If a man leaves the straight road and wanders into a jungle and then thorns prick him, he understands that he has gone off the track. Not being on the road, there are bound to be thorns. The man looks for the right track and gets back to the road; now no thorns prick him because there are none. When you hit against a wall and hurt your head, the wall is not punishing you. What has the wall to do with you? When you find the door you can go out easily without hurting your head.
It is just like this. The day you begin to recognize the law, you will have found the door. As long as you are oblivious of the rule you will keep knocking your head against the wall. How many times have you hurt yourself, how many wounds do you bear on your head? These are wounds you have gathered over millions of births that are oozing, festering, and causing endless pain. And you think someone is punishing you.
No one is punishing you; you are reaping your own harvest. Always bear in mind whenever you are unhappy you have gone against nature; whenever you are ill you are out of harmony with nature. Illness is a warning, a hint to you; as such it is helpful and for your own good. If there were no illness you would never know when you have left nature’s path, or when you have gone against the eternal arrangement of life. Then you will keep wandering with no way for you to come back. Suffering and sorrow turns you back to God. This is why you remember him when you are in pain and sorrow. In joy you never think of him.
The saint prays: “Oh Lord, let there always be a little suffering as a reminder, so that we remain constantly in prayer, always calling out to you. If there is no pain or sorrow, we shall have no excuse to call you. In happiness we forget you; we shall be lost!”
Suffering means just one thing: you have wavered in religion somewhere, somehow. Do not blame others, nor your fortune, nor be angry with God. Take it as a hint, a warning, and try to find out where you have slipped. Where have you gone against nature? Then try to fall in line with nature – for that is religion.
Nanak calls the second division the realm of knowledge. Religion exists. The day you recognize this you attain knowledge. Religion is – only you have closed your eyes to it. The sun is shining, only you have closed your eyes to it. The sun is shining, only you have closed your doors and windows; the lamp burns, but you stand with your back to it. It is pouring outside, but you are afraid to get wet, so you hide yourself in some dark cave. Religion is going on all the time but you have kept yourself away – somewhere far away.
To come back, to return and retrace your steps, is called Knowledge. Every man will have to come back. Man is capable of going far. The animals, the plants, the birds have no religion, for they do not have the ability to go outside of nature. Whatever they do is within nature’s law. They do not have the sense even to wander. Wandering requires a little intelligence. You need at least a little courage to go wrong; and you need some awareness to step off the path. This much man has, but then to come back to the path you need more awareness.