Lecture delivered by Swami Rama Tirtha on December 17, 1902, in the Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, U.S.A.
My own Self in the form of ladies and gentlemen,
Rama does not blame European or Christian nations for their cohorts and armies to conquer other nations; that is also a stage in the spiritual development of a nation, which is at one time necessary. India had to pass through that stage; but India being a very old nation had weighed the riches of the world in the balance and found them wanting; and the same will be the experience of these nations that are in these days for accumulating worldly prosperity and riches. Why are all these nations trying to march cohorts to conquer other nations? What do they seek in all that? The only thing sought is happiness, joy, pleasure. It is true that some people say they do not seek happiness but knowledge. Others say that they seek not happiness; they seek action. That is all very good; but examine the hearts and minds of average men, or of ordinary mortals. You will find that the ultimate goal which they all set before them, the ultimate goal they all seek directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, is happiness, nothing but happiness.
Let us examine this evening where happiness resides, whether happiness lives in the palace or the cottage, whether happiness dwells in the charms of women or in things that gold and silver can buy. Where is the native home of happiness? Happiness has also a history of its own. These are great travelling days; steam and electricity have annihilated time and space, great travelling days these are, and everybody writes an account of his travels.
Happiness also travels. Let us have something of the travels of happiness.
We start with the first glimpse of happiness that a child has in his infancy. All the happiness in this world is for the child located in the skirt of the mother, or in the bosom of the dear mother. All the happiness is located there. This is the first stage on the main road which happiness has to travel along, the mother’s skirt, the mother’s bosom, say. To the infant there is nothing in this world which brings happiness so much as the mother’s bosom. The child hides his face behind the skirts of the mother and there he says, “Look! Look! Find me out! Where am I?” and he laughs heartily. He laughs with all his heart and soul. Books are meaningless to the child; treasures are useless to him. Fruits and sweets have no taste for the child that has not yet been weaned. The whole world of pleasure is, for the child, concentrated there.
A year passes and the happiness of the child changes its centre; it moves on to some thing else. The residence of happiness now becomes the toys, the beautiful toys, pollies and dollies. In the second state, the child does not like the mother so much as he likes his own toys. Sometimes the child quarrels with the dear, dear mother, for the sake of toys, for the sake of dollies.
A few months or years more and no more is his happiness in the pollies and dollies; it has shifted its centre again, it is no longer located in these things. In the third stage, when the child grows up to be a boy, happiness is located for him in books, especially in story books. This is the case with an ordinary intelligent child; sometimes happiness is in other things, but we are taking an ordinary case. Now the story books engross all the love and affection of the boy. Now the toys, dollies and pollies lose their charms; story books take their place, and he finds them beautiful and attractive. But happiness travels on. The schoolboy enters the college, and in college life, his happiness is found in something else, say, in scientific books or philosophical works or the like. He reads them for sometime, but his happiness has travelled from books to the longing of seeking honours in the university; his desire is to reach the residence of his happiness, the headquarters of his joy. The student comes out of the university with flying colours. He gets a lucrative post and the happiness of this young man is centred in money, in riches. Now the one dream of his life is to accumulate riches, to be rich. He wants to become a big man, to amass a large fortune. When he gets some wealth after working in the office for a few years, his happiness passes on into something else. What is that? Need that be told? It is woman.
Now the young man wants to have a wife, and for the sake of a wife, he is ready to spend away his riches. The mother’s skirt no longer gives him any happiness; the toys have no charm for him; the story-books are cast aside, and they are read only on those occasions when they are expected to give him some insight into the nature of that dream of his life—the woman. He is all a sacrifice for the sake of his wife. Hard-earned riches are cast to the winds for the sake of petty whims of what is now the headquarters of his happiness. The young man lives for sometime with the woman, and lo! the happiness is sighted a little yonder. The pleasure he could derive from the thought of his wife in the beginning, he no longer gets now. Taking the case of an ordinary youth, an ordinary youth of India, the happiness of the youth now passes from the woman on to the coming child. Now a child becomes the dream of his life. He wants to have a child, an angel, a seraph, a cherub in his house. Rama knows not much of the state of affairs in this country; but in India, after marrying, people pray to God and yearn for a child. They do all that lies in their powers to seek the aid of doctors and to invoke the blessings of holy men; all that they can do they do in order to be blessed with a child.
In the expectation of the child, concentrates all the happiness of the youth. The child is the sixth stage in his travel of happiness, in the march of joy. The youth is then blessed with a child. His joy knows no bounds; he is full of spirits, he springs up to his feet; he is elated; he is, as it were, raised above the earth many feet; he does not walk, he swims in the air, so to speak. His soul is full of happiness when he gets a child. In the sixth stage, in the moon-faced child, the happiness of the grown-up youth has reached in a way its acme. The intensest happiness is when he sees the face of his child. The happiness of an ordinary man has reached its zenith. After that, the youth begins to decline in spirits, the child becomes a grown-up boy and the charm is lost. The happiness of this man will go on travelling from object to object, sometimes located in this thing, at other times residing in that thing. But the intensity of happiness in the objects with an ordinary man will be not so strong, as it is in the love of his own child.
Let us now examine whether happiness really dwells in objects like these—the mother’s skirt, dollies and pollies, books, riches, woman, child, or any object and anything of this world at all. Before proceeding further, let us liken the travelling happiness to the travelling Sun-light. Sunshine also travels from place to place. It is at one time shining over India, and at another time on Europe. It travels on. When shades of the evening fall, see how rapidly the Sunshine shifts away from place to place. It shines on eastern America and it travels on to its west. See how the Sunlight goes skipping on tiptoe, slipping on from land to land, and is then seen spreading its lustre on Japan and so on. The Sunshine travels on from place to place. But all these different places where the Sunshine is seen are not the source, the home of Sunshine. The home of Sunshine must be somewhere else; the home of Sunshine is the Sun. Similarly let us examine happiness which goes on travelling from object to object like the Sunshine. Whence does it proceed? Where is its real home? Let us look at the Sun of happiness, as it were.
Take the case of the gentleman who has been blessed with a child. This gentleman is sitting in his office. He is busy with his official duties, and all of a sudden he hears the ding-ding of the bell. What bell? The telephone, but when he is about to hear what the message may be, his heart beats. They say, coming calamities cast their shadows before. His heart beats, never was it so with him before. He reaches up to the telephone and hears a message. Oh, what a distressing message it must have been! The gentleman was panting and sobbing; he lost all presence of mind; his cheeks lost all colour; with a pallid, cadaverous face he came rapidly to his seat, put on his coat and hat and went out of the office as if he were shot like a bullet from a gun. He did not even ask the consent of the chief officer, the head of the department. He did not even exchange a word with the employees in the room. He did not even lock up the papers that were lying on the desk, he lost all presence of mind and went straight out of the office. All his fellow officials were astounded. He reached the streets and saw a car running before him, he ran up to the car and there he met a postman who gave him a letter. This letter brought to him the happy news, (if in the circumstances it can be called happy news from the worldly point of view) the happy news of a large fortune having fallen to his lot. The man had bought a share in a lottery, and about $10,000 had fallen to his lot. This news ought to have cheered him up, ought to have filled him with joy, but it didn.t, it didn.t. The message he had received over the telephone was weighing heavily on his heart. This news brought him no pleasure. He found in the same car one of the greatest officials in the State, sitting just in front of him. This was an official to have an interview with whom had been the one dream of his life. But look here. This gentleman did not exchange glances with the official; he turned his head away. He also noticed the sweet face of lady friend. It had been the ambition of this gentleman’s life to meet her and exchange words with her, but now he was insensible to her sunny smiles. Well, Rama ought not to keep him in a state of suspense so long, nor should you be kept in a state of suspense any longer.
He reached the street where his house was located and a great noise and tumult was there, and he saw clouds of smoke rising to the sky and veiling the Sun. He saw tongues of fire going up to the heavens; he saw his wife, grandmother, mother and other relatives weeping and bewailing the conflagration which was consuming their house. He saw all his relations there but missed one thing; he missed the dear little baby, he missed the sweet little child. That was not there. He asked about the child, and the wife could make no answer. She simply answered by sobbing and crying; she could make no articulate answer. He found out the truth. He came to know that the child had been left in the house. The child was with the nurse at the time when the fire broke. The nurse had placed the child in the cradle, the child was asleep and the nurse had left the room. Now the inmates of the house being panic-stricken at the sight of the fire consuming the house, had quitted the house in haste, each thinking that the child must be with some other inmate of the house. All of them came out, and now they found that the child was left in the room which was then being enveloped by fire. There was crying and gnashing of teeth, cutting of lips, beating of breasts, but no help. Here, this gentleman, his wife, his mother and friends and the nurse were crying aloud to the people, to the standers-by, to the policemen, and asking them to save their child, to rescue their dear, little baby. “Save our little dear child anyway you can. We will give away all our property, we shall give away all the wealth that we may accumulate within ten years from today, we will give up all; save our child, save our child.”
They are willing to give up everything for the sake of the child. Indeed, the child is a sweet thing, the dear little baby is a very sweet thing, and it is worthwhile to sacrifice all our property, all our wealth and all our interest for the sake of the child. But Rama asks one thing, “Is the child the source of happiness, the sweetest thing in the world, or is the source of happiness somewhere else?” Mark here. Everything is being sacrificed for the child, but is not the child itself being sacrificed for something higher, or for something else? Wealth is given away, riches are given away, property is given away for the child, but the child is being given away for something else. Even the lives of those people who may venture to jump into the fire may be lost. But even that dear little child is being sacrificed for something else, for something higher, and that something else must of necessity be sweeter than the child, that something else must be the real centre of happiness, must be real source of happiness, and what is that something? Just see. They did not jump into the fire themselves. That something is the Self. If they jump into the fire themselves, they sacrifice themselves and that they are not prepared to do. On the child is everything else sacrificed, and on that Self is the child sacrificed.
We see now the highest stage of happiness, the child has not happiness in itself. The child is beautiful, lovely and the source of happiness, because the child is blessed with the Sunshine which proceeds from the Self; that Sunshine was not inherent in the child itself. If that Sunshine of happiness had been inherent in the child, it would have lasted in the person of the child for ever. Notice that the Sunshine which brightened the face of the child proceeded from the source within. The source was within the Self.
Here we come a little nearer to the source of happiness, to the home of happiness. Not for the sake of the child is the child dear, the child is dear for the sake of the Self. Not for the sake of the wife is wife dear; not for the sake of the husband is husband dear; the wife is dear for the sake of the Self; the husband is dear for the sake of the Self. This is the truth. People say they love a thing for its own sake. But this cannot be; this cannot be. Nor for the sake of the wealth is wealth dear, wealth is dear for the sake of the Self. When the wife who was dear at one time, does not serve the interests of the husband, she is divorced; when the husband who was dear at one time, does not serve the interests of the wife, he is divorced. When wealth does not serve the purpose, it is given up. You know the case of Nero. He did not see that the beautiful Rome, that metropolis of his, was of much interest to him, was of much use to him. To him it was of greater interest to see a conflagration; to him it was of more interest to see a big bonfire. Look here. He went up to the top of an adjoining hill and asked his friends to go and set the whole city on fire in order that he might enjoy the sight of a grand conflagration. Here was he fiddling while Rome was burning. Thus we see that even wealth is divorced, given up, when it does not serve our interests.
Rama was an eyewitness of a very strange phenomenon, a very curious phenomenon. There was a great flood, a great inundation of the river Ganga, and the river went on rising. On the branches of a tree were sitting several monkeys; there was a female-monkey and some children of this female-monkey. All these children came up to the female monkey. The water rose up to the place where the female monkey was seated. Then the she-monkey jumped up to a higher branch; the water came up to that place. The female monkey come to the highest top-branch, and the water rose up even to that place. All the children were clinging to the body of this female-monkey. The water reached her feet; then she just took hold of one child, one baby-monkey, and placed it underneath her feet. The water rose still higher, and then this female-monkey took hold of another child and placed it under her feet. The water still rose; and the third child was also taken up and mercilessly placed under her feet to save herself. Just so it is. People and things are dear to us as long as they serve our interests, our purposes. The very moment that our interests are at stake, we sacrifice everything.
Thus we come to the conclusion that the seat of happiness, the source of happiness is somewhere within the Self. The home of happiness is somewhere in the Self, but where is it? Is it in the feet? The feet support the whole body, it may be in the feet, but no, it is not in the feet. Had it been in the feet, the feet ought to have been the dearest thing in the world. Of course, the feet are dearer than anything else outside, but they are not so dear as the hands are. Is the home of happiness in the hands? The hands are dearer than the feet, but they are not the home of happiness. Then, is happiness located in the nose or in the eye? The eyes are dearer than the hands or the nose, but happiness is not located in them. Think of something that is dearer even than the eyes. You might say it is the life. Rama says take the whole body first. The whole body is not the home of happiness. We see that this whole body we are changing every moment. In several years, every particle of the body is replaced by a new particle. It may be in the intellect, in the brain, in the mind. It may be there. But let us see if there is not something even dearer than the intellect. Let us examine that. If there be something which is dearer and sweeter even than the intellect, then, that may be the home of happiness. We say that life, or as the Hindus put it, prana may be the source of happiness, because oftentimes people want to live even at the sacrifice of their reasoning powers. Here is a choice between two alternatives, die altogether, or live as a crazy, lunatic man. Everybody will choose the alternative of life, even in a crazy, lunatic frame. Thus we see that intellect or intelligence is sacrificed at the altar of life. Then life, personal life, this may be the home of happiness, the Sun from which all happiness emanates. Just examine whether life is really the home of happiness or not. Vedanta says, No! No! Even life is not the home of happiness, the Heaven within is higher up still; even beyond individual, personal life. Where is it then?
Rama once saw a young man at the point of death. He was suffering from a very bad disease. There was excruciating pain in his body. The pain began in the toes of the feet. At first it was not so great, but after a while it kept coming up, and then his body was undergoing a hysterical movement. Gradually, the pain came up to the knees, and then rose higher, until that dreadful pain reached the stomach, and when the pain reached the heart, the man died. The last words this young man uttered were these, “Oh, when shall this life leave me, when shall these pranas leave me!” These were the words of that young man. You know, in this country you say he gave up the ghost. In India we say he gave up the body. This shows the difference. Here the body is looked upon as the Self and the ghost is looked upon as something tacked on. In India the body is looked upon as something foreign to the spirit; the real Self is looked upon as the reality. There, when the body dies, nobody believes that he dies; the body changes, he does not perish. And so, the words that escaped the lips of that youth were, “Of, when shall I give up this life; when shall this prana leave me!” Here we have something higher even than life; some thing superior to “prana”, something which says, “My life,” something which says, “My prana,” something which possesses the “prana” and is above the “prana” or life, and that something is sweeter by far than the individual, personal life or “prana” Here we see that the “prana” or life in that particular body did not serve interests of the higher Self, of the Self higher than “prana”, and the “prana” or life was sacrificed; the “prana” or life was thrown off. Here we see something which is superior to the “prana” or life, for which the life is sacrificed. This must be, by all means, sweeter by far than life even and that must be the home of “anand” or happiness; that must be the source, the origin of our joy. Now we see, why “prana” or life is sweeter than intellect; because pranas are nearer to the real Self, the Self within. Why is it that the intellect is sweeter than the eyes? Because the intellect is nearer to the real Self than the eyes. And why is it that the eyes are dearer than the feet? Because the eyes partake more of the real Self in you than the feet do. Why is it that everybody looks upon his child as being far more beautiful than the child of somebody else, of his neighbour? Vedanta says, “Because this particular child you call „mine. you have gilded a little with the gold of your real Self.” Any book in which you may write a line of your own, any work that contains something contributed by your pen appears to you to be far more worthy than any other book, even if it came from the pen of Plato.
Why is it? Because this book which you call, mine. has the sunshine of your real Self in it. It is blessed with the sunshine of Heaven within. Thus the Hindu says that the bliss, the real metropolis of happiness is within you. All Heaven is within you, the source of all pleasure is within you. This being the case, how unreasonable it is to seek happiness elsewhere!
In India, we have this story about a lover. He pined for his beloved one; all his body was reduced to a veritable skeleton; all his flesh was dried up, so to say. The king of the country in which this young man lived brought him into his court one day, and he also brought the lady-love of the young man into his presence. The king saw that the woman was very ugly. The king then brought before this lover all the fair damsels that adorned his court, and asked this lover to choose one of the these. This man said, “O Shah! O King! Don.t make a fool of yourself. O King! you know, love makes a man very blind. O King! you have no eyes to see. Look at her with my eyes, and then say whether she is fair or ugly. Look at her with my eyes.” This is the secret of all the charms in this world. That is all. That is the secret of all the fascination of the attractive objects in the world; O man! you yourself make all objects attractive by the way you look at them. Looking at an object with those eyes you yourself shed your lustre upon the object and then you fall in love with it. We read the story of Echo in Grecian mythology. She fell in love with her own image. So it is with all charms; they are simply the image of self within you, the Heaven within you. They are simply your shadow. Nothing else. That being the case, how unreasonable it is to hunt after your own shadow.
Rama knows of the case of a little child, a small baby that had just learnt to crawl, to walk on all fours. The child saw its shadow and thought it to be something strange, something remarkable. The child wanted to catch hold of the head of the shadow; it began to crawl to the head of the shadow; and the shadow also crawled. The child moved and the shadow also moved. The child began to cry because he could not catch the head of the shadow. The child falls down, the shadow is with him; the child rises up and begins to hunt for the shadow. In the meantime, the mother taking mercy on the child made the child touch his own head, and lo! the head of this shadow was also caught. Catch hold of your own head and the shadow is also caught. Heaven and hell are within you. The source of power, joy and life is within you. The God of men and nature and nations is within you. O people of the world! listen, listen. This is a lesson worthy of being proclaimed from the house-tops, in all the crossings of big cities, in all the thoroughfares. This is a lesson worthy of being proclaimed at the top of the voice. If you want to realize an object, if you want to get anything, do not hunt after the shadow. Touch your own head. Go within you. Realize this and you will see that the stars are your handiwork, you will see that all the objects of love, all the bewitching and fascinating things are simply your own reflection or shadow. How unreasonable it is that—
For a cap and bells our lives we pay, Bubbles
we earn with a whole soul’s tasking.
There is a beautiful story about a woman in India. She lost her needle in her house. She was too poor to afford a light in her house, so she went out of the house and was searching it in the streets. A gentleman inquired from her what she was doing. She said that she was searching for her needle? The gentleman asked, “Where did you lose the needle?” She said, “In the house.” He said, “How unreasonable it is to search in the street a thing which was lost in the house!” She said that she could not afford a light in the house and there was a lantern in the street. She could not hunt in the house, she had to do something, so she must hunt in the street.
This is exactly the way with the people. You have the Heaven within you; and yet you are searching pleasures in the objects in the streets, searching that thing outside, outside in the objects of the senses. How strange! There is another very beautiful story extant in India about a crazy man. He came up to the boys of the street and told them that the Mayor of the city was preparing a grand, royal feast, and had invited all the children to partake of the feast. You know, children like candies and sweets. The children being assured by this crazy man of the feast arranged by the Mayor, ran to the house of the Mayor, but there was no feast at all, nothing of the kind. The children were baffled; they were put out of countenance for a while, and there was hansi (laughing), and the children said to him, “How is it Mr. that you too came when you knew that this story which you told was wrong?” He said, “Lest there be a real feast, lest the story be true and I should miss it.” For this reason, because he did not wish to miss it, he also followed the boys. Exactly the same is the case of those who by their imagination, by their own benediction, you may say, make flowers beautiful, make everything desirable by their own imagination and like the crazy man, then, they want to run after it, so that they may not miss it.
Realize the Heaven within you, and all at once all the desires are fulfilled, all the misery and suffering is put an end to.
Lo! the trees of the wood are my next of kin.
And the rocks alive with what beats in me.
The clay is my flesh, and the fox my skin.
I am fierce with the gadfly and sweet with the bee.
The flower is naught but the bloom of my love.
And the waters run down in the tune I dream.
The Sun is my flower, up hung above.
I cannot die, though forever death.
Weave back and fro in the warp of me.
I was never born, yet my births of breath
Are as many as waves on the sleepless sea.
Oh, Heaven is within you, seek Happiness not in the objects of sense; realize that Happiness is within yourself.
Om! Om!! Om!!!