COMPASSION

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COMPASSION

Meher Baba dictated for Irene Conybeare's book, reflecting on three points of view – the material, spiritual and divine.

From the material point of view it is a fallacy to imagine that Easterners are less compassionate than Westerners; for a lack of the expression does not necessarily mean a lack of the spirit of compassion. Such questions are relative. In the East there are not many organized relief centers, but that can be explained on economic grounds. One also has to remember that the privations and sufferings which the masses in India have to undergo naturally blunt the edge of compassion. One cannot expect a man in agony to notice the agony of others.

In the majority of Eastern countries, the people rarely get one good meal every day and are mostly illiterate so it is hardly reasonable to expect them to share the same degree of concern for animals as Westerners do, who are in all respects comparatively far better off individually and collectively.

It should also be understood that the majority of stray animals wandering about are not always "stray," but belong to people who live in a state of perpetual semi-starvation and in improvised shelters. So how can they afford to keep their animals better fed?

The reason why unwanted animals are not put to death, as is the recognized custom in the West, is due to religious beliefs. For Hinduism teaches that the evolution of consciousness of the soul from the stone stage upwards, throughout the various forms, including those of the snake, dog, cow and monkey, permits of a reverence for life which the West lacks. In fact, the latter forms of animals mentioned are worshipped to this day, for they are important signposts on the evolutionary path.

The general ignorance and superstition prevailing all over India undoubtedly contributes to the general apathy and apparent callousness of the people. But then again, as mentioned, it is the economic situation more than the distortion of religious values that is responsible for the great cleavage in practice between East and West on the matter of consideration for animal and human kind.

But it is due to the influence of the spiritual Masters and to Hindu and Buddhist doctrines that those who follow these religions cannot even dream of any organized destruction of animals, even on the grounds of compassion, because they have been taught that interference with life is equivalent to violation or taking the law of karma into their own hands. In spite of the misery and want in India, some villages and towns try to maintain Panjrappols (Rest Homes for Dumb Friends), which is quite remarkable when we consider the difficulties these poor people must have to be able to afford any relief.

It is a curious paradox that, though the average Western man may be described as more humane than his Eastern brother, nevertheless the West has been the cause of untold suffering, as a result of the recent world wars in the struggle for political and economic supremacy in a manner quite contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But even on that account the Eastern man would be justified in thinking that the Western man is by nature more inhuman than his Eastern brother. We might say that it is all "wheels within wheels."

Spiritually speaking, according to the laws of evolution and karma, the more an individual suffers, the more he benefits spiritually, for this is a means of helping him to emancipate himself from the bondage of Maya. Pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, are but illusory experiences, like pleasant and unpleasant dreams. To be awakened from a dream, it is sometimes necessary to have some disturbing factor. For example, in order to wake up from a happy dream, an experience of unhappiness in the dream may be helpful. Similarly in life, the opposite experiences of pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, compassion and cruelty are all essential factors in the development of consciousness, which is eventually transmuted into God-Consciousness.

The absence of equilibrium between the opposite experiences such as compassion and cruelty, happiness and misery is the cardinal factor which by itself sustains and promotes duality throughout the domain of illusion. Right from the first glimmer of consciousness in stone form to full consciousness in human form, the individualized soul has never once experienced a complete balancing of the opposite experiences of duality. But when the balance is arrived at, the soul recognizes its own divinity and the individual becomes Self-Realized or God-Conscious.

It is due to the lack of balance or equilibrium that happiness is felt in our life in illusion, and this is due to its contrast with our misery. For if we experience no misery, we will be unaware of happiness. Therefore, in a sense, when experiencing misery we are experiencing happiness at its lowest degree.

If we did not have these contrasts then there would be no progress and we would continue for ever in our life of illusion. For example, if a dog always had happy and comfortable lives, he would not progress in the field of evolution through ever higher forms of life.

Our progress in our evolutionary life from stone to human form needs opposite experiences and this will ever be so; otherwise, the divine plan of life could never be fulfilled. If there were no divine purpose, no upward path to Self-Realization, then the consciousness of the human soul would oscillate eternally from one opposite experience to another and there would be no eventual conquest of Maya, which has to be transcended before man can realize his eventual union with God, Who is forever eternally all-merciful and compassionate. The real Masters and saints know consciously that everywhere at all times everything manifests God's infinite mercy and compassion in action under all circumstances.

The question of opposite reactions of cruelty and compassion, like all other experiences in this life of illusion, or Maya, can best be explained or understood by a study of the essential working of the law of cause and effect. For this law is the outward expression of the underlying force of the individual's sanskaras [his or her mind's impressions], which have been born out of opposite experiences, or reactions to life. Even when one feels compassion for others or finds a lack of compassion in others, this is due to one's own sanskaras expressed in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

eternally all-merciful and compassionate. The real Masters and saints know consciously that everywhere at all times everything manifests God's infinite mercy and compassion in action under all circumstances.

The question of opposite reactions of cruelty and compassion, like all other experiences in this life of illusion, or Maya, can best be explained or understood by a study of the essential working of the law of cause and effect. For this law is the outward expression of the underlying force of the individual's sanskaras [his or her mind's impressions], which have been born out of opposite experiences, or reactions to life. Even when one feels compassion for others or finds a lack of compassion in others, this is due to one's own sanskaras expressed in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

Like everything else within the domain of illusion, even the sense of right and wrong depends upon the relative sanskaras of the individuals in question. Therefore, the East and the West can both be equally right and equally wrong about each other. For example, when a man considers himself to be right, it is due to the subconscious propulsion of his own sanskaras. Although he feels the other man is wrong, he fails to understand that this feeling is due to the influence of his own sanskaras; these compel him to justify himself at the expense of the other man. Rightly or wrongly, as the case may be, he will insist that the other man is mistaken.

Although we cannot realize it, it is our sanskaras which influence our reasoning and understanding to the extent of shaping our character and our intellectual outlook. Only a Master of Consciousness is able to fathom the reasons [sanskaric makeup] for our illogical, contradictory and unreasonable behavior at times, whereas we remain, as always, puzzled and distressed over the contrariness of human nature, which seems to have assumed alarming proportions as we survey the world's troubles.

It is a curious irony of fate that, in a country like India, where we find special temples and places of pilgrimage dedicated to animals, and where that destructive animal, the monkey, remains a pampered and protected creature (which apparently under no circumstances may be killed), we at the same time find our distant cousins are being, for commercial profit, exported in large quantities to the West, for the purpose of medical research which is being done, not for gain, but for the alleviation of human suffering. This curious contradiction of human behavior, although we cannot see the reasons involved, is due to the action and reaction of the law of cause and effect, born of individual and collective sanskaras.

From the standpoint of divinity [in the embodiment of a living Perfect Master], a lack of the expression of compassion is real compassion, though by the uninitiated, such compassion may not be understood or appreciated.

For example, Sai Baba of Shirdi, who was the Qutub-e-Irshad (head of the five living Perfect Masters and the spiritual hierarchy), would often take all the money of his devotees who came to see him and those who served him. At the end of the day Sai Baba would distribute the money among those who were not always really worthy, since they had only come to see him in the hope of gaining some fleeting material benefit.

One man named Burra, (1) who was then living at Shirdi, would often receive as much as a hundred rupees daily, so he was able to live well and sumptuously with his large family; whereas Gustadji Hansotia, who was one of Sai Baba's chief devotees and who served him devotedly day and night, was treated in a very different manner. Gustadji was deprived directly and indirectly of money, and even had to go without food and the normal amenities of daily life, such as clothing and blankets. In fact, Gustadji was not treated with the slightest consideration by Sai Baba.

But there is always a purpose, from the standpoint of divinity, and Gustadji benefited greatly, though not in the way the ordinary outsider might have expected. Gustadji was eventually directed by Sai Baba to Upasni Maharaj. Then later Upasni Maharaj handed him over to Meher Baba, with the command never to leave him, the Avatar. Thus Gustadji had the inestimable privilege of serving three Perfect Masters.

When we sometimes hear of the strange doings of the Masters, we must always remember that they are "above the law" and cannot be judged by ordinary human standards, for whatever they may or may not do, they are working for the ultimate good of not only the individual, but for the spiritual benefit of the world at large. So we must never presume to judge or criticize, for these great spiritual beings have the spiritual viewpoint of God, which is always inaccessible to our limited minds.

Although we recognize the fact that a code of ethics provides us with the necessary standards of conduct and behavior, and acts as a line of demarcation between the opposites, such as good and bad, right and wrong; at the same time we should appreciate that, from the spiritual aspect, ethics are but stepping-stones toward the eventual unfoldment of our spiritual consciousness. For ultimately we have to transcend the limitations of our mind with its constant play of opposites and the duality of our transitory and illusory world.

Only when we have reached the divine state of Liberation or Enlightenment can we recognize the Truth which has hitherto been hidden within us. For it is our ignorance of the Infinite Self within and without that constitutes Maya, or cosmic illusion. Only when our false ego has been transformed into God-Consciousness can we know the wisdom and glory of the Masters and that all life is One in the realm of Truth.

(1)  For a description of this man named Burra or Barra Baba and his special disciple-relationship with Sai Baba of Shirdi, refer to Volume One of this Biography, page 78. Either spelling is acceptable.

Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 15, pp. 5197 - 5202.