The Glory of the Universe

The universe, O Hrishekesha, is justly delighted with thy glory and is filled with zeal for thy service.

Bhagavad-Gita, XI, 36

In these words addressed by Arjuna to Krishna lies the secret of true service. No amount of mental reasoning or calculation of recompense will produce zeal for real service. Service to be of value must be of and from the heart. It is the heart that yearns for and responds to beauty, to orderliness, which appreciates the completeness of anything, and aspires to realize that which is full of wonder, that which brings joy and delight.

Such yearning fills the heart; there is no place for anything else. This is the secret. Nothing else seems important but the service of that which fills the heart with delight, the passing on to others of the glory perceived. This is fulfilment. The drop returns to the ocean and becomes an indistinguishable part of the ocean. The heart of man and the heart of the universe beat as one; "the universe grows I." We arrive at the position where, as Plotinus said, we "fold ourselves about divinity, and have no part void of contact with him."

How long can this vision last? Until the "dust of our illusions" covers it, blurs it, and the eyes no longer bring to the heart the universal glory but perceive instead its dusty broken fragments. These broken fragments must unite again into one perfect whole. To achieve this union the "dust" that makes them appear separate to our sight must be removed. This "dust" comes from our own heart which, losing the vision of the whole, tries to split up that whole by thinking and feeling in terms of isolation. Then no longer "the universe grows I"; instead, one begins to think in terms of "I and the universe."

Only by thinking constantly of the oneness showing through the seemingly separate manifestations of life can our heart continue to be filled with delight. We must pierce through the colours and the beauty of the sunset to that which shows itself in those colours and beauty. We must pierce through the tree and the flower and see both as representing the glory of the universe of which they are a part. We must pierce through the perfection of the human form and see the glory of the One, overcast, maybe, but there all the same if we would but look for it. We must see through the animal forms and perceive the wonder of Nature as it expresses the glory of the One. We must see through the plants, the earth, the minerals, and learn to appreciate the wonder of the fact that all these go into the making of man. We must see through religions and philosophies until we sense that their purpose is to turn man away from the "dust" that covers his true being and make him perceive the glory of the heart filled with universal love or compassion, which is the expression of the "desire" that first arose in the One Life.

Whether we think of this One Life in abstract terms or as embodied in the form of Krishna, we must repeat constantly the words of Sanjaya at the close of the Bhagavad-Gita if we would gain, as a permanent part of our consciousness, the vision of the Divine Form as including all forms:

As I again and again remember, O mighty king, this wonderful sacred dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I am delighted again and again. Also, as I recall to my memory the wonderful form of Hari, the Lord, my astonishment is great, O king, and I rejoice again and again. Wherever Krishna, the supreme Master of devotion, and wherever the son of Pritha, the mighty archer, may be, there with certainty are fortune, victory, wealth, and wise action; this is my belief.

Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbour.

—Arnold Toynbee

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