The Expansion of the Self

In the first two lessons of this course we have endeavored to bring to the candidate a realization in consciousness of the reality of the “I,” and to enable him to distinguish between the Self and its sheaths, physical and mental. In the present lesson we will call his attention to the relationship of the “I” to the Universal “I,” and will endeavor to give him an idea of a greater, grander Self, transcending personality and the little self that we are so apt to regard as the “I.”

The keynote of this lesson will be “The Oneness of All,” and all of its teachings will be directed to awakening a realization in consciousness of that great truth. But we wish to impress upon the mind of the Candidate that we are not teaching him that he is the Absolute. We are not teaching the “I Am God” belief, which we consider to be erroneous and misleading, and a perversion of the original Yogi teachings. This false teaching has taken possession of many of the Hindu teachers and people, and with its accompanying teaching of “Maya” or the complete illusion or non-existence of the Universe, has reduced millions of people to a passive, negative mental condition which undoubtedly is retarding their progress.

Not only in India is this true, but the same facts may be observed among the pupils of the Western teachers who have embraced this negative side of the Oriental Philosophy. Such people confound the “Absolute” and “Relative” aspects of the One, and, being unable to reconcile the facts of Life and the Universe with their theories of “I Am God,” they are driven to the desperate expedient of boldly denying the Universe, and declaring it to be all “an illusion” or “Maya.”

You will have no trouble in distinguishing the pupils of the teachers holding this view. They will be found to exhibit the most negative mental condition–a natural result of absorbing the constant suggestion of “nothingness”–the gospel of negation. In marked contrast to the mental condition of the students, however, will be observed the mental attitude of the teachers, who are almost uniformly examples of vital, positive, mental force, capable of hurling their teaching into the minds of the pupils–of driving in their statements by the force of an awakened Will.

The teacher, as a rule, has awakened to a sense of the “I” consciousness, and really develops the same by his “I Am God” attitude, because by holding this mental attitude he is enabled to throw off the influence of the sheaths of the lower mental principles, and the light of the Self shows forth fiercely and strongly, sometimes to such an extent that it fairly scorches the mentality of the less advanced pupil. But, notwithstanding this awakened “I” consciousness, the teacher is handicapped by his intellectual misconception and befogging metaphysics, and is unable to impart the “I” consciousness to his pupils, and, instead of raising them up to shine with equal splendor with himself, he really forces them into a shadow by reason of his teachings.

Our students, of course, will understand that the above is not written in the spirit of carping criticism or fault-finding. We hold no such mental attitude, and indeed could not if we remain true to our conception of Truth. We are mentioning these matters simply that the student may avoid this “I Am God” pitfall which awaits the Candidate just as he has well started on the Path. It would not be such a serious matter if it were merely a question of faulty metaphysics, for that would straighten itself out in time. But it is far more serious than this, for the teaching inevitably leads to the accompanying teaching that all is Illusion or Maya, and that Life is but a dream–a false thing–a lie–a nightmare; that the journey along the Path is but an illusion; that everything is “nothing”; that there is no soul; that You are God in disguise, and that He is fooling Himself in making believe that He is You; that Life is but a Divine masquerade or sleight-of-hand performance; that You are God, but that You (God) are fooling Yourself (God) in order to amuse Yourself (God). Is not this horrible? And yet it shows to what lengths the human mind will go before it will part with some pet theory of metaphysics with which it has been hypnotized. Do you think that we have overdrawn the picture?

Then read some of the teachings of these schools of the Oriental Philosophy, or listen to some of the more radical of the Western teachers preaching this philosophy. The majority of the latter lack the courage of the Hindu teachers in carrying their theories to a logical conclusion, and, consequently they veil their teachings with metaphysical subtlety. But a few of them are more courageous, and come out into the open and preach their doctrine in full.