RELATIONSHIP AND SOLITUDE – II
Human beings willing to take their lives into their own hands can acknowledge when they have used a person as a means to their own end, and see this as unworthy. Highly evolved souls who fall into such abuses will go into a period of penance. They will engage in a chosen discipline of thought and action so as to atone for their past misuse. Penance is not to be understood in terms of externals. True tapas touches the core of one’s inward integrity. It fosters a calm reliance upon the great law of universal unity and ethical causation. It is rooted in the wisdom that protects right relationships. The tragedy of the human condition is that when we make moral discoveries we cannot readily go back to those we have wronged and rectify matters. Either it would be too painful or the individuals involved are not accessible. But we can correct our relationships at a higher level of integrity. We could prepare ourselves, in a practical way, to come out of the old and smaller circles of loyalty. We could authentically enter into the family of man and become members of that brotherhood of human beings who do their utmost, in the depths of solitude and self-examination as well as in the gamut of their relationships in daily life, to re-enact in simple situations what at an exalted level is effortlessly exemplified by the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas.
Those who make this heroic effort become pioneers who point to the civilization of the future. They gestate new modes in the realm of pure ideation and bring them down into the region of the visible, laying foundations for a more joyous age in which there will be less defensiveness, fear and strain in the fit between theory and practice. Some want to get there straightaway, but they have never really asked themselves whether they have paid off their debts, or even faced up to the consequences of what they did before. This is a common error, but nonetheless it is insupportable in a cosmos that is a moral order. We cannot erase what went before, though we can make every new beginning count and insert it into a broader context. The great opportunity that the Aquarian Age offers is to gain a sense of proportion in relation to oneself, entering into an invisible brotherhood of comrades who are making similar attempts. Their mutual bonds come alive through their inmost reverence for their teachers, who exemplify in an ideal mode what their disciples strive to make real in their lives through sincere emulation to the best of their knowledge.
We need to function freely in the invisible realm of growth where all formulations can only be initial points of departure, and all interactions may serve as tentative embodiments of ideals. We know today, even in terms of the inverted insights of the lunar psychology now so widely disseminated, that our responses to others are in part truths about ourselves. We are aware that weak people are going to see weakness everywhere, or are going to be threatened by stronger people who remind them only more acutely of their own weakness. In the worst cases, the weak either try to pull down the stronger through image-crippling or try to live off them vampirically. On the opposite side, there are divine equivalents to these demoniac extremes, because evil is merely a privation of the good. Evil is only a shadow cast by a good which is not static: the more we seek it, the more it moves through degrees of relative manifestation extending into the unmanifest realm and beyond into that which cannot be called “good” or “true” or “beautiful” or anything, because it is beyond all appellations and attributes.
There is then a process that is the opposite of vampirization. Instead of subtracting from someone else for our own benefit every time we see something that is strong or admirable, we could try to be silent learners. This is not easy. Very great souls, wherever they are born, reveal themselves as archetypal learners. By learning all the time they readily assimilate the best from those they encounter, and thus rapidly learn in every direction. Light on the Path gives the most comprehensive and precise instruction: “No man is your enemy: no man is your friend. All alike are your teachers.” This mode of learning is a way of drawing from others which enriches all. The archetypal mode is so basic that it cannot remotely resemble institutionalized, routinized, inherited conceptions of learning. One can enact a whole manvantara within a single night if one is serious about learning, simply by sitting quietly in a restaurant and watching people coming and going, working and conversing. Learning is ceaselessly going on everywhere but it can become truly self-conscious only if one is sufficiently humble. It is absurd to insist that there is no alternative to manipulation in human relationships. What makes vampirization possible is a kind of perverted strength, a determined persistence in weakness. An Initiate will see in such sad cases not a weakling, but an old sorcerer playing sick games behind a weak exterior, using the guise of weakness for the sake of sordid traffic in human vulnerability. There is present a reflected ray of the divine, but its strength shows itself demoniacally, inverted through a perverse determination which can only push the person along the inclined slope that culminates in the irreversible utter loneliness, annihilation, and extinction of the vital connection with the Atman. We need to meditate deeply on the opposite to see to the very core of what is happening. We can only do this if we can witness what we see with a commensurate compassion. The self-destructive sorcery of vampirization and manipulation must be met by a tremendous love, such as that of Krishna, Buddha, or Christ, for the faint spark of moral perception in that unfortunate human being desperately needs to be fanned before it is wholly extinguished.
Meditation upon the nature of good and evil also points to a process that is the opposite of the demoniac tendency, through extreme insecurity, of breaking down the images of stronger people. True learners, in contrast to fickle sycophants, are skilled in the enjoyment of excellence. They are willing to worship the imprint of impersonal truths about human nature in the acts and utterances of noble souls, wherever they may be discerned. Diverse individuals may find kinship with exemplars of human excellence in ancient myths, in recorded history, and in the secret fraternity of living sages. If we sit down and calmly reflect upon the best persons we have ever known, upon those we most respect, we may come to see the finer qualities hidden in the creative depths of these beings. Continuous effort generates strength. If we love enough we will readily recognize that we are initially not worthy enough to appreciate all the excellences of higher beings. We need knowledge, self-study, and the companionship of those who are our comrades in the quest for wisdom. Then we become intuitively capable of drawing to that orbit wherein we sense without profanation a sacred dissemination and steady diffusion of ideals that may be incarnated by degrees. This is the only possible strength compatible with a spiritual cosmogony and an emanationist conception of human evolution. Strength is truly that which is compatible with further growth. This is no static notion of strength and there can be no external measure of it. Human beings are the greatest cowards when they will not admit a mistake and when they will not face themselves. The greatest heroes are the ones who show the courage needed for constant self-correction. True strength has nothing to do with indices of power in the visible realm. It shows itself in the inner life of man, in psychological struggles, and in the moral sphere. As we begin to gain a little of this inward strength, we prepare ourselves for more. Then it becomes natural and spontaneous to rejoice in the existence of those stronger than ourselves.
It is possible even now to recover something of that faded memory of the joys which were once experienced in families where one could insert one’s whole conception of oneself into a larger fellowship. We can no longer do this mechanically in Kali Yuga, least of all in a competitive society, and in relation to the family as defined merely in terms of blood ties and physical heredity. We have to re-discover and re-create the small family before we can join the greater family of man. We need to think about humanity as a whole, the human situation, human needs, human sufferings, and the glaring gap between the human predicament and all the expertise in the corridors of power. But we should not presume that we know enough about such matters. It would be better to seek to become effective servants of Those who alone have the wisdom needed to enlighten and elevate the whole of the human race, but who cannot do so without the help of companions. Drawn out of different cultures, they are the global forerunners who are willing to serve as “Fortune’s favoured soldiers” in the Army of the Voice.
Hermes, June 1977