Cleansing and Testing the Ego
Purification of the heart and calming of the mind are necessary prerequisites for penetrating into the Overself. They belong to the Long Path.
Even if the highest truth were to appear in all its glorious fullness before his mind, he would be unable to recognize it for what it is–much less understand it–if there had been no preparation or purification for it…
He has to learn how to surrender his egotism and swallow his pride. He has to cleanse his heart of impurity and then open it to divinity.
… He must humble the ego. He should do this himself, secretly, and through calm, reflective meditation; then life will not do it to him openly and through bitter external circumstances.
Some things inside his own being are blocking his way to the Overself. An effort–determined, continuous, and daring–is needed to clear them. They are emotional and passional in appearance, egoistic in essence.
Constant self-effort can thin down the egoism but not eliminate it. That final act is impossible because the ego will not willingly slay itself. What self-effort does is to prepare the way for the further force which can slay it and thus makes the operation timely and its success possible. What it further does is to improve intelligence and intuition and to ameliorate the character, which also prepares the individual and attracts those forces. They are nothing else than the pardoning, healing, and, especially, the transforming powers of Grace.
However harassing a problem may seem to us, if we can give up our egoistic attitude towards it, if we can keep the lower emotions away from it, the best possible solution under the circumstances will develop of its own accord. There is veritable magic in such a change of thinking and feeling. It opens the gate to higher forces and enables them to come to our help.
The body, passions, and undesirable emotions must be perseveringly disciplined. Whilst ungoverned and running wild, they constitute the lower nature that is symbolized in so many myths as a dragon, lion, or serpent which has to be slain before the guardians of the divine gate permit entrance. Such purification is a necessary preliminary to and prerequisite of the higher training, which opens the individual mind to spiritual consciousness…
The mental tendencies which he has brought over from previous births, the effects of physical heredity and environment, the influence of society, and the suggestions of education–all of these have to be disciplined and purified, if he is to acquire truth without unconsciously deforming it.
Since true philosophy is also a way of life, and since no such way can become effectual unless the feelings are involved, it includes and cultivates the most refined and most devotional feelings possible to man.
… In the moment that a man willingly deserts his habitual standpoint under a trying situation and substitutes this higher one, in that moment he receives Grace. With this reception a miracle is performed and the evil of the lower standpoint is permanently expelled from his character. The situation itself both put him to the proof and gave him his chance…
The ascending degrees of initiation into higher understanding of truth and large capacity to receive contemplative awareness open themselves to him one by one as he passes each successive test leading to it. These tests consist, in the lower grades, of willingness to submit physical habits, passions, and desires to discipline and, in higher grades, willingness to submit thoughts and feelings to it. In all, they lead to a progressive detachment from the animal and the ego.
Before passing into a higher phase of his development, the disciple is usually confronted by life with a situation which will test his fitness for it. His success in meeting this test will open a gate leading to the next degree.
Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness.
The test will come with every major crisis, every minor ordeal. If his inner work has been well done he will be surprised at the calmness with which he meets and passes the event, astonished at his strength.
In the hour when the ego falls away from us, there is a feeling of a heavy burden being dropped, a sense of release from a condition now seen to be undesirable. This is naturally followed by a quiet satisfying joy.
By the use of will, of force of a decision made and kept, a man may strive against his animal self to win peace. By the practice of mental quiet, of turning inward, of letting his higher nature emerge, he may win it, too.
Each person is stuck in his own ego until the idea of liberation dawns on him and he sets to work on himself and eventually grace manifests and puts him on the Short Path.
When body and feeling are cleansed by disciplinary regimes, when the intellect is inspired by meditational exercises, one is ready for the Short Path.
If he will have the courage to let the ego-illusion die out, a new and real life will come to birth within his being.
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