In the first two lessons of this course we have endeavored to bring to the candidate a realization in consciousness of the reality of the "I," and to enable him to distinguish between the Self and its sheaths, physical and mental. In the present lesson we will call his attention to the relationship of the "I" to the Universal "I," and will endeavor to give him an idea of a greater, grander Self, transcending personality and the little self that we are so apt to regard as the "I."
The keynote of this lesson will be "The Oneness of All," and all of its teachings will be directed to awakening a realization in consciousness of that great truth. But we wish to impress upon the mind of the Candidate that we are not teaching him that he is the Absolute. We are not teaching the "I Am God" belief, which we consider to be erroneous and misleading, and a perversion of the original Yogi teachings. This false teaching has taken possession of many of the Hindu teachers and people, and with its accompanying teaching of "Maya" or the complete illusion or non-existence of the Universe, has reduced millions of people to a passive, negative mental condition which undoubtedly is retarding their progress. Not only in India is this true, but the same facts may be observed among the pupils of the Western teachers who have embraced this negative side of the Oriental Philosophy. Such people confound the "Absolute" and "Relative" aspects of the One, and, being unable to reconcile the facts of Life and the Universe with their theories of "I Am God," they are driven to the desperate expedient of boldly denying the Universe, and declaring it to be all "an illusion" or "Maya."
You will have no trouble in distinguishing the pupils of the teachers holding this view. They will be found to exhibit the most negative mental condition-- a natural result of absorbing the constant suggestion of "nothingness"--the gospel of negation. In marked contrast to the mental condition of the students, however, will be observed the mental attitude of the teachers, who are almost uniformly examples of vital, positive, mental force, capable of hurling their teaching into the minds of the pupils--of driving in their statements by the force of an awakened Will. The teacher, as a rule, has awakened to a sense of the "I" consciousness, and really develops the same by his "I Am God" attitude, because by holding this mental attitude he is enabled to throw off the influence of the sheaths of the lower mental principles, and the light of the Self shows forth fiercely and strongly, sometimes to such an extent that it fairly scorches the mentality of the less advanced pupil. But, notwithstanding this awakened "I" consciousness, the teacher is handicapped by his intellectual misconception and befogging metaphysics, and is unable to impart the "I" consciousness to his pupils, and, instead of raising them up to shine with equal splendor with himself, he really forces them into a shadow by reason of his teachings.
Our students, of course, will understand that the above is not written in the spirit of carping criticism or fault-finding. We hold no such mental attitude, and indeed could not if we remain true to our conception of Truth. We are mentioning these matters simply that the student may avoid this "I Am God" pitfall which awaits the Candidate just as he has well started on the Path. It would not be such a serious matter if it were merely a question of faulty metaphysics, for that would straighten itself out in time. But it is far more serious than this, for the teaching inevitably leads to the accompanying teaching that all is Illusion or Maya, and that Life is but a dream--a false thing--a lie--a nightmare; that the journey along the Path is but an illusion; that everything is "nothing"; that there is no soul; that You are God in disguise, and that He is fooling Himself in making believe that He is You; that Life is but a Divine masquerade or sleight-of-hand performance; that You are God, but that You (God) are fooling Yourself (God) in order to amuse Yourself (God). Is not this horrible? And yet it shows to what lengths the human mind will go before it will part with some pet theory of metaphysics with which it has been hypnotized. Do you think that we have overdrawn the picture? Then read some of the teachings of these schools of the Oriental Philosophy, or listen to some of the more radical of the Western teachers preaching this philosophy. The majority of the latter lack the courage of the Hindu teachers in carrying their theories to a logical conclusion, and, consequently they veil their teachings with metaphysical subtlety. But a few of them are more courageous, and come out into the open and preach their doctrine in full.
Some of the modern Western teachers of this philosophy explain matters by saying that "God is masquerading as different forms of life, including Man, in order that he may gain the experience resulting therefrom, for although He has Infinite and Absolute Wisdom and Knowledge, he lacks the experience that comes only from actually living the life of the lowly forms, and therefore He descend thus in order to gain the needed experience." Can you imagine the Absolute, possessed of all possible Knowledge and Wisdom, feeling the need of such petty "experience," and living the life of the lowly forms (including Man) in order "to gain experience?" To what Depths do these vain theories of Man drive us? Another leading Western teacher, who has absorbed the teaching of certain branches of the Oriental Philosophy, and who possesses the courage of his convictions, boldly announces that "You, yourself, are the totality of being, and with your mind alone create, preserve and destroy the universe, which is your own mental product." And again the last mentioned teacher states: "the entire universe is a bagatelle illustration of your own creative power, which you are now exhibiting for your own inspection." "By their fruits shall you know them," is a safe rule to apply to all teachings. The philosophy that teaches that the Universe is an illusion perpetrated by you (God) to amuse, entertain or fool yourself (God), can have but one result, and that is the conclusion that "everything is nothing," and all that is necessary to do is to sit down, fold your hands and enjoy the Divine exhibition of legerdemain that you are performing for your own entertainment, and then, when the show is over, return to your state of conscious Godhood and recall with smiles the pleasant memories of the "conjure show" that you created to fool yourself with during several billions of ages. That is what it amounts to, and the result is that those accepting this philosophy thrust upon them by forceful teachers, and knowing in their hearts that they are not God, but absorbing the suggestions of "nothingness," are driven into a state of mental apathy and negativeness, the soul sinking into a stupor from which it may not be roused for a long period of time.
We wish you to avoid confounding our teaching with this just mentioned. We wish to teach you that You are a real Being--not God Himself, but a manifestation of Him who is the Absolute. You are a Child of the Absolute, if you prefer the term, possessed of the Divine Heritage, and whose mission it is to unfold qualities which are your inheritances from your Parent. Do not make the great mistake of confounding the Relative with the Absolute. Avoid this pitfall into which so many have fallen. Do not allow yourself to fall into the "Slough of Despond," and wallow in the mud of "nothingness," and to see no reality except in the person of some forceful teacher who takes the place of the Absolute in your mind. But raise your head and assert your Divine Parentage, and your Heritage from the Absolute, and step out boldly on the Path, asserting the "I."
(We must refer the Candidate back to our "Advanced Course," for our teachings regarding the Absolute and the Relative. The last three lessons of that course will throw light upon what we have just said To repeat the teaching at this point would be to use space which is needed for the lesson before us.)
And yet, while the "I" is not God, the Absolute, it is infinitely greater than we have imagined it to be before the light dawned upon us. It extends itself far beyond what we had conceived to be its limits. It touches the Universe at all its points, and is in the closest union with all of Life. It is in the closest touch with all that has emanated from the Absolute-all the world of Relativity. And while it faces the Relative Universe, it has its roots in the Absolute, and draws nourishment therefrom, just as does the babe in the womb obtain nourishment from the mother. It is verily a manifestation of God, and God's very essence is in it. Surely this is almost as "high" a statement as the "I Am God" of the teachers just mentioned,--and yet how different. Let us consider the teaching in detail in this lesson, and in portions of others to follow.
Let us begin with a consideration of the instruments of the Ego, and the material with which and through which the Ego works. Let us realize that the physical body of man is identical in substance with all other forms of matter, and that its atoms are continually changing and being replaced, the material being drawn from the great storehouse of matter, and that there is a Oneness of matter underlying all apparent differences of form and substance. And then let us realize that the vital energy or Prana that man uses in his life work is but a portion of that great universal energy which permeates everything and everywhere, the portion being used by us at any particular moment being drawn from the universal supply, and again passing out from us into the great ocean of force or energy. And then let us realize that even the mind, which is so close to the real Self that it is often mistaken for it--even that wonderful thing Thought--is but a portion of the Universal Mind, the highest emanation of the Absolute beneath the plane of Spirit, and that the Mind--substance or Chitta that we are using this moment, is not ours separately and distinctly, but is simply a portion from the great universal supply, which is constant and unchangeable. Let us then realize that even this thing that we feel pulsing within us--that which is so closely bound up with the Spirit as to be almost inseparable from it—that which we call Life--is but a bit of that Great Life Principle that pervades the Universe, and which cannot be added to, nor subtracted from. When we have realized these things, and have begun to feel our relation (in these particulars) to the One Great Emanation of the Absolute, then we may begin to grasp the idea of the Oneness of Spirit, and the relation of the "I" to every other "I," and the merging of the Self into the one great Self, which is not the extinction of Individuality, as some have supposed, but the enlargement and extension of the Individual Consciousness until it takes in the Whole.
In Lessons X and XI, of the "Advanced Course" we called your attention to the Yogi teachings concerning Akasa or Matter, and showed you that all forms of what we know as Matter are but different forms of manifestation of the principle called Akasa, or as the Western scientists call it, "Ether." This Ether or Akasa is the finest, thinnest and most tenuous form of Matter, in fact it is Matter in its ultimate or fundamental form, the different forms of what we call Matter being but manifestations of this Akasa or Ether, the apparent difference resulting from different rates of vibration, etc. We mention this fact here merely to bring clearly before your mind the fact of the Universality of Matter, to the end that you may realize that each and every particle of your physical body is but a portion of this great principle of the Universe, fresh from the great store-house, and just about returning to it again, for the atoms of the body are constantly changing. That which appears as your flesh to-day, may have been part of a plant a few days before, and may be part of some other living thing a few days hence. Constant change is going on, and what is yours to-day was someone's else yesterday, and still another's to-morrow. You do not own one atom of matter personally, it is all a part of the common supply, the stream flowing through you and through all Life, on and on forever.
And so it is with the Vital Energy that you are using every moment of your life. You are constantly drawing upon the great Universal supply of Prana, then using what is given you, allowing the force to pass on to assume some other form. It is the property of all, and all you can do is to use what you need, and allow it to pass on. There is but one Force or Energy, and that is to be found everywhere at all times.
And even the great principle, Mind-substance, is under the same law. It is hard for us to realize this. We are so apt to think of our mental operations as distinctively our own-something that belongs to us personally--that it is difficult for us to realize that Mind-substance is a Universal principle just as Matter or Energy, and that we are but drawing upon the Universal supply in our mental operations. And more than this, the particular portion of Mind-substance that we are using, although separated from the Mind-substance used by other individuals by a thin wall of the very finest kind of Matter, is really in touch with the other apparently separated minds, and with the Universal Mind of which it forms a part. Just as is the Matter of which our physical bodies are composed really in touch with all Matter; and just as is the Vital Force used by us really in touch with all Energy; so is our Mind-substance really in touch with all Mind-substance. It is as if the Ego in its progress were moving through great oceans of Matter, Energy, or Mind-substance, making use of that of each which it needed and which immediately surrounded it, and leaving each behind as it moved on through the great volume of the ocean. This illustration is clumsy, but it may bring to your consciousness a realization that the Ego is the only thing that is really Yours, unchangeable and unaltered, and that all the rest is merely that portion of the Universal supply that you draw to yourself for the wants of the moment. It may also bring more clearly before your mind the great Unity of things-may enable you to see things as a Whole, rather than as separated parts. Remember, You--the "I"--are the only Real thing about and around you--all that has permanence--and Matter, Force and even Mind-substance, are but your instruments for use and expression. There are great oceans of each surrounding the "I" as it moves along.
It is well for you also to bear in mind the Universality of Life. All of the Universe is alive, vibrating and pulsating with life and energy and motion. There is nothing dead in the Universe. Life is everywhere, and always accompanied by intelligence. There is no such thing as a dead, unintelligent Universe. Instead of being atoms of Life floating in a sea of death, we are atoms of Life surrounded by an ocean of Life, pulsating, moving, thinking, living. Every atom of what we call Matter is alive. It has energy or force with it, and is always accompanied by intelligence and life. Look around us as we will--at the animal world--at the plant world--yes, even at the world of minerals and we see life, life, life—all alive and having intelligence. When we are able to bring this conception into the realm of actual consciousness--when we are able not only to intellectually accept this fact, but to even go still further and feel and be conscious of this Universal Life on all sides, then are we well on the road to attaining the Cosmic Consciousness.
But all these things are but steps leading up to the realization of the Oneness in Spirit, on the part of the Individual. Gradually there dawns upon him the realization that there is a Unity in the manifestation of Spirit from the Absolute--a unity with itself, and a Union with the Absolute. All this manifestation of Spirit on the part of the Absolute--all this begetting of Divine Children--was in the nature of a single act rather than as a series of acts, if we may be permitted to speak of the manifestation as an act. Each Ego is a Centre of Consciousness in this great ocean of Spirit--each is a Real Self, apparently separate from the others and from its source, but the separation is only apparent in both cases, for there is the closest bond of union between the Egos of the Universe of Universes--each is knit to the other in the closest bond of union, and each is still attached to the Absolute by spiritual filaments, if we may use the term. In time we shall grow more conscious of this mutual relationship, as the sheaths are outgrown and cast aside, and in the end we will be withdrawn into the Absolute--shall return to the Mansion of the Father.
It is of the highest importance to the developing soul to unfold into a realization of this relationship and unity, for when this conception is once fully established the soul is enabled to rise above certain of the lower planes, and is free from the operation of certain laws that bind the undeveloped soul. Therefore the Yogi teachers are constantly leading the Candidates toward this goal. First by this path, and then by that one, giving them different glimpses of the desired point, until finally the student finds a path best fitted for his feet, and he moves along straight to the mark, and throwing aside the confining bonds that have proved so irksome, he cries aloud for joy at his new found Freedom.
The following exercises and Mental Drills are intended to aid the Candidate in his work of growing into a realization of his relationship with the Whole of Life and Being.
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