I wished, when I came to Ahmedabad to visit this Ashram once more, in which I spent a happy time with you a little over two years ago when Mahatmaji was with you. I know how very deeply you are all feeling his absence from your midst and how you would like me to speak to you before I leave. I will try to do so very briefly.
You are all living in this Ashram a life of
self-sacrifice. I do hope that you will be able to realize the significance of
that discipline which you are undergoing. All training, which takes the form of
self-renunciation, has its positive aspect. It is nothing negative. Only,
unfortunately, human beings make the mistake and get infatuated with the
idea of suffering for its own sake and as an end in itself. That idea is not true.
What, then, is the true meaning of sacrifice?
It means that for human beings, the life of the body is not the best life, but
the life of the soul. The material world which we share with the animals, is not
the only world. We have higher needs, because we have a deeper and a higher life
hidden within us. That hidden life is immortal. Our physical life has its
immortality. Only those human beings, who can get rid of the sheath of self, can
reach that immortality. They must lose their separate self in order to realize
the infinite. They must become Dwija twice born; born of the spirit; born into the light.
They who realize the Infinite in themselves become immortal.
They realize the life that knows no loss; and
it is the privilege of human beings to be born again into the sphere of
immortality. Just as the chick breaks through the shell and comes out into the
light, so men must break through the shell of self and come out into the
world of spiritual freedom.
Since men have always felt dimly that the
material world is not final, therefore, they have sought all kinds of discipline
in order to rid themselves of its thraldom and bondage. All the different
religions of the world have this one meaning. They express this one aspiration.
They point the way to be born again, even through the portals of
death into the world of spirit, the sphere of immortality.
All forms of self-sacrifice, if they are true,
must have this ultimate goal, the goal of freedom from the self into the realm
of the unselfish. We must all of us have our tapasya, if we would truly get rid
of self. That is the meaning of the prayer of our sages:
Lead me out of the world of unreality into the kingdom of the truth.
Lead me out of the world of darkness into the light.
Lead me out of the world of death to immortality.
This prayer, which we all must utter, must be
supported by the life of self-sacrifice. You are in this Ashram, going through
that discipline of sacrifice. You are striving through tapasya to reach that
Amrita Loka that kingdom of immortality.
I am sure, you all feel that the spirit of Mahatmaji is working among you. What is the true meaning of the great word
Mahatma? It implies the emancipated soul that realizes itself in all souls. It
means the life that is no longer confined within itself, but finds its
larger soul of Atman, of Spirit. Then in such realization it becomes Mahatma.
For it includes all spirits in itself.
That spirit is working among you, that Great
spirit. You have to realize that it is not merely deprivation of comfort
that has any value. There is no true value in sacrifice, in tapasya except
the spiritual value. For it is said in the Upanishad:
This is divinity of universal activity who is
the great soul, who constantly dwells in the hearts of all people. They who know
him with the heart and with the mind, which is sure in its perception, become immortal.
The meaning is this. The great universal
spirit, the Mahatma, whose activities are for the world, is not for any
confinement, or limitation, but for the universe. Therefore this Deva himself is
called Vishvakarma. He is the Infinite Soul, whose activities are for the whole.
He dwells in the hearts of all. The Infinite Soul, whose activities are boundless
and whose dwelling place is in the hearts of all human beings, he is the Mahatma.
The Upanishad text goes on to say:
He dwells in the hearts of all men.
The meaning is that they who know him with
heart and mind shall attain immortality.
To know him with the heart and mind is to be
Vishvakarma, to dedicate one's activities to the service of the Universal Man;
to be one with Mahatma, the Great Soul, to realize one's spiritual unity with all beings.
Our discipline of self-sacrifice is to attain
this goal, it is to be emancipated from the confined life of self and to attain
the true freedom of the spiritual life. It is for this great end that men are
required to live the life of sacrifice.
In our scriptures it has been wonderfully said
that Brahma began this world with sacrifice. Thus, he created the universe.
Therefore, self-sacrifice in this higher sense, is creative. When men live this
life of self-sacrifice, they come thereby into touch with the Infinite whose
great sacrifice is this world. When we have this spirit within, we are one with
the Vishvakarma, we are united with the Mahatma; we become his partners, his
fellow-workers, in the boundless work of creation.