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By Their Fruits


This mergence of the Jivanmukta into Ishwara may he likened to what may happen in the case of the sun when a comet falls upon it; there is in the case of the Sun an accession of heat and light; so also, whenever any particular individual reaches the highest state of spiritual culture, develops in himself all the virtues that alone entitle him to a union with Ishwara and finally unites his soul with Ishwara, there is, as it were, a sort of reaction emanating from Ishwara for the good of humanity; and in particular cases an impulse is generated in Ishwara to incarnate for the good of humanity. This is the highest consummation of human aspiration and endeavour.


 Shankaracharya, in Self-Knowledge and The Crest Jewel of Wisdom, provides a wealth of instruction about meditation and particularly the relation between Viveka or discrimination and Vairagya or detachment. Anyone attempting to apply these teachings will find that it is difficult, but he will also learn that it is extremely enjoyable. If thoughtful, he will conclude that, by definition, there could not be any fixed technique of meditation upon the transcendent. Technique is as particularized a notion as one can imagine, a mechanistic term. A techne or skill has rules and can be reproduced. On the other hand, that which is transcendental cannot be reproduced. It does not manifest, and it is beyond everything that exists, so there can be no technique for meditation upon it.

 Another way of putting it, an older way and perhaps less misleading, is that of the Dalai Lama in his book My Land and My People, where in a few pages he explains that the teaching of the Buddha is both wisdom and method. They go together. Wisdom is meaningless to us unless there is a method. But the method itself cannot be understood unless in relation to wisdom. He says that there is a distinction to be made between absolute truth and relative truth. In other words, wisdom is your relationship to knowledge, and that relationship involves the means you employ. It is skill in the use of what we call knowledge, but skill that is neither rigid nor final in its modes of embodiment. There is a natural allowance for growth in oneself and within others.

 In this arena of inner growth, he who really knows does not tell, partly because he knows that what is essential cannot be told, in the Socratic sense in which wisdom and virtue could never be taught. But partly also he chooses not to tell when telling is of no help. The Buddha, the Master of skillful means, said that whichever way you go – telling little, telling much, or keeping quiet – in every case you have created karma. There were times when the Buddha told nothing. There were times when he told a great deal merely by telling a fairy story but saying through it much more than is ordinarily possible. There were times when he said very little, and even this sometimes became a bone of contention among disciples. We are dealing with the karma involved in human encounters, and this karma must not be physicalized and only understood literally and exoterically. That is our whole tragedy. We have a physical conception of telling and of silence, but that is because we still have not understood that the real battle is going on between that subtle and rarefied plane of consciousness where the true suns are, and that boisterous plane of consciousness which is the astral light, where there is an immense array of inverted shadows and images.

 Words like "telling," "knowing" and "being silent" have to do with inner postures. As long as we seek external representations of the inner postures of the spiritual life, the spiritual life is not for us in this incarnation, and perhaps just as well. Maybe this is where humanity has grown up. There is now no need for mollycoddling. There is no need for giving in to the residual and tragic arrogance of those who are on the verge of annihilation, by pandering to them, yielding external tokens, or performing external signs. In this Aquarian age, spiritual life is in the mind, and people have got to be much more willing to assume full responsibility for all their choices. The reading of the signs requires a deeper knowledge, or a tougher kind of integrity. The only honest position for anyone is that, given whatever one thing he really knows in his life, in terms of that he is entitled, in E.M.Forster's phrase, "to connect" – to connect with what is told and what is not told. People are brought up in India, and indeed all over the East, to know from early on that what the eyes are saying is important, what the physical gestures are saying is important, and that ominous or peaceful silences bear meanings of many kinds. Brought up in the rich and complex poetry of silence, gesture and speech through all the seven apertures of the human face, there is no such problem as between knowing in one particular sense and telling in one particular sense.

 A lot of the subtlety has gone out of our lives, probably all over the world, but nonetheless we must recognize that wisdom always implies an immense, incredible flexibility of method. Let us not play games, least of all adopt sick and self-destructive attitudes, where in the name of belittling ourselves we insidiously belittle our Teachers. What this really comes to is blackmail and bargaining and they never helped anyone. On the other hand, let us genuinely be grateful for whatever we receive at all levels. It is part of the meaning of the Guruparampara chain that if one were smart enough to be benefitted at some level and to be ever grateful to the person who first taught one the alphabet, then one is more likely to make good use of Teachers in higher realms. We are dealing with something archetypal in which our whole lives are involved, but in which each one will be unique in his or her response.

 Conversely, there is nothing predictably easy about the emergence, appearance, decisions, masks and modes of any spiritual Teacher. To assume that would be to limit the Fraternity or to imagine that an organization or some individuals could make captive or bind him. The moment such a being becomes captive, as Plato pointed out in the Republic, his withdrawal or his failure is inevitable. He will be free. And what he is really doing would be known only to him. What is important is to know that existentially he will point beyond himself to the Tathagatas. It is a hard lesson for the world – especially in a worn-out West that is still fighting the Middle Ages – that a true Master is a true servant. The reason why we find it difficult, even in our everyday language, to understand what is involved in being a Master is because we have ceased to understand what is it to be a true servant. When we can restore the full meaning and the grandeur to the notion of a true and totally reliable servant, only then will we understand what is it to be a Master of Wisdom and Method. Who are the Masters? They are the Servants of mankind. Who, then, must be their agents? Those who exemplify the art of service, who are unquestioning, total, and absolute in their obedience to their Gurus.

 Apparently, as H.P.Blavatsky stressed, this turns out to be more difficult for many people in the post-Aristotelian age in the modern West than it appears at first sight. Can obedience be combined with a tremendous courage? Can a lion be a lamb as well? Nothing is impossible for human beings when they master the art of acting from within without, from above below. The process could never be successfully reversed. On sacred matters can one say anything definite? If one can, any of us, should he say, or indeed what would be the point of so saying? But all of this must show itself by its fruits. Surely in regard to the latest of Teachers and their servants it would be true, as it was true of the oldest of Teachers who came to what we call the West, but who really came to the whole world from the East: "By their fruits they shall be judged." Surely it could be said of any teacher what was true of the paradigm of all Teachers, the Buddha: he was a spiritual Teacher in that he gave lasting confidence to everyone else. Yet he did it in a way that was inimitable, in a manner that baffles analysis and defies imitation. Or we could even say that every true teacher must have something in common with Krishna, the planetary spirit who overbroods all Teachers, in that Krishna was always an enigma to everyone around him. It took Arjuna ten chapters to put right his relationship with Krishna, to whom he said, "I took you for a friend, I sported with you." In other words, he tried to put him in a box. In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna asked him to describe the characteristics of a wise man, Krishna did not say, "Look at me." Krishna gave the most magnificent impersonal portrait. So surely then it is only on the basis of the invisible thirty-two psychological marks of the true Teacher that recognition and direct benefit are possible.

 No Teacher can be separated from other Teachers, and when we consider the broader import of spiritual instruction we are really talking about a fundamental renaissance, heralding the civilization of the future. Those who feel they have found clues within themselves should treasure them. Those who want to help should perpetually prepare themselves. Certainly, no one need waste time and energy in speculating about it because this is not a matter which could be a fit subject for opinion or speculation. To put it in a more positive way, anyone's opinion is as good for him as anyone else's, because in the end it is his life; he has to decide. Many are called but few are chosen. But anyone could decide at any point to do the best he can in relation to the best he knows. In the talismanic words of Mahatma K.H., "He who does the best he can and knows how, does enough for us." Anyone who does the best he can and knows how can do enough for the Messenger of the Fraternity, and indeed thereby himself become a messenger, in a sense. He becomes a teacher because he has shown what it is to be a servant.

 So then it gets back to oneself. What can one do to prepare oneself? What can one do to be a worthy servant available at the right time to do that which benefits oneself on one's Path, but which has meaning in relation to a much vaster vision and plan that can be seen with the mind's eye? Though it is hidden, it can be seen to be partly manifest, even before it happens. What is there at this very time which is crucial in enabling us to be ready to be at hand in the future? This is the classic chela-like attitude that anyone can take, but it does not mean going here or there. It requires that wherever one is, one is willing to be wholly available. There is a protective blindness in regard to the future, a protective blindness in one part of our nature. In another part of our nature we know. It is said in the oldest traditions of humanity that the future is very dangerous knowledge. The future is a closed book at all times through the compassion of the universe, and in another sense through the inability of individuals to be ready to bear the knowledge. A Teacher once said that unless a person is so made up, or so ready in his total makeup, that nothing in the future will frighten him and nothing in the future will make him elated, he will not be ready to know what is in the future. That is surely as true now as always in regard to unveiling the future. Shaw's remark about freemasonry and marriages applies even more to the code-language of Adepts – those who are outside will never know, and those who are within are pledged to eternal secrecy.

 Behind all the rhythms of nature that are perceptible to us there are other rhythms that we impose. And behind these there is a kind of chaos in which there is another rhythm that is very mysterious. The Monad of man has no resting place. It is on a pilgrimage where it is ceaselessly changing conditions. There is no refuge, because if there were refuge for the Monad, it would no longer be involved in evolution. In that sense, one might say, surely at the end of evolution there must be a resting place. Whether there is or not, for a Monad that comes voluntarily into the process there is no resting place, in a more poignant sense. Above all, for the Son of Man who comes to bear a certain cross, there is no resting place in that he chooses a destiny within the framework of universal consciousness. We should reflect deeply on that extraordinary passage in The Secret Doctrine where we are told that in regard to the great cycle or circle of necessity, in the end the only choice is between being a volunteer in the iniquitous course and being involuntarily propelled into it. As Simone Weil said, you either choose suffering, or suffering chooses you. As Subba Row understood, the Logos chooses the Avatar who allows himself to be so chosen. This para-historical paradox is pivotal to the destiny of mankind in the culminating decades of this century.

October 9, 1971

 Through many millions of world-ages many people hear, when they are born, neither my name nor of Perfect Ones, neither that of the teaching nor that of my community. Thus is the fruit of bad action.
 But when gentle and forbearing beings originate here in this world of man, then because of their good actions they see me revealing the teaching as soon as they are born.


Hermes, May 1976
by Raghavan Iyer

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