Against The Stream ~ EPILOGUE

SUPPOSE a man got the idea to cover the whole Earth with leather, to protect his feet from all the sharp stones, thorns and broken glass that lie around: would he ever be able to do so? Wouldn’t he be wiser to wear shoes?

We waste a lot of time complaining of external circumstances and blaming other people and things for the situations we find ourselves in. We think: "Oh, if only my life were different, if only it could be like that instead of like this, then I would be happy", and so on. We depend too much upon others and use them to excuse our own weaknesses. In the preceding pages, I have tried to point inwards, to indicate that, in our own minds, we have the necessary resources to face all the hardships and unpleasant things that life throws at us. The fact that we have not become completely mad already— and not just a little bit, as most of us are— testifies to this.

We may spend all our lives trying to change the outside world and make it conform to our ideas and desires, but will never completely succeed, although this shouldn’t prevent us from trying. Many things are in need of change, and can be changed; others we should try to change, even though we are not sure if we can change them. If, throughout history, we had not tried to change things, we would still be living in caves, and most of us wouldn’t like that very much. But often, when we focus on trying to change the outside world, we neglect the inner life, so that the peace and happiness we seek evades us, because it is inside, not outside.

We often say of things: "Oh, it’s difficult! I can’t do that!", even before we’ve tried. If we don’t try, it will not only be difficult but impossible! It’s easy to take things fatalistically and suffer and complain, and if we are content to do so, then why are we— I and you— writing and reading this book?

This advice is for Diamond People, not for those who want others to carry them around and feed them with spoons, like babies, or to forgive their sins and save them. If that sounds cruel, I’m sorry, but those who will make no effort to help themselves will just have to await the slow process of evolution, and learn under the harsh tutelage of Suffering. People who promise assistance and salvation to others without the need to do anything but believe are frauds, no matter how nice and kind they may appear to be, and if they are not deliberate frauds, they are deluded. The Buddha stated, very clearly, that each person must make the necessary efforts for himself. His Teachings may be summed up thus:

By ourselves is evil done,
By ourselves we pain endure;
By ourselves we cease from wrong,
By ourselves become we pure.
No-one saves us but ourselves,
No-one can and no-one may;
We ourselves must walk the Path,
Buddhas only show the Way.


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