Now it’s all right to have them, and use them, and enjoy them, but to get inside of them, and be counting them, and looking at them, and folding them up, and oh … . Of course I will say this: this spiritual life is a little difficult too. And I know that those around me have heard me say over and over again, that in my next incarnation, I’m going to be the manager of a branch bank. You know, you have a white shirt, and white collar, and a nice tie, and a smile, and then when people come in and say, “Can I borrow a thousand dollars?” you say, “No, but I’ll call downtown.” And that’s all you’ve got to do, is just say, “No, but I’ll call downtown,” and keep a clean white shirt on and a smile on your face, and that’s my next incarnation. No worries, no responsibilities, just say no, pleasantly, “but I’ll call downtown.” But this incarnation I don’t have that joy, and I do have some of these periods when the smiles aren’t all they should be, but I think the smiles are inside anyhow, because, well life gives me a good thing to laugh at, and mainly because it’s taken too seriously.
Now let us understand this: I don’t know really, that The Infinite Way does stress humanhood so much, but it stresses the need for overcoming it. And don’t let anybody say there is no humanhood, no personal humanhood, because that’s all that human life is made up of. That’s all this world is made up of, is the selfishness of human life. And that’s why the world is in its present mess. And that is why the mystics, the seers, the saints, the spiritual revelators, are trying to show us that it isn’t as serious as it seems to be, nor is there a need to lie, cheat, steal, defraud, in order to go through life.
Now there was a mystic and a great revelator, who founded a whole new religion that has many millions of followers. His name was Nanak, and he founded the Sikhs of India. And he gave his people great wisdom, great love, great instruction, but he warned them about organizing, and he warned them about gaining too much wealth, because he said to them, “Wealth must have its sword.” In other words, the very minute you begin to make a display as you do witness in the church world, sometimes in other worlds, immediately the rest of the world wants it, and then you have to have a sword to defend it.
And this man’s wisdom was so great that for three generations, that is, for three successive leaders of the Sikhs, they did not organize, and they did not build temples. They worshiped within their own being. But inevitably there came those who decided that it would be a wonderful thing to build a temple and point to their great success. And it only took a short time until they had what is still I guess, the most magnificent temple in all India, worth millions, and millions, and millions, and millions of whatever coin of the realm they had. And in that same generation, the Sikhs had to form their first army, and within a few generations, they’ve become the warrior religion of India. They had the greatest armies. They had the greatest warriors and the greatest fighters. And of course, they had the greatest temples to defend.
Now that’s what I mean by the human self that has to be extinguished. Before that, the human self hadn’t been developed quite so humanly, and the biggest side of their life was the spiritual one, the sharing one, the living one, the giving one. And so it is, we never destroy, really, what you call our humanhood, but what we do is translate it into a spiritual sense of life. Physically we look the same, except that we have perhaps more of a smile more of the time. Physically we may be the same, except that we don’t quite take those two times two’s as seriously as we did before. Probably don’t care quite so much whether we paid twenty dollars for something or twenty-two.
That is a change that takes place when the externals of life become less important, and the real values of life: friendship, love, sharing, joy, become more important, and cleanliness too. I have seen some of these countries where they turn their thought inward, but forget to keep the body clean outside. And they forget that in indulging their very dirt, even while they think they’re spiritual, they’re indulging the very humanhood that should be overcome.
Now the moment we have less attachment to the outer things of the world, that moment a greater sense of joy comes into our inner being. And that’s why this whole evening tonight’s mixed up. Don’t expect much sense from it, because it isn’t sensible, and I can promise you it doesn’t look like it’s going to end sensibly, because it’ll seem like a mess of contradictions.
Some of our students who have heard me refer to this, these two small articles, would like to know more about them and hear them, and I said that I’d read them tonight. And sure enough, when I do, you’re going to say that they’re full of unhappiness and sadness and all these other things that I’ve been talking about getting rid of. But that isn’t what’s in these pages. So as much as you think that there’s joylessness in these pages, take my word for it, you’re mistaken. You haven’t caught what is in between the lines.
Now these two short articles were given to me in London, on my last trip. This one, I awakened early in the morning. No, let’s see. It was this one that came at 3:15 AM, and then a few hours later, the second one. And I wrote them down just the way they came. The first one is called The Mystic Life.
“The start of the mystic life is a state of self-deception. The spiritual path seems to promise, peace, joy, freedom, to oneself. It appears to offer God’s grace to you and to me. We confidently believe that evils will not come nigh our door, that ills will miraculously fade, and abundant good will ever be our measure. Hopefully, we enter the way, feeling ourselves set apart from other men, free of their trials, temptations, and fears. Truly, this must be paradise, in which men walk as though angels: God-inspired, God-protected, God-sustained.
And for a while, it really seems as if all this were true. We appear to flourish by our understanding. Our cup runneth over by our spirituality. In other words, we are puffed up. Here Satan enters, in the form of our self, with desire for greater light, higher vision, a more saintly bearing. Our self would add to our self more of God, more of good, more of grace. Seeking to retire even more from the world of men, to have more of God, to commune more with Him, to feel more of His presence. Our self is in the ascendancy, but must diminish. And here the long nights of struggle begin. Today, feeling high in spirit, as if the world were ours; tomorrow doubting and wondering. Next day, plunged in to an abyss, convinced that God has forsaken us.
But why? Have we not lived a chaste life in the path? Have we not meditated and communed? Have we not sought to show what good things follow those who walk with Him? Why hast thou forsaken us, when we would have more of thee? Has not our very goodness, obedience, diligence, earned for us more of Thy good? So seeks the self to glorify itself, by earning more of God. So seeks the self to satisfy itself. Always the self would draw to itself more of Him, to the glory of the self. Prideful self must puff itself, even in His light.
The seesaw of spiritual pride and self-dejection goes on and on, up and down, and sometimes around, until realization dawns. Up to now, we have been glorifying the self with God. Spiritual grace has made us vain with pride in our spiritual progress, our spiritual fruitage, our spiritual development and rewards. The self may not advance through Spirit. The self may not be glorified or pleased with itself. The self may not adorn itself with gifts of life, but must don sackcloth and ashes, until its extinction. Thus begins the pain and poverty of spiritual progress. Thus the dying daily starts within oneself.
The way is straight and narrow. The dying self is not content to peacefully pass away, but must resist with every bit of remaining strength, succumbing to its inevitable fate. The self will not easily or quietly yield, and every day’s delay is agony to the soul that would surrender itself to God. Only in the final black night, is self extinguished and God reveals Itself. In this light, no self glorifies itself by God contact; no self shows forth the fruitage of the Spirit. No self remains.”