Chapter 10: The Lure of the Infinite
There are millions of underworlds
And infinite skies above.
The Vedas say millions have searched and searched,
Only to end in exhaustion.
The holy books claim eighteen thousand worlds
But only one power behind all creation.
If anything could be written we would keep the account,
But all estimates are destructible.
Nanak says, He is the greatest of the great.
He alone can know Himself.
Those who worship praise Him,
But have no remembrance of Him,
As rivers and streams know not the ocean
Into whose vastness they fall.
Even kings and emperors of great domains,
Who possess enormous treasures,
Cannot compare with the lowly ant
With remembrance of God in his heart.
An incident occurred at a research institute where they were investigating various types of poison. The institute became infested with rats, their number increasing every day. Every possible method was used to kill them, but to no avail. Whatever poison they set out the rats ate merrily. The rats had learned to feed and thrive on poisons, because that was all that was readily available to them there, and they had become immune.
Then someone suggested the age-old method of setting traps, as for mice. So traps were brought and fitted with pieces of bread and cheese, but the rats ignored them completely! So accustomed to poison were they that they did not like anything else. Not a single rat was caught.
Finally someone came up with the obvious solution and covered the bread and cheese bait with poison. The rats immediately were caught in the traps.
This strange sounding story is nevertheless true. It actually happened at a research institute. Man’s state is almost the same. He has become so habituated to words that even if silence is offered to him, he has to seek respite in words - just as the rats went only for the food covered by poison.
When the infinite is to be explained we need the help of pitiful words. Even when man is to be led into the void, the base language of words must be used. When explaining the ocean, one can speak only of the drop, and discussion of a drop cannot even hint at the ocean. It is not possible. Look at the mighty ocean, and look at the insignificant, tiny drop. Similarly, where are words compared to the void, where the intelligence of a lowly human being and where the immeasurable expanse? There is space and space, there are worlds and underworlds, all without end.
But these have to be measured in terms of men’s feeble understanding, because man has become so addicted to the mind, and it is very difficult to break out of any addiction. Truth is not so far away; only our habits are the hindrance. Truth is very near, even closer than one’s own heartbeat, closer than one’s very breath. God is closer to you than your own self. But we have woven an intricate web of habits, and because of them it is difficult for us to see. The mind is nothing but a collection of habits. Therefore all saints have striven to eradicate the mind, to bring about the state of no-mind.