Lecture delivered at the Hermetic Brotherhood Hall, San Francisco, on December 24, 1902
IN THE Books of Moses we read that God created the world. He saw his own handiwork and lo, it was beautiful and sublime. We read about it in the Book of Genesis, and so it is. You know that the attitude of mind, expressed by “Thy Will be done, O Lord “receives a much stronger expression from Vedanta. The Hindu puts it, “My Will is being done. My Will is being done.”When the wife identifies her will with her husband’s will, she can joyfully say “My will is being done “, and she need not pray, “Thy will be done”, for they are not two but one. She has had to make a great effort to make her will bend to the will of her lord, but when through repeated efforts the faithful wife has conquered the difference, she enjoys the doings of her husband as her own doings. So does a Vedantin enjoy everything in the world as of his own doing. To men of enlightenment.
Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron-bars a cage.
Minds innocent and quiet take that for a hermitage.
On the other hand, ignorant people, not knowing their true Self, given to egotism and selfishness, make even their palaces and castles worse than gaols, graves, and hells. By their petty cares, low sordid desires, and imaginary fears and apprehensions they forge their own chains.
Vedanta shows you that your happiness is your own business; who are worldly desires to interfere? Realize the truth and you are free. Vedantic realization is hard to achieve, because the vast majority of people in Europe and America think that they have to change themselves into God, that they have to create the Godhead in them. According to Vedanta the self-evident truth is that you are already God, nothing else but God. Your Godhead is not to be effected, it is simply to be known and realized or felt. You have to put it into practice, you have to make use of it. Here is a man who has a vast treasure in his house, and has forgotten it. Here is another man who has no treasure in his house. They both begin to dig for treasure. The man who has the treasure but has forgotten it will, by digging, come across it, but the man who has no treasure buried in the house will find it not. The treasure is there; be stingy or miserly no more; bring it into use. You have not to put the treasure there, you have simply to use it. Your soul is not impure and sinful by nature, it has not fallen through the sin of one man, and does not depend upon the virtue of another man to save it.
Here is a blackboard, a hard, solid substance. Suppose you rub the blackboard and rub and scrub it again. Can you make it transparent? No. Take a looking-glass; it may be soiled, dusty or dirty, but when you clean it, it is transparent. You have not made it transparent by your efforts, you have simply brought out what was already there. The blackboard was not of the nature of transparency and could not be made transparent by any effort.
The inherent belief strongly ingrained in every man about the possibility of his salvation, proves the intrinsic purity and sinlessness of the soul which is only apparently sullied for a time. This universal, native belief gives the lie to the unnatural dogma that the real Soul is sinful by nature, and would lead us to the conclusion that, like the blackboard, it can never be made transparent or pure. Man’s true nature is God. If God were not man’s own self never could there be the advent of any prophet or saint in this world.
Rama says, “Be not afraid; come out; rally all your strength and energies and boldly take possession of your birthright; I am He. “Be not afraid, tremble not.
When walking on Mount Sinai, Moses saw a bush aflame. He asked, “Who are you; who is there? “He may not have spoken aloud, but he was very curious as to the marvellous blaze which lighted up but did not burn the bush. The answer came out from the bush, “I am what I am.”This pure “I am n is your Self.
Your Atma, your real nature, is like the transparent diamond, the resplendent crystal. Place beside it something black and the crystal appears black; place beside the pure crystal something red and the pure crystal appears to be red, and so on. In reality the pure crystal is colourless. It is Beyond all tints, Beyond all redness, blackness, or any other colour; it is what it is. Similarly, the Atma. of yours, the true Self of yours is “What it is”: It is pure “I am.”
Here is a man in India. He places beside that pure Self, the pure Atma, a dark rag, the Hindu colour, and the Atma, crystal-like, is tinctured as it were with that colour. The pure “I am” becomes “I am a Hindu.”In America, besides the true Self, the pure crystal, the Atma that is colourless and Beyond all name and form, a Yankee places, say, a yellow rag and the unadulterated “I am “is coloured as “I am an American.”There comes another person, and beside the pure Atma and the transparent crystal, he places, say, a red rag or red piece of paper and the pure “I am “is tinctured as “I am a woman.”Another places beside the Atma another kind of colour, and says “I am a Master of Arts.”Hence we see one says” I am a Christian,” another says “I am a Hindu,” another says “lama Yankee,” another says “I am a John Bull,” another says “I am a child,” another “I am a woman,” another “lam a lion,” another “I am a tiger,” and so on. Here the pure, true Self, the untinctured, unsoiled, sparkling Atom, Om, or “I am,” is common to all, and is one and the same, unchangeable; there is in reality no colouring in it. The colouring is put there by your own ignorant predication. Take n transparent glass and place beside it some colour. The colour does not sink into it: it is simply reflected in it and not attached to it. Crystal is always pure and colourless. The “I am” is all pervading, universal; it is present everywhere in you. The lion and the tiger show forth the same thought of “I am.”This pure “I am”you are. You have no right to identify yourself with the coloured piece of paper or rag beside you, for there was a time when this simple unadulterated Atma inhabited another form. The “I am”occupied another body. There was a time that you felt “I am a lion” or “I am an ox” in some previous birth.
Freedom and happiness you achieve by realizing the true Self, the real “I am,” which is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The pure “I am” is untouched by time, because in the previous birth the pure “I am “remained the same. It is not sullied by space, because all these bodies are possessed by the self-same “I am.”All time is simply ‘Now’ to it and all distance ‘Here‘. This pure word “I am” signifies eternal reality; the immutable Truth. Now, it is this “I am “that is represented by OM. The pure “I am”“I am He “is represented by OM.
OM, according to the Persian language, is O-Am, or “I am He,”“I am Brahma, “OM represents the pure idea of “I am.”
In a thousand forms may thou attempt surprise,
Yet, all-beloved one, straight know I thee.
Thou may with magic veils thy face disguise,
And yet, all-present one, straight know I thee.
Upon the cypress’s purest, youthful bud,
All-beauteous growing one, straight know I thee:
In the canal’s unsullied, living flood,
All captivating one, well know I thee.
When spreads the water-column, rising proud,
All-sportive one, how gladly know I thee;
When, even in forming is transformed the cloud,
All figure-changing one, there know I thee.
Veiled in the meadow’s carpet’s flowery charms,
All chequered starry fair one, know I thee;
And if a plant extend its thousand arms,
O, all-embracing one, there know I thee.
When on the mount is kindled morn’s sweet light,
Straightway, all-gladdening one, salute I thee,
The arch of heaven o’erhead grows pure and bright,
All heart-expanding one, then breathe I thee,
That which my inward, outward sense proclaims,
Thou all-instructing one, I know through thee;
And if I utter Allah’s hundred names,
A name with each one echoes meant for thee.
Rama wants to say a few words about Moses. When Moses heard a voice in the bush, he found a hissing snake beside him. Moses was frightened out of his wits; he trembled; his breast was throbbing; all the blood almost curdled in his veins; he was undone. A voice cried unto him, “Fear not, O Moses; catch the snake; hold it fast; dare, dare to catch hold of it.”Moses trembled still and again the voice cried unto him, “Moses, come forth, catch hold of the snake”. Moses caught hold of it and lo, it was a beautiful and most splendid staff. Now, what is meant by this story? The snake (sanp) stands for Truth (sanch). You know according to the Hindus and other Orientals, Truth or Final Reality is represented by the snake (Shesh). The snake coils up itself in a spiral form, making circles within circles, and puts its tail back into its mouth. And so we see in this world we have circles within circles; everything repeating itself by going round and round and extremes meeting. This is a universal law or principle which runs through the whole universe.
To catch hold of the snake means to put yourself boldly into the position of the wielder of Divine Law, or Ruler of the Universe. Put yourself boldly in that position and realize your oneness with Divinity.
Moses belonged to a tribe living in slavery. The Jews were badly off in those days. They were driven from their country and had become wanderers. Owing to the numerous persecutions to which they had been subjected, it was but natural for them to believe in a God who was a tyrant out and out; a God who was a perfect autocrat.
If bullocks were to gather together to form at religious parliament, what would be their definition of God? They would define or describe God as a great majestic bullock that could frighten any other bullock to death. It* lions should form a religious parliament of their own, their idea of God would be that of the largest and strongest lion, the most fierce lion of them all. Can you conceive anything beyond your capacity? Can you jump outside yourself? No. Let lions sit in judgment and begin to think of God and they make him a big formidable lion. Similarly, if frightened people sit in judgment and begin to think of God, they cannot help conceiving God as a great slave-owner, a bugbear, a great master, a terrifying ruler. Thus the Jews naturally portrayed Divinity as a gigantic, magnificent Ruler, a grand Master.
In most Oriental and especially Semitic languages, the word for God is Malik, which is often translated as Master, A few words about the origin of this name Will not be out of place here.
The Jews had many trills, and each tribe had a god of its own. The god of one tribe was at one time called Moloch. In the mutual warfare of these tribes, this tribe of Israel gained the ascendency, and consequently the god of this tribe, Moloch, overpowered all other gods and became the god of all Jews. This gives the origin of the name Malik or Master for the monotheistic personal God of the Semitics. At that time the idea of a monotheistic Master was the science of the day; it was their attempt to penetrate into the gulf of the Unknown. It suited them. Circumstances are changed now; most people do not want monarchy; they want self-government; they want freedom in America, and they want freedom in England and everywhere. Science has progressed. Everything has evolved and advanced. It is high time for the old, overbearing and domineering conception of God to evolve into the freedom-inspiring idea of “I am God “as taught by Vedanta. Just as the absolute monarchy of England was limited step by step, so it is time to take away from this tyrant of a personal God all his powers and achieve religious freedom. The Jews lived in political thraldom, their god ought to have been a piaster distinct from them. You enjoy political and social freedom, your god ought to be your own Atma or Self These are the days when people do not want to live in slavery. Bondage and thraldom is fast departing; evolution is at work and everything must progress upward and onward. Should your personal God alone he at a standstill? No.
At one time God had a rival Satan, and God had some angels and servants to limit His being. He created the world in seven days. When was it? It was when Moses wrote his Books. You know several thousand years have passed since the days of Moses. The world has undergone a revolution. What kind of God is He Who does not grow? Everything must grow and evolve. By this time your God should have no rival like Satan beside Him. There should be nothing else to limit His being. He should be above the profession of an architect, world-builder or maker. It is high time for the whole world to take up Vedanta. It is high time for the whole world to dare to take up and grasp this hissing serpent of Truth. Absolute Truth comes to you and tells you that you are God; that God is not separate from you; that God is not in this heaven or that hell, but in your own Self. Here in the realization of this idea you have absolute freedom.
Why depress your brains through fears and why raise up your energies in supplications? Represent your inner nature; crush not the truth, come out boldly; cry fearlessly at the top of your voice “I am God, I am God.” That is your birthright.
Ordinary people are in the same state of mind in which Moses was when he heard the voice. Moses was in a state of slavery, and when he saw the serpent he trembled. So it is with the people when they hear this sound “I am,” this pure knowledge, the pure truth OM. When they hear this, they tremble and hesitate, they dare not catch hold of it. Words like the following sound like a hissing serpent to the people: Ye are Divinity Itself, the Holy of holies; the World is No World; You are the All in All, the Supreme Power, the Power which no words can describe, no body or mind, ye are the pure “I am” that you are.
Throw aside this little yellow, red, or black piece of paper from beside the crystal, wake up in your reality and realize “I am He,”“I am the All in All.”People want to shun it. The}* fear the serpent. O! do catch hold of the snake, and then, O wonder of wonders, this snake will become the staff of royalty in your hands. The hissing serpent will feed you when you are hungry, will quench your thirst when you are thirsty, will sweep off all difficulties and sorrows from your way.
When in the woods, Moses touched a rock with this staff, and bubbling, sparkling water came out from the rock. When the Israelites were fleeing for safety, they had to cross the lied Sea. There this terrible sea stood before them as a gaping grave to devour them. Moses touched the lied Sea with this staff and the waters spilt in twain, dry land appeared and the Israelites passed over it.
This apparent hissing snake, this Truth, appears to be awful, but you hire only to dare to pick it up and hold it fast. To your wonder you will find yourself the Monarch of the Universe, the Master of the elements, the Ruler of the stars, the Governor of skies, you will find yourself to be the all. People have a shyness in applying this truth and embracing thai divine principle. Come up, hesitate not. Take hold of this truth fearlessly. Make bold to hug it to your bosom and make it yourself. Realize the Truth and the Truth will make you free.
It is a sin not to say “I am God.”It is the worst theft to steal the Atma. It is falsehood and atheism to say “I am a man or woman” or to call yourself a poor crawling creature. Do not play the miser’s part. The miser has all the treasures in his house, but does not want to part with a single cent. You have the whole world within you, the whole universe is your own. Why hide it? Why not bring it into use? Put it into practice; drink deep of the nectar of your own Self! Why not gain your own natural intrinsic kingship?
The people in India call this Realization of the Absolute Truth, regaining of the forgotten necklace. There was a man who wore around his neck a most precious and long necklace or garland. It slipped down the back of his body by some means, and he forgot it. Not finding it dangling there on his breast, he began to search for it. The search was all in vain. He shed tears and bewailed the loss of his priceless necklace. He asked someone to find it for him, if possible. “Well,” said someone to him, “if I find the necklace for you, what will you give me? “The man answered, “I will give you anything you ask.”The man reaching his hand to the neck of his friend, and touching the necklace said, “Here is the necklace. It was not lost, it was still around your neck but you had forgotten it.”What a pleasant surprise! Similarly, your Godhead is not outside yourself, you are already God, you are the same. It is strange oblivion that makes you forgetful of your real Self, your real God-head. Remove this ignorance, dispel this darkness, away with it, and von are God already.
By your nature you are free; you have forgotten yourself in your state of slavery.
A king may fall asleep and find himself a beggar; he may dream that he is a beggar, but that can in no way interfere with his real sovereignty.
O King of kings, my dear Self in all these bodies, absolute monarch, quintessence of blessing, O dear one, make not a slave of yourself in the dream of ignorance. Arise and rule in your supreme majesty, ye are God, ye could be nothing else. With full force from within, casting away all hesitation, feebleness and weakness, jump right into the pure “I am,” or Self. You are God; He and I are one. What a balmy thought, what a blessed idea. It takes away all misery and unloads all our burdens. Wander not outside yourself. Keep your own centre. Archimedes said, “If I can find a fixed fulcrum, a standpoint, I can more the world,” but he could not find the fixed point, poor fellow. The fixed point is within you. It is your Self. Get hold of it and the whole universe is moved by you.