94 QUESTION: You didn’t exactly define pity and compassion, as I remember, and I should like to know a little more about the difference between the two. It seems to me that, in the work you prescribe, the more we acknowledge and understand ourselves, the more we are able to act according to a rule, that is, to live together. Apart from that, the more we do in this work, we become less human and more like machines. I believe the very core of humanity is pity, and indeed, self-pity, because if a person does not have self-pity, he is not selfish. If a person is not selfish, he is not human, he is a god. This is not a mental or intellectual consideration, but something I feel.
ANSWER: In the first place, I do not think it is necessary to repeat again the difference between compassion and pity. I have defined it sufficiently in the lecture [Lecture #94 Sin and Neurosis – Unifying the Inner Split]. If you read it, you will not have any difficulty in understanding it. However, if the question still remains open, I shall be glad to answer it.
As to the rest of your question, it contains a number of confusions and misunderstandings, for instance, that at the core of every human being there is pity, indeed, self-pity. No, this is not true. Either pity or self-pity is the result, or the symptom, not even of the core, but of another symptom. Many attitudes and aspects in the human being are part of a chain-reaction. The core is the real self – and this most certainly does not act according to any rule, either a general, outer one, or even a rigid self-made one. The nature of the core is flexibility and individuality.
Although it is human to be selfish, it is also human to be unselfish. Although it is human to have self-pity, it is also human not to have it. It is not that one is human and the other divine. Both are human. It is the same with selfishness as with any other trait. There is a healthy kind as well as an unhealthy, destructive kind. Your confusion here arises out of ignorance, in that you believe you are expected to give up any kind of selfishness. Therefore you rebel and cannot accept giving up even the kind of selfishness that is destructive of yourself and others.
Moreover, if you believe that the outcome of this work is first, to conform to a rule, and second, to become like a machine, I should like to say that you have not even understood the most basic rudimentary elements of this work. It is time for you, with your good intelligence, to understand it, at least in your brain. For the truth is the extreme opposite of what you stated here.
It is significant, and it applies to every human being, regardless of intelligence, that wherever one is resistant to understand something, not only does one not hear the points one is unwilling to hear, but actually one often hears the very opposite. The essence of these teachings and the method of the work is to free you of ready-made rules and help you to become true individuals. In tonight’s lecture, this point was again stressed from a new angle.
You are under the misconception that goodness is dull and insipid, that it has no variation, no individuality, humor, pleasure and wit. You ascribe all that to badness. How wrong you are! Goodness is as diversified as badness. Only it has more humor, individuality, pleasure, because in health and maturity – which amounts to the same as goodness – you are better able to express yourself, you experience more keenly, and you have a deeper, wider scope for living.
You confuse goodness with goody-goodyness which, if analyzed, is the extreme opposite of the former. In essence, goody-goodyness is another facet of the badness that seems so desirable to you.
In this lecture, I mentioned, among other things, that it is sometimes better to make a mistake if it comes out of your real self, than to obey rules and principles when you are not at one within yourself about them. Isn’t it significant that you hear the very opposite? Doesn’t that show something vitally important in your attitude toward yourself? Do you understand, my friend?
QUESTION: Yes, I understand your words. But, you see, what then becomes a rule is that I, or we, or mankind, must aim to become oneself. Then this is a rule.
ANSWER: No. You can choose to remain infants, if you so desire. You do not have to grow up. But if you wish to grow and live a constructive and full life and want to realize most of your potentials, then you must become yourself. But the choice has to be made by you.
QUESTION: I understand. Then there is a further question. Why then should such advanced people, shall we say people who have been on this Path for some time, by doing this work, by realizing themselves, by throwing off fetters, become able to withstand what no human wants to withstand, such as another person’s ill manners? Now, I do not think that is honest or the aim. This seems to me like being a machine.
ANSWER: There is another confusion here, my friend. The answer is very simple. Growth, maturity, unfoldment, makes you able to withstand, if you have to, that which you are incapable of changing. Maturity enables you to give up and let go of what you do not have to endure. This is something the immature person cannot do; the unbearable thus becomes a problem for him. You rebel against what you cannot change because it is outside your control. If you believe that your rebellion alleviates the difficulty, you are very much mistaken. Quite the contrary is true.
The mature person can take what has to be taken, without being crushed. He or she will even benefit from it. This certainly does not make a machine out of anybody. It would be more appropriate to call the perpetually rebelling person a machine – and an ineffectual one at that – who constantly puffs aimless steam into the atmosphere.
This depletes a person’s strength, so that he or she becomes incapable of changing that which he could change – which is not beyond his control. He is unaware that he could do so, and even unwilling, because he cherishes the pseudo-individuality of the perpetual rebel. What makes you believe you are more of an individual and less of a machine when you constantly scream and fight where there is no reason to do so?
What makes you believe that the person is a machine who faces an issue squarely, and upon discovering that here is something he cannot change, goes with the stream, thus saving his strength for the issues where he can make a change and thus make his life more meaningful?
Let me part from you with very special blessings at this time of year, honoring the greatest being who ever lived, the being who had taught and lived and died by all the truth conveyed again and again in so many various ways, ever since your Earth began to exist – Jesus Christ.
Be blessed in him; be in peace. And may your further path make you realize that his teachings, as well as any other teachings of truth, do not seek to make you conform, appease, bow down, and accept something against your will and conviction, by changing you into puppets and goody-goodies. Quite the contrary!
If you truly understand and follow his teachings and certain aspects of his life, you will find this to be so. That he – as well as any other exponent of truth – is very opposite to what the rebellious person fears most – the goody-goody conformer. He has not only taught this but also lived it. Watch, observe yourself and others. Go deeper in this work.
Look at the few people whom you may know who have already accomplished a part of this goal, and you will see that this is true: the more spiritually and emotionally developed a person is, the more he or she is alive, a distinct individual, and not a machine divorced from warmth, courage and humor. The true self of every individual is the very opposite of that which you fear and rebel against.
95 QUESTION: [Same person as previous question] I hesitate to ask any questions owing to the recent stir my questions brought. It seems that they are not considered exactly intelligent. Before I ask my questions, I would like to ask you, frankly, if more highly developed souls are employing a reason I am not capable of. Because unless we are talking on a common ground, I’m afraid we have no means of communication with one another.
ANSWER: My dear friend, in the first place, I do not think anyone can say that when someone does not understand something, this indicates a lack of intelligence. The most intelligent people are blocked where they have problems. The intelligence that exists otherwise does not function here. That happens to every single person – to some more obviously than to others – but nevertheless to everyone.
There is no human being entirely free of this. I have never yet seen a human being in whom there is not somewhere a tightness, a prejudice, a closeness, a fear of relinquishing a preconceived idea. This, of course, is due to the defense mechanism that chooses a particular view as necessary and safe. But this is only an explanation. It does not do away with the fact, as such. People who are blocked will misunderstand, misinterpret, be anxious and conflicted about the issue, or hear the very opposite of what is said.
Only the degree differs, and anyone who judges may possibly have the same condition to a lesser or less noticeable degree, perhaps concerning a different topic. So you are in very good company. You may perhaps put your questions in a more belligerent way, but I do not mind this and I encourage you to ask these questions, as long as you are sincere and in good faith, regardless of what some of our human friends may say. It is necessary. It is good for you. And it is good for everyone.
As to different kinds of reason, there is only one reason. There are not several kinds. Again it is only a question of degree. The difference is that human beings, still in the human struggle, have their reason impaired. Their intelligence may not be impaired, but their reason is. Reason comes from the real self, so to the degree of their self-alienation, to that degree reason does not function. The real self is pure reason and pure love. You might also call it wisdom. One is not thinkable without the other. There cannot be reason or wisdom, without love, and vice versa.
So we all have the same organs to communicate with. If one being has developed more than the other due to struggles already overcome, it does not mean that communication is impossible. Communication depends to a very large extent on the willingness of the persons involved. If the willingness to understand and to make oneself understood is present, half of the battle is over. I do not think that any of you ever found me difficult to communicate with.
96 QUESTION: In our last session, a question was put by one of our friends, now absent, which you characterized as belligerent, but which you answered beautifully. This situation comes up for me repeatedly in different degrees. I find myself, for example, sometimes impatient with people who do not accept the truth as I have found it. And some of us, in our discussions, have shown the same kind of impatience. I wonder if you could tell us how to deal with this sort of situation?
ANSWER: This important and universal issue can be dealt with only by understanding the following. Such impatience may come from a variety of inner sources. One is a distortion of goodwill. With this comes the urgency of the forcing current. Another reason may be the need to convince others because you yourself may not be really convinced.
Still another reason may be the feeling, vague and hidden, that one’s own happiness depends on everyone else being in truth. Still another is a feeling of inadequacy when not being able to reach or persuade another person. These are the most important underlying reasons. It is up to the individual to find out which and how many of these reasons hold true. Only sincere self-probing will furnish the answer, and will thus not only relieve the tension but lead to important further insight.
You will sometimes find that you are most impatient when another does not understand what you yourself have not understood only a very short time before. You may often be much more tolerant about secure knowledge that you have had deep down all along. Your hurry to convince another person is often a reflection of your impatience with yourself. Your non-acceptance of the imperfection of this world, with the slow process of striving, grasping and drowning, is very much at the core of your impatience.
In order to deal with this condition, as always, it is important not to force such feelings away and deceive yourself into a serenity that is not genuine, but to acknowledge all emotions of pressure, impatience, forcing, intolerance, hurry, and learn from them. Why are they here? What is behind them? What do they signify about an inner condition you may not have fully recognized? If you observe when such pressures exist and when not, and analyze the reasons for this, you may make some amazing discoveries about yourself. Why do certain issues bother you and others not?
QUESTION: Isn’t it sometimes different with different people? I mean if you feel someone likes you then you’re more relaxed, and vice versa?
ANSWER: Yes, of course. There are always a lot of mutual currents involved. In other instances, you may be more relaxed with someone for whom you feel no bond of affection than with someone with whom you feel close. There are so many mutual undercurrents involved, but only as you grow into your real self will you understand them in their true light. But, as you know, the growing into selfhood cannot come unless you are very much aware of the significance of your own emotional reactions.