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It is quite true, as the extremist advocates of the Short Path, like Zen, say, that this is all that is really needed, that no meditation (in the ordinary sense), no discipline, no moral striving, and no study are required to gain enlightenment. We are now as divine as we ever shall be. There is nothing to be added to us; no evolution or development of our real self is possible. But what these advocates overlook is that, in the absence of the labours listed, the Short Path can succeed only if certain essential conditions are available. First, a teaching master must be found. It will not be enough to find an illumined man. We will feel peace and uplift in his presence, but these will fade away after leaving his presence. Such a man will be a phenomenon to admire and an inspiration to remember, not a guide to instruct, to warn, and to lead from step to step. Second, we must be able to live continuously with the teaching master until we have finished the course and reached the goal. Few aspirants have the freedom to fulfil the second condition, for circumstances are hard to control, and fewer still have the good fortune to fulfil the first one, for a competent, willing, and suitably circumstanced teaching master is a rarity. These are two of the reasons why philosophy asserts that a combination of both the Long and Short Paths is the only practical means for a modern Western aspirant to adopt. If, lured by the promise of sudden attainment or easy travelling, he neglects the Long Path, the passage of time will bring him to self-deception or frustration or disappointment or moral decline. For his negative characteristics will rise and overpower him, the lack of preparation and development will prevent him from realizing in experience the high-level teachings he is trying to make his own, while the impossibility of balancing himself under such circumstances will upset or rob him of whatever gains he may still make.


-- Notebooks Category 23: Advanced Contemplation > Chapter 5: Balancing the Paths > # 151

-- Perspectives > Chapter 23: Advanced Contemplation > # 14






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