A Breath of Herman

We had paused to let the typewriter rest and to talk about the direction to take in the next three chapters.

“I think we’ve presented a good introduction to using meditative techniques for understanding and healing the personality,” Carl said. “It’s time to shift our emphasis a bit, though, and lead the reader to a deeper realization of the Higher Self.”

“Yes, there’s always the danger of becoming too stuck in the life of the personality,” Bob agreed. “The personality has an enormous capacity to think only of its immediate problems, difficulties, traumas, hurt feelings, and fears. We can build up some very important meditative skills by managing these problems, but meditation should also lead us beyond them, to new and higher perspectives toward life. Sometimes, when people are just beginning, they forget that.”

Apparently, our discussion invoked interest in other dimensions. There was a slight tremor in the room, not enough to move the furniture, but enough to be noticeable. Slowly, the tremor became audible. Someone was quietly intoning the word, “OM.” We suspected it was Herman.

Soon, our friend from the angelic realms had reappeared. “How are you doing, boys?” Herman inquired.

“You probably know the answer to that better than we do,” Bob replied.

“Well, I’m an angel, not a critic,” Herman protested. “I wouldn’t want you to think I’m lying around heaven eating bon-bons and passing judgment while the two of you are slaving away down here on earth, trying to fit conjunctions and gerunds together and make sense out of all these complex ideas. A lot of people think of the Higher Self that way, you know, they think it is constantly judging and condemning the efforts they are making, as though the personality can do no good. This just isn’t true.”

“We certainly haven’t found it to be true, at any rate,” Carl agreed.

“It’s a point you may want to stress,” Herman continued. “You’ve been writing a lot about techniques for cleaning up the personality and transforming the quality of life. Lord knows there is a great need for this, but please be careful not to unwittingly convince your readers that the Higher Self is some kind of critic. It seeks to inspire the personality to grow and transform itself, not coerce it. There’s a big difference.”

“Yes, a lot of people seem to project their own tendencies to criticize and dominate others onto their conception of the Higher Self—or God, for that matter. Since they would behave in those ways if they had supreme authority, they assume the Higher Self works in that way, too,” Bob commented.

“There’s always a danger, whenever you start stringing techniques together, that people will begin to think that the techniques themselves are the alpha and omega of meditation.

And if they have trouble mastering the techniques, they will start to worry that the Higher Self will be critical.

But meditation is not just a series of techniques, as you well know. I like the way you put it a few chapters ago: that it is a method for strengthening the bond between the Higher Self and the personality.

That’s very good. But this means that if meditation is going to be useful, it must be a part of life. It must be something that lives and breathes and becomes part of the rhythm of your livingness.”

“Absolutely,” said Carl.

“So, don’t let anyone get the idea that meditation is some kind of psychological obstacle course, duck this temptation here, jump over that resentment there, and crawl through the tunnel of narrowmindedness up ahead. Be sure your readers know the purpose of growing is to grow toward the light!”

“I really didn’t think we were leading anyone on a steeplechase,” protested Bob. “To bring the higher life into daily thought and behavior, you have to learn to clean up the mental household and remove the barriers to spirit. That’s what makes meditation effective, and helps people realize that spirit can be brought into daily life.”

“Yes,” chimed in Carl, “what could be a better proof of the power of spirit than its capacity to transform an angry person into a forgiving one, or a sour, grumpy person into a joyful, cheerful agent of light?”

“Absolutely nothing,” replied Herman, twinkling as only an angel can. “But I hope you are not going to leave it at that. Life is not just a matter of attacking our problems and conflicts. The spiritual life begins with resolving these difficulties, yes, but it must include much more as well.

It must involve building a capacity to make some kind of contribution. What good have you gained if you have successfully fought off all of your anger and fear, but haven’t also learned to express goodwill, patience, kindness, and faith? What good have you served if you have understood all that is wrong with your life, or even the world, unless you are able to participate in the work of healing and redeeming it?”

“Well, that’s just what we were outlining for the next several chapters,” said Carl.

‘Tm looking forward to reading them,” Herman replied, still twinkling. “Do put in a few words for me, though. Make sure everyone understands that the goal of meditation is to become enlightened, not just extra aware of their problems.” No one spoke for awhile. Herman hovered, gently chanting “OM.” Finally, Bob spoke.

“It’s a delicate balance, isn’t it? Some people start meditating and end up floating in the clouds somewhere, totally spaced out. Others try to avoid that, but end up focused excessively in their problems.”

Herman just had to interrupt. “Is there something wrong with floating in the clouds? I do it all the time!”

Bob and Carl laughed. “But you don’t get spaced out, I’ll bet,” Carl teased.

“That’s true,” Herman agreed. “Well, as you said, it’s a delicate balance. And sometimes you people in the West develop a real mania for fussing over every little thing. Sometimes, you know, it is possible to let a few of those problems just fall away and get on with the business of growing toward the light.”

“Isn’t that just common sense?” asked Bob.

“Sometimes common sense is not as common as you presume,” Herman answered. “We call it wisdom up here.”

“That’s what we’re writing about in our next chapter,” exclaimed Carl.

‘’I’ll see if I can’t sneak in between the lines every now and then,” Herman replied. “Well, I have to fly now. Keep up the good work.”

In a twinkling—his final twinkling—Herman disappeared into a small, white cloud, leaving us only with the echo of “OM.”

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