The unregenerate man is subject to these three things—desire, passion, sorrow. He lives habitually in these conditions, and neither questions nor examines them. He regards them as his life itself, and cannot conceive of any life apart from them. Today he desires, tomorrow he indulges his passions, and the third day he grieves; by these three things (which are always found together) he is impelled, and does not know why he is so impelled; the inner forces of desire and passion arise, almost automatically, within him, and he gratifies their demands sans question; led on blindly by his blind desires, he falls, periodically, into the ditches of remorse and sorrow. His condition is not merely unintelligible to him, it is unperceived, for so immersed is he in the desire (or self) consciousness that he cannot step outside of it, as it were, in order to regard e and examine it. To such a man the idea of rising above desire and sufferings into a new and different life where such things do not obtain, seems ridiculous. He associates all life with the pleasurable gratification of desire, and so, by the law of reaction, he also lives in the misery of afflictions, fluctuating ceaselessly between pleasure and pain.
When reflection dawns in the mind there arises a sense (dim and uncertain at first) of a calmer, wiser, and loftier life, and as the stages of introspection and self-analysis are reached, this sense increases in clearness and intensity, so that by the time the first three stages are fully completed, a conviction of the reality of such a life and of the possibility of attaining it, is firmly fixed in the mind. Such conviction, which consists of a steadfast belief in the supremacy of purity and goodness over desire and passion, is called faith. Such faith is the stay, support and comfort of the man who, while yet in the Darkness, is searching earnestly for the Light which breaks upon him for the first time in all its dazzling splendor and ineffable majesty when he enters the shining gateway of meditation. Without such faith he could not stand for a single day against the trials, failures and difficulties which beset him continually, much less could he courageously fight and overcome them, and his final conquest and salvation would be impossible. ,
Upon entering the stage of meditation, faith gradually ripens into knowledge, and the new, regenerate life begins to be realized in its quiet wisdom, calm beauty, and ordered strength, and day by day its joy and splendor increase. The final conquest over sin is now assured. Lust, hatred, anger, covetousness, pride and vanity, desire for pleasure, wealth, fame, worldly honor and power—all these have become dead things shortly to pass away forever; there is no more life or happiness in them; they have no part in the life of the regenerate one who knows that he can never again go back to them, for now the "old man" of self and sin is dead, and the "new man" of Love and Purity is born within him. He has become (or becomes, as the process of meditation ripens and bears fruit) a new being, one in whom Purity, Love, Wisdom, and Peacefulness are the ruling qualities, and wherein strifes, envies, suspicions, hatreds, and jealousies cannot find lodgment. "Old things are passed away, and all things become new," men and things are seen in a different light; and a new universe is unveiled; there is no confusion; as out of the inner chaos of conflicting desires, passions, and sufferings, the new being arises, there arises in the outer world of apparently irreconcilable conditions a new Cosmos, ordered, sequential, harmonious, ineffably glorious, faultless; in equity.
Meditation is a process both of purification and adjustment. Aspiration is the purifying element, and the harmonizing power resides in the intellectual train of thought involved. When the stage of meditation is reached and entered upon, two distinct processes of spiritual transmutation begin to take place, namely—
- Transmutation of passion
- Transmutation of affliction
The two conditions proceed simultaneously, as they are interdependent, and act and react one upon the other. Passion and affliction, or sin and suffering, are two aspects of one thing, namely, the self in man, that self which is the source of all the troubles which afflict mankind. They represent power, but power wrongly used. Passion is a lower manifestation of a divine energy which possesses a higher use and application. Affliction is the limitation and negation of that energy, and is therefore a means of restoring harmony. It says, in effect, to the self-bound man, "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." The man of meditation transfers the passional energy from the realm of evil (self-following) to the realm of good (self-overcoming.) Today he reflects, tomorrow he overcomes his passions, and the third day he rejoices. The mind is drawn from its downward tendency, and is directed upwards. The base metal of error is transmuted into the pure gold of Truth. Lust, hatred, and selfishness disappear; and purity, love, and goodwill take their place. As the stage proceeds, the mind becomes more and more firmly fixed in the higher manifestations, and it becomes increasingly difficult for it to think and act in the lower; and just in the measure that the mind is freed from the lower, violent, and inharmonious activities, just so much is passion transmuted into power, and affliction into bliss. This means that there is no such thing as affliction to the sinless man. Where sin is put away, affliction disappears. Selfhood is the source of suffering; Truth is the source of bliss. When the unregenerate man is abused, slandered, misunderstood or persecuted, it causes him intense suffering; but when these things are brought to bear on the regenerate man, there arises in him the rapture of heavenly bliss. None but he who has put the great enemy, self, under his feet, can fully enter into and understand the saying—
“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad."
And why does the righteous (regenerate) man rejoice under those conditions which cause such misery to the unrighteous (unregenerate) man? It is because, having overcome the evil in himself, he ceases to see evil without. To the good man all things are good, and he utilizes everything for the good of the world. To him persecution is not an evil, it is a good. Having acquired insight, knowledge and power, he, by meeting that persecution in a loving spirit, helps and uplifts his persecutors, and accelerates their spiritual progress, though they themselves know it not at the time. Thus he is filled with unspeakable bliss because he has conquered the forces of evil, because, instead of succumbing to those forces, he has learned how to use and direct them for the good and gain of mankind. He is blessed because he is at one with all men, because he is reconciled to the universe, and has brought himself into harmony with the Cosmic Order.
The following symbol will perhaps help the mind of the reader to more readily grasp what has been expounded—
There is at first the underworld of lust, darkness, and death, which is associated with ignorance; rooted in this is the foot of the cross—desite; in the body of the cross, desire branches out into the two arms—the right (active or positive), arm, passion, being equalized and balanced by the left (passive or negative) arm affliction; uniting these, and rising out of them at the head of the cross is aspiration; here, wounded and bleeding, rests the thorn-crowned head of crucified humanity; at the end of this, and right at the summit of the cross, is knowledge which, while being at the apex of the self-life, is the base of the Truth-life; and above rises the heavenly world of Love, Light, and Life. In this supremely beautiful world the regenerate man lives, even while living on this earth. He has reached Nirvana, the Kingdom of Heaven. He has taken up his cross, and there is no more sin and suffering; desire and passion and affliction—yea, and even aspiration, are passed away. Harmony is restored, and all is bliss and peace. The cross is the symbol of pain. Desire is painful, passion is painful, affliction is painful, and aspiration is painful; this is why these things are symbolized by a cross which has two pairs of conflicting poles. Affliction is the harmonizing and purifying element in passion; aspiration is the harmonizing and purifying element in desire. Where the one is, the other must be also. Take away the one and the other disappears. Suffering, or affliction is necessary to counteract passion; aspiration, or prayer, is necessary to purge away desire; but for the regenerate man all these things are ended; he has risen into a new life and a new order of things; the consciousness of sin has passed away and given place to the consciousness of purity; lacking nothing, and being at one with all things, he does not need to pray for anything; redeemed and reconciled, contented and in peace, he finds nothing in the universe to hate or fear, and his is both the duty and the power to work without ceasing for the present good and the ultimate salvation of mankind.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.