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Author Topic:   The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power: Chapter 1

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posted April 25, 2008 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for starr33     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power
by Vernon Howard

Chapter 1

The Greatest Secret on Earth

“What is the cause and cure of a man’s or a woman’s problems on earth?”

That is the foremost question ever formed in the human mind. Discovering the cause and applying the cure is the purpose of this book.
Mankind can be likened to a large party of tourists searching for [a] new homesite. They board a train that can take them from a dry and dreary desert to a grand and lofty mountaintop. The travel guide assures them that the higher they go, the greater their capacity to see and enjoy the countryside.

There are station stops all along the upward way. A tourist may get off and end his trip at any point he likes. He is perfectly free to cut himself short, or to continue all the way to the top.

Some get off at the first stop. They find themselves in desolate country. They settle down in secret despair.

Others go on for another station or two, then take their leave of the train. Their location is somewhat better, but, still, they settle down with a vague uneasiness.

A few others, the enduring ones, keep going. Somewhere along the early part of the journey, they made a fascinating discovery: Though the trip certainly has its challenges, the farther they go the easier it becomes. Patience and persistence present sure rewards. So they eagerly press on. As they do so, they reach the peaks of happy and unworried living. With enormous relief, they find that the mountain-top was not just something announced in the travel guide; it is real, it is there, it is theirs.

The Needless Desperation of Man

Edward Arlington Robinson sums up the desperate predicament of man in his classic poem, Richard Cory. Everyone in town admired Richard Cory’s princely manners. They envied his apparently exalted station in life. He seemed the very ideal of the successful individual. But it was all a stage performance. No one knew it better than Richard Cory. In his despair, he finally fled the stage in the only way he knew, in self-destruction.

Genuinely happy people are much rarer than one supposes. People wear a variety of masks: smiling masks, wise-appearing ones, excited ones, masks of worldly success, all a frantic attempt to convince themselves and others that the act is real. But, sooner or later, the play must come to an end, leaving the actor alone and afraid on his little stage.

What does every man want? He only senses what he wants. He wants to be free. From what? From his heartache and suffering, from his compulsive desires, from his fear of what other people can do to him, from secret shames and guilts.

He wants self-liberty. But he doesn’t know what it is, or where to find it. Still, he anxiously seeks, and almost always in the wrong places. In despair over finding the right needle in a haystack, he doesn’t even see he's searching in the wrong haystack.

He hopefully comforts himself, “Well, tomorrow will be different.” But it won’t. And he knows it. He knows he will look back and find himself in the same old despair. The only change will be in a few exterior surroundings. But it’s still the same old haunted house.

The famous prisoners-in-the-cave allegory of Socrates, as told by Plato, explains man’s condition: A number of men are chained in a dark cavern. A fire blazes around them, producing fearful shadows. Falsely assuming that the shadows are real, they cringe in terror and hostility.

But one prisoner gets tired of it all. Taking charge, he decides to risk all in an attempt to escape. Fighting his way through the darkness, he emerges into the sunlight of the real world. He finds himself a free man.

And what happens if he goes back to tell others of his wonderful discovery? What if he explains that their agonies result from their illusions, that an entirely new world exists on the outside? Will they welcome his message? They will not. What!-and give up their smug assumptions that they already know what is real? And disturb their ego-centered ways? No! They will scorn and resent him, call him a deluded fool-and remain in their secret despair.

What solution does the Mystic Path offer?

There Is A Way Out

Man is a frightened wanderer. That is an observable fact. But there is a second fact he rarely glimpses: There is a way out. It consists of finding his true identity. That is the only way any human being has ever shed the ache of separation, isolation, loneliness.

A prince was kidnapped at birth from his father’s palace. Raised in poverty in a wretched village, he rebelled against the poverty of his life. He constructed careful plans for becoming the king of the land. Through a series of schemes and battles, he won the throne. But he was anxious, hostile. Having taken the kingdom by force, he lived in dread of other ambitious men. It was day-to-day misery.

Then he learns his true identity. He is a king by birthright. He sees the folly of trying to retain by force what is already his inheritance. Now, with this kingly consciousness, there is no fear, no threat, only quiet dominion.
Observes Aldous Huxley:

It is because we don’t know Who we are, because we are unaware that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we behave in the generally silly, the often insane, the sometimes criminal ways that are so characteristically human. We are saved, we are liberated and enlightened, by perceiving the hitherto unperceived good that is already within us, by returning to our eternal Ground and remaining where, without knowing it, we have always been. (The Perennial Philosophy)

Every man is a king through conscious awareness of his true identity. He need not try to be anything; he need only realize who he really is-a king by birthright.

“How can we start practicing this idea?”

“How would you feel if you had no fear? Fell like that. How would you behave toward other people if you realized their powerlessness to hurt you? Behave like that. How would you think toward yourself if you knew you were really alright? Think like that.

There are kingly states of consciousness. By living them, you live like a king.

It is a fascinating process. A self-working individual will be sitting around home one day when the startling thought occurs, “Here I am, sitting around, doing nothing of interest, nothing to hope for, no one to talk with-and I am not depressed.”

He knows what would have happened a year or two ago in a similar situation. He would have trembled at the nothingness, at the lack of outside stimulation. But he has changed. He is no longer at the mercy of moods. He sees through the bluffs of negative impressions. He is quietly there. And that’s all there is to it.

The Greatest Secret On Earth!

What is it?
By contacting a Higher Power, a man can live an entirely new life, both in the here and now and in the there and thereafter.

That is the greatest secret on earth.
The Mystic Path leads upward to that a new life.

How does the average man spend his day? He can be likened to a pendulum. Something favorable happens in his exterior life, perhaps a raise in pay, or a compliment. He feels good. But the next moment, strangely, the pay raise and the compliment become meaningless, so he swings from one state to its opposite-between confidence and fear, between cheeriness and gloom, calmness and nervousness, peace and anger, decision and indecision.

This is followed by feelings of futility, of being trapped. Though he may seek answers here and there, he has no real hope. Though believing that he may feel good tomorrow, he agonizes over the knowledge that he will plunge into emptiness the day after. He knows that his temporary elation will cruelly vanish, as the mirage disappears before the desert wanderer.

There is another way to live.
I assure you that this is no mere opinion of mine. I know. I also know that my telling of this can encourage but cannot convince you. But you can, by taking careful heed to the principles, convince yourself through actual experience. No person and no circumstance on earth can prevent it, if you are willing to change who you are. Our life-transformation is in exact proportion to the amount of truth we can take without running away.

What, then, is the requirement for the man or woman who wants to possess this greatest secret on earth? It is not strength, nor confidence, nor youthfulness, nor anything else like that. There is only one requirement: The seeker must be willing to listen, and to learn something new. With that, all things are possible.

Every man and woman, without exception, senses that there is something else beyond his ordinary life. The perfect evidence that there is something far better is his enduring search for it. Our task is to raise this unconscious sense to the conscious level where it enriches us, just as pearls enrich the man who brings them up from the ocean floor.

At this point, we can clear a major difficulty confronted by the sincere seeker. The moment he begins his quest, he is assaulted by the terrible thought that this too may be a delusion. He agonizes over the possibility that the answer may not really exist after all. His previous failures overwhelm him with the horror that this new reaching may also come back with empty hands.

No! If he persists, in spite of his doubts and failures, he will find the answer. It exists. The mystics have found it, and they point the way; but the discovery itself must be personal. So do this: Proceed courageously upon the principle that even just a glimpse of light leads to more light. For it always does. Just dare a lot, and you will get a lot.

“But all this may call for more of a spiritual life than I want.”

“Don’t try to be spiritual. That is only a word in the dictionary. Make it your goal to become a normally functioning individual. Let these principles shape you according to your real nature of a simple, decent, honest, unafraid human being.”

“Then mysticism is a system for mental health.”

“Of course. And much more.”

What Is Mysticism?

We want to settle for an accurate definition of mysticism. As used and abused as the term is, we must clarify our thinking for the purpose of our study. We can state our definition in several ways, realizing that they all describe the same essential thing. Mysticism is: a. An advanced state of inner enlightment. b. Union with Reality. c. A state of genuinely satisfying success. d. Insight into an entirely new world of living. e. An intuitive grasp of Truth, above and beyond intellectual reasoning. f. A personal experience, in which we are happy and healthy human beings.

This describes genuine mysticism. Pseudo-mysticism seeks to evade reality; authentic mysticism wants to live it. Because it is real, it ultimately bears the fruits of love, understanding, and compassion within the individual. It has nothing to do with counterfeit claims resulting in individual turmoil and worldwide calamity. Fraudulent mysticism gives rise to self-deception, neurosis, unhealthy emotionalism. Our concern is with intelligence, normalcy, wholesomeness.

The authentic mystic is the sanest of sane men. Alfred Tennyson credits him with “absolute clearness of mind.”

The Mystic Path is bright with cheer. Even if something goes wrong, the mystic-man remains peaceful. He is like a perched bird who feels the branch give way. Why worry? He has wings!

Is it philosophical, or psychological, or religious? It is all and none, for these are only verbal descriptions. It makes no difference what you label it, or whether you label it or not. Reality is beyond words. You can think of the Mystic Path as a spiritual journey, or as a practical experiment, or simply, as a means for a rich and purposeful life.

Some of the teachers and systems mentioned in this book represent the religious approach, such as Meister Eckhart and the New Testament. On the other hand, a Zen master instructs, “Stop wasting time with theological speculations. Forget the fancy phrases that are supposed to indicate spirituality-whatever that word means. Get down to business with yourself. Find out why your life is such a mess and clear it away. Stop fooling around; get to the point.”

The Miraculous Message Of Mysticism

No conflict exists between mysticism and the established religions any more than there is a disagreement among several lecturers who describe the same sunrise. Only their presentations are different. William James, the giant among American psychologists, harmonizes religion and mysticism like this:
…personal religious experience has its roots and centre in mystical states of consciousness…I think I shall at least succeed in convincing you of the reality of the states in question, and of the paramount importance of their function. (The Varieties of Religious Experience)

All religions have produced enlightened men and women. One such mystic of India, Sri Ramakrishma, experimented by living, in turn, with various religions. He was a Christian, then a Hindu, then a Buddhist. He discovered the same Truth in all.

Mysticism is not this or that particular cup on the table; it is the water poured into all of them.

It is enough to conclude that any man or woman who sincerely treads the Mystic Path in his own way will sooner or later meet that something else which is beyond definition.

What, then, is the miraculous message of mysticism?

Happiness is yours in the here and now. The painful states of anxiety and loneliness are abolished permanently. Financial affairs are not financial problems. You are at ease with yourself. You are not at the mercy of unfulfilled cravings. Confusion is replaced with clarity. There is a relieving answer to every tormenting question. You possess a True Self. Something can be done about every unhappy condition. While living in the world you can be inwardly detached from its sorrows to live with personal peace and sanity.

And this is what unknowing people call impractical mysticism!

This is the greatest secret on earth. Unfortunately, it is a secret hidden from the eyes of most men. But it is available to all. Anyone, who really wants it, can have it.

Never forget, you are following all this for your own sake. Your purpose along the Mystic Path is a very personal one. The objective of every seeker is to become an enlightened, happy, and pleasant human being.

How To Perform Right Action

Millions of people assume it is enough to seek the Truth. It is not. It is essential to seek in the right way. The right way starts with a right frame of mind, with simple receptivity. Everything depends upon the way we take the Truth. No other mystical point is more important than this. The seed must fall on fertile, not rocky ground.

The everyday mind misunderstands and distorts mystic principles. Non-action is a good example. Panicky people exclaim, “But we must do something. It’s foolish to sit around with folded hands.” This misses the point entirely. Mysticism explains that a panicky man is like a passenger on a reliable ocean liner. The passenger races furiously forward on the deck in order to get himself to port. If he would stop this panicky action, he would do the right thing, which is calmly see that he need not do anything but let the ship carry him to port.

Some inquirers are apt to think that mystic teachers dwell in some sort of ivory tower, having no contact with the realities of a harsh world. Such notions are quickly dispelled by reading about the early lives of teachers like Augustine and Count Tolstoy, whom we meet later. The difference between the mystic and his critic is this: The mystic has met and conquered the harsh world, while the skeptic is still punished by it. When a teacher is accused of knowing nothing about the everyday world, he reflects upon his own former business struggles, his affairs with women, and his own intensely hard work at self-liberation. When accused, he thinks of it all, smiles, and says nothing.

The Mystic Path has everything to do with everyday affairs. Take, as a single example, failure to break an unwanted habit. What goes wrong? The person fails because the very self who is trying to break the habit is the same self who is trapped by it. A man in this state is like a prisoner who dreams he is the guard with the keys. A new sense of self is needed. When the man discovers this new self, he also breaks the habit, for man’s essential self is jailed by nothing.

The Two Selves Within A Man

Certain basic principles form the foundation of the Mystic Path. One of them, which we now meet, will be referred to repeatedly. Your grasp of it makes everything else clear. An individual lives with two conflicting selves within him: his True Self and his false self. It is difficult at the start to see that this is so, but what a fine first step toward wholeness!

The false self consists of everything negative within a person. Its nature is to be envious, helpless, angry, despairing, worried, critical, unstable, foolish, and everything else at enmity with happiness. Religions call the false self the devil or sinfulness; philosophy sees it as the lower nature; modern psychology calls it the ego-self that lives in illusion. But whatever the name, it is the cause of all inward pressure, which explodes outwardly in wars, crimes, and other social tragedies.

The man dominated by his false self does not live his day; he is driven through it. He is hounded by compulsive desires, pained by automatic angers, scared by unrealistic imaginations. Because he identifies with these terrors, that is, because he wrongly takes himself as his false self, his desperation is endless. He is clutched by an unseen enemy. “The entire root of your problem is that you cannot get out of yourself.” (Francois Fenelon)

Now, it is utterly useless for a man to try to change or reform his old nature. You cannot improve it in any way whatsoever. Here is where everyone makes his great mistake. He thinks he can change his false self, which is impossible. The false self makes promises to itself which it can no more keep than a hawk can change itself into a dove. “Of what use to make heroic vows of amendment, if the same old lawbreaker is to keep them?” (Ralph Waldo Emerson in Experience) It is the fixed nature of the false self to be negative, just as it is the nature of fire to be hot.

Then what can be done?

Overcoming The Barrier To Happines

The false nature cannot be, and need not be changed, but it can be dissolved and replaced by the True Self. Try to see the difference in an impossible effort to change the false self and that of replacing it with your essential self. A hawk cannot be changed into a dove, but it can be replaced with a dove.

Remember, the false self is false; it is non-existent, but, by believing in it, we act as if it were real. In reality, there is only one Self, one Power.

The True Self is, as the New Testament phrases it, the Kingdom of Heaven within. It is your higher self, the Divinity in man.

Now, since every man possesses this True Self, what are our possibilities once we release it through awareness of its existence? They are everything good and pleasant and satisfying. You can accept that as a fact right now, even if you do not feel it to be so. Forget your feelings; accept the fact.
I exist as I am-that is enough;
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content

-Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Our task is to dissolve the imaginary self and live from our real center of being. That is the only way to human health. But it is the sure cure. It is like removing a distorting blanket from a statue, enabling us to see its true form.

I find that the greatest single barrier to attaining this is man’s secret assumption that he already knows the answers to his problems. But we all sense this pretense. Millions of unhappy people make this false assumption, but do not see it, thus freezing their potentialities for happiness.

A tremendous power works for the man who meets a challenging problem with the honest admission, “I don’t know the answer.” By turning his helplessness over to the power, he enables it to reveal the answer. It is like turning over the basic materials to a master rug-maker, knowing that he can take what we give and weave something far more beautiful than we could ever do.

Just as a subject under the influence of a stage magician doesn’t realize his hypnotic state, neither does a man comprehend his life-hypnosis. And, of course, how can he know? While under hypnosis, he has no basis for comparison between hypnosis and wakefulness. Because the hypnotized man knows only hypnosis, he will scorn any other possibility. There is a way to break the spell, as we will see in following chapters.

Finding Your True Self Changes Everything

Man has a false sense of identity. He thinks he is his false self, which he is not. He is his True Self, but doesn’t know it. All man’s grief can be traced back to his utterly vain attempt to prove this false sense of identity, for instance, through a compulsive drive to be admired and applauded. Yes, the egotistical self craves and demands applause, but man is not his ego-self.

The only evil is ignorance, unawareness, failure to see our authentic identity. To the degree that we learn to live from our true identity, our pains and follies fall away, to be replaced with peace and wisdom.

“If you plant a tulip bulb in a weed patch it will still grow into a tulip.”

Losing the false self is like this: Imagine yourself with an acquaintance whom you know very well but one who causes you nothing but trouble. You decide to put him out of your life, so he starts walking away. At first you feel anxious, for, as troublesome as he is, he is all you think you have. But then, something interesting happens. After your false friend has walked away in one direction, you sight a new figure in another direction. As the false friend walks away, to the same degree does this new figure come closer. Finally, you recognize him as a new trustworthy friend, your True Self.

So the whole question is: How can we free ourselves from the false power of the old nature? Author P.D. Ouspensky quotes a modern mystic, George Gurdieffe.

Freedom, liberation, this must be the aim of man. To become free, to be liberated from slavery: this is what a man ought to strive for when he becomes even a little conscious of his position. There is nothing else for him, and nothing else is possible so long as he remains a slave both inwardly and outwardly. But he cannot cease to be a slave outwardly while he remains a slave inwardly. Therefore in order to become free, man must gain inner freedom.
The first reason for man’s inner slavery is his ignorance, and above all, his ignorance of himself. Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave, and the plaything of the forces acting upon him.
This is why in all ancient teachings the first demand at the beginning of the way to liberation was: “Know thyself.” (In Search of the Miraculous)

Knowledge of his real nature. That is how a man achieves unshakeable success. He is like a permanent guest in a spacious mansion, who enjoys everything, while being responsible for nothing.

Climb Aboard!

Whenever a new idea rushes into the mind, it smashes into a mass of distorting elements; like a ball tossed hard against the walls of a closet, the idea bounces against our fixed attitudes and opinions. In meeting the ideas of this book, you may find them bouncing against your present viewpoints. The new concepts may appear mysterious, or illogical. When this happens, do not leap to automatic conclusions. This cuts off necessary inquiry. Rather, adventure with the new ideas, get acquainted with them. “There is a pleasure in the passing woods.” (George Gordon Byron)

Read as if you have no personal attitudes. Be open and receptive. This frees the mind of conditioned thinking, enabling it to absorb the new. We need start with nothing more than a simple desire to get the point. It is not a question of intelligence. Everyone has the intelligence. We need have no concern whether we are able to do this or that toward our inner happiness. Our only concern is whether we are willing to learn. And even if we are not, we can be willing to be willing.

The Truth at all costs! It is like an icebreaking ship that cracks its passage through frozen obstacles.

“But I get discouraged so easily.”

“There is no need for discouragement over anything. Simply realize that you have not as yet grasped this or that idea. Why be dismayed just because you are in the fifth grade instead of the sixth? Keep studying. You are doing fine!”

On your first reading of this book, proceed without any particular effort to grasp anything that seems strange. Don’t pause to puzzle too much. On your second reading, do the very same thing. But this time it will be different. Ideas which were previously vague, now sparkle. Already, they give you a new feeling toward yourself.

This chapter opened with mankind pictured as living at various levels along a railway. Ask yourself whether you are satisfied with your present level. It is perfectly possible for you to be carried up the mountainside. There is a new train along every hour. Climb aboard!

Valuable review of chapter 1
1. Deeply within, every human being yearns for the free and enjoyable life.

2. The greatest secret on earth is that any man or woman can have this new life.

3. Your search for the richer way is perfect evidence of its existence.

4. The Mystic Path is a simple, sensible, and sure way toward all-around success.

5. You can find the answer to every problem and confusion.

6. Learn to seek Truth in the right way-with the fundamentals of mysticism.

7. We must dissolve the false self through right knowledge, and live from the True Self.

8. It is essential that we do not unconsciously assume that we already know the answers.

9. Adventure down the Mystic Path with a totally receptive mind.

10. Start right where you are.

Howard , Vernon . The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power. West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker Publishing Company, Inc., 1967.

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posted April 26, 2008 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for juniperb     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it philosophical, or psychological, or religious? It is all and none, for these are only verbal descriptions. It makes no difference what you label it, or whether you label it or not. Reality is beyond words. You can think of the Mystic Path as a spiritual journey, or as a practical experiment, or simply, as a means for a rich and purposeful life.

Wonderful Starr and I look forward to chapter two!

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world is immortal"~

- George Eliot

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posted April 29, 2008 02:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for starr33     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chapter 2

Wake Up To A World Of Wonder

British novelist H.G. Wells was an explorer in the psychic world. An outcome of his search was the novel, In the Days of the Comet. This story has an interesting parallel to the fascinating subject of this chapter.

The novel tells of a world torn by warfare, intrigue, and treachery, in other words, a world much like our own. One day a mysterious comet approaches to hover over the earth. It discharges a great green cloud that puts everyone on earth into a strange sort of sleep.

Later, everyone wakes up. It is the same physical world, but what an amazing change has taken place in human beings. Hostility and mistrust are gone’ everyone is calm and understanding. Soldiers climb out of their trenches to greet each other as friends. Peace is no longer a word, but an actual condition.

Awakened humanity realizes something previously unseen. Their wickedness was an outcome of their human-hypnosis. They saw that their previous platitudes, so noble and high-sounding at the time, were thin masquerades for selfish ambition. But all that had vanished. Now they see things as they really are. It is a glad and new world of wonder and happiness, like this:

This life, this abiding, enduring peace that never fails, this serene power and unhurried conquest, inward conquest over ourselves, outward conquest over the world, is meant to be ours. It is a life that is freed from strain and anxiety and hurry, for something of the Cosmic Patience of God becomes ours. (Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion)

The Strange Case of Hypnotized

Man is hypnotized. His entire life is one great nightmare, which he takes for reality. One of his handy sleeping pills is his blithe assumption that he is not asleep, that he is a perfectly conscious human being.

In spite of the repeated disasters occurring in his nightmare, he still insists he is awake. He goes through life like a sleepwalker, bumping into one painful object after another, but never letting the shock wake him up.

This is what the mystics have been trying to get over to humanity for centuries. “Let the pride of man be stilled; he thinks he is free but he is not.” (Francois Fenelon)

Man is in a peculiar kind of psychic sleep, which he fails to recognize. So he casually brushes it aside as having nothing to do with his life. Spiritual literature abounds with references to this unconscious slumber. “Awake thou that sleepest.” (Ephesians 5:4) Remember, this was said to people running governments, doing business, raising families. These very people so busy in the material world are told they must wake up to a new sense of life!

We must not assume that we are spiritually awake. This is of utmost importance. We have already seen that one of the smoothest tricks of the false self is to deceive us into thinking that our present state, even when filled with charitable activities, is a conscious one. No, we must proceed with the idea that we are presently hypnotized. It helps to understand that this is [a] different kind of psychic slumber, which we don’t recognize as yet.

Another great help is to see that alertness in exterior affairs has no connection with psychic-awareness. Exterior abilities are on the mental plane; psychic skill is on a higher, spiritual level. This explains why a genius in politics, or science, or business can be utterly lost in his private life.

“You know, Mr. Howard, for a long time I have wondered what is wrong with myself and other people. The idea of a hypnotized humanity makes perfect sense. Why else would millions of people march off to senseless war? I hope we can continue with this subject next week. I want to know more.”

“Don’t be concerned if it is not clear to you just now. This merely indicates that you have not, as yet, escaped far enough to detect the difference between sleeping and awakened states. You see, a person in psychic slumber cannot possibly see what is meant by wakefulness until he actually wakes up. Suppose you are deeply asleep in your bed tonight. Would you hear someone who quietly informed you that you are asleep?”

“No. I see what you mean. To use another example, we are canaries in a cage who have no idea of the open sky. But what a difference!”

“Awakening is the most different event a human being can experience.”

How To Wake Up To A World Of Wonder

If a sleepwalker wants to stop bumping into things, what must he do? Wake up. That’s all. Just wake up. So must the man or woman in psychic sleep. He or she must open the eyes of understanding.

Having recognized, even dimly, the nightmare that keeps us weary and afraid, we want to end it. But how? How do we awaken from the bad dream?

A man must have a deep and sincere desire to change his inner self. He must be tired of merely rearranging the toy blocks of his exterior affairs and get down to adult business with himself.

With one man it is enough to feel a nagging dissatisfaction with things as they are. He is disappointed, restless, finding no lasting fulfillment in wealth, or fame, or social success. Another man might be jolted out of his complacent sleep by a shock, or a crisis, or by disgrace. When used as a message, not as a punishment, a shock can open a man’s eyes.

A man must sense that something is wrong, deeply wrong. Now, every man has such a vague hint within, but he fails to listen to the message accompanying it.

This new and strange disturbance is accompanied by the ever-so-slight suggestion that there just might be a way out. He senses an alternative to his desperation, though, at this early stage, he has no idea of what it might be. It is a vague but entirely new hint of higher possibilities.

A few years previous to this mysterious stirring within, the man might have challenged a mystic, “Why should I bother with what you say? I’m a happy and active man.”

“Because,” replies the mystic, “you are not really happy-and no one knows it better than you. Beyond all your shallow pretenses and invented activities, you see your own emptiness. You can try to kid yourself, but you can’t kid your nervousness, and your irritability, and your sleepless nights.”

Now, having reached the end of his rope of egotism, no longer able to hide behind his pretenses, the man utters his first faint, “Yes, that is so. I am willing to go on from wherever I am to explore whatever there is.”

The Confession Of A Famous Nobleman

This brings us to a man who woke up: Count Leo Tolstoy. Born into a family of nobility, Tolstoy was not religious in the usual sense. His early life proved the opposite. By his own confession he led a wretched life of robbery, sexual excess, drunkenness, cruel oppression of peasants, and violence of every description. As a soldier he was a vicious killer. Few crimes escaped him. So Tolstoy lived-and suffered inner torment. Was there, he faintly questioned, another way to live?

He began to write, motivated, he realized, by a driving desire for money and fame. He soon succeeded in attracting attention as a talented author. But it did nothing to cover up the inner agony. Looking around at his world he wrote, “It is now clear to me that between ourselves and the inhabitants of a madhouse there was no difference: at the time I only vaguely suspected this, and, like all madmen, thought all were mad except myself…”

A series of journeys did nothing but heighten his horror of the human condition. He began to see what all seekers must eventually see with shock-the vast space between mankind’s lofty pretensions of virtue and the subtle, self-seeking cruelness actually practiced.

But the psychic breaking point was near: “The truth was, that life was meaningless. Every day of life, every step in it, brought me, as it were, nearer the practice, and I saw clearly that before me there was nothing but ruin. And to stop was impossible; to go back was impossible…”

He searched frantically among all the established branc[h]es of knowledge. Was there a way out? His days were dark with the despair that it might not exist after all. The fear deepened when the scholars of the day had no satisfying answers to his enquiry, “Why am I living?” and “How can I save myself?” Tolstoy’s intense honesty compelled him to see that the learned men, who supposedly knew the answers, were just as secretly confused as he. In misery over the failure of his human reasoning to save him, he considered taking his life.

Then, gradually, the light dawned. From the New Testament he finally understood the cause of personal and mass wretchedness: “That men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Painfully seeing through his own deceit, he clearly saw it in others.

At the age of 58, self-liberation appeared. As the blindfold fell from his eyes, Tolstoy perfectly saw one monumental fact: Life is meaningful only when we are conscious-really conscious-of Truth, of Reality, of things as they are. We must wake up, be born again.

A free man, Tolstoy testified, “The light that then shone never left me again.”

Your Single Greatest Technique For Newness

We now come to the single most important technique on the Mystic Path. With its persistent practice, any human being can turn into a new person. This essential and dynamic technique is: Self-Observation.

Before we see what it is, we must see what it is not. I find many misconceptions here.

Self-Observation is definitely not self-centered mental absorption. If that could liberate, millions would be free! No, self-centered reflection is the exact opposite of genuine, Self-Observation, and its worst enemy. Self-absorption is always characterized by uneasiness; Self-observation is the method of destroying uneasiness.

Self-Observation is an act of watching everything that goes on, both within yourself, and outside. You do nothing but watch, just as if it were happening to someone else. You do not personalize. You do not react or form an opinion about anything you observe, whether it is a newspaper headline, or an inner feeling.

You judge nothing as good or bad, pleasurable or painful, favorable or unfavorable. You simply watch, just as if you have no personal connection with whatever you observe. Think of yourself as standing on a riverbank, watching passing ships. Some of the ships are bright with lights and color, others are dark and dreary; but what has either to do with you? You have no connection with either the brightness or the dreariness-you are merely watching them come and go.

Self-Observation means passive detachment. You do not try to change the things you see in yourself; you interfere with nothing. Without attitude and without comment, you simply look.

It is a remarkable experience to stand aside and watch a fear, or a depression, or a passion pass through out without personalizing it. It is sheer magic that eventually changes things effortlessly and correctly.

“But I am thinking about myself all the time, anyway. I don’t see any difference in what you say and my present self-preocupation.”

“We must be totally clear on this. Self-Observation is not thinking about yourself. There is a world of difference. Self-preocupation is like grabbing and wrestling with a tiger. Self-Observation is like quietly watching the tiger walk by.”

Why are we emphasizing this? It is the very key to liberating self-knowledge. It enables us to see ourselves as we really are, not as we imagine ourselves to be. Upon that realistic foundation, we build a new self; and, great news, when we are different, things are different.
P.D. Ouspensky quotes his teacher, George Gurdjieff:

Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity for self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening. By observing himself he throws, as it were, a ray of light onto his inner processes which have hitherto worked in complete darkness. And under the influence of this light the processes themselves begin to change. (In Search of the Miraculous)

Try This Remarkable Experiment

When a prisoner-of-war plans an escape, what does he do? He observes the condition he is in. he becomes acquainted with the fencing, the schedule of the guards, and so on. Upon that intelligent information, he plans a successful escape. That is also our purpose-successful escape from the prison of psychic sleep.

Try it right now. Look up from this book. Shake your head to break your present mental state, and look around. Simply notice where you are. Don’t just notice the room; see also that you are in a room. Think, “Well, I’m here.” When done correctly, it gives you an entirely new sense of yourself. Do you see the difference in your thinking as you now look around the room and the state you were in a moment ago while absorbed in the book?

Notice this: While absorbed in your reading you did not exist to yourself. There was reading, but no conscious awareness that you were reading. But now, upon detachment from your concentrated reading, you are conscious of your own existence in the room. What a tremendous secret you have here!

We want to become self-aware human beings. This happens when we seek in the right place. “You men, why do you look without for that which is within you?” (Meister Eckhart) Awareness of the inner man is, as all mystics proclaim, the Kingdom of Heaven within. It is the Truth itself. Awareness and happiness are exactly the same thing.

Impartial Self-Observation is the gate to a new sense of self. It breaks through into the dawn.

It is as if a savage from a remote jungle was taken to a merry-go-round at night and set upon one of the horses. He feels himself carried around and around but has no idea of what he is doing, or where he is going. He cringes at the surrounding shadows that seem to threaten him every time around. But as the light dawns, he understands. He sees the shadows as trees that, in reality, were never a threat. He realizes that not only is he now safe, but always was; he has only become aware of his security.

As the technique is practiced, we are bound to be a bit disturbed at what we see. We find we are not who we thought we were. We notice negativities we were perfectly sure were not within us. But we should not mind the disturbance; we should not turn away. We can take it. The new insight does not make us worse, as we might assume, but better. Why are we healthier than before? Because we have exposed to the light the very negativities that kept us unconscious prisoners. Psychic light, as any psychologist testifies, destroys darkness.

“Dwelling in the light, there is no occasion at all for stumbling, for all things are discovered in the light.” That is the testimony of George Fox, the enlightened founder of the Society of Friends.

Nothing is more valuable to the prisoner who wants to escape than honest Self-Observation. So write down, memorize, and work with this key:
Impartial Self-Observation leads to self-awakening, which leads to self-liberty.

What The New Awakening Does For You

1. Fresh health: If anything is certain, it is that the awakening process ushers in a new era of health and vitality. It cannot be otherwise, for your dynamic psychic forces now work for your physical self, not against it.

2. Freedom from nagging trivialities: You experience great relief from unimportant things. you see that your life itself is much too vital for concern over being rich or poor, famous or unknown, fat or thin, popular or ignored, handsome or plain. They become as colorless pebbles surrounding a sparkling diamond.

3. Lasting elation: Can you think of anything more permanently elating than to know that you are on the right road at last?

4. Loneliness vanishes: Why are most people lonely, even when surrounded by a crowd? Because their sense of security is attached to its noise and excitement, which sooner or later fades away. The awakened man dwells in the world of his True Self, where loneliness is impossible.

5. Anew kind of self-acceptence: Man no longer harbors a secret self-rejection. He is through with subconsciously labeling himself as stupid or wicked. He sees that such labels go with human hypnosis, but now awake, he no longer accuses himself.

6. Wisdom in human relations: A man in this new state, considering a business partnership, would wisely select men capable of mature judgment. A woman, contemplating marriage, would realize that it is a thousand times more important to meet a plain, but emotionally steady man than a handsome nut.

7. Mysteries of life are solved: The open-eyed man clearly understands the rightful place of sex, money, religion, happiness and so on. They are no longer problems. Each new insight adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle.

8. Personal safety: Your five senses function efficiently. You see and hear clearly. Want to see a perfect example of how a self-absorbed state causes accidents? Watch the facial expressions of people as they cross a busy street. Most of them are a thousand miles away!

9. Daily inspiration: Just as a cup is open to everything above and closed to everything below, so is the liberated man. He receives a constant and fresh flow of quietness, cheerfulness, relaxation.

10. [i]Absence of self-defeat: Ever notice what happens whenever you come across a misspelled word in a book? Your knowledge of spelling tells you something is wrong. You feel the urge to correct it. So does the liberated person correct his actions as he goes along. That is self-advancement.

11. Enjoyment: How many people do you know who really enjoy their day? The awakened man enjoys everything. If you ask him why, he replies, “Whynot?

12. Everything becomes easier: A space rocket takes extra effort to get off the ground, but finally reaches free flight. The awakened man floats forward easily.

The Power Of Self-Understanding

There are two basic methods by which one can grasp a practical self-knowledge:

1. Work with yourself

2. Listen to those on a higher level

In actual practice, these more or less overlap, but let’s examine these separately.

You can work with yourself in the many ways already discussed. You can observe why you do what you do. A pain or problem can be tracked back to its origin in a false viewpoint. You can demand strict self-honesty from yourself.

But we should also avail ourselves of aid. Here is where the mystics extend their helpful hand. But this takes more heroism than might be expected; for they are not going to tell us what we prefer to hear, but what we need to receive. We should humbly realize that it is ignorance of ourselves that places us in danger from ourselves. This is welcome news, for now we can break into the open.

If a man would put on-tenth of the energy he uses to defend himself into a program for finding himself, he would experience the miracle of self-change. Self-knowledge awakens us. If we awake at the switch, we can turn our lives onto the right track.

Our responsibility is not to do anything but to understand something. Just as we can see more of the countryside from a mountain than from a hill, our actions emerge on the same level as the understanding that projects them. It is useless to try to act superior until self is superior. It is of paramount importance to grasp this.

Self-knowledge has nothing to do with collage degrees, or book-facts, or public fame as a scholar. It is self-insight. often, we must set aside our mental education, if we are to awaken our spiritual intuition. People ask whether it is really possible to transcend their own conditioned minds and contact a higher power. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who bridged the gap between Eastern mysticism and Western psychology, replies:

To this question there is a positive answer only when the individual is willing to fulfill the demands of rigorous self-examination and self-knowledge. If he follows through his intention, he will not only discover some important truths about himself, but will also have gained a psychological advantage…He will have set his hand, as it were, to a declaration of his own human dignity and taken the first step towards the foundations of his conscious… (C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self)

Nothing Can Prevent Your Richer Life

Self-knowledge is really a simple thing. It is getting to see how we operate, just as we learn how an automobile works. That places us in control of our human machine. Insight into the two selves within a man clears up many confusions and contradictions. A mystic says that man is wicked. That is true. But he also proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven within. Also true. The True Self is everything good; the false self is all that is bad. A man’s conflicts arise from the battle between the two. As we permit our essential nature to take rightful domination, we win. It was our understanding that preceded our victory.

Progress through self-insight is like a great disappearing act. Picture a man caught in the middle of a rioting mob. He is struck by fists and stones, whirled about, and cursed. But he has a magical potion for making himself invisible. Gradually, as he becomes less fleshly, the blows hurt less and less. Finally, as his physical self disappears completely, he cannot be hurt at all. Though he is still there as an observer, the blows pass right through him.

As our false notions disappear, nothing can hurt us. We see that we were hurt because of the ego-hardened self which takes everything as personal blows. But through self-insight, the hardness has melted, and with it, comes the quietness we always wanted.

“How will I know that I’ve grasped this idea?”

“You will know. You will no longer feel insults as insults, losses as losses, threats as threats. While other people may, on the human level, behave badly toward you, you are no longer on that level, so you cannot be offended.”

This is the tremendous message of mysticism: You need not be hurt by anyone or anything; you need not be enslaved by anything outside you or within you. Not when you really understand.

Look very closely. You will see that no person and no circumstance can prevent you from becoming a self-understanding man, or woman. Who is stopping you at this very moment? No one.

The Mystic Path never requires that you grasp more than you can at the present moment. If you can only listen to wisdom, then listen. If you can only understand that personal effort is necessary, then realize that much. If you can grasp just one truth out of a hundred, that is just fine. Do only what you can do for now. Progress is certain.

How To Stop Hurting Yourself

Many people will not believe it when told how severely they hurt themselves by lack of self-understanding. They still wrongly think that harm originates from outside, rather than from its actual origin within.

Take negative reactions. Who is painfully negative when rain ruins the picnic-the rain or the reaction? Who gets hurt when someone breaks a promise to us-the broken promise or the person taking it with resentment?

It is as simple as this: We cannot cling to our negative emotions without paying the price. Can we be at peace at the same time that we feel frustrated? No. Can we enjoy ourselves while harboring dejection? Impossible. It is one or the other.

Suppose a man worked with this enlightening fact until he saw it clearly. He would at once drop his preference for negativity. He would see how it robs him of the very happiness he wants.

“I know the harm in anger, but can’t seem to do anything about it.”

“You can understand it. Anger flares up whenever something disturbs a pretentious picture we have of ourselves. The man, who sees himself as being important, will resent anything suggesting the opposite. If you don’t try to be important, you cannot be disturbed. If you don’t want to be an Indian chief, you are indifferent when someone takes your grand feathers.”

The awakened man no longer commits crimes against himself, such as psychosomatic illness and a sense of shame. Shame is a crime against the self? Certainly. The born-again man sees too clearly into his psychic-self to fall victim to that folly. Not that he denies any harmful acts he may have committed against himself and others, but he now sees why he acted like that- he was under the spell of his false self whose very nature is harmful.

Suppose a decent and sensible man is hypnotized by an evil magician and told that he is a fool. So he acts like one. But the next day he snaps the spell. Should he feel ashamed? No. That would indicated that he still falsely identifies himself as a fool, which he is not. No! He sees that his foolish behavior sprang from a false sense of identity. He doesn’t condemn his past behavior; he understands it, which is quite another thing. His essential decency-which he always had-now commands him.

“The ‘freedom’ of the Cosmic Sense is supreme. It absolves a man from his former self and makes future slavery impossible.” (Richard Maurice Bucke in Cosmic Consciousness)

Mysticism’s declaration of independence can be summarized in just two words:

“Wake up!”

Basic principles that help you

1. Mankind lives under a peculiar kind of hypnosis which he fails to recognize.

2. We can wake up to an entirely new world of wonder.

3. Count Leo Tolstoy is a good example showing how a man or woman can awaken to a new life of happiness.

4. Your single greatest technique for life-transformation is impartial Self-Observation. Use it.

5. Self-Observation is a quiet watchfulness of all that happens inside and outside yourself, without attitude or judgment toward what you see.

6. By clearly seeing what we are like, we change ourselves into what we like.

7. So not be disturbed at any negativities uncovered by Self-Observation. Your honest insight destroys them.

8. Remember all the rich rewards given to the awakened man.

9. Work for more and more self-understanding. It is a power beyond imagination.

10. Wake up!

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posted May 11, 2008 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." Charles Schultz

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Thanks, Randall. What did you like about it?

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Chapter 3

The Marvels Of The Mystic Path

“But is the Mystic path practical for modern men and women?”

“Nothing else is practical. You can prove it in five minutes. Just look around. Honestly, now, what do we see? We see heartache, defeat, quarreling, illness of every sort. Is this practical? It is entirely possible for any man or woman to love above all these defeats.”

People also wonder how their attention to the inner life will affect their exterior affairs. They wrongly assume that their business, social, and domestic activities will somehow suffer.

They will do the exact opposite. They take on a brightness you cannot imagine. A new inner life always reflects itself outwardly. It is strange how people wrongly think in terms of either this-or-that. You don’t lose one value by adding another. A man with an automobile is given a boat. Does he lose the automobile? No, he has something else; another value. Both have their place and use.

The awakened man not only continues nicely with his exterior affairs but exerts a new command over them. Because he no longer uses them to feed ego-needs he is totally free of worry. His sense of psychological survival does not depend upon this or that happening. In finding himself, he discovers a magnificent truth: He is not at the mercy of anything in this world.

“The man of inner life is easily aware of himself, since he is never totally absorbed in outward affairs. Therefore, his exterior occupations and necessary activities do not distract him, and he adjusts himself to things as they come. The man, whose inner life is well-ordered, is not bothered by strange and troublesome ways of others. A man is blocked and distracted by such things only as he permits himself to be.”

What is more practical than this way of life, as outlined by the medieval teacher, Thomas a Kempis?

How Good Things Happen To You

The time will come when you no longer try to make good things happen. They just happen. You will be astonished. You will be astonished, because you now see that whatever happens to you is good. Is this as yet a mystery to you? If words could only show you. Someday you will delightfully exclaim, “So that’s it!”

We can take a modern situation to see how an aware man improves exterior affairs. A business can make this experiment: Before your next telephone call, or business conference, clarify its exact purpose. Write it down in a word or two on a slip of paper. Now, watch what happens. Notice the useless chatter. Be aware of how few people can get to the point and be done with it. By alertness to this wastage, you can take steps to save your time and energy.

It is not a question as to whether or not the Mystic Path is practical. A man must realize its effectiveness. So he must listen, absorb, probe, experiment. He must wake up to new possibilities. He must begin to see things as they are, not as he dreams they are.

If we look out the window during a storm, we see everything through the blur of the wet glass. The trees seem out of shape, the hills dark and vague. Yet we know this is only an appearance; they seem out of shape because of our temporarily distorted vision. When the storm passes, we see things clearly, as they really are, and as they always were.

Our life-observation starts with a collection of blurs. In our early confusion, we think we must change the trees and hill. But, as our vision clarifies, we see that we need pay no attention to anything out there. We need only to see them as they really are. That makes them right for us.

The moment a man utters his first faint “Yes” to his True Self, he begins to change his vision. It is the beginning of what all religions call the New Birth.

“Then we really can retain an inner quietness, while actively engaged in the turmoils of exterior life?”

“Perfect quietness. For one thing, the self-discovered man can be either a huge success in his outer affairs or a so-called dismal failure and be completely at ease.”

Anyone Can Enter The Mystical Life

“That’s a new idea. How can a so-called failure be at ease?”

“Follow carefully. The self-free man has an entirely different concept of success and failure. In fact, the two terms don’t exist for him. If success exists for him, so must failure, which keeps him nervous. Watch what happens to you, when you really grasp this. You will enjoy your worldly activities regardless of results. Have you noticed how concern with results keeps you jittery?”

“Now that you point it out, yes.”

“Let’s explore. In your new state of thinking, you do not use your worldly activities to give you a sense of self-esteem. You already know who you are, so you don’t depend upon exterior success to make you feel good. You enjoy yourself, regardless of results. You have no idea of the mountain-top feeling you possess when you no longer depend upon good results to make you feel good.”

“I’d give anything to be unconcerned with whatever happens.”

“Work with these ideas and you will be that way.”

Anyone can enter the mystical life of inner quietness. Regardless of age, the clamors of business, the problems of his home, in spite of everything, anyone can enter. It is a matter of inner development. You carry your mind with you wherever you go, therefore, you always have the opportunity to work with yourself. Anxiety is in the mind; so is peace.

Yes, a simple self-contentment. That is a guaranteed marvel of the Mystic Path. You have no pressure to be anyone but who you are, a so-called success or a so-called failure.
What a prize!

Diogenes was an early exponent of the contented life, the Henry David Thoreau of his day. Great crowds trudged from distant lands to hear Diogenes declare, “You lose the very life you seek when you wallow in stupid luxuries. You don’t need nine-tenths of the things you scramble for. Don’t be afraid to have nothing. Don’t hesitate to be a nobody. Happiness is not what you have, but who you are. You are already exactly who you need to be. See it!”

True to his teachings, Diogenes was unimpressed by wealth and power. One day, when Alexander the Great visited Corinth, the masses flocked to hail him. Needing no hero to worship, Diogenes stayed home.

“Well, said Alexander, noting the absence of the famous teacher, “I suppose I must go to him.” The great warrior found the contented philosopher warming himself in the sunlight. Alexander asked the relaxed man, “What can I do for you?”

“Just one thing, please,” replied Diogenes. “Stand aside [,] You are blocking my sunlight.”

Mysticism Is A Personal Experience

The Mystic Path is a personal experience, not a mere discussion of ideas. Who wants to hear a description of a beautiful symphony, when he can feel the music for himself? No one is convinced of anything until he inwardly perceives that it is true. We can read about the spiritual precept, talk and reflect about it, but the final proof is internal witness. Then we know. If everyone else on the face of the earth disagreed, we would still stand securely upon the rock of inner illumination. “For the spiritual life is as much its own proof as the natural life, and needs no outward or foreign thing to bear witness to it.” (William Law)

Mere knowledge is not enough. It must form a foundation for personal perception. Knowledge without insight is like a horse in a library. Knowledge of spiritual facts and the experiencing of those facts alternate as we go along. We study the recipe and then bake the cake.

As Alfred Tennyson phrases it:

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before.

Don’t think that you must involve yourself with complex intellectual philosophies. Don’t try to be profound or educated. That only wears you out. Just be simple. Let everyday life be your teacher.

Everything is useful for self-advancement. Look for more self-insight in the little things that happen to you every day. Ask why you reacted as you did to that unexpected news. Try to understand why you replied the way you did to a question. Be aware of the disappointment you feel when a hoped-for event fails to appear. Waste nothing that happens to you. Don’t resist anything; just observe it. This is exactly what the mystics do to reach the trouble-free life.

Does mysticism carry us up and away? Do we sight something out of this world? Dr. Paul Brunton replies:

The only way to settle these questions is not by argument or discussion, but by getting the direct experience of divine illumination. And that is a personal thing. Each person must obtain it for himself or herself. Then only will you find out what is really meant by the kingdom of heaven. This attainment is not quite so hard as it seems to be, because you are not seeking something a hundred miles distant; you are seeking something which is here-right here-inside yourself. You are not seeking something which is alien to you, but rather your own inmost nature, your essence. (Discover Yourself)

Your Attractive Changes

A seeker came to his teacher to complain, “Master, I am unhappy with the people in my life. They are unfaithful, inconsiderate. I am not wanted or appreciated. How can I change them?”

Replied the teacher, “Change yourself.”

The walk down the mystic path is toward self-change. If we reminded ourselves of this a dozen times today, it would not be too much. We have dozens of arrows, like self-study and persistence, but we shoot them all toward the single target of inner transformation.

We do not seek a mere change in human opinions. That pins us down to the same level. The conditioned mind can only rearrange human ideas of the same limited value, just as you might change a dollar bill for ten dimes. But a gain in cosmic consciousness is like adding a block of gold to the original dollar.

Mystical truths uplift your level of consciousness. When it happens, you know that it has happened. How? What curiously attractive changes they are!

One sure sign is that you feel less flattered by flattery and less blamed by blame. An enlightened individual is affected by neither praise nor accusation, though he may get plenty of both from unawakened people.

Another pleasant change is an entirely new feeling toward time. You feel no sense of hurry, yet you accomplish your daily tasks far more efficiently. You live in that wonderful moment mysticism calls Now.

“In one of your books, you said that self-transformation frees us from a false sense of responsibility. Will you please describe this newness?”

“It is the only way to live. There is a certain aimlessness, a lack of concern, but it has nothing to do with common carelessness. You realize that all that furious rushing around the deck does absolutely nothing to move the boat forward. You finally grasp the Cosmic Truth that the boat carries you; you don’t carry the boat. You sense that your abandonment of control does not mean disaster after all, but, for the first time, an enjoyable voyage. Before, you thought the boat would stop if you ceased pretending you were the captain. Now you know better. There is a real Captain. How glad you are to see it!”

Men Who Have Walked The Mystic Path

The mystics themselves are a marvel of the Path. We have defined mysticism as a sane and practical approach to the richer life. So we can define a mystic as one who, having discovered this life for himself, points the way for others.

The mystic discovered this new life. He once had every pain, temptation, and confusion as other seekers had, maybe a lot more. But he heroically sought and found answers. He recognized his self-deception and stopped it; he faced the horror of his illusion-based wickedness and dissolved it; he ran into one blank wall after another, but kept going.

The authentic mystic personally experiences the Truth; the hypnotized man merely repeats what he has been told. The mystic hears the music within himself; the unawakened person merely plays another man’s phonograph record.

“Can anyone become a mystic?”

“Definitely. But please don’t hold an imaginative picture of a mystic as some strange looking individual in a long robe. An authentic mystic is a sensible man who lives in the midst of a troubled world but is above its folly. A businessman at his desk or a homemaker at her stove can easily be a practicing mystic.”

The greatest mystics of history possessed various backgrounds and personalities:

Lao-Tse was a librarian in charge of secret scrolls.
Rene Descartes was a lawyer, army officer, author, musician, psychologist, philosopher and a mathematical genius.
The Emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, was caught between his love of the spiritual life and the demands of royalty. He wrote, “Look within. Within is your fountain of good.”

Pythagoras, who lived about 550 B.C., used the principles of music to teach philosophic truths.
Brother Lawrence, whose real name was Nicholas Herman, was a big and awkward cook in a monastery. Though ignorant of literary matters, his inner victory expressed itself on one of the great mystical classics, Practicing the Presence of God.

Buddha was a prince who gladly gave up a kingdom in exchange for personal peace.
A champion on the athletic field was named Plato.

Danish mystic, Soren Kierkegaard, urged every man to be a rugged individualist in self-discovery. He made an amazing statement that could be said only by a man who had shattered his own false personality: “I have become myself.”

But whatever their individualities, they agree whole-heartedly on the principle of the Mystic Path: 1. Man suffers, because he lives under a peculiar kind of hypnosis. 2. With right effort and knowledge, he can snap the spell to live anew.

It is as if you were traveling across the hot desert, stopping every so often for a drink of water. The first oasis-keeper might be a rough-looking character with a no-nonsense manner who bluntly waves you toward the pool. At the next stop you are greeted by a gentle personality who serves you with his own hands. Other oasis-keepers have their own appearance and manner, but all supply you from the same underground stream of water.

“Such men not only liberate themselves; they fill those they meet with a free mind.” (Philo)

The Courage Of The Mystics

These teachers of mankind have more insight into human nature than a roomful of Sigmund Freuds. Having shed his personal ego, it no longer clouds the mystic’s perception of things as they are. Most men are easily fooled by the shallow exterior manners of society; not so the enlightened man. He sees and speaks fearlessly of man’s dreadfully destructive self-deception:

“Human life is thus only an endless illusion. Men deceive and flatter each other. No one speaks of us in our presence as he does when we are gone. Society is based on mutual hypocrisy.” This is Pascal’s blunt insight.

No, it is not pessimism speaking. It is the highest optimism and courage. A pessimist is one who refuses to face the fact of man’s folly, including his own, because he secretly fears there is no cure. But the mystic knows that humanity’s health can be regained. Consequently, he is unafraid of an honest diagnosis of the illness, seeing its necessity for the cure.

“I suppose we must face it. Most people stumble from one foolishness to another. Why?”

“Whenever someone does a foolish thing, he knows it is foolish. This creates a pressure, an anxiety, a sense of guilt. In an attempt to escape the pain, he behaves rashly again, but, since his inner nature remains unchanged between the two acts, the second act is also the outcome of a foolish nature. This creates another pressure and the next foolishness.”

“How can he break the vicious circle?”

“By grasping all that we talk about in these classes. You have nothing to do except become an aware man or woman. Incidentally, never feel ashamed or guilty over your foolishness-which does not mean you evade your responsibility for it. It means that you don’t deepen the confusion as to who did it. The false self-which is not the real you-did it.”

As you go through life you often make mistakes that cause you to cry in despair, “What’s the matter with me? Why can’t I behave normally, quietly, pleasantly?”

When this happens, as it does to everyone, don’t fall into anguish. Use your mistakes, great or small, to see how they stem from a wrong sense of self. This gets you on the royal road once more.

What You Should Know About Mystical Teachings

If the mystics denounce human folly with one voice, they offer deliverance with another, “All that pains you is only yourself, for you are at enmity with yourself,” declare Jacob Boehme. But from the gospels come the gentle promise, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The persecution of those who see deeply into the human condition is a sad reflection upon man’s aversion to life-liberating facts. When Dutch philosopher, Benedict Spinoza, refused a bribe of five hundred dollars a year in return for his silence, he was excommunicated and stabbed. Jacob Boehme, the German shoemaker of Goerlitz, was denounced from the pulpit and hounded out of town by his own pastor, a self-righteous hypocrite named Gregorius Richter. Immanuel Kant’s charge that Christ’s teachings had been set aside in favor of church ritual brought down upon his head the wrath of king Frederick of Prussia.

No one is qualified to judge a mystic except another mystic. A lower level of understanding cannot possibly evaluate a higher one. When a lower-level man tries to judge-which happens all the time-his judgment is like explaining the fruit of a tree while gazing at the trunk. A lower-level man fears those occupying the higher; the higher appears as a threat to his ego-centered concepts. We understand the person of a loftier level only when we reach that new plane for ourselves. Then, in a new humility, we smile patiently at our former foolish judgment.

To be of genuine help, a teacher must constantly urge the seeker toward self-change, which alone can liberate. The seeker must not be directed solely toward good works in his exterior life, for he will mistakenly assume that they are the same as inner transformation, which they are not.

It is not an easy task for the teacher, for the seeker persistently resists anything calling for the sacrifice of his frozen concepts. But the Truth must be told at all costs, no matter how unpopular it may be. The authentic spiritual leader, having freed himself of his own false need to be popular, tells the truth, whether it befalls on fertile or stony ground. Such a teacher is the salt of the earth, though few know it.

“Do men of such profound perception exist in the world today?”

“Yes, and you can be very grateful for it. If you think the world is delirious as is, you would find it intolerable without their healing influence.”

“What reassuring relief to sight such islands of sanity in a troubled sea.”

Understand This Vital Feature

We now come to a feature of the mind called identification. It is impossible to overestimate the value of understanding this psychological state, for it connects with everything in our lives.

Identification means we mentally and emotionally lose ourselves in something inside or outside of us. We become absorbed in a person, a place, our career, a hobby, our personal viewpoints, almost anything. We lose our thoughts in these things in an attempt to feel secure. We hope to gain an idea of who we are; we want to cling to something that seems permanent.

But they give us no security; they create just the opposite. The moment we identify with anything, we become afraid of losing it. And since all things change, we get hurt when the object of our attachment is threatened, or when it goes away.

Identification also means wrongly to take something as being a part of our essential selves. Take your name. You are not your name. That is only a label attached at birth. If you change your name, it would not make you any different. Take the physical body. That is merely a vehicle for living on earth. Your True Self does not consist of name, body, money, home, career, a new hair-do, or your personal beliefs. You are something entirely different from these attachments, just as you are different from the clothes you put on in the morning.

We can certainly have a successful career and other externals, but we must not think they are part of the essential self. Then and then only will we really enjoy our personal possessions, for we will not fear their change or loss.

When we identify with our own thoughts, we call it daydreaming. We lose ourselves in thoughts about a thousand things-a plan for achievement, a remark from someone, food, sex, money. Notice this: Whenever you daydream, nothing exists outside of that self-absorbed state; you are unaware of yourself. You are not even aware that you are daydreaming; but a moment later, when your name is called, you snap out of it to return to the world. Losing ourselves in our own thoughts blocks the entrance of higher impressions that could strengthen us.

How To Be Free Of Sadness

Work with all this. One of your great gains will be freedom from the tyranny of sentimental memory. What does this mean? Watch your next arising of sadness. You will find that it connects in some way with remembrance of a past era that you consider more exciting, more romantic, or more rewarding than now.

The sadness comes from the unnecessary tyranny of sentimental memory and nothing else. The past gave us pleasure, but it is gone, and so we are sad. We want those pleasurable days back, but we know that all things change.

In your new and unattached state, you are no longer at the mercy of imaginative memory. There is no longer a painful yearning for what has been, but a gentle enjoyment of what now is.

Memory has its place in recording non-psychological facts, like the alphabet, but creates useless sorrow when misused in sentimental imagination.

A sure way to detect harmful identification is the pendulum test. Whenever we identify with anything we think is exciting, we sooner or later swing back to the opposite feeling of boredom. Identification with excitement is always followed by an unhappy reaction. Mrs. Jones has great fun at the party; next morning she feels depressed. Mr. Jones beams with joy over a big financial success; next day he despairingly wonders whether the only value in life is one financial success after another.

All this is not negative. It presents you with a wonderful opportunity to find lasting values in self-liberty. By ceasing to place our trust in anything outside our True Self, we cannot possibly be afraid of anything. This is the secret behind the mystical teaching that the man who has nothing has everything.

Marvelous rewards come to the non-attached man or woman. The boss may still be a tyrant, but no longer has he power over you. An irritating relative may be just as unbearable, but you are free of him. You, in your new role of a detached observer, are aware of everything but affected by nothing.

We have already seen that man’s identification is with his false-self, his ego-self. He is not this counterfeit man, but his belief in it creates chaos.

If man is not his false self, who is he? He is his True Self, which is a point of awareness, which is an observer of all that happens. That is what is permanent and eternal in man.

All this explains why mysticism urges us to detach ourselves mentally. Lean on nothing outside your own spiritual self. Detachment never takes away anything beneficial; only the harmful.

How To Walk The Mystic Path

Learning to walk confidently is largely an unlearning process. We must cease to accept the false as true. The degree of inharmony in our lives is the sure test as to the number of counterfeit coins we are taking as real. Increased consciousness gives us silver, not lead.

We cannot learn what is right if we secretly insist that we already know it. Now, this statement seems quite obvious; a man would quickly agree with it. Yet, there is something drastically wrong somewhere. If a man truly sees that he does not know rightness, his very emptiness leaves room for it, which changes the man into a freer state. If a man does not change, it means just one thing: he fearfully clings to the false assumption that he already knows rightness, which blocks entrance of genuine rightness.

Do not be afraid of your emptiness. It is not what you think it is. Do not give it false power by resisting it. Let it be there. Let it be there, if it wants, and you will see through a painful hoax played upon you. And then you will know something entirely new.

Think of yourself as erasing a mental blackboard. If we try to write new sentences over the old, it becomes unintelligible. We must erase first. Then, we write with clear wisdom.

Eagerness to learn indicates an individual’s insight into his present helplessness. As stinging to the pride as it may be for the moment, he is on his way at last.

Mystical learning consists of more self-insight. Augustine received a flash of self-discernment while walking down a street in Milan, Italy. He saw a poor wanderer who was laughing and joking. Augustine reported, “And in truth he was joyous, I anxious; he free from care, I full of alarms.” Augustine painfully perceived that in spite of all his education and public honor he was far from possessing personal peace-the very peace he had urged others to find! But honest appraisal changed things in his favor.

One interesting feature of mystical progress is that you take the whole business less and less grimly. At the start, a man is deeply serious because he has not as yet found any answers to his questions and wonders whether he ever will. But, with the dawning of light, he becomes cheerfully relaxed. Having caught sight of the harbor, he sails eagerly but restfully on.

Foremost features to remember

1. Mystical truths make your life practical in an inspiringly new way.

2. Anyone can have the self-contented life. Sincere search is always rewarded.

3. Go beyond words. Make mysticism your personal experience.

4. Use every event as a source of self-understanding and self-advancement.

5. Self-change is a marvel of the Mystic Path.

6. The great mystics, having walked the Path successfully, now aid your journey forward.

7. Remember that, while exterior good works are commendable, they are not the same thing as inner transformation.

8. Spend extra time in studying the subject of identification. Then, don’t identify!

9. Lean on nothing outside your True Self.

10. Walk the Mystic Path with relaxed good cheer.

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posted May 13, 2008 06:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." Charles Schultz

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"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." Charles Schultz

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posted June 13, 2014 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seekinglight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for introducing this book! it's on my reading list now.

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posted July 25, 2014 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good stuff.

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posted August 05, 2014 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, starr.

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