Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 3: Relax and Retreat > Chapter 2: Withdraw from Tension and Pressure
Withdraw from Tension and Pressure
Civilization has carried us far away from the sources of life. We have no first-hand contact with the Mother Earth. The problem for those of us who are disquieted by this unhealthy condition--though every sort of malfunction and evil happening must eventually force awareness of its existence upon the others--is how to go back some of the distance to our origins without abandoning our machines or discarding our material comforts.
It is a fact that millions of people are being stimulated to seek what they do not already possess, are kept insatiably discontented with what they do possess, and are thus kept out of inner peace.
The need to relax from the burden of worldly duties, to renew contact with the Unearthly at least now and then, is left unsatisfied. If prolonged over the years, this leads to personal imbalance, to psychosomatic illness, to vague discontent.
In the end he has to seek refuge from the world's stresses. This he can try to do in external withdrawal, or in a cultivation of inward detachment, or in both.
We must let the others rush on their frenetic course and hasten in their neurotic way since that is their acceptance. We hear quieter and gentler suggestions which must be valued more because their source is high.
The practice of these meditational exercises and the study of these metaphysical doctrines formerly required a withdrawal into solitude where, in an atmosphere of unhurried leisure and unworldly purity, they could be patiently and safely pursued.
If the struggle to earn a livelihood, or to support a family, or to realize an ambition is not to overwhelm his thought and energy and leave him bereft of spiritual aspiration, he should detach himself from time to time and take note of what it is doing to him. If the gathering of necessary possessions is turned into the gathering of superfluous ones, he will harass himself with new desires and seduce his spiritual pursuits in consequence.
There is a calm which falls upon the harassed mind when it succeeds in shutting off the world's cares, the world's noise, the world's strains and pressures.
The worse the world's pressure, tension, conflict, or violence increases, the greater is the need of some kind of retreat from it.
If, being a modern, he must be tense, he can guide himself into a better state by letting the tension stretch toward his ideal self.
It is a noticeable fact that so many men and women of our time have more highly strung nerves, and consequently find living more difficult than those of earlier times. This is obviously because the clatter and vibration of machines fills their days or the pressure and quickening of time fills their hours. In the case of more evolved and more sensitive individuals, neither the movements of the human body nor the workings of the human mind could successfully adapt themselves to the movements and workings of the power-driven machine. In their case the result is fatigue, nervousness, irritability, and sickness. If their sanity is not lost, their poise is.
If passion and wrath are two great destroyers of man's inner peace, worry and hurry are two great disturbers of it.
Unless a man firmly and stubbornly and repeatedly asserts himself against these materialistic surroundings, they will tend to overwhelm him. He must bring to his self-defense qualities abnormally developed if they are to be successfully used.
When energy--mental and physical--is excessively consumed by business or profession, it leads to nervous and spiritual penalties.
The dominant habits, regimes, and practices of the regular routine which modern Western man follows show in themselves how far he has lost the true purposes of living, how disproportionate is the emphasis he has put on the things of this world.
The time and strength spent in taking care of one's own or one's family's needs, have to be reduced if more time and strength have to be given, as they ought to be given, to taking care of spiritual needs.
Is he to become one of the many who are submerged beneath the dictatorial pressures of society and who have consequently lost their sincerity, faithfulness, and intuitive guidance?
When he is charged with nervous tension, a man more easily commits errors of judgement.
The mental longing for inner quiet as a refuge from agitated emotions or tired nerves, is often felt first as a physical longing for outer quiet as a refuge from excessive noise and incessant bustle and continual hurry.
If a man is to be free in the modern Western world, he must be able to earn his living in the way that he likes, or else he must have a sufficiency of money to save him from that necessity, yet not enough to tempt him daily.
Life can be better valued in the quiet of the study than in the tumult of the street.
It becomes more and more difficult for a man of inner development to express himself in modern civilization without adulterating, diluting, or dropping his spiritual integrity. The dreamers in their ivory towers--few and rapidly diminishing as they are--will one day have to awaken brusquely to the harsh facts.
For a man of the highest ideals there is hardly a place in the world of today. The food that will be offered him, the business, work, or profession that he must follow, the taxes he will have to pay in contribution for war preparations or defense, the vivisectionative cost he must contribute to cannot possibly be fully consistent with those ideals.
He finds it less trouble to get out of the way of people for whom he does not care than to endure the irritating friction of meeting them. "Whom God has put asunder, let no man join together."
Some leisure and a little training are certainly desirable advantages for metaphysical study, but they are not absolutely essential advantages. Again, if city life denies the first it offers the second, whilst if country life denies the second it offers the first. The moral is that we must make the best of what equipment and what conditions we already have. To the extent that we do this, we invite help from the Overself's Grace.
It is no more turning his back on life for a city dweller to take to rural quietude than it is for a country dweller to take to the city.
Action is right, needful, and inevitable, but if it is overdone, if we become excessive extroverts, if it drives us like a tormenting demon, then no inward peace is ever possible for us.
We grip so strongly on the timed life, with its pressures and turmoils, that we do not find the secret way to utter peace of mind--perhaps do not even know of its existence.
He must not only learn to relax, but also learn to relax in the very midst of this intensely stimulated working life which America thrusts upon him. Whenever in the morning or the afternoon it seems that he must pack an overwhelming amount of work into a short time and must feverishly try to complete it, the very moment this is realized, he should get up and leave both office and work. He should walk slowly and leisurely outdoors, amid the bushes and trees or out in the open spaces until this foolishness, this needless anxiety to get finished something that by its very nature can never be finished, is forgotten. Then, and only then, may he return to the office desk and continue calmly at his task. It is idling, yes, but who shall say that idling, too, has not its value?--at least as much value as overdoing oneself? Is it not rather a kind of receptive serenity?
Tensions will disappear if you refuse to rush with the multitude, if you walk and work in a leisurely manner.
The irritability of temperament and the rushing attack at activities are connected together. A quieter, less hasty approach to them will lead in the end to a relaxed, less irritable temperament.
The opposition to deeper spiritual aspiration and to wiser everyday living habits has grown stronger with each decade. The evils and difficulties are too formidable, too plentiful, too overwhelming to be overcome successfully. The battle against them can have no other ending than failure. The helpless individual who can do nothing for the salvation of humanity under these circumstances can at least look to his own salvation and make some headway in achieving it. This involves retreat, withdrawal, and perhaps even flight. But it is better than abject surrender to an environment which renders the practice of spiritual exercises a matter of formidable difficulty and in most cases almost impossible. It is better than wasting time and life in futile struggles and foredoomed endeavours.
When the pressures of modern living become intolerable he has to make a choice. Either fall into physical-nervous breakdown, make a physical escape, or learn some art of relaxation, such as hatha yoga.
The stress impulses which bombard the body must be stopped in their activity at regular periodic times.
Most aspirants have to spend their working days in an atmosphere that has little use for their ideas and ideals, that is harshly discrepant or completely incompatible with the one that they seek to cultivate or find during meditation and study. What exists in the latter vanishes when the former is entered.
Too many people feel that they are too tired in the evening after a day's hard work, and by reaction too keen on using their leisure for social purposes or for light entertainment.
In the circumstances of modern life, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a place where he may withdraw into silence from the noise which accompanies modern civilization, or obtain a time when he may withdraw into stillness from its pressures.
The insistent demands, the ever-multiplying duties of the world come pressing down on us. How seldom do we retire into ourselves to search or to listen or to understand or to draw on unused resources!
We complain of the lack of time in modern life. Yet it was an ancient Greek who said that when men are free from the stress of affairs, they have time to think and discover mind.
Crowds of people live in the illusion that they are getting somewhere when in fact they are really getting nowhere.
It is not only beneficial to stand back at times from the furor and pressure, but also quite necessary if nerves, feelings, and ideas are to be kept sound.
A malady of the nerves can block his onward progress to the same extent that a fault of character can block it.
Is it cowardly to withdraw from a world where so many evils are rampant, and to abandon its duties and responsibilities? What is the yearning which prompts such thoughts but a homesickness of the inner man, an intuitive recognition that he was born for a higher purpose in life than a merely earthly one?
There comes a time when integrally developed persons find this artificial way of living so obnoxious to their instincts and so contrary to their principles, that they are forced to consider totally withdrawing from it. This is a statement, not a complaint.
Are we not suffering from too much civilization, too much science, too much loss of contact with Nature, too much restlessness? For when excess is leading to destruction is it not more prudent to call a halt, and adjust the unfair balance? Has not the time come to look the other way for a while, meanwhile keeping our gains?
Mind turns itself more readily and more easily to these devotional and meditational exercises of the inner life where there is quiet, peace, and beauty in the outer scene.
Where tumult and clamour prevail, do not expect to hear the Overself's whisper as easily as where silence prevails.
The civilized mode of living is not conducive to the birth and growth of spiritually intuitive feelings; it generally obstructs and stifles them.
The tension of modern living is such that a truly balanced and spiritually integrated pattern of inward being and outward conduct is almost impossible to achieve.
Prolonged immersion in worldly matters and ceaseless interest in them may dull the mind to the impetus of finer thoughts and to the promptings of finer emotions.
The turmoil which goes on everywhere in the world and which is being daily recorded in newspapers throughout the world is not conducive to the inward search for truth and for peace of mind. It gives too many personal shocks, creates too many vague apprehensions, and provides too many disturbing mental excitements.
My plaint is that all these modern complexities hamper the free outlet of spiritual forces.
All this over-emphasis on doing, which is such a feature of our time, leads to under-emphasis on being.
This nervous rush and speed, this flight from boredom into diversion, defeats its own purpose in the end. It brings satisfactions that must be repeated and multiplied because they are too ephemeral. The correct way out is to learn to relax, to seek inner repose.
When the divine is utterly forgotten in the press of daily activity, the negative, the foolish, and the self-weakening will be easily remembered.
Such is the very nature of twentieth-century civilization that it robs him of tranquillity, of seclusion, of quietude, and of calmness. It seems to give him so much yet it fails to give him the one thing which his harassed nerves demand--inner peace.
Today the average American city dweller tries to do ten times more than the average European city dweller of a hundred years ago did. He is overactive in a physical and mental sense.
Some tension in life there must be, but when it becomes continual, as in modern life, it becomes reprehensible.
The hurried life of the West is all shell and little kernel. Our bodies are overactive but our souls fall into disuse.
Time tightens around modern man today. He is urged, pressed, invited, persuaded, and ordered to do more than he can fit into his schedule.
We have made a cult of activity and a virtue of gregariousness.
We who live in the world's fastest moving epoch have to keep hold of our inner still centre all the more.
They can find no room for the one activity which is the most worthwhile of all activities. All the trivia of life are included in the day's programme but the holy communion which can bring us into contact with the essence of Life itself is excluded. They are blind, yet the only remedy which can make them see is crowded out.
The modern man, hustled by the timetable of an industrialized age, harried by the cares of accumulating wants, is hardly ever happy. Hence he seeks to find in fleeting pleasures what he has not found in daily life. His life rides on a set of iron rails, the unseen locomotive being the steely system into which he was born.
We moderns live too quickly to live happily. If it yields pleasure, it must inevitably yield pain also.
To find an oasis of peace in a noise-ridden world becomes more and more a rarity. This is the quester's problem for he needs to study and meditate, but it is also a growing problem for general humanity.
We moderns live so restlessly, or work so hard, or pursue business and pleasure so intensely, that our attention is continually drawn outwards, rarely inwards. We do not live at peace with ourselves. Under such conditions, the development of intuition and the cultivation of mystical states is quite hard.
The haste of modern times quickens the body's movements but irritates the nerves. The itch of modern times to be always doing something leads to a complete lack of repose.
In today's hectic life the gaining of inward peace becomes a necessity. It is no longer a luxury for monks and nuns only.
We do not find encouragement for calm thinking in the intense tempo of modern life, much less for calming all thoughts into stillness. The rate at which we work, the haste with which we move through our days, blurs our keener perceptions of what we really are and what our higher purpose really should be.
The ordinary frantic activities of modern living keep our faculties, mental and physical, at an unnatural stretch for long periods. Although habit has made it seem natural, it is in fact dangerous to sanity peace and health.
Too many persons feel that they must keep busy all day and every day. Some are so overwhelmed by this feeling that it becomes an obsession.
Their souls find no resting-place in the modern world, wilt before its harsh noise and finally wither in its tough materialism.
The pace today is beyond the nerves of some persons and a torture to the nerves of others. The philosophically minded person who seeks to preserve his balance will refuse to be rushed while coming to terms with it if he can. If he can not, then he will have to seek a new and different set of circumstances.
The scenes of boyhood are fast vanishing--wooded, winding lanes, sheltering relaxed village refuges--and with them the quietude and dignity of a bygone era.
The tendencies to outward action are much stronger than the tendencies to inward rest.
All this busyness and activity is not his real life but only marginal to it.
The great capitals of the world are civilized, they say, and it is true. There you may find the intellectual and the aesthetic arts flourish most; you may observe more elegance in the manners, speech, clothes and homes than elsewhere. But the work and wealth centered there indirectly breed slums, multiply sins, and degrade men morally.
A simple man, unspoiled by city influences, close to earth and Nature, is more likely to listen to a religious message than a brain-sharpened, politics-excited, and ambitious urban dweller. Yet the latter needs it more than the former!
If we must escape to some rural retreat in the country whenever we can, to shut out the world's turmoil and turbulence, its din and clamour, and to shut ourselves in with peace and calm, let us do so. But if we are captives of the monstrous city and cannot even do that, let us do the next best thing. There are churches where we may sit in quietude for prayer and meditation. There are the early morning and late night hours when the world is quieter.
The conditions of city life are such that periods of withdrawal from it are absolutely necessary. We need these periods for going into silence, for tranquil concentration, for self-examination, and for self-detachment.
If you want to practise meditation or study scriptures, a tumultuous city will disturb and hinder you. But if you want to test your practice and live the truth you so far have, the city is as good a place as any other.
The massing together of millions of people in one vast city is unhealthy in a psychic as well as a physical sense.
Let him be openly unashamed of this inspired casualness, quite unabashed before others about this deliberate evasion of fixed schedules and endless programmes, routines, or itineraries.
Those early men who left the crowds which pushed and shoved their way in city streets and who took to the desert, cave, forest, or mountain--anywhere to escape their neighbours--must have had good reasons for doing so. They did. They found that if they were to achieve the kind of peace which comes through meditation, they would have to achieve it in the country, not in the city. Withdrawal from the competition, struggle, friction, strife, and temptation of worldly life became to them a necessity for which they were willing to pay the price.
The serious worker in the arts, like the serious mystics, must have his periods of solitude. If he lives in a city he must be on his guard against being trapped in a network of appointments and invitations, entertainments and extraneous business.
To move one's residence and work from city to country is not escape from the world but revaluation of the world. To take social contacts in small doses is not wilful moroseness but wiser management of time and energy. To bring leisure, beauty, reflection, and repose into the day is not to run away from life but to seek it more fully.
Let it go, this bustle and hurry of the cities, and seek another way of life where the mind can come to some measure of peace instead of losing what little it has.
This feeling of a need to get away from crowds into solitude, to escape from city tumult into rural quietude, may be the intuitive warning from the higher self of an impending deterioration unless this change be made. It may be a guidance toward better nervous and even physical health. To denounce it, as a materialistic section of psychiatrists denounce it, as morbid and psychotic escapism is a grave error.
When the city job becomes a source of ulcers and the city apartment becomes a straitjacket, it is time to remember that woodlands, beaches, rivers, hills, meadows, and wide open spaces also exist and that the man who makes up his mind that he wants to live among them for part, most, or all of the year can find some way to do so if he is really determined enough. If it involves taking some risks and making some sacrifices at the beginning, he will take them only if his desire to escape is ardent and strong.
What is the ideal solution of this problem of withdrawal? That which really attracts us to monastic life but which cannot be satisfied by its rigidity would better be satisfied in country-cottage life. We will have retreat, freedom, inspiration, and peace there.
The glorification of countryside and village life, the denigration of urban and city life, making the former conducive to spirituality, if not paradisical, and the latter satanical, a breeder of evils, is an oversimplification and an exaggeration which does not chime with the facts. There is no Yin without its opposing Yang: to ignore this basic principle of Nature and man is to ignore truth.
It is unadventurous and unexciting to live in a quiet backwater of life. Nevertheless, if the mind is sufficiently reflective and the intuitive or aesthetic feelings are sufficiently active, such an existence can be pleasant, contented, and peaceful.
The modern idea that such a quiet country life is also a dull one, is both right and wrong. It is right where inner resources and intuitive appreciation are lacking but wrong where they are present.
Some people are happier in the country with its solitary activities, but others--and they are the most numerous--are happier in the city with its social activities. A well-balanced life would incorporate both sides as far as possible.
Country life is more conducive to prayer and spiritual development, besides being less trouble socially.
The high-pressure American civilization, its swarming cities packed with frowning buildings and hustling people, need not hinder a man's mystical growth if only he will resolutely remain in inner harmony with Nature and regularly keep an appointment with his Overself.
To take the modern city's life into his mind and not be affected by its materialistic narrowness and avaricious triviality, he would need to be a superman.
What was the name of that Greek colony in Southen Italy or Sicily which barred all street noises from their city? Surely it must have been Pythagoras' foundation, Crotona? Only he and his disciples could have had so much sense and sensitivity.
The din of modern traffic increases, brutalizing even more the already semi-materialistic people in the streets.
The restless hum and noisy bustle of city life work insidiously upon the nerves, creating a state of tension.
These tensions hold the mind resistant to the entry of intuitive promptings.
The roaring swirl of city life would be unbearable to a sensitive person if he had not this secret place of inner retreat.
Why blame the man who tires of the scurry and worry of city life, or the one who turns away in disgust from its crime and greed, its sickness and madness, its hate and lust? If, withdrawing from it all, either man finds a happier existence in seclusion, is it really any worse than the existence he has left behind?
The general habit of modern city civilization obstructs and opposes the disciplinary habit of mystical seeking. The two go ill together.
The city life where people talk too much and congregate too closely continually distracts the mind which seeks to become meditative.
Those who stay in the towns when they need not do so impede the intuitive working.
They are tired of the economic treadmills associated with the task of earning a livelihood, weary of the high pressures associated with large modern cities, and anxious about the shadowed future of a crumbling regimented civilization. They despise the complicated insincerity of seeking to meet, cultivate, and "cash in" on the "right" people, as well as the absurdity of creating financial strains by "trying to keep up with the Joneses." They feel that life ought to be simpler, happier, serener, securer, and truer than that.
The desire for the countryside's adorable quietness springs from a deep need. After he has endured the city's noisy sounds and fretful busyness for a long period, a haven of rest is really balm and medicine for a man.
How soothing to pass from the feverish activity of our cities to quiet unhurried existence in the meandering lanes of a country village! Here piety is not yet dead, although the assault will doubtless come with the large events yet to appear.
The immense concentration of evil thinking which is to be found in vast metropolitan cities makes the sensitive and the aspiring feel the imperative need of escape at frequent intervals.
He is more likely to learn these truths in lonely places than in the noisy throngs which press around the city streets.
Price of excessive extroversion
The extroversions of the ego block the communication of the Overself.
Men absorbed in the ceaseless activity of their five senses can have no comprehension of mysticism's meaning, no sympathy with mysticism's practice, no real contact with mysticism's exponents. For their hidden failure to know themselves underlies their obvious failure to know mysticism.
With thoughts and the body living their own egoistic life, the world must needs be regarded as obstructive to spiritual development.
This continuous attraction to outer embroilment is fatal to inner life. It exists only because they abandon the real self for it. It exhausts them, so that neither the desire nor the energy to search for this self are able to arise.
The good man or the religious man will take the trouble to weed out bad habits but never dream that his excessive extroversion is not the least of them.
Too much absorption with outward things, too little with inner life, creates the unbalance we see everywhere today. The attention given by people to their outer circumstances amounts almost to obsession.
Most men are so smugly content to do their own ego's will all the time that it never enters their minds to pause and enquire what the Overself's will for them is.
We listen to so many outer voices that we do not have time, or give place, to listen directly to the Inner Voice, the Overself's.
The mass of outer activities becomes a heavy burden. Whether trivial or important, casual or essential, they keep us from looking within for the real self just as much as preoccupation with the mass of superfluous possessions.
Our anxiety to keep active constantly is in relation with our restlessness of mind.
The soul speaks to us in moments of peaceful realization and in times of quiet thought. Nay, it is always speaking, but in the fret and fever of active existence its voice remains unheard, its face unrecognized.
Are these people in the charmed circle so fortunate as they think they are? Only by comparison with those who have less money, inferior positions, or no talent. But by comparison with the mystics who live quietly and serenely, who use their leisure in deep pondering or religious devotion in silent contemplation of God, they are life-wasters and infinitely poorer.
Those who are insensitive to spiritual nuances are mostly those who are obsessed by their immediate activities and local surroundings.
Our attention is now so fully absorbed by externals that we never have the leisure to cultivate inwardness or the inwardness to make a spiritual use of leisure. We are enslaved by attachments and distractions. We pursue the mirage of life, never life itself.
If man insists on keeping so busy with the affairs of ordinary life that he has no time to give for the affairs of the life that transcends it; if he insists, with various excuses, in staying outside the central area of wisdom and peace that lies within, he himself is largely to blame for his darkness and ignorance, his agitation and misery, his vexation and fear.
They never hear the inner call because they never listen for it. The setting aside of special times for meditation is like lifting a telephone receiver to hear a voice at the other end of the wire. If the receiver is left always on its hook, that is, if the mind is kept active with other matters, no connection can be made.
Many of these compulsive actions are the result of nervous tensions, either due to specific situations or to general personal characteristics.
They live too much on the outside of themselves, too little inside themselves.
The more activities that receive his attention, the more is he apt to be distracted from his higher purpose.
While men are caught in a tangle of work or overwork, with the worries that often accompany it, they are unable to give their concentrated thought to abstract questions and spiritual issues.
If worldly business and external pleasures occupy modern man's mind to such an extent that they have virtually crowded out all thoughts of the higher meaning and spiritual duties of life, then that business and these pleasures will lead him not to a happier earthly existence, as they could, but to bitter disappointment and painful catastrophe.
We cannot get to ourselves because the world is in the way.
If people keep too busy to entertain any thoughts of a higher value or to rest altogether from thought itself, they have only themselves to blame if the next great crisis in their lives finds them with weak defenses.
The true place of peace
The true place of peace amid the bustle of modern life must be found within self, by external moderation and internal meditation.
Modern life, with its pressure and pollutions, is bringing the need for relaxation from anxieties and the worth of meditation to modern Western man's attention. It is no longer the monk's privilege, no longer the unconcern of practical men.
After he has exhausted all worldly means and hopes, in any particular direction, where else can a man turn except backward--back to his own divine source?
Meditation must become a daily rite, a part of the regime which is, like lunch or dinner, not to be missed, but regarded with a sacredness the body's feeding does not have.
Another hindrance provided by our modern way of living is that it breeds haste, tension, pressure, and strain. These attitudes he carries from his daily routines into his meditation and thus spoils the practice or dooms it to failure. It is useless to approach such a delicate exercise with a demanding spirit which wants all the results all at once, with a haste which is better suited to the racetrack or the busy store. Success in meditation can only be had by discarding such attitudes and by sitting down to it with a willingness to give steadfast patient reverent effort which is not disappointed if the goal is not quickly reached.
Those people who object that their lives are too problem-filled, their minds too agitated by pressures, their days too busy with demands to find time or inclination to sit down and meditate are the very people who need meditation most.
Those who let a civilization which has lost balance rob them of both the time and capacity to meditate, must not only blame that civilization but also themselves.
The more activities you need to deal with, the more preparation you need to make, in meditation, for them.
Extreme fatigue may be one obstacle to the practice, the want of leisure may be another, and unsympathetic or crowded surroundings a third obstacle to it.
When the very nature of modern living is set for a totally different tempo and utterly alien atmosphere, it is somewhat astonishing that techniques of meditation can not only find an audience to listen to their description, but also find some practitioners.
How valuable are those few minutes deliberately removed from the daily routine for this practice of mental quiet! The world is so busy with its business that the profit to be gained from inner contact with the Source is quite unperceived, even unknown.
The businessman who moves through his days at top speed need not therefore be bereft of these serene consolations. Let him find twenty to thirty minutes wherein to open himself up to the Overself and if he uses them aright, they will suffice to keep open his line of sacred communication throughout the day.
Most forms of occupying leisure periods ease either the pace or stress of life by relaxing a part of the brain, the instrument of thought; or a part of the body, those muscles and organs most used; or the emotions and passional nature; but the deeper kind of meditation brings peace to a man's whole being.
Ascetic withdrawal from the world is one thing, but withdrawal from involuntary mental images of the world is another.
There is also the factor of the desperate overcrowding of their leisure with trivialities and frivolities. If they complain of the lack of time for meditation, let them ask themselves whether there is a lack of time for going to parties, cinemas, and theatres. These offer them an amusing form of relaxation. Both will relax their minds and nerves and body. But whereas the one leaves no benefits behind, the other will leave valuable benefits as its legacy. If they would organize their leisure by the light of spiritual values, instead of haphazardly drifting through it, they might find some time for both amusement and meditation too.
Most persons who are willing to grant a place theoretically for meditative practices are still unwilling to grant them a place practically. They complain of being prevented by too many distractions.
We have become so extroverted that it is thought queer for a man to sit immovable, inactive, without stirring a muscle or fidgeting a limb, sunk completely in rapt contemplation!
All that we can find in the world without us cannot be beyond in range or quality what we have already found in the world within us. "Man, know thyself" is a practical rule.
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