Some Contemplation Themes

On Service

Service is the performing of duty without either reluctance or delight. The dutiful is neither an exploited slave nor one who seeks reward. People will get out of the performing of duty what they can get out of it. If they put aside immediate enjoyment of duty and also immediate reluctance to duty, they are in a position to benefit from the other content in service. This it is which refines their perceptions.

On Seeking

Seeking truth is the first stage towards finding it. After the seeking comes the realization that Truth is also seeking the Seeker himself. The third stage, which is the one in which the Real Person is learning from the Way, is when learning reaches a special stage: when the Seeker realizes that he is acquiring knowledge in a range beyond 'seeking' and 'finding', or 'being sought'.

On Effort

Effort and work have many different forms. One reason for the institution of a Guide is that he knows when to direct the disciple's effort and work, and when not to direct it. He also knows the kind of effort and work which each individual should do. Only the ignorant mistake any work for useful work, or extra effort at any time they wish for even little effort at a right time.

On Idolatry

'Idolatry' is when attention is fixed upon some intermediary person or thing at a time and by a person when this should not take place. It is mistaking the vehicle for the content. Most institutions are, knowingly or otherwise, encouragers of idolatry. It is for this reason that potential Real Persons require the constant attention of a mentor to direct their attention according to possibilities.

On Discipleship

In the Way of true learning discipleship is an essential requirement. But the distinction must be made between the people who only imagine that they should be disciples - those whose greed has been aroused in disguise - and those who actually can become disciples, and where and when this stage can take place profitably.

On Mastership

The way in which a Master teaches is often incomprehensible to the students. This is generally because they are trying to understand the workings of something when in reality they are in urgent need of its benefits. Without its benefits they will never be able to understand its working.

On Companionship

There is the companionship of humanity and the companionship of transmission. Those who lack family or other forms of companionship will seek them even at times and places where associating together with others is useful for transmission. Few people know about this, partly because the one word (companionship) is generally used to denote two states, each of them quite different.

On Literature

Remarks of local application are often taken as being of general or universal application. When a Teacher says: 'Shun literature' he is speaking about a certain audience and a certain time. It is the failures among his students who misunderstand and preserve literature as a key to understanding, or else do the reverse, saying: 'The Master denied literature, therefore we will all, and always, deny it.'

On Exercises

Greed is the dominant, though well concealed, characteristic of those who imagine that exercises are the entry to knowledge. They are as important, and as independently irrelevant, as the use of a hand without one or two of the fingers.

On Appearances

The ordinary man judges a person not by his inner attainments but by his apparent actions and what he looks like superficially, and by what people say about him. This method is suitable, however, only for some kinds of judgment, not for others. What a person seems to be like will depend upon what one knows of him. As an example, a man carrying a spiked stick is not necessarily a murderer, he may be an elephant driver. The elect often violate the superficial canons of appearance in order not to be affected by the behavior of the mass with its artificial criteria, and also at times in order to demonstrate, to those who can see it, that conduct alone does not demonstrate interior worth.

On Faith and Religion

Those who are regarded as believers or religious people, and who are incapable because of habit from behaving in any other manner, may be called religious but cannot be regarded as having faith. If, on the other hand, this is faith, then some other word should be used to convey the kind of faith which is not produced by the parents or surroundings of a person.

On Love

What is generally called love can be harmful to the lover and the object of the love. If this is the result, the cause cannot be called love by a Real Person, but must be called 'attachment' in which the attached is incapable of any other conduct. Love not only has different intensities, but it also has different levels. If man thinks that love only signifies what he has so far felt, he will veil himself thereby from any experience of real love. If, however, he has actually felt real love, he will not make the mistake of generalizing about it so as to identify it only with physical love or the love of attraction.

On Study in the World

Becoming a Real Person is a study which is not scholastic. Its materials are taken from almost every form of human experience. Its books and pens are in the environment and resemble nothing that the scholastic or enthusiast even dreams about. It is because recitations, effort and books are included in this kind of study, and because True teachers are called 'Teacher', that the fact of a specialized communication has become confused with academic or imitative study. There is, therefore, 'Real Study' and 'ordinary study', and the two are different. The position is as if 'mouse' and 'elephant' had both been given the same name. Up to a point (being quadrupeds, being grey, having tails) this inexactitude is of no moment. After that, it becomes necessary to distinguish between the two. This distinguishing takes place in a Real circle.

On Assemblies of Real Persons

Superficial students imagine that when Real Persons meet they are all of a similar rank, or that any of the Real can attend the meetings of any other, the difference being only in degree. In fact, it is the composition of the circle which is as important as the circle itself. Similarly, rank in the Way may hold good in one assembly and not in another. This is why teachers in one circle become pupils in another. Collections of interested parties, religious enthusiasts and would-be learners grouped together are often mistakenly called 'Learning Circles'. These may or may not be preliminary to such circles, but they are not circles.

On Difference between Schools

Many things are said and written about differences in opinion and writings between Real Persons. Externally there may be differences, dictated by the environment, but essentially there is no difference. To wrangle about the differences of the Real is as stupid as to wrangle as to whether a coat should be spun from the bud of this or that cotton plant. That is the extent of its significance.

Parable, Idiom and Metaphor

If your teacher is speaking to you in your native tongue, you will have to regard the idioms which he uses as idiomatic, and not intended to be analyzed literally. When he gives you a parable, you will have to know it before you can apply it. When a thing is said metaphorically, it is meant metaphorically. Literal things are not to be taken as metaphorical.

On Higher Levels of Understanding

If you use ordinary intellect to try to unravel something which you do not understand in Real Learning, you will go astray, because the intellect is too elusive within your mental grip. Many a test has been failed because it was too subtle. Be aware of subtleties.

On Annoyance and Unconcernedness

Nobody is annoyed unless there is a reason. If you annoy others it may be because they imagine you to be annoying, or it may be that you annoy them because of your speech or conduct. If you are, or anyone else is, unconcerned by a source of annoyance, this may be either laudable or deprecable. You cannot judge by annoyance.

On 'States'

'States' are basically three: counterfeit or imagined, genuine and irrelevant. Like the physician, it is the Guide who knows which is which, knows the ailment or state of health by the symptom. He also knows the desirability of the induction or otherwise of states. The height of folly is to assume that the presence or absence of a 'state' is in itself indicative of something good or bad.

On Reading, Hearing, Being Present

The materials of study may constitute only the action of being present, without intense reactions, at an assembly of the Wise. It may at one time mean reading, at another, audition. Sometimes the reader or instrumentalist may be one of the initiated. At other times he should on no account be such. This science has been verified and only blunderers experiment with it.

On Repentance

Repentance means turning back or giving up completely something that was of powerful attraction. Pleasure gained though repentance is in most cases as bad as the original offence, and no permanent improvement can be expected by those who pride themselves in reformation. The repentance of the ignorant is when people feel strong reactions to giving something up, or seek forgiveness for something. There is a higher form, the repentance of the Wise, which leads to greater knowledge and love.

On Hope and Fear

Being moved between hope and fear (the fear of God and the hope of His forgiveness) is the earliest state of Real Learning. Those who stay in this state are like the ball played from one part of the field to the other. After a time this experience has its benefit and after that it has its disadvantages. Following the Path without the lower qualities of hope and fear is the objective. A higher objective is when there is neither bribe nor stick. Some need hope and fear; they are those who have had it prescribed for them.

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