Ladies and Gentlemen,
the highest mission of a man's life is to know one's self and to know God. Life does not consist in having possessions. Life consists in just coming into the higher life, coming in contact with the higher life or, say, to be enthused with the higher life within. We are conscious beings, and if this conscious entity, which we have, comes in contact with the all-consciousness, that will enthuse it with still more consciousness.
Who is alive? Guru Nanak gives a definition of the same thing. He says, "Only he is alive, O Nanak, whose soul has come in contact with all-consciousness, which is God. All others are dead. Though they are doing so many things – but they are not alive in the terminology of the Saints."
The Saints give an example as just like the bellows used for giving air to blow up fire. Similarly, Nanak takes ordinary breathing as being just like a dead bellows, you see. So, out of so many men now seen living on earth, how many are there – really speaking – who are alive?
So the highest aim is just to be alive, you see: to know one's self and to know God. The question arises: How to know God? Well, we must know our selves first. Then the question of knowing God arises. First, we have to know our self. Until we know our self, we cannot know God for the reason that it is the sour that has to know God – not the intellect, not the vital airs, not the organs of sense nor the outgoing faculties.
So, unless we analyse our self, that self which is now infusing life into the physical body and leaves at the time of death – which is the day of the great final change – unless we know that self . . . that is our real self in our self . . . we cannot know God.
How do we stand now? We have, as it were, become the body itself, so much so that we cannot differentiate our self from the body. Intellectually we do, but practically we cannot rise above the body-consciousness. So, "Self-knowledge precedes God-knowledge." And for that – naturally, it is now a practical subject how to know one's self, and then our very self will be able to know or see God.
The old Greeks had to say the same thing: Gnothi seauton, which means "Know thy-self". Guru Nanak also puts it, "So long as you do not know your self, this grand delusion in which we are now moving cannot be set aside." Christ also hat to say the same thing: "Know thy-self." (II Corinthians 13:5;
So the question arises: first, to know our self, and, then, to know God. So, to know God is the highest mission of a man's life. Now, God made man and man made social religions. Social religions were made for the uplift of man. Social religions were made for man and man was not made for social religions. There is a vast difference between the two! You see, we have to make the best use of the social religions we are having. And for what? To help you prepare the ground for knowing your self and knowing God. That is the ultimate goal of the religions. The outer part of the religions has much to do with the physical body. Inner religion is just contacting the soul with God: that is one (process) for all.
There may be differences in the non-essentials of religions, but there is no difference in the essentials thereof. All social religions have holy scriptures. In all holy scriptures are the fine records of the Masters who came in the past, showing how they did know them-selves and how they did know God. The experiences they had with them-selves and the very overself, those are recorded in the holy scriptures which are with us today.
So, now what do the holy scriptures say? That God resides in every heart. The (human) body is the
This is a question of the mystery of life which, once it enters the heart of a man, that is the greatest day, I would say, in the life of a man, because that will find its solution some day.
I quoted to you the instance of Buddha, that he went to the city just for a pleasure trip. Great arrangements on a grand scale were made just to receive the prince. In the city, when he was passing by, he just saw an old man with sunken eyes, haggard face, lean in body, trembling – he had a stick in hand, but could not support himself.
Buddha naturally asked, "What is it?" He was told that the body becomes old. Further, he saw a dying man, gasping for breath. That added further to his mystery: "What is it?" And he was told that man has to leave the body – that's the ultimate fate a man has who is old. Further on, when he went out of the city, he saw four men carrying the dead body of a man to the cremation place. The he asked again, "What is it?" And he was told, "Well, we have to leave this body."
That mystery of life – what it is that is now residing in the body, and leaves the body on a certain day, which is called "death" – that we have to know. That we are. Unless we know that self which leaves the body, we cannot know God. Now the question arises, how can we know God? That's the first step. What is necessary to know God?
If you have to learn any subject, any line you want to take up, naturally you have to seek the company of some teacher who is adept in that way. First when you go to that teacher, naturally because he is already expert in that way, he knows practically all of the pros and cons of that subject. You go to him, and he simply teaches what to do and what not to do.
The first thing that he tells us is, "Well, you have to have pure lives – chaste lives, ethical lives – because ethical life is a stepping stone to spirituality. That is why all Saints who came in the past laid stress on this subject. They said, "Well, look here, you must qualify your self for just enabling your self to see God. This is what Christ said: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."
This is what Guru Nanak also said. He said, "Suppose you have got some of your clothes stained in blood. You say, 'It has become defiled.' You simply wash it, clean it." He said, "Those men who are just squeezing the blood of others, how can they know God?" You see? Their hearts become impure. So he says, "What should you do?" He says, "Take the name of God with a pure heart." And he was told, "Well all the world over, they are going around saying prayers, attending churches, temples and other things, and they are going on with their own ways of living which they were already having." He said, "Such people are on the wrong side. They cannot see God. For seeing God, a man must have a clean life. An ethical life is a stepping stone to spirituality."
For instance, if you have to join a medical college, you may belong to any social religion, but the qualification to join the medical college is that one must have passed the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) examination. If he has qualified that way, he's a fit person to join the medical college. And as he joins there, he learns at the feet of whom? Those who are fully adept in the science of the physical life of the body.
Similarly, when a man wants to take up this way to know God, that requires a qualification of having a chaste life – not to think evil of others: be truthful and have love for all, hatred for none. When people went to Christ, they wanted to know how they should behave with others. He said, "What has Prophet Moses advised you?" They said, "Tooth for tooth and nail for nail." Then he (Christ) said, "Well, on account of your hard-heartedness he (Moses) gave that commandment." They said, "Well, what do you have to say?" He (Christ) said, "Well, I say love one another." Then they said, "Well, look here, what about those who are our enemies?" He said, "Love thine enemies." That is the way of the Saints, I tell you. The Sermon on the Mount given by Christ and the Eightfold Path of the Buddha and the Yama Niyama and the Sadachar way of the Eastern Masters, all speak of the same thing: "Love and all things shall be added unto you."
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, says, "Well, look here, understand, hear me, all people. Those who love, only they know God." You see? That is what Christ also said: "Those that do not love one another, cannot see God." "God is love." Our souls are of the same essence as that of God. It (the soul) is also love. And the way back to God is also love.
(The tape-recording of this talk ends here.)