Don’t bend your Elbows
This is a talk given by Kirpal Singh at the American Legion Hall, Fairfax, Virginia, on 25 September, 1972, at 4 p.m., later this talk was published in the December 1972 issue of Sat Sandesh
All Masters Who come bring the religion of Love. They say that there is a Maker of all this creation, that He is controlling all this creation, and that same Power is controlling you in your body. God is Love. Our soul is of the same essence as that of God – it has Love innate in itself – and the Way back to God is also through Love.
In the Bible is given the same thing:
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.
And the second is like unto it:
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Kabir and all other Masters have said the same thing.
So we are conscious entities; we have to love all consciousness. The attribute of Love is, that we have to identify with the object of our Love, wherever our Love is attached. So we have to attach our Love to God; but instead we are attached to the whole world outside. That is what is called attachment.
So Masters say that the man-body is the highest in all creation, and the highest aim on the whole earth is to know God. They say that while on the earth there is the law of cause and effect: Wherever we are attached, we will go. Now as it is, we have come back again and again to this earth. If we had Love for God, we would have gone back to God after leaving the body. So we must have that, you see, in this earthly life. If you develop Love for God, naturally after death you will go to whom you are attached. If we are attached to the world outside, all over, then we will have to come back again and again.
So Masters tell us, Love God. Each in His own language, of course.
The tenth Guru of the Sikhs addresses all social bodies, all religious movements:
Hear ye all, I tell you the Truth – whomsoever has Love, he can know God.
Now Love knows service – and sacrifice. Love knows no burden. Where there is Love, there is no burden. So we have to love God, and God resides in every heart. And we are of the same essence as God – we are all brothers and sisters in God.
Love is such an attribute, if you put it into your household affairs, there will be peace; if you put it into your society, there will be peace there; if you put an ounce of Love into your country, there will be peace in the country. So Love is the panacea for all ills, I would say. Love knows giving, you see. It knows sacrifice.
So long as you are in the man-body, give, give, give.
The word for body in His language also means to give. So it is said, as long as you are in the body, give, give and give. Giving away is True Renunciation.
So if we have Love, we must give to others the best we can. If you make others happy, then you will be happy yourself. If you make others miserable, then you also will not be able to escape the misery.
So once it so happened that Lord Vishnu, who is the aspect of God in charge of maintenance, invited all the angels and others of opposite qualities to a feast, and he arranged for them to sit in rows facing each other. Then Vishnu said, Well, dear brothers, dear friends, all this is for you—eat to your heart’s content but there is one condition laid down: Don’t bend your elbows! Those who were only demons, or whatever you want to call them, thought, Well, strange enough! If we don’t bend our elbows, how can we put the food in our mouths? They considered it for long, but they could not comprehend it. They said, Lord Vishnu is just mocking us, refused to eat anything and left the place in disgust. But the angels who were sitting there said, These are the words of Lord Vishnu; there must be meaning behind them, something we don’t follow. After calm consideration it struck them: We can feed each other! So it was very easy. And all ate as directed.
What does all this mean? If we make others happy, we will become happy. If we put others in bad condition, we will be put in bad condition. So, if we want to be happy, we must make others happy.
And moreover you will find: Once a devotee prayed to God, Please come to my home, my prayer is, you will please visit my home. God promised, I will come, on such and such a date. The devotee made all arrangements, you see, decorated his house with flowers, cleaned it throughout, and put on really clean clothes. He sat at the door and waited for God. From morn to night he sat there, but all who came was one old man passing by who could not even walk properly. The old man said to him, Well, I am hungry, give me some food – half a loaf of bread, please give me! Nobody listened. So he passed on. That night the devotee said to God, Look here, You promised and you never came. I made all arrangements for You! But God said, I did come, and you would not even give Me a half a loaf of bread.
So God resides in every heart. No heart is without Him. We are all brothers and sisters in God. If we give to others, we will become happy. We want to keep everything to our own selves. The result is that everyone wants to keep everything to his own self. This is attachment – and the result? Misery. All are unhappy. So those who are hungry, give them something to eat; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; if they cannot stand on their legs, then help them stand on their legs. It would be good. If it is good for you, would it not be good for others too?
Truly speaking, we are all brothers and sisters in God. We are of the same essence as that of God, and God also resides in everybody. He is the Controlling Power within you. So if you love, well, Love is God; God is Love; and the Way back to God is also through Love.
So parables are pregnant with meaning, you see. They mean something. They are meant for those of average intellect … if we are more intellectual, then it is given direct: Share with others, please. You see?
The point is: God is Light and He resides in every heart. Take heed that the Light which is within you is not darkness. Have you read the Bible? So any home where the light is lit, it looks very beautiful, does it not? If there is no light in the house, and it is dark, then? So bodies in which the Light is effulgent – in which the covers are shaken off and the Light is effulgent – because It is there already of course, but covered – hat face and body becomes beautiful.
That face is beautiful in which God is effulgent.
That Light shoots forth through the eyes. Whatever is there inside, will come out through the eyes. If there is darkness, then darkness will come out. If there is Light within, then naturally you will have Light.
When that Light is within me, then naturally It will shoot forth to others. So who is alive in the world?
Guru Nanak says,
Only he is alive, oh Nanak, in whom the Light of God is effulgent.
All others are dead. This is the definition of being alive in the terminology of the Saints: Only he is alive, oh Nanak, in whom the Light of God is effulgent. Do you know what the highest ideal is in the social body you have joined, the labels of which you are wearing? Among the Sikhs, the highest ideal is to become a Khalsa. Khalsa means, he who has got the full Light of God effulgent within him and he sees It. Otherwise, he may be having the outward labels of Sikhism, but he is not a True Sikh. He has only joined that social body to have that Light. Who is a Hindu? He who lights the candles outside, and rings the bells? He should light the candles within. It is already lit, you see, simply the covering is there. We simply have to withdraw the attention from outside, we don’t have to light It again new, you see? Just shake off the coverings. This is possible only by withdrawing our attention from outside. Tap inside. Rivet your whole attention to that which enlivens your body, which is you. It is your own consciousness that makes you see all the world over. If you withdraw your attention, you will contact that direct.
I am looking at you all, not looking behind. Unless I look behind, I cannot see what is there. Unless we recede from outside, we cannot see Light. But if you do it, you will find Light.
That is why the Masters enjoin,
Take heed that the Light within you is not darkness. All Glory and beauty lie within you; why, oh man, are you going astray?
In the Koran it is said,
I am hidden within you, why don’t you find Me?
And we go to find Him outside! The one who comes to a Saint, he is advised what? to go inside. Withdraw from outside.
If you can go inside and rise above body consciousness, you will have an experience of those very statements which are given out in the scriptures.
What do scriptures contain? What the Masters have seen. What They have seen, They have put in there, for the benefit of the child humanity.
So it is Love, you see. Mohammedans have seen the Light of God; Christ also has seen the Light of God; you may be wearing any label, but unless you have got that God’s Light effulgent within you – Take heed that the Light which is within you is not darkness – that is the only way. Why don’t we find the Light within us? Because our Love is occupied outside in the world. We must direct our attention – attention is the expression of our soul, the essence of which is Love – when our whole attention is directed within, Love meets that. So all Masters say, Love.
You see, we have to leave the body. All Saints, all incarnations, all philosophers and great beings, did have the man-body, and they did leave. And you? You also have to leave some day. I don’t think you have made any special arrangement not to go. So we have to leave the body: it is the first companion we have when we enter the world, but when we go, it does not accompany us. So what are we doing? It does not mean that you should not maintain your bodies, or that you should not pay off your debts to those members of your family with whom God has united you. It means that that is not the end-all. After all, we have to go.
You see, in the man-body we are bound within certain limits and free within certain limits. We have to square up all debts with those with whom we are connected as a result of reactions of the past. When those debts are paid off, we have to depart. Some come as sons, some as sisters, some as daughters, some as wives; there is a give and take, and when that is finished, then, we have to go. Take the example of a train, you see? So many people gather together from different stations; when the train stops, some leave the train, others rush in. And if you make friends with those who are on the train, will it last long? No. For the time being, so long as they are with you, if you have sweet words, kind words, you will be friendly and the few hours on the journey will pass all OK. If you are fighting, then?
So we have to leave the body. And what are we doing? As we sow so shall we reap. We are striking up friendships with the outside things. We are amassing things outside like anything. It is like we are – excuse me if I use the word – mad. It is sad.
There is a parable the Masters tell that has a very pregnant meaning.
They say that God had four species left to whom He had not given the number of years they were to have on earth. One was man; one was donkey; the third was dog; and the fourth was owl. You see? He called for man and said, Look here, I am sending you to the world. – What will be my fate? … – You will be head of all creation, you will be next to me. – For how long, sir? … – Twenty or twenty-five years. – That’s not enough; can’t You give me more life? … – All right, wait; we will just see; if life is left over from the others, we will give it to you.
Then came the donkey. God said, I am sending you to the world. – What will be my fate? … – Well, you will be bearing burdens continually here and there, that’s all. – How long? … – Twenty-five years, thirty years. – I will be killed, dear Sir, give me less! So He gave him ten to twelve years, and the remainder He gave to the man; He said, Yes, you are getting more, you see?
Then the third one, dog, came up. God said, Well, we are sending you to the world. – Sir, what is my duty there? – You will be guarding your master’s home, always half asleep, half awake; you will let nobody enter the building; you will bark at everybody. – How long will this be, Sir? … – Twenty, twenty-five years. – My Lord, for God’s sake give me less! So he was given some ten years or so and the rest was given to the man who was so fortunate to have it.
And then came the fate of the owl. We are sending you to the world. – What will be my fate? … – You won’t be able to see during the day, only at night can you see; during the day you will be dependent on others. – For how. Long? – Well, ten or twelve years. – I won’t be able to see during the day? Give me less, please! … – All right. And the rest He gave to the man.
Now you see what we are doing. Consider calmly: When we are about twenty or so, we are on our own legs, we are starting our family, we are a man; as we grow beyond that stage, this malady is upon us – amassing things, making our house like a storehouse, purchasing things from the store – carrying them back and forth we buy dozens of unnecessary things. That is the period of the donkey he is enjoying, you see. Then he grows older, he has children who do not obey him, he is calling names, howling and growling like anything, guarding what he has stored up – that is the stage of the dog, you see. And when he becomes old, he cannot see well, he is dependent on others – no one to care for him, he is simply at their mercy and if they give him something or not he says all right, because he is dependent – this is the stage of the owl. So this is our fate.
Man-body is the highest in all creation. We should be more loving. Love God and all things shall be added unto you. We love the world, and all things are not added; but of those that are, not a single thing goes along with you. Even the body that you bring as your first companion, even that does not go along with you. How will all the other things you have got?
So Masters say,
Look here, brother, you should do what? – Earn your money with the sweat of your brow, by honest means, and just make yourself stand on your own legs and others who are connected with you. And also if possible, let others share.
Man is one who shares with others, is of use to others. Animals are of use to their own selves and their families. If we also behave like that, then we are no better.
One Saint says,
Look to the face of the animals – God has made it pointing down towards the ground. If they are attached to the world, it is all right. But oh man, your face is upward – look upward to God.
So to earn money is all right; but that money should be earned to let you stand on your own legs, pay off all debts to those connected with you by God as a reaction of the past, and also share with others who are needy, who are hungry, who are in bad condition. If you have Love for God, won’t you give everything to others? Because we congeal everything to ourselves, you see, the result is selfishness, tyranny, sucking the other man’s blood; is it not? Just as the parable shows: Don’t bend your elbows. I think if you would do like that you would eat more – if others put in your mouth, is it not?
So the main object in the man-body is to know God. What we are doing is just like a man caught in conscription, you see? He has to work from morn to night; he is of no use to his own self, and no use to his household. Conscription. You have to work all day; but not for your own self, not for those connected to you. But when you go, you go all alone. The impressions of the world go along with you, and wherever you are attached, you will go to that very place. If you are attached to the world, you will have to come back to the world. If you have sucked anyone’s blood, now, in the next birth, he sucks your blood. On the surface it may seem to be, ‘he is being wrong with me, he is tyrant, he is cruel,’ – but who knows what is the reaction of the past? You see? So things happen like that but then God’s Grace descends because man-body is the golden opportunity in which we can know God. And the one on whom His Grace and compassion descends, he is brought in contact with Someone Who can open his Inner Eye to see the God in him, the Light which is already innate in him. All covers He shakes off. And He Who has been able to shake off these covers, He is fortunate. When God descends, that is His Grace to you. Because in man-body only, we can know God. This is what is meant by Love.
Live always giving, giving, giving. You won’t lose, you see, mind that! The more you give the more you will have. The more we congeal everything to ourselves, you see, the more miserable we are. So Masters always advise first: Stand on your own legs by the sweat of your brow honest means. Because if you squeeze the blood of others, naturally the reaction will come; they will also squeeze your blood some day. On the face of it, it appears somebody is just giving you trouble, squeezing your blood. We have done nothing in this life to deserve it; so it is a reaction of the past. And moreover these contacts are for a temporary period, to wind up all give and take – just as you go on the train. When your station comes, you jump down. Others may be dragging you, but you don’t remain on the train, do you? Similarly, when the give and take is up, the man has to go, whether all are crying or not, wishing you could remain – no. You cannot, you see.
But the angle of vision changes when you see that Light of God within you. You do see what is to happen because your vision is clear. Now, in our present state, the angle of vision is not clear. We say, ‘This wrong has been done to me,’ ‘This is my friend, this and that.’ But what did Christ say?
Those who do the will of my Father, they are my relatives, mother, and brother …
All others, brothers, sisters, are only for the purpose of give and take.
So that body is beautiful in which God is effulgent. You know, among the Christians, when a man dies, his face and body are decorated like anything. To keep it for a day or two! But it is a dead body – the life is no more with it. You see, unless that Light is lit within you, there is darkness there. How you maintain and beautify your body! Man spends hundreds and thousands of dollars to make himself beautiful – it is just like ornamenting a dead body. This is the angle of vision from which the Masters see. They love you all. They want us to love God. Love God and all things shall be added unto you; you see this is in all the scriptures. How pregnant with meaning they are! Love God, and God resides in every heart; Love knows giving; so long as you go on giving, giving, giving – you will have no enemies, nothing of the sort.
So Love knows service, and if need be, sacrifice also. Do you want others’ homes to be beautiful? If everyone wants others’ homes to be beautiful, will not your home be beautiful? Very simple. Love others. That is why I say, love thy neighbour as thyself and love means giving, service, sacrifice; and you will go where you are attached. If you love God, and all humanity for the sake of the God in them, you wish all your brothers success in Him, for His sake, then you are not the doer. You will go back to God because you have done all this for the sake of God.
So while in the world, as I told you, man is one who is of use to others. An animal also looks to himself and his children; he fights with others. If we do the same thing, then – are we not worse than animals? God expects you to be more: He made your face upward.
So this is one thing: If you love God, all things shall be added unto you. God resides in every heart. You will love all – even animals, even birds.
Once in the days of Lord Buddha, there was one hunter who sent up an arrow and hit the wing of a bird and made it limp, so that it could not fly. And the bird went up to the Buddha – because man radiates whatever is in him, and Love was in Him and the bird came up. So the Buddha took him and put him under His arm, and said, This bird is mine. The hunter said, No, it is mine. But the Buddha said, If it had been yours, it would have gone to you. Do you follow? Those who radiate Love, everybody will be yours. But our Love should not be acting and posing; our thoughts are very potent. They are radiated. Others do know at heart what you are doing.
So he who has got Love has got Love for all. They wish good for all.
Guru Nanak said,
Peace be unto all the world over, under Thy will, oh Lord.
We want peace? This is the question put to me the other day on television. How can we have peace? As long as we are stuck to our own selves, to our families, to our isms – unless we rise above all these, how can we have peace? So if you love God and, no matter what labels you are wearing, you rise above them and become a man with the Light of God within you, then will you love everybody or not? There will be peace. We don’t have peace because we are first congealed to our own physical bodies, then to our own families, then to our own societies, then to our own countries. So unless people rise above these isms – and all countries, I would also say – there can be no peace.
Love and all things shall be added unto you. Our homes, society, everything shall be happy. Because we are man, we must turn to man, you see. All isms are schools of thought which man has joined to become perfect man. Man is perfect in essence, but he has to realise that. And this is what the Masters do. They do a great service, I tell you. Those Who are awakened, They do. And They don’t ask anyone to remove their labels, you see. They say, it’s all right, remain where you are, that is the first step we have to take. We are social beings and we must have social bodies to live in. But which school is better? A school may have very high halls, magnificent playgrounds, beautifully dressed students – but if no student comes out successful? All these social religions are meant to turn out perfect men …
That preparation will come only when you love God. God resides in every heart, so naturally you will love all. If you radiate Love, even the birds will love you … even the snakes will love you … Do and see.
Thoughts are very potent, mind that.
It so happened once that Birbal, the minister of Akbar the Great, Emperor of India, told Akbar that as you think about others, they have the same reaction in them. Akbar asked, What is the proof of that? – … Let us go outside, said Birbal, and they went out. Now Akbar was going bareheaded … a man was coming from a distance and Birbal said, Just think something about him. So Akbar thought, I must shoot him! When the man came near, the Emperor told him, Well, you are forgiven for anything, just tell me the truth, when you saw my face, what struck you? – Sir, forgive me, but when I saw your bare head I wanted to beat it with my fist.
So reactions are there: we may conceal it, we may deny it, but from action comes reaction. Think Love of others, then naturally Love radiates. Love begets Love and hatred begets hatred – however polished it may be. It is a way of living, you see? It is what the Masters teach. The worldly life is made beautiful, and all things are added unto you simply by loving God. This is why I say, love all.
This is what is meant, you see, by don’t bend your elbows to eat. Simply let others eat – and others will be made happy … This is the way of living we should adopt. You will be worldly successful, you will also be spiritually successful. Both hands – alive or dead, here or hereafter, both – you will have, what you say, the honour of being received at the Court of God. Why do we remember Nanak, Mohammed, Christ, and others? They radiated Love. With many Masters, we do not even know who Their fathers were, excuse me; but the places which They visited became places of pilgrimage. Why? Those who want to be loved by the world, here and hereafter, they should love God.
So this is what is meant by Love. We know so much … unless we live up to it, nothing will come out substantially. Does it not appeal to you, what I have told you? It is common sense – Love – you see. No philosophy to infer. It so happened at Lahore, that the sweepers once had a strike. Nobody went to anyone’s house to clean their filth. Within three days no place was clean, the halls were imbedded, you could not breathe. What did they do? There was one way out: they could have taken all the filth and together taken it some place out of town. But instead they threw their filth in each other’s homes, and everyone did the same. They wanted to make other homes filthy, so all homes became filthy! This is what you are doing. This is the angle of vision from which the Masters see. And all those who live up to what they say, they become happy.
We know so much already – no need of repeating this and that – only common sense things we have put before you. If you live up to it, you will become happy. Any doubt in this solution? Have you got any doubt? I think it is a self-evident truth. It is all given in a very simple way which appeals to everybody. Masters give you all things in a very simple way: simple way of living, simple way of thought, and simple way of angle of vision – no enforcement; no drawing inferences; this is the thing.