Man’s attachments hind him to the physical world like the Lilliputians hound Gulliver in the ancient story until he is hopelessly involved with material unrealities. Of all the things that hamper his usefulness in this world, there are none that make him as much their slave as his senses for instead of illuminating him they tie him up in endless complications until he learns to extract from them their essence without accepting their short-comings.
Man spend ages trying to untangle this knot of human destiny until like Alexander the Great he loses all patience and cuts the tangle with a single blow. This sharp steel is discrimination and its shining blade divides the false from the true, for from discrimination is horn divine reason which proves to man the illusions of materiality.
Man must learn to divide, in the depths of his soul, the eternal quest from the passing fancy and in his ability to do this lies the degree of his mastery. The Initiate has learned to pass consciously from the mortal Maya to the immortal Nirvana, the one who rests strongly in the reality of the eternal and whose consciousness is united with that of the eternal meditator. Such a one is free from all attachments and attachment to particulars is the basis of limitation.
Let us go out into the world and study the curse of attachment as it stalks like the spirit of death, of which it is the essence, over our world, gathering into itself all who accept it or who fall victims to the mirror of matter which it carries, so the ancient Aztec said, upon its belly. In their legends, the demon floated as a great flame over the universe and all who looked into this cursed mirror lost their soul. So all who pause to gaze at themselves in the mirror of illusion become involved in Maya which slowly destroys all who are not free from its vanity.
There are two worlds floating in space it is said – the world of temporal things and the world of eternal things. In the world of material things lies the spirit of man, hound to oblivion by the ties of matter. He lives for today alone, he serves the passing fancy, he struggles to retain the illusion and then falls broken hearted as the hand of infinite law slowly dissolves the visible things into the unknown reality.
As the material universe, its works completed is resolved into the unformed Being, those souls still tied to its spinning wheels by crystallized thoughts and animal desires pass with it into dissolution while the sage, perfect in realization, insomuch as he is free from the illusion, passes on to his already realized Nirvana.
Many in this world, in fact nearly all, are fighting to gain liberation while by thought, action, and desire they are tied to the spinning wheel, and in their thoughtless effort become only more involved in the very problem they are seeking to remove. Man cannot climb to liberation and still serve the ties that hind him to the earth, so the ancients taught, as the first step to immortality, the realization of the unreality of mortality-not that the objective universe did not exist but that it only existed as a means to an end and as such should he accepted, considered and mastered but never assumed.
Attachment is the base of sorrow, the parent of crime, the inspiration of lust and the causeless cause of limitation. Man must battle it through the realization of one great truth-that attachment to matter is the renouncing of spirit and that attachment to spirit is the renouncing of matter. It is written that man may not serve God (spirit) and Mammon (matter).
The sage is free in the realization of the immortal reality while the fool is chained a prisoner by his acceptance of the immortality of matter.
The ancient prophet, wandering over the earth, cried out in his agony,
“There is no rest among the children of earth, there is no peace in the cities of the plains, nor in the forts among the mountains! Release me, oh God, from this moral clay which hinds me with its stony fingers and dooms me to death the day that I was born. Oh, unhappy fate! that bears to slay and slays that it may hear again!”
Here take up your staff and walk with me among the children of the earth, long-bowed like the tribes of Israel under the rod of Egypt’s blackness-matter. Attachment is the rod and flail that stripes the back of man with the red welts of mortal agony. It is the heartless slave driver that breaks the back of the spirit and the heart of each soul that falls victim to its wiles. Yet out of this land of darkness comes the new race, born of sorrow and widowed by the loss of light; out of matter rises the spirit triumphant which spreads its wings and draws upward to the freedom of reality.
There is but one consciousness and it is not in matter; there is but one truth and that is the realization of immortal purity; there is but one quest, the search for reality; there is but one reward and that the attainment of reality; there is but one devotion and that the love of reality; there is but one sin, the loss of the reality; there is but one death, that the death of reality.
When the clouded soul of man loses sight of the star of truth that gleams through the veil of Maya, as the clouds of old concealed the body of Deity, so the clouds of attachment shroud truth in a winding sheet of limitation.
Let us watch the people whom we daily pass-all slaves to attachments, crushed by ignorance as to the will of the planner or the wisdom of the plan. Little better than beasts they are who know not when nor why but, like little puppets in a shadow show, follow the strings they have placed upon themselves.
The Master is aside from these, strong in truth and steadfast in reality, and when He comes to earth he comes not with peace but with a sword, its blade sharpened on the grindstone of the eternal Wheel, sharpened to slash the veil of Maya and to divide the false from the true. Watch now the ghosts we call men and women who, while still living, are in truth dwelling in the death of matter.
First, love comes with bowed head and tear-stained face, for all today who flutter moth like around its hallowed flame sink broken-hearted at the foot of its altar. The price of love in the world today is loneliness and sadness because we have not learned to unveil the mystery that love is of the spirit and not the body.
The attachment to form is today the measure of affection and in form, there is no rest, no peace, below that line that borders immortality.
Then comes pride, a god that many worships. Man fights and dies to be superior and to gather around himself things that other men cannot attain, but when the victory seems won the hand of eternity sweeps all away and leaves the soul crushed by its broken dreams.
Then vanity, that which seeks to beautify the unreal, and leave the living truth unadorned. It decks with flowers and stones that which is already dirt and bows before the dazzling array of worthlessness.
After this, the spectre of lust appears in the role of a human being but with the soul of a beast. It crashes the thing that it adores, slays the spirit it claims to worship, and with the call of fleshly sense seeks to answer the divine call of the spirit within.
There is a cloud upon the soul of man and he knows not the way that he should go nor does he realize the path that shall take him there. He seeks entrance where angels dare not tread but is not willing with the sharp blade of non-attachment to sever the cord that binds him to the great illusion. He aspires to heaven but is still chained to earth with every fear, with every habit, and with each desire.
This is the story of Vedanta, the philosophy of the unreal. For thousands of years, it has been taught that there is but one true thing the spirit-and that as it gathers ever-changing bodies around itself it changes in the eyes of mortal man but the life of it is ever the same. With the keen sense of discrimination, man finds peace by seeing the noble striving of the spirit and not the fleshy failings of the body. Until he finds this and accepts this there is nothing in his soul to fill the emptiness of a heartless world.
As the gifts of Santa Claus come down through the fireplace so man’s gift to the spirit comes out of the flame of suffering which tempers the steel of the sword of spirit. In experience lies infinite possibility – man’s free will must choose experience above comfort for by this path lies unfoldment of the human soul.
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Source: “The All-seeing Eye” Magazine By Manly P. Hall
Featured Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash