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Second Mansion - TO OWN

If breathing is the first step of independent and individual being, the second step is: to own. As the "I am" becomes aware of itself through the breath a new intuition or awareness necessarily follows: this sound, this breathing, these lungs — are my own. I own! . . . Which means: I am not merely an abstract airy spirit wafted upon the winds. There is something in which I am. I have a basis, a substance in which to be concrete. There are flesh, bones, blood, tissues which belong to me. I am real — because I own. I have power — because I own some portion of the earth. I need not be afraid of non-existence — because these possessions which are mine are guarantees of continued existence. I am strong — potent.

All existence is based on ownership. Being, as pure spirit, begins to "exist" the moment there is something it can call "mine". "I am!" — this very cry of individual being involves possessions. The "I" may be considered as a pure abstraction; but the "am" necessitates something to be in. A body, of course. And the body is our first possession — even though we do not realize at first the meaning of it in its totality. Yet we recognize one by one all the instrumentalities through the use of which being proves itself to itself. And we say proudly: these hands, this flesh are mine. In and through them I am.

As we grow, as our life-path leads us through many mansions, we ceaselessly extend our sense of ownership. Our possessions increase; also the burden and responsibility thereof. We begin to differentiate between this and that type of possession. We put different valuations upon our several possessions. We come to realize that what we own as an individual being has been in other hands before. And we begin to classify possessions into inherited and acquired possessions.

Inherited are all the things or elements which have come to us without any deliberate individual effort. The first of those is the aggregate of organs and cells which we learn to consider as our body. Our parents — especially our mother — gave it to us. Our food and clothing, the thoughts and traditional valuations which our immediate surroundings impressed upon us for many years of childhood, caused relatively little individual effort for us to appropriate. They were all foodstuffs: physical or psychological. And we ate them, digesting them in a very automatic, unconscious manner. We could not struggle for different ones. We could only refuse to absorb that which, in a dull unconscious way, we did not like. Through refusal, rebellion, disobedience, suffering, deprivation, craving, ambition, envy, we learned to give to possessions our own individual valuations. A tragic path, which all must tread. The path of illness, of frustration and of woe. What we own is bound to make us suffer; for it is only as we suffer from the things we own — or fail to own — that we begin to function as a real individual, consciously; that is, as one who is able to put upon everything owned or susceptible of being owned the stamp of his own creative significance. Without some extent of deprivation and suffering there can be no individual selfhood as such. Consciousness is born of relative want; it may die, however, from too much deprivation.

Possessions, at the level of the physiological birth and the physiological organism, are matters of more or less vital necessity — or at least they seem so, to us. Without them the ego cannot be what he is. The ego is bound to his traditional possessions, as he is bound to his own body. He demands them as the very means for his existence; and therefore he is not able to evaluate them objectively, because he cannot separate himself from them. To let go of them would be inconceivable. What could an ego do without his body? To lose it means extinction — death or profound sleep. What could a normal person, rooted in blood-traditions and racial-physiological habits, do without his traditional concepts and feelings? To lose them would mean psychological death.

Thus the terrific implications of "exile". An exile is an uprooted tree. He must live psychologically on his treasure of accumulated remembrances; otherwise he is as one dead. Every contact inflicts on his ego a wound. He is an "I" without the "am". He lives psychologically in a world of fantasies, shrinking from any new confrontation, trying to compensate for this ceaseless frustration by many and varied means of spiritual escape, unless he accepts his new situation, and faces his new world as one born out of the mother womb — although, it may seem, without a mother to feed him.

When a man is thus deprived of his root-possessions, there are two ways open for him: he may go on dreaming of the past, in constant agony of deprivation — however cleverly he may hide the fact from his consciousness! — or else he may accept the separation as a matter of fact and begin at once to find new possessions. In so doing a new situation faces him, and the possibility of using a more deliberate choice in the re-gathering of possessions. He has separated himself from that which was his own by physical birthright: his ancestral life and his very substance. He can now select, consciously, freely, as an individual, what he will call his own.

But very often he does not. He merely accepts his new surroundings and absorbs what they radiate, just as unconsciously as he drank his mother's milk — only the mother's milk was vital, whereas the new psychological foodstuffs he ingests are not synchronous with his own rhythm. He and they are not born of the same earth and the same tradition. Thus the new life is one lived on the surface of being; intellectually and socially satisfying perhaps, but vitally and spiritually inoperative. And this is the tragedy of so many modern city-lives!

On the contrary, the man who has passed deliberately through the second birth goes to search for what is his own, by individual choice. Slowly, painfully, through many false enthusiasms and crucifying repudiations, he gathers his own earth, the substance of his truly individual body. Only thereafter can he say vitally and creatively: "I am". And he will say it really for the first time. For what he owns now, he has valued objectively. He is no longer identified with his possessions as a matter of fact. He uses them deliberately, by choice. And this is the new meaning of possessions. To own is now only to use. Creative and significant use must be the foundation and only justification of ownership.

It is this distinction between possessions with which the ego identifies himself subjectively and possessions which the ego uses objectively which constitutes the fact of the "new birth" in this second realm of life — the realm of ownership. The difference is that which lies at the root of the conflict between a capitalism rooted in the right to inherit social possessions without individual effort or valuation, and socialism, collectivism, or technocracy. "No ownership without individual use and significant use" might be the motto of the new age. From this follows in logical social sequence the right for each individual to own what he can use significantly and creatively; which means that individual frustration can then become a thing of the past. With it would disappear the psychological complexes which confuse or torture modern mankind, even though these can become the foundation upon which a new step of spiritual development and the birth of great individuals are made possible.

Frustration is due to the impossibility that exists for the ego to find the proper substance in which to become actual and concrete. In a spiritual sense it is the only real crucifixion. Great spiritual beings at certain times of the earth's history — and ours is one! — cannot find adequate parents to provide them with fit bodies and fit psychological environment. Yet the cyclic tide calls for their birth. A new era must be ushered in, and they are the heralds and the seed. Will they, can they refuse the call to service and to earthly embodiment? Tragically, yet out of boundless compassion for this poor troubled earth, the great Avatars and Heroes are thus born into situations which provide no adequate soil or "food" for their egos fully to manifest.

Therefore they must become rebels and exiles. Painfully, step by step, they must build their own bodies of manifestation — mental-spiritual ones, as long as there are no physiological ones available. This means working in a state of constant tension, of "dissonant harmony"; ceaselessly integrating the farther opposites, ceaselessly moving on and on over the crushed memories of what are bound to appear as failures and emotional ruins, yet which are the nearly unavoidable result of an "equation of destiny" to which the Soul assented — a compact with God. Of such a tragic march over graves, mind is the result. From frustrated ownership life moves on to knowledge — the third mansion.

The degree of frustration permitted, justifiable or useful to man, not only as an individual but also as a collectivity, constitutes a major problem, the solution of which is most important in determining the existing type of culture or civilization. What is at stake here is the relation between the first and the second mansions; between the new impulses to be and the load of past unfulfillments which these impulses — or monads — have to meet as they attempt to exteriorize themselves as individual selves. The first mansion establishes the goal of the individual; the second, what society (as the sum-total of the race's past) provides him with at the start of his journey toward this goal.

The problem is thus involved in, or is the consequence of, the collective karma. It is the nature of this karma, the nature of the humanity's antecedent failures and "sins", which determines the relationship between individuals and society. It does that by regulating the degree of frustration or deprivation to be endured by the new-born individual selves. The poverty or wealth of individuals and of the average man and woman in any particular society, the opportunities for development offered to the children — psychological and spiritual as well as physical and mental — the type of ideology dominating this society and its educational institutions, and in a larger planetary sense the fertility of the soil and the nature of its various resources: — all these factors and a few others determine the proportion of relatively individual thinkers and creators to the collective mass.

In ages of deprivation or psychological perversion a few geniuses stand far above the depressed masses of the people. Great thinkers face enslaved or dulled populations. Only the very great individual Self can hope to overcome the handicaps of birth in such a society. The very suppressed energy of the masses' unfulfillment goads him to victory in order to establish a balance of spiritual realization in humanity as a whole — for the same reason that a mother frustrated in her passionate yearning to be a singer may give birth to a great musician, and that the child with an inferiority complex forces himself up to success.

In ages of plenty and of harmonious opportunities for mental and spiritual development the average man and woman can blossom forth. The collective level is high, but no great individuals shine forth to compensate for the collective low. Mankind's achievements are collective rather than individual. Thought is collectively absorbed like good and healthy food, but not being wrenched from a hostile environment, it lacks a certain character of dynamic intensity and spiritual fire. It is the flowering of the earth, rather than a glorious downpour of the Spirit making deity manifest through an individual.

It is written in the Bhagavat Gita that Krishna, the divine Incarnation, takes birth on earth in periods of darkness and perversion in order to re-establish the reign of the Spirit. This is the universal law. Deity manifests only through an individual personality who, spurred on by the dismal materiality of his race, consciously or super-consciously overcomes the spiritual or mental or physical frustrations caused by his heredity and immediate environment, and in spite of them becomes a grail for divinity. Great Spirits become godlike Personages or geniuses not because of conditions in which they were born, but in spite of them. "Notwithstanding" is the keyword of spiritual realization, of any truly individual realization. Only the lowest depths are a fit match to the activity of the highest "Flames", who, overcoming the most crushing burdens, prove themselves "Sons of God".

This edition copyright © 2008 Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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