PATHS TO SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING
Transcription of talk by J.G. Bennett (Date and audience unknown; Shantock Hall, Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, September 1972)
“I think the real title of the talk is about the expansion of consciousness. One of the questions to start with is to ask ourselves why we should want to expand our consciousness. All questions of ‘why’ lead back and back until we come to some question like ‘Why am I here at all?’ We are taught to ask the question `Who am I?’ we do not so often ask the question `Why am I? What am I for?”
“The great thing is to realize that suffering and joy are not antithetical to or exclusive of one another. Joy is also necessary for man; it is the test for him that his life is right. There is a wonderful passage in `The Shepherd of Hermas’, one of the best early books that the Christians have, where the shepherd tells Hermas to put away grief for this destroys the spirit, that the spirit will not remain in the man who grieves. I remember many years ago I came across this and thought that this man really knows and understands. There is no point in willing this suffering – suffering for its own sake – or in mortifying oneself. That kind of false egoistic suffering has no profit, because one does not get what one wants, because one has lost something or fears to lose something. No liberation comes from that. The man, who understands suffering, understands also that this is inseparable from joy, therefore all grief disappears.”
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