"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
— Mike Tyson
What I have been telling you is the general rule — but in the spiritual world everything is individual. Rules have their significance but this must not be taken to imply that they are to be regarded as principles. A man who is a stickler for rules, who insists that they can have no exceptions, will never find his way into the spiritual world. For in the spiritual world nothing is the same as it is in the physical world. What could be more obvious to a man living in the physical world than the mathematical axiom: the whole is greater than any of its parts — or the straight way is the shortest distance between two points? Only a lunatic would contend that the whole is not greater than any of its parts. Such things are called ‘axioms’ because they are self-evident truths and, as it is said, cannot and need not be proved. The same applies to the formula: the straight way is the shortest distance between any two points. But neither formula holds good in the spiritual world. What actually holds good in the spiritual world is the formula: the whole is always smaller than any one of its parts. And we find confirmation of this in the very being of man. Observed in the spiritual world, the spiritual counterpart of your physical being is about the size — a trifle larger but approximately the same size as it is in the physical world. When, however, you see your lungs or your liver in the spiritual world, they are of gigantic magnitude, and yet they are parts of something small. We have to learn to change our thinking entirely. In the spiritual world the straight way is by no means the shortest but on the contrary the very longest, because in that world to move from one point to another is a different matter altogether. In the physical world it is pedantically correct to say: that way is long, this longer, this — the straight — the shortest. But in the spiritual world the straight way presents such enormous difficulties that any of the winding ways is the shorter. Hence there is no sense in saying: the straight way is the shortest between any two points — because in actual fact it is the longest of all.
We have to recognise that in the spiritual world nothing is the same as in the physical world. The reason why people find it so difficult to reach the spiritual world with the exercises they practise quite faithfully is that they cling to preconceptions such as: the whole is greater than any of its parts, or, the straight way is the shortest between two points. So much for the axioms.
But we must also give up clinging to all other truths which hold good in the physical world if we are to penetrate into the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there can be no all-embracing principles, for everything there is individual. Each fact must be approached as something entirely individual. In the spiritual world there is none of this dreadful, logical assembling of facts, this basing of everything upon general rules.
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