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MARTHA AND MARY (January 14, 1917, in Sofia)

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But Martha was cumbered

about much serving, and

came to him and said, Lord,

dost thou not care that my

sister hath left me to serve

alone? Bid her therefore

that she help me.

41. And Jesus answered

and said unto her, Martha,

Martha thou art careful

and troubled about many

things: 42. But one thing is

needful: and Mary hath

chosen that good part, which

shall not be taken away from



Much has been spoken about Martha and Mary. They represent two principles in the human soul— the active and the passive. In the person of Martha and Mary are presented two women, two opposite characters, two states of the human heart: the one state is calm and silent with a mind directed to an eternal principle, resting on an eternal foundation; the other state is like that of the waves in the sea, like the small branches in a tree—constant bubbling, constant swaying. Christ, however, points out to Martha what is essential by saying to her, "You are cumbered about many things which are not essential, which are outside of reality, but Mary chose something more essential."
Many of you belong to these two characters—some are Martha and some—Mary. The Maries are generally noble women. They are good, of an excellent stature, beautiful face, soft look in the eyes, symmetrical forehead, regular nose; in the heart they are soft, delicate, responsive to others' sufferings and ready to help. In Jewish, Mary means salty water. Mary always salts the world and, thanks to her, it does not get spoiled, does not sour up or decay. When you have the principle of Mary in yourself, your heart is not decomposed. Martha comes from Mara, meaning bitter, sour, and turbulent. Therefore, the bitter principle in you is constantly embittered, angered, discontented. It does not do this out of an evil intention, or bad will, but because it is a very active principle which in its motion wants its path to be clear, open. When Martha gets up in the morning, all the servants are up and about, there is much bustling and noisy chatter. However, as soon as she takes the broom, everybody runs as far away from her as they can. She says, "Everything here must be in order." You will meet Martha in churches, in schools, in courts—everywhere. She is just as necessary as Mary is, but you should not give predominance to the one or the other—to the one or the other principle.
I shall connect these two principles with two others which I shall formulate as: Principle of the Superior and Principle of the Inferior. The principle in the person of Mary expresses the superior showing us how to serve God and how to be in harmony with the higher beings—the saints and the angels— who know more than us: they know how to humble themselves and submit. We shall sit quietly and calmly at the feet of the Master to receive enlightenment. You will ask, "How many are the Masters?" There is One Master that I know of—the Master is One. He may have 250,000 hairs on His head, but it does not mean that they are 250,000 Masters. A tree may have many branches, but they are not trees. However, one and the same life flows in the tree and in its branches. This is the way you should conceive of unity. And when the Master comes, that is the Spirit, Who is in you, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, you must listen deeply in yourself to the soft and tender voices of love. Love is not sour, it is a soft, tender power. What do you like in life? Imagine everything in the world in the likeness of Martha—all taking brooms, raising dust and noise. What music would that be? I believe that houses would be in perfect order, there would be fine furniture, fine clothes, we would have wonderful farms, but there would be no life. And conversely, if everything was in the likeness of Mary, all would be salt. But if there were no Marthas what would be salted?
Mary has a relation to something else, to another principle, a different foundation. The Superior Principle, Mary, shows the way we should serve God individually. In this service we shall find the sense of our life. To the extent to which we understand the inner sense of our soul, to that extent shall we understand the other beings who live around us. As soon as we have learned the first—the Superior Principle—to submit to God, we shall learn the second principle—to submit all inferior elements, to conquer the Inferior Principle in people. And when contemporary science speaks of conquering Nature, I understand that it wants to conquer Martha who makes much noise. We must learn to be good Masters. Those who have not learned to submit to God and serve Him, cannot be masters. Those who want to be masters must first learn to be servants— to be servants of God and to be submitted to Him. They must learn the higher Law—to sit like Mary at the feet of Christ. Christ says, "That good part Mary chose shall not be taken away from her."
I shall give you as an example of this idea a legend. It speaks about the great violinist Paganini. One day during his concert tour in Europe, Paganini came upon an old, around 60 years of age, violinist with shaking hands, blurred eyesight and a small dish beside him, his violin on the ground, since he could play no more. Paganini stopped before the old violinist, picked up his violin and started playing. In a short time a big crowd gathered around him, each one putting a gold or silver coin in the beggar's dish. He played until the dish was full. This is how Paganini paid his tribute to the poor old man. This old man sat at the feet of Paganini as Mary set at the feet of Christ, but he did not say, "Let us see what will come out of all this." He listened to his master's playing. "Yes," he said, "I see now my great Master—the Master of life." The dish is the vessel into which great and good thoughts are poured. When this great Master starts playing in you, your vessel will be filled with noble thoughts and desires and you will be weak and crippled no more, but become young, vigorous, good and strong.
I would wish that in a given case you would do the same. This does not mean that you should devote all your life to serving, for when Christ commended Mary, He only wanted to say, "I do not want you to give me all your time in service, but only your spare time, no matter how little it may be. The rest of the time you are free to do your duties in life." The great teaching does not want in the least our neglecting the duties in life. Only that hour, set aside for Mary, must be given her. Paganini does not always stop, this is a rare moment. He takes the violin, plays for a while and passes on. In the same way, Christ will stop some day before you when you are burdened, tired of life, thinking your life has no sense, that you are of no use to anyone, that the art you are studying is of no value. Then He will stop before you and start playing on your violin. Therein is happiness—to hear how a great Master plays or paints, or to see a great artist. This is the teaching we should study, the teaching of revering God and submitting ourselves to Him; only by this submission we shall learn great Virtues.
What does present day friction, or conflict, among people spring from? From the fact that people are sour, not soft and tender. If all people were soft and tender, life would be happy both outwardly and inwardly. If people would have mutual respect for one another and were pliant, there would be great harmony in life. I do not commend people who quarrel daily, they murmur every day against God. We hear murmuring everywhere—scientists, doctors, professors, priests, and preachers—all are murmuring. If someone is a shepherd, he will say that his sheepfold is small, he would want a bigger one—this is murmuring too. The learned person murmurs that few abilities have been given to them. Who is to blame? Always God is blamed. I am not speaking about you, who are here, but about those who are in the world—everybody is murmuring. The Law of the superior life requires of you that gratefulness and love of God should always spring from your heart.
Some people ask, "Where is God? How can we find Him?" Even little children can find God. Already 2,000 years have passed since the philosophers have begun to prove by argumentation where God is—in the sky, on the stars, on the Earth or in the human heart. They are still looking for Him, but no one has found Him. The preachers say He is in the human heart; the astronomers say he is in the Universe as the Law of gravitation. Some say He exists, others deny His existence. I shall use a figure to show you on what these philosophers base themselves. Imagine that God, like the Sun, rises and sets every 24 hours from east to west. Moreover, imagine that when God rises, you fall asleep and sleep until He has set and after He has set, you wake up and look for Him all night. When you do not find Him, you fall asleep again when dawn breaks and after He has set again, you look for Him all night. A day, two days, a month, a year, ten or more years pass and you are seeking Him all the time and do not find Him anywhere.
I say: only change the relation of things and you will find God—sleep at night and be awake in the morning when the Sun rises. I see Him every day: I sleep at night, but in the morning, when dawn breaks, I get up and meet Him. This is the philosophy of life. God rises as the Sun. What do people do at night at present? They go to concerts, balls, to theaters and when God rises, they are sleeping. They are aristocrats, of noble birth. All people who sleep in the morning and in the daytime are of the culture of the owls. That is why they suffer. But this night culture must be substituted by the culture of the day. As soon as day breaks, you will get up and stand waiting at least haft an hour, then God will appear before your face and you will draw from Him strength, energy and health and the whole day you will be bright and cheerful, working with vigor.
Some philosophers say, "God is an aristocrat, He does not accept everybody, so we must appear dressed up before Him." Now, I shall use another figure as an objection. When the Sun rises, all animals—good and bad, beautiful and ugly— come our in their clothing such as it is. God shines upon everyone—the snakes and the lizards, the mosquitoes and the loathsome creatures who do so much harm. He does not say to them, "You must hide in your hole!" In the same way you can appear before God and bask in His Light and heat. This is the sense of life. We do not suffer from the fact that there are many snakes on the Earth; their number is determined, they are in their place, but when they become twice as many as they are, the extra number must be destroyed by all means. When the number of the wolves is within the determined bounds, they are in their place, but when they multiply too much, again the extra number must be destroyed. Thus, if you do not put to work every thought and every desire you have, i.e., if you have not learned to serve God, this thought and this desire will command you. And then by the same Law, as you oppose God, your desires and thoughts will oppose you. If you can apply in your life what I am telling you, you will see how efficient it is and what results you will have.
Some say, "Let us educate the world, discipline the people!" In this sense, I do not believe in disciplining, because all people are individual cells of the Divine organism, of the Divine body and each one must discipline itself individually. I cannot command anyone. To command a person is sacrilege, lying to God. I do not want to command. Why? Because all people are God's and I have no right to command and misuse another's possessions, I have the right to be master only of my thoughts and desires—I can command them. However, I must be a servant to everything outside of me. You must do the same.
Now we shall come down to the inferior elements—the irrational. What is said in the first chapter of Genesis? "God created heaven, the first day and then—the Earth." Heaven implies Mary, and earth—Martha. The Earth was not organized, or was sour. The people of learning say that when Martha appeared, there was storm, a hurricane, fire, steam rising and then God said, "Martha, Martha, you are making big noise, but progress does not lie in that. Mary chose the good part. Look up!" The Earth, Martha, looked up and started turning round itself and round the Sun. That way life appeared on it, many creatures were created and finally—humans. When God finished His work, He said, "Everything about Martha is good." And that was the first day, then came the second, to the seventh day. Now some of you are Martha—making a noise and flames coming out of their hearts and minds. Martha has no lakes or rivers, but the great Master says, "Martha, Martha, be not worried! Only one thing is necessary—heaven, the rational, the great thing in the world. Look up to heaven, it will give sense to your life." When you look up your spirit will immediately start moving regularly round its center and you will find the sense of your life. To find sense in life means to have a center around which to move and which center will daily supply what is necessary for your needs.
Thus, God has created in us simultaneously both Martha and Mary—the two poles of the human soul. I could explain the inner meaning of these two principles active in the world, but when much knowledge is accumulated and is not applied, certain sediments are formed and people become confused, not knowing what to do. A student from an Evangelical school, who wanted to excuse himself for not knowing his lesson in Bulgarian grammar, said to his teacher, "There are many grammar textbooks in Bulgarian by Ikonomov, Grigorov and others, which one should I study from?" He excused himself this way once, twice, but finally the teacher said to him, "Listen, friend, I do not want to know what the grammar books of Ikonomov and Grigorov say, I want you to study my grammar!" When God comes to you, you say, "There are philosophers like Kant, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy who say so and so, but there is contradiction among them, who shall we follow?" God will say, "You will follow what I tell you." When you want to follow the Divine Truth, you must go deep into your soul, only then will you understand life in its deep sense. Different abilities will come to birth within you and you will see other, greater beings than you and then you will say, "How blind we have been!" I ask, if you were in the state of an ant and some philosopher would step on you and smash you, what would you think of his feet? You would say that a big rock fell on you and smashed you. But this rock is only a small part of this giant. Some day you say, "Fate is against me, it persecutes me." Fate is nothing other than the foot of some great philosopher who has stepped upon you. Do not stand in the path of the philosophers, of the learned people, they will not stop because of you, they march on their way and if you interfere, the foot of the philosopher will smash you. When you complain, I shall say, "Your place is not on this philosophical path, you are ants and must choose other paths." This is a philosophy of life. When I see the misfortune of a person, I look up and notice a giant who has stepped on them and smashed them.
God has made the world and all other worlds. In the Milky Way, there are 18,000,000 suns and each one of them is moving along its definite orbit. There is a distance of 25 billion kilometers from one sun to another, so that collision should be avoided. God has drawn these orbits. He has drawn an orbit for your life as well, has given you a certain space and has said, "Never pass beyond the boundaries of your kingdom." You want to make a contract with some other kingdoms; the men and the women of two kingdoms made a contract to form one kingdom and quarreled in the end. Why should they quarrel? Let everyone reign in their kingdom. Someone says, "Come, let us put our money together in the same place to preserve it." Let everyone keep their money in their own purse! Do not entrust your money to anyone. On earth, no matter whom you may entrust it, it will be taken away anyhow. That is why Christ says, "Lay your treasures up above—this is the true sense of life."
So we are wrong in that we want to distort the life God has ordered. I know of people who hate someone and carry them everywhere in their minds. Leave that person alone and hold only onto God! He lights up everything, allow Him in your holy of holies. People today are polytheists; they have Gods of labor, of glory, of power and burn incense to all of them. Take your hammer, throw all these idols out, or break them up, then sit at the feet of your Master and you will understand the deep sense of your life. This is what Christ means by the words, "The good part Mary has chosen shall not be taken away from her." You worry about many things, taking care of this and that thing, yet you are master of these things; so take them and throw them out. I have noticed how some masters sit in their chairs, like me now, and give orders. They want to be given something which they themselves can take, but they ring the bell once, twice and finally they go out and start scolding the servant. Their calmness and peace are of more value, however, than the fact that the servant has not brought their chosen shoes at once. Do not wait for others to do the things you can do yourself. Go and take your shoes and then moralize the servant to do their duties properly. This is what God wants of you, because this servant is not yours, but someone else's. When I say I am a servant, I do not have in mind you, the people; I am a servant of God.
In London a Baptist preacher once went to see another preacher by the name of Spurgeon and to give himself more importance, he wrote on the visiting card, "One of your brothers in Christ is waiting outside, wishing to see you." Spurgeon wrote on the other side of the card, "Now, I have work with our Master." If anyone comes from outside and says a brother of yours in Christ is waiting for you, tell them you are speaking with their Master. Therefore, the servant you are calling from outside to bring you your shoes, has work with their Master and if you break their peace, their Master will take you by the ear. This is the greatest philosophy people today must learn. We must be servants of God. When we learn this great Law, our relations will be normalized. I see how this Law works: when you are in a good mood, all people seem pleasant, but if you are indisposed and have gotten up on the wrong side of bed, the whole day people will seem in the wrong and annoy you. This state may last a week, or a month, we call it a new philosophy— pessimism—and such people—pessimists. In order to justify the weakness of some person, you say they are pessimists. This is according to the words of Schopenhauer. In this sense, you are all philosophers. Bulgarians stand even higher than Schopenhauer, all have this pessimistic trait—the Bulgarian is easily discouraged and falls into despair and then comes Schopenhauer's philosophy, Martha comes. I say—you are obliged to submit to God! Since you do not serve God, all these misfortunes come to you. There is no other fate in the world! The day you submit to God, to your fate, all others submit to you.
This is the teaching of Martha and Mary. Mary—this is heaven, Martha—the Earth. Mary this is the higher state of the heart, Martha—the lower state of the heart, Mary—this is the higher state of the mind, the Theosophists call it manas31 superior, Martha is the inferior manas. When you go to your homes, which I see as beautiful and splendid, say to yourself, "Come, Martha, come, Mary, you are two good sisters." Christ is the superior Spirit, the superior principle. If Mary would have answered Martha, she would have said, "Wait for a while, I want to listen and after that I shall help you." Christ was speaking, that is why Mary was not working. When you return home, if you get angry and start talking loudly, say to yourself, "Martha, do you know what the Master says? You must submit!" Mary should be noble, delicate, and speak kindly to her, saying, "Sister, wait a while, I shall be of service to you a little later," and when her sister speaks petulantly, she should say, "How nicely, how pleasantly you are speaking!"
There is a certain harmony between the noble and the ignoble, as there is a relation between Love and hate. I know both sisters. Whoever comes between them, they stifle them out of love and when the person dies, they say, "What have we done?" Love says, "Come, let us raise them!" Hate says, "I shall bury them." "All right," says Love. They put some earth on the person, but then comes Love and after heating them up from above, she raises them up. Hate and Love work together in the world, but you have such a bad opinion of hate, of envy. They are really snakes and lizards, but in some cases they are pleasant. What would the world be like without snakes, lizards, flies, and so on? Point out such a world! How is your world better than this? No, the way this world is made is great in its intentions, in its expressions and manifestations. What you are constantly complaining of is the disharmony within you, it is Martha—the unorganized earth. The noise which is constantly taking place in you is namely what disturbs this harmony. God's Spirit must descend and say His word.
And so the Spirit has come down, giving orders. He is working. You must have an indomitable faith in the principle, living in Mary. Have faith also in the principle, living in Martha. Have faith in Christ, for Christ, Who is above them, joins them. You also should join these three—your spirit, your Mary and your Martha—and should start the New Year with this act. I will not complete what I have said, but will leave a great interval, a gap, to see how you will solve the puzzle. I am a clairvoyant and when I look at your future, I see how some rise, others fall, some follow the spiritual path, while others twist and turn. In the end, all will be well, only that there will be swaying and loitering. When people get on a big ocean liner, some people throw up because of the constant swaying of the ship, but others do not. How interesting these aristocrats are on the ocean! The first day, they are in high spirits, well-dressed, decked with rings, and necklaces, all happy and content. When the ship starts swaying, everybody begins to look thoughtful like philosophers, listening to an important lecture. The second day, they begin to feel sick to the stomach, start eating lemons, laying on the floors and vomiting. When they land and are asked how they crossed the ocean, they say, "We arrived safe and sound." Yes, but when you cross this ocean from earth to heaven, how many times will you vomit! You will say, "Passing this ocean is serious business!" As soon as you reach the land, you will have good appetites, because you will be well cleaned up. This Martha in the ocean raises much noise around herself, shakes ships, creates weeping and wailing, but as soon as you step on the shore, and Mary comes, you say, "Thank God, we are safe and sound!" Fear not! Be always with your great Master that you may solve the problem of life.
You have many complex problems in life: bringing up children, relations between men and women, relations to society and humanity. You have many obligations. How will you finish them? Some think that when they become Christians, they have no obligations. No, just the opposite—a Christian has more obligations and must fulfill them very well. When a day ends, they must feel a great inner calm that they have done what they should have done and if anything had been omitted, to put it in their program for the next day. One day you will be Martha, another day—Mary, but when you are at the feet of your Master, then let both Martha and Mary calm down, for an hour let all and everything calm down.
This is the teaching and the thought Christ sets forth. Learn to serve the Superior that you may be masters of the inferior!
Sermon held on January 14, 1917, in Sofia
30. Luke 10:40-42.
31. Manas—(Sanskrit) the mind, all mental expression of the human psychological faculties (ed. note).

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