DEVELOPING THE SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
MAN is man by virtue of willing, not by virtue of knowing and understanding. As he is, so he sees. His hopes and aspirations are in exact proportion to the depth and power of his will: for, says Emerson, "The height of the pinnacle is measured by the breadth of the base."
He is the microcosm of the macrocosm: the little world of the big world. The universe exists for the self:—such is the dictum of the sages.
Man has appropriated this form, this coat of skin, for the exercise and unfoldment of his Divine Nature. He is above Nature, his body is of Nature.
Man, Know Thyself, was mandate of the Oracle. All your efforts, your joys and sorrows, your ups and downs, are to this end. You now grasp this thing, soon you drop it; then you grasp that thing; soon you drop it;—Not this, Not that, you say. This is the speech of Negation: neti, neti: Not this, Not this.
You who are Infinite in essence drank deep of the
waters of Lethe and falling under the magic spell of Maya, forgot yourself. You have ever since then been identifying yourself with Nature, with your form, the Not-self. You do not see that this body, this brittle casket of clay, is for disintegration, for dissolution. You love it to infatuation. You draw the cruel, merciless knife across the neck of poor, defenseless animals to gratify your lower Nature. This body must live, though I eat burnt flesh, rotten flesh, to keep it alive. Man would eat man, if his digestion did not get upset, thereby. Do not say 'No,' you animalized ignorant soul! You swallow camels and yet you strain at gnats. Thus through extreme attachment to your form, have you contracted your soul, hypnotized yourself into a finite being. You alone can strip off your limitations and stand in your Native splendour once again. To realize this is to realize divinity—is to transcend Nature!
As you learn to control Nature within you, so will you control things outside of yourself, so shall your great, all-potent will shine out to the universe.
Man's will is God's will. What is of God is God. The Infinite exists, in full stature, in each living, breathing form. Hence to know yourself is to know God. You are Bliss Eternal. You, the Infinite, became confined in sheaths of matter. Your real, immortal self shines aloft, but what little was caught up by the physical mechanism of Consciousness, fell senseless under the hypnotic suggestions of Maya. Yet an
impulsion from within is pushing you on. This is the Desire to achieve happiness which is a distorted reflection on the physical plane of your own blissful self that is on the spiritual.
It is the natural magnetism of your real self that is drawing you up. Ends ascend as Nature descends, , the Mystic. All things are in a scale; and begin where we will, ascend and ascend. All things are symbolical; and what we call results are beginnings: Emerson, on Plato, the philosopher.
So long as you are flung about under the influence of passions your progress will be clogged. The soul is under the thrall of matter, just as a muscular pair of wrists may be loaded with fetters. It is trying to burst the shackles that chain it down. It is passing through a transition stage. Its continued effort to free itself thoroughly and entirely is the promise of the future. Conquest comes. Yes! Conquest comes. I have not read these two words. I do not repeat them to you like a parrot. It has been given to me to feel the fact. Do not say "I cannot. It is beyond me;" say "I can. It is in me." So will you conquer.
This ascension of the soul is the development of the Spiritual Consciousness.
It is not intellectualism: nor spiritualism: nor supernaturalism: nor any other ism.
It is the quickening of your evolution on the spiritual plane by the up-keep of a systematized line of thought activity plus the self-determined exercise of volition.
It is the polarization of the human life force up to a high pitch of concentrated exercise of the will-power in Man.
The task is not easy of accomplishment. You can achieve it only by dedicating a whole life time to it. It is worth your while. Aim at thoroughness. Take up the suggestions I pass on. Dream them out. Think them out. Act them out.
Your aim is the subjugation of the animal soul. Have no other aim. "When one becomes freed from the bondage of the senses, he transcends all material relations and realizing the inward light regains his knowledge of Himself—this a realization of the truth. It dwells beyond Mortality and Fear."
One thing at a time and that with your entire heart and soul. The ideal you have set up for yourself must absorb the best and the richest forces in you. Introduce the thin end of the wedge. Each stroke shall drive it deeper. Do not scatter your energy. Do not burn your candle at both ends. The secret of success is Concentration. A man may be an omnivorous reader. He is a walking Encyclopaedia. His brain is Library. Yet he has no worth, no intrinsic qualities, that can give him that breadth and depth of dignity that go out of a man possessing inner force of character.
Remember, You are deathless, birthless. You live in the Eternal. One life-span can be but a short one at best. Therefore arrange your forces so that they shall flow in one even continuous stream along one line. The
man who has thus lived upon five ideas in one life, will command more than your Jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none man ever can. You must stand body and soul, for your ideas, taking up each and quietly working them out in life. This will avoid much friction and ever insure a clear and steady brain.
Education, said Vivekananda, is a man-making, life-building assimilation of ideas.
You must then by patient thinking build up an ideal for yourself. This done, give up all dreaming, all castle- building, and start in for the work. Then three things are necessary for effectual work.
The first is earnest, ardent Desire. Your heart is knitted to things of the earth, earthy, by a myriad of tiny threads. To break up the links, a strong, all-impelling force is needed. Desire ardently, longingly, for perfect establishment of chastity in your Consciousness. This keen desire is a sine-a-qua-non. Without it you cannot go through the difficulties that bar your way. Clothe yourself in this panoply of power and the shafts of adverse fortune, shall glance off from your strong armour. If you haven't this gift, it shows that your sense of manhood is small. You lack force. The greater the sinner, the greater the saint. A man must have this force or his good intentions will die a natural death. He can neither be a saint nor a sinner. He is tamasic; is of a dull, lazy, ease-loving, insipid nature.
But do not lose heart, if you belong to this class of men. You can cultivate this force. There is always a
way out. Your imagination is your creative power. Now there is a close association between thought and imagination. Imagination is thought in its full freedom. Therefore to train the desire-nature you must bring thought to bear upon it. Desire cannot train desire. You are helpless within the narrow limits of the desire aspect of the Self. You desire a thing or you do not; that's all.
No. Thought alone can help you here. Says Emerson:—There is no thought in any mind but it quickly tends to convert itself into a power, and organizes a huge instrumentality of means.
One thought repeated for days, months and years will become very strongly vitalized. Tremendous will be its telling force. It will go to make or mar your destiny. As the famous axiom goes, "Allow the thought, and it may lead to a choice, 'carry out the choice, and it will be the act,' repeat the act and it forms the habit; allow the habit and it shapes the character; continue the character, and it fixes the destiny."
Thought, then, is the fine cause. Stamp it well upon your mind. It is a tremendous fact. Learn it well, now: now, while you read it.
Picture to yourself, then, the benefits derivable from control of the lower nature.
See how the man, who is chaste in word, deed and thought, is above the din and strife of conflicting passions. He is calm, serene, and self-poised. Having inner control, the control of the outer is an easy affair
with him. He does not go about—anxious for recognition. He is master of himself, and therefore of others. His mere presence brings peace to the troubled souls of others. His speech is as a dash of cold water. It makes you sit up and listen. It stimulates you; it uplifts you; it expands you. Nothing is impossible to you. You seem or feel as if you were another being. The chaste man has communicated himself to you in all his fulness and breadth of nature. He has stirred up forces in you of which perhaps you were never before conscious.
See how the chaste man seems to purify the very air he breathes. See how dauntless is the courage that bubbles up from within him.
See how he is idolized by humanity. The mere sight of him puts new life and vigor in others. His power of doing good seems to have an inexhaustible reservoir behind it.
Thus go on picturing to yourself the all-inclusive uses of chastity.
This is the positive process of Visualization; Mental photography.
Now if your case is desperate, one of long standing, take up the negative process.
Picture to yourself the disappointment, the loss of spiritual force, the gloom and the melancholy, that cloy all passion; the swinish, grovelling, aspect of the sensual soul: the consequent exhaustion: the jeer and ridicule of the world: the breaking-down of all your fond
hopes: the pitiable poverty-stricken condition of those dependent on you; the disgraceful passage through death into an even more hideous condition of life: the utter degeneration: the shameful existence: the haunting thoughts beyond.
This method is the negative one. It is like the surgeon's knife used to cut out a cancer that threatens life. Desperate diseases require desperate remedies. This process is not advisable, except in otherwise hopeless cases. Rather use the positive method. As you sit up visualizing your ideal day after day, its attraction to you will be truly magnetic. Your heart shall go out to it in all its force. You shall want to embrace the ideal every moment of your life. Energy will come to you. Indeed your complaint then shall be: I have more energy than I can control, more thoughts than I can marshal up for serene action.
Your thoughts have been energized by constant repetition. Now you must learn to dominate them: to command them to stillness: to relax the tension in which your mind is constantly putting itself: to save your brain from giving way under this surcharge of unmarshalled energy; to absolutely vanquish the waves of force that bubble up each time you think of your ideal; for it is intoxication—the irresistible spell of a "fixed idea."
Says Swami Vivekananda: The organs are the horses, the mind is the reins, the intellect is the charioteer, the soul is the rider, and this body is the chariot.
If the horses are very strong and do not obey the reins, if the charioteer, the intellect, does not know how to control the horses, then this chariot will come to grief. But if the horses, i.e., the organs, are well-controlled, if the reins, i.e., the mind, are well held in the hands of the charioteer, i.e., the intellect, the chariot reaches the goal.
This then is the line of action. Developing the will-force, the second of the three requisites I spoke of. What is the principle of development? Exercise. How did Ram Murti develop his splendid physique, that today is the wonder of the world? Exercise. How did Vivekananda develop that terrific magnetism that inundated the entire Parliament of Religions at Chicago? Exercise. How did Sheridan who once stuttered in his speech, deliver an oration at the famous Impeachment of Warren Hastings that made the Speaker order an adjournment that the House might recover from the effect of the volcanic play of words. Exercise. Be convinced, then, My reader! Exercise is the first, last, and the only condition of growth. The human will is the grandest culmination of all the complex workings in the realm of Consciousness. Schopenhauer the philosopher puts will a-top of all else in Nature.
It is a grand thing, this human will. Its influence over man is one of compelling, forcing, driving, impelling, overpowering, commanding, demanding. This force is essentially Masculine.
I told you something about the desire-force: drawing,
pulling, attracting, charming. This is the Feminine phase of Mental energy.
When you combine the two, the positive and the negative electrodes in the human brain, your suggestions whether turned in upon your sub-conscious self or projected outward, command an irresistible position; in fact, they influence the imagination, reason, or will of another man in an uncontrolled man: this is what comes through the practice of Concentration. We should learn to make use of both; whether we are suggesting auto-ally or outwardly.
What is concentration? Holding the mind to a point. There are two phases of concentration: a lower and a higher. We shall take up the first only. You are not prepared for the second. Only those whose soul-unfoldment is an actualized fact can practice it and they will not need these teachings. They are their own teachers.
Resolve upon the performance of a certain mental work with concentration, say for half an hour at the beginning. Then carry it out. Do it every day, each time prolonging the duration of the exercise. Suppose you cannot find a mental task. Here is one:
First of all "relax" mentally and physically, yet remain alert and steady. Now: Take this virtue: Chastity. Read literature on this subject. That will provide you with the requisite information and supply many missing links. Study it from the physical, mental, and spiritual viewpoints. Then sit up and calmly think
out the bearings of the virtue: What it is? How to practice it; its resulting benefit to humanity; its appreciation; its lifting influence; the sense of courage which it gives; its absolute importance in the quickening of your Evolution and so on and on.
Then steady the mind upon this complete shaping of the virtue. Meditate upon it. Dwell upon it. Will determinedly that it shall become established in you: that from the moment you are sitting in this Concentrated willing, all your forces are being transmitted to Chastity: that the protoplasm of your very physique are becoming sensitive to the fascination of this virtue: that there is a tremendous force being generated right in the centre of your head that shall present an irresistible front to all evil thoughts and tendencies: that your entire nature vibrates to this thought:—I am Chaste: that you recoil instinctively from all that may coarsen your finely-strung spiritual fibres: that evil falls off, flies off, from your intensely poised mind: that your Higher consciousness is unfolding: that your intelligence is expanding: that your will is becoming strong, very strong: that your body obeys you: that you have power, force, within you: and that it all is developing. Now. Say "Now"—"this moment" and insist upon immediate mastery. Do this regularly and at the same time every day.
Thus you can will yourself into any state of mind you like. Not in one day or in one week will you obtain control. It will require a hundred sittings or even
more. But from the very first sitting a sense of assurance, the consciousness of an internally developing force, shall come to you:—and this if you have been thoroughly earnest over your task. Perseverance and patience you must have. Indeed! to have these is to have everything. There shall come about a step forward in your evolution at each sitting. This is the art of willing. You get it cheap. Do not treat it with indifference. Practice for a fortnight will prove to you conclusively the verity of my remarks. You have been neck-deep in carnalities: it is high time you thought of a change. Be earnest. Be a determined man. Focus upon an idea and stick to it with the bull-dog's tenacity, till you have seen it through to the end. Do not talk of it to others. Never tell others that you are in! training. Sufficient gratification of your vanity shall you have when you have acquired the wished-for object. The praise of the world is not at all necessary to your happiness. The approval of your own soul is quite sufficient. Each man sets his own measure. If you believe that you are uniquely fitted to be a virtuous pure-hearted man, so will the world also. Stick to your own. Do not be a busy body, for then you shall be nobody. Be an earnest thoughtful man. Stand rigidly by your ideal. Do not force it upon others. But do not be forced out of it. Simply be earnest.
and it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou can’st not then be false to any man."
The third requisite is a keen and broad intelligence. You must not go and buy a pig in a poke. You must not drive a nail where it won't go. By steady and much thinking, you shall be able to expand this faculty. Learn to study in the manner taught in Chapter III—"READ AND REFLECT." There you have instructions that you may well utilize. You will be amply repaid for the trouble of re-reading it. Books supply missing-links and give you the loose-end of suggestions which you can work out at leisure. Read little, think much. Your intelligence will be nurtured by contact with a pure soul, for purity charges your body with subtle, radiant and powerful forces. "Socrates declares that if some have grown wise by associating with him, no thanks are due to him, but simply whilst they were with him they grew wise and not because of him." This is the secret. The vibrations of a stronger mind impinge upon your receptive consciousness, shake up some of its grossness, and implant seeds that, fructifying in the long run, work for your spiritual upliftment. Associate with good men. Let their thought-magnetism encircle you and exercise its subtle, mysteriously spiritualizing influence upon you. The mere contact will act as a Living Force and awaken your latent powers. It will shed benediction by its mere touch. Spirituality is not intellectual gymnastics.
It is the life; and life alone can convey life. His words shall wring in your ears even when you are far away from him. His glances shall remain with you,
stirring, prompting and stimulating you. This is why India's spiritual teachers command the respect of their pupils.
Thus friend! when you have gone through this simple training, your inner spirit shall transmute all things that approach you to the nature of your ideals. Obstructions will be brushed aside. Many of the vexations and tribulations that you may be suffering now shall be smoothed out of your path. As you speak, as you look, as you move about, your inner nature shall flash out of you. It will enter your hands and feet and compel your entire being. Thus by educating yourself shall you set others a good example. Life will he worth living: Death will lose its horrible aspect: love, power, and peace shall flow out of you, and chasten others. Guard it well. Wield it for good purposes alone. You are now for the divine side of things. Your will is law. Let it be strong and guided by Love. That will develop in your nature Sattvic. Then shall you find harmony and peace.