If one asks what is the cause of all misery in life, the answer will be only one, and that is: the limitation of life. Misery, pain, or sorrow of any kind come from limitation. It may be poverty or illness or disappointment, but it is all limitation; and this has been found out by all the prophets and teachers of humanity. When Buddha was young he saw that there was great pain in the world, and his first thought was to find out what was behind it; and so it has been with all the great teachers. They all wanted to solve this one question, to find out where is the cause of all misery.
The answer is in this: if a person who lives in poverty is given all the money he wants, is he then quite happy? Or the one who is ill, perhaps he has become well again, but is it enough for him to be well again or does he want more? This shows that man is always searching for something; he does not know what. And when he wants to find out what he is looking for, he thinks that it is that which he lacks in life. But if that which was lacking is given to him, then he wants something else. Well, this shows that it is not only greed or a defect of man; it shows a great mystery in his soul, and that mystery is that the soul of man has all that it needs, and yet it has lost it. The story of Adam’s exile tells us of this fact, that it is what man lacks in life that is meant by the exile of man.
What remedy did the teachers of humanity find at last? They discovered that in the depths of man was the universe itself, that man was a miniature in himself. And when we look at it more closely by throwing a spiritual light upon this question we shall find that the entire kingdom, rock, stone, diamond, or ruby, is all to be found in man. There is a kind of man who is just like a rock. There is the heart of man which is like diamond, and there is the heart which is just like a ruby. The more you will study this the more you will realize that everything that is to be found in the mineral kingdom you can also find in the mind of man. You will find the fire of sulphur in man’s mentality, and you will find the resonance of the metal of the gong or bell in the heart of man. You will find the quality of sandalwood in the character of man, and you will find the value of the pearl in his intelligence. The fruit and flower, whatever there is in the world, all is to be found in a man’s character. And chemically speaking, you will even find that in the body of man the essence of all things is to be found.
Also, when we think of the sun and the moon and of the stars and planets, we find that even the essence of these is to be found in man. It is this science which was known to the ancient people as alchemy, from which the word chemistry has derived. But the science of the ancient people was concerned with the understanding or the study of man, of his body and of his mind. All other science they studied came from this particular science called alchemy. They discovered that all that man searches for outwardly he can find inwardly through the knowledge of this science.
Of course, a person might ask if we then find all objects or things that we can get in the world in ourselves. I will say yes, even this is possible, if one has come in touch with one’s self. I can give you an example of a man whom I have known, and who was lacking a certain quality in his blood. The scientists and physicians had given up all hope to save him, for without this quality he could not get better. By giving him injections they sometimes made him feel better, but his sensation of improvement was only outward, and therefore it could not last. Then this man began studying and practising this science of which I am speaking, and after two or three years he found that that quality which had been lacking in this blood was now coming by itself.
Human nature is very much inclined towards what is called intoxication. The reason is that this intoxication gives him a certain relaxation and momentary comfort. But to have this comfort and relaxation he depends upon something from outside, and by doing so he becomes a slave to something which is outside of himself. I have seen many mystical or spiritual people, who practise this experience, and they call it ecstasy; it is however not a real ecstasy or intoxication, although it may seem to have the same effect, for a real intoxication does not take away one’s vitality and it never causes illness. On the contrary, it gives greater health and greater strength to a mystic who knows and practises this science.
The aim of this science is to come to the understanding that the whole universe is to be found in man. It is a science intended to make a person self-sufficient. For whatever man possesses—he may be called rich or considered comfortable, but it is only his possessions; it is not himself. It is the enriching of the self which is the real riches; and it is the development of this power in oneself which is the real, dependable, power. Besides, that which today is called intellectuality is mostly book-learning. A man goes on reading and reading for many years, and when his head has become tired he knows only what has been written in the books he has read. I have often seen people who had read a whole library, or who had written many books, but if you asked them one question about life they cannot answer it. It is not books that can teach us; it is life that is the greatest teacher; but when the mind is engaged with books then one is not open to read life.
After coming from India and going straight to New York, my greatest astonishment was that in every train, bus, or car, what I saw was, that in the hand of every man there was a newspaper. And what is a newspaper for, generally? To amuse the most ordinary man in the street. Once a reporter came to see me and asked me about my philosophical ideas. I explained some of them to him; but the next day, when I read his newspaper, I saw that everything that I had said was turned upside down. I was most disappointed. I went to the journalist and said, “What did I tell you, and what did you make of it?” He said, “If I would have written in the paper what you have said, nobody would understand it. We have to please the man in the street.” Now imagine, a professor, a doctor, a lawyer, a business man, all reading the same thing which the man in the street reads! This shows where man’s thought is today. What he calls education is only book-learning; but what we need today is learning from life, for if one wants to gain a thorough education it can only be gained by a keen observation of life.
To be continued…