On Spirituality – Manly P. Hall

In our daily manifestation we are constantly in the presence of energies, but we take them for granted. We never question how it is that we can raise a finger, use a typewriter, or play a musical instrument. We see nothing mysterious about taking a walk, talking with our friends, or performing various arduous tasks in the name of health. The mystery behind the commonplace is something we do not understand but use constantly with little inquiry into our own nature. We have never questioned the process by which we are alive because we more or less take for granted that the questions cannot be answered and that whatever lies behind us is a mystery. Science has never undertaken to explore it. Philosophy has never been able to create a completely comprehensible exposition of principles, and religion deals in such abstract vagaries that we are not sure what part is true and what part is imaginary. But some have questioned and from the questioning developed various concepts by means of which it might be possible for us to explore this unknown world of causes.

Man specializes with his own mind, and whatever most occupies his mind is most supported by his resources. Persons interested in making a living devote their energies to this task, only occasionally taking time for meditation or reflection. It would seem, therefore, that there must be a motion, a process within our own thinking through which we can create the instrument for self-exploration. There must be some way of turning the mind from external addictions to the examination of internals. Most persons have never attempted to do this, and most do not even believe it possible. But there must be some way to use our faculties to discover ourselves, rather than using them constantly to buildup our store of knowledge about externals which, in the last analysis, are of very little basic importance to ourselves. To be given the equipment that we possess, only to use it for a few years, and then have both ourselves and our equipment fade away, seems to be contrary to the economy of nature. It would appear more reasonable that we have not yet attained to that degree of evolution which will enable us to develop the faculties of self-examination. They must lurk somewhere in our extrasensory perception band, and if we cannot find them, we will never know ourselves nor actually experience our true place in the universe or in the universal plan for ourselves.

It was first assumed that before we could penetrate the illusion of matter, we had to turn our attention away from matter, that to free our inner equipment for its apperceptive function, we had to relieve it of the burden of its continuous perceptive function, for every sensory perception that we possess is held in fascination in the world of phenomena. It is not so likely that we will be able to disentangle our functional resources and turn them in another direction. In order to explore causes, we must break the tie which forces us to continually use our energies as an out-flowing toward externals. This is accomplished through a series of experiences in which we come to understand by degrees the unity of this life principle in ourselves. To the degree we understand life, we participate in it, and we are closer to enlightenment when we are tied to reality by bonds of intense sympathy. If our dedications are towards enlightenment, we have a greater probability of attaining it than when our dedications are turned to other things and enlightenment is merely an avocational interest.

To attempt this it is necessary to reverse the involutionary process which ties energy to matter, and set up an evolutionary process within ourselves. Involution is the breaking up of one life into many manifestations. Evolution is the restoration of unity, the bringing back of diversity until oneness is re-established. Illusion is diversity. Reality is unity. To quiet down the experiences of diversity, to gradually bring separate things together, to search for unities where we have accepted diversities, to seek forever the one in the many and to discover finally the one behind the many – these are the labors of spiritual evolution. We begin symbolically by seeking the common ground of things and, in so doing, overcome forever the antagonisms and the conflicts which arise from our inability to perceive the identities of life.

~Excerpted from Manly P Hall Lecture #193 – “The Mystical Experience Union with The External Self.”