The soul in man, the Overself, is linked with, or rooted in, the soul in the universe, the World-Mind.
The teaching of a higher individuality needs to be correctly understood. It is not that a separate one exists for each physical body. The consciousness which normally identifies itself with the body--that is, the ego--when looking upward in highest devotion or inward in deepest meditation, comes to the point of contact with universal being, World-Mind. This point is its own higher self, the divine deputy within its own being. But if devotion or meditation are carried still further, to the very utmost possible stretch of consciousness, the point itself merges into its source. At this moment the man is his source. But--"Man shall not see My face and live!" He returns eventually to earth-consciousness, where he must follow out its requirements. Yet the knowledge of what he is in essence remains. The presence of the deputy is always there meanwhile, always felt. It may fittingly be called his higher individuality.
Union with the Overself is not the ultimate end but a penultimate one. What we look up to as the Overself looks up in its own turn to another and higher entity.
The gap between the finite human mind and the infinite World-Mind is absolute. A union between them is not possible unless the first merges and disappears into the second.
If the claim of complete merger is valid, if the individual self really disappears in the attainment of Divine Consciousness, of whom then was this same self aware in the experience of attainment? No--it is only the lower personal self that is transcended; the higher spiritual individuality is not.
The unit of mind is differentiated out and undergoes its long evolution through numerous changes of state, not to merge so utterly in its source again as to be virtually annihilated, but to be consciously harmonized with that source whilst yet retaining its individuality.
The danger of men's deifying themselves afflicts the mystic path. This mind-madness must first be frankly admitted as a danger, for then only can it be guarded against.
We exist always in utter dependence on the Universal Mind. Man and God may meet and mingle in his periods of supreme exaltation, he may feel the sacred presence within himself to the utmost degree, but he does not thereby abolish all the distinctions between them absolutely. For he arrives at the knowledge of the timeless spaceless divine infinitude after a process of graded personal effort, whereas the World-Mind's knowledge of itself has forever been what it was is and shall be, above all processes and beyond all efforts.
There is some kind of a distinction between his higher individuality and the Universal Infinite out of which it is rayed, whatever the Vedantins may say. And this distinction remains in his highest mystical state, which is not one of total absorption and utter destruction of this individuality but the mergence of its own will in the universal will, the closest intimacy of its own being with the universal being.
Philosophy rejects decisively all those Vedantic pantheistic notions and Western mystical naïveties which would deify man and identify him with God. It asserts that the phrases in which these beliefs are embodied, such as the Indian "That thou art," the Persian "I am God," and the medieval European "union with God," are exaggerations of the truth, which is that God is immanent in us, that through realization of our higher self we become more like God, but that God never ceases to be the Unattainable, the Incomprehensible.
No mortal may penetrate the mystery of the ultimate mind in its own nature--which means in its static inactive being. The Godhead is not only beyond human conception but also beyond mystic perception. But Mind in its active dynamic state, that is, the World-Mind, and rather its ray in us called the Overself, is within range of human perception, communion, and even union. It is this that the mystic really finds when be believes that he has found God.
This condition is commonly said to be nothing less than "union with God." What is really attained is the higher self, the ray of the divine sun reflected in man, the immortal soul in fact--God Himself being forever utterly beyond man's finite capacity to comprehend. However the mystical experience is an authentic one and the conflict between interpretations does not dissolve its authenticity.
The mystic may indeed feel the very stuff of God in his rapture but this does not supply him with the whole content of God's knowledge. If therefore he claims not only to be one with God but also to be one with God's entire consciousness, it is sheer presumption.
When, however, the content of this concept is subjected to critical analysis, we discover some disturbing facts. What mystic is or ever has been omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent? Such are the distinguishing characteristics of God. Yet how many mystics have asserted they were identical with God! Is it not an insult to common sense to make such an assertion? Yet every "paramahamsa" in India still makes it!
God, the World-Mind, knows all things in an eternal present at once. No mystic has ever claimed, no mystic has ever dared to claim, such total knowledge. Most mystics have, however, claimed union with God. If this be true, then quite clearly they can have had only a fragmentary, not a full union.
Philosophy, being more precise in its statements, avers that they have really achieved union not with God, but with something Godlike--the soul.
It is legitimate to say that something godlike is within me, but it is quite illegitimate to say "I am God." For the fragrance of a flower is after all not the same as the flower itself.
It is a fallacy to think that this displacement of the lower self brings about its complete substitution by the infinite and absolute Deity. This fallacy is an ancient and common one in mystical circles and leads to fantastic declarations of self-deification. If the lower self is displaced, it is not destroyed. It lives on but in strict subordination to the higher one, the Overself, the divine soul of man; and it is this latter, not the divine world-principle, which is the true displacing element.
There is metaphysically no such thing as a human appearance of God, as the Infinite Mind brought down into finite flesh. This error is taught as a sacred truth by the Bahais in their Manifestation doctrine, by the Christians in the Incarnation doctrine, and by the Hindus in their Avatar doctrine. God cannot be born in the flesh, cannot take a human incarnation. If He could so confine Himself, He would cease to be God. For how could the Perfect, the Incomprehensible, and the Inconceivable become the imperfect, the comprehensible, and the conceivable?
Yet there is some fire behind this smoke. From time to time, someone is born predestined to give a spiritual impulse to a particular people, area, or age. He is charged with a special mission of teaching and redemption and is imbued with special power from the universal intelligence to enable him to carry it out. He must plant seeds which grow slowly into trees to carry fruit that will feed millions of unborn people. In this sense he is different from and, if you like, superior to anyone else who is also inspired by the Overself. But this difference or superiority does not alter his human status, does not make him more than a man still, however divinely used and power-charged he may be. Such a man will claim no essential superiority over other men; on the contrary, he will plainly admit that they, too, may attain the same state of inspiration which he possesses. Hence Muhammed confessed, repeatedly: "I am only a human being like unto yourselves. But revelations are made to me." And the tenth Sikh guru declared, "Those who call me the Supreme Lord, will go to hell." No human temple can receive the Infinite Essence within its confining walls. No mortal man has ever been or could ever be the Incarnation of the all-transcending Godhead. No earthly flesh or human intelligence has the right to identify itself with the unknowable principle. Only minds untrained in the metaphysics of truth could accept the contrary belief. The widespread character of this belief evidences how few have ever had such a training, and the widespread character of the corruptions and troubles which have always followed in the train of such man-worship, evidences it as a fallacy.
In time his relation to the higher self becomes more intimate than any earthly friendship, closer than any human union could ever be. Yet it always remains a relation, never becomes an absorption; always a nearness, never a merger.
The downfall of every faith began when the worship of God as Spirit was displaced by the worship of Man as God. No visible prophet, saint, or saviour has the right to demand that which should be offered to the Unseen alone. It is not true reverence but ignorant blasphemy which could believe that the unattainable Absolute has put itself into mortal human form however beneficent the purpose may be. The idea that God can enter the flesh as a man was originally given to most religions as a chief feature for the benefit of the populace. It was very helpful both in their mental and in their practical life. But it was true only on the religious level, which after all is the elementary one. It was not quite true on the philosophical level. Those few who were initiated into the advanced teaching were able to interpret this notion in a mystical or metaphysical way which, whilst remote from popular comprehension, was closer to divine actuality. They will never degrade the Godhead in their thought of it by accepting the popular belief in personification, incarnation, or avatarhood. It is a sign of primitive ignorance when the humanity of these inspired men is unrecognized or even denied, when they are put on a pedestal of special deification. The teaching that Godhead can voluntarily descend into man's body is a misunderstanding of truth. The irony is that those who try to displace the gross misunderstanding by the pure truth itself are called blasphemous. The real blasphemy is to lower the infinite Godhead to being directly an active agent in the finite world.
Nothing can contain the divine essence although everything can be and is permeated by it. No one can personify it, although every man bears its ray within him. To place a limitation upon it is to utter a blasphemy against it. The infinite Mind cannot be localized to take birth in any particular land. The absolute existence cannot be personified in a human form. The eternal Godhead cannot be identified with a special fleshly body. The inscrutable Reality has no name and address. It cannot be turned into an historical person, however exalted, with a body of bones nerves muscle and skin. To think otherwise is to think materialistically. The notion which would place the Deity as a human colossus amongst millions of human midgets and billions of lesser creatures shows little true reverence and less critical intelligence.
We must acknowledge the ever-existence of Absolute mind, even though it is incomprehensible to the senses and inconceivable to the thoughts. We must deny that it can ever manifest itself within time and space and consequently deny also that it can ever show itself under a human form. We must deny that any man is right in arrogating to himself the sole channel through whom worship must be performed, communion achieved, or belief given.
The time has come to repudiate all this foolish worship of human beings and to transfer our reverence and obedience to the pure divine Being alone. The more metaphysical comprehension we develop, the less we shall look to the person of a teacher. We shall then regard the Teaching itself as the essential thing.
When duality is blended with, and within, unity it is the true jivanmukta realization. The One is then experienced as the Two but known to be really the One.
The effects of enlightenment include: an imperturbable detachment from outer possessions, rank, honours, and persons; an overwhelming certainty about truth; a carefree, heavenly peace above all disturbances and vicissitudes; an acceptance of the general rightness of the universal situation, with each entity and each event playing its role; and impeccable sincerity which says what it means, means what it says.
When you awaken to truth as it really is, you will have no occult vision, you will have no "astral" experience, no ravishing ecstasy. You will awaken to it in a state of utter stillness, and you will realize that truth was always there within you and that reality was always there around you. Truth is not something which has grown and developed through your efforts. It is not something which has been achieved or attained by laboriously adding up those efforts. It is not something which has to be made more and more perfect each year. And once your mental eyes are opened to truth they can never be closed again.
We must learn to differentiate between the partial attainment of the mystic who stops short at passive enjoyment of ecstatic states and the perfect attainment of the sage who does not depend on any particular states but dwells in the unbroken calm of the unconditioned Overself. From his high point of view all such states are necessarily illusory, however personally satisfying at the time, inasmuch as they are transient conditions and do not pertain to the final result.
No announcements tell the world that he has come into enlightenment. No heralds blow the trumpets proclaiming man's greatest victory--over himself. This is in fact the quietest moment of his whole life.
There is some confusion on this point in the minds of many students. On attaining enlightenment a man does not attain omniscience. At most, he may receive a revelation of the inner operations of life and Nature, of the higher laws governing life and man. That is, he may also become a seer and find a cosmogony presented to his gaze. But the actuality in a majority of cases is that he attains enlightenment only, not cosmogonical seership.
There are varying degrees of spiritual illumination, which accounts both for the varying outlooks to be found among mystics and for the different kinds of Glimpse among aspirants. All illuminations and all Glimpses free the man from his negative qualities and base nature, but in the latter case only temporarily. He is able, as a result, to see into his higher nature. In the first degree, it is as if a window covered with dirt were cleaned enough to reveal a beautiful garden outside it. He is still subject to the activity of thinking, the emotion of joy, and the discrimination between X and Y. In the next and higher degree, it is as if the window were still more cleaned so that still more beauty is revealed beyond it. Here there are no thoughts to intervene between the seer and the seen. In the third degree, the discrimination is no longer present. In the fourth degree, it is as if the window were thoroughly cleaned. Here there is no longer even a rapturous emotion but only a balanced happiness, a steady tranquillity which, being beyond the intellect, cannot properly be described by the intellect.
Again, mental peace is a fruit of the first and lowest degree of illumination, although thoughts will continue to arise although gently, and thinking in the discursive manner will continue to be active although slowly. But concentration will be sufficiently strong to detach him from the world and, as a consequence, to yield the happiness which accompanies such detachment. Only those who have attained to this degree can correctly be regarded as "saved" as only they alone are unable to fall back into illusion, error, sin, greed, or sensuality.
In the second degree, there will be more inward absorption and cerebral processes will entirely fade out.
Freedom from all possibility of anger is a fruit of the third and higher degree.
To be the witness is the first stage; to be Witness of the witness is the next; but to BE is the final one. For consciousness lets go of the witness in the end. Consciousness alone is itself the real experience.
The difference between the intermediate and the final state is the difference between feeling the Overself to be a distinct and separate entity and feeling it to be the very essence of oneself, between temporary experience of it and enduring union with it.
Not until the light he has received becomes stabilized as a permanent thing can he be regarded as a master, and not until it is also full and complete can he be regarded as a sage.
A rare but complete illumination must not only pass from the first to the final degree of intensity, but must also contain a picture of the cosmic order. That is to say, it must be a revelation. It must explain the profounder nature of the universe, the inner meaning of individual existence, and the hidden relationship between the two.
The deeper one penetrates into the Void the more he is purified of the illusions of personality, time, matter, space, and causality. Between the second and third stages of insight's unfoldment there are really two further subsidiary stages which are wrapped in the greatest mystery and are rarely touched by the average mystic or yogi. For both of them are stages which lead further downwards into the Void. The yogi touches the edge of the Void, as it were, but not its centre. These two stages are purificatory ones and utterly annihilate the last illusions and the last egoisms of the seeker. They are dissolved forever and cannot revive again. Nothing more useful can and may be said about it here. For this is the innermost holy of holies, the most sacred sanctuary accessible to man. He who touches this grade touches what may not be spoken aloud for sneering ears, nor written down for sneering eyes. Consequently none has ever ventured to explain publicly what must not be so explained.
At long last, when the union of self with Overself is total and complete, some part of his consciousness will remain unmoving in infinity, unending in eternity. There, in that sacred glory, he will be preoccupied with his divine identity, held to it by irresistible magnetism, gladly, lovingly.
Where is the man who is free of the ego? To him we must bow in deep reverence, in wondering admiration, in enforced humility. Here is one who has found his true self, his personal independence, his own being. Here at last is a free man, someone who has found his real worth in a world of false values. Here at last is a truly great man and truly sincere man.
When he has fully accomplished this passing-over, all the elements of his lower nature will then have been fully eliminated. The ego will be destroyed. Instead of being enslaved by its own senses and passions, blinded by its own thoughts and ignorance, his mind will be inspired, enlightened, and liberated by the Overself. Yet life in the human self will not be destroyed because he has entered life in the divine Overself. But neither will it continue in the old and lower way. That self will henceforth function as a perfectly obedient instrument of the soul and no longer of the animal body or intellectual nature. No evil thought and no animal passion can ever again take hold of his mind. What remains of his character is therefore the incorruptible part and the immortal part. Death may rob him of lesser things, but not of the thing which he cherishes most. Having already parted in his heart with what is perishable, he can await it without perturbation and with sublime resignation.
The general idea in the popular and religious circles of India is that the highest state of illumination is attained during a trance condition (samadhi). This is not the teaching in the highest philosophic circles of India. There is another condition, sahaja samadhi, which is described in a few little-known texts and which is regarded as superior. It is esteemed because no trance is necessary and because it is a continuous state. The inferior state is one which is intermittently entered and left: it cannot be retained without returning to trance. The philosophic "fourth state," by contrast, remains unbroken even when active and awake in the busy world.
I do not claim that sahaja yields ultimate reality: I only claim that it yields the ultimate so far known to man.
When we comprehend what it is that must go into the making of a sage, how many and how diverse the experiences through which he has passed in former incarnations, we realize that such a man's wisdom is part of his bloodstream.
Of little use are explanations which befog truth and bewilder understanding. To inform a Western reader that an enlightened man sees only "Brahman" is to imply that he does not see forms, that is, the world. But the fact is that he does see what unenlightened men see--the physical objects and creatures around him--or he could not attend to the simplest little necessity or duty of which all humans have to take care. But he sees things without being limited to their physical appearance--he knows their inner reality too.
Sahaja samadhi is not broken into intervals, is permanent, and involves no special effort. Its arisal is instantaneous and without progressive stages. It can accompany daily activity without interfering with it. It is a settled calm and complete inner quiet.
There are no distinguishing marks that an outside observer can use to identify a sahaja-conscious man because sahaja represents consciousness itself rather than its transitory states.
Sahaja has been called the lightning flash. Philosophy considers it to be the most desirable goal.
This is illustrated with a classic instance of Indian spirituality involving a king named Janaka. One day he was about to mount his horse and put one foot into the stirrup which hung from the saddle. As he was about to lift himself upwards into the saddle the "lightning flash" struck his consciousness. He was instantly carried away and concentrated so deeply that he failed for some time to lift himself up any higher. From that day onwards he lived in sahaja samadhi which was always present within him.
Those at the state of achieved sahaja are under no compulsion to continue to meditate any more or to practise yoga. They often do--either because of inclinations produced by past habits or as a means of helping other persons. In either case it is experienced as a pleasure. Because this consciousness is permanent, the experiencer does not need to go into meditation. This is despite the outward appearance of a person who places himself in the posture of meditation in order to achieve something.
When you are engaged in outward activity it is not the same as when you are in a trance. This is true for both the beginner and the adept. The adept, however, does not lose the sahaja awareness which he has achieved and can withdraw into the depths of consciousness which the ordinary cannot do.
THE SAINT: has successfully carried out ascetic disciplines and purificatory regimes for devotional purposes.
THE PROPHET: has listened for God's voice, heard and communicated God's message of prediction, warning, or counsel.
THE MYSTIC: has intimately experienced God's presence while inwardly rapt in contemplation or has seen a vision of God's cosmogony while concentrated in meditation.
THE SAGE: has attained the same results as all these three, has added a knowledge of infinite and eternal reality thereto, and has brought the whole into balanced union.
THE PHILOSOPHER: is a sage who has also engaged in the spiritual education of others.
Philosophy uses the attained man not as a god for grovelling worship and blind obedience, but as an ideal for effectual admiration and reverent analysis.
We are asked: What is the interpretation of a sentence in that excellent little book Light on the Path by Mabel Collins, which runs "For within you is the light of the world--the only light that can be shed upon the Path. If you are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. It is beyond you; because when you reach it you have lost yourself. It is unattainable because it forever recedes. You will enter the light but you will never touch the flame."
The meaning of this mysterious sentence is that the sage refuses to claim the ultimate mergence which is his right because he refuses to desert "the great orphan Humanity." He stops short at the very threshold of Nirvana simply to remain here and help others reach that threshold. Thus by his altruistic activity, meditative power, and intellectual penetration he continuously earns a title to that utter absorption of his ego in the unutterable Absolute which is Nirvana, but by his continuous self-giving for suffering mankind he never actually attains this goal. This extraordinary situation may be represented mathematically by the asymptote--a line which is drawn on a graph to approach nearer and nearer to a given curve but which never actually touches it within a finite distance. Only a man who feels with and for his fellow creatures will dare to make such a tremendous sacrifice of the supreme peace which he has won. How much more generous, how nobly grander is this example of ever-active altruistic service than that of ever-idle meditative reclusiveness!
Light the lamp and it will spread out its rays by itself. We are indeed blessed by the presence of these great souls on this earth and doubly so if we meet in person. They deserve not merely our respect but our veneration. But even if we are never fortunate enough to meet one of these masters, the mere knowledge that such men do exist and live demonstrates the possibility of spiritual achievement and proves that the quest is no chimera. It should comfort and encourage us to know this. Therefore we should regard such a man as one of humanity's precious treasures. We should cherish his name as a personal inspiration. We should venerate his sayings or writings as whispers out of the eternal silence.
There is some confusion, at least in India, but also in the West, about the kind of life an enlightened man will live. It is popularly believed, especially in the Orient, that he sits in his cave or his hut or his ashram sunk continually in meditation. The idea that he can be active in the world is not often accepted, especially by the masses who have not been properly instructed in these matters and who do not know differences between religion and mysticism and between mysticism and philosophy. The truth is that the enlightened man may or may not practise meditation; but he has no dependence upon it, because his enlightenment being fully established will not be increased by further meditation. Whenever he does meditate, it is either for the purpose of withdrawing from the world totally for short periods, at intervals, either for his own satisfaction or to recuperate his energies, or to benefit others by telepathy. When it is said "for his own satisfaction," what is meant is that meditation in seclusion may have become a way of life in his previous incarnation. This generates a karmic tendency which reappears in this life and the satisfaction of this tendency pleases him, but it is not absolutely essential for him. He can dispense with it when needful to do so, whereas the unenlightened man is too often at the mercy of his tendencies and propensities.
Such rare peace stands out in poignant contrast against the burdens and fretfulness of our ordinary lives. Such rare goodness is needed by a generation accustomed to violence, atrocity, bestiality and horror, lunacy and hatred.
There is no classification into matter and spirit for the Sage. There is only one life for him. If a man can find reality only in trance, if he says that the objective world is unreal, he is not a Sage, he is a Yogi.
The true adept does not sell either the secrets of his knowledge or the use of his powers. There are several reasons for this. The most important is that he would harm himself for he would lose the link with the very source of his knowledge and power. He does not possess them in himself but by virtue of being possessed by the Higher Self. From the moment that he attempted to make them a means of worldly profit, It would gradually begin to desert him. Another reason is that he would lose his privileged position to speak the pure truth. To the extent that he had to rely upon purchasers of it, to that extent he would have to shape it or conform it to their tastes and prejudices; otherwise they would refuse to have it. He would have to use his powers to please them. He would have to accommodate his knowledge to their weaknesses. He could succeed in the profession of teaching truth only by failing in his own duty of realizing truth. For the truth being the one thing he got without price, is the one thing which he must give without price. This is the law governing its distribution. Anyone who violates it proves by this very violation that he does not possess truth in all its shining purity.
There are noteworthy differences between the genuine illuminate and the false one. But I shall indicate only a few of the points one may observe in the man who is truly self-realized. First of all, he does not desire to become the leader of a new cult; therefore, he does not indulge in any of the attempts to draw publicity or notice which mark our modern saviours. He never seeks to arouse attention by oddity of teaching, talk, dress, or manner. In fact, he does not even desire to appear as a teacher, seeks no adherents, and asks no pupils to join him. Though he possesses immense spiritual power which may irresistibly influence your life, he will seem quite unconscious of it. He makes no claim to the possession of peculiar powers. He is completely without pose or pretense. The things which arouse passion or love or hatred in men do not seem to touch him; he is indifferent to them as Nature is to our comments when we praise her sunshine or revile her storms. For in him, we have to recognize a man freed, loosed from every limit which desire and emotion can place upon us. He walks detached from the anxious thoughts or seductive passions which eat out the hearts of men. Though he behaves and lives simply and naturally, we are aware that there is a mystery within that man. We are unable to avoid the impression that because his understanding has plumbed life deeper than other men's, we are compelled to call a halt when we would attempt to comprehend him.
His inner state will not be easily discernible to others, unless they happen to be the few who are themselves sufficiently advanced and sufficiently sensitive to appreciate it. Yet it is his duty to announce the glorious news of its discovery, to publish the titanic fact of its existence. But he will do so in his own way, according to his own characteristics and circumstances. He will not need to announce it in a speech, or print it in a book; he will not publish the fact in daily newspapers or shout it from the housetops. His whole life will be the best announcement, the grandest publication.
Such is the wonderful infinitude of the soul that the man who succeeds in identifying his everyday consciousness with it, succeeds also in making his influence and inspiration felt in any part of the world where there is someone who puts faith in him and gives devotion to him. His bodily presence or visitation is not essential. The soul is his real self and operates on subconscious levels. Whoever recognizes this truth and humbly, harmoniously, places himself in a passive receptive attitude towards the spiritual adept, finds a source of blessed help outside his own limited powers.
Association with or proximity to such a man not only brings out what is best in them but also, when it ends, invokes the reaction of what is worst.
Those who have malignantly attacked the person or injured the work of such a man through whom the divine forces are working for the enlightenment of mankind, create for themselves a terrible karma which accumulates and strikes them down in time. He himself will endeavour to protect his work by appropriate means, one being temporarily to withdraw his love from them for the rest of his incarnation until their dying moments. Then he will extend it again with full force and appear to them as in a vision, full of forgiveness, blessing, and comfort.
We are asked why, if thought-transference be a fact, the hibernating hermit should not still represent the loftiest achievement, should not in fact be as antisocial as he superficially seems. He may be hidden away in a mountain cave, but is not his mind free to roam where it likes and has not its power been raised to a supreme degree by his mystical practices? We reply that if he is merely concerned with resting in his inner tranquillity undisturbed by the thought of others, then his achievement is only a self-centered one.
There is much confusion amongst students about these yogis who are supposed to sit in solitude and help humanity telepathically. It is not only yogis who sit in solitude who are doing so. Nor is it needful to be a solitary to be able to do so. The truth is that most yogis who live in solitude are still in the student stage, still trying to develop themselves. And even in the rarer cases where a yogi has perfected himself in meditation, he may be using the latter simply to bask egotistically in inner peace for his own benefit and without a thought for others. It is only when a man is a philosophic yogi that he will be deliberately using his meditational self-absorptions to uplift individuals and help humanity for their good. If the mystic is using his mental powers for altruistic ends, if he is engaged in telepathically helping others at a distance, then he has gone beyond the ordinary mystical level and we salute him for it.
The Adept will not try to influence any other man, much less try to control him. Therefore, his notion of serving another by enlightening him does not include the activity of proselytizing, but rather the office of teaching. Such service means helping a man to understand for himself and to see for himself what he could not see and understand before. The Adept does this not only by using the ordinary methods of speech, writing, and example, but much more by an extraordinary method which only an Adept can employ. In this he puts himself in a passive attitude towards the other person's ego and thus registers the character, thought, and feeling in one swift general impression, which manifests itself within his own consciousness like a photograph upon a sensitized film. He recognizes this as a picture of the evolutionary degree to which the other person has attained, but he recognizes it also as a picture of the false self with which the other person identifies himself. No matter how much sympathy he feels for the other man, no matter how negative are the emotions or the thoughts he finds reproducing themselves within his own being, it is without effect upon himself. This is because he has outgrown both the desires and the illusions which still reign over the other man's mind. With the next step in his technique he challenges that self as being fearful for its own unworthy and ultimately doomed existence, and finally dismisses the picture of it in favour of the person's true self, the divine Overself. Then he throws out of his mind every thought of the other person's imperfect egoistic condition and replaces it by the affirmation of his true spiritual selfhood.
Thus, if the Adept begins his service to another who attracted by his wisdom seeks counselling or by his godliness seeks his inspiration, by noting the defects in the character of the person, he ends it by ignoring them. He then images the seeker as standing serenely in the light, free from the ego and its desires, strong and wise and pure because living in the truth. The Adept closes his eyes to the present state of the seeker, to all the evidences of distress and weakness and darkness which he earlier noted, and opens them to the real, innermost state of the seeker, where he sees him united with the Overself. He persists in silently holding this thought and this picture, and he holds it with the dynamic intensity of which he only is capable. The effect of this inner working sometimes appears immediately in the seeker's consciousness, but more likely it will take some time to rise up from the subconscious mind. Even if it takes years to manifest itself, it will certainly do so in the end.
We know that one mind can influence another through the medium of speech or writing: we know also that it may even influence another directly and without any medium through the silent power of telepathy. All this work takes place on the level of thought and emotion. But the Adept may not only work on this level: it is possible for him to work on a still deeper level. He can go into the innermost core of his own being and there touch the innermost core of the other man's being. In this way, Spirit speaks to Spirit, but without words or even thoughts. Within his innermost being there is a mysterious emptiness to which the Adept alone gains access during meditation or trance. All thoughts die at its threshold as he enters it. But when eventually he returns to the ordinary state and the thinking activity starts again, then those first series of thoughts are endowed with a peculiar power, are impregnated with a magical potency. Their echoes reverberate telepathically across space in the minds of others to whom they may be directed deliberately by the Adept. Their influence upon sympathetic and responsive persons is at first too subtle and too deep to be recognized, but eventually they reach the surface of consciousness.
This indeed is the scientific fact behind the popular medieval European and contemporary Oriental belief in the virtue of an Adept's blessing and the value of an Adept's initiation. The Adept's true perception of him is somewhere registered like a seed in the subconscious mind of the receptive person, and will in the course of time work its way up through the earth of the unconscious like a plant until it appears above ground in the conscious mind. If it is much slower in showing its effects, it is also much more effectual, much more lasting than the ordinary way of communicating thought or transmitting influence. In this way, by his own inner growth he will begin to perceive, little by little, for himself the truth about his own inner being and outer life in the same way that the Adept perceives it. This is nothing less than a passage from the ego's point of view to the higher one.
It is a mistake to believe that the mystical adepts all possess the same unvarying supernormal powers. On the contrary, they manifest such power or powers as are in consonance with their previous line of development and aspiration. One who has come along an intellectual line of development, for instance, would most naturally manifest exceptional intellectual powers. The situation has been well put by Saint Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministries but the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings but the same God who worketh all in all." When the Overself activates the newly made adept's psyche, the effect shows itself in some part or faculty; in another adept it produces a different effect. Thus the source is always the same but the manifestation is different.
The mystic who talks of giving love to all mankind has still not realized Truth. What he really means is that he, the ego, is giving the love. The Gnani, on the contrary, knows all men as himself and therefore the idea of giving them love does not arise; he accepts his identity of interest with them completely.
The realized man leaves no lineal descendants to take over his spiritual estate. Spiritual succession is a fiction. The heir to a master's mantle must win it afresh: he cannot inherit it.
There is no such act as a one-sided self-giving. Karma brings us back our due. He who spends his life in the dedicated service of philosophic enlightenment may reject the merely material rewards that this service could bring him, but he cannot reject the beneficent thoughts, the loving remembrances, the sincere veneration which those who have benefited sometimes send him. Such invisible rewards help him to atone more peacefully and less painfully for the strategic errors he has made, the tactical shortcomings he has manifested. Life is an arduous struggle for most people, but much more so for such a one who is always a hated target for the unseen powers of darkness. Do not hesitate to send him your silent humble blessing, therefore, and remember that Nature will not waste it. The enemies you are now struggling against within yourself he has already conquered, but the enemies he is now struggling against are beyond your present experience. He has won the right to sit by a hearth of peace. If he has made the greatest renunciation and does not do so, it is for your sake and for the sake of those others like you.
When he penetrates to the still centre of his being, the thoughts of this and that subside, either to a low ebb or into a temporary non-existence. Since thoughts express themselves in language, when they are inactive speech becomes inactive too. What he feels is quite literally too deep for thoughts. He falls into perfect silence. Yet it is not an empty silence. Something is present in it, some power which he can direct toward another man and which that man can feel and absorb temporarily--to whatever extent he is capable--if or when he is in a relaxed and receptive mood. The communication will best take place, if both are physically present, in total silence and bodily stillness, that is, in meditation.
The sage will not be primarily concerned with his own personal welfare, but then he will also not be primarily concerned with mankind's welfare. Both these duties find a place in his outlook, but they do not find a primary place. This is always filled by a single motive: to do the will, to express the inspiration of that greater self of which he is sublimely aware and to which he has utterly surrendered himself. This is a point whereon many students get confused or go astray. The sage does not stress altruism as the supreme value of life, nor does he reject egoism as the lowest value of life. He will act as the Overself bids him in each case, egotistically if it so wishes or altruistically if it so declares, but he will always act for its sake as the principal aim and by its light as the principal means.
His goodwill to, and sympathy for all men, rather empathy, enables him to experience their very being in his own being. Yet his loyalty toward his higher self enables him to keep his individuality as the inerasable background for this happening.
Despite all his psychical knowledge and personal attainment, the sage never loses his deep sense of the mystery which is at the heart of existence, which is God.
What is the sage's reaction to the cosmos? It is very different from that of the ignorant who have never asked the question "What am I?" and who may regard the calm visage of a Yogi as a "frozen face." The sage has no sense of conflict, no inner division. He has expanded his notion of self until it has embraced the universe and therefore rightly he may say "the universe is my idea." He may make this strange utterance because he has so expanded his understanding of mind. Lesser men may only say "the universe is an idea."
Bergson was right. His acute French intelligence penetrated like an eagle's sight beneath the world-illusion and saw it for what it is--a cosmic process of continual change which never comes to an end, a universal movement whose first impetus and final exhaustion will never be known, a flux of absolute duration and therefore unimaginable. And for the sage who attains to the knowledge of THAT which forever seems to be changing but forever paradoxically retains its own pure reality, for him as for the ignorant, the flux must go on. But it will go on here on this earth, not in the same mythical heaven or mirage-like hell. He will repeatedly have to take flesh, as all others will have to, so long as duration lasts, that is, forever. For he cannot sit apart like the yogi while his compassion is too profound to waste itself in mere sentiment. It demands the profound expression of sacrificial service in motion. His attitude is that so clearly described by a nineteenth-century agnostic whom religionists once held in horror, Thomas Huxley: "We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered it." The escape into Nirvana for him is only the escape into the inner realization of the truth whilst alive: it is not to escape from the external cycle of rebirths and deaths. It is a change of attitude. But that bait had to be held out to him at an earlier stage until his will and nerve were strong enough to endure this revelation. There is no escape except inwards. For the sage is too compassionate to withdraw into proud indifferentism and too understanding to rest completely satisfied with his own wonderful attainment. The sounds of sufferings of men, the ignorance that is the root of these sufferings, beat ceaselessly on the tympanum of his ears. What can he do but answer, and answer with his very life--which he gives in perpetual reincarnation upon the cross of flesh as a vicarious sacrifice for others. It is thus alone that he achieves immortality, not by fleeing forever--as he could if he willed--into the Great Unconsciousness, but by suffering forever the pains and pangs of perpetual rebirth that he may help or guide his own.