So absorbed are people in this visible creation that they very seldom think of the value of that other creation which exists within themselves. Those outer things that tempt, that attract attention, that are of interest, are all pursued by so many persons, who therefore become limited and unaware of that other creation which goes on unconsciously within.
In reality every man is a world within himself. But how little he reflects about it! He is always conscious of being just like a drop in the ocean, whereas he does not know of the other state of being, in which he is the ocean and everything else a drop.
There is a passage in one of the sacred books relating how God created the earth and then created the heavens. What does this mean? Was heaven created after the earth? The meaning is that this creation which is around us is first impressed upon the mind, and then the mind creates its own world, its own heaven. It is the creation of mind, a higher world, yet within ourselves; and this world may be heaven, or it may be the opposite. As Omar Khayyam writes, ‘Heaven is the vision of fulfilled desire, and hell the shadow of a soul on fire,’ which shows that the desire is the source of heaven and its fulfillment. At the same time it is mental fire and disappointment, or worry, or anxiety, or torture that is the shadow of the soul on fire.
A person always takes virtue to be virtue in action, sin to be sin in action, never thinking about virtue and sin in speech or thought. Sometimes man’s thought is stronger than his speech or action. It is the experience of every mystic and every person who has trodden the path, that the power of thought is much greater than that of speech or action. In our everyday life we often find that if we think of a person bringing a certain book or flower we desire, he comes to see us, bringing this book or flower with him. We had not expressed the desire, and yet it has been fulfilled. Such is the power of thought, the creation of mind. ‘Thoughts are things,’ it has been said. But they are more; thoughts are beings. They are as much living beings as we are; they work as we work; they have life in them. The body can generate, but the mind can generate too, it is the generation of the mind which we call thought or imagination. Thought is controlled, whereas imagination is not.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, ‘There are numberless gods, and yet there is one God.’ This means that as every planet is a world, so every mind is a world; it is a living world. The question is, if we make our world and mold our life, why should we have unhappiness, why have troubles in life, why have failures in life? The answer is that it is neither the fault of the Creator nor of the world; it is the fault of our ignorance; it is our lack of knowledge. Buddha pictures this lack of knowledge in this way: it is as if you are clinging to the branch of a tree in the thick darkness of night so that you cannot see what is beneath you, whether it is land or sea; so you are all the time afraid of falling. You keep on clinging to the tree and suffering with the fear of how long it will be before you have to let go, thinking, ‘How long can I cling to this branch?’ Yet under your feet there is nothing to be seen. Such is life until light comes. Then it is like the coming of the sun. When the sun rises you find there is no water, and hardly any space; for the ground is just beneath your feet.
The land of immortality seems so far from us. But when the sun of knowledge arises we see that it is near, so near. Once man knows that, he need not be taught morals or virtue; he knows what is best for him, whither to go; he knows his own creation. He knows that if he creates hideous spirits in his thoughts, they will become monsters which will work against him and will ruin his own life. But if man creates the spirit of love and kindness, others will help him in his need, and he will always be surrounded by love and kindness.
Once people realize this their life becomes different; they become the healers of men; they sympathize with the trouble of another; they serve in the difficulty of another; they seek to know if they cannot do something, cannot help in some way. A word may help; a thought of kindness and of sympathy will help. Whatever they do to others they do to themselves, because every thought of kindness or goodness or sympathy has generated a world of sympathy around it; and such persons cannot be without it. Even if they go to a land where no one knows them or understands them, they can still attract sympathy and love, if they have created that within themselves.
This shows how important it is to be careful of what one says. If one acts under the spell of anger, says such things as, ‘I don’t wish to see his face,’ or any evil words, then the speaker wishes he had not said or done such things after the spell has gone. Not even about an enemy would he wish to have said these things. But at the time he did not realize that what he created lives. That which he has created he will be afraid of, and it will become his own enemy as well as the enemy of the person against whom his wrongful thought was directed. Not only that, but he will generate many more of the same kind. Once one bad thought is created, in the spirit of anger or annoyance, a thousand other spirits are created out of it. A world may be created by giving an outlet to one single weakness.
All that we collect and gather in the external world for our happiness and comfort is limited. Not even a thousandth part of this world that we possess can we really call our own kingdom, our world. But our mind can create and can collect numberless thoughts and impressions, which all make up its real world. All our possessions, all that we collect in life, all these things which we shall have to leave one day are transitory; but that which we have created in our thought, in our mind, that lives.
A person thinks, ‘Some day I should like to build a factory.’ At this time he has no money, no knowledge, no capability; but a thought came, ‘Some day I should like to build a factory.’ Then he thinks of something else. Perhaps years pass, but that thought has been working constantly through a thousand minds, and a thousand sources prepare for him that which he once desired. If we could look back to all we have thought of at different times, we would find that the line of fate or destiny, Kismet as it is called in the East, is formed by our thought. Thoughts have prepared for us that happiness or unhappiness which we experience. The whole of mysticism is founded on this.
If thoughts can accomplish this, so can love or imagination; even a dream can accomplish it according to the impression which it makes. Some thoughts are like things, like objects, other thoughts are like beings. Some thoughts are like angels by our side, and some are like devils. They are all round us, either helping us towards the accomplishment of the objects before us, or drawing us back from those things we wish to accomplish.
One person may think, and perhaps the result of his thought is very feeble; another has a thought today, and tomorrow the desire is fulfilled. Why is this? It is because of the power of thought. In the thought of one person there is more life, in that of another there is less life. The difference between an object and a living thing is that there is more or less life in them. But where there is consciousness and activity we call that life, and we call that which lacks intelligence and consciousness an object. Yet in reality both are alive. A person with a weak will has no strength in his thought. If he thinks a thousand times, it has no effect, because he has not that vitality or energy which is necessary for thought to live.
What is the vitality which gives life to the thought? It is the same in man as in the vegetable or in the mineral kingdom. In one case the life is on the surface, in the other it is hidden. That is why we call them things in one case, and beings in the other. So there are dead thoughts, and there are living thoughts. To which class a thought belongs depends on the power called will power. When there is will power, the word is both spoken and done.
This idea is expressed by the words Kalpa-Vriksha, the tree of desire. The story is that whoever happens to sit down for a moment under this tree will have his wish fulfilled; yet nobody knows where this tree is to be found. The tree is the mind; its root is the heart. That which gives power to thought, gives spirit or life to thought, is feeling. A man without feeling is as though dead; with feeling he is living, and so is his thought. Thought with feeling is a much greater power than thought without feeling. Merely to say, ‘I like your picture so much’ will have no effect when there is no feeling behind it. It is just a string of words. There is no life in it. But when these words are uttered with feeling they go through your heart also; the thought becomes living.
There have been great people whose living thoughts could make anyone live; they could impart life and heal. They have left their thoughts behind them, and people have treasured them as scriptures, as holy books; they have taken them for a religion. Such thoughts can never vanish nor die, such a long life has been given to them. Whatever form their thoughts have taken, whether music, prose, poetry, aphorisms or precious sayings that will never die, they will live forever. There are others who have not known the value nor the immortal character of this creation of the mind; they pass through life without realizing its value. Such persons are foolish, stupid, grumbling all the time about people, and criticizing others.
A Hindustani poet has said, ‘Beware before you speak a word; you do not know that this world is a dome, and that in a dome there is an echo.’ So, in this world, whatever one utters is re-echoed. If a good thought is sent to a person, he may not know of it; yet we have sent a good thought, a thought of kindness, sincere sympathy and love. We may not tell him; we may not see him; but after even ten years we will find something was prepared for him; something has made the friendship closer. He will know that we have thought about him. The secret of this is that life is one. In it all these phantoms live and move; and we think that everybody is a different life, and yet there is only one life, which the mystic calls God, who cannot be divided.
The Sufi says that man is not a part of God, for how can God be divided? Can one divide space? Since space cannot be divided, how can God be? How can this one life be divided? There is no division. There is no wall between any two people in this world.
Whether the thought be of bitterness, or sympathy, or love, or kindness, it reaches the other person. When the thought has feeling behind it, it has life, whether the feeling be of bitterness or of kindness. If it is bitterness it will destroy. But the consequence of such a thought will be that it will return to the giver; it will surely rebound; it will surely return to him who sent it. Whether it was bitterness, or whether it was kindness it will return just the same. But more than that: this thought generates as surely as do germs and worms. One thought of love gathers a thousand beings of love and kindness around one.
There is a prophecy in the Bible that when the next Teacher comes, he will bring ten thousand holy ones in his army. What does this mean? Does it mean ten thousand visible people? No, there will be numberless thoughts of goodwill and service to mankind which will become his army.
Externally we are a single being, but internally we are a world. As vast as is the world around us, so vast is the world within. Asif says, ‘The limitation of the sky and land cannot be compared with man’s heart. If man’s heart be wide, there is nothing wider than this.’ All can be accommodated in it; heaven earth, sun, moon, all are reflected in it. It becomes itself the whole. This world becomes as one chooses to make it. If man only knew that! But since he does not know that, the world is not heaven, but has become its opposite. We blame others for our sorrows and misfortunes, not perceiving that we ourselves are the creators of our world; that our world has an influence upon our life within as well as upon our life without. For instance, if a person is blamed by the self within, he will be blamed by everybody else, and if he is admired by it, he will be admired by all around. If the self within feels guilty towards someone in the external world, he will feel guilty, and if it feels doubt about the right spiritual path, he will go through the world in that spirit of doubt.
We read in the scripture how Moses spoke with God on Mount Sinai. The angel Gabriel brought a message to the prophet. What was the angel? What was Mount Sinai? Mount Sinai is the mind of man; God is with in it; it is man’s feeling that builds a bridge from man’s mind to the mount of God.
Rumi says so beautifully, ‘There is a flute, one end of which is between the lips of God, and the other end of the flute is in the heart of man.’ What a wonderful metaphor! When man’s heart is awakened, when the thoughts have become living beings, then whenever this feeling comes its current runs from infinite to finite, from the objective world back to the world unseen, from God to man. A current is established. It is man’s thought which is the bridge to heaven.
Whatever the thought of man has built, it becomes his heaven, with the singers, the Apsaras and fair ones. This is the true heaven. A man with an army of beautiful thoughts is in the Garden of Eden. He has produced a garden within himself. There is a verse of Bedil, ‘These beautiful gardens and flower-beds, if you wish to have them round you, you need not go and see them in the external world. You need only open the gate of your heart to see them there, and you will enjoy them.’
People think such a world is only imagination, only exists in thought; but really this world is the only one that will remain in the hereafter. There will not be any other world, for this physical world will not remain. Every soul is creating a world. However vast a planet may seem in comparison with the mind of man, in reality the mind of man is vaster. There is a world in this planet. As the Hindus have said, ‘Our planet has a god, and man is the god of his planet.’