THE LOTUS (India)
If it had not been for his white turban and loin cloth, you would never have seen Sudeva, for his body was the same color as the copper sands. In fact, everything seemed to be copper color; even the sky looked like .a copper bowl. Across the barren waste, a patch of black could be seen where a clump of trees silhouetted themselves against the skies and shaded a water hole. And toward this Sudeva moved. Further on could be seen the domes of a while marble palace, glistening in the sunshine with a dazzling whiteness. Everything was silent save for an occasional rustle of the sands as some lizard scurried away from the path of Sudeva.
Sudeva had just been talking with his Master about reflection and had been sent away to a quiet spot to gain the Truth of his master's teachings. Already he had learned that all knowledge of real worth came to one when alone. He might learn the letters of a word, from a teacher, but the true meaning would come to him when he took the letters and formed them into the word which he himself could understand. His master had told him that man could only convey the spirit of a word or letter. Everybody has a different picture of the same word. Take for instance the word "rose"---to one it might be red, to another pink, and to still another it might be multicolored; it might be full blown or a newly opening bud. It was so with everything, and this is why the Master was teaching him the futility of argument and the value of true concentration. "In quietness and peace shall be thy strength." No one could have quietness and peace as long as he was in the midst of an argument about what peace and quietness meant. Quietness and peace had to be felt more than to be talked about, yes, more than they had to be thought about, for a man could say a thousand times "peace, peace," and be in the midst of confusion. Peace might be suggested to the mind by much repetition, but not the lasting peace that passeth all understanding. That was a higher process than mere thought. It was a thing that had to be felt and experienced.
At first when his Master told him There was a higher thing than thought, called "recognition," Sudeva was almost, hopeless, and yet at odd times in his life he had come to realize that most of the really worth while things that had come to him, had arrived more by a process of recognition that they were so, than by trying to make them so by his thought.
The Master did not discourage the idea of thought, but made it clear that there was a sort of mental action which could only be placed in the category of mis-thinking, and then there was ignorant thinking. All sickness and unhappiness came into existence by the process of this mis-thinking; that was why it could be moved out by right thinking; and now his Master had gone one step further and said that the Thinker of the thoughts of the universe must have fully recognized the thing before it was even thought. And long ago Sudeva had learned that this Thinker of the thought, or rather this Recognizer of the universe was infinite and everywhere present. There could not be more than all.
One thing that Sudeva knew, from his experience in the world, was that most of the inhabitants were decidedly unhappy, no matter .what their material slate might be. They were tired looking among the husks for a few grains of substance, and gradually one by one they were turning their attention to a memory of something better which they had once known and enjoyed in the dim distant past.
Sometimes every bit of tangible hold on life seemed to slip through his fingers, for the Master talked about thinking at the same time he said there was a higher state called recognition. Every time Sudeva came to the conclusion this teaching was too high for him, the Master brought home some illustration that made it clear to him that he was already using this recognition process in his everyday life.
There were many things that came to Sudeva which could not be shaped into words. He had tried many times to tell of an experience in a dream, which he knew perfectly well, but when it came to putting even the slightest semblance of it .in words or thoughts it evaded him and he was left with only the memory of a memory of something, but also with the feeling of a reality which was more or less permanent.
It was perfectly clear to Sudeva that the things which gave the most trouble in life were those which were constantly in thought-a sick body, a lack of money, the loss of a friend. No one ever thought of his body when it was manifesting perfect health, or his funds when he had abundance, or the making or holding of friends when he had plenty of them. No one would question whether he were or were not loved by another, unless he thought he was not.
Things that are real are so obvious that to speak of them is almost profane. Real love is more expressed than spoken. Results of trying to force ones-self to love another were practically nil in the old way of life. Anyone could recognize friendship and love without difficulty, just as anyone could recognize the existence of perfect health when perfectly unconscious of his body.
But how was one to be able to "recognize" realities instead of trying to create them by thinking? It was just this question that Sudeva had asked, and the Master told him to go across the desert to the water hole under the clump of trees.
At first when Sudeva left the Master, he hesitated as to whether he would do as he was bidden. After all, was this teaching only imagination? Had he not better return to the city of his birth and live the life that so-many lived, satisfying himself by going occasionally to the temple, and listening to the priests in their soiled robes made of orange cotton stuff, drone out the mere words of Buddha from their palm leaf books? Would it not be easier to stop for a moment before the grotesque figures of Buddha as he lay in his cheap, gaudy, colored robes, or sat with his eyes closed? A few flowers and coppers would be all that were necessary to obtain a favor, or at least to discharge his religious obligation. Why not leave it to the priests with their shiny heads to trouble about understanding the symbols? Why should he bother? If this fashion of worship did not suit, he could pay his tribute to the temple of the sacred cow.
But somehow when he thought of kneeling to a cow, even though she did stand in a temple which was beautiful in its ornate workmanship of white marble, and even though perhaps she was only a symbol, something in, him called out---a voice that would not cease, a something that would not be quieted: "I will overturn and overturn." Many might understand and accept the symbols and thereby gain their peace, but to others it was nothing but the merest pretense.
It was always pleasant in the temple grounds in the shade of the dark trees, and nearly always quiet; but occasionally some noisy tourist party would parley with the self appointed doorkeepers of the temple. They always had flowers which they forced into the hands of the curious whites that came to peep at the ancient customs of other lands. Sudeva knew that these doorkeepers would give the flowers with a blessing, and then later demand pay for the gift, and if not forthcoming would curse those they had blessed, yet they professed to be doing it for the love of Buddha.
The priests were not concerned with this bit of by-play. They had students to instruct and ceremonies to perform.
Perhaps these priests, after all, had the Truth hidden away under the necessity of satisfying the ignorant with rites and ceremonies. Many things had Sudeva learned from them. He knew that the fakir who cut .a boy into pieces or made him climb a rope which ascended out of sight, only used the power of hypnotism upon his spectators, and now he had learned from his new master, that all pictures of evil and inharmony were produced by the same process. It was a case of hypnotizing oneself by a belief in two powers, and yet every man has seen these pictures fade out when their nothingness was understood. It is necessary to de-hypnotize oneself, as it were, from accepting appearances as real.
"Judge not from appearances, but judge righteous judgment" was the teaching of the white man's Master, called Jesus, the Christ. It was sound teaching, for who could judge actually from appearances? The roadway did not narrow down to a point in the distance; the sky did not touch the earth at the horizon; reflections of tall trees upon water did not go down into the water although they seemed to do so---they were only on the surface.
As Sudeva looked up, he was a bit surprised to find that while he was busy thinking, his feet had carried him in the direction. the Master had instructed him to go. Again the "feel" within that he had "recognized" that the Master was right---and he had acted unconsciously on this "feel."
After all, Jesus had made it clear that no man by taking thought could add one cubit to his stature, and if this were so, surely he need not take thought about changing other things. Surely Jesus must have recognized the unchanging nature of the Finished Kingdom here and now.
One might fear that he would do nothing and get nowhere with this idea, but there was also the promise of the Voice: "This is the way, walk thou in it---turn to the right or left," and there was the pillar of cloud and of fire. It did seem that everything was right when man began to see it that way, and that nothing could be lacking if man followed the teaching of Truth, which-was one of recognition that God, having finished his universe and called it "very good," would not be moved to change anything because of the thought of man. Still, thought played its part in aligning man with this fact.
Thought seemed to be like the tiny hard shell which fell away from the seed that was dropped into the earth the moment the recognition. of life came. And so as Sudeva went along he found that when thought gave way, the vision came. No man has ever brought a vision about by willing it into expression, and the visions that people had were usually different from anything of which they had actually thought. Did Joan of Arc picture herself leading an army of men to victory? That little peasant girl working in her tiny garden hardly knew what a soldier was, let alone an army.
The Truth of all this quickened Sudeva's footsteps; a feel "it is so" seemed to catch him up as it were, and suddenly he stood at the edge of the water.
The water hole was fed by a tiny stream in which grew a clump of lotus. Their soft green leaves coated with silver dust swayed slightly in the shade of the overhanging trees. Suspended in the air about the lovely white blossoms a brilliant blue-green insect buzzed its gossamer wings. The water in the pool lay still and clear catching the reflection of the lotus and the trees. One lovely flower had fallen over into the pool and spread its creamy leaves upon the surface of the water. For a moment Sudeva could almost see it turn to-bronze and gold with a brazen image of Kwannon sitting in the midst of it, his thousand hands offering gifts of all sorts. Not a bad idea, that thousand-handed god, as far as symbology was concerned---the great Giver of all was thousand-handed and held everything ready for acceptance in his great storehouse. God had infinite ways and means-infinite hands and channels to pour out his blessings on the "sons and daughters."
Sudeva sat still, and everything seemed to link up into a perfect chain of understanding. For the first time he began to understand why there were so many symbols of Truth in the world.
If he looked through a symbol he would see what it stood for, and get at a fundamental truth. There was always the surface and then that which was below the surface, just as he could look through the reflection of the pool and see the bottom of it, and al will he could return to the reflection which seemed to shut out anything else. His Master had, told him that Jesus was able to look through every appearance of things and see the reality back of it, and that just beyond the reflection was the real. Just beyond the reflection of sick beliefs stood a perfect spiritual man, well and strong; back of the reflection of a withered arm was the perfect arm; and through the belief of blind eyes were the eyes of Spirit. In recognizing this he could call forth to the real man: "Stretch forth your arm; receive your sight; rise up and walk"; and see the spiritual idea come through the reflection. When anything disturbed the surface which held the reflection, it automatically disappeared; yet it did not go anywhere, because it was nothing in' the beginning. So was it with sickness and inharmony---they never went anywhere when they disappeared for they were only reflections of beliefs.
Always there must be an original with which to make a reflection. The reflections of the lotus looked as real as the flowers themselves, and yet the flowers gave nothing of themselves to the reflection; they put forth no effort to be 'reflected, but they could be reflected millions of times on as many surfaces without being lessened one iota. This was a, clear illustration of how "all that the Father hath is mine," and yet every Son can claim and possess the same thing. The real is reflected into the visible world, but gives nothing of its reality to the reflection. Man (body) is made in the image and likeness of God. There are millions of men, and yet God is indivisible; hence we see that a reflection (body) is not a repository for a little bit of the God substance, else God would be separated from his manifestation. It is just this belief in separation that causes us to experience our difficulties.
It is when we begin to recognize that intelligence is not in the symbol that we get back to the oneness of God, and see the possibility of harmony being established here and now; begin to see the perfect and true situation through the imperfect belief; and we are able to call forth, through recognition that "it is so." Small wonder then that Jesus commanded: "Judge not from appearances."
We soon learn that there is no actual substance in the symbol called money. It may go up or down in value, yes, may even become wholly worthless,; according to the value placed upon it or taken from it. Foods that were at one time thought to be poisonous are now eaten with relish. Medicines that were one time said to be efficacious are now considered worthless.
People try to get a specific thing because of the belief of limitation. We imagine that there are only a few of a certain thing and that we must have a particular one. Some try vainly to apply this to people, not realizing that there are millions of reflections expressing the same qualities that are so attractive. Much trouble is caused by insisting on a certain set thing, but this is all destroyed when man comes to recognize the presence of that which is doing die reflecting.
All this came over Sudeva as he sat and watched the surface of the pool with its reflection. Suddenly a bird flew down and skimmed the water; instantly the reflection was gone, but that which caused the reflection was unchanged; and as soon as the water was still again the reflection returned in all its perfection.
Sudeva had even experienced this in life. He recalled his mad desire for a certain book, only to be told it was out of print and there were no more to be had, nor would there ever be any more. He had borrowed a copy to read, and even had been guilty of trying to bring about a law which would make him the possessor of that particular book, but all to no end, when suddenly he had declared, "I am already in possession of the book I wish-there is nothing lacking in the Perfect Kingdom." He returned the book to its owner with thanks, satisfied that having done all, he would stand on the recognition of all. Almost as if by magic news carne to him that an edition of this book which had been lost sight of, had come to light and that he might not only have one but a dozen or a hundred if he wished. What a joy it was to know that when he gave up his idea of limitation, holding on to a particular reflection, he found the infinite supply was equal to the infinite demand, and that nothing is, was or ever shall be impossible to God.
Sudeva arose, filled with a new glory. He realized now that the real understanding had come, that he had found Him because he had "felt" after Him---had actually come to the place where he could understand what Jesus meant when he said "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand here and now. Through the hell of belief and appearances, he saw his perfect kingdom waiting recognition, not to be thought out into existence, but to be recognized, accepted and lived.
There was rest and peace, not sluggish inactivity, in his soul. The Master was right, "In quietness and peace shall be your strength." In quietness is the possibility of seeing the perfect reflection of what one has recognized as true and eternal. In quietness and peace shall the "still small voice" speak. Where does the still small voice come from?---from thinking? This could not be, because what it said had been heretofore unthought of. Where did all things come from, but from the one eternal, changeless source of the All Good, which was willing and ready to cast forth its reflection in whatsoever mirror was ready to receive it? No more trying to make the reflection appear. Recognition of God and his Finished Kingdom would be all that was necessary.
With one thing lacking or desired, heaven would be incomplete, hence no heaven, and this was the authority for knowing that every desire is fulfilled before it presents itself. In fact, the desire is but the urge of the thing pressing toward you for expression, awaiting recognition. "Before they ask I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will give it unto them," was then a statement of the Finished Kingdom here and now, and was the essence of the doctrine of recognition.
Walter C. Lanyon