—Gospel of Buddha
Man is, in a sense, related to two worlds; on one side, the world of form, a world of effect; and, on the other side, the world of the invisible, a world of cause. In reality we are living in two worlds—a world of the seen and a world of the unseen.
A word of explanation is perhaps necessary at this point. There are not two distinct and separate worlds, but two phases, I might say, of one world. We must get this distinction clear in mind of two states of consciousness in life—an inner and an outer. Some people live almost exclusively in the outer, some people live to a marked degree in the inner world. The people of our own country use concentration of mind to make their work effective in the outer world. The people in India and in some other countries use meditation to such a marked degree that they live very little in the so-called physical world.
Their desires and hopes are not placed in the physical, but rather in the unseen world. As I have explained before, it is only as we learn to live in both worlds, or in these two phases of life, and keep the mind thoroughly balanced between the two, that we become rounded out, that we become developed.
We all know then a great deal about the physical side of life, but comparatively few people know much about the psychic side of life, and only in an abnormal way, because the majority of the cases of so-called psychic development are brought about in an abnormal rather than in a normal way.
The trouble with people is that they develop this psychic side of life, without understanding the law that lies back of all development; they do not know how to use the development that comes to them and usually put it to a wrong use. Again, many people seem to think that certain phases of abnormal psychic development correspond to, or rather are in reality, spiritual gifts of a very high order, when just the reverse of this is true.
A great many people who believe in what they term the invisible world are in reality living a more materialistic life than the people who know little, if anything, about an invisible world. Even the investigators of psychic phenomena seem to lose sight of the one great side of this whole question—the spiritual development of man, and they would seek to apply exactly the same law, the same processes of reaching satisfactory conclusions that they would in any outer thing, and it is a curious fact that they are more interested in abnormal than in normal psychic development.
But everything is changed here in this realm of the psychic, and we are not going to be able to apply the same tests that have been used in the outer world. We are getting nearer to the causes of things. In the outer world we have been dealing exclusively with effects. It is always well to remember that until recently, at least, science has had to do with effects. Science seldom at any point comes in real contact with causes; that is, that every scientific fact is a fact concerning the things of the outer and not the things of the inner.
When we approach the inner side of life we must look at things from a very different point of view. In fact, if we are going to investigate the spiritual, we must do it with the spiritually enlightened mind. There is no other way.
Many people confound physical development with occultism, and it is not unnatural that this mistake should occur, as both pertain to secret and unseen things. We must learn, however, to distinguish between the two. Webster defines the word psychical: of or pertaining to the human soul, relating to the living principle in man. He defines the word development: the act of developing or disclosing that which is unknown, the gradual advancement or growth through a series of progressive changes. In other words psychical development is the unfolding to the spiritual possibilities latent within us, while occultism pertains more to a knowledge of the unseen forces external to the soul. It is possible to have a knowledge of occult things without being highly developed spiritually, but it is not possible to be highly developed psychically without possessing knowledge equal to and surpassing the knowledge of the occultist. Those who seek to attain to an understanding of occult laws without first being spiritually awakened, are playing with two-edged tools; and no possible gain can accrue to them, but rather loss from such study. Curiosity and love for things uncanny prompt some to investigate this subject, with the result that not a few become mentally unbalanced thereby. Knowledge of unseen forces comes to us naturally when we have progressed to a state where we are neither affrighted nor disturbed by the phenomena we are brought in contact with. Leaving, then, the subject of occultism, we will turn our attention to psychical development. In order to make the greatest progress in this direction, it will be found necessary to cultivate all the faculties of mind; by so doing, we will succeed in controlling the animal nature. First of all, strongly desire tranquility and restfulness of mind, in order that truth may mirror or image itself in mind. Firmness is another quality that all should seek to possess. When mind mirrors the truth, firmness is necessary to hold it against all temptation that may appeal to us from any quarter. Forgiveness is also needful. Do not hope to attain to true knowledge of spiritual things when your mind is embittered or your heart hardened against anyone who may have injured or wronged you in any way; by so doing, you bar your way to the true unfolding—forgive and ye shall be forgiven. Abstain from theft. Many people who think themselves far above stealing are baser thieves than those who steal our money. The person who slanders or speaks falsely of another is a worse thief by far than one who steals our material possessions. If you are unable to see and speak of the good in others, then do not defile your mouth by speaking evil of them, for by so doing you descend to a plane where darkness enslaves the mind.
There are still other forms of stealing of which we must beware—the getting of illicit gain, perhaps money or worldly possessions without giving an equivalent in return; the taking of exorbitant interest, thus profiting by others' necessities. Purity of thought is another qualification to the one who would become spiritually unfolded. Allow the mind to dwell on all that is pure and beautiful; word and deed will then respond to this renewed mental condition. Control your passions; do not let them control you. Many find this more difficult than all else, but repeated failures should only make us desire more ardently to attain to true self-control. Veracity is another necessary quality. There are many ways of lying; some people look upon certain forms of lying as an accomplishment, and it is needless to enumerate, or try to enumerate, the various ways and methods of lying. Freedom from hatred and wrath becomes absolutely necessary before we can attain to soul knowledge. When we are angry or hate others, our minds are like the sea lashed by the tempest— no rest, no peace; tossed to and fro. Oh, that we might realize the necessity of calming this storm-tossed sea, allowing the still small voice in all gentleness, yet in all firmness, to speak the words, "Peace be still." Greatest of all is the knowledge acquired through the intuitive faculties. Do not be deceived by thinking that all knowledge must come through the intellect. The court of last resort is the intuitive side of your being. People who have cultivated only the intellectual way may disagree with this statement, but their arguments are of no avail to those who have developed the intuitive part of their being. It is not a question of belief to the persons thus unfolded, but one of knowledge; they know whereof they speak.
In order, therefore, to unfold intuitively, we must practice self-control. We may think it to be an every-day virtue; but the fact is, few people have any idea what self-control means. It means far more than the mere control of our words and passions; it means more than denying ourselves earthly pleasures; it means to control our every thought. Self-control evolves concentration of mind, and through it only can true concentration be acquired.
This is the law, in no other way can we become psychically developed, although it is true that certain kinds of abnormal development can be acquired in other ways.
It is possible to learn concentration of mind by looking intently at a black spot on the wall; it may be possible to develop clairvoyance by mirror-gazing, but the concentration and clairvoyance thus acquired are only counterfeits of the real. No true lasting progress can come through the development of our hidden powers, when, by so doing, we shut out the light of spirituality in the soul. There is also more or less danger to the one so engaged. We must understand the uses of the different powers we develop; otherwise we shall not know the true use to make of them, and how can we know the use of powers which we have abnormally developed. It is always well to bear in mind that the greater the knowledge or power we possess, the greater evil it becomes to ourselves and others when put to a wrong or perverted use. The greatest good, when perverted, becomes the greatest evil. True spiritual power may seem more difficult to acquire than some other things, but, when once acquired, it will never leave you; it will ever prove a source of strength and peace, while the false development, in the end, will surely prove a source of unrest and weakness. A pure and unselfish life will do more to fit you to become possessed of spiritual powers than all the study of magic, occultism, of clairvoyance could ever do.
Many people believe that in mediumship there is something of a spiritual nature. There is nothing spiritual about it. It is simply hypnotism transferred to another plane where the medium's mind becomes subject to the mind of another. Because the person who impresses the mind of the medium has passed out of this body into the invisible, that does not make that person a spiritual being. If a man goes out of this world a liar he must remain a liar until through his own effort he becomes truthful.
Whatever we have in mind when we go out of this world we take with us. A great many people believe that when they pass out of this world they are going to a beautiful heaven, and if they have this heaven in their consciousness when they pass out their dreams will be realized, but if they have it not, and should find themselves in a beautiful heaven, they would be out of place and in no way adjusted to it. It is necessary to take this into consideration.
Mesmerism has been called the key to occult sciences, but beware of the key; have nothing to do with it. God never intended that one soul should control another. Freedom is written in every law of nature; only through freedom of will can man hope to attain to higher planes of existence. Again, there is the violation of the law of God when one soul relinquishes its right to think and act to any other soul. This violation of law has been going on for hundreds of years. Ministers have thought for people, they have worked out for people the way of salvation; that is, these people thought that ministers were doing this, but they never did. They have only to work out their own salvation. If they are doing that they are doing all that God requires of them. Every man must work out his own salvation. While an enlightened man may throw light on the way of life, each one must walk that way for himself.
Whatever thwarts or interferes with individual liberty retards soul growth. Man's freedom of will consists, not in obeying the dictates of the lower mind, the selfish desires, but in the perfect obedience to the law of God which is written into his own being. The renunciation of selfishness is ever followed by spiritual growth. It is through divesting the mind of its purely personal self, attaching no importance to personal feelings and things, and seeking to realize the higher self-hood, that true individuality is attained, which will continue to last when this purely personal self has vanished away. A belief in personality chokes out all that is true and noble, and in its place spring up thorns and briers.
Sense and intellectual natures are both focused on personality and seek to obtain pleasures and happiness at the expense of other souls. Flee from this false sense of things; happiness is not attained in this way. No harmony of mind can come to the individual who dwells in this false thought of personality. The kingdom of heaven is harmony, power, peace, wisdom, and these things are born of something higher—the love of the good, not of a part, but of the whole; the recognition of the indwelling of God, not alone in our souls, but in the soul of the universe. We are members one of another; an invisible union exists between us which we now fail to perceive, owing to our wrong conceptions concerning the personal man. We talk of the oneness of life and intelligence, but do we realize what this means and how much it means? Oh, that we might, for such realization would awaken in the soul of man a higher, truer and a purer love than he has ever known before, Instead of the narrow love of self, love of family, friends or nation, the soul would overflow with boundless love, not limited but limitless. And as that love takes possession and reigns in our hearts and souls, we shall find this to be true, that we love not family, friend, or nation less; but through loving the whole, we become more capable of loving each part of the whole, we become one with the whole.
And there is this entering into the universal, becoming one with might, becoming one with power, becoming one with the intelligence of God. Out of this condition of life come all minor conditions, comes the psychic development, this ability to see just as clearly in what is called the invisible world as in the visible world, to hear in the invisible just as much as to hear people speaking in this visible world.
One enters into a new consciousness of life, one realizes for the first time that this outer world is not the all important world that we make it. One is no longer influenced, no longer controlled by external things. He realizes that he is superior in every sense of the word to all the external; that the soul of man is greater than the world; that man has dominion and power over every external thing. The soul is superior to it all, the soul makes all true conditions of life, whether they be inner or outer.
Do not let us deceive ourselves about these things; it is easy to be deceived. People can so locate authority in the outer world that until there comes the spiritual awakening, the whole life will be guided by the external, and they will never live, and never can, the life that man was intended to live. Remember, that the truth shall make ye free. Then shall ye be free indeed.
Jesus said, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." In order to live on a higher plane of existence, we must die to a knowledge of the personal self, instead of perpetuating it through the gratification of purely personal desires. The caterpillar dies that the butterfly may live. The personal man must cease to be before the soul can become fully alive to the spiritual man. Death is but dying to one state that we may live in another. When we die to the sense nature, we shall awaken to the psychical.
The mind of man has been so engaged in the study of the visible world about him, that to a marked degree he has overlooked the invisible forces, both within and without. We have reached an epoch in the world's history where many are turning away from the study of the seen; where the mind, having wearied from oft-repeated endeavors to find the solution of life in the world of form, is turning to a study of the unseen. Evolution in itself can never disclose to our vision the spiritual realities of the universe. We must go back of all existing forms to arrive at eternal verities. We must see beyond the world of effects, because all causation lies within the realm of the unseen. Medical men study the pathology of the body, and there are mental healers who study the pathology of the mind. It is barely possible that they are both necessary states of evolution, but they are only necessary to those having no higher knowledge of the truth. A study of pathology of either mind or body is but going down into the shadows, the dwelling in things that contradict the good and the true. If we would carry light to souls who sit in darkness, we must dwell in the light ourselves. If we are groping about in the shadows involved in the contradictories of truth, how is it to be expected that our light will become manifest to them? In order to reach and be beneficial to other souls we must have a recognition of the possibilities inherent within them, and how can we have such a recognition if we ourselves have not unfolded to the possibilities of the power and goodness that is contained potentially within our own being.
The study of truth, beginning in the deepest recesses of our own consciousness, making it self-first manifest to ourselves, will eventually become manifest to those about us. We can never discover or throw light on the way that leads to life for another, until we have first made that discovery for ourselves. The goodness that we see in others we see only in proportion as we have unfolded to a knowledge of goodness in our own souls. The seeming evil, the lack of truth that we see in others, is but, after all, evil and lack of truth in ourselves. Of course we would express in our own way the goodness or lack of goodness we see in others. No two persons express things exactly alike. While one person may judge and condemn another for what he considers pride, for instance, if he makes a thorough examination of himself, he will find the same quality of mind, or rather lack of quality, expressing itself in other ways in exactly the same proportion. The yardstick by which we measure other people is the only one that we can use in measuring ourselves. We can, therefore, see the necessity of finding the good and the true within our own consciousness, in order that we may judge righteously. If we could thoroughly understand the lights and shades of our own being, it would not be possible for us to condemn or sit in judgment on any other soul. It is not as though there were many ways that souls could take to reach a more perfect state of being, so that there might be differences of opinion as to the better way to take; the way that one soul treads in its unfolding is the way that all souls must tread.
When Jesus said that the way was a straight and narrow one, and also added: "and few there be that find it," he did not mean to imply that the way would not eventually be found, but simply meant that the minds of those about him were so taken up with thoughts of this world, its cares, and its pleasures, that their eyes were blinded to the true way; in other words, that the great majority of mankind was bent on seeking pleasures and happiness in the world without them, while few were seeking it in the kingdom that lies within.
We stand today on the very threshold of spiritual knowledge and its consequent power, knowledge that surpasses any that the world can offer, power that pertains, not to things of this world, but to our own spiritual well-being. Self is the barrier that stands in the doorway and bars our entrance. He who enters that doorway leaves self behind. Human will must accord with divine will. "Behold I stand at the door and knock." The indwelling Christ would point the way of life. That Christ is seeking to attain the ascendency in the hearts and minds of all people, and yet we turn away. We are not ready to forego the pleasures of the world for the peace that the world cannot give nor yet take away. We are blind about many things now; sometime we will see clearly. The spiritual senses have been hid; covered up by the physical. When we have subordinated the lower self to the higher will, then will joy and peace and rest flow into our lives, and the things that have been hidden will be revealed. The love of God and the love of man will then become a living spring, flowing through our thoughts and words and deeds, blessing every one, throwing a light upon the path of life that will enable others to more clearly discern the way that leads to everlasting day.