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Compassion & Discipline

March 19, 2009

“Be kind, friendly and lenient towards your fellow man, but unrelenting and pitiless towards yourself.” ~ Franz Bardon, Initiation Into Hermetics (2001, Merkur Publishing)

There are basically two parts to the above quotation, each of which are worth contemplation alone and in relation to one another.

In any spiritual pursuit, it’s very important to understand first and foremost that most people are honestly doing the best they can with the inner resources at their disposal. When we understand this fact about others, it becomes much easier to go easy on them as they make mistakes on a daily basis. We can begin to sympathize, perhaps excusing the person who is rude to us in line at the coffee shop by thinking, “He’s probably had a bad day.”

It is interesting that, unlike most self-help books of our day, Franz Bardon did not extend the same courtesy to the student him or herself. Bardon insisted in multiple places throughout his books that the Hermetic was to hold him or herself to a different standard. This is not because Hermetic practitioners are better than anybody else, but because we must early on teach ourselves the important lessons of humility and discipline. Humility because we truly are not better than our fellow men and women, and discipline because we require structures and systems to accomplish anything. If we do not develop a daily routine of spirtual practice, and if we do not hold ourselves to it despite everything else in our lives, we will always risk haulting our ascent and backsliding.

We must always remember to be patient with ourselves as we grow, often taking two steps forward and one step backward, but there is never an adequate excuse for allowing ourselves to faulter in our efforts.

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