The World is our School
Is this a world of exile from our spiritual home or is it a world of education for our spiritual home? If it is the first then all experience gained in it is worthless and useless. But if it is the second then every experience has meaning and is related to this universal purpose.
This earth, with the varied experiences of good and evil, joy and suffering, peace and peril which it offers us, is a school of initiation leading primitive animal man into the development of awareness until he reaches the first discovery of his Overself.
We are here in this world for a higher purpose than the obvious physical one of self-preservation, for even that is contributory to it. We are here to evolve into the consciousness of Overself. Every physical experience is only a means toward such spiritual development.
Human experience is our laboratory for higher experiment. The world is our school for spiritual discovery. The vicissitudes of personal circumstance are our field for ethical achievement…
Where there is no attempt at self-improvement there is inevitable deterioration. Nature does not let us stand still.
Living in the world as we are, having to submit to demands which the world makes upon us, we must learn how to deal with them in a correct way. By correct I mean in harmony with our inner goal.
Life on earth for us is not to be a goal in itself, but a means to the goal. All its experiences are to be used to shape our character and increase our knowledge and, above all, to bring us nearer the discovery of, and identification with, our Overself.
… The philosophic attitude is that a man shall perform his full duty to the world, but this will be done in such a way that it brings injury to none. Truth, honesty, and honour will not be sacrificed for money. Time, energy, capacity, and money will be used wisely in the best interests of mankind, and above all the philosopher will pray constantly that the Overself will accept him as a dedicated instrument of service. And it surely will.
There is nothing wrong in the daily contact with the world, attending to duties, being practical, effective, even successful in profession, business, or other work, and rearing a family, provided all this is done within the remembrance of the higher power.
Eventually, one will tend to dislodge oneself from less worthwhile pursuits. Ordinary automatic responses to these and other worldly affairs will cease as one feels the deepening need for thought-stilling and inner peace.
The mass of outer activities becomes a heavy burden. Whether trivial or important, casual or essential, they keep us from looking within for the real self just as much as preoccupation with the mass of superfluous possessions.
If the world tires you, if the evil deeds of others torment you, you can find blessed peace and healing refuge by turning within.
The more he can inwardly free himself from the claims of his daily regime–that is, the more he can become emotionally detached from it and transfer his interest, love, and desire to the higher self–the greater will be his power to achieve dominance over undesirable conditions.
He will learn to measure the worth of another man or of an experience by the resulting hindrance to, or stimulation of, his own growth into a diviner consciousness.
The necessity of forgiving others what they have done to us is paramount. Nay, it is a duty to be constantly and unbrokenly practised, no matter what provocation to disobey it we may receive. Our contact with others, or our relation to them, must bring them only good! never bad.
… This is the use he is to make of his life on earth: his personal life, his family relations, his professional career–all must become subject to the higher purpose. The resolve made, the matter of success or failure is no longer urgent, for every subsequent embodiment will point in this direction. Philosophy has instructed him in the unreality of time and has revealed to him his indissoluble connection with the Overself…
The marriage which is either unsatisfactory to one of the partners or unhappy for both of them may always take a different turn if regarded from a different viewpoint–a higher one.
The necessity of achieving mental harmony and union of ideals in marriage counsels great caution in selecting one suited to be a life-companion. A wrong decision in this matter may be disastrous in every way, whereas a right one will be helpful in many ways.
Every outward experience has its inward benefits, if only we will look for them with ego-free eyes. And this is true even when the experience involves suffering. Behind suffering we may learn to find some lesson to profit by, some purificatory discipline to be undergone, some ignored fact to be faced, or some wisdom to be gleaned.
The wheel of life keeps turning and turning through diverse kinds of experiences and we are haplessly bound to it. But when at last we gain comprehension of what is happening and power over it, we are set free.
Our world is but a fleeting symbol, yet we may not disdain it. For it is the arched entrance under which we must pass through to the infinite life.
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