HIGHER REASON AND JUDGMENT.
ANOTHER requisite is Fearlessness. "What a tiresome rigmarole of requisites! I know it all!" you may say. But you don't! I, too, thought so years ago. You have to take them up and meditate upon them. Thus alone can they become inwoven with your nature. Few people possess this virtue. It has to be cultivated with assiduous zeal before you can proceed a step further. Now just turn in and examine yourself in the calm light of reason. See! You have given your body first place right along. You have grown quite fond of it. Your life consists in taking care of and yielding to the demands of your physical nature. No wonder then that you are still the slave of carnal tendencies. A force far mightier than yourself seems to grip you, overbear your feeble will and whirl you where it will. Resolve this moment to be chaste and continent in thought, word and deed, and ten to one but that you will be faced by a veritable host of evil forces forming around you a ring-pass-not from which you cannot effect an escape; struggle, foam, fume and wrestle as you will. You fall into quicksands which you would
but cannot avoid. You have ever moved along lines of least resistance. You fancied yourself in fine condition indeed! You laughed your vacuous, unmanly, ignorant laugh against those who are ever serious, austere, and plodding. You considered these as sorely ridden hacks who have naught of the pleasures of life to engage them. Though you quailed abjectly beneath their sad, stern glance, you shot witty things against them when their backs were turned. You had even the impudence to admonish them against austere and abstemious ways.
Now the scales have dropped from your eyes: you who sat in the seat of the scornful and passed judgment on others; How you wish somebody would come to your rescue and lift you bodily out of this Pit of Trophet! But mere lifting won't do at all. You will drift back again. You have to be born again. A spiritual regeneration is called for. Serious introspection must be a constant virtue. Why do you fear? Because you are afraid of Fear, your relentless Hierophant. That is the causeless cause of fear. Secondly because you are so fond of your skin. Thirdly because Nature won't let you off. Time was when you lived, breathed and enjoyed evil. Your disgraceful past is reacting with all the cumulative force of evil-doing and what is far more heinous, evil thinking. You have been running in accustomed grooves. Now is the time to turn over a new leaf. Your salvation lies in these: 1. First and foremost, resolve not to give way to Fear, for there is Nothing to fear but Fear. Philosophy will
come to your help, as I hope to show you later on. 2. Then you must renounce your love for the flesh. It is a hard task. But I can see no other way out. I shall tell you the 'how' of it. It rests with you to accept or refuse. 3. Learn to be patient under suffering. Your Karma must work itself out. But you can neutralise its force in proportion to your earnestness in following my advice to the letter. Now for the remedial aspect of philosophy.
The aim of philosophy is to put an end to pain. Your fear has, back of it, a shrinking from pain. Is pain then so unwelcome? Edward Carpenter in his beautiful poem "Man and Satan" says "Every pain that I suffered in one body became a power which I wielded in the next." The functions of pain are fivefold. The nature of the Atman—the individualised self incarnation—is all-blissfulness. Time is an excrescence. It is Not-self. The law of evolution is Manifestation. There are two paths. The one is Pravritti. It signifies "revolving towards." The other is "Nivritti: revolving away." The vast mass of humanity are treading the former. The powers of the soul must be turned outwards, focused upon the external world, in order that it may acquire a knowledge of it. The soul is in rapture. It is ever inward-turned. In order that it may wake up from its latent condition and find expression physically, it must be impinged upon by pain. If there be a continued influx of streams of bliss, no power would manifest.When water is allowed its free course, it flows on smoothly. But just put a bar across its onflow. How it struggles, hisses and fumes in order to get rid of the barrier! Now you understand why the will arms itself with sudden force when the lash of disgrace and contumely stirs it up. The greater the stirring and the more continued the spasm of pain, the deeper the impression left upon the memory, the fiercer the out-put of soul energy. When it is a gentle twinge only, the soul turns over like the proverbial sleepy boy and forgets it instantly. You repeat your folly. Now our psychology fixes itself ever on the ultimate analysis of fact. Hence Vyasa in his commentary on gives pain the first seat as an important factor that goes to build up the Causal Body—the Karana Sharira, or the receptacle in which lie all the seeds of actions—the proper development of which blazes the way to Self-realisation.
The first and most important function of pain is to call out the activity-aspect of the soul. Remember it has no permanent place. Take your cue and learn to love exertion, and pain shall not come. The next function of pain is to establish conditions in the physical form. It organises the body aright. I have told you in my paper on "Man's Divine Heritage" how the transition to peace must always be through struggle and painful fighting. Says the Lord Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita:—1. That is like poison at first, but nectar at the end, that happiness is declaredSatvic, born of the the intellect due to Self-realisation. 2. That which arises from the contact of object with sense, at first like nectar, but at the end like poison, that happiness is declared to be Rajasic. 3. That happiness which begins and ends in self-delusion arising from sleep, indolence and miscomprehension, that is declared to be Tamasic. 4. There is no entity on earth, or again in heaven among the Devas that is devoid of these three Gunas, born . 5. Control of mind and senses, austerity, purity, forbearance, and also uprightness, knowledge, realisation, belief in the hereafter—these are the ways of the Satvic.
Thus you see that the putting forth of positive effort, spoken of already, will go to effectively shake out the grosser and coarsened forms of vibrations in the body. Exertion will organise your brain, develop and unfold its powers. The grind of intellectual training means pain in its exquisite form for the tamasic man. Austere living is just what man hates. Sense-pleasures he eagerly seeks. Just as exercise in the physical sense is painful to begin with, so it causes more life to flow into your muscles, nerves and fibres; and development results. Nothing has seemed to you more painful than the deliberate development of the Will. It is most painful at first. Yet, if you have done it or if you ever do it, you shall know that the harmonic poise of the Will-power is the mightiest aspect of Power in man.Well, then, this is the third function of pain. It develops power. "Power is pain transmuted."
Read the life of Napoleon. There you see the finest manifestation of power. This man small and insignificant of build commanded the rugged soldiers as if they were infants. They were as wax in his hands. He could mould them as he wished. Take this single instance. Napoleon hearing that the Bourbons were misgoverning his country, returned from his exile at Elba. He had to give the guards the slip. He returned with no forces. He was alone in the midst of his bitterest enemies, the Bourbons. Troops were drawn up to fight him. The entire army had been commanded to fire at his breast. They were standing—the Bourbon soldiers—with their muskets levelled at his breast ready for the command "Aim." Napoleon on foot, alone, undefended and unarmed, marched deliberately towards the troops with measured tread, gazing directly into their eyes. The command to "Fire" was shouted out. A single shot would have killed him. A fortune would have awaited the man who fired it. If the army had obeyed the order no less than forty thousand bullets would have entered Napoleon's breast. But this man flinched not. He undid the buttons, bared his breast and stood within a few yards facing them. The whole army wavered. How could they shoot this man? "Fire!" "Fire!!" But how could they fire? They were under this man's fascination. They were spell-bound. They couldn't fire. Not one
man obeyed the order. Not one, mark you, out of these thousands! They all threw down their guns and ran to him, shouting "Vive l’Empereur!" Yet if you turn to this man's early life, you see him imposing the most painful tasks upon himself. For days he would go without sleep, rest and food, deeply absorbed in study. His hard labours at his studies in early life dwarfed his stature. His appearance at times, we read, was woeful to contemplate because of his painful hardships. But then there was lightning in his eyes which burned and flashed with the fire of his spirit. Truly, most truly, is "pain" transmuted into "Power."
The Yogi whose severe austerities strike you dumb with surprise and horror, tames the lions and tigers of the forest simply by a look. In point of fact all advanced Yogis have this and thousands of other such wonderful powers. The fourth function is that pain purifies. "Slowly and resolutely as a fly cleans its legs of the honey in which it has been caught—so remove thou, if it be only for a time, every particle which sullies the brightness of thy mind. Return into thyself content to give but asking no one—asking nothing."
Now this cleansing process you set about only under the crucifixion of pain. Human nature is obdurate. For ages the animal propensities have been developed. Unless drastic methods be employed they are impossible of subjugation. There is nothing like pain as a teacher. Because first it is a purifier. Once your nature has been passed through the fire of suffering it will have
known the serious side of life. It will represent sterner stuff than the mere gibbering, imitative tendencies of the ape.
Next pain is a discipliner of mind and body. Now if you remember all this, you will be patient under suffering. You will not tug and pull, gnash your teeth and break down. You will be indifferent alike to pain and pleasure. For as you study and meditate, as wisdom opens out to your vision, you shall see that there is ever a cause behind. You shall go on calmly working for higher ends, not waiting for release as a condition of work.
Then there are other reasons why you should not give way to fear. Says Professor James "There is no sort of consciousness whatever, be it sensation, feeling or idea, which does not directly and of itself discharge into some motor effect." Says Tichner "It is a rule without exception that every mental process has in its condition a bodily process, some change in the central nervous system and more particularly in the cerebral cortex. No psychosis without neurosis. There is no mental state which has not a peculiar nervous state corresponding to it." A Mental Healer of wide influence says "Just as truly as faith is a talisman by which we can successfully conjure, so is fear a palsy by which disaster is insured." Rev. Tarley T. Womer tells us the following story: It is said that a certain man tried to kill his wife by throwing her from a boat while they were crossing a river. The woman kept herself
from sinking by holding on to the side of the boat. In his furious rage the man struck her with an axe and severed two of her fingers. But somehow she was rescued and later on a reconciliation was effected and they lived together happily. But for several succeeding generations every male child that was born to the family had two fingers missing.
Your thoughts effect your body just as they shape your destiny. Fear thoughts, worrisome and melancholy thoughts destroy brain cells and smash down the tissue walls, take the light out of your eyes, poison your blood, lower your vitality and write O Coward! Coward!! on your forehead. Whereas the positive will is a strong shield from which all destructive forces glance off like so many wisps of straw. So long as we cling to this body, we give the spirit but small chance of asserting itself. Our thoughts are bound to the physical and carnal side of life. Our eyes have the mud of materialism in them. But just register a vow that you will ever contemplate and stand by the Spirit, and try ever to realise it and the heavens will clear out for you. Life, though serious and stern, shall reflect power; shall shed healing and flash with the light of the Spirit. If not, why not? Because, sir, you are still not earnest, still animalised. I say "It is possible. Perfectly possible." I have a right to say it. I have seen it with my own eyes. Others do it. Why can't you? Nature's laws are rigid and uniform in their working. What one man can do others must be able
to do. Instead of one man, thousands of the children of India are doing it.
All aspirants after Occultism have to set before themselves as a first step the conquest of the physical nature. The Sanyasin is not permitted to remain under the same roof for more than a day;—at the most three days. He has given up his body. He knows it is the mortal, the grosser side of his nature. He trains it after certain methods; purifies and subdues it, that done, he is free. He is non-attached. He is the master. He can turn the full current of his life-forces upon a single thought, and so vitalise it with the electric principle in himself that it shall have all the potency of the charged wires of a dynamo.
There has gone out a foolish and unpardonable impression from some ignorant Western writers that the Yogi is an air-fed, emaciated, human wreck. Yes! You Westerns would give way under these practices. You who are such staunch believers in nourishment and nutrition could hardly believe the Swami Dharmananda Mahavarati when he says: In the beginning of the year 18.. I formed the acquaintance of a Yogi who was then in his 260th year. In another year on my way from Afghanistan I was highly delighted at seeing woman (a Yogini) whose age could be ascertained from her eyelashes which grew again but had not turned grey. She was about 500 years old! Barth on yoga exercises says "I conscientiously observed they can only end in folly and idiocy." Professor Huxley calls them
delusions! The face of Vivekananda is not a strange one to my American readers. Is that inspiring appearance indicative of mental aberration? Now listen to his account of himself: Many times I have been in the jaws of death, starving, footsore and weary; for days and days I had had no food! and often could walk no farther; I would sink down under a tree and life would seem ebbing away. I could not speak, I could scarcely think, but at last the mind would revert to the idea: "I have no fear of death; I never hunger nor thirst. The whole of nature cannot crush me; it is my servant. Assert thy strength, thou Lord of Lords! Regain thy lost empire! Arise and walk and stop not, and I would rise up, reinvigorated, and here am I, living today. This is our Swamin! Strong as a rock and one of India's Yogis. This man lived in mountain caves for years. He climbed over the mountains on foot to Thibet. He is by no means a solitary instance. Now reader! If you are wise, you will meditate day after day on these things. The practical lessons will follow. In the meantime fear not."