Volume VI - The Alchemy of Happiness
THE PATH OF ATTAINMENT (2)
THE secret of the working of the whole universe is in the duality of nature. In all aspects of nature two forces are working, and it is their action which balances life. Therefore in the path of attainment the power which manifests as enthusiasm or action is not sufficient; knowledge and the capacity for work are also necessary. Very often a person fails to succeed with all his enthusiasm and power of will; and the reason is that either by the power he possesses he pushes his object along like a ball, or with his strength he breaks up the rock which he really needs whole, and not in pieces. Power is no doubt most necessary in attainment, but in the absence of knowledge power may prove helpless.
By power I mean power in all its aspects; all power that one possesses in outer life, and the power of mind and body. It is the power of mind which is called will power. No doubt many will fail through lack of knowledge, but the lack of power also brings failure.
If an object is pulled from both sides by power and knowledge, then also there will be no success. It is the cooperation of these two powers which is the secret of all success. Success, be it of a material character or of some other nature, is always success. Success, however small, is a step forward to something greater; and failure, however small, is a failure and it will lead to something worse.
Success should not be valued according to its outer value. It must be valued according to what it prepares in oneself. And failure, however small, gives an undesirable impression within oneself. This shows how very necessary it is to keep the balance between power and knowledge. It is of great value to try to develop power and knowledge in attaining one's object. There are two people who become tired of life in the world: the one who has risen above the world, and the one who has fallen beneath it. The former has attained his object, but the latter, even if he left the world would not be satisfied by any other life. His renunciation of worldly things means nothing. It only means impotence. It is the conqueror of the life of the world who has the right to give up the struggle of the world if he wishes to. But he from whose hands the life of the world is snatched away by his fellow men and who is incapable of holding it, who cannot progress, who cannot attain in life what he wishes to attain, if he left the world it would not be renunciation, it would simply be poverty.
It is not by any means selfish or avaricious to want to succeed in life. But often by success man closes his eyes to what lies beyond on his path. He stands still. And that standing still is like death. When the many successful people whom we see in this world do not progress spiritually, it means that they did not continue in the path of success. In reality all roads lead to the same goal: business, profession, science, art, religion, or philosophy. When people do not seem to have arrived at their proper destination it is not because they have preferred one path to another, it is that they have not continued on their path.
Very often people who are lacking in knowledge and have more strength than is necessary, destroy their own purpose. While wanting to construct they cause destruction. The greatest fault of human nature is that every man thinks that he knows best. When he speaks to another he thinks that the latter knows but half. And when he is speaking about a third person he thinks that that person knows only a quarter. Some few who do not rely upon their knowledge are then dependent upon the advice of others. Therefore their success or failure, and also their thinking, depend upon the advice of others. It is most difficult in life to possess power and knowledge, and together with these to have clear vision. And the best way of keeping the vision clear is by retaining the balance between power and knowledge.
Man generally gets unbalanced, for when there is power he wants to exert it. Also, man is always involved in reasoning. In that way he easily loses his balance. Then one must try to judge whether he attaches too much importance to power, not cultivating knowledge enough. Take for instance a man who is perhaps very enthusiastic in a certain business. And just with his will power he wants to get as much money as he can, without any thought of how it will be used. He has only the strength of the purpose 'I must succeed,' and he gives all his energy to it without thinking about it. In that way he might achieve success. But still there is always a danger. And then there is another man who is thinking out a thousand things before taking a step in an affair, contradicting everything with his own knowledge. What one should do is this: if one takes one step in power, one should then another step in knowledge, and then there will be balance, then one's life becomes rhythmic. Just like the accent in musical two-four time: there is the strong accent, and then comes a weak accent. Now there is power, then there is thinking.
There are many in this world who from enthusiasm push along the object of their attainment like a football. They mean to grasp it, but unintentionally they push it on, and this happens when a man is too enthusiastic to attain a certain thing for which he has not prepared himself. One should remember that in the path of attainment one must first feel strong enough to bear the burden of what one wishes to attain. The wisdom one sees working behind nature has intended and arranged that every being and every thing shall bear the weight that it can sustain. Very often man's ambition outruns his power or wisdom. Before thinking whether he is entitled to a certain thing or not, he tries to attain it; and it is this which very often causes failure. Man must first become entitled to have what he wishes to have. This makes it easy for him to gain what he wishes to gain, and it attracts towards him what he wishes to attract.
Desiring is one thing, and imagining is another. Lying in a grass hut one might desire a solid wall around one's hut, but one can imagine a palace standing before one. However, it is not imagination which helps in the attainment. It is the earnest desire.
There are things which are within one's reach and there are things which are beyond it. One must first prove to one's own self one's capability of attaining what is within one's reach. This gives one sufficient self-confidence to attain that which seems beyond one's reach. In the path of attainment one must keep the eye of justice open. One must be able to know what is right for one to attain, and which attainment one does not deserve. There is no soul in this world who is not striving after something. To one the object of his striving is distinct, to another perhaps it is perplexing. Yet there is no one alive who is not striving after something. If the object is clear to one, then it is easier to attain.
In the process of attainment there are four stages. In the first place, the object one wishes to attain must be concrete in one's mind. Next it must be reasoned out how the desire can be materialized. Thirdly, what material is to be obtained and used for it. The fourth stage is the composing or the building of that object. The central theme of the whole of creation is attainment. In the striving of all souls in the world there is only one impulse, and that is the divine impulse. Yet for the man who strives ignorantly after something and goes about it wrongly, it ends in disappointment. And disappointment not only to himself but even to God. The one who knows his affairs, and who accomplishes them rightly, fulfills the mission of his life and the wish of God. No matter what man accomplishes, it is only a step towards something else. As a man goes on accomplishing in the path of attainment, in the end he arrives at the purpose of his life. In the final attainment lies the purpose of all souls, although in the beginning they may seem different.
The secret of all attainment is in the realization of the self. Both the impulse to attain a thing and the control of that impulse are necessary. Very often a man loses the chance of attaining something through his over-enthusiasm which puts his life out of balance. At the same time the power of impulse is a great power and the person who has no strength in his impulse must certainly lose. One should strike a balance between impulse and control. There must be an impulse, but it must be under control. A person who is over-joyous at having riches must realize that he may very soon lose some of them. And it is the same with everything.
The balance should be kept by realizing that nothing which the earth can offer is more precious than one's soul. From the one who runs after things, those things run away, frightened of his pursuit. But the one who does not go in pursuit of objects will find that they inevitably become his own. When God becomes one's own, what will not become one's own?
For the very reason that God is divided on earth into different beings, and reunites Himself in one Being, His power is unlimited. The real object of all people on earth is the same as the object of God in heaven. But this object can only be attained if man will yield up his desire to the desire of God, if man will give himself up to the Self of God. That is the meaning of the sacrifice of Abraham; that is the real meaning of the crucifixion: to crucify the lower self.
In the path of attainment confidence is necessary. It is according to one's confidence that the object of attainment is drawn closer. It is not by over-enthusiasm; for over-enthusiasm is intoxicating. A person intoxicated by enthusiasm is liable to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing. It is always the inner power which is the secret of attainment. A person who allows his power an outlet only wastes it. It is the conserving of this power which makes a reservoir of power with which all things can be accomplished. For the person who has attained to the mystery of Sadhana, there is nothing in this world which cannot be attained. All is within his reach, his power, his grasp. As high as one's object of attainment is, so high one rises. And as low as the object of attainment is, so low one stands. If the object is honor-giving one will be honorable; if the object is painful one will be sad. If the object is pleasant one will be joyous. If the object is exalting one will be holy. Therefore a person should know what object to keep before his view, what object he should pursue in life.
There are many childlike people who do not know what is their object in life. One minute they think it is one thing, another minute they think it is another thing. In the end they come to nothing because they have no object set before their view. No one can depend upon a person like this. Even the birds are frightened to sit upon a moving branch. The person whose object is set is the one whose life is settled, whom one can call serious, on whom others can depend. The person who does not know his own mind cannot help his fellow men. He will only upset them. He can neither attain for himself nor can he help another. One should therefore remember continually to keep one's mind so clear that one can see one's object before one: its character, its nature, its value; and then to exert every effort to pursue that object patiently till one has attained it. No matter how small the object, the attainment of it builds a step towards the final goal.