It all comes down to this basic question, that Human beings have for a long long time been concerned about transforming their minds. Is there any way in which one’s mind can be transformed or is it simply a process which is nothing more than a vicious circle?
A World beset by a complex of problems, any one of which would be bad enough, but when you add together all the great political, social, and ecological problems with which we are faced, they are appalling.
And one naturally says ‘The reason why we are in such a mess is not simply that we have wrong systems for doing things whether they be technological, political or religious, but we have the wrong people.’
The systems may be alright, but they are in the wrong hands because we are all in various ways self-seeking, lacking in wisdom, lacking in courage, afraid of death, afraid of pain, unwilling really to cooperate with others, unwilling to be open to others.
So in so many people’s minds and from so many different angles, there is this urgent feeling that ‘I must improve me’.
And this is critically important because it’s obvious, at least it’s superficially obvious, that the way things are, we are going to hell fast.
Now in this question ‘Can I improve me?’ there is the obvious difficulty, that if I am in need of improvement, the person who is going to do the improving, is the one who needs to be improved. And there immediately we have a vicious circle.
Who is your inner self. You see, you have got a lower self which you can call your Ego. That is that little scandalous fellow, that is always out for me.
But behind the Ego, there is the atman, the inner self, the inward light as Quakers would call it. The real self, the spirit.
That seems to be something like progress. At least you are taking an objective view of what is going on. You are beginning to be in a position to control it. But just wait a minute! Who is this self, behind the self, the watching self? Can you watch that one?
It is interesting if you do, we are not better, because we want to be. Because the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Because all the do-gooders in the World, whether they are doing good for others or doing it for themselves, are trouble makers, on the basis of ‘Kindly let me help you or you’ll drown’, said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree.
Because sometimes doing good to others, and even doing good to oneself is amazingly destructive. Because it is full of conceit. How do you know what is good for other people, how do you know what’s good for you?
If you say you want to improve, then you ought to know what’s good for you, but obviously you don’t, because if you did, you would be improved. So we don’t know.
And do not be in a hurry to think you know what it is. You think this is the material World. Well that somebody’s philosophical idea. Or maybe you think it is spiritual. That too is somebody’s philosophical idea. This real World is not spiritual, it is not material, so could we look at things in that way? Without as it were, fixing labels and names and gradations and judgements on everything, but watch what happens. Watch what we do.
Now you see, if you do that, you do at least give yourself a chance. And it may be that when you are in this way, freed from busybodiness, and being out to improve everything, that your own nature will begin to take care of itself, because you’re not getting in the way of yourself all the time. You will begin to find out that the great things that you do are really happening.