A talk given to a group of mureeds in June, 1924:
What do I expect from my mureeds? I expect a right attitude towards that motive for which they have taken this journey in the spiritual path. What is the right attitude? In the first place to be clear as to their spiritual motive. It is not promised to my mureeds that they will be made wonderful people, that they will work wonders, that they will perform miracles, that they will make prophecies, that they will show phenomena, that they will cast out devils. It is not meant that they should see colors or lights, or phantoms, fairies or houris, in order to become spiritual. It is not wished for that my mureeds will become so learned that they will dispute and argue, and gain a success in arguments and disputes. What we mean by spiritual attainment is that my mureeds will try to make themselves best fitted to serve their fellowman. If I, at the end of my life, could claim this, I will be most satisfied, and the purpose of my life will be fulfilled. And if I will see this motive, in whatever degree, being fulfilled in the lives of my mureeds, it is this which will bring me satisfaction.
You may ask, “How are we to make ourselves fitted for service? Do you give us any studies for it, do you give us some exercises?” The answer is, yes; but even the studies and exercises will not make an effect if we ourselves shall not try to make our attitude towards our fellowman right. By all occult studies, by mystical attainments, by the knowledge of philosophy, by piety and by religion, what we arrive at is only one thing, and that is to be best suited to serve our fellowman. And if we do not attain this, then nothing else has been profitable. We have accomplished nothing.
Buddha has taught us, as the main principle of all religion, harmlessness. But how is that harmlessness to be learnt? By considering the feeling of all those we come in contact with in our everyday life. If you will express yourself thoughtlessly, many will take it quietly; and one may go on being thoughtless, not knowing that one has caused anyone hurt or harm. I have not advised you yet to go and work in an antivivisection league, to prevent cruelty to animals, for there is so much to be done for human beings. If we cannot consider our brother, we will not consider our neighbour. If we will not be conscientious with regard to our fellow-creature, we shall not be able to consider our duties towards the lower creation. How often unconsciously we hurt and harm one another, by just a little thoughtlessness, a lack of consideration. If we have no consideration for others, with all our knowledge, goodness, and piety, we cannot prove spiritual. The struggle of life is such that it gets on a person’s nerves; and, without meaning to, he moves carelessly, not knowing if his movements cause a hurt or harm to those who come in his way. I will repeat the saying in the Gayan, “My bare feet, walk gently that the thorns may make no complaint, saying: We were trampled on thoughtlessly.”
If you will receive any harm or hurt from others, know that is the nature of life; you cannot expect better. You must be thankful that it is not more; it could have been worse. Take it quietly, and veil it. It is not for those who walk in the spiritual path to take revenge, to return evil for evil. If that is done, then what difference is there between the spiritual and material? It is true that all the pleasure and pain that comes to man, it all comes from God, but very often it comes through the medium-ship of man. Will you, therefore, be the instrument for punishment? No. You will be the means of reward. In this way you will be different from others. It is this quality in my mureeds which will bring me satisfaction. Furthermore if evil is returned for evil, it only increases evil more and more in the world. Therefore to return good for evil is the only thing that one must try to do.
A question arises how evil must be answered. The answer is, with forgiveness. One might ask, “If the evil was greater than the forgiveness we have, then how shall we answer it?” Answer it with tolerance. But if one thought that the evil was greater still than the tolerance one has, how shall one answer it? The reply will be, “Answer it with indifference.” Life is an opportunity, and every moment that is spent thoughtlessly in causing hurt or harm, moved by passing emotions and impulses, is lost; it will never come again. The best way of taking advantage of this opportunity that we have of living under the sun, is to do our best to bring pleasure to another in thanksgiving.