Adolescence and childhood are times of great temptation. There are so many things that seem desirable and one does not have the ability to obtain them so one has the temptation to obtain them by devious quick methods. That is in the physical world of growing up in the physical body while the self, the personality, is developing.
As one enters into the spiritual life one begins to grow in the spiritual life and form a spiritual body, nourishing it with self-observation, with observing other selves, with observing what is, with seeing relationships, with seeing how things work, seeing what is and seeing the value of what is. Along about this time comes some rather unusual temptations. One has a certain serenity and peace, one has certain functions, one is behaving in a different way, one is experiencing a different state of being. One may even be experiencing small indications of faith and can use faith in a small way, may even be experiencing faith in a very, very small way, may even experience grace a bit.
Temptation comes along and this temptation is quite different than it formerly was. The old temptation that one was acquainted with was the temptation to identify with the Not-I’s, with mammon. Now the temptation comes in another way. This temptations is the effort of the Not-I’s that have been cast out, of mammon to identify with I. I has become more powerful, is growing and the Not-I’s begin to be very jealous of it and mammon is very jealous in all directions.
There is a great story told of the temptations of the Christ; that he went through many things and he was in the wilderness fasting for forty days and forty nights. Fasting means that he had experienced something but he was fasting from faith, from grace and possibly from agape to any degree. Fasting means one is without food. He was without food that seemed to make the inner being, the spiritual body, grow. As he returned from the desert, he was met by mammon who tempted him.
Now mammon is experienced as thoughts, experienced as suggestions from without. The first thing mammon said to him was, “If thou be the Son of God, if thou art the servant of the most high.” In other words if thou sees that thou art a function of X and that thou art serving X instead of mammon “command that these stones be made into bread.” In other words, see the truth of something. Stone is a literal truth and to make it into something good, usable, valuable, bread.
There are many parts to this little question. “If” is the first place. First off mammon is trying to start doubt in the person. Are you really serving mammon or are you deceiving yourself? If you be this then you could do so-and-so and he set up a condition of proof. The only thing that mammon was saying, “If you are the Son of God, if you are serving mammon.” He didn’t say that you might experience peace, that you might see things differently, that you might behave differently, that you might have a new state of being. No, he said, “If you are trying to cast doubt you will perform a wonder.” You know the world, mammon, the ideal, always looks for a sign, for some credentials that one is at a certain place. This credential is not outward, it is what you are experiencing, is it not? There’s no way you could make a sign or a demonstration to another person. It is what you are experiencing. But here comes the temptation to perform a wonder, to have a sign that one is serving X. “If you are serving X you should have a sign.” That is a trick of mammon, of the ideals. It says, “If you are doing something so wonderful you should have a sign.” Here is the world trying to get the adolescent back into its power.
The Christ did not respond to that temptation. He didn’t try to show his credentials. He didn’t have any proof to offer that he was serving X. He only said, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” In other words, I’ll live by the Teaching. I have been experimenting with it. I find it to be true. I find it to be valuable and I don’t need to demonstrate to anyone, to any man of the world who is talking about ideals. I don’t need to demonstrate that I am serving X. I don’t need any signs and demonstrations because I’ve experimented for self. I have discovered the Teaching to be true and it is very valuable. He is talking about the Teaching which no man claims credit for. Everyone says it came from a higher mind, it came from another realm. No matter who carries it, who transmits the Teaching or by what method, no one claims “This is mine.” The Christ himself said, “The Teaching is not mine but is from Him who sent me.” So he had found the Teaching valuable and he said this proceedeth from the mouth of God, from a higher mind, from a different realm than the education of the manmade world.
So he didn’t succumb to that temptation. But mammon wasn’t through yet. He said, “If you really are the Son of God, it is written that you shall stand on the spire of the temple and jump off and you will not bruise your heel,” because it is written that X will not allow his servant to bruise his heel. In other words, again try for a demonstration to show off, to demonstrate and to gain attention and approval, which all seems rather nice, doesn’t it? That we could have attention and approval that we could demonstrate and then, of course, people would “believe” and more would come to the Teaching.
You see one can only come to the Teaching by one’s own experiments, not by having some grand demonstration because then they would only believe because of the demonstration and they would hope to find a way to improve themselves that they could perform the demonstration or gain the benefits of the demonstration. But man comes to it because he’s questioned the purpose of living and he pursues it to try it out for himself. He is not convinced by anyone or by any sign or demonstration.
You see this is always the hope of everyone, that they can perform a demonstration. Somebody performed a healing somewhere, somebody got well and somebody said, “Obviously that is the truth, we must follow that.” Some man produced something else. The Christ told some of his students that they didn’t believe because they hadn’t experimented with the Teaching themselves. That they hadn’t any inner strength in themselves because they hadn’t experimented. That they only believed and followed him because of the signs they had seen when he healed the sick, raised the dead, made many loaves and fishes out of a few loaves and fishes. In other words when he practiced faith they believed in it because of the benefits to the physical man, not because they had experimented with it and found any aspects of the Teaching to be correct.
This great temptation that the Christ underwent is the same that every one of us undergoes. First the temptation to perform a wonder and get a sign so that I can prove to myself that I am serving X, that I am doing something real. The first is an attempt to doubt the Self without a demonstration; I is even tempted to want a sign. The next is the sign that other people will recognize something. That is to jump off the spire of the temple, a very high point, jump to the ground and not get a bruise on the heel, not to be injured in any way which would certainly be a sign and a wonder. Again, the Christ said, “It is also written that thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In other words one doesn’t show off with the idea that X will protect him from his showing off, trying to gain attention and approval. He knows that X does what one sees as truth and what one sees as good. He couldn’t see any value in jumping off the temple because all it would be doing was serving mammon, gaining attention and approval, possibly have a great number of followers who were not interested in challenging the idea of “What is the purpose of living?” and beginning to know for themselves. But seeing something, they say that is a wonder and they want to follow it hoping they will find some technique whereby they can achieve the ideal and gain great attention and approval for themselves and power over other people. The Christ said, “It is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In other words, I won’t put on a performance that I really know is not worthwhile, but it will only be worthwhile to serve mammon.
Mammon wasn’t through yet. He took the Christ to a very high spot, way up somewhere, and said, “Look, here are all the kingdoms of the world and they have all been delivered into my hands and I will give them all if you will fall down and worship me.” Now we’re all conditioned and we’re all tempted to worship mammon, the ideal, to have the four dual basic urges, the greatest one, of course, is power over others. So mammon offered power over all the people in the world if one would worship him. He was saying, “You are something great, you have great powers, you have accomplished great things.” Mammon was trying to identify with the enlightened man, but the enlightened Being had nothing to do with him. He would not accept the power over the others. He said, “Get thee behind me.” In other words, personality, you go behind me. You may be a tool for use in some of the practical affairs of building a house but you will be under control. So nothing tempted him.
Now we will all be subject and are subjected to these temptations, temptations to have power over others. This is one of the reasons that faith is not experienced very early because it could be a power over others. It is why it is withheld for a while to see if we have the patience, understanding, compassion, and if we can see others lines of thought in their conditioned states. That even though they may produce very horrible things, one understands that but by the grace of being there goes I; that one could have done any of the things that any other human has done or ever will do while one was in the conditioned state.
One can understand that that person is operating by the only light they have, the self, the conditioned being, and that mammon, which is darkness, is the only thing. So the poor person is functioning in darkness, and when one begins to see this agape is increasing in power and possibly one can begin to experience some degree of faith. But being the power that it is, one would use it sparingly, and one would not do something for self.
If one made up one’s mind to achieve something for self, even if it was healing, it would be for a demonstration or a sign and one would be caught in the trap. After all I have the greatest gifts there are, do we not? Everything that happens is a gift that gives me reminders, gives me some being, some opportunity to grow and develop the spiritual body that is the real man, that which is indestructible because it is based on what? On EXPERIMENTATION, upon building on a firm foundation of having acted upon every aspect of the Teaching to find out for self if it is true. This is referred to as having built one’s house on rock, on a firm foundation, because there are temptations, floods, rain storms, winds and every kind of temptation, there is every kind of second force that may come by. But when one is fully aware of the value of the Teaching, of the fact of it, has experienced it, experimented with it, has acted upon it, these floods and so forth do not break one’s state.
How many of us at this moment could stand the temptation of performing a wonder if we could, of putting value on demonstrations rather than on that inner serenity and knowing from experience and from knowing self and other selves, seeing what is really going on, seeing relationships and understanding temptation when it does arise? How many of us could withstand the temptation to take over the whole world and rule it to have everything go “just like I want it”? It might be that it would be difficult. If we had the ability, if we tried to perform these wonders one would be caught in the clutches of mammon. Mammon identifies with I.
There is an old Russian saying, “When the devil is hungry he will eat flies.” In other words he would much prefer to have I identify with him, mammon, the four dual basic urges, the ideals of the world of self-improvement, signs and wonders to prove one’s greatness, and blaming if something doesn’t work just exactly right. As long as he can he would rather that you would identify with that. But if you begin to observe the self and see it for what it is then it puts on a disguise and attempts to identify with I. It says, “You are wonderful, you are superior, you are great,” and tempts in a very subtle way.
There are any number of temptations that will arise. So we’re going to make a study of temptation this week. You are at the state of being where you will experience many of them. There will be someone who will ask you to do something that your are tempted to do in a way of performing a wonder, of showing how great one is. One will find there are temptations of doubt, “If one is really doing something one really ought to have certain visible talents to demonstrate.” But one doesn’t. One has only what is evidence to I, that I am serene, I am peaceful, I am seeing everything in an altogether different way and it is not anything that I can show you. None of us can show our inner state to another. We can only put on a front. We can only do that number five (be different) in an attempt to impress others — what for?
The scribes and Pharisees fell victim to this temptation of mammon. The scribes and Pharisees were the descendants and students of a School called the House of Israel. They had been given many Teachings. The literal ones on the outside were symbols or parables of the inner Teaching, and they had succumbed to the temptation to have power over others. They had accepted ruler-ship because its said, “You are worthy,” and they, of course, are not worthy to have all the inner Teaching so lets give them outward performances. And, of course, this is what happened. We describe it in the teaching of the world when it was used as a philosophy. When they took the Teaching and perverted it for the uses of the world they were caught in the temptation of allowing mammon to identify with I. Then they began to be tolerant of the little folks and said, “They couldn’t understand it so we will give them ritual, commandments that they will live by because they are not capable of seeing the inner meaning.” Soon it was forgotten in one,two or three generations or in six or eight generations, it was totally forgotten that it had an inner meaning.
The Christ said, “They only cleaned the outside of the cup, the outer man.” They put on a good show, they performed beautifully, were well mannered, but they did many things to gain attention and approval. They prayed in public places, gave alms being sure they had someone to go in front and announce that the great so-and-so was going to give alms. It was done for attention and approval like jumping off the temple spire and not bruising one’s heel. And, of course, they accepted power over other human beings to control their destiny, to control their every action and their behavior and to keep them in subjection by threatening them with the wrath of God and offering some kind of reward sometime later but not in this world. You see temptation hits all people, and the fact we are students of a great Teaching that comes from some higher mind that we can experiment with to discover every aspect doesn’t mean we can go to sleep someday, sit on a nice soft pillow and everything will be fine. To serve a great Being, X, requires that we stay on the job.
What is the only thing that awareness can do? BE AWARE. It is aware of what is and aware of the relative values of it. The more it builds the spiritual body the more one is aware of the value of each “what is.” This is what the growth of the spiritual body is about. It is called WISDOM, seeing the value of. Truth is seeing the fact plus the value; that is seeing the truth. That is reporting to X and that is one’s job. One doesn’t come to the point where one no longer needs to report to X because that is the nature of one. One is the awareness function of X. One is the Son of a King, but that doesn’t give one the privilege of ease and comfort but gives one responsibility. When one accepts that responsibility one is free, free to experience whatever may arise, freely, and report it to X and report its value.
This is being a conscious man. This is arising to a state of being known as objective consciousness. Objective consciousness has states of being where one has unusual abilities, but one never allows anyone else to see them if at all possible. These abilities occur when they’re needed and are not something to be shown off. They are not something one can command. They are something that is there at the proper time, place and circumstance. It is not something that I can do but something that X does because it has been reported to accurately. It could have happened at any time during one’s existence. No new power has been exchanged. Only one has developed one’s spiritual body to see what is and to see the value of what is.
Had one seen this when one was four years old, X would have done the same thing. But you see we have never seen “what is” very well. We didn’t see what it was related to, what its meaning was, and we certainly didn’t see the value of it because we saw value only in the “what ought to be,” in the ideal. We compared what is to the ideal and “what is” was seen as of no value; only what ought to be was of value. Now we’re seeing what ought to be is valueless, that it is an illusion, and we are no longer struggling towards it. So we can see more clearly what is, what it’s related to, all the things involved in what is, and we can see the value of it. This is having knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is seeing what is, knowing it from moment to moment. Wisdom is seeing the value of it. In certain Teaching wisdom is called wine and knowledge, what is true is called bread. When we combine bread and wine we have a fit offering to X; it is the only acceptable offering.
One must observe what is true and what is valuable. We are constantly being subjected to the temptation that ideals are valuable. They come under different names now. They are not called gaining pleasure, comfort, attention, and approval; they are put under other names. They are helping people; which is really a means of feeling in control of them. It is a means of harming a person because we are trying to say they are not responsible beings.
It comes in ideas like being considerate, only instead of considerate it is condescending. You see they can be twisted so very easily. So we want to look down on someone. It is to make a contribution, but not a contribution but to do something worthwhile for them so that they will be in a less disturbed state.
We cannot see that disturbance is that which continually occurs, that increases man’s necessity to check and to question mammon, the four dual basic urges. One only checks them when one is not comfortable. Because as long as everything is comfortable it seems that it’s very desirable and why should we check it? It’s only when life increases one’s necessity because of the disturbance that’s going on that one begins to question. So if we were trying to prevent everyone from having any disturbance one might say that one was being very harmful and was being very condescending. It all sounds very good, very wonderful, unless one is aware and alert then one sees mammon in his tempting business of trying to identify with I, the observing function of X.
Study temptation this week. You are at the state of being where you will experience many temptations. There will be someone who will ask you to do something that your are tempted to do in the way of performing a wonder and showing how great you are. You will find there are temptations of doubt etc.