Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 2: Overview of Practices Involved > Chapter 1: Ant's Long Path

Ant's Long Path


What is the Long Path?

1
His first effort is to find the obstacles which retard the enlightenment; his second, to remove them. This constitutes the Long Path.

2
He who feels the inner urge to seek always for the Soul, the Hidden, who longs to be quite consciously united with it, first will have to undergo a long process of being separated from his baser attributes, of having the larger part of his imperfections washed away.

3
The mind is prevented from knowing the truth by its own defects limitations or deficiencies, by its own passions self-centeredness and possessiveness. The philosophic discipline sets up as an objective the elimination of these hindrances. Such disciplines are physical, mental, and emotional.

4
For the man or woman who truly desires to follow the Quest and who wonders how to begin, the present course should be to read and study the exercises given in my earlier books, going over them carefully again and again until all the basic concepts are familiar. At the same time, one should find a few minutes out of every day when it is possible to be alone, undisturbed and unobserved. Meditation should be opened by silent prayer, formulated to express spiritual yearnings for the higher way of life. This may be followed by concentrating on a chosen spiritual theme. Every endeavour should be made to keep thoughts from wandering and to bring them back whenever they do.

5
If we want certain knowledge, instead of vague hope, that the answer to this question "Who am I?" is "I am of godlike essence," we must follow the Quest into its disciplines and practices.

6
How can the influx remain if the negative elements of the man's character are still there and contradict its presence? One or the other has to go. If the man cannot remove those elements at once--and who can?--then he must do so by degrees and through the years.

7
It is a paradox whose truth the world has failed to realize, despite the repeated efforts of Jesus to point it out, that we best attain a happy worldly life when we seek a happy spiritual life, and that we least attain the first goal when we neglect the second.

8
Those who advise us to become saintly in character before we attempt to travel the mystic path, confuse cause with effect. No one can make himself a saint to order, but anyone who will patiently pursue this path will naturally become elevated in character, because he will come closer to divinity.

9
The Long Path principle is that enlightenment must be earned by his own labour.

10
The ego must become conscious of its guilt in blocking the light of the Overself and must perform the necessary penance to expiate that guilt. But this is merely another way of saying that it must enter on the Long Path and purify itself.

11
Those who pass through this phase when they see life as holding little that matters, and life's joys as being mostly empty, are marked out for philosophy: nothing else can serve them successfully after this experience although religion may help them for a time.

12
The doctrine of a gradual evolution through successive steps belongs to the Long Path.

13
Let him bring himself, through the Long Path, into the condition which may invite the approach of Grace.

14
If he is not insincere, sooner or later the quest will force his lower nature to throw up its hidden evil, so that he may face, fight, and conquer it.

15
The discipline cures the emotional nature of its faults, purifies the intellectual nature of its prejudices, cleanses the egoistic nature of its resistances. Thus it brings the mind into a state where it may understand truth without error and with clarity.

16
He will undertake them not as a penance to expiate his sins but as a training to fit him better for the reception of Grace and the practices of the Short Path.

17
Although the heroic way of abrupt harsh reform is the only way suited to certain temperaments, the easier way of gradual gentle change is the only way suited to most other temperaments. Few men can bring themselves to abandon the small comforts and daily routines to which they are accustomed for the purpose of plunging straightway into a rigorously ascetic regime.

18
He will try to put into practice what is sensible and worthy, without being overawed by environment, habit, or popular prejudice.

19
He will try to avoid all exaggeration and distortion in his thought and speech, certainly all falsehood.

20
It is useful to put a desirable quality into practice outwardly so that it may in time, by the body's influence on the mind, be acquired inwardly.

21
It is thoughtless of the poor to say that practice of philosophy is only for those who have the money, the leisure, and the freedom to spare. It is equally thoughtless of the rich to say that the practice is for those who need philosophy's consolatory service in their squalor and poverty. The truth is that neither the millionaire nor the pauper, nor even all those classes in between, can escape from the need of philosophic practice; without it, as Buddha pointed out, they are doomed to suffer.

22
Men lack the needful perceptions and therefore they accept the substitute whilst passing by the reality. This is why a preparation, a self-improvement, is prescribed to seekers after truth.

23
No narrower ideal, no height lower than sagehood is to be set up as his goal.

24
Always there is this image in front of him--what he could become and what life wants him to become in the end.

25
They tell us to lose our personal identity, to let it become absorbed in the universal self. What is prescribed in a few words could take up a whole lifetime.

26
The transformation of the whole inner man may happen slowly and imperceptibly or through a series of experiences brought on by crises. With it comes the purification of his character, the maturation of his intelligence, and the self-discipline of the ego.

27
Truth is open to all, if only all can receive it. But they cannot--until a preparation and purification open the way.

28
The first steps on the path call for an awareness of the aspirant's failings and for a determination to eradicate them.

29
Bring again and again into remembrance the fact that you are a pilgrim, that this world is but a camp, and that the situations in which you find yourself, or create for yourself, should be regarded not from the worldly point of view only, but still more from that of this quest of the Overself.

30
The period of preparation and discipline will be a long one. Few have even the desire, let alone the patience, to undergo it.

31
Whatever impedes the entry of spiritual lights must be removed. That is the Long Path's work.

32
It is essential to reject negative thoughts, to accept and hold only the affirmative ones.

33
Let him be vigilant about the way in which he reacts to experiences and circumstances, to men and women. Let him be on guard against the attractions and repulsions which they engender, the emotions which they excite, and the desires which they arouse.

34
He will have to correct and complete the materialistic evidence of his senses as he will have to discipline and overcome their animalistic outgoing tendency.

35
The way must begin with a general quietening down of your mind, calming of your emotions, an overcoming of your passions, and a regular practising of meditation.

36
If he can do little to bring on the advent of Grace, he can do much to remove the obstructions to it.

37
He fails to perceive that after all his work has removed some old weaknesses, new ones have been created in their place.

38
Whether he identifies his faults or fails to do so, he will still have to come to the point where he tries to build the virtues opposite them (if he knows them) or where he concentrates on the Overself-thought and forgets them.

39
It is the work of the Long Path to achieve a large measure of self-control but only the work of the Short Path can finish it.

40
The Quester cannot imitate the conventional lives of other people. He has to make some changes, and particularly some sacrifices, if he is to follow a path whose goal is different from theirs. He has to find some time for meditation and study, some time when he can fully and truly be himself, and this requires, however short, a daily period of solitude. He has to arrange his diet so that it will not provide more difficulty for his inner work. He has to be careful of what company he keeps, so that he will not be constantly responding to their auras, either in struggle or in defense.

41
The Long Path is one where the seeker criticizes himself as a prelude to the attempt to conquer himself.

42
The Long Path is an extended self-criticism. The Long Path cannot of itself bring him to God, but it can remove obstacles, straighten warpings.

43
The rays of light would enter every man's conscious mind even now, were they not prevented by the extroversion of his attention, the upheavals of his emotion and passion, the narrow rigidities of his logical intellect, and the attachments of his ego. This is why the removal of these obstructions--which is the Long Path's special work--is indispensable to his progress.

44
A certain educated taste for truth is needed, a development of heart and mind which brings about the ability to discriminate between appearance and reality, between lower and higher values, between personal opinions and impersonal facts. This education may come through life itself, or through the self-training processes of the Long Path.

45
Who would not welcome receiving the Short Path's exemption from having to pass through the long and tedious course of training of the Long one? But such an exemption exists only for the well-developed few, who have already done much or most of this preparatory work. All others will find, both in practice and in the end, that no amount of claiming it will avail them.

46
What hope is there of attaining the Long Path's goal? Even if it remains unattained, he can get nothing but benefit by the mere approach to it. All his efforts will be compensated in some way.

47
The Overself is a fact as actual as any other. Its discovery will make life more worth living, not less. But this must be found through personal experience, as others have done. Then one discovers that he is not deprived of anything by this Quest--unless it be defects of character which he wishes to be rid of--but he can keep all those things still which humans cherish. He needs much patience, of course, to go on with meditation practice and a little study when results seem slow in coming, but he will at least know that the time is not being wasted; every effort in this direction counts. For if it does nothing more, it prepares him to receive and benefit by the help which others may wish to bestow on him.

48
There are no practices that will reveal the meaning of life. The latter can come only from experience and reflection. But practices have secondary uses, such as helping to develop concentration, which is needed for right reflection.

49
Although the Long Path is preparatory, for beginners, to the Short Path and should be attempted first, for intermediates it is better to make them twin quests. It might be said that the Long Path belongs to yoga and the Short Path to advaita--that is, to mysticism and to philosophy. Thus, when he is better prepared, the same person can cultivate both paths and there is then no antagonism between them, for they then complement and balance one another.

50
When he becomes dissatisfied with himself, when he feels that what he is doing, thinking, achieving is either not enough or too inferior or even too misguided, he may be ready for the Long Path of self-improvement.

51
Entangled in his animal nature, his attempts to live in his spiritual nature consist of constant approach followed by withdrawal--a rhythm which torments him for years. This is his history on the Long Path.

52
To break an old and undesirable habit, two things are helpful. First, take a vow, make a pledge before someone whose spiritual authority you respect or someone who is spiritually more advanced than yourself. Second, let yourself be carried as far as possible on the momentum of the first great tide of enthusiasm for the new resolve, into doing something about it, into visible and practical result.

53
The tensions set up in his inner life by this struggle against the ego, the emotions, and the thought-habits will not be resolved until he has gone a long way on the quest.

54
The preliminary self-training ordinarily covers a few years if the effort is continuous, more if it is not.

55
There are inherent differences in people, differences of character, energy, intelligence, and temperament. For the quester to succeed, he must recognize this fact and not let himself become the slave of a system which is unsuited to him, or of a method which conflicts with his external circumstances.

56
We know that no two persons are wholly the same whether in outer form or inner status. We ought not demand that there should be--let alone is--a single fixed way of approaching truth or even describing it.

57
The Long Path votary lives a divided existence, ascribing reality to two powers--the ego and the Overself. If he is persistent he fluctuates between occasional glimpses of the one and long stretches of consciousness in the other.

58
The eventual aim of all this human evolutionary experience is to make us love the soul more than anything else; therefore all personal attachments have to be slowly purified in character. We may still hold them in our hearts, but they should be held inside the larger attachment to this divine Quest.


Purification and development of character

59
The quest of truth by a mind deformed by hate, anger, bias, bitterness, or greed, or deficient in concentration, calmness, or aspiration must end in a failure which will be partial or total to the extent that these negatives are partial or total. This is why the Long Path is needed.

60
Two processes are called for: a cleansing of the body and a cleansing of the character.

61
Illumination is certainly a joyous thing, but the way to it involves harsh discipline at times and hard sacrifices at other times.

62
It is not enough to practise these disciplines, controls, and denials of the self. He must also practise them cheerfully.

63
The inner work of mental purification, the travail of emotional cleansing will constantly go on. Many times in a single day he will be called on to reject wrong thoughts and to repel lower feelings.

64
The first stage is negative and preparatory. It is to get out of the animal-passional forces and lower emotional complexes which make him so largely a creature of this earth. Caught in the meshes of his lower nature as he is, he must free himself from them sufficiently to safeguard the work in mystical meditation from becoming a source of self-injury and social danger.

65
No one can deny that a proper methodical training is a highly valuable factor in achieving effective results in any sphere. This must also be true of the spiritual sphere.

66
He is not asked to be a saint, but he is asked to be sincere.

67
The instincts are to be purified, the passions calmed, the feelings refined, and the thoughts concentrated.

68
He must be brave enough to rid his thinking of enervating falsities and his emotions of their devastating egoisms.

69
The life of an aspirant must necessarily be an ever-recurring combat against his egoism, his passions, his desires, his extroversion, his attractions and repulsions. Hence it can be neither an easy nor a smooth one.

70
He has to undergo a self-discipline which is integral, total, and comprehensive.

71
Are you prepared to devote many years and much concentration to such studies? Enlightenment is no simple matter but rather a work of profound labour.

72
When the first transitional period of creating, pioneering, and establishing a new habit has been passed, it becomes no harder than holding on to a bad one.

73
He will not hesitate to acknowledge his personal frailties and to confess his personal limitations. For this is a part of the Long Path. He need only do so silently and secretly--except in the case of an interview with a spiritual adviser.

74
Only after passing through the prescribed cleansings can an aspirant be sufficiently ready and prepared to unfold the intuitive mystical side of his nature without blockage or bias interfering from the animal side.

75
Certainly he must be eager to seek the truth, willing to give time for the search since it requires study and meditation, but equally he must be prepared to practise some self-discipline. This is partly because the quest of truth succeeds to the extent that he disengages himself from the ego and from the thoughts, the passions, and the moods it produces.

76
Before a man can absorb truth he must render himself fit to do so. Otherwise, the violent intrusion of passion will cloud his vision, the sway of personal emotion will unbalance his understanding, and the working of attachment or aversion will affect the correctness of his knowledge.

77
He should be deeply ashamed of his failures, deeply repentant of his sins.

78
Not having set out to seek truth, but only the verification of their own prejudices and superstitions, naturally they do not find it. This is why mental purification and emotional discipline are necessary at the beginning.

79
He who follows the Quest will have to attend to his inferiorities of intellect, fill in gaps of personality, fight weaknesses of will, and develop needed virtues by self-training.

80
His first task is to dig up and uncover mercilessly and impartially the hidden roots of his character, and especially of his attachments, weaknesses, and repulsions.

81
It is easy and human to project our wishes on the universe of our experience and think our fancies into the universe of our ideas. Therefore, the quest of the Overself must begin with a discipline of the underself.

82
The aim of this discipline is to cleanse the heart of negative and obstructive emotions, to clear the mind of false and distorted thoughts.

83
What he has hitherto accepted--from heredity, tradition, and society--as normal, correct living habits will have to be severely questioned and, in a number of cases, altered and reformed. He will have to give up some familiar things and take up some new regimes.

84
The healthy life, whether of the body or the mind, calls for a certain amount of self-discipline, self-exercise, and self-training. We must give in effort a price that will entitle us to receive a benefit, although it need not be commensurate with the benefit. Indeed the Bhagavad Gita declares: "A little attention to this yoga produces great results."

85
Those who are willing to endure the unconventional disciplines and stiff rigours of such a daily schedule practise a self-denial which will bring them markedly closer to the goal than those who are not.

86
Such self-discipline is unattractive to, and unwanted by, those who have settled in comfortable ruts. Yet unless the lower nature is put under a yoke and made to obey the higher nature, the experiences of life fail to fulfil the purpose of life.

87
The disciple's inner work is manifold, but sincere striving for self-improvement is the most important part of it.

88
Because he has put himself under special obligations by the mere act of putting himself on this quest, he must freely and quickly confess his weaknesses, as a preliminary to setting about their correction. Condonation, justification, and alibis may be left to those who are uninterested in the quest.

89
His practical work will begin by entering the stage of self-purification, by repudiating little by little or, if he finds sufficient strength within himself, all at once, those elements of animalism which clog his upward movement and keep his mind physically immersed.

90
One of the most difficult but necessary lessons to be learned in life is the understanding and control of one's own emotional nature. It must be constantly observed, understood, and its energies should be redirected to produce that condition of inner calm and stability which is indispensable to progress. A very necessary part of this study is to observe how the emotional conditions of others impinge upon, and affect, one's own, as well as the reverse process.

91
If he is to put himself into a properly receptive attitude for the enlightenment which Truth brings, there are several corrections he must make in himself and by himself. He must discard the intolerance, the narrowness, the littleness which rejects any persons or condemns entire nations because of their appearance or their religion or their past history or their social condition. He must cast out all malevolence and enmity toward others. He must put a stop to the endless urges which covet more and more possessions, which stimulate stronger and stronger ambitions.

92
The quest's practical work seeks to rise above infantile attitudes, adolescent emotions, and animal passions.

93
Self-mastery is a personal duty for every man who wants to make something of his life, and much more so for every quester. Whatever method he uses to purge himself of blemishes and stains in his character, or errors and delusions in his mind, whether by positive effort of will or by constant contemplation of the ideal, he must withdraw from the old man to a substantial extent if he is to put on the new man.

94
The candidate who stands before the Sphinx must be prepared to part with illusions long and dearly held, with passions which give strength to those illusions, with egoistic pettiness.

95
Correct social behaviour is not necessarily an expression of spirituality: it may vary from one country, people, tribe, or century to another. But as part of the preparation of the way to spirituality it has its value so far as it calls for considerateness toward others, discipline of speech and action, curbing of selfishness, desire, and greed, and control of the passions.

96
It may be thought that being a gentleman has nothing to do with being spiritual. But, if the term is used in its ideal sense, then the belief is wrong. He who has been indoctrinated as a child with high ideals and inculcated with good habits, taught refined manners and speech, encouraged to seek the general welfare alongside of his own, and educated to practise self-discipline, has been well prepared for the Long Path if he comes to it later.

97
If he is to gather experience he can hardly help making mistakes. For they are often the heavy cost of inexperience. But he can certainly help repeating those mistakes. And this depends first on how ready he is within his own heart to admit them as such; second on how ready he is to search for weaknesses of character or capacity which may lie behind them.

98
His goal is to take these responsibilities upon his own shoulders, to develop his own courage and knowledge wherewith to meet them and not attempt to evade them in the name of spiritual surrender.

99
Although most persons do spend several lives on this quest, there is no rule which condemns them to give so much time. What they seek is close enough, within themselves, but it is they who must bring the mind, heart, and will into a condition necessary to find it. "He is a happy man," says the Bhagavad Gita, "who during his lifetime is able to conquer the passions."

100
All these energies which drag men into attachments that impede progress toward a higher level can be transmuted.

101
If one cannot predict with complete certainty when the hour of realization will arrive, one can at least prepare those conditions which are essential to its arrival. Let us do that, therefore, and then humbly await the fruit of one's labour. Whoever can instill into himself this kind of patience, which is far removed from slumbering inertia, will go far upon this path.

102
He will study his own character and other people's with the utmost impartiality.

103
So long as a man stays on the Long Path alone he is clinging to the idea of his ego, which embarks on the Quest to save itself by methods and processes of purifying itself. This idea is never let go, only refined and purified. For it starts the Quest as an imperfect and low ego, finishes it as a perfectly pruned and improved one. Its own reality is not questioned, for if it were regarded as the nonexistent fiction that it is, there would be no need to purify or save it.

104
Keep what is worth keeping in past ways of thought and life, custom and character: it took so long to come into being.

105
He is saved from spiritual snobbishness by the practice of humility, and from spiritual priggishness by a sense of humour.

106
The acknowledgment of evil done in the past and the confession of weakness experienced in the present are indispensable preliminaries.

107
He must put down the lower emotions every time they rear their heads. The ordinary unquesting man may allow resentment, jealousy, anger, lust, hate, and greed to appear and act without restraint on the scene of his life, but the disciple cannot. Self-purification is both his need and his duty.

108
His quest will not only have to take him out of the body's toxicity, negative feelings, lustful desires, and aggressive passions of the lower nature, not only out of the intellect's curiosity and restlessness, but also out of the ego's vain and disorderly imagination. It is from this source that so many false psychical experiences and hallucinatory revelations, so many prophetic messages and deceptive visions arise. The prudent aspirant will not blindly accept any self-flattering intimation or prediction, but will check it against the appraisals of informed persons, against the nature of his own conduct or the egolessness of his own character.

109
He may well weep over the muddled nature of his efforts in the past and over the wasted time spent in bypaths and sidetracks.

110
He can make a determined practice of ruling his feelings, dominating his reactions, and controlling his reflexes. This will not be easy but with time it could become a habit, that is, second nature.

111
He should hold fast to the principles of the Quest, especially those of self-cleansing, reason, balance, and stability, because only after this preparation of the right inner conditions is it possible for illumination of a more lasting character to be safely received.

112
He will obey such disciplines not as duties imposed from without but as expressions of the need to re-educate himself within.

113
Society (that is, other people) needs reform. Yes, certainly! But oneself needs not less, possibly even more reform.

114
A deeply shaming past cannot be pushed aside, but it can be transcended by learning to live on a superior level.

115
Equilibrium is a necessary part of the qualities to be developed on the Long Path. It is corrective against wrong ideas and protective against base emotion.

116
The ordinary man does not feel himself to be under any special constraint to correct his faults or remove his weaknesses or eradicate objectionable qualities; the Long Path man feels this every day.

117
They resent the fact that they are called to a work and prefer the delusion that they are to benefit by a miracle.

118
During the years between the times of knowingly starting on the Quest and that of meeting a Teacher, one should work especially hard at improving his whole general character and getting rid of any faults of whose existence he is aware. It is most important, for instance, to discipline temper, to develop self-control, and to learn how to overcome the temptation to give way to anger. Lesser faults, such as impulsiveness and carelessness, must also be checked and balanced by the deliberate cultivation of discrimination and prudence.

119
Looking at his past on the Long Path, a man who is honest with himself may experience feelings of dismay; but he ought to remember that all those events, thoughts, and actions were steps in his instruction and therefore productive. When examining and analysing it he should bear this in mind and therefore take it more calmly. At the same time the instruction must be taken to heart and used as a base contributing towards the future. The lessons are not to be ignored but they need not weigh him down.

120
Most persons live in an atmosphere which mixes the negative tendencies with the positive. The resulting mish-mash obscures their way. Even if the glimpse comes, visibility is very quickly blotted out again. There is necessary a cleaning-out work.

121
It is a serious step to take a vow, whether it be denying satisfaction to the sexual instinct or denying the craving for alcohol, or any other of the purifications. A vow of this kind is a promise made both to oneself and to the Overself. It is an unwritten contract.

122
We must begin self-reform by facing ourselves in our little human existences. Are we failing in our relationship with others? Are there negative elements in our lives, making us melancholy, dissatisfied, unhappy?

123
We take our little selves even into this analysis of the past and present. We do not see them with really impersonal eyes. The perspective is still egoistic. We do not care to accept the truth about ourselves. The task is impossible to our present stage of development. It cannot be done. But this does not mean it is not worth trying. It is. For though we shall come nowhere near to adequacy and to perfect honesty, we shall certainly move somewhat nearer.

124
Those who regard this regime as too austere to accept voluntarily give their lower nature an advantage.

125
It is open to question which leads to more mistakes in life, human frailty or human foolishness. The miseries appearing out of the first point to the need of practising self-control. The misfortunes coming out of the second say plainly that more intelligence must be developed.

126
He must show his difference from the beast in the field by showing self-discipline, self-denial, and self-training. When a man begins to look at himself with horror, he begins to bring his sleep-walking to an end.

127
If, instead of warding off the recognition of his own shortcomings, he confronted and surmounted them he would benefit. For one source of inner conflict would then disappear.

128
He himself has sought this self-cleansing. He must be prepared to witness the rising up to the surface of negative qualities that have lain inert or only half-active, as well as the throwing into focus by outer events of those which have already been fully active. He will now have to deal with these qualities, usually one at a time, and to deal with them repeatedly so long as they are not thoroughly transmuted. It is all a part of the work of purification, resulting from the co-operation of his own higher self. As such it is not to be regretted but expected, not to be deplored but to be calmly dealt with.


Confronting the obstacles within

129
He will meet with obstructions on the road. There they will lie until he uses enough energy and exertion to remove them.

130
The lazy disinclination to meditate and the emotional resistance to selflessness which obstruct his advance obstruct all other aspirants, too. It may console him to know that they are general.

131
He proposes to reorder his ways, to engage in the work of self-control, but finds that he has an intractable ego to deal with and obstinate passions to contend with.

132
On this path haste and impatience will not help him, however much they may do so on the worldly path. They will only dissipate his strength and obstruct the opening of the bud of intuition.

133
If the aspirant takes personal pride in the results of his endeavours, if he regards mystical experiences that come with meditation as favours special to him, then vanity and self-conceit have crept in on a higher level and block his path. He imagines himself to be far advanced on the path and swells with complacency at his achievement. In all this self-flattery, it is his ego who really benefits.

134
However commendable pity toward other persons may be as a trait of character, it is worse than useless to the student on this path when directed to his own person. It merely feeds his weaknesses and nourishes his ego. It prevents him from facing himself and from looking into his real problems. Self-pity stops him from uncovering the true causes of some of his troubles.

135
Doubts will come to him at times, hesitations will paralyse him, and consummation of the distant goal will seem quite inachievable. Such moods will leave wretched depressions and frustrating despairs in their train. If he is to overcome them he must call in the help of reason and clearly understand, first, that the quest by its very nature is a matter of multiple lifetimes and, second, that a calm acceptant patience is the prime condition of engaging in it at all and that progression through its different stages will come in its own time and way, and not his.

136
If the advances in understanding, the glimpses of higher states, and the improvements in mental attitudes are regarded egoistically, that is, with the smug complacence that it is "I" who has brought them about, then their value is only preparatory. For they still leave him self-enclosed and he still remains outside the Overself. The Long Path merely takes him to another part of the ego, even though it is the higher part.

137
The danger of the Long Path appears after it has been travelled for a sufficient period of time. The utter novice is not exposed to it, but the experienced aspirant is. It consists in the egotism which is bred by the belief that progress depends on the efforts he puts out, on what he personally does. For the ego cannot transcend itself, and whatever it does will still remain within its own self. Indeed, the more successful the aspirant is in developing his willpower and virtue, as well as in overcoming his faults and weaknesses, the more he is likely to develop this spiritual pride which fixes him more subtly than ever in the ego. Only resort to the messianic practice of "being still" can save him from this impasse. Only this practice will let the Overself work on him and in him, whereas every other one keeps it out by keeping him in the ego.

138
He must beware of being side-tracked into something seemingly significant but relatively unimportant, something in which he may get so engrossed that he eventually loses sight altogether of his original objective. The quest of the Overself is then deserted and the quest of some side-show takes its place.

139
It is one of the hardest things in the world to get men to change a course of thinking or living which is harmful to them if that course is long established by themselves and everywhere sanctioned by society. For custom has made them habituated to it until in the efflux of years it has become second nature.

140
If the quest is to make little difference to his outer life, if he is to continue living, eating, and spending his time much as he did before, then it is still a theoretical matter with him. His intellect may be converted but his will and heart are still among the unbelievers and dwell apart. His position is spiritually still precarious. For that which ruled his conduct before conversion was the lower nature and the darkened mind, the body's miscalled natural appetites, and the ego's worldly desires, ambitions, or attachments.

141
There are too many people who put forth brief efforts and then expect undisturbed possession of spiritual heights for the remainder of their lifetimes. They want to buy success too cheaply and therefore fail to buy it at all.

142
It is easy to put off the purificatory self-training, as so many put it off, for no better reasons than inertia, shiftlessness, or inconvenience.

143
To regard these regimes as being uncomfortable and irksome, unnecessary and depressing, is to miss their purpose and misunderstand their nature.

144
There is no danger that the average Western aspirant will indulge in excesses of asceticism, will lacerate his body and torment his humanity. That danger existed only in the medieval and earlier period, and is even fading away today in the Orient. On the contrary, the present danger is that the aspirant wants the way made all too easy for him, with its disciplinary regimes and reform of habits removed.

145
He must not judge himself with too much leniency, or he will fail to fight his weaknesses or to fight them sufficiently, or with too much severity, or he will be so easily discouraged as to bring on unnecessary mental suffering.

146
Do not get so compulsively attached to your own little ways that you automatically reject all new ones.

147
The more he tries to justify his shortcomings, the less is he likely ever to get free of them.

148
If occasions exist when he is unable to curb the animal in him, that is no reason for abandoning the quest altogether.

149
If he finds in the end the ideal to be impossible of realization, if he feels the longing for it to be doomed to perpetual impotence, if he sadly accepts the fact of his incapacity to attain it, then his attitude may change to bitter cynicism.

150
We are not always eager to improve ourselves, overcome ourselves. The enterprise is a tiring one. So we get lazy and neglectful, showing that we are inconsistent.

151
Worse is the belief that this futility must go on forever, that his quest is defeated at the start.

152
When a man never tries to turn his dreams into realities, never proceeds with the effort to realize ambitions, he is either suffering from a vacillating character or from lack of willpower.

153
The time may come when he will bring in a long bill of indictment against the quest, and turn away in disappointment or frustration. Or he may do the same against God. All this is a misdirection of mental energy. It would be more profitable, in the one case, to indict himself and, in the other, to revise his notions of what constitutes Wisdom.

154
Those who recur often to thoughts of their past get trapped by it and kept prisoner of the ego. Remorse for sins committed and self-pity for being the victim of other people's sinning--both are soon overdone and create more obstacles to be overcome on the quest.

155
Not only are the lusts and passions enemies to his inner tranquillity but also ambition and curiosity, even the wish to influence, sway, or persuade other men.

156
These spiritual longings are not easily capable of fulfilment. It is hard to find the strength to overcome egoism, thwart desire, and disturb apathy. These are torments of frustration and stagnation when travelling the road to spiritual perfection.

157
Every negative thought which may arise within himself or be picked up unconsciously from others becomes an aggression against this quest.

158
The fear of losing their fixed ground in the worldly life causes some to withdraw from the quest. They sense danger to those things on which they depend for security, or else danger to the values which they believe necessary to maintain survival in the worldly struggle and competition.

159
He becomes afflicted with doubts. What is the use of adopting an ideal which is not realizable in life as it is? Or perhaps the truth is that there is no Truth. If he is mentally adolescent or emotionally unbalanced, he may push his scepticism to extremes. The Quest's values may then seem quite spurious, the tranquillity it promises quite bleak.

160
If a man falls away from the true quest because of worldly trouble or spiritual dryness, it is because he is seeking to keep within his ego rather than to get out of it.

161
To get despondent and unhappy about one's inner progress is to exhibit a lack of patience. It is as if the builder of a house got despondent because after he had laid the foundations and put up half the frame, the house was still useless for living in.

162
Alas! there is always plenty of time in the future for taking up the quest in real earnest and so it is often comfortably postponed, while the familiar egoistic life is always immediate and urgent.

163
Spiritual pride will become harder to conquer the more he advances, for it will nourish its own strength by such advancement. The conquest of his animal nature will only intensify the power of this foe which lurks in his human nature; the upbuilding of his intellectual understanding of truth will only make him more abjectly its victim. At no stage should he let go of his chief protection against such a dangerous attacker, which is humbly to refer everything accomplished to the Overself and, secondly, prudently to measure his progress by the distance still to be travelled.

164
We readily give our thought and strength to negotiating and overcoming the obstacles to earning a livelihood, but we become fatalistically defeatist when confronted by the obstacles to deepening spiritual life.

165
Why not accept the fact of your own imperfection instead of tormenting yourself about it?

166
Too often spiritual aspiration is simply worldly ambition transplanted to a higher but subtler level. The aspirant is not necessarily deceiving himself, for a mixture of motives is quite common.

167
At no stage of this quest is he to show pride in what he has attained, for then he obstructs the way to stages beyond.

168
It is not enough to plead that times are different and circumstances have changed so that unworldly ways of thought, action, and life are inappropriate. This is really a defense mechanism of those who want their quest made easy.

169
Too many questers are too extravagantly earnest. All this solemnity is inspired by, directed towards, and activated through the ego. That it presents itself in the Overself's name makes little difference. This excess of seriousness betrays the egotism behind it and becomes self-defeating. Better to let go. But one may feel sad without appearing lugubriously solemn. There are times when no quester can miss mourning the transiency of things, can avoid the melancholy air which surrounds recognition of the insubstantiality of life, fortune, friends, and human happiness. Yet if he is faithful to his course of meditations, the sadness should not last long nor weigh him down. It will pass as his peace revives.

170
The obsession with self-improvement on the Long Path may run to such an extreme as to become morbid. The most trivial weakness will then seem a great sin, and even nonexistent imperfections will then be brooded over remorsefully.

171
When the emotions stand between him and situations as they are, when his passions cripple judgement and obstruct intuition, how can he reasonably demand to have truth conveyed to him--whole, complete, and instantaneous?

172
Too much preoccupation with his own spiritual advancement, too much of self in his thoughts and too little of the Overself--this only binds him tighter to the ego.

173
If the Quest becomes a source of stress and worry, then its precepts and injunctions, its promises and workings, have not been clearly understood. This condition may be traced back to not enough or not correct knowledge, or both together; but other causes could exist such as inborn temperamental fears. A less negative, more positive attitude toward it will help here.

174
However lofty his aspirations may be, they are all-too-often thwarted by the weakness of his will or the direction of his tendencies.

175
Although we must cease to blame others for our troubles, or conditions for our misfortunes, and assume responsibility for the self which we have created and the actions it has done, we need not push our sense of guilt to the point of morbidity. Although we have attracted so many of our misfortunes by our own thoughts and feelings and actions, we need not feed pessimism until it becomes despair. Too many persons on the Long Path fall into these errors through expecting more from themselves than they actually realized.

176
It is possible to run to such extremes on this Long Path as to lose all sense of humour, all need of lighter entertainment, all capacity to relax--looking only for meaning in outer life, for progress in inner life--to lose, in short, the art of being serious without becoming too solemn.

177
Of what use is Long Path self-reproach about one's faults if carried to excess so that one becomes disturbed to the point of neuroticism, or sad to the point of morbidity? Does he think that he alone, of all human beings, is expected to be free of weaknesses? Such excessive preoccupation with his faults is not a truly spiritual activity but, on the contrary, a highly egoistic one. The recognition of his own faults should make a man humbler, when it is beneficial, not prouder, which the thought that he ought to have been above these faults makes him.

178
When spiritual seeking becomes too complicated, its exercises too elaborated, its doctrines too esoteric, it becomes also too artificial and the resulting achievements too fabricated. It is the beginners and intermediates who carry this heavy and unnecessary burden, who involve themselves to the point of becoming neurotics.

179
Most men imply by their hidden attitude that they know truth; some men even openly assert it. From this they take the next logical step which is always to regard the habits they have established in the past, or allowed to become established, as right ones. Thus the ego justifies its self-indulgences and supports its weaknesses. A habit is accepted by a man only because it is his own habit, even though it is an evil, bad, or unwise one.

180
When we add to the oppositions offered by lifelong habit, family, and environment those which are offered by the innate sensuality and inherited gluttony of the race, we see what a hard struggle there will be before men will take to and follow scrupulously the stricter regime which will bring out all that is best in them.

181
Some things inside his own being are blocking his way to the Overself. An effort--determined, continuous, and daring--is needed to clear them. They are emotional and passional in appearance, egoistic in essence.

182
To overcome difficulties does not mean to overlook them, to be careless about them.

183
A condition may come when the appraisal of all that he has so far achieved is diminished in his own mind, and all that he has yet to achieve is grossly exaggerated.

184
There are those who feel, after a trial, that they are too limited in their capacities for this quest and give up the effort. In going so far as this abandonment they show a lack of patience.

185
Their fixed preconceptions of truth stand in the way of most persons when opportunity presents them with it. In the result, they fail to recognize it and so lose it.

186
Too much intellectual dissection of the personal ego done too often merely nourishes neuroticism; and the same result follows too much emotional preoccupation with it. This is a Long Path danger.

187
The followers of the Long Path are likely to form attachments to its ideals, practices, and aspirations. This is good. But if these attachments cause them to lose their equilibrium, to become over-anxious emotionally, or over-argumentative intellectually, then it is not good but bad.

188
If he fails in his Long Path efforts, he suffers in misery from frustration. If he succeeds, he tends to become smugly self-righteous.

189
They put too much stress on external methods, on physical techniques. But spirituality cannot be engrafted from the outside in, alone. The greater stress should be laid on an approach from the inside out.

190
The Long Path, so far as it is also a painful untangling of knots, is useful in the sense that surgical operations and castor oil are useful. But were a man to live only to be operated on, or only to drink castor oil, we would regard him as crazy. Yet, there is a type of aspirant who wants to live only in preoccupation with his knots! He is everlastingly preoccupied with shaking off his shortcomings, is unable to get away from them, and ends by becoming obsessed with them. His life, which should flow naturally and serenely, moves instead artificially and jerkily. His self-discipline, which should be rooted in hygiene, becomes rooted in hysteria.

191
The seeker on the Long Path tries to eliminate his baser feelings and to cultivate his nobler ones. But in all this effort he is looking at himself alone, purifying and improving his ego but still his own ego.

192
It gives a man no pleasure to perceive at last how much he has contributed toward his own troubles. It is indeed a grim awakening. But it need not be so grim if, alongside, he puts a positive attitude toward the future, if he adopts the Short Path.

193
The idea that what we like most and enjoy best has to be given up, seems an ugly one. But such an idea is not at all the basis of this discipline.

194
The continuing strain of the Long Path comes to a climax one day, to a revolutionary crisis.

195
If a scheme for progress, such as the Quest, remains intellectual alone and does not come down to the heart, and move it, the aspirant will continue to remain outside the precinct of the Overself.

196
If the Long Path does not lead him to the Short Path, either at some point along its course or in the end, it is not leading him aright.

197
The more he examines himself the more he is discouraged or horrified at what he finds just below the surface. This mood will continue only as long as he remains on the Long Path. For by going deeper still he will find his best self. To make this discovery he must cross over to the Short Path, itself a paradox of passivity and non-effort, a movement of sight to insight, of faith and identification.

198
The Long Path cannot be evaded. The man who wants to shift on to other shoulders the work he ought to do himself, will fail. The man who, calling on a God or a guru, imagines he has relieved himself of personal responsibility, will be deluded.

199
Of what use is a spiritual training, revelation, progress, or experience which keeps the aspirant's identification with his ego quite intact? None at all from a narrow, short-term, rigid, extreme point of view. But from a broader, philosophic, tolerant, and long-term point of view it is the beginning of a process which will indirectly lead to disidentification in the end. For the Long Path must ultimately show up its own futility, for truth, and thus bring about that turning over of the mind which opens up the Short Path.

200
The Long Path is concerned with techniques, how to practise and apply them. But techniques can only improve the human instrument, make it better able to receive enlightenment; they cannot of themselves give enlightenment.

201
Man, fascinated by his own ego, is always gazing at it, just as Narcissus was fascinated by the image of his own body reflected in the water. Even when he takes to the spiritual quest, the fascination persists: it is only the things and desires that preoccupy the ego which change their names; from being objects of the physical senses they are transferred to emotional, intellectual, and/or psychical fields. These may be praiseworthy and noble in themselves, but they are still within the circle of the ego, although on its finest and highest levels. This is why the Long Path cannot yield enlightenment.

202
Since the mastery of his lower nature must take priority, the Long Path is always prescribed for the beginner. Whether and when the Short Path is to be added to it, depends on his individual character and inner need.

203
The arc of his development usually begins with the Long Path and rises to the Short one, but theoretically it should begin with both together in harmonious combination.

204
Some fear to give themselves to the Quest because they fear terrifying demands will be made on them in the way of self-discipline. But this dread of what they may be commanded to do is much exaggerated. For they will be directed inwardly only toward what is within their capacity, even if it is spectacular and sacrificial.

205
The reader is warned that the first part is to be regarded only as preparatory and intermediate, that its point of view mostly belongs to the practical category and that its special function is to act as a transition to the far higher ultimate one. The second part carries the student upward to the mountain top where he will be able to see that the ideas and practices which served him well heretofore, were really only convenient and useful steps cut in the mountain side. They are not to be dallied on if he seeks truth as it is in itself and if he will be satisfied with nothing less than reality. The change of outlook which comes at the top will necessarily change his earlier evaluations.

206
The Long Path man becomes in time too egocentric because too filled with inner conflicts.

207
Efforts on the Long Path are efforts in time; as such they cannot touch the timeless.

208
Since the entity which is travelling on the quest is itself none other than the ego, it is hardly likely that the termination of the quest will end in the termination of the ego. But without the latter how is enlightenment possible? The ego may lead him from one spiritual advance, experience, or initiation to another, but it will not lead him to egoless being nor could it even if it wished to. What is the way out of this impasse?

209
Tirclean Talk by P.B., June 1965: Short Path and Long Path

All ways of spiritual seeking divide into two classes. The first is basic, elementary, the second for more advanced people. The first for beginners is the Long Path. It takes a long time to get results, and a lot of work has to be done on it; much effort is necessary for it. The second is the Short Path. The results are more quickly got; it is an easier path, and requires less work. To the Long Path belongs the methodical yoga. It takes a lot of work to practise daily: building of character and removing of weaknesses and overcoming of faults, developing concentration of attention to stop the distraction of mind and to get control over thoughts, strengthening of willpower, and all the activities for the beginners. These are the earlier stages of meditation.

Meditation has two parts. The lower one belongs to the Long Path. Also, the religions are for the beginners and popular masses. They, too, belong to the Long Path. To the Short Path belong Christian Science, Ramana Maharshi's teachings, Vedanta, Krishnamurti's teaching, and Zen. They all say You Are GOD. The Long Path says instead: You are only a man. The one says that you are man and the other says that you are also really rooted in God.

Long Path--here is working through the ego. The student thinks he is the ego and develops concentration, aspiring to improve himself, getting more and more pure. He says: "I am doing this work." He is thinking that he is purifying himself and improving the quality of the ego. But it is still ego. He is rising from the lower to the higher part of the ego and becoming a spiritualized ego. He is looking for the Gurus (spiritual teachers).

Short Path--it is different because the idea "ego" does not come in, only the Overself, not the longing (which belongs to the Long Path), but the identification, not even aspiration.

Long Path has to do with progress and takes a time for it and therefore means moving in time, and it is the ego who is working.

Short Path is not concerned with time and therefore not with progress. Thinking only of the timeless Overself. No idea of progress, no desire, it does not matter. Real Self is always changeless. Progress implies change. All questions and problems disappear because the questioning (ego) intellect is not allowed to be active.

Now you understand the question of the Guru. On the Long Path the aspirant wants the Guru, he looks for a Guru, is depending on him, and the Guru helps him to progress. On the Short Path the Overself is the Guru and the aspirants depend directly only on the Overself. On the Short Path the Guru question does not come into consideration. Guru is outside themselves, but God is inside on the Short Path stage. The aspirants on the Short Path need not depend on a Guru. Intellectually they have freedom from the Guru. If a guru dies or disappears, they do not worry about it. There is a real reliance on God--no human being, but your Spirit.

Long Path--the aspirants are moving in shadows, there is not life but darkness, they are not in the light but in ignorance. Their reason is not enlightened. Because they are living in the ego they are living in spiritual ignorance, which is darkness.

Short Path--he lives in the Sunlight, because he lives in Truth, the only reality--like looking, being in the sun. As in Plato's story, he comes out of a cave, walking to the opening with his back turned to the opening of the cave, moving and seeing only the darkness. The other way is turning around to the mouth of the cave, seeing a little light, then more and more light. Even from the beginning there is still some light.

A question will be asked: Why does not every teacher teach the Short Path? The answer is: Because people have not got enough strength of character to give up the ego and are not willing to turn at once to the light. It is a sacrifice. To make this possible, the Long Path teaches them to make the ego weaker by graduated stages. In the Long Path the progress comes in, just to prepare them to reach a point where it is easier for them to give up the ego. This is one of the most important of the reasons. It makes the aspirant ready to benefit by the Short Path; otherwise he would not be able to travel on it. The second reason is because they have not the strength of concentration to keep the mind on the Overself. They may be able to keep it for one or two minutes, but they then fall back. Therefore it is necessary to develop the power of sustained concentration. Even if one sees the Truth, one must get the power to stay in the Truth and to be established in it.

Most people have strong attachments and strong desires for worldly things. These are in their way, obstructing their way on the path to Reality. This means that they want to keep attachments and desires that are coming from the ego, which they do not want to lose. Therefore the teacher gives first the Long Path, because most aspirants are not able to follow the Short Path. The Long Path exists to prepare them for it. There is no use for them to go on the Short Path if they have not got the philosophical understanding to practise it. Even if they were shown the Truth in the Short Path, they may, if unprepared by study and thinking philosophically, fail to recognize it. They have not learnt what Truth is and might not value it. They have no philosophical knowledge to see the difference between Truth or Reality and illusion or error. They have to understand Truth even intellectually. That is a part of the Long Path.

Another very important matter related to the Long Path: when people follow the Long Path and spend years working on it, many such persons after several years find they have not made the progress they have expected. In the beginning they have enthusiasm. They expect inner experiences giving power, knowledge, and self-control; but after many years they have not gained these things. On the contrary, tests, hard trials of the life come, death in the family, for instance, changes of the outside life, and so on. They are disappointed and say: "Why has God chosen me for suffering even when I follow the Path? Troubles come to me." They are disheartened. At this point one of three things may happen:

(1) They may give up the Quest altogether, for one year or many years, or all life long, and turn back to materialistic living.

(2) They may think they have taken to the wrong path, or are using wrong methods, or have the wrong teacher, and they look for another teacher and another way. But with the new teacher the results are the same because they are still within the circle of the ego. The ego prevents them from sufficiently deepening their state of light and wisdom.

(3) The third possibility may happen to them. When they themselves have tried so hard and did not succeed and feel too tired mentally and exhausted emotionally, they give up trying but they do not give up the Quest. They just sit passively and wait. Those who are in this last or third category are completely ready to enter the Short Path and should do it. Even beginners may enter the Short Path, but in practice they find it too hard.

The best way is from the beginning to make a combination of both. But this combination must be varied and adjusted to each person, because people are different. There is not one fixed rule for everyone. One person is suited for a little of the Short Path and more or longer of the Long Path; with the other person it is vice versa. With most people the combination is the best way. It depends partly on their feelings, their intuition, and advice given by teachers. In the end, everyone must come to the Short Path.

Contradictions between the two Paths: one is the ego and the other the Overself without ego. The Short Path is without plane, intuitive, like Sudden Enlightenment. On the Long Path they are looking step by step to get out of the darkness of their ignorance. The next important point: on the Long Path many students want experiences--mystical, occult, psychical ones. It is the ego wanting them and the satisfaction of progressing. The ego feels important. In the Short Path there is no desire for inner experiences of any kind. When you are already in the Real, there is no desire any more. For experiences come and go, but the Real does not. Now you see why the popular religions are only attempts to get people to make a beginning to find God, but are not able to go too far and too quickly. For those who are more developed and less bound to attachments, the teacher gives the Short Path. In the teachings of Jesus and Buddha we find both Paths. People have different stages of evolution and can therefore take what suits them. The teacher gives them what they understand from their level of understanding.

Popular religions are mixtures of the Long and Short Paths. But unfortunately they sometimes lead to confusion. In the Biblical sentence, "Before Abraham was, I AM," there are two meanings. The lower one means the reincarnation, the higher one means: I AM the Reality.

On the Short Path we do not care about reincarnation matters, we do not give them much importance. On the Short Path the aspirants need the philosophical study to understand only one point: What is Reality. It is necessary to understand the difference between the Illusion and the Reality. Every teacher's biggest difficulty is to get the students to understand that not only the world but also the ego is illusion. The aspirants do not know what the ego is. Therefore Jesus said: "If you want to find your true Self you have to deny yourselves," meaning deny the ego. Buddha said: "This is not I." The Buddha taught his monks to practise saying and thinking this mantram. There is much confusion about the two points if there is not the knowledge that all teachings fall into these two classes and if there is no understanding of the difference between them.

It is necessary to publish a new book. Even among people who have studied for many years, there is this confusion.

A very important point: because the ego lives in its own darkness, it cannot give light. The light may come only from the Overself, which is the Sun and Light of human existence. With the reason we can control the ego to some extent, but it is not possible to control the Overself. As regards Enlightenment, this is not coming from self-willed effort; it is coming only by what the Overself does to him. It is a matter of Grace--unpredictable--and it is the last secret. It is like the wind that comes you do not know where from and goes you do not know where to. It is a mystery. At the end we have to be like little children and leave our Enlightenment to the Father and give up our lives to him. On the Long Path the aspirant tries to improve himself. He experiences successes and failures, ups and downs. When he is disappointed, he gets melancholy. On the Short Path such a situation cannot arise, because he has faith like a little child. He has given up all his future to Overself-God and he has enough faith to trust to it. He knows he has made the right decision and therefore is always happy. He depends on this GRACE, he knows It, that It comes from the wisest being behind the world. Whatever will come, it will be the best. He is always relying on the Overself and having the joy in it.

The Short Path is a cheerful Path, a Path of happiness. Just before this begins, the aspirant may experience the Dark Night of the Soul. He feels utterly helpless, has no feeling of spiritual Reality. It is a melancholy time--no feeling of spirituality or longing for it. He is neither worldly nor spiritual. He feels alone and abandoned and separated by a wall from his Guru. He feels God has forgotten him. This dark night may last a short time or long years. He is unable to read spiritual things, or think about them. There is no desire for ordinary things either. He feels sad and disappointed and may even try suicide. In this unhappiness even those who love him cannot bring him comfort. In both hemispheres, Western and Eastern, there is a saying: the night is darkest just before dawn. He is on the lowest point. After that, the Short Path brings back the Joy--just like clouds moving away from the Sun.

The best advice is, first, that it will not last forever; he must have patience. Second, he must have hope. Then he reaches a better level than ever before. The Dark Night of the Soul does not come to every seeker. It is like a shadow thrown by the Sun. When the Sun appears in the subconscious, the shadows arise. But it is the beginning of a great inner change. It is not a wasted time; there is a great deal of work going on--but in the subconscious--to root out the ego. It is being done by the Overself. It is a sign of Grace, but the aspirant nevertheless feels unhappy.

In the Short Path there are usually much fewer exercises to practise. It is not necessary to sit down specially to meditate, but to try to be always in meditation. When you are busy outwardly, meditation naturally takes a different form than when you sit down for it. During the active part of the day, meditation takes the form of remembrance, always to try to remember the Overself: IT IS (That is enough). In the special meditation time our object is not to improve the character. During the meditation we have to empty our mind of thoughts as quickly as possible, let the mind become still. Ordinarily we live in our thoughts, in our little selves, even if the thoughts are spiritual. Therefore we have to keep away from all thoughts. If you want to think of the Overself, which is without any form, it is not possible. We try, but any idea, form, or shape is wrong. You cannot imagine it. So better not to try but to be still. You must not remain in the ego. "Be still [let go] and know that I AM GOD," says the Bible.

Wu-Wei, meaning inaction, not trying, is the highest teaching of Taoism and Zen and it means the same as what has just been explained. The Overself is already there. You as ego must get out of the way. Most people have to combine the Long Path with the Short Path--perhaps one day or one week (whatever the inner urge directs) on the Long Path and the other day on the Short Path. The attitude will be a passive one because all intellectual ideas have only a limited value. We must be now guided by our inner feeling of what we need, or by our intuition. If people ask whether they have to study, the answer is that the books deal with the thoughts. What they give is not the Truth, but only intellectual statements of it. It will only prepare them for a better understanding. When they study these books they will only get more thoughts. In the end they have to come to the point where they need no books. There are good books but we must always discriminate between wrong teachings and right teachings, which may get mixed together in the same book. This is the highest we can go with such studies.

When changing to contemplation, the thinking stops. This is the deepest point within oneself. This is why everybody has to search within himself and to find his own Path. It is not necessary to travel on the Long Path any longer time than that which prepares you for the Short Path. It is quite important to have living faith in the Overself and to become like a child and to have as much dependence on the Overself as a little child has on its parents. This faith should be in the power of the Spirit itself, not in any other human being. If the aspirant is constantly anxious about his faults or weaknesses, then he is on the wrong Path. He can try to remove them but cannot do this completely until he is able to give up the ego.

The basis of the Short Path is that we are always divine. It is with us already, it is no new thing, and we only have to try to recognize what is already there.



The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.