Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
- Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Then, still going up the scale, the next thing is the adopting of an attitude of resignation or stoicism. Or, as they prefer to call it today, “the scientific attitude” or “the psychological calm.” Many people talk about this attitude. They say the one thing we must watch is our feelings. Our trouble is that we all tend to be controlled by our feelings, and if our feelings take over, then we become agitated and unhappy. So the solution to that, they say, is the adoption of this particular teaching. We must stand back and have a psychological calm; we must become scientists. There is nothing new about all that. The Stoics did it long ago; that was the very essence of their philosophy, that you must always keep a careful curb upon your feelings and emotions, otherwise they will cripple you. So you must take yourself in hand and control your emotions, and you must say to yourself, “I must be objective. I must be scientific. I must not let myself be immersed in these things.”
And that brings me to the last philosophy, the one that is provided by cults and other religions like Christian Science, which deliberately set out to give people freedom from trouble and worry, a kind of perfect calm in spite of everything. Other cults try to do the same thing. I refer to “the cults of other religions” because there is a remarkable increase in the number of such religions today, chiefly coming from the East, that offer this escape from trouble and the way to a quiet heart. There is a new interest in Buddhism and Hinduism and things of that kind. (It is very interesting to notice that it is some of the men who used to call themselves intellectuals who are turning to Buddhism and to these Eastern religions and various forms of mysticism. They have tried to face their problems, and they have failed. So they have come to the conclusion that their only salvation is in mysticism, going into the heart of the universe, losing themselves in the spirit that is at the back of everything.) Many are seeking this quiet heart and deliverance from their troubles in that way.
Now obviously we cannot deal with all these things now, but I want to say that general comments can be made about them all. It seems to me, first, that they are, all of them, in the last analysis pessimistic and hopeless. To refuse to think is to be profoundly pessimistic; that is why I am always so sorry for “the bright young things,” the people who live for pleasure and say, “How happy we are by contrast with you miserable Christians!” But the actual truth about them is that they are so afraid of life that they dare not think about it. That is the most profound pessimism that I know.
It is exactly the same with the pathetic optimism that refuses to face the facts that are confronting us today. There is no evidence that man as man is progressing and evolving. It is the same with fatalism, which is utterly hopeless. It says, “What is the use of anything? Things are just going to happen; therefore do nothing about them, and do not even think about them.”
It is the same with resignation. Resignation says, “Things are going to be like this, so I just have to put up with them somehow.” That again is hopelessness. Psychology, as I have said, does not face the problem; it plays tricks with itself. It is like whistling in the dark, and the same applies to the cults and these various other religions. You may have to be reincarnated many times, we are told, but your hope is that you will eventually become merged into the universe. That, too, is profound pessimism. So all these views, at their very best and highest, are devised just to help us get through. They simply help us postpone our problems, they do not solve them; and none of them can give us real joy or satisfaction.
But I suppose the greatest criticism of them is that they, all of them in a sense, leave the problem up to the individual. How true this is of the Eastern religions! You will find that they leave it up to us. We will each have to go through terrible ordeals; we will have to discipline our body, mind, and every part of ourselves. They ask us to deliver ourselves in some shape or form, and thus they leave us with the problem. To me it is very significant that the people who are turning to Buddhism are, as I have said, the so-called “intellectuals.” You have to be an intellectual before you can go in for such things because they leave it all up to you, and it takes a lot of thinking time to employ these methods of attaining peace. They have nothing whatever to give to the ordinary person. They have nothing to give those who are so busy with their jobs, their families, their homes, and various other things that they cannot read these wonderful philosophical ideas. Ordinary people have no time to go through these long processes of discipline and prayer. Eastern religions have nothing to give such people.
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