Chapter 8 – Making Your Self the Master


Harvey Hardman
Making Your Self the Master
© Harvey Hardman
Denver, Colorado, 1935.

“He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he
that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.”

— Jesus.

“Know thy Self.”— Ancient Wisdom.

[73] The foregoing quotation from Jesus is a remarkable paradox. If you gain, you lose; if you lose, you gain. The story of Dives and Lazarus throws some light on the text, but even that leaves the meaning still in a deep shadow. We are helped toward a clearer understanding if we translate the passage thus: If you find your little self, you lose your greater Self; if you lose your little self, you find your greater Self.

The result is sure in either case. Dives pampered his appetites, fared sumptuously every day, lived for his sense-conscious self. Lazarus, without any conscious purpose to find the greater Self, lived in poverty and disease, much like the Hindu beggars you see in India today, and when he died “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom,” which was the way Jesus indicated that Lazarus realized his divine Self. The account does not say that Lazarus was religious, nor that Dives was wicked. The implication is that suffering and loss lead to freedom and happiness; that self-indulgence and luxury lead to the loss of the [74] greater Self. But the story is a parable and requires elucidation if we are to get at the meaning.

The little self is not hard to identify. It loves praise; prefers the chief seats in the synogogue; gives alms to be seen of men; makes long prayers to display its righteousness; indulges the sense appetites; always wants its own way; is selfish, proud, easily offended, seeketh its own, and in all ways places the emphasis on temporal things.

Saint Paul, in his wonderful chapter on love, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, defines many of the characteristics of the greater Self: The greater Self “suffereth long and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth in the truth; hopeth all things, endureth all things, and never faileth.”

The great question for each of us is: Which do we want to make the Master: the little self or the Greater Self? For we cannot serve both. With unanswerable logic, Jesus stated the case exactly: “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” Perhaps that is putting [75] it too strongly as far as Science is concerned, for we recognize that the intellectual self has its place in the evolution of the life and the powers of the individual. But for those who seek enlightenment, there can be no temporizing with regard to the authority of the greater Self. We must make it the Master. “Not my will, but thine be done” is the final decision whenever there is any question as to what is the right course in any situation. But to know this Self is the primary condition to making it the Master. Hence our admonitory text from the wisdom of the ancients: “Know thy Self.”

It may appear on first thought that nothing could be easier than to know one’s Self. But really it is not only difficult, it is the unending process of education that requires life after life to achieve. Why? Because to know truly the Self is to know God, and the wisdom and power of God. The big thing is to know that. For complete knowledge of the Self is just as impossible as is complete knowledge of the Infinite.

Once we begin to realize that the purpose of all the true Wisdom Schools of the ages, the whole purpose of the spiritual instruction of Jesus, and the object of our own teaching, is nothing more nor less than to make this plain, we shall see the supreme importance of attaining to knowledge of the Self. Nothing else [76] really matters. For all other knowledge is temporal. “Tongues shall cease and knowledge shall vanish away” but what we acquire of knowledge of the Divine Self endureth forever.

Jesus spoke very plainly on this matter of the difficulty of attaining to Self-knowledge, when he said: “Strait (narrow) is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” And surely as we look out upon the life of humanity, we see the truth of his statement; for the human mind and the little self come under the hypnotic trance induced by the conditions of the external world, with its allurements and fascinations and appeal to the senses.

Only the most deliberate and sustained effort will enable one finally to throw off that spell, and to live after the Law of the Master Within. But once the understanding is touched by the inward Light, and the rewards of knowledge of the Self become apparent to the intellect, there is no turning back. The Path, narrow as it is, becomes the beautiful Way of Life; and the assurance of the great Seer, that the disciple shall have all the good things of life in this present time, as well as in the eternal life, is realized.

How are we to go about the work of making the Self the Master? One good way to begin is to study the teachings of Jesus with the [77] object of seeing this truth that is hidden in all his parables and other instructions. The Greater Self is the Father within to which he so often referred. It is not merely a matter of Self-knowledge; it is a matter of knowing God as an abiding Presence in the soul. This Presence is wisdom, guidance, power, inspiration, love, protection.

But although the Self possesses the power to protect and guide us, the little self can defy it, or ignore it, and go the way of self-will amid the insecurities of the shifting, uncertain shadows of the external world of sense-life. In this way lie the disasters that trouble and disturb and confuse us.

By turning to the Master, and living constantly in the thought of His guidance and help, we escape the pitfalls, and even though our natural course should take us through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall be sustained. And though a thousand fall at our right hand and ten thousand at our left hand, the terror shall not touch us.

All the irritations and confusions and the troublesome cross-currents of human existence shall have no power to disturb the serenity and peace of the one who has made the greater Self the Master. He learns to have implicit faith in the inner Wisdom and spiritual vision of the [78] Master. He knows that the best of what is best shall come to him. He has found the center and certainty of his own God-Self.

A recent article in one of the popular magazines, beautifully illustrates this thought of the dominion of the Master. The author tells how, when a little girl, she used to sit at a certain place by the sea and watch the waves. The water at this point, in front of the cave where she so frequently sat, was choppy, and cross-currents make eddies and whirlpools and a topsy-turvy confusion, instead of the usual uniform wave motions. But at certain intervals there would come sweeping in a big wave, which would gather up all the little choppy waves, and move on to the shore, utterly mastering the disturbed waters by its majesty and power. This shall called the King Wave.

When we have learned finally to turn over the direction of our lives to the Master Self, we shall find all the troublesome, choppy little waves of our human life lifted up and unified by the power of this inward King, the Mind of the One who really knows. It may take time, but by steadily looking to the greater Self, and investing it with the authority of Master, and, with complete faith, going forth each day in the assurance that He knows what is best for us and will guide us safely on the Way, we shall [79] come at last to see the wisdom and feel the joy of saying, “Thy will, not mine be done.” For in this way the little self is at last swallowed up by the “King Wave,” and is carried on in the beauty and power and majesty of a life that is divinely ordered, poised, strong, fearless–a life like unto the Son of God.

Chapter 9

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Making Your Self the Master
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