The maturity of the soul may be pictured in the same way as a little girl, coming towards her youth, no longer giving importance and attention to her dolls; her sentiment, her desire is changed from that idea. It does not mean that she did not have love before, she had it; it does not mean that she did not have sentiment before, she had it. But here with the maturity a consciousness has developed; the development of that consciousness has made all the toys and dolls and all different things to which she used to pay such attention, to not matter.

          Is this maturity dependent upon a certain age? No. Does it depend upon certain environments? Yes. It is just like a fruit put in the warmth ripening, so environments help the maturity of the soul. Nevertheless the ripening of the fruit on the tree is ideal, for that is the place for the fruit to ripen. And all different attempts made in order to make the soul ripen, they all help, but they are like a fruit being put in some warmth, it is no longer on the tree.

          There are people who think that by renouncing the world one will arrive at the maturity of the soul. There are others who think that by suffering all kinds of torture, by inflicting torments and suffering upon oneself, one will arrive at the maturity of the soul. Often friends came to me and asked me if they had some kind of suffering, some kind of torture, whether they would arrive at the maturity of the soul. I told them that if they wanted to torture themselves I would tell them a thousand things, or they may themselves find out a thousand things, but as far as I know, there is no necessity. If one wants to torture oneself for the sake of torture one may do so, but not for spiritual perfection.

          As the ripening of the fruit is in the course of nature, so it is in the course of nature that the soul should mature, and there is no use being disappointed, being disheartened about oneself and about those near and dear to us, worrying over the question, why my husband, my wife, my father, my mother, does not look at spiritual things in the same way as I do. In the first place no man, however great or pious, has the right to judge another soul. Who knows behind what action, what appearance, what speech, what manner, what is hidden? No one knows it. And when a person begins to know what is hidden behind the human soul, he, in spite of all deluding appearances, will have a respect, a respect for mankind, thinking that in the depth of his soul there is He Whom one worships.

          There is a story told in the East, that a wife was very much troubled, thinking that her husband was not religious enough, and the reason was that despite all the goodness that the man had, she had never heard him say the Name of the Deity. She continually prayed and prayed for a long, long time, and after many years it happened that she heard her husband utter the Name of the Deity while asleep, when changing sides. The simple wife, she was full of joy. In the morning as the husband awoke she began to prepare all sorts of ceremonies and everything in the house, celebrating the day that her desire had arrived. After the whole celebration the husband asked, “My good wife will you tell me what it is all about?” But she said, “It is too sacred and secret to say.” He said, “No, you must tell me.” She said, “I have been in a kind of illusion, and now I was disillusioned. For I was most unhappy knowing you, my husband, to be a good man and yet I thought you godless. But last night I happened to hear you utter the name of the Deity while changing sides, and this has made me most happy.” “Did I?” said the husband, “Ah!” and he was finished. That was the last breath he took on the earth. He had no desire for it to be known that he loved the Beloved Whom he had concealed in his deepest heart.

Who knows what is a person’s inner religion, his inner conception? No one knows it. And many true souls one will find whose heart is in a kind of shell, a hard closed shell, no one knowing that the very essence of God is in their heart. The outer shell of the heart is so hard that no one can understand it. Therefore a Sufi from Persia said, “I went among the pious and the godly and was so often deceived, and I went among those looked down upon by others and I found among them real souls.” It is easy to blame, it is easy to look down upon someone, but it is difficult to really know how deep is the soul of a person.

          No doubt there are signs of maturity, but who knows, and how does one know them? The signs of maturity are like the subtlety there is between the youthful lovers. When the soul is matured a passion has wakened in it, a passion for what? - A passion for the incomprehensible, for that which is the longing of every soul. And what is that passion like? That passion is like Gulliver’s travel. The life on the earth is just like Gulliver’s travels. All souls, all persons, all seem to be of a different world, they all seem to be of a different size, they all seem to be different from what they claim to be. Before him there are many little children, before him there appear many drunken people drunken souls. There is a saying of the Prophet that there will appear in the hereafter, on the Day of Judgement, a being in the form of a witch, and man will be frightened at the sight of this witch, and will cry out, “O lord, what a horrible sight is this! Who is this?” And he will receive the answer from the angels, that this is the same world, the world which all your life attracted you, whom you have worshipped, whom you have adored, and have esteemed and valued most and desired. This is the same world that is before you. All people’s desires, whether wealth, rank, possession, position, honour or pleasure, all these fade away when the maturity of the soul comes. All claims of love, I am your brother, or your sister, or your son, or your daughter, all these claims mean very little to the mature soul.  A mature soul does not need to wait for the day in the hereafter to see the world  in the form of a witch, he sees it now. No sooner has the soul matured than he sees the unreality of the world which man has always considered real, and all such words that one uses in the language every day, all these words become meaningless, they have no meaning as soon as the soul has matured. All distinctions and differences, such as those of sect and creed and community, and all different sections, they all mean little to the soul who has awakened. And the experience of the mature soul is like the experience of the man who looked at a play performed on the stage at night, and in the morning he saw the same stage in the sun and saw all the palaces and gardens and all actors, that they were unreal.

When a person has arrived at this stage, this maturity, what happens? It happens in the same way as a mature person, a grown-up person, either takes the right way or the wrong way. There are three aspects of the reaction it makes upon a person. There is one reaction such that it makes a person say in answer to every claim of love and attention and respect, “Oh no, no. I don’t believe you, I have had enough. I understand what your claims are. I don’t belong to you. I won’t listen.” All that attracts him he thinks is a temptation, telling it to go away from him., wanting to be alone.  And in this he becomes more and more indifferent to the world, and becomes isolated in the crowd. He feels solitary. Either he goes to the cave of the mountain or to the forest. He retires from the world, he lives the life of an ascetic, at war with the world, at peace with God.

There is another reaction. In this reaction the man who understands the unreality of all things, becomes more sympathetic to his fellow men. It is that man who out of sympathy sacrifices his love for solitude, his love for being exclusive, and goes in the crowd and stands amidst those who do not understand him, but he continually tries to understand them, from morning till evening. And the more he goes on in this path the more he develops love. He mourns over the unreality, over the falsehood of life, but at the same time he is there, he is in the midst of it. Only his work is to help those who may be disappointed at the result of every little expectation they had in their love and devotion, as for every soul every disappointment, every heartbreak is a surprise, is a shock, something suddenly comes upon them. For him it is continually so, it is not new, it is the nature of life. He stands by the side of the disappointed ones, he comforts them, he strengthens them. He sees, for instance, in the realm of religion, if he happens to be among those who have a form, who have a certain belief, a dogma, he may be above it, but he will stand with them in that particular form, that dogma. He does not consider that he is different, above them, no, he stands with them. If he happens to be in a business, in some industry, in a worldly affair, although he has not in his view any monetary affair, any profit in it, but at the same time in order to keep harmony, he stands with them. He will sacrifice his life in this way, and he enjoys doing all things and caring nothing for it.

There is a manner to this, the manner of an actor who acts on the stage. If he is made a king he is not very proud of his kingship, if he is made a servant, he is not impressed by that, for he knows and understands that in his robe of a king or of a servant, neither am I a king nor am I a servant, I am myself. And it is such souls really who come to save the world. They are as the elder brothers of humanity, who help the younger brothers. To them there is no impression of that position, that title, that spiritual grade. They are one with all and they take part in the pain and joy of all.

But then there is a third reaction upon the soul, and that soul reacts by thinking that if all that I touch, all that I see and all that I perceive is unreal, then I must find out in whatever way I can, what is real. This one is a warrior for he has a battle before him to fight. And what is this battle? This battle is that he is going to seek the truth, just like a person swimming in the water, making his way. But every step that he advances in the sea, the waves of the sea coming in his face, push him back, and at every effort he makes in going forward the bellows come to push him back and this is a continual struggle for the seeker after the truth. Imagine, the industrial and business and domestic life apart, even things that might seem to be covering the truth, even in such things the seeker may be deluded, for there is a very important thing that the seeker has to consider.  As Christ said, “I am the truth and I am the way.” That shows that there are two things, there is the truth, and there is the way. The way may lead a person and the way may become a puzzle for a person. It is how careful one has to be that even though the way seems to lead to the truth, even in that way he may be puzzled. For in reality life is a puzzle, a continual puzzle, and it is the love of the puzzle that man seems to have, and therefore he goes into this puzzle. And even a seeker after truth has in his nature to go into the puzzle first. For instance, if a man of truth calls the seeker, who has the love of the puzzle and tells him, here is the truth, he would say, “O, this is something unheard of. Truth at the first step, how is it possible? It must be a thousand years before I can arrive at it. One life is not sufficient, a thousand lives I must live in order to realise the truth.” But verily the lover of the puzzle, for him even a thousand lives are not enough. Besides every man is not ready to accept the bare truth, he is not accustomed to it. On hearing the truth, he says, “It is too simple. I want something which I cannot understand.”

In point of fact certainly it is simple; it is man who makes it difficult for himself, because all other aspects of knowledge one has to get from outside, while the truth is something which is within man himself. It is something which is nearest to us, we imagine to be farthest from us, it is something which is within we imagine to be without, it is something which is knowledge itself we want to acquire. The seeker therefore has a continual struggle, struggle with himself, struggle with others, and struggle with life. And always the end result is that the one who has journeyed finds in the end that I have journeyed because it was my destiny to journey, but in the end I found out that it was the starting point which was my final goal.