Symbols of the world's religions



Meher Baba

Before enlightenment shows one clearly who one is, there are the false-self assertions — I am a man, my name is Jack; I am a woman and my name is Jill.

Before Self can assert Reality, all false-self assertions must be denied. And since his body is the source of his identity as Jack, a man, and the cause of false-self assertion, he must deny his body-wants.

The body wants food and drink, so food and drink must be denied. The body wants rest and sleep, so rest and sleep must be denied. The body wants to sit, to walk about — so sitting or walking must be denied. But it is impossible to deny for long the body's wants. The better way, the way that is evermore delightful and easy, is to begin to forget oneself until self-forgetfulness becomes so complete and absolute that nothing is remembered except the Real Self.

The various spiritual disciplines have been evolved to help one forget one's false self and when faithfully practised, they not only advance one on the path of forgetfulness but because of the law of action and reaction, all those closely related to or connected with the self-forgetting self, begin to forget themselves the more they focus their attention on the one who is the self-forgetting self.

Now, one of the easiest ways of cultivating self-forgetfulness is to concentrate on a picture of the Master, for this helps the aspirant to shift to some extent from concentration on himself to one who is the being and form of Perfection. And when the picture on which he concentrates becomes alive, this is called Illumination. And this seeing of the alive picture brings about further forgetfulness of himself.

Soon he has no more thoughts about himself at all for his whole mind is focused on the living face and form of the Master who is the eternal Beloved, and eventually he merges in Him forever. He then knows that he himself was all along the Reality of his own concentration. This is Self-revelation and in this is real Self-assertion: "I Am That".

The forgetter-of-himself has become the rememberer of who he is. And all those who forgot themselves in remembering him are also liberated. As it has been said of the old, if one member of a family attains emancipation, with him are emancipated generations of his past and also his present connections.

Self-denial is arduous and forced while self-forgetfulness is easy and natural. Self-denial would be the quicker way if it could be done, but it is impossible. Even if the aspirant succeeds in overcoming, say hunger, after a while he begins to enjoy fasting and this becomes a new "want" — he wants to fast. So he must deny himself the pleasure of fasting and begin to eat even though the sight of food may nauseate him. Or again, he succeeds in conquering sleep and enjoys wakefulness, and he wants to remain awake. But if he is to conquer that "want", he must sleep even though sleep seems to be a loss of all which he has gained.

There becomes no end to denial and counter-denial, and even the strongest will and the stoutest heart will break down on this path. But self-forgetfulness can be practised by everyone and its way is easy and delightful and safe, because it is always under the tender regard of the Master.


THE ANCIENT ONE, pp. 170-171, Eruch Jessawala
1985 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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