In armies, the chains of command have to be settled. One problem is: conflict of orders. Suppose a soldier is ordered by an officer to take a small box to HQ, and on the way an officer asks where he is going, and then says:

“Oh, so you can take this packet and hand it in at the radio station – it’s not far out of your way.” Now should the soldier take the packet which will inevitably delay him or should he refuse and say. “Sir, I’ve got to deliver this box straight away”?

In history, some armies have opted for the First Order, and some for the Second Order.

But let us look at the application in inner spiritual training. The rule here is: First Order. When even a little inner practice is being done, the buddhi – the fraction of the cosmic mind which is located in the personality – is beginning to waken. In any situation, it gives a prompt: “Do this”. The deepest impulse is to obey, because this is the voice of one’s own true Self. But almost at once there is a modifying order from the surface self: “That might lead to a bit of trouble; we could do better to combine it with something else, or maybe postpone it, or maybe – yes – scrap it just this once.”

These orders (perhaps masked as reasoned suggestions) pose as being “natural”, but in fact they are limiting and distorting. They seem easy only because they fit in with long-standing bad habits.

Following the later orders means that these bonds are strengthened, with ultimate slavery to them; to follow the First Order, of buddhi, brings it more and more to full wakefulness and the ultimate independence of Self-realization. This is the meaning of the Christian riddle: “Whose service is perfect freedom”.

© Trevor Leggett

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