A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 6th January 1984
Mankind through the ages has always separated spirit and matter; God and man, and God’s world. Now this is really what may be called our sinful state because in actuality there is only the unitary whole — what I have sometimes called the one total reality. It is extremely difficult for us human beings to free ourselves from this illusion of separateness. It is a tremendous illusion and it is there primarily because of our constitution and the way it functions. When I say constitution I do not mean merely the physical body but the entire psycho-physical organism. We have come to the point in our evolution where we have at least begun to realize that the organism, which goes by our name in the outer world, is not just a body but a psycho-physical organism. We have at least begun to realize the unity with the psyche. Others say that it is a mind-body organism, but I personally do not call it a mind-body organism but a psycho-physical organism. The difference is just this: mind in actuality is the archetypal form in which the primordial undifferentiated creative energy (which is the origin of everything) expresses itself. When it expresses itself as mind it brings to bear a formative influence. The origin is formless, shapeless, timeless, spaceless. It is minus everything that we human beings can talk of, that is what the origin is. But this origin is capable of functioning in terms of all that it holds in potentiality. It holds the totality in potentiality. So when this potentiality begins to come out, to emanate, to manifest, then we get (to a certain extent) what we may call separation. I say that we may call it that, I do not call it that, I say that every single thing is the totality. The atom is the total universe including everything we call spiritual or transcendent. Anything bigger than the atom or smaller than the atom is the same. Everything is contained in whatsoever we experience and observe as separate things.
Now I particularly do not wish anyone to believe or to think that, “Oh, Phiroz has said this and it must be true”. Not at all, far from it, that is how I happen to see things. There may be, and in fact I am sure there will be in future decades, somebody who will give a better presentation in thought and speech, but to me this is how it all appears — that is, this complete and absolute unity. The unitary whole is the unitary whole. As a whole, we can imagine that, but we cannot imagine how every single particular that composes the universe (the material particular, particularly) can be the total whole. But I say that that is how it is. One may feel this is a dogmatic statement. In a sense it is dogmatic, but it is not dogmatic in the way in which religions in the world are full of dogmas. Those dogmas exist like this: a statement is made and that is the final and absolute truth and there is no other! Now that is a horrible mistake, a mistake so horrible that it has been responsible for the dreadful wars and conflicts within a single religious fold, and in terms of one religion as against another. So I look at it in the way that I do, that everything is a unitary whole within the total unitary whole.
Now there are great advantages as far as one’s understanding and one’s living as a human being goes. We think in terms of a body which dies and something else which is permanent and continues forever. We call it a spark of the divine. We call it the immortal spirit or the soul. And we have also invented (in connection with this idea of the immortal soul) and built up all our ideas about reward and punishment, heaven and hell and so forth. That is all completely nonsensical. There is no such thing as a hereafter for the individual at the death of the body, because the body itself is this totality. That which is the transcendent embodied here (the transcendent materialized as the body and showing itself in bodily terms) belongs to the context of the infinite and the eternal.
Now all these religions have presented this idiotic idea of heaven and hell afterwards as a reward or punishment for what the psycho-physical organism did. You may ask me, “Well, what happens then when the body dies, the psycho-physical organism dies?” The body of course goes back to the universal stock of atoms. The embodied transcendence finds its release, and it is not the release of a particular separate embodied transcendence because, if it were, it would be legitimate to say, “That is my spirit, my soul”, but you cannot talk of anything which belongs to infinity and eternity in terms of “mine”. There is no cutting up of infinity and eternity. This is the mistake people have made throughout the ages and not seen it. They have also never seen this: how is it possible that a finite limited human being (who can exercise only so much energy because his energy is limited in doing good or in doing evil) can deserve or have, after the death of the body, an infinite, eternal heaven or hell? I say that it is only the idiot who thinks that way.
Consider this idea of my soul, it is a possessive phrase and it wants to possess the finite psycho-physical organism which perishes. It wants to possess that which is infinite and eternal and which cannot be split up. What I say is this: It is our way of cutting up the totality of the infinite, the totality of the eternal (which is only another word for the Absolute One). It just cannot be done. We cannot even cut up space and then put a label upon the portion we cut up and say, “This is my space”, “God, man, the universe, the devil, no entry here”, “Keep out, this is mine.” To think this sort of thing and to talk of my soul, therefore, or my spirit, is a complete absurdity.
The totality may say my John, my Mary, that is possible, that is conceivable. The totality can claim the particular because the particular is the perishable, the totality is the imperishable. How can this silly little perishable unit claim possession of totality? Perfectly ridiculous! Now think of the advantage of being free of delusions of this type. So much fear, so much anxiety, so many absurd ideas, beliefs, conceptions, they all fly out. You see the extraordinary degree of fear, which is instilled into the child right from the beginning of its life, if it is brought up with the conventional teachings of any of the religions, including the religions which talk about rebirth and karma and so forth. A million lives, twenty million lives, or whatever it is, you work out all that you have done until you reach Nirvana. You will never reach Nirvana, Nirvana is not a thing to reach. Nirvana means — this is the literal and true meaning — the extinction of greed, hate, fear, delusion, violence, partiality, and all that sort of thing in me myself. That is what Nirvana means. But if the individual does that and arrives at that state of complete purification, he experiences a permanent peace of mind which is ineffable. The peace that passeth understanding, as it is put in Christian writings, this is the bliss of Nirvana. In fact one should say that this is the bliss that is the result of Nirvana, the extinction of all that is evil in us. Now that is one great advantage — the elimination of all fear and anxiety. Also it will eliminate all sense of separateness from anybody and everybody. Think of the number of people whom we cannot stand. I myself know from my own experience, “ …Can’t stand so and so because there is something which is like this or like that”. And why can I not stand it? Because I do not like it. But the universe does not run according to my likes and dislikes. What am I shouting about? Isn’t it absurd? So you see, one is able to be in relationship, in right relationship, which means in harmonious relationship with anything and everybody, with anybody and everything.
Now, that right relationship, the realization of that right relationship, is one of the great purposes of our existence on this globe. What is the purpose of human existence? The realization of right relationship is one of the purposes of human existence, because if we can develop that way then we shall be a force in releasing a true human race. Humanity will be there and develop. Look at us today in the modern world after thousands and thousands of years, millions of years on the globe since we started. The hominids are descended from an ancestor who goes back several million years, and what is our state today? Look at the wars that take place constantly. Look at man in this state of fear and anxiety lest he be exterminated, and so forth. One may almost say it serves him right if he is such a foolish creature, but it is an unkind way of looking at him. Look at all the conflicts that take place, which after all are wars on a small scale, between members of a single nation. Look at all the strikes and the harm done to one another. Look at the actual murders that take place every day. There is not a day when people are not murdered ruthlessly, cruelly — little children being murdered and things like that. This country, which is supposed to be the most advanced country in the world, (and in certain respects it is, perhaps) this country produces people who murder children. Now that is not an indication that we are truly human. We are sub-human in a very great degree, in a degree which in so many cases turns to sheer inhumanity. So, we have to realize that if we can be free of all our illusions as regards ourselves, our life, our destiny, our fulfilment and all the rest of it, then there will be some sort of chance for real fulfilment, real harmony, real love, wisdom, beauty and goodness to flourish, otherwise there will not be.
Now there is another very, very important aspect of realizing that there is no hereafter for the individual as such. We have a natural instinct for survival, for physical survival, but that instinct for physical survival is associated with the psychological longing for some sort of separate personal existence. This longing for a separate personal existence is a complete and a total mistake. We say my mortal soul, my mortal spirit will go to heaven or hell. And I have tried to suggest how the idea of my mortal soul or spirit is a complete illusion. There is only the totality, the absolute, God, if you like to use that word. It is a simple word and that is its very great advantage, just a monosyllable. God (if you like) is embodied in everything and when those things, these perishable things, die, God is still God in his totality, in his absoluteness. He would have to punish himself if I, a wicked man, died! He would have to reward himself! And if you look at the ways in which the rewards and punishments have been described in all the religious texts of the world, they are only the products of a lunatic mind.
An example is in Zarathushtrianism. (Mind you, this was not taught by Zarathushtra, what he taught was this: that evil comes to the evil-doer, good and blessings come to the good-doer, that is all he said.) At least thirteen or fourteen centuries after his death people kept adding to the original teachings of Zarathushtrianism and then they gave a description of heaven and hell and of the bridge of judgement, as it is called, which connects this world with the other world. The bridge is supposed to start at the heights of the Elburz mountains, which are in the north of Iran, where Zarathushtrianism spread. It starts there and goes into the other world. If you have been very good you will sit on golden thrones and lovely carpets and comfortable cushions decorated with jewellery, and if you are a famous warrior you will have golden armour and all that kind of thing, and you will have wonderful food, the ambrosia which the angels eat, and if you are in the other place the exact opposite of all this will happen!
Now, I ask you, how can human beings be such idiots? How can you have material descriptions of an immaterial region? It is impossible. Look at Dante’s Inferno. Look at the frescoes on the walls of Buddhist temples, which I have myself seen, in Sri Lanka. I saw several of these frescoes, and all the religions seem to have fallen into this hellish pit with the most awful descriptions they can give. Look at Milton describing hell. Now, he was wonderfully poetic and it is great poetry, but it is absolute nonsense where hell or heaven is concerned. Look at Dante’s Inferno, his Purgatorio. His Paradiso is wonderful because he sort of reached the supreme heights as a mystic in the latter part of his life, and therefore was able to present things in this manner. The language is something absolutely unsurpassed, but apart from all that it is all sheer foolishness.
Now, you see, when we want a heaven or a hell afterwards we want it permanently. For the Buddhist and the Hindu, it will be a permanent Nirvana, a permanent state of bliss. Supposing you get a bit bored in heaven, you cannot get out of it — what are you going to do then? So I think the time has come, the age has dawned, when we can be free of these innumerable illusions and delusions which we have. You see, all these ideas and beliefs are forced upon us right from our childhood onwards. The tragedy is that those who are not concerned with any sort of religious education for their infants let them grow wild and completely self-centred. They do not teach them the simple moralities, of considerateness, of unselfishness, of patience, of forbearance. Is it any wonder that the world, the human race, today after three or four million years on the globe, is as wild and stupid and evil as it is? No wonder. But if we can be free of these illusions, see them as illusions and not demand anything of life, we can understand that the joy of living is in giving to life all the time, and without being obsessed by the idea, “I must give to life, I’m a good fellow, giving to life”, which is also perfectly stupid and self-centred. We can just be good because we cannot help being good and because we cannot avoid it. People will say, “Yes, but how can you do such a thing?” Admittedly it is extremely difficult on the one hand and it is very, very easy on the other hand. Supposing a schoolboy gets angry or wants to biff the other fellow and knock him down? We must help that child just to be quiet and look at his anger, look at what he is going to do, or trying to do. And after a while, if he will restrain himself from the evil act, he will find that psychical energy which wanted to do ill will just calm down.
Every storm on the earth comes to an end. However terrible the hurricane may be, it ends. It is true that lots of other storms follow, but it will not be true in the case of an intelligent human being. This is the way to begin cultivating intelligence, whether we are children helped by our parents and teachers and friends or whether we are adults. We can learn just to observe very carefully, and to observe means not merely to look at something which is happening as separate from yourself only. Of course the thing which is happening there is at a distance, but, as I am looking with my eyes, what is my brain doing? How, in what manner, is it talking back at what I am seeing? Or when I hear the news, what sort of feelings and emotions and thoughts as to what should be done arise? Just look at them, do not stop them, do not repress them, because then they will only be swept under the carpet, and it will make life even more difficult afterwards. But look at them quietly, steadily, keep on looking. If you feel rage, observe, “I am in a rage, yes, this is how it is working. This is what it is driving me to do.” Look at it and after a time you will find that the rage has disappeared. It will just be a little disturbance in the atmosphere and it has finished. It has not produced any positive effect. And you will understand evil thereby, “This is what I still am like, I am still like this, capable of rage, hate and so forth”. You know how Jesus said, “Watch, therefore, and pray. Watch”. He did not mean watch the traffic in Piccadilly Circus obviously, or even in Jerusalem! “Watch, watch this”.
This the inner world where all this disturbance and upheaval goes on all the time, non-stop, and all the good things also go on in this world. But our good is a relative good, it is not absolute good for the very simple reason that we are not conscious of that good completely. When we become conscious of kindness, completely and totally, you will find that every single thought and feeling, word and deed, will be kind. And it will be kind naturally, not because you say, “I ought to be kind”. This is the great point, you are naturally, then, human, the happy creator.
We say that God is love, God is the almighty, God is the creator of everything. We become Godlike. All this is for the well-being and the happiness of man. The great teachers taught what they taught for the sake of human beings. I said in one of our recent meetings that they were the real socialists of the world. They had a consciousness not of I and this fellow and that fellow, they had a consciousness which embraced everybody, us. You will find that there will take place this tremendous transformation, this transmutation, of the separate self-consciousness, I am I into the consciousness of us. And when that is the case then you will inevitably, naturally, spontaneously and invariably live, totally live, for the well-being of mankind, not of just this person or that person or this nation or that nation. Of course one can see that this is extremely difficult. One thing we must beware of is not to make it an ambition to become conscious in this way. Do not make it an ambition to become purified and perfect — the perfect and holy one. Watch a bud, how it, in little spurts, naturally and sweetly opens out. And the marvellous thing about the bud is that it does not know that it has become the flower. And this is the meaning of perfection.
You take a great artist. He paints a perfect, exquisite picture. He can look at it critically as if he were an outsider looking at it, but on the whole, if it is all right, he knows that it is. And that is all. Take a great pianist for instance. I have heard the world’s greatest pianists in the last sixty-two years. I have heard so many of them, and when you get the perfect artist, as he performs it is no longer him performing, there is perfect performance which involves the player and the instrument. I remember this particularly when I heard Paderewski in 1923, I think, when he gave a recital at the Queens Hall. He started very nervously, he always did, you could almost see his hand shaking as he started playing the piano. Then as he went on and got into his stride, he played perfectly, and at the end the applause demanded encore after encore, and he would come and play, and what I experienced was not Jan Paderewski, Polish pianist, it was something divine, absolutely divine, perfect. That was heaven!
Our heaven and hell are here, of our making. So, try and see if through 1984 we can be completely free of all our illusions, our beliefs, our convictions, “We are convinced this is so”. People might say to me, “Aren’t you convinced when you talk of primordial creative energies and so forth?” Yes and no. It can be put in a better form maybe, the absolute truth is the prerogative of God, not of me. That is how it is. So, try and work upon this and realize that freedom here and now. And in that will be your happiness, your fruition and your precious gift to mankind as a whole, that you were you.