By Sant Kirpal Singh, from the book "Spirituality – what it is", chapter 4
A person may possess all the riches of the world, but if he does not know anything about his own soul, it is all in vain. The ultimate purpose of all knowledge is that one should know oneself. A Muslim divine, in this context, pronounces:
"The be-all and end-all of knowledge is but one,
That one may know the real worth of one's soul,
Thou knowest the value of everything else,
But what a folly that thou knowest not thine own value."
What a pity it is that we have made wonderful progress in all walks of life, but woefully lack self-knowledge, in the light and life of which we actually live and have our very being. By ignorance of the vital reality in us, it is no wonder that we have made fools of ourselves. Christ also spoke of the same thing: "What does it profit a man to gain possession of the whole world and to lose his own soul?"
A part remains just a part until it merges into the whole and loses its own individuality in its fountain-head or source. A mountain stream in its downward course bubbles hard, frets and fumes, until it falls into the ocean. So is the case with an individual spirit. Not knowing its essential nature, it knows not even its own source and so it frets and fumes, as its stream of life splashes along its stony bed, strewn with big boulders and submerged rocks. Individual restlessness is reflected in the restlessness that we see among the peoples of the world. Man has forgotten the great fundamental truth-the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Hence, there is clash between man and man, class and class, society and society, and country and country.
The crying need of the hour is to give a new orientation to the ancient science of spirituality and to tell the people how to live a spiritual life. The entire humanity is steeped in ignorance. Most of the people in the world live a life of selfishness and are bent upon enriching themselves at the cost of others; but they, too, stand bewildered as if trapped between two millstones: (i) Truth scientifically explained and taught by the Masters, and (ii) the rigid creeds, or the fossilized remains of religion, taught mostly by ignorant religious fanatics. The so-called teachers and preachers who should guide aright the erring mankind are themselves victims of the Grand Delusion and know not where they stand and what they have to do. Most of us are attracted and irresistibly drawn by the glamour of the outer life, the life of the senses, and honestly believe in the Epicurean doctrine of "eat, drink and be merry." We see no need of God at all, the very substratum of the Universe. We have our faith pinned to the walnut shell and do not see the kernel within. We want to swallow the shell and not the sweet and delicious kernel it protects within its hard case. Our so-called search for God, too, is on the plane of the sense, in the world without. We look for Him on snow-capped mountain tops, in waters of the sacred rivers, in burning desert sands, in temples, mosques, churches, and there we find Him not. The more we search for Him without, the more He eludes us; He is now practically lost to us, and we have lost all faith in Him.
"O seekers after God! you have lost God,
You have lost Him in the very whirlpool of the senses."
In such a sad predicament, Master-souls come into the world, from time to time, to lead the erring humanity. Their message is one of hope and not of despair. They come not to break the law but to fulfill the law-the law of Redemption through Grace. They have unbounded love for all the religions and utter not a word against any. On the other hand, they try to reorientate all religions alike, transfuse fresh blood into their anaemic vitals, resuscitate the decaying nerves and tissues, infuse a glow of life-impulse and to restore them to the high pedestals from whence they have fallen. They simply give the correct lead and point to the right path, which lies within and not without, the path that is the most ancient (Sanatan) and is coeval with creation itself, and which is the most natural (Sahaj). It is the Path laid down by the Creator Himself and is not man-made. They tell us that God exists and that all religions, as made by man, have one object only: an approach to God.
The word religion is derived from a Latin root ligare with its derivative, ligament, which means to bind. The prefix "re" denotes again. So the word religion connotes to bind again, what has been sundered, separated and detached, i.e. bind back the soul to the Oversoul or God or whatever name we may give to the Source-the Fountain-head of all life. True religion, in this sense, is a common heritage of mankind; and he alone is truly religious, a true Bhagat or devotee, a true Sikh or disciple, a true Mohammedan or a true Christian, who has linked his soul with the Power of God within him. The Redeemers tell us that the human body is the true temple of God, for God made man after His own image. Both the spirit (the soul) and God (the Oversoul) reside in this body, but, unfortunately, the two are separated from each other by an iron curtain of egotism, or the self-assertive will in man.
"Together do the two dwell in close association, in the same abode.
But strange as it may seem, the two have never conversed with each other."
In other words, it may be said that the bride (soul) and the bridegroom (God) are lying together on the same bridal bed, but have not, through the ages, seen each other's faces.
"On the one and the same bed lies the beloved,
but woe betide the spouse that snores deeply while the consort watches over her all the time."
All religions, in course of time, unfortunately, lose sight of the original idea and become just a code of social conduct or at the most a compendium of ethical and moral principles. Saints, therefore, do not interfere with fossilized remains of the religions, for many, of necessity, must conform to and live in one or the other social order. They point to the original common ideal of all religions: the Inner Path leading to God, and tell us how to reach God.