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GOD > Pathway to GOD > PART IV : SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES > Some aspects of experiences
12. Some aspects of experiences
(1) Blessed Feelings of God's Presence
I believe it to be possible for every human being to attain that blessed and indescribable state in which he feels within himself the presence of God to the exclusion of everything else.
I hold that complete realization is impossible in this embodied life. Nor is it necessary. A living immovable faith is all that is required for reaching the full spiritual height, attainable by human beings. God is not outside the earthly case of ours. Therefore exterior proof is not of much avail if at all. We must ever fail to perceive Him through the senses, because He is beyond them. We can feel Him, if we will but withdraw ourselves from the senses.
Seeing God face to face is to feel that He is enthroned in our hearts, even as a child feels a mother's affection without needing any demonstration. Does a child reason out the existence of a mother's love? Can he prove it to others ? He triumphantly declares "It is". So must it be with the existence of God. He defies reason. But He is experienced. Let us not reject the experience of Tulsidas, Chaitanya, Ramdas and a host of other spiritual teachers, even as we do not reject that of mundane teachers.
There is not a moment when I do not feel the presence of a Witness, whose eye misses nothing and with whom I strive to keep in tune.
If I did not feel the presence of God within me, I see so much of misery and disappointment every day that I would be a raving maniac and my destination would be the Hoogli.
(2) Vision of God
What is the vision of God? It does not mean seeing something with the physical eye or witnessing a miracle. Seeing God means realization of the fact that God abides in our hearts. The yearning must persist until one has attained this realization, and will vanish upon realization. Realization is the final fruit of constant effort. God is there in the tabernacle of the heart.
We cannot see God with these eyes. God is spirit without body and is, therefore, visible only to the eye of faith. If there are no evil thoughts troubling our mind and no fears but constant cheerfulness in our heart, that is an indication of God's presence in ourselves. Indeed He is there at all times but we fail to notice His presence as we have no faith, and thus undergo much suffering. When once we have cultivated real faith, calamities cease to upset us.
One who looks upon the universe as various facets of God, will certainly have the beatific vision. All our knowledge and spiritual exercises are fruitless, so long as we have not had this vision.
When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator, I try to see Him and His mercies in all these creations.
(3) His Light and Music
The fleeting glimpses that I have been able to have of Truth can hardly convey an idea of the indescribable Lustre of Truth, a million times more intense than that of the sun, we daily see with our eyes. In fact, what I have caught is only the faintest glimmer of that Mighty Effulgence. I feel the warmth and sunshine of His Presence.
The sun in heavens fills the whole universe with its life-giving warmth. But if one went too near it, it would consume him to ashes. Even so, it is with Godhead. We become Godlike to the extent we realize non-violence; but we never become wholly God.
My firm belief is that He reveals Himself daily to every human being but we shut our ears to the "still small voice". We shut our eyes to the Pillar of Fire in front of us. I realize His omnipresence.
The Divine! Music is incessantly going on within ourselves; but the loud senses drown the Delicate Music which is unlike and infinitely superior to any we can perceive or hear with our senses.
When this Inner Light corresponds with the promptings of the smaller Inner Voice, then that flash has a mark of inspiration.
(4) The Inner Voice
The Inner Voice defies description. But sometimes we do feel that we receive an inspiration from within. The time when I learnt to recognize it may be called my prayer time, say about 1906. I recollect it. For the rest, never did I feel at any time in my life that I had some new experience. My spiritual growth has been unnoticed like the growth of hair on our heads.
Nobody has to my knowledge questioned the possibility of the Inner Voice speaking to some and it is a gain to the world even if one person's claim to speak under the authority of the Inner Voice can be really sustained. Many may make the claim but not all will be able to substantiate it. But it cannot and ought not to be suppressed for the sake of preventing false claimants. There is no danger whatsoever, if many people could truthfully represent the Inner Voice. But unfortunately there is no remedy against hypocrisy. Virtue must not be suppressed because many will feign it. Men have always been found throughout the world claiming to speak for the Inner Voice. But no harm has yet overtaken the world through their short-lived activities. Before one is able to listen to that Voice, one has to go through a long and severe course of training, and when it is the Inner Voice that speaks, it is unmistakable. The world cannot successfully be fooled for all time. There is, therefore, no danger of anarchy setting in, because an humble man like me, will not be suppressed and will dare to claim the authority of the Inner Voice, when he believes that he has heard it.
Man is a fallible being. He can never be sure of his steps. What he may regard as an answer to prayer may be an echo of his pride. For infallible guidance man has to have a perfectly innocent heart incapable of evil. I can lay no such claim. Mine is a struggling, striving, erring, imperfect soul.
(5) Divine Messages
[There were two occasions when Gandhiji heard Divine- Messages. The first was in 1933 and the second in 1936. Both were connected with the problem of untouchability. Gandhiji tells us:]
The first question that has puzzled many is about the Voice of God. What was it? What did I hear? Was there any person I saw? If not, how was the Voice conveyed to me? These are pertinent questions.
I saw no form. I have never tried for it, for I have always believed God to be without form. But what I did hear was like a Voice from afar and yet quite near. It was as unmistakable as some human voice, definitely speaking to me, and irresistible. I was not dreaming at the time I heard the Voice. The hearing of the Voice was preceded by a terrific struggle within me. Suddenly the Voice came upon me. I listened, made certain that it was the Voice and the struggle ceased. I was calm. The determination was made accordingly, the date and the hour of the fast fixed. Joy came over me. This was between 11 and 12 midnight. I felt refreshed.
Gould I give any further evidence that it was truly the Voice I heard and that it was not an echo of my own heated imagination? I have no further evidence to convince the sceptic. He is free to say it was all self-delusion or hallucination. It may well have been so. I can offer no proof to the contrary. But I can say this that not the unanimous verdict of the whole world against me could shake me from the belief that what I heard was the true Voice of God. . . . For me the Voice was more real than my existence. (1933)
One experience stands quite distinctly in my memory. It relates to my twenty-one days' fast for the removal of untouchability. I had gone to sleep the night before without the slightest idea of having to declare a fast the next morning. At about 12 o'clock in the night something wakes me up suddenly and some voice—within or without, I cannot say—whispers, "Thou must go on fast." "How many days ?" I ask. It says: "Twenty-one days." "When does it begin?" I ask. It says: "You begin tomorrow." I went quietly off to sleep after making the decision. I did not tell anything to my companions until after the morning prayer. I placed into their hands a slip of paper announcing my decision and asking them not to argue with me as the decision was irrevocable. Well, the doctors thought that I would not survive the fast. But something within me said I would and that I must go forward. That kind of experience has never in my life happened before after that date.
This I know that all that glitters is not gold, and also that if a man has really heard the Voice of God, there is no sliding back, just as there is no forgetting it by one who had learnt to swim. The listening in must make people's lives daily richer and richer. (1936)
(6) An Ideal Sage
That man alone can be called truly religious or moral whose mind is not tainted with hatred or selfishness, and who leads a life of absolute purity and of disinterested service; and that man alone can be called truly wealthy or happy either. Only such man can do good to mankind; for Truth is the foundation of all that is good and great. To a true servant of humanity the question never arises as to the best form of service. When we have realized the majesty of the Moral Law, we shall see how little our happiness or unhappiness depends on health and success and fame and the like. As has been said by Emerson, 'even the pains and griefs of good men contribute to their happiness, while even the wealth and fame of bad men cause misery to themselves as well as to the world'. 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things shall be added unto you.'
He is a real devotee who is jealous of none, who is a fount of mercy, who is without egoism, who treats alike cold and heat, happiness and misery, who is ever forgiving, who is always contented, whose resolutions are firm, who has dedicated mind and soul to God, who causes no dread, who is not afraid of others, who is free from exultation, sorrow and fear, who is pure, who is versed in action and yet remains unaffected by it, who renounces all fruit, good or bad, who treats friend and foe alike, who is untouched by respect or disrespect, who is not puffed up with praise, who does not go under when people speak ill of him, who loves silence and solitude, who has disciplined reason.
The Yogin is therefore one who reflects all these attributes in his life, who, in the midst of raging storm and blinding spray, will keep his vision of the sun undisturbed, who will look difficulties and death in the face, who goes with the same mind to the shambles and the scaffold and whose mind is so serene that thunder rocks him to sleep.