[Self-improvement - continued]
As a normal process, we define ourselves, we find out who we are, by what we disagree with. And we identify others by what is wrong with them: we keep looking until we find some difference between "us" and "them." Virtues in others are invisible, not really interesting .
We human beings, almost alone among species, have solved the problem of maintaining negative tension by being our own worst enemies. We can never completely overcome "human nature" in ourselves or others, so the game goes on. It is plain that we are getting a reward from all the ghastly facts of life we complain of: that's what sells newspapers.
Negative emphasis results in an intensified structure and a stronger ego. Even though some of these activities, like self-denial, are carried on under the banner of spiritual search, the result is the same. On a subtle level we know that most spiritual endeavors will not succeed, but we go on maintaining the fantasy that they are admirable. Many of us have no intention of really succeeding in dissolving our attachment to structure and going to another plane of existence.
But what of those, wise and serious, who zealously pursue enlightenment by traditional methods? Since we know that negative methods of getting high will not lead to a stable experience of space, what is it that makes yoga rewarding?
The reason yoga works when it does is in the love expressed between teacher and student, and in the student's willing placement of attention. If you limit your experience to phenomena you are completely willing to conceive of, such as the contents of a cave in Tibet, you will certainly get high sooner or later.
But as soon as you walk out of the cave, you will find people behaving just as they did before. And if you are not willing to be the cause of their behavior, and love them as they are, your vibration level will drop. And then you may preach about how evil the world is, how corrupt cities are, how sinful people are.
Insofar as we are seriously concerned about evil, not just as a negative-tension game, we should see that we need not be concerned with evil as a physical manifestation: it is that such manifestations have their source in space-level concepts that exist in timeless possibility. It is as a concept that evil is real and is always within us. If we cannot learn how to deal with it on earth, we will be plagued with it even in heaven.
Even if you are not just testing your structure, the motive for purifying yourself óthat you feel spiritually impureówill prevent any genuine gain until you learn to love the impurity you started with. Can any being seriously think that he is going to pass through the infinity of time without ever making another mistake?
Quite often a flash of enlightenment will give you this message: Go back to where you started and learn to love it more.
There is another handicap to conventional methods of self-elevation: if you identify with a status system of spiritual values, it can produce unloving snobbery towards your brothers. The justice of our relations is exact, and if you are unloving the results will manifest explicitly. You may then complain, "If I'm working so hard to be pure, why do these things happen, why do people hate me?" But there is no purity greater than love, even when it is corrupt and unwashed.
Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment Contents