A mere contribution to the world's thought is not to be despised, but it cannot change the heavy materialism which overhangs us. Spiritual regeneration can only come from a greater source. The greatest I know is God. And He has His instruments; He can pick on any man in this wide world and turn him into a spiritual Tamerlane--the blessing, and not the scourge, of this planet.
If we do not become wistful, envious, or despairing, it is usually helpful to hear of the spiritual experiences of others, and especially of their highest experiences.
There are lots of biographies of men and women who became famous because they achieved something in the world, but few biographies of men and women whose achievements were outside the world, and inside themselves, particularly inside their consciousness. Very few have become aware of Awareness itself, which is the highest achievement possible to any human being. These memorials of those who got outside the herd of ignorant mankind give their advice and suggestions to the few who seek to know themselves.
Buddha himself foresaw that a new teacher would arise within a few thousand years after himself, and that this man would have a higher spiritual status than himself. But what is of special interest is his further prediction that a higher spiritual path would, through this medium, be opened to mankind. Everything points to the fact that the date when this teacher and his teaching will appear is within the century. Both the effect of science on man's intellect and the effect of science on his wars have brought him close to it.
Others will take up this work where we leave it unfinished. If my effort can do nothing more at least it will make easier for those who are destined to follow after me a jungle-road which I had to travel under great difficulties. I have roughly cleared an area of human culture which my successors may cultivate and on which they may perhaps produce a perfect crop one day. I did what I could but the fullness of results will be theirs alone. The effects of my thinking will not fully declare themselves in our own day. It is not pride that makes me say that the volume which follows The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga is the first methodical embodiment in a modern language of this tradition, as well as the first synthetic explanation of it in scientific terminology, for the book is called forth by its epoch and someone would sooner or later have written it. What is really interesting is not who writes it but the fact that it was written in our own time. For something there achieved marks a most important stage of human cultural history.
I have indeed undertaken what I believe to be a pioneer work. I cannot give my patronage to any particular system. I can bestow it only on Truth, which is unique and systemless. For enough of the sacred presence is at my side, enough of the disciplinary self-transformation has been achieved, and enough of the mental perception arrived at, to enable me to take up the external task of preparing others for illumination in their turn.
Important messages have been given on varying levels of understanding to the human race from time to time. Some have been given in religion, others in science, some in metaphysics, others in mysticism, and still others in the inventions and arts.
It takes time for ideas to seep down from original thinkers to those among the masses who sincerely try to learn and understand them.
When a mystic like Brunton writes strongly in advocacy of a revolutionary doctrine like mentalism, it is only a negligible few who are likely to be convinced that it is a true doctrine. But when a first-class scientist like Sir James Jeans writes even mildly in advocacy of it in his authoritative books, many will begin to sit up and take notice. For the name of Brunton means little today whereas the name of Jeans must be regarded with respect.
Is it our business to enquire into every detail of the messenger's life, or ought we to be satisfied with the message alone? Is it a sign of vulgarity, this desire to learn all we can about his person, his history, his background, and his circumstances? Is it not a fact that such information may enable us to understand the message better? Curiosity and wonder about great men are natural and must be expected.
Carlyle tells us that history is just the biographies of great personalities. These great ones are usually of the inspirational type. They are geniuses who are the creators and the initiators of new enterprises.
Every man who comes into the public arena with a mystical message may take it for granted that he will be suspiciously watched for signs of insincerity, commercialism, or self-interest.
A man can best convince people of his own kind, status, and class. It would be far more sensible for a businessman, for instance, to attempt to teach other men in their own way than for a yellow-robed swami to do so--to take an extreme case.
The prophet who cannot sanction the materialism of his time need not fall into despairing inertia. He is obliged to criticize this spiritual deep sleep for the sake of those who may respond, however few they be.
So sure is the revelation that, like the Chinese mentalist Lu Hsiang-shan, "He is prepared to wait for the appearance of a sage a hundred epochs later, and has no misgivings."
Who are the real benefactors of the race? A properly balanced answer to this question must consider both the spiritual and physical factors, both the intellectual and aesthetic.
Take the message, if you care to, and absorb what is useful to you in it; but do not seek to detain the messenger.
Were the wise men of the ancients any wiser than those of our own time? It is not entirely unprofitable to ask such a question, nor is it wise to give the snap answer, "Certainly not!" only because science and its knowledge, industry and its achievement, seem to demonstrate a complete and unarguable superiority.
How many wise men have died in the past centuries--and their wisdom with them--who have failed to communicate with their fellows in some way!
We know so little of the infinity behind human nature that those who return with reports of it deserve a better hearing than those who inquire into its finite manifestations. Yet do they get it?
Some of the greatest historical names have been those of men who were secret disciples, famous figures working in an imperfect world with imperfect people to carry out a purpose higher than a merely personal one. This is also true of groups.
I shall have to lay down my pen one day, but the intuitions and experiences which flow through its ink shall find other hands and continue to publish themselves to the world.
There are other writers who can take my place to equal or better advantage. The same destiny which used me can use them.
My task is only to inaugurate such a movement of thought; other persons must lead it.
In spite of their defects my books have made a useful contribution to a development which is urgently needed in modern society. Others will doubtless come after me and do much better and more careful work in this line of thought.
To revive this ancient knowledge, to reactivate its study, and to bring it into a modern adaptation and application--this has been the aim of several scattered pioneers during the past hundred years.
That a man who lives so near me as to be almost a neighbour, that such a man should have become the recipient of a divine revelation, seems highly improbable. The far-off scene carries a suggestion of mystery. There are greater possibilities in the unknown. The prophet who finds honour will get a better hearing if he travels forthwith.
If the masters have been buried, cremated, or killed, their inspiration has not been buried with them.
Whoever has benefited by these ideas is under an obligation to make them available to whoever else may be ready to receive them. They should pool their best experiences and finest thoughts through the written or spoken word as noteworthy in their inner life. Let them write of what they know, not suppose, of what they have come to understand as true or what they have felt, witnessed, or experienced. Let them take care to keep within the range of their experience or knowledge, for most articles on these subjects are vitiated by the flights of imagination over fact. There is enough material in life and in thought with which they are familiar to render it unnecessary to touch the unknown.
Seeking the impersonal
The essence of this teaching is to be found only in that unlimited sphere where impersonality and universality reign. No better name than philosophy could be found for it, because no other is so impersonal and so universal. Although Brunton has written so many pages about it, he does not want it called by his name and turned into a cult. If Bruntonism should arise, he himself would be the first anti-Bruntonist! He is not at all interested in the triumph or fame of P.B. But he is deeply interested in the triumph and spread of that attitude which will best advance mankind's spiritual life. He does not ask for personal acceptance and honour to be bestowed upon what is true and helpful in his ideas. He does not want people to follow him but to follow the quest of truth. He does not call them to a declared creed but to a suggested way of approach, to the integral philosophical way which secures results no narrow sect could secure. Let people use the signposts he has erected, by all means, but let them not ignore the many other valuable ones which have also been erected for their benefit from the earliest times until today.
Sharing my ideas with others is not the same as claiming to be a personal guru: the latter is a responsibility which I could not accept, do not desire, and have not authority for.
Because the Quest is, and must be, an individual matter, I have sought to present the Truth-Expression in a way best suited to our times and needs--through my books--wherein each individual may find for himself the message he is ready for.
If such intense and intimate experiences are here given out publicly, there is good reason for doing so; only small minds may believe that the motives are those of egotism and vanity. Rather is it a sharing with others to help them.
I regret that I cannot conscientiously recommend any particular teaching, school, or society, for none of them teach exactly what I teach myself.
When I die I shall leave no disciples--only adherents to my views or followers of my ways.
I would rather stir people's minds into an activity of their own than have them follow unthinkingly behind me.
I have not only refused to organize a cult but have prevented others from doing so who wished it ardently.
It was my mission to launch many readers on this quest, but to travel no farther with them. It was their part to find their way to personal teachers, to congruent teachings, and continue the quest with them.
Let them remember that the Truth comes not from any person but from the Holy Spirit. It is from such a source that what is worthy in my writings has come; the errors however are mine. Let them therefore describe themselves as students of philosophy, not as followers of Brunton.
P.B. as a private person does not count. There are hundreds of millions of such persons anyway. What is one man and his quest? P.B.'s personal experiences and views are not of any particular importance or special consequence. What happens to the individual man named P.B. is a matter of no account to anyone except himself. But what happens to the hundreds of thousands of spiritual seekers today who are following the same path that he pioneered, is a serious matter and calls for prolonged consideration. Surely the hundreds of thousands of Western seekers who stand behind him and whom indeed, in one sense, he represents, do count. P.B. as a symbol of the scattered group of Western truth-seekers who, by following his writings so increasingly and so eagerly, virtually follow him also, does count. He personifies their aspirations, their repulsion from materialism and attraction toward mysticism, their interest in Oriental wisdom and their shepherdless state. As a symbol of this Western movement of thought, he is vastly greater than himself. In his mind and person the historic need for a new grasp of the contemporary spiritual problem found a plain-speaking voice.
Too many writers on spiritual subjects make too great an attempt to appear omniscient. Perhaps they are emotionally carried away by the force of their convictions--as I once was. Perhaps it is one of the traps which beset the path of writing. Perhaps it is nothing else than puffed-up conceit. But the end result, in any case, is to delude the reader.
The writer rarely learns to what consequences his words have led, but he goes on planting them, like seeds, anyway.
I discovered with the years that the prayer I had made, so often and so earnestly, as a youngster near the threshold of adult manhood, was being adequately answered. It was a simple prayer, nothing more than to be used for the spiritual awakening of others through the written word. It did not go beyond that. Consequently, when those who became awakened, as well as those who were already awake but needed new inspiration, tried to make me their personal guide for the further path and the years beyond, I shrank back and refused. Only rarely did I make any exception; when affinity was too close and service too willing, I left my solitude and gave whatever I could. But in nearly all other cases there was no mandate to enter a teaching or helping relationship of the kind that they sought and needed, and so I firmly resisted importunity. How correct this attitude was revealed itself usually in a few years, for these people found their way by then to the particular cults or guides suited to them, or mixed their diet and took something from each of several sources, or preferred to wait and work alone rather than do any of these things. Anyway, they did not still want me and I was left in peace.
I have stated the truth as I saw it, not attempted to teach it to others--which is really a different activity.
To be regarded as a spiritual master, or as a holy man, would be embarrassing to me.
Others may join any sect they like but I have never joined, and do not intend to join, the Bruntonians!
I have done what I could to prevent the existence of a Brunton cult.
It is their problem, not mine, to find the particular teaching and teacher best suited to their personality and level. It is not my duty to go beyond the general teachings given in the books. Those who demand personal instruction must find their own affinity. I do not give names and addresses and recommendations, but stay within the area of my authorization. Too many fail to realize that their own higher self has already begun to work and that they must co-operate with it.
If this text can jolt a reader here and there into new experiments and newer thoughts, it will be for him to take off from that point and get others for whatever further help is needed.
Let him take from this literature what seems to apply to his own case, what seems to help his own need. It will not help to follow a path specifically intended for other cases and other needs.
I am sorry that I do not know any teacher who can be recommended to them. The references in my books to the characteristics and methods of true teachers represent my conception of the ideal teacher and are not necessarily a portrait of someone I have met in the flesh. However, if I do not know where they can find such a man, or if he does not exist, then I am his forerunner and foreteller. He is needed and he must come. Providence will see to it and knows when and where he will appear.
It is not my business to get involved in other people's problems. Is it not enough to attend to my own? Years of experience have imposed humility on me. How soon one's own fallible service becomes meddling! I carry enough burden--why emulate Atlas?
The best way to stop interviewees asking personal questions is to shrug them off with a laugh, as if it is a joke, saying: "I thought you came here about your own self, not me, or about the ideas in the books!" This, if done in a light-hearted smiling way, will force them to turn to other subjects than me without disconcerting them.
There is no particular system of philosophy which can be called Paul Brunton's, no movement or group attached to his name. There are readers of his books, but no personal disciples.
He will reject the name of disciple because he rejects the title of guru. For his wish is to draw readers nearer to truth, not to himself. If, however, they persist in their self-styled discipleship then he insists on remaining a guru "at a distance," in an impersonal relationship, so that it makes him a non-guru.
For myself I reject every honour bestowed on me by those who call themselves disciples, but for the idea and office of teacher I accept it.
He is not a Jesus to save others from themselves: in the end, he believes, all will be saved anyway.
He is not a guru, belongs to no disciples, binds none to himself. He makes no promises of guidance, help, grace. Whatever of these things come forth from him, come as a bounty, a gift without desire for a return.
In the beginning I did not know that the writer had any responsibility for his words. I learned this by degrees.
Do not deify man: nobody is guaranteed against the making of mistakes.
To the objection that since P.B.'s books contain teachings, he is therefore a guru whatever denials are made, his answer is: books are general, written for an anonymous mass-group whereas a guru is occupied with individual students, with named separate persons. An author's relationship with his reader is quite impersonal: the latter is quite unknown to the author, the former is never seen by the reader. But a guru meets, converses with, trains, and guides each disciple personally.
He will not seek to draw public attention to himself unless it is in his destiny to do so because he has some public work to perform. He will prefer to keep his holiness hidden from his fellows, and so it will be left for some among them to discover whether he is holy or not. This secrecy provides a wall of outward defense against the negative and evil forces which find plenty of vehicles among his fellow human beings.
I would like to repudiate the mistaken impression that I can be coaxed or coerced into accepting the flattering proposals of certain people which would, in effect, give them permission to form groups using my name in some way.
Many ask for a teacher. Mature experience has shown the inadvisability of taking such a course. It is better for each one in the end to be guided by the inner promptings of his own Overself which is always with him. Personal experience of teachers both in India and in the West makes it impossible to recommend them to others.
Should a philosophical journal be started sometime in the future, let it be clearly understood that there is nothing beyond that to be hoped for. There will be neither personal nor class instruction, other than the printed material contained in its pages. There will be no organization whatever. There is a possibility of receiving instruction in mysticism or philosophy through the pages of a semi-private journal, which is yet to be published. Even the idea of a fellowship of students is not acceptable, because it would still be some kind of organization.
The seeker must remember that his Real Guide is his own divine Soul, or Higher Self; that it is This which led him to his present stage of awareness, whilst my books were merely used as instruments. It is to this Self that he should address his prayers and petitions for Grace and Guidance.
I know that this free, uncommitted kind of approach is quite unsuited to most persons who feel and seek and expect to find some kind of definite structured course of training or guidance. Their way is proper and suited to them. I can help them but little; I cannot be a personal guide to anyone.
I began with an audience but soon found myself with a following.
If it be claimed that with the public appearance of my later books I became a teacher, whether I acknowledge it or not, I reply that if that be so I am one who seeks not to save his disciples but rather to be saved from them.
I soon began to get more letters from readers, utter strangers though they were, than I had the facilities to answer. Some asked for advice, others presumed to give it; but most expressed the keen desire to find a teacher and wanted me to recommend one.
It is not demanded that anyone approach these chapters in the spirit of unresisting discipleship, but it is demanded that he approach them with a certain degree of intellectual sympathy--for the time of reading the pages, at least.
I do not seek prominence in the limelight; I prefer a position of obscure, unfettered freedom. Because I have sunk all ambitions, want nothing from anyone, and can have nothing taken away from me, I enjoy the life of a literary man because it permits me to be freer, in contrast with the life of any other profession that I know. Fame curtails liberty and creates jealousy. Celebrity is also a form of bondage. Liberty is my need.
If he can read between and even behind the lines, he will get much more than is explicit in them.
I have made my readers collaborate on Truth's quest in all my writings so as to awaken them--not let them repeat parrot-like, like new theologian's, in the jargon of cults.
There is no common meeting ground between the man who writes to arouse admiration and the man who writes to state truth.
I write for the few, and if the public wish to buy my books, they do so at their own peril of misunderstanding me!
The ideal of sainthood neither attracts my feelings nor appeals to my intelligence. I myself make no pretense to be a saint and it would be hypocritical to let any follower make it for me.
It will be a bitter irony of fate if the creed which I have dropped should become the creed of my students.
I refuse to let others regard me as a superior being and I will not meet them, either in person or by correspondence, on any other terms than those of equality. Since I make no pretensions on my own behalf, it would be inconsistent to let them do it for me. It is unfortunate that the reputation I enjoy is so exaggerated! And it is amazing how often people want you to be dishonest with them, just to satisfy their delusive preconceptions of you. How many have tried to induce me to become their personal master, or the head of an ashram, or the leader of a cultist following! How firmly have I had to detach myself from their pressures and become deaf to their importunities! No matter what I insisted to the contrary, they clothed me with qualities, powers, and knowledge I did not possess. I became very uneasy. It was of no avail that I denied the reputation fathered on me. Finally, I saw that I was lending myself to this false position by answering letters, granting interviews, and getting involved with friends who were seekers after help. All this was a kind of insincere posing, although it did not appear so on the surface. So I brought it to an end, cut off nearly all contacts with others, and made myself inaccessible. With that, many turned to the spiritual guides who were quite willing to collect a following, lost interest or faith in me, and left me in peace. If it be criticized that I have adopted a selfish attitude, I must defend myself by first recalling the Tibetan saying about a half-developed guide being like a half-blind man leading his credulous disciples into a ditch and falling in with them too and then pointing out that yielding to misconceived importunities is a weakness even when it takes on the semblance of compassionate service. To allow others to thrust upon me the role of personal teacher when no mandate for it has been received from within myself, my higher self, would be wrong. It is therefore my duty to resist their pleading.
It takes all my time and brains to teach myself, for my pupil is an intractable and forgetful fellow. How then could I be in a position to teach others? Hence, I have not given any encouragement to those who wanted to become disciples but have told them time and again to find their own individual road to attainment, to become the disciple only of their own higher self. I have asked them to look upon me as a fellow-student who is striving to perfect his knowledge rather than as a teacher who is seeking to impart it.
Although I have had a large correspondence from all parts of the world and given numerous interviews during my travels, I would never attempt to form a sect or a society for, with perhaps the single exception of the Quakers, the history of religious organizations and mystical communities is quite unedifying.
I cannot undertake the work of organized and systematic personal instruction but must, owing to the force of major circumstances, leave my books to make their own way, find their own students, and serve by stimulating interest and thought.
Organizations really exist to help the beginners. The advanced student cuts loose from the herd and makes his own path, or finds his personal teacher. And because my message is chiefly for the few who are advanced enough to appreciate it, I do not care to handicap myself with the formation of any organization.
It was never my desire to be the founder of a new school. If such a thing should develop after my death, it will be only because fate has shaped circumstances in such a way as to bring it about for her own purposes, not mine. For I have never been conscious of bringing any new truth to the world, although I have tried to find new ways of presenting the old truths.
It was entirely outside my purpose to encourage dubious cults and dangerous charlatans or to promote a Western emigration to Eastern ashrams. Yet it must regretfully be admitted that such institutions and persons have unfortunately benefited by my work, because there was nothing to prevent the unbalanced, the credulous, and the neurotic from reading it.
Those who were puzzled by the author's transition from writings which were praised to writings which were deplored were precisely those readers who most needed to make such a transition themselves.
No one is required to submit to any ruling made by me, but only to what his own intelligence can agree with or sanction.
I seek and possess no disciples, yet it would appear from reports that many somehow are being taught.
Because I try to share the results of my mystical philosophical researches with fellow students, nobody is entitled to sneer that I set myself up as a pretended little saviour. I have not yet so lost all sense of humour as to call my activity a redemptive one. On the contrary, I must confess to getting a little fun out of it. I leave to others the solemn illusion that they can change mankind overnight or even by next Wednesday. I have to do something on this planet, anyway, and writing being about the only activity I seem to be fit for at all, I might as well write about the things which interest me and a few like-minded people, as write about the places, the people, and the goods which so many publishers, governments, and advertising organizations have unsuccessfully tried with fat fees to cajole me into doing.
The books are a communication of ideas, not an invitation to disturb privacy. They formulate the results of various kinds of research, not the baby-food offerings of a guru to attract disciples.
I have stirred up their intellectual processes and, if I have exposed the prejudices of superstitions which unconsciously govern their attitudes, then I have truly helped them.
Thus I have unwittingly started the outer circle of a movement which I had no intention of starting, a movement which has no physical organization as its body and to which you will, therefore, be unable to find any reference in the usual directories. It is a movement which may be joined without fuss or trouble, without formality or fee. Membership depends on the applicant himself and not on me or other men.
If we have forced a few of them to think, they may end with clearer conceptions even if they do not end with our own conceptions.
In the postwar world where everybody overvalues political economic and materialistic panaceas, the philosopher may find a modest and humble duty of spiritual service to perform.
The mass of mankind, whether high or low in station, caste, status, needs identifiers, labels, titles, and uniforms--something which can be seen, heard, or read to separate one class of person from the others. If he is a minister of the church, he must wear appropriate robes so that he may be treated with the respect or reverence due to a titular symbol of the divine being. But who is to separate the philosopher if he refuses to show, wear, give, or use any outward signs of his inward condition? Who is to distinguish this man who is quite content to be inconspicuous, but independent, who takes his ideal from a Chinaman who lived 2,500 years ago, a certain Lao Tzu?
If these ideas are warmly taken up by people who are coldly indifferent to their source, I shall not be dissatisfied. It is the triumph of right principles, not of particular persons, that we should seek.
I have a dislike, amounting almost to a horror, of being regarded as another cult-leader or as a professional yogi. I despise commercialized holiness and avoid its dupes. My only profession is writing and if I write on subjects connected with the inner rather than the outer life, that is only because they are vastly more interesting to my mind and stimulate my pen into activity where the others leave it motionless.
I wish no organized institution to be founded upon my name and writing. It is not the logical outcome of all my work.
One principal aim in these writings is to enlarge their reader's self-reliance and to arouse his independent thinking.
Writing about these ideas, experiences, and practices does not entitle me to set up as a guru, does not provide me with any authority to involve myself in other people's personal lives. Although I have got myself personally involved in the teachings, I am still writing about them as a professional author.
I do not desire to create a school of thought; I do not want to solidify human thought into congealed dogmas; I do not wish anyone to worship a crusty organization.
Some reforming causes and occult cults and new religions tried to corral me into joining or supporting them, presumably because they thought my name as a celebrity would be an asset to them.
It may be mere conceit or else sheer stubbornness which makes a writer indifferent to other people's opinions of his work. Even if his indifference springs from a correct awareness that he is on the right road, still, he ought to be humble enough to believe that whatever he has done of worth could always be improved.
The books have for intention the awakening to certain ideas of minds that are at a point of readiness for them. The author of the books is not able to go farther than that; he is not a guru to guide the reader personally through all the successive stages.
My only serious significance as a writer does not lie in the quality of my work, about which I hold no illusions, but in the symbolic relation and representational capacity whereby I, as a Westerner, sought Eastern wisdom and I, as a mid-twentieth-century man, sought deliverance from the prevailing materialism.
My own personal quest is unimportant but Western man's quest is not. Something more than my personal life is involved. So far as my own character reflects certain characteristics and shares the trends of my generation, it is not arrogance to say that my personal search is also representative of one group within that generation's search. But so far as my character outsteps it, the search is a creative and pioneering one. The same struggle which enacts itself within my mind repeats itself in dozens of other minds. For it is representative of a development which must necessarily occur in this twentieth century above all other centuries to those who seek mysticism's true insights rather than its dangerous blindnesses.
I do not care to appeal to historicity and authority but rather to experience and intelligence. So I do not care to associate this teaching with P.B. as a person but rather with the research and seeking of his generation. It would be an error to regard P.B. as merely an individual airing his personal views. For a tremendous and momentous conflict between distinct ideologies is now going on in the world of thought. His attitude is representative of a particular one of these ideologies. The ideas at stake are immensely more significant than the ups and downs of one man's fame.
The challenge of formulation
Literature has a high mission to perform in these awful times. For it can bless us with mental peace amid the outward turmoil of alarms and chaotic situations. It can console us with philosophic reflections about the fundamental objectives of life amid the agonies of personal loss and illness, and it can keep alive the lofty ideals of goodwill and tolerance in an era when hatred and violence have bulked so largely before our eyes. It is through great writings that so many mystics and thinkers of bygone centuries have legated a golden record of their aspirations, a sublime catalogue of their dreams, a motley manifestation of their spiritual impulses, and a factual document of their celestial traffics. These bygone men and women passed the torch of knowledge and inspiration from one generation to another until we find it ready for our own hands today. It is our privilege and duty not only to look for the flaming torch but to bear it, and not only to bear it but so to cherish it that it shall burn ever more brightly still, when, in the days to come, a new generation will succeed to its possession.
Those alone who have descended from the sublime state of divine withdrawnness to be confronted by our world of intolerance and hatred and greed and jarring strife can appreciate the difficulty of this task, can perceive how hard it is to express the ineffable.
The greater task has been to formulate, and not to disseminate, this teaching.
Such public self-analysis may come uneasily and with difficulty out of a mystic's pen, but surely it will give a little light upon both quest and goal to the neophytes.
To find words that would fit, represent, and be worthy of these ideas and experiences, which would have scientific precision and poetic richness at the same time, requires time and talent beyond mine.
The most precious thing which anyone could find cannot be given to others. Spirit is incommunicable and impalpable. But words, which tell about it, can be given to them.
Because the very inwardness of philosophic truth makes it necessary that it must be understood by each person for himself, those who have found it know how hard, how insuperable, are the difficulties in the way of communicating it.
What anyone writes about Reality remains nothing more than a series of black marks on white paper unless he writes it out of his own direct living experience. Then his words become inspired in themselves and inspiring to others.
How can a poor mystic come to one of these and tell him of the simple mystery? Hence, the strange veilings in which his thoughts are wrapped, the writing--rifted with occult similes and mystical metaphors--that is the native language of the soul. The higher part of man shrinks from kissing his bestial mouth, and so veils her face seven times, that she may move through this world unharmed and recognized only by her own fit mates.
Any penman with experience can write of high matters, divine matters sometimes, but he is then called upon to live them. His words come back later, to praise or to accuse, according to the result.
It may have been that too intimate memory of a remarkable mystical experience has afflicted me with the torments of literary Calvinism so that I always accuse each page of being born in the sin of spiritual ignorance.
Few are able to find the needed time to make the independent researches that a proper clarification of the subject requires, while fewer still have the ability to do so.
Thoughts, which seem to come glibly enough to the utterance of this pen, were usually found after long travail and sometimes after many tears.
A combination of analytical capacity with firsthand personal mystical experience is needed for such writing, quite apart from the intellectual talents which are needed for all serious writing.
We writers must find what words we can for those experiences, truths, moods, intuitions, and states which are called spiritual.
Everyone needs to read. He who has no time or taste for such an activity has no time or taste for learning truth, widening knowledge, removing error, and avoiding suffering. For reading, like reflection and travel, will enable him to compare his own little heap of experience with the experiences of other people all over the world. He may, if he chooses, benefit by their recorded experience and learn where he has been wrong, where right. He who travels widely, intelligently, and observantly, that is to say, with an active mind and not like a baggage trunk, will at least build a broader perspective on life. Literature records the results of mental travel and to read right literature is to start your mind on journeys from which much may be gained. But it is better not to read at all than to read rubbish. For good reading will enrich life whereas bad reading will deteriorate it. This book, then, will try to make its readers think--which means that it will probably make some quite angry but many others a little wiser. It is not possible to write a recipe for a dish which shall satisfy all tastes and it is not possible to write a book which shall satisfy all readers. I accept beforehand therefore the fact that many people will dislike these pages. Even the mystical aspirants amongst mankind are a mixed, complex lot with contradictory outlooks and conflicting aims. There is no doctrine that will appeal to all.
Obstacles to inspiration
A whole lifetime of constant quest for the Beauty and Truth that lie hidden in the heart of the universe will not be enough to find them.
How dismal to hear a cynic's exclamation: "A man cannot change himself." But how hopeful to hear Socrates' own experience that he had come into the world with many vices yet had rid himself of them with the help of reason. In the Bible it is written that man is made in the image of God. Would not that noun more likely be positive in attitude, uplifting in spirit?
Everyone is entitled to do what he can do for himself, but not everyone is wise enough to do what is good for himself.
Now and again I am compelled to stand aside and gaze at my fellows in awe and wonder, for their one aim seems to be the very reverse of "Excelsior!" With them it is ever downward--deeper and deeper into matter, mammon, and neurasthenia. Verily this is the Gethsemane of the Christ-self within them--that immortal spirit seeking to free them from the thick folds of illusion in which they have been entangled. I know that this is so, for I too have sinned with them, and gone down into the dark depths, and become entangled in those tempting folds; but never could I still the hunger of the heart to fulfil the most sacred and primal purpose of life.
He lets the five senses delude him into taking their world as the acme of reality. He lets the ego intoxicate him with its own passions, desires, ambitions, and attachments. Is it any wonder that the word "soul" becomes devoid of all meaning for him in the end?
The grand term "philosophy" has come to mean a system of speculative thought, that is, a series of logically stated guesses.
Complete impartiality is as impossible to achieve as complete detachment. Where are those who can look at a situation from all its sides, or take the loss of all possessions without any feeling of pain at all?
If I can enter into communion of the soul with a man, and not merely into communication of the intellect, each of us will come nearer to the other in understanding and friendliness.
They are experiencing the world in an upside-down fashion. Matter, which is illusory, is felt to be real. Spirit, which is real, is not even felt at all.
What is it that leads us into sympathy with another's painful suffering?
When contentment is pushed to extreme, it turns into irresponsibility and indolence. When it is replaced by discontent, the door opens to greed, ambition, and fleshly desires.
What formerly attracted him will now leave him listless or bored or even be seen as a source of anxiety in the end. No longer content to obey the urges of the physical senses or the curiosities of the mental ego, he may merely drift along or else repeat the rituals of worldly life more or less automatically.
It is at the sight of such a melancholy spectacle that we bless those earlier days which were spent in editorial work. For all editors tend to develop a touch of cynicism, to price everything but value nothing. Thus they are less easily fooled than most people, and less easily fool themselves. They will not so readily evade unpleasant facts nor avoid unpleasant deductions based on these facts. And they understand, too, that if we find in the world people of different mentalities, there are accordingly different views to suit them.
To scorn material values in the name of a spiritual faith, to denounce them as delusory in the name of a metaphysical reality is unwise. Ask famished refugees in Asiatic and African countries what they think about them.
It is not new. Cicero called the materialistic systems of thought "plebeian philosophies." Plato believed them suited only to the uneducated masses, unequal to the strain of mentalistic thought. On a somewhat higher level Cicero included the half-educated body-is-the-only-reality Epicureans.
He is torn between an intuitive idealism and an acquired materialism. In the end, his decisions are inconclusive, his actions wavering.
The path is hard to tread, but so is life itself.
Those who fall all-too-easily into the worldly lures of obsession by business success or social triumph, who mistake baubles and illusions for treasures and realities, cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The narrow-minded among religionists will mistake such views as blasphemies, the materialistically minded among educated people will scorn them as fantasies.
Write a para on five things which we have to do when confronted by a difficult or painful situation which we try to escape by indefinitely delaying. We may not even know we are delaying when shifting the doing to someone else or some organization. Most of us do not realize that the shift is itself an indirect way of doing it or that everything we do involves a decision or judgement.
The man who is always careless, who makes no effort and takes no thought to rid himself of this faulty trait, will find that it gradually gets worse until it expands into recklessness.
How often we have seen lofty ideals and deep inspirations dissolve in the trivialities of domesticity.
It is not less gracious to accept most gifts than it is to refuse them. Take for instance Bishop King's unexpected offer of all his valuable esoteric material. It must have hurt his feelings about their value to hear their unexpected rejection. Take also the Russian Church mystic's offer of the ancient icon which has been in the hands of so many practising mystics of high position. It must have been almost an insult when they too were refused. In both cases it is now revealed why they were inspired to make the offer, what higher purpose was behind it. The lesson is valuable.
The illusion of owing nothing to other embodied selves is at its strongest in men who hate, as it is at its weakest in men who pity.
Too much remembrance of the world leads to too much forgetfulness of the higher purpose of our life in the world.
He who starts with the supposition that he has only to present what he himself feels to be true and great for others to recognize it as such, will quickly be disillusioned.
What can be done for those persons--alas! so many in these times--whose minds are covered in midnight darkness where the Overself is concerned and whom no spiritual intimations seem to reach?
What did Jesus mean when he rebuked those who sought to enter the kingdom like thieves breaking in over a wall? He meant that they were trying to enter without giving up the ego, without denuding their consciousness of its rule. Who are these robbers? They are the seekers of occult power.
They prefer to wallow in the comfortable and warm bog of materialistic inertia rather than to take to the rough and stony road of creative spiritual achievement which winds painfully uphill. They have failed partly because they fear to attempt.
In idle wishes fools supinely stay,
Be there a WILL, and wisdom finds a way.
We vaccinate our children against smallpox, but do not trouble to vaccinate ourselves against small minds.
The problem has two faces. The first is how to preserve even a stunted inner life from vanishing when the outer life is drawing all our time thought energies and feelings. The second is how to create the beginnings of such an inner life for those who have never known it.
Wholly immersed in the consciousness of the body and wholly engrossed in its activities, pleasures, or pains, as they are, what wonder that they become oblivious of the fact that the body itself is so transient a thing that it may be here today but gone tomorrow?
In a happier and halcyon time, when peace and personal hopes for the future were reasonably assured, people generally were satisfied with the religious pabulum they received, or the irreligious indifference they acquired, or the outright atheism they fell into. Few were able to create any interest in a mystical or philosophical teaching of this kind; it was indeed regarded as of no importance and of no value. The popular attitude was a comfortable one and, in its own estimation, a sensible one. Consequently, such teachings were left to the study of supposed cranks and neurotics as well as to the uneducated credulity.
Those who question the usefulness of these ideas are always those who are still mesmerized by materialism. Because they persist in thinking materially, it is impossible for them to respond to the truth. They would be easier to deal with if they were merely unimaginative or simply unreflective.
So long as they confound error with truth, and remain infatuated with the result, so long will warnings be wasted and superstition thrive.
The fanatic or the neurotic who pounces on a piece of general counsel or warning and applies it egocentrically to his personal case, where it does not fit at all, is met with at times on this quest. His nerves begin to suffer as a result of this misconceived attempt. There is no cure for his avoidable and unnecessary misery save truth.
I look around at my neighbours and I see that they are covered with chains, the chains of slavery to their lower nature, but they seem to enjoy their handicaps. Aspiration is not a thing that agitates them, not a mood which they entertain. Their sight is limited to their immediate needs and their immediate family. What they are here for, where they are going is no concern of theirs; yet I believe that, living by this beautiful lake and the stupendous Alps, sometimes a blurred vision of a greater moment may flash past them.
What lies behind the faintly enigmatic but restful smile of a Buddha, the smugly complacent smile of an Emerson, the sardonic grin of a Voltaire? All were truth-seekers but each exposed his personal colouring of that aspect of truth which he had found. This, without any reference to its fullness and depth.
He who is unable to welcome truth because it falls from the lips of a man belonging to a disliked race or because it flows out of the pen of a man belonging to a despised one, will assuredly never find it.
Existentialism, which sees the Universe as absurd, without meaning, without purpose, produces a brood of fatigued despairing minds, or sloppy lazy ones, or sinister amoral delinquents; but on its higher levels it has also produced serious well-intentioned persons trying to "modernize" their interests or studies in theology.
What is desirable is one thing; what is attainable is another.
The aspirant who dreams but never does things will live continually in the unsatisfactory state of deferred fulfilment.
There are important lessons to be learned from questions like "Why did Sarira die so quickly when hearing the prediction of inability to attain the goal?"
The selfish man puts nothing back into life.
We may meet other people in society or live with them in a house, we may talk with them every day, and yet there may be no real communication between us if our hearts and minds are uncongenial.
The dreamer is unable to look upon urgent practicalities but can only look upon far-off possibilities.
We are forever unconsciously acknowledging our imperfection.
Whilst men can see no reality except in what lies all around them, they are sorry victims of illusion.
I came to mistrust those who claimed that their way, their view, their teaching, was the only true one. Each could probably make some useful contribution of knowledge, thought, experience, faith, or revelation; but one-sidedness was likely a limited outlook.
There is a littleness of mind which is antipathetic towards originality whatever its form.
The ministers of religion who claimed to be doing God's will and the advocates of godless communism who claimed to be doing the work of historical necessity were both merely uttering personal opinion. What did God or history really have to do with it?
If he is not to keep the truth within a restricted circle of personal pupils alone but to open it to the reach of all, the many will have to be content with what they can understand, leaving the rest to the few who are better equipped.
The limits of yoga
I discovered in the end that the yogi is afraid of action and consequently indifferent to the troubles of the world and unconcerned about mankind's well-being; that his society and presence does not radically change human character for the better, as is claimed, but merely lulls its worst qualities into semi-quiescence to spring up again, however, at the first release from his immediate influence. I perceived how I had over-idealized mystics in the past and wrongly thought them to be sages, how I had mistaken their attainment of yogic peace for the true self-realization, and how inevitable was their preoccupation with themselves when the knowledge of universal truth alone could give the wider interest in the welfare of others.
I have returned from the tropics to the northern hemisphere not merely for another visit but, at the bidding of health, for a permanent settlement. This is of no importance to anyone except myself. What is important, however, is that I have returned from the East not merely physically but also spiritually. It may be that the striking coincidence of the two necessities was predetermined by the wise operations of fate. I do not know.
My modest attempts to explain the importance and point out the merits of Oriental mysticism were quite proper in their place and time. But I consider that the interpretative phase of my work has come to an end. In the prefaces to The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself, I hinted that wider experience and deeper knowledge, sharper reflection and significant episodes were forcing me out of the narrow groove of being an uncritical enthusiast for Indian yoga as it exists today. That movement continued to its inevitable end. This is why I consider my return to the West as being not just a further phase of my varied bodily travels but a grand climax to my equally varied spiritual seeking.
Let him learn by experience that the worship of human idols, or the segregated life of an ashram, with its sanctified selfishness, or the mere wandering around India, whose outward degeneration is an apt symbol of its inward ignorance, can lead only to temporary titillations of the emotions, whether ecstatic or otherwise, but never to that sublime knowledge which releases man forever from all quests and all hankering and alone confers the realization of what we are here for and alone bestows immortal benefit to himself and all creatures. If I were to put on a yellow robe and assume the outward forms of sanctity, found an ashram on top of a mountain in India and stay there for the rest of my days, I would get much more respect for my words than I do now from those who have to penetrate the veil of appearance and have to understand why I deliberately chose to assume the form of a man of the world, a scribbler and traveller.
When the editors of the popular Penguin series of paperback books asked me to write a manual on yoga, I declined but recommended my good friend Professor Earnest Wood. He was given the assignment. The reason for my refusal was that I had been too much identified with the exposition of yoga in the past and wanted to get a different, wider identity. Yoga was an essential preparation, but all too often it led to a self-conscious spirituality, a professional truth-seeking, that shut out other important facets of life as trivial. I felt, with Japanese Zen and Chinese Ch'an, that the ordinary everyday life, the world, the body, the arts, could not be ignored without loss, that a fuller vision included them all.
My exposure of the demerits and dangers of yoga brought, as expected, a storm of criticism and a shower of disapproval from Hindus who thought I had attacked their religion. These people confused truth with superstition, and mistook my scientific impartiality for the superiority complex of the average Westerner.
It is open to a philosopher to speak differently in different capacities and in the Statesman article I spoke as a critic of yoga, deliberately stressing its demerits, because I had written too much in its praise and people were apt to get a one-sided and therefore incorrect picture of it. I spoke also as a critic of the yogis because the reports of other people's experience and the confirmation of my own revealed that there was far too much disastrous exploitation of gullibility and far too much social parasitism among them. Many readers came to think wrongly that, because I supported the positive beneficial aspects of yoga and praised the concentrative powers of the few genuine yogis, I therefore also supported the negative, harmful, queer, and questionable aspects of yoga and endorsed the numerous exploiters, idlers, idiots, and fanatics in the ranks of yogis. Nevertheless, the Statesman article did not express my considered judgement nor did it represent my complete attitude.
The scientific proceeding is to test methods by their results. If we ask ourselves what practical results have been yielded by yoga in the hands of its twentieth-century followers, we shall be compelled to answer: very few.
In China years ago, the existence was discovered of an organization called the "Buddhist National Laymen's Association" which operated its own private radio station and every night disseminated the message of Chinese Buddhism to its listeners. What they did to spread their own religion, we of the West could no doubt do to spread philosophy.
They welcomed me as a supposed recruit to Hinduism as a religion. But the years taught them that they were wrong. Alas! the lesson brought bitterness in its train!
I wanted to lean-strip yoga, to divest it of all its obscurity, and to reveal the true secret of these men who crouch on their hams in contemplation.
Yoga is the ABC of Indian Wisdom: I am trying to unearth the XYZ. Do my critics want me to stay in the ABC stage forever or to continue my researches? If further knowledge has caused me to revise my former estimates, then they ought to be happy at the unveiling of this knowledge. Yoga is one of the most valuable practices in the world, but it is only a stage on the way to truth--not, as I formerly thought, the direct path to truth.
I practise yoga every day and regard it as a fundamental part of my daily life.
My earlier researches in yoga were a prelude to my maturer researches in philosophy. Had they done nothing more than to direct attention to a neglected line of enquiry they would have justified themselves; but in forming a stepping-stone to the immensely important philosophical discoveries of the ancient Asiatic sages, they have more than justified themselves.
Problems began to suggest themselves. I could of course have imitated mystics and dismissed them as unnecessary agitations of the mind, but I had entered into the practice of yoga in the hope and belief that it would lead to the discovery of Truth about all life and not merely that little part which was individually represented.
My faith in the value and utility of yoga stands unshaken. But I would be untrue to the quest I have undertaken if I did not make a fair appraisal of its disadvantages as well as advantages, and if I remained blind to the defects which yogis themselves frequently show. I am still an advocate of yoga as much as I ever was, but I am not an advocate of the unbalanced practice of yoga nor of the extravagant valuation of yoga.
I collected a number of extraordinary events and described a few almost fabulous personalities. My work as a memorialist of those Eastern men is finished: I have put away the pen so far as the yogis and mystics are concerned.
For months and years I sat in mosquito-ridden rooms and endured countless sharp stings with stolid stoic patience for the sake of studying the Indian wisdom and practising the Indian yoga. Hands, feet, and face were mercilessly attacked by numerous legions of these pestilential insects, which were often ably assisted by little brown biting ants. Yet to feel that I was absorbing the one and mastering the other was sufficient reward for my sufferings. If my body was spasmodically tortured, my mind was soothed with growing peace.
I am not sorry that I made this research into Eastern mysticism but only that I overdid it. Wisdom required that I use it as a contributory stream, but ignorance turned it into the great river itself.
My work in the East has come to a final close. My real work in the West will soon begin. What I had done there before was but an imperfect preparation for it.
The truth is that I am not an enthusiastic advocate for some Eastern cult. On the contrary, I hold that we in the West can work out our own salvation.
The reaction to all this youthful and naïve over-enthusiasm was a salutary disappointment, following a number of eye-opening experiences. For some years I practised a studied avoidance of ashrams and yogis. But such an extreme course was uncalled for, and I substituted a prudent discrimination for it.
It took a long time to disabuse me of this notion that the tropical jungles of Hindustan or the snowy wastes of Himalaya secreted this earth's wisest men.
My opponents cannot deny that the fact that yoga has begun to enjoy a new vogue in India--the land of its birth, and this time amongst the educated classes with whom it had formerly lost its prestige--as well as a new introduction in the West, is attributable to the success of Paul Brunton's books.
When I saw that yoga was being taken by most people as a sensation-seeking cult, I felt that they were going too far. And when I saw that a crowd of exploiters--both Western and Eastern--had begun to take advantage of the interest aroused by my works, I felt that it was time to call a halt.
Living with truth
While others pile up their documentation and run from book to book, he hears the divine voice, feels the divine presence, and surrenders to its stillness. The academic man does a useful service, but if it remains on the intellectual level only, it is not enough to provide what the heart needs.
The Divine Arms still enfold us and some have been fortunate enough to receive intimations of that fact. They will get even more than this later. But those who have discovered the life beyond ego have incurred a duty. Perhaps destiny will give them the privilege to be of humble service in a way commensurate with the time's need.
I walked among the shady groves of the Philosophers. And I asked them, "What is truth?"
And some said: "It is thus."
But others declared: "It is not thus."
And yet again: "It is incomprehensible to man while he is yet mortal."
I pondered upon these answers, yet I was not satisfied. Therefore it was that I fared farther. And I came to one who sat upon the stump of a tree trunk. And I saw that he was an old man who had been cast out of the ranks of the Philosophers because he could evolve no system.
And I asked again: "What is truth?"
He made no reply, but instead fixed his gaze on me. We sat silently together. His eyes gleamed with a strange lustre. And in that hour I came to know the meaning of truth. For his answer came through SILENCE.
But is the task so barren, so thankless, and so fruitless as it seems? We do not think so.
He should pursue an even path, undisturbed by the malevolence of jealous enemies, unmoved by the criticisms of the thoughtless and ignorant. His mind is made up, his resolve to spend the remainder of his incarnation in quest of enlightenment of others is unalterable. He should surround himself only with those who have formed a like resolve and who are not likely to vacillate from loyalty to it, come what may.
Just as the aroused passion of sex absorbs all of an animal's or person's attention, so the awakened consciousness of the Overself absorbs the aspirant's whole attention in brief ecstasy.
There comes a time when all the advantages of an existence around a fixed centre far outweigh the disadvantages.
When a man's hope has been darkened or abandoned often enough, he may be ready to learn this old truth.
The infinite truth cannot be put into a limited formula without being crippled or caricatured thereby.
The Truth reconciles all opposites and relates the countless imperfect lives struggling in time and space to the ever-perfect Life-Power beyond both.
The depth of the illusion under which we are held is a shadow of the height of the reality which is.
The evenly adjusted scales have always been a symbol standing for justice. But justice depends on truth.
The very meaning of the term "movement" means some idea arrived at, a novelty and an innovation, whereas all the truest, most important ideas of life and living are as old as prehistory. Truth itself does not move, only man's thought about it does. Today, "movement" means a new form of lunacy, a fresh expression of perversion and distortion.
It is easier to know what you want than to get it. Thought is pliable and flexible; will is hard and stubborn.
The Quest is always interesting to talk about, even if it often is not practicable to follow!
What is the quality of your life, its worth measured on a just pair of scales, its value to yourself and society?
If so many men find it hard to believe that the soul is a reality, others find it equally hard not to believe. This is because the first ones are really as dead and only the others alive.
Life--so large in arousing early hopes, so small in final realization.
In the world of thought, one is very close to truth. It is here that one will eventually come face to face with the soul--and, thereafter, whatever one's afflictions may be, they will be of secondary importance. It is in this world, too, that one will find one's Master--and one's Master will reach him.
P.B.'s Answers to Professor Floriano's Questionnaire (Verona):
(1) God is Father of us all.
(2) Man's highest goal is to find his relationship to God.
(3) Man is a creature or babe of God.
(4) Man's duty toward God is to learn what is God's will and to obey it.
(5) Sin is the departure from the will of God.
(6) There was a historical descent of man from a state of innocence (not goodness) into one of pollution or sin.
(7) Man fell into it through his wanting experience, and thus came into physical and intellectual pollution.
(8) Suffering is God's will, partly to educate man and partly to punish him for his sin or downfall.
(9) But it is also God's will for man to enjoy. We do not see him only suffering.
(10) Man's greatest good is to learn God's will and obey it; his greatest evil is to remain in ignorance of it.
(11) There is a Providence which takes care of us all from the very beginning to the very end.
(12) Contemporary society's good is its claim to search for truth (through intellect) and its bad is its excessive extroversion.
(13) Man will get worse but then later he will get better than now.
(14) Nature is the visible world made by God, and supreme nature is the invisible world. Both work together as one. Both are in us.
(15) The evolved man like others has need of a religion and of a church according to the degree of his evolvement. Why? Because it is religion which begins to teach him his relationship to God, and it is through religious feeling that he begins to become aware of it.
(16) By religion I mean any system of worship and ideas which leads man to know his relationship to God. This relationship can be a revealed one.
(17) How can anyone know that a revealed religion is true? He cannot know; he can only accept or reject it. For if he knows enough to judge whether it be true or not, then he does not need a revealed religion.
(18) Each established church and each obscure sect can claim to give out religious revelation. Its members must accept it as such. Others who reject it can do so only from the point of view of human intellect; their judgement is only reasoned opinion, not revelation.
He is on the right track who seeks to disengage himself from the cares and annoyances of everyday life. He is also wise in coming to understand that the service of humanity must be based on balanced judgement.
To a certain individual it may be said: "I have faith in you--but the real You has yet to make an appearance. When it does you will then find your real work in life."
But now the words have gone forth, the sleeping eyes shall be opened, and the seven seals upon the Book of Truth be removed one by one.
Although I find my deepest interest in attempting to explore the dark mysteries of man, although this world is seemingly full of worry and woe, I still try to remember that there is another world--not so far off as most imagine--where ineffable bliss holds its inhabitants as permanent captives.
Every man carries his motto--sometimes in his face, sometimes out of sight in his heart. Choose your motto well.
When a man grows as unconsciously as a flower, it surprises him to discover how much larger is the area, how much deeper is the penetration, of his personal influence in the circle of people which he meets.
I do not believe there is much chance for a lasting human happiness. Sooner or later life besets a man with its problems, griefs, oppositions, and maladies.
Even if their writings are not intelligible and their phrases fantastic, the final inspiration behind these writings is not thereby invalidated. Truth is still truth, even if it is uttered in pidgin-English, even if it is gestured in the most cryptic sign language.
The motto, "And This Too Will Pass!" which helped Abraham Lincoln endure the darkest days of the Civil War, was an ancient one. It was devised by Sufi philosophers hundreds of years ago as one to help sorrowing men and discipline happy ones with philosophic remembrance.
To acquire knowledge and respect its facts is to lose superstitions: one cannot keep both.
This onward rolling Earth is but a small part of the vast Cosmos, yet man has begun to escape from its confines. What would happen if he begins to truly escape from his own mental confines?
So stick to this quest with the iron determination not to stop until you have realized the truth. Don't worry about the remoteness of the goal; leave all the results to fate and do the best you can. With proper guidance the goal can be brought infinitely nearer than it seems. Those who know truth want to share it; what else do they care for? Make up your mind and progress from can't to can!