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Ninth Mansion - TO UNDERSTAND

If the third mansion brings to the unfolding self the realization that it is only through knowledge that the abstract "I am" will ever succeed in integrating and assimilating the many substantial elements of heredity and environment, the ninth mansion will render to the human consciousness matured by relationship a similar service. In it man discovers that only through understanding will the mystery of love and the need for sacrifice or rebirth ever be linked in a vital and glowing synthesis. The keynote of this mansion is thus: to understand. And through understanding the individual soul expands. It soars toward regions opened by the magic of love, deepened by the power of renunciation and sacrifice.

Every new step in understanding is a climax to a relationship and the result of a sacrifice. In understanding, relationship proves its worth — just as in knowledge, selfhood demonstrates its power. But more than this, in understanding alone can ever be solved the awesome conflict between love and death. Love which claims the death of the lovers, so that it may gather itself into the Seed; love which demands sacrifice and renunciation of the selves it links in supernal ecstasy — what is the meaning of that cruel and fateful power which so haunts the souls of men that they willingly give themselves with garlands of smiles to the insatiable and the inexhaustible?

There is no solution, no answer possible save that which takes the form of understanding — from the most elementary realization of the simple soul confronted with the riddle of love and death, to the wondrous meditation of the Buddha, which opened to him, the Enlightened, the gates of Nirvana: the absolute of understanding. It is because spirit (the Self) is never adequately expressed by matter (the body and all ancestral tendencies) that man becomes thinker and knower. And the search for knowledge is endless; for there never will be any material aggregation which will satisfy the needs of the spirit; no material organism will ever be an absolutely adequate vehicle for the "I am" who is to dwell therein.

Likewise, there can be no sacrifice and no renunciation final enough to satisfy the demands of love. There can be no seed which will be full enough with life and substance to gather within its hallowed shrine all the energies roused by a relationship into which the participants have flowed with the irresistible sweep of great rivers as they near the sea. How inadequate the substance and the possessions of love to lovers touched by the magic of union! What caresses, what spasms can ever fulfill, can give body to ultimate love? What words or images can ever convey the ecstasy of the soul in rapture of divine Union? There is never enough. The lovers' flesh and souls cannot give enough, sacrifice utterly enough of their substance to feed love. And because of this yawning dissatisfaction of love, because of this perpetually unfulfilled thirst of entranced bodies and souls, there come the endless array of perversions, of stimulants — of all the means whereby love attempts to get more and ever more from the lovers.

Just as intellects will ever search feverishly for the eternally elusive secret of the perfect adequacy of matter to spirit, and just as out of this "divine discontent" is born intelligence — so relationships and loves will ever reach for a supreme quality which shall bridge the mysterious abyss between love and death. And this quality is understanding. It is the power to "stand under" all loves and all deaths; to gather them into a circuit of intelligent realization, into a chain of causes and effects and again causes. It is the power to place oneself as it were outside of the irreducible dualism of self and not-self, of individual selfhood and all-consuming love; and from this point of vantage, to "see" indeed — to see with the "open Eye" of the Enlightened Ones.

In this act of self-removal from the wheel of birthing, loving and dying resides the deepest secret of understanding. It is because of it that understanding may be said to be opposed to knowledge. For knowledge is the assimilation by the self of that which is outside and yet which must be made subservient to or be polarized by the self. Knowledge can always be referred to a self that needs to solve his problems and to integrate his conflicts in order to operate as an integral and efficient whole. But in understanding, the self effaces itself and, as it were, "jumps beyond its shadow". It has known relationship and sacrificial death at the hands of love. And yet, neither love nor death are solutions; for they do not really include the new factor, the cause of love and of the need to self-sacrifice: the "other".

The self and the "other". Why should there be an "other"? Why should there be the ceaseless tension between self and the whole outer world? Why should there be sensation, and why should there be relationship?

Now, it is no longer that the self must correlate and use intelligently the substances by means of which he is to build his body of manifestation. That, he could do — and he had to do — by remaining centered in himself. But after the self has united in love with the "other", and has readily given of his substance to the fulfillment of love, to remain centered in self becomes meaningless. He who has known death of self in the eighth mansion can no longer demand of mere intelligence and of knowledge the key to a problem that must of necessity transcend the self, the "other," love and death. He who has died to self can only be satisfied with understanding; for in understanding, self, "other", love and death are transcended — and yet they are linked, integrated, chorded into a supernal Tone which has the quality of silence. And in that Tone there is liberation. Liberation from self and liberation from the poignancy of love; liberation from the "other", from sensations, from the passionate bondage of touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting; liberation from death and the need of death.

Yet such a liberation as that experienced by the Buddha, the supreme Understander, is not mere freedom: freedom to act according to the will or the impulses of self. For, in understanding, the self has united with the "other" — with all "others" — in utter compassion. And what is liberated then is not the self alone, but all the "others" that now the self "sustains". He who understands all things is the sustainer of all things. For to understand is indeed to "stand under". More accurately, it is to stand at the center of the "earth" — that point where all the "unders" converge; that point toward which all human feet and all vegetable roots are directed, and which sustains them all. It is the neutral point, the "laya" center of Hindu philosophy, the mysterious "Empty" of Chinese philosophy, the Vacuum upon which are poised all destinies.

These may seem very big words to describe such a common term: understanding . . . A common term, but how rare a faculty in its higher reaches! Understanding is the polar opposite of knowledge, inasmuch as the latter must always be concrete and related to the matter of utility — however transcendent this utility may be. To know is to accomplish something useful for the self who knows. But in understanding there is no sense of utility as far as the self is concerned; only a sense of fulfillment in which individual selfhood itself is absorbed. For there can be no perfect understanding where there has not been first of all perfect union in love and a perfect readiness to die as a self in that love.

Therefore the supremely Enlightened One is seen also, and first of all, as the most Compassionate One- — and as the perfect Renouncer of all possessions. One must leave behind all that fed the ancestral nature, before there can be understanding. One must leave behind knowledge and its compartments, before one can integrate the conflicts between love and death, the self and the "other", in understanding. And understanding alone can ever be the true soil from which are born philosophy that is real sustainment, wisdom that is equilibrium, and religion that gathers all true devotees and servers into the group-consciousness which is the abiding place of the greater and more encompassing individual Whole that men have named God.

There are indeed many degrees and levels of understanding; just as many as there are degrees and levels of relationship. Every fulfilled and substantiated relationship always gives birth to understanding. The quality of the understanding depends upon the quality and inevitability of the love — or even upon the quality and intensity of the sensation; for sensations are the outposts of love, and he who is afraid of sensations can never know the fullness of love.

There is an understanding born of fullness of sensation, just as the first stage of intelligence is cunning and competitive intellectuality. When the eyes see intensely, the hands touch with utmost vibrancy, there is something that flows between subject and object, between one who sees or touches and the thing seen or touched. In that flow there is communion, and there is death. Some "virtue" or essence in the experiencer leaves, dies away, into the thing sensed so acutely. And some "virtue" also leaves the thing and penetrates into the person through the gates of the senses. A mysterious, subliminal communion; yet real indeed. And as it is real, it bears progeny — which is understanding. There is in the person with such full sensations a curious "sensing" of the reality of the thing seen or touched, a communion under the appearances. The beautiful flower vibrantly seen by the Japanese artist acquires "meaning" — a reality which makes nature and person one in a communion of beauty and of taste; yes, a "sensing" of what the flower is there for, an intuition of "significant essence" which is the foundation of all true philosophy and of the deeper types of religion.

In the man of the first birth, rooted at the physiological-emotional level, relationship means primarily sensation and that love which is the synthetic summation of an aggregate of sensations and impressions centered around the loved one. Whatever understanding he may reach depends mostly upon his power of living in sensations to the full, in self-denial; sensations of love, sensations of death, pleasure and pain. He must therefore expand through increasing the range of his sensations, of his pleasures and his pains. This is what culture does for man; and also travels. One learns to see more objects, and these objects more deeply. The individual self thus is really pulled outward into variegated communions with many "others" — which become "symbols", because relationship with them is "understood" more and more deeply.

After being "born again" as a truly individual soul, one faces in the seventh mansion the single relationship which is called "marriage" or "companionship". As an individual one meets another individual or other individuals. The understanding that eventually arises from such unions is also individualized. It partakes of the quality of Soul and of conscious intelligence. In it, the element of meaning blooms forth. Understanding becomes regenerative. It opens new doors. It cleanses old racial deposits and "complexes" which developed during the first life-cycle. It becomes the foundation of the true work of destiny.

When one has opened himself to Spirit, understanding becomes fully creative. It re-creates the universal within the transfigured particular being. Then man and God meet in understanding, and God gives to the man Moses the tables of the Law — to the man Gautama, the supreme realization of the technique of Liberation, the Noble Path . . . which is understanding.

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

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