Three lessons in spiritualityUniversity of Oxford; Oxford, England
University Catholic Chaplaincy, Newman Room
11 June 1973
Spirituality is our inner growth, inner evolution, inner achievement and inner fulfilment. The day we left the mineral kingdom, we started our spiritual journey. After passing through the plant kingdom, we entered into the animal kingdom and our evolution went faster. Then, from the animal kingdom, we entered into the human kingdom, and our evolution became conscious. Now, from the human kingdom, we are consciously, soulfully, devotedly, divinely and unconditionally trying to enter into the divine kingdom.
All of us here are seekers; we are all spiritual people. On the strength of my own realisation, I wish to say that all of us without exception are studying spirituality. There is no human being on earth who is not studying this subject at least a little. From this subject, everybody learns something according to his capacity or receptivity. There is nobody who has not learnt anything. Your learning will not be the same as mine, but that does not mean that you have not studied the subject as well as I have.
What have I learnt from spirituality? I have learnt only three things. Love of God is the first thing I have learnt. The second thing is self-discovery. And the third thing is the importance of doing first things first. Love of God. Self-discovery. First things first.
Love of God. Is there anybody who does not love God? No, not even an atheist. The atheist negates God. But, to me, his very negation is an act of God. And whatever he does love is God, because everything comes from God and is of God. Atheists and agnostics are all in the one boat that leads to the Destined Goal, though perhaps in spite of themselves. Love of God is oneness with the Universal Consciousness. Conscious oneness with the Universal Consciousness is conscious love of God. God is one; God is many. He is the tree; He is the branches, the leaves and the flowers. He is unity and multiplicity. When we look within, He is one; when we look without, He is many.
Self-discovery. What do we mean by self-discovery? Self-discovery is our recovery from ignorance-illness. When we are ill, we suffer for a while and then we get better, only to fall sick again. But self-discovery is our permanent recovery from the illness that is called ignorance.
Self-discovery is God-discovery. There is no difference between self-discovery and God-discovery. When you discover yourself, you feel in the inmost recesses of your heart your oneness with God—your inner Divinity, your inner Immortality, your inner Infinity, your inner Eternity, which are nothing other than God Himself. This realisation is not the sole monopoly of a spiritual Master. Everybody without exception can discover it. But when we make a conscious effort, when we pray consciously and devotedly, we come to realise God's Light, Peace and Bliss infinitely faster than those who wallow in the pleasures of ignorance.
First things first. What is the first thing? The first thing in our lives should be God. Our first thought should be: "Let Thy Will be done." When the finite consciously accepts the Infinite as its very own, the finite is blessed with liberation and perfection. When I say, "Let Thy Will be done," it means I am consciously surrendering my lower existence to my higher existence. I can say that my feet are my lower existence and my heart is my higher existence. Both my heart and my feet are mine; they are both part and parcel of my existence. But my feet are in ignorance and my heart is bathing in the sea of Light and Wisdom. My heart can easily help and guide my feet if my feet are willing to surrender to their higher part, the heart. The feet must feel that now they are in ignorance, but when they enter into the heart, at that time they will be illumined.
I have to know that I embody the lowest and the highest. When I am in the highest, I am consciously one, inseparably one, with the Supreme Pilot. In that consciousness I represent Him, and one day I will become what He eternally is. My lowest part is ignorant, imperfect, undivine, hostile. But if I can remember that the highest part also is mine, then I will see nothing wrong in carrying the highest part to the lowest part with the message of liberation.
So to do the first thing first means to surrender our individual will to the Will of the Supreme, and then to feel that this surrender is the surrender of our lower existence to our higher existence. When we surrender our lower existence to our higher existence, we become the chosen instruments of the Absolute Supreme.
When it comes to studying the spiritual life, we find there are two students in us: the head and the heart. These two students have come to us to learn the higher wisdom, and we have to teach them both. But we have to know which of the two students has more learning capacity and which has less, which is more progressive and which is less progressive, which deserves more attention and which deserves less attention for the time being. Two students, the mind and the heart, have come to learn. The mind is the inferior student and the heart is the superior student. Unfortunately, the inferior one often creates problems for the superior one.
Our inner being is the teacher. It tells the mind-student, "You have learnt much, but your knowledge is only information and it is actually standing in your way. We always say that knowledge is our hope but, in your case, knowledge has become a veritable obstruction. You have absorbed too much knowledge. You do not know how to utilise it and you cannot digest it. So please, for God's sake, unlearn. If you can unlearn it, then you will be in a position to learn something really useful from me, your inner being."
Then our inner being tells the heart-student, "You have to learn only one thing: to give. Offer yourself, offer what you have and what you are. Empty yourself." The heart immediately says, "I am ready. What I have right now is insecurity and ignorance. What I am is uncertainty. But I am ready to offer it all immediately. I will offer up all my insecurity, uncertainty and ignorance."
The heart is ready and eager to surrender what it has and what it is, but the mind finds it very difficult to unlearn. What it has learnt is how to doubt. This is the most important thing to the mind. If the mind can doubt others, then it really feels that it has some wisdom. The moment I doubt you, I feel I have done something great. Here I have made my doubt a spiritual authority. But this kind of spiritual authority is nothing but slow poison. It kills our spiritual life. The heart, however, is just the opposite. Today it receives, tomorrow it achieves, the day after tomorrow it becomes and, finally, it realises what it eternally is.
There comes a time when the heart, out of its own inner spontaneous love for its brother, the mind, comes and knocks at the mind's door. With tremendous reluctance, the mind opens its door and, to its wide astonishment, sees that the heart, its own brother, is fully illumined. There is not even an iota of darkness inside the heart. Then the mind asks the heart how it has accomplished this. It says, "You are also a part of the family. How is it that I see in you all illumination, all divinity? What is wrong with me that I am still ignorant and unillumined?"
The heart replies, "I listened to the dictates of the Inner Pilot. I did what the Inner Pilot asked me to do. In your case, the Inner Pilot asked you to unlearn. What you have learnt is not illumination. What you have discovered is not realisation. You have learnt and discovered information and, on the basis of this information, you have built a palace of obscurity and divided consciousness. You have always separated yourself from the rest of the world. You are not accepting my realisation as your very own. You do not claim me as your very own, but I accept you as my very own. I accept each and everyone as my very own. In your case, there is no oneness, but only separation. You do not run to the Light. Your goal is still a far cry. I listened to the Inner Pilot when He asked me to do something, and now I am all illumination."
The mind thinks for some time, and then says, "All right. I will listen to you," and it starts unlearning. First it unlearns doubt, then it unlearns fear, then it unlearns jealousy, then it unlearns the feelings of superiority and inferiority. All the things that divide and separate the mind from the whole, the mind consciously tries to unlearn. The mind chases away doubt; immediately faith grows. It chases away insecurity; immediately confidence dawns. It rejects all feelings of superiority and inferiority and embraces the feeling of oneness. Impurity leaves the mind and purity enters. The mind now accepts the light and thinks of its ultimate goal. The ultimate goal of the mind is illumination. The ultimate goal of the heart is liberation. When the two meet together on the way to their destination, they become inseparably one. Then perfection dawns, and man the seeker becomes the conscious representative of the Absolute Supreme on earth.