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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter II
At one time in my life I used to look out of my bedroom [49] window and see in the distance that stupendous mountain pile, Kinchengunga, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. It looked so close, almost as if a day's walking would bring me to its foot but I knew that it would take at least twelve weeks hard trekking to get an able bodied climber there, and then there would be the terrific climb to its summit - a feat seldom accomplished. So it is with knowledge. That which is worth having is seldom of easy attainment and in itself only constitutes a foundation for more knowledge.

The people who fill me with a sense of compassion and the recognition of the need of patience are those who think they know and who have all the answers. That was my condition in those early days and I had not then the sense to be amused at myself. I was in deadly earnest. Today, I can laugh and today I am quite sure that I do not have all the answers. I find myself left with few if any doctrines and dogmas. I am sure of the existence of Christ and of the Masters who are His disciples. I am sure that there is a plan which They are attempting to work out on earth and I believe that They, in Themselves, are the answer and the guarantee of man's ultimate achievement and that as They are, so shall we all be some day. I can no longer say with assurance and aplomb what people ought to do. I seldom, therefore, give advice. I certainly do not pretend to interpret God's mind and to say what God wants as do the theologians of the world.

In the course of my life I suppose literally thousands of people have come to me for interpretation, for advice and suggestion as to what they should do. There was one period when my secretary was making appointments for me every twenty minutes. I expect one reason why I had so many appointments was that I never charged for them and people do love something for nothing. Sometimes I [50] could help if the person was open minded and willing to listen but most people just want to talk and lay the ground so that their own preconceived ideas are justified; they know beforehand what you should tell them. My technique has usually been to let people talk themselves out and by the time they had finished they frequently had themselves found the answer and solved their own problems, which is always so much sounder and leads to effective action. If, however, they are only wanting to hear their own voices and know everything, then I am helpless and often afraid.

I do not care if people agree or disagree with my particular brand of knowledge or formulation of truth (for we all must have that for ourselves) but they are impossible to help if completely satisfied with their own. To me, the ultimate hell (if there is a hell, which I very much doubt) would be a state of complete satisfaction with one's own viewpoint and therefore such a static condition that all evolution in thought and all progress would be permanently arrested. Fortunately, I know that evolution is long and steadily proceeding; history and civilization prove it. I know, too, that behind all intelligent processes stands a great Intelligence and that a static condition is impossible.

But in those days of which I write, I was a dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalist. I started off my career completely convinced that certain fundamental, theological doctrines, as expressed by leading churchmen, were summations of divine truth. I knew exactly what God wanted and (because of my complete ignorance) I was ready to discuss every conceivable subject, knowing that my point of view would be right. Today, I often feel that there is just a chance that I am wrong in my diagnosis and prescription. I have also a staunch belief in the fact of the human soul and of the ability of that soul to lead a man "out of darkness into light and from the unreal to the Real" - to quote the oldest [51] prayer in the world. I had, in those days, to learn that "the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind and the Heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind." But - it was not a really kind God that I proclaimed. God was kind to me because He had opened my eyes and the eyes of those who thought as I did, but He was quite ready to send the rest of the unregenerate world to hell. The Bible said so and the Bible was always right. It could not possibly be wrong. I agreed at that time with the pronouncement of a famous Bible Institute in the United States that "they took their stand upon the original, autographed manuscripts of the Bible." How I would today like to ask them where these autographed manuscripts are to be found. I believed in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and knew nothing of the vicissitudes and the heart searching pains to which all honest translators of books are subjected and of how they are only able to approximate the meaning of the original text. Only during the past years when my own books have been in process of translation into various languages have I been aroused to the complete impossibility of verbal inspiration. If God had spoken in English, if Christ had preached His sermons in English then perhaps we might be more secure as to accuracy of the presentation. But such is not the case.

I remember once when eight or nine people (all of different nationalities) and my husband and I sat around a table on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy and tried to find the German equivalent for the Anglo-Saxon word "mind" or "the mind." One of my books was being translated into German and the question had arisen. They gave it up in despair for there is no true equivalent for what we mean when we speak about "the mind." The word "intellect" is not the same. They declared that the German word "geist" did not meet the need and though we searched [52] everywhere for some word expressing the same idea, it eluded us. And there were German professors trying to find the word along with us. Perhaps some of the trouble with Germany lies right there. It dawned on me then how intensely difficult a thing it is to translate correctly.

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