The High Ideal
‘Everything in a man’s life depends on the goal he aims for, on what he wants to achieve, in other words: on his ideal. An ideal is not something inert. On the contrary, it is alive and active and it produces definite results within the person who cherishes it: it cleanses, restores order, sculptures and harmonizes. All the elements of a man’s life are fashioned, modelled and shaped in accordance with his ideal. If his ideal is not very exalted or noble, if it is mundane and material, everything he does, feels and thinks will bear its imprint, and he should not be surprised if he feels that something is missing in his life, if he is not happy.
The question is not to know whether your ideal is unrealistic and inaccessible; that is not what should concern you. The only thing that matters is that it be perfect, sublime, truly divine. Neither do you need to worry about how long it will take you to achieve it; that is not important. A high ideal is a real, powerful, living being, capable of nourishing us and slaking our thirst for all eternity.’
‘An ideal has magic powers. It is so intimately associated with us that we share the beneficial currents and particles it brings with it from whatever region it comes. Since it is we who give it form and keep it constantly in our minds and hearts, we benefit continually from all that it contains, and this explains why, one fine day, we suddenly become aware that new conditions are present in our lives that have been prepared for by our ideal. But if we want this to happen, we must be sure to keep our ideal constantly in mind, to love and nurture it constantly, and, in spite of the tremendous gulf that separates us from it, cherish it in our heart and soul. Herein lies the highest wisdom and the greatest of all truths!’
‘The best solution, therefore, is this: have everything you need in life, but don’t let that be your ideal. Your ideal should be so lofty that it is always beyond your reach. If this is the case, then you are on the right path. You know that even thousands of years hence you will never be able to achieve your ideal, but that does not matter. You cherish it, picture it to yourself, walk hand in hand with it and talk to it; and it is your ideal that enables you to keep your balance, fills you with heavenly joy and transforms all evil into good. And one day your ideal will make a divinity of you. You cannot possibly imagine all the wonderful things a high ideal is capable of accomplishing in you. It is like a sculptor which models and fashions you, and it is here that we find the very highest level of art: in the painting, carving and modelling of oneself, in the writing of the book of Self.’