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Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part II - Rasa Shastra - The Science of Life's Creative Forces

Chapter IV

The man who has never had an ideal may hope to find one. He is in a better state than the man who allows the circumstances of life to break his ideal. To fall beneath one's ideal is to lose one's track in life. Then confusion rises in the mind, and that light which one should hold high becomes covered and obscured, so that it cannot shine out to light one's path.

The fall of Napoleon may be dated from the day that he abandoned Josephine. With the breaking of the ideal, the whole life cracks and dissolves. As soon as a man begins to think, 'I have done wrong by such and such a person, or such and such a principle,' he ceases to be a king within, and cannot be a king without. This does not mean to say that the good succeed in life and that the evil fail; but rather that man only progresses through sincerity in his ideals. For the good of each man is indeed peculiar to himself.

Religion is the school that has developed man, and the ideals that religion presents form a path that leads upward to perfection, that innate and yearning desire of every soul. The difficulty arises when man sees his principles as his goal, and not simply as a means to his goal. For when he begins to worship his own principles he becomes simply an idolater, and he destroys the essence and the life of his ideal.

Can anyone point to a date in history when man first gained wisdom? Wisdom is the property of humanity. The expressions of this wisdom differ at different times to suit different peoples. It is the differences that have always been noticed, and not the similarities.

Artist or workman, philosopher or scientist, wherever found, arrives by his individual path at the same knowledge of the laws of nature, and thus learns those fundamental laws of ethics, which do not change from country to country, nor from age to age, nor do they contradict each other.

And the wise of all ages have taught that it is the knowledge of the Divine Being that is life, and the only reality. Although a human activity may have a number of complicated motives, some of which are base and gross, it is the aspiration towards divinity, the desire towards beauty, which is its soul, its life, and its reality. And it is in proportion to the degree of strength or weakness of his aspiration towards beauty that man's ideal is great or small, and his religion is great or small.

There exists an affinity between the negative and the positive, which inclines the one towards the other, and towards union, which results in a fresh conception of beauty. Ancient mythology has expressed this beautifully in the figure of Cupid, whose wings show that he is a spirit, and who, coming in the guise of a child, represents childhood. Cupid, the spirit of affinity, draws two of the opposite sex together for the purpose of a birth of beauty. Thus it happens that the human kind is strongly attracted to its opposite. And when the expressive and responsive tendencies awaken through love and passion, a third being is created and a ray finds its abode in the mother's womb.

Thus it is seen that it is the spirit that possesses the sexes in order to bring them together for its own purpose of manifestation. Therefore, many religions and philosophies have considered the sex relationship to be most sacred, since it is thus that the spirit manifests itself. For the same reason the sex relationship may become most sinful, if this purpose of the spirit is lost to view. For to disregard this purpose of the spirit is a defiance of the law of the whole mechanism, which inevitably drags the structure to ruins.

There is nothing of this earth more valuable than the seed of man, the source of further manifestation; and by its loss every door of happiness in life is closed. But man is usually so careful with his money and property and jewels, and desires so earnestly to increase them, that he sacrifices everything to them. And he becomes regardless of the jewel of life which is his own life, character, and personality, and which is more precious than any property.

Again, every religion prohibits marriage between blood relations, though the rules vary somewhat, as, for instance, in the West, marriage between an uncle and his niece is sometimes permitted, a union usually considered unlawful in the East, as by some other Western religions. However, certain modern social revolutionaries are now questioning the laws, which make blood relationship a bar to marriage. These laws are nevertheless rooted in truth; for where there is no expansion, there is no progress.

Expansion is necessary for physical reasons. Between blood relations the negative and positive forces are not contrary enough. When the battery, which depends upon the strength and the contrast of these forces becomes weaker, its issue becomes correspondingly weaker, or else there is no issue. Morally, also progress demands expansion. Has not the whole of creation been gradually built by expansion?

The vigor of the Western nations is, to a great extent, due to the intermixture of innumerable tribes and races. Even now, before our eyes, a young and promising nation of extraordinary vitality is developing in the United States of America, formed of the many elements of all the European nations. There are certainly disadvantages in interracial and international marriages, but these are small in comparison with the advantages.

Pride of birth and of rank, and also of community and religion, have always kept humanity back by forming barriers that prevent natural expansion. The Western aristocracies have suffered incalculable loss thereby. But this is most clearly seen in the history of the East, where the Hindu castes, by limiting themselves to their own circle, have brought ruin to their race.

The Eastern custom of child marriage is a product of family pride, since each family has wished that the wife of their son should be brought up in the traditions of their own family. The conservative ideas of the Parsis, that most exclusive community, operating through many generations, have produced notable physical alterations in their people, among whom, to instance one point, only a small percentage have normal eyesight.

The national ideal, which unites human beings in a desire to uphold certain social laws and certain ideals of civilization, is necessary to human life. But to make these ideals barriers that separate humanity into distinct sections must effectively prevent the progress of humanity as one whole. And this progress is the basic idea of religion.

Nations endeavor to progress as nations, and races as races. Each race and nation is prepared to hinder the progress of any other. Thus, through wars and conflicts of every kind, the patriotism of each race has become so individual and distinct, that an interracial marriage means that one or other of the contracting parties must renounce his or her patriotism, a renunciation that is sometimes almost a death.

It is the young people who are most often drawn to an interracial marriage, the young, generous, and idealistic. But it is not often that they meet their corresponding social class. It is not often that aristocratic or educated aliens meet the aristocratic or educated natives of any country; and yet it is true that there is a great similarity between the corresponding social and intellectual classes of all civilizations.

People marry for various reasons: some because it is the custom, some for the sake of home life, because man is a dependent creature, and desires a companion in the joy and sorrow of life, or because marriage carries weight in the social world. For generally a house where a couple live is a home. Others again, are tempted by rank, birth, position, and wealth; and these marry the thing desired, and not the human being. Others have a wish to leave children, so that their name may not pass from the earth or the property they have collected fall into the hands of strangers; and some other few marry for love.

There is a tendency in husband or wife to own his or her mate. And the stronger of the two will often attempt to do this by the right of marriage itself, having forgotten the reason for which he or she contracted the marriage. This tendency to ownership makes many a marriage a captivity.

Zafar wrote, 'O Zafar, you cannot call him a man, though he be in human form, who is without thought in anger or counsel in passion.' The human being is supposed to take counsel with his own principles of modesty, of chivalry, and of shame, and therein to differ from the animals. And that expansion of his sexual passion, which has no regard for these principles, may be called adultery. Adultery is in fact that which, done under the spell of passion and in the blindness of the moment, brings afterwards repentance and shame, with remorse for the consequences. A drunken man does in his intoxication what he would never have done when sober; and so laws are framed to control drunken madness and folly.

To resist evil, however, usually means to participate in and be guilty of the same evil. There is a story told of Muhammad, that a man who had always maligned him and behaved as a bitter and treacherous enemy, came to see him. His disciples, hoping for revenge, were disappointed and indignant to find that Muhammad treated his despicable enemy with courtesy, even deference, granting his request. 'Did you not see the gray in his beard?' asked Muhammad after the man had gone. 'The man is old, and his age at least called for my courtesy.' It is forgiveness and that forbearance which is a recognition of the freedom and dignity of the human being, that consume all ugliness and burn up all unworthiness, leaving only beauty there.

checked 18-Oct-2005