In Search of a New Age
11. The Urge to Raise Potentials
First of course, one has to have the desire to change and it is not a question of giving up anything. It is a question of adding new meaning to one's life. Even if you are a business man, business will take on a freshness that has been lost. I first discovered that by reading once again The Prophet by Gibran, it activated an inner chord. This is turn led to Gurdjieff's book Meetings With Remarkable Men. Having re-read these books a few times, one should then read some heavier material. A good start is The Bhagavad Gita and of course, the Bible. From here on the list opens up a vista of countless proportions. To just name a few of the finest available would be The Way of a Pilgrim by French, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, The Upanishads, Yogananda's beautiful book Autobiography of a Yogi, the works of Patanjali, the works of Swedenborg, Huxley's Island, which contains many gems, that hard to find book entitled Philokalia, works of the early church fathers, Govinda's Foundation of Tibetan Mysticism, and Ramacharaka's series of works on Yoga. Any top bookstore contains an almost unlimited list of such books, such as Field's Book Store in San Francisco, who over a period of time, were able to find all the books I wanted.
Many people are confused about Yoga. They do not understand there are many types and many cults. Hatha Yoga is a Yoga of exercise. When properly done it is a form of worship which is designed to bring the body into harmony. If you select only half a dozen exercises a day, it will give you a conditioning of the body that if done regularly, will tremendously improve your health. The other types of Yoga are really for the student to discover for himself.
A book, as I have said, cannot simply be read once and discarded. Even reading it for the first time, one discovers that he is completely unable to understand much of the material; but with concentrated effort and a second, third, and fourth reading, he will be amazed, particularly if he is practicing meditation, how much material will slowly unfold. It is certainly a question of will-power, and although it may sound repetitious, will-power can only be obtained by developing one's energy, and by conserving it. There are simply no easy short cuts, and the cunning of the mind is monumental. It can find so many excuses not to do even the simplest routine. You will discover that other self that is lazy and spends most of its energy thinking up excuses for not making an effort.
Westerners are inclined to want instant success. But at some time in one's life, one may be ready for this new challenge. It may come slowly, even after years of having read this book. But undoubtedly some people are at this moment reading to receive new information. After only a few hours of meditation, as little as a few week's efforts, suddenly they will discover within themselves a new panorama which they did not know existed. This is a thrilling and mind-blowing experience and once you have tasted this new knowledge you will never let go because you will be able to experience in your daily life the differences it can make to you and the changes it will create all around you. There are many books more eloquent and far more detailed than any I could write. These treasures remain to be discovered by the reader. All that is needed is an open, receptive mind.
I think that there is no doubt that having young children in a house is the greatest way to maintain an example of open-mindedness and pure love. But if you do not have any children, they are always easy to find and always receptive. The sheer joy of spending ten minutes with a three year old little girl is such a beautiful experience that words cannot express. Most of us with children, because they come at a time when we are just starting our business careers, find that we do not adequately give them the attention that is so necessary for our own development, and most people are grandparents before they give this time to children and then start to rediscover the great joys they have lost and the opportunities that have disappeared for self re-learning. But this again was lack of consciousness and when one looks back on one's life one realizes with amazement the amount of time that slips by because of lack of concentration and energy to live in the now.
Gibran speaking of freedom says, "Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff and my heart bleeds within me; that you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal of a fulfillment. You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care, nor your voice without a want and a grief, but rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound ... and if it is a fear that you would dispel, the seat of the fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared."
It is almost like the famous quote of Franklin D. Roosevelt that impressed me so much as a youth when he spoke at his inauguration that the greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself. Man seems to be always fearful - fearful of tomorrow, fearful of losing his masculinity. He creates fears and lives with them. Certainly harmony in the world within means our ability to control our own thoughts and we must destroy fear by creating inner harmony. Harmony within results in optimism and affluence, and affluence within results in affluence without. The world without reflects the circumstances and the conditions of the consciousness within. This is a truism which our own experience can verify.
If we can see our consciousness as the removing of layers and layers, rather like the peeling of an onion skin, we realize how almost imperceptible are the changes that take place within us. First we have to eradicate the groove that had been created in the form of attitude. We are not really conscious of how unbelievably deep these attitudes have become and how difficult it is to change them. Gurdjieff calls them buffers and says that a buffer cannot be removed until we are ready for its removal. In fact, what is called a freak-out in modern psychedelic terms is when somebody has a buffer removed before they are prepared to see themselves from a different level. The best seller, The Greening of America talks of these buffers in the form of consciousness one and two to remove the buffers that are necessary before one can move to even consciousness three.
There is no doubt that LSD under controlled conditions can remove some buffers, and it is being done at the Baltimore Research Institute under the direction of Dr. Stanley Grof, a brilliant scientist who is experimenting and making films of terminal cancer patients. Viewing these films is indeed a revelation. One sees people who are dying, close to panic as they face the unknown. Then films have been taken showing the miraculous change that the drug affects in the brain as it removes the buffers, raising consciousness into new areas of comprehension. The peace of mind and new consciousness that these people undergo is so remarkable that one would have to view the films to believe it. The treatment, a religious experience that makes the patient understand the biblical revelations and removes from him any fear of death, brings the patient over an eight to ten hour period into a knowledge of who he really is. It is obvious that mankind has not yet begun to discover the full potential that LSD and other new drugs may unfold.
Dick Albert, the former Harvard professor is now known as Baba Ram Dass, consciously undertook the same experiments, dropping acid every ten hours over a three week period. He tells in his book how it changed his life, but he also tells us how through the practice of Yoga and other disciplines he was able to transcend the LSD experience.
The massive work and actual illustrations that have been compiled by Dr. Grof are certain to have significant effect on the future use and experimentation of this drug. The uncontrolled sale of street drugs that were not only impure but contained all sorts of dangerous ingredients such as elephant tranquilizers, more than anything else created a bad national press for LSD. At the same time many conventional psychiatrists, from their own professional point of view, are worried that the effects of drug therapy could well wipe out many hours of expensive couch therapy that is the mainstay of many, just as acupuncture has been denied for years by the Western medical profession, although it is an ancient practice that undoubtedly has some advantages which in the next decade may well become part of the training in all Western medical schools, and should have been accepted long ago. This is one example of how it is difficult to bring in new knowledge if by its simplicity, it destroys a tremendous economic structure that has been built. Few doctors today are working or giving any attention to the possibility of mind expansion including their own and thereby the refusal to remove their own buffers keeps their patients in bondage.
Even the colours in a room can affect one's states and one's emotional ranges, as every interior decorator is well aware. But the ancient knowledge if colours and their use to effect emotional changes has, to a large extent, been totally unused, particularly in our hospitals, where patients have to lie for weeks staring at blank white ceilings which could, with the use of murals or changing projector slides, be turned into beautiful coloured landscapes and pastoral scenes which would add tremendously to the psychic and physical recovery of the patients. There is a whole range of colour utilization for health that has been ignored by the medical profession.
Man has always assumed that naturally all knowledge will be utilized on his behalf, but such is not the case. Knowledge is indeed power, and it has been withheld for the most selfish motives all through the ages. Undoubtedly in future we may wee the development of machines that will be able to change individual vibratory rates to create healing as well as changing consciousness. We are on the threshold of a breakthrough so profound that it staggers the imagination at our present level of consciousness.