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Sixth Mansion - TO IMPROVE

Just as it is only as the ego senses the inadequacy of that which he owns — his body and his inherited mechanisms of action — in his attempts at expressing what he inherently is, that the need to know the whence, how and whither of these possessions is made imperative" so it is only as the release of creative power seems inadequate to the soul that attempted to express thereby its feelings, that there arises the urge for work and for becoming the disciple of a "master of expression".

In these six italicized words is told the entire story of the first series of the mansions of the self. In this series the self is entirely preoccupied with himself. The whole horizon is filled by the needs and the wants of the ego. And if in this sixth mansion the element of human relationship enters, it is only as the result of the realization of a lack. It is still the result of a self-centered want, even if it manifests as the very finest and noblest desire for self-improvement and self-absorption in a life greater than the ego's — even if it leads to utter devotion and martyrdom. For the devotee who surrenders self acts still from the basis of self. He denies self and thus is yet bound to self — as we are as much bound to what we hate and deny as to what we love and identify ourselves with.

The keyword of the sixth mansion is improvement. Negatively, it is the field for self-deterioration, for the disintegration of the organism built in the fourth mansion. As already said, no release of power, no creative act, appears fully adequate for the soul which is not altogether emotionally drunken with self. Every emotion ordinarily falls short of the feeling which gave it rise. There are of course exceptional cases, cases in which the soul is merely the terminal of a greater cosmic entity and may thus be weak in self-consciousness though powerful in its energy-releases. But even then, after the glow that follows the rush of creative power is passed, the conscious soul is left with a ghastly feeling of emptiness. At such times it is the release which appears greater than the feeling, the effect more intense than the cause, the torrent mightier than the apparent source. And there is still the same sense of inadequacy, merely reversed. It is as if the wealth of possessions (second mansion) to be used by the self (first mansion) was infinitely greater than the capacity of the self to conceive the utilization of wealth. In this case also the result would be a more or less deadly sense of emptiness leading to a search for knowledge — or for self-forgetfulness in ever renewed thrills and travels creating a constantly changing environment (third mansion).

In the sixth mansion the search is for self-improvement, if the emotional release was greater than the consciousness of the soul — or for improvement of technique and performance, if the means for expression were inadequate for the exteriorization of the "soul-image". In both cases the "work" done, or the "service" rendered, is conditioned by the realization of inadequacy, either in being or in doing. Where the inherited possessions or the psycho-mental values assimilated during early youth are scarce, the lack may be in the doing. In other words, the self has poor instruments to work with. On the other hand, where much has been inherited and acquired during childhood, the lack may be felt in the realm of being. What comes out of the personality is greater than the individual self. The being is as it were a "medium" through which great collective, human or universal powers flow.

The latter case is always the case where animals are concerned; in fact, with regard to all truly instinctual actions. The instinctual act is a perfect performance; but there is no conscious self back of it, at least in the particular entity that is performing. The true performer is the soul of Humanity. In proportion as the soul of Humanity overshadows and overweighs the individual soul, in such a proportion the performance is greater than the individual who is the apparent performer.

On the contrary, with the typically "human" being, whose life is focalized around the development of an individual selfhood — the only absolutely human factor — the performance falls usually short of the ideal. This is true even of normally instinctual activities — as feeding, mating, etc. In such cases, physiologically speaking, the brains and the cerebro-spinal systems have developed at the expense of the cerebellum and the great sympathetic. Individualized consciousness has drawn too much power away from the centers of instinctual and automatic organic functioning.

In the first of these two alternatives the soul, sensing deeply its inadequacy as an individualized consciousness, is easily led to consider devotional self-surrender as the only way out. It searches for a "Master" or Guru; that is, for a greater being, a spiritual Father-Mother, within whom it can feel big, powerful and secure. Feeling its weakness, it desires protection. In exchange for this soul-security, the person is ready to give his "performing power" — his inherited and acquired wealth of possessions. He is ready to serve in utter self-surrender as well as surrender of possessions . . . and emotions.

Strange as it may seem, the devotee and server is actually surrendering to the protector and guru his emotional powers. He has rooted his "feelings" in the soul-organism of the guru and he therefore reacts to feelings (that is, experiences emotion) at the initiative of the guru. Similarly, his own spiritual "home" has become absorbed in the guru's soul-organism, which at its best is of almost cosmic proportions. He dwells no longer in his own abode but in the guru's spiritual "temple". He reacts, therefore, to life-situations from the point of view of that "temple". The resulting emotions are thus no longer his own.

Then the psychological situation is reversed. The perfect devotee has identified himself in soul-consciousness with his Master's soul-organism. He "feels with" his Master. His being thus has been prodigiously intensified. But his physical body has not changed — or at least has changed relatively very little. Therefore, now it is his performance which has become terribly inadequate in expressing the soul-nature of his Master, which is now his own by psychic transfusion — or even by proxy. Therefore an intense urge for improving his technique of living arises in the devotee. And that urge may be so great as to produce apparent miracles.

We speak of "miracles of faith" — but faith, in the devotee, precisely analyzed, is the result of the identification of his feelings and of his psychic nature with those of the Master. It is actual self-surrender, which has necessarily as consequence a sudden enlargement of the psychic sphere. The erstwhile individual soul is flooded with the psychic contents of the Master's soul-organism. The effect upon the devotee's physical body is often cataclysmic — frequently involving tuberculosis; an indication of the inadequacy of the physical structure in coping with inrushing psychic energies.

If, now, we take the second alternative, that of a human being centered in his individual selfhood whose ability to express his "soul-images" is inferior to the inner reality of these "images-feelings", we see another story unfolding. The sixth mansion will not mean for him service in self-surrender, but work for the mastery of technique.

Realizing the insufficiency of his means for self-expression, he will have to go to a teacher; that is to one more proficient than he is in the technique of self-expression. Such a teacher may be called a "master of expression" or an "adept" — one who acts perfectly, or a master-engineer who can control perfectly, through an understanding of materials and of form, the release of natural energies. But the individual who wishes to learn how to better exteriorize himself and his feelings, how to handle emotions so that they shall be more powerful and more significant releases of selfhood, will not approach this "master of expression" in the way in which the devotee approaches his guru. The approach will be that of pupil to teacher; not that of psychically insecure soul to an incarnate god, dispenser of salvation and sole path to spiritual perfection.

Work and devotion are the two aspects of this sixth mansion of the self. In and through work the individual, established in his own physical or psycho-mental "home", will strive to fortify his position and improve his behavior as a creative personality, secure in his own power and his own right. This will mean not only intellectual knowledge — as in the third mansion — but deliberate and constant practice; for here we are dealing with activity, with the probing of self by self. The teacher is the "Elder Brother" who has more experience, has worked harder, and possesses the qualities and faculties which can only be developed in one who has passed through the second series of mansions centered in relationship, and no longer in self.

Such a teacher will be especially careful not to bind his pupil and disciple emotionally, not to accept any self-surrender or total surrender of possessions. In fact, he will often accept nothing at all, save work and the proof of work done in a spirit of dedication to the ideal of the perfection of the work itself. What the disciple must learn in this sixth house is the respect of the apprentice for the master, the utter consecration to a task, once the task is accepted deliberately, the steady discipline of emotions, thanks to which no wasting of power is allowed, no maudlin sentimentalism, no self-indulgence or self-pity, as the task grows harder. He must learn also precision, sharpness of outline, unblurred edges — everything which deals with engineering skill, with the perfect adequacy of form to function, with the inherent logic and inner necessity of an organic release of power.

He must also understand the lesson of "purity". But here, to be pure means to be exclusively that which one is. Pure water is water free from any extraneous substance: pure H2O, chemically speaking. Likewise, the individual must learn to be nothing but what he is, as an abstract formula of selfhood; to cast away all that is not his own; to repudiate all alluring byways of destiny, all fashionable or even traditional attachments save those which he has deliberately invested with his own significance and valuation.

Work and devotion: two words which, of course, in themselves do not convey all the meanings which these paragraphs detail; yet which are symbols of two mighty directions of consciousness. The devotee will obviously work, often with terrific and utterly self-sacrificing intensity. The worker-disciple will need also utter devotion — but better still, consecration — to his self-imposed task, even if under the guidance (inner or outer) of a "master of expression". Yet the self-surrender of the devotee, and the methodical operative concentration of the apprentice, stand out in sharp contrast.

This essential contrast gives the key to the nature of the sixth mansion, just as the contrast between the integrating mind and the disintegrating formalistic intellect, between intelligence and insanity, is the basic reality of the third mansion. In the man of the first birth, the sixth-mansion contrast is that between working independently for a living (to "keep body and soul together") and being attached to someone of greater social prominence and power, as his "protege". At the level of the second birth this contrast opposes the apprentice in the art of individual life-mastery to the devotee radiantly absorbed in the "household" of a great spiritual Personage, or in a monastery where a divine Incarnation is being worshipped.

In all these cases so far considered the sixth mansion has been seen in a positive light, as a successful manifestation of being, as a direct path to attainment. Oftentimes, however, in this mansion life teaches through repudiation and chastisement. The profligate who wasted his powers in senseless dissipation, the homeless dreamer who refused to build for himself a foundation in concrete reality, will experience illness and poverty, or enslavement to forces over which he has no control. In this mansion the cycle of pure individual selfhood ends. It may end into super-individual realizations, either through surrender of personality to a greater personality, or through identification of the personality with a Work; but it may also end in the disintegration of body and soul. Emotions which could not be released may choke the soul-life and produce "complexes" which thwart the full development of the psyche or lead to split personality and abnormal mental states.

Therefore the sixth mansion is often one of retribution. But here it is not society punishing the individual for violation of ethical or social laws. The individual is his own judge and his own chastiser. And even illness and psychological disturbances or repressions may serve a great purpose. For in this sixth mansion we are still in the realm of the individual; and at times the individual has to be sacrificed to society or to the vaster collectivity of spiritual mankind. It may even be that this sacrifice is a deliberate offering, made in utter consecration to a work which must needs break down time after time the organic wholeness of body — and possibly even of soul. For there may indeed arise great eventualities when a man may be needed as the focus for a great release of power of collective significance. And the power may shatter the man. Yet there are sufferings and deaths which are tokens of immortality.

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

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