3. Kill out desire of comfort.
This needs to be done on all levels: physical, psychological, and spiritual. By “comfort” is meant ease. On the physical level it includes luxury. But the main idea is the desire for comfort in the sense of everything being easy and without effort. We must kill out such a desire because the spiritual path is not easy. The moment struggle ceases, at that moment life and evolution cease. The road does in truth wind uphill all the way–yes, to the very end.
Since we get whatever we want, if we desire spiritual ease we will get it. But it will be spiritual stagnation, as well. Spiritual life is not for a person who wants to find peace in the sense of a lack of struggle. Spiritual life is really a very ruthless and relentless war. Only when there is total victory is there peace and cessation from “troubles.” Only after long battles do we gain the ultimate peace of liberation.
In a war the good soldier lays his whole life “on the line.” There is no other way to fight worthily. He who would save his life by holding back or evading conflict and sacrifice shall lose it. But he who gives up his life in total dedication to the endeavor shall find his life and save it. No price is too high. Those who have their “top price” beyond which they will not go will eventually reach it and fall by the way.
Contentment is not for the disciple. Rather, he must be seized with divine discontent, desiring to strive ever onward and upward, ceasing not until the Goal is fully won. Those who demand assurance that they will be successful, or who insist that someone hold their hand and comfort them, telling them that all will be well, that it will be worth it, can only fail in spiritual life. For really their problem is that they do not really want spiritual life at all. They only curious idlers. The same is true of those who constantly demand explanations and justifications of the requirements and disciplines of spiritual life. Those who must be wheedled and coaxed are thoroughly unworthy. And those who demand special concessions and special treatment should not even be considered.
We must always be stirred up to action and “hopping on the griddle” like a drop of water. Otherwise we will stagnate and die. We are like the fish that must keep moving otherwise they will suffocate. So there can be no wish for ease and comfort. “Comfortable” religion is the worst possible thing we can get caught up in. Real religion discomfits us and gets us moving on to God. Also, since spiritual life involves struggle and (seeming) sacrifice, those who demand comfort will condition themselves to reject spiritual life.
As with the other things that must be cut off, the desire for comfort stems from the belief that peace and satisfaction are external conditions. By weaning ourselves from these delusions we come to understand that all we are looking for outside ourselves is to be found within. And when we quit looking for these things from an outside source we will be enabled to find what we want–and more–within.
We are constantly externalizing our consciousness in order to perceive and relate to the outside world. We must now reverse the process in order to develop internal perceptions. And then do you know what we will discover? We will find that instead of losing awareness of the outer world we will come to see it with a clarity heretofore undreamed of. In fact, we will come to perceive it perfectly. And this is because the outer proceeds from the inner–in fact, it is a reflection of the inner reality. That is the secret! But only those who are willing to turn within discover the mystery. Only those who are willing to give it all up, to sacrifice it, will really gain it. All others will spend their lives grasping for it only to eventually be swept away on the tide of death and lose everything (which they never really had, anyway, such is the cruel irony).
4. Work as those work who are ambitious. Respect life as those who desire it. Be happy as those are who live for happiness.
Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured: it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life: it may not come until the last. But, O disciple, remember that is has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.
Work as those work who are ambitious. This is a most important principle, since many people think that in spiritual life we must turn into jellyfish. But we must work, for it is our karma to engage in various actions. And by so doing we free ourselves from the bonds of karma. If we avoid those actions, however, then the karma must be fulfilled in a future time–even a future life. There is no escape! However, since it is our karma that certain actions must be fulfilled, we should work at them very well–but without ambition. Notice that the directive is to work as those who have ambition. In other words, we have no ambition, but we must work as skillfully and energetically as if we did–not carelessly or irresponsibly.
This applies to spiritual life, as well. We must not have spiritual ambition–this also is a delusion–but we must work at it as steadily and doggedly as if we did. We continually see how dedicated and willing to struggle and sacrifice are those who have worldly ambition. We must observe and learn from them, for since the material world reflects the spiritual world, the same rules apply in both. We must have the same drive–but for spiritual life.
We must expend all our energies in the pursuit of spiritual perfection. When Sri Ramakrishna asked one of His teachers if He was mad, she answered: “My son, some people are mad for the world, and you are mad for God.” So great must our intensity be that we may truly be said to be “cracked” on divine life. There is no place for cowardly or lazy “moderation” in this ideal.
Salt and sugar
By fulfilling even our non-spiritual tasks as well as we can, we are fitting ourselves for success in spiritual life. As Sri Ramakrishna often said: “If you can weigh salt, you can weigh sugar.” That is, if you are proficient in one kind of life you will be skilled in the other. And since we usually cannot see the inner realms of the spirit, we can use our outer life as a barometer of the spirit. For the principle “as above so below” applies here as well. As Jesus said: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). If we are careless or incompetent in our physical work, we are deficient in our inner work. When a person cannot even walk a straight line, you know that he cannot think in a straight line, either. Only the lazy and the fake would have us think otherwise. If we cannot scrape a carrot, trim off the ends, cut it up, and boil it, how then are we possibly going to do such an amazing thing as expand our consciousness to an infinite capacity? If we cannot water a house plant, what will we do in spiritual life? If the mind cannot do such a simple thing, then higher life is impossible.
One sign of correct meditation is the developing of the ability to function in material life. As we become spiritually effective and efficient–so do we in the outer life as well. At one period in her life Madame Blavatsky successfully started a series of businesses–including an ink factory! She would begin a business, develop it into a success, and then sell it and begin another. Her relatives thought she was a fool, but she was doing it all as an exercise in spiritual life. By so doing she demonstrated her spiritual proficiency and set the example for those who would aspire to her level of attainment. No one could accuse her of not being able to make her way in the world. Just before coming to America she completed a successful tour through Russia and Europe as a concert pianist under the stage name of “Madame Laura”!
Respect life as those who desire it. Life is not to be despised, including the life of earthly incarnation. Quite the opposite, it is to be respected and valued because it is a teacher. It must be preserved and cared for. This applies to the life of others, as well. We often say that this world is like a motion picture–just the play of light and shadow upon the screen of universal consciousness. But we do not disdain it, for it is an “educational film.” Therefore we must pay close attention to it and take its message very seriously. We must apply ourselves to it as though it were real, while retaining the awareness of its evanescent dream nature. Those who believe it is real are the ones who fail. The only ones who can really succeed are those who know that it is unreal and go ahead and apply themselves to it with the divine perspective. Thus the divine energies and divine intelligence within begin to manifest in the life of the individual. This is the secret of success in life.
So then, life in all its aspects is not to be desired, but it is to be respected. It is to be taken seriously without believing in it for a moment, just as we would seriously help a child work through an imaginary problem. It would be a mistake to refuse to help the child even though the problem is nonexistent, and equally a mistake to become like the child in thinking that there is a real problem. Our approach seemingly must be contradictory.
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna points out to Arjuna that He works ceaselessly yet is never attached to anything. “Consider me: I am not bound by any sort of duty. There is nothing, in all the three worlds, which I do not already possess; nothing I have yet to acquire. But I go on working, nevertheless” (Bhagavad Gita 3:22). So it must be with us who are reflections of God. God creates and maintains the world, yet at no time is drawn into it or caught in it. Never is He controlled or conditioned or affected by it, since He is its Source and knows that eventually it is to be dissolved. Creation responds to God, but God does not respond to creation though absolutely intent on it. Since we are learning to be consciously united with God and share His life and consciousness (the two are really one), this is part of the learning process, of practicing how to participate in the Being of God.
This is also why it is folly to seek to end the cycle of birth and death until we have mastered the lessons inherent in the cycle. The desire of the student should not be to merely stop attending school but to learn and graduate and thereby end the need to attend school.
Much as we should desire to return to the Source we should not desire to end incarnate existence–either here or in the higher worlds–until we have fully developed the capacities that the incarnate condition is intended to produce. It is senseless to abandon the class until the lesson is learned. Therefore life must be engaged in without ever being involved in it.
Be happy as those are who live for happiness. Living for happiness is a spontaneous, completely natural way of living in the happiness (bliss–ananda) that is really the essential nature of existence itself. Those who seek happiness artificially are never really happy, because they think that happiness comes from an external result or from a physical condition, whereas there is no real contentment to be derived from an external object. This is because all external objects are material–even if astral or causal matter–and we are exclusively spiritual in nature. Therefore contentment can only be found in the spirit. Neither material nor psychological objects can satisfy us, for we are neither body nor mind. It is an especially deadly delusion to equate pleasure with happiness
To reach outward for happiness is to eventually be disappointed and therefore suffer. Instead, we must be happy inwardly, resting in the divine perfection of our inner Self, the immortal spirit. Happiness is within because the spirit is within. We already are perfectly at ease, in balance, in harmony, at rest, and contented–but only in the spirit. In one sense we are not happy–we are happiness itself, just as we are not conscious, we are consciousness itself, we are not alive, we are life itself. Happiness is dwelling in the consciousness that is the Self. Otherwise we will be like the musk deer that smells the fragrance emanating from its own body and rushes around wildly, exhausting itself in the search for the source of the perfume. How many of us have searched for an item of clothing we were already wearing or looked for an object that was right in our hand? So it is with happiness, indeed with life itself in its fulness.
Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it. That is only intelligent policy, isn’t it? False spiritual life is that which neither has nor is intended to have any lasting positive effect on the individual. The ego produces it in infinite variety whatever the religious tradition. But all the varieties have a common denominator–they do not actually remove the source of evil from the individual consciousness. The symptoms of evil may be momentarily hidden or suppressed, but the evil itself is not removed by false “seeking.”
Just as incompetent medicine pays attention to the symptoms only and not to the disease that is the source of the symptoms, so does ignorant religion in the spiritual realm. And just as modem medicine often treats only the symptoms with the mistaken premise that if the symptoms disappear the disease has been removed, so also does its spiritual counterpart, ignorant religion. Ignorant religion also engages in the production of artificial “positive” behavior with the idea that you are what you act like you are–that if you can manage to glitter you have thereby become gold!
One of the reasons such delusive religion sells so well throughout the world is that it keeps the consciousness confined to the superficial levels of external consciousness where no real change is possible. To maintain its dominion over us, the ego is determined that we shall not have interior awareness. For the thing that the ego fears the most is interior awakening. Therefore it leads the seeker into illusory byways. Some evil people go into an absolute tailspin the moment they hear that someone wants to practice meditation. They begin to throw all kinds of verbal bombs at the poor aspirant, screeching that meditation is selfish, impractical, and such like. Their overreaction tells us that they are afraid of meditation because inner consciousness strikes at the very root of the evil to which they are polarized.
It is essential to realize that the root of evil is inside our mind, not in the outer world or in our body, though they are popular scapegoats in false spiritual systems. Therefore a person cannot possibly get rid of evil until he has penetrated into his heart, into the center of his own being, and mastered the capacity to live and be centered there–to be established in that consciousness. How is it that the expression “source of evil” is used when the wise tell us that evil does not exist, but is only a corruption of the good? Notice that the Master does not say: “Get rid of evil,” but “Get rid of the source of evil.” In other words, evil in the form of negative thoughts or actions is a symptom of the presence of this thing.
What is this deadly thing? It is the consciousness of existence separate from God–which of course is a delusion, for we are never separate from God Who is our very Existence. Since God is All in All, we are ever one with Him, the sense of separation being utterly false, a form of spiritual insanity. And that sense of separation is a primal delusion located at the center of our awareness like an obstruction in the eye that blocks or distorts the vision. It causes us to say: “I and God are two” instead of: “I and the Father are one.” As the Upanishad says: “He who thinks: ‘I am one and God is another,’ that man goes from death to death” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4:4:19). That is, for such a one each “life” is really a death. Then we begin to compound the evil by adding various definitions such as “I am a human being,” “I am wise,” “I am a sinner,” and so forth. The ultimate madness manifests when we come to say: “I am God.”
So the sense of separation from God, which results in the formation of the “I” concept, is the source of evil. Therefore, even if the “I” is killed or dissolved, if a consciousness or a conviction of separation persists, the “I” will grow back, just like a malignant tumor. Although all evil must be removed from us, it will be done in vain if the source of evil is not also gotten rid of.
There is also another secret of spiritual life here: if we go after the source right away, the process of eliminating evil will be relatively easy and painless, as well as quick. (I say relatively, please note.) However large the tree, if we go to the root we can kill it straightaway. Likewise, if we do not right away strike effectively at the root, the source, of evil, we shall be like someone trying to destroy a giant redwood tree by whittling away on it with a pocket knife. After years we might succeed–but how much better to cut off the root and accomplish the task much easier and faster. By striking at the source of evil we also avoid the danger of falling back into darkness and away from the spiritual path.
Another ploy of false religion is to convince us that we get rid of negativity by affirming or cultivating “opposite qualities.” But this is just shallow behavior modification and mind gaming. We must fill our consciousness with the Divine Presence through meditation. We need not fight with evil impulses or thoughts, but instead ignore them and center our attention in the spirit-Self. Knowing all these things to be true, we must get busy and go deep within ourselves, to our very heart, our “core” or center. “Seek in the heart the source of evil and expunge it.” You do not really kill it, because it does not even have a true existence of its own. But you simply end its darkness by invoking the Light.
A fearful truth
Now we are going to face a fearful truth: It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire. This is not a happy thought, but its truth is evident to anyone who observes both himself and others.
“It lives fruitfully”–it extends itself, increases itself, and makes variations of its own theme. It is creative–projecting many manifestations of itself, including many “faces” that exclude the vision of God from our heart. “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23). To eliminate these evils we must go into the heart and destroy the source rather than run around outside pursuing the symptoms. In this case, the mind and intellect are definitely “outside” elements, as well, and no amount of intellectual conditioning will have any real effect.
“It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire.” This is extremely important, because we prefer to lie to ourselves and create a fine self-image for ourselves and others to believe in. Under that delusion we congratulate ourselves on not being like “others” when we are no better at all–usually we are worse because of our pride.
One of the most damaging effects of false religion is its suppression–rather than elimination–of inner negativity. This is accomplished through the suppression of our perceptions or recognitions of our inner negativity. Many people live absolutely vile lives and have no idea that it is so–just the opposite. False religion blinds its adherents to their true status.
I well remember the time when in my spiritual search I considered joining the Roman Catholic Church (this was in pre-Vatican II days). For some reason Protestants are traumatized by the idea of confession, and I was no exception. So I began to think: If I went to confession today, what would I confess? And going back over the day I found a tremendous amount of sins to confess! This chagrined and frightened me, for I had not noticed any problems at all that day! I had been literally blinded to them. The next evening I did the same examination and found once again that my life was absolutely in tatters, spiritually speaking, when all the time I had been thinking that I was doing quite well. Day after day when I examined my thoughts and deeds I found that I was profoundly spiritually sick–even to some degree spiritually dead. Although I had shed the ignorant theology of Protestantism, the evil mindset was still present and thriving.
Out but still in
This is very much the situation with many people who believe they have extricated themselves from a false spiritual system. They have indeed eliminated the superficial elements such as intellectual doctrines, but the spiritual distortion produced by the time spent in that system remains intact and continues to distort and often ruin their present endeavors. Highly dangerous are the instant conversions in the sense of drastic and instant behavior change, for such changes are usually pathological–or non-existent. Testimonies of instant “deliverance” from long-standing problems sound good, for they appeal to our innate spiritual laziness. But the truth is we ourselves must undo what we have done. We must dig ourselves out of the mire we have plunged into. We must take down stone by stone the structure of ignorance and evil which we have built through the aeons. What we have done we must undo. And it takes will power and effort. Otherwise it is all untrue.
Instant drastic change only means that we are in real trouble, that the moles have only burrowed deep underground to hide, waiting to come out in an unguarded moment and destroy us. We must remember that Macbeth was destroyed because of his intense–and equally false–positive self-image. His arrogance, like that of the “saved” or the “positive thinkers,” led him into certain death while he affirmed his invincibility and immortality. By overconfidence we become more susceptible to evil than by any other means. Usually the more “positive” we are in our thinking, the easier we are swept right into the garbage can along with all the rest. For this reason there is great truth in the adage: “Positive thinkers are positive stinkers.” Of course, the positive thinking we are speaking of is self-delusion–not real positivity. The only way to think positive is to think of God–the Only Positive.
“It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire.” A bad, lax, or false disciple will never even come to discover this deadly Inner Dweller. Therefore the aphorism speaks of “the devoted disciple” since he alone can gain enough self-awareness to perceive his inner state and face up to it. As “seekers” we must realize that we are suffering from the same disease as everybody else. On a certain level there is no difference between us and the people we usually consider to be less than ourselves in evolution or spiritual aspiration and understanding, for the Master says that this source of evil is as fruitfully dwelling in our hearts as it is in theirs. This is extremely important, because few things are worse than this “pure” attitude that people can get just because they are working at spiritual development.
For us to look down on those who are not “spiritual” or “religious” is like people in a hospital priding themselves on the delusion that they are the well ones while everybody outside is sick. But they would not be in the hospital if they were not sick, would they? Simply registering in is a declaration of illness or defect. This is also why it is silly to blame religion when we see the faults of its adherents, for if they were not sick they would not need the therapy! The purpose of religion is healing, plain and simple. The sicker we are, the more medicine we take. In the same way, the more religious we are–in the true sense–the sicker we are acknowledging ourselves to be. So our religiosity is not a statement of health but of infirmity. By saying we are “on the path,” we are admitting that we have not reached the Goal any more than those in the world around us.
How is this?
We should not forget the Cheshire cat’s words to Alice: If we were not mad we would not be here. The earth plane is the lowest and grossest level of existence that there is–even the astral hells are superior. So those who find themselves on the first rung of the ladder, and admit that they have been perched on it life after life, have no cause for boasting or looking askance at others.
Why does the source of evil live “fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple, as well as in the heart of the man of desire”? Because the sense of separate–even independent–existence was planted in us the moment we began to manifests as atoms of hydrogen. As we passed through gaseous, mineral, plant, animal, and human evolution, that terrible thing was living and growing inside us, fed and increased by the world around us as we took it in and believed in it implicitly. As we evolve, so does the ego. (Here we mean evolution in the sense of the development of increased complexity and therefore capacity–not in the sense of growing closer to divinity.) Its manifestations become increasingly clever–and we become increasingly blinded. Evil, too, evolves so that we will not perceive its real nature. Indeed, we often admire evil for its ingenuity and power without realizing what it really is. However clever our intellect is–more so is our ego. However refined our state of consciousness may be–just so refined is our ignorance.
Material evil manifests as evil deeds. Mental evil manifests as evil thoughts. Spiritual evil manifests as evil religion. Such religion is the prevailing form of Satanism, beside which the antics of the minority that call themselves Satanists are quite insignificant. All the “black magicians” of the world have never equaled the evil and destruction perpetrated by the false “righteous” of all ages. The evolved person can become far more evil than the unevolved person–of this we must be aware, for it applies to us. We who are more evolved than others are also (at least potentially) more spiritually sick than they are. So of what can we boast? We have no reason to feel ourselves superior to others just because our evil is more subtle and therefore less obvious. We have become genteel sinners, cultured demons.
The “man of desire” is one who is living solely for the fulfillment of his egoic desires and habits.
Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved.
Is the refusal to do battle really the easy way out? Not at all. The next words are: “The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death.” In other words, the weak will have to wait until the inner evil becomes so powerful and dominant that it disintegrates itself by its very nature. However, at the same time it will annihilate all the bodies, gross and subtle, along with it. This does happen. Evil and darkness can become so strong that all the vehicles of the manifesting spirit are destroyed. Thus the spirit will find itself right back where it started–at the very beginning of evolution. The spirit will then have to go forth in evolution all over again. The entire journey must be travelled again, and always with the risk that the same folly will be repeated in the taking of the left-hand path.
So this is what will happen to the weak who will not engage in the struggle of the spirit. The evil will grow so much that it will ultimately destroy itself. But it will destroy them along with it. One of the most prevalent delusions of the “weak” is that they are not yet “ready” for conscious evolution, not quite “able” to commit themselves to the battle, but that if they wait a while things will get better–and consequently easier. But they will not. Instead, evil will flourish and increasingly absorb the powers of the various bodies like a horrible parasite, eventually assimilating them totally unto itself. And they will indeed be incapable of spiritual life, but by then they will no longer even think about the subject.
I once met a frail woman who had an immense tumor attached to one side of her face. The tumor was larger than her head. As the tumor increased in size her body wasted away, until finally the body and the tumor both died. So it is with those who follow the left-hand path to its very end.
One of the worst–and most beloved–follies we can fall into is the idea that if we keep on feeding and fulfilling our desires they will in time fade away and we will be free. Just plain good sense should tell us that whatever is fed will grow and become even bigger and stronger. There are people who have so fed their lusts, giving up their vital life energies to satisfy the insatiable beasts, that they have correspondingly begun to fade away as the lusts became greater and more powerful. In time it is as though there is no real person left anymore–just a raging menagerie of material desires. This is true of any material drive that is given into. In time the tiger we are riding will devour us. Of course such deluded people do not realize they are slaves, but think they are masters of their ravenous pets. But their fate will be that of the woman in a silly little ditty I learned as a child at camp:
O she sailed away on a lovely summer’s day
On the back of a crocodile.
“You see,” said she, “he’s as tame as he can be,
“And I’ll ride him down the Nile.”
So she waved her friends goodbye (as the crock winked his eye),
Wearing a great big smile.
At the end of the ride, the lady was inside,
And the smile on the crocodile!
How many unpeople there are running frantically around seemingly fulfilling themselves, when in reality they are steadily melting away, consumed by the fires of their own desires. And the smile is on the face of the crocodile, for the Master does not say: “In time the weak will grow beyond evil and ignorance,” but “the weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death.” How long and how terrifying the prospect! For he continues: “And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages.” “It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences.” It is very flattering for someone to say to us: “You are an ’old soul,” but the truth is, it is particularly in the “old soul” that this deadly thing is flowering. Once someone said to a man I knew: “You are a very old soul.” To that he answered: “Then I must be a very dumb old soul if after so long I am still in this earth-plane kindergarten!”
“It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences.” In other words, when you and I have become aged, seasoned, and ripened, it is the strongest in us. The more evolved or developed we are, the more developed has it become simultaneously. I once heard a British psychiatrist telling how amazed he was in observing psychiatric work among “primitive” people. Instead of requiring years, even decades of psychoanalysis, these people were often cured after a twenty minute session. The “difficult” ones required two or three sessions–no more. This was because their egos were very simple. But those who have evolved to the point where conscious self-evolution is possible have greatly-developed egos with many convolutions and complexities. Sorry, but it happens to be one of the rules of the game. This is why we must truly become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-3).
“He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart.” The expression “path of power” is used because the thing that destroys us is the idea: “I do this,” “I do not do that,” the root of which is “I do.” Because we are identifying with the ego and the energy complex it draws around itself, the only power we can wield is that power. The path of power is also spoken of because the path to the Real is the path of mastery, the path of control of the self (not of others). Since our aspiration is for infinity, our goal is to wield the infinite power of God. But we have to chose: our life or God’s life. If we stay centered in the ego, we will have nothing but its limited power. When we take the power of the ego and begin to exert it–supposedly for the purpose of evolution–only three things can result:
- One: we can fail and realize that we have failed. If this happens we are truly among the lucky ones.
- Two: the mind under the command of the ego creates delusions of success. Hallucinations may even be created by the mind to lead us astray. “The Master X spoke to me last night and told me that I am to help in bringing in the New Age.” Or, “The Space Brothers contacted me and said that when the mother ship comes I will be one of those beamed up and saved.” These are just two examples, but whatever form the delusions take they usually have one thing in common: they present a hope of a future status, thereby keeping those who accept them contented with being nothing at all for the present. No matter how stagnated or even degenerated their lives may be, they keep telling themselves that “when the time comes” everything will change and they will be changed, too. Without effort, of course. When people are not too evolved and are small-minded, the ego deludes them in correspondingly simple and small ways. As has been said, as the individual passes up the evolutionary scale, so also does the ego which provides suitable distractions according to their development.
- Three: the most unfortunate is the minority that travel that path of power but, finding that their power is limited, realize they need another power beyond themselves and begin to draw off the power of other beings. This is done either through taking the power of other people–a form of occult vampirism–or, what is more usual, by “trafficking” with various disembodied beings (“spirits”). The spirits with which they commune “do things” for them. As a result they become anything from mediums to ceremonial magicians evoking spirits, and so on. But whatever the form, the process is the same: they use the power of other beings.
Trapped by spirits
Here is how it usually comes about. The person reads a book about “folk” magic under some name such as “Wicca,” in which a simple ritual action is prescribed–often along with the recitation of some little “magical” jingle. He does it, and it works. This impresses him very much since he is used to a “Churchianity” that produces no perceptible results. So he tries some more of the same, and that works, too. Wonderful! And he gets more involved in learning and practicing such things. But after a while this simple stuff no longer works like it did–sometimes it fails to work at all. The person then delves into stronger, more classical magical methods. Those, too, work for a while, and then they begin to fade out on the practitioner as did the simpler methods. Because of this he begins to practice more formal ceremonial magic. Somewhere along the line he comes to practices which involve the invocation of some types of spirits and begins linking his life forces with those entities. In time he may come to be totally under the power of these “helpers,” and the supposed servants turn out to be masters and the former master becomes the servant. This is never pleasant. But it is inevitable, since everything incurs a karmic debt.
Cases have been recorded through the centuries of “magicians” who commanded the spirits for many years, and the spirits obeyed their every directive. And then the day of reckoning arrived when the karma came around full circle and the debt had to be paid in like coin–the coin of total servitude. If this does not happen during life, it will take place after death on the astral plane. The accounts of people dying with the declaration on their lips that demons are carrying them away are not false. They are gruesomely true.
There are spirits called “soul eaters” that engage in the ultimate vampirism. They actually “swallow” or encompass the person and assimilate the energies of his subtle bodies. When all the energies are absorbed by them, and only a shell like a dry leaf or a piece of ash (one occultist I know refers to them as being like the discarded shell of a locust) remains, they release the person, who then is literally blown about aimlessly by the energy tides of the subtle cosmos. They cannot take rebirth and they cannot function in any way anywhere. They no longer possess the inner bodies that are needed to act as a matrix around which the normal human form can be built. They are the broken pots referred to in the Old Testament. Incapable of being reformed and reworked, they remain locked in their state of desolation–usually for an entire cycle of creation until in the universal dissolution they are “melted down” and thus able to begin all over again in the next manifestation of creation, starting over at the very bottom. It is not a pleasant ending to what began as a confident treading of the path of power and the command of others rather than the mastery of one’s own self (which alone is the true righthand path).
So there are these three possibilities for the person who treads the path of power. The first one is not so bad, because the person fails and therefore has not the ability to mess himself up. As a rule he then decides that the goal is either unattainable for him or simply does not exist for anyone–that spiritual life is indeed only fantasy. Consequently he embraces an utterly material mode of life and dismisses all other possibilities. It is these flash-in-the-pan people who momentarily support the latest fads in “spiritual movements” until becoming disillusioned and utterly disinterested in any kind of higher life.
Wise are those who through their failure realize that they need something more than their own power to succeed, and instead of turning to astral wanderers turn to God. If they can avoid–or at least survive–the false spiritual systems that abound, they have a good chance at succeeding in their quest. And the cornerstone of their success will be the realization that for their spirit to live their ego must die along with its illusion of separation from God. This is why the seraphim and cherubim are said to cover their feet with their wings (Isaiah 6:2). They are cutting off or inhibiting the mistaken idea of “I do” in the sense of action independent of the Divine power and will. They also cover their faces as a sign of negating the sense of an “I” separate from God. In this way they rise before the “face” of God and enter into perfect consciousness.
What we must do is lay hold of God’s power, to ascend with God’s “wings.” This is known as “laying hold on the kingdom of God” in New Testament parlance. But we can only lay hold of the Kingdom of God with God’s hands. The false “I,” the false self, must die so the true Self, the spirit, can come to life in us. We cannot have both. Either our false “I” must die so God the Truth can live in and through us, or the God within us must die so the false “I” can live its life that is a lie. Therefore it is said that “He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart.”
These simple words show us some very definite things. The first is that it is not going to be easy, for it is “rooted” in us. The second is that it will have to be forcefully, even violently, ripped out without hesitation. There really is no other way. It will not automatically drop away or relinquish its power over us. The ego never dies a natural death or of old age–it must be slain. It is a demon that must be exorcised–a term that literally means “cut out.” Like a bad tooth it will have roots, and its extraction will hurt. But in this way alone will we gain the divine power by which we can conquer. For it is not our own power that we use to accomplish the task, but the Divine Power in which we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). There must be the realistic acknowledgment of our own incapacity. The true path, the egoless path of power, is quite different from the false egoic path of power.
In the “end” is the beginning
“And then the heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved.” When this evil, death-bearing thing is torn out of the heart it will bleed. Vain is the question: “When is it going to get easier?” The heart will bleed and the whole life seem to be utterly dissolving. Of course the opposite will be true. For the first time we will be coming to life.
We can hold on to nothing. Before we can be filled with the infinite we must become thoroughly empty. We must become perfect in letting go. Those who set a price on spiritual life, saying: “This much and no more will I ‘give up,’” are thereby destined to failure. For the cost is ALL we have. This is only reasonable, since what we think we have is not really ours at all. Therefore to really come to possess the kingdom we must first rid ourself of the false conviction that anything is ours at the present moment. We are not really giving up anything since we do not really have anything–we only think we do. We are only trading an illusion for a glorious reality. But those who cling to illusion cannot come to possess the Real.
To succeed in spiritual life we must at the beginning say: “There is nothing I will not do and no sacrifice I will not make.” And mean it. For as Jesus said (Matthew 10:39), only those who are willing to “lose” their life will come to find it, whereas those who try to hold on to or “save” their life will lose it, having never possessed it at any time.
We must break out of the mirror of illusion that shows us only what is not. We must cast aside anything which produces, increases, or affirms our false identity. Otherwise we are either going to fail or incur terrible pain as we are pulled in both directions, for the Master continues: “the whole life of the man will seem to be utterly dissolved.” Absolutely the false life, the unlife of the ego, will be utterly dissolved, will melt away. And when that time comes the person will feel he is going into annihilation. This is understandable since everything he has ever identified with as “me” and “mine” is falling away. The fact that his identity was mistaken makes it in no way easier. We are all on the lefthand path, thinking that death is life and that life is death. But we must awaken from the dream and see death for what it is and life for what it is–and know which is which. Otherwise when we come to that moment of seeming annihilation we may draw back and stop the process and continue on in ignorance. For of this we can be assured: the process is never easy, nor is it ever without our free consent.
We practice meditation to enable us to pass these various tests, both inward and external. What is essential is to be centered in our spirits–our consciousness–and detachedly observant of all that is external to us, including the levels of our being that we are used to thinking of as “inside” us although they are as external to us as is the physical body. However, we cannot have that perspective until we have learned to transfer our awareness away from our wrappings and into our true nature as spirit. Which is why we meditate.
Having truly come to life inwardly, we are able to realize that what we formerly identified as real and as “us” is only the cosmic play of light and shadow, a dream that upon awakening will be no more. Thus we can say with full comprehension the words of the hymn: “Change and decay all around I see. O Thou Who changest not, abide with me!” As a result we will not draw back in the times of dissolution and trial, but will steadily move onward, beyond the illusions that have so (literally) captivated us from life to life.
When we are practiced in ignoring all the noise and keeping intent on the Silence which is God, then when these things begin to melt away we will not mind. Through meditation we repolarize our life energies and our attention away from the dreams and press on toward our awakening. We unlearn falsehood and come to know the Real.
The Master says that the whole life will seem to be utterly dissolved, but the man of wisdom, the man of meditation, will know that in actuality it is death that is being dissolved to make way for the advent of true life.
Let us look at those words again: “The whole heart will bleed and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved.” Can we come in time to actively desire this, although others are pulling back in terror from the prospect? Of spiritual life it can be said just as it was about the Westward Movement in the last century: “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.”
Sometimes people say: “This is just what I have been looking for.” And sometimes it is true, but although they have been seeking the gate it does not mean that they are prepared for what lies beyond it, or even for the effort that is required to open the gate and pass through. None of us has been looking for that, but it must be faced if we would succeed. Just as the heart of man has not aspired to the things God has prepared for him (I Corinthians 2:9), so the heart of man has not realized what is required for him to receive that “free gift” (Ephesians 2:8) from the hand of God. Many love to seek but few can endure the finding–it is too real and demands too much change.
So we just love the anticipation and speculation as to what it might be like. But we do not expect God to play such a trick on us as to actually throw open the door, pull us through, shove us onto the path, and shout: “Run!” That we are not really expecting. Of course it is good that we do not know what is coming, for we might not have sought for it!
This ordeal must be endured: it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life: it may not come until the last. But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.
Following the Path of Discipleship is like riding a tiger–if we get off we will be eaten up. With this in mind the Master continues: “This ordeal must be endured.” Note the verb endure, for “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). That word “endure” is not a very cheerful one, but it conveys the right idea: there is no escaping or mitigating the process. Just think of what gold goes through to be refined, or how much pressure and heat is exerted on a piece of coal for thousands of years before its blackness and opaqueness is changed into the clarity of diamond. That is why we say: “A diamond is a piece of coal that never gave up, and a saint is a sinner that never gave up.”
There is no avoidance of the fires of the spiritual alchemy that turn us “from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to the Light, from death to Immortality.” This is why Jesus would not take the drugged wine offered Him before and during the crucifixion (Matthew 27:34). It was called “the wine of mercy,” but He well knew that it was not merciful but deadening. But remember: His eyes were not fixed upon the momentary sufferings of the cross but upon the resurrection and the infinite life that lay beyond it (Hebrews 12:2). We must have the same perspective.
Once we have started on the path there can be none of this frequently heard nonsense: “I am going to have to stop for a while and think it over. I have to take ‘time out’ for a while and try to assimilate all that I’ve heard and learned.” This is the line given by those who NEVER take up spiritual life. Such avoidance tactics are deadly for the aspiring disciple, who must be ever pressing forward and persevere–another word for endure.
This next statement is most important. “It may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life: it may not come until the last.” Some people go through the requisite ordeal at the very beginning. The higher Self of others knows they are weak, so it does not happen until they have progressed somewhat and become stronger and wiser.
Since we love comfort and ease we look upon the cataclysmic process as “bad” and ask: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why do the good suffer so?” not realizing that this is an essential process that is really merciful, for it frees them and readies them for higher consciousness. But this is why some people go along for a while and then become toppled by the advent of this ordeal. This may sound quite discouraging and not something to look forward to, but since the “ordeal” only takes place in relation to the unreal part of us, if our awareness is centered in our spirit we will not really find it so bad.
Let us back up for a consideration of the expression: “The perilous ladder which leads to the path of life.” There are depictions in the Eastern Orthodox Church of the “Divine Ladder” which show people climbing up a ladder, at the top of which Jesus is waiting to receive them. In other words, when the top of the ladder is reached the work is done. But here the Master tells us that the ladder which we climb so laboriously is not itself the path to life, but what leads to the path of life. In other words, when we would like to think we are nearing the end we are really only nearing the beginning. Our struggle up the ladder is just the attempt to start.
And the ladder is perilous. The depictions of the Divine Ladder show people falling from the ladder–even being pulled from it by demons–and plunging downward into the mouth of “the dragon.” By this we see that the ladder is not just difficult and demanding, it is dangerous–perilous. It is dangerous because all the powers of evil inside and outside of us will do their utmost to stop us from getting up onto the path. This was the experience of Buddha long before us. There is a nineteenth century Protestant song that says: “Heaven wills to thee a crown. Hell is moved to cast thee down.” But if we have shifted our consciousness into our higher selves, into “heaven,” then all the antics and tactics of “hell” will be laughably ineffectual. The danger exists only insofar as we are caught in lower consciousness.
It is like a storm. If you are out in it, you will get wet and blown about, but if you are in a shelter, you will stay dry and calm. Therefore we hear much about “taking refuge” in God. So it is all a matter of where we are “living.” If we insist on being of the earth, earthly, we shall then be blown about by every wind. If, on the other hand, we “walk in the spirit,” we shall have peace. The danger–and the pain–is to the ego, never to the spirit. But if we identify with the ego it will drag us down into chaos along with it. If, however, we identify with the spirit we shall rise above all the storms.
The ladder is also perilous because failure may result in our having to wait for a long time before we can try the ascent again.
Of course all the perils come from inside us, which makes them all the more perilous since they are harder to cope with than outside influences. Since we usually identify with and foster them ignorantly, we often have to say: “We have met the enemy and they are us!”
“But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task.” Saint John Vianney said: “Go straight to God like a shot out of a cannon.” The Upanishads say that the mind is like an arrow–aim it at the Goal and fly to God like an arrow.
“Therefore fasten the energies of your soul upon the task.” This is why we have to follow the path of power. We must control all our powers (energies) and focus them upon our spiritual work, which is the ending of the (seeming) separation between us and God.
To do this we must “Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal.” That is, we must let nothing in the present or future influence us, but look at things with the eyes of eternity, with the eyes of spirit. We dare not say: “Today I cannot take up a dedicated spiritual life, but in the future I will.” Rather, we must realize that it is the spirit alone that now is and shall be, and lay hold on the realms of the spirit NOW.
Notice that we are not told to live in eternity but in the Eternal–that is, we are to live in God. For in God alone is freedom. Remember the “Devil” card of the Tarot. The two people have chains around their necks and think they are enslaved to the Devil. But it is easy to see that they can slip off the chains without effort if they will just realize it. If we live in the present or future we will experience this false bondage, but if we slip the bonds and move our consciousness into the Eternal we shall know no bondage in any form.
Through false identities, through false bondage to “commitments,” “relationships,” and “obligations” we try to excuse ourselves from spiritual pursuit. Jesus spoke of this in his parable (Luke 14:16-24) in which the man invites his friends to a feast but they all make excuses not to come. One wants to try out plowing with his new oxen, another wants to go look at some property he has just bought, and another excuses himself because he has just gotten married. All of them, declares Jesus, are unworthy of the feast, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
We have but one true commitment, one true relationship, and but one true obligation: to God. All else is the illusory bondage shown by the Devil card. That which obstructs spiritual life should not even exist for us on a practical level. In God, even karma does not exist.
“This giant weed cannot flower there.” The sense of separation from God flourishes in time and space, in a consciousness “outside” of God. And what do weed flowers do? They make more seeds which become more weeds. In other words, the delusion of the separate, independent ego flowers and produces the seeds that will result in more delusions, more lifetimes. But in the Eternal that is not possible, for there all delusions and their seeds are roasted in the consuming fire that is God. So the process is simple: Join yourself unto God in a perfect union and your karmas are dispelled like the morning mist. And that union is accomplished by meditation through which we cultivate the consciousness of God in which delusions cannot come to flower or seed.
In the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna says that there are two paths: the path of the moon and the path of the sun. The path of the moon leads to rebirth and the path of the sun leads to superhuman evolution. But the wise, He says, treads neither path but enters directly into the Being of God. “Burnt clean in the blaze of My Being, in Me many find home” (Bhagavad Gita 4:10). As in the child’s game of “tag,” once we are “home” we are out of the game and free.
“This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.” What is “eternal thought”? It is that thought which is the Eternal Itself, which is God. This is discovered only in the silence of meditation, and by its means the “giant weed” cannot grow, but in time is totally wiped out. In one sense we are transmuting ourselves into that “eternal thought.” Just the atmosphere, just the radiation–that Light which blazes forth–dispels all ignorance. No evil, either inner or outer, can come near those who live in the Eternal Thought.
5. Kill out all sense of separateness.
In case we might have missed the whole point, we come to Aphorism Five which is separated from Aphorism Four by all the material we have just considered. As has been said more than once, the sense of separateness is the primal evil, the root of all other evils, that nests in the very core of our being. It is the delusion that we are one thing and that God is another, that somehow we exist independently of God, different and separate, when all the time we are perfectly and irrevocably united to God so that we can legitimately be said to be gods within God. Reclaiming the awareness of that unity is the only true religion. Since he lived in that state consciously, Jesus said: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), and “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). And we shall one day be able to say the same things. That is our true destiny–to say as did Jesus: “the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38). The mind cannot encompass it beforehand, but we shall attain it inevitably. So it is important that we understand the nature of Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus, because if we do not understand their nature, their manifestation, and their state of being, we cannot possibly comprehend our own destiny. Of course, until we attain that status we shall not fully comprehend it, but even now there must be some conception, otherwise we shall not intelligently aspire to it. And without aspiration there is no attainment.
We have to consciously prepare ourselves to attain these higher states. If we deny these higher states, or do not even know they exist, they shall indeed not exist for us. One Master often said: “If you do not believe, you will not see; and if you do not see, you will not believe.” Even though we do not fully understand, if we will at least give room in our minds to the possibility of these higher levels of consciousness we can begin to prepare for them. Of course the bedrock foundation of this believing and attaining is meditation.
One of the saddest truths is that most people’s worship of God actually separates them from God, whereas it should link them with God. But when the concept–and consequently the approach–is wrong, then our attempts literally backfire on us, sending us in the opposite direction. The worship of God must be esoteric in nature, based on esoteric insight, and performed by those who have both esoteric knowledge and perception. Otherwise it is no worship at all, but a mockery–both of us and of God. And the ultimate worship is meditation.
How shall we kill out all sense of separateness? By entering into our very depths and removing that primal illusion, the true “original sin” (keeping in mind that “sin” means to fall short of perception and apprehension). Perhaps, the primal (first) illusion is that of simply looking outward instead of inward, for if we look inward we will behold God. The moment that we turn from within and look outward, thinking to see something outside of God, which is of course a delusion, we begin to see falsely.
The primal evil
Although it is the sense of separateness that the Master is speaking of in Light On The Path, it would not be amiss to say that externalized or outward-moving consciousness is really the primal evil. For through it we lose sight of God–and therefore of our true selves–and begin calling the separate illusion “my self.”
So this whole sense of separateness has to be killed out thoroughly without reservation. And not through mere intellection or verbal philosophizing. The only way it can be done is by reestablishing within us the sense of identity with God. When we look at “ourselves,” we see ourselves as utterly isolated and constantly changing entities. In other words, we can only see the falseness of ourselves, whereas God is the truth of ourselves. Therefore we must substitute the consciousness of God for the sense of separation. This is why we meditate, which keeps our eyes on God, which fills us with Divine consciousness. In God we will truly see ourselves. In “us” there is duality, in God there is non-duality.
Sitting around saying: “I am He,” I am That,” “I am Immortal,” will do nothing except delude us since we do not know the real Self, the real “I.” The thing we call “I” and “me” is is the ego–an impostor, a cuckoo’s egg that will destroy the consciousness of our true nature. Since we do not know who “we” really are, instead of trying to meditate on ourselves we put our minds on God, the Self of our Self. And we do that directly–not by philosophizing or conceptualizing, or even discursive praying, but by meditation. In time the Divine Consciousness will manifest within our own consciousness, restoring it to its original, divine state. Meditation becomes a mirror in which we see our face and the face of God, and come to know them as ONE. To intrude any thought or concept there is to set up an idol and worship a “god” that is not God. In meditation we should be thinking of nothing, because God is in truth the No Thing. If in meditation we hold a concept of God we are making God an object, whereas God is the eternal Subject.
6. Kill out desire for sensation.
When people spend much time in sense deprivation tanks they may experience great mental stress because they cannot stand just being aware of awareness. This is because they have been veiling their awareness for so many lifetimes by sensory stimuli that they are addicted to externalized consciousness.
“Kill out desire for sensation” means that we are to have no attraction for anything external. And we must remember that many things which we consider to be internal, such as emotions and intellect, are actually external to our consciousness even if they do seem to be within our bodies. Further, we must cut off desire for all subtle sensations–those that lie in the astral and causal realms as well as the obvious material-physical sensations.
Notice that the Master does not say to cut off sensation, but to cut off desire or affinity for sensation. That is, we need to learn to move among sensation without being affected or anyway conditioned by it. The wise have said that our external experiences must be to us like writing on water–without any internal effect or control.
Since they are external to us, even seemingly positive feelings, desires, or emotions such as peace, happiness, contentment, love, compassion–yes, even the desire or urge for spiritual life or “truth”–must have no influence or effect on us. Why? Because they are just feelings–they are not the real thing. Real peace, happiness, contentment, love, compassion, and aspiration for spiritual life are indeed to be sought–but they are realities far beyond mere sensations. Most of them lie in the intelligence and will. Just as the ego is the false self, so the emotions and partially physical sensations that masquerade as these states are equally delusive and ultimately dissolve, leaving us desolate. This is a very difficult lesson for most of us to learn. But it must be learned if the real things are ever to be found by us.
We must especially avoid this kind of sensuality in spiritual life and not be drawn into desire for “holy” or exalted feelings when engaging in religious practices. And most especially we must cut off these things within meditation. To savor the sensations of ease, etc., that can arise in meditation–not to mention the astral lights and sensations of floating, expanding, etc., that inevitably arise–is to turn from God back into our false self. Visions and “spiritual experiences” are also to be eschewed–especially when they take the form of “astral travel.” This is the meaning of the Zen statement: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” That is, if in meditation you “meet the Buddha” in the form of either exalted intellectual insights, visions, or other seemingly sacred phenomena, kill it out ruthlessly–just as the Master is advising us in these aphorisms.
The idea is to become utterly detached, indifferent, to all sensations–that is, to all that is outside of us. Or more exactly, to those experiences that will make us come to believe in the reality of externalities and will in time create in us the desire for such illusions, thus causing us to lose what is real–and within.
We must continue to live, to reap our karmas, to fulfill our destinies, and it may require great effort to do so. But we must at the same time be easefully detached, viewing all that goes on as a great unfolding drama. There is nothing wrong in enjoying it, just as long as we do not get drawn into it and drown our self-awareness within it through self-forgetfulness. Only the enlightened truly enjoy life. The rest are tossed about by alternating pleasures and pains, mistaking appearance for reality.
Like the dove of Noah we must not come to rest anywhere upon “earth,” but fly back to the Ark of divine being (Genesis 8:8, 9). This is the higher meaning of Jesus’ saying that He had nowhere to “lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). He could no longer center or confine his consciousness within anything in all the worlds, gross or subtle. There was nothing in which he could (or would) ground himself and with which he would establish an identity. “Our hearts are ever restless till they come to rest in Thee,” wrote Saint Augustine, affirming that what is true of Christ is true also of us.
There are fish in the sea that must keep moving or they will suffocate. We are such “fish” in the sea of evolving cosmic life. We must keep moving or we shall “die” to true consciousness and fall into the realm of “death”–of delusive consciousness that is no consciousness at all, practically speaking. “‘Does the road wind uphill all the way?’ ‘Yes, to the very end.’” In many old stories there is great wisdom. For example, Red Riding Hood dawdled along the way picking flowers instead of getting on to her destination. So she entered into conversation with the wolf and ended up entering into his stomach, as well. This is also true of the spiritual seeker. In the story of the tortoise and the hare we see that the hare lost because he kept stopping here and there while the turtle kept on moving steadily.
What we must destroy is the affinity for any relative state of consciousness or relative state of existence. And, again, the only way to do that is to keep pushing ourselves toward the Absolute.
The next rule is truly amazing, considering how we are constantly speaking of evolution.
7. Kill out the hunger for growth.
Again, we are not told to kill out growth–we came into this relative existence for that very purpose–but to kill out the hunger, the egoic impulse for the growth that is no true growth, the progress that is only the progress of the ego and not of the spirit-Self.
First we must come to the realization that we cannot become more than what we are. Therefore we must know our true nature. In a sense we do not need to grow, we need to manifest. There is a great difference between the two verbs. Secondly, growth is an external experience and therefore an appearance only, not a reality. We cannot be anything but what we have always been. We can dig up an apple tree, take it around the world, fly it to many planets, and bring it back, and it will still be an apple tree, for that whole process was external to it.
There is story in South India about a bitter gourd who went to the holy city of Varanasi (or Kashi), where every Hindu hopes to go at least once in his life. When Bitter Gourd came back, the animals and plants gathered around in admiration. “O Bitter Gourd!” they exclaimed, “just think, you have been to Kashi.” “Yes,” agreed the bitter gourd, “I have been to Kashi.” “O Bitter Gourd,” they asked, “did you worship Lord Vishwanath [Shiva] there in Kashi?” “Indeed,” answered Bitter Gourd, “I worshipped Lord Vishwanath there.” “Did you take your bath in the sacred Ganges?” “I certainly did take a bath in the Ganges.” “Did you also worship Goddess Annapurna [the consort of Shiva] there?” “Yes, of course I did.” “Then you came home.” “Yes, I came home.” “Bitter Gourd,” they all said, “you must be a transformed person.” “Yes, indeed, I can never be as I was,” he declared. But then somebody thought to taste him, and found he was still bitter. You get the idea. Nothing external can create an internal change, although externals can–and must–facilitate the development of our internal awareness and evolution.
We are indeed to develop the ability to share in the infinity of God. But we will not grow into or become God. We will experience the being of God while remaining what we have always been. There will have been no essential change of being, but a total change of consciousness. This is so far beyond our present state that we simply cannot comprehend or conceive of it except to a minimal degree. But we can “lay hold” on it, for that and that alone is the true entering into the kingdom of God. The kingdom will always be God’s, not ours, but by His loving will we can come to “possess” it in the sense of participating in it. For the kingdom of God is God.
But the ego wants to extend itself, to develop abilities that it can claim as its own, that will be under its own control. Such are the psychic and creative powers which can become playgrounds for the ego and which the wise warn us to avoid assiduously–or at least approach only with great caution and spiritual preparation.
Natural and supernatural abilities
For every personal, natural ability there is a corresponding divine sharing which is bestowed upon us by God. For example, there is natural clairvoyance and there is divine clairvoyance. The source of one is materiality (though subtle) and the source of the other is infinite consciousness. It has also been observed that the two do not go together. This is why a viable spiritual system usually cuts off all natural psychic faculties and powers rather than developing them. This is a blow to the ego, but in time, as the ego fades away, the soul comes into its own and is illumined by God Himself.
Our idea of growth, even on the physical level, is that of expansion, of pressing or moving outward and increasingly functioning in the external levels, whereas true spiritual growth is a turning and absorption inward, a dissolving rather than an accumulation, a divine “losing” rather than a delusive “getting.” Therefore the wise seeker cuts off all desire for what he has hitherto known as growth and aspires to enter back into his eternal status from which he can then experience the glories of the divine kingdom, the inner kingdom of God. And it is God Who is the sole Actor or Doer in this matter. We do not attain–we enter into. Otherwise we exchange a small delusion for a bigger delusion.
What, then, about the idea of becoming great and mighty in our evolution–becoming even the creators of worlds? Yes, it is indeed possible, and for those who wish it, it can come to pass. But it will delay their entry back into the Absolute. Those who truly love God can tolerate no delay, for love desires only the Beloved and is content with nothing else.
Within us all there is the divine urge back to the Infinite, back to God alone. But the egoic impulse is: “I don’t want to be just a human being, I want to be a god! I don’t want to die, I want to live forever! I don’t want to be unfulfilled, I want to be able to fulfill all my desires! I don’t want to be helplessly controlled by the forces of nature, I want to myself master the forces of nature!” So when the deluded hear of the saints working miracles, they say: “I want to be a saint, too!” But they do not really want to be a saint, they only want to have power like the saints. There is a great difference. The foolish want to demonstrate great powers and have others call them “Master,” but the wise wish to become Masters.
Let us repeat these short aphorisms to get an overview:
Kill out ambition.
Kill out desire of life.
Kill out desire of comfort.
Work as those work who are ambitious.
Kill out all sense of separateness.
Kill out desire for sensation.
Kill out the hunger for growth.”
The Masters plainly present the truths that the hawkers in the contemporary metaphysical carnival would never dare to even speak–if they knew them, which they do not. Why is this? Because the Masters are not part of the herd. They are never involved in “movements” and global endeavors, because they know that all spiritual progress is on a one-to-one basis.
Next in Light on the Path for Awakening: Stand Alone…