To become a seeker in intention is admirable as the first step but it is only the first one. To qualify as a seeker in fact is the second. What are the required qualifications?
Philosophy expects nothing from its votaries that is beyond their power to give. Hence it makes different demands on different people, graduating its ethic and instruction, its injunctions and duties, its precepts and counsels, to their strengths capacities and circumstances. But nevertheless it sacrifices nothing of enduring value, for at the same time it reminds them not to forget the final ideal, the ultimate end toward which all their lesser efforts are moving. Thus it accommodates itself to those who want an easier and longer route, making itself accessible to ordinary people, yet it does not separate itself from the rarer souls who are so circumstanced and so formed by nature as to gladly give themselves to the shortest and hardest route.
Just as a physically immature baby could not take a half-mile walk, however much it wished or even willed to do so, so a spiritually immature man could not take in the higher philosophy, however much he wished or willed it. The intuition and intelligence, the character and capacity needed for this latter purpose must be present in him, and used, before the teachings can really reach him.
If philosophy hides its truth from mental unreadiness and its votaries from social persecution, it is, nevertheless, always ready when it is needed by any sincere seeker who has evolved to the requisite degree. If he has got enough religious prejudice and mystical superstition out of his mind to be free to think for himself, if he has lifted his character somewhat above the common weaknesses, if his sense of values is such that the Truth appears desirable above all things, then philosophy is the only thing to which he can turn for guidance and enlightenment--and philosophy will surely welcome him.
To learn is to receive knowledge; but he who seeks to learn this Truth which is both behind and beyond all other truths must come with his mind, his heart, his body, and his will. With his mind because his thought must be pushed to its deepest measure. With his heart because his love is demanded more than he now knows. With his body because it is to be the temple of the holy spirit. And with his will because he may not stop this enterprise until he is through.
He has to learn discrimination if he wishes to become a philosopher. This is not merely that moral quality which separates right from wrong for the religious man, but that psychological act which separates the perceiver from the objects of his perception, the experiencer from the objects of his experience, in its elementary operation. Although it will have to reunite them again in its later operation on a higher plane, as the unenlightened man unites them on a lower one, that plane cannot be reached abidingly by jumping, only by climbing.
The acceptance of such a teaching as philosophy implies an unusual degree of intelligence--which is not the same as education or even intellect, although it may include these things. For the recognition that there is a world of being beyond that registered by the five senses, a world of consciousness not limited to that reported by the thinking ego, a divine soul hidden within that ego itself, a superior power involving us all in its cosmic order--such a recognition can come only to those with unusual intelligence. Faith is good but not enough, for one day it may change through circumstances or be confused through lack of knowledge. Such intelligence is best for it includes and guides faith but goes farther than it.
Philosophical intelligence combines the intellectual faculty with the intuitive.
Without pure philosophy, there is no possibility of ascending the higher peaks of truth. In the highest esoteric school of Asia no one is admitted before first having been taken through a course of the essentials of this subject. In this school there is no progress without the full use of intelligence and sharpened reason. The lack of this quality has helped to contribute to the downfall of organized mystical movements known to us all.
The study of philosophy educates the mind in deep thinking. It must be approached in the spirit of scientific detachment.
Something of the impersonality and detachment of the mathematician are necessary to the beginning philosopher.
He is to be concerned solely with the reality, with that which Is, and not with the presentation of it which others have invented.
At this stage he is finished with compromises: he can accept nothing less--and wants nothing else--than the pure Truth.
Unless men possess the right intuitional calibre, they cannot grasp this teaching, for it stands at an altitude beyond the reach of the gross and the materialistic.
The courage to become independent of his own past beliefs is needed. The strength to set aside the patterns of thought imposed on his mind by long habit is required. These qualities may not necessarily have to come into action but they must be there.
The hysteric, the neurotic, or the paranoic is unready for philosophy's guidance, unfit for mysticism's meditation. It is useless for such a one to apply as a candidate for initiation. Let him get rid of his self-centered mania first.
Philosophy demands the purity and experience of a sage, not the purity and ignorance of a child.
Philosophy does not compete with any religion, any mystical or metaphysical system, for it does not consider itself as existing on the same level as any of them. It can only be grasped by those who bring the necessary intuitive, mystical, intellectual, moral, and devotional qualifications to it, and it can only be appreciated by those who can grasp it.
Philosophy is for those who demand the ultimate, who are satisfied with nothing less and who have enough discernment to discriminate between it and its many substitutes.
Those only will appreciate this point of view who have awakened to the need of penetrating through illusion to reality and who understand how important this is to humanity's future.
Philosophy calls for some leisure to study it and for some capacity to understand what is being studied. It is not enough to be an amateur in philosophy: one must become an expert.
The first lessons of the higher philosophy cannot be usefully taught to those who have not learned the last lessons of religion. But for those who have gone a little way into mysticism or metaphysics, such instruction need not be deferred.
People of all religious faiths can come to the study of philosophy. They will not be able to keep their faith after such study, however, without profoundly deepening it. Nor will they be able to keep with it the enthusiastic arrogance or intolerant ignorance which accompanies so much sectarianism.
Oriental wisdom enjoins in general withholding truth from the unready, and in particular from those who do not want or seek it, from inebriated or agitated persons, from those in whom lust or greed, wrath or impatience predominates, and, understandably, from lunatics.
Philosophy gains recruits only from those whose values are so lofty that they regard the finding of truth a satisfying end in itself, and whose minds are so tolerant that they make their search for it in the widespread field of comparative and universal cultures.
The independent mind, which seeks all the facts and not merely some of them, which does its own thinking about those facts, is naturally better suited to philosophy than the dependent mind, which accepts without demur inherited creeds and established sects.
His intellectual integrity must be such that even if his search for truth ends in ideas which upset much of what he has hitherto accepted, he will not flinch from making the change.
Swedenborg: "Without the utmost devotion to the Supreme Being, the Origin of all things, no one can be a complete and truly erudite philosopher. Veneration for the Infinite Being can never be separated from philosophy."
Philosophy is for those who can think closely and who are willing to abide by the results of their thinking. It is not for those who settle everything by the evidence of their senses. That is why it has never been a necessity to those who must see reality with their eyes and touch it with their hands, as it has been to those who were content to know with their minds.
In the study of modern science, in all laboratory analysis or examination of natural phenomena, great stress is laid upon the necessity for strict impersonality and freedom from every trace of wishful thinking, personal emotion, and prejudice. This is of equal necessity to the student of philosophy.
He is ready to learn philosophy when he is ready to strip himself of all prejudice, or at least to allow philosophy itself to do this to him.
Uninformed seekers have to learn various lessons before they find their way to this path, to philosophy. They are attracted to ancient ideas and outworked methods of which only a portion really suit today's humanity. What has happened to the races and to the globe on which they dwell has affected their character and mind, their tendencies, capacities, and faculties. Those who look back nostalgically to teachings and texts, lands and names so honoured--and quite worthily too--do not know or understand this. The fact that there are certain basic eternal truths is certainly irrefragable. That Mind always was, is, and will be, is one of them. That the human soul is linked with it (through the World-Mind) is another. But the methods by which this link may be vivified and the men who are to use them and the circumstances under which they live have all been modified.
After he has had the courage, freedom, intelligence, aspiration, and discrimination to work through all the cults--especially the personality-worship cults--and creeds, persistently, calmly, and survived the temptation of idolatry, he may be fitter to revere the noble impersonal Godhead.
If you wish to know the Truth, you must accept its disconcerting revelations along with the pleasant ones. You must be willing to practise inner detachment from everything and everyone as well as to enjoy the beautiful moments of rapture.
If people come to mysticism with unbalanced or diseased minds, as a number certainly do, and if they permeate their mystical acquisitions with their own defects, they cannot do the same to philosophy. For the end result would be either that they flee from it on deeper acquaintance or that its demands and disciplines would begin to permeate them. This in turn would equilibrate or heal their minds.
Those who belong by natural affinity to this teaching stay with it. All others eventually find their proper level elsewhere.
I took the trouble of looking up the meaning given to the Sanskrit word shraddha, which is one of the six subsidiary qualifications required of the aspirant to the knowledge of higher Vedantic philosophy. Here are the results: (1) Monier Williams' massive Sanskrit dictionary laconically defines it as to have "trust"; (2) Govindananda, in his work the Ratna-Prabha, defines it as meaning "a respectful trust in all higher things"; (3) Venkatramiah, in his version of the Aitareyopanishad, says it means "faith in the Vedantic verities as inculcated by the preceptor"; (4) Vasudeva, the ascetic, gives its significance as "the strong faith in the words of one's teacher," in his Meditations; (5) Professor Girindra N. Mallik, M.A., defines it as "faith in the contents of the scriptures." But what is the esoteric and therefore the truest meaning of shraddha? My own interpretation is: "that faith in the existence of truth, that determination to get at truth, come what may, which would make one a hero even in the face of God's wrath."
He who would become a philosopher must keep away from partisanship, must cultivate an independent state of mind so as to be free to receive ideas from any source. In this way he can really learn what others have thought or found long ago or in his own epoch, whether they lived in the East or West. Such detachment is not easy to acquire or to maintain without self-discipline.
His attitude should be: "Take the truth, whether or not it be useful to practical life. Take it for its own sake, disinterestedly and enthusiastically, whether it be close to personal needs or far from them."
It needs for its study an enlarged outlook and gives in return a still larger one. This is true philosophy, universal, wide-horizoned, inclusive, and reconciliatory.
It needs some courage to face facts as they are and the world as it really is, but this is better than harbouring illusions which are going to be relentlessly and painfully dispelled.
There is another side to this demand that an aspirant be at the stage where he has been prepared for, and is ready to imbibe, the higher truth. The demand must not be pushed to the extent that those who have not had any opportunity for such prior preparation will be shut out altogether. Something can and ought to be given them to the utmost possible degree.
Few persons are at the required level of full intellectual, intuitive, moral, and metaphysical development for philosophy but many persons are capable of benefitting by its practical applications.
If some of its tenets are admittedly unfamiliar and provocative, this is not to say that they are outside the reach of anyone with moderate capacity who will approach them with a will to understand.
The mind which has not yet been properly prepared by the philosophical discipline to receive truth directly through intuition, must meanwhile receive it indirectly through faith and reason.
Philosophy is not for him whose mind is so riddled with race prejudice as to think nothing good can come out of Asia, or whose own attitude is so steeped in violent bias as to judge people solely by their appearance, or whose ideas are lit only by his own little guttering candle of limited experience.
It does not admit the popular delusion that every member of the human race is fit to pass proper judgement on any issue merely by consulting his opinion or feeling about it--much less about religion and mysticism.
The hidden teaching is only for those who prefer to travel freely on a road rather than crawl slavishly in a rut. Only the strong can submit to this mental isolation.
It is comforting only to the few who are prepared to part with their egoism, their pride, their sensuality, and their inertia for the sake of truth.
Error will creep into his finite apprehension of the infinite truth if he has not previously made himself ready, pure, balanced, and mature.
If only because philosophy was not there for anyone to pick up casually if he wished, but only there for anyone who could think and intuit, its possible adherents were well limited in number. Such a man would inevitably think and intuit himself more and more into its great teachings to the degree that he wished to seek truth and was able to abandon ego.
Philosophy is primarily for the fairly advanced mentality; for the person who is familiar with the chief spiritual conceptions and practices; for the aspirant who is experienced and mature.
Only one who has spent his life in religious, mystical, and philosophic investigations can appreciate the universal, the timeless, and the placeless character of this teaching.
No man who has totally failed to use his intuitional faculty will have the capacity to receive philosophy.
Every child must pass through a proper training in elementary and intermediate mathematics before the principles of higher calculus can be explained to it. So those who wish to grasp the advanced portion of philosophy must likewise prepare the mind and heart, the will and character.
A high level of general education is a distinct advantage for those who would take up such a study, but it is not an absolute essential.
It is for all classes, all types of mind, and all kinds of character. It is for the simple as well as the astute, the sinful as well as the good. But alas! personal histories show that it is the astute and the good who mostly accept philosophy. The others who need it because they too are human beings accept it less frequently.
Those who prefer the pleasant to the true will naturally fear to enter the kingdom of philosophy.
Only those who can follow philosophy wherever it leads them and practice its tenets with unflinching courage will ever become philosophers. It is not enough to affirm principles; they must also be applied and given tangible form.
Those who are cultivated, educated, and intelligent enough to appreciate what philosophy offers them may yet be blinded by prejudice or selfishness or be too stupefied from gorging the passions to do so.
Sensitive and introspective minds will more quickly find their way to these truths than dull and extroverted ones.
If he is to reach this pure well of truth, its water untainted by bias or prejudice, he will do best by keeping independent.
Both a properly disciplined body and a philosophically-strengthened mind should be our reliance.
One should seek for knowledge of the Higher Laws governing life, for true purity of character, and for humility if he wishes to reach the Highest Truth.
Seekers who are not satisfied with conventional doctrines or mystical experiences must be willing to do some difficult but profitable reasoning.
The truth cannot be found by those who cannot protect themselves against deception, and especially self-deception.
Philosophy carries good tidings to the human race, but they will be regarded as "good" only by those members of the race who are able and willing to take an impersonal and impartial view of things.
Not everyone is ready for the truth when it comes to him.
The kind of mind which likes to keep everything neatly labelled (good or bad) and everyone neatly classified (atheist, believer, Christian, Hindu) will be somewhat puzzled, slightly uneasy, and partly derisory when confronted by philosophy or philosophers.
One who is ripe to receive truth will respond to its presentation at once, convinced that it must be so.
One who is ready will feel the power in these written truths and will follow their injunctions obediently.
That everyone and anyone should be taught philosophy is an unreasonable demand. Only those who consciously seek truth and deliberately practise self-discipline are entitled to such teaching.
Truth is a many-sided unity. It cannot be found by a narrow single-track mind. To take a fragment of truth and call it all of the truth, to stand on one point of view and ignore all other points entirely, is easier for lazy minds. But this is not philosophical. This is why some kind of preparatory self-training to broaden and deepen oneself mentally is required by philosophy and why it cannot be handed over on a plate.
That some restraint and discipline are needed is implied by the very notion of a quest for higher goals. That some portion must be set by the teaching itself but another must be self-imposed arises out of the balanced, sensible nature of philosophy. It has no place for fanaticism or tyranny.
Without requiring the ambition for sainthood, it does require the capacity to recognize the need of a discipline and the willingness to undergo it.
Truth already exists within man. He has to bring it from the centre to the circumference of his consciousness. If it is hidden from his view, that is only because he has not looked deep enough or has not cleared away the obstructions to his view. Those obstructions are entirely within his lower self, and may be removed by practice of the philosophic discipline.
He has first to find out what it is that keeps him from the higher self. And, this known, he will see the need and value of the philosophic discipline as a means of eliminating these obstacles.
Philosophy requires every acolyte to submit to a self-imposed discipline. That he shall not knowingly cherish an untruth in his feeling is the first and easier requirement; that he shall not unknowingly cherish an untruth in his thinking is the second and harder.
This path is a master stroke. This method of destroying the illusion of the self by means of the intellectual function which is its primary activity stands supreme and almost alone. That very function automatically ceases when directed upon itself in the way that is herein taught. And with its cessation, the self is dissolved, appropriated by the Universal.
The most striking point in this simple technique is that he uses the very ego itself--for so long indicated by all mystics as the greatest enemy on the Path--as the means of divine attainment. These words may sound like pure paradox, but they happen to be true. The strength of his enemy is drawn upon for his help, while that which was the supreme hindrance transforms into a pathway to the goal.
The ability to discriminate between appearance and reality, between the false "I" and the true "I," is developed by subjecting the reports of the senses to the criticism of the intellect, by checking emotion with reason, by standing aside from all of these faculties with the intuition, and by diving deeper and deeper into one's essence in meditation.
The enigmatic questions which have long haunted the human mind and will long continue to haunt it and which will rise insistent in the mind of the aspirant are: What is he to seek? How is he to gain the objects of his search? What are the prospects of the fulfilment of such an aspiration and the hindrances likely to attend it? The answers to them are a gradual revealing which follows on the heels of the cultivation of certain attitudes to truth and to persons and things.
"What is he to seek?" He should seek reality and the knowledge of it which is truth. This is the ideal which is set before him. This is to realize his spiritual nature and thus achieve his higher destiny. Because truth is so subtle and so hard to find, his search after it should be well guided, his knowledge of it properly tested, and his adventures in meditation morally and intellectually safeguarded. Truer ideas are needed; nobler standards are called for. Such ideals, truthfully formed, deeply held, and wholeheartedly applied, can only benefit man and not hurt him. He who has been given a glimpse of the Ideal will not be able to lie always asleep in the sensual. The finer part of his nature will revolt against it again and again.
The Ideal serves more than one useful purpose. It is not only a peak to whose summit he tries to raise himself by slow degrees. It is also a focus for meditation exercises, a guide for practical conduct in certain situations, and a compass to give general direction to his trend of thought, feeling, and doing. It causes the aspirant to feel that he has been led through varying events to the new path which now opens up before him, that a spiritual meaning must be given to the period of his life just closed. The sequence of events and the accumulation of experience will force him to face his problems in the end. If he can do this honestly, analyse them intelligently, and intuit them adequately, he may acquire a valuable new point of view.
"How is he to gain the objects of his search?" The truth-seeker will begin to turn inward in quest of unity with his own soul and outward in quest of unity with mankind. Life is the guide that is bringing him home to himself and to kindlier relation to his fellows. Life itself teaches and disciplines towards these great ends. The following of the integral philosophic quest, with life as the guide and teacher, will involve the re-education of moral character--which is done in part by constant reflection and special meditations on the one hand and discipline of the senses on the other, and in part by prayer, aspiration, and worship. In addition, if a man cultivates the habit of barring entrance to negative thoughts and of instantly throwing weakening ones out of his mind, his character will strengthen itself more quickly. The outcome will be certain relationships to oneself, to others, and to situations and things.
The ascent toward truth proceeds by steps. If at first the merits of a particular teaching or teacher impress the emotions unduly, it is also likely that a more critical study of the one and a more thorough experience of the other will show up unsuspected defects. The philosophic student tries to avoid undergoing these unpleasant changes by getting a balanced view of the pros and cons from the start. He ought not to be so swept off his feet by the great admiration felt for a genius or a doctrine that he has no clear perception of the former's defects or the latter's faults. He must maintain balance not only in the face of lower emotions but also of nobler ones.
All human knowledge is conditioned by the fact of human relativity. Human nature, human intellect, and human egoism impose their limitations not only in material experience but also in mystical experience. Statements of divine truth made by mortal men should be read in the light of the fact that they are subject to such relativity. None is infallible, none eternally authoritative. Such seems to be the unhopeful situation. Is there then no way of disengaging the human agency from the divine message which manifests through it? The answer is that this way does exist and that its method is an intellectual as well as emotional purification, a moral and practical discipline, an intuitional and mystical preparation, and above all an elimination of the personal reference carried on incessantly through a long period.
Philosophy can be understood only by the actual process of philosophizing, by passing through the whole course of emotional and mental discipline which philosophy involves.
The student should seek clear ideas and warm feelings in his spiritual studies and devotional aspirations.
The pure revelation comes only to those who can bring themselves at the bidding of truth to sacrifice ruthlessly their previous beliefs, if necessary. All others get a partial or mixed revelation.
The goal is to obtain a higher consciousness which flashes across the mind with blinding light. All his effort, all his training is really for this.
The philosophic training will show its result in his capacity to separate the actual operation of the Overself in him from any admixture by his own personal thoughts, feelings, and expectations.
The thing that passes for illumination with most mystics is generally a mixture of genuine mystical experience with an interpretation of it furnished by the intellect, the emotions, tradition, education, teachers, suggestion, and so on. The medium through which the experience is brought down into conscious communication or understanding often interferes with it and reshapes it. The philosophic discipline, with its self-criticizing, keen rationality and its ego-subordination, purification, and illumination, is intended to prevent this interference from happening.
The advanced section of the philosophic discipline represents an endeavour to reduce the number and thickness of these coloured windows through which the mystic receives revelations and delivers messages. But this is only its first endeavour. In the end, it strives to force him from them altogether, to rescue his illumination from everything that might limit its pure transparent universality.
Is it not possible to free mystical reception from these egoistic interferences, misrepresentations, exaggerations, distortions, and falsifications? Yes, it is possible. With the philosophic discipline the mystic may discipline his ego, train his feelings, guide his intellect, and check his intuition so that the truth breaks into space and time through his human personality in faultless purity.
Man's imperfect nature must be rendered utterly passive, its distorting interference utterly eliminated, before the divine truth can manifest itself in all its authoritative purity.
He will train himself to distinguish between the fancies of the ego and the certainties of the Soul. And it is one purpose of the philosophic discipline to assist him to do so. For the rest he must depend on self-critical observation and careful checking of results.
The knowledge of self which philosophy can give is unique. But it can be got only by turning the whole of the psyche's force inwards in steady penetration and sustained meditation. The hidden doors of our mental being must be opened, the delicate sources of our emotional being must be traced, the gossamer thread of our deepest consciousness must be followed. All this calls for the exercise of will, the effort of concentration, the refinement of attention, and surrender to patience.
It is impossible for any aspirant to attain the full and equilibrated illumination if he does not have this preliminary preparation of the philosophic discipline. He can get results, he can get striking experiences, but the supreme result is beyond his own powers of receptivity.
Philosophy imposes a severe mental discipline upon those who would pursue its truths.
He who knows and feels the divine power in his inmost being will be set free in the most literal sense of the word from anxieties and cares. He who has not yet arrived at this stage but is on the way to it can approach the same desirable result by the intensity of his faith in that being. But such a one must really have the faith and not merely say so. The proof that he possesses it would lie in the measure with which he refuses to accept negative thoughts, fearful thoughts, despondent thoughts. In the measure that he does not fail in his faith and hence in his thinking, in that measure, the higher power will not fail to support him in his hour of need. This is why Jesus told his disciples, "Take no anxious thought for the morrow." In the case of the adept, having given up the ego, there is no one left to take care of him, so the higher Self does so for him. In the case of the believer, although he has not yet given up the ego, nevertheless, he is trying to do so, and his unfaltering trust in the higher Self is rewarded proportionately in the same way. In both cases the biblical phrase, "The Lord will provide," is not merely a pious hope but a practical fact.
The philosophic discipline shows us how we are to treat ourselves. The philosophic morality teaches us how we are to treat others. It provides both abstract principle for theory and concrete rules for conduct.
He may make use of adverse periods to test the worth of philosophy and the merit of its teaching, instead of letting them become a source of depression.
The inexperienced and the unbalanced may measure spiritual progress in terms of emotional ecstasy or meditational vision, but the mature and wise will measure it in terms of character--its nobility, its rounded development, and its purity.
The philosophic training will help him to stop inserting the ego into his experience and to cease imposing its bias on his reading of it.
Philosophy begins its instruction to the neophyte by the startling assertion that neither he nor any other candidate is ready or qualified to receive truth. It declares that this qualification, this readiness, must first be developed in the candidate himself. This work of development is called the philosophic discipline. He should study himself and examine his experiences in the most critical light. Alibis, pretenses, and excuses should be mercilessly rejected. The dice of doubtful cases should be loaded against it, and he should begin with the premise that he is either faulty in judgement or guilty in conduct.
Those who want philosophy without accepting its discipline get only a fragment of it.
The philosopher's research is a disinterested one. There is no particular body of doctrines which he sets out to support, no religious institution whose power or prestige he seeks to increase. He deliberately controls his predilections, trains his thoughts, and disciplines his feelings so as to make himself capable of that intellectual detachment which is a necessary prerequisite to getting at the truth.
The philosophic discipline aims to shock the aspirant out of the complacency with which he views himself into a more critical view. He may feel chagrin and mortification at what he sees.
Philosophic life in our sense is not a matter of reading practical maxims. It is giving assent in action and offering wholehearted belief in feeling to the best values, goals, and purposes.
The philosopher develops the principal sides of his human nature, that is, his intelligence by reasoning, his knowledge by study, his piety by devotions, his mystical intuitiveness by meditation, and his wisdom by association with those more evolved than himself.
The first aim therefore is to know Truth as it is and not merely as it is to us.
Its aim is to produce a man who shall be humanly mature and spiritually secure, who shall be flesh and mind put to the service of spirit.
The study of philosophy must be no desultory pursuit; it must follow a consecutive and sequential course if its principles are to be mastered and its problems solved.
Thought, feeling, and will are the three sides of a human being which must find their respective functions in this quest. Thought must be directed to the discrimination of truth from error, reality from appearance. Feeling must be elevated in loving devotion towards the Overself. Will must be turned towards wise action and altruistic service. And all three must move in effective unison and mutual balance.
He should always remember that the mere reading about philosophy will not make him a philosopher. Nor will even the thinking about philosophy itself transform him into one. Both these activities are certainly necessary but they need one more to complete them. And that is the practice of philosophy in conduct, the expression of it in daily living.
Meditation, rightly done, is indispensable to the philosophic quest, but it must be accompanied by other practices or endeavours which are not less indispensable to the success of this quest.
Meditation must predominate in the beginner's stage. It is the most important effort then required of him. But the other requirements need not therefore be neglected. It will not only be greatly to his advantage to develop metaphysical reasoning and wise action, but the combination of all three will yield results far in advance of those which their separate and subsequent development could possibly yield.
Only he who lives from moment to moment by the clear light of its teaching, by the deepest faith in its tenets, and by the ardent feeling of its worth is a true disciple of philosophy.
Three tasks are required of him for this integral culture. The four elements of the psyche are to be purified, developed, and balanced.
Everyone in some way, blindly or consciously, slavishly or independently, wrongly or correctly, necessarily and always believes in a particular decipherment of the enigma of life. But only he who has brought the best mental equipment to bear upon it is likely to make the best decipherment. And only the philosophical discipline gives this.
The cravings of the senses are to be brought under control. The soul is to be their master; the mind is no longer to be their slave.
An external asceticism of a sensible kind is also called for. If, on the specious advice of those who say repression is worse, he yields to sexual passion every time it solicits him, he makes harder the internal battle against it. For temptation is not removed by yielding to it if the removal is merely temporary, and the recurrence is certain and swift.
He has to reject the appeal of sensuous things for a time and retreat from their pursuit. This is intended to free him from their tyranny over him.
The disinclination to start practising meditation and the inability to sustain it for long when started are due in part to the mind's strong habit of being preoccupied with worldly matters or being attached to personal desires. This is why the study of wholly abstract metaphysical and impersonal topics is part of the Philosophic Path.
A sense of sacredness should enter his philosophical studies if they are to bear more fruit.
Some essentials are: purification of character, discipline of emotion, ennoblement of motive, practice of meditation, study of the metaphysics of truth, elevation of conduct, and a constant heartfelt aspiration towards the Divine. Prayer, too, of the right kind, is helpful because ego-humbling. And the right kind is the philosophic kind.
The various branches of philosophical study and practice include the preparatory stages of the ascetic life and then the further fuller stages of being, thinking, feeling, meditating, intuiting, and discriminating. There are two levels of reference: the Absolute and the Relative, equivalent to the Metaphysical and the Physical-Practical, the Reality and the Appearance.
In one's search for the Higher Self, it is necessary to cultivate impersonality and objectivity along with reason, emotion, and balance. These should always be present in one's analyses of experiences, since inaccurate conclusions would be reached without them.
The striving for impersonality is uncommon; however approved in theory, actual practice is unpleasant and unwilling.
The earnest seeker who has already achieved a certain degree of awareness and understanding has the beginnings of what may be a splendid opportunity to make phenomenal progress in his present incarnation. But everything in this world must be paid for; the greatest treasures are attained only at the greatest cost. The aspirant must now embark on a do-or-die endeavour to lift his character onto a higher plane altogether; to purify his motives; and to be prepared to sacrifice all worldly objects first inwardly and, finally, outwardly--if called upon to do so. The spiritual returns are correspondingly great, however. They are: serenity, understanding, liberation, satisfaction, and the delight of perpetual communion with the divine Overself--while being always in Its blissful Presence.
There must also be the dedication to service. Here, more often than not, the spiritual returns are a terrible sadness which must be borne alone and unshared.
Such is the philosophic life--the only conceivable way of life for many, now, and for many more, later on--forever motivated and sustained by the unchanging living Reality, Mind.
The mental tendencies which he has brought over from previous births, the effects of physical heredity and environment, the influence of society, and the suggestions of education--all of these have to be disciplined and purified, if he is to acquire truth without unconsciously deforming it.
This discipline frees his mentality from the tendency to place merely temporary and local influences above the truly universal and eternal elements. Thus, it clears a pathway for the real revelations.
Another of the practical applications of philosophy is the injunction to waste nothing. The usefulness of anything is entirely a matter of relativity. That which is useless to you in a certain connection may become useful in a different connection or at a later time. Again, it may still be useless even when considered under these two aspects but yet it may be most useful to another person. Therefore if there is some thing you don't want to keep, give it away to someone who needs it. Don't throw it away and destroy it. You are only a steward. If you take a purely personal standpoint or if you live merely for the present moment, such counsel may make no appeal to you. If, however, you have risen to the philosophic and universal standpoint and consider everything not merely relative to your own ego but also to the All, then you will see your responsibility in this matter. This does not mean you are to become miserly. On the contrary you are to become generous. For in the last counting everything belongs to Mother Nature. We are only her stewards and our task is to use her possessions wisely and co-operatively.
Philosophy tells us that it is the business of everybody, nations as well as individuals, to look behind their sufferings and thus ascertain the causes of which these sufferings are merely effects. If men wish to start a better and happier life, it is needful that they should understand the lessons of their own past. If this happier existence is to be a reality, it cannot come about unless they break inwardly and outwardly with this past.
A fully ripened mind comes more easily and more naturally into the truth. The labours of reflective thought joined to the stillness of suspended thought, the emotion of reverential worship balanced by the independence of self-reliance, are only different aspects of the process of ripening: there are others. The large outlook which follows minimizes the ego and pushes out blocks. Slowly or suddenly the Spirit is let in, fills, and takes over. Consciousness literally comes into its own--itself.
A brave insistence on facing his inarguable prejudgements will be required of him.
The philosophic ethics must be applied not only in his well-studied understanding but also in the depths of his personal relations.
The old idea was that a spiritually minded person should sport a long beard, indulge in ascetic self-denials, and be portentously solemn. The new idea is that he should keep his spiritual-mindedness but be more human, more like one of ourselves.
Philosophic training tries to produce in its votaries a lofty personal character and a wide social outlook. It shames narrow attitudes and releases beneficent feelings.
We must see things in their proper proportions. This is why the philosophic student must consider all available aspects of a situation, all sides of a question, and both the past causes and future outcome of an event.
There is a danger to his pilgrimage towards truth if he lets a fixed and finalized statement of it become dominant. It is the danger of arrested growth, or spiritual constriction.
The conflict with himself, with ill will and evil will, with false thought and mistaken thought, can end only when the quest itself ends.
Since most people come to the same subject with personal preconceptions, they leave with different conclusions! Only those who have undergone the purifying discipline of philosophy are likely to have the same conclusions.
This further implies the eliminating of all prejudices and the purging of all preconceptions from one's outlook. The mind must be open, not attached unduly to anything, not the victim of contemporary external influences, but ever ready to enquire.
He must not be afraid to disparage his own past thought and work, values and techniques, if need be.
"The Buddhist discipline or exercise (yoga) as is told by the Buddha consists of two parts, philosophical and practical. The philosophical discipline is to train the mind to absolute idealism and see that the world is Mind, and that there is in reality no becoming such as birth and death, and that no external things really exist; while the practical side is to attain an inner perception by means of supreme wisdom. To be great in the exercise that makes up Bodhisattvahood (mahayagayogin) one has to be an expert in four things (three of which are intellectual and the last one practical): 1) to perceive clearly that this visible world is no more than Mind itself; 2) to abandon the notion that birth, abiding, and passing-away really took place; 3) to look into the nature of things external and realize that they have no reality (abhava); 4) to train oneself towards the realization of the truth in the inmost consciousness by means of supreme wisdom."--Suzuki's Lankavatara Sutra Studies
There are truths in the philosophic doctrine which man's heart cannot easily, or at first, accept. This is because they are distasteful. Only after sufficient education by teacher, study, life, or reflection can he bring himself to believe what he does not like.
The history of religious and mystical ideas should be investigated and studied from an impartial independent standpoint, without bias for, or prejudice against, with enough critical ability to sift facts from opinion yet with enough sympathetic interest in the subject to collect materials widely from time and place. This is not work for a dried-up pedantic scholar without inner experience of his own, nor for a gullible excitable enthusiast, nor for a self-limited committed scientist, nor for a tradition-bound, excessively past-worshipping, anti-modern, religio-scholar-mystic. With this work should be conjoined a comparative study of those ideas, which requires not only historical talent and learning but deeper inner knowledge, advanced and personal experience, and skill in communicating the higher yields of intellect, feeling, mystical intuition--in short, some philosophical equipment. There would be no place in such teaching for rigid dogma, no division into "official" monopolized truth and unenlightened unblessed invention, certainly no denunciation of heresy.
Ignoramuses and blockheads find it easy and pleasant to criticize the backwardness and darkness of the Middle Ages and the periods of antiquity. Such criticism gives them the feeling of being on a superior plane altogether, of having truth where these earlier, and consequently unluckier, forebears had error.
I personally do not take such a silly attitude. I criticize the past without denying its possession of spiritual treasures. The modern student should revere the teachers and study the teachings of antiquity. He will honour the lives and treasure the words of Jesus and Buddha, Krishna and Confucius, Muhammed, Plato, and Plotinus alike. But he should not confine himself to any single one of them alone nor limit himself within any single traditional fold. He must also lift himself out of the past into the present. He must reserve his principal thought, time, and strength for living teachers and contemporary teaching.
To be unattached is also to be unattached intellectually, to take up no intellectual position as against all the others and to refuse partisanship, sectarianism, group joining, one-sidedness, and exclusion of all other ideas and teachings. By refusing to join a sect the candidate for philosophy refuses to put himself in the position which regards all those outside the sect as being the unchosen race.
Dr. Johnson understood the philosophical attitude rightly when he said that we have both to enjoy life and to endure life.
The great sacrifice which every aspirant is called on to make is the sacrifice of that ignorance which separates him from his Divine Source. This ignorance cannot be removed by the intellect alone, however, or by Yoga alone.
The pleasant and painful vicissitudes of human life are common to all, but a correct viewpoint regarding them is not. So the philosophical discipline aims to provide it.
He must come on this quest not for a few years but for all his life.
It is necessary for the student to make a combined effort of will, analytic reflection, prayer, and study to understand and dissolve the obstacles created by the ego.
It is vital to see clearly the difference between teachings that spring from and serve only the ego, and those that spring from and lead to the Overself.
There are no initiatory rites, no disciplinary rules and vows.
If you ask what reality is, in philosophy's view, the answer must be consciousness. If you further ask what man's work in this life is, the answer must be to become conscious of consciousness as such. But because, ordinarily, consciousness never discloses itself to him but only its varying states, he can accomplish this work only by adopting extraordinary means. He will have to steel his feelings and still his mind. In short, he will have to deny himself.
Plutarch pointed out that if anybody could easily fulfil the injunction "Know thyself," it would not have been considered a divine precept.
Its searching and searing truth will draw out all his vanity and leave him feeling quite hollow inside.
These critics of philosophy should closely question themselves whether the real reason for their dislike of it is that it humiliates them into secretly acknowledging their lack of the courage to follow the philosophic Quest.
No single path will suffice. All must intertwine with each other, help each other, balance and regulate each other. It is the totalized and equalized effort which counts most.
Life asks from him something more than spiritual aspiration, more than prayer, more than meditation. He needs to offer all these, but he must also be intelligent and practical, kind, and controlled.
Wisdom lies in combining the three chief yogas, not in separating them. For instance, low vitality does not promote high intelligence but rather hinders it, hence some physical disciplines are as needful as mental ones. The three yoga groups are not only not antagonistic to each other but actually complementary. Whoever ignores any single one can make only one-sided progress.
A path which requires so much from the traveller will inevitably be a slower path than the religious and mystical ways. But it will also be a surer one.
If he makes worship a preparation for meditation, and if he accompanies investigation of the inspired texts by application of the knowledge gleaned; if he joins purification of his body to purification of his mind; he may expect to gain a balanced state of illumination in return for this balanced approach.
His special need is to unite intellectual breadth and emotional balance with this inner attainment.
We have deeply felt the force of Epictetus' outcry: "Show me a man modelled after the doctrines that are ever upon his lips. So help me, Heaven; I long to see one Stoic!" It is not less easy to preach than to practise in our own time. But here is the acid test which will reveal what is and what is not pure gold. On the basis of such a test, mankind seems to cry in vain for a single Illuminate.
It is possible by depth of thought or by persevering over the years to so impregnate the mind with these implacable truths that it automatically reacts philosophically to its varied experiences and situations.
These truths must become so vivid in his mind that he cannot help acting upon them.
The promises of religion are mild efforts to console weaker people, but the rewards of philosophy are truths that have to be heroically borne.
The basis of this philosophic discipline is a well-developed reason, a sound character, and a cultivated mystical intuition.
Not by harsh outrages on the body but by the simple growth of higher value through deeper penetration of the truth, is the philosophic way. "The purity which cometh from knowledge is the best." says the Mahabharata.
In the end he should seek to gain confirmation of the teaching and practical knowledge of its working by firsthand personal experience. This achievement is possible, but at the cost of living out in action what he learns in thought.
The practice of philosophy is not easy, but it is the only way to gain its advantages. When it takes firm root in day-to-day life, experience, behaviour, and activity, its truth is tested and survives, solidly confirmed.
We must examine current concepts of the world with the greatest care, and then have the courage to accept all the consequences of such examination. We must question life in the profoundest possible manner, never hesitating to probe deeper and deeper, and truth will come when the answer comes.
The quadrangle of religious devotion, metaphysical study, mystical meditation, and inspired action makes the tool for philosophic work.
His is no narrow one-sided quest. All through life he will be seeking wisdom for his mind, goodwill for his heart, and health for his body.
Although it is necessary to differentiate these lines of approach to the Overself in the study stage of growth, it would be wrong at any time to regard them as being mutually exclusive. Actually metaphysics and mysticism must, at the last, meet and intermingle. From the first the sensible student will perceive this and use each, in turn as well as together, to broaden his outlook and balance and understanding.
Philosophy attends to each side of this five-sided creature man and thus gives him a training that is broad enough to meet life's demand.
He has to take the subtle thoughts of philosophy, the deep emotions of religion, the sensible practicality of modernism, and the whisperings of his own intuition to form a composite systematic credo.
If he is to take on the label of philosopher, he will try to bear his troubles with fortitude and endeavour to keep hold of the great eternal truths in support of it.
The way is long and hard. It involves developing all the different sides of the personality. Prayer and meditation lead to the cultivation of intuition and aspiration--and these, at the same time, must be accompanied by the strengthening of will, plus study and reflection. All efforts should be made side by side, so to speak, to lead to a balanced psyche--the philosophic ideal.
The philosophic approach to a problem is first to look at it and then to look away from it.
In the turmoil of daily events it is easy to lose philosophic perspective. He should not let this happen but instead strive constantly to gain such a perspective.
Without this discipline they will be unable to distinguish the authentic communion with an inspiring source from their own personal thoughts and feelings.
The ego is so bound up with the thoughts his mind produces and his intuition yields, with the experience his meditation practice and prayerful worship invoke, that it is most essential for him to undergo a course of purificatory discipline to obtain ego-free results.
How successfully he perceives the truth will depend partly on how successfully he overcomes the limitations and escapes the associations of his own personality.
It is, in a sense, one long experience of becoming impervious to desires, ambitions, and, last of all, even to aspirations for growth. It is a dying to the lesser, personal self as one awakens and surrenders to the greater Over-Self.
He divides into two persons, the onlooker and the player, a feat beyond ordinary capacity and possible only when the philosophic quest has trained mind and re-educated feeling.
If, as some think, the philosophic way of life is a hard one, it still remains the right one. All other ways are mere compromises, just concessions to human weakness.
The philosophically minded student thinks clearly in advance of the probable consequences--both good and bad--of a contemplated line of action. For he does not want to walk blindly or negligently or rashly.
The slow gradual enlightenment of views will finish his development.
First he believes in it vaguely, then he understands it precisely, next he practises it daily, and in the end he becomes one with it utterly.
A time comes when the seeker is so thoroughly penetrated with philosophic ideals that the higher life will become the everyday life.
The initiation into wisdom--if it is to be lasting--is not suddenly given by any master; it is slowly grown by the experiences and reflection of life. Thought is gradually converted into habit, and habit is gradually merged into high character. The philosophic attitude, if it is to be genuine, will pass into the student's nerves and move his muscles.
If he cannot by his natural power achieve this, he can at least prepare himself for it and await the grant of grace.
Wholeness, completeness, integrality
When the principle of true development is understood, it will be seen that no side of human nature is really hostile to any of the others and that all sides are complementary partners.
The philosophic goal is to be spiritually aware in all parts of the psyche, with the complete life as the final result. To give one's life a philosophical basis is to give it the quality of impregnable stability. To give one's knowledge a philosophical foundation is to give it the quality of intellectual soundness. To confine attention exclusively to some particular aspect of truth, ignoring the other aspects which balance or complete it, can only lead to a misleading result. That the approach is different but the goal is the same may be quite true of all ordinary systems of religion and mysticism. It is not quite true of philosophy. Here the approach is many-sided while the goal is integral.
It is not enough to clear the egoistic, passional, and emotional colourings from the psyche. If he sees the truth from a very limited point of view, he will still fail to receive or transmit it rightly. Therefore the psyche's different sides must be fully developed: his thinking capacity, intuitional receptivity, emotional sensitivity, and active will must themselves be brought to an adequate degree before his view of truth will be adequate enough.
Each part of the human psyche fulfils a separate and necessary function. None is a substitute for or a rival to any of the others; it does not displace but only complements them. Each has its own special work which could not be done by them. A full view of truth calls for a full technique. Only philosophy provides for it.
For he has to regenerate the whole of his nature, and not merely one side of it, if he is not only to perceive the whole truth but also to perceive it unspoiled and undisturbed.
The path is fourfold and not threefold. For it consists of (1) the development of intelligence through both concrete and abstract reasoning, (2) the development of mystical consciousness through cultivation of intuition and practice of meditation, (3) the re-education of moral character, (4) practical service.
The fourfold path calls for action, intuition, devotion, and knowledge.
He should seek to develop on all four sides of his nature--the intellectual, the emotional, the practical, and the intuitional. The entire endeavour should be directed towards discovering his weaknesses of character and remedying them, strengthening his capacity to think abstractly and metaphysically, refining and ennobling his feelings, disciplining and understanding his passions, cultivating and responding to his intuitions. Thus the philosophic quest is an integral one. It aims at a total illumination of the mind and transformation of the character.
Philosophy demands so complete a training only because it offers so perfect a goal.
The smoothly rounded symmetry of this fourfold development makes not only for the fullest acceptance of truth but also for the maturest kind of living. Because philosophy considers and improves the human personality as a whole, it is nothing less than inspired practicality. There is indeed no new situation which it cannot meet and negotiate for the best, no old one for which it has failed to offer guidance and in which it has failed to give support.
In leading men toward a higher life and a truer world view, it is as justifiable to cajole their feelings as it is to convince their reason; it is as right to stimulate in them the warm aspiration of a mystical devotee as it is to harden the cold precision of a metaphysical scholar; it is as needful to inspire them to compassionate service as it is to exalt their moral outlook. All these are needed for an adequate result. All these qualities are a necessity for a fuller and better-poised life. Each supplements the others and supplies what they, by reason of their own nature and limitations, cannot supply. All these separate things can take an aspirant some way along the quest, but none will take him all the way. Most efforts are aimed only at one or the other, for they often contradict each other, whereas philosophy not only aims at all together but also seeks to achieve something more. For on the one hand it seeks to unfold the transcendent faculty of insight and on the other it seeks to test all its teachings against the opposition of actual experience in the active world.
If the change in character and outlook, understanding and conduct is to be a deep and lasting one, then it will have to proceed out of all sides of a man's nature, out of his thinking and feeling, experience and intuition, study and belief--which means that it must proceed out of the knowledge and practice of philosophy. His change must be based on rational ideas as well as emotional movements, on practical results as well as theoretical formulations, on the experiences of other men as well as his own.
We have to bring the cosmic experience to the living human organism as a whole, not merely to just a part of it. For man is a unity and can fulfil his higher purpose only as he does so with all his being and does not try to separate it into parts.
It may surprise people to learn that wholeness is a spiritual quality, that all parts of the man must receive and share in the light.
He not only has to receive this illumination in all the parts of his being rather than any one part, but also to receive it equally. It is the obstruction arising in the undeveloped or unpurified parts which is the further cause of his inability to sustain the illumination.
We must bring our whole personality to this quest and not merely a part of it. All sides are valuable to each other, hence all are needed by ourselves and all must be embraced. The rich fullness of philosophic life appreciates beauty, aspires to knowledge, activates the will, is suffused by feeling, and cultivates intuition. All these activities--emotional, mental, physical, mystical, metaphysical, and ethical--are to be inseparably consolidated in one and the same character. There must be a total response of our total nature to this call from the Overself. For it is not something which can penetrate our reasoning alone, for example, and leave the rest of our being cold. The quest cannot be limited to any single way alone. It must be wide enough and comprehensive enough to enable us to throw all the forces of our being into such a supreme enterprise. How far is this generous ideal from the narrow ideal of asceticism!
That man is truly civilized who has unfolded the possibilities of his physical nature and his spiritual nature both, who has refined his feelings and tastes and developed his thought and intelligence, who rejects the sterility of ascetic living standards based on poverty but welcomes those of aesthetic and functional value based on beauty and comfort.
That the goal is nothing short of completeness is what so few understand or want, for it demands more from them than the goal of merely experiencing pleasant feelings. It demands the whole man.
Make wholeness a theme for your thoughts and meditations, a focus for your studies and aspirations.
When all parts of his psyche concur in an attitude, when each function or faculty is coordinated with the others in the reception and deliverance of truth, then there will be harmony and unity within his inner being and outer life.
Yes, we need to know the truth, to discover what is in the world around us and in life within us, but we also need to feel and intuit it by experience. This coming-together makes for its realization.
The four sides of the pyramid of being--thinking, feeling, doing, and intuiting--must be drawn together, properly developed, and held together in proper balance. The inclination to fragment the self is the inclination to follow the easiest path, not the needed path. The whole person needs both developing and balancing; part of it cannot be left safely in neglect while the other part is intensively cultivated.
The philosophic goal is to be spiritually aware in all parts of the psyche, with the complete life as the final result. The aspirant must engage the whole of his person in the work of self-illumination, and not merely a part of it. If only a piece of it is active in this work, only a piece can get illumined or inspired. Even meditation itself--so important for the awakening of intuition--is only a part, and a limited part, of the Quest. Wholeness must be the ideal, if the whole of the Overself's light is to be brought forth and shone down into every day's living, thinking, feeling, and being. Anything less yields a lesser result. And if the whole is not held properly, is unbalanced, it yields a distorted result.
The teaching that the Quest cannot and should not be separated from life in the world is a sound one. Therefore, it is part of philosophy and is not some eccentric enterprise to be undertaken by those who wish to escape from the world, or who, being unable to escape, consider themselves as belonging to a class apart from others in their environment--superior to them, different from them, and holier than them. They also come to consider the Quest as an artificial system of living, devoid of spontaneity and naturalness--something to be laboured at by making themselves abnormal and inhuman. One of the consequences of this attitude is that they tend to overlook their everyday responsibilities and thus get into difficulties. Philosophy has consistently opposed this tendency. Unfortunately, in the reaction from it, there has arisen a fresh confusion in the minds of another group of students who do not understand the beautiful and adequate balance which true philosophy advocates. These students, swayed by such teachers as Krishnamurti, become so enthused by the notion of making spiritual progress through learning from experiences and action alone that they follow Krishnamurti's advice and throw away prayer, meditation, and moral striving, as well as study under personal teachers. This limits them to a one-sided progress and therefore an unbalanced one. Total truth can only be got by a total approach; as Light on the Path points out, each of these forms of approach is but one of the steps and all steps are needed to reach the goal.
The whole of his being must be involved in the effort if the whole of truth is to be found. Otherwise the result will be emotional alone, or intellectual alone, or adulterated with egoistic ideas and feelings.
It is not enough to be a philosopher because the mind sees the teaching is true; the heart also must be engaged in the matter and love it. Nor are these two enough. The whole person must be lifted up also into it and himself experience the truth.
It enters into the fullness of philosophy only when it is felt in the heart, understood in the mind, intuited in the soul, absorbed by the stillness, and actualized in the world.
Body and mind depend upon one another, act upon one another. The dualism which would separate them entirely, which would even put them against each other as antagonists, is erroneous. The biological view of man, the psychological view, and the spiritual view of man are complementary.
It is not enough to be a good person. One must also be a wise person. It is insufficient to be self-disciplined. One should also be self-illumined.
We must be able to reason remorselessly without becoming imprisoned in reason, because we must do justice to every part of our being; but only as a part of the whole must we do justice to the intellect.
Those who assert that inner spiritual change can come only from outer physical change and those who assert the opposite are both alike--extremists and fanatics. The two procedures are needed together and should accompany each other.
He will be able to manifest more of the Divine when he is developed to the point of being complete in himself than when he is not.
There is no other way for man to grow in his fullness than the way which covers the whole of human life and uses the whole of human faculty. There is no other way to make himself fit for the next stage of evolution, which will make him more than man.
The foolish man acts at random; the intellectual man plays off his reasons against each other and so may find his power to decide paralysed; the emotional man rejects every guide except personal feeling; the philosophic man uses reason, feeling, and intuition alike.
All sides of the psyche are so intertwined that only an integral development will be enough. A balanced mind cannot be got unless the ethic of renunciation has been accepted, for instance, for the vicissitudes of fortune bring disturbing emotions in their wake.
Not a one-sided, not even a many-sided, but only an all-sided progress will suit philosophy.
When the light of truth enters it will then shine into all parts of his being, not into the intellect alone. It thus becomes a living power, not merely something to be talked or written about.
The extraordinary completeness of philosophy, the fusion and equilibrium of being and doing, thinking and feeling, introverted stillness and extroverted living, egolessness and egoity, make it rare and precious.
Thus, striving and studying, praying and willing, meditating and aspiring, he uses all the self to reach to the All-Self.
The logical mind can take him only part of the way. The imaginative mind can take him where the other cannot. If he leaves out either the first or the second, he will suffer loss.
If we are to come to truth at all, we must come to it with all our being, not with a half or a quarter of our being.
If he is to be made whole, his everyday personality must put itself into perfect harmony with, and under the rule of, his super-personal Overself.
It may not be possible for many persons to achieve such wholeness altogether, but as far as it is possible it should certainly be sought.
Specialization in the search after knowledge leads inevitably to an unbalanced picture of the whole. The expert usually knows more about one single thing but less about everything else. He loses the art of putting all these bits of knowledge together in a just and undistorted way.
Religion adores God from a distance, mysticism feels God's ray within itself, metaphysics knows the certitude of God's existence only in the intellect. Philosophy alone makes a many-sided approach to God.
An idealism which is sincere but naïve and a detachment which is earnest but frigid are not enough.
His mind cannot easily take hold of the many-sidedness of truth in its entirety. Yet only by so doing can he bring its seeming contradictions together and reconcile them.
The whole self must seek truth if the whole truth is to be found.
No one faculty of human nature is the whole of it. The body's wills, the heart's feeling, the intellect's reasoning, and the soul's intuiting must all be considered and brought into play.
If the inner life is cultivated in part of one's being only, the illumination when it comes will light that part only. But if the intellect worships as well as thinks and if the emotions move with it, both develop together in wholeness.
A total effort to purify all areas is needed if there is to be a total removal of the blockages, the compulsions, the distortions and the superstitions rather than a temporary suppression of them.
The satisfaction of one part of his nature may be sufficient for him but it is not sufficient for Life. Sooner or later in this or in another birth, he will have to nurture what has been neglected.
Philosophy is not limited to work in meditation, although that is perhaps its most notable dramatic form. It is also applied in the area of everyday living routines and relationships. It is also active in work on character, emotions, and attitudes. It takes in the body and its diet.
To recognize that the paths down which the ego has led him are illusory is admirable and necessary, but it is only a first step. It will not stop him from continuing to go down them unless he has acquired something more than his merely intellectual knowledge. Other things are equally indispensable to complete his approach.
What the Chinese vividly call "walking on both legs"--that is, joining and using two or more of our faculties instead of a single one--avoids narrow-mindedness and leads to better results.
If the truth is sought for with every faculty of a man's being, its illumination when found will enter every faculty too.
If he brings only a part of his ego into the Quest, then only a part of it will become enlightened and only a part of his activities will show the effects of enlightenment.
If active intelligence will stop him from making one kind of blunder, active intuition will save him from a different kind. He cannot afford to neglect any part of his psyche. There must be an integral and total development of it.
We must find truth with our intellect and feel it with our emotion, surrender to it with our intuition and apply it with our will.
If the illumination is to complete itself, it must be passed through the intellect as well as the emotions, the will as well as the imagination, until it lives in every part of his being.
So many seekers find a little calm from their meditation, but quite soon when they are back in the world's turmoil they lose it again. This is inevitable if they depend on the short meditations alone, which is as much as most Westerners can perform. If, however, they would support these attempts with the cultivation of the higher knowledge which philosophy offers they would be less likely to lose those calm moods.
One must not be premature in demanding final union with the Overself. That comes only after years of all-round development. One must first prepare himself inwardly to receive it; only then may he expect the ultimate union. This preparation affects the whole personality--intellect, emotion, will, and intuition.
Because his whole nature is involved in the search for truth, it is his whole nature that in the end finds and receives it. Consequently he gains a certitude, a surety that is complete, unshakeable, and stable.
Plato's teaching that the three great ideals of truth virtue and beauty are reflected down to and through all levels of existence--however obscured and diminished and feebler they become with each descent--is one of the grandest offerings of the Western world.
When devotion stands on knowledge, it stands on a rock which nothing and nobody can move, nor hardships weaken.
We may yield intellectual assent and yet remain emotionally unconvinced, just as we may yield emotional assent and yet remain intellectually unconvinced. Philosophy harmonizes both these sides of our nature and thus dissolves the disharmony.
The ardour of his devotion and the fervour of his aspiration will not be lessened because he has begun to get rid of his metaphysical poverty and social sterility. On the contrary, they will be supported by the one effort and confirmed by the other.
Faith may carry a man through crises but faith plus knowledge will carry him all the better.
His loyalty to the teaching must penetrate through all the levels of thought and feeling and faith.
The work of self-integration is the taking up of the whole physical and emotional and intellectual nature into the intuitive higher one.
The proper way to solve his problems is to bring to bear upon them not only all that his own experience and reason and other persons' counsel and knowledge can command, but also all the intuitive leading he can obtain from an ego-freed heart and a thought-quieted mind. This is the total approach to them.
A balanced development will not stimulate the intellect and starve the feelings, nor do the opposite. It will give the intuition the highest place, making it the ruler of reason, the check on emotion.
The thinking, feeling and willing faculties of human nature have to be developed and refined before they can give some measure of the higher satisfaction and happiness--but by themselves and left to their competing selves they cannot give the full measure and perfect quality of these twin rewards. They need to be integrated to be brought harmoniously together, put in their proper place and ruled by another faculty operating on a level above them. Such a one is the intuition.
It is needful on the philosophic path that he understand as well as feel. But if now he begins to try to understand this wonderful consciousness with his thinking intellect alone, he will necessarily limit it. The effort to comprehend which he is called upon to make must therefore be much more an intuitive one.
Thus, and thus alone, can a man become entire and integrated, using all his nature and all his being for the most desired and desirable end.
To isolate some detail and make it a whole unto itself is always imprudent but it would be much less so in this case if it were the intuition.
The principle of balance is one of the most important of philosophic principles.
Balance has a unique place, for it is not only needed as a qualification to be cultivated but also as a regulator of all the other qualifications. This is because it is an effect of which the activity of intuition is a cause. Thoughts, feelings, and actions which are in alignment with intuitive direction are balanced in nature, whereas those which are not are unbalanced ones. In the universe we find balance present with the same uniqueness attached to it. For not only does it appear there as the Law of Recompense to balance all actions with reactions but also as the Moral Law in the human entity to balance his right deeds with satisfying results and his wrong ones with painful results.
The philosophic life is essentially a balanced one. Therefore it is condemned by extreme Western materialists, who would extrovert human energies for sensuous ends, and by extreme Eastern mystics, who would introvert them for supersensuous ends. It does not arrive at its balance by compromising these two views but by combining them.
All that is needful to a man's happiness must come from both these sources--the spiritual and the physical--from the ability to rest in the still centre, in the developed intellectual and aesthetic natures, in the good health and vigour of the body.
In the world of today there are signs of mental disorder and emotional upset everywhere. In the world of mystic and occult studies there are similar signs, although of a different kind. In the postbag of a writer whose subject borders the fringe of these subjects there is also ample evidence for the existence of such maladies. People should first free themselves to a sufficient extent and recover their sanity before they get immersed in ideas which will only aggravate this malady. When we come to the world of students of philosophy, insanity disappears--because it is a subject which regards the sage, the fully developed philosopher, as the sanest of men because he is the best balanced of men. We may perhaps find a percentage of dreamers among them, as the metaphysical flights and subtle analyses which it calls for may lift them a little too high above practical concerns; but philosophy is automatically self-adjusting and soon brings them down again to these concerns, whereas the other subjects, the mystic and the occult, leave them up there in hazy clouds where, if they are not careful, they may lose their bearings.
The quest does not stop with yoga. We have also to achieve a wise balance between feeling for inner peace and thinking for ultimate truth. Reason must be cultivated because we have not only to feel the presence of God but also to discern true from false gods--that is, true from false ideas of God.
Clear thinking has nothing to fear from a warm heart, so long as the two co-operate but do not melt into one another, so long as they walk hand in hand and do not tumble over each other, for so long can we call upon their help with equal freedom. Our personal problems cannot be solved by slushy sentiments alone; but neither can they be satisfactorily adjusted by steely logic alone; we need a balanced wisdom in dealing with them. Only such a wisdom can best explain these problems and explode our delusions about them.
The reasoned thoughts of man must be confronted by the delicate feelings of man, balanced and mingled to produce a better person than either alone would produce.
Even our understanding of balance has to be corrected. It is not, for philosophic purposes, the mean point between two extremes but the compensatory union of two qualities or elements that need one another.
The required condition of balance as the price of illumination refers also to correcting the lopsidedness of letting the conscious ego direct the whole man while resisting the super-conscious spiritual forces. In other words, balance is demanded between the intellect which seeks deliberate control of the psyche and the intuition which must be invited by passivity and allowed to manifest in spontaneity. When a man has trained himself to turn equally from the desire to possess to the aspiration to being possessed, when he can pass from the solely personal attitude to the one beyond it, when the will to manage his being and his life for himself and by himself is compensated by the willingness to let himself and his life be quiescent, then his being and his life are worked upon by higher forces. This is the kind of balance and completeness which the philosophic discipline must lead to so that the philosophic illumination may give him his second birth.
The basis of the universe is its equilibrium. Only so can the planets revolve in harmony and without collision. The man who would likewise put himself in tune with Nature, God, must establish equilibrium as the basis of his own nature.
It is most important to get rid of an unbalanced condition. Most people are in such a condition although few know it. For example, intellectuality without spirituality is human paralysis. Spirituality without intellectuality is mental paralysis. No man should submit to such suicidal conditions. All men should seek and achieve integrality. To be wrapped up in a single side of life or to be overactive in a single direction ends by making a man mildly insane in the true and not technical sense of this word. The remedy is to tone down here and build up there, to cultivate the neglected sides, and especially to cultivate the opposite side. Admittedly, it is extremely difficult for most of us, circumstanced as we usually are, to achieve a perfect development and equal balance of all the sides. But this is no excuse for accepting conditions completely as they are and making no effort at all to remedy them. The difficulty for many aspirants in attaining such an admirably balanced character lies in their tendency to be obsessed by a particular technique which they followed in former births but which cannot by itself meet the very different conditions of today. We must counterbalance the habit of living only in a part of our being. When we have become harmoniously balanced in the philosophic sense, heart and head will work together to answer the same question, the unhurrying sense of eternity and the pressing urge of the hour will combine to make decisions as wise as they are practical, and the transcendental intuitions will suggest or confirm the workings of reason. In this completed integral life, thought and action, devotion and knowledge do not wrestle against each other but become one. Such is the triune quest of intelligence, aspiration, and action.
It is not only balance inside the ego itself that is to be sought, not only between reason and emotion, thought and action, but also and much more important, outside the ego: between it and the Overself.
But it is not enough that all these varied elements of his being should be harmonized and balanced. It is also needful that they should be balanced upon a spiritual centre of gravity.
A well-balanced person is not necessarily one who takes the measured midpoint between two extremes but one who lets himself be taken over by the inner calm. The needed adjustment is then made by itself. Although this avoids his falling into lopsided acts or exaggerated views, a merely moderate character is not the best result. More important is the surrender to the higher power which is implicit in the whole process of becoming truly balanced.
Balance is the perfect control and mutual harmony of thought, feeling, and action.
Sanctity needs the balance of sanity.
Greece's greatest contribution to the quest was the idea of Balance. Those who lack it, lack the proper capacity to receive truth as it is. And among them those who are narrow and fanatical, who make a special claim to supremacy for their way, cult, or doctrine, end by becoming the victims of their own exaggeration. A single glimpse is announced as a permanent illumination; a perception of metaphysical truth is announced as total illumination.
What most modern seekers need is to attain equilibrium in themselves and to achieve harmony in their lives. From the first, they will be able to enjoy inner peace; from the second, outer peace.
There are two poles in all activity. To get a true picture of life both must be recognized, and neither denied. But since these poles are opposite extremes, it is an unfortunate human tendency precisely to deny one or the other.
To avoid this imbalance, look for both poles in each case and establish them. Do not be satisfied with a one-sided view which excludes all others, nor with sectarian smugness which knows only one way to live rightly--its own.
Little minds are dismayed or baffled by this truth. They would like the universe to bear a single face, and life to have a single direction. But then the growth for which they are here would not be possible. Larger minds are given enough vision to reconcile the contradictions and to write the opposites. They see life whole, not in fragments.
The fanatics, the extremists, the exclusivists, and the intolerant never find truth. This is in part because they persistently reject the pole which opposes the one on which they have taken their stand. They refuse to see that it is needed to do justice, to complete the picture, and to explain the tension between both. It is needed to give a deeper and clearer view of their own experience. This is why philosophy teaches the need and value of achieving balance between opposites.
How shall a person balance himself? The word means a lot more than its seeming simplicity suggests. He can start by not letting any one part of himself carry the whole person away, off his feet. But balance is not only a matter of making nature and character, activity and living, better proportioned. It is also a matter of mental calm, by whose light proper values may be seen and each thing put where it ought to be. The philosopher's body-consciousness, for instance, is part of his whole consciousness and now no longer fills all the space. It is where it belongs, in its own place.
He should cultivate those aspects of his psyche which need further stature and he should deliberately neglect those which have already been over-cultivated. In this way he will bring about a better equilibrium, a sounder harmony within his own being.
The virtue of this balanced approach shows itself in every department of the Quest. For instance, in the relationship between disciple and master, he will avoid the one-sided emphasis upon the latter's personality which certain circles in the Orient and Occident foster through their own immaturity.
One of the chief symbols of this law of balance is the cross.
A man is able to balance a pair of scales if he holds them at their centre. He is able to balance the various human functions if he finds his true centre. From that point he can see where one has been neglected and where another has been overused. From that source he can get the strength and guidance to make the necessary adjustments.
He ought not to become so saturated with his metaphysical studies or so strained by his mystical contemplations that everything else, and especially everything human, has lost interest for him. When this happens, when he is no longer capable of enjoying himself, or relaxing, his mental equilibrium is upset.
Wisdom requires balance and hence the wise man rejects extremes and reconciles opposites.
The philosopher seeks to attain a proper equilibrium which will enable him to move within the world of turmoil, conflict, egocentric men, and materialistic aims and yet keep in continuous contact with the consciousness of his Overself.
In the sense of proportion, balance, and measure we find a gift from philosophy, as also a path to philosophy.
If a seeker lacks sufficient practical experience, he must learn to "do" more and to "dream" less; if he is highly intuitive and idealistic, he must learn also to be physically active and constructive in a down-to-earth fashion.
I have often insisted on the need of keeping the personality to a well-balanced form. This insistence arises principally out of the nature of true philosophy itself. It must be lived. But it also arises out of the need for self-protection against the perils which oppose the quest: internally, the wanderings of fancy into hallucination and the self-engrossment which breeds neuroticism; externally, the negative passions and blind materialism of a deteriorating society.
A metaphysical truth ought not be treated in a dry arid manner as if it stood quite alone, apart from its connections with the rest of philosophy. If the devotional, the active, and the aesthetic sides are left out from the wholeness, the union with these other aspects, metaphysics can easily become lifeless and monotonous. Philosophy lives in the heart no less than in the head, in its glorious beauty no less than in its sturdy support for the life of action.
Buddhism is a religion founded on disillusionment with life. But philosophy, being more than a religion, cannot rest solidly balanced on such a slender foundation. If with Buddhism it sees the ugliness, the transiency, and the suffering in life, it also sees the beauty in Nature and art, the Eternal behind life and the satisfaction in it. Why should philosophy pretend to see no bright places because it can see the dark ones? Why should it deny the thrill of music in human existence because it can hear the wail of misery? This is why it is as quietly happy as it is gravely resigned.
It is common enough to see aspirants become one-sided and, to this extent, unbalanced. Because they are attracted or helped by some particular way--a special method, attribute, teaching, or doctrine--this is no reason to ignore all the others or to make it the central pivot on which the whole of life rests. Light ought to broaden his outlook, not narrow it.
Half-right, half-wrong, many theories and judgements need to be paired in order to compensate and balance one another.
In the Masonry of ancient times, the initiate was given the symbol of two pillars in his course of instruction. The meaning was that a true balance should sustain his progress.
Another reason for the great importance of achieving a balanced personality is that the dangers of neuroticism, inertia, fantasy, and psychism are thereby avoided.
It is rare to find a man whose mind is evenly balanced, rarer still to find one whose mind and life are so.
In a wisely balanced life, neither contemplation nor activity will be auxiliary to the other. Each will be useful, even necessary, to the other.
It is laudable to practise optimism to a justifiable degree, but it is reprehensible to practise it to an absurd degree. Balance is needed.
The unbalanced genius is not to be admired for his unbalance but in spite of it.
It is natural that the endeavour to follow this ideal of Balance will spill over into his judgements and opinions. He will want to see all sides of a matter, and especially all the weaknesses in his own views, all the sound points in opponent's views.
Balance requires the businessman to live for something more that his office. It requires the artist to live for something more than his studio. Both may be giving a useful service to many people. Still this is not enough. They need also to serve the ideal of their own higher integration.
To achieve proper balance it may be necessary to over-emphasize some particular attribute, quality, or capacity.
A balance may be established between opposites or between complements.
Man not only needs intelligence to find his way to the truth, he needs balanced intelligence.
To attain balance is good but not enough; to sustain it is also called for.
This principle of Balance operates throughout the universe. The growth of plant and animal forms is balanced by their decay, their life by their death. If this principle failed to operate for only fifty years, the seas would be packed with fish to such an extent that their waters would spill over and flood most lands, submerging their cities.
Few have symmetrical faces; few stand equally upon both feet.
To gain better balance he needs also the virtues opposite to his own virtues.
When the imbalanced person becomes a nonconformist, he becomes an extreme nonconformist. If he does the right thing, he usually does it in the wrong way.
It is not easy to cultivate sensitivity without cultivating softness at the same time.
Balance is always needed. A good stretched too far may become an evil, virtue grown unbalanced may become a vice, a truth pushed to extremes may become a grotesque parody of itself.
A well-balanced, well-developed man will habitually function in all parts of his being, regularly draw on all his resources, and live in harmony with his whole psyche.
In our time even more than in other times, world history has produced political, religious, racial, economic, and other kinds of fanatics, some of them quite frenzied ones. But no philosophic fanatic has been produced. For how could the balance, the discipline, the intelligence, and the impartiality so often and so rightly inculcated by philosophy ever let that happen?
Humour can be used to restore a lost sense of proportion or to show up a deplorable lapse from sanity.
Some have been pushed off balance by certain happenings in their lives but most were born with the tendency, which was either latent, and needed time to show itself, or patent, and was displayed from childhood.
The body's senses, if unexamined, unanalysed, and left uncontrolled, lead him into an animalized existence. But understood and ruled by reason with aspiration, they serve him.
The pleasures of life may be taken--he need not become morose and gloomy--but balance and discipline are needed to take them wisely.
When there is no collision between intellect and emotion, or between intuition and egoism, or between imagination and will, it may be said that one's inner harmony has been fully attained.
He may well study in different schools of thought and experiment with different views of life. But this is advisable only if he takes care to do so with a balanced approach, tempering enthusiasms with analysis, acceptances with discrimination, acclamations with criticisms.
Let us welcome the offerings of art and culture, of applied intellect and civilized living, without hostility or belittlement, even while remembering the mocking futility of an existence which does not go beyond them to the deeper values of the Overself.
The cases of Krishnamurti and D.H. Lawrence are very illustrative of the need and value of balance. Here are two men of unquestioned genius and independent thought who have influenced the currents of their time. Krishnamurti aroused people to the fact that they were really captives and invited them to leave their cages. Lawrence denied the conventional denial of sex. What both these men had to say was important, and needed to be said. But Krishnamurti was so rigidly uncompromising and Lawrence so passionately rebellious that their very necessary contributions have themselves become fresh sources of misunderstanding. What is sound in their teaching is a part of philosophy, and quite acceptable: but the exaggeration and over-emphasis which accompany it are not. They are the consequences of the teachers' temperamental imbalance. Again and again seekers after truth have been counselled to practise the art of bringing together and balancing the different elements of their nature, the different factors of the quest, the different demands of everyday living. Philosophy is able to give us peace because it incorporates this art.
Whenever religion becomes and remains an obsessional activity, it is time to call a halt. The need of keeping mental equilibrium is supreme with the philosophy of truth as it was with the philosophy of Greece.
A well-balanced man cannot be thrown down. He may be pushed about by circumstances but he will always keep, or return to, his centre.
The best Greek minds rejected superstition and refused to give metaphysics and religion and science any place beyond that which was their due. They avoided the excessive religiosity of the Indian minds, which Buddha tried to correct.
The Delphi Temple inscription carved on the wall was not only, "Know Thyself," but continued, "Nothing in excess."
Our schools teach many subjects to the young to prepare them for life, to train them for a career, to show them how to discipline the mind, or merely to instill information. But none teaches them the much-needed subject of balance. Where there is too much of one thing, or too little of it, there is unbalance. Where certain attributes preponderate and others are deficient, there is the same result. It is not only extremists and fanatics who suffer from this trouble, but millions who pass as ordinary citizens, for it takes widely different forms.
With this beautiful ideal of balance ever before him, he will be able to avoid falling into anarchy's abyss, on one side, or becoming a mere copy of his teacher, on the other.
The Ideal Balance may be impossible to attain but we can get nearer to it and establish a useful working balance.
If it be asked why all this bother to equilibrate the ego, why all this talk about the necessity of balance, the answer is that what the Bhagavad Gita calls "evenness of mind" is an inescapable precondition to the accurate reception of the philosophic enlightenment.
All of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem If is a preachment upon the virtues of balance.
When thought and feeling grow purer together, when knowledge and aspiration wax stronger side by side, when idea and action progress mutually, he will come to know this truth about the virtues and values of balance by his own self-experience.
Impulsiveness can be a help toward moving more quickly to the goal, but by itself, without the check and balance of intuitive and rational development, it becomes fanaticism and is harmful.
Enthusiasm is a helpful emotion when new ideas have to be put forward against inertia or opposition. But when it loses its inner balance and proper measure, becomes incautious and exaggerated, then it renders a disservice to its own cause.
He should realize the wisdom of setting up for himself the ideal of a balanced, integral development. If he needs to develop along other lines in order to balance up, the abstention from meditation for periods will do him no harm.
The heart must feel the truth; the head must know it; both activities must unite in equilibrium. Without such a result there is only bubbling enthusiasm or dry studiousness but not philosophy.
It is also a matter of bringing the self into equilibrium, first within its own little range and second with the larger existence of the universal being.
It is important to bring about a measure of balance within his own person: otherwise he finds only an incomplete or fanatic or distorted truth. To avoid the first he must supply what is lacking. To remedy the second he must withdraw into equipoise. To correct the third he must get knowledge from a reliable source, be it man or book.
Pericles claimed, in the Funeral Oration, that Athens had found a golden mean, a sober balance, in its institutions. And in golden letters was inscribed on the temple at Delphi: "Nothing too much. The modest Mean is best." Although the dictionary defines the Mean as "midway between extremes" and although a good principle may defeat its own purpose if carried too far, the philosophic Mean is only sometimes the midpoint; at other times it is not. For where there is a deficiency on one side, or an over-emphasis on the other, it may be necessary to move the point nearer or farther, according to the situation.
It is an error to believe that finding a balance between two extremes, Confucius' Golden Mean, is another form of compromising with truth. Rather is it giving both units in the inescapable pairs of opposites which constitute life, universe, and being, their proper due as determined by the particular circumstances and time. The result is an interweaving of the two rather than a forced unnatural division of them. But their proportions will naturally vary in each case, in every situation, and not at all necessarily be equal.
The proportion of development needed by each part of his being will differ with every individual. Only a correct ratio will lead to a correct balance of all the parts.
The philosopher seeks to make a balance between the inner and outer life. But it would be a mistake to believe this means fifty-fifty measure. Each individual must find his own measure.
Philosophic balance is not to be defined as the middle point between two extremes, nor as the compromise of them. It is determined on a higher level altogether, since it is determined and regulated by the intuition.
Aristotle used the word "proportionate" when advocating correct balance (his doctrine of the mean), by which he made clear that balance is "relative to us": it is a variable depending on each individual.
Such balancing does not mean an equal measure of each element; it means the necessary and sufficient measure.
What is often overlooked is that the middle way, the point between extremes, varies in position with each person. It is not the same for all.
Balance does not mean achieving equality between pulls from different forces or between the activities of different faculties.
This is not to be mistaken for the static balance of a lower level, of a neutral, middle-ground position. It is a dynamic balance.
Balance is not reached by choosing a point half-way between two opposite conditions, but by choosing one that is just right, that accords to each condition just what the individual particularly needs for his well-being and development.
To the question "What is the relative importance of the constituents of the threefold path?" there can be no stereotyped answer. Each man will find that one to be most important to him which he most lacks. Whoever, for example, has practised little meditation in the past will probably feel within himself--and feel rightly--that meditation is the most important member of the tribe. But this will be true only for himself and not necessarily for others. The improvement of concentration and the tranquillization of a troubled mind are essential. He must have experience in yoga before he can have expertness in philosophy, but if he wants to overdo it, if he becomes excessively preoccupied with this single facet of life, then he is to that extent unbalanced. The aim must always be to bring each element not only to maturity, but also into balance with the other elements. Whatever is needful to achieve these aims becomes important to an individual. He must not let one member of the self walk too far ahead of the others without stepping back to bring them up too. He must tread a middle path and keep away from extremes.
The philosopher cannot afford to take only a selfish or sectional view; he must take a balanced all-embracing one, if only because he knows that his duty towards truth calls for it. This is why the man who has no philosophic aim in life cannot achieve balance in life.
Balance cannot be reached if completeness has not previously been reached.
The balanced life must be a balance of fullness, not emptiness. The aspirant's day should contain earnest self-humbling prayer and warm heartfelt devotion as well as calm contemplation and studious reflection. The one should express the tearful anguish of unsatisfied aspirations as the other should express the determined exercise of a mind intent upon truth and reality.
All the different sides of his nature have to find their equilibrium in this ultimate condition. Every part of him has to finish its growth before that can fully happen.
Not only is he to integrate all his human functions but he is also to do this on the highest level of their development. Nor is he to stop there. He must equilibrate as well as integrate.
The inner equilibrium which, the Gita says, is yoga's goal is not only a state of even-mindedness but also a state of equalized development. It is a delicate state and cannot be retained if the yogi is deficient in certain sides of his being.
As we traverse different ranges of experience so we acquire different qualities, capacities, perceptions, and ideas, which all contribute toward the ultimate end of balance, of perfecting our character and developing our mentality.
It is a paradoxical demand: that we enrich our individuality at the same time that we purify it.
The student's task does not end and cannot end with metaphysical study alone, nor with ultra-mystical contemplation alone. Action is also needed. Indeed, the illumination thus gained will of itself eventually compel him to add this factor spontaneously by an inward compulsion, if he has not already begun to do so by an external instruction. This is true of all the qualifications which philosophy demands of the aspirant: mystical feeling, metaphysical thinking, and altruistic action. Each of the trio, when a certain ripe degree of its own development has been reached, will spontaneously impel him to seek after whichever of the others he has neglected. For himself this means that he can claim to understand a truth when he feels and knows it so profoundly and acts up to it so faithfully that it has become a part of himself--not before. There is then not merely understanding alone, not merely mystic experience alone, but also a transformation of contemplation into action. Life thereafter is not merely thought out in the truest way but also lived out in the loftiest way.
No balance other than an illusory one can be established in the individual if development has not been completed in the individual.
It is better, less hazardous, and more gratifying to unfold the spiritual side of the psyche's different parts simultaneously rather than successively.
With knowledge, wisdom, and understanding developing in him along with devotion, aspiration, and reverence, and with the two trends culminating in appropriate action, his quest will be properly balanced, sane, and productive.
The balance will establish itself automatically when these elements are fully developed and these qualities are brought together in our own consciousness.
The ideal is not to achieve this inner balance with scanty materials but to achieve it with the amplest ones.
A proper balance between two needs must be found by satisfying both, not by only partially satisfying each of them.
Only a great nature can take a great illumination and not become unbalanced by it. That is why the full cultivation, all-around development, and healthy equilibrium of the man is required in Philosophy.
It seeks to give him a personality which is richly developed and not ascetically starved, which is sensibly balanced and not fantastically lopsided.
To hold the balance between these various faculties, and not to exaggerate one at the cost of the others, is as difficult as it is desirable.
The admirable balance of Chinese temperament enabled it, until unsettled by the recent madness, to admire individuality, originality, and at the same time to respect past genius and the achievement of tradition.
The lines of evolution will not be fully worked out by a partial entry into truth. Man must bring the full measure of his wholeness into it. In this way he will not only completely realize himself as a spiritual entity, but will also achieve harmony and balance within the realization itself. Nothing less will satisfy his profoundest needs.
Philosophy seeks harmony. It brings thinking and feeling not only into a working relationship with each other, but also into one that helps, corrects, and completes the duty of the other.
It is of great importance to develop balance, reason, and emotional awareness simultaneously. Exercises should include intellectual analysis of oneself and one's experiences, increased efforts in self-control and outward expression, and an intensified attitude of love and loyalty.
He may keep out the ego's interference and yet not reach the pure truth because he cannot keep out his evolutionary insufficiency.
Those who talk or write truth, but do not live it because they cannot, have glimpsed its meaning but not realized its power. They have not the dynamic balance which follows when the will is raised to the level of the intellect and the feelings. It is this balance which spontaneously ignites mystic forces within us, and produces the state called "born again." This is the second birth, which takes place in our consciousness as our first took place in our flesh.
The danger of a lopsided character is seen when humility reverence and piety are largely absent whilst criticism logicality and realism are largely present. The intellect then becomes imperiously proud, arrogantly self-assured, and harshly intolerant. The consequence is that its power to glean subtler truths rather than merely external data is largely lost.
The student must hold the picture of his personal life as a whole. He must not see it only as it is at some particular moment or period. If he can succeed in doing this, he will also succeed in banishing the constant oscillation between over-depression on one side and over-elation on the other, between being subjugated by the pain of today and by the pleasure of tomorrow. He will have attained peace.
So long as he is living exclusively in one side of his being, so long as there is no balance in him, what else can his view of life be but an unbalanced one? Nor will the coming of illumination completely set right and restore his balance. It will certainly initiate a movement which will ultimately do this, but the interval between its initiation and its consummation may be a whole lifetime.
The preliminary requisites to a lasting illumination are development and balance. If part of his nature is still undeveloped in relation to the finished goal and if all parts are off balance in relation to one another, the illumination will go soon after it comes. This balance of mind and life are essential.
If he does not understand that balance between inner being and outer nature must be sought and found, he may find that meditation or even abstract reflection may leave him inapt for the ordinary affairs of men who have to live in activities of earning their livelihood or who have to discharge their responsibilities to self, family, and community.
Without balance in the recipient there can be no proper transmission or perfect reception of truth. The different parts of his being will absorb and, in consequence, express it unequally. But, granted that the development of these parts is sufficient, where equilibrium is accomplished, there will be the best conditions for the experience of enlightenment to be really what it should be.
The separatist spirit which would erect the pediment of truth on the single pillar of yoga alone or of metaphysics alone ends always in failure or, worse, in disaster. When each sphere of activity whose integral union is needed for the successful completion of the structure asserts its self-sufficiency, it begins to suffer what in the individual human being is called an enlarged ego. The student of metaphysics who despises mysticism and the student of mysticism who despises metaphysics will pay the penalty of neurosis for this unhealthy and unbalanced state of his mental life.
Without this balance of character he may lose his wisdom while engaged in the very enterprise of desperately seeking to improve it!
Those who, like Krishnamurti, will recognize none but the highest level and have no use even for the steps leading up to it become extremists and fanatics.
He who has heavily overbalanced his psyche, whose capacity for critical thinking has been gorged with food while his capacity for reverential worship has been starved to death, is to be pitied. For the unhealthier his condition becomes, the healthier he actually believes himself to be!
When a particular part of a man's being is thrown out of balance, it is not only that part which is affected but the whole man himself.
The value of achieving this delicate balance of faith and reason, of fact and imagination, is shown by what happens to those who, lacking it, put all their trust in predictions and make hopes for the future depend wholly on them. They find themselves betrayed.
If his whole approach to truth is lopsided, his discovery of truth will be disfigured.
When a single aspect of truth is allowed to obscure or cover, displace or swallow all the other aspects of it, then its balance--one of the most precious of its features--is lost.
An attitude of studied indifference to the lesser matters of life simply because one takes the philosophic goal as being of high importance may lead to serious neglect of practical affairs and everyday living. The results could well be deplorable. Such an attitude is not acceptable philosophically.
Whoever reaches this point and fails to establish a good equilibrium between heaven and earth, will have to hang suspended between them, no longer on earth but not at all near heaven.
Small minds or narrow ones give no validity or little importance to any side of life or culture which does not interest them. Thus they unbalance themselves.
Even though he may see the need of correcting his imbalance, he may not be able to see how to achieve it. For the full and correct recognition of his deficiencies may need outside help.
Too little intuiting and too much intellectualizing create an unsymmetrical personality. Too little thinking and too much feeling provide a dis-equilibrated equipment for truth-seeking. In both cases, the man finds half-truths, one-sided truths, but not the grand, great truth.
Unbalance leads to unsound judgements and extremist decisions.
Whoever gets too much taken up with a single aspect of a subject is liable to exaggerate its importance and upset his balance of mind about it.
With an improper balance of these sides of his being, the result of his efforts to communicate his revelation may be another of those inspired insanities which make mystical literature an object of severe criticism.
Only by accepting the existence of "the pairs of opposites" in all phases of life, and hence in his spiritual life too, and by establishing this connection in his thoughts, can he develop spiritually in a healthy safe and successful way.
When we attain balance, it forces us to note the presence of interconnected opposites in every case. It is only the unbalanced who ignore, deny, neglect, or seek to escape from one or another of these opposites. Proper consideration will try to bring them together, accepting the tension between them as a necessary part of truth about the subject, the person, the situation, or the event.
The balance needed by faith is understanding; by peacefulness, energy; by intuition, reason; by feeling, intellect; by aspiration, humility; and by zeal, discretion.
Neither the Buddhistic emphasis on suffering nor the hedonistic emphasis on joy is proper to a truly philosophical outlook. Both have to be understood and accepted, since life compels us to experience both.
Inner balance is not established by setting two polar opposites against each other, as miserliness against extravagance, but by combining two necessary qualities together such as bravery with caution.
Man must seek and find the feminine side of his dual nature; woman must seek and find the masculine. In this way a balanced relation will be established, although the physical body will naturally establish the dominant side.
By bringing into a fusion the masculine and feminine temperaments within himself, he also fuses knowledge and feeling, wisdom and reverence.
One of the first requisites is to cultivate a sense of balance, a healthy poise between thinking and doing, believing and doubting, feeling and reasoning, between the ideal and the actual.
When these two--the positive and negative currents--come together, the electric lamp lights up of its own accord. When these two--intellect and feeling--are properly coordinated, and the character is both properly developed and purified, the Overself in a person begins to shine of its own accord.
Let him remember that there are dangers in both optimism and pessimism, that the proper course is to try to see things just as they are, and that nothing in life is all black-shadowed or all rosy-hued.
If we seek to become philosophical it is not at all necessary to lose practicality and ignore actuality. We ought to become sufficiently equilibrated to create conditions, make things, and devise arrangements which are visible here and serviceable now. This should not stop us from mentally training ourselves to follow abstract ideas or metaphysical systems by which lofty levels are attained.
The practical wisdom of keeping anchored to earth must balance the spiritual wisdom of seeking flights above it.
The idealist should listen to the more responsible cautious voice of practical experience, just as the practical man should take some of the risks of idealism.
An independent research will necessarily be a critical one, but the criticism must be balanced by sympathy or it will fail in doing justice and judging accurately.
It is not enough for anyone to be a success in integrity if he is a failure in judgement.
Here faith and knowledge counterbalance one another, here a solid practicality in dealing with the world is redeemed by a noble morality, here the secrets of meditation are made lucid while the questions of intellect are satisfied.
Why must he oppose the pleasurable feelings of the body to the pleasurable feelings of the mind, as if they must always be enemies? Is it not saner to reconcile them in happy combination, to balance them in reasonable proportion, to establish a Chinese "golden mean" between them?
Such a balance requires warmth in the heart as well as coolness in the head.
Reason must walk side by side with emotion, science with mysticism, compassion with self-interest, action with thought. This balanced life and no other is the truly philosophic one.
Thinking and feeling must first balance one another and then only may they, and should they, blend with one another.
They have a mutual service to render. Devotion should guide reason and reason should guide devotion.
Thus reason and emotion no longer wrestle with each other and no longer oppose one another as antinomies, but find abruptly a point of common fulfilment.
Such is the all-round development of the human psyche offered by philosophy. It balances mystical intuiting by logical thinking, religious belief by critical reflection, idealistic devotion by practical service.
The Balance required preceding enlightenment is not only between intellect and emotion, thought and will, but also and mainly between the lower and the higher wills, between ego's desires and Overself's self-contentment.
When the two wills, higher and lower, are brought into balance and perpetually held there, he has secured the necessary conditions for enlightenment.
Our need is to achieve a balance between these two demands of human nature, between useful activity and mental serenity.
He who wants society all the time is as unbalanced as he who wants solitude all the time.
He has to become expert in keeping both feet firmly on hard ground while keeping his head in this lofty pure atmosphere. This is what sound balance means.
He who has gone deeply into himself without abandoning his hold on external reality has kept the balance of his mind.
The need today is for harmonious balance between the inner and the outer being, between divine spirit and earthly body, so that the one faithfully reflects the other.
When he establishes an equilibrium between the two poles of life, his inner experience fits into the outer, operates with it, and does not contradict it.
This is the strength of philosophy, that if it is analytical or critical on one side, it is synthetical or reconciliatory on the other; if it is occupied with the highest possible metaphysical flights, it is grounded on the most solid scientific facts and attentive to the most practical of details; if intellect and feeling are in it, so are intuition and inspiration.
A proper balance has no room either for stubborn conservatism or for uncurbed iconoclasm--although, if circumstances are extreme, it may use the one to offset the other.
He who can unite self-effort with dependence on grace in a constant balance is able to gain peace. The key to success lies in maintaining balance.
Just as in practical life we harmonize and balance two opposing facts to arrive at adequate decisions, as, for instance, between the need of prudence and the need of enterprise, so too in spiritual life it is essential to reconcile apparent incompatibles.
Imaginative vision is to be checked by respect for facts, balanced by meticulous reasoning.
When the wisdom of experience is married to the drive of youth, tempering it but not paralysing it; when dreams are fulfilled in actions and ideals are reflected in emotions; when intuition reigns over intellect and guides will, man has achieved a worthy balance.
The active side of his personality must be properly balanced by the passive side.
When they are at the point of just ripening into middle age, the two opposing forces in man or in the universe achieve perfect balance of their polarities.
We need this state balanced between mere faith and prudent scrutiny.
What philosophy seeks--and what most "systems" do not--is an all-around understanding and development, and an equilibrium between the body and the higher individuality.
External activity may be likened to life at the circumference of a wheel; internal meditation may be likened to life at the centre of the wheel.
Stillness at the Centre, activity on the circumference--this is equilibrium that is set by Nature (God) as the human ideal.
We find that even so serene and enlightened a mind as Emerson's was liable to fall into error like any other mystic's, except that since his mind was unusually perspicuous and intelligent--bordering on the philosophic--this liability was much smaller with him. He suffered from an excess of optimism, which to that extent threw him out of balance at times. A single yet striking instance occurs in his Lecture on War. "Trade, as all men know, is the antagonist of war," he said. Yet it was the greed to secure a larger share of the world's growing trade which led in the last hundred and fifty years to several wars. "History is the record of the mitigation and decline of war," he continued. How little its horror has been mitigated since Emerson delivered that sentence in the year 1853, the slain civilian victims of mass air-raids (30,000 in Rotterdam alone) silently inform us. "The art of war, what with gunpowder and tactics, has made battles less murderous," he concluded. The enormous destructiveness of modern weapons, and especially the fiendish murderousness of atom bombs, flatly and fully contradict this statement. How could so honest a thinker, so lovable a man as Emerson fail so grievously in judgement? It was because his balance was not adequately and correctly established.
What we have to do is to take only so much of each important factor in life as is really necessary for a balanced life. We must beware of taking too little or too much. Thus a man may have dinner every day but should not live solely for the eating of dinners. So he may practise mysticism but need not make it the sole element of his existence. He should live not for mysticism alone but for the whole of life itself. He may be a practising mystic but should not stop with that.
If allowed to absorb too much of his attention, the fascination which mystical teachings and meditation have for the student will render it very difficult for him to cope with the struggles of commonplace existence. If this happens, he should deliberately drop his study of abstract teachings, together with meditation exercises, and concentrate all of his attention on personal matters--at least until he regains balance.
He who shuts himself up within the narrow confines of religion alone, or mysticism alone, or metaphysics alone, shuts himself off from the great stream of Life. The way must embrace many apparently antithetical things yet it is really one. Hence the wise man will first evoke within the self those diverse elements which are next to be coordinated into the rounded entirety of a splendid harmony. Hence too it is foolishness for the imprudent mystic to abandon his critical faculties on the threshold of his quest and to scorn the guidance of reasoned knowledge; he wanders haphazard along a path not without its dangers for it skirts at times the very edge of the precipices of madness, delirium, deception, and error. For such scientific and metaphysical knowledge acts as both pilot for the journey and check against its dangers. Without it a man gropes alone and blindfolded through the world-darkness. He does not know the proper meaning, place, and purpose of his multiform experiences. He does not understand that the ecstasies, the visions, and the devotions which have consumed his heart must later give place to the calm, formless, and abstract insight of philosophy. And it was because Ramakrishna was divinely led, in the deepest sense of the term, that he eventually accepted this fact and submitted to the philosophical initiation at the hands of Tota Puri and thus set out to make the ascent from being a visionary to becoming a sage. The lesson of this is that man, like all else, must be viewed in his entirety. Perhaps Hegel's greatest contribution was his discovery of the Dialectical Principle. For it showed the imperative need of surveying all around a matter and of understanding it in the fullness of its entire being rather than in the narrowness of a single facet. Ignorance of this important principle is one of the several factors responsible for the birth of fanatical fads, crankish cults, and futile revolutions. In the application of this principle, reason rises to its highest.
Wisdom lies in looking into and recognizing the proper limits of both metaphysics and yoga and coordinating them harmoniously. Each is essential and admirable within certain limits; each becomes a dangerous drug beyond them, for then its strength becomes a weakness. We must welcome it so long as it remains where it belongs; we must judge it harshly as soon as it usurps another's place.
To obtain a balanced result it is necessary to make a balanced approach and not to rely on a single kind of effort only. The moral character must become involved in the quest of upliftment; the intellectual faculty must work at the study, as well as reflect upon the lessons of, life itself; the intuition must be unfolded by persistent daily practice of meditation; and the everyday practical life must try to express the ideals learned.