Issued November 22, 1956 as circular number 3
Whenever one takes upon himself a duty, he must be clear about his responsibility. This need for understanding the obligations that are entailed with any piece of work is of much greater importance for us – the members of the Ruhani Satsang – for we have taken upon ourselves the most important and the most difficult task in the world – i.e., enabling ourselves and our fellow beings to attain self-knowledge and God-knowledge. We must, before we can be of any real service, be absolutely clear about the fundamentals of Para Vidya or the path of the masters.
2. The Para Vidya literally stands for the knowledge of the beyond. It seeks to make the human soul one with God by transcending the physical, the astral, and the causal planes of existence. It has therefore nothing to do with outer forms and ceremonies – rites, rituals, sacrifices, fasts, vigils, pilgrimages. These are outer practices. We have to make the best use of them. If they are adhered to literally at the sacrifice of the spirit, they are positive hindrances on the path. For, instead of leading us beyond the world of the senses, they fix us more firmly therein. In our Satsangs we should not mix up the science of Para Vidya with any other kind of movement which deals with other than this science. We should understand that this is the highest of all movements, which is the goal of all religions as taught by all Masters who came in the past, including Jesus Christ. Of course, our Satsangs will be universal and serve as a common ground or school of spirituality, devoid of all forms and rituals, for all Masters who will be welcome to give Their valuable talks on the theory and practice of science of self-knowledge and God-knowledge. Our main aim of life is to know ourselves and to know God. We must never waver from this, and in every action we do we must consider whether it takes us nearer to or further away from our ideal and we should ceaselessly try for the same.
"Awake, arise and stop not until the goal is reached."
3. What is God and how can we know Him? God, as all the scriptures and the Saints have said, is nameless and unknowable. Then how can we know God? The answer is that the Absolute is not knowable, yet makes Himself known by manifesting Himself as Light and Sound Principle. Most religions tell us that the creation began from these primal manifestations. Now the Divine Light and the Divine Soul or "Word" (known variously as Shabd or Nad among the Hindus, Kalma among the Muslims) may be contacted by rising above physical consciousness. They exist in a latent form in all of us. Our goal must therefore be to develop them and contact them within us. To do this we must, through meditation, learn to withdraw our soul to its seat behind and between the eyes. Having once contacted the Inner Light and Sound, we can progress toward their source, passing from plane to plane until we reach God.
4. To succeed on this inner path, we must find one who has explored it to its utmost limits. A living Master is an inevitable need and indispensable means to the attaining of self-realization. On the purely physical level, He serves as a living example of a perfect life. He tells us of our true home and the way that leads to it. On the spiritual side He gives us details of the inner path, its intricacies and difficulties, provides us, by using His own attention, with an actual experience of withdrawal from the body and of the Inner Light and Sound, and guides us through the more difficult parts of our inner journey till we reach our goal. The Master Saint is a human being like any one of us, but through the blessings of His Master and intense spiritual discipline, He has risen into cosmic awareness. He has become one with God and is a conscious co-worker of His divine plan. He is a living embodiment of God's love and does nothing of Himself. He is not tormented by any self-interest, but works for the benefit of suffering humanity. If we can sacrifice our personality to Him, as He has sacrificed His to God, following all His commandments, then alone can we make spiritual progress. To obey the Master is, in fact, to obey God; for it is God who works through the human pole.
5. The spiritual path is a difficult one and requires a rigorous self-discipline. We must forever be on the alert against anything that draws us away from the path. We must carry out our Master's instructions to the very letter, devoting regular time to meditation. We must learn to overcome self-love which is a fire that consumes and destroys, and cultivate love for God, which is a fire that purges and purifies.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind ...
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
We must constantly remember that our aim is God, and must not be concerned with anything that makes us forget that aim. We must be above party spirit and avoid party factions. Our whole life must be built upon love and humility, which are inseparable. If we make any spiritual progress, we must guard against pride. Instead of looking down upon our fellow beings, we must thank God for His grace and repay it by humbly helping our brethren in their material and spiritual needs. If there be those who do not understand or who do not wish to understand the Truth, we must not feel irritated with them. They are as much God's children as we are, and must be won over by love and persuasion. We are all laborers in the vineyard.
We are all engaged, as you know, in fulfilling the great cause of the great Master, which is the cause of God. We must, therefore, form ourselves into a band of selfless workers united in indissoluble bonds of love and fellowship. We, the initiates, whether old or new, are all seekers of the one God, and are equally dear in His eyes. The same Master Power is helping us all alike. Should there be any honest differences of opinion, we must try to resolve them by mutual discussion in a spirit of good will and amity, rather than breed rancor and discord that may go to widen the gulf between individuals and groups. In cases where we cannot decide, the Master may be approached for final decision. We stand for secularity and not sectarianism. In the grand and glorious service of God, there can be no thought of high or low, for all of us are moved by a spirit of true comradeship.
6. It is very necessary to distinguish clearly the ends from the means. To lay too much stress on the means is likely to make us gradually forget our objective and to become fossilized. Once we know, for example, that abstinence from all kinds of meat diet and spirituous liquors helps us on the spiritual path, it is enough that we avoid them. But to take it as an end in itself is to miss the goal. Offending others because they eat meat is worse than meat eating itself. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Live and let others live. Welcome are those who choose to come on the way, but we have no right to hate or offend others because they eat meat. The vegetarian diet is essentially a helping factor for those who would prefer to follow the teachings of the Master. Hafiz, a great Saint, says, "Drink wine, burn the holy scriptures, and put Kaba, the house of God, on fire. You may do all this but never offend or molest anybody." If you are really anxious to meet God, you should not offend or molest the heart of anybody, which is the dwelling house of God. It may however be stated that if one adheres to a strict vegetarian diet, that will help a good deal in having a normal life, but does not necessarily result in better tempers, controlled sex life, or detachment from gross thoughts, desires and actions, worldly ambitions, possessiveness, lust, or greed. Kabir says, "If you leave hearth and home and retire to a secluded place and live on pure vegetarian diet, even then the mind does not leave off its base habits." Alongside such essential and positive aides, we must religiously devote regular time to the spiritual practices of contacting the Light and Soul so as to cut down the ramifications of mind, which is so very necessary for self-realization and God-realization, and mold our life accordingly. I would like to add that for the aspirants on the path it is but necessary that so long as one is in the physical body, vegetarianism should be strictly adhered to. The unholy may be sanctified and made holy only when one is altogether above body-consciousness. And relaxation in the matter of diet would not only be a positive hindrance in meditations but would unnecessarily contract karmic reaction. No doubt there is life principle in all type of diets; yet in the vegetables, it is in the lowest form and, as such, the least harmful. The real goal is to use every means possible to rise into full God-consciousness.
7. Similarly the philosophy of Karma, too, has a specific place in the system of spiritual science. But it should on no account be made to induce morbidity and breed a spirit of frustration among the initiates and non-initiates. Man is the maker of his own destiny. Though we cannot alter the past yet we can forge the future as best we may. "Thus far and no further" is the deadline which the Master draws for each one of us and it should on no account be transgressed. When you are put on the path of true pure Yoga, you become free of past holds of stress and tensions, physical and subtle. Calmness and harmony are experienced, and purification and true detachment are only realized by the average man through the consciousness of the Saint, which if a true Master, gives through His divine grace; so the heavy mountainous loads of the past actions become molehills, and molehills become nothing. Guru Nanak says, "What is the good of coming to your feet, O Master, if our karmic debts are not nullified? It is no use taking refuge at the feet of a lion if jackals still be howling on him." The Master has to do His job and the initiates their own: to push on with full confidence in the Master. There are too many leaners on idealistic imagination amongst the initiates and too few who practice. The meditation period should not be one of pretty emotional feelings only. The initiates should surrender their all to the Master and be willing to die and give up their life for God. "Learn to die so that you may begin to live." The Master knows how to deal best with it. Ours is to act well in the living present, as enjoined by the Master. If we act up to His commandments, He will never forsake us till the end of the world. But we feel, on the contrary, that after the Initiation we are absolved from all obligations and are free to do what we may by simply putting our trust in His grace. This attitude is a great stumbling block on the path and retards all real progress. It does not pay in the least to purposely close our eyes in self-complacency to the stern reality of the situation that places rights and obligations in equal proportion on each and every individual. We cannot pick and choose as we may like. We must, therefore, guard against such a frustrated mentality and have to work our way ourselves, for there are no short shrifts in the Science of the Spirit. It is a long and laborious process of unfoldment for the spirit, and we have of necessity to take care of the higher values of life at each step if we are keen in our search for Truth. It is a steep path which, if we have to tread without stumbling, we must tread with our heart forever fixed on the goal and on the steps immediately before us, for there is no time to look behind. It can only make us shudder and tremble. Ignorance is the only disease from which the soul suffers. It can be cured only by knowledge and the knowledge is the action of the soul and is perfect without the senses, though on the physical plane it cannot do without the service of the senses. True knowledge only dawns on the supramental plane where physical senses can be of no avail. But until that stage of direct communion with the radiant form of the Master is attained, one has to take care in every thing, for the path is slippery and strewn over with hidden traps that may at any moment catch the unwary pilgrim on the path. Once one slips, the golden opportunity is lost and one does not know when one may be able to get a human birth once again. When we lay too much stress on the means, viz., vegetarian diet and karmas, we should lay still more emphasis on inversion and withdrawal from the senses and put in more time for the purpose.
Again, the Master, as you know, does not accept anything for Himself. All His personal needs He meets on His own account. He has nothing to do with the voluntary contributions of the Sangat or the brotherhood. These funds constitute the public trust and must be utilized for the public good in America and abroad everywhere whenever needed. This can be utilized in a constant flow of literature and current instructions from the Master through the mail. Money voluntarily contributed by the followers can be used only by the Master for the uplifting benefit of thousands. All Masters did use such money for the propagation of their mission. Every initiate must remember that if they receive any literature, etc., from the Master, that they are only taking what was paid for by someone else. We must see and think in a healthy way about all this. There is no greater service than that of putting people on the God-way that may ultimately take them to the true home of their father. In the discharge of the public obligations, we must needs be scrupulously clean and chaste. Every penny that is spent for any of the recognized purposes must be well spent and be properly accounted for. The accounts of income and out-go should be periodically checked, audited, and the nature of expenses be thoroughly gone into, so that not a cent of the hard-earned money of the initiates goes to waste and we are able to fearlessly render account whenever called upon to do so. We ought to avoid all grandiose schemes as may strike our fancy and serve to pamper our vanity. The mission of the great Master aims at simple living according to the relative values of life. The highest ideal of life being the knowledge of self and the knowledge of God, all our acts and deeds must be judged and measured by this touchstone alone. If we live by the law of God, the law shall uphold us; and if we fail, howsoever little it may be, we transgress the entire law and are found and judged wanting in our ideals.
Last but not least, I repeat what has so often been said time and again, "By love serve one another," for love is the master key that unlocks the door leading to the Kingdom of God. Loving faith in God and selfless service of His creation are the two commandments by which stand all the law and all the prophets.