Subsidiary Exercise #4


Cultivate a positive attitude to life. It consists in seeking always for
  • the good
  • the praiseworthy
  • the beautiful,
  • and the like
  • all beings
  • all experiences
  • all things.

This quality of soul is best characterized by a Persian legend concerning Christ Jesus.

One day, as Christ Jesus was walking with His disciples, they saw a dead dog lying by the roadside in a state of advanced decomposition. All the disciples turned away from the disgusting sight; Christ Jesus alone did not move but looked thoughtfully at the corpse and said: `What beautiful teeth the animal has!’

Where the others had seen only the repulsive, the unpleasant, Christ Jesus looked for the beautiful.
So must you strive to seek for the positive in every phenomenon and in every being.

You will soon notice that

  • under the veil of something repugnant there is a hidden beauty,
  • that even under the outer guise of a criminal there is a hidden good,
  • that under the mask of a lunatic the divine soul is somehow concealed.

In a certain respect this exercise is connected with what is called `abstention from criticism’. This is not to be understood in the sense of calling black white and white black. There is, however, a difference between a judgment which, proceeding merely from one’s own personality, is colored with the element of personal sympathy or antipathy, and an attitude which enters lovingly into the alien phenomenon or being, always asking:

  • How has it come to be like this?
  • How has it come to act like this?

Such an attitude will by its very nature be more set upon helping what is imperfect than upon simply finding fault and criticizing.

The objection that the very circumstances of their lives oblige many people to find fault and condemn is not valid here. For in such cases the circumstances are such that the person in question cannot go through a genuine occult training. There are indeed many circumstances in life which make occult schooling impossible, beyond a certain point. In such a case the person should not impatiently desire, in spite of everything, to make progress which is possible only under some conditions.

If you consciously turn your mind, for one month, to the positive aspect of all your experiences, you will gradually notice a feeling creeping into yourself as if your skin were becoming porous on all sides, and as if your soul were opening wide to all kinds of secret and delicate processes in your environment which hitherto entirely escaped your notice. The important point is to combat a very prevalent lack of attentiveness to these subtle things.

If it has once been noticed that the feeling described expresses itself in your soul as a kind of bliss, guide this feeling to the heart and from there to let it stream into the eyes, and thence out into the space in front of and around oneself.

It will be noticed that an intimate relationship to this surrounding space is thereby acquired. You grow out of and beyond yourself, as it were. You learn to regard a part of your environment as something that belongs to you. A great deal of concentration is necessary for this exercise, and, above all, recognition of the fact that

  • all tumultuous feelings
  • all passions
  • all over-exuberant emotions

have an absolutely destructive effect upon the mood indicated.