41a | CR Book XII, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Social life

Thus, after a time, a rather depleted self lifts itself
out of its attachment to the body. Once it has surr-
endered the body, and learned to distinguish its de-
sires from its own, the self finds it less difficult
to part with the other possessions, all of which are
linked to the body.

In this fight with the body, and its concomitant men-
tal processes, the disciple at each turn makes the
experience that what he called "his" is in reality
unruly, and therefore "not his" (XI,6,13'). On the con-
trary, he is struck by the insight that he was owned
and controlled by those possessions, as their slave
and hireling. He gradually sets free in himself a
freer, calmer and wider self which is capable of self-
possession, and of that self-control which, quite at
the beginning of the Path, was inaugurated by scrupo-
lous adherence to the five precepts. Once this new,
well-guarded and self-controlled self, an island in
the midst of this world, has established predominan-
ce, it is tolerably ready and capable to extinguish

The attitude to the social environment which this
training involves, breaks down also the social compo-
nents of selfhood. There is a contradiction in our
movement towards a perfect life in that we have to
strive both towards, and away from, social contacts
and community life. Only practical effort can solve
this contradiction. In some stages the detachment
and aloofness from society will be emphasised, in
others the sinking into society. In the end, we learn
to live both in society and reality at the same time.
This is the highest state we can reach while alive.

In the periods of solitude, the homeless brother
not only dwells apart from people, but he also guards
himself against the ebullition of imagined social
contacts. His social self then decays, as he gives
up the relations to other people that sustained it.
For want of reflection in others, his social "distinc-
tions" vanish. Nor does he allow himself to mirror
himself in himself. He closes a vast field of inter-
ests, solicitudes and opinions which are nourished and
established only in and by contact with others. He
has an opportunity to loose those illusions about him-
self, which he owed to praise balme, and to give up
the sentiments of superiority to others which come from
feeling inferior to them. He abandons the vast burden
of endless ruminations which arise in response to the