The As-If Exercise
…The remembrance is a necessary preparation for the second exercise, in which you try to obtain an immediate identification with the Overself. Just as an actor identifies with the role he plays on the stage, you act think and live during the daily life ”as if” you were the Overself. This exercise is not merely intellectual but also includes feeling and intuitive action. It is an act of creative imagination in which by turning directly to playing the part of the Overself you make it possible for its grace to come more and more into your life.
A part of the practical technique for attaining the inner awareness of this timeless reality is the practice of the AS IF exercise… The practitioner regards himself no longer from the standpoint of the quester, but from that of the Realized Man. He assumes, in thought and action, that he has nothing to attain…
A valuable practice of the Short Path is to see himself already enjoying the realization of its goal, already partaking of its glorious rewards. This is a visualizing exercise in which his own face confronts him, a smiling triumphant face, a calm peaceful face. It is to be done as many times every day as he can remember to do it.
Let him picture his own self as if it were at the end of its quest. Let him see it enthroned on the summit of power and engaged in tranquil meditation for his own joy and for mankind’s welfare.
… He is to see himself doing successfully what he seeks to do, and the sight is to be accompanied by intense faith and firm conviction. The desirable qualities of character are to be thought of as already existing and possessed, already expressing themselves in action and living. Furthermore they are to be pictured vividly and clearly; they must be understood without any uncertainty, dimness, or hesitation.
Why go on hoping for a far-off day when peace and truth will be attained? Why not drastically strip off all the illusions of self-identification with ego and recognize that the true identity is already fulfilled?
… For now he knows by evidence, study, and reflection that the Overself is behind, and is the very source of, his ego, just as he knows by the experience of feeling during his brief Glimpses. Bringing this strong conviction into thought and act and attitude is the Heavenly Way [or As If] exercise, a principal one on the Short Path…
… He accepts the truth, passed down to him by the Enlightened Ones, that in his inmost essence he is Reality. This leads to the logical consequence that he should disregard personal feelings which continue from past tendencies, habits, attitudes, and think and act as if he were himself an enlightened one…
He cannot be a philosopher part of the time and an unawakened unenlightened person the remainder (or most) of the time: but he can, for the sake of this exercise, imaginatively think that he is one. In the light of his antecedent personal history, the attempt may be an audacious one; but if his present longing, determination, and self-discipline are large enough, it may become a magical transforming one.
Even if he has no spiritual experience at all but only complete faith in it, even if he cannot live the role of the illumined fulfilled man, then let him act it. This is an exercise to be practised. Let him try to think and behave as if his quest is successful, let him copy the fulfilled philosopher.
This practice in the Short Path of self-identification with the Overself is to be done both casually at odd moments and deliberately at daily contacts in meditation. It is through them–whenever the identification is effectual–that Grace gets some of its chance to work its transformation upon him.
… Through the understanding of the Short Path he searches knowingly, not wanting another experience since both wanting and experiencing put him out of the essential Self. He thinks and acts as if he is that Self, which puts him back into It…
The old trouble-bringing attitudes and self-frustrating ways are the ego’s. At the appearance of irritating circumstances, go into reverse by practising the ”As If” exercise and thus lift up consciousness here and now.
Practice of the As If exercise is like being spiritually reborn and finding a new way of life. It gives courage to those who feel grievously inadequate, hope to those who feel hooked by their past failures.
The ”As If” exercise is not merely pretense or make-believe. It requires penetrative study and sufficient understanding of the high character and spiritual consciousness in the part to be played, the role to be enacted, the auto-suggestion to be realized.
When the assaults of man’s animal nature, the instincts of his body, have to be dealt with, a swift assumption of the AS IF attitude is necessary.
This is a paradox of the Short Path, that on the one hand he practises this exercise of playing the game of being enlightened, and on the other of freely confessing his faults, limitations, and weaknesses but just as freely accepting them. Thus a curious peace of mind settles in him and becomes naturalized. But it is not a spurious peace. It rejects worry or anxiety and negates fear.
Whatever name be given to this exercise, whether ”As If” or another, its essence is to consider the goal as already reached, to convert the end of the quest into the beginning…
This practice of picturing oneself as one ought to be, of visualizing the man free from negative qualities and radiant with positive ones that are part of the Quest’s ideal, has near-magical results.
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