The proper cultivation and refinement of feeling is necessary for the philosophic path, but this must not be confused with mere emotionalism. The former lifts him to higher and higher levels while the latter keeps him pinned down to egoism. The former gives him the right kind of inner experience, but the latter often deceives him.
It is right to rule the passions and lower emotions by reasoned thinking, but reason itself must be companioned by the higher and nobler emotions or it will be unbalanced.
As man's impulses to action come mainly from his feelings, hence it is necessary to re-educate his feelings if we would get him to act aright.
There are three kinds of feeling. The lowest is passional. The highest is intuitional. Between them lies the emotional.
It is not emotion in itself that philosophy asks us to triumph over but the lower emotions. On the contrary, it asks us to cherish and cultivate the higher ones. It is not feeling in itself that is to be ruled sternly by reason but the blind animal instincts and ignorant human self-seeking. When feeling is purified and disciplined, exalted and ennobled, depersonalized and instructed, it becomes the genuine expression of philosophical living.
The heart must also acknowledge the truth of these sacred tenets, for then only can the will apply it in common everyday living.
Those are much mistaken who think the philosophic life is one of dark negation and dull privation, of sour life-denial and emotional refrigeration. Rather is it the happy cultivation of Life's finest feelings.
The hardest thing in the emotional life of the aspirant is to tear himself away from his own past. Yet in his capacity to do this lies his capacity to gain newer and fresher ideals, motives, habits, and powers. Through this effort he may find new patterns for living and re-educate himself psychologically.
But it is not all his ideas which govern man's life. Only those are decisive which are breathed and animated by his feelings, only they prompt him to action. Hence a merely intellectualist acceptance of these teachings, although good, does not suffice alone.
The aspirant needs to rise above his emotional self, without rising above the capacity to feel, and to govern it by reason, will, and intuition.
Sentimentality is a disease. The sooner the aspirant is cured of it, the quicker will be progress.
The idea that perfectly harmonious human relations can be established between human beings still dominated by egoism is a delusional one. Even where it seems to have been established, the true situation has been covered by romantic myth.
It is possible to attain a stoic impassivity where the man dies to disturbing or disquieting emotions and lives only in his finer ones, where the approbation of others will no longer excite him or the criticism by others hurt him, where the cravings and fears, the passions and griefs or ordinary and everyday human reactions are lacking. But in their place he will be sensible to the noblest, the most refined feelings.
By "heart" I mean the central abode of human feeling, the symbolic reminder that the "head" or cold dry intellect is not enough to touch the reality of Spirit.
There is one relationship which takes precedence over all others. It is the relationship with the Overself.
A wrong relationship with the Overself must inevitably lead to a wrong relationship with men.
We are not called upon to renounce our human affections, our earthly ties, as the ascetics demand, but we are called upon to liberate our love from its egoism.
He is indeed free who is no longer liable to be tossed about by emotional storms, whose mind has become so steadied in the impersonal Truth that his personal feelings shape themselves in accord with it.
If and when we can reconcile our feelings with the hard, sharp truths of philosophy, we shall then find the secret of peace.
The disciple must have no room for false sentimentality if he seeks truth. Consequently, he will not apply the phrase "a broken heart" to himself at any time, for he knows that what it really means is a broken ego, a severed attachment to some external thing which has to be given up if the way is to be cleared for the coming of Grace. It is only when he is unwilling or unable to do this for himself that destiny steps in, taking him at his word in his search for truth and reality, and breaks the attachments for him. If he accepts the emotional suffering which follows and does not reject it, he is able to pass into a region of greater freedom, and of progress to a higher level. His heart is not broken arbitrarily or capriciously, but only there where it most needs to be broken--where passion, desire, and attachment bind him the most strongly to illusion and to error.
Only after long experience and severe reflection will a man awaken to the truth that the beauty which attracts him and the ecstasy which he seeks can be found free of defects and transiency only in the Soul within.
Philosophy will create within him a disgust for evil, a disdain for what is ignoble, a taste for what is refined and beautiful, a yearning for what is true and real.
It is not that in the process of dying to self he is to become a man without feelings, but that he is to die to the lower phases of feeling. Indeed, such a victory can only be achieved by drawing the needed forces from the higher phases of feeling.
In the world of values, the truth is the synthesis of opposites, as for instance the synthesis of optimism and pessimism.
The quest remains unfinished and unsuccessful so long as it lacks this element of rich feeling, so long as it has not become a warm devotion.
The Quest is not all a matter of psychological readjustment, of severe self-improvement. Man is not just a character to be remolded. Deep reverential feelings have also to be cultivated.
His life will be extraordinarily enriched, and not bleakly impoverished, by discovering the higher relationship that is possible between men and women than that which begins and ends with the flesh.
Intense concentrated feeling may fill a man with self-destructive or murderous antagonism but lead another into self realization--depending upon the thoughts and acts which flow from him at its bidding.
First comes the capacity to recognize these higher feelings; then to understand them for what they are; next to appreciate their intrinsic worth; and finally, to give oneself up to them entirely.
The real philosopher feels what he knows: it is not a dry intellectual experience alone but a living one.
Why become resentful and bitter at the loss? Why not be grateful at having had the good fortune at all, and for possessing memory of it that cannot be lost? Why not regard it as enough to have experienced such happiness, even for a little time, when in the chances of life it could have passed you by altogether? Why not receive the gifts of destiny humbly without trying to own them with a tight vampire-like grip?
The higher human feelings such as kindness and sympathy, patience and tolerance have to be nurtured.
This species called Man has shown its finer possibilities in the kindness of Christ, the compassion of Buddha, the love of Saint Francis, and the skill of Michelangelo.
He will not lose the capacity to feel; in this he will still be like other men: but it will be free from false sentimentality and debased animality.
He who enters upon this quest will have to revise his scale of values. Experiences which he formerly thought bad, because they were unpleasant, may now be thought good, because they are educative or because they reveal hitherto obscured weaknesses.
Aesthetic appreciation, the feeling of delight in art, is not enough by itself to bring humanity into the perception of reality, that is, into truth. Artistic feeling, even poetic emotion, is not less exempt from the need of being equilibrated by reason than the other functions of man's nature.
No one can be devoid of feeling, and the philosopher will not be exempt from this rule. But whereas the ordinary man's feelings are transient emotions, passions, stresses, or moods, the philosopher's feelings nourish a sustained, elevated state.
The mistake of taking personal feelings as fit judges of truth or reality is a grave barrier which often lies across the portal of philosophy. People put a grossly exaggerated value on them and are thus led astray from the true knowledge of a fact or a situation.
Without changing a person's feelings, no change for the better in his own life, in himself, and in his relationship with other persons can be stable.
When his feelings are really a conscious or subconscious cover for other feelings, nothing will help, save the uncovering of what the ego has hidden.
Generous feeling must be directed by sound judgement, fervent devotion must be led by wise discrimination.
The longing for inward security and invulnerable peace is one which a man can certainly satisfy. But he cannot satisfy it on his own terms. Life has always and inseparably dictated the price which must be paid for it.
It is easy to talk vaguely of lofty ideals, hard to put them where they belong--in our personal relationships.
The line of conduct which impulse suggests is often different from that which deliberate reflection or deeper intuition suggests. Only when a man so develops himself that the two lines harmoniously coincide will he know the peace of never being torn in two--either mentally or emotionally. Then only, when desire and duty agree perfectly with one another, will he be happy. For, when reason approves what feeling chooses, and the inner balance is perfect, the resulting decision is more likely to be a right one than not.
Cheerfulness is an excellent mental attribute and worth cultivating; but where it results from mental blindness it is not worth having, for then it may become a real danger.
Feelings, emotions, and passions should not be allowed to submerge reason, unless the feeling is genuinely intuitive, the emotion truly impersonal, and the passion a passion for the highest Truth.
Feeling can be trained to become finer, more delicate, responsive to higher urges and ideals.
The baser feelings go away of their own accord as the higher ones are let in and encouraged.
The man who is seeking regeneration of his character will not often have repose of his feelings, for he is called by himself to struggle with himself.
It is in the very nature of emotion to vary like the wind. Consequently, he who would attain inner peace cannot base his attainment upon emotion alone. He has to find something much more stable than that, much more constant than that. This is not to say that the life of the spirit is without feeling, but it is a calm, unbroken feeling.
He may legitimately take pride in the fact that he is called to the philosophic life, that he has accepted the philosophic ideal. For it is not the kind of pride which can vaunt itself over other men; its aims are to be fulfilled rather by humbling the ego and reducing its sway.
The Roman Stoics, who sought to control their emotions and master their passions, placed character above knowledge. We pursue a similar albeit less rigorous discipline in controlling feelings by reason because we place knowledge above character. The latter is made a preliminary to attainment of the former.
Goethe says: "I prefer the harmful truth to the helpful falsehood. Truth will heal the wound which she may have given." And again he says: "A harmful truth is helpful, because it can be harmful only for the moment, and will lead us to other truths which must become ever more and more helpful. On the other hand, a helpful lie is more harmful, because it can help only for the moment and then lead to other lies which must become more and more harmful."
When he can bring himself to see clearly that no woman has anything to offer him which the Overself cannot offer more satisfyingly--be it ecstasy or beauty, intimacy or love, comfort or companionship--the glamour of sex will pall.
No possessive relationship between two human beings can last forever. To ask for such a thing is to ask for the impersonal universe to change its laws of growth for the sake of pleasing its ungrown progeny. God is entirely self-sufficient and if God's children are to grow increasingly into his likeness, they can do so only by becoming less dependent on others, more sufficient unto themselves.
A false, showy, and pretentious cheerfulness which ignores facts, represses truths, and hides evils is not really cheerful at all.
It is well to remember not to let oneself become the victim of negative feelings or harsh thoughts. They do not mend matters but only make you suffer more, and also suffer needlessly.
It is one of the side effects of philosophy that it purifies human affection, takes the littleness out of it, and lifts it to a higher and wider plane. This may bring some pain or it may bring a shared pleasure, depending on those involved in the experience.
It is excellent but not enough to be well-meaning, to have a pure intent, to be guided by feeling alone, if ignorance, credulity, naïveté, or imbalance are the accompaniment. For there are traps and quicksands, illusions and deceits in life as on the quest.
No human being has the right to claim another as his own. Each stands ultimately alone and essentially isolate. Each is born out of and must find his way back to spiritual solitude. For each must learn to be divinely self-reliant and self-sufficient. This is so because the soul is of the nature of God. How much misery has come into contemporary life through non-recognition of this fact! How much bitterness has come to the unwilling possessed ones or to the defeated would-be possessors!
The way to get rid of an obstinate negative feeling is to supersede it by a new positive one of greater intensity. Right thoughts about the wrong feeling will help to correct it, right imaginations about the new one will help to bring it in, but feeling itself must be invoked and fostered if success is to be attained.
In most human relations, egoism in one person is replied by egoism in the other.
He has feelings but they are so poised that they never disturb, so balanced with reason that they never agitate, and so harmonized with intuition that they never excite him.
If anyone is to carry out Christ's bidding of reconciliation with enemies and forgiveness of those who have harmed him, he can do so only by giving up the ego.
In the New Testament Apocrypha we find a curious sentence: "For the Lord himself, having been asked by someone when his kingdom should come, said, `When the two shall be one, and the outside as the inside and the male with the female.
The loss of property and the break-up of possessions may be a terrible happening, but it may also have the effect of driving the sufferer into himself. He may disintegrate with his things, or he may steel his mind and school his emotions to endure the event while he tries to start life anew. So in the end he will become stronger than he was when the world's pleasures and riches were available to him.
We may wallow in the lowest kind of emotions and passions, or we may raise the whole feeling-nature to a level where love and beauty, refinement and sensitivity reign serenely.
When the good in him overbalances the bad, his selfishness will be purged by pity.
He can transcend sex by turning inward and finding the inner bliss. He should cultivate therefore joy, love, and happiness as attributes of the inner self.
The man who reposes his emotional strength or mental peace on any single person is taking a chance whose outcome may disappoint him.
The feelings of the transformed man no longer come out of the ego but out of the Overself's life deep within the ego.
A fuzzy sentimentality which passes for mystical feeling is only its counterfeit.
If a man has trained himself to reject self-pity as an emotional egoism that is harmful, he is not likely to encourage its display in other men merely because they conventionally expect him to be sympathetic. Yet it must always be remembered that when pity, which begins in the emotions, is filtered through the reason, it is not destroyed but balanced.
A man may have to free himself from being unduly dependent on or overly attached to another person if he is to attain the freedom and assume the responsibility of true adulthood.
Values are imposed upon things by human feelings, human desires, and human purposes. The common criterion of value is whether a thing or an occurrence brings an agreeable feeling or satisfies a personal want. But as wants and feelings are subject to change, so likewise first valuations are subject to revision with time. Indeed, it may happen, as indeed in the case of marriage it often does happen, that what was formerly valued as good is later branded as bad.
That he should seek the delight of shared understanding and confirmed attitude with friend, family, or co-disciple is to be expected.
Muhammed knew the power of tears. He bade his followers to weep whenever they recited the Koran.
In these changing times, we all have to reorient our external lives occasionally, so it is useless to try sentimentally to fix forever relationships that once were.
It is essential that the student keep his romantic inclinations under constant surveillance of reason, caution, and reflection upon consequences. He is well advised to avoid emotional entanglements; for in this region there is often, for those who have a special spiritual destiny, a thorn concealed beneath every rose.
When two people, emotionally involved with each other, have a misunderstanding or difference of opinion regarding the Quest itself, it is best that they deliberately discontinue their relationship for a while. In this way they avoid a revival of the discussion which can only lead to exacerbation and further confusion. Time will solve the problem. Probably there are faults on both sides, since we are all human, but we have to carry on with the Quest despite these faults.
Being on the Quest need not prevent the continuance and even the development of a friendship with one of the opposite sex, provided that it be kept on a high plane above the physical. Karmic ties may be involved and these have to be carefully negotiated. The relationships can be beautiful, platonic, and mutually helpful but a strong discipline of the ego is called for.
Great men can liberate great feelings in others or lift them toward acceptance of true ideas.
Few people know what love really means because with nearly all it is filtered through the screens of bodily and selfish considerations. In its pure native state it is the first attribute of the divine soul and consequently it is one of the most important qualities which the seeker has to cultivate.
The love for which man is searching exists; it is as perfect, as beautiful, as perpetual, and as healing as he can imagine it to be. But it does not exist where he wants to find it. Only the inner kingdom holds and gives it at the end of his search. No other human being can do so unless he or she has previously entered the kingdom, and then only through all the limitations and colourings of the earthly consciousness.
Although we have stated in The Wisdom of the Overself that a love restricted to the limited circle of wife, family, or friends is unphilosophic and should be extended in universal compassion to all mankind, this should not be mistaken to mean that such a restricted love ought to be abandoned. On the contrary, it should have its fullest place within the larger one. We have also written in the same book that "love" is one of the most misused words in English. We may now add that it is also one of the most debased words. Why? Because, very often, it is based on sheer self-interest and not on the beloved's interest and gives only so long as it gets; because, not seldom, the greater the ardour with which it begins, the greater the antipathy with which it ends; and because it frequently mistakes the goading of animal glands for the awakening of human affection. True love does not change or falter because the beloved has changed and faltered or because the physical circumstances wherein it was born have become different. It cannot be blown hither and thither by the accidents of destiny. It is not merely an emotional attraction, although it will include this. "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, . . . O no! it is an ever-fixed mark. . . ." wrote Shakespeare.
It expresses itself outwardly in an exceptionally kindly behaviour. He will not hurt others unnecessarily. He feels that one of the best pieces of advice he can give others is: "Be kind." In this way you abrase your own egoism and show forth something--just an echo--of this love which emanates from the indwelling spiritual self. The cost in thus weakly and briefly identifying yourself with others is little: the gain in moral growth is large. When your duties, activities, or responsibilities in life call for critical judgement of any person, that is allowable. But when you fall into it for the sake of idle gossip or, what is worse, when you are nastily censorious, slanderously back-biting, for the sake of malice, that is unkind and unpardonable. Above his own deliberate willing or wishing, quite spontaneously and impulsively, a feeling of pure love begins to well up within him. It is unconnected with physical or egoistic causes, for all those who touch his orbit benefit by it. It does not stop flowing if they are foolish or ugly, sinful or deformed, unclean or disagreeable.
No one has ever unraveled the mystery of love as it exists between a man and a woman. Since it is usually beyond our power to accept or reject, we should regard it as a Divine Message and seek out its meaning to our spiritual life.
At its peak moments, which can arise only in its first or last stages and which belong only to its affectional rather than passional side, human love catches and reflects feebly the nature of divine love.
The romantic aureole which young persons put around love, the demands made on it for that which it cannot give, point to the need of maturer instruction. Yet there is a relationship where two can grow in virtues side by side, learning wisdom from one another, harmonizing more and more with each other. But this calls for self-control, eliminating negatives, cultivating positives.
No one has the right to bind, hinder, or restrict the free spiritual movement of another person--no matter how close his blood, contractual, or emotional relationship may be--who enters into the pursuit of higher well-being. If it is done in the name of love, then that word has its meaning sorely misrepresented, for it is really being done in selfishness.
This quality of "love" is not to be measured by the exhibitions of effusiveness on the part of its possessor; it is to be measured by the presence or absence in him of egolessness.
Whoever talks of his love for mankind will reveal it better by positive deeds than by sentimental displays. The fact is, however, that such love is hard to feel when brought down to individuals. Only the sage really possesses it.
By loving the Overself within you in worship you are loving it in all other men, because it is present in them, too. Hence, you don't have to go out of your way to love any individual specially, separately, although you will naturally feel affection for some.
The capacity to give and receive love is not to be destroyed, nor can it be. Nature has planted its roots too deeply for that destruction to be attempted with success or desired with wisdom. But the man or woman who aspires to the highest cannot let it stay ungrown and benefit from its finest fruits. He should nurture it, purify it, exalt it, and spiritualize it. He should direct it toward his best self, his Overself, aspiring and yearning. And when it comes back to him in the blessed form of Grace, he should be ready and fit to receive it.
Love mixed with the sense of bodily touch, or with the emotion of personal companionship, is what most people take to be love itself. They have not experienced it as it is, unmixed with anything else. Yet if its adulterated forms give them so much satisfying feeling, how much more could they get from seeking it at its source, pure and intense!
Passion, with its savage insistencies and appeasements, its animalist intrusion, has no place in this serene, tender affection which unites their minds--the hushed peace, the mesmeric strangeness, and the golden felicity of this mood.
It is by trial and error, reflection and experience, that the paradoxical art of loving without becoming possessive, of being affectionate without becoming attached, of accepting outward attachments with inward detachment, is learnt, and this applies to family.
Miguel Unamuno's declaration that "love is the child of illusion" is one of those statements which are themselves the product of illusion. For the pure state of love is the Cosmic Energy which holds together and continuously activates the entire universe. It is those shadows of shadows of love which appear in the beasts as lust, in the humans as affection, which represent states that are transient and in that sense unreal. This transiency is obvious enough in the beast's case but less so in the human's.
We may divide these different kinds of love conveniently into animal-physical love, emotional-mental love, and impersonal-spiritual love.
When Saint John of the Cross was prior of the Monastery of Segovia, he was unjustly dismissed from his high position by his own superiors in the Order and banished to an unhealthy hermitage in semi-wild country. But he bore no ill-will against his persecutors, and even wrote in a letter: "Where there is no love, put love and you will get back love." This is so, but he did not state that the returning love might take a long time to appear, so long that a whole lifetime in some cases, or several incarnations in other cases might be needed. The lesson is that it must be accompanied by patience. If we look for quick results, we may look in vain. Indeed, we ought not to look for any positive results at all. In all such relationships with hostile persons, we ought to do what is right, forgiving, extending goodwill, if we wish, but leaving the outcome to take whatever course it did. "Act, but do not be attached to the consequences of your action," was the counsel which Krishna gave the young prince Arjuna. Be patient if you want to practise goodwill.
We have been told by well-meaning ministers of religion and counsellors in psychology to practise Jesus's words, "Love thy neighbour." Now there are two different ways in which we can do so, because there are two different interpretations of these words--the religious and the philosophic. According to the first, we have at least to be amiable toward our next-door neighbour, or at most to throw our arms around him and express our warm feeling for him in a gushy, sentimental, hyper-emotional manner. According to the second and philosophic interpretation, we have to understand that every person who crosses our path is our neighbour, everyone with whom we are thrown into momentary or continuous contact is our neighbour, whether at home or at work. It is in these immediate contacts that irritations are bred, differences are noted, and dislikes appear. It is much easier to love humanity as a whole or in the abstract than it is to love humanity in the individual and in the concrete. In spite of the instinctive urge to manifest irritability, dislike, anger, resentment, or even hatred against those with whom you are thrown in contact, you can steel your will and resist the negative feeling. If you can take all these negative feelings and sublimate them into understanding, tolerance, and goodwill based on the teachings of philosophy, you are actually loving your neighbour in the sense that Jesus meant it. You will then see that such philosophic love is far removed from and far superior to the hyper-emotionalism which blows hot and cold.
How can I love my enemy, it is asked, or anyone who is outwardly or inwardly repugnant to me? The answer is that we are not called on to love what is evil in our enemy nor what is ugly in anyone. We are called on, however, to remember that alongside of the evil there is the divine soul in him, alongside of the ugliness there is the divine beauty in him. His non-awareness of it does not alter the fact of its existence. And because he is a bearer of something grander than himself, unconscious of it though he be, we are to meet his hostility with our goodwill, his baseness with our nobility, and thus help him by our thought or our example to move onward--even if no more than one millimeter--towards the discovery and realization of his own divine soul. When we are enjoined to love others we are really enjoined to sympathize with them as fellow living creatures and to have compassion for their sufferings or ignorance. If the thought of our enemy arouses hatred, dislike, or fear, he will continue to haunt. The only way to be free of him is to arouse our compassion for him, to extend goodwill towards him. In the moment that we feel like this we exorcise his wrath and are liberated.
"Love thy neighbour as thyself," the dictum preached by Jesus and practised by the sages, seems to offer a remote and unapproachable ideal. But it will not seem so if we come to understand what Jesus meant and how the sage is able to realize it. Every man does indeed love himself, but he does not love the whole of himself. There are defects and weaknesses in himself which he hates. He cannot therefore be expected to love them in his neighbour. But he can be expected, if he perceives that these faults eventually bring painful karmic results, to feel compassion for those who suffer from them. In the case of the sage, not only is such a consideration operative but also the perception of his neighbour's existence within the one universal Mind in which he feels himself to be rooted. It is easy and natural for him, therefore, to practise loving kindness towards his neighbour. Here, at this final stage of knowledge which is sagehood, the "I" in a man becomes inseparable from the "you." Both exist simultaneously within him, whereas in the ordinary man they stand fundamentally opposed to each other. No longer is the personality the sole content of the mind: it is now but a partial content. In his inmost attitude he is conscious of unity with others and consequently emanates a perfect sympathy towards them. This is not the sentimental attitude which often goes with the superficial emotion called love. It is profoundly deeper. It can never change, whereas emotional love may turn to dislike or even hate. This inner sense of unity can in no wise alter. It is always there. Nor can it even be impeded by physical or selfish considerations. There is nothing in another man's face or body, fortune or misfortune, mind or heart, which can obstruct the ceaseless flow of the blesser. "We two are rooted in the same Overself" is the remembrance which he cherishes in himself. He has understood the inner-penetration of the many in the One and of the One with the many. What he feels for himself is not different from what he feels for others; but what he does for himself will be necessarily different, because wisdom demands recognition of the superior and hence more responsible role which has been allotted to him in his game of life.
Plotinus' belief that in all his lesser loves, man is seeking the divine, that it is the object he really permanently wants much more than these temporary ones, is the truth to which he must come one day. And he will come by a double movement: the first, away from them by successive disenchantments, the second by progressive glimpses of the divine beauty.
A life without love is a life emotionally starved and therefore stunted in growth. But do not limit the meaning of the word love either to a selfish or an animalistic definition.
How many unreflective and selfish persons have uttered the words "I love you" to someone else--wife, friend or teacher--when what they actually if unconsciously meant was, "I love myself and use you to serve my interests or to satisfy my feelings."
A merely physical or purely emotional love will fade and die when events test if it really seeks the happiness of the beloved rather than the pleasure of the lover.
The idea that ordinary people can love one another, including those they have never met as well as those they meet day after day, is a pleasant piece of sentimentalism. It sounds well when solemnly uttered by ministers of religion before their respectful congregations or when published as advice by professional psychologists. But where are the individuals who succeed in following it? If we look at history or at the cities and villages we already know, we find that the only form where something like it is discovered is that of organized philanthropy. This is excellent, this is commendable, but still it is not strictly love. Most ordinary people cannot get closer than this to the full sympathetic identification with another person which love really is. Only saints can achieve complete empathy; only they are capable of washing the leper's sores. For all others the idea is vague and unreal, although convenient to use in talk at Christmas time.
Karamazov, a character in one of Dostoevski's Russian novels, drily said, "One can love one's neighbour in an abstract way occasionally perhaps, even from afar, but in close contact, almost never. . . . It is precisely the neighbour, the one who is physically close to us, whom one cannot possibly love. At best one can love those who are far away."
Now this may be a little exaggerated but it does speak openly of the difficulty many people experience in their attitude towards those with whom they are in daily contact. It is still more difficult if they are forced to live with unscrupulous or unliked people. Then it will be all they can do to numb their revulsions.
But ordinary people have to come to terms with their associates or have at least to take care not to show their dislike. They must particularly learn to endure others who are different from themselves in habits, leaving aside the case of those who are thoroughly repulsive to them. Unless they do achieve this capacity, there is no hope for the human race, which must otherwise go on fighting and warring until, with the frightful weapons now coming into its hands, it destroys itself.
Such tolerance is still only the first station on the route to that active goodwill which the more idealistic persons who take the Quest seriously must try to achieve eventually. Many of them find it hard to reach even this first halt. They are sensitive, they are often heterodox, and they cannot warm up to those whose ideas, habits, mannerisms, or orthodoxies irritate them. The Quester who does not eat meat, for instance, may not enjoy sitting down at table with those who delight in it. If he has the fortunate circumstances to do as he likes, he need not do so. But most are not so free. He may put up with the meat-laden table and its diners with bad grace or good grace, but put up with them he must. Or take another case, that of having perforce to associate with someone who indulges in frequent sniffles when such a personal habit is felt to be most repulsive. Again if he is a Quester and if he is free to do as he likes and to avoid the other person, he is entitled to do so. But suppose he is not free? Instead of straining himself in the futile task of trying to love unlovable people, it is better to learn how to give them enough goodwill to tolerate them. This is within his capacity. If he has to live with them, or associate with them, he must try to put up with them, which means trying to put himself in their place. And that is a most desirable spiritual exercise, an advanced stepping-stone toward love itself. The practice of goodwill helps the practiser by creating good karma and shaping a good character. The thought of it, habitual and sustained, helps those who touch, or move within, his orbit. The profound meditation upon it repays him with blissful feelings and mystical harmony. If a man can be nothing else, let him be kind to others. Each time he does this he goes out of his own little ego. He comes a little closer to expressing the spiritual self dwelling hidden in his heart.
Gandhi (and spiritual pacifists like him) believed that love shown to a man like Hitler would call forth its like from him. This is a typical belief among mystics down through the centuries. When tested by experience, we find that it is successful in some cases but a failure in many more. And where it fails it harms the criminal because he believes the more strongly that his crimes can go unpunished, and it harms society because it is a misapplication of a good ideal. Everything, even love, must be applied at the right time and at the right place, for when misapplied even a virtue becomes a vice. We must not forget that wise old Latin proverb which warns us that when the best is corrupted it becomes the worst of all.
The love for all humanity which many a religionist professes to feel would not need much testing to find out the shallowness of its reality. The saint possessed by his higher self may, perhaps out of excessive kindness, be able to give it to the undesirable and the disgusting types. But the more impersonal philosopher has a wide goodwill, which is not the same as love.
When one's love for another is of the highest type and leads to an expansion of understanding, compassion, and tolerance of others, he has glimpsed the greater purpose of personal love: how the surrender of his "heart" may lead to its opening to, and becoming united with, Universal Love.
Being aware of the weaknesses or faults of another does not necessarily mean we love him less. It is an essential part of the message of love that we learn how to forgive surface characteristics by contemplating the essence of the beloved, to see what "is," while also seeing deeper to what truly IS--the Divine evidenced in a particular form.
Only when love ceases to be personal and becomes impersonal, when it passes out of the local into the universal, does it fulfil itself and attain its own unmixed and unadulterated integrity.
Real love is not something to be withdrawn abruptly when the person who is its object annoys or offends you.
If the human race has not yet learnt to love its neighbour, it is not likely to take the farther step of loving its enemy.
It is not only unnatural to put one's neighbour before oneself, but also unwise. Both Buddha and Ramana Maharshi pointedly said that the duty to oneself is primary. Only--one had to find out what was behind the self before that duty could be properly accomplished.
Those who cannot make the leap and rise above human love to their higher self--with its impersonality and immateriality--may continue to draw a happiness from it. But the limitations will be there, inexorable, unconquerable, of time and body, relativity and change.
Fear weakens a man, hate destroys him in the end, but love brings him his best.
More than four hundred years before Jesus' time, Mo Tzu was teaching the Chinese that "if everyone in the world would practise universal love, then the whole world would enjoy peace and order." But he also took care to teach them to rise above the emotions, and to understand by this kind of love a state of mind, not a state of emotion.
Those who glorify romantic love avert their eyes from the truth that there is a negative side to it. However ignored, it will one day come into focus.
There is a common notion that love, to be worth its name, must be highly emotional and dramatically intense. That, of course, is one kind but it is not the best kind which is calm, unchanging, and unexcited.
The sentimental gush which is talked so often and so freely in religio-mystic circles about loving one's fellow humans is usually quite shallow and will not stand deep analysis. Nor is it the most important of all the virtues as such circles seem to believe.
When a woman comes to a man for spiritual help or even spiritual companionship, he should not ask her for more than the chance to serve. This remains true even if she is not conscious of having been sent to him for this purpose, or even if she mistakes the spiritual attraction for a merely human one. It would be a spiritual failure on his part to ask for more than the opportunity to serve her. The service he gives must be given with a pure motive. Therefore, her appearance in his life is a test for him.
Should he fall in love with her the test still holds good, but its character may change. He is to keep the relationship at a high level. He is not to attempt to possess her but to be content with knowing and loving her. He must accept the situation with calm resignation and complete nonattachment.
Does the unified man have to like everyone he meets? Some students believe that because Jesus commanded us to "love thy neighbour as thyself" and because the Bhagavad Gita bids us hold no aversions and no attractions, this question ought to be answered with a resounding Yes! But in actual life we find that some unified men succeed in doing this whereas others frankly do not feel that way nor make any such effort.
To make the love of everybody else a compulsory ethic ought not to be demanded even from a quester, much less from the masses! To make the cultivation of goodwill desirable as a general attitude would be more reasonable. Even so it should grow naturally out of the cultivation, not be forced.
When a man discovers that the same Overself dwells in his enemy as in his own heart, how can he ever again bring himself to hate or injure another?
It is easy to believe mere softness to be compassion. It is easy to deceive oneself in this way. But a vigorous analysis of one's thoughts and observation of their results in action will expose the very real difference between them.
What did Jesus mean when he enjoined his disciples to love their neighbours as themselves? Did he mean the sentimental, emotional, and hail-fellow-well-met attitude which the churches teach? How could he when in order to become what he was, he had once to hate and turn aside from that part of himself, the lower part--that is, the ego and the animal nature--which is mostly what neighbours show forth? If his disciples were taught to hate, and not to love, their egos, how then could they love the ego-dominated humanity amidst which they found themselves? The injunction "Love thy neighbour" has often led to confusion in the minds of those who hear or read it, a confusion which forces many to refuse to accept it. And they are the ones who do not understand its meaning, but misinterpret it to mean "Like thy neighbour!" The correct meaning of this age-old ethical injunction is "Practise compassion in your physical behaviour and exercise goodwill in your mental attitude towards your neighbour." Everyone can do this even when he cannot bring himself to like his neighbour. Therefore, this injunction is not a wholly impracticable one as some believe, but quite the contrary.
Whoever imagines that it means the development of a highly sentimental, highly emotional condition is mistaken; for emotions of that kind can just as easily swing into their opposites of hate as remain what they are. This is not love, but the masquerade of it. Sentimentality is the mere pretense of compassion. It breaks down when it is put under strains, whereas genuine compassion will always continue and never be cancelled by them. True love towards one's neighbour must come from a level higher than the emotional and such a level is the intuitive one. What Jesus meant was, "Come into such an intuitive realization of the one Infinite Power from which you and your neighbour draw your lives that you realize the harmony of interests, the interdependence of existence which result from this fact." What Jesus meant, and what alone he could have meant, was indicated by the last few words of his injunction, "as thyself." The self which they recognized to be the true one was the spiritual self, which they were to seek and love with all their might--and it was this, not the frail ego, which they were also to love in others. The quality of compassion may easily be misunderstood as being mere sentimentality or mere emotionality. It is not these things at all. They can be foolish and weak when they hide the truth about themselves from people, whereas a truly spiritual compassion is not afraid to speak the truth, not afraid to criticize as rigorously as necessary, to have the courage to point out faults even at the cost of offending those who prefer to live in self-deception. Compassion will show the shortcoming within themselves which is in turn reflected outside themselves as maleficent destiny.
When the adept views those who are suffering from the effects of their own ungoverned emotion or their own uncontrolled passion and desire, he does not sink with the victims into those emotions, passions, and desires, even though he feels self-identity with them. He cannot permit such feelings to enter his consciousness. If he does not shrink from his own suffering, it is hardly likely that the adept will shrink from the sufferings of others. Consequently it is hardly likely that the emotional sympathy which arises in the ordinary man's heart at the sight of suffering will arise in precisely the same way in the adept's heart. He does not really regard himself as apart from them. In some curious way, both they and he are part of one and the same life. If he does not pity himself for his own sufferings in the usual egoistic and emotional way, how can he bring himself to pity the sufferings of others in the same kind of way? This does not mean that he will become coldly indifferent towards them. On the contrary, the feeling of identification with their inmost being would alone prevent that utterly; but it means that the pity which arises within him takes a different form, a form which is far nobler and truer because emotional agitation and egotistic reaction are absent from it. He feels with and for the sufferings of others, but he never allows himself to be lost in them; and just as he is never lost in fear or anxiety about his own sufferings, so he cannot become lost in those emotions or the sufferings of others. The calmness with which he approaches his own sufferings cannot be given up because he is approaching other people's sufferings. He has bought that calmness at a heavy price--it is too precious to be thrown away for anything. And because the pity which he feels in his heart is not mixed up with emotional excitement or personal fear, his mind is not obscured by these excrescences, and is able to see what needs to be done to relieve the suffering ones far better than an obscured mind could see. He does not make a show of his pity, but his help is far more effectual than the help of those who do.
The altruistic ideal is set up for aspirants as a practical means of using the will to curb egoism and crush its pettiness. But these things are to be done to train the aspirant in surrendering his personal self to his higher self, not in making him subservient to other human wills. The primacy of purpose is to be given to spiritual self-realization, not to social service. This above all others is the goal to be kept close to his heart, not meddling in the affairs of others. Only after he has attended adequately--and to some extent successfully--to the problem of himself can he have the right to look out for or intrude into other people's problems.
This does not mean, however, that he is to become narrowly self-centered or entirely selfish. On the contrary, the wish to confer happiness and the willingness to seek the welfare of mankind should be made the subject of solemn dedication at every crucial stage, every inspired hour, of his quest. But prudence and wisdom bid him wait for a more active altruistic effort until he has lifted himself to a higher level, found his own inner strength, knowledge, and peace, and has learnt to stand unshaken by the storms, passions, desires, and greeds of ordinary life.
Hence it is better for the beginner to keep to himself any pretensions to altruism, remaining silent and inactive about them. The dedication may be made, but it should be made in the secrecy of the inmost heart. Better than talk about it or premature activity for it, is the turning of attention to the work of purifying himself, his feelings, motives, mind, and deeds.
Just as the word compassion is so often mistaken for a foolish and weak sentimentality, so the words egolessness, unselfishness, and unself-centeredness are equally mistaken for what they are not. They are so often thought to mean nonseparateness from other individuals or the surrender of personal rights to other individuals or the setting aside of duty to ourself for the sake of serving other individuals. This is often wrong. The philosophical meaning of egoism is that attitude of separateness not from another individual on the same imperfect level as ourself but from the one universal life-power which is behind all individuals on a deeper level than them all. We are separated from that infinite mind when we allow the personal ego to rule us, when we allow the personal self to prevent the one universal self from entering our field of awareness. The sin lies in separating ourselves in consciousness from this deeper power and deeper being which is at the very root of all selves.
Jesus' preachment of love of one's neighbour as oneself is impossible to follow in all fullness until one has attained the height whereon his own true self dwells. Obedience to it would mean identifying oneself with the neighbour's physical pain and emotional suffering so that they were felt not less keenly than one's own. One could not bear that when brought into contact with all kinds of human sorrow that shadow life. It could be borne only when one had crushed its power to affect one's own feelings and disturb one's own equilibrium. Therefore, such love would bring unbearable suffering. By actively identifying oneself with those who are sorrowing, by pushing one's sympathy with them to its extreme point, one gets disturbed and weakened. This does not improve one's capacity to help the sufferer, but only lessens it. To love others is praiseworthy, but it must be coupled with balance and with reason or it will lose itself ineffectually in the air. Not to let his interest in other matters or his sympathy with other persons carry him away from his equilibrium, his inner peace, but to stop either when it threatens to agitate his mind or disturb his feelings, is wisdom.
Love of the divine is our primary duty. Love of our neighbour is only a secondary one.
Compassion is the highest moral value, the noblest human feeling, the purest creature-love. It is the final social expression of man's divine soul. For he is able to feel with and for another man only because both are in reality related in harmony by the presence of that soul in each one.
There must be an end, a limit to his sacrifices on behalf of others. They must not play upon his kindness to the extent of ruining his own life. He may help them, certainly, but there are various other ways to do so than by surrendering what is essential to his own life to satisfy their emotional demands or material desires.
In the ninth chapter of The Wisdom of the Overself I wrote:
For this notion of love is a sadly limited one. To bestow it only on a
wife or a child, a sweetheart or a sister, is to bestow it in anticipation
of its being returned. Man finds in time that such giving which hopes for
a getting is not enough. Love cannot stop there. It seeks to grow beyond
the restricted circle of a few friends and relations. Life itself leads
him on to transcend it. And this he does firstly, by transcending the lure
of the pitiful transient flesh and secondly, by transforming love into
something nobler and rarer--compassion. In the divine self-giving of this
wonderful quality and in its expansion until all mankind is touched, love
finally fulfils itself.
This last sentence may lead to misunderstanding. The paragraph in which it appears is, I now see, incomplete. For compassion is an emotion felt by one ego when considering the suffering condition of another ego. But spiritual development eventually lifts itself above all emotions, by which I do not of course mean above all feeling. The wish to help another person should not spring out of compassion alone, nor out of the aspiration to do what is right alone, nor out of the satisfaction derived from practising virtue for its own sake alone. It should certainly come out of all these, but it should also come even more out of the breaking down of the ego itself. With that gone, there will be a feeling of oneness with all living creatures. This practice of self-identification with them is the highest form of love.
False compassion, like false sentimentality, does harm under the delusion that it is doing good. The abolition of flogging in England and the eruption of youthful merciless brutal criminal violence are not unconnected. The legal punishment of birching was not cruel: but the use of it on the wrong persons--starving men, for instance--was cruel. For hooligans and bullies it is a fit deterrent.
Some students have expressed disagreement with my use of the term "compassion" when describing the enlightened man's loftiest social quality. They believe the common term "love" would be more correct. Now one of the fundamental terms of the New Testament is, in the original Greek, "agape"--which is always translated as "love." But this is unsatisfactory because man's love may be selfishly motivated whereas "agape" has the definite implication of unselfish, or better, selfless love. And the only English word which I can find to express this idea is the one which I have used, that is, "compassion." If we cast out its selfish, sentimental, or sensual associations, the word "love" would be enough to express this attitude, but because these associations thickly encrust its meaning, the word "compassion" is better used. The kind of compassion here meant is not condescending toward others. Rather does it stretch out its hands through innate fellow-feeling for them. It puts itself in the shoes of others and intellectually experiences life from their standpoint.
"Hatred ceaseth not by hatred," declared the Buddha, "It ceaseth only by compassionate love." This counsel is much the same as Jesus' injunction to love our enemies. Many people, who wish to do what is ethically right and feel that their best course is to follow the ethics prescribed by such great souls as Jesus or Buddha, get confused here and wallow in sentimentality under the mistaken impression that they are following these counsels.
But the sentimentalists misunderstand Jesus if they believe that he taught us to practise outwardly and practically unconditional and universal forgiveness. On the contrary, he made repentance the prerequisite of such visible forgiveness. Those who refuse to repent and persist in wrongdoing must be inwardly and silently forgiven, but otherwise left to suffer the karma of their actions. What is really meant is that we should be big-hearted enough not to exclude our enemies from our goodwill to all mankind and that we should be big-minded enough to comprehend that they are only acting according to their own experience and knowledge of life. This is to "forgive them for they know not what they do." When we hold them in thought and when we image them with feeling we must do so without anger, without hatred, without bitterness.
All doctrines which are based on hatred emanate from the blackest of evil forces. Hatred is always their indicator just as compassion is always an indicator of the good forces. By practising great-hearted compassion, we help to counteract whatever ill-feelings have been generated. Therefore let us not at any time or under any provocation lose ourselves in emotions of resentment, bitterness, and hatred. We must not hate the most misguided of our enemies. We may oppose their false ideas resolutely, we may hate their sins, but not the sinners. We must pity even the most violent of them and not spoil our own characters by accepting their example. We must not sink to the low level of seeking revenge. The desire for revenge is a primitive one. It is apposite to the tiger and reptile kingdom, but in the human kingdom it should be replaced by the desire for justice.
These two attributes--hatred and pity--stand at opposite poles to each other: the one as being the worst of all human vices and the other as being the best of all human virtues. This, then, is a further reason why we must take care not to fall into the all-too-easy habit of hating enemies. For they are still members of this great human family of ours, still creatures planted like us on this woeful planet both to learn its immediate lessons and to share its ultimate redemption.
A gushy sentimentality which refrains from saying what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done because it will hurt people's feelings, is mere weakness and cowardice, not true compassion. It will not help them by giving them the truth when this is called for.
He must give out that love of which Jesus spoke. But it is not to be an unbalanced sentimentality; rather it is a serene self-identification with others without being thrown off one's own centre. That is why reason is a helpful check here. Above all, he must love the Real, the Overself.
The ideal relation to our neighbour, and indeed the ultimate one, is a loving one, as Jesus said. If it is to be perfect, it means a self-identification with him. But who can create this attitude of his own free will, by his own mere wish? It cannot be done. Only growth and time, or grace, can bring it about.
We can harm others and ourselves by practising a sloppy sentimentality in the name of love, a misguided humanitarianism in the name of service.
To practise love towards our fellow men is to hold goodwill toward them, to accept them as they are and even to identify ourselves intellectually, if temporarily, with them in the attempt to understand their viewpoint.
"Love thy neighbour," preached Jesus. Perhaps! but that does not mean I must also love his ill-mannered vulgarity, his insensitive crude commonness, his unfair class, race, and national hates, his malice towards all and charity toward none.
A silent compassion which does things is preferable to a voluble sentimentality which does nothing.
He whose goodwill and pity extend to all men will understand all men.
T.M.P. Mahadevan says that the higher meaning of "Love thy neighbour" as revealed in meditation is to (1) confer a blessing, and (2) identify with his higher self.
Total goodwill is, after all, only an ideal because it must be practised towards our enemies and those we dislike not less than toward our friends and those we like. We can only try to come close to it in difficult cases. The attempt may elicit grace, which will carry us further in the same direction.
The philosopher achieves what is rare--a cool mental detachment from things or persons, united with a tender feeling for them.
No man can become philosophical and yet derive complete satisfaction from or attach complete importance to whatever is favourable in his external life. He sees too clearly how transient, how imperfect, and how compensated by disadvantages it all is. Indeed he outgrows the excessive common interest in and the excessive common preoccupation with the ebb and flow of external life. He finds more and more trivial what he once found--and the generality of men still find--worthy of serious attention.
Is it possible to be inwardly aloof from the pleasurable things of the world and yet be outwardly able to enjoy them? Is it possible to love another in a human way but yet retain the inner detachment requisite for resting in philosophic peace? Can we make the best of these two worlds? The answer is that just as we can learn by practice to remain inwardly peaceful in the midst of outward turmoil, so we can learn to remain peaceful in the midst of outward pleasure. But this practice is hard to learn and most beginners fail at it. For a man to train himself in emotional control over the mad loves and insane passions, the recurrent longings and tormenting desires, is like training himself to die. Let no one underestimate this tremendous task.
The philosophic attitude is a curious and paradoxical one precisely because it is a complete one. It approaches the human situation with a mentality as practical and as cold-blooded as an engineer's, but steers its movement by a sensitivity to ideals as delicate as an artist's. It always considers the immediate, attainable objectives, but is not the less interested in distant, unrealizable ones.
Disinterested action does not mean renouncing all work that brings financial reward. How then could one earn a livelihood? It does not mean ascetic renunciation and monastic flight from personal responsibilities. The philosophic attitude is that a man shall perform his full duty to the world, but this will be done in such a way that it brings injury to none. Truth, honesty, and honour will not be sacrificed for money. Time, energy, capacity, and money will be used wisely in the best interests of mankind, and above all the philosopher will pray constantly that the Overself will accept him as a dedicated instrument of service. And it surely will.
He will rise above personal emotion into perfect serenity rather than fall below it into dull apathy.
To be pure in heart means not only to be separated from animal tendencies, not only from egoistic impulses, but also to be detached from everything and everyone. Thus we see that the word "pure" is not as simple in connotation as it is short in length, and purity is harder to achieve than the newly converted religious enthusiast believes.
The act of renunciation is always first, and only sometimes last, an inward one. It is done by thoroughly understanding that the object renounced is, after all, only like a picture in a dream and that, again like a dream, it is ephemeral. Its illusoriness and transitoriness must be not only mentally perceived but also emotionally taken to heart. If we give up our wrong belief about it, we may not have to give up the object itself. Now this admonition cannot be made to stop with visible things only. To be honestly applied, it must be applied to visible persons also. No matter how fondly we love somebody, we must not flinch from seeing the metaphysical truth about him nor from accepting the consequences of such perception.
How can we renounce the attachments to everything and everyone and yet enjoy life, fulfil obligations, or remain in the world? How do this without flight to a monastery? How remain an affectionate husband, a devoted father? In the case of things, the answer has been given earlier. In the case of persons, the answer ought now to be given. We renounce the "materiality" of the loved one and with it the clinging to her material image, her physical possession, her personal ego. We hold on to the concept of her "spirituality," her essence, her real being. We then know that this true self of hers cannot be separated from our own; the illusory relationship is replaced by a real one, the perishable pseudo-love by an undying essential one.
The demand which the quest makes upon his feelings is often a harsh and exacting one. He has to see each troubling situation which concerns him without allowing personal emotions to interfere with the truth of vision. He has to displace hot resentment, for instance, by calm detachment. It is a battle of self against self and consequently invisible to and unnoticed by other men. No one will help him here.
It may take some time to get familiar with this impersonality of attitude, this detachment of heart, before he can realize how fine it is, how precious its worth and rewarding in result. The first impression may be cold and frightening. The last will be calm and soothing.
If indifference and detachment mean that the man has ceased to care, then he has ceased to understand philosophy.
Deep within his heart he will strive to depersonalize his relations with his wife, his children, his family, and even his friends. But in the domain of action we should find him the best of husbands, the most loving of fathers, and most faithful of friends.
He may try to keep up the illusion that he is a well-fitting part of these surroundings called civilization, a member of the society into which he was born, but in the deepest layer of his heart the reality will deny it. He no longer belongs to a race caught up in appearances, ensnared and hypnotized by them to the point of self-destruction.
To be detached simply means not letting yourself get into the power of anything or anyone who can hurt, damage, or destroy you inwardly.
The Gita recommends those who live in the world but are not of it to work with complete detachment from the fruits and results of their activity. But how could any aspiring student achieve this? Only the master, the man who has uncovered his identity as Overself could succeed in labouring without caring what rewards he got or what effects he brought into being.
It is not a petrifying ascetic coldness but a benevolent inherent calm.
The practice of detachment helps in the practice of meditation, while the reverse is also true.
It is pure but calm feeling unmixed with the desires, passions, perturbations, and inflammations of the ordinary unawakened and unevolved man.
Does this detachment mean that nothing is to make any difference in him? No, it means rather that he may let the different effects produce themselves but only under the check and control of a deeper abiding serenity.
He who can detach himself from emotion even while he continues to feel it, becomes its true master.
It would be a mistake to confuse detachment with callousness or to think that the conquest of emotion means the lack of all feeling. He who is possessed by the one and has achieved the other, may still have his sympathies unimpaired, and even brought to a greater self-identification with other men than before. But they will not be uncontrolled. Wisdom and knowledge, ideality, and practicality will balance them.
The degree of attachment is measurable by the degree of emotional involvement. Therefore to become detached is to become emotionally detached.
The disillusionments which come from personal contact with the defects or deficiencies of human nature will not make him cynical, will not even make him sad.
A cold, heavy and death-like apathy is not the indifference, or the detachment, taught here.
In the world of artists--using the word broadly to include all who practise any of the arts--one too often notices an easy, careless way of living, a lack of any worthwhile purpose, and consequently a lack of any worthwhile self-discipline. This merely egoistic casualness drifting through the years, is a counterfeit of the true detachment taught by philosophy.
It is not so easy to assume an air of detachment in the deeper levels of one's being as it is on the surface.
To be unattached gives one a lighter touch in dealing with the affairs and events of life, takes out some of the unnecessary solemnity and nerve-racking hurry.
The emotional results of undergoing a misfortune or an affliction can be made a part of oneself or can be separated out by refusing identification with them. One may seek the real I which never changes and so become detached from them. It is this self whose presence in one makes it possible to be conscious of those results.
The wise man had better cast the plaudits of the multitude out of his ears; it is all noise, for the mob does not understand him. He has pleased them for today; but tomorrow, when he displeases them, they will be as ready to destroy him. He should be prepared to receive abuse with the same equanimity with which he is ready to receive praise.
It is comparatively easy to be detached from past circumstances, for the feelings they aroused are now quiet or dead; but can he be so detached about present ones? Yet no less an achievement than this is required of him.
When detachment is used as an excuse for escape, it is being misused.
It is not that he is above having admirations and aversions, preferences and distastes, but that he tries to stand aside mentally even while they register on his feelings.
Detachment does not mean that he regards his outer performance in the world and his inner thoughts about the world with the utmost solemnity. No! the day will not pass without a little lightheartedness about it all. Why? Because he knows very well that it is just like a dream into which he is peeping--a passing show, as Shakespeare also knew.
We may express our disenchantment with life in exactly opposite ways--either with a grim scowl or with a quiet smile. It is not only a matter of temperament but also of our world-view. The two combine to make the result which we express. In the last and supreme disenchantment--which is death itself--a third factor enters to effect this result.
Out of the understanding which ripens and deepens with the philosophical work, he becomes grateful for one result. This is the transmutation of those resentments and bitternesses which follow some experiences to needed instruction and growing detachment.
His aim being the contrary of most people's aims, he tries to depersonalize his attitudes and reactions. What relief he feels with even partial freedom from the burden of self-consciousness! How heavy a load is borne by those who see or react with ego-centered nervousness.
The eventual aim of human evolutionary experience is to make us learn to love the Overself more than anything else. Therefore, any personal attachments which we continue to hold within the heart must be purified in quality, while at the same time kept subordinate to our larger attachment to the Quest.
He must fully understand his situation, both with regard to business responsibilities and the duties towards his family--perhaps a wife and mother. It is part of this belief that such responsibilities have to be honourably and effectively discharged and truth should be able to help him to do so rather than relieve him from them.
The detachment which is taught by philosophy is not to be confused with the detachment which is preached by religio-mysticism. The first is a personal lifestyle for coping with the world; the second is an indifference to the world.
It comes to this: that we have to view our own life's events in a bifocal manner, both impersonally and personally.
The right way to regard possessions and property is to replace the sense of ownership by the sense of trusteeship.
When earthly things or human entities hold our heart to the exclusion of all else, they obscure the Overself's light and shut out its peace.
Such nonchalant detachment is not easy to attain. It is easy to renounce the things which we value lightly but very hard to become inwardly aloof to those which we hold precious.
Human preferences do exist; it is possible to pretend that they may not be there when they actually are--but this has to be paid for by self-deception.
It is natural and pardonable for a married man with responsibilities to worry if he has lost his employment or to be anxious if serious illness descends on his family; but if he is also philosophically inclined, he will check his worry and anxiety by calm reasoned analysis followed by prayer, meditation, and finally a handing of the problems over to the higher power.
It is not that he is to be without pity for the misfortunes and miseries of others--such a thing would be impossible--but that he insists on taking a larger and longer view of them.
It is better that we pass by unnoticed rather than be praised or blamed. For then there will be no strain on our peace of mind. If praised, we may swell with pride. If blamed, indignation may disturb our feelings.
He may not give more than a part of himself to these lesser loves. His deepest feeling must remain remote from them.
Conquest of the emotional nature and knowledge of the true character of death will be evidenced when, at the actual passing of a near one, he seems insensible to grief.
To be detached from anything means that he can take it or leave it alone.
Ambition wears thin with time or even wears out altogether. The hour may come when it means nothing and when a man feels nothing of it. Only the young are so eager to risk the perils of upward flight to fame. The reflective man is indifferent to worldly ambitions as the aged man is tired of them. Philosophy leads its votaries to a somewhat similar detachment, but, by supplying new incentives, does not lead to negative results.
The process of inner disentangling in the quest of total freedom may have to be wide-sweeping. Not only desires but also duties may have to go, not only long-hoarded possessions but also relatives and friends.
There are those who regard such detachment as too cool, perhaps even too inhuman. They are displeased with this rule. They will let nothing disturb their tenderest affections, yet the ego lurks here too.
His family life--if there is one--provides the first scene for his application of philosophy. There his opportunity is plainly visible, the area for the self-judgements of his philosophic conscience plainly marked out.
When the family circle prepares the younger members for mature life, it does its duty. But when it sets itself up as the supreme value of human existence and its loyalties or attachments as the supreme forms of human ethics, it overdoes duty and breeds evils. It stifles individual growth and crushes independent thought. It is nothing more than enlarged self-centeredness. It turns a means into an end. Thus the influence of a useful institution, if over-emphasized, becomes unhealthy and vicious. Parents who refuse to release their children, even when the latter are fully adult, who constantly fuss around them with over-solicitousness and hover around with over-protectiveness, belong to the patriarchal age. They stifle the children's development, breed the daughter-in-law's or the son-in-law's resentment, and fill their own minds with unnecessary anxieties.
The desire for motherhood is Nature's urge in the individual; it is entirely on a par with the illusions of sex. See it for what it is worth, no more or less, and leave the rest to fate; you may then enjoy it if it comes or remain undisturbed if it does not.
The parent, the husband, or the wife who demands continuous attention and undivided devotion, who assumes as a natural right the duty of making decisions for one, turns a home into a gaol.
The only relatives he recognizes are not blood ones but love ones, inner not outer, lasting spiritual affinities not temporary physical accidents, mental and not geographical ones.
Family life gives great joys on the one hand and grave anxieties on the other. It was always like that and we cannot alter but must accept it. With all its ups and downs the householder life is the best after all. Most of the qualities needed for spiritual development can be got from it.
Parents should respect the child's individuality and not let it get too dependent and too attached, thus robbing it of the capacity to grow mature and self-reliant.
The over-protectiveness of fear-ridden mothers toward their children and the over-possessiveness of dominating mothers show a lack of faith in the one case, and a lack of understanding in the other.
It is a part of family relationship for the children to identify themselves, by extension, with their parents. Thus, it is what the French call "egoisme a deux."
Relationship is a matter of soul, not a measure of blood.
Once across the threshold of puberty the girl or boy begins the unfolding of the emotional nature. Each will then develop her or his own individual feelings and passions as a process of growth towards womanhood or manhood. How can this be done unless the young begin at the same time to develop away from utter dependence upon the mother? They must begin in however small a degree to claim their freedom and move away emotionally from their physical source. All this is to be accomplished by stages and not all at once until maturity is reached. Then, just as the fledgling bird has to emerge from the nest and learn to fly even at the risk of falling, so the young must learn to stand on their own feet in order to reach maturity.
It is questionable whether family love is a break out of the ego's shell or merely an extension of self. More often perhaps it is a mixture of both.
The family link becomes unhealthy when it becomes exaggerated. No personal relation is enduring. All end with the efflux of time. Even the most enduring of all--the disciple-master one--must end too with the disciple's own graduation.
It was Jesus' closest relative, his own mother, who sought to sidetrack him from his mission, compelling him to exclaim, "Woman! What have I to do with thee?" It was Ramana Maharshi's own mother who sought to drag him back from his meditation-cave to a worldly life, compelling him to tell her, in effect, not to alter a course already preordained for him. The duties towards one's family are limited ones, whereas the duty towards one's soul is an unlimited one.
A family problem may have to be considered again and in a fresh light, judged and considered not merely by his personal feelings but from the point of view of duty, as perhaps to his children. It is necessary to make sacrifices at times if one wishes to follow the spiritual Quest, even if those sacrifices involve crushing the ego.
When children are grown up and past thirty, their lives are largely their own affair: they are then entitled to a measure of freedom from possessive parents.
Once he has found out his true relationship to the higher power, the problem of settling his relationship to other human beings becomes easy.
"Friends are friends if nothing can separate them," observed the Buddha. He spoke not of the superficial relation which subsists between persons belonging to the same class, rank, profession, or locality. True friendship is not formed as are most of these by self-interest, vanity, custom, or habit. It is a profound tie formed not seldom between those who have lived together and died together under remote skies and remoter centuries no less than in familiar lands and more recent times. We are bound to each other by links that have lost themselves in the archaic past, links of affectionate studentship and hallowed trust, and--not seldom--the mutual suffering of sharp persecution, when the prison cell and the torturer's stake were the punishment for expressing or believing truth.
We often imagine we have made a new friend when we have merely made a new acquaintance. He only to whom we can speak our private thoughts is our friend, and none else. He who flies to our aid when all others flee away is our friend, and none else. Above all, he whose sympathy is so perfect that he understands and forgives our failings is indeed worthy to be our honoured friend.
Where minds are great and hearts are large, two persons can remain cordial friends even though their outlooks differ.
There is a silence between two persons which is full of nervous tension, but there is another which is full of healing peace. This is rare, uncommon, but it is found through real harmony, full trust, surrendered ego.
It is not necessary to give up personal friendships in order to follow the Quest. They are quite permissible in their place and have their instructive value.
Those who pursue such an ideal as ours have always to live inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, apart from the mob--that is, to live in a loneliness which makes true friendship double its worth.
Sometimes a quick friendship means that he is reviving an old spiritual relationship out of the hidden past, out of the numerous incarnations which have been lost in time. Therefore understanding and recognition come quickly, explanations and introductions are not waited for and are not necessary in the real soul-realm.
There is the common friendship in which the emotional attitude may one day pass from affection to animosity, and there is this rare friendship which, because it is based on something deeper, diviner, and more enduring than mere emotion, witnesses only the ripening of affection into real love.
We each possess our own heavenly latitude and must seek out our true compatriots on that line.
"As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the understanding of his friend," says Solomon.
The course of life's friendships is sometimes like a turning wheel. We think we grasp the hand of a friend but one day the wheel turns and he is gone. In the end we cannot escape from our solitariness.
Only those who hold the same spiritual conception of life can be true affinities in friendship.
There are times in personal relationships when eagerness for friendship, on one side, would mean cruelty on the other side, if an individual wished to break away from any continued acquaintance completely. In such an instance one should try to continue seeing the other but make the association on a different level if possible. The other person may have awakened to the Quest of truth, and any unfortunate experience between them would be no reason for deserting her but only for learning how to handle persons of the opposite sex who are led across his orbit for spiritual help.
Each of us being individually complete in his inmost godlike self, no other person is needed for self-fulfilment, no mate or affinity is required to bring him to the realization of life's goal. But each of us being incomplete in his outer self, the longing for such a mate or affinity is human, natural, and pardonable. There is nothing wrong nor contrary to the Quest in seeking to satisfy this longing, although unless this is done with wisdom and after prudent consideration, rather than with ignorance and in impulse, the result may bring more unhappiness rather than more happiness. Nor must such a longing ever be allowed to obscure the great truth of individual completeness on the spiritual level.
Those ascetics who vehemently denounce marriage because, they say, it caters to the passions are themselves showing the baneful effects of passion repressed but not sublimated.
Personally I do not accept the Christian and Hindu conceptions that marriages are made in heaven and that we are allied as husband-wife for all eternity; but I do accept the strict duty of acting with the utmost consideration for the other party, of being ready to renounce one's own happiness entirely rather than destroy the happiness of the other person.
The aspirant who seeks to live spiritually in the world should marry for something more than physical enjoyment and comfort, more even than intellectual and social companionship. He must find a woman whose inner being is polarized to the same ideals as his own, who will walk by his side through every vicissitude as a fellow-pilgrim and a wholehearted seeker.
One general guiding principle as to whether or not a young aspirant on the quest should enter into marriage is that it is necessary that there should be spiritual harmony. Both must pursue the same ideal, for if disharmony enters this would lead to disaster. Both must stand within measurable distance of each other on the spiritual path. In addition to that, it is advisable that there should be physical, magnetic, and temperamental suitability to each other. In any case this decision is a matter which should not be rushed and it will be well to take enough time for consideration. It would be well also to ponder the opinions of wise friends who have met the other person. A decision about marriage should not be made on the basis of emotion alone, but the checks of critical reason and outside judgement should also be introduced.
Committing oneself to a life-partnership in marriage is not only of vital importance to worldly life but also to spiritual life. It may either help inner progress or else lead to spiritual disaster. It is necessary, therefore, that a man, for example, should explain his views to the lady that he is interested in, and if she is unable to accept them sincerely within a reasonable period then he may face the fact that he would be headed for a stoppage on his spiritual journey if he married her. To make a mistake in marriage will bring both pain and trouble to his wife as well as to himself. He should resolve to choose correctly or else to wait patiently until the right girl appears.
For some people marriage does take away from the higher life, but not for others. It all depends upon the two individuals concerned in it as to which of these results will come about.
Philosophy says that the marriage state is necessary for most people, the less advanced. It also says that even for the others, the more advanced, the smaller love of two persons mating can coincide with, and remain within, the larger love of the individual for the Higher Self. Of course, this is only possible if the relationship is a successful and harmonious blending of the two personalities.
The marriage partner should fulfil both the human characteristics needed for satisfaction and the spiritual qualities needed for affinity. Where fate denies this, wisdom counsels abstention from marriage altogether. Otherwise, unnecessary unhappiness is invited.
Marriage hinders some aspirants because of the distractions and burdens it imposes, but it helps others because of the release from sex-tormenting thoughts which it may give. When sensibly fitted into the framework of a spiritual understanding of life, marriage need not be a bar and success may be achieved.
It is true that men who are lonely or young or romantic are likely to marry a young woman with whom propinquity has brought them in touch. In such cases he puts an illusion around the woman to the pressure of desire. When the illusion goes and the facts show themselves he is left alone with the hard lesson of discrimination. The situation can repeat itself with the victim being the woman.
Many marriages are based on calculation, not on love. They are business transactions bearing social or financial rewards, not emotional ones. Yet if animated by goodwill they may be successful.
One man who seemed to make no spiritual progress generally, and little progress in meditation particularly, found the situation completely altered when he adjusted himself to a new attitude towards his wife. She was a shrew and a scold, hostile to his higher aspirations and quite earthy. He was several times on the brink of leaving her but the thought of responsibility toward their growing children restrained him. He did leave her mentally and bitterly resented her presence in his life. When he was taught how to bring a new viewpoint to bear upon his marriage, he began to regard it as a perfect opportunity for the better development of his character and his wife as an unwitting instrument for the better control of his mind. He learned to accept her in his life without complaint. He came to regard the marriage as a piece of Self-Created destiny to be worked out, in its own unpredictable time, by his fostering the needful qualities. He set to work upon himself and gradually unfolded patience, calmness, strength of will, and unselfishness. Within a few years he not only became expert at meditation but also gained higher awareness. Nor was this all. In his work as an executive in a large commercial office involved in accounts, calculations, and business decisions, formerly he would easily become excited, irritated, or angry with subordinates over their mistakes, their inefficiency or stupidity. Now he taught himself how to hold on to the inner peace found in periods of meditation until the time arrived when he could pass through the whole day's activity without losing or disturbing it.
If a woman has done all that was humanly possible to hold her husband and has failed, she must realize that acceptance of the inevitable--even the temporarily inevitable--is the only way to bear this painful result. The husband's weaknesses may have found their expression in outer action. But through the painful results of that expression he may eventually discover a truer set of values. If she has tried to appeal to his better nature and failed, she must now let him do what he wishes and try the path of personal experience in the satisfaction of his desires, which is the common path for most people.
It is not necessary that he remain married in order to pay a karmic debt, nor on the other hand is he free to follow personal desires in the matter. It is a mistake to think that such a debt must continue to be paid until the end of one's life. Yet, it must be paid off if one's inner life and path are not to be obstructed. Only the voice of his own deeper conscience may decide this point.
An individual may keep the ideal of a true mate but understand that one can't be absolutely certain to meet him or her on this earth. The spiritual path is a call to renunciation of personal attachments, inwardly at least, and to a renunciation of the animal nature also. Both have to be overcome if inner peace is to be obtained. But once overcome, the world can be enjoyed without danger because his happiness no longer depends on it. If he lets the natural desire for a mate be included in but transcended by the higher desire for spiritual realization, he stands a chance to get both. But if he feels that the first is wholly indispensable, he may miss the chance to get either. The truth is that the Soul will not give itself to you unless you love It more than anything or anyone else. He may have great capacity for love in his nature, which properly directed by wisdom, may lead him to great spiritual heights and human satisfactions. But directed by impulse, unchecked by reason, it can bring him into situations productive of much misery to himself and others. He must therefore make it a part of his spiritual discipline to secure this balance. Until he has secured it, he should not commit himself to any decision without consulting with a spiritually mature person. Much harm has been done by the pseudo-romantic nonsense and false suggestions put out by cinema, magazines, and novels.
Marriage is a risky affair when one of the two belongs in every way--spiritual, intellectual, and social--to a class higher than the other. If they cannot meet on these levels, where can they? The bad in both is brought out and made worse; the good is diminished. This was one of the original reasons why the caste system got established in some form or other among the Orientals as if it were an essential part of religion.
Marriage multiplies burdens, entanglements, anxieties, difficulties, and worldly preoccupations. The single man has a better chance to wed his life to a single undistracted aim. Nevertheless, philosophy does not condemn marriage but leaves it to individual choice. Indeed, when two persons are temperamentally harmonious and spiritually suitable, it definitely approves of marriage.
If he could find a companion who had the character and capacity to help, and not to hinder, his own inner pilgrimage, then it might be useful for him to marry; but if she were to fall short of this ideal then greater inner misery would descend upon him. There is a certain fate about such matters and if she has to come, she will come into his life of her own accord. In any case it will be advisable to wait to make sure that the inner harmony does really exist.
Some questions asked about marriage problems ought not to be answered by anyone other than the individual's own higher self. Let him hear the voice of the Overself, which concerns itself neither with conventional contemporary attitudes, out-dated Oriental teachings, nor merely personal reactions. Let him listen mentally in profoundest meditation to hear this voice.
It would be a profound error to believe that because the philosophic life is so deeply concerned with self-improvement and the philosophic mind so attached to serious studies, therefore the philosophic student must be a gloomy, dreary, and miserable individual. But the contrary is the fact. His faith uplifts and upholds him, his knowledge brings joy and peace to him.
Nor should the renunciatory preachments of Buddha, the bitter complaints of Job, the harsh pessimism of Schopenhauer, and the appraisal of the World's life as vain foolishness in Ecclesiastes make us forget the cheerful optimism of Emerson and the bright rapture of many a mystic.
The quest for an ideal place or person can never be satisfied; consequently, it can never really end. What we may hope to find are better places, better persons. The dream of the Best will always remain only a dream.
Where is the earthly thing, attraction, creature, which can compete successfully with THAT in the deepest heart of men? Without knowing what he is really doing, he is seeking THAT amid all other activities, loving THAT behind all other loves.
It is possible, given certain conditions, to attain happiness thinking only of oneself and without care for the welfare of other men, but it is not possible to keep it. For if destiny or nature do not interrupt or destroy it, some among those others will become envious and may turn into a potential danger to one's happiness.
We shall secure personal happiness only to the extent that we unfold ourselves to the light of the impersonal Overself.
The happiness which everyone wants can be found only in the eternal, not in the temporal. But everyone continues to try this or that, with the same endlessly repeated result. Nobody listens to the prophets who tell this, or listens with more than his ears, until time teaches him its truth. Then only do his heart and will begin to apply it.
The danger of seeking for personal happiness over and above self-improvement is one of nurturing egoism and thus hindering that improvement. And how could anyone find happiness so long as the causes of his suffering lie so largely in his own frailties?
With a single exception, no living man is ever really content either with his lot or, what in the end is the same thing, with himself. That exception is the illuminate. The reason is that all living men are unconsciously striving to become, in the timed state, what they already are in the eternal one. That is, they are unwittingly in search of themselves. This is the hidden cause of all their discontent, all their restless desires, endeavours, and ambitions.
Happiness cannot be found by those who seek it as a goal in itself. It can be found only by those who know it is a result and not a goal.
It is true that the student of philosophy, understanding the impermanent and imperfect nature of this world, has in one sense renounced the quest of personal happiness, but he has renounced it only as an end in itself. He comprehends, on the one hand, that it is futile to demand perfection and permanence when the ever-changing world cannot by its very nature give them. To seek to establish personal happiness under such conditions is to travel farther away from it. He comprehends, on the other hand, that so long as he feels for and with other living creatures he cannot be fully happy whilst so many among them are immersed in suffering. But all this is not to say that he need forgo the quest of the higher trans-worldly happiness which is entirely independent of persons, places, and things and which is to be found within the Overself alone. Moreover, he realizes that it is his duty to attain it precisely because he must attain the power to lift those suffering creatures above their misery and gloom, to infuse in them the life-giving qualities of hope, courage, and serenity which will help them triumph over difficulties. Thus there is no adequate reason why he should be less happy than other men. The depth of his thinking and discipline of his senses do not prevent his sharing in the beauty-bringing arts, the laughter-raising fun, and the lighter diversions of human living. Indeed, by his efforts to reshape his thought and conduct, he is eliminating a number of causes which would otherwise bring him future worry and misery, just as he is fortifying himself to bear present trouble with calmness and wisdom. Moreover, he is on the path to realizing for himself--if he has not already partially realized it--that inexpressible inner beauty and satisfying bliss which accompany the consciousness of the Overself. Even from afar its reflected light shines down upon his path, to cheer the mind and warm the heart. No--he cannot be a miserable man. He is in the process of finding an exalted and enduring happiness which is not bought at the expense of others, but rather shared with others.
Some worthwhile lessons may be got by analysis and reflection from experiences of human love, if it is approached with reason, impersonality, and the determination to learn wisdom. We may see the risks in permitting happiness to depend upon another person, whoever that other person may be. The first love must be given to the divine soul within one's own heart, because it alone will never desert, betray, or disappoint. Then and then only may an individual turn to human love for comfort.
Is not excessive melancholy just as undesirable, and as much of a stumbling block in the path of spiritual progress as, for instance, excessive drinking--or any other fault? What is being gained by these self-demeaning tactics? Is anyone benefiting from them? The time has come to ask himself these questions. Certainly he is not alone in having made mistakes--everybody makes them! Consider what would happen, however, if everybody continued to punish themselves over and over again, needlessly remaining on the level of their own errors? What then is to be done? His gloomy situation can improve only when he is willing to change his attitude towards it. He must make a deliberate attempt to cultivate happiness! Just as he raises the windowshade in the morning to allow sunshine to pour into the room, so must he open himself to the higher power and let hope pour into his heart! As long as he continues to cling to despondency and to misunderstand, he is shutting out the Overself and preventing its message from reaching him. Every day is a new day, with new possibilities of a fresh, determined, and more courageous approach to all daily difficulties. Let him forget the past, and start planning for a happier tomorrow! No one else can do this for him, but he can draw faith from the knowledge that his efforts will count towards his joyful resurrection.
It is an heroic and stoic goal to set before a man, that he shall not be dependent upon others for his happiness and that he shall be emotionally self-sufficient. But it is a goal reachable by and, in the present kind of faulty human society, useful to, only the few.
If a man reaches finality of decision and recognizes that enlightened self-discipline is to be achieved and not resisted, he takes the first step to true happiness.
So long as we believe that some other person is essential to our happiness, so long shall we fail to attain that happiness.
Happiness is not the monopoly of the successful. One of the happiest men I ever knew was an aged tramp who wandered from poorhouse to poorhouse across the country. His eyes were blazing with a strange light.
Happiness? Is it so important and so necessary? Are not strength, understanding, and peace of mind more indispensable to a human life?
Only they who have brought all the different sides of their being into equilibrium, as well as they who have lived fully between the opposite poles of human experience, can appreciate the quest for serenity over the quest for happiness. Goethe in Europe was one man who appreciated this superiority as Buddha in Asia was another.
When inner conflict goes out, inner harmony comes in. There can be no happiness without such harmony.
It is as erroneous to expect perfect happiness through another person as it is to expect perfect salvation. Each must find the one or the other for himself in himself. No one else can bear such a great and grave responsibility, or ought to bear it. No human relationship can adequately or properly be substituted for what everyone must in the end do for himself.
He who asks for happiness asks for something he cannot and shall not get while his body breathes. The wise man does not ask more from life than it can yield. If it cannot give happiness, it can give peace.
"Are you happy?" is a question people often ask him. But he has not sought happiness. He has sought to find out why he is here and to fulfil that purpose.
The aim of getting as much personal happiness as he can out of every situation is no longer the dominant one. Other and loftier aims now coexist with it in some cases or even displace it in others.
During no one's lifetime are all desires fully realized. To look for a happiness that is complete is to look in vain. It is more philosophic to look for peace of mind.
Happiness may leave a man in a single moment or come to him in the same way. But this can only happen if he identifies it solely with the ego and nothing more.
If a man has inner peace he does not have emotional disturbances or mental agitations. Who then, really enjoys living--the disciplined philosopher who has the peace, or the undisciplined sufferer from the agitations?