PREFACE TO THE FIRST BRITISH EDITION
aspirant now stands. Every successful passage through the tests pro-
vided by worldly life gives him a chance to make a spurt not only in
consciousness and understanding but more especially in character.
It offers him one quick way of changing his character for the better.
The error which deems mystical belief and meditation practice as
suitable only for, and confined to, ascetics, monks and holy men, or
cranks, neurotics and freaks, is a serious one.
The old easy-travelling pre-war world has gone. Despite aero-
planes, Himalaya seems tardier away to most Britons today than it
was when I first entered its many-coloured domain under a tur-
quoise sky. He who seeks a retreat cannot go far nowadays, perhaps
no farther than the next county. Indeed, in these days of housing
shortage, sometimes he cannot even get the undisturbed privacy of a
room. Is the way closed, then? No. It is still open for all men, albeit
differently. A half-hour, stolen from the day's activities or the night's
rest, set apart for meditation in his own house, will in the end yield
a good result. A useful suggestion for those who cannot get the right
conditions at home or in the open air, is to try a church outside of
service-hours. It is admittedly harder than trying the same exercise
in a peaceful mountain valley, but wherever he is it is his mind
alone that counts.
The tranquil passivity he sets out to reach, will eventually deepen
and deepen until a point is felt where thinking is still and the mind
emptied. Into this inner silence there enters, we know not how, the
Overself s godlike consciousness.
Those who spend sufficient time on the mystical quest, and with
sufficient keenness and guidance, find it infinitely inspiring because
it links them—however remotely weakly and momentarily—with an
infinite power, an infinite wisdom, an infinite goodness.
The fruit of such meditations comes in the form of brief glimpses
of the soul's flower-like beauty. Although it comes only for a few
minutes in most cases, its bloom endures and recurs in memory for
years afterwards. Only the adept, he who has travelled far on his
inward journey, is able to return at any time, and at will, to the
serene beatitude of this high consciousness.