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flatter ourselves is unselfish, such as the desire to preserve or to benefit others. To some it will seem dreadful to say-cease from the desire to benefit others. But I would ask them to sink within themselves to that centre which is beyond desire, leaving behind them as they go every longing they have ever known; and as longing after longing is abandoned, they will find that the heart grows lighter and lighter, more and more luminous. What will they discover at last? That the centre which is beyond desire, is beyond separateness and beyond time; that in it all things are identical. To realize that, even for a moment and imperfectly, benefits the whole of creation; and if we carry the memory of it in our hearts, benefit others we must, at every point, without desiring to do so, and without the thought that we are benefiting them. Does a flower desire to arouse in us a sense of the beautiful? I think not. It is beautiful, because it is the perfect expression of the spirit which informs it. So with us: think away our desires, and we touch the Spirit which informs us. That Spirit, being one in all men, exists for all men.
But now it may be said: What scope can there be for will and for imagination if desire has been laid so utterly aside? There can be no scope for the personal will; but with the personal will no one yet has ever performed a feat of white magic. The white magician, the Master of Service, knows no will but that of the Spirit—the Spirit whose will is a flame. Set free when desire dies, it is that will which the Master is, and it is with that will that we have to identify ourselves. Acting in conjunction with the image-making power of a pure, untroubled mind, it is the supreme Magician. But this brings us to what I have described as the positive aspect of self-control.
The pertinacity of our covetous thoughts will horrify and even terrify us unless we realize that they are not, as it were, freshly evolved; that we are not responsible in this moment for their approach; but that in the past we have created centres of wrong thought which exist in the sphere of the mind, and that it is with these old accumulations that we now have to deal.
We have abolished force from our problem; otherwise we might explain the existence of these mental deposits, of these entities in the subliminal consciousness (for entities they are), in this way: a force which is used continually for selfish and material ends wears a path for itself, and thereafter tends to move in that direction almost automatically. It needs but the slightest external stimulus, and then, in spite of ourselves, as it appears, there follows the flow of force and faculty along the beaten path of selfishness or vice.
But it is better to consider the matter from the standpoint of thought, as heretofore. Our task, then, may be expressed thus: we must reduce these old centers of thought, these devils of the mind, to impotence. Otherwise we shall eternally be doing and saying and thinking things "against our wills," and thus remain slaves instead of becoming masters. How can it be done? We may be sure of one thing: that the thieves and money-changers, although driven out of the Temple, will return, unless we fill their places with genuine worshippers. And this we can do, in the case of our own minds, only by generating the right kind of thought and feeling. That is to say, we must fill the mind and heart with the highest thoughts of which we can conceive: we must “meditate."
Meditation may take the form of dwelling mentally upon one of the great truths, such as that all men, including ourselves, are essentially divine; it may be made more a matter of feeling, in which case we try to feel or to hear the harmony which lies at the root of things; or it may be self-identification, through the imagination, with our true naturewith That which is changeless, the source of wisdom, of power, of bliss. In any and every case, meditation or contemplation, among its other effects, opens the heart to the inflow of the Spirit and produces a radiation of divine energy from the centre throughout the sphere of the consciousness It dislodges bad accumulations in that sphere, and at the same time creates a veritable Jacob's ladder on which "the angels" of the God within us may pass to and fro between earth and heaven. As the positive aspect of the banishment of desire, it forms the first step in the science of right thinking, and the perfection of right thinking, as I have said, is Magic, or the Magical Service of man.
Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling like a reed, under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is now, here, in these quiet weeks.
Now it is being decided whether in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by steddy, long-continued process.
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK XIII.
T has been suggested that the eighteen books of the Bhagavad Gita
fall naturally into three groups of six books each; and that the first group of six books corresponds in general to the stage of Aspiration,
the second group of six to the stage of Illumination, the third six to the stage of Realization. Without pushing this thought too far, we may recognize, in a general way, that the earlier books of this divine poem are concerned with the first halting steps on the path of life; the middle culminates in the Transfiguration of the eleventh book, and the closing part of the poem is made up of teachings worked out in detail, for use in daily life. In general, these passages of practical teaching rest on the Upanishads and the Sankhya teaching of Kapila, as developed and embodied in the later Vedanta. We cannot speak definitely of the dates either of the Upanishads or of Kapila. We can only say that both certainly belong to a period long before Buddha, and that the Upanishads are much older than Kapila. We can further say, with some confidence, that Kapila's great contribution to Indian wisdom was the division of life into the two opposing camps of Spirit and Nature: Purusha and Prakriti; and the further division of Nature under the Three Powers of Substance, Force and Darkness : Sattva, Rajas, Tamas.
This division is not found in the great Upanishads, but it corresponds closely to something that is found there. The antithesis between Spirit and Nature answers to the Upanishad distinction between Self and not-Self. And the Three Powers are closely related to the Three Worlds of the Upanishads. In the development of the Vedanta in the period after the great Upanishads, much of the teaching of Kapila was adopted, and we find the two strands interwoven throughout the Bhagavad Gita, with a strong coloring of the devotional Yoga school added. Shankaracharya fully approves of this adoption, and uses Sankhya classifications throughout his works, both commentaries and original teachings. The reason would seem to be that Kapila, while not giving forth the great traditional teaching of the Mysteries embodied in the Upanishads, nevertheless developed his philosophy in close harmony with the Mystery teaching, and developed it with marvelous intellectual cogency and lucidity. Kapila was in many ways the prototype of Kant, and his purely intellectual work served as a basis for spiritual teaching, just as Kant's work serves as the foundation for later idealism.
We therefore find the closing books of the Bhagavad Gita strongly colored by the thought of Kapila; and his division of life into Spirit and Nature, with Nature divided under the Three Powers, is used as the basis of instruction.
*Copyrighted, 1906, by Charles Johnston.
The first three verses of Book XIII divide life into objective and subjective, the "field," and the "knower of the field.” This is in effect Kapila's division between Nature and Spirit; but, while Kapila seems to contemplate a countless number of isolated Spirits, the Vedanta, in adopting his teaching, greatly improved it, by seeing, under all these individuals, a larger unity, the Spirit Supreme, the one Self of all beings. This presence of the Oversoul is finely expressed here: “Know Me to be the knower of the field, in all fields, O son of Bharata."
The fourth verse, which refers to the Brahma-Sutras, the great analytical work commented on by Shankaracharya, is of later date, and has been inserted by some lover of philosophical orthodoxy, a little jealous, perhaps, of the prominence given to the rival Sankhya system.
The fifth and sixth verses cover what the Upanishads would call the two lowest planes of consciousness, the physical and the psychic; the mental and emotional energies being included, as they ought to be, under the psychic.
A group of five verses follow, which set forth “the fruits of the spirit,” corresponding to the third plane of consciousness of the Upanishads, the plane of "dreamlessness," of moral and spiritual nature, above the dreamland of the psychic plane. These five verses form, in fact, a fine moral code for the disciple, who must grow in just these qualities of "humility, sincerity, patience, reverence, selflessness.” Every word of these five verses should be dwelt on, till the spiritual principle involved is discerned and assimilated.
Then come six verses, from the twelfth to the seventeenth inclusive, which finely and wonderfully set forth the fourth plane of consciousness of the Upanishads, the direct perception of the Logos, the Oversoul. The Logos is the “Light of lights,” undivided among beings, though seeming to be divided; the power and consciousness of the Logos are everywhere: "with hands and feet everywhere, with eyes everywhere,” in the fine symbolism of the poem. And the union of individual consciousness with this divine consciousness of the Logos is well declared to be the goal of wisdom, the aim of life.
Then Detachment is taught, first along the line of Sankhya thought, which regards the Spirit as the disinterested spectator, whose liberation is to be gained by perception that personal acts and desires are not of the Spirit. By thus raising our consciousness to the one Life, we stand apart from the personal in us, and work only the works of the Life, the works of the Father. The teaching of Detachment is stated also in terms of the Yoga and Vedanta schools, the reconciliation of the three bringing us to the close of the book.
THE MASTER SAID:
This bodily being, O son of Kunti, is named the field; and who beholds it, him the wise call the knower of the field.
And know Me to be the knower of the field, in all fields, O son of Bharata; the knowledge of the field and of the knower of the field, I esteem to be knowledge indeed.
What the field is, of what nature, what are its changes, and whence it is; and what the knower is, and what his power is, that briefly learn from Me.
(By the Seers this has been celebrated in many varied hymns; and by the verses of the Brahma-Sutras, full of firm wisdom, it has been set forth.)
The elements, self-reference, understanding, the Unmanifest; the ten powers that perceive and act, mind, and the five fields of perception.
Desire, hate, pleasure, pain, bodily unity, intellect, will; this is the field, briefly set forth, with its changes.
(6) Humility, sincerity, harmlessness, patience, uprightness, reverence for the Teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control,
Freedom from sensuous longings, selflessness, perception of the defects of birth and death and age and sickness and pain,
Detachment, freedom from absorption in sons and wife and household, perpetual balance of mind, whether the wished or the unwished befall,
Undivided and faithful love of Me, a dwelling in the solitary place, shunning the multitude,
(10) Steadfast perception of the Oversoul, an understanding of the goal of true wisdom,--this is declared to be wisdom, and whatever is other than this is unwisdom.
What is to be known I shall declare to thee, knowing which thou shalt gain immortality: the beginningless Supreme Eternal, which is neither being nor non-being,
With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes and head and face everywhere, possessed of hearing everywhere in the world, That stands, enveloping all things,
Illuminated by the power that dwells in all the senses, yet free from all sense-powers, detached, all-supporting, not divided into powers, yet enjoying all powers,
Without and within all beings, motionless, yet moving, not to be perceived is That, because of its subtlety, That stands afar, yet close at hand,
(15) Undivided among beings, though standing as if divided, and as the