All men and women can, if they will, have at their command the knowledge, the wisdom, the power, to solve the world problem we are facing today, and stop this headlong rush along the road to destruction.
It is useless to talk about serving humanity in some vague way, and appealing to people in the mass — it cannot be done if we cannot go to a single individual and meet his needs and problems. Unless you and I as individuals are convinced from having proved it in our own lives, from having conquered ourselves, and are therefore able honestly and sincerely to declare a victory where we previously had defeat, we cannot do anything. Until we have solved our own problem, it is useless to attempt to solve the world problem.
If you have suffered, if you have struggled, if you have had to register defeat in your moral and spiritual life — and show me the man or woman who has not; and more, if you see men and women and children around you that you want to help by bringing to them the saving and regenerating power of spiritual knowledge — then you will come to recognize that you never will be able to do it until you have learned the secret of regenerating your own life and making of yourself a reborn man, a spiritual man.
Does this mean years and years and years of studying endless books, and a tremendously complex, metaphysical and philosophical system; or is it something that we can apply here and now? Again, there is no time to teach men abstruse metaphysics and philosophy in this hour of universal crisis. The world today is on the brink of collapse, and it is not an economic collapse primarily, but a spiritual one, as all collapses are. If a man collapses it is because his spiritual life is at fault, and if our own nation, and if our own homes, are in chaos or misery or disharmony, it is because the spiritual life of that home, the spiritual lives of the individuals concerned in it, are wrong.
First, we will have to ask ourselves the question: do we believe that in our inmost essence there is Divinity, Power, Wisdom, Knowledge? If we believe in it because we have experienced its strength and its peace, then our problem is how to incarnate it in our lives so that we become centers of conscious, dynamic, spiritual energy — going out into the world capable spiritually of doing extraordinary things.
These are the first questions we have got to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Divinity and power of our own innermost nature, and if so how are we to reach it and make it effective so that it will not only transform our own life, but transform the environment around us? Do we believe that the Sermon on the Mount is a practical affair, a practical statement that can be lived in this modern world by ordinary men and women? Or do we regard it as a beautiful ideal to be put on the shelf somewhere and worshiped from a distance — to dream about as a possibility for us in some infinitely remote future? Do we think that that great master mind who lived and worked in Palestine meant what he said when he commanded all men to be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect? So many of us just shrug our shoulders and say, "Stuff, platitudes, impractical nonsense!" I believe it is not only practical, but that it is sheer folly to ignore it. What do you think about it?
If we are going to tackle it, we have to begin with being honest with ourselves, and with others. It means sincerity; it means truth in daily living; it means love at all times and in all circumstances and in all situations — I do not mean personal love, I mean Divine love, shining like the sun impersonally for all men, whether we like them or whether we dislike them; whether they are our friends or we think they are our foes. Therefore it means unselfishness, real unselfishness, absolute unselfishness, to the extent and power of our being.
There are our keynotes: honesty, unselfishness, love, and purity of life, of beauty of thought, heart and mind. Is that an impossible standard? If we mean business, it must not be an impossible standard. It has got to be the only standard that is worth living by; and it is the condition of our success, it is the condition of our power to save the situation today.
If we have reached the point where we have suffered enough, when we really hate the rotten, weak side of our nature, with its faults and weaknesses, and have within us that yearning of our heart towards what we may call God or Deity, or Goodness or Wisdom, then we can do something. But make no mistake about it, it does mean that we will have to exert every ounce of physical, emotional, psychic, intellectual and spiritual powers that we possess. We will have to go all out for it, and we have to dedicate everything that we are and have. Every day surrender our personal will and our personal ego; and then if we know how to pray in the real sense of the word — which means the upward surge of our purified desire or aspiration to the God within us, to the universal and supreme Spirit that dwells within us and around us everywhere — it will flow into us, it will make of us a new being instinct with power to change ourselves and the world.
There is an old saying that one man and God is a majority, and he is, because one man dedicated, cleansed, purified, filled with the power of the spirit, can work what seem to the ordinary man and woman miracles. He can change the lives of people and help them to a recognition of their own divine nature. I have seen it work. I have seen men and women who have all their lives registered spiritual and moral defeat transformed by just these ideas; their faces reflecting the splendor of a risen sun. They are able to bring into the lives of others, into their businesses, into their factories, into the very Parliaments, the strength, the peace and spiritual vision that is theirs. That work is going on, but it is not going on fast enough. Every one of us must wake up and do something about it. Those who have dedicated themselves strongly enough, will become centers of that holy and spiritual power which will enable them to take the message of good news, glad tidings, hope, and spiritual beneficence everywhere they go.
Just imagine if all the humanitarian and religious communities throughout the world were filled with regenerated, vital, spiritual, purposeful men and women. Is there any limit to the possibilities? None. There would be no universal chaos under those conditions. Once we have taken the first step, of working a spiritual revolution in ourselves, on the small, ancient and narrow way, we shall have done enough, even in that short time, to have made a profound impression upon the collective state of the world's consciousness.
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Plato was right: ideas rule the world; and, as men's minds will receive new ideas, laying aside the old and effete, the world will advance: mighty revolutions will spring from them; creeds and even powers will crumble before their onward march crushed by the irresistible force. It will be just as impossible to resist their influx, when the time comes, as to stay the progress of the tide. But all this will come gradually on, and before it comes we have a duty set before us; that of sweeping away as much as possible the dross left to us by our pious forefathers. New ideas have to be planted on clean places, for these ideas touch upon the most momentous subjects. It is not physical phenomena but these universal ideas that we study, as to comprehend the former, we have to first understand the latter. They touch man's true position in the universe, in relation to his previous and future births; his origin and ultimate destiny; the relation of the mortal to the immortal; of the temporary to the eternal; of the finite to the infinite; ideas larger, grander, more comprehensive, recognising the universal reign of Immutable Law, unchanging and unchangeable in regard to which there is only an Eternal Now, while to uninitiated mortals time is past or future as related to their finite existence on this material speck of dirt. This is what we study and what many have solved. — The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett