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Chapter3:ReligionAsPreparatory

ReligionAsPreparatory
1

Thereligiouslife,ifearnestlyfollowedandconscientiouslysustained,carriesthedevotee
onlypartofthewaytowardsworshipof,andcommunionwith,God.Itisonlya
preparatoryschool.Forbothmorallyandintellectuallyitisakindofcompromise,
yieldingtoacertaindegreeofthelowernature'sruleandacceptingbeliefsthatviolate
reason.Thissatisfieshimonlybecausehehasnotmadeperfectpurityandperfecttruth
hisstandards.
2

Todenytheimmensevalueoftheordinaryreligioninitsownplaceandtothosewho
haveyettogainitsrewardswouldbetobreakoffthelowerrungsoftheladderwhereby
menmustclimbtowhatistheultimategoalofallreligion.
3

Thegenerallineofinnerdevelopmentforthehumanraceisinthefirststagerightaction,
whichincludesduty,service,responsibility.Inthesecondstagereligiousdevotion
appears.Thisengendersworshipofthehigherpower,moralimprovement,holy
communion.Thethirdstageismysticalandinvolvespracticeofmeditationtogetamore
intimatecommunion.Thefourthstageistheawakeningofneedtounderstandtruthand
knowreality.Itscompletedproductisthesage,whoincludesinhimselfthecivilized
man,thereligionist,themystic,andthephilosopher.
4

Organizationsareformostpeopletheonlywayofreceivingreligioushelporacquiring
religiousbelief.This,however,doesnotmeanthattheywillalwaysremainso,foratime
comeswhentheyareseenforwhattheyareelementarystagesusually,intermediary
stagessometimes.
5

Whenamancomestotheattitudethatitisnotsufficientforhimtoreceivereligionat
secondhandasacreedoraconviction,whenhemustreceiveitdirectlyasanactual
experienceinhisownlife,whenhecanpraywithFlemishThomasKempis,"Letitnot
beMosesortheProphetsthatspeaktome,butspeakthyself,"heisreadytomoveup
fromthefirstandlowestgradetothesecondandmiddleone.Suchaonewillthenput
himselfinapositionwhichhedidnotoccupybeforeofbeingabletomoveforwardto
thecentralpointofallreligion,whichisthepersonalrevelationoftheOverself,God's
Deputy,intheheartoftheindividualman.
6

Thesceptic,theanthropologist,andthephilosopherofBertrandRussell'stypesaythat
religionarosebecauseprimitivemanwasterrifiedbythedestructivepowersofNature
andendeavouredtopropitiatethemortheirpersonificationsbyworshipandprayer.They
sayfurtherthatcivilizedman,havingachievedsomemeasureofcontrolovernatural
forces,feelsfarlessinneedofreligiouspractices.Thisisanerroneousview.Religions
wereinstitutedbysageswhosawtheirneedasapreparatorymeansofeducatingmen's
mindsforthehighertruthsofscienceandphilosophy.
7

Codifiedreligionisnotthefinaltruth.ItisbutthevestibuleofMysticism,whichisthe
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vestibuleofPhilosophy,whichisthevestibuleofTruth.Hewhotarriesinanyvestibule
isasluggard,unfitforentranceintotheinnermostchamberwhereTruth'streasurelies.
8

Religionaspopularlyorganized,withpriesthoodsandhierarchs,vestmentsandincense,
ceremonialsandrites,liturgiesandscriptures,churchesandtemples,isanexcellentfirst
stepformostpeoplebutnotforallpeople.
9

Thereligiouspathisonlyawayleadingatitsendtothestillhighermysticalpath.Itdoes
notbringitsfollowersdirectlyintothepresenceofGod,astheybelieve,butrathertothe
beginningofafurtherwaywhichalonecandoso.
10

YettheworshipthatisgivenbythemultitudetoanimaginedGodisnotwithoutvalue.It
isaninitiation,apreparation,andatrainingfortheworshipthatwillonedaybegivento
therealGod.Itisanarchwaythroughwhichtheypassontheirwaytophilosophic
worship.
11

Theancientdivisionofmenintothreegradesofspiritualdevelopmentwasexpressed
variouslyindifferentcountries.InIndia,theBhagavadGitaplacedlowestthemanwhose
mentalitywasinertanddull,nextthemanwhoseunderstandingwascolouredbyemotion
ordistortedbypassion,andhighestthemanofclearandbalancedintelligence.
12

Theceremoniesandbeliefsofinstitutionalreligionsareuseful,evennecessary,onthe
levelofconsciousnessforwhichthosereligionshavebeencreatedbuttheydonotassist
themindtorisetothehigherlevelsofmetaphysicaland,especially,philosophical
religion.Fortheseareconcernedwithafarhigherquality.
13

TheUltimatemeaningandsocialsignificanceofreligionwillbehiddenfromussolong
aswedonotunderstandthatitrepresentstheappealtothefirstofthethreestagesof
growthinhumanmentality.Thelatterbeginswiththeprimitive,arrivesatthecivilized,
andfinisheswiththephilosophicstage.Wehaveonlytostudythefruitsof
anthropologicalresearchtobecomeawareofthistruth.Ultimatetruthbeingbeyondthe
intellectualrangeofsavagesociety,itswiserleadersunfoldedafaithsuitedtotheir
followers'capacityandneeds,afaithwhichworkedperfectlywellandwasindeedthe
bestfaithforsuchpeople.Itillbecomesustosneerattheirsuperstitions,therefore,
merelybecausewearetotallyunabletoplaceourselvesintosympatheticrelationship
withtheirprimitiveenvironment.Theirbeliefsbecamesuperstitionsonlywhenthosewho
ledthemdidnotrealizethatcapacityforchangeandgrowthmustbeallowedforwhen
thetribeshadoutgrowntheirfirstfaith.Therefore,suchesotericismdoesnotmeanthat
themassesarecondemnedtowearforeverthebadgeofintellectualbackwardness.
14

Amanonthesecondlevelwillnotbeabletoaccepttheideasorpracticesofamanwho
liveshigheruponthethirdone.Itwouldbeunreasonabletoexpectsuchacceptance.
15

Itisaserroneoustotakethepopularformofareligionasbeingallthereistoit,astotake
thesymbolicstatementsofthatforminaliteralsense.Deeperthanthisformisamystical
layeranddeeperstillaphilosophiclore.
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Themissionofreligionistotakemankindthroughthefirststageoftheroadtospiritual
selffulfilment.Itcansucceedinthismissiononlyasitleadsitsadherentstoregard
religionmoreandmoreasapersonalmatter,lessandlessasacorporateone.

Doubt
17

Itisnotenoughforone'sreligiousfaithtobeferventitoughtalsobeintelligent.
18

Simplemindscanbetaughttoacceptthesymbolsofreligionasrealitiesandthe
metaphorsofitsdogmasastruths,butcultivatedmindssubmitwithdifficulty.
19

Allreligionrestsultimatelyinsomekindofrevelationthatis,ontheappealtofaith.The
firstimpulsivereplyofmodernmanmustbetodoubt.
20

Therealityinreligionistrue,butwhattoooftenpassesforreligionmaybequiteuntrue.
Doubtofwhatisfalseinitmaybefaithin,andconsequentuponworshipof,thereal
Deity.
21

Thecapacitytodefyreligioussuperstitionisneededifamanistodiscoverreligious
truth.
22

Theabatementoffaithinaparticularsacerdotalorganizationisnotalarminginitself,but
theabatementoffaithintheSupremePowerwhichworksforrighteousnessisindeed
alarming.Howmanypeoplehaveforsakeninstitutionalizedreligionnotbecausethey
havelostfaithintheexistenceoftheSupremePowerbutbecausetheyhavelostfaithin
therepresentativecharacteroftheinstitutionitself,notbecausetheydonotfeeltheneed
ofreligionbutbecausetheyfeeltheneedofapurerandbetterreligion?Iftheyhavenot
foundanyothercreedtoreplacetheonetheyhaveoutgrown,theymaystillturnfor
inwardsolacedirectlytotheSupremePoweritself.
23

Onemayhavetrulyreligiousfeelingsyetstillbecriticalofareligiousenvironmentwhich
practiseshypocrisyorsupportssuperstition.
24

Althoughorganizedreligionisrenderingagreatandnecessaryservicetothemassof
people,therearestillafewindividualswhoneedasomewhatdeeperunderstandingofthe
truthwhichsuchreligionisteaching.Iftheypursuetheirenquiriestheywillnotonlybe
abletogainthisunderstandingbutalsoberewardedbyinnerpeace.
25

Atacertaindistancealongtheway,theinstitutionororganizationwhichmayhave
helpedhiminthepastnowbarshisway.Insteadofservinghishighestpurposeitarouses
questions,doubts,criticisms.
26

Ifheissufficientlydevelopedasahumanbeing,hefindshimselfwonderingatthis
existenceofhisandofhisworld.Andifhebecomesseriousenoughtolookaroundfor
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theanswerswhichothershavegiventohisquestions,hecaneasilybecomebewildered
bythecontradictoryresults.
27

Thetraditionalancienthistoricalreligionintowhichamanisborn,andwhichheaccepts
unquestioningly,iscomfortingandsecureinhisyoungdays.Butwithadultmaturityand
theintellectcomingmoreintoplay,hisfaithmaybecomedisturbed.
28

Questionsabouttheassumptionsofreligion,uncertaintiesaboutitsfulfilmentof
promises,doubts,anddistressesmaycausehimmanyapangduringthisdifficultperiod.
29

Thereligiousdevoteedoesnotcaretotroublehimselfwithsuchquestionsbutallthe
samehecannotkeepthemoutforalltime.Thehumanmindissoconstructedthatunder
thepressureofexperienceorthenurturingsofevolutionitdesires,nayevendemands,to
know.Bothdesireanddemandmaybefeebleatfirstandlimitedinextent.Buttheywill
emergeasinevitablyasbudandleafemerge,andfindtroublingutterance.
30

Thosewhoseheartscouldreceiveanoblerfaith,whoseheadscouldabsorbatruerone,
neednotremaincaptivestoaninferiorone.
31

Aphilosophicallybasedreligionwouldgiveallitsworshippersachancetomoveup
higherwhenevertheywished,feltready,orbegantoexpressdoubts.
32

Therearetwowaysopen:eitheradvanceintoanotherreligionorsect,orsinkashaftinto
thereligionalreadyheldandgodowndeeperanddeeperuntilitsultimateSourceis
found.
33

Thetypeofreligionwhichseekstofrightenmenbytheeverburningfiresofhellisfor
thenave.Traditionsupportsitbuteducationdestroysit.Byeducationwedonothere
meanthememorizingofopinionsbuttheunfoldingofthecapacitytothinkrightly.
34

Asman'sintelligencedevelopsheneedstobefedwithreligiousnutrimentbeyondthe
simplerformsandfaithsofpopularreligion.Ifthisisnotofferedhebecomesindifferent
oratheist.
35

Whenreligiousfaithisshatteredbysomedistressingeventofthepersonallife,thisvery
lossmayleadtogain.Foritmaybeapreludetoadeepeningandenrichingofthatfaith.
36

Peopleseektoescapefromthesoul'ssolitarinessbykeepingclosetomassorganizations,
includingeventhereligiousonesoftraditionalchurches.Heretheyfindshelterand
gregariouscomfort.Butadaycomeswhencrisiscrashesthroughtheoneanddisturbsthe
other.Onceagaintheyareleftalonewiththesoul.
37

Hemustlookupontheelaborateceremonialsandsimpledogmasasacradlewherehis
growthbegan,hislimbsfirstextendedthemselves.Buthecannotstayinthecradle
foreverifheistobecomeayouthandanadult.
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38

Religiousdevotion,worship,aspiration,startamanonthewaybyoccupyinghisfeelings.
Butatimemaycomewhenhemaywishalsotoknowandunderstandmoreaboutthe
mysteriousobjectofhisdevotion.Itisthenthathemustpreparetogetintodeepwaters,
mustholdhisbreathandtaketheplungeintophilosophicthought.
39

Thereisnoneedforanyonetoleavehisownreligion,butthereisaneedforhimtogo
deeperintoit.
40

Thehumanbeingcannotbekeptforeverinthechildstate,neitherphysicallynor
mentally,neitherinthehomenorinthechurch.Thismustberecognizedifsocietyisto
havefewerproblems,lessfriction,moreunderstanding,andmoreharmony.
41

Theconcreteimageforworshipwasoriginallygivenforallthosewhoneededsomething
physicallyvisibleandtouchabletoholdtheirattentionandkeepitfixedontheideaof
God.Itwasameansoffosteringconcentration.Themasseswerehelpedthereby.For
othersitwasausefulreminder.Butmoredevelopedmindswhoareabletograspa
metaphysicalorabstractidea,aswellasthosewhofeelquitecooltoexternalritesand
constantlyrepeatedceremonies,neednotletthelessdevelopedonestyrannizeoverthem
andmakethemhypocriticallyworship,ortakepartin,whatboresthemutterly.Theymay
claimtheirfreedomandreplacetheidolbythesacredIdea,substitutefortheriteaninner
reverencefortheHigherPower.
42

Whenamovement'sinnerlifehardensintoanorganization,whenitsteachingpetrifies
intoaformulateddogmaticcreed,whenitsadvocatesandeldersandguidesbecome
parasitesonalltheothers,itmaybetimetoquit.
43

Wemaygiveuphollowreligiousrites,iftheyhavebecomemeaninglessandrepugnant
tous,andyetweneednotgiveupreligionitself.Thetwoaredistinct.
44

Itisbettertogoone'sownspiritualwayandwalkatone'sownprivatepacethantotread
thepathofanorganizedchurchinstepssetforusbyprofessionalpriests.
45

Toinsistonprimitiveformsofreligionbeingofferedto,andhonouredby,thosewho
havereachedthethresholdofmentalmaturity,islikeinsistingongrownupmenplaying
withtoysorgrownwomenwithdolls.
46

Whenthequestionsconcernthespiritualmeaningoflife,thespiritualtechniquesof
communion,orthespiritualnatureofman,andwhentheyarestronglyandearnestlyfelt,
itisthepressureoftheansweritselfworkinguponthemindfromwithinthatisforcing
thequestionsintothefocusofattention.Itmaytakeyearsbeforethemancanunitethe
two,however.
47

Thosewhogotochurchforreasonsofsocialconformityorselfinterest,notforreasons
ofinnerneed,areonalowerlevelofevolutionthanthosewhorefusetogotochurchat
allbecausetheirintellectcannotbringitselftobelieveinwhatistaughtthere.
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48

Whethertoconformtoorthodoxreligionormakeanopenbreakwithitmustdepend
partlyonthepromptingheintuitivelyfeelsandpartlyonhisfamily,social,andbusiness
circumstances.Ifarupturemightdoexternalharmandcreategreatfriction,andifhe
doesnotfeelastrongurgetomakeabreak,thenwhydoso?Inthatcaseitwouldnotbe
hypocrisytoconformbutsimpleprudence.Theworldbeingwhatitis,itisnotpossibleto
liveinitandyetachievecompleteindependence.Ontheotherhand,iftheintuitive
leadingtakeshimawayfromobediencetothesepracticesthenheshouldobey
conscience.
49

Thelegal,official,andconventionalnatureofestablishedchurchesmesmerizesthegreat
massofpeopleintothebeliefthathereonlyisthetruth,andthatoutsidethemliesfalse
religion.Themanwhoisbeginningtohearthecallofhishigherselfmayoftenneedto
resistthepowerofthismasssuggestion.
50

ThatwhichappearsasenlighteningTruthtoonemanappearsasdangerousheresyto
anotherman.Thesearenotmeredifferencesofopinionbutofevolutionarygrowth.
51

Sofarasestablishedreligionlimitstheevildoingofitsfollowers,itrendersauseful
socialservice.Butthisdoesnothelpthosewho,sofarfromneedingsuchboundsset
upontheirdeeds,arepositivelyactiveindoinggood.Stilllessdoesithelpthefewwho
havefelttheurgetoseektheSpirit'sabsolutetruthaboveallthethingsofthisworld.
52

Wemayacceptmuchthatisgivenoutbyaman,areligion,orateachingwithout
sanctioningeverythingelsethatcomesfromthesamesource.Allofitisnotnecessarily
wisdomandvirtue.
53

Fewmencanaccepttheirtraditionalreligioninitsentiretytheyacceptitonlyinpart.
54

Thosewhoventurebeyondtheboundariesofestablishedorthodoxyarejustifiedintheir
exodusiftheyfeelinsufficientlyorimproperlynourishedwithinthoseboundaries.
55

Thefreemanwillnottakekindlytorigidlybindingdogmas,mayevencometofeel
spirituallysuffocatedbythem.
56

Themasseshavetheirreadymadereligiontheseekermustformhisown.
57

DoubthasshakenthebeliefinamercifulandbenevolentDeitybuthasnotmuchshaken
beliefintheDeity'sexistence.
58

Therisetoahigherlevelfromahollow,merelyformalandoutwardreligiouslifetoa
simplechildliketrustin,andinwarddevotionto,Godisexcellent.Butthosewhoare
unabletoputasidetheirintellectssoeasilymayaskforsomethingmore.
59

TheChristianwhohasoutgrownconceptionsofanelementarynatureandneedsmore
substantialspiritualfoodisfacedwithhisownspecialsituationandreligiousdifficulties.
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HemustbegintogetforhimselfsomeglimpseoftheTrueSelfbywayofpersonal
experience.
60

Itisnosinonthepartofanymanbutratheranintellectualdutycriticallytoinvestigate
forhimselftheformalizedsystemsofunyieldingdogmawhich,inthenameoftradition,
claimhisbelief.
61

ItwasaJusticeoftheUnitedStatesSupremeCourt,Mr.O.W.Holmes,whowroteina
privateletterwithreferencetotheorthodoxreligiousdoctrineswhichhadbeeninculcated
inhiminhismidnineteenthcenturychildhood:"Buthowcanonepretendtobelieve
whatseemstohimchildishanddevoidalikeofhistoricalandrationalfoundations?"The
intellectualeminencewhichhadbroughtthismantosuchahighpositionbroughthim
alsotosuchaquestioning.
62

Thereligiousindividualistwhoisunwillingtoputhismindundertheyokeofany
organization,whoisunaffiliatedwithanygroup,hasatleastasmuchchancetofindtruth
asthemembersofsuchorganizationsandgroupsand,ashistoryshows,mostprobablya
betterone.

Innerworshipissuperior
63

Wemustdistinguishbetweentheritualisticformsofoutwardreligionandthementaland
transmentalstates,theemotionalandintuitionalexperiencesofinwardreligion.
64

Peoplewhoturnawayfromreligion,eveniftheybelievevaguelythatthereisaGod,
becausethedistancebetweenbothisimmeasurable,maybestartledtolearnthatGodis
alsoverynear,isindeedwithinthemselves.
65

TrueSpiritualityisaninwardstatemerereligiosityanoutwardone.
66

Enshrinedinthesecrecyofeveryman'sHolyofHolies,hiddeninthedepthsofhisheart,
thereisapointwherehemayfindhisindestructiblelinkwithGod.
67

Thekindofreligiousworshipwhichisexpressedthroughouterthings,throughphysical
rituals,objects,soundsandprocessionsandmovements,isintendedchieflyforthose
peoplewhocannotpractisetheinnerworshipofsilentmovelessmeditation.Thefirstis
easierbuttheotherissuperior.
68

Theonlyvalueoftheologyisanegativebutstillusefulone:totellthestudenttoascend
higherandgivehimselfuptothepracticeofadvancedthoughtfreemysticalmeditation.
69

Thepublicdemonstrationofone'sreligioninchurchortempledoesnotappealtoall
temperaments.Somecanfindholiestfeelingsonlyinprivate.Thoseinthefirstgroup
shouldnotattempttoimposetheirwillontheothers.Thoseinthesecondgroupshould
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notdespisethefollowersofconventionalcommunion.Moreunderstandingbetweenthe
twomaybehardtoarriveat,butmoretolerancewouldbeasignthatthepersonal
religiousfeelingisauthentic.
70

Menwhoimaginethatiftheytakepartintheritualofaculttheyhavedonetheir
religiousdutyaredangerouslyselfillusioned.Byattachingsuchanarrowmeaningto
suchanobleword,theydegradereligion.Wehaveprogressedinreligiontotheextent
thatwhereasancientmansacrificedtheanimaloutsidehimuponthealtarofGod
worship,modernmanunderstandsthathehastosacrificetheanimalinsidehim.The
externalformsofreligionarenotitsfinalforms.Jesusorderedoneconverttoworship"in
spiritandintruth,"thatis,internally.Thetwophasesofworshipexternalandinternal
arenotonthesameleveloneisahigherdevelopmentoftheother.
71

AfourteenthcenturyGermanchurchman,JohnTauler,said:"Letthecommonpeoplerun
aboutandhearalltheycan,thattheymaynotfallintodespairorunbeliefbutknowthat
allwhowouldbeGod's,inwardlyandoutwardly,turntothemselvesandretirewithin."
72

Thereisavastdifferencebetweenthemanforwhomreligionmeansanorganization,a
numberedgroup,attendanceataformalceremony,asetofcreedalbeliefs,andanofficial
authorityonmattersofrightorwrongandthemanforwhomitmeansavividinner
experience,enlighteningandpacifying,joyousandgracious.
73

Amanmustfindholinessinhisownmindbeforehecanfinditinanyplace,beitchurch,
ashram,monastery,ortemple.Hemustloveitsomuchthatheconstantlythinksaboutit,
orthinksaboutitsomuchthathebeginstoloveit,beforehecanfinditsrealquality
anywhere.
74

Setformsofprayer,fixedformulas,andreadywordedphrasesareforthemultitudeswho
havelittlecapacityforcreatingtheirown.Itmakesthegoingeasierforthemwhenthey
aretoldortaughtwhattosay.Butthosewhohavemorecapacityshouldnotfeel
themselvesboundsorigidly:theyshouldfeelthemselvesfreetoexpresstheirdevotional
feelingsintheirownwayandownwords.
75

Inthedeepstillnesswelearnnocreed,aretaughtnodogma.Onlyoutsideit,onlyamong
quarrellingmen,arewesaddledwiththeoneandstrappeddownwiththeother.
76

Solongastheylookforthesourcesofreligioustruth,power,hope,andgoodnessoutside
themselves,solongwilltheyhavetosufferfromtheimperfectionsandlimitationsof
suchsources.
77

Themanwhowantssomethingbroaderthanthepettinessofmostreligiouscreeds,nobler
thanmostreligiousethics,truerthanmostreligiousteaching,willhavetostepoutof
everyreligiouscageandlookwhereJesustoldhimtolookwithinhimself.
78

ThosewhoformerlycouldnotbringthemselvestobelievethatGodexistsare
dumbfoundedwhentheydiscoverthatHenotonlyexistsbutevenexistswithin
themselves.
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79

Mengoonpilgrimagetothisorthatholyplace,city,man,ormonastery.Butintheend,
afteralltheseouterjourneys,theywillhavetomaketheinnerjourneytothedivine
deputydwellingintheirownhearts.
80

Toooftenreligionamountstocoddlingtheegoofthebelieversandworshippers,bothin
itsexistenceinthisworldandinthenextone.Thismerelycreatesillusionsthatwilllater
havetobestruggledagainstforrelease.
81

Themanwhoacceptsdoctrines,obeyscommandments,followsblindly,shifts
responsibilitytotheorganizationofwhichheisamember.Buthisattemptfails.The
karmaisnotonlycollectivebutpersonal.Themanasanindividualcannotescape.
82

NoreligiontodaycanclaimtobethesoleandtrueinheritorofitsProphet'smessage.
Thereisnounityinanyofthemthereisplentyofdissensionandsectarianismwhenit
comestodefinitions,creeds,andobservances.Thisreallymeansthattheindividual
follower,inrelyingontraditiontosupporthimhere,istryingtopushoffunconsciously
perhapshispersonalresponsibilityforhisacceptanceofit.Butitremainstherestill!
83

Whenhenolongerlooksonlytotheestablishedtraditionofferedhimbyothersbutalso
andmoredeeplyintohisowninnerconsciousness,heisthenfollowingthewaypointed
tobyJesusandBuddhaandLaoTzu.Forthisishowandwherethesoulrevealsitself.
84

Ifmanyliketosharetheirreligiousemotionswithothersinfullpublicview,theyare
entitledtodoso.Butifthisactivityisdonewiththedesiretobeseen,tobeadmiredin
approval,tothisextenttheemotionisadulteratedandrenderedworthless,becauseitis
egoworshippinginsteadofGodworshipping.
85

Thosewhobelievetheyhonourareligionbyattendingitsservicesandceremoniesarenot
seldomdeceivingthemselves.Itistheythemselveswhoarehonouredbythecontact.
86

Menandwomengotochurch,mosque,synagogue,ortemple,ostensiblytoworshipthe
higherpowerbutwhatisthegood,ifwhentheyaretheretheirthoughtsarepreoccupied
withtheirpersonalaffairsandarethusnotreallyinthechurchorholybuilding,butin
theiregos?Theymightaswellhavestayedathomeiftheydon'tintendtomakeaneffort
toletgoandtolookup.
87

Itisnonsensetoassertthatpeoplewhocometogetherforworshiptouchastronger
holinessthanthosewhoprayalone.Whathappensisthattwoforcesareatwork:first,the
powerofsociety,ofpublicopinion,andthecrowdtoinciteandshametheminto
attendingopenserviceswheretheyseeandareseensecond,acentralplaceorbuilding
reservedforsuchvisibleworshipandheardprayersuggeststhatdivineinfluenceisactive
there.
88

Thewayinwhichsomepeopleflocktojoinorganizedgroupsisoftenanindicationon
theirpartofsomeunconsciousorunexpresseddoubt,foritisanindicationoftheirneed
tostrengthentheirfaithbygettingthesupportofnumbers.Butthisisonlyaspurious
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supportbecausethefaithisinsidethem,whereasthegroupisoutside!
89

WecantrulyworshipGodwithouteverenteringareligiousbuilding,openingareligious
book,orprofessingareligiousmembership.
90

Prayerwhichisprivateandindividualissuperiorinqualityandsincererintonethan
prayerwhichispublicandcollective.
91

Religionwillgaininhonestyandloseinhypocrisy,societywillgaininpeaceableness
andloseinquarrelsomeness,whenreligionitselfbecomesaprivateaffairsoprivatethat
eventwofriendsofdifferentfaithswillordinarilyneitherdisplaytheirinterestinnortalk
aboutthem.Theirreverencewillthenexpressitselfjustaswellandevenmoresincerely
inprivatereligionthaninpublicworship.
92

Ifprayersaremerelysaidbyrote,mechanicallyorperfunctorily,littleornothingneedbe
expectedfromthem.
93

Thedogma,ritual,creed,andsacramentalworshipofreligionexistonlytoleaduptothis
innerphase:theyarenotendsinthemselves.
94

Thebeautifullycarvedfigurewhichwastohaveactedasasymboltomenoftheirhigher
possibilitiesandasareminderoftheirdutytorealizethem,becomesoverworshipped,its
correctuseforgottenandtrueplacemisconceived.Inthismannermaterialismpenetrates
religion,asitdoesinseveralotherways.
95

WhetheramanaccordshisallegiancetoSaltLakeCityortoRome,totheMormon
revelationortheCatholiccredo,isreallyofmoreimportancetotheinstitutionsinvolved
thantothemanhimself.Forintheendhissalvationdependsonwhatheisratherthanon
whattheinstitutionis.
96

WhenJesussaid,"Knockanditshallbeopenedtoyou,"hemeantknockatthedoor
withinyourself.Noamountofknockingatthedoorsoforganizationsoutsideyourself
willbringthisresult.
97

Thealtaratwhichhehumblypraysisdeepwithinhismindthegodtowhichhegives
reverenthomageisthere.
98

Toomanypeoplehavebeenmistaughtbyreligiontoevadetheirobligationsandtodeny
theirresponsibilitiesbytryingtoputthemintoGod'shandsmerelybecauseitis
unpleasantoruncomfortabletotheegotodealwiththemthemselves.
99

Themoreimportanceisplacedupontheinnerlifebyareligion,thelessisdevelopment
giventoritualism.
100

Ifyoudependtoomuchontheexternal,youwillbecomeweakertothesameextent
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internally.
101

Ithasbeenobservedthatmostreligioushymnsareaboutourselves,fewonlyareabout
God.
102

TheyworshiptheirownegoandcallitGod!
103

Itisonlybyrelegatingreligionfrombeingapublictobeingaprivateaffairthatthosetwo
typicalreligiousnuisancesintoleranceofotherbeliefsandinterferencewithother
people'slivescanbegotridof.
104

Wemusttakeahigherpositionthanordinaryreligionoffersandcomefacetofacewith
themysterythatisMentalism.Thenonbeingoftheuniverse,thenondualityevenofthe
soulmaybetoomathematicalaconclusionforourfinitemindsbutthatthismatterless
worldandallthathappensinitislikeadreamissomethingtobereceivedand
rememberedatalltimes.Weareimportantonlytoourselves,nottoGod.Allourwhining
andpraying,chantingandpraising,gatheringtogetherandimaginingthatthisorthatduty
isrequiredofusismeretheatreplay:Mindmakesitall.Inthisdiscoverywerollupthe
stageandreturntotheparadoxofwhatwereallyareConsciousness!

Mysticismandreligion
105

Mysticismisreligioncometoflower.Theyearningforsecurityagainstfears,which
religiousbeliefandceremonysatisfyinanelementaryway,isstillfurtherandmuchmore
fullysatisfiedbymysticalexperienceinanadvancedway.
106

Whenreligionisofthesociallyvisible,publiclyattendedkind,itservesthepeopleina
limitedway.Whenitisofanextremelyprivate,quietsilentmeditativekind,itpenetrates
theirmysticalessence.
107

Faithinthesoulisthefirststepandisprovidedbyreligion.Knowledgeofthesoulisthe
secondstep,andisprovidedbymysticism.
108

Thereligionisthasavagueintuitivefeelingthatthereissomethinghigherthanthedaily
round,someonebehindtheuniverse,andsomekindofexistenceafterdeath.Themystic
hasdevelopedthisintuitionintodefiniteinsightintohisownrelationtothismystery:he
knowshehasasoul.
109

Religionwasdevisedtoassistthemasses.Mysticismwasdesignedtoassistthe
individual.Whenreligionhasledamantothethresholdofdeepertruthsbehinditsown,
itstaskisdone.Itsrealvalueisattainedinmysticism.Henceforth,thepracticeof
mysticalexercisescanaloneassurehisfurtherspiritualprogress.Formysticismdoesnot
restupontheshiftingsandsoffaithortheuncertaingravelofargument,butuponthe
solidrockofexperience.Thefirstgreatmoveforwardinhisspirituallifeoccurswhenhe
movesfromreligiontomysticism,whenhenolongerhastogointosomestonebuilding
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ortosomepaidmediatortofeelreverentialtowardsGod,butintohimself.Mysticismis
forthemanwhoisnotinahurry,whoiswillingtoworkpersistentlyandtowaitpatiently
forconsciousnessofhisdivinesoul.Theotherswhohavenotthetimeforthisandwho
thereforeresorttoreligionmustlivebyfaith,notbyconsciousness.Themanwhowishes
torisefromsincerefaithandtraditionalbeliefinthesoultopracticaldemonstrationand
personalexperienceofitmustrisefromreligiontomysticism.Mysticismseeksto
establishdirectcontactwiththedivinesoul,withoutthemediationofanymanand
withouttheuseofanyexternalinstrument.Henceitmustseekinwardandnowhereelse.
Hence,too,theordinaryformsandmethodsofreligionarenotnecessarytoitandmust
bedropped.Whenthemysticfindsthedivinepresenceenlighteningandstrengthening
himfromwithin,hecannotbeblamedforplacinglittlevalueuponsacramental
ceremonieswhichclaimtoachievethisfromwithout.Norishecensurableifhecomesto
regardchurchattendanceasunnecessaryandsacramentalsalvationasillusory.Ifaman
canfindwithinhimselfthedivinepresence,divineinspiration,anddivineguidance,what
needhasheofchurchorganization?Itcanbeusefulonlytoonewholacksthem.
110

Ifthetransitionfromreligiontomysticismistobeconvenientlymade,itmustbe
graduallymade.Butthiscanbedoneonlyiftheteachersofreligionthemselvesapprove
andpromotethetransition.Butiftheydonot,iftheywanttokeepreligionimprisonedin
ecclesiasticjailirons,iftheypersistinapatriarchalattitudewhichindiscriminately
regardseverymemberoftheirflockasanintellectualinfantwhonevergrowsup,the
transitionwillhappenallthesame.Onlyitwillthenhappenabruptlyandafterreligion
itselfhasbeendiscardedeitherforcynicalatheismorforbewilderedapathy.
111

Religionbringsthetruthtohimonlyinpartand,toooften,insymbolonlyfromoutside
himselfandbysecondhandrevelation.Mysticismbringshimtothetruthfrominside
himselfandbypersonalexperience.
112

Withoutthismysticaldimension,religionliesatitsmostelementarylevel.
113

Underthehalfdeadconservatismofreligioustraditionanddogmastherelieconcealeda
groupofprofoundtruthsandulteriormeanings.Theyareneededtodaymuchmorethan
thoserelicsareneeded.Yettheironyisthatthemenwhoteachthosetraditionshaveall
theprestigeofgreatinstitutionstosupportthemwhereasthemysticwhoperceivesthose
undisclosedtruthsstandsaloneandhaslittleornoprestige.Sothemassescontinueto
echotheemptybabbleoftheirreligiousleaders,orelserepudiatereligionaltogetherand
becomeeitherindifferentorhostiletoit.
114

ValuableandrespectedastheCatholicmysticswereasguidestomysticalknowledgeand
practice,mostofthemstillremainbiasedandunscientificguides.Allowancemustbe
madeforthisdifferenceofattitudewithwhichtheyapproachthesubject,fromthatwith
whichamodernmindfreedfromprejudice,superstition,andorganizationalties
approachesit.EvensooutstandingandleadingamysticasSaintJohnoftheCross,who
isconsideredtohavereachedthegoalofcompleteunion,limitedhisreadingtofouror
fivebooks,ofwhichonewasContraHaereses,andconfinedhiswritingbyhis
proclaimedintention"nottodepartfromthesoundsenseanddoctrineofourHoly
MothertheCatholicChurch."
115

Mysticismisnottobeconfusedwithanyreligion.Mysticismcandropallthereligions
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fromitsholdandyetbeunaffected.Noreligioncanhelpthetruemystic,buthecanhelp
anyreligionwithwhichhecarestoestablishcontact.Hispresencealoneinsideanyfold
willgiveitmorethanamomentarygrandeurandcausementolookonanoldChurch
withnewrespect.Thisiswhymysticismcanstandonitsownfeet,andwhyitdoesnot
needthedoubtfullegendsandtheatricalliturgiesofinstitutionalreligion.
116

Whenamanhasoutgrownthetutelageofreligionandtiredofthebarrennegativeperiod
ofagnosticismwhichsucceedsit,heisripeforthetutelageofmysticism.
117

Wemustnotconfusethetrulymysticallifewitheitherareligiousoneoranethicalone.
Thelattertwoaremerelyelementaryandpreparatorytotheformer.
118

Theassertionthat,incertaincases,heresycanbetruereligionandorthodoxyfalse,may
seemincredibletothosewhohavenotthenecessaryevidencetoproveit.YetBuddha
andJesusandMuhammedwere,intheirtime,heretics.Howmanyothershavedied
unknown,canonizedassaintsorreveredassagesinthemindsandremembrancesofonly
asmallnumberofpersons?Andhowmanyofthem,haditbeentheirmissiontodeclare
themselvesopenly,wouldhavebeenrejected,calumniated,orpersecuted?
119

Mysticismislargerthanreligionandoughtnottobeconfoundedwithityet
paradoxicallyittakesinreligionanddoesnotdenyit.Itfulfilsandconsummatesreligion
anddoesnotretardit.
120

AsincereChurchwoulddoeverythingtoencourage,andnothingtohinder,itsmembers
takingtothemysticalquest.Forthiswouldbethebestsignthatithonestlysoughtto
consummateitsownworkfortheindividualbenefitratherthanitsown.
121

Morethanthreehundredyearsago,awonderfullittlewomantooktheGalileanathis
word.Sheputallheremotionalstrengthintoaspirationandmeditationandsucceededin
achievinganexaltedstatebypractisingasimplemethod.Whenherownheavenlypeace
wassufficientlystabilized,shebegantothinkofothers,ofhowshecouldhelpthem
attainittoo.Shewasnotsoselfishastobesatisfiedwithherownsatisfactionalone.So
shejourneyedfromcitytocityandfromvillagetovillageinreligiousyetreligionless
France,lightingthecandlesofhumanfaithwithadivinetaper.Suchwasthespiritual
darknessofthetimethathersuccesswasimmediate,andsuchwasherownChristlike
powerthatitwasamazing.Crowdsflockedgladlytoherside,listenedeagerlytoher
words,andendeavouredfaithfullytofollowherinstructions.Herdoctrinecametobe
called"Quietism"becausesheshowedpeoplehowtoquietentheirpersonalthoughtsand
emotionsandthusbecomeawareoftheimpersonalheavenbehindthem,thekingdom
within.Shewasnoheretic.ShedrewfrequentlyfromJesus'ownrecordedwordsto
explainorillustrateherteaching.Yetshedidnotspeakfromdeadpulpitsinchurchesbut
fromlivingonesinthefields.Theclergybecameseriouslyalarmed.Suchactivitiescould
notbecountenanced,theysaid.Theypetitionedtheauthoritiesagainsther,astheJewish
priestshadoncepetitionedtheRomanauthoritiesagainstJesus.Shewasthrowninto
prisonandthejailerturnedhiskeyonherdismalabode,whereshewasshutinforalong
periodofyears.SuchwasthestoryofpoorMadameGuyon.
ShewasalsodenouncedbytheChurch,aswereherfollowers,forhavingfallenintothe
sinofspiritualpride.Thiswasbecauseoftheassertionthatoutwardpracticesand
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ritualisticactswerenolongerneededbythosewhocouldfindinspirationwithin.This
teachingisquitecorrectbutpoliticallywrong.Outofrespectfor,orfearof,theChurch's
greatpowerinthosetimes,aswellasoutofconsiderationforthemassofpeoplewho
werestillunabletoriseabovetheirdependenceonsuchoutwardceremonies,Madame
Guyoncouldhaveworkedlongerifshehadworkedquietlyandprivately,notopenlyand
publicly.Shecouldhaveinstructedherfollowers,first,nottotalkabouttheteachingto
anypersonwhowasnotreadyforit,andsecond,nottocommunicateiteventothose
whowerereadywithoutthesafeguardofcompletesecrecy.
Doyouwishtopenetratetotheessenceofthisepisode?Hereitis.Abishopofthattime
navelyletthecatoutofhistheologicalbag!Hesaid:"Thiswomanmayteachprimitive
ChristianitybutifpeoplefindGodeverywherewhatistobecomeofus?"
"Whatistobecomeofus?"Sixshortwordsbutwhatatremendouscommentarythey
contain!Whenreligionwasabouttobecomealivingactualityinthelivesofcommon
peoplewhoseheartsweremovedbytheenlighteningwordsofMme.Guyonthrough
personalrealizationofitsloftiesttruth,whenitwasreadytoinspirethemfromhourto
hourwithinwardpeaceandoutwardnobility,theofficialexponentsofChristianity
interferedandpreventeditbecauseoftheirselfishfears!Theydidnotseeandperceive
theultimatedangertothemselves,andtheimmediateshameontheirteaching,ofsucha
situation.Wellmaythethinkerhaverepeatedthepoet'slinesaboutthemillsoftheGods
grindingslowbutexceedinglysmall,forwhentheFrenchRevolutionbrokeoutand
spreaditsuglymalignantfuryovertheland,whenthesocalledGoddessofReasonwas
setuponherthroneintheverymidstofNotreDameCathedral,andwhenallFrancewas
rockinginthegreatupheavalwhichretributivedestinyandrebelliousdemagogueshad
conspiredtobringuponher,fiftythousandFrenchpriestsfledfrompersecution,
imprisonment,andevendeath.ToappearonthestreetsofParisinthosedayswearingthe
cleric'sgarbwastocourtthepunishmentofdeathitself.
122

Themysticalphaseistobeacquiredwithoutdroppingthereligiousphase,althoughhe
maywishtomodifyit.
123

Ifreligionistosavewhatisbestinitself,itmustnotonlysetitshouseinorderbutmust
admitthemysticalpracticesintoitssystemofinstruction.Itmustbecomeless
exteriorizedandmoreinteriorized,moremystical.Stonebuiltsanctuariesaremanyin
everytownandvillageoftheland.Butthosethattrulylightthemindarefew.Yetthereis
onewithdoorswideopentoall,greatenoughtoincludeeverycityinthecountryyet
narrowenoughtoexcludethedullmaterialist,theruthlesslycruel,andthepoisonously
selfish.ThisisthesanctuaryoftheinnerSelf.Fromthismysticalstandpointthe
institutionalsideofeveryreligionisitsleastimportantside.Tounderstandareligionin
thiswaywemustfirstbecomehereticswemustcastoffconventionalviewswhichblind
themind'seyes.Weneednolongerworryourselvesoverthehotlydebatedquestionof
whetherornotChristwasbornofavirginmother,forinstance,butwedoneedtogive
ourtimeandthoughttofindingthatwhichChristrepresentswithinourselves.Christcan
liveagainwithinourhearts,ashehimselftaught,whichmeanswemustlookforhim
insideourselvesmuchmorethaninsideaChurchbuilding.
124

Thedisuseofoutwardsacramentsandthedistasteforchurchorganizationwhichmark
thelifehistoryofseveralmystics,comefromthevigourandindependencewithwhich
theymustshieldthegrowingplantofinnerlife,andfromthereorientationoftrustwith
whichtheyturnfromallmanmadethingstoGodalone.
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125

Whenspiritualyearningsbecomemoreinsistentbutperhapsmoreindefinable,itmaybe
thatthemysticaldepthsofreligionarecallinghimawayfromitsshallowsurfaces.
126

Themysticunfoldshishigherindividuality.Themorehedoesso,themorehetendsto
drawawayfromtheorganizationwhichactsascustodianofhisouterreligion.
127

FanaticalreligionkilledHypatia,conventionalreligionlynchedPythagoras,respectable
religionpoisonedSocrates,authorityworshippingreligioncrucifiedJesus.
128

Itishistoricalfactthatanumberofthosewhosuccessfullydeepentheirspirituallifeby
contemplationpracticemaydevelopantiritualisticattitudes.Thisiswhymysticshave
beentolerated,evenvenerated,andalternatelytreatedashereticsandpersecuted.
129

Ecclesiastichierarchiesdonotwelcome,evendiscourage,theclaimtopersonal
inspirationintheirowntimes.Afreshrevelationofdeificpowerisregardedasafresh
danger.Forthenewvoicemaybelistenedtoinplaceoftheoldparrotlikerepetitions!
130

Becausetimebringstoinstitutedreligionsgrowth,andthatbringspower,success,wealth,
andprestigewithalltheircorruptionsandinfidelitiesallreligions'principlesneedtobe
periodicallyreestablished.Thisiswhycontemporarymysticsandprophetsarealways
neededandwhytheyshouldbegivenahearing.
131

Solongassomanyoftheauthorizedguardiansofreligionfailtoappreciatethefactthat
mysticismistheverycoreoftheirdoctrine,solongwilltheylacktheglowing
inspiration,thebroadeningview,andthebeneficialstrengthwhichreligionatitsbestcan
andoughttogive.
132

Whatthereligiousmanfeelsbyinstinctorfaith,themysticalmanknowsbyexperience
orrevelation.
133

Itremainsahistoricalfactthatthemanwhohasdiscoveredtruthfindsmoreopposition
withintheformalestablishedchurchofhisreligionthanoutsideit,morewhowillaccept
itamonglaymenthanamongprofessionalministersandtheologians.Thisisregrettable,
becausethelatteroughttobethefirsttowelcomehisdiscovery.Butorganizationalego,
pluspersonaltimidityorcowardice,getintheway.
134

Solongaspeopleareoverwhelmedbytheofficialprestigeofestablishedchurchesand
overawedbytheirhistorictradition,solongwillitbefutiletoexpectwiderecognitionof,
andproperhonourfor,theauthenticrevelationsofatruecontemporarymystic.
135

Theindividualmystic'slackofstatusisregrettablebutexpectable.Foritisthepenaltyhe
mustpayforrefusingtobeoverawedbythedogmascurrentinhistimeandthetraditions
inheritedfromhispeople'spast.Whatchancehasthisteachingwhenitsadherentsform
onlyasmallunrecognizedentirelyscatteredcultwhereastheadherentsoforthodoxyare
numberedbythemillion,andeventhoseofunorthodoxyarenumberedbythethousand
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orhundred?Mustallimportance,alltruth,allsignificanceinreligionbelimitedto
organizedgroupsalone?Aretherenoinspiredpersonsandnoordinaryindividualswho
donotchoosetobelongtoanysuchgroupsatall?Whyshouldorthodoxyand
unorthodoxy,merelybecausetheyareorganizedintochurchesandlabelledas
denominations,alonerepresentthevoiceofreligion?
136

TheinspiredindividualwhohasclimbedSinaionhisownfeetandreceivedtheTablets
ofGod'sLawwithhisownhandshasmerelyasmallfractionofthepower,influence,and
prestigeoftheberobedrepresentativeoforganizedreligion,whoknowsGodonlyat
secondhandandthroughothers,whohasnoinspirationwithwhichtoblessmenandno
realpowertosavethem.
137

WhatisthedifferencebetweenQuietismandMysticism?QuietismisRomanCatholic
andseemstohavebeensolelydevotionalmantra,repetitionjapasinging,asceticalin
ordertofindpersonalsalvation,whereasMysticismisagenerictermforallreligionsand
seemstobepositivelivinginGodplusillumination.
138

Solongasofficialreligionsheldthehighestplaces,solongtheEnlightened,theknowers
andtheseers,werelefttowalkaloneortothinkinsecretortostifletheirwords.
139

Thereareaustereantimystictheologiansjustastherearehideboundantimystic
ecclesiastics.
140

Thedevotionallifeofreligionfindsitsculminationinthemeditativelifeofmysticism.
Devotioncanbepractisedenmassebutmeditationisbestdoneinsolitude.Religioncan
beorganizedbutmysticismisbestlefttotheindividual.
141

Ifwemixthemysticalwiththereligiousstandpoint,theresultwillbeconfusionand
misunderstanding.Theymustbekeptapartandintheirproperplaces.
142

Thosewhohavetouchedthemysticallevelinwhattheyhavedeeplybelievedanddeeply
experiencedaremuchlesslikelytobedogmatic,narrowreligionists.
143

Thegulfbetweenritualisticreligionandmysticalreligionisthegulfbetweenametaphor
andafact.
144

Itwouldbesheerfollyforevenanorganizedformofmysticismtocompetewith
organizedreligion.Thevotariesofmysticismareandwillremainaminorgroup.But
insofarastheirchallengeactsasasuccessfulirritant,theymayhelporthodoxreligionto
improveitself.
145

TheRomanCatholicBishopofCochintoldmeafewyearsagothathedisapprovedof
mysticismbecauseitcouldveryeasilylead,andhadhistoricallyled,tointellectualand
spiritualanarchyandwasthereforedangerous.AnotherRomanCatholic,G.K.
Chesterton,thebrilliantEnglishauthorandjournalist,toldmenearlythirtyyearsagothat
hedisapprovedofmysticismbecauseitcouldveryeasilyleadtomoralanarchyandevil
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behaviour,andhadindeeddoneso.Yetbothmenwerequitewillingtoacceptmysticism
provideditwasfencedaroundbythelimitationsandregulations,thedogmaticdefinitions
andsupervisorydirectionimposedbytheirChurch.
146

Itistheconstantcontentionofecclesiasticalauthoritiesthatmysticswhofindsufficient
guidanceandteachinginwaitingupontheinnerlight,whodisregardalloutward
supports,exposethemselvestodeceptionanderrorandtheChurchtoanarchyand
disintegration.Theircontentioniscorrectenough.Neverthelesstheargumentisnot
adequateenoughtoprohibitthepracticeofmysticismaltogether.For,onthefirstcount,
themysticcanbetaughthowtoprotecthimselfagainsttheseperils.Onthesecondone,
notmanypeoplearewillingorreadytobecomemysticsandtherearemorethanenough
lefttokeeptheChurchbusywhilethosewhoarereadycanstillbehelpedbytheChurch.
147

Thisinsistenceontherigorousfollowingofexternalforms,togetherwiththisneglecting
oftheinternalspiritwhichshouldbethemainobjectofthoseforms,ismoreharmfulin
themysticalworldthaninthereligiousone.
148

Thatwhichreligionworshipsasfromadistance,mysticismcommuneswithasan
intimate.
149

Manybelieve,somesuspect,butfewknowthatthereisadivinesoulinman.
TheNotebooksarecopyright19841989,ThePaulBruntonPhilosophicFoundation.

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