True spirituality and inner life1
There are people who say that spirituality is not meant for this world or this outer life. There are people who say that spirituality should be practised only in the evening of one's life — that is to say, after having had all the experiences that the outer world can give, one should enter into the inner life. But these opinions are not true. Spirituality can and should be practised irrespective of place and time. Anybody on earth can practise spiritual life. Spiritual life can never be an artificial life. Spiritual life is something which is natural and spontaneous.
In our outer life we need energy to sustain our life, to fulfil our life. In our spiritual life, our inner life, we need illumination. If we don't have illumination, we shall remain in ignorance. In order to enter into the inner life we must have inspiration. When we have this inspiration, aspiration comes to the fore. When we have aspiration, we can go one step farther to what we call Yoga. Yoga means union with God.
If we accept spiritual life in the true sense of the term, we do not negate the world, we do not renounce the world. We accept the world, we embrace the world, we try to fulfil the world in a divine way, in the way the Supreme wants. We do not see eye to eye with those who say that God is only in Heaven and not elsewhere. God is in Heaven, and God is also on earth. The Creator can never be separated from His creation. This world of ours is His creation. He is here. He abides within all things. In order to fulfil Himself it is here that God has to remain.
We have in this world of ours a true friend, and that friend is the spiritual life. Spiritual life tells us that we have come from the Divine, we live in the Divine and we shall return to the Divine. Within us we have everything. Now we have to reveal what we have within. At the same time we have an enemy, an uncompromising enemy. It is our ignorance. Ignorance tells us that we are nothing and that we will never be able to amount to anything. Ignorance says, "O man, look down and see that you are nothing, you are useless." But spirituality tells us, "My child, look up, look deep within. You will see that you are everything. You are God's child, God's chosen child. To Him you are everything. God dreams. To materialise, to fulfil, to transform God's Dream into reality you have come into the world." That is what spirituality tells each individual here on earth the moment he enters sincerely into the inner and deeper life. Spiritual life also teaches us something momentous. It tells us that we need not be bound by the life of frustration, fear and anxiety. It tells us that if it is true that our present life is full of misery, frustration, defeat and limitation, it is equally true that we have an ideal life which is all harmony, all perfection, all fulfilment, all virtue. The inner life most gladly, most cheerfully, most devotedly wants to be the living bridge between our present life and the ideal life, the life that we want to have.
There are two kinds of hope: ordinary earthly hope and spiritual hope. Ordinary earthly hope is nothing but building castles in the air. We do nothing for God, nothing to improve ourselves, we just hope that we shall one day become great, famous, powerful. But the spiritual hope that we can cherish comes from our inner conviction of truth, the truth that abides within us and in which we live. This hope is surcharged with aspiration whether we are consciously aware of it or not. This hope is the harbinger of reality. This hope sees the reality and, while seeing, becomes the reality. This hope also takes us into the realm of faith, the faith that sustains our inner and outer lives. This faith comes to the fore and tells us that the moment we look to God with our eyes of aspiration God looks at us with His Eyes of Compassion. Our aspiration and His Compassion go together. We need His Compassion and He needs our aspiration. We fulfil God and God fulfils us. The moment we fulfil Him we are fulfilled.
There are people on earth who tell us that spirituality is no longer alive, it is long dead. Our forefathers were spiritual and divine. They communed with God. Not we! We are all worse than useless. Those days of spiritual achievement, of spiritual glory are long buried, they say. Now we are in a world of materialism. There is no God and no spiritual life, no inner experience and realisation. Spirituality is dead for good. But let us not subscribe to their proud opinion, for their opinion is utterly baseless. Spirituality can never, never die because spirituality is the necessity of God. It is also the necessity of human beings; but this necessity is more real to God than to humanity because it is God who created this spiritual necessity both for Himself and for humanity. This spirituality can never die, for God never dies. God has created spirituality to unite man with God; therefore, so long as God is on earth or in Heaven or anywhere in His creation, spirituality must exist in order to unite God and man.
Spirituality is the flame of aspiration. We have always to kindle this flame so that it can rise high, higher and highest until finally it reaches the acme of perfection, absolute fulfilment. It is only the spiritual life, the cry of the heart, the surge of the soul, that can fulfil us both in our inner and outer lives. It will be a deplorable mistake if we ever say or feel that the spiritual life will take us away from the life of the material world. On the contrary, it is the spiritual life that will open our eyes to show us how we can cope with the material physical world, how we can have mastery over the physical world, how we can use the material world to help us. Right now we are living in the material world. The material world at every moment is killing us with frustration and disappointment. We want from the material world what the material world cannot give us, and the material world wants something from us which we are unable to give. If we want to be the master of the material world, if we want to say that the material world is ours, not that we belong to the material world, then we have to have perfect control of the material world. How can we have that? Only on the strength of our inner light, inner awakening, inner experiences, inner fulfilment.
If we want only to enjoy the world, we are taking a simply absurd attitude towards life. When we go deep within, one day we will see that in order to have an iota of enjoyment we have to kill our very life. We are trying to enjoy but for this enjoyment we are killing the senses that we need for a divine purpose. If we are wise, then we will enter into the inner life and know what spiritual joy and delight are. Then we will be able to enter into the outer world with the strength of our inner joy. When we enter into the outer world with inner joy, we shall see that the wonder of wonders has been accomplished by us — that the inner life can easily be lived and practised in the outer life. The life of reality, the life of fulfilment, the life of victory, the life of oneness with God which we get in our inner life can easily, effectively, gloriously and divinely come forward in the outer life. That is to say, the outer life should be a perfect manifestation of the inner life.
Let us not divide the two lives, inner and outer. Let us unite them. Let us not make a compromise; it is not a compromise that we seek. Let us try to see the outer life through the inner life. Let us try to fulfil the outer life through the inner life. Then alone, God's infinite Blessings will shower on us on earth. Then alone we shall not only see, feel and reach God, but finally we shall all become God Himself. So let each of us present here enter into the world of spirituality. Let us breathe in the breath of spirituality, and success is ours, perfection is ours, fulfilment is ours. God in His infinite Bounty, infinite Peace, Bliss, Light and Power is ours, eternally ours.
FFB 179. North Dakota State University; Fargo, North Dakota. October 25, 1974; 1:00 p.m.↩