We begin and end the study of philosophy by a consideration of the subject of ethics. Without a certain ethical discipline to start with, the mind will distort truth to suit its own fancies. Without a mastery of the whole course of philosophy to its very end, the problem of the significance of good and evil cannot be solved.
The pursuit of moral excellence is immeasurably better than the pursuit of mystical sensations. Its gains are more durable, more indispensable, and more valuable.
The philosophical discipline seeks to build up a character which no weakness can undermine and from which all negative characteristics have been thrown out.
There are five ways in which the human being progressively views his own self and consequently five graduated ethical stages on his quest. First, as an ignorant materialist he lives entirely within his personality and hence for personal benefit regardless of much hurt caused to others in order to secure this benefit. Second, as an enlightened materialist he is wrapped in his own fortunes but does not seek them at the expense of others. Third, as a religionist he perceives the impermanence of the ego and, with a sense of sacrifice, he denies his self-will. Fourth, as a mystic he acknowledges the existence of a higher power, God, but finds it only within himself. Fifth, as a philosopher he recognizes the universality and the oneness of being in others and practises altruism with joy.
The moral precepts which it offers for use in living and for guidance in wise action are not offered to all alike, but only to those engaged on the quest. They are not likely to appeal to anyone who is virtuous merely because he fears the punishment of sin rather than because he loves virtue itself. Nor are they likely to appeal to anyone who does not know where his true self-interest lies. There would be nothing wrong in being utterly selfish if only we fully understood the self whose interest we desire to preserve or promote. For then we would not mistake pleasure for happiness nor confuse evil with good. Then we would see that earthly self-restraint in some directions is in reality holy self-affirmation in others, and that the hidden part of self is the best part.
We have begun to question Nature and we must abide the consequences. But we need not fear the advancing tide of knowledge. Its effects on morals will be only to discipline human character all the more. For it is not knowledge that makes men immoral, it is the lack of it. False foundations make uncertain supports for morality.
This grand section of the quest deals with the right conduct of life. It seeks both the moral re-education of the individual's character for his own benefit and the altruistic transformation of it for society's benefit.
If you want to obtain a good objective, you must use a good means as no other will bring the same result.
Such study of the ethics of philosophy will not, of course, give the student the power to be able to practise those ethics completely. He cannot always govern his own complexes or control his own desires or rule his own compulsions. Nevertheless, to know what he is expected to do and what he ought to do is a valuable first step towards doing it.
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 may look at what has happened in five different but equally valuable and equally necessary ways: (a) as a test, (b) as opposition of adverse force, (c) as a problem to adjust himself to psychologically, (d) as a temptation or tribulation to be met and overcome morally, (e) as the outworking of past karma to be intelligently endured or impersonally negotiated.
But, after all, these qualities are only the negative prerequisites of spiritual realization. They are not realization itself. Their attainment is to free oneself from defects that hinder the attainment of higher consciousness, not to possess oneself of true consciousness.
The longer he lives the more he discovers that real peace depends on the strength with which he rules his own heart, and real security depends on the truth with which he rules his own mind. When he leaves his emotions in disorder they bring agony--as the accompaniment or the follower of the happiness they claimed at first to be able to give. When he lets his thoughts serve the blindnesses of his ego, they deceive, mislead, or trouble him.
Men ask, "What is truth?" But in reply truth itself questions them, "Who are you to ask that? Have you the competence, the faculty, the character, the judgement, the education, and the preparation to recognize truth? If not, first go and acquire them, not forgetting the uplift of character."
The act must illustrate the man, the deed must picture the attitude. It is thus only that thought becomes alive.
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.
The discovery of moral relativity gives no encouragement however to moral laxity. If we are freed from human convention, it is only because we are to submit ourselves sacrificially to the Overself's dictate. The unfoldment of progressive states of conscious being is not possible without giving up the lower for the higher.
Buddha did not go into deeper problems before he had gone into practical ethics. He taught people to be good and do good before he taught them to venture into the marshy logic of the metaphysical maze. And even when they had emerged safely from a territory where so many lose themselves utterly, he brought them back to ethical values albeit now of a much higher kind because based on utter unselfishness. For love must marry knowledge, pity must shed its warm rays upon the cold intellect. Enlightenment of others must be the price of one's own enlightenment. These things are not easily felt by the mystic, who is often too absorbed in his own ecstasies to notice the miseries of others, or by the metaphysician, who is often too tied by his own verbosity to his hard and rigorous logic to realize that mankind is not merely an abstract noun but is made up of flesh-and-blood individuals. The philosopher however finds these benign altruistic needs to be an essential part of truth. Consequently the salvation which he seeks--from ignorance and the attendant miseries that dog its steps--is not for himself but for the whole world.
The more I travel and observe the more I come to believe that the only men who will make something worthwhile of philosophy are the men who have already made something worthwhile of their personal lives. The dreamers and cranks will only fool themselves, the failures and alibi-chasers will only become confirmed in their fantasies.
Each person who enters our life for a time, or becomes involved with it at some point, is an unwitting channel bringing good or evil, wisdom or foolishness, fortune or calamity to us. This happens because it was preordained to happen--under the law of recompense. But the extent to which he affects our outer affairs is partly determined by the extent to which we let him do so, by the acceptance or rejection of suggestions made by his conduct, speech, or presence. It is we who are finally responsible.
Unless he passes through the portals of this discipline, he cannot receive truth, but only its parodies, distortions, and imitations.
It is quite true that moral codes have historically been merely relative to time, place, and so on. But if we try to make such relativity a basis of non-moral action, if we act on the principle that wrong is not worse than right and evil not different from good, then social life would soon show a disastrous deterioration, the ethics of the jungle would become its governing law, and catastrophe would overtake it in the end.
The first and immediate consequence of perceiving philosophic truth is a moral one. There is a strong appeal to the intellect and an equally strong appeal to the heart. These two viewpoints are not opposed to each other.
It is not enough to wish to better one's character. One must also know how to begin the task aright and how to continue it correctly. Otherwise he gropes blindly and falls into the old weaknesses, the old errors, even if they take new forms.
He has to find out what unwise tendencies are operative in his character without his knowledge, what wrong impulses arise from his subconscious self and lead to harmful actions.
It is true that thought precedes action, that actions express thoughts, and that to rule mind is to rule the entire life. But it is also true that man's battles with himself proceed by progressive stages, that he exerts will more easily than he changes feeling. Therefore, the discipline of inward thinking should follow after--and not before--it. To counsel him to take care of his inner life and that then the outer life will take care of itself, as so many mystics do, is to be plausible but also to show a lack of practicality. Man's heart will feel no peace as his mind will know no poise until he abandons the lower instincts and gives himself up to this unearthly call. First, he must abandon them outwardly in deeds; later he must do it inwardly even in thoughts. This will inevitably bring him into inner struggle, into oscillation between victories and defeats, elations and despairs. The way up is long, hard, rugged, and slow to tread. It is always a stage for complaints and outcries, battles and falls. Only time--the master power--can bring him to its lofty end. Only when the lessons of birth after birth etch themselves deeply and unmistakably into his conscious mind through dreadful repetition can he accept them co-operatively, resignedly, and thus put a stop to the needless sufferings of desire, passion, and attachment.
Many people talk mysticism or play with psychism so long as either promises them wonderful powers which most other people haven't got or wonderful experiences which most other people do not have. But when they come to philosophy and find that it demands from them a renovation of their entire character, they are seized with fear and retreat. Philosophy is not for such people, for it does not conform to their wishes. It tells them what they do not like to hear. It disturbs their egoistic vanity and troubles their superficial serenity when it throws a glaring spotlight on their lower nature, their baser motives, and their ugly weaknesses.
At the beginning of each temptation there is a choice offered, as though one stood at the crossroads and must take one which leads upward to peace and well-being or the other which leads downward to hell. In the offering, the chance to escape from the oncoming temptation is given. If the chance is taken immediately, it can be escaped; but if there is the slightest dallying with the luring picture, then the chance is lost. Therefore, there should be instant rejection of it.
From Lord Beaconsfield's novel: "Ah," said Coningsby, "I should like to be a great man." The stranger threw at him a scrutinizing glance. His countenance was serious. He said in a voice of most solemn melody, "Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes."
While the aspirant fails to take an inventory of his weaknesses and consequently fails to build into his character the attributes needed, much of his meditation will be either fruitless or a failure or even harmful.
The fundamental test and final measure of anyone's spirituality is provided by his character. And his character is tested and measured by his actions.
Those who underrate the difficulty of self-changing, who promise a simple and easy path to a successful result, render the flock of gullible aspirants only a disservice. Wishful thinking may bring such aspirants to this path but eventual disappointment will throw them off it.
The key to right conduct is to refuse to identify himself with the lower nature. The hypnotic illusion that it is really himself must be broken: the way to break it is to deny every suggestion that comes from it, to use the will in resisting it, to use the imagination in projecting it as something alien and outside, to use the feelings in aspiration towards the true self, and the mind in learning to understand what it is.
The disciple who wishes to make real progress must attack, weaken, and ultimately destroy certain bad traits of character. Among them is the trait of jealousy of his fellow disciples. It is not only an unpleasant thought but may also end in disastrous consequences. It often leads to wrathful moods and raging spells. It not only harms the other disciple but always does harm to the sinner himself. It is caused by an unreasonable sense of possessiveness directed towards the teacher which does not understand that love should give freedom to him, not deny it to him.
If a man becomes cold, pitiless, impenetrable, if he sets himself altogether apart from the life and feelings of other men, if he is dead to the claims of music and the beauties of art, be sure he is an intellectualist or a fanatical ascetic--not a philosopher.
The forming of a good character is the beginning, the middle, and the end of this work.
He who is jealous does not thereby show he loves the one on whose account he shows this emotion. He shows only that he loves himself. What he feels is selfish possessiveness. It is the same feeling which he manifests for his bank account. This is not love in any sense.
That it is not enough for men to think truth, that they must also feel it, is a statement with which most scientists, being intellect-bound, would disagree. But artists, mystics, true philosophers, and religious devotees would accept it.
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 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.
Regard, affection and friendliness, sympathy, fellow-feeling and love are not feelings to be thrown away because he has taken to the philosophic quest. On the contrary, they may become valuable stepping-stones in his progress if he treats them aright, if he evaluates them correctly, purifies them emotionally, and ennobles them morally.
One consequence of this compassionate habit is that an immense comprehension of human nature floods his whole being.
"Loving your neighbour as yourself" needs a careful interpretation. The verb "to love" holds widely different meanings for different people. It does not mean that he will feel very much more affectionate to everyone he meets, no matter who it be, than he formerly was. Its fundamental meaning is that one will so identify himself with another person, thing, or idea as to feel emotionally one with it and selflessly surrendered to it. This has little to do with his liking or disliking the object of his love. They affect the conditions under which his love operates, for liking makes the operation easier and disliking harder, but its essential attribute is self-identification with the beloved and selfless response to it. Loving starts and ends with giving up the ego to another.
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.
He who can detach himself from emotion even while he continues to feel it, becomes its true master.
It is not that he is asked to rise above all emotions to attain the serenity and blessedness of such a life; it is rather that he is asked to rise above the lower emotions. For it is indispensable to cherish the higher ones. Indeed, it is in the complete overturn of his seat of feeling that the passage from earthly to spiritual life will most show itself. Without it, with a merely intellectual overturn alone, the Overself can never be realized.
He will rise above personal emotion into perfect serenity rather than fall below it into dull apathy.
The same human characteristic of emotion which enslaves and even harms him when it is attached to earthly things alone, exalts and liberates him when it is disciplined and purified by philosophy.
Those who talk of liberating themselves from the moral repression of conventional society are right in some cases but wrong in most. For they chiefly mean that they want to be free to follow sensual desires without imposing any self-discipline. They do not see that to overcome those desires is the true self-liberation.
When a man's desires and yearnings, thirsts and longings are so strong as to upset his reasoning power and block his intuitive capacity, he is stopped from finding truth. In this condition he shuts his eyes to those facts which are displeasing or which are contrary to his desires and opens them only to those which are pleasing or agreeable to his wishes. Thinking bends easily to desires, so that the satisfaction of personal interest rather than the quest of universal truth becomes its real object.
The obligation is laid upon him to respond to the Overself's demand that he shall make an endeavour to rise above the animal level of his being. And this cannot be done upon a basis of mere emotion alone. It calls for an exercise of the higher will. He has indeed to engage in a holy war.
Refinement of the way one lives, thinks, speaks, and acts is not only a positive value but in its indirect result actually contributes to the spiritual quest. Those who decry it as a mere superficiality confuse the imitated action with the real one.
A high degree of refinement in morals, manners, and mind shows not merely human quality but also spiritual sensitivity.
In practising this large forbearance towards others, we need not allow them to practise imposition towards us. We should consider the circumstances and decide by wisdom how far it is wise to go and at what point to stop; in short, we should use discrimination.
His goodness, forgiveness, and comprehension should go out to those who seem to have misjudged him. What they feel about him seems to them to be the truth about him. It is the best they know--why blame them if appearances deceive them? If he continues to send them such kind thoughts, he actually lifts himself out of his own ego, he vanquishes his own egoism.
To the degree you keep ego out of your reaction to an enemy, to that degree you will be protected from him. His antagonism must be met not only with calmness, indifference, but also with a positive forgiveness and active love. These alone are fitting to a high present stage of understanding. Be sure that if you do so, good will ultimately emerge from it. Even if this good were only the unfoldment of latent power to master negative emotion which you show by such an attitude, it would be enough reward. But it will be more.
If some people regard him as a peculiar character and others as an eccentric individual, that will only be because he has failed to disguise his philosophic interests sufficiently in an unphilosophic world.
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.
We need not become less human because we seek to make ourselves better men. The Good, the True, and the Beautiful will refine, and not destroy, our human qualities.
If he is to keep his inward peace unruffled he must live above the level of those who have it not. This can be done only if he obeys the practical injunctions of Jesus and Buddha, only if he keeps out of his emotional system all the negatives like resentment, bitterness, quarrelsomeness, jealousy, spite, and revenge. These lower emotions must definitely be outgrown if philosophic calm is to be the supreme fact and philosophic wisdom the guiding factor in his life. When other men show their enmity and meanness toward him, he is to retaliate by showing his indifference and generosity. When they falsely assail his character or enviously calumniate his work, he is to forbear from harsh feelings and not let them forfeit his goodwill. He is not to succumb to the human temptation to retaliate in kind. For he is engaged on a holy ascent, and to succumb would be to slip grievously back. Indeed, out of the base actions of others, he may kindle noble reactions which assist his upward climb.
In his own heart he has no enemies and is always ready to make his peace with those who have acted as such. However, even those who treat him as an enemy but whom he does not regard as such, as well as those who turn the basilisk glance of envy upon him, will be useful tutors of the values of existence, and after every kind of onslaught he can sit quietly beneath a friendly tree and understand better why fame is a gift of doubtful value, a sword with two edges whose sharper and crueller edge is jealousy; why it is as satisfying to have malignant enemies as to have benevolent friends, for they afford practical instruction in non-attachment and self-purification, priceless tuition which no friend is ever likely to give him; why a man is sometimes indebted to his bitterest opponents for the favour of a useful criticism which has somehow crept in among their ugly lies, while his best friends injure him by being silent; why he must be content to walk alone with truth and refrain from asking of the world that understanding which it is incompetent to give; why most warm human longings for a happiness dependent upon others inevitably end in the dismal dust and cold ash; and why the finite ego affords too narrow a life for the infinite Mind, of which, as Jesus told his wondering hearers, we know neither whence it cometh nor whither it goeth.
Justice often demands that force be used in order to implement its decisions. Philosophy sets up justice as one of the guiding principles of personal and national conduct. Therefore philosophy has no use for pacifism or nonviolence.
The goodness which one man may express in his relation to another is derived ultimately from his own divine soul and is an unconscious recognition of, as well as gesture to, the same divine presence in that other. Moreover, the degree to which anyone becomes conscious of his true self is the degree to which he becomes conscious of it in others. Consequently, the goodness of the fully illumined man is immeasurably beyond that of the conventionally moral man.
The resistance of evil is a social duty. Its strongest expression heretofore has been defensive war against a criminally aggressive offending nation. If resistance is itself an evil, war is the most evil form of that evil. The appearance of the atomic bomb is a sign that a new approach must be found today, that the old way of defensive war will not meet the new problems which have arisen. If man is to end war once and for all and find peace, he must do so both internally and externally. He can do the one by ending the rule of the animal aggressive emotions within himself such as greed, anger, revenge, and hatred, and he can do the other by abandoning the slaying of his fellow creatures, whether human or animal. He may take whatever defensive preparations he pleases, but he must stop short at the point of killing other men. The refusal to slaughter would then evoke powerful spiritual forces, and if enough persons evoke them the end of war would be assured. However it is unlikely that such an idealistic course would appeal to more than a small minority of mankind, so that if the end of war is to be brought about in another way it can only be by the political method of an international policing army operated by a world federation of peoples. Since such a federation does not exist today, its only possibility of coming into existence is through the hard lessons learnt out of the appalling destructiveness of an atomic war. There is no other alternative to such a war than the renunciation of the right to kill.
If what is right for the masses, with their limited standards, is not right for the disciple, with his loftier ones, then the reverse is also true. The code which he must apply to life is well beyond the understanding and reach of the masses. To attempt to impose it on them is to create moral or social confusion and to unbalance their minds.