Symbols of the world's religions



Mani Irani

27 December 1955

Yesterday Baba asked for the copies of God Speaks and gave some out to us — the signed ones to Mehera and myself, and one for the others. We are so thrilled. He has asked us, however, not to actually read it before the 7th of January. I am wondering at the significance of this.

Although your letter was read to Baba, He didn't seem to want me to read the one from your friend. Every time I mentioned it He said 'Later' so there you are. Of course I can understand his disappointment — there's no worse rut than that of the mind in which one has already made deep grooves along a certain track, refusing to be guided out without derailment. It is indeed difficult from his point of view, he cannot 'feel' Baba despite reading everything about Baba. If one could understand and love Baba just through literature there would be very few followers indeed! Then when he tries to measure Baba's magnitude by the number of people who flock for His darshan, he fails to see the quality of the emotion that draws them. To give an instance — when Baba drove away after a darshan programme, men who arrived late ran for miles after Him, unknown to us who were in the car with Baba. Suddenly Baba had the driver stop the car for no apparent reason and waited for we knew not what. Only when we saw the panting men arrive and throw themselves at Baba's feet did we realize it was for them that Baba had stopped the car. The Beloved always responds to the love of His lovers.

It is indeed a pity the 'benefit' cannot be seen with outward eyes, but generally Hindus, even illiterate ones, are more learned in the ways of God and God-Men than a lot of others. They know, as Kabir has said:

"One second, half a second, nay half of a half second spent in the company of a Perfect One, will wipe out crores of your sanskaras."

Many I could name want results 'on the dot' — tangible, something one can measure or label. It is not their fault — I believe that those who love and accept Baba without reservations, often without having seen Him in the flesh, have prepared the ground from previous lives. Hence they are 'ready' for Jesus when He comes again — the others are not.

Talking of people who want quick results of a certain kind makes me think of the story (from ancient Hindu literature) where a Perfect Master was taking a short cut through the forest one day when he came across a sanyasin who had renounced all and was sitting in the hot sun meditating. At the approach of the Master's footsteps the man asked, "At this rate how long will it be before I get God-realization?"

The Master replied, "See that tree over there? You'll have as many lives as there are leaves on that tree." The man thanked the Master deeply and was beside himself with joy. Going a little further the Master met another such sanyasin who asked him the same question. This time the Master answered "only fifty years more for you."

"What?" said the indignant man. I have spent thirty years of my life, indeed I might call it my whole life, in solitude, leaving everything, renouncing all, mortifying my body, undergoing so many hardships, and if that were not enough, I have to do it fifty more years!"

The end of the story is that the tree whose leaves represented the lives that the first man had yet to go were shed off, and by the Perfect Master's Grace he was given realization then and there, while the other had many more lives before he could become so small as to enter the Kingdom of God. For it is said (as you know) that the gateway to God is as small as a needle's eye and unless we have shed all the cumbersome things we carry (pride, lust, anger, greed, and all the paraphernalia called the ego) and become 'small' enough we cannot enter God's Kingdom.

Your point about cancer and illness interested me — it is of course the old point of our lack of understanding that the enlightened ones have. We always see it from the material point of view, and they (experiencing creation as illusion) must act for the spiritual good. It's far from the Divine Plan to have no illness of the body — after all it is one of the main mediums of experiencing pain which is the opposite of pleasure. Duality (however illusory) expresses itself in dual experiences, and misery is as much in the Divine Plan as is so-called happiness. They are both experiences the soul must go through some time or another.

Another way I look at it is this; even with all the misery there is, it is so difficult to 'turn away' from the world — well-nigh impossible to be disgusted sufficiently to turn to God alone. Just imagine if everything were fine and serene, no illness, no misery, we'd stick to our ignorance like leaches, and such a stagnant way would hardly serve the development of the ever-awakening soul! I remember someone remarking, "Why if there are spiritual masters in India don't they do something about the backwardness and disease of the country?" Just as though they were a crowd of missionaries, or a society for the prevention of disease and dirt! I replied that although they did a sweeping job it was not on germs, but on our ignorance, and even if they do not completely wipe it out, at least they jolt us enough from our self-satiated complacency of accepting our illusory existence as the only and all.

~~ Mani

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