Reversing psychic self-destruction can be greatly assisted by seeking guidance from higher intelligence. But it is one thing to know that such guidance can be tapped, and quite another to discover the actual steps that lead us to this resource. Some naïvely expect that their sincere faith in inspired assistance will automatically lead to receiving clear and concrete support. Perhaps there will be engraved gold plates left at their bedside during the night. Or they will hear a deep voice or receive a letter from Tibet.
No one is likely to receive gold tablets—even the most devout believer—except in works of fiction. Still, the inner life does comes with its own guide book and rules for right living. This book is to be found where most people never look, yet it is obvious once we are told where to find it. This is not a secret, for it has been available to everyone since the dawn of civilization.
The secret is the arcane principle of “as above, so below.” This means that the tangible world we perceive with our physical senses reflects an inner world of universal order, principles, and purpose. The Apostle Paul restated this in a more pragmatic form as: the invisible nature of life and its underlying order is revealed by all things visible.
While this may sound vague or too mystical to be useful, it is extremely practical. After all, we can study the work of ancient Roman buildings and detect the engineering principles they used to build large domed structures, huge bridges, and aqueducts. Or we might study the genius of Beethoven or Mozart and discover the principles of harmony and counterpoint. For millennia scientists have studied the mysteries of nature and comprehended the laws governing matter, mass, motion, magnetism, combustion, and many other physical phenomena. These discoveries have led to vast improvements in the quality of our technology and life. In the same way, we can carefully observe the behavior of people and discern which habits and beliefs lead to health, happiness, and progress in our relationships and careers. No intelligent person has to be told that kindness and politeness are important because we often witness the damage done by rudeness and personal dishonesty. Nor do we have to be reminded that a sense of responsibility and hard work are essential to enduring success, for we often recognize the consequences of laziness and self-indulgence.
The rule book that everyone looks for is to be found right under our nose. We just have to look carefully and over long periods of time to detect the lasting consequences of previous acts—or lack of them. Short term rewards for aggressive and dishonest actions can be significant, but will lead to an inevitable backlash later on. As we note the behaviors and deeds that are rewarded and those that bring unpleasant consequences, we come to understand the universal rules for right human relationships.
It is popular in many “sophisticated” circles to insist that there are no universal laws or principles of human behavior—just opinions and cultural traditions. Yet we find in every civilized society that children are protected and adults are expected to be loyal to the family and tribe, accountable for their debts, respectful of property rights, and self-reliant in so far as possible. These cultural canons found throughout the world are the primer for the rules of right human relationships and behavior.
As we become more discerning about the nuances and subtleties of human behavior, we can observe more about what the inner life supports or discourages. The short-term use of intimidation and clever propaganda to exploit people can be extraordinarily successful. The long-term results, however, are spectacularly disastrous. Charm and flattery will easily win loyalty and cooperation, but unless they are backed up with substance and good results, the magic fades and we begin to see the “heroic emperor” has been without clothes all along. Politicians who are too generous with other people’s money can become very popular and powerful until the money runs out and bills can no longer be paid. Those who successfully reap where they have not sown eventually find that what they have slips through their fingers.
On the other hand, those who play by the rules and pay their dues with honest work often find a generous reward. They may not become rich in coin of the realm, but they do become rich in the kindness and the trust of friends, wealthy in a clear conscience, and blessed with a good relationship with the higher life. Their reward is a joyful attitude and the confidence that they can depend on the support of a universe that operates in a benevolent and orderly fashion.
As these ideas resonate with our thinking, our eyes will be able to see that all our experiences reveal the rules for right living and the rewards that come in following them to our greater destiny.
For example, whenever we suffer arrogance and rudeness, we are being taught a lesson in the importance of kindness and charity. When we are the vic- tim of someone’s dishonesty (material or intellectual), we are being reminded of the importance of integrity in all of its forms. Whenever our needs are ignored, we are being shown the value of being encouraging and helpful in the world. If our good ideas and talents are rejected as inferior, we have the opportunity to cultivate self-appreciation and self-reliance.
The lessons of life transcend our personal experiences. The great repository of information about how we shall live comes from a study of the history of civilization and the rich legacy of brilliant observers of human nature. The enormous panorama of human life, carefully observed and recorded, informs us about the great creative bursts of genius, the cycles of progress and regression, episodes of mass deception, and even the occasional delusion that afflicts large groups and entire nations. We can observe cycles of innovation, progress, and reward, as well as patterns of corruption, reform, suppression of reform, and then collapse.
The intelligent conclusion from this study is that there is ample guidance about how we shall live—that is, if we want a successful and fulfilling life. There are many signposts telling us to go here but not there. There are clear warnings about danger and temptations. Some are very subtle, but others are graphic: swindlers go to jail, selfish people ruin their marriages, and the lazy end up with a marginal lifestyle. On a larger scale, fits of arrogance and ignorance may afflict whole countries with delusions of grandeur, producing terrible disasters before the force of universal order crushes them.
If we are aware of the subtle influence of the inner laws and principles that govern all life activities, we will understand these destructive events as a way the world is purged of much ignorance, arrogance, and selfishness. But when we fail to recognize the power of these inner forces, we see only the terrible destruction and foolishness of humankind and become bitter or apathetic.
In the same way, we must discern the subtle messages in our own life experiences. We need to examine our failures and defeats as possible evidence that we have done the wrong thing or done the right thing in the wrong way. For example, we may have been successful at work, but neglected to reward the team that helped us achieve it. Or we may have gotten good results by exploiting others and seizing opportunities that belonged to them. Moreover, by examining what has been or is successful for us in our relationships, careers, or personal problems, we can discern the underlying principles for success. Hard work, respect, kindness, and optimism are eventually rewarded far better than charm, grandiose claims, and aggressiveness.
If we learn to look beyond the outer aspects of life, there is often a message that reveals heretofore overlooked rules and principles of right living. These insights will radically change how we interpret our life experiences and choose to respond to them. It is our right and privilege to study these rules of the road. As we commit to following them, we will move rapidly toward our destined greatness.