The Way of Beauty
“Without this elusive, undefinable beauty, there is no art.”
Beauty is visible to those who have looked at life in all its forms, including the most horrifying or the most inane. Contact with beauty, with the whole of the transpersonal domain, is authentic only when it is preceded by contact with the shadow, the pain, the ugliness, and the banality in the inner and outer worlds. If this was not the case, each transpersonal experience, each piece of art would be nothing more than a means of escape from the phenomenal world. These are the moments of grace, moments of inspiration. Whether in sleep or in wakefulness, after the spur of inspiration has passed, perspiration follows. The finished product calls for skilful application, as it may. Another basic phenomenon involve in the process of inspiration is unconscious elaboration. Countless creative individuals have discovered that if they leave their work alone for a time, they return to find it modified and enriched, as though another part of their mind had been working on it, while they were occupied with other matter entirely. Entrusting the material to the unconscious has always been a highly effective and energy-saving method. However, in order for creativity to bloom, one condition appears to be essential in most cases, the pursuit of perfection. Inspiration is rarely sparked without hard work and a tireless search for perfection. Where others cease their efforts, another will experience relentlessness in his dissatisfaction and care for detail, allowing for the true creative work to begin. However, the quest for perfection serves in art, ethics and science to stimulate ones latent faculties, to guide and inspire the individual. An ideal elevates us and enlarges our perspective, allowing for the expansion and growth of consciousness. Without the beauty within the world, there would be no colours, no art, no imagination, no music, no poetry and no literature. Only nothingness. The phenomenal plane would appear much darker than it is presently, figuratively speaking. Elusive ideas can trigger inspiration within the vast corridors of the unconscious. Most artists place a great significance on their inspiration with the realization that any mental process regarded with interest grows and develops, whereas if it is ignored or treated with suspicion, it shrivels and dies.
The Way of Action
The way of action does not begin with action, but with mind. One has to think of action in a new manner. For instance, this could be illustrated by the craftsman that carves magnificent pedestals, yet he would shrug off all thought of either praise or criticism, of ability or clumsiness and merely go off in the forest. There, his vision was purified, he was able to gaze at the shape of trees and select a form suitable for a pedestal, if he found one. If not, he would simply return home. Unfortunately, this state of grace has become a rare occurrence amongst humanity. Often we act with a purpose in mind, striving to satisfy a desire or eliminate a certain fear. To perform an action out of selflessness, duty or service, however, becomes the aim within the way of Action. Although it may often be a natural disposition to forget or care for others and the need to identify with them. Thus, service is one of the most effective ways of overcoming frustration and loneliness in order to bring one closer to the true self. It not merely the satisfaction from having been useful, but such actions also produce warmth and inner happiness. Within service, all available resources are directed toward the well-being of another, and it is then that the gloomy wall of separation gradually falls away. Care, for anyone, becomes a reminder of protection, security, happiness and unity, which if lacked during childhood can lead to immense repercussions later in adult life. Those who undertake to serve, however, come into contact with unfulfilment and pain. This experience more often than not changes the individual beyond the point of return. Their boundaries extend to include another human being or numerous. By directing ones attention to the world of another, servers forget themselves and their concerns. In this manner, without seeking it, they discover their own realization. True service is not merely concerned with temporary relief for those individuals, it is rather based upon the ability of the server to empathize with the individual that they are caring for. To comprehend their circumstances and allow them to discover inner strength and confidence to believe that they can stand upon their own two feet. One will eventually discover the infinite value within each and every being upon the planet, allowing for a greater capacity of compassion and empathy. It becomes a spiritual manifestation within the self achieved through the service to others, accomplished by individuals such as Gandhi and Mother Theresa. Yet, each transformation occurs gradually within time and hard work.
The Way of Illumination
The first stage along this path is to simply clear oneself of all burdens, clutter, clouds and weights on the consciousness. This can be achieved through meditation, yet it is also possible through the means of mindfulness. The way of Illumination at times emphasizes the relationship with the physical world. As the treatment of the body affects the body, causing either heaviness or lightness. In addition, emotions can adversely affect the consciousness. For instance, such burdens can hinder the consciousness from expanding and opening, thus the individual must learn to free themselves from the tyranny of emotion and practice non-attachment. In order for the consciousness to become more agile and attentive emotions are at times chosen as a subject for meditation. Then same can be stated about desires. If one has become obsessed by them, the consciousness will continually be drawn toward something other than itself. However, it is neither right nor feasible to eliminate all desires. Yet, by taking a stand that is too profound, one can repress desires and involuntarily end up intensifying them. It is essential that life should not be reduced to a continual and exclusive pursuit of self-gratification. To learn how to be content with little. To discover inner simplicity, as it may. Ideas may also become an obstacle to the expansion of consciousness. It may be their content, thus the practitioner beings to look into ones assumptions. Conversely, a too profound reliance upon any conviction can prevent one from looking further ahead. During illumination, one ventures into states of consciousness that are above and beyond even the greatest notion, consequently one arrives at the point to re-examine ones relationship with the mental world. It is a path to become conscious of all without filters or preferences. This also allows for the practitioner to focus upon a single object to the exclusion of everything else, taking consciousness to a level of maximum intensity. Through introspection, the individual can learn to retrace their consciousness to its source and let it emerge back into itself. In this manner, the practitioner becomes conscious of the self as empty of all content, unconfined by space and time. In order to be accurate and truthful, awareness must be receptive. Instead of producing formulas and applying them to the world, the individual receives the world into themselves. To be alert, open and vacant, in essence. According to Huxley, the state of grace at any level can only be achieved by cultivating alert passivity to the point of complete humility and selflessness. When the practitioner has freed themselves from stereotypes and abstractions they come to live in a richer and more intriguing world.
The Way of Dance and Ritual
Throughout the ages and in all civilisations, dance has been used an aid to higher knowledge and to mystical union with the divine as well as the cosmos. Within countless dancers biographies, there is ample amount of evidence of the transpersonal qualities of dance. Those who dance are able to step outside the confines of personal existence, transcend linear time and dive into ecstatic, mind-altering experiences. In essence, it unravels the mental and emotional patterns that have crystallized over the years in an individuals makeup, the individual comes to free themselves through performing the activity. This release occurs when dance follows a repetitive rhythm and every movement is foreknown. The mind is no longer weighed down with the responsibility of deciding which movements to make and which not to. It simply surrenders to the rhythm. However, within sacred dance the ritual aspect is more explicit. One is dancing in order to honour the divinity, to raise oneself to its level, becoming one with it. It is the moment in which ritual and dance truly become united to achieve a greater cause. Nonetheless, one can easily find rituals within daily life, sequences of predetermined actions that are distributed through the day. They serve to mark the passage of time, enabling one to take a mental break. It provides a resurfacing rhythm to ones life. Yet, they are also external means for generating a subjective universe. The gestures and movements of ritual, however are rather different from those of normal life. Sacred gestures, for instance, are not responses to actual circumstances, as they are not aimed at achieving a specific result. They represent a timeless dimension, untouched by chance. Furthermore, the deliberate action with which they are carried out suggests a incredibly sensible and attuned reality. All these factors generate a situation in which consciousness is naturally led to transpersonal levels. In addition, gestures and actions are predetermined, therefore they are empty and release one from the need to decide. Every ritual is a discipline to follow without any scope for individual originality. Its predetermined gestures can produce an inflow of transpersonal strength and open a door to an unknown, extraordinary world rather similar to dance.
The Way of Science
Science is a rigorous discipline, it teaches individuals to preserve even in the absence of enthusiasm, to avoid self-deception and to gain control of their thoughts and attention. It trains the individual to persist until they grasp a principle rather than stopping at partial solutions. It educates the individual to notice that events are linked, to identify structures and rhythms that are not immediately apparent and to leave behind a familiar approach or world in order to explore another, more objective one. The scientific method may only be a few centuries old, yet intellectual honesty, the ability to eliminate firmly entrenched mental patterns to see things are they truly are, is timeless. The belief that everything is possible, even realities that are uncanny or in opposition to the opinion of the mass. Furthermore, drawing an analogy consists in seeing similarity in two distinct entities or processes. For instance, to recognize an individual from a photograph means to recognize the resemblance between a living being and black and white marks on a piece of paper, which is an instant recognition of analogy. Yet, there are also new analogies, which enable individuals to construct concepts and invent devices,. One requires to make an imaginative leap from one reality to another to achieve the unthinkable. Science is often thought of an organized, rational tasks performed by means of systematic research aseptic laboratories. Instead a scientist often “feel” their way, as it may, relying at times on chance or on a series of favourable circumstances. Insight can often happen no other way, for the instrument and the processes used by the scientists are an embodiment of the old theories, the very ones that must be overcome in order to achieve progress. They obstruct discover, as they make no provision for it. Within the less structured universe of daily life and chance, in contrast, new ideas have full play to emerge in a less direct or even seemingly accidental fashion. Chance discover and invention are the very essence of the creative mind, fertile in its ability to recognize a microcosm of meaning and beauty in any event. However, the goal of science is not for those that wish to give in easily, nor is it for those who are content with little, or those who perceive they have already discovered a solution. Open-mindedness, curiosity, concentration and discipline become of essence to use all of ones resources in order to reach the goal.
The Way of Devotion
“In the Way of Devotion, love is directed vertically towards the Supreme Being.”
Devotion offers profound riches, however it also demands absolute poverty. When all vital energies are concentrated on one point, all else loses its appeal. In order to proceed on the path of devotion, one requires to learn emotional detachment. Detachment, however, does not necessarily include disregard for other or the justification of violence, rather it stands for the freedom to regard nothing but the highest as absolutely essential. This state can produce a sense of lightness and joy unavailable to those that are weighed down by a thousand desires with the corresponding burden of worries or fear. The practitioner entirely surrenders themselves to love and service in numerous practices of devotion. In consequence, in the way of illumination, love encompasses all creatures, whereas in the way of devotion, love is directed vertically toward the supreme being. In the way of illumination, love is a mental attitude and it appears objectively within the hearts of the individual as well as in the nature of reality. Conversely, in the way of devotion, love is passionate and full of fervor. Detachment is commonly more pronounced. In the way of illumination, love is more often than not a consequence of freedom rather than a means of attaining it. In addition, rationality, although it must in the end be transcended, is at times accepted and even applied as an instrument for the expansion of consciousness. The way of devotion, on the other hand, is based upon non-rational self surrender. Yet, the higher one climbs along either of the two paths, they resemble one another. In conclusion, none of the ways toward the self are more direct and more explicit in their direction than to love the spirit, to desire it, to think of it at all moments and to eventually give oneself over to it in ones entirety. Love expressed to the source of all good produces warmth, conviction, enthusiasm and certainty. It becomes a perpetuation virtuous cycle. The intensity of this path is not merely a result, yet also a prerequisite. An essential condition of this way is that the object of devotion be numinous. Usually this is not the case, as there are countless idols to which an individual can be devoted such as money, pleasure, success and so forth. Devotion tunes into the object and enters its world. Therefore one requires to take caution, regarding what objects or individual one decides to focus ones energies upon.
The Way of Will
The Way of the Will is called “the most direct”, “the most literal”, “the hardest”
The survival instinct is the oldest and most deeply engrained aspect of human nature, the boundary beyond which humanity often disintegrates. Existence inside this boundary is a pleasurable experience, yet if the individual were to approach the borders, they are often swiftly overcome by anxiety, terror and bewilderment. However, there are those that draw pleasure from such experiences, of going beyond. They discover that by challenging their attachment to survival, they are transformed and regenerated. These individuals tread the path of will. All those that follow this path are quite diverse, yet there are shared characteristics, such as the triumph over fear, the staring death in the eye and the pushing oneself beyond a given threshold. However, in order to overcome their deeply rooted inclinations, all of them apply the function that is defined by the act of will. The way of will may be the most direct transpersonal path, yet it is not always a safe one and it demands a profound amount of the individual. As its most decisive phase, the way of will proceeds without hesitation, ignoring the complexities of the subjective world. Those who travel along this path are often gifted with imagination, sensitivity and intelligence, yet when a crucial moment approaches, they set aside all superfluous ideas, images and feelings and act incisively and resolutely. Each transpersonal path is paved with issues and difficulties, yet the way of will is in fact the loneliest. Support is often available in other other paths in the form of general guidelines or encouragement as well as the experiences of others. However, the way of will offers no aid and no precedents. One is always the first to carve a track through the jungle, to break a record or to fight the establishment. In fact those who travel this path become a law unto themselves. Nonetheless, the way of will is also the most literal. On other paths, one is confronted with death in a metaphorical sense, yet on the way of will, ones life is actually at risk, perhaps coming even facing death itself. In very path towards the self, the individual consciousness moves beyond its previous sphere of experience and extends into vaster worlds. There are many different methods by which this expansion can be actualized. The networks of automatic responses that imprison one can be analysed, traced back to its origin or transcended. Whereas in the way of the will, it is shattered. With nothing more than will and courage, one overcomes limits and breaks new ground.
What is the “Self” and how does it relate to and unify the spectrum of experiences?
In referring to the transpersonal self, individuals have accumulated data on peak experiences, yet the self remains elusive and paradoxical. It can be illustrated by a thousand theories without being elaborated in its entirety by any. And yet, the self is present at all times. In conclusion, transpersonal phenomena possess an intrinsic existence of their own. They do not belong to a similar level of consciousness as other phenomena of the mind. All transpersonal abilities and experiences form part of a single family and stem from the same source, which is commonly described as the self in order to indicate the most authentic identity of each human being. In other terms, within the biological, psychological and spiritual make-up of a human being, there exists a higher transpersonal centre from which these experiences and abilities arise and originate. Above all, this centre is ones truest being. While ones ordinary sense of identity in founded upon boundaries and attachment, the self possesses a sense of identity based upon the pure awareness of being and unity with all that is. Its very essence is a consciousness free of all contents, beyond time and cultural conditioning. From it radiate higher qualities such as love, peace, joy, courage and strength. It is the source of creative inspiration and higher intelligence. It has a serene, broad perception, originating in a cosmic viewpoint. It is the ultimate life principle, possibly the deathless nucleus of each human being. The self, however is almost always invincible. At rare times, it causes particularly intense experiences, whereas for certain individuals it may become the centre around which the personality is organised. Nonetheless, it remains unconscious for the vast majority of mankind. Although it is fairly possible to achieve awareness of the self, such as expressing it in ones daily life or by recognizing it within others. Certain attitudes and techniques make this undertaking a possible attainment for a vast number of individuals. One cannot arrive at the full realisation of the self by accident, by mistake or unexpectedly, but only through a systematic approach that mobilizes all of ones attention and every resource at ones disposal. However, the self may also represent the next stage within human evolution. From this viewpoint, evolution is a process of self-organisation and self-renewal occurring at a biological, psychological, sociocultural and spiritual level.