Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself -
And there isn't one.

CHAPTER 1 : The Harlequinade

Perhaps our most serious handicap is that we start on the wrong foot. In the end this is likely to be fatal, and, I fear, generally is. We have a basic conditioning, probably in some form of Christian religion, of which little remains today but its ethical content, or in one of the modern psychologies, that of Freud, Adler, or Jung, or in some scientific discipline, all of which are fundamentally and implacably dualist. Then the urge manifests, and we start reading.

Every time we happen on a statement or sentiment that fits in with our conditioned notions we adopt it, perhaps with enthusiasm, at the same time ignoring, as though they did not exist, the statements or sentiments which either we did not like or did not understand. And every time we re-read the Masters or the sutras we seize upon further chosen morsels, as our own jig-saw puzzle builds up within us, until we have a personal patchwork that corresponds with nothing on Earth that could matter in the least. Not in a thousand million kalpas could such a process produce the essential understanding that the urge is obliging us to seek.

We are required to do exactly the opposite of all that. We are required to 'lay down' absolutely everything that is 'ours', and which is known as 'ignorance' - even though we regard it as knowledge. It is like stripping off clothes that have become personal. Then naked, but in a nakedness that does not recognise itself as such, we should go to the Masters, who will clothe us in the garments of the knowledge or understanding that we really need. It is their jig-saw we must complete, not 'ours', for their 'doctrine', what they have to reveal to us, is one whole and indivisible, and the statements and sentiments that we do not at once understand, rather than those that we think we do, are the ones that matter. One by one as we re-read, and finally all at once, their meaning will become manifest, and we shall at last understand what the Masters have to tell us. Then, and only then, can we acquire their understanding, which is the fulfilment of the urge.

As busy little bees, gathering honey here and there, and adding it to their stock in their hive, we are wasting our time, and worse, for we are building up that very persona whose illusory existence stands between our phenomenal selves and the truth of what we are, and which is what the urge in us is seeking. That 'laying down' of everything that is 'ours' has always been insisted upon by the Masters, but we affect to ignore it, precisely because that very notion of 'self' which is the centre of what we have to 'lay down' seeks to take charge of the operation, and generally succeeds in doing so, thereby frustrating from the start any hope of fulfilling the urge. Is there any wonder that we so rarely get anywhere at all?

It is interesting to note that in the recently discovered collection of sayings of Jesus there is one in which he formally adjured His disciples to divest themselves of all their 'garments'. It is understandable that such a statement should have been omitted by those later compilers who had no idea what such a requirement could mean. But to us it should be a commonplace. As far back as Chuang-tse we find the story of the old monk who, in despair of knowing enlightenment before he died, went to see Lao-tse. On arrival Lao-tse came out to meet him, welcomed him, but told him to leave his followers and his baggage outside the gate, for otherwise he would not be admitted. The old man had no followers, and no baggage, but he understood, went in and found his fulfilment.

(© RKP, 1963)

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