‘The truth shall make you free.’ John 8:32
Pilate asked Christ the question: ‘What is truth?’ Here is one profound philosophical question which is easy to ask, but difficult to answer. Truth in itself is something specific, real, and unchangeable – it is eternal Light, eternal Wisdom, eternal Love, eternal Justice, and eternal Life. But, on the other hand, this very definition requires defining more precisely what Truth is. I am going to dwell on the thought: ‘It is Truth that gives us Freedom’. Freedom is an aspiration of the human mind, heart, Spirit; Freedom is Life; and Life’s purpose is to seek Truth. And seek it in a way different from the one Tolstoy relates in his book ‘My Conversion’.
In this book, Tolstoy recounts one of his dreams, which is a clear illustration of his state of the mind before his conversion. ‘I am, says Tolstoy (I am giving a brief account of the story he tells), asleep on a bed. This bed is neither comfortable nor agreeable; I turn over and over to feel what this bed is like, what material it is made of – whether it is made of wood or iron; and I notice, at one point, that the bars of the bed on the sides of my head and feet are starting to fall down, one by one, till finally only one is left under my waist; and at that very moment I hear a voice shouting: ‘Do not dare to move either your head or feet – keep your balance!’, and I see beneath myself a huge pillar and a profound abyss.
Very often, you may come upon philosophers who are lying on their backs and from that position are studying the Divine World; however, in the end, only one bar is left under their backs and God says to them: ‘Keep your balance!’ The moment you articulate the word balance, the catastrophe is evaded. When you are studying the Truth, you have to stand upright on your feet instead of lying on your back – only the dead lie in that posture. I use the word dead in its figurative meaning, to describe someone who is narrow-minded, one who doesn’t think. It is better if you turn to the East, so that when Christ approaches, you are able to meet Him upright. Many are those who do as Tolstoy does, but Christ says to them: ‘Balance!’
‘The Truth shall make you Free’. Truth is real; it is Life itself, do not think it’s something imaginary. It is a world with a beauty of its own; with colours, tones, music of its own; it is a world which has always existed and will always exist. Christ says: ‘Whoever understands this world, these laws and forces, he shall be free’ and also ‘To this end was I born … that I should bear witness unto the truth.’1, and then, Pilate asked him ‘What is truth?’ People of today have strange notions of God. God is Truth; and every time during the day when you feel joy and happiness and start singing, then at this very moment Truth – the living God – is within you; whenever you think Good and do a good deed – God is within you. Truth means progress, an impulse; and when Christ says ‘I am the Way’ He means that a man should make progress and never stand in one place like a tethered animal. In this world, everything is strictly mathematically defined and there is nothing unforeseen or happening by chance; your life, your hardships, pain, tortures – they are all foreseen; and they bear a sign - plus or minus.
Truth contains all four mathematical rules: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. One who has plenty can add; one who is in short supply can add, too, but using a different kind of addition. You have, for example, two thousand leva2, but with a sign minus or plus, i.e. borrowed or lent - that’s what will determine the correlation; if you say ‘I have got a two thousand year’, and put in a minus, I understand that in the past you have lived a vicious life for two thousand years; while if you say ‘two thousand years plus’ I understand that you have lived a life virtuous and therefore you are in truth a rich man.
Christ says: ‘The truth shall make you free.’ Freedom is a necessity for both man and woman; it is the foundation of the entire social order. Everyone strives for Freedom and has the right to live in Freedom; however a person shall be given this Freedom to the extent they are able to make use of the goods Truth provides. The sufferings a people undergo are as essential to the entity, as they are to each and every individual. Tortures and torments are man’s invention; for example, your husband is paid his salary, it is fifty leva, and the money is hardly enough to see you through the month: ‘Besides’, you say, ‘Easter is coming, how are we to afford Easter cake? Sugar and eggs are expensive, we have no money to buy new shoes, and a new hat will cost fifty to seventy leva. How I wish I had one hundred and fifty or two hundred leva instead.” To make peace, leave the Easter cake for next year; there is not only one Easter in this world, is there? – ‘No, I want the money now!’ - Well, but God had provided only fifty leva, so be content with what you have been given, do not ruin the Easter holiday. In that respect, the wife should grant freedom to her husband and the husband should grant freedom to his wife, and down with Easter bread! That is what Freedom is about; and Truth, too. That is the reason why the Scripture says: “Give thanks for all you have been given!” and do not think that God has not granted you riches, because He has; and you all are rich men; but you have the task to uncover your riches.
In our perception of the Divine principles, we have to have inner Freedom, and not to be preconceived. Truth does not depend on either your or my conceptions; no matter whether you think in one way or another; regardless of whether you are approaching or drifting away from it; you will never change its relations; it will always exist, as it is, in this world, which is very rationally created. The Light we have originates from the Light of Truth. Love comes from above; from the Truth; and the moment the Truth triumphs over the world, it shall make you free – as Love unyieldingly aims at Truth. Beauty is another manifestation of Truth; what Beauty is in relation to man, is what Truth is in relation to the Divine World – it is the one and only face of this world, which is a world of harmony and beauty. That is why when you ask: ‘Why are we unhappy?’ Truth answers: ‘Because you are ignorant, because you transgress the law.’
I remember how, once upon a time in Varna3, Gagauz4 girls used to fall in love with Bulgarian young men and wanted to marry Bulgarian men, because, as they said, Greek men were drunkards, while Bulgarian men resembled handsome and good-natured little donkeys. Yet, it is by no means an understanding of the Truth; because Truth is a science teaching what, in truth, should be the reciprocal mindful relations between men. A person cannot be free unless they bring their mind, their heart into balance and in harmony with Truth. Only in this way, will they be able to join the Divine world.
Many are those who ask whether we can do without suffering. - Yes, we can. ‘And without pain and tortures?’- Yes, we can, without a doubt, but suffering is indispensable for the evolution of men. Man wants to study the world, and that is why he is bound to suffer, and the Earth is the abode of suffering. ‘But’, man says, ‘how should I have known that?’ -Why haven’t you asked the Mindful Souls above before descending? Once upon a time, a little Angel, after having listened to the stories being told about the people, said to a grown-up Angel: ‘How I wish I could see these people. Please take me to the Earth so I can see them.’ And the grown-up Angel took the little one to the Earth. Then, the little Angel said: ‘I asked you to take me to the people, and you took me to hell.’ ‘But, hell are the people’ – replied the grown-up Angel. And, in truth, we, the people, are the inferno. By saying inferno we mean boiling; bubbling from beneath; seizing by the throat; brothers fighting for their father’s legacy – because the one has taken more than the other; while what is needed is fairness – let the elder brother take more, by the right of seniority.
What we have on the Earth are precisely the relations that God has laid down and for which His laws testify; and when we apply these laws according to the Truth, in consequence we obtain Freedom. Therefore, the one who wants to study the Truth will have to study the quality of the Freedom. If you ask me what music is, I will not be able to give a definition; yet what I can define is what music in itself can stir, and it is harmony and relation between the tones. Just sit at the piano or at any other instrument, start playing and you will see what music is like. But, for the manifestation of music we need three things: first, the idea of a song in our mind’s eye; second – an instrument and third – an artist; therefore we need some talent for music in our mind; an insightful ear and subsequently – an artist to play the music. And if you ask me what a teacher is like, I can tell you what a teacher makes: they deliver knowledge and if you learn what Knowledge is, then at that very moment you will find yourself close to the Teacher. You ask what Virtue is; but you should better ask what the fruits of Virtue are; or, in other words, before you venture to study the substance of all things, you should better study their fruits first.
How do we know Freedom? We know Freedom by the broad expanse of action it gives. The road of necessity is a one-way road, which you walk in harness. Even if you wear the finest bridle of gold, you still have only one direction to go – ahead; and if you dare to stop, the whip will crack on your shoulders. With Freedom, quite the opposite, you have choice. You have the choice to climb a mountain peak walking the track you choose; and, on the contrary, when you roll downwards, you go in one direction only. ‘But, why should a person think like that?’- Because he is free to think as he chooses. ‘But, he is an atheist!’ - Well, it is only a temporary misconception. ‘He is a wicked person.’ - His sense of Good has not developed yet. ‘He errs.’ - His will has not been fine-tuned. ‘So-and-so has given birth to an illegitimate child.’- Straighten out the relations between the sexes. I consider all men free; only cowards are not free and it’s them who commit crime, as they haven’t got the courage to undertake responsibility. Who are the strong men of the world? Those, who are free and who can endure hardship and suffering, discredit, disgrace – all these are tests, and whoever endures them, is a man of courage, a hero. Suffering is given to put men to the test, to see who is a hero and who is a coward; one who does not want to suffer, one who prefers, without making an effort, letting others do his chores is enlisted into the catalogue of the cowards; if you suffer you are a hero. Tell me; who are the men the Bulgarian people glorify: are they the cowards who in Turkish times5 betrayed the people; or are they those who suffered for their people? And those who suffer for the Truth will be even more glorified – the principle is the same.
That is why the science of Truth is a science of social life; Truth always makes people free – those who die for the sake of the others make men free. If Stephan had not died, Pavel would not have been born; when Stephan died, his spirit inspired Pavel and they both started working for God. Stephan taught Pavel to suffer, to endure three times thirty nine sticks; it is for this endurance that Pavel is renowned for. And do you know what the purpose of the thirty nine sticks was? Three plus nine is twelve; the number 12 represents the law of rounding up the evolution of all the days in a man’s life. And the one who has been beaten on the Earth like that; in the other life shall no longer be beaten. If you ask why they beat Christ, He will answer to you: ‘I suffered so that you shall be free.’ Whenever here, on this Earth, someone beats you, a string is broken which ties you to your evil fate; that is why Christ says: ‘And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other.’ (Luke 6:29) Only the strong one can beat; and when the strong one is beating, it is a blessing. What do village people do? When they want a field to yield more crops, they send sheep on this field to graze on it; when it comes to fields, they know the law, but when it comes to their own selves – they do not know it – so, eventually, let the sheep of the world graze on you.
Christ says: ‘To this end was I born into the world.’ By saying birth, he means not outer, but inner birth into each and every mind and heart, to testify this Truth. When Truth initiates its birth into you, you will start feeling Freedom. A woman, after getting married, wants to have children, because she is filled with the Truth that this is the only way to observe the law - to inherit property. It is the same in the Spiritual World – if you have not the Truth in you, you cannot inherit the Divine riches. Hence, Truth has to be born into you and then you will have riches and you will live an easier life.
There is a legend about Moses – when walking to the Sinai Mountain he met a joyous shepherd and asked him: ‘Why are you so happy?’ The shepherd answered: ‘Because today God was my guest and I slaughtered a lamb to offer Him a treat.’ ‘God does not eat lamb, it was your mind that fell prey to delusion,’ disagreed Moses and left. But sorrow overcame the shepherd, and he became downhearted. When Moses reached the Mountain of Sinai, he noticed that God was angry at him for making a great mistake and returned to the shepherd with the words that God will be his guest and will eat from his lamb. Moses said to the shepherd what God had told him and found a hiding place to see what would happen. At one time, he saw that the shepherd was sleeping peacefully and from Heaven fire fell and burnt the lamb. The shepherd got up and said: ‘I am full of joy, because God came down and ate the lamb.’
And when Truth falls into you, the fire of Truth - Love, will make a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. This is the real world of Truth; for some it is unreal, but there are many (they are neither one or two, nor ten, they are thousands in this world) who know this Truth, and its seeds have to be planted for a long time ahead. You see how beautiful these flowers in front of you are – yellow, red, blue – and you pick these flowers, but are you aware of their meaning? You say: ‘This flower smells very good’, but do you know what this smell means?
It shows the deep sorrow of this flower; and this sorrow generates the nectar, intended for your life. There are people, who, when surrounded by their wealth, say: ‘There is no God’, but the moment they lose their wealth or their health, or their social standing; the moment God limits them, they start to smell: ‘There is God.’ Wealth was about to kill their minds, and the moment God takes their wealth away, they start to adopt the correct outlook. What you can see on the Earth is something transitory, it is not real: you see young beautiful girls, but some time passes and their faces become wrinkled; and at some point they become old ladies; and I ask, where did those young girls go, the ones we used to admire so much? The same is with young men – where did their strong build go? You still do not know your own selves; when you study the law of Truth, it will give you power over the matter to understand its inner patterns and to perfect your Life. This is the law of motion, according to which man constantly transforms to pass from the transitory to the eternal; to comprehend the unchangeable nature of the Truth.
People say: ‘Christ was born and preaches the Truth” – let us see what this Truth is. Christ wants to introduce a lively spirit into your mind, to give you an impetus to one thought, to let you connect to the Divine World – you are all eternally connected with God. In the world you have friends and if these friends sometimes seem heartless, it is for a reason and the reason is that of your deeds, which are prompted by ignorance. Paul says: ‘God looked down upon men’s ignorance and let men go their own ways, but now He is calling them to abide by the law.’ What has the mother to do, who is called, too, to abide by the law? First of all, she has to give birth to good and intelligent children – this is her task. Some women complain, saying: ‘Why am I a woman?’ – And who should have taken their place, I ask. The man is intended to prepare this material of thought, will, character; to pass it; and the woman is intended to give birth.
People look for amenities in this world, but they have to understand that essential law, which is valid for the music, too – the law of the minor and major scales. God has placed some in a minor key; has put them in flat – in the grief, in the sorrow, in the deepness of emotions; while others He has placed in the major key; has put them in sharp, in the shallow waters of Life, as they have no depth of emotions. What can one see in a dance or a march? Dancing, marching, and… exhaustion. With the sad song you will not move about, you will stay peaceful and contemplate; with the minor tone God had created you to think of the other world; with the major – of this world. Sometimes, you want to assume another role: ‘But can religious people play? ‘Yes, they can, but what kind of game? David, when carrying the coffin, was jumping and his wife said: ‘Look, why are you fidgeting before the entire people of Israel!’ ‘Why should I not jump before God? He objected. God has not limited us, He gave us the glorious Freedom to do Good and evil, but the Good can, in certain aspects, be evil, too. You may say: ‘How can that be possible? Look at a man and woman, they live together very well; and when Christ, on His behalf, says: ‘Give away your wealth’; the man in his desire to follow the teaching of the Savior wants to give away his possessions, but the wife says: ‘You must have gone mad; you want your wife and children to be made miserable, don’t you?’ – ‘But I want to follow the law of God.’ – ‘And I do not want this law.’ You have no right to give away the property that belongs to your wife and children, because it is theirs; if you have one hundred thousand leva, divide them equally and fairly between yourself, your wife and children; and only the share that falls to you is the one you can give away; you have no right to do something in the name of God at your family’s expense – this is Christ’s law. – ‘But I am right’ - No, you are not, who gave you this right? Your wife, where did you take her from? Not from your legs, it’s from your ribs that God created her to be your friend and you have no right to torment her.
That, of course, suits the women and they say: ‘That’s right! That’s right!’ Never approach the issues solely from your point of view, but from the reciprocal point of view. In the universal Life there are plenty of possibilities: in this life you are a man, but in another life you can be created a woman and vice versa. If, in this life, you write: ‘I give no freedom to the woman’, in your second life, when you will be created a woman, you will feel the sweetness of this provision of the law. ‘It is not’, you will then say, ‘a good law,’ although it was you who wrote it beforehand. Men, set good laws, because the second time, as women, you will come under their rule. Of course, it is not only the man who writes laws, the woman also writes laws and set restrictions to other women. Many women have written bad laws into their daughters and sons – to hate their father: ‘Your father is a scoundrel, vagabond.’ Do not write such laws, because your Father is only one; and this man or this woman, they are a tool of the Divine Spirit wishing to become clothed in a form or idea; and when you are complaining, you are grumbling against God. You should not change the fundamental traits of the idea incarnate in form. Within the shadows you can introduce some changes, make them brighter or darker; but the foremost, the one which embodies the Divine Idea, has to remain unchanged.
May 7, 1916, Sofia
1 John 18:37
2 lev – Bulgarian National Currency, pl. leva
3 Varna – a city in Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast
4 Gagauz –in Bulgaria: an ethnic group, Orthodox Christians, speaking a language related to the Turkish language
5 The Master refers to the period of the Ottoman dominance over the Bulgarian people (1396-1878) and the struggle of the Bulgarian people for Freedom.