The Relinquishing of Gain
This is the basic theme of The Bhagavad Gita. In that treatise on the soul and its unfoldment, we are taught to “perform action without attachment,” and thereby lay the foundation for later relinquishing which can be effected without pain and the sense of loss, because we have acquired the power, latent ever within ourselves, to detach ourselves from achieved possessions.
This law works out in many ways, and it is not possible to do more than indicate a few of those general significances which embody the major lessons of every disciple.
First, the soul must relinquish the personality. For ages, the soul has identified itself with the lower personal self, and through the agency of that lower self has gained experience and acquired much knowledge. The time has to come when that agency is “no longer dear” to the soul, and their respective positions are reversed. No longer is the soul identified with the personality but the personality becomes identified with the soul and loses its separate quality and position. All that has been acquired through agelong struggle and strife, through pain and pleasure, through disaster and satisfied desire, and all that the wheel of life, which has turned ceaselessly, has brought into the possession of the soul – All has to be relinquished. Life, for the disciple, becomes then a series of detaching processes, until he has learnt the lesson of renunciation.
The sequence is, first dispassion, then discrimination, and finally detachment. On these three words must all disciples meditate, if they are ever to reap the fruits of sacrifice.
“Having pervaded the worlds with a fraction of Myself, I remain.” Such is the theme of the soul’s endeavor, and such is the spirit which must underlie all creative work. In this thought lies the clue to the symbol of the Law of Sacrifice – a rosy cross with a bird flying over it. This is the loved cross (rose being the color of affection), with the bird (symbol of the soul) flying free in time and space.
Secondly, the soul has also to relinquish not only its tie and its gain through contact with the personal self, but it has most definitely to relinquish its tie with other personal selves. It must learn to know and to meet other people only on the plane of the soul. In this lies for many a disciple a hard lesson. They may care little for themselves and may have learnt much personal detachment. Little may they cherish the gain of contact with the lower personal self. They are learning to transcend all that, and may have transcended to a great degree, but their love for their children, their family, their friends and intimates is for them of supreme importance and that love holds them prisoners in the lower worlds. They do not stop to recognize that their love is primarily love for the personalities, and only secondarily for the souls. Upon this rock, many disciples are for lives broken, until the time comes when, through pain and suffering and the constant losing of that which they so much cherish, their love enters into a newer, a higher and a truer phase. They rise above the personal, and find again – after felt loss and suffering – those whom now they love as souls. Then they realize that there has been gain and not loss, and that only that which was illusory, ephemeral and untrue has disappeared. The real Man has been gained and can never be lost again.
This is most frequently the problem of parents who are upon the Path of Discipleship, and it is through their children that the lesson is learnt which can release them for initiation. They hold their children to them, and this, being counter to the law of nature, works out disastrously. It is the height of selfishness. And yet, did they but know and see aright, they would realize that to hold, one must detach, and to keep, one must release. Such is the law.
The soul has also to learn to relinquish the fruits or gains of service and learn to serve without attachment to results, to means, to persons or to praise. This I will deal with later.
In the fourth place, the soul has to relinquish also the sense of responsibility for that which other disciples may do. So many earnest servers hold on to their fellow workers, and do not relinquish their hold upon them or upon their activities upon the outer plane. This is a subtle error, for it masks itself behind a sense of righteous responsibility, an adherence to principles as they appear to the individual, and the accumulated experience of the disciple, – which is necessarily incomplete experience. The relation between disciples is egoic and not personal. The link is of the soul and not of the mind. Each personality pursues its own course, must shoulder its own responsibilities, work out its own dharma, and fulfill its own karma, and so answer for itself to its Lord and Master, the Soul. And answer there will be. Does this itself sound of the nature of separation and aloneness? It does, as far as outer activities are concerned. Only as servers cooperate from the standpoint of an inner subjective linking can a united work be carried forward.
At this time in the history of the world and its periodical salvaging from conditions which are wrecking the current civilization, it is necessary that aspirants grasp the fact that that salvaging process must be carried on under the Law of Sacrifice, and that only a relative outer unity can be at this time achieved. Not as yet is the vision seen with a sufficient clarity by the many servers, to make them work with perfect unanimity of purpose and objective, of technique and method, or complete understanding and oneness of approach. That fluid, perfect cooperation lies as yet in the future. The establishing of an inner contact and relationship, based on a realized oneness of purpose and soul love, is magnificently possible, and for this all disciples must struggle and strive. On the outer plane, owing to the separative mind during this age and time, a complete accord on detail, on method, and on interpretation of principles is not possible. But – the inner relationships and cooperation Must be established and developed, in spite of the outer divergences of opinion. When the inner link is held in love, and when disciples relinquish the sense of authority over each other and of responsibility for each other’s activities, and at the same time stand shoulder to shoulder in the One Work, then the differences, the divergences, and the points of disagreement will automatically be overcome. There are three rules which are important to disciples at this time.
• First, see to it that you permit no rift to appear in the inner relation in which you stand to each other. The integrity of the inner band of servers must be preserved intact.
• Secondly, pursue your own duty and task, shoulder your own responsibility, and then leave your fellow disciples to do the same, free from the impact of your thought and criticism. The ways and means are many; the points of view vary with every personality. The principle of work is love for all men and service to the race, preserving at the same time a deeper inner love for those with whom you are destined to work. Each soul grows into the way of light through service rendered, through experience gained, through mistakes made, and through lessons learnt. That necessarily must be personal and individual. But the work itself is one. The Path is one. The love is one. The goal is one. These are the points that matter.
• Thirdly, preserve ever in work the attitude of mind which must grow out of the two rules above, faithfully followed. Your point of view and consciousness are your own, and therefore, are for you, right. Not necessarily is that which seems so clear to you and of such vital importance to you, of the same value or importance to your brothers. Your important principle may be realized by an abler mind than yours and by a more advanced disciple as embodying an aspect of a greater principle, an interpretation of a principle, correct and proper at a certain time, but capable of a different application at another time, and by another mind. Under the Law of Sacrifice these three rules might be interpreted thus:
1. Relinquish or sacrifice the age-old tendency to criticize and adjust another’s work, and thus preserve the inner group integrity. More plans for service have gone astray and more workers have been hindered by criticism than by any other major factor.
2. Relinquish or sacrifice the sense of responsibility for the actions of others, and particularly of disciples. See that your own activity measures up to theirs, and in the joy of struggle and on the way of service the differences will disappear and the general good will be achieved.
3. Relinquish the pride of mind which sees its way and its interpretations to be correct and true, and others’ false and wrong. This is the way of separation. Adhere to the way of integration which is of the soul and not of the mind.
These are hard sayings, but they are the rules by which the Teachers on the inner side, guide Their actions and Their thoughts, when working with each other and with Their disciples. The inner integrity is necessarily a proven fact to Them. To the disciple it is not. But to the inner Teachers, the outer differences are abhorrent. They leave each other free to serve the Plan. They train Their disciples (no matter what their degree) to serve that Plan with freedom, for in freedom and in the sense of joy and in the strength of inner cooperative love is the best work done. It is sincerity for which They look. The willingness to sacrifice the lesser when the greater is sensed is that for which They search. The spontaneous relinquishing of long-held ideals when a greater and more inclusive presents itself is Their guide. The sacrifice of pride and the sacrifice of personality when the vastness of the work and the urgency of the need are realized, sway Them to cooperation. It is essential that the disciples shall learn to sacrifice the non-essential in order that the work may go forward. Little as one may realize it, the many techniques and methods and ways are secondary to the major world need. There are many ways and many points of view, and many experiments and many efforts – abortive or successful, and all of them come and go. But humanity remains. All of them are in evidence of the multiplicity of minds, and of experiences, but the goal remains. Difference is ever of the personality. When this Law of Sacrifice governs the mind, it will inevitably lead all disciples to relinquish the personal in favor of the universal and of the soul, that knows no separation, no difference. Then no pride, nor a short and myopic perspective, nor love of interference (so dear to many people), nor misunderstanding of motive will hinder their cooperation with each other as disciples, nor their service to the world.