WHY DO YOU SERVE?
Ommen, Holland, 1927
It was very good of you to have invited me to speak at your gathering and I am going to talk this evening about that which has been occupying your minds for the last three days -service. I will leave it to your judgment to decide whether I am a mystic or an occultist, because words tend to confuse the mind, and to make distinctions is invidious and leads to misjudgement and separates one person from another. To me there is neither occultist nor mystic, because all are the same, whether they be physically active in creating things around them, or mentally or emotionally active, or whether they retire from the world and dream and create through their dreams. So I am going to speak from the only point of view that I know, which is neither that of the mystic nor that of the occultist. I am not going to distinguish during my talk between either of them, because in my mind these distinctions do not exist.
Before one begins to create, either mentally, emotionally or physically, it is necessary to find out what is the purpose of creation, what is the purpose of production, what is the purpose of activity, what is the purpose of retirement. To me the purpose of all service, of all thought and feeling and activity, is the perfecting of mind, emotions and physical body, because, without the perfection of those three, without harmony between them, you cannot have the well-being of the whole. Hence it is necessary to establish whither we are going, what is the purpose of this existence with its struggles, joys and sorrows. To me, the whole purpose of life consists in the coming down and climbing up, the coming forth from the flame, the gradual development of the spark till it becomes again one with the flame. As the flame, so will all become, without distinction, whether you now call yourselves mystics or occultists. To me there are no separate paths, there is but one path. If you climb a mountain, at its base you will find hundreds of paths leading upwards, but as it gets steeper and nearer to the end there is but one solitary unique path. There may be many paths below, but when you are at a higher stage there is only one.
Now we must look at service -that which you have been discussing- from that one point of view, that is, from the highest, where there is only one path, which is the path of peace. Those who are interested, who are striving, who are working for that attainment, for that peace which shall come to the world, must look at all problems from that one point of view. Though I admit, as every thinking man must, that there are many temperaments, many types, yet these many types and temperaments only exist in the mind, they are not seen from the mountain top. Hence, if you divide too much, if you separate too much, there will be disunion, even though we are all working for the same end. If you go to India you will perceive that there are many temples, many shrines, many churches where men are all worshipping, all acknowledging the same God, but that when they leave the temple they will not look at each other, because of their many temperaments, their many types. In this way God is divided, as the fields of the earth are divided by human beings, with their hedges, with their narrow barriers. You divide God by these temperaments, by these types, and hence there is disunion.
You will tell me that I am not of your type, you will tell me that I am a mystic and you will tell another that he is an occultist. What is the difference? In what way does a mystic suffer more, or less, than an occultist? In no manner whatever are they different except in the degree of sorrow. They may have sorrows of different kinds, but they all have sorrow, and hence they are all ordinary human beings, and my contention is that there should be no division. If you are wise, you will not separate people by their temperaments, nor catalogue them.
If you recognize that there is a fundamental unity, that all human beings are essentially the same, essentially united, though they may have different skins and different minds, then there will be a real desire to help, a real desire to serve. I have been told so often that I am a mystic, that my path is shorter and more difficult than that of another. My path is as your path; we shall all meet at the end, whether you are an occultist or a mystic or an active individual, we shall all arrive together at the mountain top, where we shall forget those narrow divisions and subdivisions of the mind.
Those who would help must have that intense burning to give the knowledge that comes from understanding. Though you be very learned -well-versed in books- you will not understand if you think that by these complicated theories alone, without that burning desire, you are going to help the world. Every person who has found for himself certain happiness, desires to share it with others.
So I would look on activity from two distinct points of view. First there is the activity which is born out of knowledge and wisdom and then there is the activity which is born out of ordinary, physical common sense. Here you are all concerned with helping the world; you have been talking about it for the last ten days, in a most excited, agitated fashion sometimes. What exactly do you mean by "helping the world"? Who wants you to help the world? Are you so very superior to me or to the ordinary person in the outer world? In what way is your knowledge lasting and certain? Is that which you give born out of certainty, out of your own understanding? When you are certain of your own knowledge, you can consider helping others. Most of your knowledge is second-hand; most of your theories are second-hand; most of your wisdom you have gathered in books; most of your devotion is narrow and limited. Hence that help which you give will be transient, because it is not of your own creation, born of your own certainty. That which you give will not help truly, unless you can give it from within, from your own understanding and knowledge of life. Most of you are not in touch with the world, though you may live in the world. I want you to be certain of your own desires, certain of your own knowledge, certain of your own purpose.
In order to find out what is your own, you must question, you must doubt. I went on doubting and questioning till I was certain of my own knowledge, till I could say that I knew, till I was positive. Now whether anyone doubts, or scoffs, or feels himself intellectually superior, makes no difference; that which I have found is my own, that which I have gathered through the past centuries, through the past millennia, that which I possess... is of my own creation. I am made perfect in my own knowledge, in the knowledge that counts, in the knowledge that has value, that guides, that protects, that gives strength.
If you have such a knowledge -acquired by your selves- then your service to humanity will be of value. You can give real help only when you are above receiving help. I do not say you should not help others while you are searching, but the purpose of all should be to gain that wisdom, that knowledge, so as to help truly, so as to give certainty to those people who are in doubt, who are suffering or dwelling in passing joys. Hence those who desire to help, either materially on the physical plane, or by creating ideas in the mental -they are fundamentally the same- must be certain of their own knowledge, must possess that wisdom which gives certainty, must have drunk at the fountain of wisdom. Otherwise, however much you may desire to help, you will only feed the transient bodies. Which is of greater value, to feed the body or to ennoble the soul? Both are essential, but you must not begin at the wrong end. You must begin at the ennobling of the mind and the heart, the purifying of the soul, and then whatever you do, whatever your actions, whatever your thoughts, whatever your feelings, they will be in right proportion to your knowledge; not grotesque, not out of place. Hence you must use discrimination, to distinguish between that which is lasting and that which is passing, that which is permanent and that which is fleeting. When you are able to distinguish and choose between the false and the real, your service will be of help.
You are all looking forward to the time when you will be in the sixth root-race, but in waiting for the sixth root-race do not miss the beautiful day. You are all waiting to acquire knowledge from people who have authority, whoever they be; you are waiting to be fed and while you are waiting the summer is over and the darkness sets in and you are still waiting for the sixth root-race. It is because you have very little knowledge of the present life that you want to escape it and so you look forward to something in the future, something beautiful, pleasant, ecstatic and wonderful. It is what you are now that counts; leave the sixth root-race alone. It is what you create at the present moment that has value. If you sow corn do you expect an oak tree to grow? If you sow wheat do you expect to have pomegranates? If you sow grapes do you expect apples? What you do now will produce the very results that you desire. It is within your own power to attain happiness and liberation, no one can give them to you; they are not offered to you on a platter which you can refuse, they lie within yourself, and if you are great, if you have the capacity to escape from the limitations of time, then you will be even beyond the sixth root-race.
So I should like to come back again to what I said at the beginning, to that activity of which the Western world is so full. You can be a great mystic and yet be active emotionally and mentally, though perhaps it is more difficult to be so on the physical plane. You will find perhaps if you go to India that, because of the climate, they are more active emotionally and mentally than physically. Here it is very cold and you have to be active in order to keep alive, but that activity does not mean that you are solving the world's problems, perhaps you are adding to those problems, adding another barrier.
So friends, if you really desire to help, as you must desire, you must not only be active, you must also contemplate, you must seek solitude, you must have dreams. Why is there so much trouble in the world between the Orient and the Occident? It is because in the Orient they think the physical does not exist, the physical is a maya, it passes away and a new life comes into being; whereas here the physical is the only thing of value, so you say: "Let us make merry while this life lasts", and you forget that there is the other side to the picture. So when the two clash -the physical on one side and the emotional and mental on the other- there is always trouble, there is always misunderstanding; but when you can combine the two, when you can make the world perfect in the knowledge of the two, then there is happiness. And those people who have the desire to serve, who have this burning desire to help, must understand who it is that they are helping and why they are helping. To help really and truly and lastingly you must have within you eternal peace, eternal certainty and liberation. Without the vision, without the knowledge of that for which you are working, whatever you do, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, will have no value. That is why those of you who belong to organisations, who are well-learned, in books, must be careful that your knowledge does not become merely theoretical, without the background of experience and certainty, for without that certainty beware how you help people. If you can allay sorrow, if you can give balm to the aching wounds, then you will not care to what types and to what stages of evolution you may belong. All that you will desire will be to help, because you possess certainty and because you have that knowledge whose function in the world is to give wisdom.
So friends, you are like everyone else in the world though you may call yourselves by different names, for you are still in the valley of sorrow, and you can only attain that clear light of happiness which is within you by your own struggling, by your own authority, not by the authority of another. By your own knowledge, by your own sorrow you can find the way; and when you are certain, when you are positive, when you are sure in your own wisdom, then what you give will be of great help, will be of lasting value, will aid and give happiness to those that have it not.
WHY DO YOU SERVE?
Ommen, Holland, 1927
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