Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 23: Advanced Contemplation > Chapter 1: Entering the Short Path
Entering the Short Path
Begin and end with the goal itself
This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, out of the present limitations into a future union with the Divine, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is?
All other approaches to the goal depend on a dualistic principle, which puts them on a lower plane. But the Short Path is nondual: it begins and ends with the goal itself; its nature is direct and its working is immediate.
Consciousness appearing as the person seeks itself. This is its quest. But when it learns and comprehends that it is itself the object of that quest, the person stops not only seeking outside himself but even engaging in the quest itself. Henceforth he lets himself be moved by the Overself's flow.
All these substitutes for the truth may appear to be useful stepping-stones to it but in fact they keep him from it, for there is no end to the number of steps he will be able to take since there is no end to the number of ways the human mind can spin out its ideas and fancies. Unless he begins with the end first, he will get lost on the way to it.
Are we to reject the plain statements of these enlightened men--that is, statements of the Short Path that you are divine? Do we know more and better about divine things than they do? Why can we not accept the idea that they describe not a theory but a discovery?
This then is the ultimate truth--that in our inmost nature we are anchored in God, inseparable from God, and that the discovery of this heavenly nature is life's loftiest purpose. Even now, already, today, we are as divine as we ever shall be. The long evolutionary ladder which by prophets and teachers, gurus and guides we are bidden to climb toilsomely and slowly and painfully need not be climbed at all if only we heed this truth continually, if we refuse to let it go, if we make it ours in all parts of our being--in thought, feeling, faith, and action.
For if we are divine and timeless beings now (and who can gainsay it that has had a glimpse of that starry state memorably vouchsafed to him?) then we have always been such. How can we evolve who are already self-existent, perfect beings? Does it not seem more probable that something alien has accreted around us, covering up the sublimer consciousness; that Time's work is not to raise us but to free us; that our search is not for a loftier state but for our pristine state, to recover our former grandeur? What we need is not to grow but to know. Evolution cannot help us, but self-knowledge can.
This is the concept which governs the Short Path: that he is in the Stillness of central being all the time whether he knows it or not, that he has never left and can never leave it. And this is so, even in a life passed in failure and despair.(P)
The man on the Short Path moves forward directly to fulfil his objective. Instead of working by slow degrees toward the control of thoughts, he seeks to recollect the fact that the sacred Overself is present in his mind at this very moment, that It lives within him right now, and not only as a goal to be attained in some distant future. The more he understands this fact and holds attention to it, the more he finds himself able to feel the great calm which follows its realization, the more his thoughts automatically become still in consequence.(P)
What it asserts is that the real truth already exists in the pithy core of man's mind, that it can be seen by anyone who will undo the illusions which cover it so thickly, the passions which obscure it so agitatedly, and, above all, the egoism which fears it so greatly. This does not imply the development of new things: it implies the removal of old ones. It is concerned with the discovery of what we really are, not what we shall one day become.
Pascal said in Le Mystère de Jesus: "Thou wouldst not seek Me, if thou didst not possess Me. Be not therefore anxious."
We cannot attain reality, for we already are in it; but we can attain consciousness of it. And such consciousness arises naturally the moment we know appearance as being appearance. This knowledge may be nothing more than a second's glimpse, before old habit powerfully reasserts itself again, but it will be enough to tell us the truth.
Ibn ul Farid, the thirteenth-century adept in practical and theoretical mysticism, lived in Cairo. He attained to permanent union with his real self (the Beloved) by getting rid of the dualistic illusion of two selves. "It is like a woman possessed by a spirit," he said. By casting off his self-existence he had found the Beloved to be his real self. "Naught save otherness marred this high estate of thine," the Beloved said to him, "and if thou wilt efface thyself thy claim to have achieved it will be established indeed!" (Among Sufis otherness is equivalent to thinking of one's self as something other than God.)
How far is it true that the limitations of one's capacity to understand truth are illusion, and that the constant suggestion to oneself that one is divine in attributes and qualities produces the realization of it?
It is the paradox of the Short Path that it begins with the end, in order to arrive at the end!
The finest of all experiences is to perceive that he need no longer pursue experiences because the pursuer and the Pursued are one and the same Being. Inner experiences are all in time, doomed to pass away; but he, the Consciousness behind them, behind the ego's consciousness, is out of time, hence Immortal.
The divine presence is there, its power is consequently there too. He may avail himself of it by Grace. Let him look to it then. But where is he to see it? Jesus provides the clearest answer: "The kingdom of heaven is within you." His hope of help can find its realization coming from one direction only--from the deeper part of his own self.
Wang Yang-ming: "Our original nature is purely good. It is not possible to add anything to this original state. The knowledge of the superior man merely serves to clear away the obscuration, and thus to show forth the shining virtue." And again, "The mind of man is heaven but because of the obscurations caused by selfishness, that state is not manifested. When all of them are cleared away, the original nature is restored."
What has never been lost can never be found. If a quester fails to find the Overself, it is not because of faults or weaknesses in the ego but because he is himself that which he seeks. There is nothing else to be found than understanding of this fact. Instead of seeking Overself as something above, beyond, or apart from himself, he should stop seeking altogether and recognize i am as I AM!
The moment the questing attitude is taken, with the Overself as its sought-for goal, in that moment the ego and the Overself are put apart as two separate things and cannot be brought together again. But by letting such thoughts go, and all thoughts subside, mind may enter the Stillness and know itself again as Mind. Yet even this is useless if the understanding that the seeker is really the sought is lacking.
If you will not accept the saving truth that you are now as divine as you ever will be, and follow the ultimate path, then you rank yourself with those men who, as Jesus said, "love darkness rather than light," however much you may protest against such a classification.
Once we can grasp this psychic fact that tomorrow exists today--as precognition has finally grasped it--we are ready to mount up to the higher philosophic fact that the spiritual goal is already within our reach, and only needs claiming.
Believe implicitly that the divinity is within you, a knowing divinity, and--if you will harmonize yourself with it intuitively--a guiding divinity. As a Far Eastern poet has put it: "Your rice has been cooked from the very beginning."
So long as the aspirant takes the attitude that he aspires to unite with the Overself, that he wants permanent spiritual illumination, he is merely adding another desire to those which his ego already possesses. He is still turning round inside the closed circle of the little self. There is no way out except to forget himself, to turn away from the ego and regard, fixedly and constantly, the Overself.
The idea that we have to wait for liberation from the ego and enlightenment by the Overself, to evolve through much time and many reincarnations, is correct only if we continue to remain mesmerized by it, but false if we take our stand on reality rather than appearance: we are now as divine as we ever shall be--but we must wake up from illusion and see this truth.
Because it is impossible for the questing ego to become the Overself, the quester must recognize that he is the Overself and stop thinking in egoistic terms of progress along a path, or attainment of a goal.
Of what use is unrealized divinity to anyone? If he is unconscious of his higher self, is a man any better off? The link of being linked with God potentially is not enough. It must also be personally discovered, felt, known, and demonstrated in living activity.
Because what we seek is ours already, because the Overself is always here and now, there is in reality no quest to follow, no path to travel, and no goal to reach.
Job carried the answer to his own question, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him," within himself all the time, but he did not know it.
We suffer under the delusion that we must struggle, centimetre by centimetre, all the long way to the kingdom of heaven. We stare, astonished and sceptical, when a Sage--Indian, Chinese, Japanese--tells us that we are already in it.
There is really nothing to be achieved here; only something to be accepted--the fact of your own divinity.
Why go on hoping for a far-off day when peace and truth will be attained? Why not drastically strip off all the illusions of self-identification with ego and recognize that the true identity is already fulfilled?
The divine is actually within us and has been there all along--if we set out to gain knowledge of it. What then really happens should we succeed in doing so? A recognition and a remembrance! Why then all this fuss of studies and practices, exercises and meditations, flocking to gurus and labouring at self-improvements? Is it not enough to be our own teachers and to remember our own long-held wisdom?
On the Short Path he does away with the duality of thought which sets up two ruling powers--good and evil, God and Adverse Force--and recognizes GOD as the only real existence.
If the Long Path begins and ends with ego, the Short Path begins with a 180 degree turnaround, opens up a vista of the infinite Overself.
This identification with the Overself is the real work set us, the real purpose for which human life in the world serves us. All else is merely a comfortable way of escape, a means of keeping us busy so that conscience need not be troubled by the central duty to which we are summoned.
Here he turns about-face, toward the sun, and releases himself from the old thought-constructions based on the belief that he is a sinner. Too much emphasis on that belief may have harmed him, and certainly depressed him. Looking too often and too long at his defects may cause him to become obsessed by them. A more positive and less restraining attitude is available on the Short Path.
The Long Path methods and attitudes, ideas and principles--admirable in their place and time--have to be got rid of; otherwise the Short Path truths cannot be brought in. For the one is dualistic and objective, whereas the other is nondualistic and nonobjective. The aspirant has to turn around and take a totally opposite direction.
At this point he must turn round on all that he has believed and done because of his beliefs and withdraw for a while from the Long Path because it is occupied solely with the pairs of opposites. Otherwise it will become his goal.
Without any preparation, training, or effort, without even any intention to seek God, Simone Weil was swiftly plunged into the mystical union. Unforeseen and improbable though this event must seem to Long Path eyes, yet it is dramatic testimony that the Short Path is not claiming the impossible in claiming less, and that Grace is a leading agent in bringing about this union.
The changeover to the Short Path calls for a tremendous leap from his present standpoint--whatever that may happen to be--to the highest possible one.
Is it not a psychological absurdity to say that what conscious effort cannot bring forth may be brought forth by unconscious effort? No--the deeper mind must not be deprived of its own kind of consciousness merely because we cannot bring its operation within the range of imagination.
What he had formerly to accomplish by a series of separate steps, he is now able to accomplish by a single step.
There is hope if only he is determined to wake up and begin afresh, to supplant negatives with positives, and to give more of himself to the Short Path.
If, in his earlier days when on the Long Path, he practised daily checking his personal feelings where they were negative, hostile, or condemnatory in the relationship with others, or when they interrupted his inner calm in the relationship with himself, now on the Short Path he abandoned this training. It was no more the really important thing, for it had been just a preparation of the ego for that thing--which was to forget and transcend the ego by transferring attention to the remembrance of his divine being, his Overself.
The Long Path man's thoughts are too often with his personal self, too seldom with his Overself. The blessed turning point will be reached when he looks away from himself with persevering faith.
He must now throw himself up in the air and perform a somersault. This is the transition from Long to Short Path. Working up to it is slow, actually doing it is sudden.
The Long Path man who is worried about his sins and content with his virtues gives place to the Short Path man who is preoccupied with neither--because both are facets of the ego--but seeks to understand, revere, and contemplate the Overself.
He comes up against the inevitable limitation of his personal ego and, both in meditation exercise and in practical life, turns away from it, opens his eyes, and recognizes the Presence of the Overself as his never-absent guardian angel. With that act of seeing he also receives its Grace. One after another the virtues drop into his hands as easily as ripened fruits.
This progress through a series of attitudes leads in the end to something transcending them altogether--a shift of consciousness from ego to Overself.
From the gloom and groaning of the Long Path at its worst--the Dark Night of the Soul--to the radiance and joy of the Short Path at its best, the change is startling, dramatic, and revolutionary.
It is at such a time that he needs to go straight to the source of divine grace, to break his mental alliance with the ego and begin a joyful reliance on the Overself.
While a man's mind is full of himself, he shuts out the influx of the Overself. This remains just as true of meditation times as of ordinary times. He must empty out all these earthly interests, all these personal concerns, and even, in the end, all these egoistic spiritual aspirations by transferring his attention to that which is beyond the ego. He must think only of the Overself--of its nature and attributes, of its tokens and signs of presence, of its reality and eternity.
He can repudiate the man that he was in the past: the fool who committed grave errors of judgement; the sinner who fell into trap after trap; the seeker who was preoccupied with his own advancement, his own condition. He can liberate himself from all the old images of himself and assume a new one, become a new man. For he can turn his back on all these ego-regarding attitudes and transfer his thoughts, his self-identification, to the Overself.
It is not good to live in unwholesome memories of what we ought not to have done but did do, and never put a period to them. Such repeated self-flagellation keeps the ego immersed in its own little circle. It is better to turn away from them and live in the sunshine of the Overself.
To bring about insight into the Overself requires an inner revolution, a psychological burrowing beneath the entire ego-consciousness to that secret place from where it arises.
All pruning of the ego is of little use, for as one fault is removed a new one springs out of latency. Why? Because the ego is. The Short Path is the only genuine approach to truth, the only one offering real possibility of liberation. It is endorsed by Atmananda and Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi. Lifetimes have been spent by seekers who have travelled the Long Path but arrived nowhere, or are not much nearer the goal, whereas others have made swift advance from their first steps on the Short Path. The assertion that the Long Path is a necessary complement to or preparation for the Short one is correct only for those who are still under the thraldom of illusion, who are asleep. Its followers merely travel in a circle: they never get out of the illusion or awake from the sleep. That is why in the end it has to be given up, abandoned, understood for the egoistic effort that it really is. The entire length of the Long Path is an attempt at self-improvement and self-purification planned, managed, operated, and supervised by the ego itself. Is it conceivable that the ego will work for its own destruction? No!--it will never do that however much it pretends to do so, however subtle the bluff with which it deceives itself or others. Even when the ego rebels against itself, it is merely playing a part. It has played many different parts in the past. Appearing as a rebel is merely one more disguise in the whole series.
The Short Path calls for a definite change of mind, a thinking of totally new thoughts, a fastening of attention upon the goal instead of the way to it. It calls for a revolution, dethroning the ego from being the centre of attention and replacing it by the Overself.
The basis of Short Path practices is that the mind is like a transparent crystal which takes on the colour of what is brought into propinquity with it. By turning the mind away from the ego, even from its improvement, and towards the Overself, uplift results.
The Short Path offers the quickest way to the blessings of spiritual joy, truth, and strength. For since these things are present in the Overself, and since the Overself is present in all of us, each of us may claim them as his own by the direct declaration of his true identity. This simple act requires him to turn around, desert the dependence on personal self, and look to the original Source whence flows his real life and being, his true providence and happiness. Disregarding all contrary ideas that the world outside thrusts upon him, disdaining the ego's emotions and desires concerning them, he "prays without ceasing" to that Source. That is, he keeps himself concentrated within upon it until he can feel its liberating qualities and expand in its sunny glories.
On the Short Path he must give no backward glances at the ego, must no longer abase himself by identifying himself with that fraudulent self. He must cling to his new attitude with the ardour of a new convert.
Let him try to look beyond his own defects to the perfection which is in the Overself, the true image of himself in which God made man.
The Short Path frees him from all gnawing regrets about the past, with its sins of commission and of omission, its errors and follies, its mistakes and deficiencies. Instead it puts his mind to work upon their contraries--what is beautiful and worthy, what is truthful and serene, what is pure and noble. This is the inner work to which a man is called, this transition from long detours, painful struggles, and entrapment in self-centeredness which all form the Long Path. Let them go, turn around, turn to the Short Path and find peace--a peace which is not only felt but also understood.
There comes a stage, whether in meditation or in the ordinary daily experience of life, at which he has to cross over from doing, trying, and managing things by his own self alone and when he can let go and open himself to the higher force--when he can submit his ego to its ordinances, its commands, or to its whispers.
In the end, he gets tired of taking the world, others, and his own ego as the object of exclusive attention and turns with relief to the Void.
Saint John of the Cross gave the following advice: "Enter into your heart and labour in the presence of God who is always present there to help you. Fix your loving attention upon Him without any desire to feel or hear anything of God." Could a beginner be asked to apply such words? A person in a well-advanced state is alone likely to respond to them. Or, those who have been told about the Short Path and have studied its nature and tried to fit it into their inner work--whether they be beginners or proficient--can also put them into practice.
His secret is simple. He neutralizes his ego, while at the same time he affirms the Overself.
He comes at last to the point where he must turn against his own constant indictment, where he must defend himself against these self-made and self-directed accusations.
The self-revilements of the Long Path must be abandoned: his eyes must look up at that other and higher Self.
Not by the acquisition of virtues and the abandonment of vices can you attain the deeper enlightenment, they assert, but by the transference of consciousness itself to an altogether different plane.
He thinks only of the infinite goodness at his core and ignores the human frailty of his surface.
He is asked to turn his back on what he gave so much of his time and thought and feeling to for so long and to give them henceforth to a totally transcendent level--the Short Path.
The new thinking that is needed when one enters the Short Path is not merely different from the old but totally opposite to it.
On this Long Path, he stands with his back to the Overself and tries to re-educate the ego. On the Short Path he turns around from this position and faces the Overself.
The mind must move to a higher dimension and breathe a more rarefied air.
The time will come when you will have to turn your back upon the Long Path in order to give full attention, the full energy and the full time, to the Short Path. For with this comes a new era when the whole concern is not with the ego, not with its improvement or betterment, but with the divine itself alone--not with the surface consciousness and all its little changes but with the very depths, the diviner depths where reality abides. At this point seek only the Higher Self, live only with positive thought, stay only for as long as you can with the holy silence within, feel only that inner stillness which belongs to the essence of consciousness. Henceforth you are not to become this or that, not to gather the various virtues, but simply to be. For this you do not have to strive, you do not have to think, you do not have to work with any form of yoga, with any method of meditation.
There is a certain forthright logicality in the Short Path attitude which is uncomfortably uncompromising. If each man must find out the Overself's existence for, and by, himself, by his own intuition, it will confuse him and lead him astray if he discusses his problems with others or exchanges ideas and inner experiences with them. Secondly, if that existence must be found deep within his own nature, it will be travelling in an exactly opposite direction to travel to some land or place in search of a glamorous guru.
If true light can come only from within a man, every outer method of bringing it to him must be in reality a method which leads him astray.
He sees the truth as with a jolt. There it is, within his own being, lying deep down but still in his own self. There never was any need to travel anywhere to find it; no need to visit anyone who was supposed to have it already, and sit at his feet; not even to read any book, however sacred or inspired. Nor could another person, place, or writing give it to him--he would have to unveil it for himself in himself. The others could direct him to look inwards, thus saving all the effort of looking elsewhere. But he himself would have to give the needful attention to himself. The discovery must be his own, made within the still centre of his being.
If he is to be true to his espousal of philosophy he will keep himself outside partisan, officially titled, and other limiting forms. And one of the best ways to approach this ideal is through the practice of self-emptying.
There is an element of truth in the statement--often made by Krishnamurti--that the best way to start on the Way to Truth is to discard all that previous thinking, reading, and listening have yielded.
The teacher of the Short Path tells men--and rightly--to beware of letting techniques, practices, or methods become new manacles on their hands, new obstructions on their way to inner freedom.
The Short Path man ought not to depend on authorities, scriptures, rules, regulations, organizations, gurus, or writings. His past history may outwardly force such an association on him, but inwardly he will seek to liberate himself from it. For his ultimate aim is to reach a point where no interpreter, medium, or transmitter obtrudes between him and the Overself.
Krishnamurti's free-thinking, idol-shattering teaching is a good counterbalance and advanced complement to the ordinary yoga teaching. It is not really a contradiction, since it is a Short Path form completing yoga's Long Path. Krishnamurti's uncompromising rigidity is also a corrective to the sectarian fanaticism and guru deification which mark the seeking of many beginners. They receive a shock when first reading or hearing him. He undermines and explodes the little attitudes they have been taught to copy, the precious beliefs they have been told to hold. From his point of view, the solemnities of religious ritual and the frivolities of theatrical revue are both on the same plane.
Here, on this Short Path, he is to direct his yearnings and seekings, his hopes and thoughts, solely to the Overself. Nothing and nobody, not even a guru, is to come between them.
In Tibet, the name "Short Path" is given to the path of complete self-reliance without any guidance from an outer master. It is understood that only exceptionally advanced aspirants are capable of entering such a path.
It is often advisable to be one's own guide, studying worthy books, using prayer and reflection, and following the intuitive guidance of one's Higher Self.
Whatever technique is adopted, in the end it cages them in, keeps them its prisoner and prevents the free search which is necessary to find truth.
At this stage the student ceases to be concerned with those egoistic and dualistic ideas which form so much of the concern of orthodox religious people. For their conception of God is no longer his, their desire to perpetuate the present state of the person in some eternal post-mortem heaven fades away naturally as the illusion of the person itself fades away. Yet nobody need be alarmed at these changes of outlook. All that is true and worthy in popular religion is not discarded but kept and conserved.
One thing about the Short Path which must be firmly impressed on the student's mind is that its success depends on how much love for its objective a man brings to it. If he has ever had a moment's Glimpse of the Overself, and has fallen more deeply in love with it than with anything else, he will be able to fulfil the basic requirement for all Short Path techniques: but without such wholehearted attachment, he is sure to fail.
He must bring to this formidable task an adventuresome quality which is willing to take a few risks, if only because merely negative aims, hesitant "ifs," timid "buts," and the general lack of courage to take an imperative plunge will invite what they seek to avoid.
What is the key to the Short Path? It is threefold. First, stop searching for the Overself since it follows you wherever you go. Second, believe in its Presence, with and within you. Third, keep on trying to understand its truth until you can abandon further thoughts about it. You cannot acquire what is already here. So drop the ego's false idea and affirm the real one.(P)
The Short Path teaching will only prove immediately successful with those who are ready for it. It should qualify its claims with this statement.
In its earlier stages, the Short Path is a continued practice of becoming aware of those moments when he slips away into forgetfulness of the Stillness.
The Short Path stimulates him to dynamically energetic endeavours and encourages him to make lightning-like thrusts toward Reality. This he cannot do without inexorably and resolutely crushing his ego or taking advantage of a grave circumstance and unresistingly letting it crush the ego for him.
From the Short Path high-altitude standpoint, no variation in doctrine to meet the needs of weaker minds, no yielding of any kind to the mass mind is to be tolerated. It is rigidly uncompromising, and therefore isolated. It is final and closed and rejects all cheap, facile, suave diplomacy for the sake of popularity.
The Short Path is, in essence, the ceaseless practice of remembering to stay in the Stillness, for this is what he really is in his innermost being and where he meets the World-Mind.(P)
The Short Path uses (a) thinking: metaphysical study of the Nature of Reality; (b) practice: constant remembrance of Reality during everyday life in the world; (c) meditation: surrender to the thought of Reality in stillness. You will observe that in all these three activities there is no reference to the personal ego. There is no thinking of, remembering, or meditating upon oneself, as there is with the Long Path.(P)
A part of the Short Path work is intellectual study of the metaphysics of Truth. This is needful to expose the ego's own illusoriness, as a preliminary to transcending it, and to discriminate its ideas, however spiritual, from reality.(P)
In the first and second stages of the Short Path, his aim is to set himself free from the egoism in which his consciousness is confined.(P)
This is simply a way of practice for any sincere seeker. It does not interfere with his religious creed or belief.
The Short Path is the real way! All else is mere preparation of the equipment for it. For with it he is no longer to direct his meditation upon the shortcomings and struggles of the personal self but up to the Overself, its presence and strength. For the consciousness of the Real, the True, the Beneficent and Peaceful comes by its Grace alone and by this practice he attracts the visitation.
Although he refuses to identify himself with the ego's outlook and actions, he refuses also to condemn them.
The Short Path calls for a discernment and intelligence which are not needed in ordinary living, which are so subtle that the truth of mentalism must first be applied to the world and allowed to permeate the understanding, for a long time, before it can be applied to the person himself.
The Short Path is no dryly intellectual affair or coldly unfeeling one. It nurtures beautiful, exquisite moments and richly uplifting moods. Both this path and its term are vital and dynamic aesthetic experiences.
He cultivates a more joyous attitude, this man on the Short Path, for remembrance of the Overself, which he practises constantly, reminds him of the glory of the Overself.
It is better at this stage to forget his failings and bring in the atmosphere which would make them inoperative.
It is not enough to learn to bear with others, to excuse and accept their shortcomings. He must also learn to bear with himself, to accept his own shortcomings.
To adopt the Short Path is to place oneself at a point of view where all the efforts of the Long Path are seen as a sheer waste of time and where its successes are regarded as equal in value to its failures, since both are illusory experiences of an illusory entity.
In its advanced phases the Short Path is no pathway at all. It has all the freedom of air and sea.
It is a kind of spiritual ju-jitsu, for it uses the ego's own strength to overthrow the ego!
It is a Short Path attitude to avoid censorious reproaches and condemnatory speech--these as a part of its larger rejection of negatives and preference for positives.
Reject every negative thought with implacable rigour--this is one of the important practical deductions of the Short Path.
Recognition is a prominent feature on the Short Path. The Overself is always there but only those on the Short Path recognize this truth and think accordingly. The world is always with us, but only those on the Short Path recognize the miracle that it is. In moments of exaltation, uplift, awe, or satisfaction--derived from music, art, poetry, landscape, or otherwise--thousands of people have received a Glimpse; but only those on the Short Path recognize it for what it really is.
To practise the Short Path is to be aware of the miracle entailed in every moment of living.
The Short Path concentrates thought upon the Real, deliberately forgetful of everything and everyone in the world of illusion.
The attitudes of reverence, even awe, devotion, worship, ought not to be eliminated just because he is practising the Short Path. It is still a technique even if it does embody the assumption of nonduality.
This Short Path is the path of paradox.
He cannot walk this Shorter Path without rejecting the world as illusion and consequently without labelling the world's evil and suffering as illusory. It is a hard test for him to pass, a narrow gate which bars successful travel on this Path to him if he persists in clinging to his old beliefs. Their sacrifice is required of him--yet not blindly as a matter of faith alone but justly as a matter of reason as well.
The practice of refusing to accept appearances of evil or illusion and penetrating to realities of beneficence and truth draws out and discovers the purifying and healing capabilities which can remedy those appearances.
A boundless faith in the Overself's power to assist him must be the possession of a Short Path votary--that is, faith in both the existence and the efficacy of its Grace.
The Short Path precludes impatience and forbids anxiety.
The attitude of pursuing an objective, of searching for a truth, however admirable in the early stages, becomes an obstruction in this the latest stage.
When he is established to some extent on the Short Path he may not only expect the expected, as most people do, but also expect the unexpected.
The Short Path accepts no other power than the divine power, no other reality than the divine reality. It recognizes no second entity and ascribes no force whatever in its own life to such an entity.
Eliminate religious comforts, imaginations, and illusions from inner life. They are escapes for our weakness, lower levels masquerading to remain outside God while pretending to be inside God. Suspend all thinking.
On the Short Path he fixes his mind on divine attributes, such as the all-pervading, ever-present, beginningless and endless nature of the One Life-Power, until he is lifted out of his little ego entirely.
Take the goal in view from the new beginning. This will help prevent going astray, making detours, losing discrimination.
If he firmly plants his feet on the Short Path, if he never lets himself forget his real being is in the Overself, then he must refuse to accept a single one of those thoughts which so often trouble the traveller on the Long Path--thoughts of anxiety, frustration, or concern about his progress. He stays well above them.
The Short Path tells us that the goal need not be approached grimly.
He does not have to think meanly of himself all the time, does not have to worry anxiously about his unworthy character. Rather should he learn to get more relaxed, more remindful of the existence of his diviner being.
On the Short Path, instead of attacking the lower self, he lifts himself up to the presence of the higher. The evil in him may then melt away of its own accord.
The Short Path shows him that it is better to take the highest model, to look for his strength rather than his weakness.
It is the unique contribution of the Short Path that it takes advantage of the Overself's ever-present offer of Grace.
When body and feeling are cleansed by disciplinary regimes, when the intellect is inspired by meditational exercises, one is ready for the Short Path.
Your reaction to events and persons depends on your recognition of Overself. If you see only little ego, and fail to see the Overself, there will be a negative reaction. Both are within you.
Not by harshly and negatively condemning others who act wrongly--which is needful at the proper time, with the proper person--does the Short Path votary correct them but by constructively, kindly suggesting the better way.
Just as the ancient pagan Mysteries required some amount of preparation and some form of purification before candidates were admitted, so the Short Path ordinarily requires some Long Path work as a prerequisite. But not always and not now.
The Short Path techniques are available for use not only at fixed periods and special sessions for meditation but also throughout the day as a constant habit, a regular way of living.
The Short Path can only be travelled if faith in the Overself is fundamental and complete, and if trust in the effectiveness of its power is strong and unwavering.
Expect the unexpectable!
It is the art of being artless, spiritual without doing it consciously. It is achievement of effortless mental quiet. It is ordinary living, plus an extraordinary continuous awareness.
Benefits and results
This is the wonder of the Short Path--that it teaches us to refuse at once every thought which seeks to identify us with the feeble and unworthy self. This is the gladness of the Short Path--that it urges us to accept and hold only those thoughts which identify us directly with the strong and divine Overself, or which reflect its goodness and wisdom.
With the Short Path, one emerges into an atmosphere that is totally different in nature and quality from the Long Path's. It is like seeing the sun break through the clouds.
The Direct Path's influence should show itself in bringing a brighter outlook to a man and a more cheerful tone to his character. It is true that philosophy is quite aware of the Buddhistic picture of life, of the sorrows and sicknesses which drag him down at times. That is why it makes equanimity a leading item of the inner work upon himself, why it becomes so necessary. But it is also true that moments, moods, and glimpses are also possible when there is uplift, and he can confirm for himself that the human link with the higher power is a very real thing.
It is while working with the Short Path that the man discovers he may apply its principles to his worldly existence, his earthly fortunes too. He learns that the ultimate source of his physical welfare is not the ego but the Overself. If he looks only to the little ego for his supply, he must accept all its narrow limitations, its dependence on personal effort alone. But if he looks farther and recognizes his true source of welfare is with the Overself, with its miracle-working Grace, he knows that all things are possible to it. Hope, optimism, and high expectation make his life richer, more abundant.
If we turn towards our truer selves, then light will descend and dissolve the evils in our being.
It is not essential to enter the trance state in order to experience sufficient depth of meditation, although many do seek it in the popular belief of its necessity. The advanced Short Path treader develops the capacity without the necessity. That is to say, he can enjoy the benefits of a stilled mind in an instant whenever outer circumstances permit him to relax but without having to fall into a condition oblivious of outside scenes, sounds, and shapes.
The consequence of this self-training on the Short Path is that in all questions, problems, situations, and practices his first thought will be to take the matter to the Overself, identifying with Overself, and later, when he returns to the second thought, the matter will be looked at under this diviner light.
When he shifts the centre of his interest from the ego to the Stillness his life begins to manage itself. Happenings pertaining to it come about without his doing anything at all.
Put in another way, it may be said that the Short Path develops inspiration and evokes intuition.
The Short Path will bear fruit in several virtues, which will come of their own accord and without his trying to gain them. In this way it will help him calm his passions and discipline his ego, even though his thoughts and meditations make no reference to them.
The discovery--that he need not torment himself with attempts to improve, reform, correct, and purify himself--may come into his mind with joyously explosive effect. He need not fear to freely recognize and boldly use the power of the Source. There is no other with which he can come into contact which can so utterly transform him and transcend his circumstances. It is the human parallel to atomic energy.
His life will become more cheerful and he himself more human when he takes to the Short Path.
Even without making special efforts to deal with undesirable traits, some will tend to fall away through being denied attention. This is one consequence of following the Short Path.
Because he travels along the Short Path with a happy heart, his attitude towards other persons tends to be a loving one, or kindly, or at least emanating goodwill.
Such is the value of Short Path exercises, and more especially of those which give constant mindfulness and the Witness-attitude, that earnest practice of them may bring realization in as little time as one week to seven years.
When Jesus said, ". . . and all these things shall be added unto you," he did not primarily mean material things such as money and houses, although these were included. He meant that the moral virtues and the moral excellences for which so many seekers after perfection strive in vain would spontaneously add themselves to him as an after-effect of being "born again."
Since the Overself is the source of all virtues, the man who unites with it will easily and naturally be virtuous in the truest sense: all the bad in his character will be eliminated.
The Short Path brings joy, hope, enthusiasm and confidence, lyricism and optimism.
The virtues he attempted to acquire on the Long Path, and too often attempted in vain, come to him of themselves by the magical grace of the Short Path.
Entry on the Short Path bestows a feeling of glorious freedom.
Only the Short Path can turn aspiration into attainment, for only it proffers Grace.
The Short Path makes miracles possible because it leads through the gate of the timeless, futureless, pastless Now.
You will know truth and experience reality in those moments when you have freed yourself from the ego's conditioning processes, from its limiting past memories and imprisoning emotions. In such moments you will be abruptly enlightened and your whole attitude toward life will be different in consequence.
Just as welcome as bright sunlight pouring in through a cell-window is the hope proffered by the Short Path.
One advantage of the Short Path is that whoever takes to it thoroughly gets rid of guilt complexes, of sorrowing over his past, his errors, his sins.
In this way he does little to free himself from a weakness, a desire, or a passion. It goes, falls away of its own accord, if he looks to the Higher Self rather than to the management of his own ego for salvation. It is in this spontaneous way, too, that the attitude of detachment begins to appear in his character and little by little--but sometimes swiftly--becomes established. But a warning is needed here. Whatever purifications or strengthenings, whatever other attempts and trainings at self-betterment he has begun need not be dropped, provided they are kept in their place and not allowed to obscure the view of the primary goal or gradually sidetrack direction from its superior level.
This is a paradox of the Short Path, that on the one hand he practises this exercise of playing the game of being enlightened, and on the other of freely confessing his faults, limitations, and weaknesses but just as freely accepting them. Thus a curious peace of mind settles in him and becomes naturalized. But it is not a spurious peace. It rejects worry or anxiety and negates fear.
The question of the difficulty of dislodging the ego does not arise on the Short Path.
The effects of this Short Path work are sometimes miraculous and always life-giving.
He has entered a new and happier phase of his life. The problems of the past have disappeared. The door to inner light is always ready to open at his mere push.
The Short Path gives its followers gaiety of outlook and an assurance of victory.
If he keeps in right relation with his Overself, he will inevitably keep in right relation with everything and everyone else.
It takes his mind off himself and his difficulties and lifts him to the level where he can perceive that the Overself can take adequate care of him and them too. It is all-sufficient for all his needs, for clearing away old spiritual perplexities, or for providing new physical surroundings.
The Short Path makes it possible for the most ordinary man--unprepared, untrained though he be--to find spiritual fulfilment.
The Short Path frees us from the anxieties and guilts which make living more of a burden than it need be.
Only when it becomes natural and therefore easy, continuous and therefore well-established, does meditation become completely fruitful. But this is possible only on the Short Path.
Without expecting miracles from human nature, it is not unreasonable to assert that the realization of its larger possibilities is more likely to happen on the Short Path and has a better chance to be achieved.
The Short Path provides him with the chance of making a fresh start, of gaining new inspiration, more joy.
What he feels on the Short Path is confidence and peace.
Those mesmeric announcements of inner grandeur awaiting human beings--breathtaking in the way they sweep aside those negativities and pessimisms which beset us--belong to the Short Path.
Out of this altered metaphysical consciousness there emerges an altered ethical conscience. Along with the movement to a new intellectual centre there is a parallel movement to a new heart. This is miracle enough to attract all those who want a shorter easier way, or those who want to avoid the long-drawn labours of self-sculpture.
The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.