Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the infinite and eternal Truth, I wish to give a talk on Wisdom-Light. Each individual present here has Wisdom-Light. Today I will share with you my Wisdom-Light; tomorrow, easily and effectively you can share with many your Wisdom-Light.
What is Wisdom-Light? Wisdom-Light is something that eternally glows inside our heart and around our life eternal. Wisdom-Light tells us that there are only two mighty powers on earth. These powers are temptation-power and liberation-power. When we surrender to temptation-power, we come to realise that our body is unawakened, our vital is undisciplined, our mind is unillumined and our heart is unfulfilled. When we aspire for liberation-power, we come to realise that our soul is a fulfilled and, at the same time, a constantly fulfilling reality; that our soul is an illumined and, at the same time, an ever-illumining reality.
When we enter into the spiritual life, we come to realise that we have three teachers: ignorance-teacher, knowledge-teacher and wisdom-teacher. Ignorance-teacher teaches us how to talk. Knowledge-teacher teaches us how to talk and act. But wisdom-teacher teaches us only how to act spontaneously and unconditionally.
When we talk and talk, we enter consciously and deliberately into the domain of ignorance. When we talk and act, at times we see a yawning gulf between our speech and our action. We say something and we do something totally different. We make a solemn promise to do something, but when reality dawns we see a vast gulf between our promise and its fulfilment. But when we act spontaneously, soulfully and unconditionally — when we offer our dedicated service — an unseen Hand guides us, shapes us and moulds us into the very image of our Inner Pilot. It is only by devotedly serving the Inner Pilot in each individual that we can make our life meaningful and fruitful.
The brotherhood of man can never be achieved by talking, but only by becoming something, by achieving conscious oneness with the Tree which is God. Unless we establish our conscious, inseparable oneness with the Almighty Father, the Absolute Supreme, we can never establish in our inner life or outer life the full brotherhood of man. We have to touch the tree and climb up the tree. Only then can we approach the branches and enter into the millions and billions of leaves, which are our brothers and sisters. If we do not go to the tree and climb up the tree, how can we enter into the consciousness of the leaves, which are our brothers and sisters?
Ignorance is self-enjoyment, knowledge is self-examination and wisdom is self-perfection. When we swim in the sea of ignorance, we enjoy. This enjoyment is followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. When we try to examine ourselves, we see imperfection looming large. But, at the same time, perfection is within our easy reach. Self-perfection is wisdom. When we pray and meditate, we enter into the reality of silence, and this gives us the opportunity to perfect our life within and without. Silence embodies perfection. Silence is ready to reveal its perfection in and through us on the physical plane, which is now inundated with ignorance, darkness, bondage and imperfection.
How do we discriminate Light from night, Truth from falsehood, Immortality from death? We discriminate the one from the other by praying and meditating, by trying and crying. When a child cries, his mother comes to the rescue and offers him toys or food or anything else that he wants. Similarly, when we cry in the inmost recesses of our heart, the Mother Divine, the Mother Supreme, comes to our rescue and inundates our inner and outer being with infinite Light. This Light is our real Divinity, Immortality and perfect Perfection.
Very often we feel that knowledge and wisdom are one and the same thing. But when we enter into the spiritual life and get inner experiences, we come to realise that knowledge and wisdom are two totally different things. Knowledge is like the younger brother in the family, and wisdom is the older brother. Naturally, the older brother will be infinitely wiser than the younger one. Knowledge sees something and then wants to utilise that thing. Wisdom feels the Truth, wants to grow into the Truth and finally becomes the Truth. Knowledge and wisdom are two brothers at the foot of the Realisation-tree. Let us call it a mango tree. Knowledge starts counting the leaves, the branches and fruit, but wisdom climbs up the tree, plucks a mango and eats to its heart's content.
Now, where can wisdom exist? It can exist everywhere. It can exist in knowledge, in intelligence, in the intellect, in intuition. But the wisdom that abides in the soul is the wisdom that leads us and guides us fastest towards our destination. When we pray and meditate we go deep within and hear the dictates of our soul. Once we hear the dictates of our soul, we establish a free access to the world of divine Reality, Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.
Here I wish to quote the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow." Work I take as dedicated service in the spiritual life. Every day it is our bounden duty to offer our dedicated service to the Supreme in all human beings. Dedicated service greatly helps us to reach our destined goal. Now, we have to know that today's goal is not and cannot be the goal forever. Today our goal is realisation of the highest Truth and the highest Light. Tomorrow our goal will be the revelation of the highest Truth and Light. And the day after tomorrow our goal will be the perfect manifestation of the highest Truth and Light, which we will then embody.
"Pray as if you were to die tomorrow." A seeker of infinite Truth must feel that each moment is a most sacred opportunity for him. Tomorrow death may snatch us away from the world arena. So we have to feel that this is the last time, the last opportunity, the last moment we have to realise the ultimate Truth. On the one hand, we know that death is nothing but a short rest in the flow of Eternal Time. On the other hand, we know that here on earth we have to accomplish quite a few things for God's fulfilment and for our fulfilment. Right now, our fulfilment and God's fulfilment are diametrically opposed. But when we pray and meditate, we come to feel that God's fulfilment is our fulfilment, that God's fulfilment is the only fulfilment. If we pay considerable attention to the value of time, we do not wallow consciously in the pleasures of lethargy and ignorance. We can utilise each moment for our ever-increasing fulfilment and ever-fulfilling illumination on the strength of our inner cry to see something, to grow into something and to become something.
About an hour ago when I arrived here, I was deeply moved to see the motto of this august college: "Equal opportunity for all, freedom to see and discriminate the truth and the brotherhood of man."
Equal opportunity for all. Now who can give us equal opportunity? Only the Inner Pilot can give and does give equal opportunity to all. Every day, early in the morning, He knocks at our heart's door. When He knocks at our door, some of us wake up and answer the door while others remain in the world of sleep, inconscience and ignorance. In our outer life, once we lose an opportunity we seldom get it back. But in the inner life we get a new opportunity every day, every hour, every minute. He who responds to the inner opportunity immediately runs fast, faster, fastest towards the ultimate Goal.
Each individual has to be given freedom to seek the Truth in his own way. We cannot thrust our truth on others. Each has to go deep within to the Truth. Truth is the Goal, but in order to reach the Goal, we can and do adopt different paths, different roads. Different roads allow different individuals to run the fastest. If others force their freedom upon us, it will be totally valueless for us. But if we search deep within, our freedom is our revelation, our illumination, our perfection. The Vedic lore offers us a momentous message:
Asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrityor ma amritam gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.
I am extremely happy that the state of Illinois is proud of calling itself “Land of Lincoln”. Lincoln was a seeker in the pure sense of the term. God gave him a magnanimous heart. Emerson said of him, "His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold a wrong." I wish to elaborate on this most significant utterance.
When we become a seeker, we try to have a heart as vast as the world itself, or try to have a heart even vaster than the world. In this vast heart, a real seeker does not see the ignorance of the world as belonging to others. The heart of a true seeker sees the imperfections, limitations and bondage of others as its very own. Emerson says Lincoln's heart did not hold a wrong, but I wish to say that his heart did not hold a wrong of his own. His heart did hold the wrongs of millions and billions of human beings, and he accepted these wrongs of others as his very own — not with a sense of pride, but with a sense of oneness.
Since we are all seekers, the world is within us, not outside us. Each individual that we see around us is within us as well. Also, when we go deep within we see that we have a large family, a very large inner family of doubts, fears, anxieties, worries, imperfections and limitations. When we transform them on the strength of our conscious concentration, meditation and contemplation, we see that our outer world is also totally transformed.
I am here in Chicago. The very name of this city gives me enormous joy and delight. When I was eleven years old, I read a biography of the great spiritual figure, Swami Vivekananda. In 1893, when they held the Parliament of Religions here, Swami Vivekananda came and offered the eternal wisdom of the soul's light. My young heart was so delighted and moved, for he came from the same place where I was born, Bengal. So the younger brother feels a oneness with his elder brother. Vivekananda was divinely and supremely blessed to be able to offer the wisdom-light of India here at the Parliament of Religions.
To me, each religion is a soulful, powerful, meaningful and fruitful house. Each individual should live in a house; he cannot live in the street. But a man need not stay all the time in his house. He comes out to study. Here our inner school and our inner subject is Yoga. Yoga is conscious oneness with God. We are all seekers, sincere seekers. For us God does exist. And it is only a matter of time before we will be able to see Him, feel Him, fulfil Him and grow into His image.
FFB 35. 13 February 1974, Afternoon. Congress Room, Roosevelt University, Chicago (Illinois)↩