The Path and its Difficulties

The One, The Invisible, The Unrevealed, Unnamed, Unthinkable,
Uttermost, All-pervading, Highest, yet, hard.

The travail is for such as bend their minds
To reach th' Unmanifest. That viewless path
Shall scarce be trod by (embodied man)

But whereso any doeth all his deeds
Renouncing self, fixed
To serve only the Highest, night and day

Bhagavad Gita, tr Edwin Arnold

In the Sanskrit of the Bhagavad Gita, the word gatim is variously translated as Path, Goal, State, Condition:

Here are some of the uses of gatim in a typical translation:

2:path of virtue, path of final emancipation
3:evil path
4:11men follow in my path; men retrace my path in every way
4:thorny and dark the path is
5:the farther path
5:17a state beyond return
6:37He whose mind has deviated from yoga; deluded on the path not reaching to yogic attainments, having failed what path does he take? (What end does he meet? what way is there for him?)
6:38He is confounded regarding the path of the Absolute he is perplexed in the path to Brahman
6:45param gatim; a higher way
7:18mam gatim (my path, unsurpassed goal, highest goal, way)
8:13paramam gatim (Supreme abode, highest path, supreme goal, absolute way)
8:21the highest way
9:32the path celestial (param gatim) the highest path, way
12:5that viewless path, unperceived goal, unmanifested way; Transcendant path. The unmanifest is hard for the embodied to realise
13:28supreme goal (param gatim) highest way
16:20lowest path (adhaman gatim) lowest way
16:22param gatim; highest way
16:23param gatim; highest way
"In starting any thesis, it seems to me, one should put forward as one's starting point of departure something incontrovertible; the expression should be simple and dignified." Diogenes of Apollonia 5th C bc p87 Freeman 1948/1962
"If one does not hope, one will not find the unhoped-for, since there is no trail leading to it and no path." Heracleitus of Ephesus, circa 500bc in Freeman 1962 p26
"and they follow me in thousands, to inquire where is the path of advantage ... desiring oracles and healing for their painful diseases." Empedocles of Acragas circa 450bc (p64 Freeman 1948/1962)
Right Reckoning, when discovered, checks civil strife and increases concord; for where it has been achieved, there can be no excess of gain, and equality reigns. It is this (Right Reckoning) that brings us to terms over business contracts, and through it the poor receive from the men of means, and the rich give to the needy, both trusting that through it (Right Reckoning) they will be treated fairly. Being the standard and the deterrent of wrongdoers, it checks those who are able to reckon consequences before they do wrong, convincing them that they will not be able to avoid detection when they come against it; but when they are not able to reckon it shows them that in this inability to reckon consequences lies their wrongdoing, and so it prevents them from committing the wrong deed." Archytas of Tarentum, 4th C bc in Freeman p80 1948/1962
"We have seen before that the description of the motion of elementary particle in terms of paths, i.e. in classical fashion, is improper; that it leads neither to correct empirical results nor to a causal theory." p199 Margenau 1944
1927: You can then be guided by that one Law, you can then walk along that one solitary path. We are all walking along the same path, to the same goal, obeying the same Law. (JK)
Aug-Sept 1929: I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. You must climb towards the Truth. It cannot be 'stepped down' or organized for you. (JK)
1933: I feel that no one can lead another to truth, because truth is infinite; it is a pathless land, and no one can tell you how to find it. No one can teach you to be an artist; another can only give you the brushes and canvas and show you the colours to use. (JK)
1948: You cannot discover the path, because there is no path, Truth is a thing that is living, and to a living thing there is no path - it is only to dead things that there can be a path. Truth being pathless, to discover it you must be adventurous, ready for danger; and do you think a guru will help you to be adventurous, to live in danger? To seek a guru obviously indicates that you are not adventurous, that you are merely seeking a path to reality as a means of security. (JK)
1957: There is no path to reality. Reality is a pathless land, and you must venture out and discover it for yourself. It is because you are frightened inwardly that you depend on something, on the priest, or on a belief, and so you get caught in the net of an organized religion. (JK)
Comm. on Living III: There is no path to that which is beyond all the paths that men have made and trodden. To find that pathless reality, you have to see the truth in the false, or the false as the false. If you perceive that the path you have trodden is false - not in comparison with something else, not through the judgment of disappointment, nor through the evaluation of social morality, but false in itself - then that very perception of the false is awareness of the true. (JK)
Only Revolution: But truth is not (an accumulation); it is really a pathless land; it may be at the next curve of the road, or a thousand miles away. You have to keep going and then you will find it beside you. (JK)
1976: But as truth is a pathless land, you can't lay down a line, a direction, a path to it and practise it, discipline yourself, learn a technique. It is immovable. There is no technique to truth. (JK)
1982: So one has to be totally free from all that because truth has no path to it. It is a pathless land, like a ship that has no rudder. You have to walk out of darkness, out of your own chaos, out of your own confusion, out of the forest of ignorance and come to that by yourself, your own comprehension of perception. (JK)
1982: Because if there is any form of conditioning, psychically, inwardly, truth cannot be found. Truth is a pathless land, and it must come to one when there is total freedom from conditioning. (JK)
1984: Because self-interest is very small, very petty, very narrow and unless there is complete freedom of that, truth becomes impossible. And truth cannot be through any path, it is a pathless land. You can't go through any system, through any method, through any form of meditation to reach that. (JK)

Concerns, Difficulties and Fatal Errors


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