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Yoga Lessons for Developing Spiritual Consciousness, by A.P. Mukerji, [1911], at

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What is Constructive Idealism?

It is a process whereby we strive to construct, develop and project an ideal personality on the spiritual, mental and physical rungs of human evolution. It is training, self-imposed and self-directed. Man's immediate developmental conditions are, beyond all doubt, thought-structures materialised on the physical plane, since Man is ever the reflex of his mind. Could we lift the brain-cap of a man and watch the inter-play of Will, Emotion and Intellect, we should in no time become convinced that our thought-life has never lost the grand and stern emphasis of its dignity. But it is given to us to make or mar, to raise or to lower ourselves.

Efforts to call up the resurgence of the spiritual forces that inhere in us and that are interaffinitised to the psychic realms of vibration are so many blood- drops from the core of our being sprinkled upon fertile soil. Our reaction upon Nature determines the centre and turning-point of our life. This reaction is due to the action of the Free-Will. The Will is the pivotal point round which revolve the issues of destiny. Constructive

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[paragraph continues] Idealism then is a life-building assimilation of the highest and the best within the reach of our mental and spiritual vision. It is from my point of view a determined effort to intensify ourselves along lines of human uplift by a systematized application of the laws of psychology. It is the putting forth of positive effort to develop and expand our spiritual stature. Life in this world is a gymnasium for the exercise of the will. It matters little how many years you h been here in this world. It matters little how many moments of sense enjoyment you have had. Indeed! You may be as old as Methuselah., Your entire life-span may have been enjoyable. Such things do not count. What is of vital moment is how far you have succeeded in your triumph over your lower Nature, how far your Spirituality, Firmness, Conscientiousness, Veneration, Causality, etc., are developed; how far you feel for suffering humanity; how far your Soul is on the ascendant and your flesh is under your feet. For this last is the crown and climax of all human endeavor along right lines. It is chastity alone that can give us a lift up from the quadruped stage. With ordinary humanity, with even the intellectual classes—in some measure—it is a step forward and then a long stagger backwards to the animal stage. This phenomenon is so constant that the aspiring soul stops, hesitates, and then as if a douche of cold water had been poured upon it, shrivels up in fear and heaves a sigh, "Oh! It is impossible! It is my nature! How can I transcend it? Impossible! Impossible!"

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[paragraph continues] Poor Ignorant Man! How he weeps and wails. He does not know that nothing is impossible to the Divine Spirit; that there is ever a way out; that there is ever a way up, if its vision were a bit wider and better trained. Know, My Reader! What is soul-force inside of yourself is the mighty Law of God outside; and relief and joy are dependent upon pre-established harmony between the two, for at the center they are One.

Is it possible then? What? Self-conquest? Yes. You can conquer, even utterly crush the lower nature. If it be within range of practicability, why then is the major portion of humanity grovelling in carnality. Because, they do so willingly. It is the animal soul that has fastened its grip upon them. The Higher Soul has been almost buried under coating after coating of carnal tendencies. Man has not obeyed his inmost thought. He has ever yielded to his impulses. He has had his face in a bush and ostrich-like he has considered himself safe. The memories of superstition; the blotted pictures of Heaven and Hell; the preacher of religious dogmas; know-nothing religions, slave-trading and slave-trading religions; the squalor of animal lust, greed, and hard selfism, and every other stripe of absurdity that stalks the land often under the cloak of religion, have so magnetized the eyes of man that he sees nothing better, higher and purer.

Today, materialism has lost not a bit of the old emphasis of its personality, although people struggle hard

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to dress it up in a clean shirt and present it to the world at large under the guise of religion. Today, more than ever, is the grim hand of the butcher clotted with gore and shambles reek with the blood of innocent animals. The cry transpierces the heavens, yet the ears of man are hermetically sealed. Today, more than ever, does a pious demeanor cover scarlet indulgence. Indeed! Man is lifting the veil from dark proceedings and striving to justify them to our eyes. Hence, more misery, more pain.

Is it possible then to go beyond the lower Nature? Not to flatter the intellect by feeding it upon dirty and unclean garbage, but to expand it to the light of Reason; not to pass the lazy hour but to press it into substantial service; not to pander to the flesh but to render it a clean and fitting temple for the sojourn of the spirit; not to flinch from pain in creep-mouse style, but to face it resolutely, if need be, and make it yield up its last lesson; not to move along lines of least resistance but to set the will against all else; not to wish for and accept ease but to live and breathe for the joy of others:—this line of plain-living and high thinking is a decided step out of a chalk circle of imbecility into strong doing.

You have to develop a life-purpose. Our work is our life-preserver. Remember: "Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of repose: it resides in the moment of transition from a past state into a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the

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darting to an aim." You must reach out to the highest and the best within the sphere of your vision. Thus alone can you stand out of the deep rut formed by ages of crass ignorance. Your ideal must compel your entire being. There must be tugging hard at the center of your being and earnest longing to live up to the highest within you.

Perhaps it is the flesh that reacts so viciously upon your efforts, your doings and thinkings. Perhaps it is a hypersensitive nervous system that has dragged you on to a low plane of living. Perhaps it is a weak mind that would neither be coaxed out, nor dragged out, nor be lashed out of its chronic condition of fearfulness, general depression, sluggishness, despair and melancholy, worry, hurry and flurry, jealousy, fretfulness, and all-consuming hatred, that sees obstacles where there are none; that is so delicately hinged that a slight feather's weight tips the beam; or a breath of air flings wide the doors to perdition and you are sent flying into the Slough of Despond. Perhaps anxious thoughts loom large, threaten and then destroy repose.

What a catalogue of weaknesses in human nature! Yet, is it not all fact? Morbid thoughts, impure desires, self-pity, painful introspection, continual anticipation of perpetual loss, constant dwelling on a lazy ideal, pessimism, causeless apprehensions,—all these and many more are the pitiless enemies and life long associates of a negative, resistless, nerveless, will-less cast of mind;—a mind void of stamina,—a character

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out of joint with the laws of right-living and right-thinking. Heredity, environmental conditions, emotion, and ignorance;—all contribute their quota to the emasculation of man's resistant forces. Fact is, men are as lazy as they dare to be. If they work at all, there must be a strong incentive to back up their sudden fit of activity. It is the prospect of an ease-living, lazy life that allures them to activity. It is a long spell of active inactivity that most people want. No wonder their powers of resistance are in a state of atrophy! No wonder they land themselves in a vicious circle! Truly, most truly, has it been said that an idle brain is the devil's workshop. Now, reader, are you one such? I hope not. But, if so, why so? Listen to one of Maeterlinck's symbolic stories.

In the middle ages there lived a powerful man who was impressed by the fact that each wish that he had conceived had caused him years of toil, struggle, and hard exertion before it could be accomplished and that, too, when he was on the verge of failure. He could not understand why success was so hard to achieve. He thought hard and searched much. At last he felt that there was a secret enemy that constantly antagonised him. He determined to find him out and crush him. The rugged side of life repelled him. He wished to press on to the fascinating by-ways of pleasure and ease. Life under old conditions was not worth living. This barrier removed, he could be happy. One evening while out walking he saw a man approaching

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him and he "intuitively, identified" him as his evil genius. He resolved to destroy him. When he came closer, his enemy was discovered as being masked so that none could see his features. "You are the man," said he, in resolute tones, "who from my youth has been thwarting my purposes and nearly defeating me. I am resolved to kill you, and yet am constrained to give you a single chance for life. Draw and defend yourself." "I am at your service," replied the stranger, as he drew his sword, "but before we fight, I want you to identify me." Upon which he drew off his mask and the challenger found that he stood before himself: "Thought." So it is with all of us. Do you remember that song of Omar Khayyam's:

I sent my soul into the Invisible,
Some message of the after-life to spell,
And by-and-by my soul returned to me,
And answered 'I myself am heav’n and hell.'

There you are! Nothing could be more pointed. We men and women carry our own racks and stretch ourselves thereupon as often as we dash up against the immutable laws of God. Whose aid would you invoke? The question that I would put to you is: Are you victimisable? Are you willingly so? Are you waiting for things to drop from the skies? Ten to one, you are. Then there is no way out, indeed! The first requisite in Constructive Idealism is self-reliance. You simply must kick away all props. You must stand upon your own feet. Thus poised you are at the top of your condition.

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[paragraph continues] Once you have nerved yourself to fight your battles on your own private strength, I see no limits to your ascending force. This determination will arm you with weapons none can conquer. All depends upon the strength, intensity and elasticity of your resolution to act from your own centre. All power resides in you. This is the first, last and the only lesson the student of Occultism has to master. Locked up in your soul is to be found Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Existence, Infinite Bliss. The more you learn to tap your soul-forces with confidence the surer your power over yourself and hence over others.

Each soul, individually, exists on earth to fulfil a mission which it alone can fulfil. Most wisely does Dr. Sanjivi say "Your existence is no accident but is a representative of Life and what Life is." Quite so. You are here because you are (indeed!) a necessity, an indispensable something which nature requires for the execution of certain designs. No more of foreign supports then. You have to stand alone; thus alone will strength flow into your veins. All power is inborn. It is never an accretion from without. Those that go careering madly into the external world are like men standing upon their heads instead of on their feet. Those that turn ever inwards for inspiration, for strength, stand aright, command their limbs, and work miracles. They are as firm columns sustaining immense fabrics. Yes, cat-like you must ever fall upon your feet. Trust yourself and in the endless mutation

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of things you shall discover that naught can establish you in peace but yourself. Do you remember Napoleon's masterly advice to his elder brother Joseph? It was compressed in two words: "Be Master." Sturdy natures are not leaning willows. They act from within, from themselves. It is these that shed healing by their mere presence. It is these that have tossed overboard idolatries, customs and conventions. They do not seek for compassion. Indeed they resent all gratis sympathy. With self-trust new powers are born. For everything at the core is wrought out of one hidden stuff. We read in our scriptures how Uddalaka taught his son this truth by salt dissolved in water. The boy was required to take a solution of salt and water. Next day the father asked him for the salt. The boy could not find it. "Taste from the top," said the father. "It is saltish," replied the boy. "Taste from the middle of the water." "It is saltish," replied the boy. "Taste from the bottom," enjoined the father. "It is saltish." Now, so it is with the Universal Soul—the Over-Soul. It is the One, the indivisible Spirit running through entire nature, vivifying all, sustaining all, evolving in all. It is this bridge that spans the "gulf" that Tyndall said could never be bridged over. The salt disappeared but it pervaded the entire water. Then Uddalaka said, "It is the Universal Self, O Svethaketu! Thou art That." True.

The naturalist is right in his tracing of the same type under every metamorphosis. A horse is a running

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man. A fish is a swimming man. A bird is a flying man. A tree is a rooted man. So says Emerson. Further, to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius. Is it not high time then that you resolved to take yourself for better, for worse? In rejecting yourself, in wishing that you were Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So instead of what you are, in imitating others, in bemoaning your lot, you are denying God in the only form He can ever express in Man—Faith—Faith-in-your-self. Said Vivekananda, 'Have that tremendous faith in yourself which I had when I was a child and I have been working it out in my life! I have quoted from memory. Yet I well remember those words, "Tremendous faith in yourself" Listen again, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide;—that though the whole universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that piece of ground which is given to him to till." We know ourselves only when we have tried to do so and not before. Therefore say, "Henceforth things must take a new scale from me. I obey no law but what is sanctioned by my own judgment. I am a disembodied spirit working, living and breathing for whatever is related to me by spiritual affinity. I care little for this world with its thousand-cloven tongues of gratis advice, praise and censure. I can but obey my polarity. I want nothing.

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[paragraph continues] I seek strength in chastity. I seek wisdom in the silence of my own heart. Death shall wring from me but one pang and not even that if I can help it. I shall be calm. Naught shall ruffle my calm. For each time I feel the stabs of anxiety and remorse I die. The Lord is my refuge. I can only live under His control." This is the doctrine of fearlessness. For says Zoroaster: "To the persevering mortal the blessed immortals are swift." Some men think they can well afford to be lazy, since everyone is working and so far as 1 am concerned I do not see why all life should be labor. This is a serious self-deception indeed! Our share of work is to persevere in the path of absolute purity.

Once upon a time there was a king who had a very large number of courtiers. Now courtiers are flatterers, born deceivers. They all swore to the king that each one of them was ready to sacrifice his life for the king. The king was mightily pleased. At this time there appeared a Sanyasin from some place at the King's Court. The king, like all vain people, told the Sanyasin that there never before had been a king for whom his entire number of courtiers was ready to sacrifice their lives. The Sanyasin smiled incredulously and told our king that he did not believe it. "Put them to the test," said the king. The Sanyasin then had it proclaimed that he was going to hold a sacrifice whereby great advantages would accrue to the king. His only condition was that each courtier should go alone to a tank and pour a pitcher of milk thereinto in the dark

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of night. "Is that all?" asked the king in surprise. "Yes," replied the Sanyasin. Next morning the king visited the tank which instead of being full of milk was full of water. Each one of the courtiers had thought he could afford to practice deception and poured in a pitcherful of water.

So also the present generation of India. 'Oh! There are great Yogis in the forest making tapas for the good of the world. I need not trouble. I can well be spared.' No! No! You cannot be spared. There is not one soul that can snap asunder the bond of Divine Brotherhood. If you, who are young and vigorous, are abusing your advantages by letting them slip by through your lazy and selfish propensities, then know that a time will come when you will look for them in vain. If you will not when you may, you shall not when you will. I see young men who have all possible chances allowed them. Nothing weighs upon their minds. Yet these complain loudest. Poor Souls! Instead of working now while the sun shines upon them, they are content to lead aimless lives. Man's work is his inner development and unfoldment. Those who are fully alive to this fact can never be satisfied with living at low pressure. It is the pitch at which a man lives that counts most. Everything concentrates. Diffusion leads to confusion. "Not they that eat most, but they that digest most are the most nourished. Not they that get most but they that keep and give the most, are the richest. So not they that hear most, or read most, but they that meditate

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most and pray most and in the silent mystic way of Love give out the most are the most edified and nourished and enriched unto everlasting life, here, now, and forever. "Meditate upon these things," and "As thy days pass so shall thy strength be." Therefore, shut yourself up in your room and with strenuous and earnest zeal, go on adding stroke after stroke of steady work for your soul-expression. Results will come in their own good time and that moment is best for you and the world when you get great gleams of light from your higher nature.

Next: Chapter XIII. Higher Reason and Judgment