Manly P. Hall
Reaching the Center: Truth Leads All Things to Itself
Lecture given on November 11, 1962 in Los Angeles
In both East and West in religion and philosophy, a great deal has been made of the importance of periodic periods of quietude. We need these perhaps as we never needed them before. And it is almost essential today, particularly in the American home, that the various members of a family should have certain quietude protection. It is very useful to bring up children with the realization that every day, for a few minutes, they should be quiet.
By being quiet we learn to live with ourselves, and this is one of the two great relationships in life: we must live with ourselves and we must live with others. In our Western culture all emphasis has been placed upon living with others. We are taught that environment is a positive force to which we must adjust, so that we regard the individual as well integrated if he is able to live in the kind of a world in which he finds himself.
As a result of this continual externalizing of our resources, we have come more and more to ignore the importance of an inner life. We have sacrificed it by either choice or necessity and we do find a great loss. We find that we have lost the power of contentment and have in its place a kind of constant seeking after things which in themselves do not bring contentment.
Up to fifty years ago, man’s internal life was more important to him, here in the West, because environmental circumstances were less pressing. The individual was happy and proud to be a person. He was judged according to his person, according to his being. And perhaps at that time we went a little off the deep end because we produced a very interesting group of hyper individuals. We might call these individuals eccentrics. They were a dramatic group, they were colorful they were interesting, and they were completely independent of the pressure of prevailing fashions.
This individuality gave us many strong and wonderful persons. These persons gave from within themselves to others and from their various abilities they have enriched literature and art and music and the American tradition, in general. Today there is a tendency to such complete conformity that the individual no longer thinks of creating a destiny. He is born into a situation. He must try to make the best of that situation and he has no time left to make the best of himself.
Even in my comparatively short life I have known a great many interesting people and I can remember back to situations that are more or less different from the kind of things we know now. Because it was my circumstances to live quite a bit of the time in small towns, I anticipated the modern situation but also was more in link with the old. For instance, I lived as a small boy near Toronto in Canada, and although it was in the 1907’s and eights, and quite a time from when this might be considered the fashion, there was an elderly lady in the community who insisted on wearing hoop skirts. Though of course she has long departed from us and she was probably 30 or 40 years by the styles even then, but she decided to dress as she pleased and added considerable atmosphere to the community, by the way. She was a point of interest, she was pointed out to visitors, and each of her short trips downtown was an occasion. While I was still in that community, they cut the ribbon on the first trolley car, trolley car came into the community. This dear old lady wouldn’t think of riding on it. She considered it to be one of these newfangled things that just wouldn’t amount to anything. In addition to that, the speed was too terrific for her it was doing probably four or five miles an hour and this was too much for her. But she was a person, she lived as she pleased.
I remember much later than this, an elderly Scotch lady who particularly enjoyed Paisley shawls. And as late as the forties of this century she could be seen walking down one of our smaller California town streets with her shawl and shawl pinned and her shawl pin was a work of joy and greatness which had come over from the old country. She didn’t care what anyone thought. She lived her own life. This living of one’s own life has added a great deal of charm to the world in which we live. And the loss of this peculiar courage or strength of conviction – some would consider it just plain stubbornness – the loss of it has taken something away from the drama and charm of our daily existence.
All through the East, prior to World War One, there were vestiges of this old way of life and it was important. People were not conformists. They were a little rugged, perhaps, but they also had wonderful standards of integrity that had come down to them from their generation. This integrity brought security to the community, and while they were without the advantages that we have today, they did have a certain partnership with themselves. And while we can’t advocate eccentricity for the folks of today, still we do need this inner individuality.
I was talking to man yesterday, who have known quite a long time, he is now living one of our smaller California communities and he was telling about the losses that he felt in his line of work. He found that the average workman wouldn’t read anything. He wouldn’t even read a pamphlet that would help him to make more money. He just wouldn’t read. Ten years from now the next generation will not be able to read the pamphlet under existing conditions. There is no interest in trying to think. We are afraid of even the mental processes of personal decision, and everywhere we look, this problem closes in. We find it in all levels of society – a lack of internal life.
So we’d like to point out the importance of this in the view of our world as it is today. Nature apparently wants us to have resourcefulness, individuality, a certain inner stamina, nature wants us to be bigger than problems, enough bigger so that we do not fall into the problem or even come to excessive concern about these material things around us. Nature wants us to be practical, but it wants us to always be living centers of consciousness, always in control of ourselves, and moving from convictions that are powerful enough to help us to maintain not only our own personal destinies but collectively, the destiny and security of society. Society is not a tremendous machine that holds people up it is simply a condition of mutual relationships. If the individual factors fall apart there is no society, there is nothing to help us to live meaningful lives.
In the Orient, we find modern impact is producing constant change, but there is still much there that is reminiscent of our own ways fifty, a hundred years ago. Some of those ways were no good for us and no good for the Orient today. Others, however, need adaptation and preservation. We cannot use them just the way generations gone by use them or distant peoples use them now. But there are lessons to learn, there are ideas worth thinking about and trying to build into our own consciousness. So we do feel that there is a lesson to be learned.
Some years ago, a distinguished Japanese gentleman by the name of Dr. Kano took hold of what we generally think of today as jujitsu, or wrestling, Japanese wrestling. He found it in a very confused state with most of its elements derived from China. And what he found was not so difficult to describe or to relate to us. He found a group of athletes tossing each other around in wild abandon and often breaking each other’s necks. He found a tremendously competitive sport with no one caring how much anyone else was hurt. Perhaps it was something a little like modern boxing in the West, where our casualty list is rising rapidly, and where we find more and more professionals killing themselves or injuring themselves for life to amuse sport-loving audiences.
But Dr. Kano realized that this wasn’t right, and he based his thinking upon not a sport but upon life. Here in our daily existence, we are tossing people around and we are being tossed around ourselves. We are constantly struggling psychologically for survival. We receive many a blow below the belt and not too infrequently we put a few there ourselves. There is no sporting quality, no sportsmanship. There is the determination to win regardless of what we do to anyone. We don’t do it so much perhaps in physical sports, but we certainly do it in that gentle pastime called economics. We do not care whether our competitor survives or not. If we destroy him, so much the worse for him; if he destroys us, so much the worse for us. This is a spirit which is wrong, a spirit in which there is no fair play.
And so Dr. Kano, taking ethics, applied great ethical convictions to an ancient and rather dangerous athletic sport. And he created out of Jujitsu what is called today Judo, and Judo is based upon Zen. It is based upon the idea of a psychic self-defense, and also a physical self-defense. It is ruled by the most severe procedures and every effort is made to ensure not only that the participants are not injured, but more important, that the participants are not indoctrinated with this fantastic determination to win at all cost.
We could do something with this with college athletics and high school athletics and gain markedly. In Judo, the idea is not ‘go in and win’ for the great old alma mater, or something. In Judo, it is go in and prove that you are a gentleman, prove that you are a thoughtful, intelligent, considerate human being, try to prove that you are more skillful than the other person. If you are not, accept defeat with honor and gentility and without ill feeling of any kind. In no sport, for one moment, let the emotion be to win. The emotion is to do the best we know.
And gradually, a very interesting concept came out of this a concept in which the big man never tries to take advantage of the little man, in which all outs are arranged by persons of equal ability. And if a person of greater ability should be matched with a person of less ability he must immediately readjust himself and perform no action or take no advantage above the level of the skill of his opponent. In other words, the fact that he knows more does not give him the right to win. He must win on the level of the ability of the other person. By degrees, many of these rules became a part not only of a sport but of a concept of life. And the rules underlying the use of this peculiar technique, these rules apply to our social life as well as to any other form of exercise or skill. The first rule is that the individual who loses his temper destroys himself. And he should. No matter how difficult or tragic the situation, never be angry and never be afraid. These two rules are very good. Now, there are many problems in life that take a lot of thought, but there’s a great deal of difference between thought and worry. The purpose of thought is to solve; the purpose of worry has no meaning. It merely dissolves things in their own weaknesses.
Therefore, in every walk of life, in every contest in human affairs, there should never be any sense of personal antagonism. The individual should never, even under the greatest provocation, hate his adversary. In business, in family, in a marital difficulty, things may have to be done. But hate will undo everything that can be done and will injure both persons far more desperately than any of their personal difficulties and misunderstandings can possibly injure them.
The second thing that the Judo expert learns is equilibrium. No individual can be attacked unless he is attacking someone else. In Judo, the person who keeps his own center is invulnerable. We must all make some kind of a compromise with principle, or we cannot be hurt. And this goes to every level of our thinking. A man came to me not long ago and complained of how bitterly he had been cheated in a business transaction. He said that the business had been misrepresented, and that as a result of that, the other man was a criminal. The misrepresentation was that an investment would pay 25%. This was not a misrepresentation, this was lunacy. And the individual who invested in order to make an unreasonable profit, threw himself off balance. He had made the first wrong move and it was his own fault. But people do not like to think it is their own fault.
Everywhere we turn, we find that to get into trouble, we must usually compromise a principle. I know families where there have been unhappy marriages over a period of years. Two people living together were not adapted to each other at all with considerable miss misery for all concerned. Some of these people have come and told me frankly that they married another person without caring for them, simply for security or social position. This was the mistake and all else was suspended from it.
So the judo principle is: keep your own principles, keep them firm, keep your own center and no one can really injure you. And in life, we know that the Judo expert is correct and he takes a simple rule. He says, stand firmly with your feet three feet apart and make sure that your head is always directly over the center of the hypothetical circle made by the position of your feet. If your head comes forward too far, you are off balance. If it goes back too far, you are off balance. If you bring your feet too close together, you are off balance. Immediately, your center of consciousness, the head, is no longer in the center of activity, symbolized by the hypothetical circle made by your feet – you’re in trouble. And in this trouble, you are then the victim of anyone who has the skill to take advantage of you.
This thinking is Zen and it comes to us very forcibly in our times, because to us, all life is a struggle. But the most dangerous thing we can do in a struggle is to try to attack someone else. The moment we do this we are out of balance. In every time we swing at our adversary, our own body is out of balance. If he is a Judo expert we will swing but once. And life does this because this is based upon law, of a law that will never change. And it is this kind of law that we are all confronted with in our daily living.
So the purpose of our little discussion this morning is to try to emphasize the importance of a kind of central government, by means of which, we can constantly and continuously guard the circumference of our own beings. As this circumference reaches out into environment, into society, and brings us constantly in contact with other persons.
In Judo as in life also, the problem of silence is of the greatest significance. All things are done from a strange inner quietude. And the highest degrees of this art remind us that, if the individual can completely eliminate himself as an equation in self-defense, he has achieved the highest possible skill. Why? Because the moment we cease to run our own lives, the inner core-ness of the universal pattern begins to run this life for us. The moment we get over our personally acquired habits, the moment we get rid of our personally developed opinions, we then come back into an instinctive intuitive relationship with existence.
The judo expert, therefore, is taught in the highest degrees of his art that if he will become completely quiet, his body will instinctively and intuitively fulfill every process of his defense. He will do exactly the right thing if he does not try to do anything. Of course, behind this quietude is a long training of skill, the ability to prepare the body for this type of decision. In mental culture we think of this background development as philosophy, as our religious life, as ours artistic and scientific training. But once all these elements are accumulated within the consciousness, the individual will instinctively and intuitively move and function more rapidly and more perfectly than any mental effort that can possibly be bestowed.
An interesting case of this in relationship to an accident on the highway came to my attention not long ago. A car moving on the freeway at a very substantial speed, suddenly found coming towards it at a breakneck rate, another car on the wrong side. The situation was further complicated by pocketing – there were cars coming both ways on both sides. It was a moment of the greatest difficulty, a moment in which a split second was all that was available for a decision. You could not hope to think that one through. But the person said that at that very instant something happened that was almost miraculous. There was a sudden realization I can do nothing, this is helpless and hopeless, this is probably my last moment on earth. At the same time, this moment certainly seemed to stretch out. Everything went into slow motion, and instead of being a split second for decision, it seemed to be an hour. But there was actually a suspension of the time factor, and this individual said that they felt almost leisurely, and in that leisureliness, suddenly their hands turned the wheel just as it could be turned, the only possible out. They could never have thought about it. But they came through alive and with only a very minor accident in which there were no casualties.
This was an example of this peculiar timelessness that sets in when the individual, for one reason or another, acknowledges himself to be defeated. And his only hope is that there is something inside of himself that knows more than he does. Zen says this is true. Judo teaches it and proves it. The old code of the samurai was based upon it. And we need something of this in our Western way of life, this realization that in all moments of great determination or decision, there should be the availability of inner resource. Now sometimes these things seem to happen providentially, but the miracle is not a miracle; it is rooted in a process as scientific as physics or biology, but a process we do not understand in the West.
Therefore to us, these extraordinary things only seem to happen under the most extraordinary circumstances, not always then. But they can be intensified as processes largely through our ability to open a road to our own inner life. A road that causes us in emergency to instinctively become constructively quiet. In matters of great decision or important decision to suddenly find the suspension of our personal interests. So that without the compromising which comes from attitudes, we suddenly bore through the appearances of things and reach their core existence.
And this reaching into the center nearly always results in solution. It shows us the best ways, the only ways. It shows us how to minimize what would otherwise be difficulties. It shows us that if we cannot escape how we can endure and survive. These experiences were known to our ancestors. They found them in a very quiet and gentle prayerfulness, they found them in simple faith and in certain deep-seated moral convictions. We have lost most of these aids or means or methods.
We have lost nearly all of the instinct which would cause us to turn to ourselves in doubt. Today, the moment a doubt arises we rush somewhere for help, advice or assistance. Perhaps we have to on some occasions, but the moment we find this condition arising and are continually increasing dependence upon the advice, leadership, guidance of other people we should pause and wonder what is happening to ourselves. But we are not only weakening our own characters but we are inviting other persons to become unreasonably aggressive and once we become dependent we ultimately become the victims of tyranny. The moment we no longer rule our own lives, someone else is going to try and rule that life for us. It is instinctive we cannot avoid it.
Thus the mystical conception of things points out, that in the life center in the very core of everything, is something we can call truth. Truth is the correctness of solution. When a thing is solved by truth, it does not arise again; when it is solved by opinion, it may be back before the opinion has passed. When things are mastered in principles, then all the aspects and phases of these things are likewise mastered. When in ourselves we have corrected an error, we are no longer victim of that error, and it can no longer contribute to complication. If however, we simply get ourselves out of a dilemma without changing the basic core center, we will fall immediately into another dilemma, for we have not developed internal resource. To gain this internal resource, there is nothing that is more helpful than this cultivation of friendship for Self – not in a mortal and foolish self-centered way, but in the realization that when we go far enough into Self, we do not develop a hyper ego, we do not suddenly become the Nietzsche Superman.
The further we go into ourselves, the less ego there is until ultimately, we come not to a personal dictatorial center, but we come to a God center. We come to a divine life principle that is resident in our natures, and in this life principle, there is an archetypal situation. In this life principal abides the proper pattern for the unfoldment and development of human character. This life principle may be likened to a seed. Boehme called it a seed. And as certainly as the acorn, a small and insignificant thing, contains within it the archetype of the complete oak tree. So this principle, or seed within ourselves, unfolds to develop every aspect of the personality that we know. This seed is growing forever in terms of its own purpose. The archetype of this seed is rooted in the great pattern of Universal Reality. This seed grows inevitably according to absolute law. And because it grows in this way, it brings everything into a fulfillment.
This seed is the seed of our purpose; it is the one source that we have by which we can know what we are supposed to do. This seed tells each person his destiny. It does not, however, confer upon us vision of the destinies of others. It does not give us omnipotence in our dealings with others, but it gives us an omniscient center from which to move our own lives, and to move our lives in the ways in which they should go.
Outside of this center is this psycho-biological structure that has been growing up in nature for hundreds of millions of years. This is the body with its overtones, and finally with the development of its great emotional mental patterns or intensities. This body with its intensities is seated in what we call the personality. It is that part of us which we most generally use. It is that part of us with which we manage the little daily life with which we are concerned. It is the personality that helps us to select the proper car we want to drive, it is the personality that causes us to shop all day for the pair of shoes we want. This same personality chooses the place where we live, the furnishings of our homes, and of course it is constantly prattling along from morning to night talking about itself, what it thinks, and why its thoughts are more important than somebody else’s.
This personality is an agreeable kindly situation being a combination of gentility and idiocy. This personality will never know very much and whatever it does know will never mean very much. This personality will gather up all the neighborhood news. This personality will go into hysteria at a national election and be utterly crushed because its candidate did not become elected, of course fully aware down somewhere in itself that it doesn’t know either of the candidates or any of them. But it has its preferences and its interests, it is always giving good advice to people who have no intention of using it, and it is always carefully refraining from advising itself in anything worthwhile.
So this personality is the common level of our living. This is the television addict, this is the individual who is always shouting that something should be done about something but never does anything. It is the discontented part of us, that no matter how much we have, it wants more. And when it has what it wanted, it no longer desires it and its attention is turned to some further unfulfilled ambition. This is the part with which we try to live. This is the part that the doctor tries to patch up so that it will hold over.
This is also the area in which the psychologist tries to put together the confusion of the human pattern. And if this is sufficiently supported, medicated, and psychoanalyzed, it will toddle along through the years and finally fall into an appropriate cemetery plot at the end of its appointed time. This is what we live with. This is the part of other people that we see. This is the type of thing which can be very commonplace, does not seem to have any special values, or it may appear in the magnified and exaggerated guise of a dictator. But always, it is living a small life, in a small world, fussing about this and that, making great things unimportant and unimportant things seem great.
Behind this however, is the core, is the truth archetype. But while this archetype must labor with this confused instrument, all of the testimonies, all of the instincts, all of the intuitions that ought to come from the inside are blocked. By the time and impulse of consciousness passes through the complicated conditioning of an undisciplined personality, its energies are dissipated, its purposes are mistranslated, and the individual finds that he has very little of the original insight available to him. He is forever in his own way. Instead of listening for a voice that can speak with authority, he is talking all the time himself. This not only blocks out this quietude within, but more or less indicates that the person isn’t interested in trying to find out the reason for himself or how he should properly function.
There are many, many ways in which we can gradually overcome this confusion. And some of these ways we have to use. Nature achieves its long range program by means of the law of evolution. By degrees, the condition of man is changing in the world. Little by little, worldly values are being undermined. In time, it will become increasingly evident to man nothing that he really wants can be measured in the three dimensions he now knows. He will find that his securities can no longer be sustained here, he will find that the general opinions of others will no longer suffice him, and he will learn by gradual experience that he must move toward the center, that he must gradually make first things first, and that his only hope of having any kind of reasonable existence in this world is that the worldly part of him shall be governed and led by an unworldly depth behind this worldliness.
Thus, everything that happens to us is moving us toward the center. Every experience is an invitation to centralize, for it seems as though this center itself is trying to pull our attention toward itself. It is trying continuously to reveal that it is the one intangible ingredient that we must have in order to succeed in anything. Some have noted this. Some have become wise in their understanding of it, but the majority of folks simply have not been able to make this adjustment, by means of which they can give more and more value to that which is the greatest value in themselves.
The only way that man has ever found, really, to work out this problem is, as we noted at the beginning, through the gradual development of the power quietude. The confusion of the personality must be overcome. Now we can fight it forever, we can struggle with it, we can make all kinds of resolutions, we can keep a constant vigilance upon our minds and emotions, determined that we shall force them to do our will. The reward for such endeavor is usually hopeless neuroses. The individual who is continually trying to be better than he wants to be is rewarded with sickness. Any person who tries to live by a code with which he is unable to cope, which demands of him more than he is willing to give, or demands of him a standard of ethics that is contrary to his instincts as a physical person – anyone who runs against this conflict discovers that virtue does not lie in the suppression of mistakes. That has been one of our great religious difficulties.
We have created religious creeds and doctrines and dogmas, and we have tried to bind people to them. We have said that an individual to do a certain thing, or to belong to a certain sect, must obey certain covenants. The individual tries, he cannot make it he becomes more and more uncomfortable, and ends up a hypocrite. He still belongs to the organization, tries to impress other people with the fact that he is keeping its rules, but it is an old heart he knows he is not. This is a common thing arising today in the modern Catholic Church, where only a small part of the, shall we say, limitations of human nature are ever exposed at the confessional. The individual, without telling the truth, accepts absolution and feels that he is saved. This is hypocrisy, regardless of what we want to call it. If he did not believe in the confessional he shouldn’t be there. If he believes in it, he should tell the truth.
But this compromise is always present where we try to fight situations, or where our hearts and souls are not in agreement with our credo. We cannot win this way; no one has ever been able to do so. We have many instances of extreme austerities, we have individuals who have entered into a monastic life and actually flagellated themselves to death, struggling, fighting against the power of the flesh over consciousness. But there is no answer in this direction. And in our modern world we have given up the fight. The individual isn’t interested in trying to live a completely repressed, suppressed existence. Fortunately, it’s not necessary for him to do so. This is not the answer to his problem – it never has been. We just have a part idea and do not know how to think it through.
The whole pressure of the personality arises from the intensity of the human will. The individual, resolved upon a course of willfulness, applies will energy to every type of situation thus vitalizing it, giving it life and giving it the tyrannical power over him. So with his own will, the individual gives his appetites the power to destroy him. There is only one answer and all great religious and official systems have sensed it but most have not been able to apply it. And that is the reduction of will energy. The individual must cease to feel that his existence depends upon the constant manifestation of will energy.
Today in the West, the individual who isn’t doing something every minute is considered to be useless. Whether he is doing anything important or not doesn’t make any difference; he must look busy. Some time ago, a manager of a large business was called into the president’s office and reprimanded because the president said the office force does not look busy. Better do something about it right away. The manager said, well, they’re doing very well they’re turning out more work than any previous group we’ve ever had. I think they’re a very satisfactory group. The president said, all right that’s fine if they’re doing the work, that’s fine, but tell them to look like they’re doing the work. I want to see some exhaustion in the front office.
And this is the way we think: what it looks like, that it is. The only way that we can reduce this energy drive is to place ourselves, regularly for a short time and sit in a situation which does not require energy, where we can intuitively and instinctively relax. This has been the secret of quiet, heart-to-heart talks with self. The ability of the individual to let down self-will and self-purpose and come into a very quiet, gentle relationship with his own life. More can be learned by this relationship than by any other procedure that we know.
Fortunately, the individual does not come into this world a completely blank being. He is not like the old Scottish metaphysicians used to say – a piece of blank paper upon which everybody he meets is going to scribble something. This is not the person. The individual comes into this world with a vast amount of background experience. The person may learn very little in this world. He may never graduate from grammar school. He may have very few opportunities for attainment. His life may not give him glamorous, adventurous culture. He may not have the opportunity to study many subjects which he would enjoy studying.
But there is no need to get an inferiority complex over this, because actually, everyone who comes into this world, whether he knows it or not, is very old and very wise. He is much wiser when he’s born than at any other later period during his life. He is also wise in primitive value. We are far better born with greater opportunity than the savage in the jungle, yet the savage is the jungle is strangely wise – wise in eternal values that we have often forgotten. So there is no need to assume that, when we look inside of ourselves, we’re going to find only the half or semi-educated person who did not do well in college, who has never been outstandingly successful in anything, and has not been able to add up a column of figures to save his life.
This is not what is inside. This is what circumstances, conditioned environment, or heredity may have done on the outside, but inside is the wisdom of the folk. Inside is the wisdom of great time. Inside is that instinctive knowledge of life, which if we can reach into it and take hold of it, makes us one with every living thing that has ever existed. A beautiful flower of the garden has never graduated from college, yet it fulfills its life more graciously perhaps than we can ever fulfill ours. Nor let us not forget, that in the processes of this flower in its growth and its development, there is such a complication of procedures, such an infinite diversity of processes at work, that in the study of a single plant a botanist can give his entire life. This plant is not just a simple thing. It does not have a complicated intellectual organism capable of argument over facts. But it has a tremendous inner wisdom which makes it possible for it to be itself – magnificently, splendidly, and with all the intricate growth which is proper to its kind.
Man has this same tremendous power of essential growth. And it is this power that is always there, it has always been there well, there has never been a time when man, by searching within himself, would not be able to learn what is next for himself. It is that he has not found this center; he has not really tried to. He has assumed, that when he goes inside, there is either God, which he does not understand, or nothing, which he can never comprehend. He does not know that there is this truth core, and that this truth core guides not his actions, but his reasons for action. This truth core may not be able to tell him the direct answer to a problem, but this truth core will provide him with the basic principles which will answer all problems. This basic value, coming in, establishes the universal value of a particular, and will reveal clearly what this particular means in the terms of the eternal light of the creature itself. And this is the thing which makes all action purposeful. This is what makes the building of society possible.
There are two schools of thought, for instance, in relationship to where society is going. There might be a third one now, called the nuclear school, but we’re not going to bring that one up at the moment. According to one group, the future of man and the future of the world, is already clearly and entirely outlined. Man is therefore growing up in a mold which will sometime fit him properly. He is not a creature creating a unique destiny, he is fulfilling a purpose, a purpose which has rested forever in the mind of the creator. By this means, we think therefore of a certain grand predestination, that the perfection of man is already archetypally revealed. And what man must do to be perfect is therefore set beyond any possible change or alteration.
The other group denies this and would give man a total determinism, the power to create any kind of a future that he wants. This policy has more or less taken hold, but without realizing the fact, this attitude has undermined our basic concept of how to get at facts. When false ideas become prevalent, they often lead us away from those truths which we most need. And for the present purpose, I think we can agree with both Plato and Buddha, that there are these vast archetypes and that man himself is going somewhere according to a plan that is already fully developed as a magnificent formula within him, as the oak is archetypally locked within the structure of the acorn.
Thus, our purpose is to find, essentially, the purpose and the way necessary to our own attainment. And one of the best ways we know of doing this is to take a certain attitude of quietude. Now, quietude is not negation. The individual is not trying to obliterate consciousness. He is trying to suspend attitude. For most persons, quietude is the temporary suspension of attitude and emotion. For a moment of two, or four five minutes, or whatever is possible to us, we are trying not to fall victim of the pressures of imperfect understanding. Instead of allowing the trivia to move in, instead of allowing the superficial to take over, instead of continuing to simply gratify pressure, we try for a little while to see what would happen if this pressure quiets down. That instead of this pressure, we begin to experience a peace of soul, a peace of spirit, something that gives us contact with a source of transcendent value.
Having to a measure attained this contemplative interlude, which we can do without the heroics of world renunciation simply by being quiet, we then discover that we can take problems into this quietude. We discover that it is perfectly possible for us, then, to take a matter of great importance, very quietly, very impersonally, very impartially and allow it to float into our consciousness. We can say very gently, what should I do about this particular problem? And if we can continue to suspend self-interest, if we can view this problem for exactly what it is, and if we can view it with that curious honesty which can only come from the suspension of self-interest, we can honestly say: I want the answer. Whereas otherwise, we will say: I want the answer that I want.
If we are very quiet about this, we can use these moments which we set aside for this particular quietude, as the moments of communion with solution. We can take into these moments everything that is vital to our happiness, and security, and peace. And being completely quiet, we can let the experiences of countless ages move in upon us to help us now. We have been through these experiences before. Sometimes we’ve been through them within a few years and have forgotten their message. Often, we have been through similar experiences and handled them badly and have forgotten the lesson. But everything is there; nothing is gone. Everything is available, and in this perfect quietude, we suddenly find as this young man in his car found, that the moment seems to grow very long and very deep, and in that moment, there is an extraordinary clarity. There is no argument, there is no debate, there is no discussion of the matter. We are not taking this now to an invisible psychoanalyst. We are taking it simply to the source of the power to do and to determine. And from that very quietude comes not a voice but a knowing, a sudden insight, and we know beyond question of doubt the answer. It comes to us in such a simple form, that in quietude, it is immediately comprehensible.
This is one of the reasons why many persons, for instance, will take a serious question or problem to bed with them, and very often when they wake up in the morning, they will wake up for the answer. This is because during the period of sleep and rest, ulterior motive has ceased. And out of the sleeping will, and the sleeping emotions, and the sleeping thoughts, comes an answer from beyond sleep, the simple statement of the being at the source of ourselves.
Now if we discover this inner guidance, and it is an inner guidance, we also realize that it is no longer a kind of psychic inner guidance. It is no longer the individual depending upon a dream which is the result of his own conditioning. It is no longer the individual always getting inner guidance to do what he wanted to do in the first place. It isn’t this at all. It is, that when we suspend what we want to do, the facts gradually appear. The discovery of these facts is revelation. It is the same kind of revelation that came to Moses on the mountain. The law of the thing is revealed within ourselves. And it will be revealed if we will obtain and maintain this time of quietude. If we will go up into our mountain of silence, even for five minutes, we will discover, gradually, the tremendous directing and controlling power of this experience.
Having therefore, in a moment of great quietude, having learned the proper procedure of the matter, and also realizing something that we may not normally think about, namely, that this truth at the heart of us is not only a revelation it is a power. For this power, as in the time Moses, was God as El Shaddai, the Lord of Hosts, the Generalissimo of the Power of Heaven. This quietude reveals not only the answer, but reveals that an infinite power is available to assure the success of truth the moment we live it. When we may not be fully aware of this in the beginning, probably we will not be, as a result, when we come back again into worldly thinking, we find that our inspiration, our intuition, our inner guidance now seems to go contrary to our immediate desires and advantages. We know what the principle is, but we really do not want to use it. We would like to use it. As one person said to me once, if it was only another kind of world I live in I could use it, but in this kind of a world I would simply be ridiculed the using it – no one would understand why I did it. Or, it would be very expensive at this moment to do exactly the right thing.
So little by little, these moments of enlightenment, are ‘sicklied o’er by the pale cast of thought’, as Hamlet says, ‘and the native hue of resolution is lost’. This means that we have these insights but we don’t use them. And as we have them and don’t use them, again and again, we create a vicious habit – a habit which is little less than actual disobedience to God. For it is disobedience to that secret power of life, which throughout religion, we have always known as God, If however, we have the courage to use, we also know this power at the root of ourselves has no desire to hurt us. It is not there to make life difficult for us; it is there to straighten life out. But there are many lives which cannot be straightened out, without breaking up existing patterns. These patterns, whether we know it or not, are leading us inevitably to disaster. This guidance from within would protect us from that disaster. So it may give us a small emergency to face, but help us to guard against a greater emergency that we must otherwise face.
We in this country, if we could only allow a little time to reestablishing man’s inner dignity, if we could realize even for a moment that Godhood in man, the tremendous wealth of understanding and insight that we all have. But we just won’t use it; we don’t dare use it. We’ve become accustomed to existing without it. Perhaps we call upon it for a moment in some great emergency, and even then, amazingly enough, if for one moment we are sincere, the miracle, so-called, frequently seems to occur. In the moment we prayerfully ask, we receive. And probably the whole efficacy of prayer is that in time of great strife we become from moment humble. And the moment self-will, with its pressures relaxes, the life within can begin its great work of organizing and healing and restoring.
So to find this inner truth is about the only answer we have today. Really it has always been the only answer but we didn’t know it. But now it is becoming increasingly obvious. Less and less does this world satisfy us and there seems to be no probability in the projectable, foreseeable future this world is ever going to be much happier than it is now. Every day we invent and devise new ways to make the world miserable.
And it is because of the pressures in all of us, these thoughts and emotions, driven by will, that we create these great national emergencies. But there doesn’t seem to be any probability an early utopia. Well, every time we come near it or seem to be approaching it, someone strikes it with an early frost. So we do not have the chance.
Little by little, we must realize that our only hope to understand life, ourselves, our world and our purpose, and to keep faith with reality so that these things that happen in the world will not cause a total disillusionment, a total despair, is to find out where strength is. And to find out something we should have always known, namely that it was never in this world. Even the most primitive savages, in a much simpler way of life, have their troubles too. There has never been any security in this world. Always, the security is in consciousness behind life. Always, the security is in the core of ourselves, and if this core can take over, we have a security that is incredible, we have a security that is based upon such value.
But really, the moment the inside takes over, the tyranny of the world ends. If we remain here, we do the jobs we came to do. We are friendly, kindly, well-disposed people. We are efficient people but we have learned that the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. We have learned that everything that is important moves from within us, and that communion with this inner, and life according to the will of this inner, these are the things that bring us the maximum of peace. We gradually recognize that this inner life core is eternal, that truth is eternal, that all the great values that men have loved are eternal. They can disappear from the world at any moment, but they can never disappear from the core of consciousness at the seat of every living thing. They may languish for ages, but in the archetype of man’s consciousness, the good can never die.
Furthermore, in this archetype core of truth realization is immortality. Here is the undying thing. Here is that which is so much stronger than life as we know it, but if we cling to that, we have no fear in this world. All the values we seek for are in this core, for it is this core that goes on. It is this being at the root of us that has always been and always will be. And it is this being that it makes available to us, no matter when we live, where we live, or how we live, makes available to us the eternal wisdom of God, if we quietly prepare ourselves to receive it. And as we go quietly into a sanctuary, into the presence of this mysterious power which we feel to be the symbol of eternal life, so we must have the quietude of sanctuary in our own lives. Where there is a place in each of us where truth abides in glory, and each of us must find that place.
There is no other solution, no other end of misery, no other straightening out of crooked paths. We must find this place, and Nature has equipped us to find it. We have every instrument of this discovery available to us at all times. We are born with it. It is with us on our deathbeds. At any moment during life the individual can call upon the resources of pure life itself – life which is wise with its own living, life which has lived on beyond the stars, life that has fashioned worlds and received them back into itself again, life that has produced countless races on other worlds we know nothing about, life forever creating, forever conceiving, forever regenerating. Forever life as consciousness, life as truth, life to us as eternal good and eternal love. This is not something that is lost in space, this isn’t some not something that dies in wars and depressions, it is something that is nature’s solution to the need of living creatures, that everything they need for the various stages of their growth, they can find within themselves.
Man has been taught this, man has realized it, man has built upon it. But he has never really taken hold of it and made use of it as he should in protecting his own existence, in guarding the destinies of his loved ones, of contributing to the progress of society. He has never used this tremendous force as the one answer to compromise. But with this force, no compromise is necessary. With this force, compromise is a loss and not a gain. And with this principle moving within us, we have found this strange center from which we cannot be dislodged. We cannot be overwhelmed or destroyed or torn away from realities.
No matter what happens, truth is always with us and the door to it is always the quietude of a meditative communion. And to develop this in children, to make it part of the daily life of the adult, to find in it the quiet consolation of age, will enable persons to face all changes, all conditions with a good hope. Not a hope as we understand it, which is an uncertain anticipation, but with that hope which is solid, because this thing which we hope for is always in us, is itself eternal and indestructible. Therefore, we do not need to hope for good – it is really that we have this good. Perhaps the only thing we must really hope for is the strength and understanding and insight to take good use, to take hold of this, and bring it into focus as a source of peace, and love, and understanding in our daily lives.