“Show Me the Way to Transcendence”
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 25th October 1970
Our concern in these group meetings is the study of the essence of religion and living the religious life. In connection with the study of the essence of religion, there are certain important points about which we should be perfectly clear. One is right preparation, the other is right approach. We have considered these points in certain aspects in past meetings, but we can never over-consider them because they are so important. Take the case of the person in the world who wants to enter a university of follow a skilled profession. In order to get into a university, to study a particular subject, there must be natural aptitude and there must be a certain strong urge from within, a natural urge and a natural aptitude are both necessary to start with. Also that person must have already, usually, not always, undergone some sort of preliminary training at school in that subject or in subjects related to it, so that he has acquired some knowledge which has been handed over from the past. His mind, as we say, is prepared. It is conditioned along such-and-such lines in order to become a master of his particular subject, and the same idea applies with regard to some sort of skilled profession. You have your natural urge to become a doctor or a lawyer or a musician or whatever it is, and therefore you undergo a training for it. But all this means a conditioning, it means that our socio-cultural heritage from the past hands over to us certain things. If one has genius one introduces something new, something wonderful, but you will find that that which is called new and wonderful is definitely a modification of the past, but a modification so extraordinary or so attractive that we say that that man has genius.
Now, where the study of the essence of religion is concerned, there must of course be the inward urge to start with. If it is simply a case of mental curiosity, intellectual curiosity, or it is a case of escaping from frustrations in life, then one is very unlikely ever to enter anywhere near the heart of religion. But granted the urge from within, the genuine spontaneous urge (one can’t help it, it just comes naturally to one to be profoundly interested in the essence of religion), granted that, then we are up against this problem where the heart of religion is concerned. There is no heritage from the past for our training. The essence of religion cannot be handed over, it cannot be acquired as so much knowledge, because all training, all accumulated knowledge is confined to that which is limited, born and dies, which is mortal. And that is no use to us where the Immortal, the Infinite, the Transcendent is concerned.
It is extremely difficult for any one of us really to appreciate that, appreciate and understand it and see it in its depths. We may see it superficially because we have got logical minds, as we say. Our brains are good enough to work in a straightforward logical way and say, “Yes, that sounds correct.” But having said “That sounds correct,” it remains purely as an external sound. Inwardly one hasn’t seen it, because if and when one inwardly really sees it, then the whole of life is completely transformed, and that transformation has no relationship with what went before. It is the new, it is creation in the profoundest and the greatest sense.
So you see, where the essence of religion is concerned the mind cannot be prepared along conventional, orthodox lines. For the understanding of the heart of religion, which really means therefore to be in communion with Transcendence, our minds have to be completely empty, free from the domination, the limitation imposed by every single idea, doctrine, philosophy, teaching, conviction, belief, experience, knowledge, everything. It is almost as if we have to make a journey into outer space, into the great solitudes between the stars of heaven without any machine to take us there, without any wings of our own to fly there.
So, this right preparation is a preparation of a nature which is utterly different from right preparation in any worldly field whatsoever, philosophy, science, art, anything. This is why religion at its heart is in a world of its own, utterly different from the world that we know in every other respect.
But while it is utterly different from, it is not unrelated, because this is the meaning of Transcendence, that it goes totally beyond the known, (I have to use the ordinary word) but is included in it. What happens therefore? There is only One Total Reality. You and I are aware of that Total Reality only in a limited way. It is my consciousness, my awareness which is the incapable thing, which is the inadequate thing. Now, I can’t take this incapable, inadequate instrument of my consciousness and deal with it in any of the ordinary worldly ways in order to make it infinitely capable. That is not at all possible, because this consciousness of mine is a separative agent. It always keeps me as a seeing subject looking at an observed object, so there is always a separation.
This is perfectly right and proper where finitude is concerned. But where Transcendence, the Infinite, the Absolute is concerned, it is totally improper, is it not? So I cannot deal with my consciousness like that. This self-sense which separates me out, this self-ness in me, which keeps me separate, is the thing which has to disappear, and then it is this being, this person who undergoes a transformation, a transmutation which defies description in fact. But it happens and it is all utterly simple, and I, the person, you, the person, transformed, do not know the nature of that transformation. That is the mystery of it.
Ask a cat “What is a cat?” The cat will say, “miaow”. It will stare at you and wonder what on earth you are chattering about. Similarly the one who, inadequate, confused, finite, limited, becomes transformed. He cannot recognize that transformation, because recognition (re-cognition) means knowing again. But we have never known it at all before, how can we recognize in that situation? So, with regard to right preparation for the study of the essence of religion, we must just bear this in mind — that all that we know in connection with right preparation for anything that we do or pursue in this world just does not apply in that sphere. Therefore there is the question of right approach to the whole problem. We approach anything in the world in terms of acquisition, of gain, achievement, attainment, of establishment, and so on and so on. There is nothing whatsoever that can be gained or achieved or attained where the Infinite, the Transcendent is concerned. How can I, the finite, gain the Infinite? Where do I put it, in my pocket? It’s totally impossible!
Now we have considered these points often enough before, yet we have never really become completely at home with them, because when one is completely at home with this sort of vision, then one’s whole life is utterly transformed, is utterly different. One is naturally the true human, the perfect human, the perfected holy one, the natural saint, the natural unerringly understanding person with perfect insight. It has all become natural. So the approach is one where one must be completely free of any expectation, hope, desire to gain, achieve or anything at all. One makes the approach because, as I said earlier, one can’t help it. It is the nature of the person inside us. I am not going to say beast now, because we have gone well past the stage of the beast when we are like this.
Let us recall the meaning of this word person, the true meaning of the word. In one of the oldest of the Upaniṣads it was put in two or three sentences. “He in whom all evil mindedness is completely burnt out is the person.” The Sanskrit word is puruṣa. Pur is from the root Purva meaning previously. Uṣ means to burn out. And the Upaniṣad says “He who burns out all evil mindedness, is called the puruṣa.” He in whom all evil mindedness is burnt out is the person for whom the essence of religion is like an open book. It is a book which needs no reading, for you yourself have become the book. You yourself are the book, the book of life, the life which is truly human in the profoundest sense of the word, which makes it identical with the life which, in ordinary orthodox terms throughout the religions of the world, we call the divine life. So now, right preparation, right approach are very real things.
So what is the actual task then? One may ask, “What is the way to Transcendence?” Consider carefully, can there be a way to Transcendence? If I say there is a way to Transcendence I am immediately putting Transcendence out there — “There’s the goal, the objective.” And the moment I have put it out there like that, I have denied its Transcendence It has become a limited, particular, knowable object. Is it? Not at all. In terms of Transcendence, this very consciousness, this mind, this body, this activity which emanates from this living being is no longer there. This as this, as a recognizable entity is completely annihilated, annihilated in terms of transformation into that which is quite unrecognizable, quite unfeasible, quite unbindable by the person here.
So, can there be a way then to the Infinite? Obviously there can’t, because the Infinite is everywhere, there is no way to it, it is here, right here. And there cannot be a way, because all ways, all the possible ways (and the possibility is incalculable in fact) are here simultaneously. The way is your own living being. That living being unselfed, completely freed of all selfness, is the way. You will find that when somehow that inner consciousness, that inner awareness of these things has become real, there is a realization, a making real. When that is the case, then there is no confusion, there is no conflict, there is no struggle, there is no longing to tread a way towards a goal. Life is utterly transformed.
That transformation will express itself in all kinds of ways. What we normally call the spiritual ideals, like truth and goodness and beauty and love and wisdom and all the rest of it, all those will be just naturally there. as naturally there as a human face has a nose, eyes, ears and so on, that is all.
In the ordinary way we live this life which is self-oriented. Everything is oriented to the self. Every effort we make, whether it be an idealistic one or an obviously self-centred one, every effort is in some way or other self-oriented. You will find that when you are not talking with anybody, you will always be thinking (that is to say, silently chattering in the brain) in terms of I. At least every other sentence which passes through the brain will contain the word I. And in relation to that word I, there will be a wanting, a possessing, an attempt to fulfill the pleasure drive, one’s lusts, one’s whims, one’s appetites, one’s ambitions and all the rest of it. This is a fact of our existence of which we are unblissfully unaware. This is what is our normal state.
The animal, the pure, good, simple animal is wholly self-oriented. Every energy it puts forth is directed towards its own self for its own survival and well-being and for its species. Now this is perfectly right. The animal will live and die for that.
But with man it is different. Man is a mixture — animal in origin where the organism is concerned, possessing the animal drives and instincts and all the rest of it, and the self-orientedness which is our animal heritage. Now man, trying to free himself from this selfishness, as he calls it, postulates a virtue called unselfishness which he opposes to selfishness. But that is a state of conflict, not a state of resolution of the discords which means real harmony. Man will also die just like the animal dies. But the question is, how shall I die? Shall I die resisting the urge and the movement and the direction that Transcendence gives, or shall I put myself in harmony with the movement of Transcendence? And to put myself in harmony with the movement of Transcendence does not mean to oppose, to resist, to be antagonistic to the direction in which my animal origin impels me.
So you see, on the one hand no repression, on the other hand no indulgence. This way lies freedom, not by overcoming evil, not by fighting the good fight. Neither repression nor indulgence, but that mindfulness which stays wide awake all the time, observing, observing, observing. The change, the transformation is not brought about by my desire, by my thought, by my engineering the situation, because I as I, the limited I, will always engineer in the wrong way. There is no option to that whatsoever for the very simple reason that I am limited, particular, finite, mortal, not omniscient, not infinitely capable. It is the One Total Reality, Transcendence itself, to use a theistic word if you like, Almighty God himself, who effects the transformation. I must be unresisting. I must even be free of the passionate longing to give and to be taken by the Lord, so to say! If I have that passionate longing it is going to be an obstruction to the Lord taking me. The Lord wants to pick me up in his way, and he knows how to pick me up properly! But if I go yapping and chickening around him I will always slip out of his grasp and just make a fool of myself.
Now that is a point which we do not appreciate. Why not? Because there is the passion to escape from the sorrow, the misery, the difficulty of this world. We want to escape from it, we want to avoid the pain and the trouble. If we are masochistically inclined, we will invite the pain and the trouble, go into it deliberately. If we are sadistically inclined we will try and cast the burden of the pain and the trouble on other shoulders and so forth. So you see one has to be extremely mindful, extremely wide awake and quiet. Do nothing about it. Let the Lord do the doing. Our doing, our whole doing, is what may be called the negative part of this body. The spiritual doing is to do nothing in the worldly sense, and there is no other sense that my mind can see and know. This is where I am limited by my constitution.
So, there is no way to Transcendence and yet all the religions of the world have laid down ways. And those ways are the ways which teach us, which show us, how to become unselfed, how to be unresisting to the One Total Reality.
That is what the ways have shown us. They have been couched unfortunately in rather deceptive language. “Practise this, you will unite yourself with God. Follow this path, you will realize Nirvana here and now.” To make positive statements like that always causes trouble within one’s own mind. We immediately get the idea, “Ah, there is the goal, now I know. I am going to Nirvana by treading this path. I shall be uniting myself with God by following this mystical discipline,” or whatever it is. These are all misconceptions, and we just remain bound within them. Of course the person might become a good man in the world, a better man, a saint. But mere saintship is not the realization of Transcendence, and the heart of religion, the essence of religion is concerned with that Transcendence.
Again and again bear in mind that where the realization of Transcendence is concerned there is only one step, the first step. The first step covers the entire field. There is no other step. This is an extraordinary mystery. Now look how language deceives. The moment I say that there is only one step to take, naturally there arises the effect of the conditioning of our ordinary everyday experience — to take a step, make a movement in time and space, to perform a particular act, go through some special procedure. That is taking a step. But what can I do? There are no words in our human language to describe that extraordinary thing that is done which is put in the verbal form of “take a step, take the first step.” But the first step is the only step, the last step.
It is very important somehow to realize this, because if we can see into it truly, we will see that the taking of the step is free of all time limitation. It is a timeless step, it has no beginning or ending. That one step is a perpetual stepping, it is timeless. And in its timelessness it includes the entire range of time. All chronological time is included in this single psychological moment which is never out of step with the chronological moment. Therefore the taking of this step in the soul covers the entire span of our life.
Don’t let the intellect try to grasp this and make it into too logical and clear-cut a system. There has to be an essential core of logic which must not be affronted. That essential core of logic is what enables us to make, not just ordinary good sense, but super-sense out of it. In that super-sensing there emerges in ourselves the sense of Transcendence. If that sense of Transcendence once emerges it takes charge and everything happens, outwardly apparently the same in form and structure, but inwardly in spirit completely different. Our external life will be just the same. We get up in the morning and all the rest of it until the end of the day. But as we go through it, our going through it will have an utterly different quality within our own awareness, outwardly none. The other person is not likely to see it unless he is extraordinarily perceiving, extraordinarily perceiving.
There is a basis for these things too in ordinary everyday living, a basis which one may call the righteous life of simple purity, purity in every way, in thought and feeling, in speech and in action. The great religions of the world have laid down what constitutes purity. We interpret the words. I being a confused person, incapable, inadequate, will necessarily and inevitably misinterpret. I cannot possibly interpret the spoken word or the written word in its true sense, in its utterly true sense. I will get a little glimpse of sunshine, there will be clouds and all that sort of thing in the way of my interpretation. But if that urge is there then the clouds begin to vanish and one sees what is meant by living the pure life. And when one really sees the meaning, there is no conflict within oneself in connection with living the pure life.
You know the sort of conflict we go through. We all go through it. I have been through it myself. “It is so hard to give this up, to give that up and so forth. No, but in order to live the good life, I must give that up.” I start off with a state of conflict. If I really see “But this is the good life,” then I naturally let go of that which spoils the good life.
If you discover that to stir in a lot of curry power in your tea is not likely to make it very attractive, when you really see that as a fact, you no longer stir curry power into your tea, you don’t have to have any conflict about it. It’s just a simple thing. It is the same with the psyche. The soul just naturally withdraws from what it sees is evil, is harmful, is destructive. The thing is to see with your whole being, not merely with the eyes, not merely with the top layer of brain cells. That’s not good enough. It starts thereof course, but it must just permeate the whole being. You really see, “No, this is … out with it.” You don’t have any violence, any hate towards it either — you just leave it alone.
So the living of the good life, the pure life is actually a simple thing. If the simplicity is not there, if the ease is not there, then be sure that I or you have not seen the fact as the fact — have not really seen what goodness is.
We have talked a bit about really caring. But that really caring, the real pure urge from within, is free from anxiety. There is no anxiety about it, “Oh, am I doing the right thing?” This miserable conflict, “Am I doing the right thing, have I gone and done the wrong thing?” is an absurdity; don’t bother about it. To use a slang phrase, don’t care a brass button whether you did the right or whether you did the wrong. What’s done is done. Know the fact that, “Yes, that was a mess, this was right.” Just know the fact, so that intelligence has really grown thereby. But don’t have any conflict about it, don’t have any anxiety about it. Anxiety is there because it is always related to me myself.
One of the finest examples of the play of anxiety is that of an actor on the stage or a musician on the platform, the nervousness of the actor or musician. I know something about it from the musical point of view because I know what is the meaning of the phrase “I lost five years of my life during the five minutes before I went on the concert platform.” We know what that is. It is absolutely self-oriented. “Am I going to…?” That’s what it’s all about. Why? Because I am evaluating it, I am caring for it, it’s got to be such-and-such a performance and produce such-and-such a result, a good result. If I am going to be tied in this potty little sphere of just a concert hall, what is the use of my playing about with Transcendence or Infinity. Just be at ease, don’t care. And when you know how rightly not to care, then you will really care, because the first caring was self-oriented, self-concerned. It had the element of greed and lust in it to produce a result, a gain, make a show, present an image to the world, etc. etc. The world’s completely mad, everybody wants to present an image. Who wants the image? The first one was self-oriented, this other caring is the unselfed caring, and that is love. That is the healing power. Through such caring, who knows, all sorts of extraordinary energies out of the One Total Reality flow through the person as a focus and spread healing, peace, the joy which does not depend upon an event or person, which is not mortal, limited, temporary, passing. And this way there is strength, there is inner comfort, strength from within comfort.
What an extraordinary transformation takes place then, when that sort of caring is there! But its base must never be forgotten, the purity of Life. What we mortals unfortunately succeed too well in doing is to stir in a little teaspoonful of deadly poison in the elixir of Life. That’s what we do. But the elixir of Life is ours. Let this not be misinterpreted in terms, in shapes of the pleasurable, the pleasant, the successful, that which does not hurt us. Whatsoever our situation this inner something cannot be touched. And because that inner something is the pure and the perfect thing, it will take all passing pleasure and pain in its stride, which does not mean that it will not feel pain. I will certainly feel pain, and I’ll feel pain, if I am a Perfected Holy One, far more than the unperfected, unwhole person, far more. I shall grieve far more, I shall be more sensitive, that is the point. I shall be infinitely more sensitive. But this inner mystery, this inner power, this inner poise, this strength is the really invincible thing, invincible without opposing anything, invincible without fighting, it is victorious. This is the extraordinary thing, this is the fact. These are not just poetic sentiments or wishful thinking or anything of the sort. This is fact.
So you see, the study of the essence of religion has no relationship to taking a book and studying it as we study algebra or chemistry or engineering or medicine or cookery, or whatever it is, no relationship to that. The study of the essence of religion is to be completely observant of the process of life here and now, in the immediate present constantly. Be so observant that there is no selfness which is throwing out its tentacles grabbing at that which will give us benefit or pleasure or advancement or fulfilment or whatever it is, none whatever. This will die. Not only is it a case of this will die, but this is dying every moment.
In our ignorance we are unaware of the fact that birth-death is an instantaneous pulsation taking place constantly through every moment of time. What we mortals do is to try and delay the death process. Take for example an event. We carry over the memory of the pleasant part of it, we carry over the memory of the unpleasant part of it, and all the rest of it. But this is just dragging a corpse from the past, a beautifully preserved mummy or a horribly decaying corpse! But this is what we are doing. We don’t want to do that at all. As we die from moment to moment, let the death be complete. And how is the death complete? Not by forgetting in the ordinary way, or as people ordinarily say, “Don’t let us think about this, this is too awful,” or something like that. Not that way, but by being so totally attentive to the immediate now that the very next now receives that same total attention, and in receiving that same total attention no residue of semi-attentiveness of the past is carried over as a debit account into the present. Then you really live, then there is the zest of life, a zest which has no relationship with the petty little pleasure-drive, or our petty little conceptions of how life ought to be, and so forth.
These are the deep things which are absolutely essential. If Transcendence is to be realized, start with Transcendence. (It is a curious thing to say.) Then look at all the techniques and the procedures and the theologies and the systems which man has raised up. Then have a good look at them and you will find that they will all just disappear like clouds in the sky. Then there will be the light that never was on land or sea. And the light which is completely associated is itself blissful, utterly blissful. The body may be in pain, you may get news that your child has died, or your friend has been cruelly murdered. You will be sensitive to that fact in the ordinary emotional sense, of course, but there will be this which is Transcendence working through it. The Infinite and the Transcendent does not refuse sorrow, pain, destruction, anything going wrong, it doesn’t, it is all included in the Infinite, is it not? If two galaxies suddenly collide and explode, (just try and picture it, two mighty galaxies colliding and exploding, and this is a fact, it happens), does the Infinite say, “No, I don’t like this, you shouldn’t have done it”? Not at all, it just contains it. I spit upon my Mother Earth (I don’t actually, not because I am afraid of the fine, but I just don’t!) but my Mother Earth says nothing back in reply, it just takes it. It has the power of infinitely absorbing the whole of me, good, evil, pleasant, unpleasant, stupid, wise, capable, incapable, whatever it is it just absorbs me. It is that extraordinary absorptiveness, that infinite absorptiveness, that emerges out of the inner being. When that is there, then you are in upekkhā, as the Buddha said — upekkhā which has been so little understood, this extraordinary state of imperturbability coupled with the infinite sensitivity.
Now perhaps you will understand why the Buddha places that as the fourth, the crowning stage of the whole complex which comes under the single English word Love, mettā, loving kindness, karuṇā, compassion, muditā, sympathetic joy in the happiness of others, and upekkhā. It is a great mystery to most people why and how upekkhā can be the crowning part of Love, but it is. In this imperturbable state, this state of inner poise, there is this extraordinary all-absorptiveness. As theistic religions put it for instance, the Divine Love embraces everything. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.” What does that mean? “And sent His Son as a ransom for the many to be sacrificed.” You see the significance of it in our own personal lives? It is for us to live.
So, let there be freedom from all illusions as regards to the religious life. “Oh, in order to be the true Holy One you must go into a cave, and the icier it is and higher up in the Himalayas the better it is, and meditate there for twenty-five years and this, that and the other.” All right, try the experiment, enjoy yourself there if you like and if you can. But don’t get deluded that, “Ah, this is the goods.” It isn’t.
Student A: You said that sainthood is not Transcendent. I always thought that it was.
Sainthood is there, is manifest, in the life of certain people who are harmless, who are truthful, possessed of the various virtues, and so forth. There have been thousands and thousands of saints in the world, but that does not mean that through all of them Transcendence was manifest or realized. There are many other things involved. You know the life of the Buddha and the nature of the Buddha very well with years of study and observation and so forth. Not only was his life a saintly life, but look at all the other things, the wisdom, the understanding, the extraordinary skill and capacity, the different powers that he possessed and so forth. All this comes in. Speaking of himself (and time and again he used to speak of himself to the bhikkhus, to the disciples) he would say, “If someone were to say of me that a Being not liable to delusion has arisen in the world, then he would be speaking rightly about me.” This is what he says several times. “A Being not liable to delusion.” Think of that.
You look at the life of many a saint and you will find that they were certainly liable to this, that and the other delusion. They had certain beliefs, certain conceptions, certain narrow views. But they were saints. You see, goodness, intelligence, power, they all come into play. When you get the perfection of love and wisdom in harmony applied in the world, you get the perfection of power. We have considered this, particularly earlier in this year at two or three meetings. But power is invariably misused and brings about pain and destruction unless and until there is the basis of love and wisdom in harmony. Isn’t that so? Now, have you any special questions? (Or non-special questions!)
Student B: Starting with Transcendence?
I thought that would put the cat among the pigeons! In order to realize Transcendence start with Transcendence. I use this phrase, the One Total Reality. But the One Total Reality is Transcendence itself, isn’t it? If I am in harmony with the One Total Reality in my inward understanding, then Transcendence manifests through this person which has a name and a place of residence and all the rest of it. So if one reaches out to that Transcendence, one is completely attentive, not self-oriented in that attentiveness, then you have started with Transcendence. That is the start. But what happens spasmodically at first later on becomes the natural and the perpetual state. You find it in the lives of all the mystics and the saints and so forth, and not merely the mystics and the saints but ordinary people like you and I in the world. We sometime or other have some sort of experience which was just indescribably divine. It may merely have been falling in love (merely, but it is a tremendous thing!) Or it may have been suddenly stepping out of the door at night and seeing a starlit sky. Or it may be just seeing a child in its pram suddenly looking up at you and smiling. You know, the whole of Transcendence is suddenly embodied in it, and your being just opens out into the newness which was never there before, a newness which had no preparation beforehand, which was not a consequence of a process. This is Creation, this is Divine Creativeness at work. And suddenly you awake in your awareness. “Ah, this is something like it.” But then a few moments later it is gone, is it not? That wonderful light suddenly bursts out in the heavens and then afterwards it has become un-bright again, so to say. It is like that. But you become the permanent supernova, (so to say!) if this urge from within is there.
To give your entire being to Transcendence, to God, use whatever words you like, to truths, to give yourself unaggressively, this is important. You must not demand that you be taken. You mustn’t just stand on the doorstep till the door is open and you are told, “Oh, come in for goodness sake, don’t keep fiddling outside there in the cold.” You don’t stand on the doorstep, you almost sort of hide away from the Infinitely Beloved, and then you are right there in the heart of the Beloved. This is the mystery, no grasping whatsoever. How often did the Buddha say this? For instance, in one of the Discourses when he is talking to Ānanda he said, “Ānanda, Nirvana is the freedom of attention, of mind, from all grasping.” It is only the unselfed person who has ceased to grasp at all. Then you see, when there is no grasping finitude has vanished and the Infinite is there manifesting itself through your finite being. That is the great mystery, the great marvel.
Student C: The phrase that comes to mind is that the light of commonsense goes out and [inaudible].
Student D: I think the difficulty for those uninitiated perhaps in these ways of thought is the habit of commonsense prevailing. No matter how often one repeats one’s inner realization in words, it still remains meaningless for those outside, but it is pregnant with meaning for those who have already realized. But the difficulty is of finding a phrase, perhaps just a single phrase, which would just allow the uninitiated to drop into the meaningfulness of the words.
Yes, that is true. That is what the Buddha called skill with means. What means are you going to employ with this person, that person, that person, that person?
Student D: Do you feel that the juxtaposition of contradictions, as say in terms, has any place in this realization?
That is a way which appeals to a certain type of person and is useful for that person.
Student D: Certainly one wants to get away from the literalness so that it won’t become an obstacle.
There is always danger attached to effect, not merely along these lines but along any other lines. In the world of affairs there is danger attached to so many things. Look at working in a factory for instance, these mighty big whirling machines, and if you unfortunately put your finger or your hand or head in the way, well, goodbye! That’s the end! There is danger involved of course.
Student E: But that in a way is unnecessary danger, if you are looking for some enlightenment [inaudible].
Then the light goes out permanently if you look for it in the wrong way. The thing is not to look for it, it is there. Just be simple and sensible, in the profound sense sensible, good sense which is different from the ordinary common sense of the world. There was a very fine phrase which you used, “When the light of common sense goes out.” It isn’t a light, it raises up illusory shapes, common sense does where the spiritual life is concerned, because common sense has its roots in our animal being, all the animal urges and drives. I am not saying anything against the animal urges and drives, they are part of the natural process. Right. But they are all self-oriented. I am not an animal, I am a man, and a man is part animal, the soil, so to say, out of which the tree of man grows is animal. But the tree is different. What sustains the soil is different from what sustains the tree. These are things we have to realize for ourselves.
Now, next time we’ll come back to actual meditation practice and certain aspects of it, if you like. But these preliminaries are so essential. It is funny to use the word preliminaries because the preliminary is the whole thing, the goal itself, if one may use the word goal. But the preliminary is the Transcendent, the first step is Transcendent, and it is the perpetual thing. All this is an attempt to try and help you to let the sense of Transcendence light up inside. When that sense of Transcendence lights up inside, that is what in mystical terms has been presented as the Son of God, this is the Son, the supernal Trinity.
Now this comes out in the mysticism of the Zohar in one of its grandest forms. The Divine Trinity is the Infinite, Incomprehensible Deity possessed of wisdom and intelligence. I point to different parts of my body because they are figuratively represented that way, in the shape of a man, sometimes in the shape of a tree. That’s the Divine Trinity, the mercy and loving kindness, and the power which manifests as the power of judgment and punishment, and, mediating between the two, tiphereth as it is called or rahamim, compassion or beauty. This in perfection is the centre of Man. You remember that I have used this phrase before, “Man is Transcendence thinking.” The whole of Man is the thought of God, the thought not in our sense of the world. For us a thought is simply a string of words and every one of them has its root in that which is finite and particular and mortal. But this thinking is creative power and nothing else. And that is tiphereth, and that is the Redeemer. When the sense of Transcendence has really burst out in us, the Saviour, the Redeemer is perpetually active. The Son of God, so to say, comes into his own kingdom. Once that has happened for the rest of your life it is there with you. It will not go out, if it has happened properly.
It is easy to get misled about this and to have this Messianic complex and all sorts of similar things. And so you get the person who sets himself up as “I am the one destined to redeem the world, and I am going to found the new Church or the new religion” and all the rest of it. He is a humbug. However sincere he may be in his beliefs, he is just a megalomaniac. The Son of God, the Redeemer, is the quiet one, the silent one, the one who stays invisible, will not show himself publicly or proclaim himself publicly. If anyone comes to him through him will be poured out spiritual sustenance, the Bread and Wine of Life, of real Life. That is tiphereth, or to use the other word, rahamim. Rahamim is compassion, tiphereth is beauty. It is very interesting that the two different words are used. That is the mediator between, because loving kindness, mercy can go to the extreme and the structure of the universe would break up if there was no proper cohesion. There must be a power that balances and keeps order. This is the Indian idea of karma, given in terms of Jewish mysticism. Then there is the strength and the majesty of God. There is the creative power and the glory, the Kingdom, the Sheh, binah as it is called. Judaeo-Christian mysticism is a marvellous thing, it is actually Judaic mysticism from which all the life-springs of Christian teaching emerge. But Christendom more or less just leaves it alone and says, “This is Judaic, this is not Christian.” But it is Christian essentially. It only happens to come later on in time.
When the great Christian mystics put forth their own forms, they were apparently different, but if you look carefully at them all you will see the relationships. And the astonishing thing is that the Semitic traditions, the deep Semitic esoteric teachings (and by Semitic I mean the three great religions which emerged in Western Asia) are the same as those which arose in India. This is quite extraordinary, because the two race groups are quite different, the Semitic group and the Indo-Aryan group. Nevertheless it was the one Truth which they presented in their own different forms.