far better than inferential knowledge.
That is why the scriptures say:
Blessed are they that see. You have eyes and see not.
All the scriptures say that there is a Kingdom of God and that it is within you. You can enter the same and see the Light of God if you transcend body consciousness.
The Kingdom of God cannot be had by observation; it can only be had by inversion, by tapping inside,
as Emerson puts it.
But how to tap inside? This experience you will have, as I have said repeatedly, at the feet of a Master – an Adept in the science. He will give you at the time of initiation some experience which you may develop by daily practice. You may learn how to leave your body. Until your Inner Eye is opened, you cannot see and be convinced.
Truly, we have eyes and see not.
Guru Nanak says:
He is not a blind man who has no eyes on his face, but one whose Inner Eye is not open to see the Light of God within.
How many of us are there who are not blind? We have heard about the Light of God. Have we ever seen it? Can we see the Light of God and how?
Again I refer to the scriptures. Most of the sayings are taken from the Bible, as you are most familiar with it. However, let me tell you that Christ belonged to the East where the people are more conversant with the spirit. If you only learn those scriptures through the eyes of an Easterner you will come nearer the Truth. I do not mean that the West is in any sense opposed to or different from the East. What I mean is that the terminology of the Holy Bible is Eastern.
Therein it is said:
It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye.
With one eye? We have two eyes. What does Christ mean? He says further:
[…] rather having two eyes and be cast into hell-fire.
When I was on my way from Chicago to Washington, in the plane, some children came to me for autographs, which I gave them. An old lady also came up and said:
Will you please write something for me and give me your autograph?
I simply wrote these words:
It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye,
and signed it.
She read it. She wondered what could it mean? Her son was a bishop. He was also travelling in the same plane. She took it to him and asked if he could explain it.
He read it exclaiming:
It is from the Bible, of course.
But even he could not understand its meaning. Practical knowledge is different. To ask people to observe certain rules and regulations, rituals and ceremonies, is something else. The bishop asked one of my companions if he could talk with me. He was of course welcome. He came over to me.
The words I quoted are from the scriptures. I am not telling you anything new. They are not given in the Bible only, but in all other scriptures of which you probably know very little. If you are broad-minded and interested in the subject, I would suggest that you undertake a comparative study of different religions to find Truth, but not for finding fault with them for then you will gain nothing. The kite though it soars high in the sky, yet its eyes are fixed on the carrion flesh. If you begin to look for flaws, you will be able to find fault with everything; but you will miss the Truth.
Kabir, a Great Saint of the East says:
It is not the scriptures that are false, but they who do not understand them.
The Light of the body is the eye. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of Light.
The Single or One Eye – in the East they call it the Third Eye, or the Latent Eye – is in each of us, even in the blind who have no outer sight. But the Single Eye is closed. We have to open it. When it is opened, you see the Light of God which is already within you. You do not have to create It.
Some people simply visualise. They light a candle, they look at it, and imagine it within. You need not visualise any such thing when you enter this temple of God – the human body. You will see the Light of Heaven within you. It is already there. You are not to visualise, not to pre-suppose, not to imagine.
These are concrete facts, which are experienced by those who enter this temple of the body, such as you have. The difference is that you are leading an external life and have never known how to invert and tap within.
The fact is as Jesus says:
But if thine eye be evil, thy body is full of darkness.
The Light is there. It has been there. But do we see It? Have we ever heeded the solemn warning?
Take heed that the Light in you be not darkness.
It does not mean that you will have to create the Light. It exists already. You must see that it is not darkened. How can the Light be darkened? Merely by not paying heed to It, by externalisation, by neglecting the Inner Life, if you could abstract yourself from the outer world, you would see the Light of God, here and now.
God is everywhere. The Light of God is everywhere. The whole world is made of Light, but only for those whose Inner Eye is opened.
How to open that Eye? This is a practical question. These things are explained by others too, besides Christ. Tulsi Das and Guru Nanak tell us that only a True Master can put us on the Way to God. What can He give to us? He opens our Inner Eye. He enables us to see the Light of God.
Take heed, therefore, that the Light which is in thee be not darkness.
That is what we read in St Luke. But how to find that Light?
In the East we are told that there are two ways in this life. One, called the Pire Marg, a very beautiful way, and the other, Share Marg, very dark and narrow to begin with. When you enter the way of the world, you are lost and reach nowhere. But if you were to go the other way – the way of the spirit within you, you may have to start in darkness; but ultimately you will enter the Kingdom of God.
The Gospels express it very simply:
Strait is the Way.
And when that opens up, you will find worlds and worlds within you.
There are two ways in this life. One taking us into the outside world, away from the Kingdom of God, the other taking us within towards the Kingdom of God. One leads to death, the other to life.
That is why it is also said:
Enter ye in at the strait gate.
This you will find in Matthew:
For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.
There are few who take to the latter course. So Jesus stresses:
Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter but shall not be able.
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.
This then is the way to enter into the Kingdom of God within you. This then is the way to open the Inner Eye.
At present you see through two eyes. How to have the Single Eye? It is a practical matter which you have to learn at the feet of some Competent Master, Who can, by giving you the preliminary lift, enable you to have that experience from within.
The Gospel compares it to the lighting of a candle:
If the whole body, therefore, be full of Light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of Light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
Now you may understand the significance of the lighted candles placed in churches; they symbolise the Light within. The Master enables you to see that Real Light. That is why we are told about the Masters Who came in the past that They could cure the blind – physical blindness in some cases perhaps, but for the most part Spiritual Blindness, the inability to see the Light of God.
Jesus further says:
Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
We have eyes and see not and ears that hear not.
This is what the scriptures tell you. There is the Inner Eye to be opened and also the Inner Ear to see the Light of God and to hear the Voice of God which is reverberating throughout the creation.
The subject of this talk was: Where is the Kingdom of God, where to see the Light of God, how to enter the Kingdom of God, and how to see the Light of God? All is within you when you rise above body consciousness. As long as you are leading this physical life of the senses, you are identified with the body; you do not know how to transcend the body consciousness, to open the Inner Eye and the Inner Ear; you cannot see the Kingdom of God or the Light of Heaven and you cannot hear the Voice of God. You can learn all these things when you sit at the feet of some Competent Living Master.
But Christ warns us:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The world today is full of pseudo masters so much so that the people are fed up with the very word ‘master.’ Men are willing to sacrifice everything – their money, their possessions, just to see the Light of God. They are fed on hopes and promises and then they are told that they are as yet not fit for the way. Ultimately, they find that those ‘masters’ (so called) are after material wealth like themselves; they lead the same life of the senses as themselves. Naturally this causes revulsion and the people say that masters are all a hoax. This is only an erroneous result of the sad experiences that they have had.
All the gifts of nature are free. Spirituality is also a gift of God, not of man. Why should it be sold? It is not a marketable commodity. Knowledge is to be given away free. Do we have to pay for the sun that shines on all of us? Why then should we pay for the knowledge of God? It is God’s gift, and it is to be distributed free and freely, so no True Master will ever accept anything in return. He gives freely.
Once, some people in America wrote to my Master in India;
We have sufficient worldly wealth. We will give you this wealth, and in exchange, will you kindly give us the wealth of Spirituality?
What did He write? He replied:
Spirituality is God’s gift, and all His gifts are free. This too will be given free. I don’t want any material wealth in return.
What does a spiritually rich man care for worldly riches? But many of the so-called masters have made it a source of profit. I have had occasion to meet some of them. A few do concede their fault, but add that they must live, and living costs money. But it is sinful all the same. You will find there are heads of various sects all the world over, who, we are prone to assume, have reached God. Whether they have reached God or not, is another question. But we do assume that all the religious leaders have reached God. If this be true, then why can they not be friends with each other? Two lovers of wine, two tipplers can sit together in a tavern but two professed Godmen cannot even brook the sight of each other.
Humanity is ignorant, and therefore, it is exploited by so-called Godmen. We must learn to distinguish the genuine from the false, and find the True Master. He would give us a first-hand experience of the Inner Reality.
As Shamas-i-Tabrez, a Muslim mystic, says:
We should be able to see God with our own eyes. We should be able to hear the Voice of God with our own ears.
He should make us see the Light of God and hear the Voice of God; and He would do all this for Love and not for money. This is what all the scriptures say and what all True Masters grant.