Verily, not for the sake of the All,
my dear, is the All loved,
but it is loved for the sake of the Self.
- Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Verse 2.4.5)
OF all the Qualifications, Love is the most important, for if it is strong enough in a man, it forces him to acquire all the rest, and all the rest without it would never be sufficient. Often it is translated as an intense desire for liberation from the round of births and deaths, and for the union with God. But to put it in that way sounds selfish, and gives only part of the meaning. It is not so much desire as WILL, resolve, determination.
To produce its result, this resolve must fill your whole nature, so as to leave no room for any other feeling. It is indeed the will to be one with God, not in order that you may escaoe from weariness and suffering, but in order that because of your deep love for Him you may act with Him and as He does. Because He is Love, you, if you would become one with Him, must be filled with perfect unselfishness and love also.
In daily life, this means two things: first, that you shall be careful to do no hurt to any living thing; second, that you shall always be watching for an opportunity to help. First, to do no hurt. Three sins there are which work more harm than all else in the world- gossip, cruelty and superstition - because they are sins against love. Against these three the man who would fill his heart with the love of God must watch ceaselessly.
See what gossip does. It begins with evil thought and that in itself is a crime. For in everyone and in everything there is good; in everyone and in everything there is evil. Either of these we can strengthen by thinking of it, and in this way, we can help or hinder evolution; we can do the will of the Logos, or we can resist Him. If you think of the evil in another, you are doing at the same time three wicked things:
You are filling your neighborhood with evil thought instead of with good thought, and so you are adding to the sorrow of the world. If there is in that man the evil which you think, you are strengthening it and feeding it; and so, you are making your brother worse instead of better. But generally, the evil is not there, and you have only fancied it; and then your wicked thought tempts your brother to do wrong, for if he is not yet perfect you may make him that which you have thought him.
You fill your own mind with evil thoughts instead of good; and so, you hinder your own growth, and make yourself, for those who can see, an ugly and painful object instead of a beautiful and lovable one.
Not content with having done all this harm to himself and to his victim, the gossip tries with all his might to make other men partners in his crime. Eagerly he tells his wicked tale to them, hoping that they will believe it; and they then join with him in pouring evil thought upon the poor sufferer. And this goes on day after day, and it is done not by one man but by thousands.
Do you begin to see how base, how terrible a sin this is? You must avoid it altogether. Never speak ill of anyone; refuse to listen when anyone else speaks ill of another, but gently say: "Perhaps this is not true, and even if it is, it is kinder not to speak of it."
Then as to cruelty. This is of two kinds, intentional and unintentional. Intentional cruelty is purposely to give pain to another living being; and that is the greatest of all sins - the work of a devil rather than a man. You would say that no man could do such a thing; but men have done it often, and are daily in doing it now. The inquisitors did it; many religious people did it in the name of their religion. Vivisectors do it; many schoolmasters do it habitually. All these people try to excuse their brutality by saying that it is the custom; but a crime does not cease to be a crime because many commit it.
Karma takes no account of custom; and the karma of cruelty is the most terrible of all. In India, at least there can be no excuse for such customs, for the duty of harmlessness is well known to all. The fate of the cruel must fall also upon all who go out intentionally to kill God's creatures, and call it "sport." Such things as these you would not do, I know; and for the sake of the love of God, when opportunity offers, you will speak clearly against them. But there is a cruelty in speech as well as in act; and a man who says a word with the intention to wound another is guilty of this crime. That, too, you would not do; but sometimes a careless word does as much harm as a malicious one. So, you must be on your guard against unintentional cruelty.
It comes usually from thoughtlessness. A man is so filled with greed and avarice that he never even thinks of the suffering which he causes to others by paying too little, or by half-starving his wife and children. Another thinks only of his own lust and cares little how many souls and bodies he ruins in satisfying it. Just to save himself a few minutes' trouble, a man does not pay his workmen on the proper day, thinking nothing of the difficulties he brings upon them. So much suffering is caused just by carelessness - by forgetting to think how an action will affect others. But karma never forgets, and it takes no account of the fact that men forget. If you wish to enter the Path, you must think of the consequences of what you do, lest you should be guilty of thoughtless cruelty.
Superstition is another mighty evil, and has caused much terrible cruelty. This man who is a slave to it despises others who are wiser, tries to force them to do as he does. Think of the awful slaughter produced by the superstition that animals should be sacrificed, and by the still more cruel superstition that man needs flesh for food. Think of the treatment which superstition has meted out to the depressed classes in our beloved India, and see in that how this evil quality can breed heartless cruelty even among those who know the duty of brotherhood.
Many crimes have men committed in the name of the God of Love, moved by this nightmare of superstition; be very careful therefore that no slightest trace of it remains in you. These three great crimes you must avoid, for they are fatal to all progress, because they sin against love. But not only must you thus refrain from evil; you must be active in doing good. You must be so filled with the intense desire of service that you are ever on the watch to render it to all around you - not to man alone, but even to animals and plants.
You must render it in small things every day, that the habit may be formed, so that you may not miss the rare opportunity when the great thing offers itself to be done. For if you yearn to be one with God, it not for your own sake; it is that you may be a channel through which His love may flow to reach your fellowmen. He who is on the Path exists not for himself, but for others; he has forgotten himself, in order that he may serve them.
He is as a pen in the hand of God, through which His thought may flow, and find for itself an expression down here, which without a pen it could not have. Yet at the same time he is also a living plume of fire, raying out upon the world the Divine Love which fills his heart. The wisdom which enables you to help, the will which directs the wisdom, the love which inspires the will - these are your qualifications. Will, Wisdom and Love are the three aspects of the Logos; and you, who wish to enroll yourselves to serve Him, must show forth these aspects in the world.
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