I dont blame young people for taking the wrong road; I simply say that they are imbibing ideas and examples which are far from magnificient. We should not try to destroy all the old traditions; there's a great deal of good in traditions which are the outcome of thousands of years of experience. Men have spent their lives searching and suffering and groping their way and, thanks to their efforts, have discovered a certain number of rules on which they have built their culture and civilisation. Some of these forms need to be changed; that is true. But that does not mean that everything must be thrown overboard, especially when no one has any idea how to replace what exists with something better. Do I go around destroying traditions? Certainly not! I am in favour of tradition on condition that it be adapted to our own times. But young poeple, who have no proper perception of present-day reallity nor of what it should be, simply follow their impulses and rush into action blindly, changing this and destroying that without a thought for the consequences.
Let's take it, then, that young people want a revolution. They want to upset the existing order. but have they ever asked themselves whether there are not certain immutable laws which no creature has the right to transgress? Life has its laws, laws that are studied by chemists, physicists, biologists, etc. and, whether we like it or not, we cannot go against those laws without being destroyed by them. Believe me, there are such things as immutable principles and anyone who tries to deny them is condemning himself to darkness and death. Of course, I know that young people justify themselves by saying that they are dissatisfied with what adults offer them. This I understand, for I am equally dissatisfied! But I still cannot side with them, for the freedom they are demanding, the freedom to do whatever they please, isnot at all ideal or divine.
Freedom! Liberty! Well, however much you repeat the slogan, 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!' there is really no liberty and no equality; of the three, only fraternity exists. I assure you: there is no such thing as liberty, freedom. How can you talk of man being free when he is a slave to his own appetites and pleasures, his family, his physical circumstances and the constraints of time? God alone is free and man will be free only when he identifies with God, when he becomes one with God. Outside of God there is no such thing as liberty. Licence? Yes, there's plenty of that and, for many, this is what the notion of liberty has become: a total lack of respect for everyone and everything. But the danger of this is that others can do the same; you will not be the only one who thinks he has the right to be unjust and violent; others will retaliate in kind. But nobody bargains for that. You are in love with violence? Well, I can understand that. I may have a tendency i that direction myself – wouldn't I just love to set the whole world on fire! – but that is not sufficient reason for doing so.
Human beings think they have the right to be violent, and then they are pained and surprised when others react in the same way. You must realize that every act or gesture on your part triggers a similar act on the part of others. Be generous with someone and they will be generous with you. Something i them will whisper, 'Ah, I'll just show how kind, noble and generous I can be, too!' and then i becomes a battle of smiles and gifts; a Battle of Love. This is what is so wonderful, and it is something that people have never really understood: the law of echo, of rebound. They say, 'Just let me get my hands on that fellow: I'll break his jaw!' And I say, 'Go ahead! Hit him...you'll see where that gets you!' But they are astonished when they get some of their own medicine in return. Young people think that they are justified in doing what they please to others but they object when others do the same to them. But you must never forget that this law exists and that it makes others reflect your own behavior.
They cannot do otherwise: if you start something they are obliged to retaliate.
If you think that everyone is going to let you ride roughshod over them without hitting back, you are very much mistaken. Sooner or later the law will strike back. If you have no respect for anyone, no one will have any respect for you. You need not expect to receive respect if you never give it. If you want others to respect you, you have to begin by respecting them. If there is one law I have proved to my satisfaction, it is this one. All my life I have shown respect for others and now I can see the law at work: others respect me. Sometimes, in fact, I wonder why. It is because, having spent my whole life respecting others, I have triggered a movement which is now bouncing back to me.
It is perfectly true that we are living in a society in which a great many things need to be changed, but this must not be achieved by violence. In any case, violence never brings about true change; it only makes things worse. How, then, can we transform society? By our own way of life. If we begin by changing ourselves we shall end by changing the whole world. This is why, in the Brotherhood, we are working to become a tangible example of a better kind of society. We are endeavouring to become a solid core of highly conscious, resolute men and women who will prove that mankind is capable of becoming one family, one brotherhood. Our first task, therefore, is to transform ourselves into living examples and even, one could say, to impose this example on others, not by physical force, of course, but by the nobility, magnanimity, light an spiritual beauty emanating from us. The need to feel their own strength and power drives too many young people reckless actions. They don't realize that true strength is inner strength, the ability to control an master themselves, to show themselves to be noble, great-hearted, perfect. Initiates, too, want to become strong and powerful but they know what true greatness and true power are, whereas so many young people, by ginving way to their instincts and seeking power through violence and destruction, merely wearken themselves and become the slaves of their own base instincts and vices.
I am completely impartial: I love all these young people and I love their elders, but believe that both are at fault: the adults because they have not known how to educate the young and, especially, how to give them a good example, and the young, because they think they can settle all their problems through revolution and violence and by destroying everything that adults have done.
I readily admit that there are a few real revolutionaries such as Lenin, Mao Tse-tung and Fidel Castro. But people like that didn't destroy everything. Besides, can you say that things are really better since their revolutions? No; nothing is really different except, perhabs, that the man at the top has disappeared and someone else has taken his place. The rhetoric has changed a little, the slogans are not the same, the songs are new, but the vice and crime, the fear and corruption are still the same.
Anarchists are incapable of doing anything constructive. some revolutionaries can be constructive, perhabs, if they are very intelligent and generous and work to improve the situation rather than making it even more intolerable. History shows that tyrants come and go: they may rise to power and liquidate their enemies, but they cannot stay on top for long. For this, too, is a law of life: a tyrant, by his very tyranny, attracts others of the same kind who end by destroying him. You know the saying: 'They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind'.
The human race has proven time and time again that it can not change itself. Philosophy is a good study of social events and their causes, but they have never really worked to affect a massive basic change. It is now apparent that we all have a fatal flaw and maybe not by accident, maybe by design.
The young have chosen anarchy? Very well; let them have it, but the laws are merciless: anarchy will take control of their beings and, later on in life, they will be subjected to identical reactions from their own children or the people around them. Then they will start moaning about injustice and declaring that they have done nothing to deserve such dreadful children. Not deserve them, indeed! Have they forgotten how they behaved when they were young? Let them remember that and then they will begin to understand. But it will be too late. The damage will have been done. The boomerang effect exists in the psychic as well as in the physical world, but it is only when the consequences of their acts rebound and hit them on the head that people begin to reflect.
If I had to give you a really exceptional example I would not choose any of the great Initiates of the past, but someone you all know: Socrates. After he had been condemned to death, some of his disciples tried to persuade him to let them organize his escape but he refused to leave his prison, saying that a good citizen should obey the laws of his city. One cannot help but refer constantly to the example of this great man who, although he never wrote anything, he continued to influence men's minds for the last twenty-four centuries. Of course, this is largely thanks to Plato, who was his disciple, and Plato and his own disciple, Aristotle, are still the twin peaks of philosophy; no philosopher since has ever surpassed them. But what an extraordinary man Socrates was! He had the face of a satyr and, in fact, he confessed that this was because he had, once, been very vicious, but that he had succeeded in conquering his vices; it was a thing of the past. So his merit was all the greater.
Im sure you all know the story of Socrates' life: how he married Xanthippe and how he strolled through the streets and public places of Athens, teaching his fellow citizens simply by talking to them and asking them awkward questions. Although he was very popular with the people, his integrity and outspokenness gained him some powerful enemies and, in a plot to get rid of him, they arrested him on trumpedup charges of corrupting the youth of Athens and he was condemned to drink the cup of hemlock.
Socrates could certainly have escaped death if he had wanted to, but he refused and it was precisely because he was conscious of his innocence that he was able to accept his sentence so fearlessly. What calmness and courage he demonstrated in his last moments! You have probably read the account of his farewell to the gaoler who told him that the time had come for him to drink the poison, of how he asked the man who brought him the cup exactly what he should do and how he followed his instructions to the letter. Then there was that encounter with his disciples shortly before he died... After all these centuries, the death of Socrates still lives as something unique in the memory of men.
You may say, 'Surely, he must have had special guidance?' Yes, of course. All the sages are guided. How could the Invisible World abandon a sage who possesses truth and respects the laws of God? Socrates was constantly accompanied by an entity which he called his daemon (the meaning of this in Greek has nothing to do with the Christian notion of the Devil or of Hell). Socrates' daemon was a very exalted spirit who guided and counselled him. All sages have one – sometimes several – of these guides.
If young people would only accept to learn, they would discover within themselves all the same truths and laws that the sages have discovered over the ages by observing what went on in nature and comparing it with what they saw happening in themselves. All sages come to the conclusion that life is based on laws of harmony, disinterestedness and love and that, if one fails to respect these laws, everything falls apart. This is how moral laws were discovered. And what I find especially inspiring in Socrates is that he understood that what matters most is the way you live. In this he was very different from other philosophers and sophists of his day who claimed to know all that physics and metaphysics had to teach and be able to discourse about everything. Socrates concentrated on the study of man; he adopted as his personal motto the famous inscripition from the temple of Delphi, 'Know thyself'. All true Masters have the same philosophy. What is good and true for one is good and true for them all; they all teach the same ethic, the same philosophical system. Depending on time and place, there will be some minor differences, but the fundamental principles are always identical.
Initates refuse to have anything to do with anarchy because they know only too well that they would be the first to be affected by the ensuing illness, disorder and destruction; that anarchy would destroy them. As soon as you open your heart to the seeds of dissolution, invisible currents and forces begin to ravage your whole being. It won't happen all at once, of course; but, little by little, you will disintegrate. Even physical health depends on obedience to this universal order – call it what you will: synarchy, hierarchy or divine monarchy – and, once a man begins to establish that order within himself, every part of him finds its balance and he dwells in peace, harmony and beauty. He is illuminated and strengthened; he receives new life and begins to vibrate in unison with the whole cosmos, with the Heavenly regions above.
He becomes a gushing spring, an ever-flowing source of light; radiance streams from him. This is the higher man, the ideal man that we are all meant o be, instead of being a door flung wide to every destructive current that swirls round us in the form of anarchistic philosophies and ideologies. All those, be they individuals, families, social groups or whole countries... all who open themselves to these currents destroy themselves. The law is absolute and it is essential to give it an important place in one's life.
Blessed are they who understand this! They have the power to trigger unlimited forces within their own being and then to see how these eternal forces work within them to liberate and transform them. And those harum-scarum bunches of young rebels with their black flags must realize that they will not succeed in destroying society. Society needs to be improved and it will be, but only by good example, word and selflessness.
Sooner or later, in the presence of these qualities, things are bound to change. The attempt to change things in any other way can only justify those who say, ' The more things change, the more the filth is the same!'
Without light there will never be any real change. There is no need to invent new systems, revolutionary or otherwise. Nothing needs to be invented, all the solutions we need have already been invented by Nature. All we have to do is rediscover them.