Search for God
From Discourses by Meher Baba, Sheriar Press, South Carolina, USA 1987.
Grades of belief in God
Most persons do not even suspect the real existence of God, and naturally, they are not very keen about God. There are others who, through the influence of tradition, belong to some faith or another and acquire the belief in the existence of God from their surroundings. Their faith is just strong enough to keep them bound to certain rituals, ceremonies, or beliefs; and it rarely possesses that vitality which is necessary to bring about a radical change in one's entire attitude toward life. There are still others who are philosophically minded and have inclination to believe the existence of God, either because of their own speculations or because of assertions of others. For them, God is at best an hypothesis or an intellectual idea. Such lukewarm belief in itself can never be sufficient incentive for launching upon a serious search for God. Such persons do not know of God from personal knowledge, and for them God is not an object of intense desire or endeavor.
True Aspirant Seeks Direct Knowledge of Spiritual Realities
A true aspirant is not content with knowledge of spiritual realities based on hearsay, nor is he satisfied with pure inferential knowledge. For him the spiritual realities are not the object of idle thinking, and the acceptance or rejection of these realities is fraught with momentous implications for his inner life. Hence he naturally insists upon direct knowledge about them. This may be illustrated from an occurrence in the life of a great sage. One day he was discussing spiritual topics with a friend who was quite advanced upon the path. While they were engaged in this discussion, their attention was diverted to a dead body that was being carried past them. "This is the end of the body but not of the soul," the friend remarked. "Have you seen the soul?" asked the sage. "No," the friend answered. And the sage remained skeptical about the soul, for he insisted upon personal knowledge.
Aspirant has open mind
Although the aspirant cannot be content with secondhand knowledge or mere guesses, he does not close his mind to the possibility that there could be spiritual realities that have not come within his experience. In other words, he is conscious of the limitations of his own individual experience and refrains from making it the measure of all possibilities. He has an open mind toward all things that are beyond the scope of his experience. While he does not accept them on hearsay, he also does not rush to den them. The limitation of experience often tends to restrict the scope of imagination; and thus a person comes to believe that there are no realities other than those which may have come within the ken of his past experience. But usually some incidents or happenings in his own life will cause him to break out of his dogmatic enclosure and become really open-minded.
This stage of transition may be illustrated by a story from the life of the same sage, who happened to be a prince. Some days after the incident mentioned above,, as he was riding on horseback, he came upon a pedestrian advancing towards him. Since the way of the horse was blocked by the presence of the pedestrian, the sage arrogantly ordered the man out of the way. The pedestrian refused, so the sage dismounted and the following conversation was held : "Who are you?" asked the pedestrian. " I am the prince," answered the sage. "But I do not know you as the prince," said the pedestrian and continued, " I shall accept you as the prince only when I know you to be a prince and not otherwise." This encounter awakened the sage to the fact that God may exist even though he did not know Him from personal experience, just as he was actually a prince although the pedestrian did know it from his own personal experience. Now that his mind was open to the possible existence of God, he set himself to the task of deciding that question in earnest.
Ordinary Person indifferent to existence of God
God either exists or does not exist. If He exists, the search for Him is amply justified. And if He does not exist, there is nothing to lose by seeking Him. However, man does not usually turn to a real search for God as a matter of voluntary and joyous enterprise. He has to be driven to this search by disillusionment with those worldly things that allure him and from which he cannot he deflect his mind. The ordinary person is completely engrossed in his activities in the gross world. He lives through its manifold experiences of joys and sorrows without even suspecting the existence of the deeper reality. He tries as best he can to have pleasures of the senses and to avoid different kinds of suffering.
Occasions that provoke thought
"Eat, drink and be merry" is the ordinary individual's philosophy. But in spite of his unceasing search for pleasure, he cannot altogether avoid suffering; and even when he succeeds in having pleasures of the senses, he is often satiated by them. While he thus goes through the daily round of varied experiences, there often arises some occasion when he begins to ask himself, "What is the point of all this ?" Such a thought may arise from some untoward happening for which the person is not mentally prepared. It may be the frustration of some confident expectation, or it may be an important change in his situation demanding radical readjustment and giving up of established way of thought and conduct. Usually such an occasion arises from the frustration of some deep craving. If a deep craving happens to meet an impasse so that there is not the slightest chance of it ever being fulfilled, the psyche receives such a shock that it can no longer accept the type of life that may have been hitherto accepted without question.
Unharnessed power of desperateness is destructive
Under such circumstances, a person ma be driven to utter desperation. And if the tremendous power generated by this disturbance of the psyche remains uncontrolled and undirected, it may even lead to serious mental derangement or attempts to commit suicide. Such a catastrophe overcomes those in whom desperateness is allied with thoughtlessness, for they allow impulse to have free and full sway. The desperateness of a thoughtful person under similar circumstances is altogether different in results because the energy it releases is intelligently harnessed and directed toward a purpose. In the moment of such divine desperateness, a person makes the important decision to discover and realize the aim of life. There thus comes into existence a true search for lasting values. Henceforth the burning query that refuses to be silenced is " What does it all lead to ?"
Divine desperateness the beginning of spiritual awakening
When the mental energy of an individual is thus centered upon discovering the goal of life, he uses the power of desperateness creatively. He can no longer be content with the fleeting things of this life, and he is thoroughly skeptical about the ordinary values he had so far accepted without doubt. His only desire is to find the Truth at any cost, and he does not rest satisfied with anything short of the Truth. Divine desperateness is the beginning of spiritual awakening because it gives rise to the aspiration for God-realization. In the moment of divine desperateness, when everything seems to give way, the person decides to take any risk to ascertain what of significance to his life lies behind the veil.
God or nothing
All the usual solaces have failed him, but at the same time his inner voice refuses to reconcile itself completely with the position that life is devoid of all meaning. If he does not posit some hidden reality he has not hitherto known, then there is nothing at all worth living for. For him there are only two alternatives: either there is a hidden spiritual Reality which prophets have described as God, or everything is meaningless. The second alternative is utterly unacceptable to the whole of man's personality, so he must try the first alternative. Thus the individual turns to God when he is at bay in wordily affairs.
Reevaluation of experiences in light of posited Reality
Now since there is no direct access to this hidden reality that he posits, he inspects his usual experiences for possible avenues leading to a significant beyond. Thus, he goes back to his usual experiences with the purpose of gathering some light on the path. This involves looking at everything from a new angle and entails a reinterpretation of each experience. He now not only has experience but tries to fathom its spiritual significance. He is not merely concerned with what it is but with what it means in the march toward this hidden goal of existence. All this careful reevaluation of experience results in his gaining insight that could not come to him before he began his new search. Reevaluation of an experience amounts to a new bit of wisdom, and each addition to spiritual wisdom necessarily brings about a modification of one's general attitude toward life. So the purely intellectual search for God - or the hidden spiritual Reality - has its reverberations in the practical life of a person. His life now becomes a real experiment with perceived spiritual values.
Finding God is coming to one's Self
The more he carries on this intelligent and purposive experimentation with his own life, the deeper becomes his comprehension of the true meaning of life. Until finally he discovers that as he is undergoing a complete transformation of his being, he is arriving at a true perception of the real significance of life as it is. With a clear and tranquil vision of the real nature and worth of life he realizes that God, whom he has been so desperately seeking, is no stranger nor hidden and foreign entity. He is Reality itself and not a hypothesis. He is Reality seen with undimmed vision - that very Reality of which he is a part and in which he has had his entire being and with which he is infact identical.
Thus, though he begins by seeking something utterly new, he really arrives at a new understanding of something ancient. The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination where a person gains what he did not have or becomes what he was not. It consists in the dissipation of his ignorance concerning himself and life, and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins with spiritual awakening. The finding of God is a coming to one's own Self.
Avatar Meher Baba Bhopal Centre
[ Home ]