The Master continued his discussion of Man by saying:
"When the essential constitution of Man is once more exposed and digested, it will prove to the learned how little they have known, and it will draw the line for the legitimate activity of the clergyman as an instructor in morals. It will prove that man is not already a god, as some had imagined themselves to be. It will prove that a man may look like an intellectual giant and still be, spiritually considered, only a dwarf. It will demonstrate that the law which governs the growth of organisms on the physical plane is not reversed when it acts within the corresponding organisms on the physical plane. It will show that out of nothing nothing can grow; but wherever there is the germ of something, even if that germ is invisible, something may grow and develop.
"If we enter one of the vast pine forests of the Alps, or of the Rocky Mountains in the United States, we find ourselves surrounded by towering trees, whose main trunks have very few branches. Upward they rise like the masts of a ship, covered with a gray bark, naked, without foliage. Only near the tops, which reach out of the shadows which they throw upon each other, the branches appear and spread upward to the utmost tops, which wave their heads in the sunlight.
"These trees are all top-heavy; their principally, or only, developed parts are their heads. All the life which they extract from the ground and the air seems to mount to their heads; while the trunks, although increasing in girth as the tree grows, are left otherwise undeveloped and bare. Thus they may stand and grow from year to year, reaching a mature age. But some day, sooner or later, dark clouds collect around the snowy peaks and assume a threatening aspect; the gleam of lightning appears among the swelling masses, the sound of thunder is heard, bolts of liquid light dart from the rents in the clouds, and suddenly the storm sweeps down from the summit into the valley. When the work of devastation begins, these top-heavy trees, having but little strength in their feet, are mowed down by the wind like so many stems of straw in a field of wheat. There they lie, rank after rank, having tumbled over each other as they fell, and their corpses litter the mountain sides.
"At the edge of the timber, and outside of the main body of the forest looking like outposts or sentinels near the lines of battle, there remain, here and there, a few solitary pines to whom the storm could do no harm.
"They have, on account of their isolated positions, been exposed to wind all their lives, they have become used to it and grown strong. They have not been protected and sheltered by their neighbors. They are not top-heavy, for their great strong branches grow out from their trunks a few feet above the soil, continuing to the tops, and their roots have grown through the crevices of the rocks, holding on to them with an iron grasp. They have met with resistance since the time of their youth and, by resisting, have gained their strength.
"Thus, intellectual man, growing up protected by fashion and friends in a school, college, university, or perhaps within the walls of the convent, finds himself isolated from contrary influences and meets with but little resistance. Crowded together with those who think like him, he lives and thinks like the others. Over their heads waves the banner of some accepted authority, and upon that banner are inscribed certain dogmas in which they believe without ever daring to doubt their veracity.
"There they grow, throwing upon each other the shadow of their ignorance, and each prevents the others from seeing the sunlight of truth. There they cram their brains with authorized opinions, learning a great many of the details of our illusory life which they mistake for the real existence. They become top-heavy, for all the energy which they receive from the universal fountain of life goes to supply the brain. The heart is left without supply; the strength of character, of which the heart is the seat, suffers; the intellect is overfed and the spirit is starved. Thus they may grow up and become proud of their knowledge; but one day, perhaps, new and strange ideas appear on the mental horizon: a wind begins to blow, and down tumbles the banner upon which their dogmas have been inscribed, and their pride tumbles down with it.
"The way to inner wisdom is to learn to control one's mind so that it does not wander. Through learning concentration and holding one's thoughts upon a subject, one can say, 'Be still, my mind, be still,' and listen to the voice within, which comes from the great Self -- YOU!
"Then will the first gleam of the rising sun appear in his heart, and before its warm glow the cold moonlight, thrown out by the calculating and reflecting brain, will grow pale; a new and still larger world than the external one will appear before his interior vision. He will be contended to live in that new world, and there he will find an inexhaustible source of happiness, unknown to those who live a life of the senses.
"Henceforth, he will require no longer to speculate reflectively about the truth, for he will see it clear in his own heart. Hence- forth, he will not be required to be exposed to storms, but may seek shelter in a tranquil place; not because he is afraid of the storms, which can do him no harm, but because he wants to employ his energies for the full development of the newly awakened spiritual germ, instead of wasting them uselessly on the outward plane.
"Let him who needs the world remain in the world. The greater the temptations by which he is surrounded are, the greater will be his strength if the successfully resists. Only he who can, within his own mental sphere, create the conditions which his spirit requires is independent of all external conditions and therefore free. He who cannot evolve a world within his own soul needs the external world to evolve his soul, or he needs the help of a real teacher.
"If you truly are seeking God and are willing to dedicate your life to God in real service, then the work in a church or holy order is of great personal benefit when it is under the direction of a great Evolved One or Teacher.
"Certain people seek to avoid the world and imagine they do a service to God by leading a harmless or useless life. From that imaginary service they expect to obtain a reward at the end of life. But the reward which they will receive will also exist merely in their imagination.
"As the sensualist wastes his time in the prosecution of useless pleasures, so the bigot wastes his time in useless ceremonies and prayers. The actions of the former are instigated by a desire for sensual pleasure in this life, those of the latter by the hope for pleasure in another life. Both are acting to gratify their own personal selves. I am unable to see any essential difference between the morals and motives of the two.
"But with spiritually developed man the case is entirely different. The divine principle in man exists independent of the conditions of relative space and time; it is eternal and self- existent. It cannot be angered by opposition, nor irritated by contradiction, nor be thrown into confusion by sophistry.
"If it has once become conscious of its own power in man, it will not require the stimulus required by the physical organism and afforded by the impressions which come through the avenues of the senses from the outer world; for it is itself that stimulus which creates worlds within its own substance. It is the Lord over all the animal elemental forces in the soul of man. Their turmoil can neither educate it nor degrade it, for it is Divinity itself in her pure state, being eternal, unchangeable and free.
"He in whom this divine principle has once awakened, he who has once practically experienced the inner life, who has visited the kingdom of heaven within his own soul, he who stands firm upon his feet, will no more need the educating influences of the contending storms of the outer world in order to gain strength by resistance; nor will he experience the desire to return to the tomfooleries of the world. He renounced nothing when he retired into the solitude; for it cannot be looked upon as an act of renunciation if we throw away a thing which is a burden to us.
"Man cannot be called ascetic; for he does not undergo any discipline or process of hardening. It is no act of self-denial to refuse things which we do not want. The true ascetic is he who lives in the world, surrounded by its temptations; he in whose soul the animal elements are still active, craving the gratification of their desires and possessing the means for their gratification, but who, by the superior power of his will, conquers his animal self.
"Having attained that state, he may retire from the world and employ his energies for the further expansion and employment of the spiritual power which he possesses. He will be perfectly happy, because that which he desires he can create within his own interior world. He expects no future reward in heaven; for what could heaven offer to him except happiness which he already possesses? He desires no other good but to create good for the world."