Man can never improve anything on this earth if he has not first learned to rise mentally to higher levels so as to contemplate other images, other modes of existence superior to his own, and find his models and guidelines in them.
Jesus said, «Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.» He could not have expressed such a prayer if he had not already contemplated Heaven and compared it with earth - and seen that there was simply no comparison! Above, in Heaven, everything is so perfect, so glorious, that when one sees how different it is from earth, one cannot help wishing what Jesus wished for in his prayer. But for man to achieve Heaven on earth implies, necessarily, that he must be capable of rising above the shabby, mediocre, fragmented realities of this earth in order to conemplate the realities of Heaven and, having contemplated them, of returning to organize and adjust earthly realities to conform to the models he has seen on high. And this is the work of Initiates: through their meditations and contemplations they perceive and tune in to the perfection of the world above, which they then endeavour to reproduce here, on earth.
It is only in Initiatic schools that human beings learn to do this: most men have no idea how to rise to a higher plane, above and beyond that of the earth, and to contemplate that higher world, and this is why they have made such a ghastly mess of this world below. Only nature is truly beautiful, with its lakes and mountains and flowers. The things that man has built in the midst of nature are often dreadfully ugly. But, in spite of all obstacles and thanks to all those beings who bring to earth new notions more akin to those of Heaven, humanity has gradually been improving over the course of the centuries. The only purpose of meditation and contemplation is to enable man to reach a higher plane of consciousness capable of influencing and colouring his tastes, judgements and attitudes. The problem is, however, that one has to know how to meditate, how to contemplate, and what subjects to choose. A great many people meditate, but they meditate about the most prosaic things: how to organize their businesses, how to earn more money, how to steal a kiss from a lovely woman! If you ask somebody what he is doing, he will tell you. «I'm meditating», but only the Lord knows what he is meditating about! A cat meditates, too: it meditates on the problem of how to catch a mouse. So, you see, there are different kinds of meditation. And since, in spite of all their meditations, human beings are still bogged down in the same old faults and failings, the same perversions, the same infamy, it is obvious that they have not yet grasped the secret of true meditation.
True meditation is, first and foremost, to rise to a higher world, to lose oneself in wonder and admiration and, then, to reflect that wonder in oneself. If your still feel apathetic, dull and uninspired after your meditation it means that it was a failure. Meditation should change something in the way you move. It should give you something new, something subtler, just one little particle, perhaps, but a particle that vibrates in harmony with the divine world. This is how you can tell whether you have meditated well or not.
Meditation begins with the choice, by the intellect, of an elevated subject on which you fix your mind. After a few moments you can relax your mental concentration and simply contemplate the beauty you have conjured up in your mind's eye and let yourself be steeped in it. And finally, if you are able, you identify with that beauty. The first stage, therefore, is concentration and meditation, and then, once the ground is prepared, comes the stage of contemplation in which you bask in the image of perfection that fills your heart and mind, you drink deeply of its beauty, you savour it and find happiness in it. And, finally, you identify with it - and this is plenitude. These are useful, magnificent methods and if you apply them you should be able to draw great benefit from your meditations. Otherwise you will fritter your life away, deluding yourself into believing that you have done something worthwile, whereas in reality you have accomplished nothing.
These methods used to be applied by the great geniuses of the past, painters, sculptors, musicians and poets, and it was thanks to such methods that they were able to bequeath so many masterpieces to humanity. Today, unfortunetly, artists have forgotten these helpful practices, they prefer to create amdist the noise and prosaic ugliness of everyday life. This is why their creations are incapable of bringing you closer to the world of beauty and perfection, whereas, in contemplating the masterpieces of the past, you are in direct contact with more advanced beings and you begin to feel and experience what they felt and experienced. Without any deliberate effort on your part, you are practically obliged to follow them into the sublime regions that they contemplated and in which they found such delight.
This is the great advantage, the educational value of art but, unfortunetly, it does not apply to contemporary art. Contemporary art, instead of reflecting the sublime regions of the superconsciousness, often reflects the infernal regions of the subconscious. Today's artists who create works of this kind are leading mankind to destruction. And the same must be said of thinkers and writers who have never meditated or experienced ecstasy, who have never risen to celestial heights or contemplated the structure of the universe: they write books which have a destructive, disintegrating effect on their readers by filling them with doubt and revolt and a taste of disorder and anarchy. A great many of the books published today are written by authors who have never made the effort to rise to the higher regions of the spirit. Perhaps you will ask, « How can you know that?» Simply by seeing the effect they have on you. If a writer fails to awaken your higher nature it is a sure sign that he has never visited the Heavenly world above. When a man rises to higher spheres he absorbs particles from those regions and those particles continue to be active and to vibrate within him; in fact, they vibrate in such a way as to operate all kinds of transformations in the world. This is the ideal of a true artist, the ideal of an Initiate.
In short, Initiates, mystics and artists resemble each other in that they all have a favourable influence on mankind: artists, through their works of art; mystics, through their spiritual emotions and virtues, and Initiates and the great Masters (whom I rank above all others because they are in almost direct contact with Heaven), through their power to propagate light.
Artists work to produce forms which adhere as closely as possible to the ideal of perfect beauty; mystics and religious men and women work towards the perfection of the psychic and moral dimension, that is to say that they work on the level of content, whereas Initiates and the great Masters work on the level of meaning, on the level of ideas and principles. These three categories of beings are united in their desire ceaselessly to improve and perfect humanity, but they go about it in different ways, in keeping with their different capacities and talents: artists on the level of form, mystics on the level of content and Initiates on the level of meaning. Artists, mystics and Initiates all have different faculties, different means of expression and different missions. But the reality, the quintessence, is one and the same; only the expression is different. These three categories of human being correspond to the three essential principles in man: spirit, soul, and body; intellect, heart and will; thought, feeling and action. All three are essential, but intelligence and understanding take priority; ethics, mysticism and a generous, sensitive heart come second,and action, the work of making the world a better place, comes third. A whole man is one who is capable of embracing all three worlds: philosophy, religion (including ethics or morals) and art.
The foremost desire of a true Initiate is to work for the accomplishment of Jesus’ prayer: «Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven». Even the religious have never really probed the meaning of this phrase which contains the whole of Initiatic philosophy, the whole plan of action for a disciple, for a true Christian. It is no good just reciting the words and hoping that the Lord will send someone else to accomplish it in actuality. It is up to us to do it; it is our job to set to work and make the earth like Heaven.
But there is one thing you have to realize, and that is that if you are not willing to spend enough time, effort and love to rise to a higher level so as to contemplate and comprehend the realities of Heaven, you will never bring it down to earth in any form whatsoever. Something like this cannot be done haphazardly. You cannot express beauty unless you have some contact with beauty. And yet there are a great many artists who think that their shallow, sorbid lives will enable them to create sublime works of art. They are far more likely to produce gargoyles and monstrosities - accurate expressions of their own degree of evolution!
Besides, man is only man. He cannot give more than he has got. The French have the saying, «Even the prettiest girl can only give what she’s got». If you want to give, therefore, you must have something to give and, even more obviously, if you want to create, you must possess the elements of that creation within you. If someone produces a monstrously ugly creation, it means that he has monsters of ugliness within him; there is no need to look further for an explanation. No one can produce divine works of art if he is not inhabited by divine beings. In order to produce something that is better than oneself, one has to transcend one’s own limitations, penetrate into more perfect regions and there gather divine elements which may then be communicated to others. This is the secret of divine art.
One always has to transcend oneself in order to give mankind something better. If I had not had that ambition, I would not have been able to give you anything better than the most ordinary philosophy. If I am able to reveal to you truths that no one has ever known or experienced before, it is because I have always had the ambition to create something new and better. Human beings are always looking for something better, something new and more beautiful. This is what they are looking for in theatres and cinemas, concerts, libraries, exhibitions and museums. Every human being has this deep-seated instinct to seek something better. But the poor creatures don’t know that, instead of looking for it in concert halls, theatres or night-clubs, they must rise to the higher levels of the soul and spirit by means of meditation and contemplation.
Cosmic Intelligence has instilled in man the instinctive desire to open new horizons, thus ensuring that the human race shall continue to evolve and progress. Look at plants and animals: they are still the same after thousands of years, their evolution is very slow, whereas human beings are capable of advancing very rapidly. But the external, objective, superficial aspect of life has such a fascination for men that, if they are not guided and taught by Initiates and Masters, they easily fall under its spell and become enslaved. They always look to external things for satisfaction. They always expect to find greater joy on the fringes of reality, in human creations. But they will not find it there. To find what they are looking for they have to look upwards - or down into their own depths, if you prefer; it is simply a different way of expressing the same reality - for all the wonders created by man are no more than a pale, distant reflection of the divine world.
Even the very greatest artists are limited in their means of expression; they can never transcribe exactly what they see, hear or feel in their moments of inspiration. Even Beethoven, Mozart, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Rembrandt were unable to communicate all that they saw and heard. So you must not think that the best way to hasten your evolution is to visit museums and art galleries. Of course, I am not saying you should not do so; on the contrary, it can certainly be useful. For my part I have visited museums and art galleries, temples and churches, and attended concerts and plays in every country I have been to; but that is nothing, really nothing, compared to my excursions into other regions. It is in those other regions that I have seen and understood and contemplated splendours which surpass all the masterpieces of this world. This is why I cannot summon up any great respect or admiration for certain huma «creations». It is not my fault: I have been shown things which are so much more beautiful and more perfect!
And now, since you already know that my advice and the methods I have given you over the years have always been true, useful and full of good sense, I ask you to listen attentively to the advice I am giving you today and to surpass and transcend yourselves in order to become true creators. You might begin, for instance, by improving the way in which you create your own children, for children should be better than their parents. They should not have the same faults and weaknesses. Parents who have already learned how to bring into the world the children who are superior to them, are very few and far between, so you must not think that you are already beyond reproach. As you can see, there is a lot more to learn, even in this respect.