|REFLECTIONS ON SUBUD, part 2|
|COMMENTARY by Husein Rofé|
SUSILA BUDHI DHARMA
by R.M. Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo
The categories of external stimuli which exert pressure on man's inner life have already been detailed. Now we shall consider specifically some of the types of material influence, which originate from the realm of inanimate matter, and see how they modify man's being through identification.
The material object appears as 'dead' to the human observer: yet, in reality, it teems with a life of its own and possesses a primitive consciousness. This is called 'satanic' because it is so elementary that the faculty of distinction is altogether absent. (Note: The word 'Satan' signifies in Hebrew: 'an adversary'. It implies the opposition of death to life.) Hence we describe the forces in nature as 'blind'.
The destiny of objects can be affected from without; they are transported and shaped in various manners by mankind. Any change that has an external origin is impermanent. One man may carry a carving from Tokyo to Timbuctoo; another may later return it to Tokyo.
This principle has also something to teach us about changes in man's spiritual life. We often read of the work of evangelists whose presence is said to convert and change the lives of thousands. The stimulus is external, and is received through the mind or the emotions. Unless the influence of the individual in question goes far deeper, through Act of God, it will have a transient effect; it is a question of time before the subject becomes exposed to another external influence that will return him to a former attitude, or make of him something quite different again.
Man's physical body is compounded of matter, hence the material forces are also present therein. Our five normal senses are material, as they are associated with physical organs of apprehension. Most of our experience in life reaches us via the agency of these organs, especially through the eyes, the ears and the tongue. Our mental attitudes develop from such stimuli. It is only necessary to compare the cultural affinities and prejudices of particular races to notice the great extent to which thought-processes are conditioned by the environment. In some parts of the world, it has become almost universal to consider television and automobiles the indispensable adjuncts of a satisfactory existence; in other places, people who have never seen such articles do not miss them.
It should be evident from the foregoing that there is a relationship between material qualities and the human mind, which is constantly being affected by sensory stimuli. Such an interaction gives man the possibility of understanding the utility of matter to himself, whether it is a question of creating a pitcher or harnessing atomic power. The history of mankind is largely a record of the progressive subjection of the material forces.
It is self-evident that the increasing comprehension of these forces (and their intelligent use) has enhanced the value of the individual life as well as that of the social group. Suitable and well-equipped homes have enabled man to withstand the most inclement weather; vehicles transport him faster than any animal could do; and tractors permit one person to harvest nourishment adequate to the needs of many families.
The very evidence of the extent to which it has been necessary for man throughout history to equip himself with implements to serve his needs shows us that renunciation of the world is rebellion against the Divine Law. Man should not turn his back on the manifold resources of his surroundings. Rejection not only cheeks his own potentialities: it may also place a burden on the society into which he has been born.
Such a condition is seen in lands where an appreciable percentage of the population may refuse (on religious grounds) to perform any sort of work, while the public are taught that it is meritorious to care for such mendicants.
Those who wish to give full expression to the highest that is in them should rather strive to study and understand the nature of the physical world and profit by intelligent use of its resources. Persons fully conscious of the brotherhood of humanity will not neglect their social duties: for these to be performed in a manner conducive to communal peace and prosperity, there must be effort to create and produce. We must not deprive others of the fruits of their labours in order to be ourselves preserved from the consequences of misapplied energies.
Doctrines of renunciation have developed from consciousness of the snares and perils inherent in possessions. These may attract man to an extent that all other values are subordinated, and he comes to believe that his happiness is directly related to the quantity of his treasures. Eventually this may in fact be the case, when the inner nature has become completely identified with these objects: then the moods of the individual will follow the phases of the stock market, and he may throw away his life the day that a serious depression occurs.
It is equally misguided to fear possessions to the extent that salvation is claimed to depend on forsaking all worldly goods. One should not seek the spiritual from dread of the material. While man cannot serve two masters, he cannot fear two masters either! Even God should not be feared: rather should man trust in His Mercy. How much less should he fear such objects as he can mould and fashion at will! To live in a state of pusillanimous terror implies absence of faith in Divine Mercy and Justice. This anxiety is also an effect of material domination.
It is of course most important not to allow oneself to be enslaved by one's own servants, and there must always be a sense of proportion when engaged in material activities. We see how many people identify themselves with different material values because they have lost this sense of proportion: their homes, furniture, books, works of art, are loved to such an extent that they become greatly agitated if these are damaged or lost. In some cases, sickness results. Extreme identification leads to suicide.
We must therefore realize how greatly possessions can sway the life, to the extent of totally controlling the destiny. Hence the need for constant purification and affirmation of Spirit. Those who do not neglect their worship are less likely to become the slaves of the environment. Possessions are then assessed in terms of the owner and not vice versa.
In a society where men scoff at the claims of the Spirit, people are respected or feared on account of their wealth, even when well-known for their absence of humane feelings. Others, ever ready to succour the needy, may be despised, despite their exemplary lives, because their generosity has left them in modest circumstances.
Where individual worth is assessed in terms of a bank balance, the poor cannot easily associate with the affluent. When they do so, it is because the latter seek to take advantage of the plight of the former in order to enrich themselves yet more. There is no basis of mutual love and respect. In such a society, since the rich are always favoured, the poor may easily become filled with attitudes of resentment. Such disequilibrium in time produces a reaction from which the more prosperous suffer in their turn.
Societies based on material principles carry in their bosom the germs of their own destruction; but where there is an enlightened attitude, man does not seek insatiably to advance his own position at the expense of his fellow-men.
It is comparatively simple to shake off the shackles of material dominion because the forces involved are those furthest below the human condition. First, the awakened soul will begin to recognize the extent to which it is subject to these factors; in time their power will wane. Then there will develop a greater understanding of the mode of their attraction, so that the means to repel this will be realized. As one becomes less likely to fall a victim to blind forces, free-will increases, and one is shielded from many apparently predestined events.
The general qualities inherent in all objects have been described, and we now proceed to consider particular types of influence:-
The qualities which reside in a firearm may incite one man to kill another. Arrested later, he may be unable to account for his action. Does the attitude of hostility reside in the feelings of the possessor or in the nature of the instrument? Surely there is an interaction of the two factors. And when an individual or nation is well-armed, there is a reaction of distrust from those not so equipped. Such mutual attitudes destroy the possibility of fraternal relations that should exist among all human beings. Yet once the soul is emancipated from the lower influences, there is no fear of weapons in the hands of others.
Those who are conscious of their own frailty in the face of material aggression should strive to associate with others who have a stronger inner nature. They thus have a good chance of strengthening their own, since the Divine is in every breast. Such persons may help them to become more discriminating, better qualified to distinguish between helpful and harmful influences. It is not enough to assent intellectually to the logic of what is stated: man can only master his environment when he is fully conscious of the interaction between his own essence and the forces surrounding him.
Knowledge and experience alone can give the capacity to distinguish, and to canalize all energies in suitable directions. Yet even when this has been achieved, after perhaps a long time, it must not be forgotten that the energies we are discussing are only the lowest of several fields of activity within man, and that he is required to cognize them all as a preliminary to Self-consciousness. Although the first stage represents an achievement, compared with the state of most of our fellow-men, perseverance is essential, and we must not become self-satisfied when the first obstacle has been surmounted.
Another aspect of material conditioning is to be noticed in clothing: feelings of vanity easily develop in those elegantly dressed, and they learn to disdain neighbours unfortunate enough to have merely a cloth to hide their nakedness. As in the case of the firearms alluded to above, it is clear here also that this conviction develops as the result of acquiring possessions, the clothes. Yet how easily do people conclude that their own importance has been enhanced, and strut about with a proud bearing.
Such attitudes are pathetic, for the unreflecting dandy may come to believe that he has a real superiority over those less well-dressed. He evaluates entirely in terms of exterior evidence, and develops an arrogant mode of address, and eventually comes to consider this a natural and normal relationship between rich and poor. A society of people under such influences gradually causes such notions to be generally accepted. We see thus how wealth, clothes, weapons and other implements falsify the judgement.
Country-dwellers similarly acquire a restricted mental horizon through identification with the tools they daily handle to till the ground. Such implements have no use in a busy city, and the farmer unduly affected by their use may become ultimately disinclined to settle in a town, or even to converse with strangers from other parts of the country. Attachment to a particular home may become so great that there is no desire to become acquainted with any other places. Travel is held to be unprofitable, if not dangerous. Even difficult times are met with resignation. Such people accept the conditioning of their inanimate immediate surroundings, rather than seek a more fertile and profitable soil elsewhere.
When there is some degree of spiritual consciousness in the farmer, he will no longer resign himself to conditions which have clearly become unprofitable, but will seek fresh opportunities further afield, endeavouring to advance his material and spiritual condition wherever his particular talents can best be utilized. He will not expect his family to submit to a hard lot, and will encourage his children to go out into the world to seek a better fate than he has himself known.
Resignation is usually a reflection of the static qualities inherent in matter, and as such it is by no means a virtue. (Note: "Resignation .... is the virtue of the vanquished. ...... It submits sometimes to what neither need nor should be borne. It is the final attempt of slaves to make their lack of mettle a reason for self-complacency." (Somerset Maugham: A Writer's Notebook))
One should not argue that an all-knowing fate wills conditions to be what they are, and that fate will itself intervene to change them if it is really desirable. Man has been endowed with a measure of free-will to enable him to seek out new avenues of advancement. He must merely learn to make a sagacious use of this precious faculty so as not to harvest failure in the pursuit of success. Great spiritual figures have always achieved the apparently impossible, while those swayed by matter have tamely acquiesced in a hostile environment. They lack sufficient faith in themselves and in God to strive for a better lot.
This explains why we see that many persons who are subjected to an unaccustomed spiritual impact for a few years improve their material circumstances. They have acquired new faith in their own ability to strike out in new directions: their former horizons have receded. Capacity is still what it was before; it is the faith which enables them to exploit it. Not many people fully realize the diversity of their own talents and potentialities. Once they understand how many avenues of success are at their disposal, it will be a simple matter to select the most congenial, and they will not tell us any longer that an unkind fate requires them to reside in a locality which offers no scope for their innate skills.
When we consider the businessman living in a bustling town, we notice how he is subjected to a much heavier strain than the farmer. He deals in commodities which are in a state of perpetual flux, unlike the countryman's tools ever at hand. Traders buy and sell, articles come and go, mobility is a characteristic of the objects concerned. Through identification, the individual's feelings are conditioned in an analogous manner: he becomes subject to frequent changes of humour which alternate with the ebb and flow of the goods, the rhythm of supply and demand. Prolonged strain may produce illness, especially as it is in the nature of a business life to force oneself to work beyond capacity when there is a chance of added profit; signs of fatigue are unheeded, for an adequate consolation is filling the cash-box!
We have noted the relationship between the properties of matter and the nature of thought. It is evident that the mind becomes restless when the attention is directed towards matter which is in a state of constant flux. A tendency to worry, with its debilitating effects on the constitution, can develop from concentration on business commodities. Hence, doctors counsel periods of relaxation for the well-being of the physical body; we do not need to probe into the more subtle qualities of man to note the need for moments of mental vacuum. Where worry is too great, the very possibility of relaxation is denied, and a good night's rest is rare. The use of drugs may offer temporary relief through dulling the sensitivity to one's own thoughts, but such treatment is always applied at the expense of other organs.
Since there is a relationship between states of anxiety and identification with matter, it appears quite logical that the health should be toned up, and all-round efficiency increase, when the spiritual nature can adequately assert itself. Where is the darkness when the light appears? Those businessmen who give regular attention to their spiritual obligations find their capacity unimpaired, while they reap the advantage of protection from the consequences of strain and worry.
Yet how many grudge the few precious minutes weekly! Time dedicated to self-purification may mean a few cancelled appointments; but the added freshness and vigour gained therefrom can lead to greater productivity, wiser judgement, faster management. Hence, even on the most material basis, the outcome is not loss, but gain. When the Spirit can express itself, and the brain is not in exclusive control of the destiny, there is even greater business success.
Despite the great rewards, even in terms of business productivity, it is by no means an easy matter to convince the average merchant of the need for calm and tranquillity. Even when theoretically in agreement, he will grudge the time. Identification with the material forces, which demand constant attention, is often so great that the mind will find every possible justification for resisting the advice to set aside time for non-activity. People tell us what a pity it is that they have no leisure, and in fact, they are greatly in doubt as to whether the time sacrificed will afford adequate compensation for the loss which they fear they will sustain.
The Gospels tell us of a man who wanted first to bury his father. His argument was: "My father is old and helpless, and I have a responsibility towards him. When he has gone, I shall have the time to spare for spiritual training". This excuse is always a trap, and such people fail to see that they are caught up in a web of obligations. Before one has been discharged, another has arisen. If there is no time now, there will certainly be none later.
When we seek to test the claims of the spiritual path, even from so modest a motive as to sleep better at night, we must not renounce our objective without a fair trial; that means a willingness to attend practices twice weekly for a minimum of three months, and to retain an open and unbiassed mind in the meantime. It is clear that, when dealing with a field which begins where logic ends, we should not expect to find rational explanations for new experiences; so we should not give up too early because so much seems meaningless.
If you wish to learn Chinese, you will have to begin by staring at apparently meaningless hieroglyphs. On the path of the Spirit too, there is an alphabet to be learnt, before we can read. How fortunate are those patient by nature! They get results, for the simple reason that they are in no hurry, and so they give themselves a chance. The business man's condition is different, and he does not even recognize the oddness of his own attitude, when he denies time for the Self because of the insistent and imperative call of the world.
When a lifetime has been devoted entirely to the understanding of temporal goods, the world is gained at the price of the soul. At the very moment of death, there is no understanding of Self, of whence and whither: rather is there a very real concern for the fate of the property after death. Souls identified with material values rarely slip away peacefully as if shedding a garment. Comas are more common.
When the eternal is torn away from the material to which it has been so tightly glued, what is its fate? A condition of gloom and nescience, rather than one of light and unfoldment.
While we are in this world, we should try to develop a true sense of cosmic values, by realizing the relative importance of the various aspects of Creation, and treating them accordingly. This appears elementary, yet so many people demonstrate daily that they have not understood the superiority of a man to an animal, of the beast over the stone. Have we integrated true standards when we are willing to see other men die for the sake of precious stones? Is there a proper yardstick where father and son are permanently alienated because of monetary considerations? Do not many people give a greater welcome to a strange dog than to an unknown man who greets them?
When we live by false standards, attaching greater importance to objects than to man, we may pray and worship every day, yet our inner state is one of darkness. I-Iow can there be meaning to the expression "Unity of God", as long as we are not even able to feel the unity of the human race? Dare you look for God while spurning His Spirit in the coolie of the Yellow River or the labourer of Harlem? It must also be recognized in those close at hand, whose opinions and bank balances are at variance with our own! The superficial is the Divine veil. When our relations with God are mere abstract notions, we shall never understand our own significance: the dignity of the part is to be found in its relationship with the whole.
Those so conditioned by their trading that their sense of human values has been reversed are indeed blessed by God when suffering, failure and bankruptcy lead them to seek beyond matter for more permanent security.
Lack of success in business enterprise is one means of realizing individual limitations. An understanding of what can be achieved and of what is beyond our capacity discourages us from chasing chimaeras. Similarly knowing what amount of work can be tackled without impairing health will lead to adjustment. Ultimately, evidence is forthcoming that the material need of those who do not neglect their spiritual and temporal obligations are always taken care of.
Anxiety will decrease as added experience justifies confidence. Once there is real trust in provision from above, people will not strain their entire being to the limits in order to secure an ever-growing hoard of surplus wealth. The demand for future guarantees and security is a typical preoccupation of materialistic viewpoints. When there is no confidence in the Power within, the assurance of a future provision will necessarily be sought in tangible and visible wealth. It has been well said that the spiritual path is sheer peril all the way; and there is a Muslim belief that the more evolved the soul, the less provision it is permitted to accumulate.
At the highest, there is literally no thought for the morrow: but for most of us, it is a severe enough test if we can never see more than a month ahead. How many people are so influenced by the need for security that they spend entire lives in the service of some organization that apparently guarantees them against all want at any time! These are prisoners of their own materialism.
The Way of the Spirit is perilous because there is no tangible evidence of Divine providence in advance, except by inference. To know the nature of the path, we must first set our feet on it. We can either keep walking over the same familiar ground of materialism, going round and round in a circle, or we can advance, when each step challenges the unknown. Faith is developed the latter way: repeated and reiterated proof of Divine provision in times of hopelessness and incapacity is the best teacher.
True faith has never been a matter of belief founded on ignorance! Philosophical values must be based on what we have gone through ourselves - they are of little use as the abstractions we echo from words of other men.
We should therefore learn to swim by being thrown into the water, as we then garner an understanding which will enable us to do and to dare without having always to bolster ourselves with material supports. Letters cannot be sent when there is no address for them. Even so, cosmic help comes in answer to a demand: to be rescued, we must first be in danger, though this is no excuse for tempting God. Each of us must however see for himself through experience that the very operation of the laws of supply and demand is subject to a higher spiritual law, which comes into play with a change of heart.
Those who do not understand these matters always fear that idealists will starve, while total ignorance of the nature of Spirit easily leads to denial of the immortality of the soul. When there is no consciousness of Spirit, with what will we contrast matter? Of course we have to direct all our hopes towards the world when we cannot see that there is anything else exists. Negation of God, denial of immortality, are products of the mind. Such ideas can develop where man is identified with his thoughts and the latter are conditioned entirely by material influences. Therefore we note how easy it is for the merchant to incline towards agnosticism, if not to become an outright atheist.
Man is in this world for the purpose of achieving Self consciousness as an immortal soul temporarily wedded to mortal qualities. This opportunity ceases to exist with the destruction of the body, and change can then be conditioned only from without. A lifetime dedicated to concentration on transient values can prove harmful to eternal individual interests, hence it has been said that it is very hard for the rich to reach God. The source of the difficulty is of course identification of the Self with its accumulations: there is no obstacle for those who can watch the ebb and flow of wealth with undisturbed equanimity and inner detachment.
When wealth is valued above all else, it will naturally form the basis of all judgements. Those encountered are assessed in terms of their bank balances, and the rich man does not accept advice on his spiritual needs from a poor but competent adviser: the latter has already merited his contempt by his very poverty, so he says in his heart: "What has such a man to teach me?".
He prefers association with those at least as rich as himself, since he does not fear that social relations may diminish his prestige and capital. Naturally his comrades will have a similar outlook, and will incline him towards a stronger conviction that his sense of values is a wise one. Should he ever awaken for a moment, and idly consider the claims of Spirit, these colleagues will quickly persuade him that those devoted to such disciplines are cranks living in a world divorced from reality. When Spirit is dead, what is real but the unreal, the ephemeral, the world of the senses and the satisfaction of the lower emotions?
Not only the rich may be conditioned by such attitudes; in fact, it is often easy for them to free themselves, as they have time for study and reflection. The poor are much less fortunate when they trust only in material values, and their very poverty inclines so many of them to do this. They often truly believe that the acquisition of wealth will solve all their difficulties in life, and proceed to devote themselves to such an end, regardless of true consequences, which are veiled from them.
Such a viewpoint leads people to accept employment in quite uncongenial places when financial remuneration is considered adequate, and they tell us that it has been made 'worth-while'. It is this outlook that enables them to withstand countless humiliations imposed by superiors, and to grovel deferentially in the hope of acquiring yet more lucre.
It is not difficult for skilful employers to persuade such persons to identify their entire lives with the interests of industrial companies, and their destinies come to represent little more than a reflection of the booms and depressions of high finance. Their own true interests have been bought up and sacrificed for the advantage of the business and its shareholders. It has been a willing bargain based on ignorance. Had the workers taken thought for spiritual obligations, they would have been protected from such a fate, or at least would have remained in such posts when it was to their essential advantage to do so, and found better jobs elsewhere when conditions became inimical to their true interests.
Self-identification with a particular concern is a source of fear as well as a form of slavery; for the company may one day decide to reduce staff by hundreds or thousands, and those suddenly discharged will find themselves totally unprepared for new and unforeseen exigencies.
We must therefore study our instincts and impulses in order to know ourselves, to retain the freedom to cede or to cheek. The origins of stimuli need to be traced, and discretion must be developed to assess them aright. Many people may be helped by vigilant attention to the arising of feelings and sensations, with subsequent analysis.
Those very sensitive to the variety and frequency of the environmental stimuli often settle in lonely places in order to find refuge from such pressure. True asylum is however only encountered when man succeeds in isolating himself from his own thoughts, which follow him otherwise even to the most desolate of deserts and caves. Cultivation of the ability to sense conditions, without simultaneously thinking about them, is a better path to enable one to receive Divine guidance and to become freed of worldly domination.
While the brain must be used when really required, it should not be allowed to pursue every new and strange theory, drawing fantastic conclusions and evolving illusory cosmogonies. However essential for temporal needs, the mind is not a valid instrument for assessing eternal realities, though many people forget this. Those who habitually enjoy conversations about spiritual and mystical themes usually rely chiefly on memory of their reactions to books they have read; the views they so stoutly defend are rarely borne out by proofs from their own experience.
It is when man can truly free himself from the dictatorship of his thoughts, conditioned as they are by the temporal and geographical environment, that he is able to contact within himself ideas of permanent and eternal significance. Indications may then be obtained, which, if utilized according to the individual talent, may lead him to some new discovery of benefit to the society in which he lives.
He has this advantage over his fellowmen of equal education, because they have not yet learnt to acquire inner isolation from the religious, political, historical and geographical complexes of their particular civilization. The enlightened mind which has been disciplined by training will be all the more efficient when required for daily activity, as an obedient servant, helping its master to achieve a satisfactory and contented existence. Such discipline of the mind will also permit intuition to operate in a regular and trustworthy fashion: calamities, complications and accidents may thus be deflected. These are some of the benefits of the spiritual life, but few will seek it on account of worldly pressure. Protracted misery or the persuasion of friends will however influence many people, and some will obtain lasting benefit from a path entered in doubt and hesitation.
Few men realize the unreliability of their own thoughts to indicate satisfactory courses for life. This is because of the extent to which the mind is filled with animal passions, and other desires erroneously identified with the Self. Conditioned thoughts thus lead man to follow courses of apparent happiness, but as long as he has no other criterion on which to base his quest, and because his nature is usually restless and active, he cannot realize in advance the illusory nature of his ambitions. Restlessness and desire for constant activity are in proportion to the prominence of the animal energies, to the stimulus of the motor centre. Where there is a powerful vortex of such energies, there is insistence on movement, and this demand to be busy, unless harnessed to higher impulses, often proves quite unprofitable and detrimental to deeper interests.
The ways of the Spirit are unfamiliar and incomprehensible to the mind, and so the thoughts often resist spiritual training. Identified with an illusory path to happiness, the adulterated consciousness does not easily welcome that which appears to menace the accomplishment of its cherished aims. Thus, it is only when one can become as innocent as a little child, which has complete trust in the wisdom of its father, that a real contact with the source of all needs can be established. False objectives fade away, and everything truly required for the spiritual and material welfare is vouchsafed as it becomes expedient. Those who are entering this training should keep such considerations in mind at times when there is a tendency to yield to a train of negative thought.
Only when the nature is pervaded by that unconditioned Unity which is the Prerogative of Divinity will man pass beyond the conflicts and vacillations inherent in duality; and only such a state can confer true bliss and lasting peace, through emancipation from unsatisfied desires. Once attained, this condition is never lost, since it is beyond the oppositions of pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. Those caught in the web of duality will never comprehend that freedom which marks the incarnation of Divine qualities.
The most common source of desire is a sense of lack and inadequacy, but the absence of desire does not portend dullness and inactivity. Creative and dynamic activity is a Divine characteristic, and that which is most static is most material: inanimate life. We see therefore that the spiritual path does not entail non-action, but that the source of action is rather to be sought in Divine illumination than as a response to lower thoughts and desires.
Under such circumstances, man behaves in a manner that is both more detached and more effective. The positive results of enterprise give satisfaction, and results are positive because they are produced by a Divine impulse. When there is freedom from action, content remains, for there is a sense of real relaxation, and this is not disturbed by an uneasy feeling that one is wasting precious time. That restless attitude, so common in the West, prevents so many people from enjoying such leisure as is left to them !
Identification with external conditions gives rise to apprehension and restlessness. Outbreaks of war cause fear; public celebrations require emotional demonstrations, to be aligned with the calendar. Tears and laughter must be appropriately in evidence at funerals and marriages. It is of course important that man's emotional state should be adjustable to the environmental conditions, as this permits them to be understood; but the deeper nature must not be identified with these feelings, or else, in extreme cases, manic-depressive psychoses are the result. Recognizing that impermanence, flux, and change are characteristic of this world, we must fortify our inner being in such a way that we shall not always be obliged to dance to the piper's tune.
We can confidently forecast a change will take place in environmental conditions, but rarely know exactly when. While fearing that which never happens we are often caught off our guard in times of sudden and grave crisis. Those who base their lives on external factors will be obliged to adapt themselves constantly to changing circumstances. When however activity springs from internal necessity rather than slavery to stimuli outside ourselves, we are not so often compelled to follow courses which cause suffering.
True security derives from dependence on, and identification with, the permanent and eternal; this it is that gives us the opportunity to pursue our aims, irrespective of the vagaries of chance, and we thereby come to acquire deeper understanding of our destiny and the purpose of our existence. This brings consciousness of the measure of our freewill.
These possibilities are at the disposal, in moments of need, of the man who has striven to free his nature from bondage to matter, and has devoted time and trouble to the cultivation of the intuition, has learnt to seek within. He will not fritter away his life in irrelevancies of thought, action and speech. In the struggle for existence, his capacities will exceed those of his colleagues who have had a similar mental education but have neglected the parallel development of feeling. Intuitive wisdom will also be at the disposal of those who were mentally backward when at school: and since it is not a quality of the mind, these need not feel that they have slender chances of developing it. In the case of persons of inferior intelligence, spiritual disciplines are particularly valuable, for man requires some standard by which to judge and to choose.
It is the mentally and spiritually ignorant who most frequently run into danger and misery and have the least ability to extricate themselves from such hampering conditions. Many die young because of the lack of guidance which could save them from paths of disaster. If we identify our own interests with those of others, whether groups or individuals, we may be persuaded to mistake a path of destruction for one of glory. A military career is especially based on external conditioning, and we observe how soldiers cease to consider whether demands made by human superiors are compatible with obligations to God.. in fact the strength of an army is based on discouragement of such speculations !
Souls are attracted on the death of the body to realms analogous to the qualities with which they were identified towards the end of life: if these qualities were material, the ensuing state is that known as hell, though the sad condition involved is rarely realized, since the very identification of the Self with lower forces causes forgetfulness of previous superior states.
When there is identification with blind and dead forces, these appear to the soul as animate and friendly; what is most detrimental to ultimate human interests is assumed to be beneficial. Spiritualists are also sometimes the victims of such inferior forces, and likewise believe themselves to he protected by blessed entities. When we rely on the guidance of forces more primitive than the qualities present in plants, we cannot fail to be led in detrimental directions.
Cosmic essences belong to various levels of evolution and they seek to progress towards a more extensive condition. Where there is true balance, each of these essences instinctively worships those above it and feels compassion towards lower forms. Evolution comes about by assistance from beyond, and therefore the lower forms serve the higher, hoping eventually to merit their intercession. The history of both magic and religion shows us many examples of how men have sought to partake of the grace of higher beings, or to assimilate the qualities of lower ones, through some form of sympathetic identification.
For the present, we are still concerned with the material essences only, and we contact these through the mind rather than the stomach. To the extent that they have served us during our lives, we have a cosmic responsibility as souls to guide them towards a higher state. If we end our existence here in slavery to these forces, we are of course no longer able to fulfil the Divine Trust towards them, so it is quite just that our souls in such cases should then sink into the regions of these very qualities.
As Christianity teaches, our eternal treasure is to be sought where our heart is. Punishment in such cases is the result of individual negligence, the failure of a mission. If any memory of a more exalted status prevails (which rarely happens), intense grief is felt at its loss. But traces of human consciousness seldom survive death in such souls; such rarely realize the pathetic nature of their degeneration to a realm of perdition. Instead their state seems to them just as normal as does life on earth to an ordinary man. Henceforth consciousness is restricted to a one-dimensional condition, so the faculties of choice, discrimination and understanding are lost. Although hell is a realm of suffering from a conscious human viewpoint, such souls even know sensations. of pleasure and fortune in this state.
As long as the words soul and eternity have meaning for man, he will not wish to meet such a fate, and therefore he ought not to neglect spiritual obligations. Such an end can be averted when Divine Guidance is available; but we must not turn a deaf ear to it, and allow the mind to persuade us that worldly considerations are of paramount importance.
Time must be found for spiritual purification. There is no end to this, since we are daily exposed to currents of inferior origin, and constant vigilance is needed so that they should not surreptitiously gain the upper hand. Procrastination is dangerous since it easily becomes a habit, and the end may come before the task has been completed. Therefore, no matter how weary we may feel, and no matter how great the trials and temptations to which we are exposed, we must discipline the mind in such a way that it does not interfere with the regularity of training (which is a form of prayer). By constant affirmation, such obstructive tendencies disappear as proofs are received, and the material influences will no longer be able to deflect man from the destiny for which he was created.
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© Michael Rogge, 1959
Brought on Internet on 23rd February 2001. Revised 26th December 2001
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